The College Football season is finally here! Week 0 commences this week and week 1 starts next week with possibly the game of the year in Notre Dame vs Ohio State! We now have college football every weekend until January!
Every week, I will be publishing 1-2 articles for AATSports recapping the previous week and looking ahead! So, if you love College Football, sit back, grab a drink, and hold on, because the 2022 College Football season is going to be one for the books!
The week 0 games are not as eventful as the week 1 games. I will be posting next week looking ahead to week 1. For this article we are going to look ahead to all of 2022! I have previously posted about my playoff, national champion, and Heisman predictions, as well as bold predictions for each of the Power 5 conferences. Check them each out below!
This article is going to focus on the grand scheme of college football in 2022! We just witnessed one of the greatest off-season's in college football history! Let's see how that will now dictate the 2022 season.
The Coaching Carousel and QB Transfer Portal is the Future of College Football
There are 30 FBS programs with new head coaches in 2022. 7 head coaches, 20 assistants, and 3 unemployed coaches all found new schools or new positions with their same school in 2022. College Football is going to look completely different, and it is because of some coaches in particular. Let's focus on 3 individuals; Lincoln Riley, Brian Kelly, and Mario Cristibol and how they all changed the landscape of college football.
Lincoln Riley left Oklahoma to accept the same position at USC. In doing so, Clay Helton left USC, Brent Venables left Clemson after a decade, Jeff Lebby left Ole Miss to be the OC at Oklahoma. Just one move saw 4 major universities lose either a head coach or a top coordinator. Now look at the QB carousel because of these moves. Caleb Williams followed Riley to USC and Spencer Rattler left OU to go to South Carolina. Oklahoma then added UCF transfer Dillion Gabriel to replace Williams in Norman. Keldon Selvis entered the transfer portal once Caleb Williams announced he was going to USC and Jason Brown left South Carolina as soon as Rattler committed. All of that was because Lincoln Riley left Oklahoma for USC.
Moments after Manny Diaz was fired at Miami, Oregon head coach Mario Crisitibol was announced as his replacement. Let's see how this changed the landscape of college football. Oregon zeroed in on Georgia DC Dan Lanning. Manny Diaz left Miami to go to Penn State to be the DC. Florida State was then looking for a new OC as Lanning took Kenny Dillingham with him to Oregon. When Mario Crisitbol was building his staff, he hired Broyles Award winner Josh Gattis from Michigan to join him, which now means Jim Harbaugh had to replace his OC from his Big Ten Championship Team. Oregon needed a QB, so they went out and got Auburn QB Bo Nix and then Auburn went and got LSU QB Max Brennan.
Finally, Brian Kelly to LSU. Coach O announced he was leaving at the end of the season even after winning a National Championship a few years back. This helped defensive guru Marcus Freeman get his opportunity to lead the Notre Dame team. Now how does Billy Napier and Florida fall into this mix? LSU's top choice was Michigan State's Mel Tucker, but when that fell through, they had to shift gears. There were rumors of Lincoln Riley to LSU, but Billy Napier to LSU made too much sense. Napier was formerly the head coach at Louisiana and was having incredible success. Florida knew they needed a change in leadership and knew LSU was going to make a push for Napier, so after a 4-hour interview Napier was the new head coach for Florida, and then proceeded to steal LSU's top transfer targets in doing so. Billy Napier is an incredible recruiter and managed one of the best transfer classes in all of FBS.
3 individual men changed the full landscape of college football. Will we see a resurgence from USC and LSU? Will Notre Dame finally get passed the semi-finals? In an era of the transfer portal, this carousel shows you how much pull a coach can have. 10 years ago, we would never see all these top players leave so willingly like this. The domino effect this has, keeps fans on their seats 24/7. Looking ahead to 2022, if James Franklin leaves Penn State, we could see another domino effect just like these years. Maybe Luke Fickell finally leaves Cincy for a major program. After last year, I expect other big-time schools see how much they can get if they make a splash and bring in a big-name coach.
This past coaching carousel is only the start! I fully believe this is the future of coaching hires. We are not going to see college coaches making the jump to the NFL. The lucrative deals these schools can offer and what they can get from boosters is unmatchable. We have rarely seen college coaches succeed in the NFL in the last decade, seeing what happened this past year, college coaches are staying in college.
2022 Will be Known as the Year of the Quarterback
This year, all eyes should be on the QB position. I can name 10 QB's who could be potential Heisman Trophy winners in 2022. Let's start naming some to keep an eye on. Ohio State's CJ Stroud could have won the Heisman last year, but a shoulder injury mid-season saw his production go down. He still finished 3rd in TD's, 5th in yards, and 1st in total QBR. If healthy, CJ Stroud could be the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
NC State's Devin Leary threw 35 TD's and 5 interceptions in 2021. Now he is back with a loaded Wolfpack team. He has one of the best arms in the nation, but the NC State offense will rarely utilize it. NC State is my sleeper to make the College Football Playoff, and Leary's season will dictate that!
Caleb Williams showed us a lot of promise in 2021. He has a new home in 2021, but the same coach and system in Lincoln Riley. As a true freshman he had 1,912 yards and 21 TD's, and he did this without starting the first few games of the season. Williams will also get to throw to Bilentkoff Award winner Jordan Addison in 2022, as he transferred in from Pitt. There is a lot of pressure for Williams to succeed. However, he has the tools to do so. I do not think he is the top QB in 2022, but for only a sophomore, he is the future of college football.
Bo Nix had more pressure on him than any other QB I have ever seen. The former 5-star recruit was meant to be the future of Auburn and instead could not live up to his hype. He still put up really good numbers while playing in the SEC. Now he goes to Oregon for his final year of eligibility. I expect him to take big strides with Oregon. A weaker conference and a fresh start are what he needs. He is reunited with Kenny Dillingham, who was the OC for Auburn in Nix's freshman season. That year was arguably Nix's best season, so I am hoping they pick up right where they left off. Keep an eye on Nix as a late riser in draft boards.
Do we even need to mention Bryce Young? The reigning Heisman Trophy winner is not focused on a second Heisman. He wants to win a National Championship. As always Alabama has the weapons and team around him to succeed. I do expect Alabama to focus more on the running game in 2022, but Young is still going to ball out like he always does. He is going to need an even better season than last year to repeat as the Heisman Trophy winner. I do not think he can do that, but he is still going to be a top 5 QB this year.
I can keep going on QB's that are poised for big years in 2022. There are some smaller names, who are looking at fresh starts this year. All of them are looking to make a name for themselves. Dillion Gabriel at Oklahoma, Kedon Slovis at Pitt, Grant Wells at Virginia Tech, Henry Colombi at Marshall, and Quinn Ewers at Texas. I am sure I am forgetting somebody, but the point it, 2022 is the year of the QB. The coaching carousel was crazy in 2022 and that led to a crazy QB carousel. There is a reason that these coaches got on the phone with QB's before they finished hiring their staff.
Does 2022 Prove that the Playoff Needs to be Expanded?
Do not be fooled, you will see the typical teams all competing for playoff spots in 2022. Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Oregon to name a few will be competing for another spot in the College Football Playoffs. Other regulars will be making appearances in the conversation, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, and Georgia. However, this is the year we will see some new names get serious consideration. Teams like Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, and NC State will be making a push for their first playoff appearance.
This is a debate we have every December. No matter what, someone is going to be upset after they are left out. Does not matter how many teams make the playoffs, someone will always be left out. However, after this year there will be serious consideration to expanded in some way. The SEC alone should have their own playoff this year. As I was creating my playoff prediction article, it took me so long because there are so many teams that can make the playoffs.
Teams with serious playoff potential:
A lot of these teams are playing each other in 2022. These schools understand that the playoff committee focuses on big games. Even if you lose, they value that loss more than a victory over a bad team. With a bunch of top tier teams playing each other this season, many teams will have the experience. Obviously, we will still have 2-3 teams as clear top dogs, but what about another 5-6 teams. Why not give them a shot in the playoffs? After 2022 when there are 10 teams with legit playoff potential and the NCAA sees how profitable the New Year's 6 games can be when there is nothing on the line, they will make a major decision.
There is no better time than College Football. Another season brings just as much excitement as the previous season! Make sure you tune into AATSports all season long for all your College Football news and alerts!