Texas A&M is spending a lot of money to make Jimbo Fisher go away, but we here in the college football media landscape appreciate their sacrifice because Fisher's firing will do wonders for the College Football Economy this winter. If you listen closely, you can hear the clicking of keyboards across the country as message board insiders get to work telling you that their uncle saw Big Name Coach pull into the parking lot across the street from the gas station where he was buying lotto tickets and cigarettes. The wind carries with it the echos of a ringing cell phone as agents across the country get to work leveraging their clients for raises from their current jobs, using the allure of all that Texas oil money.
The Jimbo Fisher firing is the first of the many dominoes to fall in a coaching carousel that hadn't been spinning much this year and didn't look like it would pick up much momentum. The Michigan State position has been open for a while, and even if it's a Big Ten job with the financial might to lure away a big-name coach from another Power Five program, it doesn't have the cache that the A&M job does in the marketplace.
I don't think Texas A&M is an attractive enough destination to see something along the lines of Brian Kelly leaving Notre Dame for LSU or Lincoln Riley leaving Oklahoma for USC, but it could. Texas A&M was the first school to throw the stupid money at a sitting coach when it hired Jimbo away from Florida State in the first place, and now it's spending stupid money to make him go away. When that kind of stupid money is in play, mixed with a (possibly delusional) desire for greatness, somebody just might do something stupid.
But what's the smart decision? Where should Texas A&M go from here? These aren't easy questions to answer because A&M's expectations for itself don't quite match its history. This is a school with the resources and desire to compete at a national championship level but has not won a conference title since 1998 or a national title since 1939. It's a program that has struggled more often than not to reach a premier bowl game, let alone the College Football Playoff.
Since the BCS era began in 1998, the Aggies have played in a BCS or New Year's Six bowl game twice (the Aggies played in three Cotton Bowls before it became part of the NY6 rotation).
This is not a quick fix. This is not merely a program fallen from glory trying to get back. It's a program that, for all intents and purposes, is trying to taste glory for the first time in the modern age. I have no idea where the Aggies will land when they make a hire, but it'll be a fascinating process to watch play out.
Hypothesis of the Week
College football is getting over its COVID symptoms in 2023.
After another week in which the top eight teams in the polls all won, removing any real drama in the College Football Playoff race for another week, I decided to dive deeper into the lack of parity in the sport this season. I took a shallow look a few weeks ago but wanted to see how this season's lack of parity compared to recent years.
Parity is an incredible buzzword in this sport because so many people claim they want more of it, yet the leagues that have it (the Big 12, Pac-12, Group of Five) draw fewer eyeballs than the leagues that don't. We also point at teams like TCU and Cincinnati making the playoff as signs of parity when, in reality, they're outliers.
Anyway, what I found is that there has been a level of parity in the sport in recent seasons before 2023, but now I'm wondering if it wasn't so much the result of the transfer portal and NIL as it was COVID.
I broke down the overall winning percentages of favorites in the College Football Playoff Era (since 2014) by the margin they were favored, and the results are interesting. Take a look for yourself and see if you notice it.
|Favorites < 7
Do you see that? With the exception of the 2016 season, we saw similar win percentages from 2014 to 2019 that we're seeing in 2023. However, in 2020, the year COVID hit, homefield advantage disappeared, and players all earned an extra year of eligibility in the transfer portal era, we saw more "parity" in the form of underdogs finding a bit more success.
Now that we're three years removed from the pandemic and the COVID super duper seniors are running out of eligibility, that "parity" seems to be waning a bit. This isn't enough evidence to conclude anything, but it's worth monitoring over the next few years. Particularly as the playoff expands to 12 teams and conferences consolidate.
Heisman Candidate of the Week
Following LSU's 42-28 loss to Alabama last week, the prevailing theory was that Jayden Daniels' Heisman campaign was over. LSU had suffered its third loss and would not be competing for an SEC title or playoff berth. It was a ridiculous notion then, and it's even more ridiculous after Daniels roasted the Gators alive Saturday night in Baton Rouge.
Daniels threw for 372 yards and rushed for 234 yards in a 52-35 win over Florida. It was the kind of performance typically only seen in Pee-Wee Football games when one of the teams has a QB who is six inches taller and 20 pounds heavier than every other kid in the league.
It's true that the Heisman Trophy has been awarded to a lot of players on national title contenders in recent years, but that doesn't tell the entire story. First of all, Caleb Williams won the award last year, and USC didn't reach the College Football Playoff. Second, guys like Bryce Young, Joe Burrow, Kyler Murray, and Baker Mayfield all won the award while putting up ridiculous numbers on elite teams. They also went on to be the No. 1 pick.
Who is the QB on a national title contender putting up video game numbers this season? Washington's Michael Penix checks the most boxes, but he's had poor games like nearly everybody else, and Washington has played in too many close games to feel comfortable.
I say nearly everybody else because you know who hasn't had poor games? Jayden Daniels. Daniels is putting up incredible numbers every week and doing things we haven't seen done before. His Heisman case remains very much alive.
Philosophical Difference of the Week
Late in Michigan's 24-15 win over Penn State, the Nittany Lions scored a touchdown to cut the deficit from 24-9 to 24-15. James Franklin and Penn State went for two, and while some fans took umbrage with the decision to run a swinging gate play, the bigger controversy was around the decision to go for two in that spot. They did not convert. Later Saturday night, USC was in a similar spot against Oregon. The Trojans cut Oregon's lead to 36-27 with 3:44 left and went for two. Like Penn State, the Trojans failed. It remained a two-score game, and they went on to lose.
It's a debate that has raged on in football circles for years that will never be settled, but I insist on fighting the good fight anyway. The math dictates that you should go for two when trailing by 15 points late if you score a touchdown. The thought process is it's better to fail and know you still need two scores than kick the extra point and risk failing to convert without enough time later.
I find this approach to be flawed to the extreme. I am firmly on Team Keep Hope Alive. If you go for two while down 15 and fail, sure, you know what you need to do to win the game, but you've also sucked all the air out of your team's sails. Confidence and belief are a huge part of any comeback that math can't quantify, and they're necessary to pull off any comeback.
If I go for two and fail, my team loses hope. If I kick the extra point and remain one score down, my team still believes. In my mind, my team believing in itself is far more valuable than the knowledge of knowing I'm still down two scores.
Now, if it's earlier in the fourth quarter, it's a different story, but in the final minutes? Keep Hope Alive.
Photo of the Week
It goes so hard! Seriously, considering everything that went on around the Michigan program all week leading up to Jim Harbaugh's suspension in the hours before the team's biggest game of the season, combined with Blake Corum scoring the touchdown to put the game to bed, it's a perfect encapsulation of the Wolverines program.
They're cut. They're bleeding. They're still fighting.
Backflip of the Week
Syracuse quarterback Garrett Shrader only threw two passes in Syracuse's 28-13 win over Pitt at Yankee Stadium, so I guess he figured the best way to stay warm (aside from his 14 carries) was to do backflips.
Pancake of the Week
Check out No. 52 on this play. That's Utah's Michael Mokofisi, and he's sizing up his target the entire time. He's helping his center but keeping an eye on his tackle, waiting for the Washington rusher to do something stupid like spin his direction. He then erases him from the screen and, presumably, the Earth.
It reminds me of my second or third day of high school football practice as a freshman. I had never played organized football before then, and I was doing drills in practice as a defensive lineman when I used a spin move and blew past the guy I was going against. I was then immediately yelled at by the assistant coach. I was told never to do a spin move because it gives the offensive lineman a chance to take away my leverage and wipe me out of the play.
I explained I had just used the spin move to great effect but was yelled at by the same coach that those types of antics would not work in a game. Being the curious mind I was, I asked the coach if he was sure. I was quickly moved to the offensive line and would not play a snap on the defensive line until my sophomore year with a different coaching staff. I used the spin move in games. I never got put on my butt doing so, but I never had a sack using it, either.
Ever since I've assumed the coach who told me not to use it was kind of an idiot, but clearly, he was right all along. The problem was that Michael Mokofisi didn't play in our conference to prove it to me.
Route of the Week
What Ladd McConkey did with this route is exactly why he's going to play in the NFL after he leaves Georgia. I don't care how tall he is or what he runs in the 40, that change of direction plays at every level.
College Football Playoff Projection of the Week
I got cute last week and the committee didn't change anything. However, now that Georgia has picked up consecutive wins over ranked opponents, this could be the week they bump Georgia to No. 1. Also, with Washington now having wins over Oregon, Utah and USC, that could be enough to see the Huskies jump Florida State. Or they could just leave everything the same and take an early lunch. There's no way to know!
- Ohio State
Until the next Monday After!