Apr 19, 2014; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers receiver Quan Bray (4) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first half of the A-Day spring game at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Preseason College Football Predictions Can Doom Credibility

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Mid July is a tough portion of the summer. Between reading all the latest national season preview publications, Media Days, watching re-runs of the 2012-2013 bowl season on ESPNU and searching for any news worthy content to devise up a unique take, our hearts are longing for the last week in August.

The prognosticators are out in full force on TV, blogs, radio and print trying to tap into the 2014 season prophecy. However, no matter how accurate some of us may prove to be, can we say we know some things for sure?

Beyond the certainty of the first ever playoff system in the FBS this season, and some questionable actions from players to go along with potentially headline grabbing statements from coaches, what can any of us in the media promise to a reader?

Personally, I have come to look at predictions as a way for a minority of readers to call out and try to discredit all analysts/writers at every opportunity. It’s almost as if an apology is expected when a pundit’s forecast doesn’t produce the exact outcome that was written/talked about in July/August.

Making predications is a fun exercise, and a great way to stir up some conversation. From a reading standpoint, there’s plenty of knowledge to grab from the fountain of insights, and should be viewed as such. Unfortunately, there are some who think you don’t have a backbone if you don’t unequivocally announce your pick for the national title.

Speaking of national championship winners, who can honestly say they had the Auburn Tigers as their favorite to battle it out for the final BCS Championship prior to last season? The Tigers didn’t even win a conference game in 2012, and had a new head coach (Gus Malzahn), but somehow managed to pull their talent and system together in time to make a run at immortality.

It was always interesting to see the first BCS Rankings of the season. Did you know during the entire existence of the dreaded BCS only two teams who were ranked as one and two in the very first BCS rankings of the year actually played in the Championship? The only time the teams ranked one and two in the first rankings and made it to the national championship was 2006 (TexasUSC). Even last October, Alabama was expected to play Florida State, not Auburn. By a show of hands how many commentators can lay claim to picking the number 11 Tigers to climb into Bama’s spot?

The other big topic everyone seems to expect from every college football website/publication is your pick for the Heisman Trophy. It’s great to get a sense of who are the favorites, but did anyone in their preseason picks successfully predict the last five players to raise the trophy (Mark Ingram, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston)? Does that make the analysts terrible people? Of course not, but read any comment section and you’ll see some people think otherwise.

Last season, I made a few “not quite predictions” myself. Two out of four were actually fulfilled. I predicted Clemson QB Tajh Boyd would win the 2013 Heisman Trophy. Boyd was a great candidate for the honor. In 2012, Boyd threw more touchdown passes, averaged more passing yards per game, had more yards per completion and had a higher passing efficiency than the first freshman to ever win college football’s most prominent award, Johnny Manziel. I’m sure there was a plethora of articles predicting that. Jameis Winston came out of nowhere and was deservedly named Heisman winner in 2013. Based off the prior season, it wasn’t crazy to predict Boyd, was it?

I also incorrectly said South Carolina would represent the East in the SEC Championship, but Missouri, who went 5-7 in 2012, blew everyone’s expectations away and claimed that spot. I was ridiculed by Ohio State fans for suggesting their team would not be in the top five when the season ended….I was actually correct. I was also right saying there would be no three-peat for the Crimson Tide.

What have we learned from preseason predictions? They’re fun, informative and satisfy the college football addicts until games are played on the field, but can also be used against us if we happen to get some wrong. We just use the best information we have at the time, and make what we feel is the best decision…..Good life lesson, isn’t it?

Calm down. It isn’t holy writ.

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Tags: BCS Championship Heisman Trophy

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