Sunday, August 26, 2007
This week's edition of the Press Buffet is dedicated to the weaklings who signal the true start of football season. It is traditional for high-caliber programs to tune up in the early going by scheduling lightweights from small conferences, and even Division 1-AA or smaller. The NCAA rule allowing teams to claim a non-division-1A win in order to become bowl eligible (once every few years) has done nothing to dissuade anyone from the practice.
I wrote about the absurd notion (to me) that college football now starts in August in a guest shot on Losers With Socks, and it's turned into a regular feature.
Today I want to examine the journalistic mindset of writers who cover the cannon fodder. Do they wring their hands and moan? Do they put on false bluster? Do they talk about tennis instead? Let's find out.
First I turn to the Ogden Standard-Examiner, which is published in the hometown of Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. The Wildcats will be the first team to take on the newly mighty Boise State Broncos following their wild Fiesta Bowl victory over Oklahoma to end last season:
"We want the community support," WSU coach Ron McBride said in between picture with the fans. "We want to get the community involved with everything we're doing."
WSU opens the season Thursday at No. 24 Boise State, and then will play its second game of the season on Sept. 15 at Cal Poly. The following Saturday the 'Cats will play their home opener against Montana State.
I guess that's life outside the BCS - start out on the road every year.
Also from the state of Utah, the University of Utah Utes are heading to Oregon State to open the season. Here's what the Salt Lake Tribune had to say about an early trip to the Pac-10:
"Light," has been the overall theme for the Utes in practice the last week as practices have been kept short, with very little contact. Apparently the coaches feel good enough about the team's preparation that they're ready for Oregon State.
"We're not going to stay on the field just to stay on the field," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said after Saturday's practice. "We've got a veteran offense and usually it takes the offense a little longer to come around. The defense tends to develop faster, but it has been a rapid process for the offense with 10 returning starters."
In other words, after losing one starter due to a preseason injury, the Utes prefer to take their lumps in Corvallis rather than on the practice field.
On to the Buffalo News, where the University at Buffalo (that's what they really call it) travels to New Jersey to take on another Cinderella from last year, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. They're taking a different approach - Ontday entionmay Utgersray:
Early in his career at the University at Buffalo, James Starks distinguished himself as a lot of things: a quarterback, a cornerback and a wide receiver. But the Bulls’ starter at tailback?
“I played running back a little in Pop Warner,” Starks said. “Then they moved me to quarterback.”
Hah. Oh ho... yeah. I don't think Rutgers' first string is going to need to play too long in this one. In fact, here's the prediction from the hometown paper of record:
While Gill has recruited better and the players have bought into the system, the Bulls haven’t experienced enough success to warrant anything more than another two-win season. Looks like they’ll go 2-10.
Finally, off to wee Murray, Kentucky, where the Ledger covers the 1-AA Murray State Racers. The pride of Murray will drive a few hours up to Lou-uh-ville to get demolished and pick up a game check. As you might expect, the team preview is full of cheerful little nuggets like these:
Consider this: the Racers went 1-10 last year while fielding a team with 39 freshmen. Yet, as strange as it sounds, this year the Racers could be even younger, with 73 freshmen and sophomores and just 14 upperclassmen on the team.
Charlie Jordan ran for a team-high 448 yards last year, but the team's biggest question heading into the season remains who will give Jordan and talented wide receiver Rod Harper the ball.
Linebacker Nate Williams, who finished seventh in the nation in tackles per game with 11.1, anchors a defense that will try to improve after finishing 113th in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly NCAA Division I-AA).
So, I guess what we're saying here is... there's still a chance! [/Lloyd Christmas]
That's your August preview from Cupcake City. See you next week.