September 7, 2009

Who has best football-hoops combo?

College football kicked off this past weekend, and with the season now under way, we wondered which school would have the best football-basketball combination this academic year.

We asked writers Jason King and Mike Huguenin to give us their thoughts.

JASON KING SAYS TEXAS

A few years ago, Florida won the national championship in football and basketball. I'm not willing to say Texas will accomplish the feat in 2009-10 - but it certainly wouldn't surprise me.

The Longhorns' football squad will be as motivated as any team in America after getting screwed out of a national title game appearance a year ago. It also doesn't hurt that Mack Brown's squad features a legitimate Heisman candidate in quarterback Colt McCoy.

As for basketball, Rick Barnes hasn't had a team this talented since he arrived from Clemson. Damion James, Dexter Pittman and Gary Johnson form a frontcourt that rivals the ones at Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky. Guards Avery Bradley and Jai Lucas and swingman Jordan Hamilton are short on experience, but they are high on talent.

If Barnes and the Longhorns can put it all together, it could be a special season in Austin - both on the gridiron and the hardwood.

MIKE HUGUENIN SAYS CALIFORNIA

Oklahoma and Texas are definite national title contenders in football and should be excellent in basketball. But neither the Sooners nor Longhorns will be the best basketball team in the Big 12. That designation belongs to Kansas.

North Carolina will be in the national title hunt in basketball but likely is a year away from serious ACC football title contention. Florida should win the SEC in football, but the Gators will be lucky to finish third in the SEC East in basketball. The Big East football race should be an exciting affair, but the only potential football titlist that also has a chance at a basketball title is West Virginia - and the WVU basketball team doesn't look as strong as Villanova, among others. Ohio State is a Big Ten title contender in football and has a legit shot at the basketball title, too.

But I think the team with the best chance to win conference titles in basketball and football is California.

Cal will head into the season as the favorite to win the basketball title in the Pac-10. The backcourt of Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher is one of the best in the nation, the Golden Bears have ample perimeter talent and coach Mike Montgomery is one of the best in the nation. Cal has some issues in the frontcourt, but all that backcourt talent should overshadow the problems up front.

In football, Cal will be the biggest challenger to perennial champ USC - and the Golden Bears play host to the Trojans this season. Jahvid Best is the best running back in the nation, the offensive line is big and experienced, the defensive line returns all three starters and the secondary is one of the best in the nation. If quarterback Kevin Riley plays competent football, Cal could end the season in the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 1958 season.



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