Who are the SEC players to watch out for in 2018?

Regardless of what the pro-SEC fans say, a lot of stars left the conference in 2017. Just from the National Championship Game, Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama), and Roquan Smith (Georgia) are gone in their junior years, while Nick Chubb and Sony Michel (Georgia) departed after four years. The bigs are gone too, with ‘Big’ Bo Scarborough (Alabama) and Da’Ron Payne (Alabama) departing for NFL riches.

But that’s not all. From Auburn Kerryon Johnson and Kam Pettway are off, while at LSU Derrius Guice, Arden Key, Kevin Tolliver and Donte Jackson leave. For Texas A&M, the most exciting player in college football – Christian Kirk – is going to take his returning talents to the pros.

But despite the amount of heroes going to the NFL, there are more heroes that are going to come along. And yes, we know that we have mentioned five-star recruits that are going to start this year, but they could be arrested/dismissed/suspended before the season starts, so we’re not counting our chickens.

Here are our Top 12/13 (in no particular order):

  1. Drew Lock (Missouri): Lock exploded under OC Josh Heupel, passing for a breathtaking 3,339 yards and 23 TDs. In fact, he was the only QB to cause Georgia’s DB trouble all season long, and we’re expecting great things from him in 2018 – especially with a lot of pressure on him from NFL Draft ‘experts’ who expect him to go in the Top 5 in 2019. His only problem(s) could be his wide receivers not being able to catch, and new OC Derek Dooley (we still don’t understand why Barry Odom passed on former UCLA OC Jedd Fisch).
  2. Deebo Samuel (South Carolina): The most explosive, exciting player in the SEC last year – until he was injured. He can return punts, run the ball and receive throws, and he’ll rip a team’s defenses apart if they don’t watch out for him. He’s the next Christian Kirk and potentially the SEC’s answer to Christian McCafffery.
  3. AJ Brown (Ole Miss): Brown is going to be one of the greats of Ole Miss when he’s done with his career in Oxford. In a freakish sophomore year, Brown had 1,252 yards receiving and 11 TDs. We expect many more things from this exciting player come 2018.
  4. Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama): One amazing half of National Championship may not a starting QB at Alabama make, but Tua, with his strong arm and ability to move around in the pocket, is already prepped to Alabama’s next throwing star. Don’t get us wrong, Jalen Hurts could get his job back and slice up defenses with his legs (and he could also be extremely useful on trick plays), but now the starting Bama job is Tagovailoa’s to lose.
  5. D’Andre Swift (Georgia): Swift had 771 yards and 4 TDs for the Dawgs, and now Chubb and Michel have gone to the NFL, Swift will be the No.1 running back. Expect him to get 1,000.
  6. Jarrett Stidham (Auburn): If Stidham can play as well as he did against Georgia (Game 1) and Alabama, then he’ll be one of the biggest stars in the conference. He’s got good legs, a great arm, and we think Stidham could flourish.
  7. Nick Fitzpatrick (Mississippi State): Before he was injured against Ole Miss, Nick Fitzgerald was phenomenal for the Bulldogs. Statistically, he may have had a worse year than he did in 2015 last year, but he still had SIX rushing games of over 100 yards. We expect him to flourish in Joe Moorhead’s offense. Moorhead’s great with mobile QBs – just as Penn State’s Trace McSorley.
  8. Damien Harris/Najee Harris (Alabama): Harris’ decision to return for 2018 is a fantastic one – he’ll be vying with Stanford’s Bryce Love as the best RB in the country. He had 1,000 yards and 11 TDs this year, and we expect excellent things next year too. As part of the two-headed monster, Najee Harris has the speed to match Damien’s brawn, while is going to be great for Nick Saban and his new offensive co-ordinator.
  9. Jake Fromm (Georgia): Fromm’s going to go from ‘game manager’ to ‘star’ in Athens – particularly when Kirby Smart lets him throw the ball more.
  10. Tyrel Dodson (Texas A&M): As much fun as we’ve made of the Aggies’ ‘D’ in the past, there’s no denying what a star Dodson was in his second year. The freakish linebacker had 104 tackles and 3 INTs, and he could break out as the next Myles Garrett.
  11. Kyle Shurmur (Vanderbilt): You might make a lot of fun out of me for including a Vanderbilt player, but hear us out. As terrible as Vandy was in the SEC (their only win came over Tennessee), Shurmur still managed to throw for 2,823 yards and 26 TDs. It may not have lit up the scoreboards, but he’s proved himself a leader on the team. If he remains hot, there could be NFL discussions.
  12. Aeris Williams (Mississippi State): We didn’t consider Williams until we saw his numbers for this year, and then felt guilty. The sophomore RB reminded coaches of Le’Veon Bell with his running style, and made a lot of Cowbellers happy with his 1,107 yard, 6 TD performance – as well as 142 yards receiving. Expect him with better numbers under Moorehead.

Also considered: David Reese (Florida), Malik Davis (Florida), Mecole Hardman (Georgia), Traeyvon Williams (Texas A&M), Devwah Whaley (Arkansas), DeMarkus Lodge (Ole Miss), Javon Wims (Georgia), Emmanuel Hall (Missouri).

Georgia star Roquan Smith declares for NFL

Georgia star linebacker Roquan Smith has declared for the NFL.

Unlike other SEC stars like Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick and LSU’s Derrius Guice and Arden Key, Smith’s decision took until the deadline day for him to make up his mind.

Smith said: “I’ve had discussions with coaches and family and a lot of thought and prayer….The decision to leave is not easy but I know it is the right one.”

Smith won the Butkus Award last season for the Dawgs, who won the SEC Championship and came within overtime of winning the National Championship.

He will definitely be a first-round pick.

Smith recorded 137 tackles, 6-1/2 sacks and 17 quarterback hurries. He was also a mainstay in the Rose Bowl win over Oklahoma, when at times he buried the Sooners’ attack in the second half all by himself.

Kirby Smart said about Smith: “The accolades he has received are a testimony to his ability as a player,” Smart said. “But he has also demonstrated on and off the field the qualities of a great leader who has commanded the respect of all his teammates as well as our coaching and support staffs. As the head coach, it’s been a privilege to see him develop as a student-athlete and inspirational leader who has made immeasurable contributions to our team and to the program we are building.

UGA’s Eason to transfer to Washington?

Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason is to transfer to Washington, various media sources have reported.

Eason, who was the starting quarterback for the Bulldogs on Week 1 before he was injured against Applachian State, never got his role back thanks to the immense play of freshman Jake Fromm.

Now that Georgia has signed five-star QB Justin Fields, Eason – himself a five-star QB out of Washington – must have felt that there was no opportunity for him to succeed in the red and black. A move to Washington isn’t a bad one for him, either. He’s from Lake Stevens, WA, which is a short car ride from UW’s campus.

In 2016 Eason threw for 2,430 yards and 16 TDs, averaging at 186.7 yards/game.

 

Suck it, Ohio State. Suck it, Clemson. Suck it, Oklahoma. The SEC’s got two teams playing in the National Championship game.

That’s right – in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium fans all over America will tune into Monday to a game they most feared: An all-SEC Natty featuring Alabama and – to less an extent – Georgia.

Listen to the pundits, and they are hoping and praying that it won’t be boring. They hope it won’t be a 9-6 slugfest. They pray that Brian Daboll or Jim Chaney will come up with some offensive invention to stop that happening. They are hoping for end-zone celebrations and while craziness. They had a lot of that in two previous National Championships – and are praying for that to happen again.

The sad thing is is: It probably won’t happen.

Both Alabama and Georgia having amazing athletes. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are the best running back duo in College Football – although Damien Harris, Bo Scarborough, Najee Harris are also great too. Alabama also has a quarterback in Jalen Hurts who can run the damned ball, too.

Alabama fans might be slightly worried about putting the game on Hurts. Although Hurts is one of the best scramblers in the game, and he led the team down the field against Mississippi State that was – retrospectively – a season-saver, he’s actually got worse in terms of completion-percentage terms from 2017 to 2016. His fumble against Clemson was only bailed out by the usual immense Alabama defensive performance (kept Clemson to 3 points). Now, it’s not that we think Jalen Hurts is a terrible quarterback by any means  – he could cause Georgia hell-on-earth with his legs, but he’s not a great thrower.

On the other side, Georgia’s Jake Fromm has been a sensation. He’s got a cool head, and by reports by students at Georgia we know, he’s a pretty humble, unassuming guy – a diametric opposite to Jacob Eason, who walked around Athens thinking he was God. Fromm has played like a leader all season long. But then again, he hasn’t faced a pass rush like Alabama’s. Has he? Oh wait, he did. In Jordan-Hare against Auburn….and had he had his worst game stats-wise for the Dawgs that day. Sure, he was better in the rematch, but this is a fresher, nastier defense than he’s faced for a while. If Georgia goes down by 14, Smart’s going to have to put the game onto Fromm’s back…..and we’re not hugely confident if he will be able to take it.

We might have outlined this, but both teams feature absolute beasts on the defensive side of the ball. Georgia has Roquan Smith, the Butkus Award winner who’s a beast.Georgia’s Lorenzo Carter – who blocked the kick in overtime in the Rose Bowl – is an immensely-talented tackler, and so’s David ‘Humble Yourself’ Bellamy and Jordan Ledbetter. If Bellamy gets run over by Scarborough, he’ll be humbled. The Georgia players HAVE to make tackles, or it’ll be a long day.

As for Alabama, they’ve got God in the backfield in Minkah Fitzpatrick who – like Smith – is amazing. Although there’s a story going around about Fitzpatrick’s bruised kidney, which the best corner in college football/future NFL Top 5 pick dismissed as a non-story, it shouldn’t stop Fitzpatrick. Georgia’s Dominik Sanders will try and be Fitzpatrick in the Georgia secondary. We think he’ll try and play man-to-man with Calvin Ridley (good luck!). Oh, and Rashaan Evans is a freak, and Alabama has all the depth in the world to stop Georgia if there are injuries, which sadly is a sure bet in what will be a hard-hitting bet like this.

Co-ordinators wise, Jeremy Pruitt is a genius. Mel Tucker ain’t bad either (look at his defensive adjustments against Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma in the second half of the Rose Bowl). Both of them will be the busiest guys of the night – especially if they are getting their ears chewed out by Smart and Saban!

Offensive line was, it’s hard to differentiate between the two. Talk to a Georgia fan who was practically suicidal after some of the efforts of the offensive line last season, they aren’t altogether happy with this one. If you think about, Georgia has had 2 games where they have been truly tested on the offensive line, and it’s 1-1. UGA comes into the decider facing a nasty defense that could get to Fromm faster than a Daytona racecar. For Alabama, Hurts has only been sacked all season long, and you don’t see opposition defensive players in the backfield very much. There’s a good reason for that. There’s some good news for Georgia in that 6-4, 324lb Bama guard Lester Cotton won’t be playing in Atlanta after getting injured against Clemson. Cotton started all 13 games for the Tide, but we expect Nick Saban to make the changes.

So what’s going to happen?

This, ladies and gentlemen, is going to be a war. Alabama’s a 3.5 point favourite in Vegas, and to a lot of people, that looks about right. We think Alabama wins by 7 in a game that’s close, if not really exciting. Unless you like defense. Then this will be porn

The National Championship Drinking Game

Right, it’s the National Championship Game, and to keep you a little focussed on the game, we’ve got a drinking game for you.

You know the rules: If ESPN mentions this (through the sideline reporters, Chris Fowler or Kirk Herbstreit (we’ll let you off the College Gameday show if you’re too busy tailgatin’ the last day of the College Football season (sniff! sniff!)).

We aren’t expecting y’all to drink a shot-a-mention, because we don’t want to pay your hospital bills.

And make sure that your drink is alcohol, not water or soft drinks. So don’t cheat us on the fun.

So…..if ESPN mentions: 

—- This is an-all SEC National Championship Game — DRINK A SHOT

—- That tickets went for a minimum of $2,000 – ONE SHOT

—–That Kirby Smart was Nick Saban’s defensive co-ordinator — ONE SHOT

—- Ohio State, and how Alabama was 4th and used this as motivation — ONE SHOT

—- Davin Bellamy yelling ‘Humble Yourself’ at Baker Mayfield — ONE SHOT

—- Alabama’s strength coach smashing the National Championship Runners-Up trophy from last season —- TWO SHOTS

—- Any uses of the word ‘DeShaun Watson, Dabo Swinney, Clemson, Hunter Renfro” – ONE SHOT

—- Jalen Hurts and the screensaver of the Clemson loss that he uses as ammunition — TWO SHOTS

—- Jeremy Pruitt being the next coach of Tennessee — SHOT

—– ANY MENTION OF LANE KIFFIN — TWO SHOTS

—- That Jake Fromm started the season as a back-up to Jacob Eason —- ONE SHOT

—- Jake Fromm being referred to as a ‘game manager’ —-ONE SHOT

—- ‘Big Bo’ — ONE SHOT

—- If a Fat Guy Touchdown happens —- TWO SHOTS

—-Every Touchdown — A SHOT

—- If the game beats the O/U – TWO SHOTS

—- Camera pans to UGA Spike Squad —- ONE SHOT

—- Shot of bald UGA fan with Bulldog on his head —- ONE SHOT

—- Shot of Uga the Bulldog —- TWO SHOTS

—- Shot of Alabama fan you’re CERTAIN didn’t go to Alabama — TWO SHOTS

—- Mention of the Auburn loss for either Georgia or Alabama — TWO SHOTS

—- Mention of Mikah Fitzpatrick and anything related to NFL Round One Draft Pick —ONE SHOTS

—- Nick Chubb being a former track and field star — TWO SHOTS

—- Every time Jalen Hurts throws an INT — TWO SHOTS

—- Every time Jalen Hurts fumbles — TWO SHOTS

—- Any time any of the kickers misses a field goal or extra point — ONE SHOT

—- If the ‘Rammer Jammer’ song gets song either by Alabama fans or AT Bama fans — ONE SHOT

—- If Danny Kannell gets mentioned —- ONE SHOT

—- If Lee Corso picks Georgia — DOUBLE SHOT

—- If Lee Corso pick Alabama — SHOT

 

 

At the end of this, y’all should be ‘nicely oiled’. If  you’re not, you have the constitution of a rhino.

 

SEC fans of the year: The Tennesseee fans who stayed around

In 2017, it was easy to be an Alabama fan. It was easy to be a Georgia fan. It was easy to be an Auburn fan. Hell, at the end of the season, it was easy to be a LSU fan and a Missouri fan.

But it wasn’t an easy year for Tennessee fans.

This inaugural award doesn’t go to the Tennessee fans who started up the #EmptyNeyland campaign, aimed to show fans’ chagrin at Butch Jones. It doesn’t go to the people who jumped on the ‘No Schiano’ bandwagon, like my former priest, who claimed not to care about Tennessee – or any college football for that matter – because he was ‘too busy with kids, but managed to whack a sermon of Facebook telling everybody who would listen: ‘I don’t know who runs the decision making at the University of Tennessee, but this is a travesty. I’d never let any of my sons anywhere near a coach like this”, adding: “I’m absolutely appalled the University of Tennessee would hire anyone who was anywhere near that kind of horrific culture. It’s completely tone-deaf, and a giant middle finger to ethics, integrity, and wise program-building”. It doesn’t go to people who painted the rock with hate about former AD John Currie, Butch or Greg.

It goes to the Tennessee fans who stayed.

It goes to the Tennessee fans who kept going to games, even when they knew it wasn’t going to end nicely. It’s the fans who didn’t leave even when Georgia was up 42-0 with five minutes to go in the fourth quarter. It’s the fans who went to both home and away games, and kept rooting for their team, despite the carnage on (and off) the field, led by the likes of Clay Travis, ESPN and Twitter (including yours truly, who really thought Butch Jones should have gone last season).

It goes to the Tennessee fans who didn’t sign up to the #EmptyNeyland campaign. Those Tennessee fans who said: “Hell, I don’t know who’s gonna be coach next year, but it doesn’t really matter, but I’m going to be rooting for them anyway”. Those Tennessee fans who care about the team that they were willing to take the verbal barbs from the Georgia and Alabama fans at work, because whether their SEC brethren liked it or not, they were gonna keep supporting their team.

The Tennessee Fan Who Stayed Around deserves to be supported, given a round of applause and a pat on the back. We hope for the Tennessee Fan Who Stayed Around that times will be better under new coach Jeremy Pruitt. While some Tennessee fans will demand an 9-3 or 8-4 year at the worst in the first two years of Pruitt’s tenure, the Tennessee Fan Who Stayed Around will acknowledge that some things take time, like the brewing process of the moonshine he had after hunting deer in the Appalachians.

And most of all, it goes to the Tennessee students, who stayed around to say that they still believed in the team at whatever cost. Whether the fanbase likes it or not, the students have to suffer, because random SEC fans will tell them over Thanksgiving or Christmas: “Tough Year”. They won’t be talking about Grandma’s illness or even the retirement of Dale Jr, but they’ll be talking about the football team. This is the Tennessee student who’s still got three years to go, because it may not be the easiest wearing orange.

Happy Christmas, Tennessee fans, you’re our fans of the year.

Note: Vanderbilt fans came close, and then we remembered that Vanderbilt’s win over Kansas State as well as eviscerating the Vols made them the second most-suffering fanbase in the SEC. 

Great hire: Tennessee hires Pruitt to be new head coach

It came at the cost of one athletic director and a lot of red faces in Knoxville. A lot of Volunteers fans were the butt of jokes about the social media. And then Tennessee hired a former head coach as an AD, and within a few days, the school had installed a new coach from hated rival Alabama – defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

While details on Pruitt’s contract are not known, Pruitt was hired over Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker and Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. All three had done fantastic jobs at their respective schools this season.

Of course, the hiring of Pruitt did not come without its controversy. Apparently Jimmy Haslem, the school’s powerhouse booster, wanted Tucker for the job, but Philip Fulmer – who was driven out in 2008 for not taking the Vols to the heights he took them in 1998 when he won Knoxville a National Championship – would have none of it. He plumped for Pruitt.

It’s hard to argue with Pruitt when it comes to his defensive numbers. Pruitt’s one of the best – if not the best – defensive coordinator in college football.

Working under Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher at Alabama and at Florida State before that (with a trip under Mark Richt at Georgia in between), Pruitt’s defenses were always in the top five in their respective seasons. The amount of defensive players who have left Alabama and Florida State after playing for him is staggering.

Pruitt is also seen as a fantastic recruiter, and with the name Alabama, Florida State and Georgia carried he was able to get talent from all over the country.

What’s interesting about Pruitt’s resume is that he’s never stayed anywhere for very long. He’s had five jobs at big schools (Alabama/Florida State/Georgia/back to Alabama) in 10 years. We don’t know whether that was his own hot feet or whether it was created by Jimmy Sexton, his agent who is renowned for placing his head coaches and their assistants in well-paying jobs.

It’ll be interesting if he’s loyal to Tennessee – or the people in Knoxville are that loyal to him.

This season he’s got quite the turnaround to do, with home games against Alabama as well as Florida (who will almost certainly be revitalised under head coach Dan Mullen), and evil road games at Auburn and Georgia. He also opens his Tennessee career with a tricky opening game against West Virginia in Charlotte. He’ll be happy it wasn’t Morgantown.

BOTTOM LINE: Despite all the stumbling around, Tennessee has made a fantastic hire on paper in Jeremy Pruitt. He knows the area, he’s a fantastic career, and he also knows the SEC as well as anyone in college football. Having said that, Tennessee’s schedule is hardly easy, so a bowl game would be a success for the Vols in 2018.

 

 

 

College Football desperately needs an eight-team play-off

After penning an overly-long article about Alabama and Ohio State and why Ohio State didn’t get into the play-off but Alabama did, we at the SEC Football Blog also thought it was time to say what should be done about College Football.

Why? Because if we’re honest, we’re getting bored of the arguments about who should be in, and who shouldn’t.

In the past, we hated the BCS and its computers, we hated the pollsters, we hated everything that defined a National Champion.  We hated the BCS so much that we put in a play-off committee to decide things.

Who then screwed things up. They seemed to be able to shoot themselves in the foot, be inconsistent, and seem like they are bias. In other words, they were faulty….like all humans are. Accusations will fly back and forth between Tuscaloosa and Columbus about that, and we simply don’t know. All we know is that Ohio State won its Championship, Alabama didn’t, and yet Alabama got into the Play-Off and Ohio State didn’t.

But this could have all been sorted by an 8-team play-off.

So here’s our idea.

THE CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS

You would have five spots for Power 5 Conference winners.

In 2017, that would be Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia, Ohio State and USC ranked in that order.

THE AT-LARGES

Then you would have two at-large teams and the top Non Power-5 school.

Our two at-large teams would have been Alabama (11-1 record) and probably Wisconsin (one loss). The non-Power 5 school would be UCF.

OUR PLAY-OFF RANKINGS

Our rankings:

  1. Oklahoma (Big XII Champs, better strength of schedule)
  2. Clemson (ACC Champs, beat 11-1 Miami)
  3. Georgia (SEC Champs, 11-1, only loss to then 10-2 Auburn )
  4. Ohio State (Big Ten Champions, wins over two Top 5 schools)
  5. USC (Pac-12 Champions)
  6. UCF (Highest-ranked Power-5 school by AP, 13-0 record)
  7. Alabama (Best at-large bid (11-1 record)
  8. Wisconsin (Best at-large bid (12-1 record)

THE MATCH-UPS

That would set up: Oklahoma vs Wisconsin, Clemson vs Alabama, Georgia vs UCF, Ohio State vs USC.

IMPORTANCE OF REGULAR SEASON KEPT

Of course, those bemoaning it hate the fact that an 8-team play-off would ‘reduce the importance of the regular season’ and ‘might have to reduce the regular season’.

The importance of the regular season is still going to be there. Teams will still have to get to Championship games, win them, and guarantee themselves a play-off spot. Losing a Championship Game but having a better record than anyone there becomes important (see Wisconsin over Auburn would be the only one to cause the controversy, although Wisconsin only has 1 loss compared to Auburn’s 3).

AND WE ALSO HELP THE SMALL SCHOOLS STILL

Here’s the argument for a reduction in games: While Applachian State beating Michigan (or in SEC terms, Mississippi State over South Alabama or Troy over LSU or ULM over Alabama) happens ever so often, it’s not a regular occurrence. Sorry you won’t get to see your team play Mercer, Alabama and Auburn fans. Bigger non-conference games means more fun for us all.

Or alternatively, don’t reduce the games at all. In the NFL, players will have to learn to play 16+ games anyway (unless you play for Cleveland, where it’s a straight 16!). The players themselves are at the peak, and against smaller oppostion, play the back-ups immediately. The average team size is 118, with 85 scholarships. The back-ups at Alabama should be able to hammer Alabama A&M. The small teams get their $1 million, the fans get their victory, the back-ups get to play, the starters get rested, and everyone’s happy. This happens in professional soccer all the time when a team’s trying to balance cup games and European games and league games. It works. And if fans complain that they aren’t seeing their superstars play Mercer and stay away, someone else will take their place. And  you know what happens there? A FBS’ fanbase enlarges.

WE CAN’T WAIT

Can’t wait to watch the Oklahoma vs Wisconsin, Clemson vs Alabama, Georgia vs UCF and Ohio State vs USC play-off games.

Oh….wait….. in my dreams.

Alabama’s in, but the Crimson Tide deserve it?

I love SEC Football as much as the rest of ’em, but there’s no way I can look at myself straight in the face and say: ‘We had the best conference. We deserved two teams in the play-off. College Football is great.’

Why? As a conference (apart from Georgia, Auburn and Alabama), the rest of the conference weren’t particularly great…or stank out right. As a conference, big names like LSU and Florida were a side conversation, Mississippi State lurched from looking like world-beaters one week to ‘world’ the next, Texas A&M wasn’t in the discussion, Ole Miss and Missouri were mostly interesting because of their great offenses and terrible defenses….and we all know how bad Arkansas, Tennessee and Vanderbilt was.

When your three biggest teams are effectively crapping on the opposition, that doesn’t make you a great conference. It makes you one-sided. In terms of interest as a college football fan, it wasn’t as competitive as the Big XII, Pac-12, or arguably even the ACC.

The fact that the SEC was so lackluster ensured that Alabama couldn’t make the argument about strength of schedule, because it simply wasn’t there.

And now to Ohio State…

Ohio State may have looked like world-beaters against crappy B1G opposition, but when it came down to it, the Buckeyes struggled against the biggest game of the season, losing in a blow-out to Oklahoma. Later during the season after an emotional win over Penn State, they were hammered at Iowa. After beating Michigan and its joke of an offense, the Buckeyes then won the B1G Championship Game. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, who controlled the game (if you don’t believe me look at the yardage stats), they only won by six points and not the 31 that probably would have swung a spot in their favor.

There was also the argument that Ohio State won its conference while beating two Top 5 teams in its own conference (No.2 Penn State (that went 10-2) and No.4 Wisconsin (that went 12-1), while Alabama’s only Top 5 win outside of its conference was a No.3 Florida State, who had to re-schedule Louisiana-Monroe (and pay it $1 million in the process) to ensure bowl eligibility. And the fact that Ohio State won its conference, and Alabama didn’t.

But still, it was all about the Iowa loss.

Nick Saban – as he’s so good at – lobbied the NCAA incessantly, to the point of appearing on College Gameday as a guest (and looking befuddled when some guys dumped food on the desk), and throwing shade at Ohio State for the loss in Kinnick.

However much you could argue about Kinnick being a tough place to play (just ask Michigan in 2016), the fact that the Hawkeyes had played Michigan State and Penn State tough (losing by 7 points or less both times) and was 5-3 at the time and hadn’t had a stupid loss yet (they sure made up for that with losing to Purdue!), getting spanked by 31 points was never going to be a good look for the Buckeyes – who still don’t understand what in the hell happened that afternoon.

And when that type of loss is given to someone as brilliant with the media as Nick Saban is (its helped by the fact that he’s won so many National Championships, he’s the best recruiter in the land, and Alabama is the biggest brand in the game), and you give him a head start of a week because you’re playing in a Championship Game, then the game for Ohio State almost looked over – even if they had shelled Wisconsin.

The College Football Play-Off Committee helped…

Also helping Alabama was the duality of the College Football Play-Off Committee, who was able to put forward one argument but then not back itself every week. They also seemed to look at team’s past reputations, not look at strength-of-schedule in the way that it should have done, and seem to have one rule for one team and one team for another. Alabama was also helped by the fact that while the Committe was happy to talk up losses when convenient (see the time they put Notre Dame in the Top 4 even with the UGA loss and UGA in the Top 4 win the ND rode win), but then ignore them when it didn’t seem necessary (see Syracuse loss for Clemson and Iowa State home loss from Oklahoma), yet when it came to talking up the Crimson Tide’s whooping of Florida State in Dallas on Opening Weekend, they did so with vigour, while forgetting that Alabama’s next best win was over Mississippi State and LSU. LSU lost to Troy.

But at the end of the day, Ohio State was frustrated. And sadly with this system, there will be others until something changes.

 

 

 

 

Tennessee fires AD John Currie, replaces him with Fulmer

If there is a celebration to be had in Knoxville at the moment, then surely today is an early tonic: Tennessee has just fired John Currie, its athletic director.

They have now replaced him with Phil Fulmer, who was run out of Knoxvville as head coach in 2008, despite winning the Vols a National Championship.

Although Currie was regularly attacked for the Greg Schiano incident, where he reportedly offered the Ohio State DC the job, and then had VolNation throw it back in face with such force that he had to rescind it again, he really should have left his post some time beforehand.

Under his eight-month guidance, Tennessee football was a shambles. The Vols didn’t win a SEC game and finished the season with such style that Vanderbilt dropped more than 40 points on them at home in the ‘Battle Of The Winless’. Their head coach Butch Jones was a running joke throughout the season, and no-one seemed to tell him when to shut up. Oh, and the rock, which seems to paint slogans every five seconds in Knoxville, spat out hatred for Currie, for Schiano, and Jones.

Thanks to the Schiano incident – which could cost Tennessee millions if Schiano sues the school for slandering his ‘good’ name – the once proud Orange is now one of the most poisonous jobs to take in college football. The school is run by its boosters and by social media, and no longer by its head coach. The school must be looking at itself and saying: “We shouldn’t have gotten rid of Phil Fulmer”.

Currie’s choices (by social media) about who to appeal to have been head-scratchers. Davie Doeren of NC State and Jeff Brohm of Purdue has reportedly walked away from offers. There have been no discussions with Memphis head coach Mike Norvell, who is in charge of one of the most fun offenses in college football, and there have been no discussions with Tee Martin, who was the QB on the last National Championship Tennessee had.

If Currie had done is job properly he would have fired Jones after the Kentucky game. While it was excusable to get blown out by Alabama and Georgia, losing to Kentucky was not. He should have gone them – and it probably would have saved his job.

Aldso under his job, Tennessee athletics in general has been mired in failure. While it has always spawned good athletics, the school hasn’t won a National Championship in any sport since Women’s Indoor Track & Field took home victory in 2009. Currie’s job was to change that, and he failed to do so.

But for now, Tennessee fans can celebrate. Currie is out, and the school can move on. And will do with Fulmer at the helm.

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