Just 10 days from now Southern Mississippi and South Carolina will begin the 2010 college football season with a clash that promises to be every bit as exciting as last year's opening game, which saw South Carolina out bum-fight NC State 7-3. Could ESPN have found a more interesting matchup? Probably, but then they'd be in violation of the 73-year Thursday night season-opener contract they signed with South Carolina in 2005 (note: As part of its contractual obligations, South Carolina is forbidden to score more than 23 points and take a lead of more than 10 points). But you'll find no complaining here. Do you know what was on ESPN last night? A baseball game involving the Minnesota Twins and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Things are so bleak right now in the sports world that MINNESOTA is getting primetime coverage.
Now that we're teetering on the edge of four months of physical and emotional destruction, it's time to start the countdown to that great journey of emotional peaks and valleys, peppered with physical challenges, that will require eight months of recovery time. Last year, I started this thing about a week earlier and incorporated multiple videos of Europe's Final Countdown. This year I was much more lazy, and made a tough, but fair decision in which Europe will not be used. I know, it was as gut-wrenching as it sounds, and it's one that may haunt me forever.
Following the format from last year, each day will be nothing more than a list of whatever topic finds its way into the space between my ears, culminating with my predictions that can generously be described as "at least he can name all of the teams." Today,....oh, what the hell, LET'S BRING IT BACK...
Greatest. Best. Worst. Confusing. Nonsensical. Song. Ever.
Today's number is 10 (though if you were to count today, we'd be 11 days away from college football, but I'm not counting today since IT'S ALREADY HERE) and we'll be taking a look at the top 10 candidates most likely to take home the 2010 Jevan Snead Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Quarterbacking Failure, formerly known as the Awww-Shit Trophy. This prestigious award goes to the SEC quarterback who throws the highest number of interceptions during the season. Snead's performance in this competition last year was so revolutionary (20 INTs in 13 games) that I had no choice but to find a way to commemorate it. Plus, who doesn't enjoy a good Simpsons reference?
Let's get to this year's candidates (note: By decision of the committee of me, Ryan Mallett and Greg McElroy are not included here. They threw 11 INTs combined last year, which is nine fewer than Jevan Snead.). In order of least likely to win to most likely to win:
10. Nathan Stanley/Jeremiah Masoli, Ole Miss
After Houston Nutt watched his starting quarterback throw 20 picks last year, you're more likely to see an Arkansas fan engage in civil discourse of the merits of the Nutt era in Fayetteville than you will see either one (or combination) of these guys sniff the podium for this award. Ole Miss could very well attempt 2,000 rushes this season.
9. Stephen Garcia, South Carolina
Spurrier has already gone on record saying true freshman Connor Shaw will play in the first game this season and that Shaw has outplayed Garcia in practice so far. Add that to Spurrier's general displeasure with all things Garcia and it's highly unlikely Garcia can get into contention for this award, which requires double-digit interception totals. Correction, a Spurrier quarterback, especially Garcia, could easily throw 10 interceptions in a game. Once he got to five, Spurrier would leave him in and keep calling passing plays to prove a point. YOU WILL SUBMIT TO MY WILL, STEPHEN.
8. John Brantley, Florida
Already anointed by media types as the next great SEC quarterback even though he's never taken a meaningful snap, Brantley could see some early action on the leaderboard before giving way to more serious contenders. This will probably be attributed to getting more comfortable in game situations and Urban Meyer's unbending, wickedly smart will that demands his quarterbacks not throw interceptions.
7. Jordan Jefferson, LSU
Despite leading an offense last year that was only better than Vanderbilt, Jefferson threw just seven interceptions. As crazy as it sounds, LSU's complete lack of offensive competency probably helped Jefferson throw such a low number of picks. The fewer plays a team runs, the fewer the opportunities to give it to the opposing team. And last time I checked, Les Miles and Gary Crowton are still piloting that jon boat of an offense, so I think we can expect more of the same.
6. Cam Newton, Auburn
If Gus Malzahn could limit Chris Todd to just six interceptions last year, I think he'll find a way to keep Newton under control. And given Newton's athletic ability and Auburn's love of the run, I don't think we'll see Newton's campaign for this award really get off the ground, which is kind of sad because there are enough questionable quarterbacks this season that the race for this award could involve at least six players.
5. Tyler Bray/Matt Simms/Scarecrow Tennessee
While all three of these candidates could get off to a hot start, they're all going to be on a short leash, thus preventing them from making a serious run. One thing is for sure, Tennessee will be terrible this year.
4. Aaron Murray, Georgia
As someone filled with inexperienced and an observer of Joe Cox throwing 15 picks in 13 games last year, he knows what it takes to win this award. My only concern is that Georgia will probably lean heavily on its ground game, taking away some of his opportunities. The good news is that they tried to do that last year and still nearly let Cox win the award.
3. Chris Relf, Mississippi State
A very inexperienced passer who threw three INTs in just 41 passes last year and will be forced to throw more this year. With the loss of Anthony Dixon, State's ground game won't be the same and they'll have to make up the yards through the air. While State will still be primarily a rushing team, I think they'll find teams a little more focused when they play them this year, which will make them take more chances on offense.
2. Mike Hartline, Kentucky
Before being injured, Hartline managed to throw six INTs in five games last season. Even in his one game back from injury he was able to slip one in. Assuming he can hold off Morgan Newton and win the job, Hartline is a serious candidate in 2010. If he loses the job to Newton, insert Newton's name here.
1. Larry Smith, Vanderbilt
Even though Smith only threw seven interceptions last year, I still like his chances this year. Vanderbilt will be AWFUL this season, meaning they're going to be behind early and often, which relates to more passing attempts for a bad passer. The only thing that scares me about Smith is that, like LSU, Vandy is going to be so incompetent on offense it may actually work against Smith's chances to win in 2010. That and Vandy may change quarterbacks 19 times during their 0-12 campaign.