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  • In this week's #DearAndy mailbag, Ohio State’s loss to Oklahoma has readers thinking about which conference would be the most upset about being left out of the playoff. Plus, early fits for the coaching gigs everyone assumes will come open this winter.
By Andy Staples
September 13, 2017

The readers hit me with some great questions this week, beginning with one about Week 3’s most intriguing matchup…

From @cfb4ever: Clemson/Louisville… Really important game now that the Deondre Francois injury possibly puts FSU on the outside?

This was one of the most important games on the ACC schedule even before Florida State lost its starting quarterback. Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson remains the best player in college football, and he seems to have improved as a passer this year. And let’s not forget the last time an ACC blueblood went to Louisville in week three. 

The difference is that Florida State team had just lost its best defensive player (Derwin James), and the current Clemson Death Star defense is fully operational. Louisville’s line looks better than last year, but the Tigers’ defensive line is better than anything else the Cardinals will face all season. Jackson will have to be superhuman for Louisville to pull the upset. If they do, Archie Griffin might have company. But if the Cardinals force Jackson to do everything by himself, Clemson will control the ball, the clock and the race for the ACC title.

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From @FosterHimself: If no Big Ten teams make the playoff this year then it will definitely expand in how many years? [Answer linked here, and in the video at the top of this story.]

From Roger: Just wondering if you could shed some light on why teams add years to coaches contracts 3–4 years before they expire? [Answer linked here, and in the video below.]

From Ryan: Who are some of the top coordinators, with West Coast ties, that will be available for Arizona State head coach this offseason?

From Michael: Any good coaching candidates for A&M next year? Fedora maybe?

Wow. You guys are giving up on your coaches pretty quickly. Also, if the jobs at your respective schools do open, why do you assume a coordinator will get them?

If UCLA doesn’t open, then Arizona State could be the perfect landing spot for Chip Kelly. He doesn’t want the intense spotlight that the potential SEC openings would offer, but he does want access to speed. There’s plenty of that in the Phoenix metro area and a six-hour drive away in Los Angeles. Add to that new facilities and a revamped stadium, and the Sun Devils’ job would be very attractive. If Kelly didn’t come, there would be other options. Frank Wilson is doing a great job at UT-San Antonio and has incredible recruiting chops. If Scott Frost continues his upward trajectory at UCF, he might want to return to the Pac-12.

The A&M question is more complicated. Given the amount of money the job will pay and the expectations it will bring, the guess is that the Aggies would target someone with head coaching experience. Fedora, a College Station native, actually would be a good fit, but this is a rebuilding year in Chapel Hill. So he might not be that hot of a name, and right or wrong, that sort of thing would matter.

Here’s my issue with the idea of Texas A&M firing Sumlin: Which coaches have demonstrated an ability to give the Aggies what they want? With Nick Saban still at Alabama, the only way to truly compete for SEC West titles is to hire someone who could conceivably recruit and coach at a similar level. That list is Urban Meyer, Dabo Swinney and Jimbo Fisher, and none of those guys is leaving for College Station. (Though Fisher might entertain the offer long enough to get his request for a standalone football facility at Florida State filled faster.) Anyone else might get the same results as Sumlin. If that’s the case, why bother firing him?

The one coach whose name doesn’t come up in a lot of these discussions—but should—is Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen. The Bulldogs have always outpunched their weight class under Mullen, and he’s proven himself a superior recruiter and developer of talent. If he ever gets to a place where he has easy access to four- and five-star talent, that program could become a year-in, year-out contender. Unfortunately for Mullen, Alabama has been his kryptonite, and if Texas A&M opens, the Aggies will be looking hardest for someone who can beat the Crimson Tide.

From Carl: Will Oklahoma run the table? [Answer linked here, and in the video below.]

From Ben: Just curious, but how many “draw an end zone in your front yard to keep the gators out” joke tweets have you received today?

Ben sent this in response to my tweet that the University of Florida was warning employees not to come to campus in the wake of Hurricane Irma because Lake Alice had overflowed. Lake Alice is a body of water on the southwestern edge of campus that is home to a large number of live versions of Florida’s mascot. And alligators don’t know the difference between the lake and the road if the lake is covering the road. But Ben found a topical way to keep people safe. (Though if the alligators are defensive backs, the end zone wouldn’t be an impediment.)

Fortunately, the campus was getting back to normal as of Wednesday, and Gainesville should be ready for a football game on Saturday when Tennessee visits Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

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