Steve Spurrier famously called the offseason the "talking season."
As college football steadily (and thankfully) becomes a year-round obsession, it’s unclear whether he was referring to the entire offseason or specifically the time period between conference media days and opening weekend.
I think he meant the latter. So if the Talking Season is mid-July through the end of August, I’m calling the time frame between the end of spring practice and mid-July the Speculating Season.
(NOTE: The name is a temporary placeholder. It feels a little clunky, but we have a team sequestered in the lab test driving new names. Our best people are on it.)
The Speculating Season is in full swing as the national college football writers at the major publications roll out their post-spring, pre-dark-days-of-summer, God-help-us-there’s-nothing-else-to-do top-25 lists.
The University of Houston is roundly considered a top-20 team, appearing as high as No. 6 on Bruce Feldman’s prognostication for FOX Sports:
Bruce Feldman, FOX Sports: No. 6
Dennis Dodd, CBS Sports: No. 10
Paul Myerberg, USA Today: No. 11
** Myerberg’s list is from January, right after the national championship game. The guys at USA Today have been quiet in their speculations thus far.
Brian Pedersen, Bleacher Report: No. 12
** BEWARE: To view this one, you have to tolerate the endlessly infuriating slideshow format so beloved by B/R.
Stewart Mandel, FOX Sports: No. 14
Athlon Sports Magazine: No. 16
Mark Schlabach, ESPN: No. 18
SB Nation’s Bill Connelly hasn’t released a preseason top-25 yet, but in his preview series of all 128 teams, he called UH good but lucky in 2015.
So here’s the simple math: Based on these lists, UH has an average preseason rank of No. 12. I’d say that sounds about right.
The Cougars have obvious talent coming back on offense and defense, specifically in the forms of QB Greg Ward and DE Cameron Malveaux. Everyone hopes for big things from RB Duke Catalon, the transfer from Texas, and middle linebacker Matt Adams, who flashed enormous potential last year and will take over for departing First-Team All-AAC inside linebacker Elandon Roberts.
WR Isaiah Johnson had a massive performance in UH’s spring game and could be the replacement for outgoing receiver Demarcus Ayers and his 98 catches and 1,222 yards.
Conversely, if Johnson had a big day in the spring game, it meant the secondary still needs work. It was bound to after losing, among others, first-round selection William Jackson III in this year’s NFL Draft.
And we’ll see what the addition of 5-star recruit Ed Oliver brings to the table in his freshman season…
Based on a rough estimation of talent, UH probably falls in the 15-20 range. Talent coupled with the strength of UH’s non-conference opponents and the probable weakness of its conference foes, likely moves the Cougars up to 10-15.
So, between now and the start of the Talking Season, as the players take vacations and the coaches focus on recruiting, we will start speculating wildly about any and all possibilities for the upcoming season.
I’m reminded of one of my favorite exchanges from one of my favorite shows, The West Wing. The context doesn’t matter but the sentiments are perfect:
Is this going to get ridiculous?