And so, it ends. With a bang more than whimper even.
In a sequel that did indeed top the original, Clemson claims it’s first national championship in 35 years and it was well earned. Whether it’s a temporary changing of the guard or the start of an unpredictable tumultuous era at the top of the college football hierarchy is still a wide open question.
Looking back at my final Top 25 from last year I’m really struck by how similar a lot of things actually are one year later, despite the change in who wears the crown. A year ago I wrote a lot about how perceptions – good and bad – were my lingering takeaway from the season that was.
Today I’m noticing that some of the same things carry over year later even with the change at the very top.
I still have a notion that, after the bowls are factored in, the Big10 has been overrated … yet I’m probably going to rank quite a few of their teams highly when all is said and done. I still think the jury is out on the Kirby Smart hire at Evil, Inc. I still think terminal decline continues on North Avenue, with this season’s record being just a slight aberration.
On the other hand, the Heisman race looks wide open for next season. And the perception of Rocky Top being on the rise has taken a big step in the other direction.
I do have a few new thoughts I guess. Not “new” really, but ones that are even stronger in my perception of things.
I feel like the gap between the top 1 or 2 teams versus the rest of the field is still enormous. I feel like the gap between the top 6/8/10 teams and the rest of the field is pretty sizable too. I feel like parity continues to shrink the list of “great” teams each year and brings everyone closer to mediocrity, a bland nether region of “eh, they’re okay but nothing special” . And I feel like you could throw about 20-25 teams into a hat and pick randomly and not be far off from the final ten spots of a top 25.
And yet, tradition demands certain efforts be made. So, without the aid of a hat, here is my season-ending Top 25
JonsThreeCents College Football Top 25
(Final rank & pre-bowl rank before the team name, my pre-season rank follows their name)
1. (3) Clemson (2)
2. (1) Alabama (1)
3. (9) USC (15)
4. (4) Washington (16)
5. (7) Oklahoma (3)
6. (10) Florida State (6)
7. (5) Penn State (Un)
8. (2) Ohio State (5)
9. (8) Wisconsin (25)
10. (6) Michigan (7)
11. (13) Oklahoma State (20)
12. (15) Stanford (4)
13. (17) LSU (8)
14. (19) Virginia Tech (Un)
15. (21) Florida (Un)
16. (11) Colorado (Un)
17. (12) Western Michigan (Un)
18. (14) West Virginia (Un)
19. (24) South Florida (Un)
20. (Un) Miami (Un)
21. (Un) Utah (23)
22. (18) Louisville (21)
23. (Un) Tennessee (13)
24. (Un) Kansas State (Un)
25. (16) Auburn (Un)
Dropped out: Temple (20), Iowa (22), Nebraska (23), Pittsburgh (25)
Teams ranked in pre-season that finished 2016 unranked:
Ole Miss (9), Michigan State (10), Notre Dame (11), TCU (12), Houston (14), Georgia (17), North Carolina (18), Iowa (19), UCLA (22), Arkansas (24)