Various Things Happening In College Football

Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Inside Higher Ed has a piece on HBCU’s scheduling payout games, where they play on the road against vastly superior teams. They take a beating, but make a lot of money. I don’t like it when FBS teams schedule FCS ones, including Southern Tech, but I must confess I cringe a little extra when we schedule an HBCU. They are not only FCS, but are are not competitive even in that subdivision.

I honestly think it would be better if the HBCU’s kind of went their own way. There are two HBCU conferences and one (SWAC) of which already doesn’t abide by FCS rules and exempts itself from the playoff. The other (MEAC) participates in the playoffs but rarely make it far. If they played one another for some trophy, I’d watch that game.

The article presents it as being mostly about giving the big schools an opportunity to fine-tune their schemes and players before starting conference play, but that’s only part of it and I would argue that it’s the smaller part of it. Nor is it strictly a matter of wanting a guaranteed win. The biggest reason is that big schools pull in a ton of money per game, and so it’s more lucrative to play a 7th or 8th home game and rent a doormat for a six figure payout. FCS programs almost always play these games on the road. Lower-end FBS program (so-called G5 schools) will also often take buyout games, but they’re more expensive. It’s also common that they get a 2-for-1 game. Whenever either of these happen, though, the G5 school will then turn around and schedule an FCS team so that they get at least five or (usually) six home games a season.

While I would prefer see FBS vs FCS games end for the most part, it does benefit all involved. The programs need the money and want the exposure. And – though this doesn’t apply to HBCU’s) sometimes they win and it’s something that will be remembered for decades. Which brings us to…

North Texas vs Portland State

The North Texas Mean Green (an FBS/G5 program) lost to Portland State (FCS) 66-7, which is likely the largest margin by which an FBS has ever lost to an FCS program. Now, Portland State is a pretty outstanding team this year, having previously defeated Mike Leach’s Washington State (which last week defeated Oregon at Oregon). Even so, that’s a staggering loss and North Texas’s coach, Dan McCarney, was immediately fired.

McCarney was shafted by Iowa State some time back. Neither of the Cyclones’ subsequent coaches have matched the success McCarney had there. It seemed like a good hire on paper, and actually seemed to be when McCarney took the Mean Green to their first bowl game in quite a while. Things went downhill after that and nobody knows why. Their last hire, Todd Dodge, was a bit of a risky one (straight from the high school ranks to the college ones), but McCarney wasn’t. Perhaps it goes back to the original sin of firing Darrell Dickey, a coach who had outstanding success for a while (26 straight conference wins, three conference titles), had two losing seasons, and was fired in 2006. They’ve had one winning season since. The angry alumn who owned the naming rights to their playing field demanded it be renamed Darrell Dickey Field.

Portland State, meanwhile, may have the most successful coach around. He hasn’t just beaten two FBS opponents, but he did it at a school that has trouble getting 3,000 people to show up to its games and where former NFL Coach Jerry Glanville couldn’t even find any success. I’ve got my eye on him.

Maryland

Also fired was Randy Edsall at Maryland. I have no strong opinions of that firing, though their chosen replacement is shocking.

Mike Locksley was hired by New Mexico with much publicity. On paper, it was a great hire and (as the school’s first black head coach) historic to boot. But now if you ask me “What is the worst coaching hire in recent college football history” I would probably say “Mike Locksley.” In just over two season, he incurred a sexual discrimination lawsuit, a sexual harassment accusation, got into a fight with an assistant coach, and got picked up on a DWI. Also, he went 2-26 at a school that won six or more games in seven of its last eight seasons. The program still hasn’t recovered.

Anyway, he is the interim head coach at Maryland now.

Southern Cal

Not fired (for now), but on leave is Southern Cal’s head coach Steve Sarkisian. After being hired away from Washington, Sarkesian has struggled at USC though not to the point that you would expect USC to take action until the end of the season (if then). However, a series of incidents suggest that he has an alcohol problem that has gotten the better of him. Thus making USC the fourth school to have an interim coach less than half way into the new season. (The first is Illinois, who fired their coach before the season began after allegations of player abuse.)

Central Florida and the Rivalry That Isn’t

The fifth may be Central Florida. Before the season started, head coach and interim athletics director George O’Leary allegedly told administration that he might want to move into the AD office full time. There is a lesson here, and that lesson is that a coach tells you that it’s time for him to stop coaching, you should listen. It’s the same lesson Florida learned when Urban Meyer needed to “retire.” Meyer is back, of course, but he clearly needed the break. Florida convinced him to stick around for an extra year and it was a remarkably unimpressive year. But UCF is not in the mood to listen, apparently.

The most recent game was against UConn. This is the notably one-way rivalry. UConn has declared UCF to be a rival and UCF says that sure they will take the trophy if they win they guess. Which, of course they didn’t.

Image by Parker Knight


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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35 thoughts on “Various Things Happening In College Football

  1. “Also fired was Randy Edsall at Maryland. I have no strong opinions of that firing, though their chosen replacement is shocking.”

    Elevating the OC or the DC to interim head coach after a decapitation is fairly routine at all levels. Compare Locksley with Dan Campbell – the latter is shocking, the former is surprising. I agree though that, based on resumes, I don’t see why they didn’t pick Brian Stewart instead. He’s old enough*, tenured enough, and has diversity of experience in both college and pros.

    *either that’s an old picture or the man is a very well preserved 51.

    edit – ah, because he’s now at Nebraska and the current DC in his in first year at that level.

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    • You don’t have to take a coordinator. It’s typical, but the time before last my school took a cornerbacks coach because the defensive coordinator was not someone we wanted (the offensive coordinators left with the head coach). Lance Guidry’s first turn as interim was from a positions coach (he was a coordinator the second time he did it).

      So it’s possible!

      In this case, there was an associate head coach. Instead of promoting him, they evidently fired him.

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  2. You say “While I would prefer see FBS vs FCS games end for the most part, it….” but you don’t tell us the reasoning behind your preference. Can you share?

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        • When Montana was looking at making the transition to FBS, they actually cited payouts as a reason to make the transition. The picture they painted of the available payouts for FCS (and of being in FCS) was… not very positive.

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      • Those games are about as lame as it can get from a “Watching football” perspective. Even if you are a fan of the dominant team, watching what is ostensibly an exhibition is lame. At the same time, college football is not about the 60 minutes of action on the field but about the tailgate and the revelry and the hanging out with old roommates and taking your kids to your alma mater and all that. So, the games serve their purpose. But to outsiders — who do not experience all that — they just look like someone entered the score wrong on the ticker.

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        • I got the impression that he hadn’t intended to coach this season in the first place, but was talked into it. I wonder how much his resigning mid-season is them just saying, “You know what, maybe you were right about not coaching this season?”

          I wonder what older, once highly successful coach they’ll pluck out of the college football dustbin this time. The University of South Carolina: where past-their-prime coaches go to prepare for their broadcasting careers.

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            • He’d be an excellent choice, though given how much money Texas is still paying him, combined with cushy TV gigs, I can’t imagine he’s going to want to head to The Middle of Nowhere, South Carolina.

              Small worldness: just before meeting my father, my mother dated Mack Brown’s brother. He is also a football coach, though an historically bad one.

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              • I sorta figured he’s the kind of guy that would like the environs.

                First name that shot to my mind was Tommy Tuberville, but the nature of his departure from Texas Tech may have him in Cincinnati for a while.

                Bob Stoops might be available at season end, though probably a very high price tag.

                Watson Brown (assuming that’s who you are talking about) showed a lot of potential at UAB, then… nothing

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                • Stoops might be a good choice, too. I think he’s just been at Oklahoma too long, but still has the potential to be successful somewhere else. That’s what happened to Mack as well: when you coach somewhere for a really long time, it’s probably easy to get stuck in a routine, the culture (among players and assistant coaches) becomes lax, a sense of entitlement proliferates. I got the impression that things got so bad at UT that even though UT has what might be the best facilities in the country and more money than pretty much everyone else in the Big 12 combined, they couldn’t get top recruits because those recruits easily spotted the dysfunction, and they weren’t even spotting many of the top recruits anyway because their recruiting culture had grown lazy.

                  And yeah, Watson Brown’s the one.First to 200 losses.

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              • “The Middle of Nowhere, South Carolina.”

                Columbia’s not a bad city, and Charleston isn’t that far away, and both are better living than any Texas city (including Austin). (because neither is as full of itself as Austin is).

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                • Yeah, I think South Carolina is beautiful. I’m mostly just joking.

                  Austin is definitely full of itself, though with an influx of non-Austinites, it’s getting a bit better in a lot of ways. Well, better food and nicer people at least (Austinites are downright rude).

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                • Austin is full of itself, like the rest of texas isn’t? Only commented on this because i saw a shirt i hadn’t seen in a long time.

                  “Let’s cut Alaska in half and make texas the third largest state.”

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                  • You know you’re in the largest state in the union when you’re anchored down in Anchorage.

                    My comment is always that people from Texas think this state is so great because they’ve never been anywhere else.

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                    • Because it takes like three days to get out of it?

                      When I was driving cross-country, I tried to stay off Interstates as much as possible, and some long Texas highways were the only ones where I kind of got scared, like, “if my car breaks down, I could DIE out here before I ever see another human being!”

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                      • That’s exactly why! It occasionally strikes me that El Paso is further from me than it is from San Diego, and that seems utterly absurd.

                        hard song to forget. Also, this pun thing is contagious.

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                    • I”m shocked you remember that song.

                      The same could be said about a lot of Alaskans. In general long time Alaskans either love to travel and do it a lot ( i’m in that group) or never leave the state and are as insular as anybody ever.

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      • “New Coaches Cialis is approved for game day use. Please seek medical attention if players stay up more than four hours after taking Coaches Cialis. Do not drink alcohol while taking Coaches Cialis, even if employed at Southern Cal… “

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  3. And regarding the Sarkisian situation at USC (left coast), it might be time to start focusing some attention on Pat Haden’s talents rather than continue to focus on the head ball coaches.

    And looking a bit, USA Today is already on it.

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  4. Pingback: The Road Goes On Forever, and Texas Never Ends | Hit Coffee

  5. Throw this down here, I guess”:

    This Toronto game is the craziest, most exciting, most dramatic baseball game I think I’ve ever seen.

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