Monday, August 29, 2016

Ask the Professor: 2016 Volume One

I am bringing back a rather popular piece from a few years back called "Ask the Professor". In past seasons, we have brought on panelists to give us multiple "professors", and that is once again the goal for this season as it wears on. Stay tuned for that development.
In the meantime, please enjoy the first volume of "Ask the Professor" for the 2016 season!

Question 1: Can the Alabama Crimson Tide win another National Championship under NIck Saban?

Answer: Of course they can. In my mind, Alabama is the front runner for the national championship until someone says that they aren't. Nick Saban is the best football coach in the nation, and I am not an SEC homer who says these things blindly. Saban is running a factory of talent in Tuscaloosa, and a big win over USC in Dallas this weekend will move the needle straight in the direction of keeping the Tide moving towards that goal. Here's what is scary about the Tide in 2016. They may actually be faster and more athletic than teams that have won the title for them in years past. That is a huge thing to thing about for their opponents. 

Question 2: Who is the likely to be the first FBS coach to be fired?

Answer: That could be a toss up between two candidates. Everyone knows that Darrell Hazell would have been out at Purdue after last season had it not been for a strangely high buyout figure. If Hazell gets off to yet another slow start in West Lafayette this season, his new AD may not have a very light trigger finger when it comes to making a move. Purdue can no longer afford to languish at the bottom of the Big 10. 
One other candidate who could get an early hook is Paul Haynes at Kent State, who strangely enough replaced Hazell when he left for the Purdue job. Hazell nearly took Kent State to a BCS bowl, something unthinkable during most of my lifetime. All Haynes has done in his tenure is drive the ship into the ground, and Kent State is back to being the joke of the program that it normally always has been. 
Look for guys like Paul Petrino at Idaho and Doug Martin at New Mexico State could be casualties as well, and with both programs being dropped by the Sun Belt, they could be looking to make fresh starts sooner than later, especially with Idaho moving back to FCS football in 2017. 

Question 3: If Texas Longhorn coach Charlie Strong does not win a least 8 games, well he return to as Head Coach for the 2017 season?

Answer: If the administration stands strong and resists the boosters and loud mouthed alums, the answer will be yes. There is no guarantee that Strong will win 8 or more games in 2016, and the deck is stacked against them doing so. 
I always look at hiring a coach as being part of a 5 year plan. Year one, expect nothing but hopefully being competitive. Year two, start looking for slight improvements, and an increase in wins, even if slight. Year three, expect a trip to a bowl game. Year four, expect to compete for a conference title. Year five, compete nationally. If by year three no improvements have come, it may be time to move on. 
In the case of Strong, one must remember that he came on board with a mostly empty cupboard as far as talent was concerned, as Mack Brown had largely gotten stale since playing USC for the national title. The talent level was sinking like a stone, and recruiting wasn't what it once was. Strong had the job of firing up a mostly apathetic recruiting base, while at the same time dealing with boosters and program hanger on types that expected miracles right away for no other reason than the name on the front of the jersey. That was and is not realistic, and so patience must prevail and stay the course. 
I will tell you that if Strong were to be fired, he would be snapped up by any number of other programs looking for a coach after the season, and it would take days, not weeks, for him to find another high profile gig. 

Question 4: What player is the leading candidate to win the 2016 Heisman Trophy?

Answer: There could be a huge field heading into the season, but you never know until the games start being played. The first name that comes to mind is Christian McCaffrey of Stanford, who was the runner up in 2015. McCaffrey has an issue, however, an that is finding a QB to get him the ball, as Ryan Burns will be the new starter this season. If Burns cannot get a rhythm going in the offense, teams will stack the box to get at McCaffrey. Stanford als likely has to win at least 10 games to get McCaffrey into contention, which is something I am not sure they can do. 
Staying in the PAC-12, I have predicted a huge season for Mike Leach and Washington State. If they can match my projection, and win at least ten games, and win the North, Luke Falk, the best statistical QB in the nation, could be in the running as well. 
Of course, look to Clemson and QB Deshaun Watson as another front line guy. Clemson is a solid favorite to win the ACC, and could get back to the final four. If that happens, Watson may be the guy, but he also needs to stay healthy. 
Leonard Fournette all but had the trophy last season until Alabama stumped him. Look for him to come out swinging, if he doesn't throttle back to save himself for the NFL like some are suggesting. LSU also has some coaching issues and depth issues at QB, so all of that may lead to the same issue that McCaffrey has.
Another SEC candidate could be Chad Kelly at Ole Miss. If Houston goes unbeaten, Greg Ward, Jr. could find his way in as well. Another guy to watch is Baker Mayfield at Oklahoma, and Davis Webb at Cal put on a clinic last Friday night, but he plays for Cal, so he is a long shot at best. We will know more by the end of September. 

Question 5: Who are the top Quarterbacks prospects who might be picked in the 1st Round of next springs NFL Draft?
Answer: We already talked about two such candidates in Washington State QB Luke Falk, and Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly. Falk is basically Jared Goff part 2, while Kelly is a fiery leader with a cannon arm. They could both be top ten guys in the 2017 draft. 
Also look for Davis Webb, who is running the same offense that Goff ran last year at Cal. 
One more first round pick could be found in Miami QB Brad Kaaya, who may be the best pro type QB in the ACC. 
Others who could be drafted later would include the following: Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech, Dane Evans, Tulsa, Nick Mullins, Southern Miss, Cooper Rush, Central Michigan, Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State, Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma, Deshaun Watson, Clemson, and DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame.

That's all for this week's edition of "Ask the Professor"! Have a question for us? Send all questions to my Twitter feed @BiloFootball, or try our Facebook page at Bilo College Football Report. Until then, don't forget to listen in as I join the "Mitch and Pritch Show" Wednesday's on Las Vegas' ESPN Radio 1100 and 100.9, and you can listen to the podcast at I will Join hosts Mitch Moss and Mike Pritchard every week to discuss the college football topics of the week every Wednesday from 8/31 through the end of the season! Check back for times between 1245 and 1PM PST! 
Have a great week and enjoy the games everyone!

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