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FOOTBALL | Chris Dufresne ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL | NATIONAL
OVERVIEW

Wrapping It All Up as Season Begins

September 01, 2006|Chris Dufresne

Mr. College Football (West Coast branch assistant manager) gets swamped this time of year but found time to answer 10 questions about the college season that started last night:

1) What year does the playoff start in college football?

Zager and Evans once sang, "In the year 2525, if man is still alive, if woman can survive ... "

That's my guess for the year college football will get a playoff.

Look, the argument's over. Last year's USC-Texas title game couldn't have been better had Conan O'Brien been the host. The Bowl Championship Series got the year it needed the year it needed it most. The BCS signed a new four-year extension that includes a fifth BCS game -- but it is not a playoff.

The best we're ever going to get is a one-game bonus cookie using the BCS standings to pick the top two schools after the major bowls: Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta.

The new BCS bowl structure could handle such a tweak, but no one's really interested right now in fixing something officials say isn't broken.

2) What about Nebraska, which plays at USC on Sept. 16? When might it win another national title?

Take another listen to Zager and Evans, the pop-rock duo that hailed from ... Lincoln, Neb.

3) Who is going to win the Heisman Trophy?

A Notre Dame quarterback for the next five years. Put down Brady Quinn this year and, based on everything you hear, Jimmy Clausen the next four.

We know Clausen is just starting his senior season at Westlake Village Oaks Christian High, but only Paris Hilton has received more publicity for not really doing anything.

Clausen may be a candy-striper of a kid, but the pressure on him is enormous and much of it self-inflicted.

Committing to Notre Dame early is fine, but I'm not sure holding a glitzy news conference in South Bend, Ind., did anyone any good. Sports Illustrated, though, got hooked like a Chilean sea bass in ranking Oaks Christian No. 3 in the nation without taking into account the school plays at a small schools level. Isn't that like ranking Mount Union No. 3 in the BCS?

4) Is this the year all-world linebacker Willie Williams leads Miami to a national title?

No, but watch out for West Los Angeles College, which is where Williams is now enrolled. Williams is proof that recruiting is inexact insanity. This guy may have been the most touted recruit ever out of Florida. He kept a diary for the Miami Herald, was courted to the brink of NCAA infractions and got arrested on his recruiting trip to Florida. Williams signed with Miami, got injured, never panned out and now he's at West L.A.

5) How could UCLA, coming off a 10-2 season and returning Olson at quarterback, not be ranked in the top 25 of the coaches' or writers' preseason polls?

File that under "lack of respect." That returning Olson is Ben, not Drew, who led UCLA to that 10-2. And about those Terrible Two losses: One was 52-14 to Arizona, the other 66-19 to USC. Voters are obviously not convinced UCLA is a proven commodity.

6) What is a team out there people should be talking about?

Louisville. A lot of us have penned odes to West Virginia because of its returning talent and made-to-order schedule, but it is possible the Mountaineers won't even win the Big East.

Louisville has a big-time coach (Bobby Petrino), quarterback (Brian Brohm) and running back (Michael Bush). And the Cardinals get West Virginia at home this year.

The reason people aren't touting Louisville as much is because Brohm is coming off a serious knee injury and the Cardinals have to play Miami.

7) Who is the blockhead who gave Duke a vote in the coaches' poll?

That was Steve Spurrier -- and he has to stop doing that. Spurrier is coaching at South Carolina now, but he still waxes nostalgic for Duke, 1-10 last year, because it hired him as head coach in 1987. Spurrier says his vote is basically a thank you.

Problem: The coaches' poll has enough credibility issues without one of its voters using it as a flower shop, especially because the poll is a component in the controversial BCS formula.

8) Which school had the worst off-season?

The Food Channel will be holding a bad-news bakeoff that includes chefs from Oklahoma, Miami, USC, Ohio State, Auburn and, the latest entry, Arizona State, which started camp with two terrific quarterbacks and ended it with one -- the other enrolling at Nebraska.

9) Is it fair that a 6-6 team should be allowed to participate in a bowl game?

The Angels are still paying Jeff Weaver, so what's fair?

Look at our youth leagues, where kids get trophies just for showing up. The NFL was built on a mediocrity model, only Pete Rozelle called it "parity."

Half the teams in the NBA make the playoffs. The best baseball hitters fail seven out of 10 times. It's the American way.

10) Is it John David Booty or Mark Sanchez as the successor to Matt Leinart?

It's Booty for now, but check back in the second quarter of Saturday's opener at Arkansas.

USC is only one school that has important boots to fill at quarterback. There's also Texas, Colt McCoy (or Jevan Snead) for Vince Young; Penn State, Anthony Morelli for Michael Robinson; UCLA, Ben Olson for Drew Olson, and Alabama, John Parker Wilson for Brodie Croyle.

OK, one bonus question: What time is it?

It's time to tee it up.

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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