July 17, 2001
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If you've walked past a news stand lately you have probably noticed thathalf of the sports rack is covered with College Football 'Previews.' Thesepreviews are written by sportswriters who are supposed to be educated on theteams they write about. Problem number one... who can possibly knoweverything, or even a lot, about all 114 Division I football teams? It'simpossible. Yet in every section of each new edition, headlines such as'Athlon's All-America Team,' and 'The Sporting News All-Pac10 Team,' appear.
How on God's green earth can anyone read these things and actually believethat its at all likely to be the correct evaluation of a team?
These issues are written based on one thing... last year's statistics. Winsvs. Loses, completion percentage, number of INTs, punting average, and soon, make up the so called 'predictions' of how teams and players should do in2001. Never does it take into account margin of victory, number of turnoversin a particular contest, injuries, or other such factors that can decide agame. Never does it say, 'Team 'X' played their hearts out last season, butthings just didn't go their way. Look for them to be a contender thisseason.' Instead the bold print may read, 'Team `X` hasn`t won more than 6games in a year for the last three seasons. Don`t look for anything tochange this year either. Grade C-.' The beauty of college football is that from oneyear to the next teams change completely. Seniors graduate, and freshmencome in, while others may leave early for the draft. Players may get hurt orbecome ineligible to compete. Athletes transfer schools, change conferences,and come in from junior college. The point is, no one knows how good a teamis going to be until the season begins. And even then, many things can altera teams fate.
One doesn't have to look far to find a great example of how ridiculous it isto attempt to rate a college team before the season, or based on previousyears. Oregon State ring a bell? How about last years pre-season #3 Alabama?
What'd they finish again? Oh yeah... 3-8. Looks like someone blew it on thatone. The best I have seen or heard ASU being ranked is 56th in the country.That's fine. I'm actually glad no one has any expectations for us. I mean, whyshould they? 'They have no quarterback,' they say. 'Give Koetter a fewyears, then they will be good,' they write. 'All they had last season was Heap andArchuleta. How can they win at all without them,' they question. Guess what?
NO ONE IN THE COUNTRY has worked harder than we have. We have speed. We havetalent. We have a new direction. And you know what? We have a burning desireto prove everyone wrong.
So to all the doubters and the haters out there, keep it up. Say we'reinexperienced and bad. Say we don't have leaders at crucial positions. Andsay that we can't win in the Pac10. Wait a second. Two years ago didn't mosteveryone say that the Pac10 was a weak conference anyway? Looks like theyblew that one too.
Nick can be reached via email at MurphysLaw84@aol.com.