College football columnist Bruce Feldman’s no stranger to rolling the dice. Last summer, the national writer left a 17-year career at ESPN for CBS amid the controversial aftermath of the release of a memoir from former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach.
He relocated to Los Angeles, where he has a close view of the University of Southern California football team and its star quarterback Matt Barkley. On Thursday, Fayettville, Ark.-based radio show host Bo Mattingly asked who he felt were top contenders for next season’s Heisman Trophy. Feldman could have gone out on a limb by not putting Barkley at the top of his preseason favorites.
Instead, he said Wilson will contend but said Barkley begins the season with a few advantages. “You’re gonna see Barkley come into next season probably as the favorite. He’s a high profile guy and plays for a high-profile [team] … they’ll probably start off preseason #1 or #2. He’s at a school with a history of producing stars and has, as I mentioned before, two fantastic receivers. He’s gonna put up big numbers.”
“In the case of Tyler Wilson, I think he’s up there with [Oklahoma quarterback] Landry Jones. I think you could put [quarterback] Geno Smith, who’s from West Virginia and gonna come back. He had a huge game against Clemson,” Feldman said on Sports Talk With Bo Mattingly. “They scored 70 points in the Orange Bowl. All his best receivers are back; they should be even better on the offensive line … You’re looking at a guy who’s gonna put up ridiculous numbers.”
Among other possible early-season contenders, Feldman mentioned Wisconsin running back Montee Ball and Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray.
Mattingly also asked if Arkansas has a strong chance of toppling LSU and Alabama at home next season: “I think so. I really do think so. Alabama, as terrific as they looked on Monday night, is only returning four starters on both sides of the ball. A key for them is they do have a nucleus of an outstanding offensive line… you know Nick Saban is gonna have a strong defense.”
In the end, though, Feldman predicted the SEC will not win its seventh consecutive national title.
U.S.C. is his pre-pre-preseason favorite.