Winners and Losers from the 2012 College Football Offseason
With the college football season about to begin, it is time to discuss who the winners and losers were of the passing offseason.
Some teams came out all roses, while others certainly did not.
With the start of the season just over a week away, here are some winners and losers over the past seven months.
Penn State: Loser
Over the past year, no college football team has been through what Penn State has, and it could be argued that this is the lowest a college football program has ever been.
With that said, there is no question that the ultimate loser of the college football offseason is Penn State.
The Nittany Lions have a long way to go to return to the national prominence they once held.
Alabama is not necessarily a winner for anything that has happened to them during the past few months, but it received an added boost when Tyrann Mathieu was dismissed from the LSU team.
These two teams were expected to be neck and neck for the SEC West title, but Alabama may hold the slight edge now with Mathieu no longer in the mix.
LSU has some big shoes to fill.
As mentioned, LSU suffered a severe blow last week when its best player and one of the most explosive talents in the country was kicked off the team.
The Tigers still have national title aspirations and plenty of talent to get back to the BCS National Championship Game.
Losing Mathieu is a big blow, however.
Washington seems to be a program on the rise after getting rid of defensive coordinator Nick Holt, and head coach Steve Sarkisian has some new names in the fold that should bring more success on that side of the ball.
The Huskies are certainly a team on the rise and could contend with the top teams in the Pac-12 if everything goes right.
With a new staff, including Justin Wilcox, recruiting should improve big time over the next few years and beyond.
Ohio State: Winner
Ohio State seems to be poised to be a top-10 team nationally for the next decade, and even though the Buckeyes cannot play in a bowl game this year, they will be a factor in the Big Ten.
Urban Meyer put together one of the best recruiting classes in the country, and when these kids develop, the Buckeyes will be exceptional.
The future is certainly bright in Columbus.
Loser: Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State not only has to replace quarterback Branden Weeden and wide receiver Justin Blackmon, but the Cowboys recently received news that senior offensive lineman Michael Bowie has been dismissed from the team.
Protecting the blind side of freshman quarterback Wes Lunt will not be an easy task, and it gets even harder with Bowie's dismissal.
The Cowboys offense will definitely not be what it was in 2011.
There are few bigger offseason winners than USC. The Trojans are not only the No. 1 team in the country according to the AP poll, but they also recently received a transfer from Penn State in Silas Redd.
Redd will add to an already prolific offense that, without question, has the best skill players in the country.
Things are definitely looking up for the Trojans in 2012 and beyond.
The Oklahoma Sooners are likely one of the top five teams in the country, but because of what has happened in the offseason with their wide receivers, quarterback Landry Jones has lost a lot of talent.
Along with the departure of Ryan Broyles, the Sooners also have gone through suspensions and dismissals at the position.
They will have to learn to live without names like, Jaz Reynolds and Trey Franks if these guys run into any more trouble.
Kameel Jackson however will not be as fortunate as he has not been reinstated.
Michigan is ranked No. 8 in the country in both major preseason polls. For them that is a big deal.
It puts them in perfect position to jump near the top of the rankings with a victory against Alabama on opening weekend.
Throw in an excellent recruiting class, and the offseason for Michigan was spectacular.
Even though Rutgers still managed to put together an excellent recruiting class under the circumstances, there is no question that it will miss former head coach Greg Schiano, who bolted for the Tampa Buccaneers after the season.
While the Scarlet Knights are still one of the top teams in the Big East, it will be a struggle with Schiano no longer running the show.
Winner: Florida State
Florida State is not only one of the most talented teams in the country—particularly on the defensive side of the ball—but it put together one of the best recruiting classes in the country.
This class, along with all of the others that head coach Jimbo Fisher has put together, primes the Seminoles for a BCS run.
It is about time, after all.
If not for Penn State, most would say that Arkansas has had the most tumultuous offseason of any program in the country.
Head coach Bobby Petrino was let go, and his replacement, John L. Smith, is an interim coach who may not be as popular as Petrino was.
Still, Arkansas is one of the top 10 teams in the country heading into the season.
Winner: Michigan State
Mark Dantonio and Michigan State are one of only 16 teams in the country that return their entire coaching staff from a season ago.
The Spartans got defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi to hang around after an opportunity to coach at Texas A&M came about.
Michigan State could be dangerous in 2012.
While it is not a big deal, it is still never a good thing to have a star running back hospitalized by an unprovoked attack.
Running back Montee Ball is going to be fine, but getting involved in something like that is never a good thing.
The Badgers already have enough to replace from last season's Rose Bowl team.
Replacing Andrew Luck and many other graduated seniors is a daunting task, but Stanford appears poised to do just that.
The Cardinal put together a top-five recruiting class (according to Rivals.com), and that makes them a major winner this offseason.
While they will not be as good as they were with Luck, the drop-off will not be as major as we initially thought.
Miami was fortunate to have an excellent recruiting class in February, but that is about all the Hurricanes have going their way.
It is still uncertain if the NCAA is going to come down on them with a major penalty, and it was recently announced that star offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson has not been cleared to play.
The Hurricanes will have their hands full in 2012.
Winner: Texas A&M
There were a lot of coaching hires in the offseason, but the best of them all might be Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M.
Sumlin built up the Houston Cougars program and now will take a big step into the SEC this year.
One thing is certain: The Aggies have the perfect coach to do so.
For some reason, Pittsburgh has not been able to hold on to a head coach in recent years. The 2011 offseason was no different, as former head coach Todd Graham bolted for Arizona State.
Couple that with a recruiting class that was not nearly as good as expected, and the Panthers will have an uphill climb in 2012.
Hopefully, star running back Ray Graham can come back healthy.
Memphis has been downtrodden in recent years, and the Tigers are one of the big winners of the offseason because of the first-year head coach they hired.
The Tigers welcome Justin Fuente to the fold.
He has the tall task of turning around the program, but he appears to have what it takes to do just that.
Loser: North Carolina
North Carolina has not had a good offseason by any stretch of the imagination. The Tar Heels are already on probation and what has happened in recent days concerning Julius Peppers is not good publicity.
Throw in a recruiting class that left a lot to be desired, and the Tar Heels are not looking like they are going to have a promising 2012 season.
There is still enough talent there to do some damage in the ACC, however.
Arizona hired the biggest name of anybody this offseason when they brought Rich Rodriguez into the fold.
He will bring a different attitude and quite a fun offense to the Wildcats.
Things will be a little different for Arizona with a new man in charge.
Loser: Southern Miss
Southern Miss had quite a season in 2011. The Golden Eagles will still be a sleeper for 2012 and beyond, but they will have to do it without head coach Larry Fedora, who left to take the North Carolina job.
He built the program into what it is today, and they finished 2011 ranked in the top 20 in both polls.
The departure of Fedora hurt the No. 70-ranked recruiting class (according to Rivals.com), and that does not bode well for the future.
Florida may not have the season it was expecting in 2011, but that did not stop the Gators from putting together quite a recruiting class.
The Gators class ranked No. 3 on Rivals.com. They have 11 4-star recruits along with three 5-star players.
Things are looking up in Gainesville, and while the Gators are still young, they will return to prominence sometime in the near future.
Loser: Iowa State
Iowa State did not do anything wrong in the offseason, but with how weak their recruiting class was, the Cyclones can easily be considered a loser.
They finished the rankings No. 87 overall according to Rivals.com, which was the lowest of any BCS school.
The Cyclones did win six games last season, but duplicating that in 2012 will not be an easy task.
UCLA would like to quickly forget about last season, and with the recruiting class the Bruins had along with the hiring of new head coach Jim Mora Jr., that is likely to happen sooner or later.
The Bruins would like to compete with USC for some top-notch recruits in the Los Angeles area. They have just they man to help them with that.
No question about it, this offseason was much improved from last year.
Loser: Boston College
Frank Spaziani is on the hot seat more than any head coach in college football. It will likely only be a matter of time before his stay is up at Boston College.
Throw in the fact that once again the Eagles did not have a good recruiting class by any stretch of the imagination, and it will be tough sledding for them in 2012.
A few early-season losses and Spaziani could be on his way out the door.
Mack Brown is no slouch when it comes to recruiting, and his 2012 class showed just that.
The Longhorns class was No. 2 according to Rivals.com, and with so much young talent coming in, they are certainly a winner this offseason.
Look for much bigger things from the Longhorns in 2012, even though they are still a relatively young squad.
Loser: West Virginia
There is no question that West Virginia is one of the best teams in the country with an offense that should average well over 40 points a game.
However, the recruiting class the Mountaineers had during the offseason and a move to the Big 12 will not make things easy in 2012.
Even though the class was nowhere near what it could have been, the Mountaineers will still be a force this season.
Winner: Arizona State
Arizona State is one of many Pac-12 teams to hire a new head coach this offseason. The Sun Devils took Todd Graham from Pittsburgh.
Graham has put together a solid recruiting class, at least as far as their standards are concerned.
Everybody in Tempe seems to love Graham. He just might make the Sun Devils relevant.
Loser: Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech suffered the disappointment last season of losing in a bowl game to end the year, and the Yellow Jackets did not have a good offseason as far as recruiting is concerned either.
The Yellow Jackets class is ranked No. 57 according to Rivals.com, and even though there is plenty of talent coming back this season, the past few months cannot be considered a success.
Contending in the ACC is not out of the question though.
Winner: Ole Miss
Ole Miss was a cellar dweller in the SEC last season. The Rebels did not win a conference game and finished the year 2-10.
They made a smart move in hiring Hugh Freeze from Arkansas State and then putting together a recruiting class that should allow them to compete within a few years.
Freeze went 10-2 in his only season at Arkansas State, and the Rebels should be better in 2012.
Cincinnati thought it was putting together a top-notch recruiting class, but on signing day, things did not go the Bearcats' way. Their overall ranking according to Rivals.com dropped to No. 50 overall.
Toss in the fact that there are still questions marks at the quarterback position with a starter not yet being named, and the Bearcats will have an uphill climb to win their fourth Big East title in five seasons.
Still, head coach Butch Jones has them headed in the right direction.
Winner: Washington State
There is no question that Mike Leach is a winner, and the Washington State Cougars have brought him in to make their program a contender in the Pac-12.
It is definitely going to take Leach a few years to get them back on track, but fans can expect some high-flying offense and a competitive team within a few years.
Leach will have no trouble succeeding here.
Loser: Boise State
Replacing Kellen Moore and almost all other starters is just part of the problem for Boise State with the 2012 season approaching.
The recruiting class shows no signs of improving the team too much, and the competition will get tougher after the 2012 season, when the Broncos enter the Big East.
The reign of Boise State near the top of the rankings may be over for some time.
For Tennessee, the offseason was a good thing because it gave the Vols a chance to get healthy.
They suffered through a lot of injuries last year, and with the No. 17 recruiting class according to Rivals.com, things should start to improve.
Derek Dooley will be on the hot seat if that does not happen.
Loser: Colorado State
Colorado State makes the list of losers simply because it won the award for having the worst recruiting class last season, according to Rivals.com.
They only received 12 commitments overall, with nine of them 2-star recruits or lower.
The Rams have run themselves into the ground over the past few years.
Let's stick with the small schools and consider Akron a winner this offseason.
The Zips have consistently been the worst team in the country the past few years. Next season will probably be no different, but they did come up huge in hiring a big name to run their program.
Terry Bowden is taking over the Zips, and he should help them reach the middle of the MAC in the coming years.
Toledo is a program that is as dangerous as any when it comes to mid-major schools.
The program will have to replace former head coach Tim Beckman, who left for Illinois after the season. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill, and the Rockets will probably take a step back.
Still, they will be one of the top teams in the league.
Why not consider Kansas a winner? I mean, after all, the Jayhawks did land a big-name coach and a starting quarterback that is better than anybody they have had in recent years.
The Jayhawks will likely have trouble finishing anywhere but near the bottom of the Big 12, but they are headed in the right direction.
Dayne Crist and Charlie Weis will be an improvement in 2012.
There is no doubt that Georgia is one of the most talented teams in the country, but with an offseason that featured the suspension of three players, the Bulldogs are one of the losers.
The defense of the Bulldogs will be one of the best in the country, and the team will have a lot to look forward to this coming season.
The offseason, however, certainly could have gone better.
Illinois collapsed at the end of last season, but it made a big splash with the hiring of Tim Beckman as its new head coach.
It was time for Ron Zook to leave, and Beckman from Toledo will prove to be a great hire.
The Fighting Illini still have a lot coming back next season.
Clemson will likely contend with Florida State for ACC supremacy, but it will have to do it for a few games without the preseason ACC Player of the Year in wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
He was suspended for the first two games of the year for an arrest on drug-related charges.
When he comes back, though, the Tigers will be tough.
Purdue could surprise a few teams in the Big Ten, and it had an excellent offseason highlighted by a recruiting class it's not typically accustomed to.
The recruiting class for the Boilermakers was ranked No. 33 according to Rivals.com, and they have some talent coming back.
Look out for this team in 2012.
Loser: Central Florida
The offseason saw UCF placed on a one-year postseason ban along with other sanctions for recruiting violations.
That is no way to have a successful spring and summer.
The Knights also had a recruiting class that only ranked No. 90, according to Rivals.com. Not good things for a team that is headed to the Big East.
Winner: Texas State
Texas State is a winner for a number of reasons. It's entering its first year at the FBS level and also put together quite a recruiting class, according to their standards at least.
The Bobcats' class was No. 91 in the country according to Rivals.com, and that competed with teams like UCF, Iowa State and Nevada.
The Bobcats will have good things coming their way in the future.
Minnesota has gone nowhere but down the past few seasons, and the recruiting class last year was at the bottom of the Big Ten.
That is not good news, considering the Gophers are already near the bottom of the league.
The Gophers will have an uphill climb in the coming years.
Winner: Arkansas State
Arkansas State was put on the map by Hugh Freeze and made a great hire in the offseason in Gus Malzahn.
He was the offensive coordinator at Auburn and did an excellent job.
There is no question that he will continue his success at Arkansas State.
Loser: Kansas State
Kansas State was very successful last season and has some things to build on heading into 2012, including the return of quarterback Collin Klein.
The recruiting, however, left something to be desired.
There were no 5-star recruits and only one 4-star on the list.
The Utah Utes came on strong at the end of last season and will get quarterback Jordan Wynn back healthy this season.
That will be a big improvement over last year, and the Utes have a chance to be a surprise team in the Pac-12.
There is plenty of talent in that conference, and Utah has enough to hang in.
Loser: North Carolina State
Mike Glennon and North Carolina State were a surprise team last season who came on strong at the end of the year.
There is talent coming back, but a weak recruiting class will certainly not help.
The group ranked No. 53 according to Rivals.com and has no 4- or 5-star players among it.
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