Preview 2012 - Welcome Back, College Football
Georgia QB Aaron Murray
After the roughest of offseasons, now it's time to start playing football again.
Welcome to the Season
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- CFN 2012 Preview
By Pete Fiutak
College football deserves to have a great season.
The 2011 national champion couldn't win its own division, with fans always left to wonder what Oklahoma State might have been able to do if it got its shot at LSU instead of Alabama. Ratings were down for the biggest of the big bowl games, which turned out to be a saving grace for a Clemson team that got its doors blown off in the Orange Bowl. But more than anything else, last year will always and forever be defined by the epic fall of Penn State in the worst scandal in college football history.
College football fans will always love the game itself, but the horrors in Happy Valley made it seem like the sport has spiraled out of control with a value system that has gone completely out of whack.
Now it's time for a cleansing. Now it's time for college football to try being fun again.
There were some positives to come out of some of the problems of last year. Partly because of the lack of interest in the LSU-Alabama rematch, and with the powers-that-be realizing all the money being left on the table, a playoff system was created in a relative snap. We all might have to wait for two years for the four-team format, but positive change is on the way.
The Penn State problems allowed schools to start taking the power back and change up their cultures. Before last season there was no way that a potential heater of an Arkansas team could fire a head coach as good as Bobby Petrino for relatively innocuous mistakes. All of a sudden, the people who should've been in charge all along at the colleges and universities got to show who the bosses really are.
But fans just want the games to be good. Once the ball gets kicked off on Thursday, August 30th everyone gets a chance to take a little break. After everything else is stripped away, everyone wants to have fun watching college football again.
Fortunately, this year has the potential to be terrific.
Oh sure, LSU and Alabama might be LSU and Alabama again – with the rest of the world playing for second – but USC is back. Matt Barkley returned to school for one more season with a chance to lead the Trojans from out of the NCAA sanction era and back to their once-lofty status.
Oklahoma should be ready for a huge year, but Oklahoma State isn't going to take a big step back and Texas appears ready to be Texas again.
There's plenty of star power with Barkley, Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, Oklahoma's Landry Jones, Michigan's Denard Robinson, Oklahoma's Landry Jones and Clemson's Sammy Watkins just a few of the must-see players to pay attention to each week.
Arkansas running back Knile Davis is back from his broken ankle. West Virginia and TCU are in the Big 12. Missouri and Texas A&M are in the SEC. The Pac-12 is stronger. The Big East should be a wild battle to the final week. Florida State could be great again and Notre Dame will get to navigate through one of the toughest schedules in a long, long time.
The MAC and Sun Belt have improved. Texas State, UTSA, South Alabama and Massachusetts are new to the big-time fun. Boise State should be Boise State again after revamping and reloading with a potential showdown against Nevada to close out the regular season in the new world of the Mountain West.
Mike Leach is back doing his thing in Washington State, while Urban Meyer is putting together a potential juggernaut for next year and beyond at Ohio State. Meanwhile, Norm Chow at Hawaii, Bob Davie at New Mexico, Rich Rodriguez at Arizona, Jim Mora at UCLA, John L. Smith at Arkansas and Charlie Weis at Kansas are each trying to revive their respective careers and appear ready to show they can still coach a little bit.
College football is supposed to be fun. It's supposed to be something to revolve Saturday afternoons around. It's supposed to be a party. However, it's also supposed to be kept in perspective.
Our goal with the 2012 Preview is to try to get into the nuts-and-bolts of everything you need to know for the season while also realizing that it's supposed to be just a game. It's big business and it's taken too seriously at times, but college football is meant to be a joyful diversion and the biggest headlines should be for the great things that happen on the field.
It's okay to start having fun again with college football. You deserve it.