Five More "What Ifs" for the 2009 College Football Season

Mitch Wilson@sportschatplaceSenior Writer IJune 25, 2009

STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 8:   Penn State head coach Joe Paterno runs as he leads his team onto the field before the game between University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Penn State Nittany Lions September 8, 2007 in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

Traffic for college football articles dies almost immediately after the National Championship game.

There isn't a slow wind down. One day, people are just ready for a break.

While I was ready for the break at the time (and used the break to combine my sites to create The Sports Chat Place), I'm ready to get back into some College Football.

While I'm chomping at the bit for some football action, it still happens to be an even slower part of the year; at least back when the confetti was dropping, we had recruiting to look forward to.

I'm not ready to start picking games, nor do rankings, or even (my most popular series) Ten Top Tens, which will return every Sunday this season. I still look to what could happen this season.

In my third article in this series, let's look at a few more situations which could easily happen and what the results may or may not be.

What if the Big Ten finally gives up on Notre Dame and gets another team to join as their 12th?

This is one I'm personally hoping for.

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Every day, it becomes less and less likely that Notre Dame will ever join the Big Ten for football. We have some of the greediest people out there in the Big Ten Conference, and the biggest cash cow of all, Notre Dame.

This mating dance has gone on far too long, and Notre Dame isn't the only logical fit to make the Big Ten a 12-team conference with two divisions and a championship game.

Syracuse, Cincinnati, and Iowa State are just a few schools that could make things work, and all of them have hoops teams that can play on the big stage and bring in some money.

There are other options as well, but something is going to have to give because there is money being left on the table by the Big Ten, and as we mentioned earlier, these are some of the greediest we're talking about.

Maybe if they actually started some talks with other schools in earnest, the Irish would at least put their cards on the table.

What if the NCAA finally steps up to the plate and places sanctions on players and schools who get into trouble with the law?

I know there will be some people out there who will say they don't see the relationship, but we learned that stiff penalties for behavior that's just bad for the sport can be instituted quickly and harshly with little warning.

Recall that just a few years back, baseball all of a sudden said it wasn't OK that their players juice.

Maybe the NCAA will finally say that it isn't OK for it's players to beat their girlfriends, sell drugs, steal, threaten other students, commit armed robbery, and act like drunken idiots, among other things.

Maybe the NCAA will demand accountability by all parties involved and get rid of the "boys will be boys" approach and stop letting the schools police their own players' actions.

The current way the NCAA handles players' and schools' off the field problems is embarrassing, and letting the coaches and administration off easy because they say they know nothing about it is actually part of the problem as well.

Maybe if these programs, schools, and coaches had a financial stake in the behavior of their team, all of a sudden something would be done before their players' latest antics are plastered all over the newspapers and become the talk on the Internet.

What if the ACC has a monster year?

No one ever seems to see the "surprise" conference coming, especially the media and the pollsters. Two years ago, it was the Big East. Last year, I would have to say it was the Mountain West.

Why can't it be the ACC this year?

Frank Beamer, Bobby Bowden, Butch Davis, Paul Johnson, Tom O'Brien, and Jim Grobe all have what it takes to coach in big games.

Randy Shannon has a young nucleus of players, and a National Championship ring as a head coach would complete a trifecta of college rings that few, if any, have ever done—he already won a ring as a player, and again as a defensive coordinator.

The ACC teams sure play enough of the highly-ranked teams to make a statement, and there are more than a few of them with enough talent to hang with anyone. With Florida, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Alabama among the teams playing ACC teams this season, someone will definitely step up on the big stage.

What if USC pounds Ohio State again this season?

Many people thought the National Title was going to be settled in September last year, and the rest of us still looked forward to the Buckeyes' trip to SoCal as a can't-miss game with all of the makings of a classic.

Instead, we were treated to a boring, one-sided beatdown where the Buckeyes gave up on their QB and their best player never suited up.

The problem for Ohio State wasn't losing on the road—it was losing again on the big stage against an out-of-conference team. The Buckeyes get another chance to do it at home in "The Shoe" and have no excuses, as the Trojans will have a field full of first-year starters.

While championships aren't won in September, they can be lost then, and even more is at stake for Ohio State. The Buckeyes should have no excuses this time out, and while it isn't a must-win game to win the Big Ten, it's a must-win to reverse the recent trend of Buckeye teams.

What if this is Joe Paterno's final season?

We should all just be grateful we got to see how a legend does it. We saw a man win and lose with respect, honesty, and dignity, and we got to see a guy do his thing because he truly loved the game.

Joe Pa leaving the game is inevitable, just as his mark being left on the game forever will be. My guess is there will be a major award in his honor.