1. Mark Helfrich’s hiring of Brady Hoke to take over the Oregon defense is the most interesting hire of a coordinator going into 2016. Unlike Will Muschamp and Gene Chizik, two former high-profile head coaches who worked as defensive coordinators last season, Hoke has never been a coordinator. And he’s never been saddled with the issues that the Ducks’ offense presents to its defense: Stop the opponent while staying on the field forever. The learning curve may be gentle: Oregon doesn’t play an FBS opponent that finished 2015 with a winning record until Week 5.
2. The bad news is that more than 100 juniors declared their eligibility for the NFL draft. It is their right, and godspeed. But it also is sobering testimony that the power of dreams can overwhelm reality. The good news is that a good number of talented juniors -- Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, Indiana guard Dan Feeney and LSU corner Tre’Davious White, to name three -- looked at the evidence and made the decision to come back. Time will prove if they made the right decision. But it’s safe to assume that they didn’t listen to people telling them what they wanted to hear.
3. Edward Aschoff’s column about Year 2 at Florida under Jim McElwain points out that the Gators limped to the finish line, losing their last three games to top-15 teams by a total of 73 points. The Gators finished 10-4 and won the SEC East title, and the lingering perfume of McElwain’s first season, in which he won SEC Coach of the Year, masks the reality of the task ahead of him. While it’s not true that Florida would have been better off going 8-5 this year, it is true that the Gators’ success chewed up the cushion that McElwain could use in Year 2.