Will 2023 be the “year of parity” in college football?
According to FOX Sports college football analyst Joel Klatt, with so many coordinator and quarterback changes set to take place among the sport’s top programs, this could be a year when several new teams emerge in the College Football Playoff conversation.
Alabama, the winningest program in college football over the past decade, is in the process of replacing both its offensive and defensive coordinators, as well as 2021 Heisman Trophy-winning QB Bryce Young.
Bill O’Brien, who served as the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator during the 2021 and 2022 seasons, left to take the OC job with the New England Patriots, while former defensive coordinator Pete Golding left for the same position at Ole Miss earlier this month.
While coordinators are often brought in to revamp an offensive or defensive unit, that is not necessarily what Alabama will be looking for in these hires, according to Klatt.
“This is not something that needs to be fixed,” Klatt said when touching on Alabama’s offensive and defensive coordinator openings in the latest episode of his podcast, “The Joel Klatt Show.” “You’re going to be a cog in the system.
“It’s still Nick Saban. Whoever he brings in will have to still assimilate into the culture at Alabama.”
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Meanwhile, both Ohio State and Georgia — the second- and fourth-winningest programs over the past decade, respectively — are also facing some big changes in 2023.
Ohio State has a new offensive coordinator in place as Brian Hartline takes the job after Kevin Wilson left to become the head coach at Tulsa. The Buckeyes will also be breaking in a new starting QB, as C.J. Stroud declared for the NFL Draft earlier this month and is widely expected to be a top-10 selection in April’s draft.
Georgia — coming off back-to-back national championships — is faced with the challenge of replacing one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in college football history in Stetson Bennett. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator, Todd Monken, is a hot name among NFL job openings and is reportedly in the process of interviewing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offensive coordinator job.
“If there is a year that you might get some new blood, like you saw with TCU, might this be the year?” Klatt questioned. “If you’re a fan of the style of season we had this past year, then 2023 might be more of the same.”
Klatt went on to name several programs that are in a good position to take advantage of these big changes in 2023.
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2022 record: 10-3
Klatt on the Seminoles: “This is an interesting one. You got your QB coming back. Lot of hype around the recruiting class. Good sentiment around the program. Florida State is a team that absolutely could make a little bit of a run.”
2022 record: 10-4
Klatt on the Tigers: “Brian Kelly had something going. The win over Alabama was more of the outlier for them this year than the norm. But they were able to do it. So we know, at least on the top end, that LSU has that gear.”
2022 record: 11-3
Klatt on the Tigers: “With Garrett Riley as offensive coordinator and playcaller, and Cade Klubnik at quarterback, maybe a spark on that offensive side would be just what they need to get back to what they had been in the six years previous to the last two.”
2022 record: 11-2
Klatt on the Volunteers: “Josh Heupel gets that new contract. When you look at Joe Milton and the way he played in the Orange Bowl, Tennessee might be right back there.”
2022 record: 11-2
Klatt on the Nittany Lions: “This is a team that feels like they have their quarterback back, even though he wasn’t a starter. Drew Allar is a guy that they were salivating over all year. They’ve got great young talent … good veteran presence on the offensive line coming back They’ve got all their coordinators back. James Franklin has recruited well.”
2022 record: 6-7
Klatt on the Sooners: “Oklahoma is my team that is gonna pop. They were close to a 10-win team when you look at all of their one-score games. That could easily go in the other direction. When you look at that conference, no one is gonna be running away with it. It’s not like they have to go play Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia or Michigan. They don’t have that team in their conference.”
2022 records: USC: 11-3, Washington: 11-2, Oregon State: 10-3, Oregon: 10-3
Klatt on the Pac-12: “That’s gonna be the best quarterback league in all of college football. Maybe this is the year where USC can get it done, although they need to improve on defense. Maybe this is the year we are aware of Michael Penix and Washington for the majority of the year and not just late in the season. Maybe this is the year in which everyone realizes how good of a coach Jonathan Smith is at Oregon State. He’s got a new quarterback in DJ [Uiagalelei], who is not going to be asked to do it all at Oregon State because of their ability to run the football and control the line of scrimmage. … Bo Nix is back at Oregon. This might be the Pac-12’s year to go to the playoff if you look at it through that lens.”
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