Football — real on-field, snot-bubblin’ football — can’t get here fast enough.
Over the past three years, those of us on the front lines have been asked to be amateur epidemiologists (COVID-19, 2020), ambulance chasers (Texas-Oklahoma ditching the Big 12 for the SEC, 2021) and cartologists (map USC- UCLA travel routes to the East Coast, 2022).
Someone make it rule…football again. Believe (Eli) Gold, we have one month left; season no. 153 of college football is imminent.
From this point, the festival itself looks like a shining city on a hill because, frankly, we are about to be taken for a change; name, picture and image; monster coaching contracts; and organizing the meeting.
Unfortunately, they’re as much a part of the game these days as Mike Leach’s sense of, ahem, fashion. Someone, somewhere, tear the ball and instead of crossing your fingers to get to a new meeting.
We will be watching as Nick Saban may chase another title at age 71. Dabo Swinney will try to restore and keep his dynasty alive at age 52. Kirby Smart is just getting started, now as the highest paid coach in the game.
Blink and most may be gone. Will this be the last Bedlam game for a while? Is Cincinnati becoming a national power? Is there any purity left in the game at all?
We are getting closer to where we can talk and see the ball. We’re excited to be back with 22 things to watch during the 2022 college football season.
22 for 2022
1. Alabama, rebuilt: No, really. The last season was supposed to be the year before and the development of great talent in 2022. Saban even recently called it a “rebuilding year” despite the Crimson Tide going 13-2, winning the SEC and leading Georgia with 10 minutes to go. in the College Football Playoff National Championship. Still, the Tide are coming off a tie for their most losses since 2010. (Gasp!) When was the last time a team returned the best players on offense (Bryce Young) and defense (Will Anderson Jr. To see also : 10 epic Chinese video games that are not ‘gendered effect’ you should try.)? Go ahead, I’ll wait. If Bama doesn’t win the SEC and then make the playoffs – at least – something is very, very bad. Most troubling is an offensive line that has given up 41 sacks. As long as Young is running back there, the offense has a chance. Anderson could have 20 sacks.
2. Back-to-back Bulldogs? Why not? Georgia’s defense is not good. In fact, we may never see the likes of it again. But it will still be top 10 good, maybe second behind Alabama in the SEC. Now add in a seasoned Stetson Bennett IV. Yes, I said “seasoned.” Georgia led the SEC with 41 plays of 30+ yards from scrimmage. The Dawgs should cruise to the SEC East crown and then face the Tide again for the league title. Georgia lost the SEC Championship Game last year and won the national title. Squint and you can see it happen again. Don’t chase the Dawgs.
3. Four playoff teams: Beyond Alabama and Georgia…
4. Conference reform casts a shadow: You may be tired of it, but reform will be a topic of discussion throughout the season. Beasts have taken over the Earth. It remains to be seen just how big the SEC and Big Ten want to get. It is unlikely that any further expansion will occur during the season, but the shadow of the two conferences shifting hovers over much of the conversation. The SEC has won 12 of the last 16 national championships. The Big Ten has won one of the remaining four.
5. Five keys to winning: Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
6. New kids on the blocking sled: For all the “lack of balance” and “same old teams,” these five programs are in the process of forcing their way to the senior table in 2022.
7. South Beach bullies: After 20 years of wandering in the wilderness of champions, Miami may have finally figured it out. The answer? Invest in everything. The born son Mario Cristobal got a contract of 80 million dollars. Miami finally got a coach who understands the culture and can take his ass. Add the NIL boat (John Ruiz), and the plan to use their way to the championship does not look like a miracle and not far from the Hurricanes. But will it translate to verse?
8. Player empowerment: Accelerated in 2018 with the transfer portal. It went to warp speed last year with a one-time travel policy. NIL has created players for small companies. There was a federal blip on the radar at Penn State. In other words: Enabling the player is not going away. The question is how will it continue this season and beyond.
9. NO in Year Two: Millions. Cars. Shiny bling. Endorsements. These are among the categories of name, image and likeness rights after its first calendar year. We enter the second season of the NIL with a calm slant on the world. Remember when Young would become the game’s first millionaire? Let’s say he has a company. The NIL has yet to disrupt the game on the field despite a tiff between Saban and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher. In fact, apart from breathless cries from the coaches, the fans don’t seem to care much – at least not enough to stop and watch. However, there are issues with the NIL, including potential competitive inequities and incentives that seem to be happening without the sanction being imposed completely unfairly due to the toothless NCAA.
10. What is Coach Prime’s game? Going 15-5 at Jackson State in two seasons, Deion Sanders dominated the HBCU circuit, thumbing Nick’s nose on the way through the Jimbo beef. Many people think that Sanders will make the Florida State game job if Mike Norvell can’t do it. The question remains: All the preparation, panache and primping is just Prime being Prime, or can he really teach? At first, the answer is yes. But let’s see him in the big time. Perhaps the only thing more infuriating than Sanders as a player will be Sanders as a Power Five coach.
11. The Heisman winner will be … C.J. Stroud, Ohio State. Voters are unlikely to back down on Young. However, Stroud left a Heisman calling card in the Rose Bowl by throwing for a career-high 573 yards and six touchdowns. The Buckeyes needed every bit of it in the Utah victory. Ohio State is back to its dominant form because it has a dominant quarterback. It’s impossible to lose in the regular season. Fifty-five passing touchdowns are not out of the question for the smooth passer from California.
12. The Heisman winner could be … Will Anderson Jr., Alabama. There was much consternation in Alabama that the All-American linebacker did not receive an invitation to the Heisman. But the contestant who did, Aidan Hutchinson of Michigan, finished second in the voting. This shows that it is possible for a defender to win the Heisman for the first time since Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997.
13. Decades of beauty? The new five-year contract for the coaches is a 10-year contract. Michigan State coach Mel Tucker broke new ground when he signed a 10-year contract worth $95 million at the end of an 11-2 season. That agreement boosted the industry. If Tucker (18-14 in his career) was worth $95 million, what are successful coaches worth? We found that out in the offseason. Smart (Georgia), Brian Kelly (LSU) and James Franklin (Penn State) all got 10-year deals. Fisher is five years into a 10-year contract with Texas A&M that has already been extended once. The date has been extended to Ohio State through 2028. What do they say: mo’ money, mo’ problems? Not now, but one day it could translate to mo’ pressure.
14. Which way, Pac-12? By the time you read this, the Left Coast could be out of business by 2024 or hold a third of the Big 12’s expansion to 14 teams. That’s the uncertainty about the future of the Pac-12 after the USC and UCLA losses. The exclusive negotiation window with Fox and ESPN ended on Thursday (Aug. 4) without a resolution. Commissioner George Kliavkoff accused the Big 12 of cheating. Spirit LA of the league has been removed. The Pac-12 will remain strong for the next two seasons. How it does that can be decided this month.
15. Opening daze: Every year, someone always asks if college football is set to enjoy its best opening weekend ever. Well, here we go again because, well, wow.
16. The team no one is talking about… BYU. The Cougars start at No. 26 in the CBS Sports 131 and have quietly won 21 games over the past two seasons with a 5-0 mark against the Pac-12 in 2021. Fire warnings should go out to Arkansas, Baylor, Notre Dame. and Stanford, all Power Five teams that will all play BYU in 2022. Kilani Sitake’s steady arm made the Cougars eligible for the Big 12. The five Cougars drafted in 2021 are tied for the most by a school since 1986. BYU is here (again). Have you seen it?
17. The player no one is talking about… Army edge rusher Andre Carter II. With a lithe 6-foot-7, 260-pound frame, Carter has been a home wrecker for a while. His 15.5 sacks last season was an Army record. There is a real possibility that Carter could become the Black Knights’ all-time leading scorer since Heisman winner Doc Blanchard was No. 3 in 1946. (Runner-up: Syracuse running back Sean Tucker, who rushed for nearly 1,500 yards and was second. -Team All – American.)
18. Land of Lincoln: USC is cool again under Lincoln Riley. Will it win at the top level again? That’s the question after USC pushed all the chips into the middle in convincing Riley to leave Oklahoma. Management paid him $110 million, raised the team’s budget and moved to the Big Ten. Things can change in a heartbeat, but this doesn’t make sense. During the year, Riley was affiliated with four conferences: Big 12, SEC, Pac-12 and Big Ten (in 2024). He folded the list — 43 new players in six weeks. Now, it’s time to create. Don’t expect a flip from 4-8 to the playoffs, but that seems like an expectation… right?
19. Transfer year: We are now one year into the same transfer period. You will need a score card to keep track of who has escaped and who has arrived. These players have worked very hard to their advantage.
20. The game will decide everything… Alabama at Texas, Sept. 10. This is just the second time since 2003 that Bama has played a Power Five non-conference road game earlier this season. It’s the first time I’ve done this at all in 11 years. Lose this and the Tide can kiss a playoff appearance goodbye. (Imagine that bet hanging on the ‘Horns going 11-1!) Meanwhile, Steve Sarkisian can’t be blown away after a 5-7 start in 2021. Throw in this game showing what Texas will face in the SEC, and the implications go beyond the usual flavor matchup.
21. Game of the year: There is a difference from above. Mark October 8 on your calendar. You’ll be able to cut through the Texas A&M-Alabama drama with a low score. Nick and Jimbo went nuclear with each other in the offseason but they are good; in practice, the key SEC West game just got key-er. And for one of the few moments in his Alabama career, Saban is looking for revenge. Has a postgame handshake (or not) ever been more anticipated?
22. New Year’s six shows: We know the four teams in the playoffs, but how will it all shake out?