Why Is It SO Hard For Tennessee To Find A Head Coach, 5 Candidate Ideas: Daily Cavalcade

Why is it so hard for Tennessee to find a superstar head coach? Here’s part of the reason why, along with 5 candidate ideas.

Why is it so hard for Tennessee to find a superstar head coach? Here’s part of the reason why, along with 5 candidate ideas.

College Football Daily Cavalcade: Tennessee head coaching search

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Sorry if this take sucks, it’s not my fault …

Over the last four years, Kentucky has won ten more games than my should-be-amazing SEC East football program.

You used to be beautiful, Tennessee.

Tennessee should be a superpower.

It has the fan base, the facilities, and the will to do whatever it takes to become a yearly player in the College Football Playoff chase. That’s a good thing.

It also has the high expectations of recent success – even if it’s a few decades ago. That’s a bad thing.

No one cares about what happened eight minutes ago, much less back in 1998, but Tennessee is one of the handful of programs to win a national title in the BCS/College Football Playoff era.

Really, you can do this. Name the schools with a national championship over the last 23 years.

Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Florida State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Auburn, Florida, Texas, USC, Miami …


It’s one of those programs that should be amazing, but just can’t quite get that dog to hunt.

It doesn’t have a problem recruiting.

It was eighth in the 2020 Rivals recruiting rankings. It was 13th in 2019, 20th in 2018 – there was a coaching issue then – 15th in 2017, 15th, in 2016, and 5th in 2015 and 2014. No, the recruiting isn’t at Alabama’s level, but it’s close enough to the pin.

It doesn’t have a problem with money, attendance, or … anything.

It should be an A-list job with A-list candidates lining up to take it, but it’s just not, and why?

Because of everything just listed.

Tennessee is supposed to win SEC and national championships, but so is Alabama. So is Florida. So are Georgia, LSU, Auburn and Texas A&M – that’s life in the SEC.

No, Tennessee isn’t in the West, but Alabama is its annual rivalry game from the other division, and that’s sort of a problem having lost 12 in a row in the series and 13 of the last 14.

The Vols have lost four in a row against Florida and 15 of the last 16, and they’ve dropped four in a row to Georgia and nine of the last 11.

To put this into perspective, since 2013, Tennessee owns one more win over Georgia and Florida than Vanderbilt has.

So all Tennessee needs to do is 1) find a coach who can recruit in the top ten every year, 2) beat Alabama, Florida and Georgia, and 3) do it all with the expectations of a base that knows and feels this is a powder keg program ready to blow up. Oh yeah, and 4) at least get to the SEC Championship on a regular basis, even if that hasn’t happened since 2007 and the last conference title was in …


If that wasn’t enough, there’s that little concern about possible NCAA sanctions coming.

Two words: Boo. Hoo.

Sanctions, schmanctions. Bending recruiting rules in the SEC? Really? I have to explain how we pay the bills around here?

Start winning again, Tennessee.

Tennessee is going to require a certain type of coach who wants all of those challenges. It’s going to require a superstar name or a top prospect who can handle all of the expectations, all of the pressure, and all of the possibilities.

Any coach worth his salt wants this gig, but Tennessee has a really, really, really hard time finding that guy.

So with that in mind, here are my five suggestions ranging from the stupid-dreamy to the realistically obvious – and none of them are interim head man Kevin Steele. And no, outside of one guy who’ll probably get the job, I’m not interested in simply recycling coaches who might have had an SEC job at some point.

NEXT: 5 Candidate Ideas For The Tennessee Head Coaching Job

College Football Cavalcade: Really, What If Florida Wins The SEC Championship?

What I think, know and believe about the college football world. What happens if Florida wins the SEC? All in the College Football Cavalcade

What I think, know and believe about the college football world. What happens if Florida wins the SEC Championship and Notre Dame wins the ACC title? All in the College Football Cavalcade.

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Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault …

But it does apologize for not using better judgement after being filmed eating sushi off a nude model – the cultured culinary art of Nyotaimori – and it further apologizes for the horrible incident with the wasabi.

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What Happens If Florida Wins?
I Think, I Know, I Believe
Picks of the Century

I promise, there’s a non-sucky payoff here …

The whole point of college football being played is to have fun, and we’ve had none of that – at least not guilt-free.

Now that we’re just over a month away from – shockingly – getting through this season and moving on to 2021, it’s okay to say it.

This season sucks.

The Big Ten sucks.

Most of the SEC teams suck.

The Pac-12 sucks – but the games don’t.

The Big 12 sucks. (two words: Sun Belt)

The only reason the ACC doesn’t suck – one word: Liberty – is because Notre Dame is in it and doesn’t suck.

Penn State sucks. Michigan sucks. LSU sucks. Oregon sucks. Florida State sucks. Wisconsin sucks – at least the offensive side.

And almost all of the big games have sucked, too.

Alabama at LSU should’ve stopped the sports world in its tracks.


Florida at Tennessee should’ve been a breakthrough moment for the Volunteer program.


Notre Dame vs. Clemson didn’t suck, and DJ Uiagalelei certainly didn’t suck, but it sort of sucked that Trevor Lawrence wasn’t playing.

Oklahoma vs. Texas didn’t suck. Florida vs. Georgia sucked.

Penn State at Michigan didn’t totally suck, but it was sad.

Indiana at Ohio State didn’t suck, but Michigan at Ohio State? Oh, that’s going to triple-suck, and it’ll suck even more if Michigan is unable to go.

It sucks that the Pac-12 has been the most entertaining conference this year by a mile, and no one seems to know the games were played – oh, wait, that has nothing to do with 2020.

It sucks that we have to go through the motions of pretending that Group of Five programs might actually be considered for the College Football Playoff, and it sucks that we all have to be jerkweeds by always pointing out that there’s a difference between playing a schedule full of almost all Power Five programs and a schedule with no games against the big boys.

That last paragraph sucked.

It sucks that we’ll have a Rose Bowl with no fans – if it’s even played in Pasadena – a bowl season with 11 games having to tap out, and a College Football Playoff with just close family members in attendance.

And it sucks that after all of the craziness, all the cancelations, all the disruptions and all the hoops everyone had to jump through to make this season happen, what do we have?

Clemson will win the ACC, Alabama will win the SEC, Ohio State will win the Big Ten, Oklahoma will win the Big 12, and USC will win the Pac-12.

It sucks that we went though all of this only to have a group of Power Five champions that your cousin – “from Bahhh-stin” – could’ve come up with back in March.

Wait … that actually doesn’t suck.

You know what sucks? Cinderella upsets in March Madness. Show me some Central Grand Valley State win in the first round and I’ll show you an 82-48 Duke win in the second round.

Show me a college football outlier in the College Football Playoff mix, and I’ll show you Alabama 38-0 over Michigan State and Alabama 24-7 over Washington.

But all this is about to change.

You, the college football fan, for all of your sins and for all of your infinite patience, have the potential to get the mother of all College Football Playoff debates.

Throw in that America is about to wake up to a whale of a Heisman race – I’ll dive into that next week – and get ready for what’s coming, starting with this one big question.

No, really. What happens if Florida wins the SEC Championship and Notre Dame takes down the ACC?

What happens if Florida beats Bama in a classic, Ohio State wins, and Clemson beats Notre Dame? Only four of these five kids can get on the ride.

I promise, the rest of your 2020 college football season isn’t going to suck.

Let’s go …

What Happens If Florida Wins?
I Think, I Know, I Believe
Picks of the Century

NEXT: What really happens if Florida wins the SEC Championship?

College Football Cavalcade: The Ohio State College Football Playoff Problem

What I think, know and believe about the college football world, and the Ohio State playoff problem. All in the College Football Cavalcade.

What I think, know and believe about the college football world, the Ohio State College Football Playoff problem, getting rid of coaching problems, and the legitimacy of the season, all in the latest College Football Cavalcade.

Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault …

If I miss one more column, I won’t be eligible for the Big Ten Championship. You’d get Northwestern vs. a Michael Penix-less Indiana for your 2020 title, and then you’d be sad.

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Fiiiiine, put Ohio State in
– I Think, I Know, I Believe
5 Footballey Opinions
Sure-Thing Picks of the Century

Wait … so giving up 491 passing yards and five touchdowns against the one decent team you played is a bad thing?

Let’s say Purdue had the best offense in the Big Ten with a great group of receivers and a future NFL starting quarterback.

Not crazy, right?

Let’s say the Boilermakers also had the league’s worst pass defense by a mile – giving up 31 more yards per game than the second-worst Rutgers pass D.

Also, let’s say they’re among the worst in the country at generating tackles for loss, allow the second-most sacks in the conference, only hit 2-of-5 field goals, and was last in the league in punting – to be fair, though, net punting is a misleading stat.

What if I told you that Purdue was 4-0, but three of its wins came against teams that aren’t going to finish with a winning record and have gone a combined 4-13 overall so far? The other win was against Indiana by seven in a wild shootout – it was a win, but the defense totally melted down and the great quarterback was outplayed, giving up three interceptions.

Also, there are two more games remaining against teams that won’t finish with a winning record, and if Purdue can’t play both of them, it won’t be able to play in the Big Ten Championship.

Would Purdue be considered an automatic pick for the top five in the latest College Football Playoff rankings? No, but top ten yes and probably the top eight.

If Purdue finished 5-0 and didn’t win the Big Ten Championship – much less if it went 4-0 – and considering its resumé with just one okay-not-great win, in a million, gajillion, bazillion years would it be considered for the College Football Playoff?


Now take all of that and replace Purdue with the words Ohio State, and ask yourself why America is so willing to give a free College Football Playoff pass to the Buckeyes.

Has the program earned the benefit of the College Football Playoff doubt? Not really, at least compared to Clemson and Alabama it hasn’t – 2014 was seven seasons ago and OSU hasn’t won a CFP game since.

Is it because of the talent level? LSU has NFL talent. So does Miami, and Auburn, and Texas A&M, and Florida, and North Carolina. Ohio State might have more, but that’s not supposed to mean anything in the College Football Playoff discussion.

Is it because of the always murky “eye test” that so many like to use as a default fallback when they can’t come up with a real reason? Here’s what I get whenever I’ve made this argument …

“Come on … you KNOW this is one of the four best teams … “

Actually, no. I don’t.

I mean … okay, yeah, of course I do – I can’t bring myself to believe this isn’t at least one of the six-or-so best – but this Buckeye team is hardly a be-all-end-all juggernaut who has to be in the CFP to give the tournament any sort of legitimacy.

Have you really watched Ohio State? It’s not even close to as strong as the 2019 version. It’s obviously great, but everyone looks very good when playing very bad teams.

And let’s stop playing nice-nice here – if Indiana is your one bullet in the argument gun, there’s a problem.

Alabama destroyed Georgia, Texas A&M, and Auburn. Florida has a win over Georgia. Texas A&M has a win over Florida. Notre Dame beat Clemson, and Clemson handed Miami its only loss in an ugly blowout.

Ohio State beat Indiana 42-35.

So if Ohio State has to miss one more game and isn’t eligible to go to the Big Ten Championship, give me the playoff argument.

Give me exactly why Ohio State deserves to be honored with a top four spot in the final College Football Playoff rankings based on what it accomplished on the field this 2020 season.

If you actually believe whatever talking points fit your narrative, then you just lost Ohio State’s 2017 argument to get into the College Football Playoff over Alabama.

Now, with ALL of that said …


College Football Cavalcade: Get Ready For (Maybe) The Wildest College Football Day Ever

What I think, know and believe about the college football world, and what might be the wildest college football day ever.

What I think, know and believe about the college football world, and what might be the wildest college football day ever, all in the latest College Football Cavalcade.

Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault …

The defense can’t stop/sniff out/defend Wisconsin’s jet sweep play, even though it’s being hammered by it over, and over, and over, and over …

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Before we get going …

The Cavalcade will change up a bit for the next few weeks for a variety of reasons – this horribly-timed Thanksgiving thing doesn’t help – and will come out every day or so in a more compact, quicker version … after this one.

Like you thought you’d get a Sirr Parker reference when you woke up this morning

In 1998, college football was trying out this whole new BCS thing to finally get rid of – or at least, lessen – the idea of a split between the polls to determine a true national champion. 

And, of course, the system went kablooey on one of the weirdest, wildest, most amazing days in college football history, starting with me almost dying. 

Long story short … in New York City visiting a friend, got wicked pissed the night before, tried to revive with a healthy smoothie in the morning, got the free bee pollen booster, throat almost completely closed an hour later in the middle of Manhattan, went to hospital, got IV from friend of my friend – who happened to be the New York Giants’ team doctor – and then left. 

(By the way, fair warning, bee pollen like that isn’t actually from bees. I’m not allergic to bee stings so I didn’t even think about it, but as it turns out, bee pollen is concentrated ragweed. So if you have hay fever or other types of seasonal allergies, consuming it is like shooting an anaphylactic speedball into your system.)

And then the day got interesting.

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Tennessee was 11-0 and No. 1 in the BCS standings, 10-0 UCLA was No. 2, 11-0 Kansas State was third, and 11-1 Florida State was fourth going into the final weekend of the 1998 regular season.

UCLA and its high-octane offense was supposed to go to Miami early in the year, but the game got pushed to December 5th because of Hurricane Georges. It wasn’t supposed to be a problem for the unbeaten Bruins to win and be a lock to play for the national title, but some Edgerrin James guy ripped off 299 yards for Miami in a stunning 49-45 win. 

That opened the door for Kansas State to move up into the top two with a win over Texas A&M in the Big 12 Championship. The Wildcats were dominating, word of the UCLA loss spread across the stadium, and just as the BCS Championship invite became a lock … Texas A&M and Sirr Parker roared back, won 36-33 in overtime, and K-State was effectively out.

After the two mammoth upsets earlier in the day, Tennessee took care of business that night with a 24-14 win over Mississippi State for the SEC championship. It went on to win the national title over very-good-not-special Florida State team, who was on a ten-game winning streak including a stunning win over a loaded Florida on Thanksgiving weekend.

The UCLA-Miami game, the Big 12 Championship, and the SEC Championship all went down on December 5th, 1998.

Remember this, because there’s a good chance it’s going to be referenced in terms of craziness on December 19th, 2020. 

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So here’s what we’re supposed to get on a few Saturdays from now in mid-December. 

The Pac-12 Championship – which will probably go the night before on Friday. This only matters if the winner is unbeaten and played a full schedule to go 7-0. If it’s an unbeaten Oregon vs. an unbeaten USC, it’s going to be a thing.

The SEC Championship – which will most likely be Florida vs. Alabama. However, throwing a wrench into the College Football Playoff things could be a Texas A&M game on that same day to make up one of its postponed matchups. More on this in a moment. 

The Big Ten Championship – which will most likely be Ohio State vs. Wisconsin, unless Indiana and Northwestern have something to say about it. 

The ACC Championship – which will most likely be Notre Dame vs. Clemson, unless the Tigers suffer a shocking loss and/or the Irish gag twice. Making this really, really, really interesting, though – potentially – is Miami’s rescheduled date against Georgia Tech for the 19th. More on this in a moment.

The American Athletic Conference championship date is still trying to be determined, but we’re all adults here and we can talk openly – Cincinnati isn’t getting into the College Football Playoff. 

Oh, and if that wasn’t enough college football fun for you, your 2020 Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl is going off a 7:00 pm that Saturday night.

To be realistic here, the Big Ten isn’t getting two teams into the College Football Playoff, but the champion – as long as it’s unbeaten or has one loss – is almost certainly going to take up one spot. 

The SEC champion is a mortal lock to take another spot no matter what, and let’s just assume that the ACC champion will get in, too. 

If unbeaten Alabama loses to Florida in a decent battle, that’s it. We have our College Football Playoff, and nothing else matters – Florida, Alabama, Big Ten champ, ACC champ. However, if Florida loses, it’s almost certainly out. 

Texas A&M will be in a weird place – no, not College Station.

It’ll have beaten Florida and its only loss was on the road at Alabama. If the Aggies can get back on the field and start playing again, and if they win out, they’ll have a great case for that fourth spot. However, they’ll likely have to be impressive on December 19th against whatever team they have to deal with. 

The ACC Championship will be an even bigger deal. Assuming Clemson has just the one loss to Notre Dame, it’s in with a win and another ACC title.

Notre Dame is in if it’s unbeaten and beats the Tigers again, and there’s a real shot that it’s in even with a loss depending on how close it is. If it’s a Clemson blowout, that’s where A&M comes in, and that’s where an unbeaten Pac-12 team – if there is one – enters the discussion. 

And then there’s the massive elephant in the room – what happens if one of the teams in this mix can’t go because of COVID issues? 

So gear up, get ready, and hope we can get through the finishing kick of the regular season to get to mid-December for a day of college football we all deserve. 

But be sure to order your Revive Alive Pina Colada Energy Smoothie without any of the other stuff.

America’s newest family-friendly fun-time … Think, Know, Believe

I think James Franklin would be the PERFECT fit for USC.

I know Jim Harbaugh is going to be the PERFECT fit for some NFL team.

I believe every Penn State and Michigan fan thinks Luke Fickell is the answer. 

I think misspelling Fickell – which I just did in a very naughty way, but is now saved correctly in my computer’s Learn Spelling – wouldn’t have been the biggest editing whiff of my career.

I know there was a time when autocorrect wasn’t as good as it is now.

I believe the person who decided to put the B and the N where they are on the keyboard had extremely bad intentions, and the editor who caught my totally-innocent-but-horrifically-awful mistake before publishing one of my submissions many, many years ago is entitled to one of my kidneys if needed.

I think Fickell – with an I – at Penn State or Michigan wouldn’t make Ohio State worse at college football.

I know Michael Penix Jr. might make Ohio State worse at college football this Saturday.

I believe I’m SO going to screw up Penix thanks to that evil keyboard designer who put the X and the S so close together.

A College Football Cavalcade footballey opinion and, maybe, other stuff I didn’t feel like writing bigger blurbs for

If you’re Tom Herman – and who wouldn’t want to be, because you’d have a lot of money and a lot of cool Texas swag – wouldn’t the idea of Urban Meyer potentially taking over the job be a positive in recruiting?

If you’re a prospect and you sort of like Texas, the possibility of maybe upgrading to play for Meyer would actually sweeten the deal.

Like, if my wife’s friends told her before marrying me that if she committed, there was a distant chance I’d be replaced by 1994 Keanu Reeves. That would’ve hardly been negative recruiting.

The sure-thing, 100%, rock-solid lock, sell the house, sell the kids, no doubt about it picks of the century for this week

PICK SO FAR: 32-23 SU, 25-35 ATS

Annnnnd we’re back in the muck. Nailed the Southern Miss-WKU under on the 49.5 – for the love of Hilltoppers, even if the total is 1.5, you take the under on a WKU game – but struggled through everything else outside of dunking on the Wisconsin call over Michigan.

We dive back in with MACtion night.

Fortunately, all these picks are correct.

– Kent State -24 over Akron
– Bowling Green +31.5 over Buffalo (BUT, UB straight up AND I hate this pick)

Bet on any of all these games at BetMGM. Please.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item …

The daily Overrated/Underrated aspect of the world

Overrated: Men using emojis with other men

Underrated: What Jamey Chadwell is doing with the Coastal Carolina gig.

Sorry if this column sucked, it wasn’t my fault …

It’s not tough enough to use the Anyone, Anyplace, Anytime mantra, unlike Cal, who with no prep time, no first game under its belt, and with a 9 am start time on the road gave it a go against UCLA.

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College Football Cavalcade: What Will The College Football Playoff Be?

What I think, know and believe about the college football world, what will the College Football Playoff be? The College Football Cavalcade.

What I think, know and believe about the college football world, what will happen the rest of the season, and are Cincinnati and BYU THAT good? All in the latest College Football Cavalcade.

Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault …

Along with Jim Harbaugh, James Franklin, Kirby Smart, Jeremy Pruitt, Chip Kelly, Will Mushchamp, Les Miles, Lovie Smith, and for just over 57 minutes, Clay Helton, Twitter wanted the column fired at some point on Saturday.

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You REALLY like BYU & Cincinnati?
Group of Five program reality
– The College Football Playoff will be, in …
I Think, I Know, I Believe
5 Footballey Opinions
Sure-Thing Picks of the Century

However, watch how quickly it all goes from cute to really, really, really annoying …

Puff that chest out this week you Indiana fans, you.

Northwestern fans, you chirp over a 3-0 start with the hope of going to a second Big Ten championship in three years.

Liberty fans, you go annoy the hell – sorry, heck – out of those Virginia Tech people you work with.

Coastal Carolina fans, you get to point out that not all teams from South Carolina lost this weekend.

Tulsa, dream of possibly playing in the American Athletic Conference Championship and being a factor again for the first time since 2016.

Arkansas fans, you WOO PIG your butts off after what you did to Tennessee.

Cincinnati fans, your team is going to really and truly be in the College Football Playoff discussion.

Maryland fans, you bask in the glory of a magical last five quarters of college football including the first win over Penn State since 1961. Rutgers fans, enjoy that you beat the team that beat Michigan and have as many victories as the Wolverines.

UTEP fans, your team is 3-3. UTSA fans, your team is 4-4. Kansas fans, your team is … Kansas fans, basketball season is around the corner.

We all focus on the Alabamas, Ohio States and Clemsons of the college football world, but what gets lost in the narrative is how miserable an existence it is to be a superfan of a blue-blood powerhouse program.

Really, have you ever met an Ohio State fan who’s truly happy? Winning the Big Ten title like the team did last year would be reason for parades at most programs, but the only thing Buckeye fans remember is the loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff.

Really, have you ever met an Alabama fan who’s able to enjoy the moment? Win an SEC championship and throw it on the pile – it doesn’t matter without a national title. Even then, it’s all about whether or not the Tide can win it next year, too.

So in this year of so much unhappiness, let’s celebrate the unbridled joy experienced by the fan bases of so many afterthought programs.

With all that said, fans of some of those teams, please stop reading now.

I don’t like being the person who yucks anyone’s yum (that’s a TOTAL lie), but …

You REALLY like BYU & Cincinnati?
Group of Five program reality
– The College Football Playoff will be, in …
I Think, I Know, I Believe
5 Footballey Opinions
Sure-Thing Picks of the Century

NEXT: You REALLY think BYU and Cincinnati are that good?

College Football Cavalcade: The Big Ten’s Wisconsin Problem, Ohio State’s Toughest Opponent

What I think, know and believe about the college football world, the Wisconsin problem, all in the latest College Football Cavalcade.

What I think, know and believe about the college football world, the Wisconsin situation, and Ohio State’s toughest opponent, all in the latest College Football Cavalcade.

Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault …

It has no shot of winning Pennsylvania.

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Ohio State’s Toughest Opponent
I Think, I Know, I Believe
5 Footballey Opinions
Sure-Thing Picks of the Century

“You’ve got to stick to your principles.”

I went to the University of Wisconsin.

Having lived around colleges and in that world for most of my life, I’ll put the Madison campus, the atmosphere, and the entire scene up against any other college experience you could possibly name.

I was there during the Don Morton regime and his veer offense.

I was there at the very beginning of the Barry Alvarez era from the moment he came to campus.

I know all the stories first-hand, and I know everything about how this football program and athletic department were built up to be the model to emulate for any school trying to become consistently amazing on the field, in the classroom, and in the bank account.

I’m totally objective when it comes to analyzing Wisconsin among Big Ten programs and in the national landscape, but of course I want my guys to do well.

That’s my school.

So I say this having paid a whole lot of money while earning my stripes with that place, and knowing that this year’s team – if healthy – is probably a stone-cold lock to win the Big Ten West, play for the Big Ten Championship, and have the puck on its stick with a shot at the College Football Playoff.

Unless the Big Ten can figure out some way to get these two teams to play, Wisconsin should totally be tagged with a forfeit for not being able to field a team to play Nebraska.

I’m not going to blame any program that can’t go because of an outbreak of COVID-19 – everyone can do everything right and still have a problem. However, football-wise, there’s a harsh reality here.

Nebraska could’ve played last weekend and Wisconsin couldn’t, so why should the Huskers be punished?

I’ve been a Big Ten sympathizer from the start of the coronavirus issues, as the conference was trying to spin a hundred plates at once, but on this, the conference totally blew it with an eight game in eight week schedule without any fail-safes built in.

My idea all along was a two-strike rule. You budget one week into the schedule for make-up games – like at the very end right before the Big Ten Championship – and if a game needs to be rescheduled, fine. If you need a second game to be changed, then that’s a forfeit for the team that can’t make it.

Now, what happens if and when Wisconsin comes back and – for sake of the theoretical argument, and assuming there’s no way it can host Purdue this weekend – rolls through the rest of its schedule and goes 6-0?

Is that fair to Nebraska, who didn’t get a key home game that could’ve put it in the driver’s seat in the Big Ten West with a win?

Is that fair to, say, 2-0 Northwestern, who has to get through the grind of an eight-week schedule healthy?

Is that fair to all the other Big Ten teams that played last weekend?

How happy would Michigan be right now if it simply got a CANCELLED against Michigan State rather than the loss by playing the game?

What if, say, Maryland couldn’t go? No one would’ve given a second’s worth of thought that Minnesota was going to win that game after the Terps’ performance in a 43-3 clunker against Northwestern to start to season.

On the flip side, it’s totally not fair to the other teams in the West if Wisconsin really is that good and Nebraska missed the division’s powerhouse.

We’re all just trying to get through the day, this week, and life in general right now, and no one in college football has a good way to do anything but keep everything going.

But the Big Ten has to think of something quick when it comes to the Big Ten conference race, or this will be a mess.

So …

Because the Big Ten can’t have nice things …

Here’s my solution, and you’re not going to like it.

Wisconsin at Michigan, Penn State at Nebraska. Both games are on November 14th. You cancel them both, Wisconsin goes to Nebraska on that day, and the West is ultimately decided by who has the most wins in division play.

Ohio State’s Toughest Opponent
I Think, I Know, I Believe
5 Footballey Opinions
Sure-Thing Picks of the Century

NEXT: Ohio State’s toughest opponent

College Football Cavalcade: 4th Best Team In Playoff Race, Big Ten Kicks Off

What I think, know and believe, the 4th best team, and the Big Ten kicks off, all in the latest College Football Cavalcade.

What I think, know and believe about the college football world, the 4th best team in college football, and the Big Ten kicks off, all in the latest College Football Cavalcade.

Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault …

Unlike Ohio State head coach Ryan Day, the column will NOT be apologizing in any way for scoring a late touchdown instead of taking a knee despite being up 28 points. What are you going to do about it, call a time out with three seconds left? Oooooooooh, that’ll sting. Go for it – prolong your agony.

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And I still say Margot was safe on the attempt to steal home

I know we live in a world where reality has gone bye-bye. However, in this time of deep division, a horrific number of moral failings, and too many moronic opinions voiced by people who feel empowered to go full jerkweed, let us all come together as one nation, under a groove, and with one voice to agree on one undeniable truth …

Indiana’s Michael Penix SO didn’t get in on that two-point conversion to beat Penn State.

Opinion-wise, this is Green Needle or Brainstorm – you can read this either way and your brain will interpret it correctly.

Acceptable Reaction and Opinion 1: Penix didn’t get in, you can clearly see it on the replay, the officials botched this huge, and Penn State should’ve won.

Acceptable Reaction and Opinion 2: It’s Penn State. (bleep) it.

Now 22-1 all-time goes to 22-2, and it didn’t have to be that way …

I’ve fought with several people over the last few days on this, and I absolutely understand the theory behind the other side of the argument.

But I’m right.

To whiteboard what happened, Penn State was up 21-20 in the final minutes against Indiana when RB Devyn Ford had a clear path for a touchdown. All he had to do was fall down on the one-yard line and that was it. IU wouldn’t have been able to stop the clock and Penn State would’ve won.

In a similar situation on Sunday, I actually like that Todd Gurley accidentally scored against Detroit – Atlanta was losing late, and you never, ever, ever, ever assume anything, including a chip shot field goal. In this case, again, Penn State was up.

I can’t blame Ford for what happened. You’re asking the world out of a college running back in the heat of the moment to not score a touchdown when he gets a chance. ALL that hard work and ALL these guys go through to have a shot at the glory – going down when the end zone is right there goes against every possible instinct.

Okay, so Ford gets in and Penn State is up 27-20 with 1:42 to play. To me, this situation is the equivalent of basketball types who desperately scream about why a team that’s up three in the final seconds should foul and put the other team on the free throw line rather than allow a possible game-tying three-pointer.

[lawrence-related id=521684]

I’m Mr. Never Go For Two Unless You Absolutely Have To, but in this case you’re already up seven with 1:42 to play. You go for two. Always.

It’s a relatively risk-free, free-pass chance to win the game right there.

At worst, you miss, and the other team still has to go 75 yards or so for a touchdown. (Actually, the worst that could happen is the two could be returned the other way, but we’re not being that guy right now.)

If you miss and the other team roars back and scores a TD, the coach will almost certainly kick the extra point and take the thing into overtime. If he doesn’t and chooses to go for two and the victory, then that’s on you to win the game with a stop.

However, in Penn State’s case, if you go for two when up seven and convert, you’re up nine, game over, get on the bus, go home. Kick the extra point, you’re up eight, and Indiana is still alive.

Penn State kicked the extra point. Penn State lost.

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College Football Cavalcade: Arkansas Auburn Debacle, The Team That Could Explode

What I think, know and believe, the Arkansas-Auburn debacle, and the team that might explode, in the College Football Cavalcade.

What I think, know and believe about the college football world, the Arkansas-Auburn debacle, and the one team that might be on the verge of exploding, all in the latest College Football Cavalcade.

Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault …

The officials blew the column dead instead of awarding it to Arkansas like they should have. Unlike Auburn, though, after catching the monster break it shanked the chance for the win.

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The Team That Could Explode
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Because if Arkansas wins another big game, the world as you know it will cease to exist

To whiteboard this, Auburn was down 28-27 in the final seconds against Arkansas and in field goal range. With the clock winding down, Tiger QB Bo Nix fumbled the snap, picked it up, turned, and spiked the ball behind him to stop the clock.

Arkansas recovered what technically was a live ball after Nix fired it into the ground, and that should’ve been it. Hog win, 2-1, Gus Malzahn on a mega hot seat, and …

After a review, it was ruled intentional grounding on an incomplete pass, Auburn ball, field goal, ball game, let’s go take a steam.

And then this got even worse. Instead of simply saying the officials gagged, a blown whistle became the official party line.

Let’s just say Arkansas fans didn’t exactly take any part of this well as they vented on Twitter – and they were in the right.

However, I now get the joy of doing this after hearing it over and over and over and over again, particularly over the last six months.

To the grouchy fans on social media after that all happened …


Yes, there’s a segment of our society that now feels emboldened because, you know, everything, and when it comes to the silly-season rhetoric and buzzwords, no. Hard no.

There’s no “conspiracy” against Arkansas, and no, this wasn’t “rigged” – just like the world didn’t have it out for the program when the revised schedule came out.

Arkansas didn’t get deliberately “cheated” out of the win. It simply got totally hosed by a missed call.

And everybody knows it.

But they haven’t figured out my trick that if you pretend to be totally inept at a household chore, no one will want you to do it

When I first started doing radio appearances on sports shows over 20 years ago, a friend in the business gave me a great piece of advice that I continue to use.

Answer the question you wish you were asked.

It’s a debate tactic that also comes in handy when you’re on a show in Las Vegas and asked about the UNLV backup left guard situation.

I also use this in every day life, especially around the house, like …

Kid: “Dad, did you leave the toilet seat up?”

Me: “Of course I’ll get more Jell-O. Put it on the list.”

My trick was exposed and outed by the family six minutes into the vice presidential debate last week, but I’m not stopping now. To quote Freddie Bauer, when something works for me, I stick with it – and that especially goes for college football.

I will now pivot away from statements I may or may not have uttered or written over the course of the 2020 offseason. So go ahead and call me out, starting with “You said …”

LSU is simply going to reload like Ohio State, Alabama and Clemson do, and be a factor in the national championship chase again.

My pivot response: I’m a fan of Barry Odom’s – he caught a bad break – Eliah Drinkwitz was a great hire by Missouri. It’s going to be a rough year record-wise, but the program is going to be a thorn in everyone’s side.

“You said …” Mississippi State was about to be a thing and KJ Costello was front-and-center in the Heisman chase after the win over LSU.

My pivot response: Why yes, this is going to be a fun and crazy year in the SEC West – outside of whatever Alabama does – and Ole Miss is coming out red hot under Lane Kiffin. The six other non-Tide teams all look like they could beat each other up on any given day.

“You said …”Florida State had the talent in the starting 22 to be a sleeper in the ACC title chase.

My pivot response: I’ve been saying all off-season that NC State could be this year’s Louisville – a program that’s about to revert back to the norm. The Pack might not win the ACC title, but Dave Doeren has created a steady-good program that had one down year.

“You said …”Coastal Carolina was 72 out of 76 teams in the modified preseason rankings.

My pivot response: There aren’t enough bowl spots potentially available for Sun Belt teams. The conference went 3-0 against the Big 12, but the Big 12 is going to load up the bowls with its teams in a year when records don’t necessarily matter for the post-season exhibitions. The Sun Belt might not have the best records as the teams beat each other up, but there will be at least seven teams that deserve the spotlight.

“You said …”The Big Ten had almost no chance of coming back to play in the fall. 

My pivot response: Is it playing yet? No … I’m talking here … it’s Fiumala’s turn … is it playing yet? Has it been able to get through a season? No? You can’t answer the question … why can’t you answer the question? Is … the … Big Ten … playing yet? Okay then …

(Actual pivot response … Get here already, October 24th. I so need Big Ten football already.)

“You said … “Before the season, Texas was a top ten team and should be deep in the mix for the College Football Playoff.

My pivot response: You know, we’re sitting here focusing on a Texas team that can’t tackle, continues to underachieve, and is lucky to not be 0-3 in the Big 12 when we could be focusing on issues that matter to American families at their kitchen table, like this ….

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NEXT: The team that might not be on the verge of blowing up

College Football Cavalcade: The New Normal Bowls, Playoff, Fans, Schedules

What I think, know and believe about college football, and the new normal we’ll have to live with, in the latest College Football Cavalcade.

What I think, know and believe about the college football world, and the new normal we’ll all have to live with, all in the latest College Football Cavalcade.

Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak
Check out all the past Cavalcades

Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault …

Just like getting into an LSU home game, there are no CDC wellness checks – the column wants you to get through it faster and easier. However, there still aren’t any alcohol sales.

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College Football New Normal, Part 2
College Football New Normal, Part 3
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If the “new normal” includes lighter traffic and few people in my way … okay

I’m well aware that “the new normal” is right up there with “it is what it is” and “that’s 2020” and “it’s not you it’s me” as nails-on-a-chalkboard phrases that have to be eradicated from our planet, but it applies.

There is a new normal to college football.

Things had to be worked on and tweaked to get this season up and working, and by necessity, we’re now seeing what’s possible to make things better in a sport whose norms and traditions are equal parts charm and restraint.

So as this weirdest of seasons rolls on, what about the new college football normal should stay, what needs to snap back once we return to the old normal, and what else has to be worked on?

From the playoff, to fans in the stands, to bowls, to a whole slew of other aspects of the college football world, here’s how things have changed this year, starting with the No. 1 most fundamental thing that 2020 has taught us …

College Football Will Always Be Fine

College football people despise change.

They’re not as bad as baseball blowhards, but anything that interferes with what fans are used to – uniforms, fight songs, traditions – gets met with the biggest brick wall of resistance.

However, as we’ve learned in 2020, college football finds a way no matter what.

This virus is ripping through college campuses with outbreaks that aren’t close to being contained – and college football is still played.

Racial unrest, a bitterly divided nation, an economic meltdown, death and destruction, some schools not playing, some players not playing, players rising up with demands, Vin Diesel’s heartthrob dance track – once the ball gets kicked off, it’s college football again and everything is fine.

It’s actually not fine in a whole lot of ways, but the games steamroll on no matter what.

So the next time you hear some old Farty McFarterson whine about how any sort of change or advancement or hair cut or jersey number 0 will be the end of college football as we know it …

College football will still be played. It might be different, but it’ll be fine.

College Football Playoff

There are two sides to this.

On one, just get through the season.

Just getting everyone on the field and hoping the campaign reaches the finish line is hard enough, much less dealing with the post-season logistics.

So for now, don’t get crazy. The College Football Playoff goes on like any other year, and out of whoever is out there and whatever happens, the committee will come up with the four best teams

On the other side, this is the year to blow it out, but not up.

How are we really supposed to judge the difference between the SEC, Big Ten, and Pac-12 teams when they’re only playing conference games? You don’t think it matters?

Sun Belt 3, Big 12 0 in head-to-head matchups.

It’s not happening, but this is the year – of all years – to make the tweak.

Expand it to 8, all Power Five conference champs get an automatic invite, so does the top-ranked Group of Five champ, and then the committee gets to choose two wild-cards.

First round on the home field of the higher seeds, then the CFP goes off as normal. It’s not that hard, and to go off the first blurb, it’ll all be fine.

But the old normal is sticking around … for now.

Longer Season

Not more games, but an actual longer time to get those games in.

The danger here would the greedy athletic director business types who’d see an opportunity to make more money to add more games, but the more stretched out the season, the more time players have to rest and recover.

Coaches love the compact schedules, especially in the Big Ten and Pac-12.

Routine, routine, routine, routine, routine – get into a groove, and keep everyone focused.

However, starting in late August and going through mid-December with more off weeks and more spread out games is a plus. Make it a 16-week regular season to get in 12 games. The teams would be healthier, and TV would love, it.

College Football New Normal, Part 2
College Football New Normal, Part 3
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NEXT: New Normal, Part 2. Conference Only Seasons, Bowl Games, Fans

Cavalcade of Whimsy: It’s the KJ Costello, Mississippi State Show

What I think, know, believe, KJ Costello, and the sample size needed for the College Football Playoff, all in the latest Cavalcade of Whimsy

What I think, know and believe about the college football world, KJ Costello, the Mississippi State offense, and the sample size needed for the College Football Playoff, all in the latest Cavalcade of Whimsy.

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Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault …

Like LSU, at least it leads the nation in run defense.

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College Football Playoff Sample Size
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It’s almost as if the Pac-12 plays its game after dark, or something

First question I’ve been asked on every appearance over the last 48 hours: “Can you believe what Mississippi State did to LSU?”

Uhhh, yeah.

America, have you really not seen the Mike Leach offense before?

Of course the 623 yards and five touchdowns put up by KJ Costello in Mississippi State’s stunning 44-34 win at LSU were amazing, but this is what Leach’s teams do.

They put up ungodly numbers.

They take a slew of unnecessary chances when they’re up big in the second half, making games far more interesting than they need to be.

They sort of play defense – but not really – on the way to a 4th-to-6th place conference finish and, God willing, a mid-tier bowl game.

And they play a wacky-fun brand of college football.

But this all seems foreign to a whole lot of SEC fans, as if what happened on Saturday against LSU came from out of nowhere.

Of course it was incredible. Of course Mississippi State fans should be jacked. Of course the win is a big freaking deal. However, LSU really was missing an entire NFL team full of players from last year, including CB Derek Stingley Jr. – possibly the best college football player in America not named Trevor – who only makes all the difference in the world if he wasn’t out sick with non-COVID related issues.

But none of that really matters, especially this year.

How great was that Mississippi State performance? It’s been one of the rock-steady absolutes so far in 2020 is that almost all teams are really, really off to start the season. Without a regular spring practice and with the summer sessions screwed up, almost no one has the timing down.

The timing seemed just super for a Leach offense that’s all about quick reads and precision.

But again, college football, have you not seen this thing before? LSU fans should know the numbers better than anyone else.

Who led the nation in passing last year? Nope – it wasn’t Joe Burrow. It was Washington State’s Anthony Gordon, and he led by a mile averaging a ridiculous 51 more yards per game than Burrow.

Wazzu led the nation in passing in 2019. It led the nation in passing in 2018. Wazzu’s passing game was a disaster in 2017 – it finished second. It totally bottomed out in 2016 – it finished third.

It led the nation in passing in 2015, and 2014, and was fourth in 2013 …

This is what Mike Leach teams do.

The 623 passing yards were crazy – it’s not like this was Oregon State the Bulldogs were facing – but throwing it around the yard 60 times and putting up video game numbers is a day at the office.

And now this experiment gets interesting. As a head coach, Leach has never had the players to work with like he has at Mississippi State.

That doesn’t excuse that he has never taken a team to a conference championship game, much less win one – if you can get to a Power Five championship at Northwestern, or Baylor, or Wake Forest, or Duke … – but now he has the lines, and he has the talent to fit the system.

As if you needed more reasons to watch SEC football …

Oh yes, this will be fun.

Seriously, just how good is Stanford QB Davis Mills?

America, have you really not seen KJ Costello play? My guess is yes.

A little inside baseball stuff here – Stanford being awesome equals pageview and site traffic death.

Over the last two-plus decades, CFN has always covered the Pac-10/Pac-12 with the same sort of analysis and effort of any of the other top conferences, but unless USC is USC, you can actually hear people ignoring the site whenever anything about the league is posted.

Triple that whenever anything is put up about Stanford, even when Andrew Luck was busy being the greatest pro prospect quarterback since John Elway, so it’s not a shocker that Costello needed this LSU game to become a college football name in the SEC world.

Costello was a massive recruit for Stanford in 2016. Jacob Eason was the biggest star quarterback prospect in the class, but Costello wasn’t far behind.

There’s no questioning his size, his arm, his composure, his personality, or his smarts – the guy graduated from Stanford – but he got banged up early last year and wasn’t quite able to come back to form when he was able to go.

Now he’s healthy, and now he’s about to be 2020’s college football big thing.

In 2018 he bombed away for 3,540 yards and 29 touchdowns, torched Leach’s Washington State team for 323 yards and four touchdowns in a wild 41-38 loss, and appeared to be ready to be on the verge of stardom before getting hurt.

Now, he’s the exact right quarterback in the exact right system at the exact right time. No, he’s not Trevor Lawrence, but he might just be the No. 2 quarterback off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft if he can stay healthy and keep this going.

Welcome to college football’s newest superstar, and if he can do that again against Alabama and in wins on a few more national stages, welcome to the lead dog in the 2020 Heisman Trophy race.

Welcome to the KJ Costello, Mississippi State show.

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NEXT: College Football Playoff sample size