It’s fun to watch the perceptions of the pundit class change rapidly during the early weeks of any college football season – another reason why preseason and even initial season polls are essentially worthless.
Take, for example, my man Tom Dienhart’s latest assessment of Tennessee’s offense:
Tennessee needs a quarterback. Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Vols QB Jonathan Crompton is victimized by interceptions in another loss. Sure enough, it happened again, as Crompton was intercepted three times in a 19-15 home loss to UCLA. It seems everyone was hyperventilating too much over Tennessee’s 63-7 season-opening win over Western Kentucky. Since when was ripping the Hilltoppers a reason to sing “Rocky Top”? The Vols’ humbling loss to a rebuilding UCLA program is indicative of the rehab project Lane Kiffin is undertaking. The sledding won’t get any easier for the Vols. Six of their next eight games are against conference foes: at Florida, vs. Auburn, vs. Georgia, at Alabama, at South Carolina, at Ole Miss. The only gimmes in that stretch are visits from Ohio and Memphis. Tennessee may be 3-7 when Vandy heads to Knoxville on Nov. 21.
Dienhart’s right: we weren’t reading any of that stuff a week ago when UT routed the formidable Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky. Of course, I don’t remember him warning us then, either.
He’s also giving us this breathless take of Michigan:
Michigan will be in the hunt in the Big Ten. Michigan’s 38-34 win over Notre Dame makes it official: The Wolverines are a legit Big Ten contender. A once-moribund offense has come to life in Rich Rodriguez’s second season in Ann Arbor. Thank true freshman QB Tate Forcier. And don’t read too much into Michigan yielding 490 yards to the Irish. Notre Dame has one of the top offenses in the nation and will burn many foes this fall. The Wolverines are a confident and focused team that should win its next two games and be 4-0 when it opens Big Ten play at Michigan State.
Don’t get me wrong – that was a thrilling, gutsy win for Michigan, which will get better this season under Rodriguez. But “don’t read too much” into giving up almost 500 yards? Greg Robinson took a crappy Syracuse defense into South Bend at the end of last year and held virtually the same Notre Dame offense to 332 total yards. This was an overrated, mediocre Irish team that Michigan took down Saturday. And while the nation (except for Lou Holtz) owes Michigan a debt of gratitude for exposing Notre Dame, it’s not the bellweather event Dienhart makes it out to be.
Of course, don’t tell that to Stewart Mandel, who manages one of the niftiest feats of bandwagon jumping I’ve seen by taking the Michigan win and Ohio State loss and conflating them into an argument that Terrell Pryor made a mistake in his selection of schools. Never mind these minor details that Mandel gives all too brief lip service to:
Granted, it’s far too early to render any definitive judgments on Pryor (Vince Young, the player to whom he’s most commonly compared, didn’t truly blossom until midway through his redshirt sophomore season), and granted, he faced a much tougher defense Saturday than Forcier…