NCAA Football News

Each Top 25 College Football Team's Strongest and Weakest Position Group

When compared with the FBS (or even power-conference) median, not every team has a strength, and not every team has a weakness. There are teams in college football that do everything or nothing well.

But relative to itself, almost every team does some things better than it does others. There is a best way to attack every opponent, even if that best way isn't necessarily a good one. It's just less of a bad one than the alternatives.

Even if it's impossible to know for sure, it is entirely possible to project which unit will be the strongest and weakest for each college football team next season. Based on how they performed in 2013, what they return and who has looked good during the offseason, we can take a stab at where their best and worst position groups might lie.

To celebrate being within 100 days of the start of the season, let's take part in this exercise with 25 of the best teams in the country, per the projected preseason AP poll by Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee.

If you disagree, feel free to chime in below by calling me an idiot and telling me that I know nothing. 

 

Note: Unless otherwise cited, all recruiting data is courtesy of the 247Sports Composite, all yardage figures are courtesy of cfbstats.com and all adjusted-line data is courtesy of Football Study Hall.

Begin Slideshow

UCLA Football: Summer Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

Spring practice is past, and preseason camp will not open for more than two months. That means recruiting season is about to heat up, and UCLA head coach Jim Mora is among those who are jockeying to be in the national mix. 

The 2015 class is Mora's fourth at UCLA, making him a grizzled veteran in this process. His Bruins are off to a solid start with six verbal commitments, which ranks them second among Pac-12 programs, per 247Sports.com

As summer camps and seven-on-seven tournaments commence, Mora and his staff must still put in plenty of work on the recruiting trail—especially because the one team that is currently ranked ahead of UCLA is crosstown rival USC. 

Begin Slideshow

Las Vegas' Early Views on the 2014 SEC Football Season

We are fewer than 100 days away from kickoff, and you can already get in on the college football action in the city that never sleeps. 

Casinos in Las Vegas and online sportsbooks have already begun putting out prop bets for the college football season. Will Alabama make the four-team playoff? You can put your money where your mouth is over at Bovada. Want to pick Florida State to repeat and Jameis Winston to win his second straight Heisman Trophy? Several books both onshore and off will gladly take your money.

But what are some of the best values out there in the SEC?

Auburn, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia and LSU will all be in the preseason consideration to take home the inaugural College Football Playoff championship, with several stars in the discussion to take Winston's Heisman. 

What's the perception of the SEC in Las Vegas? 

 

Find Great Value in Georgia

The Georgia Bulldogs are coming off a disappointing 8-5 season that was littered with injuries, but will still find themselves in the national title discussion thanks to running back Todd Gurley, a loaded wide receiving corps and eight returning starters on a defense that got a boost with the departure of Todd Grantham as defensive coordinator. 

That move was addition by subtraction in and of itself, and all head coach Mark Richt did was replace Grantham with Jeremy Pruitt—fresh off a national title with Florida State.

"I think, if you can get Georgia at 30-to-1, that's ridiculous," said Todd Fuhrman, market analyst at DonBest.com and analyst on Fox Sports 1. "Do I love the job Mark Richt has done there? Absolutely not. But if quarterback Hutson Mason can turn the corner and live up to some exceptions, they'll be a good play."

Not only is Georgia set up well from a personnel standpoint, but it has Clemson with time to prepare to open the season, two weeks to prepare for a road trip to South Carolina, a bye week before Florida and several cupcakes in the weeks preceding big matchups.

"Sept. 13 at South Carolina ... if they can navigate through that spot and come out of those first two games at 2-0—Clemson I don't think will push them much—you're looking at a team that could be 5-0 heading to Missouri," said Fuhrman, whose SEC win totals should come out in late May. "This is a really manageable schedule, so much so that they could be 9-0 and heading into a showdown Nov. 15 when Auburn comes calling with revenge in mind."

 

Heisman Dark-Horse Quarterbacks

The Heisman Trophy is a quarterback-driven award these days, with 12 of the last 14 winners taking snaps. That doesn't bode well for players like Gurley, South Carolina running back Mike Davis and Alabama's T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry, all of whom find themselves near the top of Heisman odds boards, but still fighting an uphill battle.

But what about the dark horses? 

Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott and Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace will get considerable Heisman buzz, but the smart play may be the field if you're banking on an SEC quarterback winning the Heisman. 

"Mason at Georgia makes a ton of sense if he's going to be throwing the ball around a little bit," Fuhrman said. "I'm not as high on Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk, but if they put together another season he may create a little bit of buzz given what he's capable of doing there. You look through the conference, it's tough to find the right quarterback unless you find the right scheme because of what we've seen from the SEC, being a run-first league, to an extent."

One of those schemes that could produce some Heisman value for its quarterback is at Texas A&M, where third-year head coach Kevin Sumlin will choose between sophomore dual-threat Kenny Hill and true freshman Kyle Allen this summer. But quarterbacks with video-game numbers need to win big, which may be hard for the Aggies this season.

"It's interesting with what we've seen out of Sumlin and how many points his offense will score no matter who's under center," Fuhrman said. "I just think that this team, with the way it's built, is going to be hard-pressed to be in the thick of things. That puts either of the quarterbacks behind the eightball. A&M would have to be 10-2 to get into a serious discussion about the Heisman, and I think, at best, the Aggies are a three-loss team when you have Alabama, Auburn and South Carolina on the road."

 

Sittin' on Top of the World

Auburn fell to Florida State 34-31 in the 2014 BCS National Championship Game, preventing the SEC from extending its streak of national titles to eight in a row.

Consider that a blip on the radar, not the start of a trend.

"I'd say that saying the league is going downhill is taking it a step too far," Fuhrman explained. "When you look at the way this league has recruited over the last few years. If anything, it's dominance and stranglehold over the college football landscape is going to get more pronounced."

Part of the reason is the new postseason format. That extra semifinal game will make it easier for the cream to rise to the top and more difficult for teams that skate by without playing anybody to win college football's biggest prize.

"By adding extra games to these schedules, teams that are deeper and more physical have a big advantage because you're less likely to have a so-called Cinderella team get through to the playoff or a national title game."

 

Value After Punishment

Since the start of the 2011 season, SEC teams are 7-11 the week after playing Alabama, with only three of those seven wins coming against SEC competition.

Playing physical teams has a tendency to take a toll on teams, and that's something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.

"It's definitely a handicapping angle that I think you're going to see veterans use more, but it doesn't factor into the lines," Fuhrman said. "If oddsmakers try and get too cute with that kind of thing, it puts them in a real tough spot."

But it isn't just the week after that gets teams. One punch in the mouth could have a lasting impact on a team's season.

"The Alabama example is tremendous," Fuhrman said. "But then we can go back and look at a team like Oregon that never really recovered physically from playing LSU in its 2011 opener. It will be interesting to see how a team like Wisconsin will respond, after playing an LSU team that's going to hit them in the mouth early and often."

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand and all stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com. Todd Fuhrman, market analyst for DonBest.com, will release his SEC win/loss totals in late May. 


Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

UCLA Quarterback Brett Hundley Stars as Campus Enforcer in Hilarious Video

You can either play by the rules or take a Brett Hundley laser to the orbital socket.

These are your only choices in Hundley's new video where the UCLA quarterback and teammate Luke Gane combine to enforce every last rule on UCLA's campus.

Nina Mandell of For The Win spotted the video, which was put together by campus performing production Spring Sing. In short, it is amazing.

Hundley stalks campus looking for perpetrators and adjusting attitudes with well-placed, pigskin fastballs to the face. There are lessons to be taught, and he's here to make sure these kids learn today. The show is stolen, however, by Gane—Hundley's reliable hype man.

Indeed, behind every strong superhero, there's a dude with a ragged, piercing voice waiting to jump out and talk trash to the recent recipients of justice.

Here are some of my favorite quotes by Gane:

"Keep it in your pants, Mark!"

"We tryin' to be breathe well out here!"

"You got to feed yo tummy before you feed yo mind, GUH!"

Unfortunately, Hundley is cut down in his prime, the victim of his own unyielding sense of justice. He takes two pieces of fruit from the mess hall and is forced to turn in his ball to the police station. This would be less funny, you know, if University of Oklahoma players hadn't been fined for the crime of "pasta in excess" this spring.

Altogether, this is a funny, well-made video. The NCAA might've instituted a new "unlimited food" ruling, but the premise of campus over-regulation still stands.

As for Hundley, he seems to be enjoying his decision to stay in school for another year.

Many predict the 20-year-old could be among the top prospects in the 2015 draft should he put together a strong junior campaign. I predict he’ll go on to the NFL while Gane will be receiving offers for the WWE. 

You can never have too many good hype men.

 

You gon' learn today, UCLA.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Big Ten Recruiting: Most Exciting 2015 Prospects to Watch at Summer Camps

Summer camps aren't just for on-campus visits anymore.

In fact, an increasing amount of players are taking their talents to a national level with camps like Nike's The Opening and the newer Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge becoming more popular. 

They are great showcases for individual players, and a chance to compete against the best of the best nationally.

A great showing can really turn a recruitment around, and let's not forget it's also all about players forging relationships as well. 

Just because the Big Ten hasn't hit it out of the park in recruiting over the last few years doesn't mean these events are any less important. In fact, one look at who is going to what camp makes this summer one of the most important in recent Big Ten history.

So, who should we keep an eye out for as we head towards big-time camps in just a few short weeks? Let's explore some of the biggest names to watch for with realistic Big Ten offers. 

Begin Slideshow

USC Football: Steve Sarkisian's 4 Biggest Challenges for Trojans in 2014

First-year USC head coach Steve Sarkisian faces one of the most significant disparities of any coach in the Pac-12, if not the nation, in 2014. His Trojans roster features some of the conference's premier playmakers across all phases.

But with a new system and facing the effects of NCAA sanctions, USC has a thin margin for error. Four areas in particular could separate the Trojans from conference-championship contention in the coming season, or finishing as an also-ran.   

 

Depth and Adjusting to No-Huddle Pace

Sarkisian brings a hurry-up offensive philosophy that requires various adjustments. Quarterback Cody Kessler began acclimating to play-calling at the line in the spring.

"I want to know it so well I can help others out,” Kessler told Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News. “When we get in a game (situation), I can give a signal and tell [other players] what they need to do."

Foremost among Sarkisian's needs is depth, a concern across all positions. The coming season is USC's last immediately following an NCAA-sanctioned recruiting year. Thus, the 2014 Trojans face the full brunt of the scholarship reductions' impact.

Depth issues challenged USC the previous few seasons as well, but the Trojans' more traditional style of play counteracted the roster's lack of bodies somewhat. USC averaged the nation's No. 10 most disparate time of possession at 33:04 per game. Conversely, Sarkisian's Washington team averaged more than four minutes of possession fewer at 28:41 per game. 

Former interim head coach Ed Orgeron famously played just 13 Trojans on the defensive side in USC's 20-17 upset of Stanford in November. Do not expect a repeat. 

  

Offensive Line

Struggles on the offensive line contributed to USC's 3-2 start a season ago, as the run game was limited and Kessler was under regular duress. 

Losing Marcus Martin to the NFL draft forced some reshuffling, starting with Max Tuerk's move to center.  

As Sarkisian and offensive line coach Tim Drevno tinker with lineups, first-year players should see meaningful repetitions along the front five. Toa Lobendahn made the most of his early enrollment, possibly working into the starting rotation with his spring performance. 

Damien Mama was one of the most highly touted prospects in Sarkisian's 2014 signing class. The 6'4", 370-pound 4-star prospect begins practicing with the Trojans in August, and will leave the program for a two-year Mormon mission after the 2014-15 school year. 

Mama's presence for the 2014 season may be crucial as Sarkisian tries to find the right combination to implement his offense. 

 

Secondary 

Some of the most talented players on USC's roster are defensive backs. Safety Su'a Cravens lived up to his 5-star recruit billing in his true freshman campaign. Cornerback Josh Shaw's decision to pass on the NFL draft gave new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox a vital piece in building the team's pass defense. 

There are gaps to plug, however, starting with Dion Bailey's hybrid safety position. Bailey was a versatile cog in the Trojans defense a season ago. Leon McQuay III might be the player left to replicate Bailey's production. 

That's a tall order. Bailey recorded 61 tackles, broke up six passes and snatched a team-high five interceptions. 

Sarkisian and his staff are also left to decide how best to use 5-star freshmen prospects Adoree' Jackson and John "JuJu" Smith. The electrifying tandem can play either defensive back or wide receiver, and the Trojans may have needs at both positions.  

 

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Marqise Lee etched his place in USC lore as one of the most exciting playmakers the program had ever seen, accumulating 3,655 receiving yards and 29 touchdowns in three seasons. A slow start and injuries stifled his production in 2013, but returning Nelson Agholor capably filled in as the team's No. 1 target. 

Agholor is back, but Lee's departure leaves a significant void that must be filled to keep defenses from doubling down on their coverage of Agholor. 

The No. 2 target has been a linchpin of the USC offense in recent years. Much like Agholor fed off Lee (and vice versa), Lee fed off Robert Woods. Establishing a similar dynamic with Agholor as a new reliable target is a must. 

Darreus Rogers is the top returning receiver aside from Agholor, having made 22 grabs in 2013. Rogers did not score a touchdown, however. If he's to be the necessary sidekick to the explosive sidekick, Rogers must find his stride.  

"It's not physical for Darreus, it's the mental aspect of having to really lock in on the details every single snap," Sarkisian said via USCTrojans.com. "And he'll get it, he's a competitive guy, it's just a matter of getting it done."

Through various coaching regimes, tight end has long been of importance to the USC passing attack. That won't change with Sarkisian at the helm. His Washington teams relied heavily on Austin Seferian-Jenkins, one of the most productive receiving tight ends in college football. 

Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick's performance in spring workouts may have found the junior a permanent spot in the rotation, though Randall Telfer returns from injury. The concern for Sarkisian may not be if he has a tight end capable of filling that pass-catching role, but rather who will emerge as the primary target.  

 

Statistics compiled via CFBStats.com. Recruiting rankings via 247Sports.com

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

4-Star ATH Jaason Lewis Reportedly Decommits from UCLA

Jaason Lewis isn't heading to Hollywood after all.

The scintillating 4-star Virginia Beach athlete backed off his UCLA commitment Monday evening, according to Rivals.com reporter Adam Friedman:

Lewis leaves the Bruins with six pledges in the 2015 recruiting class. His departure drops UCLA from No. 19 to No. 24 in 247Sports' team rankings, creating an increased need for skill players on both sides of the ball.

The 6'3", 233-pound Ocean Lakes High School standout is a do-it-all playmaker who could take on a variety of roles at the next level. His physical stature and speed (clocked at 4.50 in the 40-yard dash, per 247Sports) provides Lewis with matchup advantages at wide receiver, running back and defensive back.

He excelled in the secondary as a junior, securing four interceptions and seven tackles for loss. Lewis projects favorable at safety if his ultimate destination is defense.

College coaches have plenty to consider when taking him into account on offense. Lewis is a multidimensional playmaker who gives opponents fits regardless of how the ball gets into his hands.

He caught 33 passes for 498 yards and six touchdowns in 2013. Lewis gained another 515 yards and eight scores on the ground.

UCLA head coach Jim Mora Jr. turned heads when he reached across the country to land a talent like Lewis. The potential of pairing him with 5-star quarterback Josh Rosen and 4-star tight end Aliz'e Jones provided plenty of promise for the team's future offensive attack.

"I'm looking forward to it," Lewis told HamptonRoads.com reporter Larry Rubama following his February commitment. "I think I can bring a lot of different things. Coach Mora said I'm more of a big back, but I can also break the long runs."

Instead, the Bruins are left looking for other options. Mora may not have to search far.

In-state targets Stanley Norman (Gardena) and Equanimeous St. Brown (Anaheim) present possibilities at receiver, while Florida running back T.J. Simmons views UCLA as a favorite. California product Marvell Tell and New Orleans recruit Hunter Dale are noteworthy safety prospects on UCLA's radar.

Lewis, rated No. 12 nationally among athletes in 247Sports' composite rankings, reopens his recruitment with plenty of opportunities.

Georgia, Louisville and LSU offered earlier this month, per 247Sports writer Brandi Mills, who also  reported his plans to spend official visits at Miami and Arizona State.

Lewis is currently projected to sign with Tennessee by 53 percent of expert predictions in 247Sports' Crystal Ball.

Just three months after UCLA appeared to have claimed this prized recruit, the nationwide race is back at full speed.

 

Information courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

5-Star LB John Houston: USC and UCLA Fighting for the Next Anthony Barr

According to 247Sports, 2015 5-star linebacker John Houston is one of the top prospects in his class and has still not decided where he will be playing his college ball.

The 6'3", 211-pound athlete offers a unique combination of size and speed and has most of the top programs in the country vying for his commitment.

Bleacher Report went one-on-one with Houston, who discussed some of his potential suitors, how he believes he will be used at the next level and why he loves Ray Lewis' game.

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

4-Star WR Cordell Broadus Odds: Where Will Snoop Dogg's Son Play Football?

Cordell Broadus is best known as Snoop Dogg's son, but he is making a name for himself on the football field as well. According to the 247Sports composite rankings, Broadus is the No. 11 wide receiver in the 2015 class, and is being recruited by most of the top schools in the country. 

Which ACC school has the best chance to land Broadus? Which college in California is currently atop his list?

Watch Adam Kramer break down the odds of Cordell Broadus' potential schools landing their recruit. 

 

Highlights courtesy XOS Digital. Recruit rankings from 247Sports

 

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

How Concerned Should Oregon Be About QB Departures Behind Marcus Mariota?

Ideally, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota will stay healthy the whole season. He may even win the Heisman and lead the Ducks to a national championship.

Of course, things rarely go exactly as they should. That's why winning a national championship is so hard. Teams can have great rosters led by whiz coaches, but there are a lot of things that need to go right as well. 

One of those underappreciated factors is depth. That can be hard to notice from the bleachers unless someone important gets hurt. At no other position is it more noticeable than quarterback—although placekicker would be another one—if for no other reason than it's a one-man show. 

Which is why the pair of reported transfers behind Mariota are interesting. Last week, redshirt sophomore Jake Rodrigues told Brianna Amaranthus of Comcast Sports Network Northwest that he was seeking a transfer. Less than a week later, Justin Hopkins of 247Sports (subscription required) reported that Damion Hobbs would be leaving the program as well. 

Of the two, Rodrigues would be the bigger loss. Last season, he completed three of six passes for 67 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Another backup, Jeff Lockie, remains on roster. He attempted 13 passes for 57 yards and a pick. 

Lockie would appear to be the natural No. 2 guy, though the Ducks did sign 4-star dual-threat Morgan Mahalak in February. 

The point, though, is that it probably doesn't matter who backs up Mariota, who has attempted nearly 93 percent of the team's passes the past two seasons. The redshirt junior is the cornerstone of the offense. Though Oregon has done as good a job as any program in recent history of successfully implementing the "next man up" philosophy, it's hard to imagine replacing an injured Mariota without at least some drop-off. 

It may be a stretch to say the key to winning a national championship is a healthy quarterback, but it is nevertheless important. The last team to win a championship without its starting quarterback playing every regular-season game was LSU in 2007. That year, Matt Flynn sat out an early-season game against Middle Tennessee State because of an ankle injury.

But it's not like Flynn needed to start that game, either. 

The champions of the BCS era have a common trait: they had a healthy quarterback the entire season—or, at least, relatively healthy. AJ McCarron, for example, said he wasn't healthy at Alabama, but he didn't really miss any time because of it. 

There are plenty of other factors that contribute to a championship run, but that's a tough trend to ignore. 

In other words, Oregon's national championship hopes theoretically rest, at least in part, on whether Mariota can stay healthy and play in every game this year. Mariota was hampered by a knee injury late last season and the difference was noticeable. 

If Mariota can't play the entire season, history strongly suggests that hinders championship hopes. Who backs up Mariota, then, seems less important. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All stats courtesy of ESPN.com and Sports-Reference.com. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Top College Football Questions for 2014

With just under 100 days until the start of the college football season, let's take a look at some of the biggest questions surrounding CFB this year. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Georgia Football: Bulldogs Show Support for Former Dawg on 'The Bachelorette'

Full disclosure: Even if a former Georgia football player wasn't on this season of The Bachelorette on ABC, I'd be watching.  While I may dominate the remote during football season, my wife gets a more equal share during the offseason.  That means a beyond healthy dose of country music award shows, House Hunters and, of course, The Bachelor franchise.  That being said, I'm not going to pretend I hate it.

 

What is The Bachelorette?

If you've somehow been fortunate enough to avoid this disaster of unintentional comedy up to this point, then consider yourself one of the lucky few.  But if you are new to the show and are somehow now entrapped, you need to understand the following premise.

The Bachelorette centers on one bachelorette and her search for love in all the right places—assuming the right places are exotic California mansions, remote island destinations and private concerts.  These locales perfectly mirror everyday life so as to make falling in love through a process of elimination over the course of just a few short weeks all the more realistic.

On Monday night's premiere, Andi, an assistant district attorney from Atlanta and this year's bachelorette,  played host to 25 potential suitors.  Every week, a few more would-be husbands disappear as she continues to date some individually and go on awkward, large group dates.  Meanwhile, America watches the men become increasingly doting of her and petty toward each other.

It's great television, I promise.

 

So what does this have to do with Georgia football?

Bulldog nation rallied around Monday night's episode in a way I haven't seen since football season ended—seriously.  The cause for this uniform flocking to Andi's quest for love: Josh Murray.

To the casual observer, Josh is Aaron Murray's older brother.  But there's much more to this guy than being kin to the SEC's all-time leading passer.

Josh himself is an accomplished athlete.  In 2002, the Milwaukee Brewers drafted Prince Fielder with their first overall selection in the MLB draft.  Fielder, of course, has hit nearly 300 home runs and posted a career .285 batting average in the big leagues.  The Brewers' second pick that year was Josh Murray, a utility infielder out of Jesuit High School in Tampa, Florida.

Murray bounced around the minor leagues for several seasons before ultimately giving up on his baseball dream.  But his time in professional baseball was hardly a net loss.  According to Mike Readling of the St. Petersburg Times, Murray's baseball contract yielded a signing bonus of $825,000 and $100,000 for future collegiate education at the college of Josh's choosing.

When his little brother decided to attend the University of Georgia, Josh followed suit.  He didn't just enroll in classes, though, he joined the football team as a walk-on safety.  In his lone season as a Bulldog (in 2010), Josh appeared in two games and was named to the Athletic Director's Honor Roll.

So sure, Josh was worth rooting for as Aaron's big brother.  But he's also his own man, and perhaps more importantly in this case, he's his own Bulldog.

 

Did Georgia fans really watch this show just to see Josh Murray?

That can't be entirely confirmed, but based on the abnormally high rate of Georgia players watching the show, I think that's a safe assumption. 

Aaron Murray eagerly awaited the show.

Running back Keith Marshall joined the action, though he seemed reluctant.

Tight end Jay Rome set the bar high for Josh. 

And former Bulldog tight end Arthur Lynch seemed to approve.

Former Dawg and current graduate assistant Christian Robinson seemed to think Josh's performance reflects well on the Bulldogs' recruiting efforts.

And Georgia's mythical special teams coach somehow took credit for Josh's survival. 

Even tight ends coach John Lilly and the official Twitter of the University of Georgia joined the fun.

 

So how did Murray do?

He got a rose, which is Bachelorette speak for "he survived."

He's moving on to the next round, unlike six less fortunate candidates, but more importantly, he did his school and his conference proud.  Showcasing the kind of speed that was patented by the SEC, Murray was the first gentleman to steal Andi away for some alone time.

He engaged her in conversation, offered up his jacket for warmth and avoided extracurricular drama.  Josh Murray is in it to win it. 

His time as a Bulldog is obviously paying off.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Future SEC Schedule Further Proof 9-Game League Format Would've Been Better

Who knew that when Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers recorded "The Waiting" in 1981 that he was referring to SEC football?

The waiting will be the hardest part for many SEC programs. The conference released its future cross-divisional opponent rotation between now and 2025, and many SEC programs—some of which used to be traditional rivalries—will be waiting a long time to see each other.

Under the long-term eight-game "6-1-1" schedule format, SEC programs will play each of their six division mates, one permanent cross-division rivalry game and one rotating cross-division opponent. That means it will take 12 years to get through the home and away rotation on the other side of the division.

Essentially, what the eight-game schedule in the 6-1-1 format has done is create two different conferences—the SEC East and the SEC West.

Does Georgia really recognize Texas A&M as a member of the SEC?

Unless they meet in the SEC Championship Game before then, the Bulldogs and Aggies won't play as members of the SEC until 2019—the Aggies' eighth season in the SEC. The Bulldogs won't get the chance to visit Kyle Field in College Station until 2024, more than a decade after the Aggies joined the SEC.

That's not how this is supposed to be.

Does anybody remember the rivalry Auburn and Florida had? The two SEC powers met every year from 1945-2002, but barring an SEC Championship Game meeting, the two won't play until 2019 in Gainesville and then again in 2024 in Auburn. 

According to James Crepea of the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser, that's the longest drought since prohibition.

Auburn won't play Florida until 2019 - gap of eight years is longest in series since 1917-1927 http://t.co/2dAUoZi88Y

— James Crepea (@JamesCrepea) May 19, 2014

A nine-game conference schedule in the "6-1-2" format would have fixed this. Two rotating games would have cut the time it takes to get through the entire SEC in half, kept old rivalries somewhat intact and provided more of a conference feel.

As it stands now, the SEC is more like Major League Baseball was when interleague play was first introduced in 1997. But unlike Major League Baseball, the SEC is going backward.

When the conference expanded in 2012, the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri added one divisional game to the schedule while taking away one of the rotating crossovers. Prior to expansion, those rotating crossover games came as home-and-home series in consecutive years, so it still took time to get through the conference.

But not this long.

The nine-game conference schedule championed by Alabama head coach Nick Saban would have done wondrous things for the nation's toughest football conference.

It would have kept up with the Joneses and not given conferences around the country a built-in PR weapon in the race to make the College Football Playoff, allowed fans and players to get a more accurate sense of all of the programs in the SEC and given television networks—including the new SEC Network—more compelling inventory.

Instead, we are left with two conferences—the SEC East and the SEC West—with some interleague play mixed in.

 

* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. 

 


Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

UCLA Football Recruiting: 4 Former Blue Chippers Who Will Finally Shine in 2014

There are four former blue-chip prospects with the potential to impact the UCLA football team in 2014. 

Three of the four prospects in this slideshow are young players. While none should be considered "busts" in the slightest, there hasn't been an opportunity for them to play extended snaps. This premise should change in the upcoming season. 

The last member mentioned is a fifth-year senior. An extremely hyped prospect coming out of high school, the said player should be in line for a very good senior campaign. 

Here's a look at a talented quartet of former blue chippers ready to perform at a high level for the UCLA Bruins. 

 

Begin Slideshow

Pac-12 Football: Every Team's Dream 2015 Recruit

Without spring practice to get us through the offseason lulls in Pac-12 country, the recruiting world carries the burden as it launches into a major stretch before the regular-season excitement begins to ramp up.

Summer camps are taking place around the country, and elite high schoolers are turning heads despite not actually playing in real football games.

If you follow recruiting, odds are you know which kids your favorite team is targeting. You know who looks like a good fit, which 5-stars are a long shot but have you crossing your fingers anyway and, finally, who would be the dream recruit for the program you follow.

Some schools desperately need speed on offense, others yearn for beef in the middle and some just want those with limitless potential. What makes an ideal recruit? Is it a talented kid spurning a nearby school and choosing your team? Is it simply the best recruit at the biggest position of need?

The only requirement here is that there must be at least mild interest on both sides, no matter how long the odds may be otherwise. For example, Jadeveon Clowney would have been Utah's (or any school's) dream recruit several years ago, but there was zero interest on his end.

Here is every Pac-12 team's dream 2015 recruit.

 

Note: You could list the same three or four players for most of the teams on this list. For the sake of mixing it up, we're listing a different player for every school despite the fact that two or three programs may have the same "dream" recruit. Remember, these are NOT predictions of where each recruit will go, but rather the dream scenario for each school.

Begin Slideshow

5 Burning Questions About 5-Star DT Trent Thompson's Recruitment

Trent Thompson is a 5-star defensive tackle who is simply a monster on the field. As a high-profile recruit, many questions are surrounding the Georgia native's recruitment.

At 6'4" and 292 pounds, Thompson's first-step quickness and ability to penetrate gaps are his top assets. However, he also has excellent strength, awareness and athleticism.

With so many questions surrounding Thompson's recruitment, it's time to take a look at the five that people most want to see answered.

Begin Slideshow

10 Recruits Who Could Join 4-Star CB Garrett Taylor at Michigan

Garrett Taylor is a 4-star cornerback who committed to Michigan in March. At 6'1" and 188 pounds, the Virginia native is an instinctive cover corner who uses his length and short-area quickness to make plays.

If things don't work out on the perimeter for Taylor in Ann Arbor, his vision will be able to help him make the transition to safety. Taylor's pledge to be a Wolverine will not go unnoticed, as he will likely attract other talented recruits to join Michigan's class.

A pair of elite defensive ends are on the radar, while a legacy recruit is also on Michigan's wish list. Another objective for Big Blue is to reel a former commitment back in.

Begin Slideshow

Biggest SEC vs. Big Ten Recruiting Battles in Class of 2015

The SEC and Big Ten are two of the best conferences in college football. Both leagues are packed with powerhouse schools who win a lot of games.

The SEC and Big Ten have several of the top recruiting programs in the nation, and they tend to bump heads somewhat frequently on the recruiting trail. As the 2015 recruiting cycle moves along, several recruiting battles are emerging between schools from both conferences.

A 5-star quarterback digs Tennessee and Ohio State, while the Buckeyes are trying to beat out Texas A&M for a stud receiver. Alabama is trying to take a 5-star linebacker from the clutches of Iowa.

 

All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports' Composite Rankings.Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.

Begin Slideshow

40-Foot Sinkhole Appears at Austin Peay's Football Stadium

Sinkholes are a phenomenon that are unfortunately popping up more and more around the United States, and today, Austin Peay State University felt the impact, as a 40-foot giant sinkhole appeared at the school's football stadium.

Austin Peay State University is located in Clarksville, Tennessee, an area slightly more susceptible to sinkholes than the rest of the country. No injuries were reported.

[Twitter, h/t CollegeSpun]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Top Questions for 2014: Who Will Surprise in Playoff? Winston Heisman Repeat?

We are just 100 days away from the start of the 2014 college football season, so let's celebrate by breaking down some of the biggest questions heading into the season. 

Which surprise teams will reach the first College Football Playoff? What should we expect from Jameis Winston and FSU in 2014?

Check out the video above for Michael Felder's answers to the biggest questions fans have about the upcoming CFB season. 

 

Highlights courtesy XOS Digital.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Pages