The five worst offseasons in college football: Why three of 2023’s CFP finalists make the list

The college football offseason has quieted down after a whirlwind month since Michigan won the national title. Last week, we shared five teams who’ve had plenty to celebrate as eyes shift toward the 2024 season.

Here are teams on the other end of the spectrum, those that have the most to jeer about with spring practices gearing up around the country over the next few weeks.

5. Michigan

We hope the Wolverines took Advil because they’re due for an intense hangover in 2024. Head coach Jim Harbaugh, quarterback J.J. McCarthy, running back Blake Corum and wide receiver Roman Wilson are the biggest names heading the NFL, but the program must also deal with a depleted offensive line and departures of key defensive players, including cornerback Mike Sainristil, linebackers Junior Colson and Michael Barrett and defensive tackle Kris Jenkins.

Making matters worse is a much more difficult schedule in 2024, which includes an out-of-conference game against Texas and games against Big Ten newcomers USC, Oregon, and Washington, plus the regular season finale at Ohio State.

4. Washington 

After losing to Michigan in the national championship, Washington’s offseason got off to a rocky start when coach Kalen DeBoer left for Alabama. The Huskies lost quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and wide receivers Rome Odunze and Ja’Lynn Polk to the NFL Draft, creating a massive vacuum on offense for first-year head coach Jedd Fisch to fill.


The Bruins aren’t even an official member of the Big Ten, but they’ve already been burned by the conference. Former head coach Chip Kelly resigned and took the offensive coordinator role at Ohio State after months of speculation that Kelly and UCLA were headed toward a divorce. It’s rare for a coach at a major college program to willingly leave for a demotion; usually, those moves occur when a coach gets fired and is in need of image rehabilitation. Instead, it’s the Bruins that need to be built back up.

2. Alabama

Nick Saban’s retirement sent the Tide into an early tailspin this offseason. Per On3, Alabama ranks last in the site’s transfer portal team rankings. The Tide lost 28 players who are either five-, four-, or three-star recruits while only gaining seven.

Offensive lineman Kadyn Proctor, defensive back Caleb Downs and wide receiver Isaiah Bond were the biggest defections, while DeBoer also watched previous 2024 five-star high-school recruit Julian Sayin de-commit and choose Ohio State.

1. Oregon State

Nowhere was the 2024 offseason more catastrophic than in Corvallis. The Beavers are bracing for the implosion of the Pac-12 at the end of July which will leave them and the Washington State Cougars as the conference’s only members. Before the ship capsizes, multiple members of Oregon State’s eight-win 2023 team have found a life raft to their next destination.

Former coach Jonathan Smith became Michigan State’s head coach in December, while 2023 starting quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei left for Florida State, as did edge-rusher Sione Lolohea, who was second on the team last season with 8.5 tackles for loss. The team’s leading wide receiver, Silas Bolden, left for Texas, and tight end Jack Velling, who led the team with eight touchdown receptions, joined Smith in East Lansing.

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