It is only fitting that the Southeastern Conference kick off the 2018 college football season among the big boys with the first media day(s) in a few weeks.
Let's get real, the engine that drives college football is in the South. Alabama, Clemson and, last year, Georgia, crashed the party. Alabama and Clemson have staged a challenge match for the national championship the past few years. Throw in Auburn LSU and FSU and you have a Southern block party, with only Ohio State pushing its way to the top in recent years.
Before the howls come from the Midwest, where Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan State have made lots of noise the past few seasons, there can be no denying the cultural importance of college football in the south.
And there will be some guests from the Big 12 making appearances.
But other than that, there isn't much.
The Pac-12? Sorry. after Washington, it's an empty sea.
Notre Dame? Nope?
The East? Outside of Penn State, it would be easier to find a Trump supporter at MSNBC.
No other region of the country comes close in the level and interest in college football, although the ACC with Clemson, FSU and now maybe Miami is creating a few ripples.
But the SEC still rules. As my friend, Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan once said when asked if he was worried about getting a good match up for his game, "Why should I worry I've got Secretariat (meaning the SEC champion, which has also included Alabama on many occasions).
That, was, of course, back in the wild days when bowls made match ups and bowl executives made back room deals.
With the CFB playoff system its much more defined.
The CFB championship game will be in Santa Clara, Calif. next January, but if there is any thing which seems certain as we get ready to rumble for the next six months, it is that the game will have a southern flavor.
Alabama and Clemson are again flirting with dynasty status, but that, of course, is open to debate. What seems more certain is the dominance of Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma, who have won 12 of the last 16 national championships.....How good will Clemson's defensive front be this season? The Tigers are projected as having all four of their defensive lineman as first-round National Football League draft picks next spring...The SEC might be college football's strongest league, but the pressure to succeed is also enormous, which is one of the reasons why the SEC will have an eye-opening six new coaches this fall....Conversely, there is the Pac-12, which is looking for its first CFB playoff WIN since 2014....Coaching salaries are spiking again. Jimbo Fisher signed a 75 million dollar ten-year deal with Texas A&M, Scott Frost is getting $25 million over seven years at Nebraska and Alabama is paying Nick Saban slightly more than 11 million dollars this season. But the assistant’s scale is also increasing. Five Georgia assistant coaches make more than $825,000 and South Carolina is paying defensive coordinator Travarais Robinson $1.2 million.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
Now for a first look at the 2018 college football season.
Who has the longest winning streak in the FBS? That would be UCF, which will carry a 13-game winning streak into its season opener at UConn on August 30th...Clemson is going after its fourth straight Atlantic Coast Conference title, which brings back memories of the FSU dominance under Bobby Bowden...Want a hot team from the end of last season? Look at Duke, which ended the year with a three game winning streak, which hasn't happened at Duke since 1962...Oklahoma State is looking to have its fourth straight double digit win season, which seems very possible....Speaking of the Big 12, how about stability on the sideline? No new head coaches this season...Want a QB pedigree family? Look at Charlie Brewer at Baylor, whose brother Michael played QB at Texas Tech and Virginia Tech and whose father Robert played QB at Texas and whose grandfather Charlie also played QB at Texas...Worst team in the FBS? Kansas is 18-78 over the last 10 seasons....FAU coach Lane Kiffin has signed an extension through 2027, but do you want to take odds on how long Kiffin will be at FAU? The name game" Charlie Weis Jr. is the offensive coordinator at FAU. He is 24....The Mid American Conference which scheduled 0 Saturday games in November last season has broken down. The MAC will have eight Saturday November games this season....Want a team anxious to start its season? Try Akron, whose last game was a 50-3 loss to FAU in the Boca Raton Bowl. It won't get easier for the Zips, who open this year at Nebraska.
San Diego State will have some lofty goals for primary running back Juwan Washington. The last two Aztec main backs, Donnel Pumphrey and Rashaad Penny, each ran for more than two THOUSAND yards in their final season....Utah was the only Pac-12 team to win a bowl game last season, with the league posting a 1-8 bowl record. Maybe that's one reason why there are five new coaches in the league this season....Stanford has had five Heisman runner ups, including RB Bryce Love, who has a real chance to win it this season if he stays healthy...How would you like to be the radio play by play person for UCLA football this season? The Bruins have a pair of RBs named Soso Jamabo and Bolu Olorunfunmi. They also have a pair of DTs named Osa Odighizuwa and Chigozie Nnoruka...Don't feel too bad for new Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin, who was fired by Texas A&M and received a $10 million severance package and then signed a new deal at Arizona, which will pay him almost $3 million a year for the next five seasons....Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Georgia Southern fired Tyson Summers after starting 0-6 in his second season last year. Louisiana-Monroe's Matt Viator has turned in back-to-back 4-8 seasons and received a contract extension....Life as an Independent for New Mexico State this season will be different. The Aggies play two games in August and have a home and home series this season with Liberty.[/membership]