Got my copy of Sports Illustrated's college football preview in the mail Thursday. And from a Gamecock perspective, it was quite interesting.
Now there are a lot of preview magazines out there, and obviously a ton of them have been out there for awhile - Phil Steele, Athlon, Lindy's, etc. But call me an old foggy - the girlfriend does - but I still consider SI to be the granddaddy of them all. Not only does it have the best graphics presentation, but it has top-notch writers, gets great access and serves as a great barometer of national opinion.
That doesn't mean it's always RIGHT. Which South Carolina fans certainly hope the magazine is not.
The Gamecocks are picked to go 5-7 overall and 2-6 in the SEC - finishing tied with Kentucky for fourth in the East, and a game ahead of last-place Vanderbilt.
Eric Norwood does get a mention as one of the SEC's five players to watch. (The others are Auburn DE Antonio Coleman, Kentucky CB Trevard Lindley, Tennessee C Josh McNeil and Arkansas RB Michael Smith.) So it looks like SI was trying to introduce the casual or non-SEC fan to some names they might not know.
“An All-SEC selection at defensive end in 2007, and at linebacker in ’08, he is the Gamecocks’ career leader in tackles for loss with 43,” SI says of Norwood.
There are no other mentions of South Carolina in the SEC page, which was compiled by Andy Staples, a former writer for The Tampa Tribune. Staples picks Florida to beat Mississippi in the SEC championship game - no stretch there - and interestingly enough, ranks Tim Tebow as the league’s top offensive player.
You know, I’m starting to think this Tebow kid has a chance to do some things.
In its overall national rankings, South Carolina comes in at No. 60, barely ahead of Mississippi State (63), Auburn (65) and Vanderbilt (66).
So yeah, SI is not very high on the Gamecocks. Now I guess I could see a really bad year for USC - but I could also see a good one. It really all depends on Stephen Garcia, the new line, the running game - OK, the whole offense. And really, who can say for sure how it’s going to pan out?
Some other things of note:
- Mississippi is on the cover of the issue (which is regionalized). SI is high on the Rebels, which it has No. 6 in its preseason rankings. There’s a long feature on quarterback (and coverboy) Jevon Snead, who by October you might be as sick of as you are Tebow by now.
- Florida is the preseason No. 1, followed by Texas, Oklahoma, Southern California and Virginia Tech.
- Alabama is No. 8, LSU is No. 13 and Georgia is No. 15. North Carolina comes in at No. 20.
- And for all you Clemson haters, the Tigers are picked to go 7-5 overall and 4-4 in the ACC, tying for second in the Atlantic Division with N.C. State and Wake Forest.