Well the college football season at least. The NFL still has two rounds left to go in their playoffs (playoffs? You mean the NFL has already instituted playoffs? I guess it’s a good thing since, according to the media, New England would have won at least six of the last dozen titles if they voted on it). This means college football has devolved into a fun game of Q&A where hundreds upon hundreds of college football pundits and experts weigh in on the most important questions going into next season. I will try to the same although I do not consider myself an expert of any kind.
Question #1: What should the reigning and defending national championships do with the mother of all quarterback battles? Might as well start with this one since I’m sure #Cardale has trended for at least 72 hours now. I guess it all depends on whose perspective you’re looking at it from.
- If you’re Braxton Miller – you either transfer, since you can without penalty, or you move to wide receiver or tight end. I think his best bet to make it in the NFL is at wide receiver but who knows what could happen if he transfers to another big-time school and has an exceptional year. He may go from a 5th or 6th round QB to a 2nd or even a late-1st round pick at QB with an awesome year. At least at wide receiver, the chances of him not being drafted drop to almost nothing.
- If you’re Cardale Jones – you’ve made your choice. You also hope at least one of Miller or Barrett transfers, if not both of them. If one of them transfers, there is no guarantee of a starting spot next season. However…
- If you’re J.T. Barrett – you transfer IMMEDIATELY. So what if you have to sit out a year. It feels like everyone has gone aboard the Cardale Train (and for good reason). Momentum is on his side, not J.T.’s. His best bet, probably, is to transfer, sit out a year, then shoot for Heisman candidacy at another Power Five school. I’m not saying he wouldn’t beat Jones in a QB battle in camp but it won’t be easy.
- If you’re Ohio State/Urban Meyer – first thing is to get Braxton Miller to fully believe in moving to wide receiver. Then you also convince J.T. Barrett to at least spend his sophomore season in Columbus, see how it goes. If he doesn’t like it after this coming season, then he can do whatever he wants. This way, you lose nobody and still have a great starter and a great backup, just in case something happens (you don’t think it would happen two years in a row, do you?).
Question #2: Will Oregon be in trouble with Marcus Mariota gone? I wouldn’t say “Stick a fork in them, they’re done.” Saying that, don’t expect them to be an almost foregone conclusion to be in either the College Football Playoff or a New Year’s Six bowl. They will still be competitive. They will contend in the Pac-12 North. Stanford and Washington will get closer to the top but may come up short again when trying to unseat the Ducks; however, the chances of Oregon beating a Pac-12 South team in the conference championship are not nearly as good this coming season. They may surprise and win 11 regular season games again but expect more of a 9 or 10 win season.
Question #3: Has the Pac-12 usurped the SEC as the top conference in the land? Short answer, no. Long answer…well…the Pac-12 is quickly gaining on the SEC. Like, extremely quickly. I’m even surprised they’ve overtaken the Big XII and put a lot of pavement between them and their brothers to the east. It really is the SEC, Pac-12, then the other Power Five conferences, despite Ohio State’s national championship win. If the same thing happens this season, then we can say the Pac-12 is, at the very least, on par with the SEC. It would have to be another very good season from the conference though.
Question #4: With UAB eliminating their football program, will other schools follow suit and who would those schools be? There is an immediate, obvious answer to this one and it’s HOURS away. Hawaii’s football program is on the ropes and it’s not surprising in the least. I would not be shocked to see them discontinue their program in the next three years. The bigger question is will it lead to other schools quitting. Much of that has to do with the autonomy of the Power Five and how scheduling is done in the future. Hope is a big thing: it’s what’s propelled Boise State into the conversation of going to a Power Five conference when fifteen years ago that would have been scoffed at. If there’s a possibility a program, at the very least, would be a huge thing at the Group of Five level then they would be safe. Some other programs, like UNLV, Eastern Michigan, and New Mexico State, might start to think hard about dropping football if it becomes more untenable than it is now.
Question #5: Will the SEC East become a good division again? I make it sound like they are a terrible division. This year they were mediocre at best. And I am sure no one is saying inviting Missouri was a bad thing anymore. I can see this coming year being a boon for the second-best division in the SEC and you will see a lot more balance. Vanderbilt will be the bottom again as they have gone back to ten years ago it seems. Other than them, every one of those teams has a chance to go to the SEC Championship and a few of them have a shot at doing some real damage (i.e. New Year’s Six and, dare I say it, the College Football Playoff).
Question #6: Will the Heisman Trophy stop being the Best Quarterback Trophy? This year it was cut and dry. To say Mariota shouldn’t have won it is idiotic. However, it should take an AMAZING year by a quarterback to be a slam-dunk for the Heisman. This coming year could be a great chance for a wide receiver or a running back to win. Or maybe they finally decide to give it to a defensive player for the first time in way too long. Nah, that’s crazy talk.
Question #7: Now that Navy is in a conference, how quickly will the other three independent teams join conferences (if ever)? Navy joins The American conference this season. I hope they are 11-0, get to the conference championship game, win it, and then be 12-0 going into the Army-Navy game and struggle. The Committee would shit their pants. Anyway where was I? Oh yeah, the other independents. Well, here’s my take on them:
- BYU – They will join a conference as fast as they can. Forget byuTV and scheduling advantages and all that crap. They know that if they have a really good team (which, with Taysom Hill they were very close to), then being an independent sucks a bag of dicks. They want to join the Big XII it seems and the Big XII should want them I think. Whether it will be a polygamous marriage made in heaven I don’t know. Expect it to happen, especially if the Texas & Oklahoma & 10 other Jabronies conference gets left out of the CFP again this coming season.
- Army – Tough one here. They were in Conference USA years ago and struggled mightily. I could see them going back there since the conference is a hodge-podge of all sorts of programs. Either that or the MAC. Now with their brothers in arms at the Naval Academy joining a conference, it makes a ton of sense for them to eventually join one too. Give this one about 6-8 years.
- Notre Dame – Until Notre Dame doesn’t have home games on NBC, don’t expect them to even consider joining a conference. Yes, I know, they have an agreement with the ACC. And they get put in the ACC bowl-tie-in conversation as well. But that’s where it will end unless the Notre Dame-NBC marriage ends for some reason. I can’t see why that would be the case. The only thing that might be for consideration is if they are the only independent left. Then they may start to take a more serious look. Until then, forget Touchdown Jesus playing for Conference X’s championship.
As for any future independent teams occurring, I think we can put the kibosh on that right now. Texas, wisely, stayed in the Big XII and will for a long time. FCS schools never move up now unless they have a conference affiliation waiting. Me personally, it has to be one way or the other. Either back to the early 90s when there were 20-some-odd independents or have none at all. Being in the middle feels weird and will for BYU and Army when it comes to scheduling. Time to bite the bullet and join boys.
Question #8: Who will come from farthest back this season to make the College Football Playoff next season? Don’t think I am saying SMU is going from arguably the worst team to be one of the final four. Except the top four this season, plus contenders like TCU, Baylor, Michigan State, UCLA, Kansas State, Clemson, Georgia, etc. I think the team that will come the farthest towards next year (at least at this point) is Notre Dame. They will have a choice to make at QB as Malik Zaire looked great in their bowl win over LSU and I can’t see Everett Golson struggling as much as he did for the last half of the season. They’re deep enough to go at least 11-1 and they always make it so strength of schedule isn’t an issue. I’m not saying for sure they’ll make it but they have a really good shot.
Question #9: What can Canadians look forward to next year in terms of college football coverage on TV? I think TSN took a bit of a chance showing as much college football as they did. I say a bit and not a lot since college football got some pretty good ratings throughout the year and got a lot of traction with the College Football Playoff. Saying that, I don’t see much difference next season from what we saw this season. For people who don’t get the specialty pack it will be ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC with Notre Dame, TSN, and MyTV. That’s about it and that won’t change. As for the specialty pack, should be similar. I could see them adding ESPNEWS games. It looks like Bell has decided to put some regional FOX Sports Net ACC games on every week as long as they also appear on ESPN3. The big move has to be made by Rogers. I still don’t understand not having the SEC Network and it would make total sense to add it this season. They can’t turn their back on 45 potential games when there is room in the channel lineup for the games already. We probably won’t know much about this for a few months now.
Question #10: The NFL Draft will be upon us before we know it. Who will go top 3? This happens every year. A few guys start at the top in the first few mock drafts and one of them eventually falls back and potentially out of the top 10 completely once the draft actually happens. I believe Tampa Bay, with the first choice, should pick Marcus Mariota. They may, however, choose Jameis Winston instead if they feel he fits better (and wants publicity picking an FSU player). Leonard Williams seems to be a top 3 lock and I can see either Tennessee or Jacksonville picking him. I hate to say it but one of Mariota or Winston will probably fall and we will see them replaced at #2 or #3 by either Amari Cooper or Randy Gregory. Saying that, four teams in the top 10 (TB, TEN, NYJ, STL) need a QB so Mariota and Winston can be rest assured that they will be top 10 picks come the spring.
OK that’s all the question and answer time we have for now boys and girls. I plan on a few posts through the end of January. First mock draft, a post on how terrible my predictions were, and probably one with some random thoughts and some NFL stuff to boot.
Finally, I want to congratulate the Ohio State Buckeyes for winning the first ever College Football Playoff. They won in stunning fashion when very few thought they could. And it makes sense that this team had a crazy last three games to win the championship in one of the craziest seasons ever. You have to thank the CFP for a lot of this; it seemed to create a lot more matchups that meant something this season. I think we can all safely say this was a success. So why the fuck didn’t this happen like 20 years ago?