The BCS system is finished and we're entering a 4-team playoff next year. I know I'm excited but it's still a long ways away. In thinking about some very early contenders for those 4 spots I realized how much 'name' talent college football is losing at quarterback. Not only name talent (ahem, Logan Thomas) but a lot of quarterbacks who had long and/or prosperous careers in college are now moving on with life.
Let's take a look at the major conferences and where things stand heading into 2014.
FSU- Jameis Winston
Syracuse- Terrel Hunt
NC State- Pete Thomas
Duke- Anthony Boone
Virginia- David Watford
Clemson- Tajh Boyd
Boston College- Chase Rettig
Maryland- C.J. Brown
Wake Forest- Tanner Price
Virgina Tech- Logan Thomas
Miami- Stephen Morris
Georgia Tech- Vad Lee (left school)
North Carolina- Bryn Renner*
Pitt- Tom Savage
Florida State looks like as big of a shoe-in for the playoff as any team in the country. Clemson losing Boyd is a big blow to the top-end talent for the conference and a shocking 9 teams total are going to be breaking in new quarterbacks next season. The only exception would be North Carolina who adjusted well to the career-ending injury of Renner and have Marquise Williams coming back with a good amount of experience.
MSU- Connor Cook
Iowa- Jake Rudock
Minnesota- Philip Nelson & Mitch Leidner
Michigan- Devin Gardner
Northwestern- Trevor Siemian
Ohio State- Braxton Miller
Wisconsin- Joel Stave
Penn State- Christian Hackenberg
Indiana- Tre Roberson & Nate Sudfeld
Purdue- Danny Etling
Nebraska- Taylor Martinez*
Illinois- Nathan Scheelhaase
Does this mean the B1G is going to have a really solid season across the board? They've got a lot of quarterbacks coming back and even Nebraska played the majority of last season without Taylor Martinez so they're bringing back experience as well. I don't know if this means an elite team is coming out of the Big Ten, though. They are more likely to beat up on each other if anything.
Baylor- Bryce Petty
Oklahoma- Trevor Knight & Blake Bell
Texas- David Ash
Kansas State- Jake Waters & Daniel Sams
Texas Tech- Davis Webb
West Virginia- Clint Trickett
Iowa State- Sam Richardson & Grant Rohach
Kansas- Jake Heaps
Oklahoma State- Clint Chelf
TCU- Casey Pachall
The Big 12 is poised to have a really strong year if the quarterbacks are a major indicator. Even Oklahoma State has J.W. Walsh (353 career attempts) and TCU has Trevone Boykin (468 career attempts) coming back and both of them have seen extensive time over the past two seasons.
Stanford- Kevin Hogan
Oregon- Marcus Mariota
Oregon State- Sean Mannion
Washington State- Connor Halliday
Cal- Jared Goff
Arizona State- Taylor Kelly
UCLA- Brett Hundley
USC- Cody Kessler
Colorado- Sefo Liufau & Connor Wood
Washington- Keith Price
Arizona- B.J. Denker
Utah- Travis Wilson (injury)
Mariota, Kelly, and Hundley coming back really gives the Pac-12 perhaps the best collection of quarterback talent in the country. It shouldn't be a surprise if this is the best conference in the country in 2014 from top to bottom. Rich Rod will have to start over with a new QB again, Petersen will begin his career in Seattle with a new QB, but Utah got some experience out of Adam Schulz once Wilson (who is believed to be retiring due to concussions) went down with injury.
Florida- Jeff Driskel & Tyler Murphy
Tennessee- Justin Worley
Kentucky- Maxwell Smith & Jalen Whitlow
Auburn- Nick Marshall
Miss State- Dak Prescott
Ole Miss- Bo Wallace
Arkansas- Brandon Allen
Missouri- James Franklin
South Carolina- Connor Shaw
Georgia- Aaron Murray
Vanderbilt- Austyn Carta-Samuels
Alabama- A.J. McCarron
LSU- Zach Mettenberger
Texas A&M- Johnny Manziel
This is what you call a talent drain! The SEC might still have the best talent across the board but having 7 of your top 8 teams from last year replace quarterbacks is insane. Missouri might be the best off heading into the fall with Maty Mauk playing well when Franklin missed some time but the SEC could be a major crap shoot in 2014 if these offenses don't find a rhythm.
Names to Watch:
2014 class: Kyle Allen (A&M)
2013 class: Cooper Bateman (Alabama), Kevin Olsen (Miami), Brice Ramsey (Georgia)
2012 class: Cyler Miles (Washington) and Chad Voytik (Pitt)
Texas A&M has been hit by attrition over the past year and Allen should have a solid opportunity to start as a true freshman. He's not even close to Manziel as an athlete (who is, though?) but he's talented enough to do some good things in Sumlin's system.
Bateman, Olsen, and Ramsey are a trio of rising redshirt freshmen who should get an opportunity to step into reasonably good situations surrounded by a lot of talent on offense.
Miles played a little bit in 2013 and looked quite good too. He went 37 for 61 (60.7%) for 418 yards with 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions while running for 200 yards on just 23 carries. He's a great athlete who should work really well with Chris Petersen.
Voytik nearly won the starting job at Pitt back in August and should have the job on lock down for the next 3 years. He was rated quite high coming out of the prep ranks and offers a nice combination of pro-style skills with mobility.
So who are the 4 playoff teams in 50-some weeks from now?
I'm putting in FSU for sure. Out of the Pac-12 I want to take one of Stanford, Oregon, or UCLA but I think that conference is going to be real tough and the league champ might have 2 losses. It's tough to think that with Meyer's recruiting and Miller coming back that OSU won't be in there but there should be plenty of good teams to offer up an upset.
Is it really conceivable that the SEC doesn't get a team into the playoff? I really like what Oklahoma is bringing back and the mojo they built this past season. Ahh, this is so hard!
Okay, my picks are:
No. 1 seed- Florida State
No. 2 seed- Ohio State
No. 3 seed- LSU
No. 4 seed- Oregon
...with Oklahoma, Alabama, and Baylor the top 3 teams left out.
Let us look back on this in a year and see how wrong it is because that's how crazy college football works.