We're all homers. One of the most difficult things about writing any conference-wide blog, as your humble correspondent has noted before, is screening out your own biases. Sure, it would be fine for a South Carolina blogger to predict an 8- or 9-win season on a South Carolina blog, but the objective here is to be realistic.
How did I do with a 7-5 pick? According to some of the better bloggers out there, not very well. Dr. Saturday:
But given Spurrier’s history of instability at quarterback -- whether by injury and impatience, he's had two different regular starters each of the last three years at Carolina -- and the perpetual struggles of the offensive line, Garcia's sophomore campaign might qualify as a success if he’s still upright and atop the depth chart at the end of it. If he actually manages to the 'Cocks above .500 against a schedule with at least seven games they'll enter as likely underdogs, that's just gravy.
That wasn't the worst part of the post.
No, the honor of "hardest line for a South Carolina fan to read" came earlier in the post, when the Doc was ruminating on Spurrier's reign so far and where the program stands now.
The window has slammed shut so emphatically that it almost seems hard to believe it ever existed in the first place. And whether it did or not, it's hard to find any reason it might open again soon -- beginning with talent relative to the rest of the SEC.
As fan, you have to eventually get to a point where what "the experts" say doesn't bother you as much, even when it's someone as universally respected as Hinton. Sometimes, they turn out to be wrong. But it's still troubling that a more objective look at the Gamecocks finds a .500 record "gravy" when I almost consider that level of achievement a given.
And the Doc is not alone. In their fine preview of the SEC, The Rivalry, Esq. includes South Carolina as one of the teams that will not make it to a bowl.
The Music City Bowl is ecstatic to finally get the Vols in Nashville. Auburn heads to the Liberty Bowl. Kentucky goes to Shreveport. South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State spend a long, mild winter thinking about next year.
South Carolina less likely to go to a bowl than Tennessee? Auburn? Kentucky?!? Not that it's impossible to picture all three going to the postseason -- I already have the Vols and the Wildcats playing in late December or early January. But I also have both of them behind the Gamecocks in the SEC East.
I am not alone among South Carolina fans and observers, at least. The Head Ball Coach himself sees opportunities for improvement this year after last year's Outback Bowl debacle almost did him in.
Spurrier, entering his fifth season at South Carolina, said he quickly got over that funk, thanks in large part to the way the Gamecocks recruited, and remains committed to bringing an SEC championship to a program that has wallowed in mediocrity throughout its history.
"We've got a lot of good, young talent on our team.
"That and the new (assistant) coaches we got in here sort of re-energized me. I look at it like we're starting our second run here." ...
"We certainly have hopes that these guys we have now and the guys on the way will help. Like I said, we're starting on our second leg, and we'll see where it takes us."
Chris Brown argues at the Doc's place that part of the problem, though, is Spurrier and his seeming inability to adapt. So if Spurrier adds some elements of the spread, is that enough to turn this thing around?
We're running some of the spread stuff and our quarterbacks are able to run a little bit. So we're a little bit different than we have been in the past and running the ball some out of the shotgun. ... Yeah, we've never really had great running quarterbacks. We've had decent guys who could run a little bit. But if you're going to run that spread offense, your quarterback's got to carry it six to eight times a game.
Again, I don't let this get to me too much as a fan. There are examples almost annually of teams that are written off for dead every year and emerge to have great seasons. Sure, the numbers are pretty small -- but part of a fan's job is to enjoy the ride, even if you have to grasp at some fairly thin straws to keep your hopes up.
If nothing else, South Carolina can always be Defensive Back U. As long as the Gamecocks get "Youth, depth and who will play where" figured out.
Though if he throws for 58.8 yards an attempt, he should be a shoo-in
Red Cup Rebellion comes to the conclusion that "Heism@n Trophy winner Jevan Snead" is unlikely.
"Watching him handle himself, the way he threw the ball, listening to the other quarterbacks talk about him, I think he’s going to be a very, very good quarterback," he said.
Coming from one of the game's foremost experts on quarterback play. (HT: Roll Bama Roll)
A strong safety controversy?
If such a thing is possible, it might be brewing in Baton Rouge now that Les Miles has named a starter.
But will anyone even notice?
WR Montez Billings will be suspended for Auburn's first four games. Again, wide receiver. The impact of this on Auburn's game should be minimal.
It's gonna be hard to play in Hazmat suits
Alabama starts quarantining players to contain some sort of flu. Could it be SWINE FLU?
I wouldn't worry about it too much
Robbie Andreu is concerned about Urban Meyer's pledge to remain uncontroversial. This is different from the last time he made this promise -- how?
Peace in our time?
Year2 noted this in a FanShot yesterday, but it looks like the uproar over media credentials is mostly resolved.
The West is a puzzle. But, then, you already knew that.
And The Valley Shook explains why it's so hard to settle on a favorite in the SEC West:
Every team, even the good ones, have questions and areas of concern, including us.
At least it's not based on people in Montana
I really don't want to link to this, but it's just too good. Stewart Mandel has come up with a way to rank the best QBs of all time. By adding up their fantasy football points. No, I'm not kidding.
'If we could just do that to two more games, maybe we could get back to No. 1'
Georgia edits its 2008 season.
Sweeping prediction of the day
Tennessee will not win the SEC until at least 2012. Don't worry; it's all part of Boy Wonder's plan.
A less sweeping but perhaps more interesting one
The Mayor gives us his random forecasts for the coming season, including this one:
Caleb King will rank third in rushing yardage for the Georgia Bulldogs this fall.
Makes one wonder who will be Nos. 1 and 2.
What a difference a decade makes
An incredible article recounting where college football was in 1999 and how it's changed over the last 10 years.