Sunday, November 1, 2015

Seven Points: 11/1/15

Seven Points: 11/1/15
With week 9 now in the books, we enter the November home stretch, and it all comes down to this and it all comes down to this across the board, and in every conference. Here are seven observations as to what we are seeing, and what we will be looking for heading into the final full month of the season.

Point One: With Frank Beamer retiring at the end of the season, Virginia Tech has a huge decision to make.
Frank Beamer, as I have been discussing for the better part of the last two seasons, is finally hitting the bricks at Virginia Tech once the season ends. The Hokies, who sit at 4-5, could still squeeze a bowl birth, but it won’t be any special destination at this point, but the season could also end with the Virginia game. Whit Babcock will not speak about the job until the season ends, but one has got to believe that he already has some ideas cranking out as we speak. One man that it likely will not be is DC Bud Foster, long thought to be the heir apparent to Beamer’s empire. Foster, who signed a 5 year extension earlier this year, is having his buyout being discussed, and it will cost the Hokies $1.3 million to part company if he is not retained. There is very little chance that he is on the grid to run the program moving forward, and in fact, it is largely being thought that the program will go in an entirely needed much different direction. The ACC is not the highly sought after landing spot that it should be as a Power 5 conference, and Virginia Tech may be a tough sell because of that, How it could be an easy sell is that the league is easily winnable, and anyone who could come in the door and recruit right away could make this program dominant again. Is it the best job in the nation? Not at all, but it’s certainly not the worst, and it will be a job search worth watching.

Point 2: The Big 12 is a disaster.
Sure, Baylor, TCU, and Oklahoma State are all still unbeaten, and Oklahoma is right behind them, but other than these four, the league is terrible overall, and as of right now, Texas Tech is the only other member even close to making a bowl, and they have been on a world class skid, having given up 70 to Oklahoma State this week. What’s even worse is that the biggest signature win anyone in the conference has is a win over Tennessee by Oklahoma, and Tennessee has been largely terrible this season. With a week non-league slate overall and a huge gap from top to bottom, or even middle, the Big 12 could very well be shut out of the playoff picture once again, and this is something I warned about when the schedules were released. Even an undefeated team out of this league is not a lock this season.

Point 3: Despite Temple falling to Notre Dame, the AAC is way better than we expected.
The AAC was not supposed to be a game changer this fall. The conference certainly went far and above expectations when they filled their coaching roster, and the dividends have paid off in a huge way. Tom Herman has done a fantastic job at unbeaten Houston, and Justin Fuente has built Memphis up from a program that was losing to UT-Martin, to a team that beat Ole Miss, and has remained undefeated as well. Matt Ruhle has been at Temple a bit, but he has turned the Owls into a power in the conference, and even developed PJ Walker into a decent QB. Even newcomer Navy, with a veteran coach, has come into the league taking no prisoners, and has yet to lose their first league game. In a year or so, Tulsa, with first year coach Phillip Montgomery, and USF, with Willie Taggert are on the horizon as being the next wave of high profile programs. The future is looking very good for a league of former BCS castoffs.

Point 4: Nobody is dominating anyone this season.
Every single title contender has major flaws in their game as of this moment. Ohio State, the reigning defending champ, has been sloppy at times, and after the finally decided what everyone else already knew, that JT Barrett was the best option at QB, Barrett went and got himself arrested for driving drunk. He’ll miss the Minnesota game. Michigan State, another Big 10 title contender, has not played what I would not consider what I would call a complete game all season, and has had massive lapses on offense on defense. Iowa has been better than expected, and will likely be the West representative in the Big 10 title game, but their resume is flat, and they win ugly. The PAC-12 has Utah, who has not played consistently on offense all season, and Stanford, who nearly (and should have) lost to Washington State, and both teams already boast one loss each, with others to possibly come. We’ve already discussed how weak the Big 12 is on paper, and the four schools mentioned all have to play each other in November. The SEC is at a real vanilla point, and the East has been an abject disaster with Florida coasting to the divisional title, while the West has not been as strong as we thought it would be across the board. Alabama has already lost to Ole Miss, who in turn lost to Memphis, and LSU has really not played an important game as of yet. Auburn has been on a tumble, Arkansas is a train wreck, and Mississippi State is largely an enigma, as is Texas A&M. The ACC only has one legitimate contender for the national title in Clemson, but they are just starting to play their best football on offense, and the defense gave up 41 to NC State. If you can point at one of these teams as a legitimate front runner, than you are better than me.

Point 5: Butch Davis wants the Miami job back.
Butch Davis went public with his longing to come back to coach the Miami Hurricanes after Al Golden was fired last week, and he didn’t even wait for the corpse to cool before pouncing on it. Davis, by the way, has never been a stranger to drama, and his tenure at North Carolina ended in a very public and ugly way with the NCAA hounds hot on his trail. Miami may be interested in Davis, and the administration did not deny interest, but why would they want Davis back? Miami is not a great job anymore, and there isn’t anyone left under the age of 35 that can remember when Miami was a beast. The kids they are recruiting certainly know nothing about their past, and the truth of the matter is that most of the magic happened in a stadium that was raised years ago. Their new stadium is 40 miles from campus, and was built for tenants other than them, and nobody wants to go there. The facilities are not great, the student enrollment is small, and the public support of the program is tepid at best. Scandal after scandal has gutted this program, so why would anyone care to go back to the past and bring in Butch Davis now? Stick with Rob Chudzinski, if he even wants the gig.

Point 6: Has Oregon hit then end of their amazing run?
There is no doubt that Oregon has had a leg up in recruiting for years, and has first rate facilities that some NFL teams don’t have. Guess what…everyone else is making strides to get those things too. Oregon doesn’t stand out as much as they used to, and the steam is seeping from the engine. Oregon had to outrun Arizona State in triple OT last Thursday, and that never used to happen. They struggled with Colorado, and they have three losses heading into November for the first time in 13 years. Vernon Adams, while at times successful, hasn’t crated the fond flashbacks to Marcus Mariota, and has really been up and down. Depth is a major issue all over the field, but nowhere near as badly as on defense, where the Ducks cannot stop anyone. Can they come back from this? Is there hope moving forward, or is this simply the end of a dynamic run?

Point 7: A four team playoff is simply not a playoff.
We are moving into the stretch run in year two of the playoff era, and although last season was entertaining, it was simply an appetizer for what could be a stunning real playoff. Every single argument against moving to an 8 or 16 team playoff from every administrator at every Power 5 school has been lame and pointless. They complain about the travel time, and they whine about lost class time (like they give a damn about that), but their arguments against expanding the playoffs are simply empty. They don’t want to expand because of two factors, money and greed. The simple fact is that if the playoffs expanded, there is a chance that a group of five contender could infiltrate the ranks and steal a title. Nobody in the Power 5 structure wants to share anything with their Group of 5 servants, they want the entire pie. Secondly, the revenue from the Bowl games is a cash cow that will have to die off if an extended playoff were to commence. The simple matter is that the bowls are a meaningless, outdated institution, and nobody, and I mean nobody, should take them seriously anymore. Here’s a newsflash…if your school is playing in a bowl game this season that is not part of a playoff, most folks will either fell let down, or they won’t care. Maybe you went 10-2, and that would have been great 30 years ago, but it’s a disappointment now. That being said, those half empty (or more) stadiums during bowls bring in tons of corporate cash, and nobody is killing that cow, even if it has been on life support for at least 20 years. The argument of lost time in school falls on deaf ears, because that 16 and 24 team model has worked in FCS, D2, D3, and NAIA football for decades. The leagues make money, and what would you rather see, your team in a win or go home game that gets you closer to a dream of a title, or a meaningless half empty bowl that “rewarded you for a nice season”, does little to increase your profile, and cuts you a check just because you showed up. As a fan of the game, I know which one I want to see.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics
The top four teams of both the Big 12 and the AAC must play each other in their respective leagues in November. Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma all play each other, as does Houston, Memphis, Temple, and Navy.
This weekend, Navy QB Keenan Reynolds tied Montee Ball for the most all-time TDs during their career at 77. Who has the 3rd highest total? Answer Tuesday night!

No comments:

Post a Comment