Check the news coming out of the spring football games at the |FBS level. Crowds are up and so is the enthusiasm level in the Southeastern |Conference, which is hardly a news maker.
With spring practices and games concluding, the news out of SEC camps is filled with optimism, including the prospect of near capacity filled stadiums in the fall.
There are all sorts of story lines sprouting, most of them with SEC blossoms.
Can Alabama repeat its magical championship run with almost an entirely new cast of offensive stars?
Will there be a replay of Clemson-Alabama or Ohio State-Alabama in Indianapolis?
Any sleepers out there?
Will the Pac-12 be viable or a continued after throught?
There will be new leadership since Larry Scott's reign ends next month.
When the NFL has its draft showcase next week, will the SEC again be the talent leaders?
Let's start there.
Check the NFL draft prospects.
In a consensus survey of the Top 100 potential draft picks, the SEC with 27 players far outdistanced the No. 2 conference, the ACC (19) nearly doubled the Big Ten (16) and and tripled the Big 12 (9) and Pac-12 (9).
Sure. Let's look at a very early Top 25 for pre-season choices.
The SEC, led by Alabama (No. 2) had five teams in the Top 10--Alabama (2), Georgia (5), Texas A&M (6), Florida (8), LSU (10).
Very little of this means anything in April, of course, other than the conference bragging rights the NFL will produce for the SEC and particularly Alabama., which could have as many as six first round draft picks.
With that in mind, there is NO WAY that Alabama could again compete for the national championship, right?
Well, if a coach named Nick Saban wasn't around, that might be true, but Saban, who won his 7tth national championship n January, sixth at Alabama.
Saban loses both players and coaches from the program annually and nothing changes. The Tide keeps rolling in, producing All American players, first round draft picks, Heisman Trophy winners and high NFL draft picks.
Saban simply restocks, with even more help coming with quasi free agency now part of the college football landscape.
Saban loses QB Mac Jones, who might be as high as the No. 3 overall pick in the draft later this month, as well as offensive coordinator Steve Sarkasian (Texas).
We will see.
Saban wasted little time in replacing Sarkasian by diving into his NAFL retread pile and putting fired Houston Texan coach Bill O'Brien into the mix.
Try a five-star recruit from Southern California named Bryce Young, who redshirted last season and, from reports, is ready to step in and lead the Tide offense this fall.
As the country comes out of its COVID-induced stupor, you can see signs of "normalcy in lots of places, but if you are looking for a sign from college football, as usual, start with the SEC.
Much has been made of the relationship between Saban and Patriots head coach B ill Belichick, who are the gold standard of college football and NFL:coaches, with 6 Super Bowls and 7 national championship between them during the past 18 seasons.
But here's the remarkable factoid.
But none of those titles were won in the same calendar year and either Alabama or the Patriots has been the reigning football king each season since 2015..