God knows, I like to knock ESPN as much as the next college football fan, but I have to admit that there are a few redeeming things about the WWL. Ron Franklin, for one.
Bruce Feldman’s another. I don’t pay for ESPN Insider, so any time a post of his pops up for free over at ESPN.com, I take a look. His most recent post concerns the importance of returning starters. Now if you ask most pundits – everyone from Phil Steele to the current fans of the Florida defense – they’ll tell you that returning talent is a very big deal. Feldman, on the other hand, says maybe that’s a tad overrated.
… There is some interesting stuff to sift through in that blog entry. [Ed. note: link added. Take a look at that post, too.] My three cents on why starting experience is important really has more to do with the fact that it should, in theory, tie in with a player’s grasp of his team’s system. From observing the Ole Miss Rebels, I came away believing nothing costs you games more than blown assignments. Usually you get that from inexperienced players. Then again, if you have some young players who are very sharp and have learned their system, maybe they don’t need to have been starters to prove their worth. And yes, I know success does breed success.
What I like is Feldman’s Exhibit “A” to illustrate his point here.
… Two teams lots of folks are high on this year — USC and Clemson — both return only one starting O-lineman. That would seem to be a major concern, but sometimes great coaching can overcome that. That seemed to be the case with last year’s Georgia team. Credit there goes to O-line coach Stacy Searles.
What I hope is that Feldman is able to write the same thing next year.
By the way, here’s the criteria that Feldman uses to evaluate the merit of a team in the preseason.
… So to step back a bit, how would you rank the following factors as the most important when it comes to projecting a team’s worth?
- Perceived talent base
- Star power
- Returning starters
- Coaching and team leadership
- Schedule strength
That’s the order I have it in. Disagree?
In case you’re wondering, Feldman doesn’t pick Georgia to play in the BCS title game.