It must be getting close to football season. It's roundtable time again. For the uninitiated, a particular blogger asks questions, posted at their blog, and the rest of us holler back answers. For the second season in a row, the preseason roundtable is hosted by Hey Jenny Slater, a blog of Georgia persuasion, written by the wandering scion of a pair of proud University of Virginia alumni. Questions are here, I link to them. Answers, I don't need to link to, they're right down there.
1. Without naming names, a few teams seem to have popped up frequently on everyone's "overrated" lists in the preseason, so let's forget about them for the moment and concentrate on a different group: sleepers. Which currently unheralded team are you currently putting at least a few of your chips behind in the hopes that you'll be able to say "totally called that" once they've accomplished big things by the end of the season?
Dear Georgia fan, I pick Georgia Tech. That's disobeying the rules a bit, because being picked second in the Coastal Division only peripherally qualifies as "unheralded." Still, by a 78-9 margin, Virginia Tech is the overwhelming favorite in the division. 78 members of the media are wrong. Georgia Tech will be the ACC's Orange Bowl representative. Bank it. And outside of Georgia their OOC schedule is lame sauce, so a 10- or 11-win season could be in order.
2. In a similar vein, pick a sleeper player on your team whom nobody's talking about right now and tell us why we will be talking about them by December.
Well that shouldn't be hard. About the only player eliminated from contention by condition #1 is Vic Hall, because every so often, some national media guy goes, "Oh yeah, I heard about him once. Pretty good, isn't he?" I guess Dowling counts too, having been named to the preseason all-ACC team by the media, though Heather managed to leave him out of her 30-best list.
The answer, then, is Torrey Mack. With Mikell Simpson's status unknown, and he being fairly injury-prone to begin with, Mack looks more and more like option #1 at running back. Nobody's heard of him because he redshirted last year, but it's not for lack of talking about him by Al Groh. He's got all the skills and frankly even his name just screams "superstar running back." The question this year is what will be higher: "Mack Truck" references by fans and lazy color announcers, or his rushing yards.
3. Florida is about as big a consensus favorite as we've seen in recent years, but remember, USC got 62 out of 65 first-place votes in the AP's 2007 preseason poll and still managed to lose to Stanford. Given how difficult it is to go undefeated period these days, where do you think the Gators are most likely to stumble in the regular season?
Oh come on. Georgia fans should not be allowed to ask this. Florida's nonconference schedule consists of three complete jokes and Florida State in the Swamp, so you can rule out all non-SEC participants. TFSU called Florida daddy last year and that game was in Tallahassee, nothing's going to change in Gainesville. In fact you'd be crazy to pick any team playing Florida in Gainesville, so that rules out Tennessee (which is cruisin' for a bruisin' anyway after Lane Kiffin opened his flap), Arkansas, and Vanderbilt. Like you'd ever pick Vandy over Florida.
That leaves the Cocktail Party against Georgia and also their road trips, those being to LSU, Mississippi State, Kentucky, and South Carolina. Two of those aren't worth considering. South Carolina's always interesting because of the "Steve Spurrier" angle, but there's also the "South Carolina" angle, so, no. LSU has a tough stadium to play in, but LSU is so absurdly, wildly overrated this year and I refuse to pick them just on principle.
So by process of elimination, I bow to the questioner and pick Georgia. Consider it a make-up for picking GT in the first question.
4. Which regular-season game not involving your team or conference are you most looking forward to this year?
Let's pretend for a minute I'm not also Michigan fan and therefore not obviously looking forward to pretty much every Michigan game, especially Michigan State where we get the chance to put a sock in the mouths of the most irritating fanbase in all of football. You think you got annoying rivals, try having one that you beat seven times out of nine in the decade and they think the last one qualifies them as the all-time champions of everything.
Obviously Texas-Oklahoma carries all kinds of intrigue this year and will feature two of the country's most talented teams duking it out on the big stage, but everyone's gonna say that one except for the Big 12 guys who aren't supposed to. Nah, let's go with another semi-common one and pick Florida-Tennessee. Never liked Tennessee and watching them get curb-stomped by an irritated and too-talented Florida team should be good theater.
5. In honor of Georgia's opening-weekend opponent and their most prolific booster, let's say you somehow come into T. Boone Pickens money and can buy anything you want for your program -- facilities upgrades, an airplane for recruiting, buy out the contract of that coach you hate, you name it. Where does your first check go?
Easy. Indoor practice facility with all the shiny trimmings. Preferably within whatever boundaries exist of the Carl Smith Center so the "Carl Smith Center, Home of David A. Harrison III Field at Scott Stadium" can have another name tacked on there somewhere. Failing that, I guess they can put it near the current outdoor practice field somewhere. Also, I want the visitors locker room at the stadium ripped out and replaced with the shitty, mildewy, odorous locker room I change in at the gym. Complete with communal showers, not enough urinals, paper towel dispensers that don't dispense, stall doors that touch your knees when you sit on the john, benches that seesaw if you sit on the ends, scratchy postage-stamp-sized towels, and random naked old guys meandering through and bending over to rifle through their bag. Only the best for our guests.