Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Both involve heavy drinking

As the muse for Matt's NFL Preview, I figured I should have a preview of my own. College football starts up even earlier than the pros, so here's a primer to the season. For those of you either unfamiliar or apathetic to college football, never fear - I've compared each team to a band/singer to help you understand. On to the preview!

Rivals.com Preseason Top 25

1. Ohio State - The Killers

The Buckeyes sport an amazing amount of talent on offense, so look for some flashy plays this year from Troy Smith, Antonio Pittman and Ted Ginn, Jr. The defense might be a little shaky, but head coach Jim Tressel has always produced a solid defense, so that's comforting. Likewise, Hot Fuss made a big splash with its neo-nostalgic sound, but can The Killers settle into a groove of consistently producing great albums and justify its position on top? Both have about a year before we move on to someone new.

2. Notre Dame - Jay-Z

Amazing track record for both, but had some doubters until recently, when Charlie Weis (The Black Album) made everyone jump around and scream again. Both have the golden touch, whether it's converting Brady Quinn from an afterthought to the probable #1 NFL Draft pick next year or signing new hit artists as easy as signing your name. Both Weis and Carter (Jay-Z's real surname) have made seamless transitions: Weis from the NFL to the college ranks, and Carter from performing to management. Both face challenges still, however. Weis has to win a national title and Carter has to lure LeBron away from his home in Cleveland and into Brooklyn after buying the Nets.

3. West Virginia - Gnarls Barkley

West Virginia exploded onto the national radar after winning the Big East conference championship and pounding Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, particularly the first half. Now everyone is talking about them, and you wonder if they can do it again. Gnarls Barkley produced the hot summer album, punctuated by everyone's new favorite song, "Crazy," but was this collaboration a one-shot deal?

4. Southern Cal - Van Halen

It didn't matter if USC was led by Carson Palmer or Matt Leinart - they still racked up tons of yards, just like it didn't matter if Diamond Dave or Sammy Hagar was rocking the mic. Van Halen still put out platinum records because Eddie Van Halen is frigging amazing. USC's Eddie is Pete Carroll - say what you want about his performance in last year's Rose Bowl, but he can recruit with the best of them, making the Trojans a perennial national contender again.

5. LSU - The Hives

The Hives' Tyrannosaurus Hives might have been the best overall album of the post-post-punk explosion, but was quickly forgotten as other, more palatable bands made the scene. LSU's '03 squad might have actually been better than USC (damn you, Oklahoma), but the Tigers were left behind soon after. Both have a nasty streak in them, and they've been remarkably solid. You keep thinking they're going to break out, but the road ahead is probably just a little too tough, whether it's the SEC schedule or The White Stripes.

6. Texas - Tool

Maynard James Keenan, Tool's lead singer, is one of the most talented people on this planet. So is Vince Young, UT's former Superman QB. Like Young, Keenan proved he can excel in multiple ways, spinning off and starting A Perfect Circle, a slightly more subdued outfit. Young won the national title with both his passing and his running, and everyone knows they wouldn't have had a chance without him. Similarly, Tool would be far less without the brilliant frontman. Texas still has talent, without a doubt, but won't reach college football nirvana without Young.

7. Auburn - Ashlee Simpson

Jessica's little sister got a little "help" during her SNL performance and the 2005 Orange Bowl, just like Auburn got a little "help" from its sociology professors. Both are probably just desperately jealous with their older sibling's success (Alabama as big brother) and will do anything (radical image makeover, including nose job) in order to prove themselves. However, neither ever has a chance.

8. Florida - Oasis

They were both amazing in the '90s, but damn, were they ever obnoxious. Florida's swagger was justified to a point, just like Oasis had every right to be proud of their achievements, but not assume they were bigger than The Beatles. Both have since been put in their place (very few NFL stars/virulent public backlash), and now simply go about their business. The interesting part is that neither has obtained the success they had when they were both wildly egotistical. Chris Leak is Noel Gallagher to Danny Wuerffel's Liam - Leak is more singularly talented, but doesn't have it, while Wuerffel proved how little he can do on his own in the NFL, but knew how to control the college game like few have.

9. Oklahoma - Red Hot Chili Peppers

OU's dominance back in the day crumbled to the ground throughout the late 80s and most of the 90s, only to see a resurgence to prominence begun with their 2000 national championship. RHCP found themselves in a hole before Californication and Stadium Arcadium vaulted them back to the forefront of the musical landscape. You can see glimpses of their past in "Dani California" just as you can imagine RB Adrian Peterson tearing up defensive lines in the '60s for the glamour Sooners of old.

10. Miami - Britney Spears

Miami came out of nowhere in the 80s to become an absolute powerhouse in college football. Take a look at NFL rosters over the past 10 years and you'd be hard pressed to find any team with fewer than two players from "The U." Britney made a similar explosion with her career, becoming the biggest pop star in America after growing up in the Louisiana bayou. Unfortunately, she couldn't hide her trashiness forever, and her career is tainted as a result. Miami's had similar problems, whether it was drug abuse or domestic violence. Both had minor resurgencies (Miami's 2001 team or Britney's appearance with Madonna), but no matter what either of them do they can never escape who they are. Miami's at least trying, however, by letting troubled LB Willie Williams leave the program. Can Britney do the same with K-Fed?

11. Georgia - Counting Crows

Solid. Consistent. Unspectacular, but still really good. Everyone knows of them and likes them, but nobody gushes about them anymore. David Greene and David Pollack are gone, and the team has to find its new direction. DE Quentin Moses is a good start, just like "Big Yellow Taxi" put Counting Crows back on the map, but they need more. UGA needs freshman QB Matt Stafford to blow up just like Adam Duritz & Co. need an ultra-catchy hit to catapult them back amongst the elite.

12. Michigan - Rolling Stones

Michigan has won more games than any college football team in history, and The Rolling Stones have made more hit records than any band not from Liverpool. The only problem? Neither of them are all that good anymore and are just getting by on their name. Michigan was ranked #3 at the start of last season but fell out of the Top 25, while the Stones played halftime of the Superbowl, looking "aged after decades of overexposure." We know you both used to be the biggest deals in the world - it's not your world anymore.

13. Oregon - Eels

Just like the super-secretive E, nobody knows a thing about the Ducks. You know they're good, but if you had to give a definite reason why, you'd be stumped. Former QB Joey Harrington is Oregon's version of "Novacaine for the Soul," a superstar that got everyone's attention, and DT Haloti Ngata was "Your Lucky Day in Hell," a respectable if not overwhelming presence. Now? Coach Bellotti will have his hands full putting together another 10-win season, just like E will have to dig deep into his barrel of neuroticism to pull out an album that can compare to Beautiful Freak or Electro-shock Blues.

14. Florida State - Snoop Dogg

Both absolutely dominated in the '90s. Snoop churned out hits like rednecks make moonshine, and FSU couldn't be dragged out of the top 5 with barbed-wire rope and a trailer. Since 2000, though, both have been good, but probably resting a bit too much on their laurels. You have to respect them for what they've done, but you probably don't pay as much attention to them as you used to. Oh, and they've both run afoul of the law here and there. Nothing serious, but warrants mentioning.

15. Louisville - Lil' Jon

Lil' Jon is a hell of a lot of fun, but you know you're not hearing anything substantial. Since you know he's not thought-provoking enough to be on top forever, why not enjoy the ride while it lasts? Louisville is not an established football dynasty, so hopefully their fans will realize that after QB Brian Brohm and RB Michael Bush have taken their explosive offense with them, the party's over.

16. Penn State - NaS

Just as NaS lost the battle with Jay-Z to be the hottest rapper in New York, Penn State lost the battle with Notre Dame as the East Coast's adopted football team. Both are still extremely talented (PSU has the best LB in the nation with Paul Posluszny), but everyone knows they'll never emerge as top dog in the long run.

17. California - Christina Aguilera

Once again, we find ourselves with a team that looked poised to hoist its flag at the top of the mountain, only to lose by the slimmest of margins. Cal nearly knocked off USC in 2004, but doesn't have the staying power of the Trojans (clever, I know). Christina Aguilera had a chance to become queen of the pop world, but couldn't overtake Britney, and the window of opportunity was too small to allow a second chance. Even when some thought she should own the title of World's Biggest Pop Star, it never seemed to be, just when Cal handed USC its only loss of the season in 2003 yet watched them grab a share of the national title.

18. South Carolina - Sugar Ray

Toiling in obscurity for years, both sold their souls to achieve a glimmer of stardom. Very few know/remember that Sugar Ray was a metal band, releasing "Lemonade and Brownies." They went pop/funk/crap with "Floored" and really gave up with "14:59." South Carolina has never had a great football tradition, but by joining the SEC thought they could woo some players. Now they've hired Steve Spurrier (the Antichrist) in a sorry effort to whore themselves to high school football stars. Can you tell I'm not a fan of either?

19. Virginia Tech - 311

They've both hung around for a long time, but both get accused of being one-trick ponies: for VT it's easier a ridiculously athletic QB (one of the Vick brothers) or insane special teams, and for 311 it was putting out albums with one or two great songs and the rest as fillers. Even in their heyday, neither could fully grab the spotlight - 311 was competing with Sublime or the ska craze, and VT ran into Florida State in the 2000 Sugar Bowl. Now if only we could get Scott Stapp in a fight with the Louisville players...

20. Nebraska - Metallica

Metallica was the standard-bearer in metal for longer than anyone can remember, just as it appeared Nebraska had perfected the art of the option. Then Metallica sold out, just like Nebraska did when it hired Bill "West Coast Passing" Callahan. By going away from their roots, both are shells of their former selves, and much less relevant. In fact, you hope both would just go away.

21. UCLA - Slipknot

Unless you really pay attention to them, you don't really care. Nobody expects UCLA to be Pac-10 champs, just like nobody's waiting for Slipknot to headline the biggest tour of the summer. The fans are hardcore, but the outside world only perks up when something out of the ordinary happens. Think of an 8-3 season as the equivalent of playing a main stage at Ozzfest.

22. Clemson - The Wallflowers

Head coach Tommy Bowden is a good coach, but there's no way he's going to eclipse Bobby, one of the 10 best college football coaches in history. Maybe Tommy and Jakob Dylan should go out for beers sometime. At least Jakob's mom never had to watch her son's band face off against her husband. Anne Bowden says she won't watch the Clemson-FSU games, and with good reason. Nobody wants to watch their son get beat over and over again.

23. Iowa - Sunny Day Real Estate

Loads of talent, but they're not going to get a chance to shine. QB Drew Tate has a great offense, but losing LBs Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge will be too much to overcome. Likewise, Sunny Day kept putting out great albums, but they couldn't connect with the right kind of fanbase to take off. Every now and then that flavor of indie rock will be a fad, but not enough to generate long-term interest. Recruting for college football works the same way - who the hell wants to play at Iowa?

24. Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd

Insert a "Sweet Home Alabama" joke here all you want, but it makes sense. Both were dominant forces in the 70s but each lost its leader (Ronnie Van Zant and Bear Bryant) and neither has been the same since. Oh, sure, Skynyrd put out a Greatest Hits album and Bama won the '92 championship, but you know it's never going to be like it used to. And both sets of fans are ridiculously stuck in the past.

25. Boston College - Reel Big Fish

Doug Flutie and "Sellout" are the only really big things that have come from either, but the faithful will not soon forget. I believe it's mandatory to show the clip of Flutie's Hail Mary to beat Miami at least twice every time those two play, and "One Hit Wonderful" includes snippets of RBF's only radio hit. Both fan groups keep hoping the magic can come back, but in the back of their minds they know it was the best it'll ever get.

Other Notables

Missouri - Gwen Stefani

First, don't kill me. Second, realize that her time in No Doubt was successful, but she found her true calling with poppy hip-hop (some of it bad, yes) and became a superstar. Gary Pinkel had some success with Brad Smith, but he's finally getting back to his comfort zone with new pocket passer Chase Daniel. There's some optimism in this, but what else would you expect?

Colorado - R. Kelly

Fine, so I just wanted to make a sex offender joke here. Sue me.

Tennessee - Creed

They just suck. There's no other way to put it - I hate them. Checklist time! Obnoxious? Check - if UT's bright orange was a person, I'd like to put it in a room with Scott Stapp and see who would cause the other to kill himself first. Horrible music? Check - Rocky Top and My Sacrifice are pretty good arguments why the First Amendment isn't always such a good idea. The only possible way they could be more connected is if Creed came out with a hit after Stapp left the band - it would be so reminiscient of UT's '99 national championship the year after Peyton Manning left.

Spend the next month reviewing this preview and committing it to memory. It might help you make some new friends, you never know.

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