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PREVIEW STORYLINES MADE EASY: WE WRITE 'EM FOR THE ESPN CROWD

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Believe it or not, most people have not spent the fallow, dark period of time between early January and late August rolling out iteration after iteration of scenarios for the upcoming college football season. I know, it's like that awful moment when you realize a friend is a drunk as he tries to order a beer at Denny's at 9 in the morning in Beautucket, Alabama. On Sunday, no less. But it's the truth, so go weep into the trash can for a minute if you have to, or pound your chest in pride as one of the few, the proud, etc...

Sadly, not everyone thinks about this every day.
One side effect of being so...priveleged is that we now not only have beaten most of the CFB community to the punch on establishing major storylines, we've actually argued them into nearly unrecognizable forms so far removed from the original form we've forgotten the big deal with the original completely. A great blogger case is the schism between those who believe Boise State will crush UGA at home, and those who think UGA's going to hump some Bronco leg good-like in Athens. (Ah, our first inter-species sex metaphor. Sometimes, you just sit back and glow with pride typing the stuff.) We've debated it into a taffy while most college football fans have just started to crack their Athlon and Sporting News over margaritas at the pool. (Or in Beano Cook's case, reading through them while pounding a 24-pack of Iron City beer in the frontseat of his old Chevelle in a dark, desolate parking lot somewhere in suburban Maryland, clutching his fists in a shaking rage as the 1945 Army squad "just doesn't get the respect it deserves...")

Beano Cook: full of rage, and just waiting for you to talk shit about Glenn Davis.
So looking back over the past few months, what can we expect Trev, Mark May, Musberger, and the others to have on their cheat sheets going into the broadcast? What easy, prefab lines can we expect our dear local AJC (which, outside of Tony Barnhart and paleo-columnist Furman Bisher, we despise) to trot out as the focus slowly begins to turn toward the college game? A few obvious choices here, along with a few we'd forgotten:

1. "Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."As the current belt holder, there will be no end to the stories focusing on the offseason turnover at USC. Lots of shots of Norm Chow scowling quietly on the sidelines, cut against footage of Pete Carroll looking stern or waving his hands passionately at the defense pre-snap...the video should make it look like they've just filed countering palimony suits against each other, or like they're about to make out. At any rate, the artificial drama of a coaching staff shakeup, the arrest of Eric Wright, and a few defensive losses will be more than enough for the obvious "Trojan Horse" meme to bleed through broadcasts and columns for the entire month.

A dead horse? Not until Trev Albert gets a hold of the metaphor.
2. "So, Everyone Cheats?" Speaking of bleeding...the SEC has had as turbulent an offseason as we can remember--ever. Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina all demonstrated outstanding participation in a prison youth repopulation program in the tri-state area, including some dandy assault cases at Tennessee, while Ole Miss' new coaches (following in the footsteps of one of their most successful coaches ever who was fired for no goddamned reason) decided to test the open roads of Mississippi after one or eight drinks or so. After excommunicating the Zooker Florida redeemed itself with the second most hyped hire of the offseason, Urban Meyer, who was eclipsed a bit later with the announcement of the return of the Evil Brat Genius Steve Spurrier to the SEC, albeit with the Gamecocks at South Carolina. Vandy had a running back shot to death in Tampa, Alabama had a booster sentenced to jail, and LSU's coach left for the NFL and picked up Les Miles without so much as a hiccup. When Houston Nutt starts to look like stability, you know that up has become the new down. There's storylines a plenty, but look for the emphasis on Spurrier's return and the myriad rivalry lines redrawn in the SEC East by his presence; as MGoBlog noted, Spurrier's presence "instantly adds six interesting games to the season." We couldn't agree more. For sheer hyperventilating drama, the SEC will be hard to resist in '05.

Susan Lucci ain't got nothing on the SEC's drama.
3. "Live in danger. Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius." The early season odyssey of balls-out Boise going to Athens will gain momentum in the MSM, but not to the extent that it has on the internet. Nevertheless, the game's featured on ESPN, and will doubt attract some big flies to the pile. If Boise pulls off the upset of the century-an easy thing to say in July of 2005-then expect the clamor to get louder and for Boise, already the king of the Deuce, to get more play on the big channels than it's used to already.
4. "Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein." The Charlie Weis watch is oh-oh-on, people, and thanks to NBC's contract with ND, we'll all watch at least one Irish game with a deplorable video standard and lousy commentary this year. (What makes NBC's sports division so nice during the Olympics and so shitty for the four years in between? Their football coverage hasn't changed in twenty years and was bad to begin with; they can't compete with ABC's emphasis on clean presentation and wide open spaces, CBS's fascination with intense close-ups and noise, or with ESPN's elegant balance and crisp video standard. NBC football looks like it was filmed underwater, and the camera work makes elementary mistakes you rarely see on other networks. NBC cameramen will fall for the play-action fake every time, even when the team hasn't been able to gain a single yard in rushing. Oh, and there's "commentary," too, but we'd start frothing at the mouth and bleeding out of our ears if we started to talk about that bit. Crap, crap, crap. All crap!)Be ready for the inevitable roller-coaster ride with the coverage. The first time Weis loses a game, he'll get it all: "unfit for the college mentality," "can't run his West Coast offense in college," "out of touch," blah blah blah. The first big upset will generate worse pablum in the opposite direction, complete with plenty of "wake up the echoes" references. The hyperbole diarrhea won't squirt fast enough if they beat USC or an undefeated Tennessee team.