ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit talked with the media during a conference call this week. Here are a few of the highlights:
Will the Sooners, as ESPN analyst Andre Ware recently predicted, lose four games?
Herbstreit: I would say looking at their schedule and what they have returning, I can’t imagine them losing four games. The Sooners return enough around Bradford offensively even though they have some concerns on the offensive line and at receiver. Their defensive will be one of the best in the country. They have some tough games, but I can’t imagine them losing more than a game or two tops.
What’s your opinion of the Big 12 South?
Herbstreit: I think it’s OU and Texas. Even though Oklahoma State is trying to be this year’s Texas Tech, I think people are anticipating the trip to Dallas to see OU and Texas with the winner having a real shot to get into the national title.
Do you think Oklahoma State has enough substance overall to justify a top 10 ranking?
Herbstreit: My theory on Oklahoma State is you can look at their offense and say this is a top 10 team. Their defense is a mystery. You bring Bill Young, who is one of the great minds in our game, back to Oklahoma State, and I think that gives you a chance to improve. There is some leadership there. There are a lot of players back with experience. For them to be this top 10 team, especially in that conference where there is a lot of scoring, they’ve got to become better on that side of the football. If they are to beat Texas and if they want to hang with Oklahoma and beat Oklahoma, they cannot just get into a scoring match. They have to be able to play good defense. My concern is between the ears psychologically. All this hype about Oklahoma State is justified, but it’s also uncharted waters. And here comes Georgia in Week 1, with nobody talking about Georgia, nobody expecting much with (quarterback Matthew) Stafford and (running back Knowshon) Moreno gone. Geez, Florida is going to kill Georgia, they don’t have any chance, and they come limping in week one, nobody expecting anything, I think Oklahoma State has to be very careful in Week 1 just because of the psychological effect of being in an area where they are not quite used to being. Oklahoma is used to it, Texas is used to it. Oklahoma State is not and they need to show some maturity in not listening to all that hype and just playing their game. And if they do that, they will be fine. If they get caught up in it, Georgia will come in there and get them.
How is Lee Corso doing after his stroke in the offseason?
Herbstreit: I saw Lee in Los Angeles a few weeks ago when we were shooting our “College GameDay” promo commercials. I was really excited to see how he was recovering. You know, Lee and his energy. He still has that same energy and the same passion for the game. It’s just a matter of him in the next couple of weeks where he finds his comfort zone and is able to get out there and be the entertainer that we’ve all come to know and love. All of our thoughts and prayers are with him that he continues to progress and continues to show the same type of ability to have those impromptu, amazing, witty comments that he’s always had.
Do you think Florida will repeat as national champions?
Herbstreit: I’m always nervous about this because in this sport, anytime you assume something is a foregone conclusion, it usually is not. In all the years I’ve been working on “GameDay” and calling these games, 15 years or so, I can never remember a year there is one team that is clearly the team to beat, not only in their conference but in the country. When you have that, the No. 1 thing to avoid is the obvious and that’s complacency. Every where they go, every station they watch, every game they tune in to, people will be telling them how wonderful they are. Sometimes you can lose your edge. You can let your guard down and a team like Arkansas or Ole Miss can give you everything that you can handle. It happens every year to these teams in college football because of the emotions of the game. You let your guard down for one week and somebody can get you because that’s their one big game of the year. I know they have maturity, experience and outstanding leadership. I know they’re going to say we’re going to avoid all that, but it’s just human nature. There’s a reason we haven’t had a lot of teams repeat in the last 30 years, I think that the’s the No.1 thing that catches up to teams. With all that being said, I still think Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow and (linebacker) Brandon Spikes will be able to overcome that tendency and I still think they will play with a lot of passion. I think they will be challenged more than people expect. I think they will win the SEC. I think they will beat Alabama in Atlanta and I think they will end up playing Texas in the national title (game).
Rank the top three quarterbacks’ chances of winning the Heisman Trophy?
Herbstreit: I’d say Colt McCoy because of the players he has returning and because he has not been able to win it yet. I’d say No. 2 would be Sam Bradford, breaking in four new offensive linemen and his top two receivers. Then Tim Tebow at No. 3, only because we set such high expectations for Tim Tebow, even last year in a year he won the national title, people we’re comparing him to what he did the year before when he won the Heisman, when he put up ridiculous numbers on a team that had two or three losses. He had to carry the team and because of that, people said, “Wow, what a great individual performance” and he won the Heisman. Last year was more of a team (effort) and he didn’t win it. I think that will be more of the same this year.