1. Let's cut right to the chase. Do you expect Chip Kelly to succeed in the NFL?
Put a gun to my head and make me decide...it's a no.
A lot of people want to say that Kelly isn't a system guy, but come on, he is. Others will say he's a great coach and will tweak his system to make it work at the next level. But if he's tweaking his system isn't he taking away so many advantages he had at Oregon?
I know, I know, there's things like the Smart Football articles showing how Chip is smarter than we know, his team isn't as dependent on up-tempo as we think, and of course the NFL is already welcoming running quarterbacks and the option read.
All true, but Kelly isn't walking in to a great situation with Philadelphia (who's playing quarterback?), he has to buck a huge trend of college coaches failing in the NFL without prior experience in the League, and he's insanely inexperienced as a head coach at any level.
Just because a couple teams run no-huddle on occasion and we're seeing more running from the QB position does not mean Chip Kelly is going to seamlessly make this transition.
It should be fascinating though. Will he run up-tempo practices which is so anti-ethical to the way the NFL does business during the week? What's he going to do when a prima donna receiver doesn't want to run all over the place during the week because he's not getting enough touches in games? How's Kelly going to react to losing?
The latter might be the biggest issue because he doesn't have much experience with that and he's notoriously crabby with the media. I can't wait to see what his plans are but I'm really interested to see how he handles those 5th, 6th or more losses that are almost inevitable next year.
2. With Chip leaving Eugene, what's the Pac-12 going to look like for the next year or two?
I'm not sure it really alters the landscape of the conference in any meaningful way through 2014.
UCLA and Washington are getting stronger through recruiting. The Bruins have improved a little bit (and played in two straight conference title games) but they've still lost 15 games over the past two years. Will UCLA be a 10 or 11 win team at any point over the next couple seasons?
I'd probably still bet the under on that.
Washington is now 4 full years removed from the Molder of Men, yet Sarkisian has lost at least 6 games in every season in Seattle. We're still waiting for the Huskies to make the jump from mediocre to good.
We'll probably see a combination of UW, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State rising the tide a little bit with Oregon falling off a little bit in turn, but I don't know how much that will effect the Ducks' record in such a large conference where they're not playing a lot of other teams in the league.
3. Baylor made some news this early off-season with a new completely gold chrome helmet. What do you think will be the next new helmet from the folks at Hyrdo Graphics Inc?
I'm going with Florida State who will continue the fad of these gold chrome helmets following the black, gray, and white helmet fads of recent years.
They'll chrome out the helmet in sparkly gold and then move the spear to the top of the helmet similar to what San Jose State did this year. Except Florida State's spear will be larger and much more noticeable on this helmet.
Finish the spear off with the colorful red, black, yellow, and white feathers and make some flames coming off the tip of the spear just like Chief Osceola's pre-game routine.
Boom, new ideas for Hydro Graphics Inc.
4. Normally the off-season is saved for such hot topics as the turf debate inside Notre Dame Stadium. What do you think is the plan inside the House that Rock Built?
I've been Team Field Turf for a long time. Put it in, get it over with, we already practice on it, and maintain a consistent surface year round.
However, we just finished a season in which the natural grass held up better than it has in many, many years. Obviously, the new draining improvements helped and the groundskeepers out there worked some magic---particularly following the Stanford game in the soaking rain.
My opinion hasn't changed but there isn't going to be as much clamoring for something different this year and I'm sure the school is still another 2 or 3 years away from making a larger investment in a different surface.
Then again, all it takes is one bad game to destroy all that hard work they put in to it. Such is life of still maintaining the Kentucky Bluegrass in northern Indiana.
5. Is it possible that LSU will struggle to win 8 games in 2013 with so many players leaving early for the NFL?
Anything is possible with Les Miles at the helm at Baton Rouge!
On the surface, their losses heading in to 2013 do look crippling. They have 10 players "leaving early" (some took a redshirt freshman season and are not returning for 5th years a la Tyler Eifert) and that number spikes to 11 if you count the Honey Badger who was kicked off the team before the 2012 season---which means he really doesn't count.
Tack on seniors losing eligibility and according to my calculations LSU has just 11 starters returning total. So half their starters are gone and a couple key backups are moving on as well.
The funny thing is though, the Tigers might still be pretty good on offense. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger returns, as do the top three receivers and top two rushers. Yes that's right, LSU's 3rd and 4th leading rushers left early for the NFL. SEC! SEC! SEC!
Having a good QB and productive playmakers at the skill positions can go a long way in college football.
But can it go a long way in the SEC? Will LSU be able to reload in the trenches? Surely they will struggle there, right? And isn't that disaster playing in the SEC?
Just 2 offensive linemen return and the entire front four on defense are gone. Only 4 starters return on the defensive side of the ball. LSU still has a lot of talent to replace these losses but boy will they be awfully young in 2013.
The schedule features an opener in Jerry World against TCU. They have to face Georgia and Florida out of the East division. Throw in Alabama, Texas A&M, and maybe another slip-up against (Auburn, Arkansas, Ole Miss?) and this might not be a celebratory season in Baton Rouge.
That might not stop Miles from flirting with another school though.