QUICK COLLEGE FOOTBALL THOUGHTS–WEEK 13

Here are a few random thoughts regarding the debacle that was the hiring and then the not hiring of Greg Schiano as Tennessee’s next head football coach…

  • Let’s call this episode for what it truly was.  This was a case of a delusional, mob-mentality fan base who threw a hissy fit when athletic director John Currie didn’t hire the man they wanted for the job, a coach they had no chance of hiring, Jon Gruden.  They disguised their anger by claiming they opposed the hiring of Schiano because of his association with the Penn State football program as an assistant coach during the Jerry Sandusky scandal.  Despite there being no proof he knew of any of Sandusky’s improprieties, Schiano was labeled complicit, and therefore, unfit to be hired, by Tennessee supporters who in all honesty didn’t think Schiano was a good enough coach.  This coming from a school that is 62-64 in the last 10 years and is at best, the seventh best school in the SEC.  In the real world, that’s guilt by association, an unreasonable excuse for stopping an employer’s hiring process.  In the fantasy world of Knoxville, Tennessee, it’s enough to get your way and to bring the school to its gutless knees.  Here’s hoping that the employment lawyers, who are currently circling like planes trying to land at Hartsfield Airport, bleed the university dry.
  • The next casualty in this whole affair is Tennessee athletic director John Currie.  His failure to squash the rumors that Gruden was even considering the job and his apparent pliable backbone when it came to confronting the social media lynch mob that wanted Schiano out before he started, makes Currie’s position with the school untenable.  Currie sent a message to every potential coach, regardless of the sport, that the decision makers at the school are not him or the administration but state legislators and Facebook groups and Twitter followers instead.
  • Clay Travis should be ashamed of himself and exposed for being a poisonous and hypocritical snake.  Travis, the current host of Fox Sports Radio’s “Outkick the Coverage” and former analyst on Fox Sports 1’s college football pre-game show and their weekly SEC football show, instigated this entire mess when after learning that Tennessee was set to hire Schiano tweeted, incorrectly, that Schiano knew about child rape at Penn State and kept it quiet, adding that his hiring as the Vols next head coach was disgraceful.  The tweet incited the ensuing social media mob that led to the school’s reversal and was punctuated by a profanity laced blog post by Travis with the headline, “Tennessee Poised to Hire Loser Coach Named in Child Sex Investigation.”  His post included Currie’s cell phone number so his readers could text their displeasure over the hiring and the oxymoronic line, “After all, I am the King of Tolerance and I sit on the Iron Throne of Inclusion.”  Mind you, this is the same Clay Travis who earlier on Periscope encourage Tennessee to hire Bobby Petrino as their next head football coach, the same Bobby Petrino, who as the head coach at Arkansas, lied to his boss about his adultery to a student-athlete development coordinator for the football program.  It seems Travis believes being unfaithful to your wife, intentionally misleading your athletic director and giving preferential treatment in hiring your lover to the football staff are better qualities for Tennessee next football coach then a hiring a proven winner at the FBS level who according to a Board of Trustee member at Penn State, was not involved in the Jerry Sandusky scandal.  This whole episode proves that Travis’ opinions and his unsubstantiated statements are toxic to college football and that for the good of the sport, he needs to shut the hell up.
  • Fox college football analyst, Joe Klatt, perfectly summed up this dumpster fire when sent this tweet on Monday:  “Tennessee is now having to focus on coaches with ‘Tennessee ties’ because no one else will touch that job with a ten foot pole.  You were led by emotional hypocrites with a severe lack of football knowledge that incited an internet mob…you made your bed, now go to sleep!”

Now, here are some random thoughts about the play on the field for Week 13 in college football…

  • As of Sunday afternoon, it has been 421 days and counting since Michigan has defeated a team with a winning record.  The streak stayed intact after the Wolverines lost to Ohio State on Saturday, the third straight year Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has lost to the Buckeyes in his first three seasons at Ann Arbor.  The only other Michigan coach to lose his first three games to Ohio State was Rich Rodriquez.
  • Even though their loss to Auburn cost them a chance at a SEC championship, Alabama does have two scenarios in which they can still qualify for the college football playoffs.  An Ohio State victory over Wisconsin in the Big 10 title game increases Alabama’s chances, forcing the selection committee to choose between a one loss Crimson Tide and a two loss Buckeye team for one, if not the final, spot in the playoffs.  The second scenario, however, contains the best case for Nick Saban’s squad to make the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.  If TCU defeats Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship game, the selection committee will have to choose between two teams who failed to win their conference, a one loss Alabama and a two loss Oklahoma.  With their only loss coming to a strong Auburn team, the edge in that scenario favors the Crimson Tide.
  • Central Florida’s 49-42 victory over South Florida made it possible for 51 players on UCF’s roster to experience both a winless and an undefeated season in their college career.
  • Here’s installment two of the 2017 College Football Head Coaching Speculation Carousel:
    • Tennessee–Jeff Brohm, head coach Purdue
    • Texas A&M–Jimbo Fisher, head coach Florida State
    • Arizona State–Kevin Sumlin, former head coach Texas A&M
    • Arkansas–Gus Malzahn, head coach Auburn
    • Nebraska–Scott Frost, head coach, Central Florida

ONE MAN’S COLLEGE FOOTBALL RANKINGS

THE FINAL FOUR

1.Oklahoma

2.Clemson

3.Auburn

4.Wisconsin

FIRST FOUR OUT

5.Georgia

6.Alabama

7.Ohio State

8.Miami

NEXT FOUR OUT

9.Central Florida

10.USC

11.TCU

12.Washington

QUICK COLLEGE FOOTBALL THOUGHTS—WEEK 12

Here are some random thoughts about Week 12 of the college football season…

  • UCLA didn’t fire Jim Mora because they don’t want to lose to Florida on the chance to hire Chip Kelly or because he failed to win a PAC 12 title in his six seasons in Westwood.  Mora lost his job because he failed to make UCLA the dominant program in Los Angeles during a time when crosstown rival USC was down and because he essentially won nothing with Josh Rosen, arguably the number one overall pick in next year’s NFL Draft, as his quarterback.
  • Speaking of Chip Kelly, the PAC 12, a Power 5 conference that will more than likely not have a team selected for the college football playoff for the second time in four years, needs him just as much or even more than UCLA does as their next head football coach.
  • It’s hard to believe in today’s college football that Army is 8-3 even though they have completed 18 passes all season.
  • This Saturday’s matchup between Alabama and Auburn is more than just an annual renewal of a fierce in-state rivalry.  The winner of the Iron Bowl has won the SEC and played for the national championship in seven of the last eight  seasons.
  • Over the coming weeks, several athletic directors will begin their search for a new head football coach.  Shortly thereafter, these A.D.’s will identify their number one choice to lead their program.  Some will get the man they wanted while others will have to go to Plan B.  For those athletic directors who are forced to hire their second choice, all is not lost.  Just ask perennial national title contender, Alabama.  When the Crimson Tide were looking for Mike Shula’s replacement in 2007, their first choice was then West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriquez.  Rodriquez turned Alabama down, so athletic director Mal Moore offered the position to his second choice, a former college and NFL head coach by the name of Nick Saban.  Saban accepted and you know the rest.
  • Minutes after they suffered their second loss of the season, a 55-24 thrashing at Iowa,, the chances Ohio State had of making the college football playoffs seemed non-existent.  It’s now the penultimate week of the college football regular season and the Buckeyes, much to their critics chagrin and disbelief, are poised to make the playoffs for the third time in four years.  If Ohio State wins out against Michigan this weekend and then Wisconsin in the Big 10 championship, and Alabama and Oklahoma win out, the college football playoff selection committee will have to choose between a two-loss Buckeye squad and the loser of the ACC title game, either Clemson or Miami, for the fourth and final spot.  There are a lot of “what if’s” for Ohio State to have a chance at a national championship but the prospect is certainly a lot better than it was three weeks ago.
  • Here’s installment one of the Coaching Carousel Speculations, a guess of who will become the new head coach at the following schools that are actively searching for a replacement:
    • Florida—Matt Campbell, head coach Iowa State
    • Tennessee—Dan Mullen, head coach Mississippi State
    • UCLA—Chip Kelly, former Oregon and Philadelphia Eagles head coach
  • Based on his statistical performance, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield will in all likelihood win this year’s Heisman Trophy.  His performance as a football player has been unparalleled.  Sadly, the same can’t be said for his behavior.  Once again, the childish, immature Baker Mayfield reered its ugly head, this time against Kansas last Saturday when he chided Jayhawk fans from the Oklahoma bench and grabbed his crotch and shouted expletives towards the Kansas sidelines.  These ongoing antics are tiresome, boorish and beneath the level of a player with Mayfield’s talents.  If he can allow the actions of a 1-9 Kansas team get underneath his skin, heaven help him when it comes time to play Alabama or Clemson.  If there was any other player who could come close to matching Mayfield’s performance this season, he surely would not win the Heisman.  But as the Heisman voters have shown in the past, a player’s character or his off-the-field antics doesn’t affect who wins the award.  If it did, Cam Newton, Johnny Menzies and Jameis Winston never would have won.  So, despite his deplorable behavior Mayfield will win this year’s Heisman, even though his questionable character is what everyone will remember about his 2017 season and his college career.  And that, it truly unfortunate.

ONE MAN’S COLLEGE FOOTBALL RANKINGS—WEEK 12

THE FINAL FOUR

1.Alabama

2.Miami

3.Oklahoma

4.Clemson

FIRST FOUR OUT

5.Wisconsin

6.Auburn

7.Georgia

8.Ohio State

NEXT FOUR OUT

9.Central Florida

10.Notre Dame

11.USC

12.TCU

QUICK COLLEGE FOOTBALL THOUGHTS–WEEK 11

Here are some random thoughts about Week 11 in college football…

  • Tennessee fans can give up any hope that they’ll replace Butch Jones with Jon Gruden as their new  head football coach.  There’s no way Gruden is leaving the cozy confines of the ESPN broadcast booth for the pressure cooker of the SEC.  Besides, the environment in Knoxville is so toxic right now the Volunteers will struggle to convince a Power 5 coach to come to Tennessee much less a high profile candidate like Gruden.
  • Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield will probably win this year’s Heisman Trophy but as Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) aptly tweeted this past weekend, “Baker Mayfield was put on this earth to sucker the Cleveland Browns.”
  • Alabama will more than likely become the number one team in this week’s college football playoff rankings but their 31-24 comeback win against Mississippi State Saturday night exposed how much their recent injuries  on defense have hurt their chances of winning a national championship.
  • Miami, Florida is a legitimate national championship contender and they can thank their defense for the opportunity.  The Hurricanes became the first team on Saturday since 2011 to force four or more turnovers in four straight games.
  • Auburn looked the part of the best team in the country in their 40-17 throttling of number one ranked Georgia on Saturday.  Their offense amassed 488 total yards against the conference’s best defense while allowing only 86 yards on Georgia’s 10 drives that did not result in a touchdown.
  • The biggest obstacle Wisconsin faces in making the college football playoff is not themselves or their strength of schedule but instead the conference they play in.  The 2017 Big 10 is full of under-achieving, inconsistent, and just plain bad teams.  It makes the Badgers undefeated record seem less impressive than a one or even two loss team from the ACC, SEC or Big 12.
  • With each passing week, it appears more and more likely that the 2017 college football playoffs  will include a two-loss or two teams from the same conference or even both.
  • It looks like it is time for Illinois to pull the plug on the Lovie Smith head coaching experiment after just two seasons.  The Illini are just 5-17 overall and 2-14 in the Big 10 under Smith and falling rapidly in the wrong direction.
  • When Luke Fickell was hired from Ohio State to become the head coach at Cincinnati, he promised to bring discipline to the Bearcats in 2017.  So far, it seems Fickell’s discipline got lost between Columbus and Cincinnati.  In their last two games, the Bearcats have been penalized a total of 23 times for 230 yards and for the year, Cincinnati averages 7.9 penalties for 79.2 yards per game.  Until Fickell cleans up his team’s penchant for penalties, the Bearcats will continue to find themselves mired in mediocrity.
  • Make no mistake, Florida State is paying Louisiana-Monroe $1 million to reschedule their game from September so they can earn the opportunity to become bowl eligible.  However, the Seminoles large payout isn’t a desperate attempt for them to continue their 35-year bowl game streak alive but instead a chance for coach Jimbo Fisher to gain valuable post-season practice time for a talented, yet inexperienced team.  This is all about building towards 2018.
  • In an effort to keep up with the Joneses, the Big 12 decided to have a championship game this year like the other Power 5 conferences, even though they don’t have two divisions.  It was done to increase the conference’s chances of having a team in the college football playoffs.  This year, though, a championship game may damage the Big 12’s hope s of having a final four team.  In all likelihood, Oklahoma will finish the regular season with one conference loss, the only team in the Big 12 with such a record.  Without having a conference championship, the Sooners probably would have made the playoffs with just one loss.  Now, Oklahoma will have to play an extra game against a two-loss team.  A loss by the Sooners, a distinct possibility if they have to play Oklahoma State again, and they and the Big 12 will once again be shut out of the college football playoffs.

ONE MAN’S COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF RANKINGS

THE FINAL FOUR

1.Alabama

2.Miami

3.Clemson

4.Oklahoma

FIRST FOUR OUT

5.Auburn

6.Wisconsin

7.Georgia

8.Ohio State

NEXT FOUR OUT

9.Central Florida

10.Notre Dame

11.USC

12.Oklahoma State

ONE MAN”S CURRENT HEISMAN TROPHY BALLOT

1st Place–Baker Mayfield, quarterback, Oklahoma

2nd Place–Bryce Love, running back, Stanford

3rd Place–Saquon Barkley, running back, Penn State

4th Place–Khalil Tate, quarterback, Arizona

5th Place–Jonathan Taylor, running back, Wisconsin

QUICK COLLEGE FOOTBALL THOUGHTS–WEEK 10

Here are some random thoughts about Week 10 in college football…

  • The ugly beat goes on in Bloomington, Indiana.  The Hoosiers 45-17 loss to Wisconsin on Saturday marked the 37th straight game in which Indiana has lost to an AP Top 10 team.
  • The early reports out of Gainesville is that Central Florida head coach Scott Frost is the front-runner to become the next head coach at the University of Florida.
  • The mood inside the Florida State locker room has apparently reached a boiling point.  According to multiple reports, there is internal strife amongst the coaching staff with the majority of the heat being directed at defensive coordinator Charles Kelly.  Meanwhile, the Seminoles have offered Louisiana-Monroe $1 million to reschedule their game cancelled earlier this year due to Hurricane Irma so they can have a chance at six wins in 2017 and keep their streak alive of appearing in a bowl game every year since 1982.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.
  • Even though Oklahoma State scored 52 points in their loss to Oklahoma on Saturday, there is something either physically or mentally wrong with their quarterback Mason Rudolph.  An early season Heisman Trophy contender, Rudolph is not the same passer now that he was earlier in the season.
  • In the coming weeks, multiple FBS schools will begin their search for a new head football coach.  Many, if not all, of these schools administrators will contact Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy to gauge his interest in their position and most of them would happily have him as their new leader of their football program.  But before any athletic director falls head over heels in love with Gundy, they should ask themselves one critical question:  When was the last time Gundy won a big or meaningful game at Oklahoma State?
  • Slowly but surely, and without much fanfare, Will Muschamp is building South Carolina into a perennial SEC and national championship contender.
  • Last Sunday afternoon, it seemed improbable but after the dust had settled on Saturday, it now looks more likely than not that the college football playoffs will begin without a team from the Big 10 Conference.  If that scenario plays out, every school in the conference will suffer as each of them receive $400,000 when a member school makes the college football Final Four.
  • There’s no question that once the fourth quarter started, Ohio State shut it down against Iowa on Saturday.  Like it or not, that’s all on Urban Meyer and it looks and smells very similar to how his time at Florida ended.
  • Here’s a suggestion to any team who has to punt against Washington.  Don’t kick the ball anywhere near Husky kick returner Dante Pettis.  His nine punt return touchdowns is enough evidence for any opponent, from this point forward, to do anything but kick the ball in Pettis’ general direction.

ONE MAN’S HEISMAN BALLOT–NOVEMBER 5, 2017

1ST PLACE–Baker Mayfield, quarterback, Oklahoma

2ND PLACE–Saquon Barkley, running back, Penn State

3RD PLACE–Bryce Love, running back, Stanford

4TH PLACE–Micah Fitzpatrick, cornerback, Alabama

5TH PLACE–Josh Adams, running back, Notre Dame

ONE MAN’S COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF BALLOT–NOVEMBER 5, 2017

FINAL FOUR

1.Georgia

2.Alabama

3.Miami, Florida

4.Notre Dame

FIRST FOUR OUT

5.Clemson

6.Oklahoma

7.TCU

8.Wisconsin

NEXT FOUR OUT

9.Auburn

10.Central Florida

11.Washington

12.Ohio State

QUICK COLLEGE FOOTBALL THOUGHTS–WEEK 9

Here are some “surprising” thoughts about Week 9 in college football…

  • The most surprising team in the month of October was Boston College.  After finishing the month of September 2-3, the Eagles went 3-1 that included wins over Louisville and Florida State.  What makes this resurgence even more impressive is that it may just mark the beginning of a championship run in Chestnut Hill.  The Eagles are the only FBS team with a freshman who leads the team in rushing, passing and receiving.
  • Florida State fans have been surprised by their team’s performance so far this season and not in a good way.  Ever since the Seminoles lost quarterback Deondre Francois to a season-ending injury in their opening game against Alabama, the year has mostly been lost.  With a 2-5 record and games left against Clemson, Syracuse and Florida.  FSU is looking at their first losing season since 1976 and failing to appear in a bowl game for the first since 1982.
  • Considering it took place two days before Halloween, it isn’t surprising that Florida fired head coach Jim McElwain,  Quite frankly, his firing was based on a witch hunt conducted by the local and national media over a perceived fabrication of death threats to himself, his players and his staff in what they believed was an attempt to change the narrative of his job status.  The media beat the drum so loud that university administrators, who were looking for any opportunity to divorce themselves from their head coach, caved and dismissed McElwain one day after they lost to arch-rival Georgia, 42-7.  True, the Gators have struggled this season, especially on the offensive side of the ball.  But how else do you explain firing a coach who when the month of October started was 16-3 against the SEC?
  • When Bret Bielema resigned as the head coach at Wisconsin to take the same position at Arkansas in 2013, everyone in college football was surprised.  In his seven seasons as the Badgers head coach, Bielema was 68-24, 37-19 in the Big 10 and won three conference titles.  Now in his fifth year at Arkansas, Bielema and the Razorback fan base are certainly having second thoughts.  Bielema, who probably saved his job for the time being after Arkansas came back from a 31-7 deficit Saturday against Ole Miss to win, 38-37, has a 26-26 overall record and an 11-22 SEC won-loss record.  Simply put, Bielema has been a major disappointment and barring something unexpected, will probably lose his job at the end of the season.
  • Don’t be surprised when the college football selection committee announces their initial rankings of the 2017 season that Georgia sits atop the list.  Here’s what the rest of the rankings might look like when they are announced on Tuesday:  First Four In:  1. Georgia, 2. Alabama, 3. Ohio State, 4. Miami.  First Four Out:  5. Notre Dame, 6. Clemson, 7. Penn State, 8. TCU.  Next Four Out:  9. Oklahoma State, 10. Oklahoma, 11. Wisconsin, 12. Virginia Tech.
  • Penn State’s Saquon Barkley’s Heisman Trophy coronation game against Ohio State on Saturday took a surprising turn after the Buckeyes defense suffocated the Nittany Lions running back, holding him to 49 yards rushing on 21 attempts.  Not only did the 39-38 loss severely damage Penn State’s playoff hopes, but Barkley’s sub-par performance on a national stage altered the Heisman race as well.  With the month of October now in the books, here’s one man’s current Heisman ballot:  First place-Barkley; 2nd place-Mason Rudolph, quarterback, Oklahoma State; 3rd place-J.T. Barrett, quarterback, Ohio State; 4th place-Baker Mayfield, quarterback, Oklahoma; 5th place-Josh Adams, running back, Notre Dame.
  • After listening to the FOX broadcast of the Ohio State-Penn State game, it was surprising to hear that play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson didn’t suffer a heart attack or lose his voice.  For over four hours, from the opening kickoff to the final play, Johnson screamed and yelled every description of the game as if the technology of television microphones did not exist.  It’s one thing to show emotion and excitement during the telecast when the opportunity arises.  Just listen to Joe Buck during the World Series this year and you’ll hear how it is supposed to be done.  Putting up with Johnson, on the other hand, describing the action as if he is under enemy attack is distracting and flat-out annoying.
  • Baylor University should have known their football season would come to this.  After deciding to literally clean out their football program prior to the start of 2017 following the Art Briles regime that featured players and staff run amok and allegations of sexual assault, it shouldn’t surprise the school that they are winless so far this year and probably won’t win a game the rest of the season.  That’s no reflection on the coach they hired to rebuild and redeem the program, Matt Ruhle.  He’s the absolute best man for the job, a coach who has rebuilt a program from the ashes (Temple) and who conducts his business with integrity and holds all his players accountable.  No, the Bears are falling on hard times because karma has a way of making you pay a very hefty price.

QUICK COLLEGE FOOTBALL THOUGHTS–WEEK 8

Here’s a look at 12 teams most likely to contend for a spot in the college football playoffs and their chances of making the final four cut.  Plus, a couple random thoughts about Week 8 in college football…

THE FINAL FOUR

Alabama, 8-0

SO FAR:  Even though the SEC is unusually mediocre this season, Alabama is the best team in the country because they beat the teams they’re supposed to and by a margin that reflects their dominance.

WHAT”S LEFT:  vs. LSU, at Auburn, SEC title game

OUTLOOK:  Normally, one loss would still guarantee Alabama a spot in the playoffs.  But with a weak SEC this season, that prospect isn’t so certain.  That being said, the Crimson Tide are the one undefeated team who can afford to lose one game and still make the playoffs.

PENN STATE, 7-0

SO FAR:  Running back Saquon Barkley has Penn State in line for a playoff spot en route to becoming the Heisman Trophy front-runner.

WHAT’S LEFT:  at Ohio State

OUTLOOK:  A loss to Ohio State this week and they have to hope the Buckeyes lose twice more in the conference to stay alive for a playoff spot.  They win out, however, and they are in

TCU, 7-0

SO FAR:  The reason TCU is in the college football playoff conversation is because they do something the rest of the Big 12 conference doesn’t do–play defense.

WHAT’S LEFT:  The Horned Frogs have the toughest remaining schedule of the current undefeated teams:  at Iowa State, at Oklahoma, the Big 12 title game.

OUTLOOK;  Win out and they’re in.  Lose and they need lots of help.

GEORGIA, 7-0

SO FAR:  The biggest surprise of the college football season, the Bulldogs have the most impressive non-conference road win of the year at Notre Dame.

WHAT’S LEFT:  vs. Florida, at Auburn, SEC title game

OUTLOOK;  They can afford one loss and remain in contention for one of the four spots.

FIRST FOUR OUT

MIAMI, FLORIDA, 6-0

SO FAR:  This year’s cardiac kids, the Hurricanes have twice saved their season (Florida State and Georgia Tech) in the last-minute of the game.

WHAT’S LEFT:  vs. Notre Dame, ACC title game

OUTLOOK:  They win out and they’re in if a team in front of them stumbles.  You get the feeling, though, their late game luck will eventually run out.

OHIO STATE, 6-1

SO FAR:  The loss to Oklahoma is not a killer and if their offense continues to play at the level it has since then, the Buckeyes will return to the college football playoffs.

WHAT’S LEFT:  vs. Penn State, at Michigan, Big 10 title game

OUTLOOK:  They are the lone team with one loss that will make the playoffs if they win out, regardless of what any current undefeated team does.  Another loss and they’re done.

NOTRE DAME, 6-1

SO FAR:  For undoubtedly the first time in school history, the Irish are flying under the college football radar.  Their only loss was at home to Georgia and their dismantling of USC last week makes them a serious contender.

WHAT’S LEFT:  vs. North Carolina State, at Miami, at Stanford

OUTLOOK:  They are the one team currently with one loss that benefits from not playing a conference championship thanks to their remaining schedule.  Win their remaining games and they can watch the carnage unfold on Championship Saturday.

CLEMSON, 6-1

SO FAR:  Their loss to Syracuse doesn’t eliminate them  but they no longer control their own destiny.  The road to defending their title is full of potholes and needed detours by more than one team.

WHAT’S LEFT:  at North Carolina State, ACC title game

OUTLOOK:  They must win out and hope they defeat an undefeated Miami in the ACC championship game to have any chance at the playoffs.  Even then, it might not be enough.

THE NEXT FOUR OUT

OKLAHOMA STATE, 6-1

SO EAR:  The loss to TCU doesn’t look so bad now and if they beat the Horned Frogs in a rematch in the Big 12 championship game, they probably punch their ticket to the playoffs.  But before then…

WHAT’S LEFT:  at West Virginia, vs. Oklahoma, at Iowa State, Big 12 title game.

OUTLOOK:  The Cowboys have a brutal remaining schedule so if they win out, which is a must, they deserve a spot in the playoffs.

OKLAHOMA, 6-1

SO FAR;  The Sooners are the college football version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  At times they look like the best team in the country.  Fifteen minutes later, they look like they couldn’t beat Kansas.

WHAT’S LEFT:  at Oklahoma State, vs. TCU, Big 12 title game

OUTLOOK:  They need to win and hope Ohio State does the same to have any shot at the playoffs.

WISCONSIN, 7-0

SO FAR:  Without question, the Badgers are the weakest remaining undefeated team.  To make matters worse, they have no games left on their schedule where they can make a statement that they belong in the playoffs.

WHAT’S LEFT:  Big 10 title game

OUTLOOK:  They need to run the table to have any chance.  If they do, they at least have a seat at the table when discussing who should be in the playoffs.

NORTH CAROLINA STATE, 6-1

SO FAR:  Of all the teams with one loss, the Wolfpack sustained the most damaging one, a defeat to South Carolina.  It’s a loss the selection committee may not be able to ignore.

WHAT’S LEFT:  at Notre Dame, vs. Clemson, ACC title game

OUTLOOK:  Currently, they are the biggest longshot to make the playoffs.  They have to win out and hope for lots of help.

Some random thoughts…

  • Remember when Jim Harbaugh was hired at Michigan to save the Wolverines from the depths of hell created by former head coach Brady Hoke?  In his first 33 games as Michigan’s head coach, Harbaugh’s record is 25-8.  In Hoke’s first 33 games at Michigan, his record was 25-8.  Good thing the folks in Ann Arbor got rid of that scourge, Brady Hoke.
  • College football games lasting more than four hours are common place and it’s completely unnecessary.  The game should take no longer than a little more than three hours and the reason they don’t is the sport’s instant replay system.  Every replay request in college football is initiated by an official in the booth and they have the authority to stop the action so they can review any ruling by the officials on the field, something they seemingly do after every down.  College football needs to adopt the NFL’s replay procedures where the head coach has a limited number of replay requests while the replay official only initiates a review of all scoring plays, turnovers and any plays in the final two minutes of each half and overtime.  The NFL’s replay system doesn’t measurably slow down the game and rarely are any of their non-overtime games  longer than three and half hours in duration, a game time college football needs immediately.

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QUICK COLLEGE FOOTBALL THOUGHTS–WEEK 7

Here are some random thoughts about Week 7 in college football…

  • Losing to Syracuse, 27-24, on Friday night didn’t seriously jeopardize Clemson’s chances of defending their national championship title later this year.  On the other hand, losing their starting quarterback, Kelly Bryant,  who was injured Friday night, for any significant period of time, will eliminate any chance the Tigers have of qualifying for the college football playoffs.
  • When Florida hired Jim McElwain from Colorado State to become their head football coach in 2015, they expected he would bring his high-powered offense to Gainesville.  McElwain is now in his third year at Florida, and Gator fans are still waiting for his high scoring offense to arrive.  In 2015 and 2016, the Gators averaged a little more than 23 points per game, and this year, through six games, they have only averaged 20.7 points per game.  Florida was fortunate enough to play in a sub-par SEC East in 2015 and 2016 so their uninspired offense didn’t prevent them from playing in the SEC Championship game the last two seasons.  This year, with Georgia leading the East as one of the top five teams in the country, Florida’s disappointing offensive output for the third consecutive season has them on the outside looking in when it comes to another SEC division title.  McElwain has six more games this year to fix his ailing offense.  Otherwise, he will start 2018 squarely on top of the head coach’s hot seat.
  • There’s no question head coach Butch Jones is a dead man walking at Tennessee.  It’s not a matter of if Jones is fired but rather when he’ll lose his job.  And if the decision-makers in Knoxville are smart, they’ll wait unit the end of the season before pulling the plug.  The short-term solution is to fire Jones now and replace him with an interim head coach.  The problem with the immediate fix is that if the interim coach improves the team’s performance or turns things around in their remaining six games, the Tennessee administration is almost forced to remove the interim tag and make their short-term choice their permanent head coach.  Ask the folks at LSU about how that has worked out with Ed “Sling Blade” Orgeron.  The smart move is to let Jones finish an already lost season and conduct a nationwide search at the end of the season for his replacement.
  • Wisconsin is the most over-rated remaining unbeaten team in the country.  Yes, they’re 6-0 but their wins are against Utah State, Florida Atlantic, BYU, Northwestern and Purdue.  Chances are they will finish the regular season undefeated since they don’t play Penn State or Ohio State and their toughest remaining opponent is at home against an under-achieving Michigan.  Badger fans will start clamoring for a spot in the college football playoffs but don’t buy it.  They simply haven’t and probably won’t play a strong opponent until the Big 10 Championship game.
  • Auburn’s epic collapse at LSU on Saturday cost them any chance at a SEC Championship and a place in the college football playoffs.  The Tigers blew a 20-0 second quarter lead, a 23-7 third quarter lead and a 23-14 fourth quarter lead before losing 27-23, and in the process, exposing head coach Gus Malzahn as someone who coaches poorly in tight spots.
  • Let’s not get carried away with the notion that Ohio State has solved their early season offensive struggles.  True, they have averaged 53.2 points per game since their loss to Oklahoma in week two.  The reality, though, is the Buckeyes five-game offensive explosion has come at the expense of Army, UNLV, Rutgers, Maryland and Nebraska.  Let’s see how they perform in two weeks against Penn State before passing judgment on the rebirth of the Ohio State offense.
  • There once was a time, boys and girls, when Nebraska was one of the premier football programs in the country.  Sadly, that is no longer the case.  Since they last appeared in the Big 10 Championship game in 2012, the Cornhuskers are a pedestrian 36-23 and an unacceptable to the team’s supporters, 18-15 since Mike Riley replaced Bo Pelini as the head coach in 2015.  Nebraska fans don’t expect .500 records and don’t get excited about an invite to the Armed Forces Bowl.  Instead, the home crowd in Lincoln expects championships and a bid to the college football playoffs.  At the very least, they expect a New Year’s Day Six Bowl.  That’s what makes Nebraska’s current state of affairs intolerable to the fan base.  To make matters worse for Riley, the call for his head on a pike only increased Saturday night when the Cornhuskers were embarrassed at home, 56-14, by Ohio State, a currently elite college football program Nebraska once was.  The fans and the administration demand they return to Ohio State’s level as soon as possible and Riley has five games left to prove he is the man to lead that charge back.  Unfortunately, he probably has already run out of time.
  • From top to bottom, the PAC-12 is the best overall conference in college football this year.  But because the teams cannibalize one another on a weekly basis, their only hope of having a team in the college football playoffs is if one-loss USC wins the rest of their games, beginning with their game at Notre Dame this week.  It’s a tall order since the Trojans have relied on quarterback Sam Darnold too much for their success, making their margin for error razor-thin.  Unless USC can balance their offensive attack with the running game they showed against Stanford in week two, the PAC-12 will be the bridesmaid of the Power Five conferences come playoff selection Sunday.
  • If someone would have told you at the end of the 2015 season that the University of Central Florida would be the second best college football team in the state of Florida in 2017, you would have escorted them to the front of the drug testing line.  Eight games into the 2015 season, George O’Leary resigned from his head coaching position and the Knights finished the year 0-12.  UCF hired Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost as their new head coach and in less than two seasons, he has indeed built a program that is the second best in the state of Florida.  Last year, the Knights finished the year 6-7 and a berth in the AutoNation Cure Bowl.  This year, UCF is 5-0, ranked 20th in the country and their 47.5 points per game leads the NCAA.  The Knights are in line for a New Year’s Day Six bowl game as long as they can defeat Navy and arch rival South Florida.  Meanwhile, Frost is at the top of the list of every Power Five school looking to replace their current head coach.
  • The best comeback story in college football this season is the Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) football program.  At the end of the 2014 season, the school, citing rapidly increasing costs, shut down the football program.  Six months later, after much debate and contentious arguments from former players and alumni, UAB reversed their decision and announced they would reinstate the football program beginning in 2017.  Despite not playing a down in two years, the Blazers are 4-2 so far this season and only one game behind North Texas in the Conference USA Western Division.  If UAB wins two more games and qualifies for a bowl game, it will culminate one of the most remarkable turnarounds in college football history.