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Might Be a Tough Year for The Cowboy

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R.I.P. Grandpa

My late grandfather was a fount of homespun, cracker-barrel wisdom. I recall spending many a summer afternoon with him on the front porch of his home, sipping lemonade in the blazing Arkansas sunshine and eagerly soaking up his pithy, hard-to-forget expressions:

"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest."

"Half a truth is often a great lie."

"Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man."

And, perhaps most memorably:

"Show me a college football team that finishes in The Associated Press Top 10, and I'll show you a team that began the season with at least 65 combined career starts from its offensive linemen."

Frankly, the last comment usually left me wondering if Grandpa had had a little too much of his infamous white lightning, but the Wall Street Journal shows how foolish I was to doubt him. According to that fishwrapper:

"Offensive-line experience is one of the telltale predictors of success in college football. Last season, eight of the top 10 teams in the final Associated Press poll began the season with at least 65 combined career starts by their offensive linemen, including title-game participants Florida and Oklahoma. Two of 2008's biggest surprises, Utah and Ole Miss, had more than 80 starts of experience, enabling them to improve dramatically on offense. Conversely, Georgia, Missouri and Clemson -- three preseason top-10 teams that disappointed -- were green up front, with fewer than 40 starts each."

Based on their offensive lines, the teams to watch in 2009 include Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Texas, Florida State and Michigan, the Journal says. Meanwhile, some teams that could disappoint: Oregon, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Penn State and - choke back those tears, please - Alabama.

We're already worried about The Cowboy.