ALSO THIS MONTH
MARK DEWING, a freelance writer and British expatriate, moved to the U.S.A. partly to experience heavy snowfall, but primarily because he got tired of having to wait until 2:00 a.m. to watch the Super Bowl live. He has worked as a social worker, freelance photographer, tomato picker, mortuary cleaner and bookstore buyer/manager. He most recently worked within the publishing industry as a PR consultant. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and he wishes the Dodgers still lived there too.
Get the tailgate grills and coolers ready - even if you're only hanging out in the backyard. What's new? Florida State, Florida, and Nebraska are still the classroom bullies, but their regular season schedules are weak. Tennessee (last year was their Twilight Zone season) will attempt - and fail - to repeat as national champion. Miami (FL) after years of crippling recruiting sanctions believes it can move back upstairs. It won't. Miami of Ohio is a far better team - last year they finished 10-1, tied as conference champs, yet failed to gain a bowl berth! The Big East is still a blue collar, but weaker conference - pity poor CBS who own the TV rights to it. Notre Dame is rebuilding but feels cocky enough to have an impossibly tough schedule. Penn State, Arizona and Ohio State are all feeling like they have the weapons to win big in '99. But watch out for this season's sleepers, which include Air Force, Purdue, Louisville, and Colorado.
Who'll be crowned champion on January 4th at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans? The BCS - though some might drop the "C" after Kansas State were shut out of it last year - has been tinkered with, after only one year. Human beings have been reduced in importance, and additional computerized polls added. Its now dependent on a combo of the human AP media and USA Today/ESPN coaches polls, nine computer polls, strength of schedule, and a minimum of 9 wins - last year it was 8. The official BCS press release reads like a math thesis: "The formula shall be weighted two-third (66.67%) for the opponent's record and one-third (33.33%) for the opponents' opponents record... shall be calculated to determine in which quartile it will rank...and shall be further quantified by its ranking within each quartile (divided by 25)". Yeah, Ok! Thanks guys!
The colleges are getting greedier - and our Faustian TV corporations are eagerly beckoning with more buckets of cash, in exchange for odd scheduling match-ups, and yet more bowls. The Mobile Alabama Bowl debuts this year. There are now 23 bowls, involving 46 teams. There are only 114 teams in Division 1-A. "Huh", I hear you say, "weren't there only 112 1-A teams last year?" Please put your hands together to welcome the latest teams to leap up to Division 1-A: Buffalo, and Middle Tennessee State. Let's pretend we don't know that Buffalo finished last season - when they were still playing Division 1-AA teams - 4-7. Middle Tennessee State managed to do better - it finished 5-5 - giving them the confidence to take on Arizona (#4 AP pre-season), and Arkansas (#22) on the road. It's all about money. As Francis Bacon once wrote: "Money is like muck, not good except that it is spread".
College football, traditionally starts before the slicker, but less exciting, NFL. However, even though the NCAA now stages five late August games - some oddly referred to as "Classics" - the NFL's televised pre-season, started August 7th. Their regular season has shifted a week forwards - the NFL regular season now concludes in January.
Happiest News This Season:
Most Depressing News:
Top Heisman Candidates:
Ron Dayne, RB, Wisconsin. 5'10, 253lb. Dayne will not only smash Archie Griffin's Big 10 rushing record, he'll also nudge past last year's Heisman winner, Ricky Williams' career NCAA rushing record of 6,279 yards.
Chad Pennington, QB, Marshall, 6'3, 220lb. He's amassed over 10,000 career passing yards already. This is the guy who threw to Randy Moss two years ago, yet last year - sans Moss - still managed to be incredible. In last year's Motor City Bowl he threw for 411 yards, and completed 4 TD's.
Most Interesting Coaching Stories:
Will Florida's Terrible Triplets Wipe the Floor?
Why I Love This Game:
Pop Quiz Answer:
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PICTURES: Ron Dayne (right) copyright ©1999 University of Wisconsin; Chris Redman (left) copyright © 1999 University of Louisville Sports Information