Only the bowls remain for this season, so I thought it fitting to take a look around college football and see the players, coaches, and trends that are either rising or falling as the season nears its end. Things that are classifies as stock up are items you will hear more about in the coming year, while those that are stock down I feel will take a step back in the national spotlight.
Stock Up - Recruiting and Payment Scandals
I think we have just seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of scandals involving players, schools, and agents. It began with the Reggie Bush scandal, continued with the part in Miami, AJ Green's jersey, and eventually we got Cam Gate. People like to run their mouths and I have a feeling the NCAA is out for blood.
Stock Down - The BCS Doesn't Work Argument
While a playoff is still needed, the BCS worked out about as perfect as it could this year. The National Championship will match two perfect record teams from major conferences. The other BCS bowls are getting pretty good match ups (with the exception of the Fiesta getting stuck with unranked UConn).
Stock Up - Dan Mullen
In just his second year as a head coach, Dan Mullen led his Mississippi State Bulldogs to an 8-4 record that included victories over Georgia and Florida. They also came within a dropped pass of a game winning field goal against Auburn. With the retirement of Urban Meyer at Florida, Mullen is leading candidate to take over in Gainesville. Mullen was already mentioned as a leading candidate for the open job at Miami. If he stays in Starkville or heads back to the sunshine, Dan Mullen is about to get a huge pay raise.
Stock Down - Traditional Powers
Some of the winningest programs in college football history really struggled this season. Texas, coming off an appearance in the national title game, went 5-7 and will be home for the holidays. Miami fired Coach Randy Shannon after losing its final game of the season to South Florida. Michigan has continued to struggle under Rich Rodriguez. South Carolina was the only team in the SEC East to win more than 7 games (Florida 7-5, Georgia 6-6, Tennessee 6-6, Kentucky 6-6). Because of the Reggie Bush scandal, USC was ineligible for a bowl, but only managed a 7-5 regular season.
Stock Up - 1AA Upsets
Appalachian State beating Michigan in 2007 was the gold standard for 1AA upsets and it was just the beginning of what is becoming a trend. During the first 2 weeks of the 2010 season, we saw Kansas lose to North Dakota State, Ole Miss fall to Jacksonville State, and eventually ACC Champ Virginia Tech fall to James Madison. While 1AA schools will never have the depth to match most D1 schools, big programs can no longer completely overlook games against these much smaller schools.
Stock Down - UNC's Defense
When Marvin Austin announced he was partying in Miami with agents, it marked the beginning of the end for what was expected to be one of the best defenses in the country. Many of the players missed most or all of the season, and despite a valiant effort on opening night against LSU, the Tar Heels never lived up to their preseason expectations.
Stock Up - Running Backs
There are two big time running backs that I expect to have big seasons next fall. The first is South Carolina freshman Marcus Lattimore. We all saw what he could do when he dragged gusy all over the field against the Dawgs in September. He rushed for nearly 1200 yards and 17 scores this year, numbers similar to those put up by Knowshon in 2007. He will be the key for South Carolina next fall, the team that will most likely be the favorite in the SEC East. The second is Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure. He is a junior, but if he returns next fall, could be a Heisman candidate. He rushed for over 1500 yards on 6 yards a carry and scored 14 touchdowns. He put up the most impressive single game performance of the season, rushing for 330 yards in the victory over Northwestern at Wrigley Field.
Stock Down - Baseball Playing Quarterbacks
Jake Locker, the Washington quarterback walked away from guaranteed money in minor league baseball and from being a potential top 10 pick to return for his senior season. The Huskies managed to finished 6-6 and get bowl eligibile, but Locker struggled throughout the season. His skill set will still make him a first round pick, but he has clearly been passed by Andrew Luck and Cam Newton. Kyle Parker held off beginning his baseball career with the Rockies to to return under center for Clemson. An up and down season that saw Parker get battered on numerous occassions left many Tiger fans wondering if it was just time to move on. Parker is gone after their bowl game.
Stock Up - Stanford
With sophomore quarterback Andrew Luck, Jim Harbaugh's team was expected to be good. But an 11-1 record and an appearance in the Rose Bowl went way above expectations. Especially when you consider they lost Heisman runner up Toby Gerhart. Their only loss of the season was to undefeated Oregon and Harbaugh is now the hot new coaching name for both college and NFL positions.
Stock Down - Alabama
Everyon'e preaseason #1 was expected to be a shoe-in to retunr to the National Championship game. But an early season loss to South Carolina followed by a late game loss to LSU ended their repeat hopes. But they still had a shot to end rival Auburn's perfect season in the Iron Bowl, quickly jumping out to a 24-0 lead. But the Tigers came back for 28-27 victory, costing the Tide a chance to head back to a BCS bowl game. Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram seemed to disappear at times this year and the young Alabama defense was just that - young. Auburn's rise along with great years from Arkansas and LSU means Bama's time as the dominating program in the SEC West may be coming to end.
Stock Up - TCU
TCU put together a second consecutive undefeated regular season and will face Wisconsin in the Bowl. Their decision to leave the Mountain West and join the Big East will give them a chance to play in a BCS conference and increase their reputation nationally. I expect Texas Christian to be a major player in the NCAA for years to come.
Stock Down - Boise State
They came into this year with all the hype. They were the great hope for the little guys, the team that could finally make it to the BCS title. They started their season off great with a win over Virginia Tech and remained undefeated through 10 games. But two missed field goals against Nevada ended their perfect season and cost the Broncos a BCS bowl game. Boise State also made the decision to move conferences, leaving the WAC for the Mountain West. At first, this looked great with quality schools like TCU, Utah, and BYU in the conference. But all three of those schools left (TCU - Big East, Utah - Pac12, BYU - Independent) and now they are no better off than they were. They will open the 2011 season against our Dawgs in the dome. If Georgia shows up and sends Biose back to Idaho with another loss, the days of Boise State as a media darling may be coming to an end.
Stock Up/Stock Down - Auburn
Auburn's rise to the #1 ranking was unexpected and controversial. Cam Newton is clearly the best player in football this year, but the controversy around his father and pay for play can't be ignored. Nick Fairley is also an amazing football player, but his cheapshots and showboating made opposoing fans hate him and referees target him. Never has there been a polarizing team quite like this Auburn team. While people marvel at Newton's ability, they hate the controversy and the NCAA's decision to let him continue to play. Auburn fans took an "us against the world attitude" and it has not painted them in the best light. For all the fans they may have gained this year, they have made new enemies (particulary out of Georgia fans). Most agree that the Cam Newton situation is not over. Only time will tell if Auburn gets to keep all those victories they have accumulated.
This is just a sample of some of the trends I saw this year. Let me know if you agree with my assessments and what you thought were the biggest stock up and stock down topics of the 2010 season.