College Football Offseason Questions

This has been a relatively quiet time in college football, with media days approaching in a month or so.

However, with the retirement of Bob Stoops and the NCAA's crackdown of Louisville football, there's been quite a few issues up in the air that will be answered over the next few months.

Let's start with Stoops. His sudden retirement, especially after signing a recruiting class months before, is a bit of a surprise. The questions though focus on offensive guru Lincoln Riley. Will Riley be able to continue the success that Stoops enjoyed during his nearly two-decade stint in Norman? Riley has already made a fantastic hire in Ruffin McNeal, his former boss at East Carolina. However, Riley is still untested as a head coach and despite having a loaded cupboard waiting for him, the ability to guide the Sooners through a season that includes a trip to Columbus, Ohio and the annual showdown with Texas will be interesting to see.

Riley has pressure on his shoulders that few coaches have coming into this season. Oklahoma is one of the top dogs in the Big 12; a conference that frankly has slipped in reputation in the past few years as they've struggled to produce a national champion (or really strong contender). Texas needs to do its part in building the conference back up and with Tom Hermann calling the shots, the future seems to be brighter in Austin. Riley has the parts though to be successful immediately. How he fares, especially in that first month, will tell a lot about Oklahoma, as well as the immediate future of the Big 12.

Pertaining to the NCAA, who looks to deliver a beatdown to Louisville's hoops program for their violations, the eyes of the college sports world will be focused on Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Oxford, Mississippi, respectively. North Carolina's response to the NCAA was far from apologetic and Ole Miss responded with a fervent defense of head coach Hugh Freeze. Granted, neither side wants the dreaded "lack of institutional control" judgment, which results in usually the most severe of punishments. However, given Louisville's standing, the strategy has been anything but safe for either school.

I don't expect either North Carolina or Ole Miss to rethink their strategy and become more conciliatory towards the NCAA. I certainly don't expect them to fire their coaches in order to soften the potential blow from the Infractions Committee. However, it might be in the best interest to do the former. If the NCAA believes, as many do, that both schools did lack institutional control, the punishment could deliver a harsh punch to both programs. While North Carolina's hoops program likely would bounce back the quickest, their football program, along with Ole Miss's, would take quite awhile to recover from a harsh NCAA ruling. Given football is the lifeblood of the SEC, Ole Miss's defense of Hugh Freeze is especially daring. It might pay off in the end. But if it doesn't, it could be a long decade ahead.

Oklahoma's battling a new era in a conference that's depending on their success. North Carolina and Ole Miss are entering very uncertain waters as they hope to end the NCAA investigations as soon as possible. Both bring intense scrutiny to a fairly quiet summer in college football and should provide plenty of fireworks for the Media Days that await.

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