With the college football season over, it’s time for the rest of the country to realize the state of Florida is again the kings of the sport.
For decades, there has been an argument in the college football world about what state is the best in the sport, whether we’re talking about recruiting or level of play from programs in that location. In 2016, there was no argument that for all around talent, the state of Florida is back at the top of the conversation.
From 1983 until 2001, there was no argument that the state of Florida was the best during that 18 season period. Eight times a team from the Sunshine State brought home a national title while the state had a representative playing for five more titles during that span (six if you include the Sugar Bowl between Florida State and Florida).
Over the last 15 seasons (2002-2016), the state has won three crowns and played for just one more title. In the 14 seasons before the 2016 campaign, the state had three programs finished ranked in the final poll of the season just three times – none of which since the 2005 season.
In 2016, the state of Florida accomplished something never done before – finishing with four teams not just ranked, but all ranked in the top 20 of the final polls. Florida State was the highest with a finish at No.8, followed by Florida (No. 14), South Florida (No. 19) and Miami (No. 20).
Only California came close with three teams ranked (USC, Stanford and San Diego State) while Alabama, Oklahoma and Michigan each had two teams ranked in the final polls.
No, the 2016 season didn’t end with a national title returning to the Sunshine State and just the Gators were able to win their division this season (not much of an achievement for the SEC East), but it sets up what could be a historical 2017 season.
The Seminoles are the early favorite to not just win the ACC’s Atlantic Division, but also the entire conference – where they could face Miami twice next season…once in the regular season and again in the conference title game if the Hurricanes can win the Coastal Division like some think they will.
The Gators should again be the likely favorite to win the SEC East for a third straight year (because it’s time people realize Tennessee isn’t going to do it), while South Florida should be one of the favorites in the American Athletic Conference. Add in either FIU or FAU in the Sun Belt Conference and you have a decent chance of three FBS conference champs coming from Florida next year.
We may never see the dominance that the Sunshine State had for a nearly two decade period at the end of last century, but the 2016 season set the stage for the state returning to its rightful spot as the tops in the sport.