Sunday Hash: Wrapping up college football's 2022 regular season




 

And just like that, it was over.

I know there are a lot of important college football games to be played and plenty remaining just to give ESPN its holiday season content.

But the regular season really ended on Saturday night with the conclusion of the conference championship matchups.

Time can fly even when you are not having fun, said Gator fans licking their wounds after losing to almost every rival possible. There are plenty of other schools that feel the same way as well.

The Sunday Hash takes one more shot at trying to figure out another weird and wild season. Good luck with that.

The verdict is in and not surprising

 

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The College Football Playoff rankings are final and we start mentally preparing for the playoff games. We also know that - according to the Coaches Poll - we know that Florida played teams this season who are ranked 1st, 6th, 10th, 13th, 15th and 19th. That is one tough schedule.

But I look at it another way. If Florida played a really soft schedule and won nine games, [autotag]Billy Napier[/autotag] would have discovered a lot less about the players he has (or had) than he did by playing an elite schedule. You can't get to where you want to be unless you measure yourself against the best. It didn't go as well as Napier would have hoped, but he knows more about his team because of the opponents.

Unfortunately, he also lost to Vanderbilt. That won't go away.

It might be 2020 all over again for UF in the bowl game

 

Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun

It is pretty clear that this will not be an ideal bowl trip for Florida in terms of personnel. There have been 15 players who are no longer with the program and the purge is far from over. Where that could really hurt is on special teams where you have walk-ons trying to cover kicks.

But the big question is about who will play quarterback. If [autotag]Anthony Richardson[/autotag] is gone and the backup (we know) is dismissed, there could be a [autotag]Jack Miller[/autotag] sighting or even [autotag]Kyle Engel[/autotag]. Take the under.

Twitter was alive after Friday night's Pac-12 Championship game

 

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Some Gator fans crowed that Florida was the Pac-12 champs. Let that go, please. You beat the team that won it, true, but that feels like a lifetime ago and is really irrelevant.

I do understand how Gator fans want to go back to that night in September because everybody was so happy and thought the Gators were back.

And they also miss the conference championship weekends

 

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

That is another night they would like to go back to - any night the Gators were playing in the SEC Championship Game. It felt like a birthright during the [autotag]Steve Spurrier[/autotag] years (seven trips in 10 seasons) and only Alabama has appeared in the game more times.

I think the lack of Atlanta SEC trips (three losing appearances in the last 13 years) contributes to the Gator Grumpiness that permeates the fanbase.

Oh yeah, the Heisman Trophy vote is in too

 

Adam Hunger/Getty Images

I can't tell you how I voted until after it is announced because of the Downtown Athletic Club Illuminati, but this was the most difficult Heisman vote I have ever cast. There was something about all six players I narrowed it down to that made them special and in each case one reason not to vote for that player.

I waited until Sunday morning, grabbed a Diet Coke and went to work on it. I'm happy with my three choices.

This has become a quarterback award as offenses have evolved

 

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Evidence of that would be that no other position player is a serious candidate. The six finalists I chose were all quarterbacks. They get all the blame and all the glory and have to basically be a hands-on foreman in the coal mines of college football.

This will almost certainly make it 11 of the last 13 years a quarterback has won the award and only DeVonta Smith and Derrick Henry have interrupted that run. The truth is, the quarterbacks are asked to do so much it will be difficult for a running back to win one soon and impossible for a defensive player.

Quarterback is the most important position and most scrutinized in all of sports.

I hate to bring up this subject again...

 

Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union

… but Georgia isn't going away, so Florida is going to have to lift its program to an elite level to compete. This isn't going to be like trying to win the ACC Coastal or the Big Ten West. The Gators are going to have to figure out how to beat the Bulldogs and not screw up the other conference games.

And Tennessee isn't going anywhere either so I would argue that since the East went 9-6 against the West it's the toughest division in America. Of course, divisions will go the way of the dodo bird very soon.

By the way, and you won't like this either...

 

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

But if I still had a vote for the SEC Coach of the Year it would definitely go to Kirby Smart. I know that he has the best players, but to take a team gutted by the draft and not lose a game?

The scary part is that - while coaches will tell you all the time they are trying to get better every year - Smart is definitely doing that.

Now that we know the four teams in the CFP...

 

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

There will be talk shows dissecting who should have been in. But we are one season away from having a 12-team playoff in 2024 so that will give them even more fodder. Which teams should be byes? How can this team not get in? Why does that team get the home-field advantage?

The biggest debate of all will be about conference championship games and whether they should still play them. It's a lot of money to forfeit, but there is more coming in. One thing to remember - teams could still be punished for losing conference title games but the punishment would not be as severe.

The transfer portal is officially open Monday

 

AP Photo/Gary McCullough

You better believe that Napier is hard at work throwing offers out there to build the depth that he worried about this past season (and he was right to worry). But what Florida really needs are some impact players on both sides of the ball.

Nobody who entered the portal will be missed, but they must be replaced with more than warm bodies. The Gators need to get some SEC-ready linemen and Gator fans are hoping the coaches are spot-on in their evaluations.

This month might get a little crazy!

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