For the last six or seven years, the saddest day of the year for me has been the one that follows the BCS title game. There are no more “what if __________ wins” or “let’s say __________ loses” debates with my brother, College Football Live disappears from ESPN seemingly forever, and the baseball season is still almost three months away and the interminable NBA and NHL seasons dominate all sports channels. Yuck. But before we say goodbye to the 2012 college football season, I’d like to point out a few things from the season that was. Forty-two observations to be exact; one for each point Alabama dropped on Notre Dame in the BCS Championship Game.
1. What Bill O’Brien did at Penn State this season is nothing short of remarkable.
2. Florida went 11-1 with wins over FOUR BCS top 10 programs.
3. Johnny Manziel threw for 3419 yards and ran for 1181 more as a redshirt freshman. In the SEC. Seriously? Seriously.
4. Stanford Coach David Shaw and the 2012 Cardinals shut up everyone (myself included) who dared to say that Stanford was a one-player program.
5. Tavon Austin (112 rec, 1932 total yards) and Stedman Bailey (113 rec, 1627 yds, 25 TDs) may have just had one of the most impressive receiving tandem seasons ever.
6. They still play football in South Bend, Indiana.
7. And in Corvallis, Oregon, where the Beavers won 9 games this year.
8. And at Northwestern, whose bowl win this year was their first since 1949.
9. Texas A&M held their own in their first SEC campaign.
10. School and football can be compatible. Look no further than traditional academic powerhouses and 2012 bowl participants, Rice (6-6), Vanderbilt (8-4) UCLA (9-4) Northwestern (9-3), Notre Dame (12-0), Duke (6-6) and Stanford (11-2).
11. Ohio State went undefeated.
12. After poaching a BCS bid from Oklahoma, Northern Illinois may want to scratch Norman off their list of vacation destinations.
13. Syracuse is more than just a basketball school.
14. The PAC-12 South is going to be fun next year.
15. UCLA LB Anthony Barr had 13.5 sacks this year. He played RB last year.
16. RGIII who? Baylor QB Nick Florence passed for 4309 yards and ran for 568 more in 2012.
17. Baylor WR Terrance Williams had 1832 receiving yards.
18. Kansas State coach Bill Snyder does an extraordinary job getting the most out of his team. No way the Wildcats are an 11 win team on paper.
19. Six of the top ten teams in the final BCS rankings are from the SEC.
20. Wisconsin went 4-4 in conference play during the regular season. Nebraska went 7-1. Yet the Badgers played in the Rose Bowl while the Cornhuskers went to the Capital One Bowl. How’s that conference championship thing working out for you, Big 10?
21. The Big 10 went 2-5 in bowls this season.
22. Arizona RB Ka’Deem Carey ran for 1929 yards this year. He’s a sophomore in a Rich Rodriguez coached offense. You’ll hear his name again.
23. How many calls and emails do you think ESPN got from people who took one look at West Virginia box scores and were sure a mistake had been made?
24. West Virginia WR Tavon Austin caught 14 passes for 215 yards and a pair of TDs against Baylor. Six weeks later he carried the ball 21 times for 344 yards. West Virginia WR Stedman Bailey caught 13 passes for 303 yards and 5 TDs. In one game.
25. Alabama OL Barrett Jones wrapped up a simply amazing college career with a second unanimous All-American selection. You’ll see him on Sundays for quite some time.
26. Oklahoma and Florida State posted double digit wins but underachieved. Again.
27. There were times this year where I thought I could have started in the Arizona secondary.
28. The top 2 scoring defenses played each other in the championship game.
29. Four of the five most heavily penalized teams in 2012 play in the PAC-12 (UCLA, Oregon, Cal, Washington)
30. Kansas State’s discipline was a huge factor in the Wildcats’ success. They were first in the FBS in turnover margin (+21) and averaged the third fewest penalty yards per game (28.8/ per game)
31. USC WR Marqise Lee averaged 215.7 all purpose yards per game.
32. South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney is a scary football player. (Best Hit of the Season)
33. Arkansas went from BCS contender to 4-win punch line faster than you can say, “Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino has crashed his motorcycle.”
34. I’ll believe in unicorns, and even the less probable Philadelphia Phillies’ playoff chances in 2013, before I bet on West Virginia’s defense.
35. Southern Mississippi went 10-2 in 2011. They went 0-12 this year.
36. Brett Bielema guided Wisconsin to 3 consecutive Rose Bowls and then left the Badgers for the train wreck in Fayetteville. Hmm…
37. Gene Chizik won a National title two years ago at Auburn. He was fired last month.
38. Derek Dooley becomes the latest Tennessee coaching casualty. Pretty soon they’re going to have to look for volunteers to fill the coaching job in Knoxville.
39. There are 10 teams in the Big 12. Nine of them played in a bowl this season.
40. New Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury has replaced the recently fired Joker Phillips of Kentucky as the best head coach name in the country.
41. The SEC is still king. Shocker.
42. Alabama is still the best.