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Top Teams 2008

After Week Seven

  1. Alabama
  2. Penn State
  3. Texas
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Florida
  6. USC
  7. Georgia
  8. LSU
  9. BYU
  10. Missouri
  11. Ohio State
  12. Oklahoma State
  13. Texas Tech
  14. Utah
  15. Kansas
  16. USF
  17. North Carolina
  18. Miami
  19. Boise State
  20. Georgia Tech
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Submission Corner
« Food for Thought | Main | Turnover Analysis: Big Ten »

The Last Six Years

Here's a fine effort from CBS's Dennis Dodd-college football 2000-2006 boiled down to its most essential ingredients:

BCS, offensive revolution, Oklahoma, Miami, USC

Where do we go from here?

Good question.

I see a lot more of USC, certainly more offense, perhaps a touch more Florida if they fix the offensive personnel, more Miami if they find a more aggressive head coach, and a sprinkling of Ohio State and Notre Dame.  We shall see...

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Reader Comments (24)

You may want to note the big team from Texas, sir. More than a sprinkling, even.
July 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Bean
We'll have to wait and see on that.
July 7, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
No need. Without Vince Young, Mack Brown reverts back to his 10-2 ways, with disappointing losses and head scratching underachievment.
July 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterHP
Without Leinart and Bush, USC might also have some reversions.
July 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDawgy1
The difference between the two concerning reversions is twofold:

1)USC has proven it can overcome the loss of great players. They were no longer considered title contenders after Carson Palmer and Troy Polamalu graduated, but Leinart emerged and then Bush bloomed the next year. They're built to win titles not on a centerpiece player but on an overall concept.

Texas, on the otherhand, was always 10-2 good, that's what their concept could deliver for them. But until Young 1)arrived and 2)developed into a great player, they weren't even sniffing BCS games, let alone BCS titles. They got to the position they were in last year not because of anything they inherently did before had magically improved, but because Young was physically gifted enough to transform the 10-2 Mack Brown express into a team that could play in BCS games (and eke out last-second victories).

2)New quarterbacks. USC has two first-round talents in John David Booty and Mark Sanchez. Texas will trot out Colt McCoy, who brings up thoughts of Chance Mock (10-2 anyone?) perhaps or freshman Jevan Snead, who has a little better arm and a touch more athleticism. Neither are considered first-round talents or anything close. The talent gap between the two teams' new quarterbacks is tremendous.

Texas will remain a competitive team, as they were before Young, but there's no reason to suggest they're simply going to continue what they did before and find that same level of success as when Young was there. Everything returns to the mean and so too, will Texas.

Like I said, we shall see. Past history tells us Texas took a two-year joyride whereas USC's capable of recovery after losing its big stars.
July 7, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
how can you say that jdb and sanchez are first round talents, and colt mccoy and snead aren't remotely close to first round picks? what are you basing that on, your last visit to the oracle? and how can you say usc is capable of recovery while texas cannot? that makes no sense. both teams are stacked with blue-chip players, and why is it that only one team is able to recover losing a once in a lifetime player?
July 7, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteristupid
USC is capable of recovery exactly because they've done it before. Past is precedent here. I don't doubt their ability to get very close to a title game in the next year or two. When Palmer and Polamalu graduated USC had the same question hanging around them that Texas has now. USC answered by going to three title games, winning two, winning two Heisman trophies, winning 34 straight games, etc. etc. etc. They clearly can handle regime change.

As I said, before Young, Texas was the 10-2 express, no BCS games, a very good but not elite team. Then Young came along and once he figured things out he opened a two-year window for them to play among the elites like USC.

Now that he's gone, that window's closed unless they can find another amazing guy like that at quarterback.

Texas under Mack Brown has always had a boatload of talent but it could only get so far despite all that talent. It took a special player to change that expectation. That guy's gone, and thus the team is very likely to revert to its pre-Young ways.

REALLY SIMPLE to understand.

And my evaluations of the quarterbacks are based on my own observations of high school game film, whatever limited opportunities they've had in games (Booty, basically) and talking to people who actually know more about quarterbacks and evaluation than myself to get a general assessment of them.

There's also player development history at the programs:

USC under Carroll (5 seasons):

Three drafted quarterbacks: Leinart, Palmer, Cassel
Two first round quarterbacks: Leinart, Palmer

Basically every quarterback who has taken a meaningful snap at USC under Carroll has gone onto the NFL.

Texas under Brown (8 seasons):
Two drafted quarterbacks: Young, Simms
One first round quarterback: Young

That's two guys in eight seasons of work! Chance Mock and Major Applewhite were nice college QB's, but weren't program-changers like Young was, like Leinart or Palmer were. And the NFL clearly responded to that.

Keep in mind that Texas' coaching turned a guy with first round physical gifts in Simms into a bottom 3th round pick.

USC's coaching turned a guy with an average arm into a first rounder in Leinart and a backup (Cassel) with 19 career pass attempts in five seasons into a draftable player.

Besides that, both Booty and Sanchez were considered the best quarterbacks in the country for their recruiting classes (Sanchez might be ranked behind Perilloux, has a PS#2 from Phil Steele).

The point is there's great reason to believe both are great players and will get the proper coaching to maintain their abilities and help USC continue to contend. That combined with their obvious physical gifts means they're on the fast-track to the first round or something near to it.

The guys Texas has (Snead is a fairly well regarded recruit) are both leagues behind those guys, however. We'll see how it plays out once everyone hits the field but going in structurally the USC guys are in a position to maintain the school's prominence---recent history under Carroll says they'll do so.

Texas has the unknown working for it, the possibility that its fate won't be what they were exactly before Young arrived on campus, but what is known is how they did in the five years before that Young guy arrived. It was pretty good but they weren't doing what they did the last two years.
July 7, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
your whole argument makes you sound like a usc homer. basically usc was fine because of basically two players leinart and bush. to say that they can keep doing that over and over again, based on one successful regime change is ludicrous. i think they will be more than fine, but to say that texas will all of a sudden be hopeless makes little sense. you say look at history, but if you did, you would see that a lot of legendary coaches had to get over the hump, and before it, they were told they could never win the big one (bobby bowden etc). i really don't get how people quickly forget miami, they supposedly reload no matter what and look how quickly they fell. somehow i dont think that usc would have survived all of these games without bush, or leinart for that matter. having norm chow coached qb's makes a pretty big difference too. if predicting the future is so obvious and simple to understand, especially based on only a few years of data, you should start playing the stock market and making millions.
July 7, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteristupid
You're not arguing logic here.

I leave open the possibility that Texas can contend for titles, but personally, I just.don't.see.it.

Your original question was "how can you say usc is capable of recovery while texas cannot"

I explained it quite well above.

You can simply say you disagree and state your reasons why things might be different this time around, but I have already presented how things worked for them before Young got there, which I believe is the precedent for what will happen once he's gone.

Precedent is important because it is the known, it's a test, an example of how teams dealt with similar situations before and we can draw fairly reasonable conclusions from them, which I have.

It's why I can be comfortable saying that USC will hang around the BCS picture and perhaps make a title game run or two in the Booty/Sanchez era. They've DONE IT BEFORE despite losing an all-time player at their school as happened in 2003 and again in 2005. And they're replacing great talents with other great talents, unless former #1 prep QB's, the bluest of blue-chippers aren't considered great talents.

Texas' precedent dictates that unless a guy like Young is on the roster, they're going to be 10-2 and out of the BCS picture (well, at least the old 8 team/4 game BCS picture... now it's 10 teams). The Simms/Applewhite/Mock teams behaved a certain way, the Young teams a different one. I see the new QBs more like the former than the latter---highly touted but not generational type players.

Do you see the difference and why I can make such a conclusion?

Maybe I'm wrong. I'd love to see it. God forbid a college football team prove the pundits wrong. USC certainly did. Ohio State did in 2001. etc.

I simply don't see it happening for Texas, but big deal, not the end of the world.

For all we know, this is moot and Florida or Notre Dame or Ohio State goes on some great run the next 3 years and renders these two meaningless in the larger 2006-2010 discussions.
July 7, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
I'm going to hope that you and HP were just trying to rile up Texas fans on this one. While I don't necessarily disagree with the statement that USC will be around a lot more, their situation is no more promising than that of UT or any other major power. The argument that losing Polamalu and Palmer and then winning a national championship means that they can recover the loss of Leinart and Bush is beyond me. You aren't talking about a team that won a title, then changed personnel and won another. There was a good team that had two (more like 20, really) stars build on it to win a title. Those two guys deserve more credit than that. It's like saying that, for example, when UGA lost Champ Bailey and Kendrell Bell and followed it with a championship (albeit only a conference title) that they were built to win more when the new guys left. Guess what? We don't know how the defense will replace Blue, Stroud, and Minter. I think we'll be ok, because we have stockpiled talent. But can I claim that the history is what makes that point steadfast? No. And neither can you. To claim that one highly touted QB is better than another when neither has any real game experience is, at best, fallacy. You could make an argument for why USC will be around for awhile, but this isn't the one to make.
July 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCody
July 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCody
Just kidding, guys. But seriously, I'm right on this one.
July 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCody
You're arguing something different though.

My discussion is based on the Dodd article, who are the prominent teams/who is defining this decade. For me (and Dodd) those teams were Oklahoma, Miami and USC. Why?

Because they were contending for and playing for multiple championships. They were THE faces for college football in that time period.

The argument here is: is Texas going to be in that class? Will USC continue its prominence?

Well, Texas would have to continue playing in BCS games and playing in another BCS title game to do so, to hypothetically be in a Dodd article about 2006-2010 college football.

Playing in multiple BCS title games is the highest level of play right now in the NCAA. It's not simply winning an SEC or a Pac-10 or a Big Twelve or a Big Ten title or two. Michigan and Georgia and many others are in that position, but they're not defining what's going on the way Oklahoma/Miami/USC have.

It's a different level of play.

Texas did not get to that level before Young, despite immense talent and five strong years under Mack Brown. Young was the transformational guy that changed things.

USC got very close under Palmer in his senior year, then he departed. But then they found new talents to continue that legacy. They've played at that high level under two different sets of players now. Precedent says they'll continue to do so as does the great talent in the wings at the quarterback position.

Texas' precedent tells us they're going to fall back a modest notch to where they were before Young. Still a position of esteem, but not to where we can argue they helped define the era.

Georgia, on the other hand, has never been in that position to begin with. We're not arguing simply continuing to play well year after year, we're arguing extended national prominence, you're arguing I don't know what.

My interpretation is that Texas' two-year window closed with Young's departure. USC's continues to remain open because they've been built to be a prominent team regardless of the talent regime in place.

The test of that comes in the next few years.

Seriously, I'm right on this one. Sorry.
July 7, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
Hmm...I think you are misunderstanding me, as well as the angry Texas fans. My point is that USC's prominence and it's likelihood to continue is not rooted in history, but rather, the present. The argument that says, "Well we did it before, so we'll do it again," is shallow and provides very little basis for belief.

My reason for using UGA as an example is really just because they are always the easiest to come up with parallels with, because there isn't much I don't know about them. The point was that when they lost some great players, and then had a step UP in success (as USC did), then it is still on the players who achieved it, not the program. When those guys leave, THAT is when precedents are set. For example, you could say that UGA will remain a power in the SEC because they proved that even after the loss of key players (Greene, Pollack, Davis, Brown, Gibson), they maintained the same level of success (SEC titles).

USC simply hasn't done that, YET. And that, my friend, is what a precedent is all about. It hasn't been set yet...this is the year that starts. You ARE right, you just aren't arguing it right.
July 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCody
Yeah, it's semantics, but it's also July, and my college football tank is nearing E. I need something.
July 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCody
what are you saying i'm not arguing logic. im saying you are using your opinions as factual statements. carson palmer's senior team was good, but they still lost to kansas st and washington st (that's two losses, and their best season yet under carroll), and what do you know, he broke out under the tutelage of chow. how can you say that usc has the ability to lose two freak players replaced with a non-chow coached qb with back problems and be fine, while texas cannot? just because mike williams and palmer were replaced with once in a lifetime players does not mean that they will necessarily be fine because they did it ONCE before. you are basing the future on ONE set of information. like i said, you should start playing the stock market if your intuition is that good. if i don't make sense, read cody's responses, they are more thought out. but then again, arguing with someone with their mind already made up will never work.
July 8, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteristupid
I think the point is that USC is better equipped to reload than any team in the country right now. Why? Because they have brought in 4-straight No. 1 recruiting classes.

What if Texas had lost Vince Young and had TWO No.1-ranked quarterbacks waiting in the wins to take over? Then, they would be on this list. But they don't. They have a very good recruit in Snead, who is a TRUE frosh, and a redshirt frosh in Colt McCoy.

USC has Booty, a fourth-year guy, and Sanchez, a RS Frosh. Clearly, based on the quarterbacks, USC is better equipped to maintain its level. That is not homerism, but just fact.

As for the loss of Bush and White, USC doesn't need to replace them with guys who are as good, but merely better than the players they are going up against. Given USC's level of recruiting, which has been almost unparrallelled in recent CFB history (when it comes to rankings), the odds are that USC's running backs will be at least as good as Bush and White were as true freshmen, when they won their first national title.

The point about recruiting is key. USC has lost a bunch of great players, but its 85-man roster this year is actually more talented than it was last year. If you have the best talent in the country, you will be in position to stay at the top.

Now, Texas has top five talent as well. But Vince Young was a transformational player that made a huge difference. When USC won in 2003, Bush and White were not the Bush and White of today and Leinart was a rookie. The following year, USC lost its entire line, Mike Williams and Keary Colbert and then went undefeated. Last year, they lost four All-Americans on defense and, while that result showed on that side of the ball, they still made it to the title game and were 19 seconds from a third title.

So CFR is right in that USC has a clear track record of being able to plug in new and talented players at a variety of positions. Texas has not yet showed that ability, though they may now have it, with this year being a telltale sign.
July 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterHP
Not going to add too much to this other than to offer the Texas perspective here from someone who lives and dies with 'em.

I'm not sure that this will be the year to gauge whether or not Texas will fall a modest notch. It's too much to ask of the young QBs. (To that end, I agree: I'd rather have USC's QB situation this year.)

I think 2007 and 2008 will be when we can decide whether it was -just- Young or whether the program's taken a step forward. I believe the latter to be true, frankly, but I'm not hinging that bet on this year. We won't know until 2008.

I think what's more likely to be true is that Mack Brown learned from his mistakes during the Applewhite-Simms era. I think the program was loaded then, but not to the extent it is now. The 85 man roster in 2007-08 will be superior. Texas die hards will be watching those teams very, very closely. We'll know a lot more about Mack Brown and Greg Davis then.

(That said, the defense this year, plus Jamaal Charles, may be good enough to carry the team through. Just so hard to say with two guys who've never taken a live snap.)
July 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Bean
I also think that 2008 will tell more, especially with the recruiting class Texas is set to bring in this year.
July 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterHP
I guess we just disagree here HP. Texas had a number of #1 classes during the 10-2 run. That can't be used as evidence really, because there's too much guesswork. I think USC will still be a top program, but expecting them to be THE story, as this suggests, means that they will win titles, or play in title games. Now, they have not shown the ability to play at that level without Leinart and Bush. To claim that they will is merely speculation, and I think that needs to be admitted. Your argument about how Young was a "transformational" player certainly applies to Bush, and possibly Leinart as well. This is, without a doubt, a wait and see moreso than a foregone conclusion.
July 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCody

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