Exclusive Q&A: College football analyst Rece Davis
'College GameDay' road show host Rece Davis kicked off the college football season last week by promoting the Capital One Cup -- and dishing on some interesting storylines to keep an eye on.
The Capital One Cup honors the top men's and women's college athletic programs in the country. The start of college football kicks off the race for the Capital One Cup and $400,000 in total scholarships for student-athletes is on the line.
This is Year 6 of the program, which has surpassed the $2 million mark; last year marked the $1 million mark for Capital One giving student scholarships for student-athletes.
Q: How did you become involved with the Capital One Cup?
A: This is now our sixth season together, with a program that rewards the best in college sports and creates a competition for student-athletes. We talked a lot about how to construct this and ultimately they settled on the current point system they have. What's happened over the last five years is a great deal of excitement. It's given fans an opportunity to see how their favorite teams are faring through social media ... the best thing about it is there's $400,000 in scholarship money at stake for the winning programs. If sports are to be what they say, to provide opportunities, then Capital One has done a wonderful job and I'm happy to be a part of it.
Q: What do you think is the biggest story in college football?
A: It has to be Ohio State. Can anybody beat them? They're the juggernaut -- not just because they are returning champions. They basically won one year ahead of schedule. This was the year they were pushing for, they knew they'd have the right blend of experience and the right depth at positions -- all those things you need to have a championship team. They had breakthrough performances and those guys are back for another run at it.
Q: Is TCU the real deal?
A: Oh, they're the real deal. If you look over the course of their history, they had a couple hiccups first couple years in the Big 12, but they have virtually everybody back on offense and I know Gary Patterson will put a good defense on the field. I don't see TCU as being particularly vulnerable. Gary's kept them in check.
Q: The amount of parody in the SEC is something interesting to track. Do you think it's good for the sport?
A: It can be. One of the remarkable things with the SEC is that you had LSU, Florida, Alabama and Auburn all competing for championships for so long, so you have a large number of teams, relatively speaking, who've won it all. I think that's unusual for one conference. That said, I think it's healthy for every sport to have a giant to shoot at. The SEC is used to being shot at, and right now there's no big favorite. I also think it's healthy to have one big juggernaut, so the SEC in unique position - they are no longer fighting each other, they have to take aim at OSU if any wants to win a national championship.
Q: What are your thoughts on Jim Harbaugh at Michigan and how long do you think his rebuilding process will take?
A: Well, it's not going to happen overnight. But I do think, say, Year 3 or so, that we'll be talking about Michigan as Big 10 and national championship contenders. There's no doubt in my mind that's where Harbaugh is going to take them. Think of everywhere he's ever been, there's no doubt he'll do it there.
If you're talking about blue-collar, tough-minded team, it's already happened. It's just how Jim Harbaugh teams play. Even when he took over Stanford, when it was in dire straights, they immediately showed toughness and fight. And certainly Michigan is in better shape than Stanford was then.
Q: Did you think the College Football Playoff was perfectly executed? Or, would you change the format in any way?
A: I thought it was perfect. I wouldn't change a thing. I wasn't anti-BCS because it, more times than not, gave us good matchups and a championship people wanted. It gave us a championship, though, that may not have occurred. There was a hunger for a more inclusive opportunity to determine a champion and a hunger for more transparency to see how it all worked out. I'm not a fan of it going to eight at this moment, but I do feel the hunger for more will come and there will be a time for eight. Eight years, 20 years down the road, I don't know, but for 2015 and the foreseeable future, four creates a great amount of intrigue.
Q: Can you go out on a limb and offer your predictions for this year's College Football Playoff?
A: I'm going to play the odds and say we have some two-loss champions in the mix this year ... and I'm going to say the four playoff teams are Ohio State, TCU, Michigan State, and I'm going to give Alabama the nod.
Q: And Ohio State wins it all?
A: Yes. I think at this point, it's understandable for people to try to pick someone else because the odds are against a repeat. I'm going to say, in terms of picking a champion, I'm picking the best team -- and that's Ohio State.