Tennessee makes the long-awaited move.
Following another awesome weekend of college football, we get a breather of sorts this week. It’s probably best that the upcoming Week 12 schedule lacks the sizzle of some recent weeks because it’s always best not to fill up right before Thanksgiving anyway.
Butch Jones hits Rocky Bottom
I like Butch Jones. I think he is genuinely a decent guy. I think he is motivated. I think he can be a good influence. But it was clear as day he was no longer the right man for the job at Tennessee. The gimmicks and the slogans and sayings can work at some schools coming from certain coaches, but it has a short shelf life at a place like Tennessee.
On Sunday, Tennessee pulled the plug on the Butch Jones era, and it was a few weeks overdue. But regardless of when the decision was formally made and the transition officially underway, the bottom line is Tennessee needs a coach with a plan that will work and doesn’t rely on gimmicks and overly-positive coachspeak.
Were there some things Jones did do well? I believe so. He invigorated the recruiting efforts at Tennessee by bringing in some classes that were worthy of the buzz they received over the years. The problem was that he and his staff couldn’t max out the potential those lofty classes brought with them. I have always said that recruiting is just one key part of building a football program. You won’t go anywhere, though, if you cannot develop the talent and get those pieces to fit together.
I also believe Jones had an eye for trends in the game. The sideline trash can may not have been the most well-conceived idea, obviously, but Jones was not afraid to try something that has become a growing trend and give it a unique twist. But in the future, don’t use a trash can as your device.
Kids, you can be whatever you want to be in life.
Miami made the emblem of its season a 5-pound gold chain.
Tennessee chose a trash can.
— Rodger Sherman (@rodger_sherman) November 12, 2017
Tennessee’s job vacancy should be an attractive one worthy of some big names being attached to the various rumors. I won’t waste any time on Jon Gruden rumblings, but this is a job that should draw some interesting names to the table. This is a good job, and right now I’d rank it the second-best available opening out there behind Florida. There is a lot to like about the Tennessee program, and the right coaching hire may be all that is needed to put a quick turnaround together. It doesn’t have to be a big name right off the bat. It just has to be the right name.
And now that Tennessee is looking for a new coach, I’ll throw this stat your way. You may recall I originally shared this after Florida fired Jim McElwain, but this has been updated accordingly.
Alabama hired Nick Saban in 2007. Since then, there have been 38 different head coaches at all other SEC prorgams. Texas A&M is only school not to make a coaching change. (Only counting Texas A&M and Missouri since joining SEC)
— Kevin McGuire (@KevinOnCFB) November 12, 2017
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema could be next on the chopping block, at least within the SEC. After Saturday’s loss to LSU, Bielema is 11-27 against the SEC since moving down south from Wisconsin.
Yes, Miami is back
Go ahead and start thinking about Miami differently if you have not already. This Miami team is a legitimate player this season. They may even be likable.
Malik Rosier: “They used to call us convicts, but we’re like first in the country in community service. I don’t think convicts do that — willingly at least.”
— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) November 12, 2017
— Respect (@CanesFootball) November 5, 2017
Miami had been floating and working their way up the radar for much of the first half of the season, which happens to a number of teams in college football. When the preseason focus is geared on a select few programs, the success of others looking to rebuild themselves up to that pedigree can take some time to establish. That’s especially true when it has been a while since your program has been viewed in that same light.
On Saturday night, Miami made a loud statement. A week after putting the college football world on notice with a solid win against Virginia Tech, the Miami Hurricanes were rowdy and confident in a national spotlight opportunity against Notre Dame. It was a perfect night for Miami when everything went their way. The crowd was one of the loudest at a Miami game in years, providing a glimmer of hope that this Miami program may be here to stay, turnover chain and all.
lol that’s fair pic.twitter.com/WRgfbJVEe9
— mike taddow (@taddmike) November 11, 2017
Miami has been having a fun season, and that can be good to see. I have seen a number of people say things like “College football is better when Notre Dame and Miami are good,” and I don’t know if I entirely agree with that. I personally think college football is just as good no matter how successful Notre Dame and Miami may or may not be. But I do agree with the idea that college football is better when there are some new contenders to evaluate. In that sense, I think having Miami soar to No. 2 in the polls is good for the sport. This is no guarantee they will be playing for a national championship this season, but Mark Richt has the program on the right path for sustained success.
Think about it. Richt coaching Miami into the ACC Championship Game this season for the first time in school history during the same season when Florida State and Florida struggle to get to a postseason bowl game is perfect timing for the Hurricanes. Richt was already a respected recruiter. Miami was always a program with a destination capable of attracting elite players. Miami rocking and rolling while Florida is scuffling with a coaching change and Florida State has to rely on games against Delaware State and ULM to get to a bowl game is just the kind of situation Miami can seize on for multiple years of future success. Win the ACC and a national title on top of that, and we could be talking about Miami in the national title hunt like it’s the early 2000s all over again. (Let’s hold off a bit before talking about Miami like it’s the 1980s all over again.)
It’s over. We are back.
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) November 12, 2017
Give Baker Mayfield the Heisman Trophy now
I said this last week and I’m going to say it again. Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield is the clear winner of the Heisman Trophy this season. Once again, Mayfield put up some big numbers in a key game against a top 10 opponent to keep the Sooners in front of the Big 12 championship race and in the thick of the playoff hunt. No other player in college football has put up the numbers in big games that Mayfield has on a consistent basis.
"I've always loved the big stage."
My Purpose, by @baker_mayfield6
— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) November 10, 2017
Does Baker Mayfield get to decide who else he wants on stage to watch him accept the Heisman? How does this work?
— Peter Burns (@PeterBurnsESPN) November 12, 2017
Baker Mayfield now massive 1/20 Heisman favorite via @LVSuperBook, meaning you have to wager $20 to win $1 on Mayfield. Next: Bryce Love 8/1, Saquon Barkley 20/1, Khalil Tate & Jonathan Taylor 25/1
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) November 12, 2017
The only other candidates who showed much of anything this weekend were Stanford running back Bryce Love against Washington and Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate. In my mind, both should be going to New York City as finalists to watch Mayfield give his acceptance speech.
As for Saquon Barkley, Penn State’s entire offense should be ashamed for how they have allowed Barkley to slip in the Heisman race as much as he has. I’ll be perfectly clear in saying I believe Barkley is one of the best players in college football. But when defenses continue to send in a man solely to track down Barkley as he is being handed the football and there is no offensive line protection to slow it down, even he can’t manage to do much.
That’s a damn shame, because Barkley is the best all-around running back in the game. If he were able to run behind Stanford’s offensive line, the Heisman outlook might be a bit different right now.
This week in Penn State trying to block for Saquon Barkley pic.twitter.com/Syac90A1LH
— Matt Brown (@MattBrownCFB) November 11, 2017
Barkley got enough highlights against Rutgers to fill a brief Heisman campaign video this week, but his time to shine has been dimming ever since the Ohio State game.
#RUvsPSU Highlights: Saquon Barkley
(Spolier Alert: He hurdles a man. Again.) pic.twitter.com/J4pM5rtSws
— Penn State Football (@PennStateFball) November 13, 2017
Barkley should be heading to New York City as a finalist, but his team has let him down when it comes to his chances of actually winning it. I may have to do a deeper dive into this soon.
Division 2 and Division 3 Playoff brackets set
It was Selection Sunday for the Division 2 and Division 3 playoffs. In D2, the University of West Florida received their first-ever playoff bid! That’s always fun to see. But what is even more impressive is the fact this is just West Florida’s second season playing college football.
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) November 12, 2017
UWF is in the NCAA Playoffs for the first time in program history!!!!! UWF is the 6 seed and will travel to 3 seed Wingate on Saturday! #GoArgos
— UWF Football (@UWFFootball) November 12, 2017
I’ll be over here pulling for Shippensburg this week against West Chester, with the hope of getting a crack at No. 1 IUP the following week.
In Division 3, you’ll have to deal without Wisconsin-Whitewater in the bracket, although Mount Union is still in there. But the torch in D3 may have been passed the last couple of years. Both of last year’s national title game participants, Mary Hardin-Baylor and Wisconsin-Oshkosk, are also in the field this season.
If you get a chance to watch any of these D2 or D3 playoff games, I hope you take advantage of it and enjoy the simplicity of the smaller scale game.
Meanwhile, North of the Border…
Here’s a game-winning and conference-winning field goal from 59 yards by Niko DiFonte of the U Calgary Dinos.
— UCalgary Dinos (@UCDinos) November 11, 2017
Are the college kickers better in Canada?
Postgame Celebration of the Week
Bradley Chubb lol pic.twitter.com/cRVvtSNtjh
— Jordan Heck (@JordanHeckFF) November 11, 2017
Box Score of the Week
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) November 11, 2017
Group of Five Update
This is pretty straightforward at this point. If you don’t know by now, the American Athletic Conference champion is the top contender for the Group of Five spot in the New Year’s Six lineup. And we’ll move one step closer to knowing who will be in the AAC Championship Game this week with Memphis and UCF in positions to clinch this week.
For Memphis, a win over SMU will do the trick, but UCF must win at Temple and have USF lose to Tulsa. Regardless of what happens this week, we are likely going to see Memphis vs. UCF/USF for a spot in the New Year’s Six. In doing so, the AAC would become the first G5 conference to send a second team to the NY6. The Mountain West Conference and MAC have each had one participant in the past three years.
- South Florida
- Boise State
I’m keeping Boise State on the radar after a wild win at Colorado State, just in case something crazy happens in the AAC. But odds are Boise State will be out of the running here. It is also worth noting Fresno State is very much in play in the fifth spot as well. I have moved on from Toledo after the Rockets went down to Ohio. The MAC has no shot this season.
Conference USA also has no shot, but have you taken a look at the championship game situation in that conference? North Texas clinched a spot in the title game and it is looking like Lane Kiffin is going to be coaching FAU into the game as well in his first season as head coach of the Owls.
If the College Football Playoff started today…
With all things now considered up until this very moment, I can safely say the playoff would look much different today than it did a week ago. And after giving it a good amount of thought, I finally convinced myself to go with the four teams you see below, which would offer up a third-straight postseason meeting between Alabama and Clemson, but as a semifinal matchup.
But it’s worth noting I don’t think we end the season with two teams from the same conference making the playoff this year. As much as it has been broken down in a batch of hypothetical scenarios on Twitter since Saturday, I’ll stick to my idea that it will be incredibly difficult for two teams from the same conference to reach the playoff this season, even if that means leaving out a 12-1 Alabama with its only loss coming to Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. You can make the arguments if you wish, but I think I’m comfortable settling on this as the four-team field.
- SEC champion
- ACC champion
- Big 12 champion
- Big Ten champion
That’s the model I have come down to. And who do I see filling those slots?
- Ohio State
That’s right. I have the two-loss Buckeyes back in the running this week. It’s amazing how much Ohio State has gone up and down in my playoff outlook this season, but they do seem to benefit the most when they win and be slammed the hardest when they falter. Right now, it looks like a safe bet to say Ohio State will be playing for the Big Ten championship, and a win against Wisconsin would help give them the final push into the mix this season. Sound familiar? We’ll see if Ohio State can avoid losing at Michigan to keep this in play.