Thursday, July 31, 2008

Give in to your anger

Studies show the rate of Haterade consumption to be up to 37 percent higher in the SEC over other conferences.

So the boys at ESPN recently decided to celebrate their newfangled bloggitysphere foray with a conference-by-conference examination of capital-H Hate, with Chris Low doing the SEC honors. Won't argue too terrible much with his Hate-o-meter measurements (though how he believes more people hate Ole Miss than Auburn or Arkansas, I'm not sure), but I think Low loses a touch of credibility when he lists LSU-Alabama as a more bitter rivalry than Florida-Tennessee. Sure, the whole Saban-deserts-the-coonasses vs. Miles-loves-crackin'-on-f'ing-Alabama angle is nice and sharp at the moment, but that'll likely wear off in a few seasons and historically there's not a lot of beef there that I'm aware of; meanwhile, the Gators and Vols have been at each other's throats since the day the SEC East was formed and are still more-than-willing to, say, make public high-risk wagers of a personal nature over the outcome. Spurrier will see every one of Miles's 'Bama quotes and still have the room to raise with the classic "Citrus without UT" diss, the single coldest one I can remember coming out of the mouth of an SEC coach.

That's sorta beside the point, though, which was that ESPN's hate-a-thon got people talkin' and that one of those people was Jay, who listed his own top-10 Most Hated and encouraged others to do the same. As it seems like the sort of good pointless fun we have to rely on to pass the slow painful days 'til kickoff and it might be nice to have a second Auburn Blogger perspective, I figure I can give it a whirl:

1. Alabama. Obvs.

2. Alabama. Equally obvs. Honesty would probably require me to list them at 3. and 4. too, at least, but it wouldn't make for terribly interesting reading, so instead we'll go with ...

3. LSU. That Miles's shameless pandering and general crazed Ringmastering has gone over so well on the Bayou says an awful lot, to me, about the wild-eyed, beer-tossin', chest-thumpin' F you nature of much of the Tiger fanbase. That Auburn could have been in Birmingham/Atlanta a half-dozen more times if LSU hadn't stood in the damn way doesn't exactly warm me to them, either.

4. Arkansas. I've much preferred Nutt's brand of crazy to Miles's, but a) a select few of Nutt's Hogs *cough* Tony Bua *cough* were some of the dirtiest SEC players I can remember b) I've seen enough 57-yards-for-a-TD Razorback runs in the midst of a 25-point upset beatdown in Jordan-Hare to last me multiple lifetimes c) Bobby freaking Petrino, man.

5. Florida. Just obnoxious on so many levels.

6. Tennessee. Would qualify for this list on the strength of "Rocky Top" alone.

7. Georgia. I know, I know, they're supposed to be higher up the list--just ask Kyle--but I think of the Oldest Rivalry more as a battle of equals who simply want the respect that comes with beating another good team, rather than an Iron Bowl-style bloodfeud or a pedestal-toppling Gator hunt. Of course, after the last two seasons, I want this year's edition as badly as I want any game that isn't in Tuscaloosa or doesn't have a team in purple on the opposite sideline.

8. Oklahoma. I blame the whole crooked two-holes-three-pegs system for 2004, but that doesn't mean I'll ever forgive the Sooners for snatching victory from defeat what seemed like every damn week that fall, and then laying the king of all eggs against USC. Screw 'em forever.

9. Mississippi St. Would have ranked much higher in the days of Jackie Sherrill, but even with Croom at the helm there's still the matter of those damn cowbells.

10. Ohio St. Not for making the national title game out of the, ahem, quality-challenged Big 10 two years in a row--I'd like to thank them for that, actually, as it's ensured a repeat of 2004 has become much less likely for any SEC team--but for Kirk Herbstreit's attempts to hide his pathetically obvious bias, for and Brent Musberger's willingness to have Laurinaitis's baby, for ESPN's countdown clock to the 2006 OSU-Michigan game ... for just basically the media's panting desire to worship all things Scarlet-and-Gray ever since their absurdly lucky title run in 2002. That might have been the best part about LSU's win last January--Buckeye fever finally seems to have cooled off a bit.

Bear in mind I don't think I work myself into a lather over a given team that isn't the Tide as often as some fans do, so we're talking about a given level of "hate." Even when it comes to LSU, I can readily admit there are tons of good Tiger fans out there or that, for instance, for all of Miles's public silliness happen his decision to throw into the end zone last year was a brilliant one. In short, I'd like to think the "hate" from No. 3 on down this list isn't quite blinding. (I would, of course, give up certain internal organs for an Auburn victory against Nos. 1 and 2. Spleen, schmeen.)

Tomorrow, however, is August. It means it's time to start taking the glorious and long-awaited arrival of college football seriously. And taking it seriously means putting aside our willingness to put aside our differences, and instead find a reason why any team who opposes Auburn this year deserves a loss so humiliating their head coach would call his midnight arrest for indecent exposure in a truck stop bathroom "not so embarrassing, when you think about it." There's 30 days to go. It's time to feel the hate.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Cheese Puff Previews 2008 #3: Miss. St.

This series of near-substanceless, air-injected preview puffery should in no way be mistaken for actual preseason football nutrition. Nonetheless, the hope is that you will find the series unaccountably tasty and even habit-forming, and as such it is unofficially sponsored by:

Since its inception two-and-a-half years ago, this blog has been chock-ful o' mistakes, errors, gaffes, blunders, inaccuracies, typos, omissions, foul-ups, slip-ups, mess-ups, and good old-fashioned screw-ups. But for me at least, two of them stand out as particularly unfortunate ... missteps.

First, I committed perhaps the single most unforgivable crime in the indie hipster guidebook, referring to Virginia-born Neko Case as a Canadian. She's not; she just plays one on stage. I could have freaking told you her first album was "The Virginian." I must have been drunk.

The second one's actually a little bit worse from the standpoint of this being a blog about, you know, college football. Stealing Borrowing a projection taxonomy from last year's Mgo previews, I labeled last year's game against Mississippi St. an "auto-win" for Auburn. Yep, auto-win.

That didn't work out so well. (After seeing certain events ... uh ... transpire in the execution of Michigan's season, it's my guess that taxonomy is cursed. Consider yourself warned, Black Shoe Diaries.) So it's with considerable trepidation that I venture forth into this year's look at Sly Croom's Bulldogs, who have proven rather definitively over the past two seasons that it might be amusing to think of them as an automatic win, but it won't make you look very smart.

Last year: The dispiriting losses to the likes of Maine that kicked off Croom's tenure seemed a pretty distant memory by the end of the 2007 campaign, which included defense-and-turnover-fueled road wins over Auburn and Kentucky, a second straight upset of the Tide, a near-miraculous (and very much Orgeron-aided) victory in the Egg Bowl, and finally the Bulldogs' first bowl win in seven years. Considering that anything worse than 6-6 would have almost certainly seen Croom get the boot and the rebuilding process started all over again, I don't think anyone begrudged State or its fans a celebration perhaps a little more enthusiastic than an 8-5 record would usually dictate.

Meanwhile, behind a frightfully green-but-improving offensive line, Auburn rebounded from early upset losses to South Florida and Mississippi St. to upset top-five Florida on the road, take eventual national champion LSU to the wire, and stretch their school-record Iron Bowl winning streak to six on their way to a satisfying 9-4 final record.

Notable previous meeting*: Late in Auburn's 42-14 rout of the Bulldogs in 2002, Tommy Tuberville called for a fake field goal which Damon Duval successfully ran in for what the home Bulldog supporters--and more importantly, State head coach Jackie Sherrill--felt was an unnecessary and humiliating touchdown. (Tuberville would later explain he didn't want to risk a potential blocked kick that could bring State back into the ballgame. FWIW.) The proud and wounded Sherrill unsurprisingly held the resulting grudge against Tuberville into the following season, when he not-so-coincidentally announced with less than 48 hours to go before the Bulldogs took the field at Jordan-Hare that he would retire at the end of the campaign.

Less widely known, however, is that Sherrill's desire for revenge drove him to use more than one last-ditch motivational ploy for his 1-5, 21-point underdog Bulldogs--the second carrying echoes of the legendary "castration" episode before Sherrill's 28-10 upset of Texas in 1992. At the final team meeting before the Bulldogs left for Auburn, after revealing that he would be retiring at year's end, Sherrill also produced and unrolled a full-size, authentic tiger pelt. Sherrill told his team that thanks to an arrangement he'd made with an exotic animals dealer from southwest Louisiana, if they could come back from Auburn with a win over Tuberville's bunch, he would give each player on the team a Sharpie and a chance to autograph the pelt. The pelt would then hang in the State weight room, Sherrill promised, as a reminder to future Bulldog squads of what they could accomplish if they worked together, of what happened to other teams who came into Starkville and dared to embarrass the home team.

Given the difficulty of keeping a trophy of that size (and, hypothetically, notoriety) a secret from local authorities while hanging it in such a high-traffic area as the State training facility, it is debatable whether Sherrill actually intended to keep that particular promise in the event of a Bulldog victory, or even if the players would have had the chance to sign the pelt in the first place. It became a moot point in the end, as State showed little fight in response to Sherrill's various motivational tactics and Auburn trounced the Bulldogs 45-13. The pelt was, allegedly, later surreptitiously returned to the dealer, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in May 2006.

Actual series history: Auburn leads the all-time series 56-23-2. State's 2007 victory snapped a six-game Auburn win streak in the series and a five-year run of Tiger dominance that saw the Bulldogs lose by an average of 30.2 points from 2002 to 2006. The Bulldogs did put together a four-game streak of their own from '97 through 2000, so State doesn't have to reach too far into the past for reasons to believe last year's win could be the start of a trend.

Causes for Alarm

1. It took a good long while, but poor Michael Henig finally took the seemingly endless series of "Hey, maybe it's just me, but you probably ought to be more intensely pursuing a career outside of professional football" hints from Fate and will no longer even theoretically be under center for the Bulldogs this year. Taking his place is sophomore Wesley Carroll, who started the final seven games of 2007 but didn't manage to give the world so much as a mild Indian burn, much less set it on fire.

Nonetheless, entering 2008 with a quarterback who didn't drop a mirror into a stack of salt shakers while dashing through the Ladder Room at the black cat sanctuary has to be a plus. Carroll might not bring much to the table, but to judge from last season at least the table won't mysteriously collapse when he sits down.

2. There's no room in which to debate this: State's 2007 season was every bit as blissfully fortunate as Michael Henig's career was bitterly unlucky. They were outgained by a league-worst 73 yards a game in SEC play; their offense was every single bit as toothless as the previous train wrecks of the Croom era; they went 4-0 in one-possession games, a number that doesn't even include a Kentucky game in which the Wildcats turned it over six times; their Pythagorean numbers fell out of the proverbial ugly tree and if they didn't strike every branch on the way down--that honor's reserved for Tennesee's--they struck a goodly number nonetheless. If we might say Henig was snakebitten, every other Bulldog last year was unicornbitten.

And yet: would anyone not a hidebound Rebel fan say Sylvester Croom didn't deserve every single shred of luck that came his way? With any other coach, I'd fully expect the pendulum to swing the other way in 2008; with Croom, I wouldn't put it past karma to give him a second straight year of nonstop four-leaf clovers and purple horseshoes just for the hell of it.

Causes for Confidence

1. In the 2007 meeting between the Tigers and Bulldogs Auburn a) threw interceptions on its first two pass attempts of the game b) allowed one of those interceptions to be returned for a touchdown c) fumbled its third possession away inside the State 25 d) drove 60 yards to open the second half before fumbling the ball away inside the State 20 e) never scored in the second half f) allowed a punt to roll 73 yards to the Auburn 11 in a game in which field position was obviously paramount g) followed the punt with an interception inside Auburn territory two plays later h) allowed a State offense that would finish 5-18 in the air to cover 44 yards by rushing the ball 10 consecutive times i) allowed same State offense to score a touchdown, thereby forcing Auburn to score their own touchdown to win.

My point is this: that was Auburn's shakiest team of the last few years playing their shakiest game of the season. They were facing State's strongest team of the past few years, at least record-wise, playing (if not over their heads) fairly well. Competently, at the minimum. And still Auburn finished the game nine yards away from victory.

From this Auburn Blogger's perspective, you have to be a little confident about the Tigers' chances if every single thing that could go wrong doesn't go wrong this time around.

2. Part of me thinks that it's only natural to start talking about the SEC title and a BCS berth once you've taken that first "make a bowl/have a winning record" step. Particularly internally--of course you want your kids shooting for the moon and winding up amongst the stars, as the Senior Quotes of like 12 different people in my high school yearbook would tell you.

But part of me thinks that as much as I like Croom, blabbing about those goals to the press seems like putting the cart a little bit before the "Why don't we see if we can average more than 297 yards a game on offense and complete more than 50.5 percent of our passes" horse. And with La. Tech and Southeast Louisiana on the Bulldogs' schedule their first two weeks, the first team with the chance to make that little point would be ... Auburn.

Actual alleged analysis: There are reasons to be optimistic about State. Even after the post-spring departure of top OL Mike Brown, with Carroll providing some modicum of stability at quarterback and Dixon still around to stubbornly push the pile forward for three-and-a-half a carry, it seems impossible the Bulldog offense could still be so utterly anemic after five years of Croom's tutelage. Sure, DC Ellis Johnson is gone, but defense has never been the Bulldogs' issue under Croom and they return a whopping nine starters on that side of the ball. One of those is the terrifying Derek Pegues, liable to snap his fingers and put six points on the board at any time, whether he's picking off passes or returning kicks.

And for all of that, I can't ignore the avalanche of stats that say: They were the same old Bulldogs. Just luckier. Without Brown, top DE Titus Brown, and Johnson, I can't help but think that even given the across-the-board talent upgrades they're still going to be, more-or-less, the same old Bulldogs once again.

If they are, that five-year run of obliteration entering 2007 would suggest Auburn beatdowns are the norm for this series for the time being--and that after last year's fluke, we'll be returning to it. A loss like that just can't happen again, can it?

I get the feeling that that's exactly what the overwhelming majority of Tide fans were telling themselves at this time last year. State has too much going for it for them not to upset somebody. If Auburn doesn't take care of the ball, force Carroll to throw, and seize its opportunities against a defense with too much experience and too much pride to regress to Average, it very well could wind up being them.

*For any talk radio types wondering about the "truth" of this "Notable previous meeting" entry is encouraged to look back over the previous examples in this series and the word "actual" that follows. Disclaimers probably aren't necessary, but I'd rather not have anything like this happen, kthx.

The Works, media daze-style

It's not that I don't thoroughly appreciate the efforts of the intrepid Orspencerson Shwallindle to provide us with gems like the one above or this pic of Tubby looking every bit as Awesome as we'd want him to, but I'm sorta with Todd on this one: the way to get an interesting quote is generally to get a coach or athlete one-on-one in their comfort zone alongside a field or amongst the welcoming motivational posters of their office, not in the middle of a three-ring extravaganza packed with camera lights and microphone bouquets. What Media Days usually winds up giving us is substanceless tripe like this piece from Ray Melick, which somehow posits boredom as Tubby's motivation for firing Borges as opposed to the fact his "not broken" offense ranked 97th-best in D-I.

Media Days is the college football equivalent of Thanksgiving when you're 9: it's nice to have everyone together in one place and all, but the best part is knowing that as soon as it's over, it's time to start thinking seriously about what kind of goodies we're going to get if we can just hold on for one more month.

Not that Media Days don't have their uses, mind you. Tubby's meeting with the Auburn beat writers produced several intriguing tidbits, five of which I'll rank here in order of most to least important:

1. Tez Doolittle will be good to go. Between Coleman, Carter, Gray, and who knows what other terrors Tubby always seems to be hiding at DE, I'm not worried about Auburn's ends. With Marks at one tackle, I'm not worried about that spot either. The other one? I'm sure Jake Ricks is solid, sure Zach Clayton and Mike Blanc deserve their shot. But I feel a lot better about it knowing a colossal, extra-motivated 10th-year senior like Doolittle will be around to plug that hole if it needs plugging.

2. Tristan Davis is healthy. A massive upgrade at special teams if this holds.

3. Ryan Williams is in the doghouse; freshman CB's should see major time. These two items are probably related. Can't see it as a major, major issue as long as Savage, Powers, and McFadden are all healthy, but if they're not, we know we won't have a lot of experience to call on.

4. Chaz Ramsey may redshirt.
Funny how headed into last year the loss of a returning starter on the o-line would have been cause for all sorts of alarm sirens, but this year ... well, losing Ramsey would be a blow, no question. But Auburn's second unit currently features Byron Isom, Mike Berry, Bart Eddins, and Andrew McCain. Methinks Hugh Nall can get at least one of those guys ready to hold the line if need be.

5. Bo Harris is among the dearly departed. Eh, whatever; I'm sure Harris had potential (though calling him one of AU's "top linebackers" when he finished the spring on the third team is a stretch), but after Chris Evans's emergence I'm more convinced than ever Tubby keeps a linebacker tree in his back yard.

The other "news" to leak out from Tubby's/Bosley's/Marks's appearances I think we either knew already (Fannin will be ready, Burns has the inside track but isn't the starter yet) or is kinda neat but ultimately meaningless (the practice-measured-by-plays-not-time thing, the Saban quote in the Tiger weight room). Some of Marks's comments on Georgia are intriguing, though. Transcripts of Tubby's comments both pre- and in-podium available here and here.

Elsewhere at Media Days ... Cocknfire and his blue-eyed anime Doom Rooster at Garnet and Black Attack were pretty well killing things at the Wynfrey. My favorite post to come out of his stay was this one on Saban and the looming anger in the crimson fanbase should the Tide again fail to rise above mediocrity, cleverly portrayed thusly:

Most interesting, though, was C&F's highlighting of Saban's take on Clemson:
I think what it's going to help us do is enhance our development in terms of our identity as a team because it will certainly show us where we are in terms of how we compete against one of the best teams in the country, even though it's a first game and it's on the road.
C&F's oh-snap response? Translation: Alabama will begin the season 0-1. And I'm not sure you can argue much with that assessment: what are the references to "one of the best teams in the country," "first game," and "on the road" in this context if not preemptive excuses? True, they wouldn't be if Saban was expressing his confidence that his team would overcome those obstacles and prove themselves the equal of Cousin Clem ... but he's portraying Bowden's bunch not as a potential victim but as a measuring stick. I've talked to enough outmanned high school coaches who have said, almost verbatim, things like "where we are in terms of how we compete" to recognize it for what it is: the language of defeat. If you're talking about "development" instead of wins, you're talking about losses.

Now, I have no doubt whatsoever that privately, Saban has all the confidence in the world his team will head to Atlanta and whip Clemson so badly they'll look purple even without the uniforms. The point, as C&F concludes, is to keep those sharp-toothed expectations in check just in case the Tide don't, in fact, pull the W out. It makes sense, sure.

But I have to ask: if I'm a Tide player or Tide fan, wouldn't I rather have my coach offering the press reasons our team will win as opposed to reasons it won't matter if they don't?

Speaking of expectations, color me (like Tubby) a bit surprised that the margin in the preseason SEC West poll between Auburn and LSU was so wide, but I'm not troubled by it. So long as mostly everybody still expects the East winner to take the conference--and they do--Auburn's still in the position we want to see them in.

Also worth noting: WRAS points out that Tubby's in more exclusive company than even the "national championship coach" club; the seemingly endless injury struggles of the Recently-Drafted Auburn Running Back continue apace; Acid Reign argues that a slipshod approach to pre-Amen Corner cupcakery helped lead to the 2006 and 2007 debacles against the Dawgs, and that the Tigers should instead beat the frosting clean off of UT-Martin--an argument I fully cosign; and FWIW Raymond Cotton might not be standing out amongst the country's top-11 prep QB's, but who honestly cares after he got invited as one of the top-11 prep QB's in the first place.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

That growling noise you hear is Blackmon's stomach...


... as he prepares to devour alive the coaches who insultingly voted him second-team preseason All-SEC. I'm not going to argue that Spikes, McCoy, Ellerbe, and Beckwith aren't fine players or that we've seen the best of the Little Ball of Hate just yet ... but this the first season of Tray Blackmon's Auburn career that he won't (knock on wood) approach hobbled, or suspended, or generally dealing with things that aren't bludgeoning the opponent's internal organs into submission. If he remains healthy, his nose stays clean, and Auburn's defense performs the way it has essentially every year under Tubby's watch, there's no way Blackmon isn't a first-team All-SEC player at the end of year. There's just no way.

Now, yes, those are big enough If's that I can't blame the SEC's coaches for sliding him to second team. But even if they're excused, it doesn't mean they're right.

I'm with Jay Tate (at the link above) on two other quick points: first, that Coleman on the third team is likely an even worse oversight than Blackmon on the second team, though I have a hunch a media-voted team might look very different; and second, where have the SEC's running backs gone? The five non-Moreno guys on the All-SEC teams were Arian Foster, Ben Tate, Anthony Dixon, Terry Grant, and Keiland Williams. These are all more-than-serviceable players and here's where I make the obligatory mention of how hard Tate runs and how productive he's been when given the opportunity ... but none of these guys are exactly Heisman candidates, either. I'd take Brad Lester over the lot of them, to be honest, but even his presence doesn't change the fact that this looks like a down year for RBs in the SEC.

The next question: is the downtick in star tailbacks due to the SEC becoming a more pass-happy league, or is the SEC becoming more pass-happy because it isn't finding as many star tailbacks?


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Introducing the Paperless Preview Project

So about this time last year I was enjoying the hell out of one of SMQ's various assessments, probably one detailing the misbegotten likes of FIU, and I thought to myself: This stuff is way, way better than something like Lindy's. Honestly, if you took the best blog previews out there and printed them up fancy-schmancy magazine-style, I'd buy two. And yet it's totally free. What SMQ's got here is a paperless preview magazine, basically.

And that got me thinking: as the summer dragged along and more and more of them came available, wouldn't it be useful if someone compiled all the worthwhile free team previews floating around out there--MSM, blog, community newspaper, wherever--and stuck them on one page for easy reference? Combine the basic, introductory information you get from something like SI's Athlon previews with SMQ's analysis/YouTube finds and even a bit of preseason blogosphere tomfoolery and I think you get something much more dynamic--if not as easy to browse in the john, admittedly--than your standard-issue drugstore preview mag.

So over this weekend I set out to create that page: the Paperless Preview Project. It's living now in the sidebar, with previews for all 120 D-I college footbaw teams from as many as eight different sources for a single school--and of course, that number's only going to grow as the season nears and more blogs get their previews done. (The number of sources, I mean. The number of teams will, hopefully, stay static.) The goal is to update the page weekly for the next two or three weeks; after that, assuming "the word" spreads and there's demand to keep it up-to-date, I'll update a few times a week right up until the season kicks off.

As I said, it's my likely-unattainable goal for the PPP to include every "worthwhile free team preview" out there. But what does "worthwhile" mean? For that matter, what does "team preview" mean when some you're confronted with something like Hey Jenny Slater's preseason "Guest Columnist" breakdowns?

Basically, I want to include any link that I believe either a fan of a) that team or a fan of b) a team that has that team on the schedule would be interested in reading. If a preview is written up in dry, bare-bones prose but provides a certain level of information or a few semi-insightful quotes, that'll work; likewise, a blog preview like the HJS "Guest Columnist" pieces can get by without much (if any) nuts-and-bolts information as long as it is delivered with a maximum amount of what we might call "flair," for lack of a better word. As for where that "certain level" of information lies or what constitutes enough "flair" to be worthwhile ... well, finally, it's my page and I reserve the right to decide if something is or isn't up to snuff. I am, naturally, likely to be much more forgiving with blog previews than MSM stuff, though.

While the PPP's maintenance and editorial decisions might be up to me, this is 100-percent intended to be a collaborative project. For one Auburn Blogger to keep track of every CFB preview worth reading in the whole of cyberspace is, obviously, wholly impossible. But you, the reader, know what previews about your team you've read and enjoyed. You, the blogger, know what previews about your team you've written and would like more people to read.

So I ask you--nay, beseech you--to tell me about them. Leave a link in the comments either here or on the PPP homepage. E-mail me at jerry [at] warblogeagle [dot] com. Assuming there's some amount of substance involved or it doesn't wholly repeat one of the previews already included for said team, it goes in. And while you're at it, tell your friends. (As you can see, I know where to look for some national blog previews and for a handful from the SEC, but I know there's good stuff out there across the rest of the BCS blogosphere--and even the occasional mid-major outpost--I'm missing. Help me out.)

Thanks, and I hope you find it useful.

Oh, one other thing: I know several blogs are previewing their home team across a series of posts, which doesn't really work with the PPP's one-link-a-site format. If there's a single post which links to or recaps the entire series, though--sorta like this one at ATVS--I'll be more than glad to include it.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The 2008 Paperless Preview Project

This is the Paperless Preview Project: a (hopefully) collaborative attempt at providing a single, convenient reference page to anyone looking for team preview information as we approach the 2008 college football season. Links to previews for all 120 D-I teams are included below, organized alphabetically by conference, with BCS conferences listed first.

The PPP seeks to include links to as many worthwhile free team previews as possible, be they from mainstream sports sites, college football blogs, newspapers, or wherever. To suggest a link, please leave it in the comments or e-mail it to jerry [at] warblogeagle [dot] com. For an introduction and a further explanation of what constitutes "worthwhile," please click here. [Update: I should probably clarify that most (though not all, particularly of the "name" teams) of the ESPN previews require an Insider subscription. So while I know an awful lot of CFB fans (myself included) have Insider, they're not completely "free." Sorry.]

This page will be updated regularly between now and the start of the season, so bookmark accordingly and enjoy.


Boston College: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT
Clemson: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, CFN
Duke: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Florida St.: Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, CFN, NYT
Georgia Tech: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Maryland: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, Rivals, NYT, CFN
Miami: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals, EDSBS, NYT, Lindy's
North Carolina: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals, NYT, EDSBS
North Carolina St.: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, G&BA, Lindy's
Virginia: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Virginia Tech: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals
Wake Forest: Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, CFN, NYT

Big 12

Baylor: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Colorado: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, Rivals, NYT, CFN
Iowa St.: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's, CFN
Kansas: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals
Kansas St.: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, Rivals, NYT, CFN, Lindy's
Missouri: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, EDSBS, Rivals
Nebraska: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, Rivals, NYT, CFN, Lindy's
Oklahoma: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals
Oklahoma St.: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals, NYT
Texas: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals
Texas A&M: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, Rivals, NYT, CFN
Texas Tech: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals

Big East

Cincinnati: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, Lindy's, NYT
Connecticut: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Louisville: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Pitt: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals, NYT
Rutgers: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT
South Florida: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals
Syracuse: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals, NYT, EDSBS, Lindy's
West Virginia: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, EDSBS, TrackEm, Rivals

Big Ten

Illinois: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals, BSD, VBlue
Indiana: Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, NYT, BSD, CFN
Iowa: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, Rivals, EDSBS, BSD, NYT, CFN, Lindy's
Michigan: Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, NYT, EDSBS, BSD, CFN
Michigan St.: Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, VBlue, CFN, NYT
Minnesota: Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's, CFN, VBlue
Northwestern: Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, NYT, EDSBS, Lindy's, CFN, VBlue
Ohio St.: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, Rivals, CFN
Penn St.: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, Rivals, EDSBS, VBlue, CFN
Purdue: Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, NYT, VBlue, CFN, MGo, Lindy's
Wisconsin: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals, VBlue


Arizona: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Arizona St.: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals, HJS
California: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals
Oregon: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT
Oregon St.: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Stanford: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's, BTD
UCLA: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals, NYT, EDSBS
USC: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals
Washington: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals, NYT, EDSBS, Lindy's
Washington St.: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's


Alabama: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, Rivals, EDSBS, HJS, CFN, NYT
Arkansas: Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, NYT, TrackEm, CFN, Lindy's
Auburn: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, EDSBS, Rivals, HJS
Florida: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals, RBR
Georgia: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, Rivals, CFN, TrackEm
Kentucky: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, Rivals, NYT, EDSBS, CFN, Lindy's
LSU: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, HJS, TrackEm, ATVS, Rivals
Ole Miss: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals, NYT, EDSBS, TrackEm, Lindy's
Miss. St.: Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, NYT, JCCW, CFN, Lindy's
South Carolina: Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, EDSBS, HJS, RBR, CFN, NYT
Tennessee: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, Rivals, EDSBS, HJS, TrackEm, CFN
Vanderbilt: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, Rivals, NYT, RBR, HJS, TrackEm, Lindy's, CFN

Conference USA

East Carolina: Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's, CFN
Houston: Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, NYT, CFN
Marshall: Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, NYT, EDSBS, Lindy's, CFN
Memphis: Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, NYT, CFN, Lindy's
Rice: Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's, CFN
SMU: Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's, CFN
Southern Miss: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, JCCW, Lindy's, CFN, EDSBS
Tulane: Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's, CFN
Tulsa: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, CFN
UAB: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's, CFN
UCF: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, Rivals, NYT, CFN, Lindy's
UTEP: Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's, CFN


Army: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Navy: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Notre Dame: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, EDSBS, VBlue, NYT, Lindy's


Akron: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Ball St.: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals, NYT, EDSBS, Lindy's
Bowling Green: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Buffalo: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Central Michigan: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, HJS, Lindy's
Eastern Michigan: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Kent St.: Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's, CFN
Miami(OH): Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, NYT, EDSBS, VBlue, CFN
Northern Illinois: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Ohio: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Temple: Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's, CFN
Toledo: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's, VBlue
Western Michigan: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's

Mountain West

Air Force: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
BYU: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals
Colorado St.: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
New Mexico: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
San Diego St.: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
TCU: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, TCU, Lindy's
UNLV: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Utah: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals, VBlue, NYT
Wyoming: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's

Sun Belt

Arkansas St.: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Florida Atlantic: Athlon, ESPN, SMQ, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Florida International: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
UL-Lafayette: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
UL-Monroe: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, JCCW, TrackEm, Lindy's
Middle Tenn. St.: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
North Texas: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Troy: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Western Kentucky: Athlon, Rivals, NYT


Boise St.: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT
Fresno St.: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals
Hawaii: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Idaho: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Louisiana Tech: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Nevada: Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's, CFN
New Mexico St.: Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's, CFN
San Jose St.: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's
Utah St.: Athlon, ESPN, CFN, Rivals, NYT, Lindy's

Last updated: 8/5. Complete 120-team (or 119-team, depending on whether you count WKU) lists now include Athlon, ESPN, Rivals, and CFN.