If Tim Tebow is smiling, and Joe Paterno is frowning, and Lee Corso is ranting, and Southern Cal is reloading, and the Georgia Bulldogs are barking, and Phil “Subpoena” Fulmer is fuming, then it must be time for another college football season.
Student-athletes who haven’t already reported, do so this week.
With that in mind, here are 10 burning questions to ponder at the first water break:
1. If Georgia is the No. 1 team in the nation according to the first coaches’ poll, why did the SEC media pick Florida to win the league?
That’s because the SEC football media is experienced in covering SEC football. And the smart SEC pick is always the Gators.
Never mind that Georgia returns hot-wired halfback Knowshon Moreno. Never mind that the Dogs are led by the cannon arm of Matt Stafford. Never mind that Mark Richt had his canines chewing up opponents in a highly impressive fashion down the stretch last season.
Georgia faces a tough schedule. And Florida is Florida.
2. Could Ohio State really make it to the BCS title game for a third straight year?
Unfortunately, yes. The Buckeyes are a likely 11-1, and the expected defeat, Sept. 13 at USC — Carson Palmer knows — is early enough to give Jim Tressel’s club time to re-climb the polls.
Not that THE Ohio State University will be unwatchable. It will be fun to see how the staid Tressel deals with all-world freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
3. Will fans still need a thick seat cushion to sit through four-hour games?
Hopefully, no. The NCAA finally wised up, held its nose and adopted the NFL’s smarter clock rules. The play clock has gone from 25 to 40 seconds, starting at the end of the previous play instead of when the ball is officially spotted for play. The clock will stop on out-of-bounds plays only until the ball is spotted at the hash mark.
The last two minutes of each half, the clock will remain stopped until the ball is snapped after an out-of-bounds play, and a 25-second play clock will be in effect.
Rules makers believe the changes will carve 12 to 15 minutes off the length of each game. Our rears thank them.
4. Will this be the final seasons for Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden?
If this is no country for old men when it comes to college football, try telling that to Papa Joe and Bobby B. Both are legends. Both are considerably past their primes. Both keep hanging on. At least Bowden has lined up a successor.
5. Will Notre Dame bounce back?
Charlie Weis was booed when he sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at Wrigley Field recently, and it wasn’t for his singing voice. Notre Dame does have a favorable early schedule, especially with Michigan a likely mess. The Irish could be 6-1 before their Nov. 1 game with Pittsburgh.
6. Which new coach will have the biggest impact?
Forget Rich Rodriguez. It will take awhile for the new Michigan coach to smooth Ann Arbor’s muddy waters. Bo Pellini could have Nebraska knocking heads again, but Houston Dale Nutt might rouse the Rebels at Mississippi. His predecessor, Ed Orgeron, could recruit talent. He just had no idea how to coach it.
7. Which coach is on the hottest seat?
Despite a new contract, Tommy Bowden better wear his Kevlar boxers if his Clemson Tigers fall short of heightened expectations.