College football is fewer than six months away, and it can't get here fast enough. This weekend marks the end of most spring practices, and next weekend is the NFL draft.
Heading into 2013, there are some questions surrounding the entire season. Which head coaches are worth paying attention to? Which players are going to (or at least need to) emerge as the stars of their rosters?
Here are the faces of every BCS team in its 2013 configuration. At the end of the season, when someone says each team's name, these are the first people that will come to mind.
Nick Saban is the face of the Tide, and that will not change until he's gone. Sure, AJ McCarron will be a close second to Saban, but that's all.
With the Alabama roster already stacked for the next few seasons, there will be plenty of individuals who will step up and make highlight reels on any number of national networks.
Nick Saban doesn't allow anyone else on his staff or team to talk to the media for any meaningful length of time. (Notable exception: Barrett Jones in 2012 was a guest on the Tim Brando Show every Monday.) Quite simply put, Saban will be the face of Alabama, because that's how he runs his show.
Ka'Deem Carey had a stellar season in 2012, and he racked up almost 2,000 rushing yards during the year.
Carey will enter 2013 as the Wildcats' most lethal offensive weapon and their biggest Heisman hopeful. Regardless of where they end up in the Pac-12's pecking order, Carey will be the cornerstone of the team and the face of Arizona.
Will Sutton finished 2012 tied for third place nationally in sacks with 13.0 on the season. Sutton is one of the most effective pass rushers in the country, and he's the brightest spot on the Sun Devils roster for 2013.
Love him or hate him, he's going to be frequently discussed in the coming year. Arizona State could do a lot worse than Sutton for a front man.
Bret Bielema made the move from the Big Ten (at Wisconsin) to the SEC (at Arkansas) during one of the most tumultuous seasons in college football history.
Bielema has already given the media a tidbit of what to look forward to this coming season, and he's got a lot of talent to work with in Fayetteville. If the loss of Bobby Petrino could devastate the Razorbacks in one season, Bielema's presence can make an equal difference the other direction.
His main concern will be the quarterback position, but a bowl game is likely waiting for the Hogs in December.
Now that senior Trent Steelman will be gone from the academy, it is A.J. Schurr's turn to take over under center. Schurr was a freshman last season, and he showed that he already had a fair command of the Black Knights' scheme through that 2012 run.
Statistically, he did well, but not wonderfully. Of course, with academics and officership on the line, football will never be No. 1 at Army. Americans are just fine with that, as freedom does not yet depend on the outcome of a football game.
Schurr will take over the offense, and he will be a sophomore in 2013. His position as the starting game manager will put him at the front of all Army football discussions. If he does well, then Army's immediate future looks much brighter.
Gus Malzahn moved from Arkansas State back to Auburn this past December, and the Tigers are ready for a new era of football.
Before Gene Chizik's hire, Auburn was not a perennial national power, but it was at least in the discussion for a conference title for the early part of any given season. Chizik changed that all too quickly, and Malzahn was hired to replace him.
Malzahn has some serious work to do, but there is plenty to work with at Auburn. Regardless of how much he turns the program around, he will be the front man for the Tigers.
From "How are things going?" to "How many games do you think you can reasonably win?," Malzahn will be in front of every Auburn fan's face until there is an epidemic of success at the program.
Lache Seastrunk made a statement that he would win the 2013 Heisman. He qualified that statement by guaranteeing that it was a goal and that he would get close even if he didn't actually win it.
For better or worse, Seastrunk has pushed himself to the front of the Baylor brand. With major offensive weapons leaving the program between now and the kickoff of 2013, he is poised to do exactly what he said he would do.
If he can carry the load while the Bears find rhythm on offense, he'll earn every bit of the attention he's going to receive in 2013. If he can assist the Bears to nine or more victories, he might just win that hardware, too.
Might have a little facemask there, buddy.
Amidon is the type of player you can build an offense around, and the Eagles need to build something quickly in 2013. With conference realignment moving college football forward, every win could be the one that gets you the golden ticket to a power conference.
Amidon will make headlines more than once this coming season, and Boston College would be smart to drop his name on the recruiting circuit while it still has the opportunity.
Kyle Van Noy chose to return to BYU in 2013 for his senior season. While that was a surprising decision, the BYU Cougars aren't going to question it too much.
Van Noy is back, and he may make a legitimate shot for best overall defender in the country. Sure, there are plenty of defenders who will compete, but there are only a handful who can actually challenge the senior's skills. (Most of them are on this list, too.)
Van Noy is BYU, and the program is simply thankful that he didn't ride off into the sunset after a stellar 2012 campaign.
Sonny Dykes is coaching California in 2013 after a highly successful stint with the Louisiana tech Bulldogs. While the team itself has a way to go before contending for the Pac-12 title, Dykes is ready and able to get it there.
In 2013, Dykes will constantly answer the question: "How long before California's back on top?" (Or other variations. Cal made a good choice with Dykes, and everyone will find out soon enough whether he's got what it takes to succeed in the top tier of FBS football.
Tommy Tuberville hails from the Texas Tech Red Raiders, and he's taking over the Cincinnati Bearcats in Butch Jones' absence.
If he can get the Cincinnati defense playing well quickly, then Louisville will have a fierce competitor for the American Athletic title in 2013.
Under Tuberville's guidance, Texas Tech held West Virginia's Geno Smith to 14 points in 2012. While the defense was far from consistent, it showcased his potential quite well. He will be the face of the program. If he can take down Charlie Strong and Teddy Bridgewater, he'll be the face of the AAC, too.
Tajh Boyd returns in 2013 for his senior season, and the Tigers are poised for an ACC title. Boyd opens the season against Georgia, and he closes the regular season against South Carolina.
Boyd has the potential to take Clemson to a BCS title game in 2013. It may not be likely, but the schedule says it's possible. Boyd will be the face of Clemson for one more year, and then it will be up to someone else.
Until then, enjoy the ride, Tigers.
Mike MacIntyre was hired from the San Jose State Spartans on December 10, 2012. San Jose State may depend on David Fales to put the scheme into action, but MacIntyre was the brains behind the team that almost took down the Stanford Cardinal.
With that kind of success under his belt from a non-AQ conference, MacIntyre should have plenty of time to make a turnaround. He won't need as much time as Colorado would be willing to give him, though.
MacIntyre was hired in the wake of a 1-11 season, and he is the symbol of the hope that the program now holds for the future. Until he does something to prove that he can't turn Colorado around, he will remain the source of that hope.
Chandler Whitmer will be the deciding factor regarding how successful UConn will be in 2013. Last season, he spread the ball around to all his receivers well, but he missed big-time on the touchdown-to-interception ratio.
His stats were also significantly better at home than they were on the road, but they still weren't stellar. He's surrounded by competent players but not by stars.
Since he will essentially be the swing vote, he will bear the brunt of the attention. If he does well, that won't be a problem for him.
Jamison Crowder flew under the radar last season to a point. His cohort, Conner Vernon, was a little more hyped. One can assume that it was only due to Vernon's draft-eligible status, because both receivers had 1,074 yards.
It took Crowder nine fewer receptions to gain those yards, though, and he will be returning in 2013. The quarterback and the other top wide receiver will both be gone. Crowder will be the reason that the replacement passer does as well as he does.
Crowder will be the star of the team, and he will be in the public eye a lot if Duke manages to pull off a postseason appearance for the second year in a row.
The timeout: The only thing in Florida's arsenal that stopped Louisville from scoring that night.
Will Muschamp got the Florida Gators near the top of the rankings in 2012, which was a tad ahead of schedule. Muschamp will take some flak for the Gators' performance against Louisville in the 2013 Sugar Bowl, but he will have his team ready to make a statement on the field every week.
The only way Muschamp will not be the face of the team is if Jeff Driskel shows up looking like a brand-new quarterback. So, if you're a Florida fan, start hoping this slide is wrong about the coach.
Florida will contend for the SEC East. How well the Gators contend will depend on Muschamp's ability to repeat 2012. He made it to the Sugar Bowl with the 118th-ranked passing attack in the nation. People should really be calling him "Gandalf the Blue" just for that.
Jameis Winston had a great spring game for Florida State, and he will help ease the pain of losing EJ Manuel after the nearly awesome 2012 run.
Between Winston and his ridiculous number of talented targets, it will not be surprising if Florida State still pulls off an ACC title. Clemson will give the Seminoles a run for their money, but FSU will have five games to get Winston ready for the challenge.
Winston is more than capable of pulling out the victory and setting Florida State up for a potential national championship.
Aaron Murray returns for his senior season in 2013, and he's got just about everything he needs to make another run to the SEC title game in Atlanta. This time, he may bring Georgia a conference championship.
The Bulldogs are fighting a four-year trend against the state of Alabama, but they have a seven-year streak of national champions out of the SEC working in their favor.
Murray will be remembered well by the Bulldogs fanbase, regardless of what happens in 2013. He will be the face of Georgia, and he'll have a great shot at playing in the Senior Bowl as well.
Sophomore quarterback Vad Lee is the favorite to win the starting position for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. and as of April 1, he's got it.
Lee is taking over under center for the graduated Tevin Washington. If Lee retains his position as the game-manager for the Yellow Jackets, he will be the face of Georgia Tech until he leaves the program.
The Yellow Jackets were close to a conference championship last season. With Duke and North Carolina losing stars from the roster, Lee may just be able to take Tech to that title game again.
David Piland led the Houston Cougars in 2012, and he did a fairly good job for a sophomore. He targeted eight different receivers a minimum of 20 times apiece last year, and the only major flaw in his play was his penchant for tossing picks.
If Piland can clean that up, then Houston can contend for the top of the American Athletic Conference. Naturally, Cincinnati and Louisville will be standing in the way, but Houston can assert its place in the conference without a title.
It's the first season for Houston in the BCS AQ conference, and all eyes will be on Piland.
Tim Beckman took over at Illinois in 2011 after a successful run with the Toledo Rockets. While Illinois waits for him to turn the program around, everyone will be turning to him for answers.
He will be the go-to guy for information on how long they can expect to wait for improvement and how that improvement is going.
There will be a little more losing before Illinois is ready to contend for a Big Ten title, but one year is already behind the Illini. With a couple of years of patience, Beckman can have the Illini off the bottom of the barrel.
Cameron Coffman almost won eight games last season. He was four or fewer points shy of victory on four separate occasions.
Coffman will have a lot of pressure to deal with in 2013, but all he needs is a little improvement to put Indiana into the postseason.
While it would be nice for Indiana to make it to the conference title game, a bowl game will satisfy most Hoosiers fans. Especially after having come so close last season. Coffman is certainly good enough to accomplish that.
He was almost good enough to take down Urban Meyer's Ohio State squad last year, and that's easily good enough to win a bowl game.
Kirk Ferentz has taken the Iowa Hawkeyes to two Orange Bowls during the BCS era, and Hawkeyes fans will all be looking at him in 2013. He's proved that he can get Iowa to a level of excellence, but he hasn't kept the Hawkeyes there consistently yet.
Over the past three seasons, Iowa has won 18 games. The Hawkeyes won seven in each 2010 and 2011, and they won four in 2012. It's time for a turnaround, even if it's small, and Ferentz will be expected to deliver.
Jared Barnett is finally going to have his shot under center, since Steele Jantz will not be back in 2013. Barnett will be expected to lead Iowa State to more success than it has seen over the past two seasons (with the exception of the 2011 Oklahoma State game, of course).
Barnett can be the difference-maker for the Cyclones, and he will get the attention that a game-changer deserves. Hopefully, he will perform well and love the attention.
Charlie Weis went to Kansas from Notre Dame at the end of the 2011 season. Weis wasn't expected to turn the program around in one year, but he will be expected to improve it in 2013.
The 1-11 record that he amassed in 2012 is not nearly good enough for him to keep his job. Kansas fans shouldn't worry too much about his being fired, though. The Jayhawks will give him enough time to implement his system and get it working.
The 2013 season will be a critical juncture, though. A lack of progress would certainly put him on the hot seat.
Bill Snyder has brought Kansas State to great heights, and he finished the 2012 regular season just one win away from likely playing Notre Dame for the national title.
Snyder is the face of Kansas State football, and that won't change in 2013. Quarterbacks like Collin Klein may turn the focus off the coach for a season or two, but Snyder simply doesn't go away.
That's something that Wildcats fans are grateful for.
Kentucky hired Mark Stoops away from Florida State, where he was the defensive coordinator, at the end of the 2012 season.
Stoops put together a top-tier defense at Florida State, and that's exactly the style of play that happens in the SEC. If you don't have a defense, don't expect to get very far.
If anything is going to turn the Kentucky football program around, it's going to be solid defense first. It's difficult enough to get a star quarterback to look at your school when you aren't a national power. When you can say "All we need is a quarterback," you have a shot at landing the big fish.
Stoops will easily have the eyes of the entire SEC on him. With Vanderbilt and Ole Miss already on the rise, a Kentucky surge would not be totally unexpected.
Les Miles has been the face of the LSU Tigers ever since Nick Saban left the program, and that will be true again in 2013.
From his trick plays to his questionable (or nonexistent) clock-management skills, Miles is an SEC icon. LSU has a shot at an SEC title in 2013, as it always does under Miles, and only Alabama and Texas A&M stand in the way of the West Division crown.
Miles is the LSU Tigers, and he always provides the media with at least one solid-gold sound byte in every season.
Teddy Bridgewater demolished the then-No. 3 Florida Gators in this past Sugar Bowl. If that weren't enough, he's coming back in 2013 to make another run at a conference title and the associated BCS bowl.
Bridgewater will be on preseason Heisman watch lists, and he may not me the face of only the Cardinals. He may be the face of the entire AAC.
Stefon Diggs made a splash as a freshman with 848 receiving yards and six touchdowns from just 54 receptions. That's an average of 15.7 yards per catch as a freshman in an AQ conference.
Diggs is the star of the Terrapins' roster. He is the one player that Maryland doesn't have to worry about at this point. Look for his name in lights during the season. He'll be a sophomore, and he'll be more ready for the college game next year.
Memphis is another addition to the AAC, and former Texas Tech quarterback Jacob Karam will be a good fit for the conference. He may not have had a 4,000-yard season in 2012, but he threw 14 touchdown passes to only three interceptions.
Memphis may have a tough time adjusting to the conference in its inaugural season, but a quarterback like Karam will make things much easier.
Karam will be the face of the Memphis Tigers, and they should finish solidly near the middle of the pack when the 2013 dust settles.
Duke Johnson is a beast, and his 2012 season was his freshman year for the Miami Hurricanes. He rushed for 947 yards and 10 touchdowns over the 12-game season that was cut short by a self-imposed bowl ban.
Luckily for Johnson, he has a few years left to trounce the ACC before taking off for the NFL. Johnson is the reason Miami's offense is so effective, and it would behoove the ACC not to take Miami lightly anymore.
Even with Taylor Lewan on the field and Brady Hoke on the sideline, Devin Gardner will be Michigan's most recognizable figure.
After watching the spring game, there is no doubt that Michigan will enter 2013 far more prepared for the season than it was in 2012.
Gardner is more than a little comfortable at quarterback, and the defense looks well-prepared to help him win games. He may be a dark-horse candidate for the Heisman. He'd certainly look good for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award if he continues developing this quickly.
Andrew Maxwell may not be Kirk Cousins, but he's got the potential to make Michigan State a contender in the Big Ten.
With Le'Veon Bell entering the draft, it will be up to Maxwell to carry the offense through the air until Sparty finds a running back as capable as Bell was.
Maxwell will have a tough road in 2013, but the power conferences are never easy to get through. That's why the champion always gets into one of the major bowls. Maxwell may not feel like being the center of attention, but that's just how it's going to be next year.
Donnell Kirkwood will once again lead the Minnesota rushing attack. Kirkwood gained 50 more yards on the ground last season than yards the starting quarterback passed for.
He will be the leader of the team in other ways, since he will be a junior in 2013. Kirkwood will be missed when he leaves, but he has a year or two before the Gophers need to worry about finding a new front man.
Tyler Russell is up against some heavy competition for the slot on this list. Running back LaDarius Perkins will be there asserting his 1,000-yard dominance over the rest of the SEC, and it will be up to Russell to earn this title.
Russell is capable of winning any game he suits up for, but he is also capable of pulling a "Northwestern." He tossed four interceptions in that game, and Mississippi State still lost the game by just two possessions.
Russell is the player that's most responsible for the offensive outcome of each and every game. No single player anywhere else on the field will have the attention that he has focused on him.
James Franklin spent a lot of 2012 injured on the sideline. While the Missouri program can't simply write a year off, the fanbase is still waiting to see what the Tigers can really do in the SEC.
With 2012 in the rear-view mirror, Franklin can concentrate on leading the Tigers somewhere far away from the Kentucky Wildcats' spot in the final conference rankings.
That's what everyone has been waiting for since the beginning of 2012. It's not an enviable position unless he succeeds. However, if he starts winning, he's going to be one of the fastest-rising stars in the SEC.
Every Navy fan will be watching Keenan Reynolds in 2013. He was a freshman in 2012, and he started his career by guiding the Midshipmen to a bowl game.
When fall rolls around, fans will be salivating to see what kind of success he can bring to the program over the next few seasons. His main running back, Gee Gee Greene, will be gone, but that won't stop Navy from fighting.
Navy is in good hands with Reynolds, and he will prove that again in 2013.
Taylor Martinez is most definitely Nebraska's human mascot. If the protection is there on the offensive line, then Martinez is a star.
In fact, even if the line breaks down on rare occasion, it actually helps him out a little. He's got a scrambling ability that rivals Johnny Manziel's.
Martinez can lead Nebraska to greatness, and he'll be all over national television if he does.
Bryn Renner is going to have to save North Carolina from the dreaded attrition monster. His favorite tool if misdirection, Giovani Bernard, is going to the NFL next weekend.
Renner will attempt to lead UNC to back-to-back bowl games next season, and his 2012 stats say that's probable. The Tar Heels are out from under sanctions, and Renner is at the helm to take them into the new era.
Renner may or may not like the attention he's about to get, but if he can repeat his performance from 2012, it won't be his fault if the Heels miss out on the postseason.
With quarterback Mike Glennon and cornerback David Amerson departing the program, NC State decided it was time for an all-out overhaul. The Wolfpack fired Tom O'Brien and hired former Northern Illinois head coach Dave Doeren at the end of the 2012 regular season.
Doeren just finished taking Northern Illinois to back-to-back MAC titles, and the Huskies finished the 2012 season in the Orange Bowl. It was the first time a MAC team had ever been to a BCS bowl.
Doeren is expected to bring a bright future with him to NC State football, and he will receive the appropriate focus during the process.
Venric Mark will tote the rock for one more season at Northwestern, and he will once again be the crux of the team's rushing attack.
In 2012, the second-place team rusher was almost 500 yards behind Mark, and it was the Wildcats' backup quarterback, Kain Colter.
Mark will attempt to repeat his ~1,400-yard performance from 2012, and the Wildcats will bank on his success for their own. Mark will be the focus of the offensive scheme, and that will put him right in the middle of the spotlight.
Everett Golson barely edged out Louis Nix III for this slide. While Nix will get a lot of hype, Everett Golson is the wave of the future.
Golson took Notre Dame to the national championship game in his sophomore season, and some improvement on his part can take the Irish right back there in 2013.
The odds are against him since his favorite target and defensive team leader are gone, but the odds were against the Irish last season, too. So much for odds, right?
Golson is the future at Notre Dame, and the proof is in Gunner Kiel. He saw that he probably wasn't going to pass Golson on the depth chart, and he transferred promptly.
Braxton Miller is well-known, not just at Ohio State. He cracked the Heisman list last season, and he's under one of the best football coaches in the NCAA right now.
If the stars were ever to align for Ohio State, then it is now. Of course, it's easy to say that on the heels of a 12-0 season.
Miller is a true dual-threat quarterback, and all he needs to do is work some kinks out of his game. (The offensive line could use some ironing as well, but that's a whole different article.)
With the offseason behind him, expect Miller to com into the fall with a national championship and a potential Heisman on his wish list.
Either one (or both) of those is possible, but Miller will be a topic of national discussion by Week 6, regardless of whether his name is on the list.
Bob Stoops will be Oklahoma's front man as long as he is there. Stoops has led the Sooners to Big 12 titles (both shared and exclusive), BCS bowl games and national championship appearances (with a victory there, too).
Stoops can't get away from being the spokesman and most public figure of the school. Even if all you do is a quick Google search of his name, you'll find recent articles about something he said to the press. (Taken out of context if you read his response.)
Despite the sharp nickname "Choklahoma," the Sooners have done quite well for themselves under Stoops, and he's earned the right to stay with the program.
J.W. Walsh led the Oklahoma State Cowboys last season, and he should be the favorite to start in 2013. Why? His stats were better than any other quarterback's throughout the season, and he was a freshman at the time.
He threw the fewest interceptions of any of the quarterbacks, and he gained more yards on the ground and outscored the other two passers also.
Again, he was a freshman. This was all with no in-game experience. Now that he's got game time and another offseason under his belt, he will be the man that leads Oklahoma State to a potential conference title.
He's earned his 15 minutes, and he may use it to earn more of that time.
Hugh Freeze took Arkansas State to new heights, and he parlayed that into a job at Ole Miss. In his first season, he capped his monster turnaround with one of the greatest recruiting classes that the Rebels have ever seen.
Freeze has the future of Ole Miss well-in-hand, and he'll continue to bring hope to the fanbase as long as the school retains his services. As Ole Miss succeeds more, Freeze will only become more legendary.
Marcus Mariota is the best offensive player in the Pac-12, and he's one of the best quarterbacks in the country.
Mariota slid right into the starting role, and the Ducks didn't miss a beat last season. Though they did miss out on the Rose Bowl, that wasn't the real issue with the season. Having lost just one game, to Stanford, the Ducks barely missed out on playing Notre Dame for the national title.
Based on how easily the Ducks handled Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl, all Oregon fans will be paying close attention to Mariota's progress throughout the 2013 season.
It's Mariota's show this time around, and the Ducks have the best shot of anyone outside the SEC to make it to the title game.
This may be wishful thinking, but Storm Woods should be the Beavers' contribution to this list. He had a great freshman season, rushing for 940 yards and 13 touchdowns on 143 carries.
If he has developed well during the break, then he will be the reason that the passing game is so effective in 2013. Also, if things are arranged so that everyone is free to pay attention to him, then that means the quarterback situation is solid.
Last season, the situation was solid before Sean Mannion's injury. Even during his injury, Cody Vaz stepped up and won all the games he started. After Mannion returned, though, things went a little awry.
Whichever quarterback starts in 2013, hopefully there won't be any injuries to mess with team chemistry and Oregon State's plans. If that's the case, then Woods will become the forerunner for the Beavers' passing attack.
With that setup, they could contend for a Pac-12 title again.
Bill O'Brien is the man who took the unenviable job of carrying Penn State through sanctions that threatened to destroy an entire program.
He led the Nittany Lions to an eight-win season, and they would have been in the conference championship game if not for those sanctions.
That was an excellent step forward for the school, and O'Brien will be the face of Penn State for many years after he has left the program. If things keep going the way they did in 2012, he may just stick around until he retires.
Devin Street is the lone star leftover from the 2012 season, and he will be the go-to receiver for the Pittsburgh Panthers in 2013.
He will be the one that makes Trey Anderson's quarterback job easier, and he'll put Pitt in prime position to walk away with wins in the AAC.
Street will be Pitt's star player, and there aren't many people that could interfere with that.
Darrell Hazell just finished leading the Kent State Golden Flashes to their first bowl game in 40 years. Purdue took that as a big clue that it would benefit from hiring him.
Hazell will draw the attention of Purdue fans all across the country as he attempts to take Purdue to similar heights in the Big Ten.
Purdue made a great choice on paper, and the nation will pay close attention to see if that works out just as well on the gridiron.
Gary Nova is the signal-caller for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, and he was a little green last season as a sophomore. That won't be the case in 2013.
He'll be a solid junior, and his decision-making ability should be better. If he can simply raise his touchdown-to-interception ratio, he'll be just fine. All he needs to do is bring the interception mark below 10, and Rutgers can at least make a legitimate run for the last set of BCS bowls.
Everyone will be watching, and the pressure will be on. Nova won't have Jawan Jamison to throw the defense off-balance anymore.
June Jones has been the head coach of the SMU Mustangs since 2008. He's had then hovering around the seven- to eight-win range for a while now, and the Mustangs faithful are going to want a little more success.
He's not in danger of being fired, or anything, but the fans would love to see a few more wins. If a miracle could happen for them, they'd probably love a shot at the final round of BCS bowls.
Jones is going to represent the Mustangs in 2013, unless a recruit steps up and shines so brightly that it takes the focus off the head coach.
Jadeveon Clowney has been the face of South Carolina since he got to Columbia. He's also become nationally recognized since his hit in the Michigan backfield at the Outback Bowl in January.
Clowney will lead the South Carolina defense in 2013, and he will be an overall team leader as well. South Carolina has basically been thankful for the three-year rule since he arrived. If the Gamecocks play their cards right, he can get a slot in the conference title game.
Clowney will get a ton of coverage throughout the season, and he might get a little more airtime than Steve Spurrier.
South Florida fans spoke, and Skip Holtz was fired. The Bulls turned around and hired the phenomenal coach from Western Kentucky, Willie Taggart.
Taggart has a tough situation in front of him, since quarterback B.J. Daniels is gone. The backup, Matt Floyd, threw zero touchdowns and five interceptions in 2012.
Taggart is no stranger to hard work, though. He took Western Kentucky to back-to-back seven-win seasons in 2011 and 2012. With the recruiting pool that Taggart has access to in Florida, the Bulls should be contenders in the AAC in no time.
David Shaw has already cemented himself as a championship-level coach with or without a superstar under center.
Through the 2013 season, he'll be the man that everyone turns to for the real answers. Can he and his staff develop a quarterback that's capable of pushing Stanford over the edge into a national championship?
Shaw has a major challenge ahead of him in 2013. A lot of his star talent is getting drafted in a little over a week, and he's going to have to pull everyone together and get them in shape to make a run for the Pac-12 again.
Shaw is a great coach, and he deals with pressure well. He only needs to take a couple of steps to become truly elite, and 2013 will be his next opportunity to do just that.
Scott Shafer used to be the defensive coordinator at Syracuse, and he has been promoted to head coach. That's great news for 'Cuse fans, because if the Pinstripe Bowl" href="http://espn.go.com/college-football/team/schedule/_/id/183/year/2012/syracuse-orange" target="_self">Pinstripe Bowl proved anything it's that the Orange have defense.
They took down West Virginia, and the Mountaineers had Geno Smith under center. Smith lit the Big 12 up for the first half of the season, and fell to some defenses only after Texas Tech cracked the code.
Syracuse is under new management, and all eyes will be on the head of the new staff. Is this the beginning of a new era for the Orange?
Chris Coyer will be under center for the Temple Owls again in 2013. When fall kicks off, he will be a senior looking to end his career on a high note.
Sadly, he will be without star running back Montel Harris, but Coyer should be able to add more runs for himself into the mix to help make up for the loss.
Coyer rushed for 444 yards and two touchdowns on 111 carries last season, and he went 84-of-164 for 946 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions from the pocket in 2012. The Owls may not be targeting a national title yet, but the postseason is more than just a possibility.
If Coyer can control his turnovers, he may not mind the attention he'll be getting this fall.
Butch Jones is the lucky coach that gets to follow Derek Dooley at the top of the Tennessee football program. For Jones, it's a relatively simple (not easy) task.
All he has to do is win more than Dooley did, and he will have plenty of time to get the Volunteers back to championship form. As long as he's progressing, he'll be just fine.
The only horribly difficult part of his job is going to be getting the Vols to a bowl game by the end of the 2015 season. He's up against the traditional powers of the SEC, plus a rising Vanderbilt right in his own neighborhood.
Jones will have some time to get things going, but he won't stop being a bug under a microscope until Tennessee makes it to the postseason or takes down a ranked team.
David Ash had a defining moment in the Alamo Bowl against the Oregon State Beavers. He led the comeback over the Beavers, and that cemented him as the favorite to lead the Longhorns in 2013.
Mack Brown has been rearranging his roster to figure out how to get Texas back into championship form without a stellar quarterback.
Ash may not be stellar just yet, but that Alamo Bowl performance proved that he has the potential to lead Texas anywhere that the defense will take it.
Ash easily will be the center of Longhorns fans' attention next season.
Johnny Manziel is the first freshman ever to win the Heisman Trophy. As such, he's currently one of the most popular figures in collegiate sports in general.
With a repeat performance of his 2012 season, he could become the face of college football. Right now, there's nobody on the team that can take the focus completely off the Heisman winner. Not even Kevin Sumlin.
Casey Pachall got into some trouble last season, and Trevone Boykin took over for him at the quarterback position. Boykin did a fine job commanding the offense, and he's still listed as the starter per the Feb 28 depth chart.
Pachall will still be a shining example of what a second chance can look like if you take it seriously. He may or may not get playing time, but he'll be back with the football team for sure.
He'll be able to move past his mistakes and get on with his life. Pachall is the example of everything that TCU stands for, and there's no better spokesperson than that.
Texas Tech poached Texas A&M's offensive coordinator away this offseason, and the Aggies have to be a little disappointed that he won't be a part of what they're doing in the SEC. Plainly stated, Kliff Kingsbury was a quarterback for Texas Tech; the choice couldn't have been easy, but it was definitely simple.
Kingsbury will take over a Texas Tech team that's missing a quarterback. The Red Raiders will need help on offense, and Kingsbury will be there to guide them.
Granted, he can't teach everyone to be Johnny Manziel, but almost everything in football is teachable. The Aggies will love to have Kingsbury as their rep. He will be more than adequate in a Big 12 that is watching a lot of starting quarterbacks graduate.
Blake Bortles and the UCF Knights just capped off a 10-win season, and they are heading into the AAC in 2013.
While the road won't be easy, Bortles is already fairly efficient and doesn't need a lot of coaching to get him to a conference-contention level play.
Bortles earned his spot here simply by being the key to UCF's success. Yes, there are many other factors, but if your quarterback isn't tossing the ball to the other team, you're way ahead of the game.
Brett Hundley was a freshman last season, and he got UCLA all the way to the Pac-12 championship game against Stanford.
While the Bruins do lose some talent to the NFL and graduation, Hundley will be the headliner that everyone comes out to see in 2013.
If he can take a downtrodden UCLA to the Pac-12 title game as a freshman, what can he do with a few months of training? How about another year or two? Are we witnessing a shift in the balance of power around Los Angeles?
Probably, but Hundley will be the field general that ultimately wins or loses that battle. As such, he will be treated as a field general, complete with scrutiny.
Kiffin is easily the face of USC. Whether good or bad, Kiffin is at the center of the argument. That is somewhat due to the train wreck that he left in Tennessee when he took the USC job, but it's mostly because he's just a polarizing character.
There are those who love him and those who hate him. Even at USC, it's a mixed bag of sorts. He won 10 games in his first season, and he won only seven in 2012.
He's well-aware of his role as the head coach, and he's about to go through an entire season without Matt Barkley. One of the quarterbacks had better step up, or this guy is going on the hot seat faster than almost anyone in history.
Travis Wilson went 128-of-204 for 1,311 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions in 2012. He tossed in four more rushing touchdowns as well.
Wilson was a freshman, so the touchdown-to-interception ratio is bound to get higher. Ultimately, he distributed the ball quite well last season, and the Utes have a shot at the postseason in 2013.
Wilson is the player at the most visible position on a team that's lost more than its share of close games. Just a little improvement from the quarterback can go a long way on a squad like this.
With that kind of ability to affect the whole season, he's going to be the most pressured and visible player on the roster.
It's a shame he'll be missing Star Lotulelei on his defense; his presence went a long way to relieving the stress on offense.
James Franklin is to Vanderbilt what Hugh Freeze is to Ole Miss. The major exception being that Franklin doesn't have a Sandra Bullock movie about a current NFL player (on a Super Bowl-winning team, no less) to use on the recruiting trail. Also, Franklin was fixing Vanderbilt before Freeze even got to Ole Miss.
Franklin is as public a figure as you can get in college football, and he's an energizing man to say the least. He's got Vanderbilt climbing up the SEC ladder, and he may outdo the Tennessee Volunteers if Butch Jones doesn't get his staff in gear quickly.
Franklin is the face of the program, and he's got his eye on the prize. Postseason appearances are about to become regular for the Commodores.
Mike London is heading into what could be a good season in 2013. He fired four assistant coaches after the 2012 regular season, because the Cavaliers went 4-8 twice in the past three seasons. Now, that was a bold and correct move.
Some give chance after chance, and there simply is no winning. The school fires the head coach, and the new guy fires the existing staff.
London did it the right way. Fire the staff, and start over again. If you don't buy yourself some time, at least the next guy doesn't have to work with the people who broke the program in the first place.
London will likely get another season or three to turn things around in Virginia. All eyes will be on him this coming fall, but the stares will be less menacing.
Frank Beamer needs to start turning the Virginia Tech program around again, and he needs to do it quickly. The season openers against Alabama looked like great football when they were scheduled, but they look like lost causes at this point in time.
Anything can happen, but Logan Thomas needs to have had some sort of spiritual experience to get better than Alabama's defense over one summer.
Beamer's squad finished in the middle of the conference last season, and he's going to have to turn it around sooner rather than later. He led Virginia Tech to the conference title game back in 2011. Yes, the Hokies lost, but they actually ended up in the Sugar Bowl against Michigan.
Beamer is still the centerpiece of the Hokies program, and one more disappointing season probably won't cost him his job. He'd be a lot better off if he didn't test that theory, though.
Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price will be a senior this fall. He'll be the leader of the offense, and he'll be in the best position from which to lead the team.
In 2012, Price completed 228 of his 410 pass attempts, and he racked up 2,300 yards, 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions on the season as well.
Price will be the marquee player on the Demon Deacons squad, and he'll do his best to help them make the postseason. They finished one game shy of qualification in 2012, and they lost two games by a possession or less in the process.
If Price can have his last season be his best, the limelight that's on him won't make him nearly as dismayed as it did this past year.
Keith Price led Washington to a 7-6 record last season, and the Huskies lost two of those six games by a field goal or less.
If Price's season is even marginally better, then the Huskies could finish the 2013 season with 10 wins. They could also contend for the Pac-12 North crown, but Stanford and Oregon aren't going to let that happen easily.
Price is set to take Washington a step forward in 2013. Huskies fans hope that the next signal-caller will build on that success.
Washington State is coming off a forgettable season, so there will be nothing said about the downside after this sentence.
The Cougars ended that season with a great victory over in-state rival Washington. That was Mike Leach's first season as a coach, and he's already losing a starting quarterback.
That's what will propel Connor Halliday directly into the spotlight for the Cougars. Halliday went 152-of-291 for 2,087 yards, 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2012. He was a sophomore at the time.
Washington State has a tall ladder to climb to get from where it is to where it wants to be, but a simple improvement of two or three wins would be a big step in the right direction. Three more wins would qualify the Cougars for a bowl.
Halliday had some decision-making issues last year, but he will need to keep those problems under wraps if he wants to enjoy his time in the sun.
(Metaphorically speaking, of course. Washington had no actual sun during football season when I was there for more than two years.)
Andrew Buie is West Virginia's rushing attack, especially since Tavon Austin will be gone in 2013. Buie will be the single biggest factor in easing the burden of Paul Millard, the new quarterback.
Buie will help the Mountaineers continue adjusting to the Big 12 style of football. You have to be balanced to win in the Big 12, even if the conference's passers do have large stat sheets at the end of the season.
Even Geno Smith could have greatly used a lethal rushing attack to help him win the conference last season. Texas Tech shut the Mountaineers down by taking away the outside receivers' routes, and the rushing attack simply wasn't enough to force the Red Raiders to stay near the center of the field.
The good news is that Buie can be used as a 190-pound bruiser against the Big 12 defenses. He'll be a huge contributor to WVU's success in 2013.
Wisconsin's new head coach, Gary Andersen, spent the past four seasons at Utah State. He got the program up to a 26th-place finish in scoring offense last season, combined with a seventh-place finish in scoring defense.
Andersen is a great choice for the Wisconsin Badgers, as he will not mess with the Wisconsin defense. (At least not to hinder it.)
Wisconsin still needs a quarterback that can finish in the top half of the FBS, but that's a bridge the Badgers will likely have to cross on the recruiting trail. In the meantime, Andersen can build on what Bret Bielema built with the Badgers and wow the crowd with a potential fourth-straight appearance in the Rose Bowl.
If he can get them over the hump and win that Rose Bowl, he'd be an instant hero as well.