Competitive sports are a big part of my life, so long as someone else does the sweating. My playing days are long over, if you could even call them that.
My high school coach always said, “Boys, there are two kinds of athletes; the gifted and the good. The gifted athlete is one who brings lavish natural abilities to the field. He is bigger, stronger and can run faster, or stand pain better, than the other athletes. He is gifted. Then there is the good athlete, who may not be gifted, but he brings everything he has got on every play of every game. He is a good athlete.”
“Davis,” he would say, “sniffing at me, “you are neither gifted nor good.”
And no one who ever saw me play would rise to my defense.
His assessment notwithstanding, I have remained intrigued by the gifted and the good. When you find a fellow, or a lass, who is both good and gifted, you know you have something special. If you get the right combination of gifted and good on your football team, for instance, you can sprint up Mt. Triumph.
So, with trembling hand, I offer my picks, pre-season variety, for the NCAA, D-I football (Men’s) 2013, top-ten.
Do not bet on games. These picks are for recreational purposes only. Do not bet on games. If you have money to throw away, throw it my way.
- Alabama-This is one of those sports no-brainers. Pick an SEC team to win the national title. Make sure that SEC team is Alabama. The hard part is deciding where to put the Tide’s second string, which would be no worse than 6th, rated on their own. -Sigh-Again.
- Ohio State-This is too high to rate a Big-10 football school these days. Team speed is everything and most Big-10 schools run like arthritic hippopotami. I list OSU here because Coach Meyer is not building a Big-10 style team in Columbus. His group can run, hit, play defense and score enough to win the Big-10. Dot the I with a tuba, OSU will have a good year in a mostly weak league.
- Stanford-The brainiacs of the Left Coast will make me look good on this one. The schedule is not all that favorable but they have the OL and DL to make 2013 work for the Cardinal, or whatever their mascot is now. PC to the limit, Go Non-Offenders.
- Georgia-Rule number 2: Pick at least one more SEC team in the top five. This year I pick Georgia. Their schedule is less daunting than that of the other members of the top ten, except they play in the SEC, a league apart from all others. Georgia has a very young defense, which must mature rapidly. Mark Richter will get them all together for another ten win season. I have them higher than most people, but, then, I also have Stanford higher and the Aggies lower than most people.
- Oregon-Chip Kelly is now in the NFL but his offense is still in Oregon. This will not do him much good in Philadelphia but it will help the Mighty Ducks. They are not yet on major probation, you know, the kind that saps the motivation out of a college kid. There is plenty of talent, team speed and they promoted from within when the music stopped and their old coach was seen sitting with a Phillie Cheese steak in his grubby hands. The Ducks are ready.
I think there is a big drop off between the top five this year and the next five. I seriously considered listing the Alabama second squad as number six, but you don’t get to do it that way. So, I start over, from one to five, for scoring purposes but, as I will explain, I don’t think these teams compare favorably to the first five.
- (6)-Texas A&M-If Johnny Football has not become Johnny Suspension. To say the least, Mr. Manzel has had a star crossed offseason, for which he may pay more than the usual suspects pay for his autograph. If he is there and can focus, the Aggies are no worse than six. If he is not there, or if he is too distracted, the Aggies may lose as many as they win this year. A risky pick.
- (7)-South Carolina-This might be the break-out year for the “Old Ball Coach” at USC. There is talent, speed and the best defensive player in the nation. Is there enough Gun in the Fun and Gun? I don’t know. This is another team that could win ten games, or two. I think they will win more than they lose but the schedule is not wimpy and they do play in the SEC.
- (8)-Oklahoma-Sooner Alert-I always put Zero U higher than anyone else. If everybody else has them at #16, like this year, I put them at #8. If all other polls have them at #1, I put them in the NFC North Division and pick them to win it. They have no proven QB, must rebound on defense and are young everywhere. They also play in a shaky conference with no real favorite for dominance. This year is ripe for the OU picking and they still have something a strong NCAA team must have; Bob Stoops. OK, Coach Stoops whines and is a pinhead on the Offensive side of the ball. He still wins.
- (9)-Louisville-On the strength of their QB alone (and a schedule that would excite only the faithful) I should have Louisville higher. And I will have them higher than #9, but not until basketball season. They are like A&M; great if their QB is there and ready to go, not so good if anything happens at that position. I think their guy will start and win ten games but I cannot count on it until it happens.
- (10)-The University of Texas in Austin.-Mack is the official college coach of my website. Mack is a great guy. Mack still gets most recruits he wants. Mack lost 25 pounds in the off-season and looks ready. Now, if David Ash stays upright, if the super talented RBs do their job and if the overall defense can hold the opposition under 100 points a game (see 2012), the Horns could do something really good. Or, they might win three games. The schedule is tough. We are about to find out if the Horns are tough, too.
So, there you go. I did not pick Notre Dame, or Florida (which will come back to haunt me) or Clemson or LSU. LSU, by the way, is my sleeper. I did not pick Clemson, even with their QB and a league portion they could surely dominate. I don’t know what they will do but I do not pick them because they have disappointed me in the past.
Enjoy the season. Soon it will rain and the temperatures will cool.