Something will happen this offseason to force us to pay attention. I will guess five things. You will hopefully read.
5. The Pac-12 Arms Race: The Pac is finally getting the respect it deserves, a routine and genuine conversation for prettiest girl in the club. Bowl season helped the league just fine, and even though Oregon lost to Ohio State, it’s hard to really cast aspersions on the remainder of the conference for what it did including Oregon, which roasted Florida State on the way to the buzzsaw Buckeyes. However, much needs to be replaced at the quarterback position. Arizona State is sans Taylor Kelly; Oregon obviously lost Marcus Mariota (Jeff Lockie time?); UCLA is without Brett Hundley; Oregon State saw Sean Mannion depart. Arizona looks to be in the catbird seat at the moment with Anu Solomon coming back and a strong, young, successful roster ready to pounce. The rise of the Pac-12 has come on the strength of great quarterback play across the board, and some of the elites are not around to carry that on. How easy is it to find the new breed? I suppose we’re about to find out.
4. Who’s your quarterback, Jim Harbaugh: The winter holiday “CHarbaughnakah” comes to Michigan with much promise, and all of it well-deserved. Harbaugh took over a moribund Stanford program and immediately turned the Trees into a head-turner right in the utopian era of Pete Carroll Southern Cal, stunning the Trojans in his first year as a 41-point underdog. Michigan’s biggest issue in its slide has been the inability to develop anyone at the most important position in the game. It turns out this Harbaugh fellow finished in the top five in the Heisman voting as a senior and went on to a pretty good little career in the NFL at that position. Michigan has talent. If the staff can identify and coach up a quarterback, Michigan will be a surprise outfit at the 9-to-10-wins level. Is Shane Morris the guy? Incoming freshman Alex Malzone? Or Kevin Hogan, rumored on the edge of the Internet to maybe rejoin Jim?
3. Will the Big 12 explore expansion with haste: Perception is reality in college football, we all know that. Right now, the perception is that not having a conference championship puts you deeply behind the 8-Ball, because as we all also know, people tend to overrate the last thing they see because it’s fresh in your mind. It’s why, if you can get it, take an interview on a Friday afternoon when people are happy and will remember you fondly because they are.
At any rate, the Big 12 not having a conference title game is like constantly holding pocket 5s. Yeah, you can win, but most of the time you need someone else to screw up or have nothing in their own hand to get it done. There has to be a certain level of saltiness considering that for the most part, three of the four CFB Playoff games were won going away whilst TCU sat home doing shots of Fireball and raging. If expansion gets you the money, eventually, expansion will be explored.
2. The Ohio State Quarterback Thing: There are a lot of layers to this one. For one, it’s a battle of three, not two. For two, it ends up shaping the fate of someone else if one of the guys decides to leave. For three, let’s stop acting like it’s an issue. It’s like having three really pretty girls to date and having to eventually decide between one. Who wouldn’t want that over having a bunch of 5 to 6s and one 9? At any rate, you’re probably going to want to wait until spring practice (IT’S CLOSE, PEOPLE) to start to understand how this might shake out. My gut feeling is Cardale Jones or Braxton Miller, but either way, all three have a bright future, and a little competition never hurt anyone. If one guy feels like he might not get the job after spring, however, transfers could occur.
1. Where’s the ill-timed, completely shocking news going to come from: This seems to be an annual staple these days in the offseason. From Jim Tressel to Penn State to Urban Meyer at Florida and then not at Florida, to waking up one morning and Chip Kelly was taking a job he said he wasn’t not too long beforehand… there is always something that sends shock waves through the sport, often for negative reasons.
Rarely does college football quietly go into the night after a champion is crowned, only to return in a full blaze of glory when we’re so desperate for football, we’ll barely sleep in anticipation of games we’ll complain about three months later in an early December bowl. You know, something drunk like, “Whoa, Kevin Sumlin to the Falcons!?”
Where it’s hiding, this ill-timed news, no one knows… but it’s at the bar, and eventually, closing time comes and that news needs to rear its ugly head.