There is one week left in the 2012 College Football season. One week left of fight songs, trash talk, and bad bowl games before we finish off the season with Alabama and Notre Dame going head to head for the BCS National Championship.
With that in mind, here are my Top 5 things we learned in 2012:
5) Florida State isn’t back…yet: 11-2, ACC Champions and a spot in a BCS bowl game for the first time since the 2005 season. Am I a spoiled fan, or an I being realistic? Many would say I’m a spoiled fan, but here’s why I expected more from 2012. I never thought this FSU team would win a BCS title, but I thought there was a good shot at being in the conversation. That all ended with a mind-boggling 1-point loss to a bad NC State team. Near-losses to VT and GT, combined with a 1-1 record against ranked teams and you can see why I say FSU isn’t back…yet. This program is headed in the right direction. Head Coach Jimbo Fisher is recruiting the right type of players and coaches. He’s shown that he has an eye for talent and he’s certainly learned to be a more effective head coach, winning some games the Noles would have lost in previous years. While I still believe Fisher needs to hand over play calling duties to an offensive coordinator, if he can continue to build on his success, the Noles can be in the hunt in 2013 and beyond.
4) It’s time for Mack Brown to retire. Mack Brown is getting dangerously close to being forced into retirement much the way several legends have in the past. His 2010 season was a disastrous 5-7, but he recovered with a decent 8-5 in 2011 which had many thinking it was just a blip on the radar. However, the Longhorns struggled to an 8-4 regular season mark in 2012 and showed no signs of returning to the college football elite. The defense, which thrived in 2011 regressed this year, giving up 30+ points 6 times. The offense struggled to find an identity, changing QBs several times as neither David Ash or Case McCoy has been able to be “the guy” for Texas. Mack Brown has earned the opportunity for one more year, but at some point, it’s time to move on.
3) The coaching world has changed. Years ago, coaches were given 5 years to prove whether they were the right guy for the job. While that changed a few years ago (see Tyrone Willingham at ND), what we’ve seen this year has been downright crazy. Gene Chizik won a National Championship at Auburn in 2010 and was fired 2 seasons later, albeit after a disastrous 3-9 season where AU became the first SEC team to have a conference title and a winless conference season. Ellis Johnson was given one year at Southern Miss where he took them to an 0-12 season. Patience is a virtue and college football has none (patience or virtue). In this win or else era, it’ll be interesting to see how many programs get caught breaking rules in the coming years. Then again, with Auburn, they were supposedly cheating and still went 3-9.
2) Preseason Polls mean NOTHING.
Look at the preseason AP poll (granted the AP poll means nothing anyway). Atop the poll, you will see the USC Trojans. The top ranked team in the nation finished 7-5. Look at the current AP poll. The top ranked ND Fighting Irish are nowhere to be found. They finished the season 12-0. At some point the AP and Coaches polls need to realize that preseason polls are useless and are based off of last year’s finishes, rumors, innuendos, and practice reports. While we all love to see the polls and talk about them, this year truly has shown us how worthless being the pre-season #1 team in the country is.
1) It’s the SEC and everyone else.
I admit it, I’m an SEC hater. I can’t stand when people root for their conference as if Alabama winning a national title means Auburn won one too. I’m a Nole fan and I NEVER want to see Miami or UF win a national title. Sorry, it’s the truth. And while I think the SEC was somewhat overrated (or rather overvalued) this year, they were still the best conference in college football. The reason I say they were overvalued is because the majority of the conference refuses to play legitimate out of conference schedules (yes I know we played Murray State and Savannah State), and the polls seem to disregard losses when they occur within this conference (see Alabama barely falling after a loss and 2-loss SEC teams jumping 1-loss teams all season). That said, this conference still has 5 of the top 10 teams in college football (Alabama, Georgia, Florida, LSU and Texas A&M). With a chance at a 7th straight National Champion coming from the SEC, the other conferences have a lot of catching up to do.
As we close out another college football season, it’s time to also look forward. In less than 2 months, signing day will be upon us. In less than 4 months, spring practice will start. 8 months from now, those meaningless pre-season polls will be out and fall camps will begin. And before you know it, that first kickoff weekend will be here!
Enjoy the off-season!