Magazine covers that make us think football

As a kid I used to love this time of year. School’s out, plenty of free time, no responsibilities, and all the college football preview magazines start hitting the stands.

You know you were like me, buying ’em up with what money you had so you could memorize the jersey numbers, heights, weights and hometowns of the players on your team.

Recently I had to hit a local bookstore with my daughter, and as she looked for the series of books she wanted to read this summer (yeah, I’m worried about her too), I found myself wandering over to the magazines to check out the college previews.

One of the saddest parts about living in the internet generation is that I don’t buy or even see these magazines anymore. Maybe I should, and in honor of nostalgia, I think I will again. But even though it’s been a while, I wasn’t surprised to see high expectations for the Crimson Tide heading into the 2011 campaign.

This one projected Bama in the top spot, that one had them just behind Oklahoma; all had the Tide in the top five. If preseason magazines mattered, however, last year’s Auburn would’ve been bowling in Nashville instead of Tempe. The actual season, balls bouncing your direction and officials looking in the other mean more than a glossy cover that the mag companies know will sell. Still, the consensus appears to be the Bama is again a force.

While at the magazine rack, however, I was intrigued by the sea of periodicals that lined the back of this bookstore. Pick a subject and there was a magazine for it. It was pretty incredible, actually.

But as I looked around, I couldn’t help but make the connection between these magazines and the SEC this upcoming football season. In no particular order, I give you my findings.

TENNESSEE

Folks, this is a bad football team with a long way to go. A shell of itself under Fat Phil in the glory years, beating Tennessee has almost…almost…lost its luster. I said almost. Dropping number five in a row this season will still feel pretty dang good.

OLE MISS

The only way the Rebels…or Black Bears…or whatever they are now…can hope for a winning season is for good ole fashioned luck. Not even signing 38 players, forcing a change in over signing policies, has helped Houston Nutt. And yes, Auburn fans, it was Nutt, not Saban that forced that rule. I guess you have to sign 38 GOOD players. Problem is, they may not have 38 good ones on their entire roster.

AUBURN

You can get the Tigers 75-1 in Vegas today to repeat, but the unlikely odds of * University bearing any significance on the landscape of college football won’t stop the Auburn Cult Fambly from believing. Success this season will mean getting to a bowl…any bowl. And if you think otherwise you’re just inebriated. The NCAA’s official letter of inquiry should offer quite a sobering effect, however.

FLORIDA

Hey, have you heard the latest on Kim Kardashian? Yeah, I don’t care either. Not a day goes by where I don’t wonder about the basis of her fame. She’s not an actress. She’s not a singer. She’s not really a model. She’s just a good looking woman who has Bruce Jenner as a step-dad. In short, she’s living off the past others created for her, in much the same way the Florida Gators will be this season. They will be as competitive as Kardashian is hot, and I like Will Muschamp. But the Gators are now three head coaches removed from “their” Bear Bryant, who they continue to have to face each year. Something tells me this year’s bout with Spurrier could get ugly.

VANDERBILT

I could not believe it when I saw this one. There is actually a magazine devoted to aquarium life. And just like Vandy, nobody cares. When will the SEC do the right thing and show them the door?

LSU

I can’t look away either. Every time I see Lady GaGa it’s a freakshow. Like LSU. How this team is competitive, if not a contender year in and year out under “the Hat” I will never know. The man is an idiot. But LSU is stacked, and I mean stacked. The game of the year in college football will be November 5th in Bryant-Denny Stadium. It could decide one half of this year’s BCS National Championship game.

GEORGIA

If I were a Georgia fan I would be kicking myself. In the race for power in the SEC East, Tennessee has careened off the track and into the grandstands, and Florida has slowed to pit. Georgia should’ve been poised and ready to take over, right? Nope. South Carolina has looked more like a Pheonix than a Gamecock, rising from the ashes to come into power. Georgia can get to Atlanta this season, but the quarterback play has got to continue, and Isaiah Crowell has to contribute early behind an offensive line that has to gel. The defense also has to get nastier, and Mark Richt has got to find his swagger again. Whoever they’d face in Atlanta will crush them, but the Dogs can get there if all the details come together.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Okay I know that was too easy. But while the Gamecocks will be favored to make it back to Atlanta…and they WILL be well-stocked for the journey…how about showing some gonads, Spurrier? How’z about doing the right thing? You’re making Gene Chizik’s “18 strikes and you’re out” program look like Alcatraz. Jeff Garcia has done just about everything a player can do to get tossed, and yet he will still likely find himself under center this fall. Good message there, Steve. Although selfishly I hope he is there, because if they face Nick Saban’s 2011 Tide in Atlanta, redemption will be on the minds of the Bama D. Garcia may go the way of the full rotation of Michigan State QB’s Bama dismissed from the game last January.

ARKANSAS

The Hogs will make a lot of waves this year, and thankfully Bama gets them right out of the gate at home. Oddly for a Petrino team, defense will lead the way, and that unit will be mindful of the Tide’s late game performance to salvage a win in Fayetteville last season. Still, whoever gets this team in October and November shouldn’t plan any post-game victory parties. Arkansas is for real.

KENTUCKY

Have you had your fill of the Royal Wedding yet? My gosh, Kate frequents magazine covers almost as much as Kim Kardashian. And am I the only one who thinks Prince William would have zero shot at a chick this cute if he weren’t a prince? Equally, Kentucky again has zero shot of achieving anything resembling significance this season, and with every year that passes the Cats continue to miss their chance to end that horrifying losing streak to Tennessee. The Vols won’t be down forever, but Kentucky will.

MISSISSIPPI STATE

There is reason for a lot of optimism in Starkville. The Bulldogs may have their best head coach ever walking the sidelines, and Dan Mullen appears to be pretty happy there. They own the state (Ole Miss will never beat Dan Mullen again), and continue to acquire the players to make Mullen’s system work. The November 12th match-up with Alabama will be a barn burner. Still, best game of the young season will be in Auburn on September 10th. If Mullen can score 100 on the Tigers he will.

ALABAMA

It is not going to be a fun date on the schedule for Alabama’s opponents this season. For one, all the tough games are at home. Next, the Tide finally has a bad humor for Auburn rivaling what they felt for Florida in 2009. Alabama is as loaded and deep at every position as they’ve ever been. There isn’t a team in college football with more ability and depth than the 2011 Tide. And it’s a good place to be when your only weakness is trying to decide which future All-American will lead your team at quarterback for the next three years. Bama will simply be downright scary; what you saw in the Capital One bowl will be a regular site this fall. That said, circle the Florida game in the Swamp as this year’s South Carolina game. By the time they play the Tide should be No. 2 at worst, and the place will be jumping. Though Alabama will be the better team, they will have to survive everything the Gators have to make it out of Gainsville with a win. And that should happen.

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