CFN Staff Predictions: The Biggest 2017 College Football Storyline Will Be …
What will the biggest and most important storyline of 2017 be?
Biggest Storyline Prediction
@Rich Cirminiello, CFN: The SEC emerges as a quarterback league.
The SEC has struggled behind center in recent years, a key reason why the ACC and Big Ten have narrowed the gap, if not caught up in the conference pecking order. However, the league used a bunch of young passers in 2016 in Jalen Hurts, Jacob Eason, Jake Bentley, Shea Patterson and Drew Lock. Plus, Jarrett Stidham and Malik Zaire are high-ceiling imports, joining talented holdovers Austin Allen and Nick Fitzgerald.
@Jeff Feyerer, CFN: CHAOS CHAOS and more CHAOS!
As much as I want my picks to be right, I can see a situation where zero undefeated teams make the CFB Playoff and a two-loss team gets in. And the chaos in determining the playoff teams could be a direct result of the chaos created by the numerous stellar defensive lines around the country.
The offensive explosion over the last ten years in college football has led to teams stacking their defensive lines with waves of top-notch pass rushers. It wouldn’t surprise me if the First Team All-American defensive line was comprised solely of players from the ACC Atlantic. All of this development along the defensive line makes quarterback an even tougher position to play for a college athlete thus leading to prognostications for the year becoming an even bigger crapshoot than they already were.
@Pete Fiutak, CFN: Fired SEC coaches.
It’s not fair in a conference with Alabama crushing and killing, but it’ll be another okay-not-amazing year for Texas A&M, Arkansas and Tennessee. Out of Kevin Sumlin, Bret Bielema, and Butch Jones, expect at least two of them to be fired, opening up massive job opportunities. Kentucky could be available if it doesn’t come up with a winning season, Gus Malzahn will be launched if Auburn doesn’t win at least eight games – which it will, though – and Ole Miss might try to expand the search for a bigger-name option than Matt Luke.
@Phil Harrison, CFN: For the first time, a conference will get two teams into the College Football Playoff.
We saw the committee take a non-conference champ for the first time last year, and it could be the next domino to fall. Ohio State will win the Big Ten by knocking off an undefeated Wisconsin. Florida State will lose to Alabama and drop another in ACC play, while no teams will emerge from the Big 12 or SEC- besides Alabama – with fewer than two losses. Bada bing, bada boom, a one-loss Wisconsin joins Ohio State in the CFP.
Even the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide will drop a game. This will lead to a bit of chaos in determining what four teams earn a spot in the playoffs. Schedules will be dissected to the nth degree to try to figure out who should claim one of the four spots, and this will put to the test of the best teams vs. the most deserving teams in regards to getting a playoff invite.
With no undefeated teams, there will be even louder shouts to expand the playoff to at least include every power conference champion. Right on cue, and in typical Bill Hancock fashion, he will say this debate and intrigue over what teams get in is what makes the college football regular season the best and something that does not need to be watered down with an expanded playoff.
@Russ Mitchell, CFN: Fiu stole mine; there’s going to be a bloodletting in the SEC after this season – perhaps even before December.
Too much money is being spent, and with those millions come a million expectations. Butch Jones has written big checks in Knoxville, and a fifth year of average won’t cut it. Lately, Kevin Sumlin is making ~$1M a conf win. Literally. A sub .500 conference record in Red Stick, and the Tigers might replace an AD … which often results in a new head coach.
Ole Miss is likely to make a change. If the Hogs are wise, they’lll stick with Bret Bielema. Not because he’ll win … given his winning percentage against the elite teams in the B1G was near zero, and it’s continued in the the SEC West. Rather, the SEC needs him, given the HBC and the Mad Hatter are gone, and Media Days without him would be dark.
Could CFB see two Stoops gone in a single year? It would be a bad decision for Lexington, but it’s already being floated … and often that’s to prepare fans ahead of time.
@Joe Vitale, UGAFootballLive: Butch Jones. If the Tennessee head coach can’t get the Volunteers to Atlanta this season, is he out as the top Vol? Maybe, but can Tennessee really afford to start over again?