The term “hot seat” is no stranger to college football fans. Hot seat talk usually revolves around coaches, but quarterbacks can be grouped into the same conversation. Without a good coach or quarterback, it’s not easy to win games on the FBS level.
Clemson outlasted Georgia in Death Valley late on a Saturday night on the first weekend of action to open the 2013 college football season. UCLA overcame a 21-point, first-half deficit to beat Nebraska in Lincoln. Miami upset Florida, signifying the beginning of the end for the 2013 Gators. Notre Dame played epic games with Stanford, USC, Michigan, Oklahoma, Michigan State and Arizona State.
The SEC was home to some of college football’s top quarterbacks in the nation last year. However, one offseason later, and the conference is essentially rebuilding from scratch at the quarterback spot.
The list of names departing is heavy: Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Alabama’s AJ McCarron, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, Missouri’s James Franklin, South Carolina’s Connor Shaw and Georgia’s Aaron Murray.
Every year, there’s a new crop of rising stars in college football’s coaching ranks ready to make an appearance on the national stage. Alabama's Nick Saban, Ohio State's Urban Meyer, Notre Dame's Brian Kelly and Florida State's Jimbo Fisher are names familiar across the nation with any fanbase.
However, what about the next wave of stars that could be at BCS jobs in the next five years?
Ranking college football coaches is no easy task. Similar to any position on the field, statistics may not tell the full story when judging a coaching tenure.
While it’s difficult to rank coaches, this aspect of college football is arguably the most important to winning a national or conference title. No matter how much talent a program has, winning a national title is difficult if the coaching is questionable.
Whatever happens in Monday night’s national title game, either Kentucky or Connecticut will become one of the most rare champions in the NCAA Tournament.
With 11 titles between the two, the Wildcats and Huskies aren’t in a spot they’ve never been, even in the last five years. But both have taken a path to the title game that, while not unprecedented, puts each school in exclusive company.
A team can’t reach six regional finals in nine seasons, including four in a row, without being either the dream crusher or dream maker.
Consider the teams the Gators have faced in the NCAA Tournament since the year of Florida’s first title in 2006: Florida defeated George Mason in the Final Four in 2006 and Florida Gulf Coast in the Sweet 16 in 2013. But the Gators also were one of the victims of Butler on the Bulldogs’ second run to the national title game in 2011.
Transformation is one of the key words for both Michigan and Tennessee as they reached the Sweet 16.
The top players for both teams have transformed themselves from last season. Michigan's Nik Stauskas added muscle to make him much more than a spot-up jump shooter. Meanwhile, Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes lost 10 pounds to become a more mobile and versatile big man.
But beyond individuals, both teams had to transform through the course of the season.
Spring practice is underway for nearly all 128 college football teams, and the countdown to the 2014 season has officially started. There’s still a long way to go before August and the start of next year, but it’s never too early to start thinking about which players are ready for a big jump in production.