College football season kicks off in less than three weeks (Thursday, Sept. 3)! So, yes, we’re still almost a full month out. But that doesn’t stop us here at Fidelity Sports. No, the Committee’s been working day and night since last season ended, and we’ve brought together some of the great minds in sports—well, technically, just a handful of hard core football fans—to make this year’s CFB Preview memorable.
Hold on to your butts, sports fans. Top questions. Sharp analysis. More cultural exegesis than a Chuck Klosterman book. It’s all here.
Top Four Questions
Looking across college campuses this year, what are the burning questions that you need to have answered? What are the most pressing storylines for 2015?
Who Will Quarterback Ohio State?
The Buckeyes come into this year off a 14-win national championship season in which they return a Heisman candidate at running back (the bare-bellied Ezekiel Elliott) and not one, not two, but three potential Heisman QB’s. Has this ever happened before in sporting history? Scanning Wikipedia… Scanning… Nope!
The QB race of the ages became 33% clearer when Braxton Miller switched positions to WR… J.T. Barrett is expected to start, although Cardale Jones dominated his only three games last year and could have possibly been a 1st round draft pick last year. How did none of these guys pull an Everett Golson and transfer to another big-time program in need of a Heisman-quality QB? Braxton was probably wise to switch, and Barrett seems to have the role on lock down, and Cardale could still be a high draft pick based on his sheer size, athleticism, and potential… so we’ll see how it all plays out. All said, the Buckeyes probably have five of the best ten athletes in college pigskin this year (including Elliott and DE Joey Bosa).
Will Michigan Be Any Good?
Now that screamin’ Jim Harbaugh is back in maize and blue (and Michigan is the first college football program sponsored by the Air Jordan brand), will the Wolverines return to national prominence in 2015? Probably not. But in within four years, yes. My buddy Stuart Owens (Disco Stu) predicts a conference championship in 2016, and my man Jared Kennedy (Reliable K) says bowl eligible this year with a premier program within three years. I’m not quite that bullish on it, but I’ll say the Wolverines go 7-6 this year and add a win annually before making their first playoff in five years (2020—by then, the playoff will be eight teams).
Will the Mizzou Dynasty Continue?
The University of Missouri, conveniently the distinguished alma mater of our founder and senior curator, has won roughly 70 percent of all SEC East titles since joining the league in 2012. That’s two out of three, for the folks at home with calculators. Will the dynasty continue? Disco Stu says winning two divisional titles in a row doesn’t exactly constitute a dynasty, but we’ve got to stretch a bit. Georgia will be very, very good, and RB Nick Chubb (about 1500 rush yards as a diaper dandy last year) will cover their QB inexperience. My prediction is that both teams go 10-2 (finishing with 11 wins after their bowl games—giving Mizzou an amazing 34 wins in three seasons), but UGA’s homefield advantage vs Mizzou gives them a rare SEC East title and the opportunity to lose to Alabama.
Will the NCAA Start Paying Its Star Performers?
There’s no question that the NCAA is a business; at that, it’s a very profitable business; at that, it’s a very profitable business that derives a disproportionately enormous amount of its profit off a few of its star performers. Not unlike many corporations, roughly 20 percent of the star “employees” create 80 percent of the profit. But unlike these same corporations, those 80-20 performers—especially the 1 percent performers—don’t make a dime more than the low achievers. In fact, they don’t make a dime at all. The EA Sports lawsuit and the Ed O’Bannon case have brought this injustice to the forefront, and while it’s not an injustice on scale with life-and-death issues like Donald Trump’s hair, it should be noted that the power-holders are making money off of and unwilling to reconcile with the marginalized, often poor college student-athletes. It’s a small step to start giving all student-athletes’ a stipend for their efforts and a portion of memorabilia with their number or likeness, but there does need to be, IMHO, a more appropriate compensation of these true breadwinners. I’m all for the support of non-revenue sports like archery, gymnastics, and kansas football, but something in me suggests its just wrong for an NCAA president to make $1.7 million and Nick Saban to make $7.2 million and the Penn State’s president (who kept his job despite the Jerry Sandusky- sex abuse scandal) to make $2.9 million… while Ohio State’s star athletes generate more income and can’t afford to buy a jersey featuring their own name and number.
Other Questions From the Fall 2015 Cultural Scene
What Are the Top Box Office Movies of the CFB Season?
Straight Outta Compton (87% on Rotten Tomatoes) drops today, and Dr. Dre’s return to production (from the business of $600 headphones and $70 million donations to Southern Cal) has had my man Triple Threat bobbin’ his head in the Sojourn East offices all week.
The End of the Tour (92% RT), on the five-day traveling relationship between late genius author David Foster Wallace (see my review of his essays here) and a Rolling Stone journalist, is a must see, which, if you have kids, means see it in about six months on Amazon over the course of three nights cause you can’t stay awake longer than 45 minutes once said kids are asleep.
Fantastic Four (8% RT) is listed here just to remind you that we live in a world where a movie could be enjoyed by 1-in-12 movie-goers and still do $27,000,000 in a month. Reason #300 to move to the Simeon Mountains and live off berries and goat.
Whose Going to Win this GOP Reality Show?
I’m not a Republican, but I am enjoying the entertainment. No disrespect, but is this real life? American politics has come to Donald Trump being featured front and center at an actual presidential campaign debate? Reason #301, ladies and gentlemen! Here’s my take, and it’s similar to the Wall Street Journal prediction that only five candidates have an actual chance (Trump’s moment has passed, and he’ll drop in Iowa and New Hampshire like a lead anvil; Rand Paul will get knocked out of the race once people realize he’s actually an eye doctor in western KY). Of the real five, Jeb Bush will fade when people realize he’s related to the other Bushes. John Kasich, IMHO, the one of the bunch who could actually run the country well next year, has a campaign that could best be summarized as “too little too late.” Ted Cruz’s atrocious sense of humor will take care of itself, and Marco Rubio seems like a genuinely nice guy—we know where they finish. That leaves Scott Walker, who at least has the least working against him. My prediction: a Walker-Kasich ticket (although a Walker-Bush ticket could also happen). Enough about politics!
More Importantly, How About An Early World Series Prediction!?
Now we’re talking! According to advanced projections the American League will be represented by: Toronto (33%), Kansas City (21%), Houston (17%), NY Yankees (15%), or LA Angels (13%). The Blue Jays definitely look like this year’s Royals—about .500 at the All-Star break, hot-as-heck going into the playoffs. But one team has led the AL all season long, had the most All-Stars for a reason, addressed its only two real deficincies at the trade deadline, and have the “nobody believes in us” look of a WS champion. My own KC Royals.
In the NL, the same projections give WS odds for St Louis (36%), LA Dodgers (20%), NY Mets (12%), Pittsburgh (11%), and San Francisco/Washington/Chicago (each 6-8%). Sure, the Dodgers have a deadly Greinke/Kershaw combo and these Mets look a lot like Keith Hernandez’s ‘86 Mets.
But again, only one team has led the league wire-to-wire and posts one of the lowest ERA’s in MLB history. The STL Cards.
It’s true. Destiny, even. On the 30th anniversary of the ’85 Series (which the Royals took with a decisive 11-0 win in Game Seven), it will be another I-70 Series. The Fidelity pick?
Royals in four.
Fidelity SportsTM CFB Power Ranks
Tier One: The Playoff Teams
1 – Ohio State
2 – TCU
3 – Southern Cal
4 – Alabama
I know, I know. Why on earth would I let an obscure mid-major Bible college like TCU into my top tier? Because this corporation called the NCAA decided to give the Big 8 “power five” status, thus guaranteeing its top team—which this year, again, comes down to two Bible colleges (other: Baylor) that just a few years ago were kicking around in the Mountain West slash Mid-South or whatever in front of 22,000 fans. But apparently they have a stud QB, a stingy defense, and a schedule that includes teams like Iowa State and kansas. So, mark them down for 12-0 and a free ride to the New Years Eve Four. Ugh. (See end for playoff predictions.)
Tier Two: SEC Powerhouses
5 – Georgia
6 – Mizzou
7 – LSU
8 – Auburn
By the way, are you buying the garbage that Tennessee and Arkansas are going to be good this year? Like top 20 teams and better than Mizzou as both ESPN and SI have predicted? Reason #302, people.
Tier Three: Quality Bowl Teams
9 – Notre Dame
10 – Baylor
11 – Clemson
12 – Oregon
13 – Michigan State
14 – Georgia Technical
15 – Stanford
16 – Louisville
17 – Boise State
t-18 – Miss State/Ole Miss
20 – Brigham Young’s
There’s your Top 20, folks. Don’t argue with it! Have I ever been wrong? Scanning Wikipedia… Nope!
Prediction #1: Nick Chubb Wins the Heisman
This one will be a close race. Disco Stu is probably right that the award no longer goes to the best player but to the best-player-on-the-best-team. So someone Ohio State would be the front-runner or TCU’s Tre Boykin both have better technical odds. But the Buckeyes will detract stats and attention from one another, and TCU, again, is a mid-major homeschool, so I’m giving college sports’ most important trophy to the actual best athlete: UGA back Nick Chubb, or as I like to call him, Herschel Walker 2.0. By the way, my suggested cash award for the trophy? $1 million. Barely even a PGA win. All candidates invited to New York get a cool $200K.
My Heisman dark-horse? Mizzou back Russell Hansbrough.
Prediction #2: Alabama Beats Ohio State on New Years Eve
Folks forget that ‘Bama essentially had the game won with a minute left before the half last year. This year, I’m picking the Tide to relish its only underdog game of the season and knock off the B-eyes by a score of 35-30. (My man Reliable K will enjoy this pick.)
In the opening act of the evening, look for (3) USC to knock off (2) TCU 41-6.
Prediction #3: My NFL Preview Runs Less than 800 Words
Somehow, I’ve got to make up for this one pushing 2000. Ah, who am I kidding? The people want the Fidelity! (Side note: as I’m writing this, my sources are telling me Snoop Doggy’s kid, Cordell Broadus, a 4-star WR, has quit the Ucla football team; resisting another 1000 words on how this affects Puff Daddy’s kid, Justin Combs, a 4-star DB committed to Ucla.)
Prediction #4: Southern Cal Beats Alabama 45-41 in the National Championship probably over sponsored by Dr Pepper
I know, it’s bold. But USC has a few things going for it:
This is basically Dr Dre’s year.
QB Cody Kessler looks like a #1 draft pick (hello Cleveland!).
USC is recovering from its Pete Carroll sanctions.
And it’s about time for a West Coast champion!
You heard it here first, folks. Enjoy your weekends.
JSL & Co.