College football's coaching carousel is finally slowing down.
Wednesday's deadline for underclassmen entering May's NFL draft has passed.
It's time for the second edition of the 2014 Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25, in which we make adjustments for hires and firings, as well as underclassmen leaving school for the pros.
Defending BCS national champion Florida State remains No. 1, but the Seminoles are now joined in the top four by Oregon, Auburn and Alabama.
Say hello to Texas and Louisville, which have new head coaches, and Michigan, which has a new offensive coordinator. Say goodbye to Central Florida, Ole Miss and Arizona State.
Georgia is among the teams moving up, after the Bulldogs snagged defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt from FSU. Also moving up: Oklahoma, Baylor, South Carolina and Notre Dame.
LSU and USC, which lost 11 underclassmen combined to the NFL draft, were among the teams that dropped in the second edition. Also moving down: Stanford, Ohio State and Alabama.
Here's the second edition of the Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25:
FSU had a mixed bag in terms of losing underclassmen to the NFL draft. Left tackle Cameron Erving, wide receiver Rashad Greene, tight end Nick O'Leary and guards Tre' Jackson and Josue Matias are coming back, while tailbacks Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr., receiver Kelvin Benjamin and nose guard Timmy Jernigan are leaving. Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston is coming back for at least one more season, along with six other starters on offense. Six starters are coming back on defense, but the Seminoles will have to replace Pruitt, who unexpectedly left for the same position at Georgia.
The Ducks went 11-2 in Mark Helfrich's first season as head coach, and they'll have the pieces in place to make a serious run at a national championship in 2014. Quarterback Marcus Mariota (a draft-eligible sophomore), All-American cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and center Hroniss Grasu each passed up leaving early for the pros to return for another season at Oregon. The Ducks might bring back 10 starters on offense (receiver Josh Huff and co-starting tailback De'Anthony Thomas are leaving), along with five starters on defense. Longtime assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Don Pellum, who has been on on Oregon's staff since 1993, was promoted to replace retiring defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti.
After reaching the VIZIO BCS National Championship game in coach Gus Malzahn's first season, the Tigers will have to replace a few key pieces on offense if they're going to repeat their success in 2014. Heisman Trophy finalist Tre Mason, who ran for 1,816 yards with 23 touchdowns this past season, is leaving a year early for the NFL draft, along with left tackle Greg Robinson, a draft-eligible sophomore. Auburn might still bring back eight starters on offense, including four offensive linemen and quarterback Nick Marshall, who only figures to be better after getting a complete offseason to learn Malzahn's spread offense. Six starters are coming back on defense, but the Tigers will really miss end Dee Ford, cornerback Chris Davis and safety Ryan Smith.
After losing its last two games and finishing 11-2 in 2013, Alabama shook up its coaching staff, promoting former Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele to linebackers coach and bringing back Bo Davis as defensive line coach. Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart will coach the secondary again, after assistant Greg Brown resigned after only one season. The Tide did a pretty good job of concealing problems on their offensive line and in their secondary this past season, until they were exposed in a 45-31 loss to Oklahoma in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Now they'll have to replace two starters on the offensive line (junior left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and senior right guard Anthony Steen are leaving) and five starters on defense, including three juniors who left early for the NFL draft (end Jeoffrey Pagan, linebacker Adrian Hubbard and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix). Alabama's quarterback battle will be the most talked-about subject in the state this spring, when it tries to replace departing senior AJ McCarron, who guided the Tide to two BCS national titles. Another subject of intrigue will be the offense under new coordinator Lane Kiffin.
The Spartans look like the team to beat in the Big Ten this coming season, after finishing 13-1 and defeating Stanford 24-20 in the Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO. Michigan State didn't lose any underclassmen to the NFL draft and somehow managed to keep defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi for at least one more season. But MSU will have to replace a lot of very productive players from its stingy defense, including All-American cornerback Darqueze Dennard, linebackers Max Bullough and Denicos Allen, and tackles Tyler Hoover and Micajah Reynolds. MSU's offense should be much improved with quarterback Connor Cook and tailback Jeremy Langford coming back. Cook threw for 2,755 yards with 22 touchdowns this past season, while Langford ran for 1,422 yards with 18 touchdowns.
Oklahoma was supposed to be rebuilding in 2013, but the campaign instead turned out to be a resurgence after an 11-2 finish. The Sooners upset then-No. 3 Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl and carry a lot of momentum into the offseason. Most importantly, rising sophomore Trevor Knight gained a lot of confidence during bowl practices and the bowl game, throwing for 348 yards with four touchdowns against the Tide. OU loses center Gabe Ikard, receiver Jalen Saunders and tailbacks Brennan Clay and Damien Williams, but incoming freshmen Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine might be able to help the running game right away. Nine starters are expected back from OU's much-improved defense; safety Gabe Lynn and cornerback Aaron Colvin are the only starters leaving.
Are the Bruins ready to unseat Oregon and Stanford as the elite team in the Pac-12? The Bruins might be pretty close to doing it, especially after rising junior quarterback Brett Hundley passed up a chance to become a potential first-round pick in the NFL draft and returned to UCLA for one more season. Nine starters are expected back on offense; the Bruins lose junior left tackle Xavier Su'a-Filo and receiver Shaq Evans. UCLA started five freshmen and sophomores on defense last season, and seven starters might return, including two-way star Myles Jack. The Bruins will have to replace All-America linebacker Anthony Barr and linebacker Jordan Zumwalt, along with tackle Seali'i Epenesa and end Cassius Marsh.
After the Bulldogs suffered myriad injuries and limped through an 8-5 campaign in 2013, they might be poised to become one of the country's most improved teams this coming season. Bulldogs coach Mark Richt pulled off a major coup by luring Pruitt to Athens. Pruitt replaces former UGA defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who left for Louisville, and inherits a defense that might bring back 10 starters. The Bulldogs will have to replace three starting offensive linemen and record-setting quarterback Aaron Murray. But rising senior Hutson Mason played pretty well in the last two games of 2013, after Murray suffered a season-ending knee injury. UGA's offense might be even more explosive after getting back injured receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley and tailback Keith Marshall. Rising junior tailback Todd Gurley also is coming back after running for 989 yards with 10 touchdowns, while playing much of this past season with a high ankle sprain.
Cardinal coach David Shaw and his predecessor, current San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, have built a powerhouse on the Farm, guiding their teams to a 46-8 record during the past four seasons. But Stanford will have to replace all but one starter on the offensive line this coming season, after junior left guard David Yankey and right tackle Cameron Fleming decided to enter the NFL draft. Left tackle Andrus Peat, a projected NFL first-round pick in 2015, is the only starter coming back on the offensive line. The Cardinal also loses tailbacks Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson, who combined to run for more than 2,000 yards with 23 touchdowns in 2013. Stanford will also have to overcome heavy losses on defense, including linebackers Trent Murphy and Shayne Skov and safety Ed Reynolds, another junior leaving for the NFL draft.
The Bears, who went 11-2 and won the Big 12 championship this past season, should be right back in the mix this coming season. Baylor was able to sign coach Art Briles to a longtime contract extension, after Texas officials attempted to lure him to Austin. Briles and his staff will have to replace a lot of pieces from their high-flying offense, including junior tailback Lache Seastrunk, who is turning pro. Quarterback Bryce Petty is coming back, but the Bears will also have to replace All-America guard Cyril Richardson and receiver Tevin Reese. Only four starters are coming back on defense, and the Bears will have to replace three starters in their secondary. Briles continues to upgrade Baylor's talent, and incoming freshman receivers K.D. Cannon, Davion Hall, Ishmael Zamora and Chris Platt might be able to help right away.
South Carolina is about to make Steve Spurrier one of the country's highest-paid coaches at $4 million per season, and the Ol' Ball Coach has certainly earned it. The Gamecocks are one of only four FBS teams that have won at least 11 games in each of the past two seasons, and Spurrier has transformed the once-woebegone Gamecocks into an annual SEC championship contender. USC lost a boatload of underclassmen to the NFL draft -- end Jadeveon Clowney, defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles, receiver Bruce Ellington and cornerback Victor Hampton are each turning pro as juniors. But the Gamecocks might bring back eight starters on offense and six on defense, and they'll play SEC East rivals Georgia and Missouri at home. Rising senior Dylan Thompson steps in for underappreciated quarterback Connor Shaw, and tailback Mike Davis is coming back after running for 1,183 yards with 11 touchdowns this past season.
Can LSU coach Les Miles work his magic again? The Tigers lost 11 underclassmen to the NFL draft before this past season but still finished 10-3, their fourth consecutive season with at least 10 wins. Now, six LSU underclassmen are leaving early for the pros, including receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, guard Trai Turner, tailback Jeremy Hill and defensive tackles Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson. Ouch. But the Tigers have recruited exceptionally well under Miles and the incoming class will be no different. Rising seniors Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee will step in at tailback, and the Tigers might get immediate help from Leonard Fournette, the No. 1 overall prospect in the ESPN 300, who has verbally committed to them. Rising sophomore Anthony Jennings will also take over at quarterback, replacing departing senior Zach Mettenberger.
After a disappointing end to the 2013 season, losing to Michigan State 34-24 in the Big Ten championship game and Clemson 40-35 in the Discover Orange Bowl, Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer made some not-so-subtle changes to his coaching staff. He poached Chris Ash from Arkansas' staff to serve as co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach and hired longtime Penn State assistant/recruiting coordinator Larry Johnson Sr. to coach the defensive line. OSU allowed 34 points or more in four of its last five games this past season. The Buckeyes will bring back seven starters on defense, but they lost junior cornerback Bradley Roby and junior linebacker Ryan Shazier to the NFL draft. Also, rising junior end Noah Spence, the team's best pass rusher, will miss the first two games of the 2014 season while serving a Big Ten suspension for using a banned substance. Five starters are coming back on offense, including quarterback Braxton Miller. But OSU will have to replace four starting offensive linemen and tailback Carlos Hyde.
If Wisconsin can somehow defeat LSU in its 2014 opener in Houston, it might have a chance to go unbeaten. The Badgers don't play Michigan, Michigan State or Ohio State during the regular season and their most difficult tests are probably a home game against Nebraska and road trip at Iowa. Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen will have to rebuild his defense, with each of the starting down linemen and three of four linebackers departing. Tailback Melvin Gordon, who ran for 1,609 yards with 12 touchdowns this past season, is coming back for his junior season, along with quarterback Joel Stave. But the Badgers will miss receiver Jared Abbrederis, who caught 78 passes for 1,081 yards with seven touchdowns in 2013.
Sure, the Aggies are going to miss departing quarterback Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, who is leaving after only two college seasons. Texas A&M also loses All-American left tackle Jake Matthews and receiver Mike Evans, another draft-eligible sophomore, but it's hard to imagine coach Kevin Sumlin's program falling off the map. Look at the last two unknown quarterbacks who ran Sumlin's offense: Houston's Case Keenum and Manziel. The QB job will be a competition between rising senior Matt Joeckel, sophomore Kenny Hill or incoming freshman Kyle Allen, and the Aggies are going to have plenty of weapons around them. Plus, Texas A&M's recruiting class is currently ranked No. 2 in the country by ESPN's RecruitingNation, and there's a lot of help coming for coordinator Mark Snyder's much-maligned defense, led by Myles Garrett, the No. 1 defensive end prospect in the country.
The Tar Heels flourished in the second half of the 2013 season, winning six of their final seven games, including a 39-17 victory over Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl. The Tar Heels were one of the country's youngest teams this past season, starting 10 freshmen and sophomores on offense and defense, and they should begin to benefit from their early lumps in coach Larry Fedora's tenure. UNC will miss departing tight end Eric Ebron and center Russell Bodine, who left for the draft as juniors, but quarterback Marquise Williams is coming back, along with three rising juniors at wide receiver. Fedora hasn't yet named a successor to former offensive coordinator Blake Anderson, who was named Arkansas State's coach, or tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator Walt Bell, who was hired as the Red Wolves' offensive coordinator.
Former Boise State coach Chris Petersen inherits a pretty good situation in Seattle, as the Huskies are expected to bring back seven starters on both offense and defense. UW will undoubtedly miss departing quarterback Keith Price, junior tailback Bishop Sankey and junior tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who are entering the NFL draft. But rising sophomore Cyler Miles has shown signs of being a big-time quarterback, and the Huskies will bring back a solid corps of receivers, especially if rising senior Kasen Williams recovers quickly from a broken leg. The Huskies will have to replace three of their starting defensive backs, but returning linebacker Shaq Thompson, cornerback Marcus Peters and defensive end Hau'oli Kikaha are three of the best defenders in the Pac-12.
After junior receivers Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant left for the NFL draft, and record-setting quarterback Tajh Boyd exhausted his eligibility, the Tigers are going to have to replace most of their firepower on that side of the ball. It might have been worse if offensive coordinator Chad Morris had left for a head-coaching job, but he's expected to be back at Clemson for at least one more season. Clemson's quarterback battle this coming season will be interesting, as coach Dabo Swinney will have to choose a starter from among rising senior Cole Stoudt, sophomore Chad Kelly and incoming freshman Deshaun Watson, one of the country's top recruits, who has verbally committed to the Tigers. On defense, junior end Vic Beasley decided to return for his senior season, while cornerback Bashaud Breeland left a year early.
After slipping from 12-1 in 2012 to 9-4 this past season, the Fighting Irish will have new play callers on both sides of the ball this coming season. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly is going to call the offensive plays, after former offensive coordinator Chuck Martin left to become the Miami (Ohio) coach. Kelly hired former Georgia and Auburn defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder, who was most recently the New York Jets' linebackers coach. The Irish might bring back seven starters on offense, after junior tailback George Atkinson III and tight end Troy Niklas entered the NFL draft. Quarterback Everett Golson, who missed the 2013 season while on academic suspension, has enrolled in classes and is expected to re-assume his starting job. Junior defensive tackle Louis Nix III and end Stephon Tuitt also turned pro, leaving gaping holes in Notre Dame's defensive front.
Besides LSU, the Trojans were hit harder than any other program by early defections to the NFL draft. Five juniors -- All-American receiver Marqise Lee, tight end Xavier Grimble, center Marcus Martin, defensive end George Uko and safety Dion Bailey -- are forgoing their final college seasons. Steve Sarkisian's first season as USC's coach won't be easy, especially since the Trojans are still feeling the effects of scholarship reductions from NCAA sanctions. The good news? Quarterback Cody Kessler and receiver Nelson Agholor are coming back, along with tailbacks Javorius Allen, Tre Madden and Justin Davis. New defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox also inherits eight returning starters on defense, including end Leonard Williams and safety Su'a Cravens.
After going from 4-8 to 8-4 this past season, the Hawkeyes might be ready to move back to the upper echelon of the Big Ten. But coach Kirk Ferentz is going to have to replace three very productive linebackers and two starting defensive backs from a unit that ranked in the top 10 in scoring defense, allowing only 18.9 points per game. On offense, quarterback Jake Rudock returns after throwing for 2,383 yards with 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He looked more comfortable in a hurry-up offense in the middle part of the season. Tailback Mark Weisman is also coming back after running for 975 yards with eight scores, and left tackle Brandon Scherff decided to return for his senior season, instead of entering the NFL draft. Like Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes should benefit mightily from an unbalanced Big Ten schedule. Iowa doesn't play Michigan, Michigan State or Ohio State during the regular season.
Former Louisville coach Charlie Strong replaces the departed Mack Brown, and the Longhorns can finally get back to playing football and not being consumed by speculation. Strong's first season probably hinges on whether former starting quarterback David Ash can return to the team because of concussions. If Ash can't play, rising sophomore Tyrone Swoopes or incoming freshman Jerrod Heard, an ESPN 300 prospect who has committed to the Longhorns, might get a chance to win the job. The Horns will have to replace three starting offensive linemen, as well as receiver Mike Davis. Strong figures to put a tougher and more physical defense on the field, and UT might bring back eight starters on that side of the ball. The schedule sets up well for a fast start in Strong's first season; UT plays six of its first seven games inside Texas, including neutral-site games against UCLA in Arlington and Oklahoma in Dallas.
It looks to be a make-it-or-break-it season for embattled Gators coach Will Muschamp after UF finished 4-8 this past season, its first losing campaign since going winless in 1979. Hopefully for Muschamp, the Gators will be much healthier than they were last season, when 13 players suffered season-ending injuries. Quarterback Jeff Driskel is coming back from a broken leg, and new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, formerly of Duke, will try to find the right kind of system for him. Also, Will Grier, the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback according to ESPN Recruiting, has already enrolled at UF and will participate in spring practice. There still seems to be a dearth of playmakers on offense, so UF might have to look for early help from its incoming freshmen. UF's defense was hit hard by the NFL draft; junior cornerbacks Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson, linebacker Ronald Powell and tackle Dominique Easley left school early.
After a 7-6 disaster this past season, in which the Wolverines lost five of their last six games, they'll be looking to bounce back in a big way in 2014. Coach Brady Hoke fired offensive coordinator Al Borges and replaced him with former Alabama coordinator Doug Nussmeier. Quarterback Devin Gardner is coming back for his senior season, but the offensive line is really going to have to improve if he's going to become more consistent. Michigan will have to replace left tackle Taylor Lewan, along with top receiver Jeremy Gallon and leading rusher Fitzgerald Toussaint. Seven starters are coming back on defense, but the Wolverines will have to replace both interior tackles and both safeties. The Wolverines won't play Iowa, Nebraska or Wisconsin during the regular season, but they'll play at Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State.
Say what you want about new Louisville coach Bobby Petrino, but the guy usually puts a winning team on the field. His first season back at Louisville shouldn't be any different in the Cardinals' first season in the ACC. The Cardinals have to find a replacement for departing junior Teddy Bridgewater, who might be the first quarterback taken in the NFL draft. Rising sophomores Will Gardner and Kyle Bolin will battle for the job, and they'll be surrounded by a lot of proven playmakers. Tailback Dominique Brown is coming back after running for 825 yards this past season, and Auburn transfer Michael Dyer might get new life under Petrino. The Cardinals also bring back seven players who caught at least 15 passes in 2013. Defensively, the Cardinals might bring back only four starters, after losing junior safety Calvin Pryor to the NFL draft. The ACC schedule makers gave the Cardinals a break; they'll play conference road games at Boston College, Clemson, Syracuse and Virginia.