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College football analyst Ron Zook named BYU a potential BCS buster this season, but the CBS Sports expert doesn't want anyone in Provo to get carried away by that designation.
"It's funny," said the former Florida and Illinois coach. "Last year, when they said, 'We need your top 25,' I said, 'What do you mean you need my top 25? How can anybody give you a top 25? It's purely speculation.' "
That may be the most honest statement you'll ever hear from a college football analyst. But viewers get that kind of honesty from Zook and the rest of the crew at "Inside College Football" on a regular basis.
The show airs Tuesdays and Thursdays on the CBS Sports Network (5 p.m. MT), as well as Fridays and Saturdays before and after games. Host Adam Zucker is joined by Zook, Aaron Taylor, Brian Jones and Randy Cross. It's entertaining and informative.
In making his preseason picks, Zook expressed admiration for the "great job" BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall has done and his team's "great defense." But he wasn't predicting the Cougars will win their way into a big bowl game he was just saying they could. Maybe.
"BYU has a great chance to really turn some heads because of their schedule," he said, pointing to games against Virginia, Texas, Utah, Utah State, Georgia Tech, Boise State, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Nevada.
"Nobody can criticize that schedule," said Zook, who added that Utah is in a similar position. The Utes' 2013 Pac-12 slate swaps Cal and Washington for Oregon and Stanford.
"They had a bad swap," he said with a laugh. "They've got to have the confidence that it takes to play in that league."
Which also goes for Utah State, which moves to the Mountain West this year. CBSSN will telecast five Aggie games.
"You've got the quarterback [Chuckie Keeton] back," Zook said, "so you've got a chance. But the schedule, top to bottom that's not easy, either."
He said it's possible that BYU, Utah and USU could improve this year but have fewer wins.
"You can be a better football team, but because of the schedule and injuries and so forth, you can have a worse record," he said. "In the fans' perspective, it's only about W's and L's, and that's not necessarily the way it is. But that's kind of the nature of the beast."
And he's got a different perspective than he did when he was on the sidelines.
"You look at things differently," said Zook, who's still willing to cut coaches more slack than some of his colleagues. "It's hard for me to comment sometimes because I don't know all the information. Coaches make decisions based on the information they have. A lot of times, people question those decisions and really, they don't have all the information. How do they know?"
Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.