Now we know, so what comes next?

It's Urban's world now, so where does this leave USC -- and the SEC, for that matter?

Now we know.

We know where college football is going to be going the next few years.

Through Columbus, Ohio.

And the only surprise there is that Urban Meyer got here so quickly. And without his top two quarterbacks. How is that possible? Who's ever done that?

Not even Pete Carroll could have pulled that off. Although Pete was coaching a mere college-program-in-waiting for the NFL.

Urban, as anyone who has ever been to Columbus knows, is running Ohio's third pro team -- and one in far better shape than the ones in Cincinnati and Cleveland.

It was just a matter of time. The Buckeyes are John Calipari's version of college basketball at Kentucky -- only with a better coach who knows you won't win with with those Midwestern guys exclusively, you need tough athletes who can run and play with quicks.

But there's no NCAA in any mood to accept a hit job on the Bucks no matter how much they win. Unlike USC, they're good to go.

Makes you realize if you're one of college football's elite historic programs and you need fixing up, you do what the Buckeyes did or you go out the way Alabama did and hire Nick Saban, or like Michigan, you hire Jim Harbaugh.

Everybody else is pretty much a reach -- at LSU, Texas, Notre Dame and USC -- among the Top 10 all-time. This is not easy.

As Urban showed, it starts with recruiting. How else do you have three quarterbacks that capable?

But then you have to coach them up to make plays like that. And as USC fans know only too well, allowing or enabling an experienced veteran to do those things in the fourth quarter can seem a bridge too far.

It takes a calm, comfortable hand at the helm, supremely confident and competitive. But how many of those are out there?

And how many can get a new offensive line with no real name-brand guys to be able to block like the Bucks did by season's end?

And get his team to just keep getting better by leaps and bounds totally believing in what it's doing, in large part because they see that it's the right thing to do?

Pete could. Urban can. Need to see the TCU guy do it a few more years against top competition before he gets on the list.

Sure, Oregon ran out of receivers -- and didn't have enough defenders -- to get there. But then we knew that. Had FSU been the other team, they'd have been fine. But unlike a number of championship teams who got lucky in their BCS title game opponent, it wasn't to be.

But looking at the landscape of college football right now, forget conferences. That's the "SEC, SEC" BS. Ohio State's rise doesn't make Indiana and Purdue any better.

It's all about programs and coaches. And even more so, players. Like Pete's teams, you have to be physical with speed and skill. You have to be tough enough to stop someone's power and fast enough to run away from them. And just cutting edge enough on offense.

USC is one of the few programs set up by history and geography with the chance to survive a two-game playoff. And the only one in the Pac-12 with the potential to get it done at the end of the year.

Who knows, in the coming years, the college football world may just be calling on the Trojans to take down an insufferable Buckeye bunch as USC historically did behind John McKay and Pete who had the number of Woody Hayes and Jim Tressel. After all, there's no one the SEC folks hate more than the Buckeyes.

USC can recruit enough of the right players. The moment will never be too much, or shouldn't be, for a program with 11 national championships, a postseason tradition that is second to none and the producer of more NFL players, Hall of Famers, No. 1 and first-round picks than anyone.

Coming off sanctions that didn't kill the program, USC could be in the right place at the right time. Naming teams that will challenge OSU next season, Paul Finebaum finished his short list of candidates with an "SC will be back" inclusion Tuesday.

Whether USC has a defensive front seven or a DC like Luke Fickell to make that happen is the big question, obviously.

But in the next couple of years, what USC needs is to have a Nick or an Urban or a Pete or a JK step up and take the Trojans there.

And while Urban and Nick were sure things, Pete and JK were not. They made their Hall of Fame names here at USC.

And they did that by winning national championships. Which is where Steve Sarkisian says this is going -- starting this week with winter workouts.

So we can only hope that some day in the next few years when, say an Oklahoma comes along to find the next Bud Wilkinson, the search committee is told to go out and find somebody like that "Sark" guy the way USC did.

You know, a younger version of Urbie and Nick. Which is what it will take for USC to do what Trojan fans expect to happen next.

Now we know.

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