- Travis Haney, ESPN Staff Writer
The college football offseason isn't as eventful as the ones in professional sports, but plenty of big news has kept fans (and teams) busy paying attention over the past few weeks and months.
Let's take a look at which teams have taken a step back -- and which have received a boost -- since the 2013 offseason began.
Most college football observers, myself included, had a similar response when they learned that Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson had been suspended from school.
It was a pretty flooring bit of news for late May, without question. Vegas responded by pushing Notre Dame's odds of winning a national title from 25-1 to anywhere from 40-1 to 50-1. Golson, at least to the smarts, meant that much to the Irish's chances. Some Notre Dame fans told me they thought Golson could have -- or still could, I guess -- evolved into a Heisman-type player. While I never saw that, he's a nice player, and it will certainly have an effect on how the offense performs this fall.
When I covered the Oklahoma game last year, perhaps Notre Dame's best win, Golson's play in the fourth quarter was what helped deliver a victory on the road. He showed the earmarks of improving and being a player that Brian Kelly, at heart an offensive-minded coach, could build around to attain some balance with what was an elite defense loaded with NFL-level talent.
Kelly can talk about Tommy Rees playing some last season, but the reality is he threw just 59 passes and was only the occasional reliever to a redshirt freshman.
But potential was the most operative word when describing Golson.
"He was young, growing, but he was a threat," said one coach who followed Golson in high school, in Myrtle Beach, S.C. "They'll miss that threat, because they didn't have much else on offense."
And that's precisely why the odds sagged, although the Irish still present fairly strong value when some of the other schools in that neighborhood -- Oklahoma State, Nebraska and UCLA among them -- are considered.
Steve Spurrier joked last year that he likes to play Georgia early in the season because it typically means a Bulldog or two (or more) is serving a suspension. So perhaps the Ball Coach got a chuckle last week (as he teed off?) when Mark Richt told reporters that safety Josh Harvey-Clemons would have to sit out the opener at Clemson.
One problem, on top of the fact that the Bulldogs are facing a talented team on the road: Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham had essentially been reworking the defense, one replacing a variety of starters, around Harvey-Clemons. He wanted to move the sophomore around, making him a sort of hybrid linebacker-safety, to offset what Clemson does with its tempo offense. And now? There's even more inexperience for a defense that lost 12 players who started a game in 2012. It doesn't make a win in Death Valley impossible, not with Aaron Murray and what should be an effective running game, but it doesn't help.