As we inch along closer and closer to actual, live college football, we'll continue to bring in some of football's best commentators for perspectives on the upcoming season. Today's guest needs no introduction to the college football junkie - Bruce Feldman is a fixture at ESPN.com, anchoring their daily updating with a first-rate blog and regular features.
Bruce was kind enough to spend a little time chatting with us about the upcoming college football season.
Bruce Feldman, ESPN
Burnt Orange Nation: Welcome, Bruce. Great to chat with you. We'll get right into this with a question of particular interest to Longhorn fans. I couldn't help but notice your little turnaround on the Bomar situation at Oklahoma. Can you explain why you think the losses of Bomar and Quinn could turn into net positives for the Sooners?
Bruce Feldman, ESPN.com: Because I have too much time on my hands waiting for the season to start. ... Um, actually I was talking to some people very close to the OU program who say there is a feeling that because Paul Thompson is viewed as such a leader and so respected amongst his teammates, that he may be able to get more out of them than Bomar. I could see him having a Michael Robinson-like final college season.
Burnt Orange Nation: In your first crack at ranking the teams, you gave the Mountaineers of West Virginia the nod at the top, noting their road to the BCS title game is undeniably easier than, say, Florida's. My question is this: Imagine a situation in which the Mountaineers go undefeated, but do so with several very narrow, unconvincing victories. Can you envision a scenario in which an undefeated West Virginia team got passed up by a very strong one-loss team?
Bruce Feldman, ESPN.com: Sure, I could see it with one team, but logically, I really couldn't see two teams with one-loss playing for the title ahead of an unbeaten WVU team because the Mountaineers are starting the season ranked so high. It's not like they're going to have to leap over a lot of teams, although I do think their cause takes a big hit if Miami goes into Louisville and crushes the Cards. U of L is the only team on WVU's schedule with a legit shot to be a top 15 team. In truth, WVU may not play another top 25 team in the regular season. But I do think Maryland will be a bowl team and could prove to be a top 25 team.
Burnt Orange Nation: Going back to your rankings, can you give us two teams that your gut says may make your rankings look silly? Give us one from each side - a team you've ranked highly that could fall flat on its face, as well as a team you've not ranked very highly that could have a terrific season.
Bruce Feldman, ESPN.com: Well, I'm not sure how deep WVU is, and if Patrick White gets hurt, they might not be a top 15 team. I could see Clemson make a run at the top 5. The Tigers have all kinds of speed at the skill positions, a very solid O-line and a star on defense in Gaines Adams.
Clemson's Adams might ruin a lot of pundits' boards.
Burnt Orange Nation: Turning to Texas here, with conference and national titles under his belt - seemingly the only things Mack didn't have before - the recruiting blitz he's gone on appears to be unprecedented. The Horns have only two '07 scholarships left to give out, are already prepping their '08 offers, and are seemingly choosing the players they want while other coaches wait to fight for everyone else. Have you seen anything like this before?
Bruce Feldman, ESPN.com: Not really. Penn State finished up much of its recruiting around summer time a few years back, but they didn't seem to be closing on the kind of talent that UT is.
To me, the most amazing thing about the Horns' recruiting is how many of the UT starters who came to Austin and never even visited any other school. No other place can make that claim. I think that speaks to the power of UT and the lure of Austin.
Burnt Orange Nation: We'll let you go after we get your thoughts on a certain big time football game that's set to take place in Austin in three weeks. First, have you ever taken in a game at DKR-Memorial Field? Second, will you be in town for the showdown with Ohio State? And last, who's gonna win it?
Bruce Feldman, ESPN.com: Yes. I have been. I love Austin. It is my favorite college town. I love everything about the place. And I can't wait to get there for that game. My head says go with Troy Smith since he has the big edge in experience, but my gut is telling me Jamaal Charles will become a star that night. But since I picked OSU like five months ago, I gotta stick with them I guess.
Burnt Orange Nation: Go with your gut, Bruce. Consistency is vastly overrated anyway. In any case, we'll have to get a beer when you're in town for the big one.