When the previous edition of the future power rankings launched on March 3, 2020, the coronavirus pandemic had not yet affected college football.
After a season unlike any other, the sport is looking forward to returning to some sense of normalcy. But the effects of the pandemic linger in many areas, including player eligibility, a key component in shaping the power rankings. For those new to this series, the power rankings survey the next three seasons — 2021, 2022 and 2023 — and assess the top 25 teams for quarterback, offense, defense and overall team strength. Since the 2020 season didn’t count against any player’s eligibility, all non-seniors could play at least two more seasons. This could dramatically change how some teams are evaluated at quarterback or with overall units.
I will evaluate non-seniors based on the likelihood of them returning for 2022 (and 2023). Predicting transfers is even trickier but also part of this process. While these lists always are based on personnel — both current rosters and recruits — coaching plays an increasingly important role, especially at quarterback. I doubt we’ll see teams like Oklahoma (Lincoln Riley), Ohio State (Ryan Day), Florida (Dan Mullen) or Alabama (pick an offensive coordinator) ever fall below No. 10, at least not for any extended period.
Let’s get started with this year’s rundown.