Free Form Friday Says Pass Me My Spectacles. I'm 'Bout To Start Speculating.

It's college football's offseason. That's not my problem. It's not your problem. It's our problem. And collective problems call for collective solutions.

Thus we present Free Form Friday. Until further notice, I'll spend Fridays posting a vaguely organized compendium of non-sequiturs, pop culture observations and college sports miscellany which you may discuss in the comments, or ignore in favor of your own topics. Think of it as your weekend open comment thread.

The offseason really only offers you three options as a college football fan. One, you can look back on the past. When the road to your past runs through Shreveport, this is not all that appealing. You can focus on issues totally unrelated to college football. I'll do some of that below, but really, you can only do so much of that, especially when you're writing a college sports weblog. Even the ADHD-addled ferrets in mission control at SBNation will only allow us to get away with so many diversions. Finally, you can speculate wildly about the future. That's the option I'm taking for this week's FFF. Below are several of my most insupportable hunches about what's to come, college football-related and otherwise. For starters:

Aaron Murray will finish the 2010 season with a Passer Efficiency Rating above 140. A stat geek says what? Passer efficiency is, admittedly, a pretty dodgy way of selecting the best quarterbacks in football, either college or pro. But if you look at the list of top performers in this category from 2009 you'll notice a few things right off the bat. Tim Tebow's name at the top, which is interesting given all the moaning from Florida fans last season about their offense. The fact that Kellen Moore from Boise State threw a total of 3 interceptions all season long.

Dig a little further and you'll also notice that 6 of the 10 teams which played in a BCS Bowl in 2009 also placed their quarterback in the top 30 on this list. The others were 1) Ricky Stanzi of Iowa, who got by on sheer Americanism, 2) Josh Nesbitt, whom Paul Johnson would likely be horrified to see passing the 15 times per game required to be rated, 3) Terrelle Pryor, who I understand is some sort of rock star/savior who doesn't have to actually be good to be glorious, and 4) Oregon's Jeremiah Massoli, a battering ram in cleats. That's not causation, but it's correlation. The things that make for a better QB rating (high completion percentage, low interception total, high yards per completion) all come under the Jeopardy category "Things Your Quarterback Does Not To Screw Up The Whole Operation."

 Joe Cox, por exemplo, had a passer rating of 136.33 last season, which was 40th best in the Bowl Subdivision. That number would have been much worse but for the fact that Cox's touchdown percentage (the percent of his pass attempts that resulted in a touchdown) was 7.25%, the highest of any QB outside the top 15. Yes, 1 in every 13.8 Joe Cox passes was a touchdown. His interception percentage of 4.53% was the 8th highest among passers in the top 100. In other words, counting on Joe Cox was like riding in a taxi driven by a drunken koala: dangerous, exciting, and more than a little surreal.

Greg McElroy of Alabama, by contrast, had the 28th highest rating. That's only marginally higher, but it's interesting that he got there by having the 6th lowest interception percentage (1.23%) on the list. He was the unflavored Quaker oats of SEC quarterbacking: bland, warmish and just filling enough to ward of hunger pains. Nothing too exciting, except for that nice crystal football he got to hold at the end of the year.

Back in 2006 I said that the quarterback didn't matter with a really good offensive line. I was wrong on a couple of counts. For one, that offensive line was not as good as I believed. And a more complete stament of the rule would have been "the quarterback matters less when you have a really good offensive line, a solid running back tandem, and the best wide receiver in the conference." That's the situation in which Aaron Murray finds himself.

Alabama will lose at least 2 games in 2010. Alabama has nine new starters on defense. Nine. There is no way on God's green growing Earth that anyone is winning the SEC West, let alone the BCS title, with nine new guys on defense. Yes, I know, Nick Saban is some sort of robotic coaching cyborg and all of his players are impeccably prepared from day one, yada, yada, yada. The young Tide secondary will be tested early in consecutive weeks at Arkansas (September 25th), at home against Florida (October 2nd) and in Columbia against South Carolina (October 9th). By the time they travel to Baton Rouge on November 6th they may have things figured out. But there's also the nagging hunch that Greg McElroy, mentioned above as a paragon of dull excellence, could experience a second year slump. Again, rank speculation.

The Big Ten won't be the first conference to announce expansion. The prisoner's dilemma is now in full effect in college football. As wily as Mike Slive is, and despite his public stance of "read/react" (also known as the Willie Two Thumbs approach to expansion) Slive is too smooth an operator not to be working the phones like a demon. The Big XII has little to gain by playing anything more than solid defense at this point, unless they want to get in on the television network bonanza. The Big XII North would not be a bad place for a Big Ten school,  Independent or WAC member to land. I don't know that anyone other than the Big Televen feels that they need to expand. But I also know that if the right deal comes along nobody else is going to wait to see what Jim Delaney does before pulling the trigger. The problem is that if the SEC is going to expand, it cannot afford to dilute the brand. Slive must go big or go home. If Texas, for example, started putting out feelers and shopping around, I think the SEC would be compelled to put some type of package together. And if Texas indeed does go all Lebron James on the college football landscape, looking far and wide for the highest bidder, I doubt they'll be the only ones.

ABC will try to replicate Lost one more time before giving up on it. There's a temptation in entertainment circles to just go with what works. That's why Jaws III got made, and why there will be another Pirates of the Caribbean movie so long as Johnny Depp wants there to be. So it is with Lost. Unlike David Hale I can honestly say I never saw a single episode, even when they put the whole saga up on Hulu for free. I did start watching ABC's initial attempt at a replacement, Flash Forward, and found it generally entertaining, though not appointment viewing per se. Flash Forward is now being cancelled, and I am glad I wasn't more emotionally invested in it or I would be pissed about that. For once my detachment and cynicism pay dividends!

Being a major television network however, ABC will go back to the sci-fi well at least once more. ABC is the Houston Nutt of television networks, perpetually shoveling it to Dexter McCluster and/or Enrique Davis in the belief that one of these days he's gonna break that puppy wide open one more time. {pauses for effect} 'Cause he's fast. Exhibit A: Big Shots > Cashmere Mafia > Dirty Sexy Money. Speaking of Ole Miss . . .

The gang at Red Cup Rebellion at least got the first one right. They recently ranked the SEC football coaches based upon which ones are the biggest, um . . . jerks. But Steve Spurrier is terribly undervalued at 5. If anything, The Evil Genius (sic) is even more of a jerk now that his teams can't back up his schtick. And by "back it up" of course I mean "win an actual bowl game". I'm speculating that Gene Chizik will rocket up this list. The WarChicken Limo and Bowling Shirt Tour convinced me that he has the potential to rub lots of people the wrong way. Seriously, buy Chizik stock early for next year's installment.

You will enjoy this clip from The Black Keys. Holy crap, they're playing garage rock in a darkened room full of wild Badgers!!!


 

Wisconsin Badgers to be precise, but it's September in Madison. What kind of odds would you give me on Bret Bielema being drunk and shirtless in the front row? Until later, feel free to fill the comments with your own brand of reckless speculation. And oh yeah,

 

Go 'Dawgs!!!

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