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Category Archives: 2019 College Football Season

Are Coaches Being Given Enough Time to Turn Programs Around?

Arkansas gave Chad Morris his pink slip this weekend after only 22 games coaching the Arkansas Razorbacks. The move came just one week after Florida State sent Willie Taggart packing.

While 4-18 is unacceptable for any self-respecting college football program, especially one in the proud Southeastern Conference, the move does come across as a bit aggressive to not even let Morris finish the season, putting tight ends coach/special teams coordinator Barry Lunney Jr in charge in the interim.

Losing 45-19 to Western Kentucky as the latest in a seven-game losing streak hurts.

The Razorbacks have an open weekend before traveling to play an LSU team ranked #1 in the country after taking down #2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa this past weekend.

It was less than two seasons ago when Bret Bielema got kicked to the curb after going 29-34 in five seasons, the school still owing him about $1.9 million. Arkansas owes Morris about 70% of his remaining compensation on a six-year contract. What have boosters gotten for that investment? The Hogs have lost 17 straight SEC games dating back to the end of the 2017 season.

Whenever there’s a coaching change in Fayetteville, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn is mentioned as a favorite to succeed the fired coach. In the past, Malzahn has used this as leverage to increase his salary on the Plains. But as the Tigers have struggled this year (by SEC West standards), message boards have lit up with calls to replace Malzahn.

If Auburn, which put a beating on Arkansas a couple of weeks ago, adds losses to Georgia and Alabama over the next four weeks, the Gus Bus could conceivably pull out of town. Auburn likely won’t get fired unless the team does horribly because Malzahn (back when the Tigers beat Georgia and Alabama in the same season) signed a seven-year, $49 million contract extension – complete with a massive buyout clause that won’t dip below eight figures until 2023. The team’s highly touted backup left the team after Malzahn kept his talented freshman, Bo Nix, in the LSU game despite the young man struggling to produce offense.

The pundits on ESPN’s College GameDay sounded off on Willie Taggart’s mid-season dismissal at Florida State. They asserted that the culture in Tallahassee must be more toxic than first thought if Taggart faced such an uphill battle and wasn’t even given much of a change to recruit his way to an improved program.

The Seminoles view their early entry into the coaching market as an advantage in hiring a replacement who’ll be able to turn the program around dramatically and win national championships sooner rather than later.

Coaching changes always impact recruiting. It will be interesting to see which players change their commitments following these dismissals and who they might get instead.

Even the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide faced turmoil in the 2000s before Nick Saban turned Tuscaloosa back into a natty championship factory. People forget how much they struggled to replace the Legend “Bear” Bryant between 1983-2006 with Ray Perkins, Bill Curry, Gene Stallings, Mike DuBose, Dennis Franchione, Mike Shula, and Joe Kines trading the big seat before Saban came to town. Stallings was the only one who came close to living in Bryant’s shadow with a championship in 1993.

What do you think? Will it make any difference if Arkansas and Florida State get early starts in the competition for new head coaches?
Should they have given Morris and Taggart more time?
Who will be next in line to get fired?

Alabama Falls in AP Poll Following Loss to LSU

The other huge news this weekend was LSU beating Alabama in Tuscaloosa to remain undefeated. In the new AP Poll, fell two spots from #2 to #4. Ohio State was #2, Clemson at #3. They are joined by #7 Minnesota, and #12 Baylor as the only remaining undefeateds in the Top 25.

Auburn, ranked #13, will have a chance to ruin Playoff hopes for #5 Georgia when the two teams play this weekend. That oldest rivalry in college football is one of our games of the week. LSU will play unranked Ole Miss at 6 pm. The Buckeyes play Rutgers at 2:30. Clemson plays #19 Wake Forest at 2:30. The Tide play Mississippi State at 11 am.

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First College Football Playoff Poll Announced

Our Kickoff Games of the Week are #1 LSU at #2 Alabama, #5 Penn State at #13 Minnesota, and #22 Wake Forest at Virginia Tech.

Changes to the AP, Kickoff Top 25 as CFP Poll Announced

On the AP Poll, LSU remains in the top spot, closely followed by Alabama. It’s going to be fun watching these two SEC powerhouses clash this weekend and answer the question of “Who is the best of the West?”

Teams on the rise include #6 Georgia, #8 Utah, #9 Oklahoma, #11 Baylor, #15 Notre Dame, #16 Wisconsin, #18 Iowa, #19 Memphis, #20 Kansas State, #22 Wake Forest, and #24 San Diego State. Florida fell 4 spots to #10 while SMU fell 8 spots to #23. Appalachian State dropped out of the AP Top 25.

Last week’s Kickoff #2, Ohio State, fell to #4 on our poll behind LSU at #2 and Clemson at #3. Florida fell from #6 to #12. To see the other changes, subscribe to get your issues of The Kickoff college football newsletter.

The College Football Playoff Rankings were released Tuesday night. The initial Top 4 teams are #1 Ohio State, #2 LSU, #3 Alabama, and #4 Penn State, with #5 Clemson and #6 Georgia waiting in the wings. Then it is #7 Oregon, #8 Utah, #9 Oklahoma, and #10 Florida filling out the rest of the Top 10. 


Six teams on the poll have not played another team on the Top 25, including Alabama, Boise State, Clemson, Minnesota, Utah, and Wake Forest.

Also in this week’s issue, we list the Single Season D1/FBS Rushing Leaders, the Yearly D1/FBS Rushing Leaders, a Conference breakdown, the Kickoff FBS Strength of Schedule through November 2nd, News and Notes, On this Date in 1994, Trivia, the Kickoff Thermostat, Division 1A FBS Expanded Standings, Average Margin of Victory Leaders, Kickoff times and television schedules, opening over/under odds and our picks, the opening consensus odds and picks, October trends, and our Power Ratings for this weekend’s games.

Willie, We Barely Knew You

The Florida State Seminoles fired Head Coach Willie Taggart after Saturday’s embarrassing 27-10 loss to Miami. He got the axe after coaching just 21 games, finishing 9-12. They weren’t bowl eligible last season. Don’t feel too bad for the coach, who will get a buyout in the $18 million range. Former Florida State athletic director Stan Wilcox, who hired Taggart in December 2017, stepped down eight months later to join the NCAA.

What do you think? Was Taggart given enough time to rebuild? Will other coaches be reluctant to come to FSU? Or will firing Taggart before the end of the season give the Seminoles an edge on other schools who are waiting? Former Tennessee and USC Coach Lane Kiffin has reportedly expressed an interest in the job.

Who will we see cut loose next? Clay Helton at USC? Chad Morris at Arkansas? Mike Bloomgren at Rice? Scott Frost at Nebraska? Joe Moorhead at Mississippi State? Barry Odom at Missouri? Pat Fitzgerald at Northwestern? Dana Holgorsen at Houston?

The hot seat is getting very warm as these coaches run out of time to turn things around.

LSU Takes Top Spot in AP Top 25 After Auburn Win

NCAA: College Football Players can Profit From Likeness

Note: As we write this blog, there is breaking news that the NCAA is announcing greater leniency on players receiving compensation for use of their likeness in products like college football video games. And at least one Congressman has Tweeted that if this is the case, the IRS may treat college scholarships as income. We will provide more coverage of this issue as more details are revealed. 

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If you are a subscriber, you should have received an email from The Kickoff with the subject line “The Kickoff (Vol. 69, Issue #10).”

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The Biggest Stories this Week in College Football

The biggest stories of the week in college football include Ohio State jumping ahead of Clemson on the AP Top 25 Poll, Wisconsin falling 7 spots and Boise State falling 8 spots, Bama’s Tua Tagovailoa undergoing surgery for a high-ankle sprain suffered against Tennessee, and Virginia Tech winning in a sixth overtime versus North Carolina.

Penn State moved up a spot to #6 after beating Michigan 28-21 Saturday. Up next is Michigan State. Florida and Auburn both moved up two spots in the top 10 to #7 and #9 after victories over South Carolina and Arkansas.

LSU remains on #1 Alabama’s heels at #2 going into this weekend’s matchup against Auburn at Death Valley.

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Previewing Week 8 of the College Football Season

Michigan and Penn State are two of the most successful college football programs. This weekend, the two schools will face off with College Football Playoff implications.

As the Week 8 marquee matchup, the #16 Wolverines hope to knock off the #7 Nittany Lions. This is a rivalry in which the home team has typically prevailed in recent history, including Michigan winning eight of the last nine home games in the series.

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