With the flip of the calendar also comes the end of the college football season. A wild and crazy regular season was followed by a rather strange bowl season. There were a high number of unexpected blowouts:
There were also a few head-scratchers like Mississippi State's lethargic 49-34 loss to Georgia Tech 49 in the Orange Bowl. And of course the Rebel Ackbar Black Bears faceplant.
The best bowl game was the Cotton Bowl which featured Michigan State coming back from a 20-point fourth quarter deficit to nip Baylor by one point 42-41.
And what is there to say about the Sugar Bowl that hasn't already been said? It was a tough game between two good teams. We'll get 'em next year.
- I am not sure who is happier to hear that Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has declared for the NFL Draft: the Seminoles' opponents or Jimbo Fisher. Winston lead the 'Noles to a 26-1 record over two seasons, but, boy, was he a thorn in his head coach's side.
- Former Mizzou WR Dorial Green-Beckham who redshirt this past season at Oklahoma basically burning a scholarship for the Sooners. DGB was considered by many to be the top recruit of the Class of 2012.
- LSU will be taking their annual hit as DE Danielle Hunter, DB Jalen Collins, and LB Kwon Alexander all say they will roll the dice. Collins and Alexander are ignoring the NFL Draft Advisory Board recommendations after both received "return to school" recommendations. Beginning this year, the NFLDAB is issuing one of only three grades to underclassmen: "first-round", "second-round", or "return to school". The Tigers junior left guard Vadal Alexander, who has yet to announce if he is entering the draft as an underclassman, also received a "return to school" grade, according to a report. Defensive back Jalen Mills will reportedly return to LSU for the 2015 season.
- Clemson junior punter Bradley Pinion has thrown his hat in the ring as well. At 42.6 yards per punt, he was fifth-best in the ACC in 2014. NFL GMs are salivating over this kid!!! [That's my sarcasm font.]
- Other underclassmen declaring this week include former Bama and Colorado State RB Dee Hart, Mississippi State RB Josh Robinson, Florida OT D.J. Humphries, and misguided Texas A&M RB Trey Williams.
- Auburn LB Cassanova McKinzy will return.
- No Alabama players have announced as of post time.
[UPDATE regarding the new NFLDAB grade system: In the past, there was no cap on the number of players who could apply for a draft grade from the board. The new limit is set at five per school, with schools allowed to ask for more, if the talent on hand warrants it.]
- Georgia has hired former New York Jets and St Louis Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to take over the Bulldogs offense. From 1994-1996, he served as backup quarterback to starter Danny Wuerffel for Steve Spurrier at Florida.
- UGA also locked in their defensive coordinator, signing Jeremy Pruitt to a contract extension and salary increase. The raise takes him from $850,000 per year to $1.3M for the next three years. It seems like only yesterday he was an assistant at Hoover High School.
- Former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik is the new defensive coordinator at North Carolina under Larry Fedora.
- Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops is resting after throwing some assistant coaches under the bus. Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel who led the Sooners offenses since 2010 and quarterbacks since 2006 was let go, as was co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell. OU was 21st in scoring offense in 2014 and 55th in scoring defense. I guess ol' Bob didn't want to blame his defensive coordinator - baby brother Mike Stoops. The former Sooner, Heupel, quarterbacked Stoops' only National Championship in the 2000 season.
- Reports are circulating that Notre Dame QB Everett Golson is mulling over a transfer to LSU - the Irish's opponent in the Music City Bowl. Coach appeared to be sending a not-so-subtle message by starting sophomore Malik Zaire in that bowl game despite the fact that Zaire attempted his first college career pass on November 29th. Even with Golson's dreadful season, he could be an improvement over returning Tigers starter Anthony Jennings. [There have also been whispers about Ohio State senior QB Braxton Miller moving to LSU or Florida State but nothing has been substantiated.]
- This time a year ago, Gerald Willis was one of the most sought after high school defensive linemen in the nation. Today, he is looking for a new home as the Florida Gators announce his intentions to transfer. You may recall he had an incident this past fall with back-up quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg over a missing pair of cleats. Willis played in 8 games recording 8 solo tackles and 6 assists.
- Lame duck quarterback Jeff Driskel is transferring to Louisiana Tech for his final season after losing his job to freshman Treon Harris at Florida.
There are two more college football games to be watched but I am not sure I can bring myself to watch one of them.
Sat. Jan. 10, 12pm CT / 1pm ET
Illinois State Redbirds (13-1) vs. North Dakota State Bison (14-1) for the FCS Championship in Frisco, Texas.
Broadcast on ESPN2.
Before you roll your eyes and scoff, know that these teams play some pretty good football. The Bison have won five in a row against FBS competition: Kansas in 2010, Minnesota in 2011, Colorado State in 2012, Kansas State in 2013, Iowa State in 2014. They are going for a record fourth straight championship. The Redbirds running back Marshaun Coprich has amassed 2,252 yards on the ground and 27 touchdowns this season. Oddly enough, both of these teams lost to Northern Iowa who finished 9-5.
Sat. Jan. 17, 3pm CT / 4pm ET
East-West Shrine Game from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL.
Broadcast on the NFL Network so nobody can see it.
Alabama players participating: ?
Sat. Jan. 24, 3pm CT / 4pm ET
Senior Bowl from historic Ladd–Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.
Also broadcast on the NFL Network so nobody can see it.
Alabama players participating: Austin Shepherd, Blake Sims, Jalston Fowler.