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Preseason magazines project dismal year for USF

All three publications currently on newsstands pick the Bulls to finish in the AAC basement.
If you go by the initial wave of preseason college football magazines, USF coach Jeff Scott (center) will struggle to pull his team from the American Athletic Conference basement this fall.
If you go by the initial wave of preseason college football magazines, USF coach Jeff Scott (center) will struggle to pull his team from the American Athletic Conference basement this fall. [ Times ]
Published Jun. 9, 2020

Because so few teams logged any substantial spring practice time before the nationwide closing of campuses, the forecasts in this summer’s annual wave of preseason college football magazines seem flimsier than normal.

Which should provide consolation to USF fans, whose team is roundly dissed in the ones currently on newsstands.

Lindy’s, Athlon Sports and Street & Smith’s pick the Bulls to finish ninth, 10th and 11th, respectively, in the American Athletic Conference this season. Street & Smith’s takes the dishonor a step further, labeling USF as its AAC program “On the Wane.”

Related: 'This is the generation to make change,' says USF cornerback KJ Sails

New coach Jeff Scott “hit all the right notes upon being hired, quickly implementing a culture of accountability and rallying the fans with his youthful exuberance and optimism,” Athlon notes in its final analysis of the Bulls’ 2020 season.

“Now it’s time for reality. Making a bowl game would be a magnificent accomplishment for Scott’s first season, which includes a rigorous schedule (five road games against postseason teams).”

Whether those predictions should be taken with a grain or goblet of salt depends on the reader. But the disparity among the magazines’ preseason all-conference teams seems to reflect a glaring lack of insight into a program with a new staff that managed only one spring practice before the coronavirus crisis forced a shutdown.

For example, senior cornerback K.J. Sails is a first-team pick on Athlon’s preseason All-AAC team, but is nowhere to be found on the Lindy’s (first and second teams) or Street & Smith’s (first team only) squads.

Similarly, junior center Brad Cecil, a second-team All-AAC pick per Athlon, isn’t found on the other two teams. And graduate-transfer quarterback Noah Johnson, not mentioned by Athlon or Street & Smith’s, is listed as the AAC’s “Newcomer of the Year” by Lindy’s.

Cincinnati is picked to win the 11-team AAC (which has no divisions this year) by Athlon and Street & Smith’s. Lindy’s picks Memphis.