College Football Season Starts

Alabama starts the year ranked No. 1, but after the playoffs, rankings will be less subjective. Guest host Wade Goodwyn checks in with NPR's Mike Pesca for a preview of the sports ahead: the start of the NFL season, the concussion settlement and a look at the 2013 college football.

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WADE GOODWYN, HOST:

Football season is finally here in earnest. Colleges kicked off this past week and the first NFL game is on Thursday. We wanted a preview and, of course, we have NPR's Mike Pesca to do just that. Hey, Mike.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hey. You sound good with the horns behind you, Wade.

GOODWYN: So, let's do the NFL first. What should we be watching for?

PESCA: Well, the first game's between the Ravens and the Broncos. Both of those teams could make the Super Bowl from the AFC. If the Broncos want to do it, the time is now. Peyton Manning is 37 years old. And the Ravens won last year. The most interesting thing to come out of their off-season is the fact that their quarterback, Joe Flacco, said Ray Lewis, while an inspirational leader, we didn't understand a lot of what he was saying. I found that somewhat hysterical. Come on, guys. It's football, not theology.

But the NFL settled its concussion lawsuit. They hope - who knows if this will be true - but they hope that will clear that specter away and the 2013 season could begin in earnest. And I say the big trend to watch for is these young, mobile quarterbacks, like Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson. How much will they be able to change the game? Will they be able to run or will the injuries and hits they take while trying to be mobile quarterbacks, you know, keep them in the pocket and solidify the fact that the NFL's mostly a passing league? So, that's the big trend, and a lot of teams can win the Super Bowl.

GOODWYN: Yesterday, the New England Patriots gave up on Tim Tebow. Is this the end of the road?

PESCA: Yeah, I think that - it might not be because Tebow is a promising, tantalizing, formerly successful guy. But the reason he attracts so much attention is because of his personality and what he did in college. But, you know, if you just kind of did a blind resume and took the number off his back and no one knew who was throwing and you showed anyone who knows football this guy's throwing motion, you would say, well, he can't be an NFL quarterback. He just doesn't throw good enough. And I don't know why it took the Patriots so long to find that out. Probably because the coach that drafted him is now on the Patriots staff. But he didn't fit in with New England's offense. And to have a Tebow offense is to kind of throw out everything you want to do and just let Tebow kind of run the ball and hope he doesn't intercept it that much. That's not what the Patriots want to do. Maybe some team will find a place for him and maybe we will stop being distracted so much with Tebow when there's about 1,600 other players who maybe are a little more deserving of our attention based on merit. But I get it. We're all interested in the Tebow stuff.

GOODWYN: College football - it started yesterday and thank goodness it's the last season we have before playoffs begin in college football. Is there anything we should look for this year that we're not going to see next year?

PESCA: Yeah, that's true. The much-loathed BCS system is gone. And it's loathed not because the system was bad itself, it's just because the product was bad. I mean, they would pick two teams to play for it and then teams would be looking on in from the outside. So, I think what they're going to move to, which is four teams get the playoffs. At least we'll be having raging debates about who's the fifth-best team, not who's the third-best team.

GOODWYN: All right. What's your curveball this week?

PESCA: I went to a college football game. It was Wake Forest. Interesting thing about their roster: they have six Harrises, five Joshes and three Josh Harrises. There's a Josh T., a Josh M., and a Josh Harris on the Wake roster.

(LAUGHTER)

GOODWYN: NPR's Mike Pesca. Thanks.

PESCA: You're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GOODWYN: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

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