COUNTDOWN TO FIRING DAY OVERLOAD
Added to the Extinct Species List
Matt Luke, Ole Miss: This came as an absolute surprise. Just last week new AD Keith Carter said he liked the direction the program was headed under Luke, then Sunday Luke was gone. Although Carter isn’t going to say so, you can almost bet the far Luke’s firing has everything to do with wide receiver Elijah Moore costing the Egg Bowl when he got an embarrassing 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration when he imitated a dog hiking his leg and peeing after scoring a TD with four seconds to go that cut the Mississippi State lead to 21-20. Buyout for Luke and his staff is $17 million. Charlie Strong, South Florida: Strong was on very thin ice before USF got torched by arch-rival UCF Friday night. It was thought the boosters might not have the cash to buy him out, but apparently they put together the finances and Strong is a goner. There is a report that fired FSU coach Willie Taggart is very interested in making a to return to USF. Steve Addazio, Boston College: Old 6-6 Steve got done in by another 6-6 season. How do the folks at BC expect to compete in a league that includes Clemson, Florida State, Miami and North Carolina when there are fewer Division I prospects in all of New England than there are in the Tampa-St. Pete metro area? They might discover that 6-6 and 7-5 is about as good as it’s going to get. Frank Wilson, Texas-San Antonio: This wasn’t surprising. The people at UTSA think there is more than enough talent in Texas to compete and win in Conference USA. Wilson neither recruited nor competed. This should be a decent stepping stone job for some young coordinator looking for that first HBC job. Barry Odom, Missouri: In a very revealing press conference explaining why Odom was fired, AD Jim Sterkel explained that revenues are declining for football and Mizzou needs someone exciting to bring back enthusiasm – and cash – to the program.
Temporarily on Hold Mike Bobo, Colorado State: Apparently they’re still working out the terms of the buyout. Expect some sort of announcement today or Tuesday. Clay Helton, Southern Cal: There was a report that Helton’s firing was imminent but that has been shot down. Word was last week that the new school prez and athletic director Mike Bohn were gravitating toward keeping Helton another year, taking into consideration that an 8-4 record with all those injuries was actually pretty decent. But the boosters want Helton gone, so this situation is still volatile. Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion: Wilder is the only coach ODU has known since it revived the football program. He’s had three losers in a row, each one worse than the last culminating with a 1-11 mark this year. Wilder says he’s the only one who can fix the program as strong rumors persist that he won’t survive more than two or three more days tops.
Kevin Sumlin, Arizona: As much as they would like Sumlin to be gone, they don’t seem to have the money it would take to fire him. That could change, however.
Chip Kelly, UCLA: Supposedly they don’t have the money for a buyout unless some big booster comes up with about $9 million. Some big booster is threatening to write a check apparently because UCLA is in meetings regarding Kelly’s future.
GATORS MOVE UP TO #7 IN BOTH POLLS
Florida’s blowout win over Florida State combined with Alabama’s loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl allowed the Gators to move up one spot to #7 in both the Associate Press and Coaches top 25 polls. The combination of the Alabama loss and Minnesota losing should also help the Gators in the College Football Playoff Poll, which comes out Tuesday. In the last poll, Florida was at #11.
LSU remained #1 in both the AP and Coaches Polls followed by Ohio State. It’s unlikely the Tigers will jump back over Ohio State in the College Football Playoff Poll since Ohio State beat 13th-ranked Michigan while LSU beat unranked Texas A&M, albeit decisively.
Associated Press Top 25 Poll (1) LSU 12-0; (2) Ohio State 12-0; (3) Clemson 12-0; (4) Georgia 11-1; (5) Utah 11-1; (6) Oklahoma 11-1; (7) FLORIDA 10-2; (8) Baylor 11-1; (9) Alabama 10-2; (10) Wisconsin 10-2; (11) Auburn 9-3; (12) Penn State 10-2; (13) Oregon 10-2; (14) Notre Dame 10-2; (15) Minnesota 10-2; (16) Memphis 11-1; (17) Michigan 9-3; (18) Iowa 9-3; (19) Boise State 11-1; (20) Appalachian State 11-1; (21) Cincinnati 10-2; (22) Virginia 9-3; (23) Navy 9-2; (24) Southern Cal 8-4; (25) Air Force 10-2
Coaches Top 25 Poll (1) LSU 12-0; (2) Ohio State 12-0; (3) Clemson 12-0; (4) Georgia 11-1; (5) Utah 11-1; (6) Oklahoma 11-1; (7) FLORIDA 10-2; (8) Baylor 11-1; (9) Alabama 10-2; (10) Wisconsin 10-2; (11) Penn State 10-2; (12) Auburn 9-3; (13) Oregon 10-2; (14) Notre Dame 10-2; (15) Minnesota 10-2; (16) Memphis 11-1; (17) Boise State 11-1; (18) Michigan 9-3; (19) Iowa 9-3; (20) Appalachian State 11-1; (21) Cincinnati 10-2; (22) Virginia 9-3; (23) Navy 9-2; (24) Southern Cal 8-4; (25) Air Force 10-2
RANKING THE SEC AND OTHER STUFF
(1) LSU (12-0, 8-0 SEC): As if to send a loud and clear message to the College Football Playoff Committee, LSU’s defense came to play Saturday against Texas A&M. The Aggies managed only seven points and 169 total yards. The offense generated 50 points and 553 yards.
(2) Georgia (11-1, 7-1 SEC): Georgia’s offense could have serious issues against LSU in the SEC Championship Game if D’Andre Swift (shoulder) can’t go. The Bulldogs will already be without wide receiver Lawrence Cager (ankle) and leading receiver George Pickens will miss the first half due to getting tossed for fighting against Georgia Tech.
(3) FLORIDA (10-2, 6-2 SEC): In 11 games, Kyle Trask has put up the best passing numbers since Tim Tebow in 2009. In 14 games in 2009, Tebow hit 67.8% of his passes for 2,895 yards (9.2 per attempt) and 21 touchdowns (five interceptions) with a QB rating of 164.17. Trask is hitting 67.6% of his passes for 2,636 yards (8.4 per attempt) with 24 touchdowns (six interceptions) and a QB rating of 159.24. With a bowl game to go, Trask’s numbers should improve. Trask has a streak of nine consecutive games with at least two touchdown passes.
(4) Auburn (9-3, 5-3 SEC): Gus Malzahn’s job is safe for another year. His only three losses were to #1 LSU, #4 Georgia and #7 Florida.
(5) Alabama (10-2, 6-2 SEC): There is absolutely nothing wrong with Alabama’s offense. Defense? That’s another story altogether so don’t be surprised if Nick Saban guts the defensive staff and brings in a whole new crew.
(6) Texas A&M (7-5, 4-4 SEC): The Texas A&M defense held Georgia to 19 points and only 260 total yards. Against LSU, that same defense gave up 50 points and 553 yards.
(7) Tennessee (7-5, 5-3 SEC): The Vols won their last five games to finish 7-5 but as Knoxville News-Sentinel columnist John Adams noted, “Tennessee still hasn’t beaten anybody good.”
(8) Kentucky (7-5, 3-5 SEC): Everybody in the ball yard knew Kentucky wasn’t going to throw the ball yet the Wildcats ran for 517 yards in their 45-13 win over Louisville with quarterback Lynn Bowden Jr. going for 284 with four touchdowns. Bowden threw twice, completed one for a whopping four yards.
(9) Missouri (6-6, 3-5 SEC): Apparently, Mizzou will focus in on a coach from the offensive side of the ball to replace Barry Odom.
(10) Mississippi State (6-6, 3-5 SEC): After winning the Egg Bowl, Joe Moorhead said they’ll have to drag his “Yankee ass” out of Starkville. It’s not known if that threat factored into the one-year contract extension through 2023 that Moorhead got.
(11) South Carolina (4-8, 3-5 SEC): Quarterbacks coach Dan Werner and strength and conditioning coordinator Jeff Dillman have been dismissed. Offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon has been stripped of play-calling duties. It remains to be seen whether he stays with the program after the demotion.
(12) Ole Miss (4-8, 3-5 SEC): The Rebels are looking for a new coach. Will they look outside the program or elevate offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez, who’s been the head coach at West Virginia, Michigan and Arizona?
(13) Vanderbilt (3-9, 1-7 SEC): The Commodores scored 31 points in their last four SEC games – all losses – and they lose most of their decent offensive players. Another 9-10 loss season is already in the forecast.
(14) Arkansas (3-9, 0-8 SEC): Athletic director Hunter Yurachek has interviewed Florida Atlantic coach Lane Kiffin. With the Missouri and Ole Miss jobs open, Kiffin might find both of them more appealing than Arkansas.
ELSEWHERE IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL First year head coach Will Healy, who led Charlotte to its first winning record in school history by winning the last five regular season games, came into the team room Sunday wearing scuba gear to announce the 49ers are going to The Bahamas Bowl where they will face Buffalo. Healy told his team, “Nobody’s going to have more fun on a bowl trip than we will.”
Ian Rappoport of the NFL Network reports that Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley could be on tap as the next coach of the Dallas Cowboys in the event owner Jerry Jones fires Jason Garrett because the Jones family “already has a close relationship” with Riley.
Texas head coach Tom Herman fired defensive coordinator Todd Orlando and assigned offensive coordinator Tim Beck to a non-coordinator position to be named on the staff. Reportedly, Herman wants to land either Graham Harrell (USC offensive coordinator) or Joe Brady (LSU passing game coordinator) to replace Beck. Former Mizzou HBC Barry Odom could end up being a candidate for the defensive coordinator spot.
Despite going 2-10, UConn gave HBC Randy Edsall a $6,000 bonus. Go figure. And speaking of bonus money, Old Yeller got an additional $22,500 bonus from Central Michigan for getting an 8th win and making the Mid-America Conference championship game.
The on-again, off-again hiring of Greg Schiano is on again at Rutgers. A week after walking away from the negotiating table, enough Rutgers boosters and alums complained that the school opened things up with Schiano, this time coming to a deal that includes more money for assistants and better facilities. Schiano gets an eight-year deal worth $32 million with $25.2 million guaranteed.
GOOD QUOTES FOR MONDAY Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated on Alabama without a quality win and without a championship, something that just hasn’t happened since the Nick Saban era began in 2007: “The only college football constant more reliable than Saban-coached excellence is that nothing lasts forever. Dynasties are never eternal. The coach of the Crimson Tide might have the same energy and drive as ever – but eventually, inevitably, things slip. A program culture built on a seemingly foundation can erode.”
Michael Rosenberg of Sports Illustrated on Ohio State’s 56-27 poleaxing of Michigan: “Say it loud, clear, and between refrains of Carmen Ohio: Ohio State is better than Michigan and maybe better than everybody else. The Buckeyes have won eight straight tover Michigan, and 15 of the last 16. Ohio State-Michigan doesn’t feel like the best rivalry in sports anymore. It feels like Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown, then kicking him in the head.”
SEC BASKETBALL STUFF Sunday’s games Fairfield 67, Texas A&M (3-4) 62 South Carolina (5-3) 74, George Washington 65
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Pat Sullivan, the great Auburn QB who won the 1971 Heisman Trophy, has died after complications from his long bout with cancer … In his last three games – all Tennessee Titans wins – Derrick Henry has carried 68 times for 496 yards and five touchdowns … There won’t be a reverse run of the table in the NFL this year. The Cincinnati Bengals finally won (22-6 over the New York Jets) to improve to 1-11.