Who Gets Back to a National Championship First, Texas or Florida?
It's been a while since both Texas and Florida lifted the crystal football in triumph, but it's only a matter of time before they do it again. Both of these programs are just too good to not win it all in the relatively near future.
But if this was a race, which team would get there first?
Just how close are the Gators and Longhorns to winning it all? Let's take a look:
Will Muschamp set Florida back in in their road to a national championship by hiring Charlie Weis as his offensive coordinator last year. Weis did more harm than good by sticking around for just one year before taking the head coaching job at Kansas.
Besides, Florida just couldn't get his pro-style offense figured out. Perhaps it's for the best that Weis is gone and former Boise State offensive coordinator Brent Pease is in.
Muschamp has proven himself to be a capable assistant coach and he was groomed to be Mack Brown's successor, but you never really can tell how someone will do as a head coach until they've been in the job two-to-four years.
Mack Brown already has proven himself among college football's elite, but his Longhorns slipped badly after reaching the national championship game in 2009. However, he's been quietly been rebuilding the Longhorns after missing a bowl game in 2010.
There may be a time when the student (Muschamp) will take the pebble from the master's (Brown) hand, but for now Brown's experience gives Texas the edge.
Winning the SEC is practically an automatic bid to the BCS National Championship Game, and that won't change as the BCS is replaced with a playoff. So, all the Gators need to do is win their conference to ensure a chance at the national championship.
For Florida, that's much easier said than done.
The SEC East has been down for the last few seasons, but teams like South Carolina and Georgia have risen while Florida fell from their national championship heights. But that's not even the hard part.
The hard part is taking the conference from SEC West powers Alabama and LSU.
If the Gators get good enough to beat the likes of the Crimson Tide and the Tigers, they'll be in prime position to win the national championship.
Like Florida, Texas has a pretty clear path to the national championship if they can win their conference. That'll be even more true as the BCS is replaced with a playoff.
The No.1 obstacle between the Longhorns and another national title is rival Oklahoma. Last season, the Sooners showed Texas just how far from the national title they are by destroying them in the Red River Rivalry, 55-17.
The rest of the Big 12 is no cake walk by any stretch of the imagination, but winning the Big 12 is much more doable for Texas than winning the SEC is for Florida.
Both of these teams are recruiting powerhouses. Texas has been in the top five in recruiting according to Rivals.com each of the last four seasons. Florida took a bit of a hit when Urban Meyer left as Florida finished at No. 12 in 2011, but they've rebounded strong as the were No. 3 in 2012.
Bottom line: Both of these schools can recruit well enough to win the national championship.
The Gators have a seasoned offensive line, but some serious deficiencies at the skill positions. They have yet to have chosen a starting quarterback as Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel duke it out for the top spot, and they're breaking in a new starting running back as well.
Still, there's a lot of good young talent here, and it'll be interesting to see what these new starting specialists do in a year or two.
On the other side of the ball, the defense is talented, experienced and deep. They return 10 experienced and dangerous starters who were No. 20 in scoring defense last season.
They don't have a superstar per se, but they have a whole bunch of solid future NFL draft picks. They have a solid defensive line anchored by Ronald Powell and Sharrif Floyd. If Florida can get a decent offense going, there just might be national championship potential here.
For Texas, this offense is on the verge of breaking out if only they can get the right quarterback under center. Neither David Ash nor Case McCoy has been able to show that they can be the man that takes the Longhorns back to the national championship.
It doesn't mean that they won't this season, but one of them needs to step up for Texas to have a chance at a national title.
Otherwise, Texas has a solid offensive line, a reliable running back in Malcolm Brown and a formidable defense that includes Alex Okafor and Jordan Hicks.
Who do you think will win a national championship first?
If the Longhorns can figure out the quarterback position, they could be in position to win a Big 12 title and complete for a national championship as early as this year. Therefore, Texas gets a slight edge here.
So, which national championship caliber program will lift the crystal football first?
That would be Texas.
Both teams have the talent and recruiting to win the title, but the Longhorns have a tried and true head coach and an easier path to the BCS National Championship Game. What pushes Texas over the edge is that their offense is just a quarterback away from being a championship team while Florida still has to establish an identity in the post Urban Meyer era.
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