The ongoing playoff talks have dominated the Mailbag thus far this offseason, and now they're about to affect the publishing schedule. In an attempt to keep these columns from becoming outdated six hours later, you'll notice this one went up a day earlier than usual (Tuesday), in advance of Wednesday's BCS meeting in Chicago. Next week's (yes, we're going weekly now) will be pushed to Thursday in order to include any possible outcome of the June 26 presidential meeting. And the following week, we'll go back to Tuesday (July 3), albeit to beat the holiday.
Basically, check back often.
In the meantime, I'm feeling a bit playoff-ed out, before we even get to these meetings, as we've seemingly beaten the conference champions debate to a pulp. Just wait until we get to the really sexy stuff: Revenue distribution. So this week, I offer you an (almost) entirely playoff-free edition.
Franklin has made an undeniable impact in his first year at Vanderbilt, so much so that an actual Vandy fan feels compelled to e-mail me a question. Even before he coached his first game in Nashville he made an impression with his blunt personality and recruiting prowess, both of which continue today. That "hot wives" comment sure made the rounds; meanwhile, Vandy currently has the No. 16 recruiting class on Rivals.com. And you know you've made it in the SEC when you're getting under opposing coaches' skin, as he did with Georgia coach Mark Richt last season. "I don't think we'll have much trouble getting jacked up to play the Vanderbilt Commodores this year," Richt said recently, which may be a first for any SEC coach outside of Kentucky.
But to this point Franklin's rising stock is largely contained to the South. His team finished 6-7 last year. That's not to say ADs around the country haven't noticed, but it's not like he's Gus Malzahn circa 2010. Therefore, my actual answer to this question is West Virginia's Dana Holgorsen. Certainly there was curiosity when he got the job following an incredible one-year stint as Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator. The hair and the Red Bull-swigging on the sidelines certainly contributed to the intrigue.
But after reaching a BCS bowl in his first season and then truly opening eyes with that 70-point Orange Bowl outburst, Holgorsen has been the Xs and Os darling of this offseason. Coaches and closer followers of the sport have spent the past few months poring over tape of that game, marveling at his use of the new-fangled
As for the last part of Ryan's question, the key phrase is "relative unknown." That rules out a whole lot of mid-major or coordinator candidates whose stocks are already rising. With that in mind, keep an eye on new Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter. After two seasons as Texas A&M's defensive coordinator, the 49-year-old is returning to the Mountain West, where as Air Force's defensive coordinator in 2009 he produced an unlikely Top 10 national defense. If ever there was a year for someone new to step up and supplant Boise State, which returns just seven starters, this is it. DeRuyter has installed an up-tempo spread offense at Fresno, which slipped to 4-9 in Pat Hill's last season but is fairly experienced. DeRuyter's Bulldogs therefore could enjoy the "breakout" year you describe.
I don't know if we'll ever get this answer, but if in fact it's shown that Graham Spanier/Tim Curley/Gary Schultz purposefully chose to cover up the alleged 2001 Sandusky shower assault, was it truly for fear of tarnishing the football program? It would be one thing if Sandusky was still on staff at the time, rather than retired. Would Joe Paterno's program have suffered any tangible harm by the news that a former assistant had been arrested? College administrators are more often driven by fear of negative publicity for the university -- and sex crimes are a particularly hot-button issue for colleges. As in, how would it impact prospective students' opinion of the school knowing an alleged pedophile had roamed the campus? Unfortunately, this type of insular thinking by the people in charge of these institutions can turn a perceived crisis into a real crisis.
This is far from the only e-mail I've received suggesting some sort of NCAA Death Penalty-type punishment for Penn State. Yes, this is a far more serious situation than booster payments, but that's precisely why the NCAA
I'd disagree with your characterization of some of those guys as "stars" -- this isn't quite the same thing as, say, Florida losing Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Aaron Hernandez and three other NFL receivers within two years -- but without question, that's a lot of turnover in a short amount of time. Wilson, who ran for 1,709 yards last year and became a first-round NFL pick, is obviously a huge loss. But while those receivers were experienced, I'd hardly consider them irreplaceable. And perhaps the Hokie tailback pipeline will slow down at some point, but based on recent history, I assume that one of the new guys -- junior David Gregory, freshmen Michael Holmes or J.C. Coleman -- will emerge as their next stud.
My biggest concern for Virginia Tech is that it's banking so heavily on Thomas, who, while freakishly athletic and dominant in spurts last season, was very inconsistent. He completed fewer than 60 percent of his passes for 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. In particular, Clemson mostly shut him down in the Hokies' two regular-season losses. Now, without the dependable Wilson behind him or a veteran line in front of him, Frank Beamer badly needs Thomas to become a guy that takes over every week, not some weeks, if that otherwise inexperienced offense plans to excel. It's going to be a challenge.
I'm sure there are many better examples of either from the distant past, but I choose
Like I said -- "mostly" playoff free.
Humans have biases. There's not much we can do about that. And I'd agree that when you're dealing with potential committee members who were directly involved in the business they'll be discussing, they're going to have preexisting relationships and allegiances that may affect their thought process. However, that doesn't mean they can't still be professional and put those biases aside.
My personal preference for a selection committee is that the panel would consist primarily of ex-coaches -- Bowden, Phillip Fulmer, Lloyd Carr, R.C. Slocum and Fisher DeBerry, just to name a few. First and foremost, they know college football better than anyone else you could think to include that's not actively involved in the sport. They don't hold the direct conflict of interest that active coaches do. Also, it isn't like putting a random fan on the panel; these guys dedicated their lives to the sport and will treat it with the appropriate respect. For fairness' sake, I would try to divide the voters fairly evenly based on where they spent the bulk of their career -- i.e., Bowden would be the only ACC-oriented member, Carr the only Big Ten rep, etc. Every conference would be represented. And unlike the current polls, the members would be required to explain their selections to the public, thus making it more difficult to hide personal agendas.
Yeah, it's probably time to update that bio. Rock Band enjoyed a nice run, but at this point I only break it out once a year, at my annual Super Bowl party, where the guests play guitar and drums at halftime rather than watching some over-the-hill band do it. But no one's yet topped that Miami team in my mind. I respect that 2009 Alabama team a lot (and the 2011 team, though it suffered a loss, was even better), but that Ohio State example is not entirely fair. The 2002 Miami team the Buckeyes beat, while still unquestionably loaded, was not "pretty much the same players." The Hurricanes had in fact lost five first-round draft picks, including Ed Reed and Jeremy Shockey, and second-rounder Clinton Portis. And finally, let us not forget, that Miami team crushed almost everybody it played, most memorably 59-0 over a 10-win Syracuse team and 65-7 over eight-win Washington in consecutive weeks.
So no, the past decade has not prompted me to change my answer to that question. We'll see what the next decade holds.
By December, Arkansas' offseason "issues" will be a distant memory. They'll play no part in the coverage of Wilson or his Heisman chances. But obviously, Bobby Petrino's departure affects Wilson's chances in that we have no idea whether he and/or Arkansas will perform at the same level as previously anticipated. Petrino will be missed most as a play-caller. He was one of the finest in the country, something you'd often notice by the way his teams often started off fast against even elite defenses like Alabama's and LSU's. He'd seen something on tape he knew he could exploit. I'm skeptical that his brother, Paul, or former boss Smith can replicate that. Therefore, I could see the talented Wilson still throwing for a ton of yards but his efficiency going down, and possibly his interceptions going up, if the coaches aren't putting him in the same optimal spots to succeed.
Ultimately, Arkansas will need to do more than just win nine-plus games for Wilson to have a chance, especially when he's going against other players -- Matt Barkley, Montee Ball, DeAnthony Thomas -- whose teams will be contending for conference if not national titles. The key will be to keep the Razorbacks and himself in the mix nationally heading into his Nov. 23 game against LSU. If he can lead the Razorbacks to victory and put up big numbers against one of the nation's premier defenses, he'll presumably become a media darling at a time when it matters most.
C'mon, now. That's like asking a parent to pick his favorite child. Obviously, I'm proud of all of them, especially when they go on to even greater
I'm reticent to criticize a program for doing what we all wish more would do and cut out the creampuffs, but yes, Notre Dame bit off more than it can chew this season. It's playing five teams that finished between No. 6 and 16 in last year's final AP poll and, with the exception of independents Navy and BYU, themselves perennial bowl teams, not a single opponent from a non-BCS conference.
Most of these games were scheduled years ago, and they include two annual opponents, Stanford and Michigan State, that happen to be enjoying historic success at the moment. Five years ago you wouldn't have listed either in discussing an imposing schedule. On the other hand, it chose two years ago to add the game against Miami in Chicago already knowing it would be playing the first leg of a home-and-home at Oklahoma. I'm sure Brian Kelly is thrilled. He's entering a critical third year, when, after going 8-5 each of his first two seasons, the faithful will be looking for signs that
How much longer can Miles keep going 13-1 and winning the SEC championship and expect to keep his job? I assume for eternity, unless it turns out Miles is actually the least crazy person in Baton Rouge.