Category Archives: It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

Your Cotton Bowl game day post

The opening act of the CFP semis takes place in Dallas, where Cincinnati and Alabama face off.  Cinci is a good team and they’ve got some excellent players.  Their problem is that ‘Bama has more excellent players than they do.

Also, this.

No, the Alabama run game isn’t as formidable as it’s been in years past — they barely made an effort to involve the backs against Georgia in the SECCG — so while that’s made Bryce Young’s job harder, as we unfortunately saw, he’s more than up to the task.

Let’s face it:  But if Young plays like he did against Georgia, it’s possible nothing else matters” is the story of this year’s CFP.  Will he today?  I don’t know.  Metchie is out.  Cincinnati’s corners are better than Georgia’s.  And I expect the Bearcats’ defense to go all out after Young, unlike Georgia’s strategy.  How much of that will make a difference anywhere beyond the margins is guesswork.  The primary reason I say that is because Cincinnati’s offensive line isn’t as good as Georgia’s is, particularly at the tackle spots, and last time I looked, Will Anderson is indeed suiting up for the Tide.

Needless to say, while I’d love to see it, I have a hard time believing ‘Bama goes down today.  I will be interested to see if Metchie’s absence has an impact and if Cinci proves Georgia made an egregious tactical error in not being more aggressive attacking Alabama’s passing game.

What say y’all on this one?

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Filed under Alabama, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

TFW you expect to be the boss of the post-game presser

Dana Holgorsen has fewer fucks to give than any coach in America.

Yesterday, his team beat Auburn and he had to go second behind Harsin at the press conference afterwards.  That didn’t sit well.

Even better,

Awesome.

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Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

Travis Hunter’s prime time moment

I’m not sure you’ll see many takes about Hunter’s decision to go the HBCU route as breathless as Dan Wetzel’s.

It was the most stunning college football recruiting decision in decades. No one turns down the richest and most successful programs in the country to sign with an HBCU. Well, they didn’t until now. And it may not take long before decisions like this, while still uncommon, aren’t that uncommon…

This is the first recruiting class that profit off name, image and likeness and maybe no one played this game better than Hunter. The speculation of what was committed to him reached into the seven figures, although what is real and realized remains to be seen. (Is he going to be in AFLAC commercials with his coach?)

What is undeniable is that Hunter made himself a massive star and cultural hero Wednesday and thus set the standard for players to rethink what NIL can do for them.

Yeah, well, and I thought Roquan Smith’s decision to forgo signing a national letter of intent was going to be the next big thing in college football.

That being said, it’s certainly a noteworthy decision, especially if it does turn out that NIL compensation played a role in it.  Except… what I can’t get past is the nagging feeling that if it really were a business decision, are we saying nobody could outbid little ol’ Jackson State?  If that’s the case, boy, don’t all those message board commenters who are positive Kirby Smart’s recruiting prowess stems from handing out bags of money left and right feel foolish this morning.

It’s a nice story, but I wonder how Hunter will feel about his decision in a season or two after compiling game tape for the NFL against subpar competition.  Or, for that matter, if Sanders leaves for greener coaching pastures.

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Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, It's Just Bidness, Recruiting

Today, in the Herbstreit Doctrine

Shot.

Chaser.

You knew Herbie’s panties were going to be in a wad seeing Cinci make it into the CFP field and his beloved Buckeyes not, so the sarcasm falls especially flat.

Even better, he’s getting his ass owned all over social media right now.  Too bad it won’t affect his influence.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, ESPN Is The Devil, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

Do it for the kids, or do it for the fans?

Kirby Smart, on the dilemma posed by guarantee games ($$):

Kirby Smart was asked Monday about the value of playing these FCS games, and whether he would like to continue doing it. He gave a lengthy answer that boiled down to two points:

Yes, he would like to because it’s good for the smaller schools, who tell him that sometimes half their budget comes from guarantee games, and much of that money goes to players’ scholarships. If it means keeping these programs alive, then Smart wants to do so for the sake of the sport.

“My concern is that less kids grow up wanting to play football because less of their parents may have played football and reached out to another sport,” Smart said. “When you take away the opportunities at these universities, you take away a lot of opportunities for kids to get scholarships and go play. Some of these FCS schools are what keep these kids’ hopes alive to play football in college when you might not be an SEC-caliber player.”

But Smart’s second point is it’s going to be hard to keep doing it.

“The league is going to get bigger. There’s going to be more games, and fans want the bigger games,” he said. “Fans don’t usually want these games. It’s a pulling of two separate ways.”

There’s also the dilemma of SEC coaches wanting the easy win for win’s sake, but I digress.

Fans don’t want to spend money on “these games”.  Churlish of us, I know.  But here’s the thing — even if the SEC adds another conference game to the schedule — not that I’m convinced Sankey’s going that route — and even if schools continue to beef up their non-conference scheduling to impress the selection committee, nobody in their right mind is going to quit playing cupcake games altogether.

Beyond that, a pretty obvious compromise I can think of, if a primary consideration is making sure FCS schools’ budgets aren’t hammered, is to allow FBS schools to play a spring game against FCS opposition, charge something for it (before you ask, yes, I’d fork over something for that) and pay the visitor a guarantee fee.  If it takes on the trappings of something more than a glorified scrimmage, which is all something like G-Day is, it’s probably worth more to Mickey to broadcast it.  That’s as close to a win-win as I can come up with.

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Filed under College Football, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

Lack of institutional support

Jeebus, is this bad?  It sounds bad.

Butch Davis, who led Florida International to three bowl games and the biggest win in school history against Miami in 2019, will not return as the Panthers’ coach, he told The Action Network.

Davis’ contract expires on Dec. 15. Davis’ agent had asked FIU for a one-year extension, but FIU officials would not extend his deal.

Before Davis arrived at FIU in 2017, the Panthers had five consecutive losing seasons and had only been to two bowl games in school history. FIU had only two winning seasons in 13 years before Davis’ arrival.

However, Davis immediately turned around the program, with back-to-back winning seasons. In his first three seasons, FIU was 23-16, the best three-year mark in school history.

Oh, that’s not the part I was referring to.  This is:

Davis’ success at FIU was more impressive, considering the challenges he faced at the school from his administration.

Davis said he was allowed to only offer one-year contracts to assistants, hampering his ability to hire coaches who could get multi-year deals elsewhere.

When Davis arrived in 2017, he found out all the shoulder pads were at least 10 years old. The school wouldn’t provide the money to purchase new shoulder pads, but an assistant coach had a contact at Mississippi State. The Bulldogs’ program had shoulder pads that were five years old, but they were replacing them, so Mississippi State gave FIU its shoulder pads at no cost.

“They were five years old,” Davis said. “But they were new to us.”

In today’s college football world, where some schools get new uniform combos literally every game, FIU is using uniforms that are nine years old, Davis said.

Davis also said his coaching staff was not allowed to go on the road recruiting the past two years because of the school’s financial reasons and COVID-19.

In early October, the school ultimately undercut Davis. After five games, FIU posted on the school’s official website and also the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) website an opening for the head coaching position.

The school said FIU’s university website lists job postings for each head coach and assistant in every sport even when there are no openings but did not address the AFCA posting.

“This year has been a nightmare,” Davis said. “You can imagine the players’ reaction when a head coach’s job was posted online. The administration has been sabotaging the program.

“Their decisions to post the job has resulted in a major negative impact on the football program and our ability to recruit and retain players.”

Good luck on that replacement hire, FIU.

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Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

Pretty, pretty petty

The Colonial Athletic Association isn’t doing this for the kids.

Thursday afternoon, James Madison University athletes received a text notification: mandatory all-sports meeting at 7:30 p.m., in the basketball arena. For many, curiosity turned quickly to dread.

“That had never happened in my time here,” says senior golfer Carly Lyvers. “With the rumors that had been going around, I had a feeling that it probably wasn’t going to be great.”

As teams filed in and sat down together, the JMU coaches watched with what one described as “a pit in your stomach.” They’d had their own meeting earlier in the day and knew what was coming. Soon, athletic director Jeff Bourne stood up and informed the athletes that the rumors Lyvers mentioned were true: The majority of them will not be allowed to compete for a Colonial Athletic Association championship. “It kind of hit everyone in the gut,” Lyvers says.

Realignment met retribution, with the predictable casualties: the athletes themselves. It’s a very 2021 college athletics story, in all the worst ways.

James Madison’s move to the Sun Belt Conference, expected to be finalized Friday, comes at the tail end of a chain-reaction of realignment moves that have shaken college sports yet again. Most of the schools doing the moving are upgrading into enhanced positions, but the greater health of college sports only gets worse. That’s true for many reasons, not the least of which is the pettiness on display in this situation.

JMU’s impending move led to CAA membership invoking a two-decade-old bylaw that banned the Dukes from championship competition. The only teams able to compete are football (where the CAA teams operate outside of league purview) and two whose championships are this week, field hockey and women’s soccer.

Everyone else at the best all-sports school in the conference is out, effective immediately.

That should fix everything.  Assholes.

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Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

Selection committee vote comin’

Ordinarily, I think these midseason ballots are a waste of time and money, but I’ll make an exception for once, exactly for the reason Bill Connelly cites.

What the committee does with Cincinnati is going to be incredibly revealing, not about the Bearcats, but about the committee itself.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

Wednesday morning buffet

Around the world of college football:

  • Bert has an interesting approach to motivating his players:  y’all suck, really.
  • Gotta love the SEC’s response to the Tennessee mess — a slap on the wrist with a $250,000 penalty and a promise to review UT’s alcohol availability policy, because, you know, stuff like that never happened before you could buy a beer in the stadium.
  • Georgia announced an enhancement to its NIL program, allowing its student-athletes to use the school’s official trademarks and logos.
  • Speaking of marketing, long time reader Chris Robinson has put together a line of hats and visors promoting you know what.  Check ’em out on Instagram @buckheadbrimco.
  • JT Daniels’ health appears to be improving.  Bye week, for the win!
  • And speaking of health, Smart was asked about George Pickens’ recovery time.  Florida, maybe?  “There’s a long term plan there, but I don’t disclose timelines on that kind of stuff,” Smart said. “Probably the week of the game we’d know more. We did a walk-through yesterday and he was able to do that, get signals, get calls. He’s done a tremendous job of working in recovery.”  So he’s saying there’s a chance?  Yeah!
  • Is Dan Mullen’s seat the hottest in the SEC?
  • Conference USA sent a letter to the AAC asking about reorganizing the two conferences on the basis of geography.  Instead, the AAC is expanding by adding six Conference USA schools.  Talk about your “you can have my answer now, Senator” response.
  • Scott Cochran is back at Butts-Mehre, but not back as special teams coordinator yet.
  • On a sad note, a reader who was a member of the Redcoats passed this on to me to share with y’all:  “One of my instructors on the drum line, John Moates, was married to an instructor of the Redcoats flagline, Cassie, who just passed — tragically, days after she had delivered their third daughter. John has been an instructor for 10 years now, and I believe Cassie had been helping out just as long.”  There is a GoFundMe set up for her, at https://gofund.me/dd1449c6.

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Filed under Bert... uh... Bret Bielema, Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, It's Just Bidness, SEC Football, The Body Is A Temple

Trolling a troller

In case you didn’t know, Tulane, a founding member of the SEC, is playing The Laner’s team this week.  Here’s one way they’ve chosen to honor the moment.

It’s a nicely snarky response to Junior’s somewhat patronizing comment.

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Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, SEC Football