Saturday night sucked. Braylon Edwards was correct in his assessment. And while I totally agree with him, I must admit that things are not as bad as they seemed while watching that sick joke of a game. Still, this needs to be a wakeup call because it looked like the Wolverines slept through most of their opener. Continue reading Michigan Football: Things are not as bad as They Seem
The powers that be must have read my complaint about last year’s Week 1 schedule because there are a lot of big games kicking off the 2018 campaign. Here’s what you should know about each one going in:
Back when Michigan hired Jim Harbaugh, it seemed like the perfect fit and the perfect thing to do. He was a “Michigan Man” and had proven himself at all his previous coaching stops. Now, coming off his second defeat by rival Michigan State in three years, people are beginning to mumble. The shine is coming off the seemingly perfect union of Wolverines and Jim Harbaugh as he is looking at most likely being 1-5 against his two main rivals.
Jim Harbaugh is heading towards being in hot water and it’s his own fault.
Think back to when Harbaugh was the coach at Stanford. From 2007 to 2010, he had the reputation of being hotheaded and overly competitive. In 2009 he continued to run up the score on USC prompting head coach Pete Carroll to ask “What’s your deal?” which is saying something when you consider how competitive Carroll is. He was known for being a grumpy guy that only cared about winning at all costs.
That continued when he left Stanford for the San Francisco 49ers. Jim Harbaugh was known for making average quarterbacks better, having sideline meltdowns, and shaking hands a bit too aggressively. He was an angry guy that only cared about winning football games. He even ditched a quarterback that got a concussion for the hot-handed Colin Kaepernick. It was all about winning for Jim Harbaugh.
Then he got to Michigan and things took a strange turn.
As strange as this sounds, Harbaugh didn’t do himself any favors winning 10 games his first year after previous coach Brady Hoke went 5-7 to miss a bowl game yet again. Michigan fans were ready to commit to a rebuilding period and not have high hopes for the first couple seasons. After seeing what happened in 2015 and 2016, Michigan fans were ready to assume what they felt was their rightful place at the top of college football.
With the fanbase and presumably the Michigan administration on cloud nine, not only with the winning seasons but the media attention from hiring the hottest coaching candidate, Jim Harbaugh basically had a blank check to do what he wanted.
And he did.
Jim Harbaugh began appearing in random commercials for milk, taking his players to Rome, and other bizarre things that had no right making the news. He also coached first base for the Detroit Tigers because why not? He’s Jim Harbaugh!
Essentially, he became a caricature of himself. Harbaugh took his newfound wealth and fame and did literally whatever he wanted. There are two possible outcomes: either Jim Harbaugh is playing chicken with the Michigan administration or he’s lost his competitive edge.
Personally, I think the edge has been dulled. Where’s the fire this season? The rants have decreased and the team has regressed. Is the team falling for the hype or is there no fire anymore?
Maybe Harbaugh had decided to mail in this season in. He’s just trying to buy one more season until he can get a real quarterback but his team kept winning anyway. Now instead of having a fanbase that would be satisfied with a nine or ten win season, these fans are expecting national championships.
2018 will be the pivotal season. If Jim Harbaugh doesn’t win something in 2018, what was the most exciting coaching hire this decade is about to start becoming the most exciting coaching divorce outside of scandals.
E-mail [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @tbach84.
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Many college football fans, and even some pundits, were quick to strip the title of best football conference away from the SEC last fall. A shaky season with bad quarterback play, one dominant team, and a lackluster bowl record had these people claiming the king of the hill had been toppled. Those people were a bit too quick. If the same thing happens again this coming year, then we can open a discussion on the subject.
In the meantime, the SEC is still top dog but clearly aware that position is in danger of being taken away. As a result, it’s gone on the offensive, in the form of a man who looks no more intimidating than your world history teacher from junior high.
Paul Finebaum has been the prevailing voice of the Southeastern Conference for years. Now, as an outside threat begins to appear, apparently Finebaum would like to comment on college football in its entirety. Specifically, Finebaum seems to have an interest in the actions of one Jim Harbaugh. Why, you might ask, would the SEC guy care about what Michigan’s coach is doing? Well, you’ve arrived at the million-dollar question there, one I can only answer with calculated speculation.
Harbaugh has done nothing if not shake up the recruiting process. Judging by the 2016 and 2017 ranks of his classes, it’s easy to see he’s tapping into something. He and Urban Meyer have even started to establish recruiting pipelines in the south that only the SEC schools used to feed off of. When the number of recruits is stagnant but the amount of potential schools has increased, that’s an issue for those who were interested in maintaining the status quo.
Naturally, the easiest way to discredit an opponent is to accuse them of cheating. Recent outcomes haven’t been what the SEC is used to so somebody’s got to be doing something against the rules. Finebaum comes out and says Harbaugh’s hiring of Mike Johnson is based strictly on the fact that Johnson’s son is one of the top quarterbacks in the 2019 class. It’s not technically cheating, but it goes against the spirit of the rules, he says.
First of all, Finebaum should apologize to Johnson for saying there’s “no other reason” Harbaugh would be hiring him. That’s utterly ridiculous considering the man’s long track record that happens to include previous gigs under Harbaugh. Do some research, Paul.
Secondly, saying Harbaugh’s not technically cheating is such a slimy way of still saying he’s cheating. And really, you don’t need to actively build a public opinion case against Harbaugh. He’s loony enough that he does it for you. Going out of your way to attack him looks desperate.
Oh yeah, and to top it off, Johnson didn’t even end up taking that job with Michigan. He’ll be coaching at Oregon in the fall. Is Willie Taggart a cheater too, Paul? I didn’t think so. He’s too inconsequential all the way out there.
The SEC and its mouthpiece must really be worried about this if Finebaum wants to be able to branch out nationwide. Doing so would enable him to slam whoever gets in the way of the southland and its football. No sir, I say to the SEC slap. Stay where you know what you’re talking about.
That is, of course, unless you really are nothing more than an SEC pawn.
E-mail Mitch at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @GreatGatzke.
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Ok, look, we need to have a talk with the media. Mostly ESPN but really, this talk needs to happen with everyone including us here at Campus Pressbox.
This is hard for me to say but give me a second. Deep breath…
We need to stop talking about Jim Harbaugh.
Wow, as a Michigan fan, I didn’t think that was something I would ever think let alone say. But it’s true and it needs to stop.
The newest story is that Jim Harbaugh has reunited with the man who drove the mail truck that hit him when he was a kid. ESPN has a whole article on it, complete with the segment from SportsCenter. Fox Sports wasn’t to be outdone, nor was SB Nation. As of right now, a Google search for “Jim Harbaugh mail truck” gets you over 5,000 hits. Granted all those articles are not going to be about this subject but that’s still a huge amount for an event that happened this morning.
This has got to stop.
This is not news.
There’s so much else going on in sports, let alone the world, and we’re forced to talk about Jim Harbaugh sharing a glass of milk with someone that nearly ran him over. This is not a story. When our editors asked me to do something on this, I was not sure if they were serious at first.
I understand that Jim Harbaugh is not a normal coach and quite frankly, probably not a normal human being. He does things that are a bit outside of the norm. He’s taking his team to Rome, because why not? He wants to and, quite frankly, probably will have his son baptized by the Pope. He doesn’t wear a shirt for some reason. There’s not enough time in the day for me to list all the oddball things that he does.
Harbaugh’s going to keep doing them too. Why? Because we talk about every single one of them. He’ll probably hold a funeral for his daughter’s hamster (presumably she has that or something more exotic) and multiple news outlets will hold live broadcasts on-site. They’re talking about him right now during the Michigan basketball game and I don’t know why. It’s an endless cycle that no one can or will break. Jim Harbaugh is going to keep just doing whatever pops in his head until it stops being front page news. It’s not going to stop being front page news because no media outlet wants to miss out on a story that someone else has.
It’s never going to end.
You know what the worst part is? Jim Harbaugh hasn’t even done anything yet. Let me clarify that statement. He hasn’t done anything football related yet.
People will claim that he’s “put Michigan back on the map!” But has he? What does Michigan have to show for two years of absurdly expensive coaches and a variety of wacky antics?
Some highly-ranked recruiting classes? Brady Hoke was bringing those in too.
National Championship? Nope.
Big Ten Championship? Nope.
Big Ten East Division Championship? Nope.
Winning seasons? Yes, he’s got two seasons of more than 10 wins.
I’m willing to bet there’s a lot of other coaches out there who do weird stuff. There’s probably some fun stories about Urban Meyer out there but there’s not wall to wall coverage of him. It’s like we have some kind of weird addiction to Jim Harbaugh.
I, for one, would like to start the revolution. From now on, I pledge to only talk about Jim Harbaugh when he does something worth talking about. No discussing catch phrases he has, if he has a shirt on, or who he’s hanging out with now.
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It’s the age-old question that college football fans from the North and South love to quibble over because who doesn’t want to have bragging rights that their conference is undisputedly, top-to-bottom the best college football has to offer? Some say it’s still the SEC because Alabama won the national title this past season and is in prime position to claim it again in January. They also point to the depth and competitive balance of the conference and say its teams as a collective whole are a better product. At least they don’t have Rutgers or Maryland. Sigh. Fair enough.
However, others believe there’s been a shift in conference supremacy and that the Big Ten has surpassed the SEC with its coaching and quarterbacks.
Back in 2010, Auburn became the fourth SEC school to win a national title in five seasons and the league featured five national championship-winning coaches in Nick Saban, Les Miles, Urban Meyer, Steve Spurrier and Gene Chizik. In addition, James Franklin arrived at Vanderbilt, Mark Richt had won two league titles at Georgia and Bobby Petrino led a solid Arkansas program. Fast forward to the end of the 2016 season. Out of those eight coaches, Saban is the only one who remains and the SEC athletic directors have replaced those championship-caliber coaches with unproven leaders who have struggled.
Now, it’s the Big Ten that’s filled with solid coaching commodities, from Meyer building a powerhouse at Ohio State to Jim Harbaugh at Michigan, Paul Chryst at Wisconsin, and Franklin at Penn State. Moreover, Mark Dantonio, Kirk Ferentz and Pat Fitzgerald have been fixtures of stability at their respective programs. And don’t forget in the only regular Big Ten-SEC matchup this season, even with lesser talent and by far, much less expectations, Wisconsin led by Chryst in just his second year, outcoached an LSU team that had national title aspirations and was headed by the SEC’s second-best coach, Les Miles.
In terms of quarterbacks, I think it’s safe to say this year, the Big Ten’s signal callers were better. While he wasn’t Heisman Trophy-caliber worthy as once expected, J.T. Barrett was still really solid, as well as Trace McSorley, Wilton Speight and Clayton Thorson. However, for the SEC, with its consistent misses under center, more of its teams have been searching for the easy fix, courting junior college players and graduate transfers hoping to get a Russell Wilson. But instead, they’ve found John Franklin III and Greyson Lambert. The number of transfers being used at SEC schools is incredible. I find it even more ironic that the SEC gets all the high-profile, five-star quarterback recruits and are using Purdue rejects at flagship schools. Danny Etling won the LSU job and Austin Appleby guided Florida.
There are valid points to the argument the Big Ten is better than the SEC, and depending on how you look at it, the conference just may be better. But as much as it pains me to say it as I’m a staunch Big Ten supporter, I find it hard to make an argument that our conference is clearly above-and-beyond better than the SEC. Right now while there is more parity in the Big Ten at the top and it has more high-ranked teams than the SEC with four teams finishing in the top eight of the final College Football Playoff rankings, the bottom half of the conference really brings down the Big Ten compared to the SEC and hurts the Big Ten’s depth.
Bottom line is the SEC as of today owns the national title and to me, it’s all about the hardware. Could that change in a few weeks? Absolutely. But as for now, as of today, I’d give the edge to the SEC…just barely.
E-mail Mike at or follow him on Twitter @MDeuces2051.
Jabrill Peppers gets a lot of attention when people discuss the University of Michigan and that’s fair. When a player can play eleven positions well, he should get some kind of attention. ESPN also has something to do with that as it feels the need to hype up a defensive player to make the Heisman race that much more interesting. The way they talk about him, you’d think that he was the only story going on at Michigan.
Sure, Peppers can make the flashy plays but he isn’t exactly the guy that runs the show.
That title goes to redshirt sophomore quarterback Wilton Speight.
No one really is talking about Speight much because he isn’t putting up video game numbers like Lamar Jackson in Louisville, but what Speight is doing for the Wolverines needs to be appreciated.
To really appreciate it, you have to understand that Wilton Speight had almost given up on football. He was basically lost to the point of Harbaugh telling him to get off the field in 2015. You’ve got a kid who was unfocused on football and not even sure if he could play at the collegiate level. He took over for an injured Jake Rudock against Minnesota and engineered a game-winning drive.
Fast forward to this year and you wouldn’t even know it’s the same guy.
Completion percentage-wise, his worst game was 46% but that’s because he threw only 13 passes in an absolute destruction of Rutgers. Even with that game, Wilton Speight is averaging a 64.5% completion rate. He just cracked the 2000 yard mark last week against Maryland as his performance continues to improve each week.
Possibly the most impressive part of Wilton Speight’s game is his decision making. In 231 passing attempts this season, Speight has only thrown three interceptions. That’s really incredible care of the ball for someone who is really just getting his first taste of playing.
Look, I’m not trying to sell you Wilton Speight as a Heisman candidate (maybe next year). He’s been a very good player but you don’t win awards for ball security.
What I’m trying to sell you on is that the quarterback spot for Michigan is not the liability that we all kind of secretly thought it was going to be. It’s OK, we can all admit it now. We all thought it.
Don’t believe me? Even head coach Jim Harbaugh didn’t think he was going to be this good. Harbaugh’s not a guy to pull punches and is going to tell it how it is. If he says he expected Wilton Speight to have a rocky season, then that’s what he expected. No one expected much from the kid and he won the starting job anyway.
So what does this all mean?
It means that Michigan’s offense is on the verge of becoming as dominant as the highly touted defense it boasts. Don’t believe me? Michigan ranks 20th in total offense with the only other projected playoff team ahead of them being newly anointed no.4 Washington, ranked at 19. The greatest team to ever play, Alabama, ranks 30th. So the 20th best offense and the best defense in the nation and that offense keeps getting better each week. Michigan has scored 31 more points than the next closest team in Ohio State and allowed 28 fewer points.
Look, there are a lot of haters out there but it’s time for them to just accept it. With Wilton Speight at the helm, the Michigan Wolverines are very much legit and very much a threat to win the National Championship.
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Throughout this season I’ve noticed how intertwined college football has been with Twitter. Any given day of the week, I can get on Twitter and see multiple tweets about college football. And this isn’t to complain. To me, it’s just really interesting how Twitter has come to interact with college football.
When you think about it, Twitter has really transformed so many aspects of college football. Coaches tweet now. Players tweet. Analysts tweet. Fans tweet. We all tweet, often interacting with each other. The interactive aspect of Twitter has really made college football more fun in countless ways.
Coaches can tweet random facts that let people into their lives, or they can (with restrictions) use Twitter as a recruiting tool. One of the most prominent college football coaches as far as Twitter goes is Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh. He uses his account for all sorts of different things, and it’s clear that fans eat it up.
I’m not a fake, here’s my Top 5 from @Drake:
3. Started From the Bottom
4. Hold On, We’re Going Home
5. Hotline Bling
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) June 30, 2016
“Amazing” to me- Alabama broke NCAA rules & now their HC is lecturing us on the possibility of rules being broken at camps. Truly “amazing.”
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) June 1, 2016
I mean, I don’t even like Michigan football at all, but those tweets make me like Harbaugh a little more. He is clearly a Twitter master.
Players being on Twitter is a whole different animal. Being a Florida fan, obviously the most interesting player to follow is Teez Tabor. Though some of his tweets have been deleted, his Twitter has always been a goldmine. College ball players often just shut up and play, but having Twitter and thousands of followers on Twitter gives them the chance to actually talk.
Talking is definitely something Tabor has proven to be great at. He compared college football to slavery once. He also called out Florida’s UAA for being bogus after he was suspended for refusing to take a drug test. But in a totally different light, he’s tried to set a good example for younger fans. This summer he actually live streamed himself giving to a homeless man in Gainesville.
Gotta be a positive influence to the youth
— Teez Tabor (@_31Flavorz) October 12, 2016
— Teez Tabor (@_31Flavorz) August 20, 2016
Say what you want about the first couple tweets I mentioned, but Tabor is clearly a Twitter master, too. He uses it not only to express himself and support his teammates, but also to try to inspire his followers to do better.
Analysts have also become increasingly active on Twitter. Even bloggers like myself use Twitter to interact with fans of the teams we write about. We also can use Twitter to promote our work and get precious views.
One very recent example of analysts using Twitter was with the postponement of the LSU-Florida game at the beginning of the month. Many major analysts immediately jumped on Twitter to give their commentary on this news.
LSU got its narrative out first, causing the majority of analysts to pick up its version of the events. Analysts were bashing the Florida team, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley, Coach McElwain and even the SEC Commissioner, who ultimately made the call to postpone the game.
Clay Travis was one of the most overwhelmingly loud voices speaking out against the Gators. I’m sure he gained thousands of LSU and Tennessee fan followers that weekend. And kudos to him for exploiting a sensitive topic to get more clicks. It’s the smart thing to do.
So Florida had two different teams travel for games this weekend and is still hosting football recruits this weekend. Total cowards.
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) October 8, 2016
On the other side of things was one of my favorite Twitter presences as far as analysts go, Barrett Sallee. Sallee, for anybody who understood why the game was postponed, was the voice of reason. He even went so far as to say exactly why the theory that Florida was scared of playing LSU that weekend was ridiculous.
So you’re of the belief that Florida wanted to delay a game in which Leonard Fournette wouldn’t play to make sure Del Rio does?
— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) October 8, 2016
Sallee obviously received a lot of criticism and insults for being one of the few analysts to publicly defend the Gators. But, as always, he handled his critics very well. And in this case, both Clay Travis and Barrett Sallee proved that they are masters of college football talk on Twitter.
The last aspect of how Twitter has changed college football has to do with the fans. The fan experience is entirely different now that there’s Twitter. There are really three major ways Twitter changed college football for the fans: fans interacting with other fans of the same teams, fans interacting with fans of other teams and fans interacting with and/or criticizing the players.
Fans interacting within the same fan base has become incredibly popular. Vol Twitter, Gator Twitter and so many other Twitter worlds exist out there because of college football. Having other fans to commiserate with or celebrate with, without ever leaving your house, is really awesome.
But what happens when the good people of Gator Twitter and Vol Twitter clash? Well, if you’re sensitive then you should probably stay out of it. During #FloridaHateWeek/#TennesseeHateWeek leading up to the September 24th game in Knoxville, these fans really went at each other. I got to see both sides of it, which was honestly incredibly amusing.
Having Twitter to talk crap with fans of opposing teams can be really fun. But like I said, keep your feelings out of it. It’s not that serious, bro.
This last part of things can be great when used correctly. But when abused, it really irks me. Fans have the ability to criticize and/or interact with the players via Twitter now. In theory, this is great. In practice, it’s not always so great.
If you know me, you know I defend athletes whenever my writing allows. I defended Josh Dobbs and all other college athletes earlier this season after a student wrote a really nasty article about “whiny” football players. Here’s my chance to defend players in another way.
Because Twitter is Twitter and it creates a mob mentality in a lot of ways, fan bases often find scapegoats to take out all their frustration on. Sometimes the scapegoats kind of deserve it. But in other cases, it just gets to a point that is completely ridiculous.
For example, earlier this season Florida safety Nick Washington had a game-sealing interception off a Jarrad Davis tipped ball. A play like that shows great awareness and athleticism. But, since he’s a Gator Twitter scapegoat, he got virtually no credit for it.
Nick Washington so lucky he was ball watching. His shitty play actually got him somewhere. And we gonna win
— BSG (@BiasedSportsGuy) October 1, 2016
LOL. You have to be kidding me. A) I assure you that it was not “shitty” play that got him to the University of Florida. B) Random Twitter troll, do you start for a top 25 college football program? C) Who hurt you? D) Aren’t you a Gator fan? What are you doing??
Now, most college football players would never lash out in response to something like this. As someone told me a while ago, “There’s a reason we’re on that field and they’re just watching.” But at the end of the day, fans need to realize that the players do see these tweets. These guys are devoting countless hours, their bodies and so much else to try to generate income for the universities and entertain the fans.
Being ungrateful just because Twitter gives you a place to do so is just plain dumb. Is it really worth the RTs and likes? Is it really worth the players thinking their own fan base is ridiculous?
As we Gators would say, “In all kinds of weather, we all stick together.” Now, if college football fans on Twitter (including Gator fans) could actually take that to heart, college football Twitter would be a much happier place.
At the end of the day, Twitter has changed college football for everyone involved. I really do think it’s mostly a good thing, too. Sometimes it’s even a great thing. But as evidenced by my last point, it clearly isn’t always a good thing.
As technology changes and platforms like Twitter become even more popular, it’ll be interesting to watch how it continues to affect college football and all of us that are so invested in the game.
You can email Kristen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @OGKristenB.
Well, well, well. Look who we have here. How’ve you been Sparty? That record with the five losses tells me you haven’t been so good.
So I just want to rewind the clock a few years.
Mike Hart made what was essentially a harmless comment in a postgame conference about Michigan State being Michigan’s little brother and oh man, did Sparty Nation get all bent out of shape. You clung to it, letting the hate grow, and fester. It basically fed into everything that you did and stood for.
I live in Michigan so I’ve seen some of these things. Spartan fans got a billboard to declare that Michigan was now the “little sister” among other things. Fans chant it at the game, and if you listened to sports talk radio around here, oh man do you hear it all the time. It’s like they have nothing else, well except for the Michigan State PR group taking a shot at another Michigan tradition.
I warned you against this, Michigan State.
I told you that if you wanted to be the better team you had to act like the better team.
Well, well, well.
So Spartan fans, I want you to think back to all the times that you declared that Big Blue was done and that Michigan State was the new big dog. How you laughed at us when we were down and figured that you were destined to stay at the top of the standings forever.
Michigan fans learned that it doesn’t work that way. We learned that sometimes you’re going to have some down years and that you need to remember that you might have to take some lumps later on.
And we remember. We remember it all, Sparty.
We remember all the “little sister” comments.
We remember the big losses.
We remember the trouble with the snap last year.
And if the fans remember, you can bet the players remember. If the players remember… just think about what a coach who is obsessed with winning and will go for two against one of the worst teams in the nation basically just for kicks remembers.
The beast that is Jim Harbaugh has been awakened, and he is not happy. He’s never happy (but that’s beside the point).
One of the most punishing defensive fronts and one of the best secondaries in the nation are on their way to East Lansing. This is a defense that is allowing an average of ten points a game. That is the best in the nation. Where’s Sparty rank on scoring? Hang on, I’ve got to scroll a lot. Oh, there they are. Michigan State is scoring just over 23 points a game which is good for 110th in the nation.
Michigan State is 61st in passing yards per game. Michigan is first in passing yards allowed.
Michigan State is 86th in rushing yards per game. Michigan is fourth in rushing yards allowed per game.
If the season were only a couple weeks old, those numbers would be less impressive. We’re more than halfway through the season, though. Michigan has beat up on good teams like Wisconsin, Colorado, and Penn State. Wisconsin is the only team to stay within single-digits of the Wolverines and they’re ranked no. 11 in the nation.
Imagine what an angry Michigan team is going to do to a bad Michigan State team.
The question isn’t if Michigan is going to win, it’s how much is Michigan going to win by?
I have all the respect in the world for Spartan head coach Mark Dantonio, but even he can’t coach his way out of the slaughter that’s coming his way. Michigan State is not equipped to deal with the juggernaut that is this current Wolverines team. Heck, Michigan State might not be equipped to even get to a bowl game.
Maybe you’ll rebound and maybe you won’t. But this time Michigan State, beware that Michigan is going to remember these last few years for quite a while. If you rebound, the Wolverines are going to make sure that you have to work for it.
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Recently, more and more people have been stating their case for or against implementing a college football commissioner. The debate about the need for a commissioner is far from over and I’m not here to end it.
There are plenty who say we should not have a commissioner, that it wouldn’t solve anything. They’re just no fun. Some have proposed possible candidates to fill the position. Well, if none of those distinguished gentlemen are going to step up then I will. I’m going to work under the assumption that we do have a commish and it’s me.
Before I really get started, I want to make it clear that my position is in no way associated with the sham of an organization that is the National Collegiate Athletics Association. I am the College Football Commissioner and I will not answer to the NCAA. It will answer to me, as will its member colleges and universities.
That’s important to note because a lot of what I’m going to propose here will not be popular in those circles. Frankly, I don’t give a damn. It is past time the NCAA and its member schools make some sacrifices for the benefit of others.
I’m looking long-term here. Those who are strictly after more money immediately can’t see that far down the road. Here are your binoculars.
Joel Klatt’s Issues
Over the summer, Fox college football analyst Joel Klatt launched into his elevator speech highlighting the reasons why college football needs a commissioner.
Scheduling – This is an easy one. Scheduling consistency is a necessity in the Playoff era. Constantly comparing and contrasting the value of wins undermines the Playoff by questioning the strength of the selected teams. Put everyone on a more level playing field and enhance the debate in the process.
Staff size – Klatt doesn’t like the way Nick Saban stashes coaches on his staff by calling them “analysts.” It got him fired up enough to make another appeal in favor of installing a commish. To a degree, Klatt is right about this. It is unfair for the big boys to gobble up the best coaches just because there are virtually no restrictions on how many employees a program can have.
Player conduct – Right now, player discipline decisions are made by the head coaches themselves. If that’s not a conflict of interest then they need to redefine what that phrase means. Again, this is an easy fix.
Recruiting rules – This past summer, Jim Harbaugh showed us that the recruiting trail really is the Wild West. It’s hard to regulate because so much of it occurs in the shadows. I would appoint a Director of Recruiting to establish and enforce guidelines that prevent the big programs from abusing their power without preventing coaches from separating themselves from others.
“Fumbled” satellite camp vote – When it becomes painfully obvious that the conferences are voting not necessarily in their own best interests, but to harm the others, it’s time to switch things up. The satellite camp debate that raged throughout the summer was an eye-opener indeed. Let’s get some rules agreed upon and take the enforcement of them out of the hands of each self-serving conference.
Transfer rules – Sometimes, kids decide they want to go to a different school. They shouldn’t be punished for that.
“Checkered past” transfers – Klatt mentions “checkered past” transfers, in obvious reference to what went on at that Baptist school in Waco, Texas. Generally, these are not good human beings, but they’ve got skill so coaches are willing to take the chance. In this situation, we need to raise the stakes for coaches and schools so they’re not endangering campuses by bringing in convicts.
Graduate transfers – These are college football’s free agents and I’m a huge fan. If anything, we should be making it easier for guys to take full advantage of their eligibility while pursuing an even higher degree.
Officiating – Klatt is totally right about this. Get all the officials under one umbrella so that everyone’s on the same page. That way we won’t have to listen to fans whine and complain about an opposing conference’s officials playing favorites. It’s a ridiculous notion and it’s easily fixed by unifying all the men and women in stripes.
Klatt says we need an adult in the room. I totally agree with him there. Here’s what the adult in the room has decided:
Each Power 5 team will play at least two other Power 5 teams – one at home, one on the road – by the end of Week 3. Each Power 5 team will play at least one Group of 5 team – on the road at least once every four years – before the end of Week 3. These three games will compose the non-conference portion of the schedules
In Week 4, conference play starts, continuing through Week 13. Each team will play nine conference games and get a bye week at some point during the conference schedule. Week 14 is reserved for the conference championship games, which are now mandatory.
All football programs may only have a certain number of employees. This includes coaches, trainers, “analysts,” everybody. I won’t get too specific here. How could I even hazard a worthwhile guess at such a number? I’ll let my Compliance Director handle it.
All player conduct issues will be handled by the Commissioner’s office. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all Roger Goodell and start making these decisions on my own. As you see, I’ve got many other things to do. I’ll hire someone to review cases and suspend players as they see fit. You can think of them as the Dean of Discipline. No prior punishment will come into consideration as precedent. We’re starting over.
We will have no more verbal commitments from recruits. It’s unnecessary and it gets confusing when a guy decides he doesn’t want to go to that school after all. We can all wait until national signing day. I’ll save the countless intricacies that go into this process for my Director of Recruiting.
Satellite camps are not only legal, they are encouraged. If you can spare however many of your allotted employees then you can take your show anywhere on the road your please. We will establish guidelines before spring recruiting picks up. There will be strict parameters as to how many employees a program can send. All camps must be made open for all other schools to send representation.
There are only a couple transfer rules that I will concern myself with. The first is the rule we all know. When a player transfers schools they must sit out a season before playing at their new school. Yeah, that’s gone. I’ll let you transfer and play immediately, but you can only do it once while you’re still taking undergrad classes. Once you graduate, you may transfer again, if you’d like.
As for the guys Klatt refers to as “checkered past” individuals, like I mentioned earlier, the stakes need to be higher for the coaches and schools bringing these guys in. You want to take a chance that’s fine, but you will be fined if that chance you took turns out to be a bad one. Taking money away is the most effective way I know to keep people in line. Financial sanctions will dictate more careful decision making and I’ll bet we see a drastic dip in these “checkered past” transfers causing more problems.
All officials will be trained, employed, and monitored by the Officiating Director. Repeated poor performance will be punished with demotions to lower profile games. At some point though, fans are going to have to realize the refs do not have it out for their team.
Now I can get into the exciting part. The College Football Playoff is now expanded to eight teams. Each Power 5 conference champion will automatically qualify. The committee will select at least one team from a Group of 5 conference, as well. The final two spots are completely at-large.
So, does the committee go with a conference championship game loser, another small conference champ, or a runner-up from a tough division? I don’t know, but as Commissioner, I’m intent on finding out.
The opening round quarterfinal games will be played on college campuses, with the higher-seeded team hosting. This is one of the few things that the schools might actually like to hear. Imagine a Playoff game at any one of the dozens of iconic college football venues. Unlike most of what I’ve said here, this is not a hard sell.
Now Accepting Applications
As your new College Football Commissioner, I would like to officially offer you a chance to apply for employment in our office. We’re going to take college football into a new era and we’d love to have your help in doing it. Join now because what I say goes and it’s going to be fun.
E-mail Mitch at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @GreatGatzke
Photo: Flickr user Elvert Barnes