College Football Thoughts
And so we come down to the Final weekend of this college football season that has seen so many twists and turns. Some thoughts.
On Sunday we’ll know who has qualified for the first College Football Playoff. But as we have come to realize, this really is nothing more than a four-team BCS, where the teams are chosen by humans, rather than a two-team BCS chosen, in part, by computers. It has made the shrillness of the argument surrounding TCU and Baylor a huge annoyance, and has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that this needs to be at least an eight-team playoff with the Conference champions of the Power-5 leagues, along with three at-large teams, or better yet, a Full 16-team playoff that allows everyone in FBS the opportunity to play for a national championship.
If we had the expanded playoff, neither TCU nor Baylor would be sweating it out this weekend. You wouldn’t have one school hiring a PR Firm and the other trying to justify its placing despite a loss to the other. Personally, I think the committee has done it right from the get go. They are looking at the whole body of work, and if you’re not going to go undefeated like Florida State, then more subjective factors are going to come into play. Your strength of schedule. Who you beat, and, yes, who you lost to. When you look at it that way, TCU has the strength of schedule edge by virtue of its game against, more than respectable Minnesota (A 30-7 win), and its loss (On the road at Baylor, in a game that they led by 21 with eleven minutes to play). Baylor can play the head-to-head card, but it doesn’t look nearly as good when you’ve allowed 58 points and over 600 yards as they did. And a two-touchdown loss at West Virginia, which while a decent squad this season, is not as impressive a loss as TCU’s.
If the committee has done anything, it’s been to tell teams to schedule better out of conference games. Baylor has Duke coming up, and Duke is more than just a basketball school now, but they also can’t be scheduling Incarnate Word as they have in 2019. Still, beyond all of the harrumphing between the schools, if we can just step back and gaze in true wonderment that we are witnessing a time when TCU and Baylor are the top two football teams in the state. A time I’m sure only the most rabid of Horned Frog and Bear fans could have ever possibly imagined.
Some thoughts on some of the coaching hires of the week:
I think SMU got the right guy in Chad Morris. He wants to do right the way Art Briles did right. As a Texas HS football coach who succeeds at a Texas college. The biggest difference here, however, is that Briles can sell the chance to play for a national title. Morris, as coach of a school in the Group of Five (Not to be confused with the Power-5) can only sell the possibility that, if things go right, they could play in a New Year’s Day game. Morris will recruit DFW, which his predecessor, June Jones, didn’t do, and he’ll win games. The question is, will anyone notice?
Jim McElwain’s hiring at Florida wasn’t a surprise. Although Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze was the first choice, McElwain actually made the most sense. The Florida program is not broken, it just needs someone to fix its offense. McElwain, in turning around Colorado State in three years, and prior to that coordinating a truly balanced Alabama offense to a pair of national championships, can take care of that.
Give credit to Nebraska AD Shawn Eichhorst for running a truly clandestine coaching search in an era when it’s almost impossible to do that. No one saw Oregon’s State’s Mike Riley on the radar. He certainly is the anti-Bo Pelini. Offensive guy vs. Defensive guy. As approachable a person as you could ever want to meet as opposed to Pelini whose temper was legendary. He even has three years of NFL head coaching experience with the Chargers. So he knows what it takes. The question though, is that his Oregon State never got to the Rose Bowl in 14 years under Riley (Two different stints with the Chargers in between). Pelini never lost more than four games in any season over his nine years in Lincoln although there were some spectacular flameouts that ultimately cost him his job. How much rope will the new man get? Sugar vs. Vinegar certainly will help Riley’s cause.