And while you're at it, e-mail every SEC beat writer and columnist and tell them thanks for not picking LSU.
Any fan that puts any stock in
these predictions needs a history lesson. The media who vote at SEC Media Days
Not enough evidence? The same group (with many of the same voters year after year) owns a 2-12 record picking the winner of the SEC title over the past 14 years.
It's gotten to the point where no one in the SEC, at least among the players and coaches, really seems to take these things seriously.
"Appreciate the target you put on my back," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said after learning that his Tigers had been picked to win the SEC. "Last time you did that, you almost got me fired. Looking forward to the challenge. It's going to be a big challenge."
In 2004, no one picked
"None of that really matters," Auburn senior receiver Courtney Taylor said. "We have been in that situation before. You can't believe that you are number one in this league. Each year you have to start over. We like to have that kind of respect, but we haven't earned it yet."
Of course, it helps to play
"You have to love having all the
big games at home,"
"To me, predictions are really
based on what you've done, not what you are going to go do," Tuberville said.
"Nobody knows what's going to happen. Everybody sees that
As for LSU ... "Their toughest decision," Tuberville insisted, "is seeing which All-American quarterback they're going to play."
"Am I thrilled being picked at the top? In some ways I am and some ways I'm not," Tuberville said. "We'll have a good team with a lot of good players, but we have a lot of question marks, too. By the time we get to the first game, we might drop a few notches. I'm hoping we don't."
The biggest problem with preseason predictions is that no one can predict three of the four most important factors in determining the fate of a football season: 1) injuries; 2) chemistry and leadership; 3) growth and maturity; and 4) fortune or misfortune.
As for injuries, who knows how much
better Florida would have been last year with two of its most important players,
receiver Andre Caldwell and defensive end Ray McDonald, healthy and productive
throughout the season. Then again, would
As for chemistry and leadership,
it's impossible for members of the media to know how those elements will come
together and shape a team in the fall. How many reporters covering
"Last year was a complete
And then there's growth and
maturity. Coaches like to say teams are often made in the summer when young
players have to grow and mature and prepare for a bigger role in the fall. For
How about fortune and misfortune?
Weird bounces, tripping and falling, errant officiating and field goals that
bounce the wrong (or right) way off an upright? Go back to the LSU-Auburn game
in 2004. If Corey Webster hangs on to that screen pass to Carnell Williams on
Besides, how many geniuses picked
LSU to win a share of the national championship in 2003? That was, after all,
This time around, four of the
voters actually picked
In fact, the team picked to win the
title hasn't even made it to the SEC Championship game in 10 of the past 14
"Yeah, that's not a very good percentage," Tuberville said. "Somebody has to be ranked up there high. We'll take it this year. Maybe you'll give it to somebody else next year.
Hopefully, we can add to y'all's better percentages of being right."
Don't count on it. It was obvious to pick the Gators to win the SEC back in '94 and '95 but picking the conference race over the past 10 years hasn't exactly been easy.
"Nowadays, there are so many good
teams in the SEC," said
"It's a very competitive league now compared to the early '90s. Maybe there were two or three teams, four at most, that could win it. Now there are a lot more."
And those predictions become more and more meaningless with each passing year. What matters is stay healthy, developing leadership and chemistry, growing and maturing and handling fortune and misfortune equally well.
"We don't really care what the predictions are," LSU coach Les Miles said. "It doesn't make any difference. We'll look to earn our way. I think our football team will do that."
Schaeffer was one of the nation's
top prep recruits when he signed with
He spent last fall at the College
of the Sequoias, a
Even though Schaeffer had to spend the spring and summer earning enough credits to graduate from College of the Sequoias, and despite the fact that he had not practiced or worked with the Rebels until last week, he remains the starting quarterback as Ole Miss prepares for its Sept. 3 season opener against Memphis.
"It's a relief to get here. I'm anxious to get out here and meet all of my teammates and get started," Schaeffer said last Thursday.
According to the Jackson
Clarion-Ledger and The Commercial Appeal in
"Everybody was a little worried about, 'Was he coming,' or, 'Was he going to get qualified?'" defensive end Peria Jerry said. "But I mean, Coach O told us don't worry about it so everybody was trying to get it off their mind that he was coming.
"You couldn't get it off your mind until you saw him. I've seen him so I feel good about it."
Schaeffer insists he has spent a significant amount of time and effort studying the playbook brought in by new offensive coordinator Dan Werner. The two spoke by phone nearly every day.
"I've grasped a lot of it," Schaeffer said. "I like to consider myself a quick learner, especially when it comes to football. I think I have football smarts. When it comes to the playbook, Coach Werner did a good job explaining it to me. I don't think it'll be a problem."
Easier said than done.
"I'll be honest with you, I've never dealt with something like this before," Werner said. "I don't know many coaches who have. We've just got to give it to him and see what he can do. ... We're going to feed him until he can't take any more. And then we're going to keep working on that and once he gets that, we're going to keep on giving more. So it's basically up to him how much he can handle."
Like all those other factors that can't be predicted in August, only time and the SEC schedule will tell if Schaeffer can handle his new job.
"It feels good to be back in Division I," Schaeffer said. "And being back in the Southeastern Conference, I just know there's going to be competition week-in and week-out. I'm coming back with a little chip on my shoulder."
Richard Scott is a Birmingham-based sports writer, author and a guest columnist in Tiger Rag. Reach him at RScottfree@aol.com.