Looking Ahead: We concluded the college football season last week and now look ahead to recruiting, spring and summer workouts, and preseason picking. It's not too soon for the latter. The "Way Too Early" predictions were out before moments after the Alabama/Clemson game.
ESPN's Mark Schlabach has already tabbed Alabama as the favorite, and he's not alone. So did Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples. SB Nation picked the Tide. Bleacher Report did too and Forbes. Forbes?
Schlabach and others like Auburn's chances too. The Tigers are No. 10 in the ESPN poll. A lot of the basis for the lofty expectations is the quarterback position. Jarrett Stidham is expected to win the job.
At Alabama, though many were disappointed with Jalen Hurts' play down the stretch, it's a positive to have him returning at quarterback with the players that will surround him.
Both, the Tide and Tigers, will have a new offensive coordinators too.
Alabama opens the season with Florida State in Atlanta. The Seminoles will be a preseason Top 5 team. Auburn travels to Clemson in week two of the season. We should know a good bit about the two in-state powers early into the 2017 campaign.
Power Rankings: You saw the final polls. ESPN released its Power Rankings. There's not much difference. Clemson is No. 1 and Alabama, No. 2. USC was No. 3.
There was some ballyhoo over USC, "the hot team" at season's end. Why not extend the field so they could be in?
We'd have to get past the Top 8 for that. USC was No. 9 in the final CFP rankings prior to the bowls. Yes, they were hot down the stretch. They were not early in the season.
We can't discount the early part of the season. This team lost three games. They gave up 49 in the Rose Bowl, although they won it.
It seems that the disparity between the top two and everybody else was probably great. It was in week one when Alabama beat the Trojans 52-6. So, at the end of the season it might have been closer - maybe within four or five touchdowns - who knows?
The playoff field will expand in time. I'm not sure it's for the best. The biggest debate is who should be in? It doesn't guarantee that we'll have good games.
The semi's have been one-sided for the most part since the playoff began. Maybe it was the choice of teams. Maybe it wouldn't have mattered.
The main point is, I don't want to devalue the season. The four-team playoff has maintained the importance of the regular season.
As we look at growing the numbers, the door opens for three and four loss teams. College football has the best regular season in sports. Its post-season is different from other sports' post-seasons. Being different in this case has been just fine by me.