Keep the fork, the best is yet to come!
I heard the story of this parable today and have read more about it when I got home. If you haven’t heard it before it goes something like this:
‘…Everything was in order and the pastor was preparing to leave when the woman suddenly remembered something very important to her. There’s one more thing. She said excitedly. What’s that? came the pastor’s reply. This is very important. The woman continued. I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand. The pastor stood looking at the woman not knowing quite what to say. That shocks you doesn’t it? The woman asked. Well to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request said the pastor. The woman explained. In all my years of attending church socials and functions where food was involved; my favorite part was when whoever was clearing away the dishes of the main course would lean over and say ‘you can keep your fork.’ It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming. When they told me to keep my fork I knew that something great was about to be given to me. It wasn’t Jell-O or pudding. It was cake or pie. Something with substance. So I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder ‘What’s with the fork?’ Then I want you to tell them: ‘Something better is coming so keep your fork too…’
Now, how does that relate to college football one might ask? I would care to offer that every new game, new season, new player could be the best that is yet to come, so please, people, at every gathering this fall and from now on, tailgate or not, keep your fork!
So, with fork in hard, before I provide my prognostications for the fast approaching 2016 season I take a sweet look back on what I thought would happen with the 2015 season in how the 15 No Doubters for 2015 fared. I will break these down in to 3 groups of 5 (from 15 to No. 1) over the next few weeks and debut The Un-Sweet 16 in 2016 as we move into August.
15—QB Cody Kessler will pass for 3,500 yards and USC will win 11 games. Kessler, one of the Heisman front-runners as long as the Trojans win, can throw the ball all over the yard. Then, with games against some of those PAC-12 defenses he is bound to have several 400-yard passing performances.
Kessler, who came into the season with some outside Heisman hype, but never seemed to get into rhythm with his receivers and the play calling. A shotty defense did not help the case, but Kessler did pass for 3,536 yards and 29 touchdowns so DING, DING, DING 1 point for that but the opportunity at 2 points came up short as the Trojans could only muster 8 wins. Where’s Pete Carroll when you need him? A close loss to Bucky the Badger in the Holiday Bowl, another loss to the Golden Domers, and a weird 5 point defeat at the hands of Chris Peterson’s Washington Huskies kept them from winning 11 games. 1 WIN and 1 LOSS
14—TCU and Baylor will once again fight it out for a coveted Top 4 spot in the playoff, but much to the demise of Gary Patterson and Art Briles the two Texas teams will be left out….again! Think about it, the Big Ten champion is in, SEC champion is definitely in, USC/Oregon is in and the ACC champion slips in the back door. Just put the coaches in a ring and tell them to battle it out and the winner gets in…possibly (just like their regular seasons…ha!).
Both teams did have great years in 2015, as TCU went 10-2 and Baylor produced a 9-3 mark. The Horned Frogs finished 11th in the playoff standings and Baylor finished 17th, both teams well out of the coveted Top 4 spots so that is a win. The Big Ten champion made it, as did the SEC and the ACC champions, but I missed the PAC-12 team as Oklahoma took home the bacon so that is a loss. As we all know now, Art Briles is out of a job because of misconduct that was swept under the proverbial rug in Waco. So, Gary Patterson is still standing so the ring is not needed this time around but I am sure Briles will resurface in another year or two, probably in the deep heart of Texas. 1 WIN and 1 LOSS
13—DeShaun Watson will play in at least 11 games and will sit out the 12th game so he doesn’t get hurt. Watson is the real deal and I know a lot of people are saying that a sophomore slump could happen, but I don’t see it. I believe Jeff Scott and Tony Elliot are smart enough to know he can’t run the ball like Tahj “the bruiser” Boyd did a few years ago.
The Clemson Tigers had a spectacular season in 2015, one that brought back many memories of 1981 in the northwestern corner of the Palmetto State. Watson played in all 15 games in 2016, amassing over 4,000 passing yards and 39 touchdown passes. And as far as being the bruising runner like Tahj Boyd was I foresaw that not happening in 2015, but Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott had other ideas. Watson led the Tigers to a 14-1 record and a national runner-up finish with 207 carries and another 1105 yards along with 13 more touchdowns. Needless to say, I was wrong on both accounts. 2 LOSSES
12—Gene Chizik will create resurgence on D in Chapel Hill. I am not talking about the Julius Peppers or LT days but better. The man can coach some defense and even if he moves them up to 75th in the country it is better than 2014. This is kind of obvious because anything is better than last year, but Chizik will turn the powered blue bandits into a force to be reckoned with in the middle of the ACC.
The Tar Heels made naysayers out of a lot of people. They scored a lot of points in 2015, but the Chizik defense allowed 21 points or less 7 times last year compared to only once in 2014. Big improvement, I think, right? Yes, and it led the Tar Heels to an ACC championship game appearance. Even though the defense was not good down the stretch the Tar Heels improved in year 1 and should see even more improvement in year two. 1 WIN
11—The Pitt Panthers will win the same amount of games as the Nebraska Cornhuskers…9. Pitt will run the ball and pound it against their opponents, but their QB play with the play action will pick up some key 3rd down yards. The ACC and the Big Ten has some really good teams, but also has some bad teams and Pitt and Nebraska will feast on those lower-tier teams. And, remember, Riley doesn’t start off well, but most of his teams rebound well, just another opposite of his predecessor, Po Pelini!
The Pitt Panthers did run the football like they have done in the past and had a great season for a school that is known as a basketball school. They did win 8 football games, 1 shy of the mark I thought they were going to get which is just plain rude. Why couldn’t they win just 4 or 5 so that it wouldn’t be that close. They lost a 3 point game followed up by a 5 point and 7 point contest as they were 8-3 with 3 games remaining in the season including the bowl game. You couldn’t just win 1 game. Come on, Pitt! That’s more like it Nebraska as you held up to your end of the bargain if you couldn’t win 9 games. They finished 5-7 in the regular season but somehow someway was awarded 1 of the 80 bowl bids. Thanks, NCAA. Neither team got to 9 wins so that is awesome. 2 MORE LOSSES
Wow, what a start!
Or should I say that my 2015 mirror ball was really cloudy on the first 5 No Doubters of 2015? That was fun, especially with 10 more No Doubters to review and one can hope that The Un-Sweet 16 in 2016 can produce more wins…any coach’s wish, right!
Maybe we should all come equipped with our forks because the best is yet to come, indeed!