No Rest For the Curious

Monday night was the culmination of the college football season, as TCU and Georgia faced off in the CFP title game. All were eyes focused on Los Angeles and the main stories from the contest of the powerhouse defending champ and the plucky underdog.

While the latest confetti-felled ceremony offered the images of this campaign, other recent headlines regarding the sport have popped up from around the country. So, what are the some of the storylines that unfolded during this transition to the offseason?

Bouncing the King of the FCS

Before Monday's FBS championship, there was another trophy lifted in jubilant celebration. North Dakota State has ruled the FCS level of college football for the past dozen years, winning nine titles in 11 seasons. Over that span, the Bison have had a few challengers, including Sam Houston State and James Madison. However, as is usually the case, the most dangerous rival lives on your own block. They see you all the time. They know your strengths and weaknesses best. And that came home to roost this weekend.

Sunday afternoon was the 114th meeting between NDSU and their Dakota Marker rival, South Dakota State. The two programs played their first matchup against one another in 1903 and, save for World War II and the COVID pandemic, have played annually since 1919. The Jackrabbits haven't been dominated by the Bison, but lately, most of the results haven't gone their way. That seems to have turned recently.

Sunday marked the most important meeting of this rivalry's history. This was the fifth time the teams met in the FCS postseason. This was the first time they met at a neutral site. And it was the first time they met with everything on the line. The first four postseason meetings went NDSU's way. However, the series momentum has shifted, with the Jackrabbits seemingly catching up to their own version of "That School Up North." SDSU had won three previous meetings with the Bison and extended that streak to four, winning their first-ever national title this weekend.

Could this upper widwest showdown be the new thing at the FCS level? Or ... could it be lifted up a notch?

A Concerted Effort to Move on Up

The number of teams transitioning from the championship tier to the bowl tier has been fairly steady over the last couple of decades. That may charge in as a wave in the next few years. James Madison made the leap this past season. Three other programs are scheduled to jump the next two campaigns. But that appears to be nothing compared to the report that broke in early December.

Ten FCS schools are looking to create a football-only conference with the plan to play at the FBS level. According to these reports, the NCAA may ease a rule disallowing single-sport conferences at college's top level. If that happens, could the floodgates open for leagues like the Missouri Valley, Colonial, and Big Sky to lift their status to the top shelf?

Are the Moving Trucks Finally Here?

There's a palpable anticipation whenever Jim Harbaugh comes to town. I'm not talking about the chance to see an offbeat coach roam the sidelines. I'm not talking about having the historic, legendary Michigan program on campus. Heck, I'm not talking about anything during the season. I'm talking about the "what could be." I'm talking about the dreams of glory. I'm talking about the "Coaching Carousel" Harbaugh model that's annually available for a limited time (like the McRib).

I can recall that anticipation. In early February of 2022, as word of the Vikings' interest in Harbaugh spread, the buzz across the Twin Cities grew exponentially. That hype became pretty inescapable once the Wolverines' coach landed in town for a face-to-face meeting. By the end of that day, Harbaugh went back to Ann Arbor with no new NFL contract in-hand. Heck, he even said that this wouldn't be a recurring theme. Everything was good, right?

Welp. Nearly a year later, the situation is fairly similar. Michigan, knocked out of the CFP playoffs in the semifinal round (again), find themselves with some down time. Coach Harbaugh appears to be using that time to hold court (whether initiated or received) from not one, but multiple NFL organizations. Why might something stick this time around? The NCAA sniffing around the program might be an incentive.

Is This the Start of a New Era?

Let's be frank. Monday was a coronation. Georgia dominated TCU, going on to win the first back-to-back national championships in over a decade. Now, the Bulldogs will go for the unprecedented. Since the beginning of the Poll era (1936), no program has won three consecutive national championships.

If UGA can accomplish the unthinkable, they'll have to do it with a few new key pieces, not least of which is someone to replace signal-caller Stetson Bennett. Even with the changes, Georgia will have more than enough talent to be in contention at the end of the next regular season. The usual suspects should still be around (Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, USC), but the Bulldogs will have a head start and the benefit of the doubt. And that benefit may be short-lived. With the 12-team playoff looming, this may be the last good chance for this feat to happen.

Another college football season has come to an end, meaning the flurry of offseason questions has started to stir. Only eight months to go to soak in many of the answers. Oh what fun we'll have on the search for them.

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