College Football’s Usual Suspects

The release of some of the college football previews last week indicates that the top of the football world will be comprised of the usual suspects. Just about every legitimate publication and blog has the same three teams at the pinnacle, albeit in different order. And once again the pre-season picks favor the SEC with Alabama and LSU joined by Pac-12 member USC.

One exception is Phil Steele, whose 2012 College Football Preview is the best of the magazines. He is picking Florida State and Oklahoma No. 1 and No. 2, followed by the consensus trio. Ever the iconoclast, Steele has had some wild successes among previous picks. He was the only pundit in the country to pick the 2007 Hawaii team to go undefeated and play in the Sugar Bowl, but Warrior fans have to hope he misses the mark this time. He has UH finishing eighth in the Mountain West ahead of only hapless New Mexico and UNLV, which beat UH by 20 last year, despite being an 18-point underdog. Lindy’s magazine has Hawaii seventh ahead of Colorado State as well as UNM and UNLV. And has posted its list of Top 100 schools, and ranks UH at No 99.

The reasons shouldn’t surprise anyone. The Warriors lost seven starters on defense including its top two tacklers in Corey Paredes and Aaron Brown, along with four offensive line-men, quarterback Bryant Moniz and wide receiver Royce Pollard. Add a new staff and different schemes on offense, defense and special teams, and most observers see Hawaii slogging through a rebuilding year. I suppose the good news is that UH could sneak up on a couple of opponents who might overlook them.

When asked about a few positions where spring practice revealed some vulnerabilities, head coach Norm Chow was matter of fact. “This is not the NFL – there is no waiver wire. We have what we have. We’ll coach ’em up and compete as hard and as well as we can.”

You won’t hear Chow complaining about a bare cupboard, but he’s been at this a long time and knows what he’s missing. Right now, it’s critical to establish a culture, get players to buy in and hammer the recruiting trail. Success won’t come overnight, but come it will. It might be time for UH fans to buckle up and enjoy the ride.

* Officiating is drawing a lot of attention in the NBA playoffs, and while no crew is going to satisfy everyone, we’ve seen a huge inconsistency in the calling of technical fouls. It often seems that some officials are overly sensitive to scowls and frowns, signaling a “T” to vent their own frustrations. Sometimes players and coaches seem able to get away with long verbal tirades without drawing a whistle.

It could be a good time this off-season to review with officials what should properly constitute an offense worthy of teeing someone up and awarding their opponents the chance at free points.