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Random Thoughts From Around the Country: Week Fourteen

Still games to be played and the Silly Season of coach-swapping, conference-jumping, and player attrition has begun.

WAAAAAA! I am taking my futbawl and going home!
WAAAAAA! I am taking my futbawl and going home!
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

BCS Championship Game contention (remember...crazier things have happened):

Control Their Own Destiny:

Florida State 12-0 (ACCCG vs. Duke)
Ohio State 12-0 (B1GCG vs. MSU)

Dangling by a thread, hopin' 'n' prayin':

Auburn 11-1 (SECCG vs. Mizz)
Missouri 11-1 (SECCG vs. Auburn)
Alabama 11-1 (?)

Bridesmaidin' it:

Michigan State 11-1 (B1GCG vs. OSU)
Oklahoma State
10-1 (Oklahoma)


Is it over yet? (Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

Let the Coaching Carousel Begin

Southern Cal got a jump on the Silly Season of college football by snatching Head Coach Steve Sarkisian away from PAC-12 cousin Washington. The Trojans' Interim Coach Ed Orgeron was so incensed by being passed over for a full-time gig that he quit on the spot and will not coach in SoCal's TBA bowl game. Coach O has never been accused of being too smart or rationale which leads me to think this is not a good way to impress ADs at other schools that may be looking for a head coach.

(NOTE: Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier could be a leading candidate to replace Sarkisian at UW. Nussmeier, originally from Portland, Oregon, served as the Huskies offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2009-2011.)

There were a few high-profile face-plants this year. Some will get canned. Some will survive to coach another year.

These coaches probably have one more season to right the ship:

  • Will Muschamp, Florida, $2.5M, 22-16, 3 seasons: Despite a disastrous 2013 (4-8), Coach Boom is getting one more lifeline. A reported $6 million buyout probably helped.
  • Brady Hoke, Michigan, $3.2M, 26-12, 3 seasons: UM is still kicking themselves over forcing Lloyd Carr out in 2007. After the Rich Rodriguez 3-and-out, I don't think they are ready to fire another coach after three seasons.
  • Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia, $2.4M, 21-17, 3 seasons: The Bill Stewart-Holgerson tension/coach-in-waiting/coup d'état back in 2011 was not one of WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck's prouder moments. He is likely terrified to admit that this hiring was a mistake. Plus, Holgerson reportedly has a $11.3 million buyout. Yikes! (Note that the guy who gave Holgorsen this contract, Luck, will be choosing the playoff teams next season.)

On the Hot Seat:

  • Mack Brown, Texas, $5.4M, 158-46, 16 seasons: After embarrassing losses to BYU and Ole Miss, the 'Horns reeled off 6 straight wins including a 36-20 revenge win over Oklahoma. Now at 8-3, they face #9 Baylor and a bowl game. Brown is 62 and is stubbornly adamant about sticking around. Texas AD DeLoss Dodd is retiring in 2014. How will he complete his legacy? Get some popcorn. This is going to get interesting.
  • Bo Pelini, Nebraska, $2.9M, 57-24, 3 seasons: I would hate to be a Nebraska fan. This guy is a buffoon. Are winning records and second tier bowl losses enough for this fan base?

*A few others whose acts might be getting old: Mike London, Virginia, $2.6M, 18-31, 4 seasons; Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech, $2.6M, 48-30, 5 seasons; Paul Rhoads, Iowa State, $1.7M, 27-36, 5 seasons; Troy Calhoun, Air Force, $900K, 49-41, 7 seasons; Rich Ellerson, Army, $600K, 20-40, 4 seasons.

Hot Commodities:

  • James Franklin, Vanderbilt, $2.7M, 23-15, 3 seasons: If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere... The Commodores have NEVER been to back-to-back bowl games and now they are heading for their third straight. Franklin can recruit, motivate, and coach. I know he likes Nashville but Vandy probably cannot (or will not) match some of the big dollars that will be waved in his face.
  • Charlie Strong: Louisville, $3.7M, 35-15, 4 seasons: How long is he going to sit around and wait for Muschamp to be fired? Star QB Teddy Bridgewater is off to the NFL. The Cardinals join the ACC in 2014. Does Strong dare stay another season at the 'Ville and risk having a down year, lowering his stock?
  • Kevin Sumlin: Texas A&M, 2.5$M, 19-6, 2 seasons: Reports are out that he has agreed in principle to a new, 6-year deal with the university to remain as head coach of the Aggies. It's kind of a surprise with Johnny Manziel, Mike Evans, and Jake Matthews heading to the NFL. I am guessing TAMU cracked open their piggy banks on this one. That said, contracts are made to be broken...

A Cautionary Tale To Strike While You Are Hot (Art Briles, are you listening?):

  • Jim Grobe, Wake Forest, $0, 77-86, 13 seasons: In 2006, Wake won the ACC Championship going 11-3. Grobe was a hot commodity and had many offers at bigger programs. However, he wanted to stay in Winston-Salem where he thought he was building something great. Hilarious. After five straight losing seasons, Grobe "resigned" this week.
  • Gary Patterson, TCU, $3.5M, 120-44, 14 seasons: Things were so much more fun when you were in a puny conference winning all your games, huh? Since joining the Big-12, Patterson has gone 7-6 (4-5) and 4-8 (2-6).

Good Enough?

  • Dan Mullen, Mississippi State, $2.5M, 35-28, 5 seasons: Beating Ole Miss to get to 6 wins and bowl eligibility may have saved Mullen for another year. And that is all it takes in Starkville: Beat Ole Miss and go to a bowl. Sad.
  • Mike Riley, Oregon State, $1.5M, 87-73, 11+2 seasons (second stint at OSU): Does the Oregon State Administration even pay attention to the football program? Six straight losses to Oregon might get their attention.

Grumpy Old Men?

  • Bill Snyder, Kansas State, age 73
  • Steve Spurrier, South Carolina, 68
  • Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech, 66


Let's Go Bowling:

78 teams are now eligible for one of the 70 bowl openings. 45 teams are no longer bowl eligible. 3 teams need one more win: South Alabama, Rutgers, and SMU.

Florida (4-8, 3-5), Tennessee (5-7, 2-6), Kentucky (2-10, 0-8) and Arkansas (3-9, 0-8) are all staying home this December/January. Ten other SEC teams will play in bowl games. Below are some bowl projections as things stand now (don't hold me to them cuz things can definitely change):

BCS Games
Bowl Date Location Matchup Prediction
Rose Jan. 1 Pasadena, CA Big Ten/BCS vs Pac-12/BCS Michigan State vs. Stanford
Fiesta Jan. 1 Glendale, AZ Big 12/BCS vs BCS Okla. State vs. N. Illinois
Sugar Jan. 2 New Orleans, LA SEC/BCS vs BCS Auburn vs. UCF
Orange Jan. 3 Miami, FL ACC/BCS vs BCS Clemson vs. Alabama
BCS Title Game Jan. 6 Pasadena, CA. BCS vs BCS Florida State vs. Ohio State

Non-BCS Games
Bowl Date Location Matchup Prediction
Music City Dec. 30 Nashville, TN ACC #6 vs. SEC #7 Georgia Tech vs. Ole Miss
Liberty Dec. 31 Memphis, TN AAC/C-USA #1 vs. SEC #8 Marshall vs. Vanderbilt
Chick-fil-A Dec. 31 Atlanta, GA ACC #2 vs. SEC #5 Miami vs. Texas A&M
Gator Jan. 1 Jacksonville, FL Big Ten #4/5 vs. SEC #6 Michigan vs. Georgia
Capital One Jan. 1 Orlando, FL Big Ten #2 vs. SEC #2 Wisconsin vs. Missouri
Outback Jan. 1 Tampa, FL Big Ten #3 vs. SEC Iowa vs. South Carolina
Cotton Jan. 3 Arlington, TX Big 12 #2 vs. SEC Baylor vs. LSU
BBVA Compass Jan. 4 Birmingham, AL SEC #9 vs. AAC #5/C-USA Miss. State vs. Rutgers

* Also of note: Colorado State might just rename their stadium after Jim McElwain after finishing 7-6 (5-3 MWC) and making the Rams bowl eligible for the first time since 2008.


Hall of Shame:
Miami (OH) and Georgia State both finished the season 0-12.

Hall of Shame Averted:
Hawaii beat Army 49-42 and Southern Miss upset UAB 62-27 in their season finales. For each victor it was their first win of the season. Southern Miss snapped a 23-game losing streak.



SATURDAY, DEC 7 Highlights:
#17 Oklahoma at #6 Oklahoma State 11am/12pm ABC
#25 Texas at #9 Baylor 2:30pm/3:30pm FOX
#5 Missouri vs. #3 Auburn* 3pm/4pm CBS
#7 Stanford at #11 Arizona State 6:45pm/7:45pm ESPN
#20 Duke vs. #1 Florida State* 7pm/8pm ABC
Louisiana-Lafayette at South Alabama 7pm/8pm ESPN3ESPN 3
No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 10 Michigan State* 7:17pm/8:17pm FOX
* Neutral Location