A transition year was expected in 2016 for the Pac-12, but the conference produced a playoff contender (Washington) and one of the nation’s hottest teams at the end of the season (USC). Additionally, the surprise emergence of Colorado in the South Division was one of the best storylines from 2016.
Sure, J.T. Barrett, Saquon Barkley and a cast of other familiar faces in the Big Ten are returning to their schools next season. But after a 2016 that saw the league finish with four teams in the final top 10 of both major polls, the Big Ten will have to retool a bit up top, as a number of stars declared early for the 2017 NFL Draft.
The ACC continued its upward trajectory after the conference claimed its second national championship in four seasons after Clemson’s victory over Alabama on Jan. 9. Thanks to outstanding coaching hires in recent years, the ACC has made progress in catching the Big Ten and SEC at the top of the conference power rankings.
The battle for conference supremacy is an ongoing race to catch the SEC, but the Big Ten has made considerable progress in recent years to close the gap. Thanks to outstanding coaching hires, Ohio State (Urban Meyer), Penn State (James Franklin), Michigan (Jim Harbaugh) and Wisconsin (Paul Chryst), all four teams finished inside of the top 10 in the CFB Playoff poll.
Even though Alabama made the national championship game and claimed the No. 1 ranking for the CFB Playoff, the 2016 college football season was a down year for the SEC. Every team outside of the Crimson Tide finished with at least four losses.
It’s still January, but baseball will be back before you know it with the start of MLB’s spring training less than a month away. Those who have already had enough of winter can focus on the fact that all 30 teams will soon be reporting to facilities in Florida and Arizona in preparation for the 2017 season, which begins April 2.