But spending aside, there's an even larger problem with the Orange Bowl and its ilk such as the Fiesta and Sugar bowls: Thanks to a corrupt system lubricated with tropical cruises and huge bonuses, games bleed struggling public universities by forcing them to buy tens of thousands of tickets at absurd markups — all so a needless middleman can make millions. This scheme plays out across the nation each year on the ostensibly pristine fields of amateur athletics. Bowl executives grant themselves breathtaking salaries — some more than $600,000 per year. The games, meanwhile, provide coaches, athletic directors, and the suits who nominally supervise them with an unending stream of bonuses. Everyone else picks up the tab.
Coordinator shuffle: It's that time of year when coaches are not only getting bowl preparation in order, but also having to set up job interviews. For Alabama, Auburn and Florida, the next few weeks will be devoted to not only figuring out game strategies, but trying to find the right men to take over coordinating positions. Auburn is in the hunt for both an offensive and defensive coordinator, while Alabama and Florida are searching for offensive coordinators. With all three teams in the market right now, you have to wonder if there could be a bidding war or two in the near future. One lucky person has to draw the straw of being in line for all three offensive coordinating jobs, right? Wouldn't that be fun? For Florida's Will Muschamp, this is a major hire. His first year in Gainesville didn't go well, and now that Charlie Weis is gone, it's time for Muschamp to find someone who can get this offense back on track. He has the defense to compete, but he has to find the offense or things won't get better in the Swamp. Also, South Carolina defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson is a candidate for the Southern Miss job, so the Gamecocks could get in on the coordinator scramble as well.
Nine teams will have interim coaches -- or in Toledo's case, a newly hired coach -- leading them into bowl games: Tim DeRuyter (Texas A&M), David Gunn (Arkansas State), Tony Levine (Houston), Vic Koenning (Illinois), Everett Withers (North Carolina), Luke Fickell (Ohio State), Tom Bradley (Penn State), Mike Johnson (UCLA) and Matt Campbell (Toledo).
Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy has been honored as the national coach of the year by the Football Writers Association of America. Gundy was chosen Thursday as the winner of the Eddie Robinson Award. The other finalists were Michigan's Brady Hoke, LSU's Les Miles, Kansas State's Bill Snyder and Clemson's Dabo Swinney. Gundy will be presented with a bust of Eddie Robinson at a Jan. 8 ceremony in New Orleans. (ed.- Gundy made it to NOLA after all you guys!)
Back to the bowls where Every Game Counts! Well, not every game, but at least some of them. And this year's bowl slate is as good as it gets: 13 of the 70 bowl teams are 6-6 and that doesn’t include UCLA, the first 6-7 team to go bowling. The 13 6-6 bowl teams finished a combined 18 games under .500 in conference play and 11 bowl teams would not have been bowl eligible without registering a victory against an FCS school this fall. Even the College Basketball Invitational is embarrassed by this amount of mediocrity. So I guess Every Game (Against an FCS Opponent) Counts. Adding more intrigue to this year's stellar bowl lineup is that 11 bowl teams feature head coaches that either left for another job or were fired.
Bowl assignments are treated as rewards for officials. College Football Officiating describes bowl crews as "all-star" officials. The more high-profile the bowl, the better the officials performed during the season and in their careers. Each conference grades individual officials through the course of the season and uses those results to assemble bowl crews. Each set of officials isn’t necessarily the best crew from a given conference, but rather a collection of the top-graded referees, umpires, line judges, head linesmen, line judges, field judges, side judges and back judges.
Those who watch recruiting closely say not hiring someone sooner has cost Penn State. "I thought they would hire a head coach by now," said Mike Farrell, national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. "The fact that they’re dragging their feet here is really giving all of these recruits the time to say, `Well, geez, signing day is coming up pretty soon. I’d better start checking out my second options.’ That’s why they’re starting to lose kids. I know this is an important decision but the longer they go in deciding who the next person to take over at Penn State is, the worse this is going to get—and it’s gotten pretty bad."
As Harper grudgingly admitted, the LSU fashion statement was forced upon him earlier, back when LSU traveled to Tuscaloosa and beat Alabama 9-6. "No I just lost a...dumb freakin' bet," Harper said glumly when asked if Henderson was trying to uprgade his style. Harper glanced at his iPhone, sheathed in a plastic crimson cover with a script white, "A," and predicted the offending garment would not be his long. He's doubling down on his bet. "There's no doubt about it. I'm not backing down nowhere," he said. "Alabama's going to roll."
"For those guys to get back now and play the style that Alabama is known for really means a lot to me. I’m really the biggest fan when I’m watching at home," he said. "It really means a lot, and it allows you to be the biggest fan and talk more mess with your teammates because Alabama is rolling and they are on top."
"We felt that we needed to make a change just from a lineup standpoint," Grant said. "We needed to give us a different look with JaMychal at the four and Tony at the three, just to give it a different look. "For us, it's going to depend on our ability to play on numbers."
In today's Morning Tailgate, I have a little fun and rank this season's bowls based on a number of factors. One of them is historical ranking, which I define as teams' 100-year S&P+ and/or Estimated S&P+ averages. Just for grins, I wanted to post the entire list here. I love that Army is still in the Top 25.
Bowl games reward mediocrity in glorious fashion, but who’s complaining? There are worse things in life than college football on a nearly daily basis for a three-week stretch to ring in the new year. We’ll be presenting our annual bowl picks in three sets, starting with the first twelve games analyzed below. There are duds, for sure, including multiple games featuring teams that didn’t defeat a single top-75 team in our ratings. But there are a few potential gems as well.
Just when everyone thought the trend of "Tebowing" had reached its zenith in the greater cultural Zeitgeist, it finds a way to completely jump the shark: On Wednesday, a group of high school athletes at a Long Island school were suspended for staging a spontaneous bout of Tebowing in their high school's hallway.
So the "Congressional Collegiate Sports Caucus" is now a real thing, with (so far) only one mission: Reviving Barton's failed effort to kill the BCS via legislation, last seen lurching forward in December 2009 from a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where it eventually died of neglect. To recap, the bill proposes to "prohibit the marketing, promotion, and advertising of a postseason game as a 'national championship' football game, unless it is the result of a playoff system," under threat of being labeled "an unfair or deceptive act" by the Federal Trade Commission. The Moffett Group is on board to do whatever nefarious voodoo vaguely defined lobbying groups are usually hired to do to give the bill a fighting chance.
The "We Want a Playoff Now" campaign was introduced Thursday on Capitol Hill. It includes the lobbying firm The Moffett Group, headed up by former Rep. Toby Moffett, D-Conn., and the communications firm, New Partners. Along with that effort, two congressmen are forming the Congressional Collegiate Sports Caucus. The congressmen, Texas Republican Joe Barton and Tennessee Democrat Steve Cohen, are reintroducing Barton's 2009 bill aimed at forcing college football to switch to a playoff system. The longshot bill would ban - as unfair and deceptive - the promotion of a postseason NCAA Division I football game as a national championship unless it's the outcome of a playoff.
Alabama has never been known as an airtight ship where inside information is concerned, but one part of the dike Nick Saban has been able to plug since arriving in 2007 is the part holding back the flow of information concerning coaching and staffing hires. Typically, if word leaks out at all, it will leak out a day or two in advance. Everything up to that point is pure speculation. The one part of this process that isn’t speculation? Alabama isn’t going to reinvent the wheel with this hire. Whoever takes Jim McElwain’s place will run some version of the pro-style attack Alabama has lifted from the New England Patriots, an offense that has its roots in the mind of former Alabama head coach Ray Perkins.
First things first. Malzahn interviewed for the head coaching jobs at North Carolina and Kansas in recent weeks. If either of those schools had made him an offer, he almost certainly would've accepted. At Auburn, there's been a disconnect this season between him and head coach Gene Chizik, a feeling of frustration at Chizik's increased involvement in the offense.