Andy Staples answers your college football questions. This week: Could the worst SEC East team beat the SEC West's best, which fictional coach should Michigan hire to replace Brady and more.
A huge week of news plus some great games on Saturday have produced some interesting questions. Here’s what we cover in the video.
• Has anything in college football been handled worse than this Michigan debacle?
• Have “check-with-me” offenses stunted quarterbacks’ ability to read defenses?
• What does one have to serve at a cookout to make it a barbecue? (Hint: This is a trick question.)
Keep reading for more questions and answers…
From @jkringer: Where would the worst team in the SEC West finish in the SEC East?
Based on what we’ve seen so far? Third, at worst. Probably even higher. First, we’d have to determine which team is the worst in the SEC West, and we’d have to do that with the giant caveat that “worst” is a relative term. Because all seven teams in the West appear to be quite good. We certainly can’t say the same for the East.
For argument’s sake, let’s say the No. 7 team in the West is Arkansas because the Razorbacks didn’t win an SEC game last year and are already 0-2 in the division. (This could be completely wrong because the margins between a lot of the West teams look paper thin.) Does anyone who watched the Razorbacks crush Texas Tech and nearly beat Texas A&M think they couldn’t handle most of the teams in the East? We’ll get a pretty good idea how Arkansas stacks up against the East because the Razorbacks play Georgia on Oct. 18 and at Missouri on Nov. 28. There is a good chance one of those two teams will win the East. There is a good chance one or both will lose to Arkansas.
This is a fascinating question. In the era of the polls, I would have automatically answered Nebraska. Undefeated trumps almost everything with poll voters, and as the chance that four Power Five teams finish undefeated is so slim, poll voters would definitely put an undefeated Power Five conference champ in the playoff. Would the committee feel the same way? If Nebraska had an elite nonconference opponent on its resume, this would probably be a no-brainer. But the Cornhuskers’ best nonconference opponent is Miami. Fresno State and Florida Atlantic are duking it out for No. 2. McNeese State of the FCS almost beat the Huskers in Lincoln but couldn't finish off the upset. If the Hurricanes make noise in the ACC, it will help. That remains to be seen, though.
The committee is supposed to reward teams that schedule tough. It doesn’t get much tougher than scheduling Oregon at Autzen Stadium, and anyone who watched the Spartans and the Ducks knows that game could have turned out quite differently had one or two third-quarter plays had a different result. It also might have played out differently on a neutral field. So if the Spartans rip through the remainder of their schedule and Oregon is one of the top three seeds, you could make a case that Michigan State is exactly the kind of team that deserves the benefit of the doubt from the committee.
Having said all that, I’m going to guess the undefeated team would have the better shot until the committee proves it actually cares about tough schedules.
From @JLBurnfin: Why does it take college football coaches so long to turn over the offense to freshman QBs when they’re the best option?
Think back to when you were 18. Would you have trusted yourself with a pet rock, much less an offense that has to play in front of 90,000 people? Was Brandon Harris probably the best option for LSU’s offense all along? Sure. But Les Miles had to see that he wouldn’t completely freak out in a game situation. There is so much going on inside an 18-year-old’s head. A college freshman is constantly being exposed to new things. His head is swimming, and it’s a big ask to expect him to command the playbook and earn the respect of his teammates. That’s why coaches usually err on the side of the (sort of) veteran -- in LSU’s case, true sophomore Anthony Jennings -- until they can work the young guy into enough game situations to ascertain whether he can handle the gig full-time. Harris gave the Tigers a last gasp in a loss to Mississippi State, and he clearly outplayed Jennings last week against New Mexico State. Thanks to those two performances, Miles can be reasonably sure Jennings won’t go deer-in-the-headlights when he takes his first snap at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday.
Last year, Texas Tech started Baker Mayfield as a true freshman in the season-opener because the veteran who was supposed to be the starter (Michael Brewer) was injured. The only other option was Davis Webb, who also was a true freshman. Kliff Kingsbury wanted to start an older player, but he didn’t really have a choice. Coaches who do have a choice tend to opt for a little experience versus none, because the biggest recruiting budget in the world can’t always help a coach discover whether his player will shrink or shine when the spotlight is on him.
From @lukelaubhan: If the head coaches of the top four teams were in a band, what kind of band would they be? Who is the lead? Nick, Bob, Mark & Jimbo...
Luke offers up the easy Beatles parallel -- Bob Stoops is almost certainly Paul to Nick Saban’s John -- but let’s not forget Saban’s feelings about a certain Rolling Stones frontman. “Mick Jagger is a great entertainer,” Saban told writer Warren St. John, who was writing a piece about the coach for GQ.
These guys would definitely be a rock band, though tempo would be an issue. Stoops and Oregon’s Mark Helfrich would push for a Ramones pace, while Saban and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher would want something slower and harder. Ideally, they’d want to be a Metallica cover band that plays “Nothing Else Matters” 20 times and finally cranks up “One” in the last two minutes of the set.
From @TailgateC9: Was it Rick Moranis that coached the Little Giants? He might be a good pick for Michigan.
The fact that Michigan brass sent Brady Hoke out to defend his handling of Shane Morris without informing Hoke that Morris had a concussion suggests the coach’s days in Ann Arbor are numbered. You’ve already seen multiple lists of potential replacements for Hoke, but this reader brings up an interesting new dimension. Indeed, Rick Moranis played coach Danny O’Shea, who once led the Giants against the Urbania Cowboys. O’Shea is one of the more upstanding fictional football coaches, but he’s a bad idea for Michigan because of his history of playbook sharing with Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio.
Still, this is an interesting idea, so let’s figure out which fictional coach would fit best at Michigan.
- Coach Harris, Adams College: Early in his career, Harris was a capable leader for the Atoms. He was a great developer of talent, turning Fred “Ogre” Palowakski from a lightly recruited receiver with an anger management problem into an all-conference tight end. Unfortunately, the game passed Harris by when advanced statistics became the rage. Every time his athletic director tried to hire someone to crunch numbers, Harris screamed “NEEEERRRRRRRDDDDDS” and ran from the room.
- Eric Taylor, East Dillon High: He could be the next Art Briles or Gus Malzahn, but Taylor’s commitment to coaching at the college level is questionable. Remember the TMU debacle?
- Mr. Coach Klein, South Central Louisiana State: After the Mud Dogs’ victory in the Bourbon Bowl, there isn’t a hotter name. His recently recovered ability to draw plays could spark an offense that has been ineffective since last year’s Ohio State game. Klein also knows how to recruit the South, which is critical in the post-population shift Big Ten. But just as there were questions about Kevin Sumlin (since answered) after Johnny Manziel left, Klein will have to prove he can win without Bobby Boucher.
- Sam Winters, Eastern State: Winters rang that championship bell, but his handling of defensive end Steve Lattimer’s steroid abuse suggests he has a win-at-all-costs mentality that would not befit a Michigan Man. Plus, he lost to Michigan in his most recent season. Still, linebacker Alvin Mack would have made one heck of a general studies major.
None of these coaches is a particularly good fit. That leaves only one logical choice.
- Ed “Straight Arrow” Gennero, Texas State: He refuses to break rules. He stitched together a team featuring a 34-year-old quarterback, a professor playing defensive tackle and a supermodel kicking field goals. Of course, Gennero didn’t actually engineer the Armadillos’ upset of the by-God Texas Colts -- he was in the hospital with chest pain -- so maybe Michigan should be calling Texas State defensive coordinator Wally Riggendorf.