Cavalcade of Whimsy
Midseason, Part 2
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Part 3 - Predicting the rest of the season,
coming late Tuesday
Oct. 15 - Midseason Cavalcade,
Part 1 - The Midseason With The Quarterback
The Big Thing At The Midseason That Will Carry Over To The Second Half ... The first-year coaches.
Coaches getting whacked is nothing new, but Lane Kiffin getting launched from USC and Paul Pasqualoni and Don Treadwell being shown the door before the midseason at UConn and Miami University, respectively, is a bit of a curveball. Even crazier, now the whole hot seat process is being skipped, with fans and media speculating when Mack Brown was going to be canned and Bo Pelini all but told to tell his screamy story walking, and those two might end up winning their respective conference championships.
The pressure has been ramped up even more for the first-year head coaches. The money is too great, the expectations too high, and the fan bases too vocal to stink right away.
Mark Helfrich has Oregon on track to play for the national title, Gus Malzahn has turned the Auburn ship back around, Rod Carey has Northern Illinois unbeaten and the dreamy Kliff Kingsbury has Texas Tech fans swooning, but for the most part, 2013 has been a disaster for several of the new guys.
Of course, most of the reason these first-year coaches have gigs is because the former ones sucked and the teams were awful, so there's some rebuilding to be done at most places. However, the overall results haven't been strong.
Contract Extension Coming
- Rod Carey, Northern Illinois – Looking like the next great NIU coach, his team is fighting a bit too much, but it's unbeaten with, unlike last year, a win over Iowa.
- Mark Helfrich, Oregon – Some would suggest this was an upgrade over Chip Kelly. The team has been absolutely flawless so far.
- Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech – 6-0? A defense? Getting by with freshmen at quarterback, and losing the best one to an injury? A personable, likeable head coach? Welcome to the new Texas Tech.
- Steve Addazio, Boston College – It's not just that the Eagles are 3-3, they're playing really well. They gave both Florida State and Clemson a fight.
- Gary Andersen, Wisconsin – Seems like a perfect fit, but his team's mistakes and lack of adjustments early on proved costly in losses to ASU and Ohio State.
- Bret Bielema, Arkansas – You can see it coming. It's going to be an ugly second half of the year, but he pulled the program out of the John L. nosedive.
- Butch Jones, Tennessee – Coached his tail off in the loss to Georgia. He's two recruiting classes away from making the Vols an East power.
- Gus Malzahn, Auburn – Auburn is ranked and one win away from going to a bowl. Consider it a massive success after 2012.
- Bobby Petrino, WKU – Turnovers a problem early, and a stunning loss to South Alabama a problem, but he's doing a decent job in his one-and-done run. He'll be on this list next year, too.
Year One, Deserves A Shot, But …
- Rod Caragher, San Jose State – It's turning back around. The defense has been a problem, but a 2-1 start in Mountain West play, and with a huge year again from David Fales, has made the team interesting.
- Dave Doeren, NC State – Doeren hasn't had a shot to show what he can do starting 3-3 with a badly injured team.
- Bryan Harsin, Arkansas State – Hugh Freeze, Gus Malzahn … the run ends there, at least for now. ASU is rebuilding in a big way talent-wise, but it should still finish with a winning season.
- Brian Polian, Nevada – No defense and the lack of a consistent offense have been a problem as Polian tries to replace Hall of Famer Chris Ault.
- Scott Shafer, Syracuse – It's truly a rebuilding year, but the Orange are 3-3 with enough winnable games to go bowling.
- Mark Stoops, Kentucky – Welcome to life in the SEC. UK is 1-5, and the loss to WKU stinks, but there's no shame in losing to Louisville, Florida, South Carolina and Alabama. The team is better than last year and has a whopper of a recruiting class is coming in.
- Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati – A frightening quarterback injury and a tragic death has made it a tough first year. The 4-2 start looks good, but all four wins are over bums.
- Matt Wells, Utah State – Making the move to the Mountain West wasn't going to be easy, and losing Chuckie Keeton didn't help.
- Sonny Dykes, Cal – Shock of shocks, after his defense was the worst in the country at Louisiana Tech, his defense isn't stopping anyone in Berkeley. Cal is the worst team in the Pac-12.
- P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan – A complete and utter disaster so far, the 33-year-old is 0-7 with a loss to Nicholls State and double-digit blowouts to everyone else.
- Darrell Hazell, Purdue – The Boilermakers don't do anything right. This is the worst team in the Big Ten.
- Paul Haynes, Kent State – He had to be the guy to take over after a miraculous season. 2-5 looks bad, but all five losses – Bowling Green, LSU, Penn State, NIU and Ball State – are acceptable.
- Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech – A disaster at South Florida, Holtz isn't having much luck so far in his new gig with a 2-4 start.
- Sean Kugler, UTEP – The Miners have been fun, but 1-5 isn't all that exciting. Three of the final five games are on the road.
- Mike MacIntryre, Colorado – Three straight blowout losses to start the Pac-12 season hasn't been fun. The Buffs have been outscored 155 to 46 in conference action so far.
- Doug Martin, New Mexico State – It's a nearly impossible task, but Martin is giving it a shot. The 0-6 start looks even worse with all the losses by double digits.
- Trent Miles, Georgia State – It's not really fair considering the program is really just getting going, but it's 0-6 with losses to Samford, UT Chattanooga and Jacksonville State.
- Todd Monkin, Southern Miss – Granted, he inherited a winless team, but losing to Florida International is a stinger. The Golden Eagles lost to Nebraska, Arkansas and Boise State 140 to 23.
- Paul Petrino, Idaho – There was a good battle for a half against NIU, a win over Temple, and a slew of brutal performances. It's going to be a while.
- Matt Rhule, Temple – 0-7. There's the Temple we all know and love.
- Willie Taggart, USF – A 2-0 start in AAC play has saved a horrific start with blowout losses to McNeese State and Florida Atlantic and no offensive pop whatsoever.
- Ron Turner, FIU – The offensive guru couldn't get his O to generate more than two first downs or 30 yards against Louisville. The running clock thing was an utter embarrassment.
Goofiest New Trend of the Midseason ... Michigan's "honor" jerseys.
As I wrote before, if you go to Michigan, go be your own man. Blaze your own trail. Become your own legend. Devin Gardner wearing No. 98 in honor of Tom Harmon was cute for a game, but it's time to let it go. Desmond Howard was a total bust as a pro wide receiver, and maybe Jeremy Gallon should be inspired to be better than No. 21. Devin Funchess is a special player on his own; he doesn't need to honor Ron Kramer with the No. 87.
Making the contrived and dorky tradition even sillier is the gigantic patch telling the world who the player is being forced to honor. It's like the Geico commercial with Brian Orakpo where they have to say it's Brian Orakpo. If you have to be told who the celebrity endorser is, he's not a celebrity endorser.
The whole point of wearing No. 98 is to supposedly honor Tom Harmon, which means there shouldn't be any need for any further advertising – HE'S WEARING THE JERSEY. If you look closely at the patch, it gives you a place to submit your e-mail address, cell phone number and home address so the University of Michigan can send you e-mails, texts and letters on a daily basis just to remind you that Gardner is honoring Tom Harmon, just in case you forgot.
Biggest Dead Horse Item Being Beaten At The Midseason ... Playoff Selection Committee
The College Football Playoff committee is being revealed and announced on Wednesday, and since I'm not on it, I will, from here on, thumb my nose and anything anyone on this panel tries to say or do on the subject of college football.
I'm joking; of course it should all be fine if, and only if, there's full disclosure that starts from the beginning of the season. I want written, detailed reports from Game One so we know what each member is thinking and analyzing during the process.
Of course, none of this would be necessary if College Football Playoff simply took the six champions from the BCS conferences with two wild-cards, determined by the BCS computers, for an eight-team playoff, but noooooooooo. The powers-that-be have to gwonk it all up with a Fiutak-less committee of people who watch football and like it.
Key Thing At Midseason That Many Want To go Away, But Won't ... Smarter Players
It's coming, and there's nothing the squares can do about it. Are the players going to start being paid? No. Are they going to be allowed to do autograph signings for money? No. How about endorsement deals, booster cash and signing with agents? No, absolutely no, and maybe soon. The problem over the first half of this season is that the players have sort of figured it out. They're now realizing just how silly it is to not be able to capitalize more on their fame and talents, and the trail is being slowly created so superstar prospects can start bailing out and protecting their investments.
Already this season, top ten overall draft picks Todd Gurley, Dominique Easley and Jadeveon Clowey have been hurt, and Marqise Lee, Johnny Manziel and De'Anthony Thomas are dinged. With the new concussion protocol, and the huge red mark going next to anyone's name who has had a "head injury," especially with the liability aspect coming more into play.
At the very least, now, if some future multi-millionaire decides it's not worth risking his dreams and his family's well-being to help his multi-millionaire head coach take State U. to the Capital One Bowl, no one will be surprised.
Oct. 15 - Midseason Cavalcade,
Part 1 - The Midseason With The Quarterback