Offseason notes: The SEC's 7-year stranglehold on the national title finally gave way to the ACC and Florida State with its 34-31 win over Auburn in the final BCS Championship game. Now, let's see what happens with the new 4-team playoff format being instituted this year. Historically speaking, the odds are that the SEC can realistically expect to place 2 teams in the field.
But which two teams?
Virtually everyone thought Alabama was a lock in 2013, but rival Auburn staged a dramatic turnaround under first-year head Gus Malzahn as the Tigers went from 3-9 (0-8, SEC) in 2012 to 12-2 (7-1, SEC) in 2013.
Auburn's 34-28 win over 'Bama in the annual Iron Bowl rivalry game hurdled the Tigers into the SEC Championship contest where they prevailed 59-42 over Missouri.
Florida was a major disappointment in 2013 as the Gators fell over 16 points in the Congrove Computer Rankings power index over the course of the season.
In a remarkable show of restraint by the administration, Will Muschamp was not fired, but the seat is extremely hot entering the 2014 campaign.
In fact, the SEC's stable of head coaches would have remained 100% intact had James Franklin not opted to leave Vanderbilt to assume the head coaching reins at Penn State.
The one-time head coach in waiting at Maryland led the Commodores to unprecedented heights, compiling a 3-year record of 24-15 with 3 consecutive bowl appearances, 2 bowl victories and back-to-back 9-win seasons. Prior to his arrival in Nashville, the Commodores hadn't posted a 9-win season since 1915 and had only played in 4 bowl games. In 2013, Vanderbilt beat Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, and Tennessee in the same season for the first time in school history. The 'Dores closed the 2013 season on a 5-game winning streak after ending the 2012 campaign on a 7-game winning streak. Over the last two years, Vanderbilt was 10-0 in games played after October 26.
The new man in charge is former Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason. It is the first head coaching job for Mason who also coached defensive backs with the NFL's Minnesota Vikings for three seasons before joining the Cardinal staff in 2010.