- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 26, 2012


1. QB Matt Barkley, Southern California. Quarterback? Check. National title contender? Check. Known quantity entering the season? Check. The Trojans’ star starts the year as a prime Heisman possibility.

2. QB Denard Robinson, Michigan. It would help if Robinson cut down on his interceptions, but he still accounted for 36 touchdowns and rushed for 1,176 yards last season.

3. RB Montee Ball, Wisconsin. In another era — one when tailbacks dominated Heisman voting — Ball would already have one stiff-arming statue after rushing for 1,923 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2011.

4. QB Landry Jones, Oklahoma. Jones will put up numbers, and the Sooners are likely to remain entrenched in the top 10. That’s a solid recipe for Heisman contention.

5. WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson. If he can back up his monstrous freshman season and Clemson can remain unbeaten deep into the season, Watkins will have a chance.

6. QB Tyler Wilson, Arkansas. Wilson (and tailback Knile Davis) lead an offense potent enough to create some headaches even for the testy defenses of the SEC.


1. Derek Dooley, Tennessee. For those wondering, the shelf life of the “I inherited a ginormous mess from Lane Kiffin” excuse is barely two years. Dooley, who is 11-14 in Knoxville, now enters Year Three.

2. Joker Phillips, Kentucky. Yes, the Wildcats beat Tennessee for the first time in a quarter-century. Their season ticket sales are also plummeting and their offense was dreadful last year. Kentucky’s Joker needs to play his cards right in 2012.

3. Frank Spaziani, Boston College. The genial Spaziani has overseen a gradual decline in the Eagles’ program since taking over in 2009. Back-to-back losing seasons could spell the end for him in Chestnut Hill.

4. Mike Price, Texas-El Paso. After six straight losing seasons, it’s a mild surprise Price still has a job. Nonetheless, this is the last year on Price’s deal; the Miners will either reach a bowl or get a new coach.

5. John L. Smith, Arkansas. He’ll be 64 at season’s end and is working on a 10-month contract. The former Louisville and Michigan State coach probably doesn’t have much wiggle room this year.

6. Mike Riley, Oregon State. It wouldn’t be an especially wise decision to swap coaches in Corvallis, but Riley has endured two straight losing seasons. A third could prompt a change at year’s end.


Story Continues →