The "talking season" - Steve Spurrier's label for coaches, players and fellow travelers taking the podium to gab about college football in July - is over.

Amid the clichés, we learned that every conference is the best and that every team has high hopes and question marks.

September can't come soon enough.

But a few themes stick out.

The Talking Season Top 5:

Consider the fans

Leave it to Alabama head coach Nick Saban, always good for some thoughtful nuggets at SEC Media Days. Saban brilliantly suggested programs in college football's Power 5 conferences eventually play regular season games only against each other.

"If we made that rule, we'd have 10 SEC games," Saban said.

Along with keeping Stanford head coach David Shaw from sniping at the SEC's "cupcake" non-conference schedules, 10 conference games with two non-conference games against Power 5 teams sounds more fun.

"It's what the fans want," Saban said. "I mean, we need to be more concerned about the people who support the programs and the university and come and see the games. I mean, those are the most important. But we never think about that."

'I like Dabo'

Well, of course Spurrier likes Dabo Swinney. The South Carolina head coach has five straight wins against his Clemson rival. And Swinney is the perfect foil for Spurrier's barbs, willing to take the bait while leaving Spurrier with November trump cards.

This month's give-and-take was astronomically different.

Swinney: "He's from Pluto, I'm from Mars."

Spurrier: "Dabo still thinks there are nine planets out there."

Swinney can take it. He's secure in Clemson's upside and is doing just well enough to keep critics of his 1-5 record against South Carolina at bay. Watch for the next Dabo dart when he does the ESPN interview circuit Tuesday.

But if you think this is college football's best coach vs. coach sideshow, just consider what happens if Swinney ever beats Spurrier again.

'Cheating pays'

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby initiated blasts at the NCAA for its "broken" rules enforcement capability.

"Cheating pays," Bowlsby said. He didn't mention names, but a lot of people in the traditionally investigated SEC took it personally.

Bowlsby is right; the NCAA just went six months without completing a major enforcement case, its quietest stretch since 1998.

Coming down hard on North Carolina for academic fraud would be a good start toward re-taking the high ground. If not, Bowlsby is right, the federal government might have to step in to police college athletics.

SEC Network muscle

"This is a commercial," SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said as he lobbied fans to bombard straggling cable and satellite providers for SEC Network access.



With the Aug. 4 launch date less than two weeks away, DirecTV remains the only major holdout in what has been a remarkable display of SEC muscle. Where virtually all other professional sports and college sports networks have had to gain footholds over years, the SEC with its brand-loyal customer base is almost completely locked in before its first major event, the Aug. 28 Texas A&M-South Carolina game.

Even a DirecTV addition seems shrewdly scripted. Official DISH Network banners were all over the place at SEC Media Days: "DISH is currently the only nationwide provider of the SEC Network."

The SEC probably cashed in on the sale of "currently," too.

Spring 'Have Not' Football

SMU head coach June Jones caused a stir with his idea that "have-nots" - that is, non-Power 5 Conference football programs - play their games in the spring. Most non-Power 5 coaches and commissioners disagree.

But credit Jones for a creative approach to an inevitable split. The first big step is Aug. 7 when the NCAA Division I Board of Directors is likely to vote for significant autonomy that will give the Power 5 its own say on issues such as full-cost-of-attendance scholarships and bowl game travel expenses for the families of players.

Spring football?

Maybe not.

Separate playoff systems for Division I haves and have-nots?

Probably so, eventually.

As Nick Saban says, consider what the fans want.

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff