Happy Thursday, everyone. We will open today with Matt Zenitz, who disputes some of Aaron Suttles’ report about Lane Kiffin trying to take Alabama staffers.
Don’t expect Scott Cochran to be working in Oxford next season.
The same goes for Tosh Lupoi.
Contrary to a report, Lane Kiffin hasn’t offered Cochran, Alabama’s longtime strength and conditioning coach, a job at Ole Miss at this point, according to sources.
He obviously couches it with “at this point” but still seems skeptical about the whole situation. He did not mention Karl Scott in this piece, which may mean something or nothing at all.
Moving on, Brian Fremeau is the primary college football analyst for Football Outsiders after former partner Bill Connelly’s work was purchased by ESPN. His metric, FEI, combines with what is now ESPN’s SP+ to produce their proprietary F/+ ranking. Brian made some interesting observations yesterday about this year’s data.
The playoff selection committee may be officially charged with selecting the four best teams for the national semifinals, but in practice they select the four most deserving teams. They prioritize zero-loss and one-loss records by Power 5 teams more than they prioritize dominance or efficiency. And they prioritize “pelts on the wall” more than they prioritize the manner in which those wins were achieved. These are not criticisms of the committee’s priorities -- in practice, these priorities are generally consistent with college football fans at large.
Best "average game scores" (per-game diff between results and expected results for an avg team) heading into the postseason since 2014:— Brian Fremeau (@bcfremeau) December 11, 2019
49.6 Alabama '18
48.0 Ohio St '19
41.5 Clemson '19
40.2 Georgia '18
39.9 Alabama '19
39.3 LSU '19#CFPProfiles https://t.co/Svq6r4orDf
This is just more evidence that 2019 Alabama performed as not only one of the best teams this year, but one of the best in the playoff era. Alabama finished #3 in FEI, and #2 in the number of elite game performances, which is based on non-garbage time scoring margins in FBS matchups only. The Tide managed 10 such games and one “good” performance. By contrast, Oklahoma managed 5 “elite” games, three “good” games, and four “above average” games. LSU is going to pummel them, y’all.
This just goes to show how much randomness goes into winning and losing competitive matchups. These metrics show that Saban continues, even with the ridiculous number of injuries to the front seven that caused the weakest defensive showing since 2010, to maintain consistent performance throughout the games. By the way, that isn’t to say that the defense was weak. FEI is less bullish on the defense than SP+, but still ranks Alabama 12th in the country defensively. Considering the number of freshmen who had to play in the front seven plus the quick scoring nature of the #1 ranked FEI offense, it’s tough to complain about that.
What so many college football teams deem as “excuses” are actually better described as “reasons” for Alabama’s losses this year. The reality is that Alabama was dead even with LSU this year and a much more worthy playoff opponent than Oklahoma, and the Tide showed little dropoff if any when Mac Jones entered as the starting QB. They missed the playoff because of random bounces of the football, and that sucks.
Jim Delany doesn’t know what he wants.
Big Ten commish Jim Delany on going from BCS computers to @CFBPlayoff selection committee. “I didn’t really like computers, but sometimes I really don’t like people either"— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) December 11, 2019
For a lot of people that feeling is mutual, Jim.
A few other notes for you:
Alabama’s offensive line is yet again a finalist for the Joe Moore award.
Both Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. still have Tua going in the first round, which seems to be something of a consensus but means little coming from those blowhards.
Cary Estes of Al.com has a nice profile on Eli Gold and how he became the voice of Alabama sports.
Georgia fans are begging Kirby Smart to modernize the offense.
That’s about it for today. Have a great day.