As many of you are aware, from 1999 to 2004, I co-hosted "The Dawg Show" on local cable television with Travis Rice, an old friend who also happens to be married to my sister-in-law (and whom I recently mentioned).
Each autumn, in the preseason edition of "The Dawg Show," we would offer not just conference championship predictions, but also general forecasts of events which we believed would come to pass. (Just for fun, we didn't tell each other in advance what our respective prognostications would be. Trav's on-air reaction to my prediction that his wife would be pregnant with their third child within a year---which turned out to be correct, incidentally---was one of the show's better moments.)
Unfortunately, I'm not always as right as I was about the impending arrival of my newest nephew, as evidenced by last year's preseason predictions and their ultimate results. Nevertheless, part of the fun of sports is staking out a position so you can say, "I told you so!" later if, by random dumb luck, something you say turns out to be true.
You get points for figuring out the connection between the perfume counter at Horne's Department Store and One Eyed Jack's, even if you never received visits from dwarves and giants who helped you find out who killed Laura Palmer.
Here, then, are my conference championship predictions:
Atlantic Coast Conference: Virginia Tech. Technically, somebody has to win this league, right?
Big East: West Virginia. With Louisville in transition under a new head coach, the Mountaineers have the inside track to the conference crown.
Big Ten: Michigan. The Wolverines get all but one of their tough games at home and they return both a wealth of offensive talent and a capable defensive coordinator.
Big 12: Texas. The school's athletic director is DeLoss Dodds. The Longhorns' head coach is Mack Brown. The team's starting quarterback is Colt McCoy. If you didn't know this was real life, you'd swear those names came out of a Tom Wolfe novel about a fictional football team from the Lone Star State. Anyway, I like the 'Horns to finish ahead of the Sooners in the winner-take-all Red River Shootout.
Look me in the eye and tell me you're absolutely certain the athletic director in "Necessary Roughness" wasn't named "DeLoss Dodds." I dare you.
Conference USA: Southern Miss. Jeff Bower. Brett Favre. Sunday Morning Quarterback. How could you not go with the Golden Eagles?
Mid-American Conference: Central Michigan. I'm picking the Chippewas to defend last year's M.A.C. title. Unless, of course, they're either the Broncos or the Eagles . . . or unless it was Eastern Michigan or Western Michigan that won the M.A.C. title. Ah, heck, I can't tell my Directional Michigans apart, so these guys are as good a pick as anybody.
Mountain West: Texas Christian. How 'bout them Frogs!
Pacific-10: Southern California. The Trojans will stumble along the way, losing at least one conference game, but, although the rest of the league is catching up to U.S.C., the Men of Troy aren't done yet.
Southeastern Conference: Georgia, of course!
Sun Belt: Louisiana-Lafayette. Fear the Ragin' Cajuns! Unless they're the Warhawks. Anyway, fear the former Southwest Louisiana! Unless it's the former Northeast Louisiana. Anyway, I like U.L.L. to claim the Sun Belt championship that has proven so elusive to this program.
Western Athletic Conference: Boise State. I know Hawaii is a trendy pick to win the league this year, but I'll believe it when I see it. Here's what I know about the W.A.C.: Boise State went undefeated and the Warriors' head coach has the same first name as my mother. I'm thinking Chris Petersen can figure out a way to beat a guy who didn't know any better than to take a job coaching the sorry Atlanta Falcons.
I'm pretty sure the B.C.S. has a dress code, dude.
Those are my conference championship picks. This brings me to my more particular forecasts, which are offered in no order and based on no logic:
- Two Pac-10 teams and two S.E.C. teams will make it into B.C.S. bowl games.
- Bobby Johnson will be hired away from Vanderbilt to replace Tommy Bowden as the head coach of the Clemson Tigers.
- In mid-October, Stewart Mandel will write what you will swear at the time is the dumbest thing you have ever read, then, one week later, he will write something even dumber.
- Louisiana State will lose two games and one of the Bayou Bengals' losses will be to Alabama.
- The Washington Huskies will upset at least one ranked opponent.
- Georgia will beat Florida.
- In a nod to cultural sensitivity, Notre Dame will drop the derogatory "Irish" stereotype from its nickname and change the school's mascot to "the Fighting Marijuana," in recognition of the fact that the Golden Domers regularly get smoked in a bowl.
If the foregoing prediction comes to pass, maybe Notre Dame can start borrowing its helmet stickers from Ohio State. (Yeah. Buckeye leaves. Sure they're buckeye leaves. And you only put 'em on your helmet to help with your glaucoma, right?)
- Urban Meyer will accept an N.F.L. head coaching position shortly following the end of the season.
- Neither Boston College nor Utah will extend its bowl winning streak this season.
- Georgia and L.S.U. will meet in the S.E.C. championship game for the third time in the last five years.
- Southern California will not win the national championship.
- Neither Ed Orgeron nor Sylvester Croom will be fired in 2007.
- I will be wrong about more than 50 per cent of my preseason predictions.