2008 Spring Preview - The Big Complaints
Penn State head coach Joe Paterno
Penn State head coach Joe Paterno
Posted Mar 6, 2008

What will everyone be complaining about in 2008? From Joe Paterno and the lack of a succession plan at Penn State, to the SEC, to Ohio State, to yes, the BCS, here are some of the hot topics you'll be hearing about.

Spring Preview 2008

The 20 Big Questions - No. 9

By Pete Fiutak 

- The 2008 Big Spring Questions  
No. 20 - Top 40 Non-Conference Games
No. 16-19 - BCS Busters, Rule Changes & More
No. 15 - Ranking the Conferences
No. 14 - Who Could Be This Year's Kansas?
(breaking through big after a bad year)
No. 13 - 5 Teams That Could Tumble

No. 12 - Who Could Be This Year's Missouri?
(going from good to special)
No. 11 - Ten Coaches Who Need Big Seasons
No. 10 - The New Superstar Coaches

9. Everyone will be complaining about ...

Get ready for the inevitable backlash. The media (with CFN leading the parade) will likely overgush about how amazing the SEC is and about how the league's champion probably deserves to play in the national title game no matter what. Judging from the message boards, e-mails to us, and the general mood from non-SEC fans, the rest of the conferences are tired of being Jan Brady, and more than anything else, they're tired of the SEC not exactly extending itself when it comes to non-conference games and leaving the southeast part of the country to play. (SEC fans, I'm just going off the perception and the correspondence from non-SEC fans. Don't worry, I'll get to the reality next in the "Everyone Will Be In Love With" portion of the program).

The SEC is loaded again, but it's top-heavy, so with several teams (like Auburn, Arkansas and Tennessee) undergoing a bit of a change and probably needing a year to get back to normal, Alabama and South Carolina good, but hardly elite, and other teams (like Mississippi State, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt) just fine, but nothing special, watch how quickly the non-SEC fans jump all over any opening to fire on the 400-pound gorilla in the room. While few outside of Los Angeles are questioning whether or not LSU was the best team in America at the end of last year, other leagues are going to want the same breaks soon for their two-loss star teams when it comes to the BCS and the national championship game.

Ohio State
No, Ohio State isn't the Buffalo Bills of the early 1990s, it actually won a national title a few years ago, a fact that gets lost on just about everyone, but after two straight national championship game clunkers, the college football world is going to let out a year-long collective groan over any success in Columbus.

Reason for the OSU haters to worry: on talent and returning experience, this is the best team in America. Sorry, but it is. No one, when it comes to NFL potential, touches OSU's starting lineup after James Laurinaitis, Alex Boone and Malcolm Jenkins, all first round draft picks had they left early, chose to return.

Reason for the OSU haters to rejoice: the September 13th trip to Los Angeles could end the national title dream before it has a chance to get started. OSU isn't getting any benefit of the doubt this year, but if it's only loss is a close one to a top three-ranked USC early in the season, the anti-Buckeye contingent might still need another loss to make sure Jim Tressel's boys don't end up in Miami.

The BCS ...
But the complaining isn't all going to come from the fans; it's going to also come from some of the major conferences.

Realizing just how much money is being thrown around in these BCS games, some the beancounters in the ACC, Big East, and Pac 10 are going to start wanting a bigger piece of the pie, and why? Recent history.

The little guy now has its chance to go for the multi-million dollar suitcase with Hawaii, Boise State and Utah getting in over the last four years (while TCU would've gotten in a few years ago under the current rules). The non-BCS leagues are appeased ... for the moment. However, in the ten years since the Rose Bowl, specifically the Big Ten and Pac 10, joined the BCS party, the Big Ten has sent 16 teams to BCS games getting in two teams in six of the ten seasons. The SEC has gotten 15 invites, the Big 12 14, the Pac 10 12, and the ACC and the Big East have received the minimum of ten automatic BCS berths. In other words, the ACC and Big East haven't gotten a second team in, and the Pac 10 hasn't sent a second team to the money show since 2002.

While it's not like the ACC and Big East have been screwed out of a second BCS slot, since there haven't been any worthy ones to get in, and the Pac 10 hasn't exactly gone lights out in the Holiday Bowl, the league's first runner-up prize, that's not the point. The BCS leagues, all of them, want as much money as they can get, and with the Big East and Pac 10 not generating the revenue from a conference championship game, they're going to want more BCS coin.

Enter Jerry Jones.

In 2009, Jones is going to have the world's greatest sports complex when the $1 billion Cowboys Stadium opens up, and the Cotton Bowl will come on over playing its first game there in 2010. Jones and Cotton Bowl bigwigs are going to push hard to make this a fifth BCS bowl game, to go along with the BCS Championship Game, which will open up two more slots. Forgetting that it'll mean two above-average teams will play in a mediocre extra BCS matchup (this year it would've been Arizona State vs. Boston College), it'll mean two more openings for BCS conferences to get their teams in, and it'll mean lots and lots of extra money as college football continues to do everything possible to generate revenue outside of an obvious playoff system.

The Penn State head coaching situation
Joe Paterno can't be kicked out the door fast enough by the Penn State higher-ups who realize the transition of power just isn't going to be smooth. Succession plans are all the rage nowadays, like at Florida State where Bobby Bowden is turning the reins over to Jimbo Fisher while still serving as the head of state, but Penn State is in an uncomfortable situation of trying to figure out its future while still respecting the past, and even the present.

Paterno has been resistant, to put it mildly, to giving up the program he made into one of the models of college athletics, and now there's a problem. How much say does Paterno get in finding his successor when his bosses would love nothing more than to start clean, sort of like Michigan did with the Rich Rodriguez hire? Penn State will be decent again this season, but a recent slip in recruiting doesn't paint a rosy picture for the immediate future.

USC and the NCAA
For some reason, USC hasn't been nailed with anything regarding the Reggie Bush situation, and while that time may soon come, it's taking time. A lonnnnnng time. Meanwhile, the program is just as strong as ever with loaded recruiting class after loading recruiting class ensuring the program will be in the national title chase for the next several seasons. For fans of Oklahoma, Alabama, and others who've recently had to deal with NCAA justice, it seems like the Trojans are getting away with things that others would be steamrolled for. Whether or not you agree with the NCAA rules and the violations, if all the Bush allegations are true and USC is given a mere slap on the wrist, watch for the fan bases of 118 other programs to go ballistic.

The 2009 NFL quarterback prospects
Curtis Painter, Hunter Cantwell, Cullen Harper, Todd Boeckman, Chase Daniel, Chase Holbrook, Graham Harrell, Rudy Carpenter. Solid college passer all, but that sound you'll hear is a big collective yawn coming from the NFL scouts desperate to restock their league with quarterbacks who can play. If Tim Tebow and Matthew Stafford choose to return for their senior seasons, 2009 could be one of the ugliest quarterback drafts in a long, long time.