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

The land of opportunity

It’s always cool to see the light bulb go off over somebody’s head like this.

Incoming Coastal Carolina president Michael T. Benson wrote an open letter to the College Football Playoff Committee and its chair, Iowa AD Gary Barta, criticizing the “lack of fairness” and “absence of character” in the current college football postseason that “must be addressed.”

The letter calls for an “equality of opportunity” for schools from the Group of Five and criticizes the “flawed logic” that ended with Coastal’s No. 12 ranking and Cincinnati (9-0) finishing No. 8, which he said left them “absolutely flabbergasted.”

“I can’t help but think what might have been this season had all FBS programs been given the same equality of opportunity,” Benson wrote in a letter obtained by Yahoo Sports. He added: “Just think about that: Football is the only sport where the deck is stacked insurmountably against those who have the inevitable classification of “Group of Five” before toe hits the leather each fall.”

Benson acknowledged in the letter the reality that finances play in judging teams for college football’s postseason: “The [power] five” have worked to ensure that a different kind of Golden Rule remains firmly in place at the highest level of Division 1 football: those with the gold make the rules.”

Welcome to the party, pal.  It’s not as if Jim Delany was exactly hiding that attitude a decade ago when the mids were screaming about being left out of the BCS.

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

The Peach Bowl: humping the narrative

Be prepared for an onslaught of the hot take Seth Emerson ($$) somewhat snarkily describes as “Motivated Angry Group of 5 Team vs. Unmotivated Blueblood Team“.

Read, for example, this, from ESPN:

Georgia (7-2)

Key player: QB JT Daniels. The USC transfer gave Georgia’s offense a much-needed boost after he took over the starting job in the past three games. Sidelined while recovering from knee surgery at the beginning of the season, Daniels has completed 66.7% of his passes with nine touchdowns and just one interception. With Daniels under center, the Bulldogs have been able to throw the ball down the field more than they did previously, getting George Pickens and others involved in the passing game.

Storyline to watch: Georgia has already had three seniors opt out of the bowl game, linebacker Monty Rice, tight end Tre’ McKitty and cornerback DJ Daniel, and there might be more coming. Last season, junior offensive tackles Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson and senior safety J.R. Reed skipped the Sugar Bowl, but the Bulldogs were able to rally for a 26-14 victory over Baylor.

Cincinnati (9-0)

Key player: QB Desmond Ridder. He was named AAC Offensive Player of the Year after running for 609 yards with 12 touchdowns and completing 66.4% of his passes for 2,090 yards with 17 scores and six interceptions. Ridder will have to make some plays with his arm against a Bulldogs team that led the FBS in run defense, allowing only 69.3 yards per game and 2.3 yards per carry.

Storyline to watch: The undefeated Bearcats felt slighted by the CFP selection committee, which didn’t elevate them higher than No. 7 after the initial rankings, even after teams ranked ahead of them lost. Cincinnati defeated then-No. 22 Army, No. 16 SMU and No. 23 Tulsa this season, but knocking off Georgia in Atlanta would give the Bearcats a stamp of legitimacy.

It may be a little subtle, but it’s a variation on the same theme.  I await the earnest, dulcet tones of Kirk Herbstreit pushing a similar story.

For what it’s worth, it’s still a football game and that means matchups matter.  I haven’t watched a ton of Cincinnati football, obviously, but two things that jump out initially are that the Bearcats run a 3-3-5 defense and Ridder does a lot of damage with his legs.  With regard to the former, it’s a defensive scheme the Dawgs have previously faced this season.  I would expect Georgia to come out trying to establish the run, because it will have a physical advantage on the lines.  (Tulsa did some real damage that way in the AAC Championship Game.)

If that works, Cincinnati is going to have to make the hard choice about bringing another safety in the box, which is going to give Daniels an opening to exploit with the pass.  Which I expect he will do, based on recent history.

On the flip side, it’s going to be up to Georgia’s outside linebackers to contain Ridder and keep him bottled up in the pocket.  And, yes, I know sometimes that’s been easier said than done.  (Also, it would be irresponsible not to speculate on how well Cinci runs the wheel route.  But I digress, at least I hope so.)

And that’s before we get to the 800-pound gorilla in the room, recruiting.  Here’s a chart sent to me by a loyal reader (thanks, Scott).

Screenshot_2020-12-22 GA vs Cincinnati Recruiting Rankings - mbroch gmail com - Gmail

I don’t care how motivated you are, that’s an enormous talent gap you somehow have to make up if you’re Cincinnati.  And before you give me, “well, South Carolina did it”, note that Carolina’s averages are closer to Georgia’s than Cinci’s.  Sure, it’s football and any given Saturday applies, but that’s a lot of Jimmies and Joes to overcome, even if the Dawgs have the expected number of opt-outs.

All of which is to say that Cincinnati is a good team and I expect Georgia to be in for a tough fight.  But it won’t be because Kirk Herbstreit says so.

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

Speaking of hot takes…

Shot.

Chaser.

Snark aside, that was a fun, fun game to watch.  How many points would Coastal Carolina be favored over South Carolina if they faced off this Saturday?

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Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, Media Punditry/Foibles

Visions of 1984

This might be the most arrogant attitude from a mid-major squad since Danny White showed his ass after UCF’s undefeated season.

Hint:  you won’t be in the top four, BYU.

This is the kind of call that comes back to bite you in the ass.  Play Washington and win, and you just might cement an undefeated season with a CFP appearance.  Instead, you get to keep dragging Sagarin’s 112th rated strength of schedule around like a ball and chain.  Well played.

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

To know them is to love them

When it comes to college athletes’ NIL rights and how allowing those would impact college athletic departments, the Southern Conference is out of fucks to give.

While some conference commissioners strongly expressed that their conferences were against athletes being compensated for their NIL rights, several of their peers took the opposite approach.

The Southern Conference, whose memo wasn’t signed by one individual and which may have been the transcription of multiple perspectives from throughout the conference, proved to be an unexpected messenger of some of the most liberal NIL viewpoints of any conference.

In regards to a question about the demarcation between collegiate and professional sports, the Southern Conference’s memo stated, “Everything outside of paying student-athletes is already professional at the Power 5 level.”

Another line in the memo read, “By paying student-athletes we will finally admit that we are pro sports.”

When asked how NIL rights meshed with the values and principles of college athletics, the Southern Conference’s response noted how schools and their coaches have already profited off the NIL of athletes.

“Given how institutions and coaches have profited from the NIL of student-athletes,” the memo stated, “there is conflict with values and principles already. It’s why we are in this conundrum.”

Another bullet point from the Southern Conference went one step further, when asked about the values and principles of college athletics.

“What values and principles?” the memo stated. “They are ever-changing. The organization would probably change their principles to accommodate NIL legislation.”

“What values and principles?”  Dayum, that’s cold.  But true.

(h/t)

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

Wednesday morning buffet

Sights and sounds from around the world of college football for your dining pleasure:

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Filed under Big 12 Football, Big Ten Football, Crime and Punishment, ESPN Is The Devil, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, It's Just Bidness, SEC Football, The Body Is A Temple

“Chirping”

Baylor’s AD is offended because Houston coach Dana Holgorsen expressed frustration that Baylor sat on its COVID situation (plus one of its players being suspended) until the day before the game, when it announced it wouldn’t play.

“I don’t know how it gets to 22 hours before the game,” Holgorsen said Monday of the postponement. “There’s a reason why our conference and the Big 12 tests three times a week. So, I would think that our opponent kinda knows where they’re at just like we kinda knew where we were at. … We had five buses out there, hotels lined up, we’ve got our equipment truck parked [at McLane Stadium].”

That’s construed as “chirping”, whatever that means.  Evidently chirping is a big deal.

“Yeah, you know, I’ll be candid: I’m disappointed in their head coach and the chirping,” Rhoades said. “And I let the [Houston athletic director] know it. And, you know, in my opinion, [it’s] not professional, but we’ll move on and we’ll move forward.”

Somehow complaining about a program’s unprofessional approach is unprofessional.  Welcome to 2020.

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Filed under Big 12 Football, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, The Body Is A Temple

Today, in talk is cheap

Man, if there was a poll for a program running its mouth, Central Florida would be the national champs three years running.

Last week?  You mean the week you beat **checks notes** Georgia Tech?  That week?

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

Today, in idle speculation

My, that was quick.

The first job opening in college football has arrived before the first full weekend of games.

Jay Hopson stepped down as the Southern Mississippi head coach on Monday, sources told Yahoo Sports. He’ll be replaced by Scotty Walden, the 30-year-old co-offensive coordinator, who sources told Yahoo Sports will be the interim coach.

Hopson didn’t appear at the Southern Miss football building on Monday, as the staff was unsure whether he’d coach practice on Monday afternoon. He never made it there, meeting with the coaching staff around 4 p.m. ET to tell them he was out.

Hopson had a respectable 28-23 record and appeared in three bowl games in four seasons. But entering this season, Southern Miss opened with a home blowout loss, 32-21, to South Alabama in a game where the Golden Eagles were favored by more than two touchdowns.

Hopson was the dude who feuded with his AD about hiring Art Briles, so there may be more to this than just a bad opening week loss, but the guesswork about his replacement has already begun, and a couple of names look familiar.

Bruce Feldman ($$):

Another former Rebels coach who may get consideration is Georgia offensive line coach Matt Luke. He has lots of ties around the state. The Gulfport native is local. He’s still only 43. He was fired after three seasons with the Rebels but took over in very turbulent circumstances and steadied that program.

Either Monken or Luke would take a huge pay cut to jump to Southern Miss (“The school has been hamstrung by financial issues. Hopson’s $500,000 annual salary ranked lowest among Conference USA coaches last season.”), but if you want to scratch that head coaching itch badly enough, who knows?

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

“Well, it’s as normal as life can be in a pandemic.”

Turns out there is a football team out there that’s been kept in a bubble.  You’ll never guess which one.

Central Arkansas exited its comeback 24-17 victory against Austin Peay in the first college football game of the season unscathed. The team had zero positive tests for COVID-19 in its first round of tests after the game and has maintained that baseline heading into a final round of testing — a rapid antigen test — on the eve of a showdown against UAB on Thursday.

How did they do it? They created their own off-campus bubble as a traveling road show — and they did it with the help of their second opponent on the schedule.

UCA bussed from Montgomery to Birmingham late Saturday night after its victory at the FCS Kickoff inside the Cramton Bowl. Since then, life has been rather uneventful, which is exactly what coaches and administrators desired heading into second week of the season.

Well, it’s as normal as life can be in a pandemic. They’re just a group of college kids traveling across the South, away from their families, friends, homes and campus, with nothing but nasal swabs, hand sanitizer, laptops, playbooks and virtual classes.

They’ve done this after the school, faced with the Southland Conference’s decision to move its season to the spring and Missouri’s cancellation, chose to restock its fall schedule for… well, money.  (“The Bears’ athletics department is set to earn $450,000 in guaranteed money in non-conference games compared to the $425,000 it would have collected from Mizzou.”)

I don’t defend the trade off, but at least they’re making an effort to preserve the kids’ safety.  Hope that part continues to work.

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Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, The Body Is A Temple