About Heismanpundit

Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.
Author Archive | Heismanpundit

Mandel On A Roll

Stu Mandel takes the Coaches Poll to task in today’s mailbag.

Money quote:

Apparently the coaches have yet to get the message that there are top-25-caliber football teams outside the six BCS conferences. Last year five such teams appeared (Utah, Louisville, Boise State, Fresno State and Navy) in the final Coaches’ poll of the season, but going into this year, the voters have chosen to include just one, No. 19 Boise State (which, despite returning 16 starters, is apparently six spots worse than last year’s 11-1 team). No Bowling Green, though it boasts the nation’s most proficient returning quarterback, Omar Jacobs. No Fresno State, which to me looks a lot like Utah did going into last season. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, however. Last year’s preseason poll only included one non-BCS team (Utah).

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SI Covers

Reggie Bush, Chris Leak and Vince Young are all on regional covers of Sports Illustrated as the magazine’s college football preview edition hit newstands today.

It’s probably the best preview edition SI has ever done, as it features Heismanpundit’s top three Heisman candidates on the covers and also elaborates more on the effect Urban Meyer will have on the SEC (FWIW, the Gators are third in the SI top 10).

One question that popped up in the newsstand edition was:

Can Meyer’s system work against the faster players in the SEC?

To that, I will say yes. The question that has yet to be asked by the mainstream media is: Can the SEC keep up with the system?

To that, I will say no.

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The Other Bush

Michael Bush of Louisville is a hell of a player who will finally get a chance to shine this year.

Check out this story on the 6-3, 250-pound man-child.

While Bush is working on the little things, it doesn’t mean he won’t be a big name for the Cardinals. Sandwiched between the talk of Brian Brohm’s first year as starting quarterback and the early loss of Shelton, Bush’s rise to featured-runner status has been a bit of an overlooked story line in the preseason.

He’s not even the best-known Bush in the nation. Southern California’s Reggie Bush carried the ball nine more times than Michael Bush last season and gained 174 more yards, but the U of L Bush had a 7-6 edge in rushing touchdowns.

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Team Revenues

Props to Fanblogs.com for unearthing this list of top revenue-producing football programs from 2003-2004.

1) Texas $47,556,281
2) Tennessee $46,704,719
3) Ohio State $46,242,355
4) Florida $42,710,967
5) Georgia $42,104,214
6) Alabama $39,848,836
7) Notre Dame $38,596,090
8) Michigan $38,547,937
9) LSU $38,381,625
10) Auburn $37,173,943

Interesting that six of the 10 are the SEC schools that are NOT traditional bottom feeders in that conference. Clearly, their money-making focus has paid off–the extra home games, the weak non-conference schedules resulting in better records and better rankings, hence bringing about more games on TV and better bowls for the conference.

Interesting, too, that there are teams on that list that found ways to make money WITHOUT scheduling tricks, namely Texas, Notre Dame and Michigan.

So, you see, it is now established that it is POSSIBLE to make money in college football while still maintaining your respectability as a program by not bringing Northeastern Rhodesia, Eastern Norway and the Western Deleware in for automatic wins.

Apparently, a team like Georgia realizes this now and, hence, will venture outside of the geographic South for a regular season game for the first time since 1965 (starting in 2010, I believe). Bully for them!

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A Couple Florida Stories

HP favorite Florida is the subject of a couple previews here and here.

Still waiting for a writer to comment on the effect–successful or not–Meyer’s style of play will have on the SEC. This point appears to be ever elusive in each and every preview I read.

From Meyer:

“The style of game that we play, which is a fast, speed game, the talent that’s in the program right now is conducive to what we do.”

If an entire league of basketball teams played primarily zone defense and was made up of coaches who only knew how to coach zone defense and recruited players who primarily worked with zones in high school, what would happen the day one of the teams switched to a full-court pressure defense? Would the zone teams be ready? Or would they be caught off guard?

Based on previous scenarios with Spurrier in the 1990s and with Al Borges at Auburn last year, I posit that when the Gators actually get that offense down to a certain point, it will catch the SEC off guard and lead to tremendous success for Florida. Since Auburn’s turnaround came in just one offseason, I see no reason why the same thing can’t happen in Gainesville this year. It helps that a championship mentality exists at UF.

But again, time will tell.

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Boise State’s Offense

Here’s a look at the Boise State offense courtesy of CNNSI.com.

Money quote:
The Broncos haven’t faltered often the past four years, but when they do, it is usually to a major non-conference opponent (Louisville, Oregon State, Arkansas, etc.) where there’s simply too much of a talent differential to overcome with schemes and trickery.

This was obviously the main sticking point we had in picking Boise over Georgia on September 3. In other words, does Georgia have enough talent to overcome Boise’s superior scheme? Clearly, teams in the past have been able to do it. Shouldn’t Georgia?

There were three things that brought us into the Boise camp.

1. Boise slammed Oregon State last year. The Beavers are a decently talented team that played toe-to-toe with a talented team like LSU the week before. This game seemed to indicate that Boise had gotten over that hump a bit.

2. Boise, despite admittedly getting out-physicaled by Louisville, still nearly pulled out that game against the Cardinals. This told me that the Broncoes had a good amount of moxie and weren’t about to get intimidated by more physical teams. Despite not moving the ball well offensively, they still almost found a way to win.

3. Georgia is in its first game of the year with a new starting quarterback and some new players in key spots on defense. The game plan on offense will likely be conservative, so if Boise jumps out quick, the UGA plan could quickly go awry.

With an unusual blend of numerous offensive styles, Boise State emphasizes unconventional formations (everything from three tight ends to an empty backfield), specialization (in any given game, the Broncos will employ 35-45 different personnel groupings and play as many as eight different receivers or five different running backs) and trick plays. The offense can vary greatly in its run/pass ratio from year to year (Ryan Dinwiddie, the quarterback from 2001 to ’03, was a traditional drop-back passer, while current QB Jared Zabransky is a constant threat to run), and even week to week. “We call it a chameleon offense,” says Petersen. “We just kind of blend in and look one way one week, a different way the next.”

It’s this kind of stuff that makes it hard to prepare for Boise, especially in week one.

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Stu Mandel Gets It So Right

While CFN struggles with offensive concepts, CNNSI’s Stewart Mandel continues to show why he’s one of the top young college football writers around with his discourse on the new offensive wave in college football.

The spread and West Coast are just the latest in a long cycle of offensive crazes that have dotted college football’s evolution. From the single wing, to the T-formation, to the wishbone, to the Run ‘n’ Shoot, enterprising offensive coaches have constantly searched for a new wrinkle that might give them an advantage over defenses. The offensive innovations on offense are often a direct response to systemic changes in defensive philosophy. The recent advent of the spread, for instance — which began to surface more frequently in the late ’90s and has boomed in popularity ever since — is viewed by many coaches as a necessary means to combat the complex, NFL-style blitz packages that have pervaded the college game over the past decade.

Of course, this is the kind of thing we’ve been talking about for a while here at Heismanpundit.com. It’s nice to see these concepts and ideas being discussed in the mainstream media. Really, it’s been a long time coming.

As we’ve said before, it all boils down to the continual tug and war between offense and defense. Right now, the offenses are coming up with things that a vast group of coaches and players don’t know how to defend. Eventually, there will be an antidote to these styles of play and then a new permutation, a new wrinkle, will have to evolve.

In the meantime, we believe that the teams that utilize these offensive philosophies will continue to have an edge over the teams that don’t. Which is why we believe that Florida will have great success under Urban Meyer and teams like USC, Cal, Louisiville, Boise State and Utah (provided they keep the same system) will also continue to win a lot of games.

The only thing we would add to the Mandel story is a point about familiarity of systems. We believe that teams that are unfamiliar with certain types of offenses are at a unique disadvantage–witness Oklahoma’s problems with USC and Cal’s problems with Texas Tech last year. It’s this point that led us to attribute Auburn’s success last year to Al Borges (as Mandel did), which leads us to think that the SEC will be unprepared for the Gators, which surmises that Georgia won’t be ready for Boise and that Louisville will continue its offensive dominance after moving to the Big East.

Will it all happen? We think so. But only time will tell.

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