Dooley: Alabama is always the safe pick

Alabama coach Nick Saban (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)

We are approaching the different college football media days for the Power Five conferences, the SEC’s stretches out over four days and the others crammed into windows so short you’d think they were trying to get nine holes in.

The members of the media in all five cities will be asked to vote on the winners of each division, which is always newsworthy and irrelevant.

There are three kinds of votes (actually four because someone will vote for Vandy to win the East in Hoover).

  1. The safe bet. Why shake things up? You already know who is going to win the division. On to the title game.
  2. The shiny object. The longer the summer goes, the more you see it sparkling there under water, begging you to bite.
  3. The gritty vote. You know it sounds crazy and you are going out on a limb, but too much of a limb. You pat yourself on the back and start lining up radio show appearances.

That said, here they are for the five conferences:

SEC West

The safe bet: Alabama, of course. Is there any question?

The shiny object: LSU looks well-scrubbed and rejuvenated.

The gritty vote: Auburn. As George Michael sang, “Because I gotta have faith, faith, faith.”

SEC East

The safe bet: Georgia. Unless Kirby Smart gets to call for fake kicks.

The shiny object: Florida. The Gators have depth issues, but just look at the receivers.

The gritty vote: Missouri. There is a lot to like about this team and a once-toxic culture.

ACC Atlantic

The safe bet: Is there really a safe one? It may be the closest balloting, but bet on Miami.

The shiny object: Virginia Tech is ready to rumble, right?

The gritty vote: North Carolina. Mack Brown. You’re going to need a chisel to register the vote.

ACC Coastal

The safe bet: Clemson, the defending national champs and probable home of the next Heisman Trophy winner.

The shiny object: Syracuse. Nobody has played Clemson tougher recently.

The gritty vote: FSU. Who would have thought we’d have ever said that?

Big Ten East

The safe bet: Ohio State. Even sans Urban Meyer, this is a really talented team.

The shiny object: Michigan. I mean, they have to beat the Buckeyes eventually, right?

The gritty vote: Penn State. You can see a path to the title game, but you have to squint.

Big Ten West

The safe bet: Wisconsin, because Wiscy has gone to the title game more than any other Big Ten school.

The shiny object: Nebraska. The media love for the Huskers as a PLAYOFF TEAM is out of control.

The gritty vote: Purdue got coach Jeff Brohm to stay and the division is pretty wide open.

Pac-12 North

 The safe bet: Oregon. Veteran quarterback and strong recruiting usually add up to good things.

The shiny object: Washington. Hey, QB Jacob Eason is back and ready to go.

The gritty vote: Stanford. Isn’t Stanford always the gritty vote?

Pac-12 South

The safe bet: Utah. Dark horse playoff candidate? Sure.

The shiny object: USC. For those who believe Clay Helton shoots down the Urban-to-USC possibility.

The gritty vote: UCLA. Hey, why not? It can’t be worse than last year for Chip Kelly. Maybe he got their attention.

Big 12

The safe bet: Oklahoma. The Sooners have built the rarest thing of all — a program that can dominate even with a coaching change.

The shiny object: Texas. The quarterback said the Longhorns are back. That should be enough to convince everybody.

The gritty vote: TCU. Coach Gary Patterson seems to have an every-other-year thing going and the Froggies were 7-6 last season.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at


      • That wasn’t me bud, it must have been Monster-6. When I posted that at 0636, I don’t think the drugs had worn off yet from the colonoscopy late yesterday afternoon. They must have really loaded me up, because I’m told I also proposed marriage to a female intern — apparently out of “honor” since she had seen my naked butt or some such jibberish — as well as…….errrr…….shall we say, complimenting several nurses on their upper anatomies.

        To answer your question tho, Rog, other than having a sore ___ today, I feel fine. By the way, who the hell is George Michael, anyway?

        • Hope the lovely Gator-3 doesn’t have you flogged for your indecent proposals. Your sore ___ should be punishment enough. Don’t think you should be held responsible for things said “under the influence”.

          • Joe, had the lovely Gator-3 been in there, she would have immediately yanked that tube out of me and beat me half to death with it. As it was….well, you know the old saying……”What happens in the OR stays in the OR”. 😜😈

  1. If the Canes beat the Gators Aug. 24, they’ll be favored in all the rest of their games. Talk about a paper tiger. The real (Clemson) Tiger will beat ’em up and take their lunch money.

    The big rub I have with the Gators is I am fearful poor offensive line play will doom them. Franks is pretty good (and got better the latter half of the season). But nobody is any good flat on their back.

    I’ll bite on shiny Washington. Eason is very good (again, not so much when the Gators had him by the ankle/shoulder/on his back). I would have been thrilled if had transferred to UF.

    • I’m concerned about the O-line too, Gopher……but don’t fear it too much because the worst they’ll be, and I mean, worst case, is SEC-Average. We can beat Miami with that, and a whole lot of other teams — but obviously, it’s going to have to get “better than average” or even “really good” to beat some of the teams we face later on. Lots of pressure on the coaches to get there by Auburn, I’m sure. I think they can do it tho — they certainly have the meat.

      • Superior coaching, players buying in, and no freshmen with entitlement issues would clear a path for at least a “Good Wall of Florida.” So if the skill players play great, they make the line even better and we can compete with anyone.

        • Phil, Agreed. Player development and buy-in is key. Coaching/game-planning helps. Certain styles/schemes can cover warts. This has been a downfall for several past (losing) coaches. I think Coach Dan is smart enough acc-cent-uate the positive. But at some point, the boys gotta block and tackle. Good is probably good enough (with applied smarts elsewhere). Where I’m most looking for development is Franks reading defenses. His size and physical tools are good. If inside the helmet catches up with that, he could be All SEC.

          • Now that I know who George Michael is, I agree with both your comments today, Gopher. As for 80’s music, I was all George Jones, John Anderson, George Strait, 60’s Beach music (otherwise referred to as MOTOWN, I found out)……and of course, the greatest band ever….ZZ Top. With a little Frank Sinatra just for good measure.

            Let’s hope Franks develops his reads and reaction times. With that arm and our receivers he should be unstoppable!

          • GG What CDM did at his M St with what he had was beyond good. I think you are right in covering the warts. His tool set here is bigger and deeper and though thin in a few areas I think they can scheme against most of them. As long as the injury bug isn’t that bad a lot of these guys are going to become top players this year. I’d look for a few to play out of position for this effort to work but think that we will have a team that surprises the competition. Over on fansided ESPN they have us 8.3-4 on the year. That is a step back from last year which means they think we aren’t as strong as last year. As said above by several here we have better coaching (check) buy in (check) Player development (check) And remember the WWII saying they shouldn’t have won but they did!!!

  2. Gator 6 – Right in my wheelhouse for that time. I’ll add in Waylon & Wille, CDB, Oak Ridge Boys, David Allen Coe. It was towards the end of the decade when cross-over/Nashville pop thoroughly polluted the airwaves that I switched over to 60s, 70s pop/British Invasion/R & B/Motown. I also started dabbling in folk/roots music and bluegrass. My record collection is a schizophrenic mishmash crossing from Alabama Shakes (but not Alabama) to Joan Baez to Buffett & the Beatles to CCR to Grateful Dead to Rolling Stones to Skynyrd to Hank Williams to Lucinda Williams to ZZ Top. But I am down from about 800 albums to about 450. I love my dusty disks.

  3. Motown R& B, classic rock like ZZ Top, southern rock w/ Skynyrd and some Sinatra too are all in my wheelhouse, but don’t you diss the 80s my man. The punk to new wave to progressive rock to todays alternative kicks some arse. George Michael’s Careless Whisper is a classic but check out the rock cover by Seether, even better.

    Go Gators kick some over rated cane booty