Never the same as last year

Every year I follow a multitude of preseason prognosticators and guffaw. They generally have very little deviation from the end of the previous season’s order of finish in any given league. This is just amateur of these so-called professionals. They can’t be idiotic enough to really believe that all the teams that finished with a poor record will finish with a poor record. And they must know that all the teams that finished with a solid record will not do so again. They are simply too weak at research and analysis to be accurate at prediction. They are either too lazy or afraid to make anything up, and the easiest way to make predictions is to look at the previous year’s standings and write that down. It never pans out.

An example of someone who does not do this is Phil Steele. For all the occasionally interesting insider insight that most publications have, Phil has about fifty times more actual information. The big difference is he has an actual track record of picking correctly. He does his research and picks based on longer trends, history of program strength, upcoming schedule, and returning talent (not returning starters, proven talent). Some think of Phil as strictly a gambling source, but if you want real solid college football information without the glossy bells and whistles, Phil’s annual publication is easily the best.

I started reading Phil back when I gambled, and I had seven big winning seasons out of eight. I still read Phil without the personal anxiety of having a bad week from gambling, because he knows his stuff. My last two bookies ended up: one dead and one in jail, while each owed me money. And I hate to pay the fees for overseas and try to never send our money out of the USA. But I still pick games.

I sort of like the sometimes witty and definitely Deep South Tony Barnhart, as a converse example to Steele. Tony can be fun and is an insider. But he calls himself Mr. College Football while he annually struggles to pick much above .500, from week-to-week without point spreads.

This brings me to the 2010 BIG HAIRY DAWGS:

Schedule: We don’t get LSU or BAMA this regular season. Tennessee looks horrible, coming off another 7-6 year with little returning talent. Florida is in reloading mode and, more importantly, will be sure to suffer an identity crisis with Tebow and great defensive coordinator Charlie Strong gone. S.Carolina, Kentucky and Vandy have never won the SEC East and don’t look poised to do so…ever. Arkansas looks explosive with bad defense; Auburn can’t lose to us forever but has dropped four straight to us; the air in Colorado is thin but so are they. Tech’s window looks already closed with Bay-Bay Thomas and Jonathon Dwyer gone. The Mississippi State Bullpups are not big nor hairy. And the Idaho State Bengals and Louisiana-Lafayette Coonasses are on the docket. More on this in article below.

Talent: UGA has proven talent returning at tailback, fullback and on the O-line. We have the best receiver in the nation and he has now proven to perform well with several QBs getting him the ball, under blankets of coverage, with no running game to speak of, with no strong secondary target. Aaron Murray simply must hand off to Ealey and King and distribute, mainly to AJ and Orson Charles. The defense is a big question mark, but if we control the clock and run the ball as effectively as we did late last season that won’t matter nearly as much as it could. Time on the sidelines is what a new D needs, time to be coached up by the intense and thorough Grantham. I saw him really get after it at G-Day, when our starting D gave up the only one score our starting (that day) offense could muster. Our special teams can also be just that – special, but we must put the talent in a better position to cover kicks. Bobo coaches best with a strong, established running game. We have all the talent in coaches and players required to win big.

Trends and Program Strength: UGA has not had back-to-back down years under Richt over nine years and has lately beaten Florida every third year. When UGA runs well, we have had our best seasons. UGA is 2-1 in SEC Title games and 10-2 in bowl games. UGA has won 3 of 4 versus both Bama and LSU. Strong program.

Prediction: SEC East Champs that have a decent shot against an overconfident Bama squad due for a letdown in Atlanta (or a great shot against an overachieving LSU, Auburn, Arkansas). If we can run the ball, we can win big.

I am wondering what Phil Steele will say and will find out soon. As always, I say GO DAWGS! I now y’all will miss me, but not much else for me to say until August, so I’m taking a break on the BLAWG (C) HV until then. But remember this: In the South, it is ALWAYS football season…and I bleed Red-and-Black. When the season comes, please bring your true passion to Sanford Stadium and make some noise. It will be Saturday in Athens!

Thanks so very much for reading me this spring,

HanDAWG  (Han Vance, author-journalist-poet)

Harriette Austin Poetry Award winner (2008)

Forthcoming Memoir/Travel Narrative: Golden State Genius (C) 2010

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