Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast, either. The audience is growing every day. I’ve had some awesome guests from around the country recently. Bruce Feldman, Stewart Mandel and Jason McIntyre all joined me in the last week. Next week I’ll have Laura Rutledge, Mike Golic Jr., Nicole Auerbach and a few more. We’ll have an episode every day for you leading up to the first full weekend of college football.
Now, onto The Bag Man. Enjoy.
I actually haven’t been to a ton of true road games for Virginia Tech. For the past five years, working in studio TV at ESPN and FOX kept me from seeing many games on Saturday afternoons. But I’ll tell you this much — I don’t know that anything will ever top the Battle at Bristol. Holy hell was that weekend ridiculous. From the Kenny Chesney concert where I impersonated Ryan Lochte for free beers, to College Gameday, to the most outrageously drunken tailgate I’ve ever been to (shout out to Jon Barlow and his family for throwing a hell of a party), that was incredible. I don’t know if that atmosphere can ever be re-created. If Virginia Tech and Tennessee can both build up their programs just a little more, and become perennial top-15 teams, then I think you could bring the game back. Otherwise, that was a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Kevin F asks: Is there ever a realistic chance for polls (preseason) to be eliminated and replaced with the CFP Polls, for example, after week 3?
No. Preseason polls help drum up interest in college football for the month leading up to the season, and the sport needs that. In my podcast with Jason McIntyre Thursday, we discussed the perception of a dwindling interest in college football. Look at what the NBA has done to stay relevant year-round. Between the draft, free agency, Summer League, and more…the league is relevant 10 or 11 months out of the year. College football has a six-month window to be relevant, from early August through Signing Day in early February. The polls help give college football relevance a few weeks before any games are played. It also is a tremendous asset for the TV networks, who can sell games based on rankings. To use a random example, Penn State vs Pittsburgh isn’t a huge national sell, but #8 Penn State vs #15 Pittsburgh is.
The Committee’s rankings won’t start any sooner, because it takes 7 or 8 weeks to really gain a good feel for how every team stacks up. In all honesty, if anything they should push the initial rankings back. They only come out as early as they do now for TV ratings. Think about college basketball. Until last year, the first time you had any idea what the selection committee was thinking was the moment the actual bracket was released. When they tried to follow football’s lead last season by releasing a bracket in February, it was pointless – nothing more than a publicity stunt.
The reality is ESPN needs to drive ratings with the weekly show revealing the rankings, so we’ll never see the first set of rankings pushed back any further. But would it be so bad to eliminate the weekly committee rankings altogether and just wait until Selection Sunday?
Gerry asks: who are your Heisman favorites this season?
I talked about this for a good chunk of the podcast with McIntyre, but I have a pretty straightforward theory on predicting the Heisman Trophy winner: ignore all of the favorites. In the last decade, the only preseason favorite who actually won the Heisman was Marcus Mariota (Derrick Henry is the only other player who was even on the radar). Last season, Lamar Jackson was 100-to-1 odds before the year!
The Heisman Trophy isn’t just about honoring the best player in the country. It’s about who exceeds expectations the most. Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, Johnny Manziel, Jameis Winston, Lamar Jackson…none of those guys were thought to be contenders for the Heisman before the season.
That being said…I think Lamar Jackson has a really, really good chance to repeat. Ironically, his biggest advantage is how bad he/Louisville was over the last four games of last season. The Cardinals ended the season losing three straight games to finish 9-4. Because of that, Jackson comes into this season as perhaps the most underappreciated returning Heisman winner of all-time. That bodes well for his chances this year. If Louisville can upset Clemson at home in week three, Jackson will vault right back to the top of the race. If the Cardinals can win the ACC and make a trip to the Playoff, Jackson will win the Heisman again. Mark it down.
Kim asks: do you really think the Hokie Pokie was a good tradition? Nothing sucked the life out of Lane in a big game like a children’s sing-along. Good riddance!
In case you missed it, Virginia Tech announced Thursday morning it was ditching the tradition of singing the Hokie Pokie in between the third and fourth quarter of home games. Instead, a special guest will lead the crowd in a “Let Go Hokies” chant before the fourth quarter kicks off.
I don’t like the move, if for no other reason than this being a huge safety hazard. By the end of the third quarter, the tailgate buzz has worn off and you’re borderline sober again. Asking 60,000 people to hop in circles on one leg any sooner is dicey. It sounds like they’re moving the dance to halftime. That seems too soon. Get ready for the lawsuits.
I really did love having the Hokie Pokie in that spot. Is it the most electric tradition in sports? No, but it also was such a perfect pastime for college football. We’re the only Hokies in the country. The Hokie Pokie was ours. Now it’s being moved to halftime, when half of the crowd is waiting in line for the bathroom. I don’t like it.
It’s Florida State. A few years back I spent weeks swatting away idiot FSU fans calling me a dumbass for saying they weren’t a Playoff team. This was in 2014, Jameis Winston’s sophomore year, when the Seminoles spent every week sleepwalking through half the game before flipping the switch to do just enough to win. I don’t have any anti-FSU agenda; I called it like I saw it. Florida State fans were the absolute worst. I’ve criticized just about every program at some point or another in the last five years, and no one takes it as personally as Florida State.
Oh, by the way…they lost by 40 in the Playoff to Oregon. Hm.