Tag Archives: Frank Beamer

2015 ACC Football: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

2015 was a typical year for the ACC. By typical of course, I mean one team outclassing the rest and trying to remove itself as far as possible from the negative connotations that “ACC football team” brings. The ACC has long been considered the worst of the Power 5 football conferences and did little to dispel that notion this season. Clemson did its best by not only reaching the playoff, but dispatching Oklahoma and going toe-to-toe with Alabama in what may have been one of the three best title games of all time. Florida State and North Carolina each won double-digit games but I think many, myself included, would say that was more a byproduct of the conference’s weakness than the strength of those two football teams.

Today we’ll take a look at the Good, the Bad, and the downright Ugly for each ACC team in 2015. As far as the Atlantic Coast Conference itself? The good could really only come from the aforementioned Clemson. The bad was harder to choose if only because there were so many more options, but we’ll go with defense, something that will be a common theme throughout this piece. Ten of the conference’s fourteen teams ranked 43rd or worse in scoring defense. The ACC misery saved its best (the Ugly) for last. That would be bowl season, where ACC teams not named Clemson went 3-5. Even those wins weren’t a lot to hang their hat on. Duke defeated Indiana who had one of the worst defenses on college football. Virginia Tech beat Tulsa, giving up 52 points in the process. Then there’s Louisville, who scored a 27-21 victory over a Texas A&M team that had just seen its top two quarterbacks transfer.

This article would have been much easier if it was just “The Bad and the Ugly”. Can we find some good from the 2015 season for each team? I gave it my best shot.

Boston College Eagles

Good – I mentioned defense in the intro. Well Boston College was one of the four ACC teams not abysmal on that side of the ball. BC ranked fourth in the country, allowing just 15.3 points per game. This included giving up just 34 to Clemson, 14 to Florida State, and 19 to Notre Dame. Sure they shortened games by running the ball a ton on offense, but only three times all year did they give up more than 20 points in a game.

Bad – As stellar as the defense was, the offense was the complete opposite. After the first two games of the season against non-D1 schools, Boston College didn’t top 17 points even once the rest of the year. Spearheading this vaunted offense was a leading passer that only had 464 yards on the season.

Ugly – We’re staying with the offense here. In a time when offenses are upping the tempo and putting up 40s and 50s left and right, the Eagles would struggle to outscore the Red Sox. BC put up 76 points against Howard the second week of the season. They then proceeded to score just 73 points COMBINED in their eight conference games. The cherry on top of this offensive ineptitude sundae was an October contest where they ran the ball 54 times and didn’t even get to 200 yards, getting shut out at home by Wake Forest.

Clemson Tigers

Good – Does the whole season count? Clemson had its best season in recent memory, finding itself at the top spot every week of the playoff committee’s rankings. After losing most of the starters off college football’s top defense of 2014, the Tigers managed to have one of the best defenses again. DeShaun Watson, coming off a torn ACL, was a Heisman finalist in just his sophomore season and led the Tigers to the national title game. Though falling just short against the Alabama empire, Watson had a scintillating performance against the Tide defense that will propel him to be the Heisman favorite going into 2016.

Bad – It’s hard to find the bad for a team that started the year 14-0. In this spot we have to look at the defense, which might have to do more re-tooling for next year. Brent Venables did an incredible job in 2015 but it may take more next year. That’s because the Tigers may lose DE Shaq Lawson and CB Mackensie Alexander to the NFL draft, both of whom were stars of the Clemson defense. It always hurts to lose players early to the NFL, it hurts even worse when those players are just redshirt sophomores.

Ugly – The Tigers had every opportunity to win the championship on Monday night, but big plays allowed Alabama to stay in the game. They gave up a 50 yard touchdown run to Derrick Henry. Besides that long run, they held the Heisman winner to just 108 yards on 35 carries, barely over three yards per carry. The defense was also smothering QB Jacob Coker, but mental breakdowns allowed him to have a big second half. Blown coverages accounted for two 50+ yard touchdowns to OJ Howard, which also accounted for almost 1/3 of Coker’s passing yards. Then there was the back-breaking kickoff-return touchdown by Kenyan Drake. While Clemson’s offense consistently moved the ball on Alabama throughout the game, it felt the opposite for the Tide’s offense. Clemson shut down Alabama for longer stretches, but the coverage breakdowns allowed the Crimson Tide to not just stay in the game, but ultimately win it.

Duke Blue Devils

Good – While 2015 saw the fewest wins from the Duke football team in the last three years, it’s hard not to consider an 8-5 season a success for a basketball school. To top it off, they had the aforementioned bowl win against Indiana, a 44-41 OT thriller. It just so happened to be the first bowl win in 55 years.

Bad – The Blue Devils were riding high at one point, sitting at a stellar 6-1. Then the Miami game happened. And the last play lateral controversy happened. Duke didn’t handle the outcome of that ending well and it showed. They went on a slide that saw them lose three more games with the defense getting torched in all three.

Ugly – Duke had the unfortunate position of having to face a rival following that Miami game. Normally heading to Chapel Hill for a football game isn’t something you’d worry too much about, but this year happened to be the one wear Larry Fedora had the Tar Heels’ offense humming. The Blue Devils had their worst defensive performance in a year that was full of bad ones, giving up 66 points and over 700 yards in a game that was 38-10 at halftime.

Florida State Seminoles

Good – There are never really lowered expectations at Florida State, but after losing Jameis Winston and a plethora of defensive talent to the NFL, it’s hard not to consider the Seminole’s season a success considering the drop-off in QB play. Winning ten games in a down year tells you your program is in a good place. The brightest spot of the season had to be Dalvin Cook. Cook dazzled every time he was on the field and if not for a hamstring injury may have been a Heisman finalist.

Bad – Injuries. Cook’s injury was the biggest bummer for Seminoles fans. He only had 229 carries on the year (about 5 games for Alabama’s Derrick Henry) and basically missed two full games, robbing him of a shot at 2,000 yards. QB Sean Maguire’s injury in the bowl game was another tough one. While Maguire didn’t take over until the second half of the season and didn’t play all that great once he did, he was a reshirt junior who had waited a while for his chance. After waiting around another half of a season thanks to Everett Golson showing up, he was able to lead the Seminoles to a New Year’s Six bowl game but got hurt early on. He was able to finish the game but his play was clearly impacted by the injury.

Ugly – That bowl game. Maguire may have played injured, but that wasn’t the reason Florida State lost. Other aspects of the team were abysmal and it was clear Florida State was not nearly as amped up to be there as Houston. FSU rushed for just 16 yards and had five turnovers which were only partially to blame for giving up 38 points to an offense that had Greg Ward Jr. and not much else.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Good – Ugh..Umm. Can anybody help here? The Yellow Jackets had a dismal season from the start. One bright spot however was that Paul Johnson’s triple-option attack still resulted in the 7th most rushing yards per game in the country.

Bad – Here’s another team that more than struggled on the defensive side of the ball. The Yellow Jackets couldn’t put pressure on the quarterback (121st in sacks) or create turnovers (T-92nd in interceptions). The defense was at its worst during a five game mid-season stretch that saw them allow over 30 points in each game.

Ugly – This whole year couldn’t get over soon enough. Tech started the year in the Top 25 and after beating two doormats by a combined 134-16 to start the year it was hard to tell anything was wrong. After being ranked 14th heading into Week 3, the Yellow Jackets went 1-9 in their last ten games with their only win coming in improbable fashion, scoring a touchdown off a blocked field goal as time expired.

Louisville Cardinals

Good – The Cardinals began the year on some sleeper lists but that was quickly vanquished after starting 0-3. Though the opening season loss to Auburn isn’t exactly one to put on the resume, looking back the three-point losses to Houston and Clemson don’t look so bad. It would have been easy to fold after that start, but the Cardinals bounced back by finishing strong and winning eight of their last ten games.

Bad – You would expect teams to play worse on the road, but Louisville definitely underwhelmed away from home considering the talent level on the team. A couple of single-digit wins over NC State and Wake Forest hardly make up for getting crushed at Florida State and losing by 11 against Pitt.

Ugly – For a Bobby Petrino-led team, the offense was awfully hard to watch at times. Petrino couldn’t settle on a quarterback and it seemed like no matter if Lamar Jackson or Kyle Bolin were behind center, the offense could never find consistency. Jackson often dazzled as a runner, but was nowhere near good enough as a passer to provide the type of threat we’ve come accustomed to seeing out of Petrino passing attacks.

Miami Hurricanes

Good – The improvement of young offensive players. The Hurricanes started an incredibly young offensive line in its bowl game. Though the team lost, the line wasn’t a disaster and bodes well heading into next season. Sophomore RB Joe Yearby quietly surpassed 1,000 yards on almost five yards per carry and should grow with the offensive line. The brightest sign however was the improvement of sophomore QB Brad Kaaya. Kaaya improved his completion percentage and threw one less interception on 11 more throws.

Bad – Head Coach Al Golden was fired. While in the long run this was probably needed for the program, it’s a definite sign that things aren’t going well if the coach is getting fired.

Ugly – Part of the reason Golden got fired? How about a 58-0 loss to Clemson. At home. I don’t care who you’re playing, if you are a Power 5 conference team you shouldn’t lose by this much, especially at home. This game was embarrassing. Almost as embarrassing was Miami giving up 59 in a 38 point loss to North Carolina. Those two games put a dark cloud over an otherwise solid 8-4 regular season.

North Carolina Tar Heels

Good – The Tar Heels had one of the best seasons in school history, going 11-3 and not losing a conference game until the ACC Championship against title runner-up Clemson. It was led by a balanced and explosive offense that finished 11th in the country in scoring at 41 points per game.

Bad – Thanks to UNC’s loss to Clemson in the conference championship game, their opening season loss to South Carolina didn’t cost them an undefeated season and shot at the playoff. But man was that a bad loss. South Carolina went on to be a dumpster fire, with Steve Spurrier quitting in the middle of the year. Somehow that high-scoring Tar Heel offense was held to just 13 points by a team that’s only other wins on the year came against UCF and Vandy.

Ugly – UNC managed to one-up its opening season loss with its bowl performance, bookending its season with an equally embarrassing loss to Baylor. As good as the offense had been all year, the defense was just as bad if not worse in the bowl game. Going up against a team that had seemingly every offensive playmakers out and wasn’t a threat to pass, the Tar Heels allowed the Bears to rush for a bowl record 645 yards.

North Carolina State Wolfpack

Good – NC State was a mediocre team, just as their 7-6 record would have you believe. But unlike other undermanned squads (ahem, Miami) the Wolfpack didn’t roll over against superior competition. NC State brought their A game when they had to, losing by a respectable 17 at Doak Campbell against Florida State, by 15 to Clemson, and just 11 to North Carolina after giving their rival a scare for much of that game.

Bad – Overall it was a disappointing year, but particularly for Jacoby Brissett. Brissett came out of high school as a somewhat highly regarded prospect and after transferring to NC State following two years at Florida, he put up 23 touchdowns and just 5 interceptions for the Wolfpack in 2014 while adding over 500 yards on the ground. Because of this, he came into 2015 with some deep sleeper Heisman buzz and high hopes for his team. It never came together for either as the senior QB saw a regression in almost every passing category.

Ugly – The kicking game. Teams like Florida have gotten more national attention for their kicking woes, but NC State was right there with them, resulting in the team attempting the 7th most 4th down conversions in the country. Nothing outside of 30 yards was a gimme, as just 6/9 field goals from 30-39 yards were converted and a grand total of zero field goals made from beyond 37 yards.

Pittsburgh Panthers

Good – The run game for the Panthers showed that it isn’t just a one-man show. Lead back James Conner went down in the first game after running for 1,700 yards and 26 touchdowns last year. With an iffy passing attack, it was fare to wonder how Pitt would score. But Qadre Ollison stepped in and was a nice surprise, leading the Panthers ground attack finishing with a more than respectable 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns on 5.3 ypc.

Bad – Pitt had a good regular season, going 8-4 and hovering around the fringe of the Top 25 for much of the year. That’s what made the team’s bowl performance so disappointing. Even with extra weeks to prepare for Navy’s triple option offense, the Panthers defense was trampled, giving up four touchdowns to Keenan Reynolds.

Ugly – As nice of a surprise as the running game was post-Conner, the passing “attack” was not a surprise. It was awful. Pitt finished 95th in passing yards per game, a number you’d expect to see from a team like Georgia Tech or Navy. Further illustrating how ineffective the passing game was, the Panthers threw for less than 200 yards in 8 of the team’s 13 games.

Syracuse Orangemen

Good – They say you need to defend home turf. Well as limited as Syracuse was talent wise, they did everything they could to give the hometown faithful something to cheer about. ‘Cuse went 4-3 at home with those three losses coming to Pittsburgh by just three, Clemson by just ten and LSU by just ten as well. That’s how you keep the Carrier Dome rockin’.

Bad – Ok maybe “rockin” wasn’t the right term for Syracuse home games. Though the Orangemen kept things close against good teams, it certainly wasn’t keeping the fans awake with an exciting offense. They struggled to score points and even though they ran the ball 139 more times than they passed it, they still only finished 76th in rushing yards per game.

Ugly – They must have spent all of their energy during home games, because Syracuse road games usually weren’t close. They lost all five contests away from home by an average of 18 points.

Virginia Cavaliers

Good – There wasn’t much to cheer about for Cavaliers fans in a season that resulted in the team hiring a new coach, but Taquan Mizzell was a lone bright spot. Mizzell showed play-making abilities that at least gave fans hopes of a big play when the ball was in his hands. A running back, Mizzell actually had more yards receiving (721) than rushing (671) but scored four times each via both methods.

Bad – Like most bad teams, they can usual salvage something at the end of a bad season by beating a rival. Virginia had that opportunity in the season finale against Virginia Tech in a game they had control of in the fourth quarter. A defensive meltdown and turnovers allowed the Hokies to take it to over time and get the comeback win. On top of it, it gave Frank Beamer the opportunity to do this.

Ugly – Usually for bad Power 5 teams, the offense or defense is at least average. This was not the case for Virginia, where there was little hope no matter what side of the ball was on the field. Their scoring offense finished 93rd in the nation. Not to be outdone, the defense was 96th.

Virginia Tech Hokies

Good – Virginia Tech has slid from ACC powerhouse to mediocrity for the last few years and 2015 was no different. Considering Frank Beamer basically built the program, it was nice for the Hokies to not only get that comeback win against rival Virginia, but also send Beamer into retirement with a win, notching a 55-52 victory in their bowl game.

Bad – Even though the Hokies haven’t been relevant on the national scene in a while, folks in Blacksburg could still always rely on the defense to be nasty and make difficult for even the best of the opponents. But even that slipped in Beamer’s final year where the Hokies had just the 47th best scoring defense.

UglyBeamer dabbing, again. And I’m not just one of those people who hates what “the kids are doing these days” but I can’t stand the Dab to begin with and Beamer’s rendition frankly makes me cringe.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Good – Wake Forest was probably the toughest team to find something good for. I think QB John Wolford did enough to give Demon Deacon fans some hope for the future. Given that he was just a sophomore, he did about as reasonably well as you could expect in a five-game stretch that included games at North Carolina, home to Louisville, at Notre Dame, and at Clemson.

Bad – Believe it or not, Wake was actually 3-3 at one point with their eyes on a potential bowl bid. Their wins weren’t anything to write home about but they also played tough against Indiana and Florida State. And then reality hit and the team lost their last six, most in ugly fashion.

Ugly – 120th in scoring, as a Power 5 team, is unacceptable. Oh and 33 PLAYERS had more rushing yards than Wake Forest had as a team all season.

 

 

Featured Image courtesy of Lauren Nelson

Camping World Independence Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Tulsa

In the interest of full disclosure, let me get something out of the way right away. I am not picking a winner in this game. Not…gonna…do it.

This is 1 of about 38 bowl games that quite honestly do not need to happen. Be honest with yourself. Is a bowl game in Shreveport, Louisiana going to make or break your holiday season? As you sit around the dinner table, will you have long, in depth conversations about the beauty of Shreveport and its sister city, Bosier? Exactly. You’re not.

So what do we have here in a game between Virginia Tech and Tulsa?

For starters, we have Frank Beamer. The father of Beamer Ball. Beamer was calling crazy special teams plays before Les Miles took his first bite of grass and now the Ol’ Hokie is calling it quits. Retirement.

Just as the case is with you and me, Beamer doesn’t give a flip about this game. The man has won 235 games at Virginia Tech. He’s a legend. The 2015 Camping World Independence Bowl is not going to make or break his legacy. And besides, as great as his career has been, isn’t this really how we’ll all remember him?

I dare the Hokie’s new coach, Justin Fuente, to top this moment. I DARE him.

Enough about Virginia Tech and Beamer. What about Tulsa?

Yes, what about Tulsa. They finished the year at 6-6. Excellence was achieved? I suppose so when you consider 5-7 teams are going bowling. You may be asking youself, “Seth, what was Tulsa’s best win?” Ha, ha, ha. That’s impossible to say because there are so many to choose from. NOT.

Let’s say that Tulsa’s best win was a 40-31 victory over SMU. Since that counts as a quality win for a 6-6 team, let’s also pick the nauseatingly cliched, “best loss.” That would be a 52-38 loss to Oklahoma. But hey, they scored 38 against the Big 12 champs. YAY!

Since I did spend a considerable amount of time being a sarcastic dip-shit about Beamer, I suppose it is only fair to spend some quality(?) time with Tulsa’s head coach. Hold on while I Google who this guy is….

….aaaand i’m back. It’s Philip Montgomery.

This is Montgomery’s first year as a collegiate head coach. Well done, my man. You went 6-6. It was in the AAC which is practically (but not literally) a Power 5 conference. Seriously, it practically is if you ask a Big 12 fan.

Not to go off on a tangent, but THAT would be an AWESOME mailbag: “Ask A Big 12 Fan.” Look out Clay Travis.

OK, back to Montgomery.

Coach Montgomery has never left the state of Texas. Sure, technically Tulsa is in Oklahoma, but it’s basically Texas. Just give the Longhorn state time to annex Tulsa. He’s been coaching since 1994 and has never worked outside Texas. I can hear what you’re saying. You’re saying, “Seth, he’s mini-Briles.”

Now to be fair, Tulsa hasn’t really been consistently good since Todd Graham went 35-17 for the Golden Hurricane. But he left, because that’s what Graham does. He’s the bouncy ball of coaches. Just bounces from job to job.

Graham’s successor, Bill Blankenship, went 24-27 at Tulsa. Now that I think about it, 6-6 doesn’t look so bad.

To pour salt on the wound of playing in Shreveport, this game is also on Christmas Eve. Fun times. Beamer, Montgomery and the fans will all feel like their onions are caught in the Christmas nutcracker.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SMerenbloom.

Campus Pressbox 34: A Magpie Tournament and Adjusting Cups in College Football

Mike Wilson (@pigskinopinion) and Seth Merenbloom (@SMerenbloom) talk about the first week of the College Football Playoff Poll, the officiating at the Duke/Miami game, and the solid careers of Frank Beamer and Jerry Kill.

Topics:

  • College Football Playoff Poll: Week 1
  • Miami/Duke officiating: What type of discipline should be done?
  • Frank Beamer career: Who should take over?
  • Jerry Kill career: What does Minnesota do?

Links:

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FSU’s QB Battle and ACC Wrap Up

Florida State’s 45-21 victory over Syracuse means a lot more than simply defeating an ACC opponent, the victory brings up questions at the most important position on offense, the quarterback.

With season long starter Everett Golson sitting out the game due to a concussion, backup Sean Maguire got the start and proceeded to pass for 348 yards, 3 touchdowns with no interceptions.

Maguire simply made the offense look the best it has all season. Most noticeably was his ability to throw down the field, which Golson has shown he isn’t consistently able to do. The plays that were being called for Maguire proved that there is more trust in his arm than Golson’s. The Seminoles haven’t been utilizing wide receiver Travis Rudolph’s speed downfield because Golson can’t be trusted to chuck it down the field. In comes Maguire, and two bombs to Rudolph later early in the game and he has two catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns.

Travis Rudolph had his best game of the season with Maguire under center.
Travis Rudolph had his best game of the season with Maguire under center.

Being able to stretch the field is something that the Seminole offense has been lacking all season, with this, opposing defenses have been loading the box in order to contain running back Dalvin Cook, and Golson hasn’t given any team a reason not to because he hasn’t shown that he is capable of making the defenses pay.

All of this adds up to one big question for the Seminoles leading into the biggest game of their season against newly #1 Clemson; who should be the starting quarterback?

Normally a good game by the backup quarterback in replacement of the starter isn’t enough to supplant the starter, but this isn’t an ordinary situation. The first reason is that even though Golson transferred in during the offseason and subsequently won the starting job over Maguire, Golson hasn’t performed to the level that was expected and the level coaches were hoping. Secondly is that Maguire has proved that he can lead the team to victories, he is only 2-0, but one of them was against Clemson and their top five defense last season.

Who will start is a complete unknown at this point. Coach Jimbo Fisher has said everything from saying he’s going to wait and see throughout the week, to saying that he’s not eliminating the possibility of a two quarterback system. Regardless of who starts, the success of the Seminoles season will be determined by the outcome of their next game against Clemson. A win will help people forget about their loss to Georgia Tech, while also putting them in the driver’s seat of the Atlantic division of the ACC.

If you asked me, I think the nod will be given to Maguire. It is a tough decision, but Golson just hasn’t looked like he has been in control of the ‘Noles offense at any point of the season. At times he looks scared and opts to scramble, or he throws a short pass, the offense under Golson was more of a dink and dunk offense, compared to what Maguire showed us on Saturday. Maguire’s arm brought life to the offense, and he did so without Dalvin Cook.

The Seminoles face Clemson at 3:30 on Saturday.

Here’s what else happened in the ACC this weekend:

MIAMI’S KICKOFF RETURN VS DUKE

One of the biggest plays of the season happened last weekend when Miami miraculously returned a kickoff for a touchdown against Duke to win the game as time expired. Miami, in a last ditch effort to win the game lateralled the ball eight times and managed to get by the Duke coverage team to score the game-winning touchdown, but not really. One of the Miami runners who attempted to lateral the ball was clearly down upon watching the replay, and multiple block in the back calls were missed that should have been called. The ACC has thus suspended a couple of the ACC officials from the game, admitting that the referees erred on the play. So the play that won Miami the game, shouldn’t have been a touchdown, but it was. Why the ACC can’t overturn the play and give Duke the victory is beyond me, but as it stands Miami won the game, and now has an outside shot of winning the Coastal division. It really is a shame because Duke had a lot more on the line in this game than Miami did. With the loss, Duke now is a game back from UNC in the Coastal division of the ACC.

UNC LEADS THE COASTAL DIVISION

Because of the botched kickoff return, UNC is now sitting atop the Coastal division. With Pittsburgh and Duke both losing, #21 North Carolina is now quietly 7-1 and in position to face either Clemson or Florida State in the ACC championship. The divisional race is still far from over as UNC and Duke face each other this weekend, with Duke and Pitt facing each other in two weeks. Nonetheless it seems like this UNC team is being slept on. They have the 21st ranked offense in points per game in the NCAA, and the 15th best defense in terms of points allowed. People will point to their strength of schedule, but the win over #23 Pittsburgh helped put them on the map, and how they perform in their game against Duke this weekend will go a long ways to determining how good this team really is.

FRANK BEAMER RETIRES

Frank Beamer, the long-time coach of the Virginia Tech Hokies has decided to step down as head coach after the end of the 2015 season. This wasn’t a move that was completely unexpected, but it will mark the end of an era at Virginia Tech. Beamer began coaching for Virginia Tech in 1987, leading them to 22 straight bowl games. His teams have slipped a bit over the past few seasons, which along with his age, surely played a big part in his decision to step down. Beamer will be remembered as one of the most respected coaches in college football by coaches, and by his players who all credit Beamer to being one of the biggest influences in their careers. Beamer took Virginia Tech from an independent team in 1987, to the Big East in 1991, to where they are now in the ACC in 2004. Beamer led the Hokies to four ACC Championships, three Big East Championships, and six BCS bowl game appearances. Who will be the coach in 2016 is unclear, however Beamer has stated in the past that he hopes someone on his current staff will be named his successor.

The 10-year Rule, Explained

I’ve often talked about the 10-year rule I think all college head coaches should abide by, but I’ve never written it, so here we go. In college sports and specifically at the FBS level, I think coaches should leave their institutions after 10 years. No matter how successful they are, because I think it gives the chance for the program to appreciate the accomplishments of the exiting coach and a chance for schools to reboot.

What works in 2005, probably won’t work in 2015. This isn’t to say that some coaches can’t be successful for 15 or 20 years, but it’s super rare. Coaches who could coach for decades, well, decades ago, couldn’t do it in the current landscape. Bear Bryant couldn’t survive 25 years in the modern era and there isn’t a chance in hell Joe Paterno survives 45 years either.

As of November 3, 2015 this is the list of active coaches with 10 or more years at their current job:

Coach School First Season (years)
Frank Beamer Virginia Tech 1987 (28)
Bob Stoops Oklahoma 1999 (16)
Kirk Ferentz Iowa 1999 (16)
Gary Patterson TCU 2000 (15)
Mark Richt Georgia 2001 (14)
Gary Pinkel Missouri 2001 (14)
Mike Gundy Oklahoma State 2005 (10)
Bronco Mendenhall BYU 2005 (10)
Frank Solich Ohio 2005 (10)
Kyle Whittingham Utah 2005 (10)
Les Miles LSU 2005 (10)

 

That list is impressive. Of those coaches with 10 or more years of experience only two (Bob Stoops – 2000, and Les Miles – 2007) have national championships. If national championships were the only thing in which I based success the rate of turnover would be much lower than 10 years. It would probably be closer to 5.

As of September 2014 the average length of employment with same company is 4.6 years. I personally would have guessed that number to be closer to seven years, but I guess it makes sense. I haven’t been with my big named company for more than three years both times I’ve been employed by them.

It goes to reason that most coaches, and here we can use the national championship as the barometer, are the most successful in their first 4.6 years. Stoops won a national title in his first season and Miles in his second. Stoops’ last championship appearance was in 2008 season in his ninth year. Miles last appeared in a title game in the 2011 season; his sixth with the Tigers.

While Miles is only four seasons removed from his last title appearance but en route to a possible playoff appearance, keep in mind he is in his 10th season in Baton Rouge. Bob Stoops on the other hand has accomplished very little since his last title appearance.

As Dennis Dodd mentioned in his column about Mark Richt, “If you aren’t going to win league titles, you at least have to beat your rival.” Stoops is 10-7 versus rival Texas. Side note (fair or unfair), former Texas coach Mack Brown led the Longhorns for 15 years, or seven years longer than he should have.

Many will say that coaches who’ve won national championships or have built solid programs should be allowed to leave on their own terms. That’s probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Those people are also the people who say athletic departments should be run like a business.

[Merenbloom: “Being ‘all business’ is not a bad thing”]

I’ll ask you this, when Microsoft basically ousted Steve Ballmer, did they do so because he wasn’t making money for the corporation or because he’d overstayed his welcome? Right, Ballmer’s Microsoft was a money-making machine but it couldn’t make headway into new areas of growth and couldn’t compete with Apple.

Bob Stoops continued Oklahoma’s winning tradition for many years, but in the past five or so the program has been listless. His nickname of ‘Big Game Bob’ has become a joke, one I refer to as ‘No Game Bob’.

Les Miles, who is at exactly the 10 year mark is now better known for being the luckiest coach in America who eats grass than for the consistent success he’s maintained. Full disclosure – in 2015, I think LSU is one of four best teams in America and I still believe Les Miles has a lot of years left in him, but in three years he will have overstayed his welcome.

And yes, in 2017, I will have said the same think about Nick Saban. Universities need to think about what’s best for their programs, not what’s best for coaches who are entrenched.

As Bird (@Autull) and I discussed in this week’s SEC 411, I believe Mark Richt would be an excellent fit at Miami. One, because he’s from there and two, is one of the most grounded and honest people in college football. He’s exactly what Miami needs and he leaving after 15 years is exactly what Georgia needs.

Despite the successful 2015 campaign, Kirk Ferentz should have been forced out of Iowa at least three years ago, but because of an exorbitant buyout he’s still there. I won’t knock Iowa’s 2015 schedule because they can’t control how poor their division is, but it’s fair to say that if one other team played consistently and Iowa had to face one of the three Big Ten East powers, they might be in a completely different position.

What do you think? Should entrenched coaches be allowed to stay as long as they want? What if their most successful season was a while ago, are you still inclined to keep them no matter what?

E-mail Damien at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @damienbowman.

Legacy Links – 11/3/15: Change Is Coming

Editors note: Hollis Oliver McLain, III (@HollisOliverIII) will be publishing a series of articles throughout the season on some of college football’s most storied programs. This year, we’ve selected Alabama, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA and Virginia Tech. On Tuesday’s you’ll get important links about each program (Legacy Links) and on Friday’s you’ll get important story lines and a game preview of one team (Legacy Lines). Follow each of these stories here , and get your latest news when you need it.

If you looked at the entire football schedule for last Saturday, you would have been underwhelmed with the seemingly unexciting games. As it turns out, this past weekend has been one of the wildest weekends in college football this year.

It all started with the Miami vs. Duke game. After what looked like a lateral-filled win as time expired for the Hurricanes turned into a wildfire of blame for the referees of that game. Not only did the referee let the play go after there were multiple penalties and a knee on the ground, but they allowed Duke to lose on an illegal play. Although the officials have since been suspended, the damage was done. Replay and referees have been a major topic of discussion in the recent past, and this is just another blemish on the NCAA.

On top of all this controversy, Frank Beamer will be stepping down at the end of the season. While we knew it was just a matter of time, this comes as a surprise to many. With so many coaching positions open and more opening everyday, the coaching carousel is in full swing and might be grabbing a coach near you.

After a crazy weekend, here are the high points for our Legacy Programs.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Even though the Tide aren’t having a fairy tale season, they do still have a ton of great, talented players on their roster. I say this to reinforce the fact that while your team may be having a down year, you can still be proud of your players. Reggie Ragland is the perfect example of a guy who means a lot to his team and is finally getting the recognition he deserves. Ragland was named to the list of 10 semifinalists for the Butkus award, which goes to the best linebacker in the country.

LINK – http://www.rolltide.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/110215aaa.html

Alabama has a massive matchup this weekend against the LSU Tigers that most likely will determine which team wins the SEC West. I realize that Ole Miss is at the top currently, but they are going to lose here soon. For all the Alabama fans nervous about this weekend, here are some points you need to see ahead of the matchup.

LINK – https://www.seccountry.com/alabama/8-things-every-alabama-fan-needs-to-know-today

Penn State Nittany Lions

After a solid performance against a weak Illinois team, Penn State’s offensive coordinator is getting some high praise due to his recent success. While he is the man of the hour now, he hasn’t had many other positives this year. His offense has been terrible for the most part, in fact. The Nittany Lions has a tough game against a good Northwestern team this weekend that is a true test of what offensive coordinator John Donovan can do. Will he continue his recent success?

LINK – http://www.pennlive.com/pennstatefootball/index.ssf/2015/11/penn_state_offensive_coordinat_3.html

At one point this season, Northwestern looked to have a shot at the playoff picture, but turns out they aren’t as good of a football team as we thought. Well, Penn State isn’t exactly blowing good teams out of the water either. This will most likely be an ugly matchup set for a noon kick. Which team can take the momentum heading into the final few games?

LINK – http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/sports/college/psunorthwestern.html

Tennessee Volunteers

The Volunteer offensive is humming right now, and Kentucky was their latest victim. The entire Vol offense seems to be on the same page, especially one unlikely pair. Josh Malone has shown up the past few weeks as one of Josh Dobbs’ favorite targets. After coming in highly touted out of high school, Malone was going to be a bust. That is, until he decided to start running routes and catching the ball. Check out what this means next for the Vols.

LINK – http://tennessee.247sports.com/Article/Josh-Malone-rising-at-right-time-for-Tennessee-Vols-football-40756169

If the Vols win the rest of their games, then they would be improving on their season last year, barely. Although they are most likely headed to a bowl game, which bowl is still a huge question. Here are some early bowl predictions for Tennessee.

LINK – http://allfortennessee.com/2015/11/03/tennessee-football-week-10-bowl-projections-for-vols/

Texas Longhorns

There have been rumors surrounding the Texas program that Charlie Strong could be looking for a job next year. At least that was the case before he beat Oklahoma. Now, we are right back to where we started after Texas lost to an absolutely awful Iowa State team and got shutout. Charlie Strong may still be in good graces, but Texas losing to Iowa State cannot happen. I’m honestly surprised he wasn’t fired on the spot.

LINK – http://www.dallasnews.com/sports/college-sports/headlines/20151101-national-reaction-charlie-strong-running-out-of-time-for-longhorns.ece

As I mentioned, Texas got completely destroyed by Iowa State last weekend. The Texas offense has no identity, and Charlie Strong isn’t the guy that can remedy it either. When it comes down to it, Texas just isn’t a good football team, and they have been lucky to play well when they have. The Longhorns hope to forget this loss and move on.

LINK – http://www.burntorangenation.com/2015/10/31/9652568/texas-longhorns-0-iowa-state-cyclones-24-charlie-strong

UCLA Bruins

The Bruins have been riddled with injuries this season, and they have adopted a next man up mentality throughout the season. After more players went down, UCLA very nearly ran out of men to play. While Josh Rosen and company are showing promise, Mora has to find a way to keep people healthy. You are going to get hurt in football, but injuries can be prevented as well. Check out how the Bruins spun positives out of injuries.

LINK – http://dailybruin.com/2015/11/03/ucla-football-triumphs-despite-injuries-forcing-new-players-to-step-up/

UCLA will play Oregon State for the first time since 2012 this weekend. Due to poor scheduling, the two teams haven’t been able to face off against each other. What does this mean for the Bruins? It means they have no idea what to expect, and that could be dangerous.

LINK – http://www.latimes.com/sports/ucla/la-sp-ucla-football-20151103-story.html

Virginia Tech Hokies

The Hokies will have a new football coach for the first time in almost 30 years. He has seen great triumphs and massive sadness throughout his career, and he has decided to step down at the end of the year. The Virginia Tech program has been in limbo recently, as everyone knew Beamer was on his way out; it was just going to be on his own time. He deserved that.

LINK – http://www.si.com/college-football/2015/11/01/virginia-tech-football-frank-beamer-retire-announcement

Since Frank Beamer will no longer be the coach of the Hokies, they must look elsewhere for someone to save this program. While Virginia Tech isn’t a top 10 program, they have a rabid fan base, and play in an easy conference. This job is appealing to many coaches, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a young fiery guy came in and started being successful. Where should Virginia Tech go from here?

http://www.richmond.com/sports/college/football/article_494b4324-55e9-505e-ac10-8cc67a4852bd.html

Legacy Lines – 10/30/15: College Football Should Never Change

Editors note: Hollis Oliver McLain, III (@HollisOliverIII) will be publishing a series of articles throughout the season on some of college football’s most storied programs. This year, we’ve selected Alabama, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA and Virginia Tech. On Tuesday’s you’ll get important links about each program (Legacy Links) and on Friday’s you’ll get important story lines and a game preview of one team (Legacy Lines). Follow each of these stories here , and get your latest news when you need it.

It’s finally Friday again. The weekend has arrived again only to bring joy back into our living rooms as we watch our favorite teams fight for power in their conferences. Throughout the college football season thus far, we have seen pure elation and powerful sadness. It is an endless, repeating cycle, with some teams on the winning side and others going back home disappointed. While college football is largely about the wins and losses, it’s also about the passion, rivalries and moments you make on the field.

Of course when it comes to rivalries, during the game, the stands are full of hate for the opposing team, but once the final whistle blows things are normal again. That’s the beauty of college football. Every football fan out there has a team they pull for on Saturday, and sometimes, that team can make or break your year. It is truly intriguing that something so simple as a sport can transform a nation, but yet here we are.

Now, to focus us in on this weekend’s Legacy Teams, we must look at a few important games coming up on Saturday. Tennessee will face the Kentucky Wildcats in what could be a trap game for the Vols. The Vols are coming off of a tough matchup against Alabama (bye this week), and we all want to know if Tennessee is real and get a win. On the other coast, UCLA is taking on Colorado in a Pac-12 bout. Finally, Penn State must face Illinois on Saturday. Penn State will come out on top, but I have a feeling that Illinois is going to give them some fits.

Our Legacy Line game of the week is Virginia Tech vs. Boston College. Game time is set for 11:30 Saturday morning. This game does not have any playoff implications, but a win could turn around both teams’ seasons. These teams are a lackluster 3-5, and the road won’t get easier for either of them going forward. The best chance for one of these teams to make a bowl game would be to win this weekend, giving them only two more games to clinch bowl eligibility. Now, Boston College might have a little more on the line, as they desperately need their first conference win of the season. At the same time, Frank Beamer must get a win for a program that has gone from prominence to off the map. This matchup is poised to be a fun one.

Like we do every week, it is time to give some background on this fairly new rivalry that has transformed into a dogfight more recently. At first glance, you wouldn’t think that these two teams are rivals, but they have been since 1993 when they played their first game against each other. Even though Boston College won the first one, Virginia Tech has dominated the series, winning almost double what BC has. However, the last couple of years, Boston College has gotten the upper hand on the Hokies.

LINK – http://hamptonroads.com/2015/10/breaking-down-virginia-techboston-college-matchup

I believe this game will come down to quarterback play, which both of these programs know something about. It would be a travesty if I didn’t mention Doug Flutie’s miracle against Miami in the same thought as good quarterback play, because the future NFL quarterback was a monster during his time at BC. While Flutie was amazing, two greats of my generation, Michael Vick and Matt Ryan played for VT and BC, respectively. Although they didn’t play against each other, they led their teams to win after win on the gridiron. Michael Vick will go down as the best scrambling quarterback in history as well as a great overall field general. Matt “Matty Ice” Ryan will always be known as a clutch qb that could take his team down the field to win the game whenever he wanted. Even though these great players have moved on, their competitive character lives on in this VT vs. BC rivalry.

LINK – http://www.bcinterruption.com/boston-college-vs-virginia-tech-2015/2015/10/30/9640114/boston-college-vs-virginia-tech-film-study

This year both teams have had problems with their starting quarterbacks. Boston College has one out for the season and another with a concussion. They don’t have a starter as of now, but they are going to choose between two of their young guys. Troy Flutie, (yes, Doug’s son) who has been less than stellar this year, could get the start, but it is just as likely that the freshman walk-on John Fadule gets the nod. On the other sideline, Virginia Tech has had their own quarterback moments. The first game of the season, VT’s starting qb Michael Brewer, suffered a broken collarbone and was out for multiple games. Even though he is back, he still isn’t at full strength and will have a tough test on the road, in a tough environment.

LINK – http://espn.go.com/blog/acc/post/_/id/87525/boston-college-could-start-a-freshman-walk-on-quarterback-against-virginia-tech

As I said before, the road to victory will run through one of these quarterbacks. If Boston College can get up early through their passing game, then they have a great shot at the win because VT has been struggling offensively all season. Boston College has had their own serious issues offensively, but I think they can rally to have some sort of passing game against a depleted Virginia Tech secondary. As for Virginia Tech, with Michael Brewer on the field, they should move the ball early and often. VT will win this game if their offense can score. BC won’t be able to keep up with the offense and the only way BC wins is through defense, late.

LINK – http://nesn.com/2015/10/boston-college-home-underdog-against-struggling-virginia-tech-in-acc-clash/

Although these teams could end up scoring a bunch, I don’t see it actually happening this weekend. Instead, I picture a low scoring, defensive battle. In the end, Virginia Tech comes out on top, but it goes down to the wire.

Virginia Tech 20 Boston College 17

Legacy Lines – 10/9/15: Old Series, New Conference Rivalry

Editors note: Hollis Oliver McLain, III (@HollisOliverIII) will be publishing a series of articles throughout the season on some of college football’s most storied programs. This year, we’ve selected Alabama, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA and Virginia Tech. On Tuesday’s you’ll get important links about each program (Legacy Links) and on Friday’s you’ll get important story lines and a game preview of one team (Legacy Lines). Follow each of these stories here , and get your latest news when you need it.

Let’s all take a moment to recognize that the college football season is already five games in, and most teams are playing their sixth game this weekend. After all the waiting we all did over the spring and summer, the sport we love most is about half way over, and that sucks. However, as the air starts to turn cold and dry, football is just heating up. Our Legacy programs continue to hit their conference schedules running, and there is still a ton of football left to watch.

With rivalries such as Tennessee vs. Georgia and Alabama vs. Arkansas highlighting the SEC weekend and Penn State vs. Indiana, Texas vs. Oklahoma and UCLA vs. Stanford also on the schedule, look for some close, gritty wins out of our Legacy Programs’.

Headlining the Legacy Line game of the week is NC State vs. Virginia Tech. Be careful though, because this game kicks off at 8 p.m. tonight, FRIDAY. At first glance, this ACC battle wouldn’t be on the monitor of most college football fans, mainly because these two teams haven’t played much recently. The Wolfpack and the Hokies’ have only faced each other four times since NC State joined the ACC about a decade ago. However, the series between these two schools goes all the way back to 1900, which was a Hokie road win.

These two teams have squared off 48 times, and the Hokies have the edge by several games. Not only do the Hokies have the upper hand in the series, but Frank Beamer has only lost to the Wolfpack twice in his almost 30 year tenure as the head coach in Blacksburg.

The last time that these two teams played was in 2010, in Raleigh. If this tells you anything about how long ago it was, the starting quarterbacks for VT and NC State were Tyrod Taylor and Russell Wilson, respectively. While I’m sure that the schools would like to have some extra eligibility for those two, now pro quarterbacks, they will have to work with what they have. This game is a big game for both of these teams, and the winner will get to .500 in conference play while the losing team will be struggling at 0-2 in the ACC. Although these two teams haven’t looked especially strong so far, a win here would go a long way for both teams.

Even though each of these teams suffered an ugly loss in conference play last weekend, VT’s loss to Pitt was extremely more painful, as the Hokies could barely get 100 yards of total offense. In this day and age, you have to move the ball better if you hope to win. This game will come down to which offense can exploit the others’ defense. Yes, that may sound a tad obvious, but with Virginia Tech’s depleted secondary, NC State sees an opportunity to take advantage of the deep passing game. If Jacoby Brissett can make it his goal to attack the secondary and make them stay honest, then Matt Dayes will be there to take a HB draw to the house when Virginia Tech’s secondary backs off. On the opposite sideline, Virginia Tech needs their quarterback back, badly. Michael Brewer, after an early season injury, has been cleared to play, but is still questionable for the game Saturday. If the Hokies can get Brewer on the field, they will have a much greater chance at success simply because Brewer is a passing threat. Otherwise, NC State will just load the box and stop the run. The key to victory for Virginia Tech’s defense is to disrupt Jacoby Brissett in the pocket. If they can get in some awkward positions or back foot throws, then VT could end up with a couple short fields.

This game is hard to gauge, but I think Beamer ball ends up with a big win due to solid quarterback play. I’ll take the Hokies 27-24 in a close one.

College Football: Week 1 Features Ohio State’s Embarrassment of Riches

It only took five days, but our first weekend of College Football is in the books. We had a lot of chalk and some disappointment, but it was the “Wow!” moments that really jumped off the page. The bar was really set high for the individuals that the consensus expects to be in the running for that big heavy trophy, and for the schools interested in playing in that little tournament, well, they just had to win.

From the home of the Belk Bowl to the campus of the last program to slay the dragon that Urban Meyer built in Central Ohio, it was an extended weekend of debuts, vengeance, and perhaps an introduction to some new contenders. We’ll start in Blacksburg, where the first unanimous Preseason AP #1 team in the country took on Frank Beamer and the Virginia Tech Hokies, seeking their pound of flesh for what took place in Columbus a year ago.

Ohio State 42 Virginia Tech 24

The story has been told, time and time again. Cardale Jones has never started a game in his own stadium for Ohio State, and on Monday night, he earned his first regular season victory, so it’s long past the time we stop referring to him as the Buckeye’s 3rd-string quarterback. In case you felt his previous three performances were some type of sorcery on the part of Meyer last December and January, the junior from Cleveland showed the magic is still there on Ohio State’s first possession, hitting Curtis Samuel on the money with a throw off of his back foot, good for a 24-yard touchdown. The next time the Buckeyes snapped the ball, Ezekiel Elliott went 80 yards to make it 14-0 in favor of the defending champs, perhaps making fans in Tuscaloosa feel better about things, but likely not.

It appeared the Buckeyes were going to roll, but misfortune, the type that goes beyond taking the field at Lane Stadium without Joey Bosa or Jalin Marshall on the field, struck, and the Hokies ripped off 17 unanswered, taking a 17-14 lead into the break. A missed Ohio State field goal gave the home team some momentum towards the end of the first quarter, but all of the credit in the world goes to Virginia Tech for designing a wheel route to full back Sam Rogers, who was all by himself on the left sideline. The big man had to hustle, but Eli Apple stood between him and the goal line and he shook the Buckeyes’ the third-year corner out of his shoes to cut the early advantage in half. Without the services of Marshall, Meyer had Elliott back returning punts, and call it inexperience or whatever, but the All-World running back struggled to field AJ Hughes second punt of the night, and four plays later, another nicely designed throwback to Ryan Malleck on third down gave the Hokies the lead.

Anyone remember Braxton Miller, the forgotten head on the three-headed monster of Ohio State’s open competition for the starting role last spring? They gave him a new number and a new position, and it only took him about a half of football to get his sea-legs beneath him. He did have a couple of rushing attempts and a nice diving 24-yard catch in the first half, which I think showed us he’s still a legitimate player, even when not behind center. On the third play of the second half, he took a pass from Jones and tip-toed by the Hokie defender, down the right sideline for 54 yards and the score. On the Bucks next offensive play from scrimmage, he gave the Scarlet and Gray their first Wow Moment of the season with a spin move that you can, yeah, only do on video games. From there, the rout was on.

https://vine.co/v/etJnO1lvnKm

Give Beamer and company some credit; they nearly made Mark May look smart. While the final score really was indicative of the game we watched, they did some really good things to take the straight-up running game away from Ohio State, despite big plays from Elliott and Miller, and they found enough vulnerabilities in the defense to put some points on the board and make this prime time affair interesting into the late night hours of Labor Day. The game really didn’t get out of hand until Brenden Motley had to spell starting quarterback Michael Brewer.

Unfortunately for Brewer, we live in a world where what you say with a certain expectation of privacy is subject to “going viral”. He was caught on camera, and yes, it’s likely he knew it was in his face, spouting off some one-liner about how it’s going to take a lot more than a fairly brutal hit he took on the Hokies last drive of the half to knock him out of the game. You can’t blame the kid; he was talking to his teammates in the locker room, more so than the national television audience through the lens of ESPN’s camera, but people are going to talk about karma. To that, I say “whatever”.

It’s widely believed that this is Ohio State’s last real test before Michigan State visits Columbus in November, and it’s hard to disagree. Up next, the Buckeyes get Hawaii, Northern Illinois, and Western Michigan at home, and then a relatively simple conference slate, though I’m not ready to overlook Minnesota’s visit to the ‘Shoe on November 7th. For the Hokies, don’t expect the season to instantly go down the toilet after this acceptable performance. Last year, East Carolina beat Virginia Tech on their home field a week after they stunned Ohio State. Don’t expect Furman to follow suit; in fact, I’d say you can expect the Hokies to get their own pound of flesh from ECU on the road in a couple of weeks, and for them to be competitive in the ACC.

Marshall 41 Purdue 31

It was tough sledding for Darrell Hazell and Purdue in the only game on the slate for this pre-NFL Sunday. If Hazell and his signal-caller Austin Appleby never see Tiquan Lang again, it will be too soon for the both of them. Though, I’m very open to the possibility that Appleby never saw Lang at all, yeilding two pick-sixes to the Thundering Herd’s junior safety, which were good for the first and last scores of the game.

On the game’s very first play from scrimmage, Lang stepped in front of the intended receiver, and went 30 yards untouched to give Marshall the early lead, but there was still a good 59 minutes and change of football to be played. Purdue was able to recover on a DJ Knox touchdown run, on his way too a 100-yard day on the ground, but the game went back and forth all afternoon. The visiting Boilermakers led for most of the first half, until Devon Johnson put Marshall back up 34-31 with a 6-yard score, but Appleby had one more chance. After timeouts by both teams, it appeared the Purdue junior had too much time to think about it once again. And once again, an ill-fated pass attempt fell into the hands of Lang, who had to work harder on his second return, cutting across the field for a 55-yard score to put it to bed.

Given their early success in making the jump from Division I to Division I-AA with Chad Pennington and Randy Moss nearly twenty years ago, it’s difficult to believe Sunday’s win, in front of a home crowd of nearly 39,000 in Huntington, was the school’s first win over a Big Ten program, but the Boilermakers seem to be giving a few mid-Majors that milestone in recent years.

Alabama 35 Wisconsin 17

Hey Badger fans, I think Derrick Henry just scored again! Okay, maybe not, but the Alabama junior running back averaged 11.3 yards per carry, en route to three touchdowns on the ground at “The House That Jerry Built” in North Texas on Saturday. It probably would have been more, but the end zone kept stopping him. If there’s honestly a debate about the quarterback position at Alabama, and I don’t think there is, we gained no clarity about it on Saturday night. My gut tells me Nick Saban will let Jake Coker assume the role, unless his poor play forces his hand or Cooper Bateman takes things to a new level in the time he’s getting.

So, I know Gene Chizik was 5-19 at Iowa State before being awarded the Auburn job, where he landed the services of Cam Newton and won a title in his second season, so maybe I don’t read too much into Paul Chryst’s 19-19 mark at Pittsburgh. Seriously though, in Chryst’s debut with the Badgers, he wasn’t just behind the curve with the X’s and O’s, that Big Ten size and strength, which is supposed to be their finest asset in Madison, it’s not there. I’ve long thought that Barry Alvarez was the reason Gary Andersen chose a new gig in Corvalis over what he’s built in Madison, but he might have just seen the writing on the wall with what he wasn’t able to recruit. Sorry, but 16 yards on 8 carries for Corey Clement just isn’t getting it done; Melvin Gordon III isn’t walking back through that door and head coaches will dare Joel Stave to beat them all season.

Texas A&M 38 Arizona State 17

Is it possible to lose a game by more than just the numbers on the scoreboard? In being picked apart by Scottsdale, Arizona’s Kyle Allen and Christian Kirk, the very successful head coach of the Sun Devils, Todd Graham, was exposed for losses to the state of Texas in the recruiting game. Allen, the sophomore quarterback fighting off highly touted freshman Kyler Murray, threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, but Kirk was the star of the show. You get sick of hearing about video games when you’re discussing actual human athletes, but between his 79-yard punt return that put the Aggies up 14-0 early and his 66-yard touchdown catch and run, that status quo had cheat codes on their mind. I’d reference the Game Genie here, but it would be lost on everyone not born between 1975 and 1985.

After A&M’s season went downhill after their big win in the opener against South Carolina a year ago, Aggie fans can only be cautiously optimistic about Kevin Sumlin’s squad’s chances in the SEC. On the other hand, after watching how hapless the ASU offense was in Houston, there has to be some concern about senior quarterback Mike Berovici, a guy that wasn’t spectacular in his understudy role in 2014, despite the team’s success in games he started.

This neutral site game was the only game of any sort on the 2015 schedule that paired a Pac-12 school against a team from the Southeastern Conference. If you’re an SEC honk, you want the Sun Devils to dominate their conference. If you support a Pac-12 contender that isn’t Arizona State, you’re probably hoping your program isn’t basically a coin flip for that fourth playoff spot with a member of the SEC in December.

Northwestern 16 Stanford 6

We should probably acknowledge this battle of Academia that took place in Evanston, the most watchable matinee of the day on Saturday. Was this more about Kevin Hogan and Stanford being inept on offense, or does Pat Fitzgerald have a great defense at Northwestern? I fear David Shaw may be on the decline, the more we see time separate this program from the days of Jim Harbaugh.

One thing I’m hearing and I don’t agree with is that Stanford is suddenly too slow. Sure Hogan isn’t a runner on the level that Andrew Luck was, and Ty Montgomery is gone from the offense and special teams, but Michael Rector isn’t slow and we should see more of Christian McCaffrey in both the running and passing games. My guess is the offense works it out, but I don’t know if the glass is less than half-full when I look at that defense. The departing talent hasn’t been replaced, or the newbies haven’t been developed, but Northwestern owned the line of scrimmage when they had the ball. That’s going to be a problem for the Cardinal all year.

The victory in the trenches translated to a good game for running back Justin Jackson, who ran for 134 yards. However, it was quarterback Clayton Thorson’s 42 yard run, on what looked like a designed draw play, that represented the only touchdown of the day. The Wildcats will host an FCS team next week, and visit Duke in a few weeks, but expect them to finish non-conference play 4-0, setting up a big match up with Minnesota, on October 2nd at Ryan Field.

Ole Miss 76 Tennessee-Martin 3

Yuck, just yuck. Hugh Freeze, you’re in the SEC, and I know you want the home game at whatever price, but playing FCS foes is totally beneath you. Indiana got lucky doing this, but Wyoming, Washington State, and Kansas were not. Shame on everyone who partakes in this practice, even you Arizona State, where I’ll watch you rebound against cal-Poly, but still, Yuck!

Michigan State 37 Western Michigan 24

Kudos to the AD’s in East Lansing and Kalamazoo for making this happen, with the mid-major hosting the high major. PJ Fleck, your Western Michigan program isn’t quite there yet, but they didn’t look out of their element with a big boy from the Big Ten in town.

Michigan State might want to work on kick coverage this week, while the Broncos shouldn’t change a thing. Row your boat, fellas.

Charlotte 23 Georgia State 20

This game kicked off at 12:30 PM, during my work day on Friday. I caught the end on the ESPN app in my office. It was fourth College Football game I’d watched with some interest in a 24-hour span; yeah, I need help.

For the 49ers, it was their first game as an FBS program, and obviously also their first victory, but the Panthers of Georgia State made it interesting in the end.

TCU 23 Minnesota 17

I don’t know if I just don’t like the idea of B being a Heisman candidate, or if I have the bar set too high for him and, really, the rest of the Horned Frogs. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think TCU is phenomenal when they have the ball, and that’s where the expectation comes from, but they just didn’t seem to have it, despite a nice victory over an underlooked Minnesota team on Thursday night at TCF Stadium.

He’s got weapons all around him, most notably Josh Doctson, and 246 passing on a day he rushed for 92 is far from underwhelming, but in real-time, I didn’t think he was anything special. That just tells me we haven’t seen anything yet from the offense. Based on what SMU was able to do to Baylor for 30 minutes on Friday, they might make for an interesting opponent for Gary Patterson’s defense, still a question mark for me after Minnesota had many opportunities Thursday.

Jerry Kill has a nice little team in Minnesota. They hung around the entire game, even if TCU did adjust better at the half. Rodney Smith seems like a good find; the freshman had 88 yards on 16 carries, but a lot of it that offensive line. Junior quarterback Mitch Leidner needs to be more efficient or throw the ball less, but I don’t know how much less he can throw it, considering he was sacked 20 times a year ago.

That Ref Deserves a Hug

Sometimes, I just can’t get over how the universe can even itself out. Two years ago, going left to right across the Big Red “N” at midfield in Lincoln, a backup quarterback heaves up a prayer. You know the rest, Jordan Westerkamp is on the receiving end for the touchdown and the win against Nebraska. Redemption is spelled R-O-N (Kellog).

Fast forward to Saturday, BYU down 28-27, 1 tick on the clock for Tanner Magnum, on in relief of the injured Taysom Hill. Mitch Matthews hauls it in for the win, but #11 Terenn Houk is the star of this Vine.

https://vine.co/v/eTVKrzL5T0E

…and the rest.

These are all of the items that are too short for a capsule of their own.

  • Penn State, I’m glad you went to Philly to play Temple, but how did you lose that game?
  • Michigan, you can’t run the ball and don’t have a real answer at quarterback. Jim Harbaugh isn’t saving you right away.
  • Between the Cactus Bowl and Friday’s somewhat awkward return to Boise for Chris Petersen, I’ve now bailed on Washington at halftime in consecutive games, only to learn the second half was interesting, the next day. Show up in the first half, Huskies.
  • Nicely done, Josh Rosen.   What a performance for the true freshman; he came with a lot of hype, but lived up to it.  UCLA wasn’t playing an FCS school on Saturday, they were hosting a Power 5.  It was Virginia, but still.
  • Northern Illinois, that’s two years in a row that you’ve dominated UNLV, but let them hang around. A MAC rival will take advantage at some point, just watch.
    We’re so spoiled with digital options for viewing, that it was aggravating that CBS Sports didn’t have an option and I’m told didn’t regionally switch to the UNLV-NIU game in DeKalb, while overtime was played in Tulsa.
  • By the way, way to finish your win over Florida Atlantic, Tulsa.
  • So, Auburn is pretty good.  Louisville might be too, but not based on their play Saturday.  Either way, good to see Verne and Gary on CBS in Week 1. (They called Ohio State-Navy for CBS Sports Network to open the 2014 season)
  • Play-by-play announcers and color analysts, it’s okay to punt in College Football. Not every opponent is Oregon, and not every situation near or behind midfield equals four-down territory. Our game is about field position, and you win it by punting when appropriate.
  • Adults that paint their bodies and dedicate their lives to “me time” on camera for their favorite College Football team don’t deserve the air time.
  • I’d rather get neutral site games than no game at all, but there’s something about the games being played on campus. Steve Spurrier, that atmosphere sucked with all of the empty seats in Charlotte. Go to Chapel Hill or have Larry Fedora bring his team to Columbia, and stop trying to do too much.
  • Nice touchdown reception, Robert Nkemdiche.  We’ll talk more about the two-way play of the Ole Miss pass-rusher, when they play an FBS foe.

Lastly, I think I underestimated how cool Scott Van Pelt’s midnight Sportscenter would be, because I was mostly upset about losing his radio show on my mid-day drives. I’d planned on getting straight to my writing room when the game ended, but I stuck around. It’s a shame the technical stuff had to be difficult in Virginia, I really would have loved to see him interview Braxton Miller.

Back on Sunday to discuss Week 2…61 hours until Louisiana Tech and Western Kentucky kickoff.

Campus Pressbox 18: Damien’s Barry Alvarez Mea Culpa with Max Brusky

A few weeks ago Damien reached out to BuckAround’s (@Buck_Around) Max Brusky to ask him why Barry Alvarez was at Wisconsin. After a lengthy Twitter discussion the two did this podcast for a bit over two hours. A complete deep-dive into the Bret Bielema years at Wisconsin along with a discussion about Jeff Long and his relationship with Barry Alvarez, an obvious Top Gun reference, and off topic on the Big Ten and it’s next television deal.

Hosts:

Damien Bowman | Campus Pressbox | Twitter | E-Mail
Maxwell Brusky | BuckAround | Twitter

Missing Co-Hosts

Mike Wilson | Twitter | E-mail
Rich Branch | Twitter

Links:

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