Every Thursday we answer your questions here in the Your Best 11 Mailbag. You've got questions and I've got your answers, friends! Here we go...
@InTheBleachers Q&A: Who is your preseason "Final Four" for the upcoming season, assuming this is the way the BCS will be determined later?— Stuart D. Davis™ (@stu623) May 10, 2012
This is assuming we had the four-team playoff now as opposed to it coming down the pipe in 2014. My preseason final four would be USC, LSU, Alabama and Oregon. I love those four teams and what they bring to the table.
However, if you're talking about predicting how the final four would shake out, I'd have to go a bit differently. USC, LSU and Alabama would still be in for me. However, in that last slot I'm going to run with Florida State. Not because I think the Noles are better than Oregon; rather I'm going Noles because I don't think Oregon can absorb a loss* to the Trojans in Los Angeles and still finish in the Top Four.
*Update: "two losses" is what that should read as the Ducks play in LA in the regular season and, if things hold true, will be back for the Pac-12 title game.
@InTheBleachers how do you see LSU incorporating Shepard into their offense this season?— Hutch (@HutchNGo) May 10, 2012
I love this question. I'm a big Russell Shepard fan, and I think he is still one of the nation's most dangerous and dynamic players. With Morris Claiborne and Ron Brooks both gone, LSU loses two of their top three kickoff return guys. Shepard can join Odell Beckham Jr. in the back end to return kicks and steal him some touches independent of the offense.
Zach Mettenberger is at the helm, and the offensive coaches and players are far more confident in him throwing the football than they ever were with Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson. Couple that with the departure of Rueben Randle, and the Bayou Bengals have a need at the wide receiver position that should draw more targets Shepard's way.
Ultimately, Russell Shepard is a guy who needs between 8-12 touches a game. That means return opportunities, catches and rushing attempts. The onus is on Les Miles and his staff to get the ball into this kid's hands, and that means targeting him in the pass game and allowing him to make plays out of the backfield.
@InTheBleachers I got a question. Do you like the new style or old style face masks? I'll hang up and listen.— Dannie Mixon (@danniemixon) April 19, 2012
Question I totally forgot to get to from earlier but still worthwhile when framed with the concussion debate. Personally, I prefer the facemasks, and ultimately the helmet, on the VSR4 from Riddell. The three bar triple to be specific.
However, all the evidence points to the VSR4 being the most dangerous helmet in circulation in today's game. The smart play is to go with any of the new helmets that draw four and five star ratings from the extensive Virginia Tech study.
If I had to put one on today, I'd go with a Rawlings Impulse shell and a two-bar triple or, as they call it, the SO2REG.
@InTheBleachers give us your top 5 Heisman candidates— Matthew (@hokieguru) May 10, 2012
This is not an easy question because I think that who wins the Heisman versus who should win the Heisman are two very different things in today's football. On the "Who Probably Will Win the Heisman" list, I'd say Matt Barkley, Landry Jones, Montee Ball, Aaron Murray and Denard Robinson.
However, guys who will be among the top five college football players but might not have the cache to end up on this list, include Manti Te'o, Marcus Lattimore, Sammy Watkins, T.J. McDonald and John Simon. Call me crazy, but the idea that the best college football player has to be a quarterback or has to play on offense is just nuts.
@InTheBleachers do you believe FSU Clemson will leave for Big12 or wishful thinking for folks in the Midwest?— Kamaal DeSouza (@BossHawgKasino) May 10, 2012
I think they are more likely than Notre Dame. That said, I don't think the administration and personnel at Clemson or Florida State want to leave nearly as bad as their fans want them to. So unless the Big Twelve comes talking really big money, I do not think that they are going anywhere.
@InTheBleachers does the new acc ESPN deal lead to ND and penn state joining to make the confernece 16 teams?— [kay]tor ® (@_keator) May 10, 2012
I think expansion for the ACC has to be all about Notre Dame, but that only comes if the Fighting Irish have no other option.
As for Penn State, I don't see it happening. For one, I doubt the Nittany Lions want to step down in leagues from a money or national relevance standpoint. I also doubt that they would be gung-ho to join a league with Pitt. Thanks but no thanks on that for the folks in State College, Pa.
If the ACC were able to draw Notre Dame, you can expect another Northeastern school to accompany the Irish in order to create more pull in that region and create a solid base for the northern schools who would be in a division together.
@InTheBleachers who gets playoff committee sppts?— Barret White (@BarretWhite) May 10, 2012
Me? That'd be a good start. On a serious note, if the four-team playoff does elect to go with a selection committee of sorts, then I'd love to see them copy many of the elements of the Legends Poll. Getting guys who understand how to watch film is a key element to this. Resumes only tell a part of the story about a football team; the film is the true measure of a squad.
Another great element is the debate over where to put teams and the transparency in the voting that would allow fans, coaches and media to understand why teams are in each position.
@InTheBleachers Speaking of the NCAA, what's the first thing you do if you become president of that organization?— J. William IV (@GridIron32) May 10, 2012
This last question is quite the big one. There are so many elements of the NCAA that need to be fixed: some tweaked and others totally rebuilt from the ground up. Instead of starting with something easy that would get through easily, I think I'd opt to tackle the big issue. Tackling my issue would allow for one of my favorite measures, full-cost scholarships and the $2,000 stipend, to get passed through Division I.
My issue would be splitting the divisions in the FBS. Instead of letting schools decide that they want to be at the highest level, I'd allow for an independent business to conduct feasibility studies to determine where schools "fit" on the landscape. Schools above the high-water mark remain at the highest level, push the full-cost scholarships through and give their athletes the $2,000 stipend. Schools below the mark return to the lower level, compete against schools who have a lot more in common financially and in the end save some money.
Instead of trying to break their neck to keep up with the Joneses and pour cash down a money pit, schools could build a program and grow a winner, not just chase paydays at big schools to keep their athletic departments in business.
However, I would not doom schools to the lowest level; if they feel they qualify for the elite stage, we can run the feasibility study and those that make the cut can slide up.