Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
If you were a kid going through your formative years in the 70s and early 80s and needed answers to life's biggest mysteries, you unfortunately didn't have the Internet to help you make informed decisions. Luckily, Tyco (a toy company that is now Mattel) had the ultimate source of information in the Magic 8 Ball.
Heading into the 2010 season, I thought it would be fitting to do a little prognosticating with the help of my favorite icosahedron. Here are some of the burning questions for the upcoming college football season and answers obtained the "old-fashioned way."
WILL ALABAMA REPEAT AS NATIONAL CHAMPION? Magic 8 Ball says -- "Outlook Good."
The Crimson Tide have most of their offense back in the fold, including last year's Heisman winner in Mark Ingram. That type of security blanket will prevent Greg McElroy from having to be perfect game-in and game-out. Throw in a couple of burners at wideout and this could be a scary offensive team. The defense must replace nine starters, but the cupboard isn't bare on that side of the football. Alabama's toughest opponents come to Tuscaloosa (Penn State, Florida, Auburn) with the exception of LSU, By November though, Alabama should be riding a huge wave of momentum and it won't matter where the team plays.
WILL MARK INGRAM CAPTURE A SECOND STRAIGHT HEISMAN? Magic 8 Ball says -- "Don't count on it."
Unless Ingram runs away with the award (pun intended), and that will be tough considering that talented sophomore Trent Richardson will get carries as well, the Heisman voters aren't likely to give him a second trophy. Archie Griffin's feat in 1974 and 1975 is held up as nearly unobtainable, not so much because there haven't been worthy candidates over the years, but more because of the fact that the voters may be predisposed toward not allowing it to happen again.
IS BRIAN KELLY THE ANSWER IN SOUTH BEND? Magic 8 Ball says -- "Signs point to Yes."
Lou Holtz is regarded as the last great coach at Notre Dame. In the 13 years since his departure however, the Irish have lost a ton of games and gone through coaches at an accelerated rate. Kelly is a proven commodity that has won everywhere he has gone. He went 118-35-2 at Grand Valley State (Division II), playing in three national title games and winning two championships. He then turned a struggling Central Michigan team into MAC champions in just his third year. Moving to Cincinnati, Kelly led the Bearcats (who were already good) to new heights, winning 34 games in three seasons and back-to-back Big East titles. With 19 years in the business, 17 of which resulted in winning seasons, Kelly is more than qualified to make the Irish relevant again.
CAN JOHN BRANTLEY SUCCEED IN GAINESVILLE AND SOMEHOW COME OUT FROM UNDER THE TIM TEBOW SHADOW? Magic 8 Ball says -- "Reply hazy, try again."
Tebow will go down as one of, if not the best player in college football history. Brantley will constantly be compared to Tebow, who won the Heisman and two national titles with the Gators in his four years. Brantley is a much different quarterback however, and it will be up to Urban Meyer to change from a highly successful spread offense under Tebow's leadership to a more pro- style one that will highlight Brantley's talents. Knowing what to do and actually accomplishing it are two different things. Check back in mid-October, after Florida has run the gauntlet of Alabama and LSU in consecutive weeks.
CAN LANE KIFFIN WEATHER THE STORM AND TURN THINGS AROUND AT USC? Magic 8 Ball says -- "Cannot Predict Now."
This answer may be a bit of a cop-out, but it seems like bad news for USC occurs on a daily basis these days and continues to change the USC football landscape. There is no doubt that some of the nation's premier talent will still find its way onto the Trojans' roster, but with the loss of numerous scholarships during the next couple of seasons, and the effect of the team's postseason ban, Kiffin will be handcuffed in terms of the product he is able to put on the field. He was successful as an assistant at USC, but has not lived up to expectations as the top man of either the Oakland Raiders (a lot of that had to do with Al Davis) or at Tennessee, where he bailed after one hot-and- cold year. The task at hand is daunting and it remains to be seen if Kiffin survives long enough to reap any rewards.
WILL RICH RODRIGUEZ SAVE HIS JOB IN ANN ARBOR? Magic 8 Ball says -- "My sources say no."
Not sure exactly who the Magic 8 Ball's sources are, but it seems like a no- brainer that if the Wolverines struggle once again, the Rodriguez era is over. The schedule is not favorable, Rodriguez doesn't have a stud under center to implement his offense and the defense, which was bad last year, could be worse in 2010. All of that adds up to a third straight sub par season, and that simply isn't good enough to stay employed in Ann Arbor these days.
WITH THE BOWDEN ERA OVER, WILL THE SEMINOLES FACTOR IN THE BCS PICTURE THIS SEASON? Magic 8 Ball says -- "Most Likely."
Florida State has turned the page following the retirement (wink, wink) of legendary coach Bobby Bowden. Enter Jimbo Fisher. The longtime college assistant is more than prepared to take the reins in Tallahassee and has a loaded team on both sides of the football. He won't pull a Larry Coker and win the national title in his first season at the helm, but with a Heisman candidate QB (Christian Ponder) and a hopefully improved defense under Mark Stoops, the Seminoles are the favorite in the ACC's Atlantic Division. If they win it, a victory in the ACC title game is the only thing standing between FSU and a return to BCS Nirvana.
DOES BOISE STATE HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BURST THE BCS BUBBLE? Magic 8 Ball says -- "Without a doubt."
The Broncos have been the non-BCS darlings for the last couple of years (26-1) and finally have a legitimate chance to play for a national title. With a potent offense and good defense, Boise State has its sights set on a second straight perfect season. There are only two speed bumps on the schedule with the season-opener against Virginia Tech in D.C. and a home date with Oregon State later in September. The WAC slate is a joke and beginning the year ranked third could keep Boise State hovering around the top of the rankings all year long. The Broncos aren't likely to lose late in the season and could just watch others fall by the wayside to clear a path for BSU to the BCS title game. Having what it takes on paper, however, doesn't always translate into actually accomplishing the task.