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.
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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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Oh, CFN…tsk tsk….

College football News.com has its unit rankings out for this season and, as usual, some of them are quite perplexing.

For instance, the Pac-10, which has great all-around backs like Reggie Bush, LenDale White, Marshawn Lynch, Terrance Whitehead and Maurice Drew, was rated the FIFTH best conference for running backs, behind, uh, The Big East among others. Huh? The Big East has better running backs than that group? Where? At UConn?

Then, the Big 12 was deemed to have the best quarterbacks. Say what? I guess CFN didn’t learn the lesson of the Orange Bowl, either. Is there a legitimate, established passing quarterback in the Big 12? Where?

Then, we go to the overall offensive unit rankings, where CFN has four SEC teams among the top seven, then ranks the league third overall among the conferences offensively. Huh? I’ll bet you didn’t know that Georgia has a better offense than Louisville. Holy Bejeezus.

CFN has also been having fun hyperventilating over LSU’s offensive talent:

Every offensive starter, whatever the depth chart turns out to be, will be on an NFL roster, or at least be in NFL camp. Not only that, every second teamer, whatever the depth chart turns out to be, will likely be on an NFL roster, or at least be in an NFL camp. That’s how loaded the LSU offense is with talent.

First off, I doubt this is even remotely true. LSU’s right guard is going to be drafted? Their backup left tackle will be in a camp? The fullback and tight end will be drafted? No way. You could say the same thing–probably more legitimately–about USC’s offense, which has about seven guys with first-round talent in the starting lineup alone. The point is, CFN seems to think that all these guys being drafted (supposedly) means something. Well, if it really is relevant, why does CFN rank them No. 2 behind USC? Is it because USC has better talent (CFN doesn’t imply that)? Or is it because of a better system (which CFN doesn’t bother to mention)?

Just weird stuff, man.

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Forde And Maisel Back And Forth

ESPN.com has Pat Forde and Ivan Maisel chatting back and forth about the upcoming season.

Most of it is the usual conventional wisdom, lots of talk, little in the way of actual original thoughts or insights. But here’s a nugget:

Pat: The other thing with them (Oklahoma) is whether they lost a little something in that defrocking by USC: a little bit of swagger, a little bit of invincibility in the Big 12. They may still have it. I will be interested to see–

Ivan: — if the other teams learned the lessons of the Orange Bowl. That’s an interesting point.

Pat: — including you guys, ahem, in burnt orange.

Of course, I would add, ahem, the guys in the media, too. Have they learned the lesson of the Orange Bowl? Doesn’t look like these two have yet.

In our East Coast conspiracy of the day, did anyone else notice that the only conference not discussed by these two was the Pac-10? Or did I miss it?

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Maroney And The Heisman

Minnesota running back Laurence Maroney has a good shot at a 2,000-yard season this year, what with him getting the bulk of the carries since Marion Barber has now departed to the NFL.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press did this story recently on Maroney.

The sense is that with Barber gone, and Setterstrom and Eslinger back, Maroney is in line to tear up the Big Ten. His speed makes him a legitimate touchdown threat on each carry. He averaged 6.2 yards a carry last season and broke touchdown runs of 31, 50 and 80 yards. Coach Glen Mason vows to find carries for promising backups Amir Pinnix and Gary Russell, predicting that Maroney will get 75 percent of the carries.

He will need to have over 2,400 yards to have a chance at the Heisman, but a run at 2,000 will probably get him to New York. As usual, Minnesota will be a fun team to watch if you enjoy a good running game.

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