Ohio State won Saturday evening (early Sunday morning, technically), and no one is really happy about it. Victories with 52-49 final scores hardly seem like victories for a program that has defense as a vital part of its identity. Still, Ohio State won and, as we saw across the college football landscape, it clearly could have been worse. Saturday saw some weirdly deflating losses, making Ohio State fans a little more grateful that A) it’s not them, and B) we have a national championship-caliber coach to right the ship. With that in mind, it might be useful to poke around college football and see the other doin’s a-transpirin’.
Everything is Bigger in Texas, Including Wasted Money
Until Nick Saban got a pay raise this spring to a yearly salary of $5.3 million, Mack Brown was the highest paid coach in college football. He makes $5.2 million a year with $100,000 raises per annum. Texas’ assistants are very well compensated. The Longhorns’ two coordinators (Bryan Harsin, Manny Diaz) make $625,000 each and Major Applewhite has $500,000 coming his way each year, for some reason. Texas, which gets the added benefit of the controversial Longhorn Network, has more resources than anyone else, including the well-to-do Buckeyes and Crimson Tide programs. The athletic department has a budget of $153 million, which is about $30 million more than the next most profitable program (Ohio State). In short, and perhaps also considering Texas’ men’s basketball program, no one spends as much money to get so little results as the Texas Longhorns.
That much was on full display in the Cotton Bowl on Saturday afternoon. The Longhorns were thoroughly outmatched and overwhelmed by the Sooners. The 63-21 result comes a year after the Sooners hosed the Longhorns by a comparable margin of 55-17. It is also a week removed from the Longhorns dropping a home decision to conference newcomer West Virginia. In short, the now-unranked Longhorns are on the verge having a season derailed after Week 7, with games at Texas Tech, at Kansas State, and home to Texas Christian still to come. The Longhorns fans are wanting to know when exactly Mack Brown is going to retire, so that money that is being spent now on results like this can be better spent on becoming the next dynasty in college football.
So, how does Texas turn this around and what do they do next? Hell if I know. Hell if I care either. This isn’t even schadenfreude, just sheer amazement. In this modern era of college football, where programs (good ones, at least) are in spending wars and facilities arms races with one another, that one program could obliterate them all in resources and get so little in return is remarkable.
Auburn Gave Ole Miss Its First SEC West Win since 2009
Auburn might occupy a special place in the history book about the SEC’s halcyon decade. The first sentence of that chapter will begin with “Even Gene Chizik.” As it is now, Auburn is 1-5 and got run over by Ole Miss. This is Ole Miss’ first SEC win since October 2010 (v. Kentucky), and its first against anyone of consequence since a late November 2009 win against Louisiana State.
New defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder doesn’t seem to be the problem. The Tigers are 80th in total defense, but I think that’s mostly because the Auburn offense is doing it no favors. Gene Chizik opted to replace former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn (who left for Arkansas State) with Scot Loeffler, which I would not have done. VanGorder is fine, but Loeffler was probably not a smart hire. The transition from spread to more pro style sets is one thing, but I’m not sure Loeffler was the one to do it. If you recall, Loeffler was the one who replaced Dan Mullen as Florida’s quarterbacks coach. The first year saw Tebow, a senior, lead the country in passing efficiency, though the offense sputtered at important times. The season that followed, 2010, was just a disaster. Before that stop with the Gators, Loeffler was the quarterbacks coach on the winless 2008 Detroit Lions. The year before that, he was the quarterbacks coach with the Wolverines. He did alright there, but his reputation on the recruiting trail was not the best (to say the least). Further, Mike Debord was the brains of that outfit, not Loeffler. As it is right now, the Tigers are 115th in passing offense and 96th in rushing offense. At 120th nationally in total offense, only Maryland is worse among the BCS schools. Nothing is working.
Next up for Auburn: Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt has defeated Auburn only once in league play since 1950. That was another painful season for Auburn: 2008. It was Tuberville’s last season in Auburn.
Is Texas Tech a Thing Now?
Speaking of Tommy Tuberville, we’ve talked about Notre Dame as “back” and Florida State as “back”. Is Tuberville “back”? His Red Raiders are #17, with one loss on the season (at home to Oklahoma in a revenge game for Bob Stoops). A year after defeating Stoops’ Sooners in Norman, the Red Raiders knocked off West Virginia from the ranks of the undefeated. It wasn’t even close. Texas Tech blasted West Virginia, 49-14.
I was skeptical of Tuberville’s hiring to replace Mike Leach. Tuberville announced he wanted to keep the Airraid system in tact, though modify it to be more run-friendly. If you recall, he tried this when he hired Tony Franklin to be offensive coordinator at Auburn in December 2007, and the results were disastrous. Has Tuberville pulled it off? The Red Raiders are 4th in the country in passing offense, but a surprising 59th in rushing offense. Contrast that with Washington State (123rd) and West Virginia (79th), who are more inclined to treat screens as a proxy for the running game without deviating that far from the Airraid staples.1 If there’s a balance to be had, Tuberville may be finding it. Even more impressive than that is the Texas Tech defense. Texas Tech is 4th in the country in defense (a Tuberville specialty), allowing only 243 yards of offense a game.
Next up for Texas Tech is Texas Christian, a game which will be played in Fort Worth.
As for West Virginia? Yeah. Defense is important and no one will ultimately give a shit if you win one game 70-63. Great defense is more reliable than great offense. Holgorsen should have tried harder to keep Jeff Casteel around.
Jerry Kill Suffers Another Seizure
If B1G TEN coaches were ranked on a likability scale, I think Jerry Kill would be the runaway #1 in the league. Pat Fitzgerald might be #2, and it was Fitzgerald who defeated Kill’s Gophers Saturday afternoon. After the press conference concluded, Kill had another episode with his proneness to seizures under stressful situations. He was released from the hospital on Sunday night.
Kill’s predicament is curious. It is not quite a “health concern” as it is a bit of a “disability”, for lack of better term. Kill is healthy for his age and is fit. However, he has what can be described as a “seizure disorder”. He acquired it as a side effect of beating kidney cancer in 2005. It doesn’t seem like we’re worried for his life when he has these. It’s just that we feel for a guy that, in his words, has to sit in a chair knowing that the next one is coming along and there’s nothing he can do about it.
I like Jerry Kill. I really wish he could turn the Gophers into a yearly Outback/Capital One Bowl team because it would easily be the best story in the B1G TEN. Every account of him describes him as fantastic. I wish him and his Gophers well as they play at Wisconsin this Saturday.
BCS Rankings are Out Now!
Don’t bother. I’m not linking to it.
- This is a bit of an oversimplification with respect to Dana Holgorsen, who is a little more inclined to run the ball than Mike Leach is. [↩]