From Dan Wolken’s “10 observations from college football’s wild Week 3”, a play in four acts:
3. Recent head coaching hires in the SEC have leveled the playing field: A decade ago in the SEC, you had Urban Meyer at Florida, Steve Spurrier at South Carolina, Bobby Petrino at Arkansas, Mark Richt at Georgia and Les Miles (still at the peak of his powers) at LSU. The only school that can even think they upgraded is Georgia, and that’s still very much in question depending on how good of a game day coach Kirby Smart has. The SEC’s string of uninspired coaching hires has made the league ordinary outside of Alabama, to the point where a classic rivalry like Florida-Tennessee is an unwatchable disaster (at least until the final few minutes). Which leads me to…
4. Dan Mullen is the second-best coach in the SEC: You’ll rarely see a sideline mismatch as dramatic as what took place in Starkville, where Mississippi State de-pantsed No. 11 LSU, 37-7. As longtime NFL scout Chris Landry observed on Twitter, Mississippi State was one step ahead all night long on both sides of the ball while LSU looked like an undisciplined, poorly-coached team with nine penalties for 112 yards (including two defensive players ejected for targeting). In an SEC West where Auburn doesn’t look great, Texas A&M is a mess and Arkansas is yet to find its stride, maybe the Bulldogs are Alabama’s biggest challenger. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is a great athlete and he’s throwing the ball better than he did last year. Meanwhile, LSU looked terrible in Ed Orgeron’s first big test as the full-time head coach. If only there was some evidence in Orgeron’s past that this might be a possibility.
7. Tennessee fans deserve better than this: Set aside the way the game ended, with Florida’s miraculous 63-yard touchdown as time expired giving the Gators a 26-20 victory. Up until that point, the Vols were the better team except for on the sidelines, where Butch Jones and his staff botched the thing from top to bottom. The Vols should have taken control in the third quarter and were on the doorstep of the end zone several times. But the red zone playcalling was just atrocious, over and over again, including one third-quarter sequence when they ran four plays without giving the ball to running back John Kelly, who finished with 141 yards on 19 carries. That drive ended with an interception. And, of course, Florida’s winning touchdown was not defensive coordinator Bob Shoop’s finest work, either. This game, though, was merely a continuation of what we’ve seen from Jones his entire tenure. He’s a good enough coach to keep you from being bad, but he’s never going to make you great.
8. Jeff Brohm was a genius hire by Purdue: So can we agree that Purdue football is … fun? The Boilermakers absolutely destroyed Missouri, 35-3, and are a surprisingly salty 2-1 with a functional offense and a pretty decent defense. That’s a pretty big turnaround from last season, when Purdue went 3-9 and won just a single Big Ten game. Brohm brought in his high-powered offensive system from Western Kentucky, and it’s taken no time for Purdue to go from hopeless to playing some pretty good football. Again, kudos to athletics director Mike Bobinski for getting that hire done early and changing the entire trajectory of the program.
After the year, Mullen gets a raise, Booch keeps his job (barely) and Brohm is welcomed to [insert name of SEC program here] with great fanfare. Tell me I’m wrong about any of it.