Michigan Gets Their Man; More College Football Thoughts

Harbaugh
Harbaugh
Jim Harbaugh is the next head coach at Michigan but how long will he stay?

University of Michigan Interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett made it very clear in the days following the firing of Brady Hoke; having a “Michigan man” was no longer a top priority.

There was always an exception to that rule and his name was Jim Harbaugh. Yesterday, Harbaugh became the 20th head football coach of the Wolverines. There is no one more “Michigan man” than Harbaugh who started at quarterback from 1984-1986 for the Bo Schembechler -led teams who were so successful.

I must admit I’m surprised Harbaugh spurned the National Football League and especially for less money than what he could have gotten from just about any of those teams. I think that two things played a major factor in his decision however.

Number one is that of the available NFL jobs, none had a quarterback that Harbaugh really wanted to work with and that’s vitally important for the old QB because as we know he can flat-out coach quarterbacks (see Andrew Luck). The Raiders and Jets both have young signal-callers but neither was enticing enough for Harbaugh.

The argument could be made that both Atlanta and Chicago have good, veteran quarterbacks in Matt Ryan and Jay Cutler but each have their issues.

The second reason Harbaugh chose to leave the NFL is because I really feel he was tired of seeing what was happening to his alma mater an the call to come home and fix it was too great.

Michigan fans will once again pack the seats at Michigan Stadium to see the prodigal son return and he will make the program prominent once again but I caution them this; the desire to win a Super Bowl never leaves you as a player or coach if you’ve had a taste of it and Harbaugh has. I believe his stint in Ann Arbor will be five years or less because that desire will be too strong to avoid.

Stoops
The OU faithful are starting to wonder what's going on with Bob Stoops.

Bowl Game Bullets

-What on Earth has happened to Bob Stoops and Oklahoma? They were a preseason top five team who ended up finishing with five losses following a humiliating 40-6 loss to Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl. That score wasn’t indicative of how poorly Oklahoma played either. It was 40-0 after three quarters and Clemson pretty much emptied the bench in the final stanza. I have a feeling Stoops falls into that category of having been in the same place too long.

-I could be way off base here, but I think the Pac-12’s success in these early bowl games is a sign that Florida State better strap it up tomorrow when they face Oregon in the Rose Bowl. After Stanford’s 45-21 drubbing of Maryland last night in the Foster Farms Bowl, the Pac-12 moved to 4-0 in bowl season making them the only unbeaten conference remaining. Let’s face it – the level of competition between the ACC and Pac-12 wasn’t really a discussion topic anyway was it?

-As if I needed any more proof for my personal war against instant replay reviews in football I give you the LSU-Notre Dame game. Mad Hatter Les Miles went for a fake field goal and replays clearly showed the ball breaking the plane of the goal line but officials concluded it was disputable because of where the knee was. Here’s the thing, if the knee was down the play is over based on where the ball is when the knee touches right? The ball was over the goal line. If you can’t get replay right that you shouldn’t use it.

-Have a great New Year’s Eve and be safe people.

New Year’s Day Handle For College Football Equal to a Super Bowl

Props aside, the college football lineup for New Year’s Day will be on a par with the Super Bowl says bookmakers.

Both the Sugar and Rose Bowl are receiving two-way action, as the games are now just 24 hours away.

If the total betting handle is any indication and it certainly is, college football’s decision to put its two semifinal games for the national championship on New Year’s was the correct one.

A great deal of action has been written on the two games leading up to the kick offs and much more is expected over the next 24 hours, according to Bovada and betonline.

The two big games, along with three others on the day, will make the day the biggest New Year’s Day lineup ever for college football, according to topbet and sportsbook.com.

In fact, eliminating the props that are offered that are very popular with betting on the Super Bowl, the lineup for New Year’s Day will be one that is comparable to a Super Bowl.

One bookmaker said that when taking into consideration straight bets, totals, sides, teasers and parlays, January 1 will be as much as the Super Bowl.

However, almost 50% of the total money bet on a Super Bowl is for prop bets, and excitement around individual college players is not as high as it is for the NFL.

The betting action is split evenly thus far between favorites and underdogs in the two College Football Playoff semifinal games.

Both games are very popular with bettors and both teams in each game are getting their share of support by the public at the betting window.

Both playoff games on Thursday are sitting with a spread of 9 points. In the Alabama vs. Ohio State matchup, the Crimson Tide has gone up to 9.5 points but has pulled back to 9. Oregon in its matchup against Florida State started at -8 and was bet up to -9.5 but has since retreated to -9 as well.

A number of bookmakers said that the favorites would need to win for them to do well since a great deal of money has been placed on the two dogs in those two games. The money line is the popular bet since diehard supporters of their college team only believe their team will win outright and often do not take the points route, but just the money line.

One bookmaker said he would need Oregon to win both the points and money line and Ohio State to win the points and Alabama to cover the spread.

The betting frenzy will continue right up to kickoff on Thursday.

Christmas Wishes for Your Favorite Athletes and Teams

Woods
Woods
Maybe my Christmas wish will come true and Tiger will actually just admit he played poorly for once.

First of all, Merry Christmas to everyone! Hope your day is filled with all kinds of good food, family and fun. Today I’m giving you some Christmas wishes for any number of teams and athletes.

My Christmas wish is…

for Tony Romo to get at least one playoff win.

for Michigan to land a head football coach who wants to be there.

for Roger Goodell to resign.

for ESPN to cancel First Take and no longer allow Stephen A Smith and Skip Bayless on television.

for you to win every bet, on every game this coming year. (giggles a bit)

for Tiger Woods to walk off the course just one time and say, “I played like crap” rather than blame it on everything else.

for the Kansas City Royals not to be one-hit wonders.

for college football to immediately move to an eight-game playoff.

for high school athletes to enjoy being “high school athletes” and not be forced to specialize by club sports.

for ‘Mike and Mike’ to use more of my tweets.

for the National Basketball Association to become interesting again.

for Coach K to get one more title before he hangs up the whistle.

for soccer to go back to being a world sport and not an American one.

for Marshawn Lynch to actually give a decent interview after a game.

for Steelers’ Coach Mike Tomlin to drop a few of his cliches.

for MMQB’s Peter King to finally admit he’s just a shill for the NFL.

O'Bannon
Thanks Ed O'Bannon for ruining my family's favorite video game!

for the NCAA and EA Sports to find a way get the NCAA Football video game back for us.

for NFL people stop using the word “elite” when it comes to quarterbacks.

for Antonio Brown to go up against Richard Sherman in the Super Bowl.

for Peter Edward Rose to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

for all of us to just admit that college football and basketball is nothing more than a minor league for the pros.

for Mike Emrick to call every game in every sport for the rest of his life.

to never see another pro athlete charged with domestic violence.

for the Super Bowl to be a national holiday and everyone gets the next day off.

for the Atlanta Hawks to the NBA Title.

for the Detroit Tigers to win a World Series before owner Mike Ilitch dies. No one has been more important to Detroit sports than he has.

for group celebrations to be allowed after NFL touchdowns.

for a “Gretzky-like” figure to reappear in the National Hockey League.

for the Cleveland Cavaliers to lose in the NBA Finals. Let’s face it; it makes for more interesting sports talk.

for the Lakers and Celtics to continue being irrelevant.

for defensive backs so they can actually play defense again.

for Jerry Jones’ plastic surgeon who must be tired of seeing him walk through the door.

for Larry Fitzgerald to get a Super Bowl title before he retires.

for Al Michaels to narrate my life.

for someone in a Santa suit today at an NBA game to do something ridiculous.

for officials at all levels and in all sports to remember it isn’t about them, it’s about the game.

for Oregon to settle on a uniform or 50.

for Devon Still’s daughter to make a complete recovery.

for karma to show up at Jameis Winston’s door.

for the NFL Playoffs to be as great as ever.

for your favorite teams to do as well as they can!

Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl: Preview and Pick

The North Carolina State Wolfpack will face the Central Florida Knights in the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl on Friday, December 26.

During the regular season, North Carolina State was 7-5, while Central Florida was 9-3.

The current line has Central Florida favored by 2.5 points with the point total sitting on 49.

The last time we saw UFC, the Knights stormed the field Hail Mary catch from Breshad Perriman was completed to beat East Carolina. That win helped UCF claim a three-way share of the American Athletic Conference title.

The win is what helped the UCF team to earn a berth in this bowl game against the Wolfpack, which has won 3 of its past 4 games.

The teams split their 2 previous meetings, with NC State enjoying a 28-21 win back in 2010.

While UCF seeks its 4th consecutive victory, North Carolina State returns to bowl action following a disappointing 2013 season where the team was 3-9.

The Knights have one of the best defenses in the nation, which is led by Terrance Plummer a linebacker and Jacoby Glenn a cornerback, who is tied for No. 3 in the nation with 7 interceptions. Plummer has 92 tackles, which is a team-high for the Knights. UCF is allowing only 17.5 points per game.

UCF’s strong defense will be tested by the Wolfpack offense that easily outscored its previous 2 opponents.

The Knights defense is ranked No. 5 in the nation against the rush, but NC State rushed for 388 yards in a victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels in the final game of the regular season.

Shadrach Thornton has 161 yards rushing on 28 attempts to lead the Wolfpack in their win over UNC.

After leading during the first quarter 24-7 against Florida State on September 27, the Wolfpack fell apart and lost, and followed that loss with two more consecutive losses.

Jacoby Brissett the Wolfpack quarterback is the owner of a 22-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio this season.

He has also run for 498 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns.

The Wolfpack defense is led by Mike Rose who has recorded 14 tackles-for-a-loss to lead a defense that allowed only 15.7 points in the team’s 7 victories.

The Knights opened their regular season with losses against Missouri and Penn State before 5 consecutive wins, including a victory against BYU in overtime 31-24.

While their defense has stood out this season, the offense had its problems scoring prior to averaging 33 points during its 4 games winning streaks to close the regular season.

Justin Holman the Knights’ quarterback has thrown for 20 touchdowns while giving up 13 interceptions.

Pick: UCF 28-13

Bowl Season Starts Today and I’ve Got Your Winners

Fleck
Fleck
Western Michigan's P.J. Fleck leads the Broncos against Air Force on the "Smurf Turf" in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Nevada (-1) vs Louisiana-Lafayette (O/U 61) – These are two evenly matched teams that will open the 2014 bowl season. Both average about 31 points per game and surrender about 28 per game.

Trends: ULL is 7-1 straight up in their last eight and 5-1-1 against the spread in their seven games… Nevada is 4-2 SU in their last six games and their total has been UNDER in 14 of their last 18 games.

The Pick: ULL will have a decided home-field advantage but I like the Wolfpack to cover.

Kugler
Sean Kugler has UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl against Utah State today.

Gildan New Mexico Bowl UTEP (+10.5) vs Utah State (O/U 46) – The Aggies had won five straight before being blown out by a hot Boise State team. UTEP was just 2-10 last season under Sean Kugler who has turned the program around with a 7-5 record this year.

The Miners have a solid running game but they will be facing one of the top defenses they’ve seen all season.

Trends: UTEP is 5-2 straight up in their last seven games and their total has gone UNDER in five of their last six games… USU is 5-1 SU in their last six games and their total has gone OVER in four of their last six.

The Pick: I like the Aggies to cover and I like the UNDER.

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl Utah (-3.5) vs Colorado State (O/U 57.5) – The Utes enter having lost three of their last five games while the Rams have won four of five. The question in this one is about level of competition.

Did Utah’s Pac-12 schedule prove a better prep than did Colorado State’s MWC schedule? What worries me is that the Rams are very explosive offensively and Utah gives up over 26 points per game.

Trends: Utah is 9-4 straight up in their last 13 games and has beaten CSU in five straight meetings… The Rams have gone 9-1 SU in their last 10 and their total has gone OVER in four of their last five.

The Pick: I like the Rams getting the points and I like the OVER.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Western Michigan (+1) vs Air Force (O/U 58) – The Falcons were 2-10 last while the Broncos were 1-11. It goes without saying these two teams had the biggest turnarounds in college football in 2014. Because of Air Force’s dynamic triple option, Western Michigan has had to revamp its’ entire defense over the last 11 days which can always create some anxiety.

The Broncos score over 34 points per game though and have a great running back as well as solid receivers. Will the step up in competition hurt WMU though?

Trends: WMU is 6-1 straight up in their last seven games… Air Force is 5-1 SU in their last six games and the total has gone UNDER in six of their  last nine games.

The Pick: I want to go with Air Force badly but I think the Broncos cover in a shootout. Take the OVER as well.

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl South Alabama (-3) vs Bowling Green (O/U 53.5) – The Falcons give up 34 points per game and they surrender over 200 yards rushing and 200 yards passing per game as well. While that looks dire for Bowling Green they could take advantage of a Jaguars’ team that scores just 21 points per game.

I expect a lot of points in this game despite both teams hitting the UNDER a lot recently.

Trends: South Alabama is 1-6 against the spread in their last seven games and is 1-4 straight up in their last five… BGSU is 1-4-1 ATS in their last six games and is 2-4 SU in their last six games. Both teams have seen the total go UNDER for most of their recent games.

The Pick: Take South Alabama to cover and the OVER.

Michigan Moves on Harbaugh; Ramifications are Many

Harbaugh
Harbaugh
Jim Harbaugh has many things to consider but for right now, Michigan's offer cold have a ripple effect.

Well, there it is. The University of Michigan is doing their absolute best to bring home Jim Harbaugh. By now you probably already know what the contract offer looks like, six years and $48 million, but there’s a lot more to this story now than just the money.

Here’s a look at the ramifications of just the offer being thrown out there.

For Harbaugh – This offer immediately makes NFL teams prizing his services take notice. At eight million per year, it’s not out of the range for an NFL team to pay, but it does make it a little harder.

It’s believed that Oakland Raiders’ Owner Mark Davis will pay this much and more in an effort to get Harbaugh to come across the bay. There’s even a report Davis was willing to pay Jon Gruden as much as $16 million so eight is a drop in the bucket.

Harbaugh is clearly in the cat-bird seat while this unfolds. His team is out of the playoffs so his focus can pretty much be wherever he wants it to be. I expect the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins to be in play for him.

Don’t forget that Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross is a Michigan Alum with an endless bank account.

Hackett
Michigan Interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett did the right thing by going after Harbaugh now but will it work?

For Michigan – The school has obviously made it known they are no longer willing to be the punching bag for Michigan State and Ohio State and anyone else beating the Wolverines these days. This kind of money says only one thing; “We want success now.”

The problem is dealing with the letdown of a potential Harbaugh pass. The only way that pain is tempered is if Michigan goes and gets a current head coach of a program that no one sees coming. A guy like Gary Patterson or Mark Helfrich or Kevin Sumlin.

Regardless of who it is, anyone not named “Jim Harbaugh” will be a letdown to the vast majority of the fan base.

For Other College Coaches – If you heard a loud ring coming from Tuscaloosa, Alabama last night that wasn’t just yours ears. That was Nick Saban’s agent calling Alabama to demand a raise.

There’s no way that Saban is going to be paid less than a guy who has won very little at the collegiate level and especially way less than he has. This effect will be a trickle-down one too. Guys like Jimbo Fisher, Urban Meyer and Mark Dantonio will also be looking for raises.

Even if Harbaugh goes in another direction and leaves Michigan hanging, those numbers aren’t going to go away. There isn’t a college coach in America who hasn’t had his eyes pop out from that offer.

For the 49ers – If I’m owner Jed York and I see how in demand my coach is and he has one year left on his deal, I’m increasing the price for his services. Common thought was that it might take a couple of third-round picks to get him out of his final year.

Now? I’m asking at least a first-round pick and then the negotiations can begin from there. York can’t let him go for nothing.

My Prediction: I honestly believe Michigan means a lot to Harbaugh but he’s not coming back. He’s spent nearly all of his coaching career on the West Coast and appears to be very vested in his family and their wishes.

This doesn’t mean he won’t listen to the Jets or Dolphins but right now I think Harbaugh either stays in San Francisco or goes across the bay. The lure of the Super Bowl title is too much for him to ignore.

Mariota a Deserving and Welcome Sight as Heisman Winner; Jobs Still Open

Mariota
Mariota
Mariota is a humble and deserving winner of the Heisman Trophy.

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota deserved the Heisman Trophy. Anyone denying that is an Alabama or Wisconsin fan or has no clue what they are talking about. I would have been more than glad to listen to arguments for either Amari Cooper or Melvin Gordon but at the end of the day, the correct selection was made.

Personally I could not have been more happy with his selection. I am not an Oregon fan and I’m not a fan of their plethora of uniform changes and styles either. What I’m a fan of is guys who play hard, take success in stride and aren’t a consistent problem off of the field for their university.

I know right? What an unbelievable concept!

Last year’s Heisman Trophy celebration featured Florida State’s Jameis Winston wining the award. While his on-field success was more than worthy of the award, his issues off the field were troubling and continue to be so today.

The man who won the award the year before Winston did was Johnny Manziel. Again, a guy whose accomplishments on the field of play were more than enough to warrant him getting the award. but like Winston, he was less than a true role model off of it.

I don’t expect every guy that plays college football to be an angel. I don’t have that expectation at all and not even the Heisman Trust has stipulations on character or being a perfect gentleman off the field in its’ award document either. I do however think if we are going to be presented with the best college football player in America it would be nice if they were in fact deserving for overall conduct.

Mariota
Mariota's win is refreshing in light of recent Heisman winners Winston and Manziel.

Go back and watch the video of Mariota accepting the stiff-arming trophy and then compare it to video of Manziel and Winston receiving their trophies. In Mariota you’ll see a humble and almost embarrassed looking young man who can hardly believe what he is achieving while with the other two you say faces of kings being crowned.

Mariota can be demonstrative on the field but he doesn’t have a signature “money” sign like Manziel does because he acts like he’s been in the end zone before. I have no problem with guys celebrating but do it with teammates. Having your own “look at me” celebration is pathetic.

I’m glad that Mariota won the Heisman and for the record, both Gordon and Cooper would have been worthy winners as well based on everything I’ve seen and heard of them. Whether Mariota’s Ducks go on to win the title or whether he goes on to NFL stardom doesn’t matter – what matters is that good guys can finish first.

Michigan, Wisconsin Remain Open

Two big college football vacancies remain open today in Ann Arbor and in Madison but I think you’ll start to see some movement as early as this week however. For Michigan, their number one target is of course Jim Harbaugh. Despite reports that he wants to stay in the pro ranks, word has it that Michigan isn’t going to away quietly.

With Harbaugh’s 49ers officially out of the playoffs now, look for some more information to come out this week. One way or another, Michigan cannot wait to long for Harbaugh because they have to get back to business sooner or later.

Further West in the Big Ten, it looks like Wisconsin is ready to bring former offensive coordinator Paul Chryst back to take over. Chryst has been running things at the University of Pittsburgh where he hasn’t exactly gotten anyone excited for college football. The Panthers continue to draw pathetic crowds and fans are less than pleased with Chryst’s coaching and recruiting.

Either way, don’t be surprised if Athletic Director and former coach Barry Alvarez goes with the familiar Chryst although I don’t think it will be a warm welcome.

Wisconsin Situation Should Serve as a Wake-Up to the Rest of the Big Ten.

Alvarez
Alvarez
Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez finds himself looking for a coach for the second time in three years.

People change jobs for any number of reasons. Tops among those reasons is of course more money. There are very few among us who wouldn’t take a similar job to the one we currently have if it offered more money.

But there are other scenarios that factor into a person’s decision to take a job and I believe those are what caused Gary Andersen to leave Wisconsin.

Coaching changes at Florida, Michigan and even Nebraska were not surprises, but very few on the outside or the inside for that matter saw Andersen leaving the Badgers. His decision to leave for Oregon State has not only raised questions about the situation in Madison but in the entire Big Ten as well.

Andersen is believed to have left because he and his assistants didn’t care for Madison. They are mostly west coast guys who prefer living out there and that’s good enough for me. I get that… We also have heard Andersen was not pleased that he couldn’t bring many of the players he wanted into his program because of the academic standards.

This is where our problem begins…

No one denies that the most powerful football conference in America resides in the Southern and Eastern parts of this country. The past eight to ten years speak for themselves in terms of success on the football stage.

Andersen
Gary Andersen's surprising move to the West Coast may expose more about the Big Ten then anything just at Wisconsin.

For eight straight years a team from the Southeastern Conference has played for the college football championship. The Big Ten meanwhile, the conference that Andersen has left, has played for just two titles in that same span.

So why the sudden shift after so many years of sharing power? There was a long time where teams from the Big Ten, SEC, old Southwest conference and Pac-8 used to consistently vie for titles and bowl games.

Even with expansion, the SEC has continued to pull away from most of the other conferences and most obviously left in the dust has been the corn-fed folks in the Midwest.

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany has some powerful things to consider going forward and Andersen’s departure will hasten those issues.

If the Big Ten wants to compete on the national stage and gain the respect they once had, then something has to be done to allow lesser academic athletes into its’ institutions. This will not be an easy thing to accomplish and there is growing sentiment that it might never happen.

I say “never” only because I would have thought the cash would have convinced them to jump on board the collegiate football money train by now. No one in the SEC will argue their academic standards don’t match those in the Big Ten.

They are all quality schools but do any actually compete with a Michigan, Northwestern or Purdue when it comes to academics? The answer is “no” and you won’t hear anyone apologize for it either.

The argument I consistently hear is about Ohio State. The Buckeyes belong to the Big Ten yet seem to have athletes similar to those in the South. My take is that OSU has figured out how to get these kids into the University.

If you look at the majors by not just OSU but also schools in the South you’ll notice plenty majoring in “exploring” and “general studies.” Get it?

Andersen’s leaving also brought out the issue of Wisconsin not paying assistants very well and that’s a viable cause for leaving but it’s obvious to me the Big Ten needs to decide if it wants to compete for football glory or continue to be the red-headed step-child to the SEC and beyond.

How the College Football Playoff Selection Unraveled for Me.

Mariota
Mariota
Marcus Mariota helped his Ducks into the playoff and himself into a Heisman Trophy.

By the time you read this, one of two things will be happening; either the College Football Playoff Committee will have chosen its’ four teams for the first-ever playoff or they will be about to do so.

Saturday 12/6/14 10am Eastern

Here’s what we know on the eve of the committee’s final selections. Oregon is in and then some. The Ducks avenged their only loss of the season by whipping Arizona 51-13 to win the Pac-12 Conference Title. Quarterback Marcus Mariota has made his final bid for the Heisman Trophy and along with Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon and Alabama’s Amari Cooper, is headed to New York City for the announcement of the award.

12/6/14 4pm Eastern

As I write this portion just past 1pm Pacific Time, the TCU Horned Frogs are also in the playoff. They made quick work of a pathetic Iowa State team and won going away 55-3. Keep in mind, Baylor plays this evening and knowing what the Frogs have done, the pressure will be on the Bears to not just win, but win convincingly.

Briles
Art Briles' Baylor Bears have staked their claim to a payoff spot. Will the committee finally agree?

What if Baylor does just that though? It’s too late in my opinion. The committee has held TCU in higher regard than Baylor since the initial rankings were announced. It would make absolutely no sense for the committee to flip-flop them now.

12/6/14 815pm Eastern

Alabama has captured the SEC Title with a 42-13 win over Missouri and has punched their ticket into the four-team playoff. The Tigers struggled from the get-go while Alabama took advantage of a struggling Missouri offense.

By my record, three teams that have been in the top four most of the season have now set themselves up well to be in the playoff. As I look up at the television, I see Florida State, Ohio State and Baylor are all underway and looking to make their respective cases.

12/6/14 11pm Eastern

Baylor has taken care of business by defeating K-State 38-27. Let the comparisons begin between the two Big-12 champs… TCU defeated the Wildcats 41-20 and definitely has the better resume in terms of non-conference schedule. The problem is that Baylor won the head-to-head with TCU and that should be the deciding factor.

I think TCU is better overall, but Baylor won when it mattered.

12/7/14 826am Eastern

Well, well, well…. Things are going to be interesting today for the committee as they now have to consider Ohio State and Florida State wins in their respective conference championship games.

The Seminoles survived the the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 37-35 and again the question of whether winning ugly matters as long as you’re winning. My opinion here is that FSU is 13-0 and when you start your season your goal is to win every game. Regardless of how, Florida State has won all of their games and they have done that.

We can’t totally dismiss Ohio State who has finished at 12-1 and a with Big Ten title after destroying Wisconsin 59-0. They accomplished this behind a third-string quarterback and held former Heisman Trophy hopeful Melvin Gordon to 76 yards on 26 carries. I say “former” because that performance all but gives the trophy to Mariota.

While the Buckeyes did everything they could to get into the playoff, they will be hurt by that horrible loss to Virginia Tech and a weak Big Ten.

My Four-Team Playoff is 1. Alabama 2. Oregon 3. Florida State 4. TCU

My prediction for the committee will be 1. Alabama 2. Oregon 3. Florida State 4. Baylor

Let the screaming commence. Oh and it’s 852am Eastern…

 

Nebraska Makes a Curious Choice Plus, Does the Playoff Committee Get it?

Riley
Riley
Mike Riley is off to Lincoln and Nebraska fans aren't overly thrilled about it.

Ironically, I wrote an article just a couple of days ago about the firing of a coach who had a winning percentage of .713 yet was fired for not winning the big games. That coach was Bo Pelini of Nebraska of course.

Knowing that Pelini commonly won nine games a season during his seven season in Lincoln, it only makes common sense that the University of Nebraska was looking to improve upon that. What that would mean is that the Cornhuskers would presumably be looking for a coach with a track record of winning above just about all else.

It would also help if the new coach were not a hot-head whose comments and on-field behavior wasn’t completely out of control but in Nebraska, winning matters first right?

Apparently the phrase “not so fast my friend” is quite applicable here. Nebraska announced yesterday that Oregon State Head Coach Mike Riley would be taking over the Huskers program for the 2015 season. Riley comes to Lincoln with an overall record of 93-79 which is a winning percentage of .541.

Let’s see here; .713 vs .541…. OK, there’s more to winning then right?

From 2006-2008, Riley’s Beavers finished with records of 10-4, 9-4 and 9-4. That’s very respectable for a Pac-12 team not named USC or Oregon. Riley’s last four seasons however have looked like this; 2014 5-7, 2013 7-6, 2012 9-4, 2011 3-9. If you’re keeping score at home, Mike Riley is under .500 over his last four seasons.

As you might imagine, this hire has not been well-received by the Big Red faithful. The most common theme among those commenting on message boards and in articles is “Why fire a guy who wins nine games a season and replace him with one who wins about six games a season?”

It’s an incredibly difficult question to answer because it’s legitimate. However, if you go back to that “other” reason for the change, this is where Riley excels. At 61, Riley is not a screamer and doesn’t blow his top at the drop of a yellow flag or fumbled football. He will bring a stable presence to the football team and no one questions that he’s a solid coach.

The problem is going to lie in recruiting and in winning over the faithful. Bring top athletes was never as easy as Tom Osborne once made it seem and it has only gotten more difficult with the decline of the program in the last 15 years.

Can Riley win at Nebraska? Yes, he certainly can but can he win championships? I’m much less confident about that and so is most of the state of Nebraska today.

Long
Jeff Long has done a nice job with the committee but he's missing a crucial element.

The Playoff Committee’ Big Gaffe

The College Football Playoff Committee has done a very good job to this point in selecting teams each week for it’s top four. There’s been a few curious predictions, chief among them placing TCU ahead of Baylor. Overall though, they’ve done a good job.

Unfortunately they’ve now backed themselves into a corner by ignoring the one, most important thing we all wanted from this playoff during the horrible years of the BCS. Head-to-head play should be the first and most important tie-breaker among two teams who have the same record.

This could all be a moot point if either Baylor or TCU lose this weekend but if both finish 11-1, the Bears need to be elevated higher than TCU simply because they won the head-to-head match-up. If things break perfectly for the committee, they’ll get losses by Ohio State and Florida State then they can just add Baylor and be done with it.

For their sake I hope it works. We wanted things settled on the field, not in a conference room and that’s been accomplished. Now they need to just recognize it.