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Some Things Never Change

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When we started The Kickoff, the year was 1951. 

That college football season finished with seven unbeaten major college teams, of which five were unbeaten and untied. Ultimately, the Tennessee Volunteers were voted the best team by the Associated Press, followed by the Michigan State Spartans, with the Vols having a plurality of first-place votes (139 to 104). Back then, there was no playoff in college football, no “Division I-A” and a halfback at Princeton, Dick Kazmaier, won the Heisman. 

The Kickoff started as a printed publication distributed mainly through pro athletes and coaches with whom our company enjoyed a networking relationship. Over the years, it evolved into a sophisticated mail house operation focusing on the fulfillment side of direct mail advertising. 

Corporate sponsorships allow companies to send a version of The Kickoff that is branded with their logo to their customers (or prospects) for the advertising opportunities.

A few years ago, we took The Kickoff digital, offering a PDF version sent by email. 

A lot of things have changed since 1951. The Kickoff co-owner, Bert Caldwell, said the biggest change since he played the game was the physical size of the athletes. In the decades since, a lot of attention has been paid to making sure the game is safer. College football has also grown into a huge source of lucrative entertainment for massive media properties. 

All of our time closely following the game of college football – obsessing over it, really – has given our staff keen insights into the sport we all know and love. Our long history of covering the game informs our picks when we prognosticate on what the future holds. 

We are proud of our record for accuracy and the trust that our subscribers continue to put in us. 

We are now taking orders for the upcoming season, which will be our 70th year in publication. We have a lot of great features planned for the 2020 campaign, so don’t miss out!

Subscribers, if you have already received your renewal notice, you’re all set. If not, you can subscribe on our website. You may also order over the phone at 423-267-0953. 

You may also download and print the subscription form in case you would like to mail it. Download it here: 2020 Order Form



College Football– A Look at New Head Coaches for 2020

Get your 2020 College Football head coaches scoop right here at the Kickoff.

Coaching changes always keep things interesting in college football, and 2020 will be no exception.

Lane Kiffin’s storied coaching career includes time spent on the sidelines for the Tennessee Volunteers, USC Trojans, University of Alabama, Oakland Raiders, and Florida Atlantic. He was hired this season to be head football coach at Ole Miss, replacing Matt Luke. Expectations have always been high for the son of longtime NFL defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin. He’s frequently controversial, and has burned some bridges, but there’s no denying his talent with a 61-34 college head coaching record. In 2019, the NCAA vacated 33 Ole Miss victories, and levied a two-year ban on post-season play as punishment for recruiting, and academic violations under head coaches Houston Nutt and Hugh Freeze. It will be interesting to see if any of Kiffin’s players are undisciplined enough to cost the team a rivalry win by getting penalized for performing a post-touchdown mockery of a urinating dog. Willie Taggart, who was fired last season from his position as head coach of the Florida State Seminoles, takes Kiffin’s spot at FAU.

Speaking of the Seminoles, former Memphis Coach Mike Norvell takes over in Tallahassee. His contract is $3.75 million for 6 years. His record at Memphis was 38-15, and he’ll be expected to turn things around fast at FSU, where Taggart was fired in the middle of only his second season. Norvell has coached at Arizona State, Pittsburgh, Tulsa, and Central Arkansas. Replacing him at Memphis is Ryan Silverfield.

At Arkansas, former Georgia Assistant Head Coach, Sam Pittman, replaces Chad Morris, who was ousted mid-season after a 4-18 record in Fayetteville. At Georgia, Pittman garnered a reputation as “one of the best recruiters and offensive line coaches in the SEC.” In his second season coaching the offensive line, Georgia won the SEC Championship Game, and reached the College Football Playoff National Championship. Pittman was the Razorbacks Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Line Coach from 2013-2015.

Mike Leach is out at Washington State after compiling a 139-90 record there, and will be staring across the field at Kiffin when Mississippi State meets their biggest rival. Joe Moorehead got the boot from Starkville after a 14-12 record as coach. Nick Rolovich takes the helm at Washington State while Todd Graham moves into the vacancy created by Rolovich leaving from Hawaii.

At Washington, Jimmy Lake replaces Chris Petersen, whose career head coaching record is 147-38 and led Washington to a 54-26 record. Lake has coached at both the National Football League (NFL) and college football levels, primarily overseeing defensive backs.

Former Florida and Texas Head Coach Charlie Strong is out at USF, and was replaced by Jeff Scott. Strong is working this season as a defensive analyst on Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama, following Kiffin’s strategy for career redemption. Scott was offensive coordinator for Clemson in 2017 when they beat Alabama to win the national championship, but USF is his first head coaching gig.

On September 21, 2019, with his 110th victory, Mark Dantonio became the winningest head coach in Michigan State football. On February 4, 2020, 63-year-old Dantonio announced he would be stepping down as head coach. Mel Tucker takes over. He was previously the head coach at the University of Colorado, which has yet to fill the coaching vacancy.

Missouri’s new coach is Eliah Drinkwitz, replacing Barry Odom, whose record was 24-25.
At Colorado State, Mike Bobo is out and Steve Addazio, who had a 44-44 record at Boston College, is in. Jeff Hafley takes over Addazio spot at BC.

At Baylor, former LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda was selected to succeed Matt Rhule, who accepted the job head coaching the Carolina Panthers.

At Fresno State, Jeff Tedford announced he was resigning in December for health reasons and former offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer, who spent the 2019 season in Indiana, was hired as Tedford’s replacement.

A head coaching record of 8-32 led Rutgers to search for solutions other than Chris Ash, who was canned a day after a 52-0 loss to Michigan. On December 1, 2019, Rutgers and Greg Schiano agreed to an 8-year, $32 million contract that would see him return as head coach of the Scarlet Knights. He previously led the team from 2001-2011 before leaving less than a week before National Signing Day to become the head coach of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Former Notre Dame Coach Bob Davie is out at New Mexico, replaced by Danny Gonzales. Prior to 2018, Gonzales had spent his college coaching career on Rocky Long’s staff at the University of New Mexico and again at San Diego State University.

Old Dominion’s Bobby Wilder had a 77-56 record in 10 years as only the second coach all-time in the program’s history and the first since football’s rebirth at the school in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) in 2009. The new play caller is Ricky Rahne, who has coached on the staffs of Holy Cross, Cornell, Kansas State, Vanderbilt, and Penn State.

San Diego State coach Rocky Long is gone after an 81-28 record since 2011, Brady Hoke returning to lead the team. Hoke was the Aztecs coach from 2009-2010.

UNLV decided to replace Tony Sanchez with Marcus Arroyo, who was offensive coordinator for the Oregon Ducks.

UTSA’s Jeff Traylor replaces Frank Wilson after 4 seasons and a 19–29 overall record. Traylor previously coached positions at Texas, SMU and Arkansas before signing on to serve as the Roadrunners third head coach in program history.

Teams prepare for scheduled Bowl matchups

The bowl schedule is all set and Joe Burrow ran away with the Heisman, as expected.

There was little doubt Burrow would run away with the coveted trophy, especially after his performance against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.

Burrow received the highest percentage of first-place votes at 90.7%, beating the previous record of 86.7% held by Troy Smith in 2006. He surpassed Smith on the highest percentage of possible points at 93.8%. He also beat O.J. Simpson in the largest margin of victory and Marcus Mariota on the percentage of ballots received (95.5%).

His #1-ranked LSU Tigers take on #4 Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl, a College Football Playoff Semifinal. The winner of that game will play either #2 Ohio State or #3 Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl, also scheduled for Dec. 28.

Our next issue of The Kickoff will be released on January 15, 2020.

The following is a schedule of upcoming bowl games with kickoff times and channels included:

  • DEC. 20 – 2 P.M. – BAHAMAS BOWL (ESPN) CHARLOTTE (7-5) vs BUFFALO (7-5)
  • DEC. 20 – 7:30 P.M. – FRISCO BOWL (ESPN2) UTAH STATE (7-5) vs KENT STATE (6-6)
  • DEC. 21 – 2:30 P.M. – CURE BOWL (CBSSN) GA SOUTHERN (7-5) vs LIBERTY (7-5)
  • DEC. 21 – 3:30 P.M. – BOCA RATON BOWL (ABC) SMU (10-2) vs FAU (10-3)
  • DEC. 21 – 5:30 P.M. CAMELLIA BOWL (ESPN) ARK STATE (7-5) vs FIU (6-6)
  • DEC. 21 – 7:30 P.M. LAS VEGAS BOWL (ABC) WASHINGTON (7-5) vs BOISE STATE (12-1)
  • DEC. 21 – 9 P.M. NEW ORLEANS BOWL (ESPN) APP STATE (12-1) vs UAB (9-4)
  • DEC. 23 – 2:30 P.M. – GASPARILLA BOWL (ESPN) UCF (9-3) vs MARSHALL (8-4)
  • DEC. 24 – 8 P.M. – HAWAII BOWL (ESPN) BYU (7-5) vs HAWAII (9-5)
  • DEC. 26 – 4 P.M. – INDEPENDENCE BOWL (ESPN) LA TECH (9-3) vs MIAMI, FL (6-6)
  • DEC. 26 – 8 P.M. – QUICK LANE BOWL (ESPN) PITTSBURGH (7-5) vs EASTERN MI (6-6)
  • DEC. 27 – 12 P.M. – MILITARY BOWL (ESPN) NORTH CAROLINA (6-6) vs TEMPLE (8-4)
  • DEC. 27 – 3:20 P.M. – PINSTRIPE BOWL (ESPN) WAKE FOREST (8-4) vs MI STATE (6-6)
  • DEC. 27 – 6:45 P.M. – TEXAS BOWL (ESPN) OK STATE (8-4) vs TEXAS A&M (7-5)
  • DEC. 27 – 8 P.M. – HOLIDAY BOWL (FS1) IOWA (9-3) vs SOUTHERN CAL (8-4)
  • DEC. 27 – 10:15 P.M. – CHEEZ-IT BOWL (ESPN) AIR FORCE (10-2) vs WA STATE (6-6)
  • DEC. 28 – 12 P.M. – CAMPING WORLD BOWL (ABC) NOTRE DAME (10-2) vs IA STATE (7-5)
  • DEC. 28 – 12 P.M. – COTTON BOWL (ESPN) MEMPHIS (12-1) vs PENN STATE (10-2)
  • DEC. 28 – 4 P.M. – PEACH BOWL (SEMI) (ESPN) #1 LSU (13-0) vs #4 OKLAHOMA (12-1)
  • DEC. 28 – 8 P.M.- FIESTA BOWL (SEMI) (ESPN) #2 OHIO STATE (13-0) vs #3 CLEMSON (13-0)
  • DEC. 30 – 12:30 P.M. – FIRST RESPONDER BOWL (ESPN) WESTERN KY (8-4) vs WESTERN MI (7-5)
  • DEC. 30 – 4 P.M. – MUSIC CITY BOWL (ESPN) MISS STATE (6-6) vs LOUISVILLE (7-5)
  • DEC. 30 – 4 P.M. – REDBOX BOWL (FOX) ILLINOIS (6-6) vs CALIFORNIA (7-5)
  • DEC. 30 – 8 P.M. – ORANGE BOWL (ESPN) FLORIDA (10-2) vs VIRGINIA (9-4)
  • DEC. 31 – 12 P.M. – BELK BOWL (ESPN) KENTUCKY (7-5) vs VA TECH (8-4)
  • DEC. 31 – 2 P.M. – SUN BOWL (CBS) FSU (6-6) vs AZ STATE (7-5)
  • DEC. 31 – 3:45 P.M. LIBERTY BOWL (ESPN) NAVY (9-2) vs KANSAS STATE (8-4)
  • DEC. 31 – 4:30 P.M. ARIZONA BOWL (CBSSN) GA STATE (7-5) vs WYOMING (7-5)
  • DEC. 31 – 7:30 P.M. – ALAMO BOWL (ESPN) UTAH (11-2) vs TEXAS (7-5)
  • JAN. 1 – 1 P.M. – CITRUS BOWL (ABC) ALABAMA (10-2) vs MICHIGAN (9-3)
  • JAN. 1 – 1 P.M. – OUTBACK BOWL (ESPN) AUBURN (9-3) vs MINNESOTA (10-2)
  • JAN. 1 – 5 P.M. – ROSE BOWL (ESPN) OREGON (11-2) vs WISCONSIN (10-3)
  • JAN. 1 – 8:45 P.M. – SUGAR BOWL (ESPN) GEORGIA (11-2) vs BAYLOR (11-2)
  • JAN. 2 – 3 P.M. – BIRMINGHAM BOWL (ESPN) BCU (6-6) vs CINCINNATI (10-3)
  • JAN. 2 – 7 P.M. – GATOR BOWL (ESPN) TENNESSEE (7-5) vs INDIANA (8-4)
  • JAN. 3 – 3:30 P.M. – IDAHO POTATO BOWL (ESPN) OHIO (6-6) vs NEVADA (7-5)
  • JAN. 4 – 11:30 A.M. – ARMED FORCES BOWL (ESPN) TULANE (6-6) vs SOUTHERN MISS (7-5)
  • JAN. 6 – 7:30 P.M. – LENDING TREE BOWL (ESPN) LA-LAFAYETTE (10-3) vs MIAMI, OH (8-5)
  • JAN. 13 – TBA – NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (ESPN) Winner of the Peach Bowl (LSU or Oklahoma) vs Winner of the Fiesta Bowl (Ohio State or Clemson).

As we close on our 69th season in publication, we would once again like to thank all of our corporate and individual subscribers for continuing to support The Kickoff.

It’s an honor to be given the opportunity to be a part of your fall game day traditions. College football is not only a game; it’s a passion that we are truly blessed to share with you.

We look forward to seeing you in 2020. Our next issue will be released on January 15, 2020. We wish all of you a Merry Christmas and safe and happy holidays!

Who should really be #1… LSU or Ohio State?

2019 college football playoff

In what is sure to be the watercooler topic this week, the College Football Playoff committee on Tuesday moved Ohio State to the top spot over LSU despite both teams being 11-0. LSU remains the #1 team in the country on the AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll.

One possible explanation: While the Tigers beat Arkansas 56-20 last weekend, the Buckeyes defeated a ranked opponent, #9 Penn State 28-17, and faces another this weekend, #11 Michigan. Clinching the Big Ten’s East division and ensuring a spot in the Big Ten championship game gives Ohio State’s victory added weight.

Join in the discussion on our Facebook Page to let us know what you think of the CFP committee’s move.

Clemson (11-0) and Georgia (10-1) come in third and fourth on the AP and College Football Playoff rankings.

On the Kickoff Top 25 this week, we kept LSU in the top spot but agreed that Ohio State should immediately follow, moving Clemson to the #3 spot. Last week we had Alabama in the #4 spot, but we moved Georgia ahead, shifting the Crimson Tide to the #5 position. Beating Western Carolina 66-3 couldn’t contend with the Bulldogs’ 19-13 victory over #24 Texas A&M.

This puts Tide fans in an unfamiliar where they must not only beat #15 Auburn with their backup quarterback but will also be rooting for either Texas A&M, Michigan, South Carolina, or Georgia Tech to win an upset to have any hope of securing one of the top 4 playoff spots. Georgia controls its own destiny with regard to its playoff chances.

With Tua out of the picture with his season-ending injury and the Auburn home crowd fired up to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Iron Bowl coming to Jordan-Hare, Nick Saban and the team may face more pressure to step up than they are accustomed to experiencing. But this team still has enough talent to be lethal if they enter the stadium prepared to play.

A loss to the Tide under these circumstances may put Gus Malzahn squarely in the hot seat with a combined 4-10 record against Georgia and Bama since 2013 — and that Arkansas head coaching job remaining vacant. If Malzahn jumps ship, he would owe Auburn about $7 million, but if fired, Auburn would have to pay him $27 million remaining on his contract. While teams like the 6-5 Tennessee (third place in the SEC East) will be thrilled just to make it to a bowl game, in the brutal SEC West, going 8-4 to finish third behind LSU and Alabama puts a coach at risk of losing his job.

Rutgers and FSU are also looking for quality coaches, with more vacancies sure to happen after Saturday’s games.

Rivalry Week as the 2019 Regular Season comes to a close

It’s rivalry week as we enter the final week of the regular season for most teams. Our Kickoff Games of the Week include Alabama at Auburn, Ohio State at Michigan, and Cincinnati at Memphis.

There were two games played Tuesday night, Ohio vs Akron and WMU vs NIU. Several games are scheduled for Friday as well. Other big rivalries that are always a blast to watch: Texas Tech at Texas, #17 Iowa at Nebraska, Missouri at Arkansas, Washington State at Washington, USF at UCF, #16 Notre Dame at Stanford, Oregon State at Oregon, Northwestern at Illinois, Louisville at Kentucky, FIU at Marshall, and Wake Forest at Syracuse.

In this week’s issue of The Kickoff

In the latest issue, we examine a conference breakdown and show you the math to argue which conference is most dominant. We list Football Bowl Subdivision standings and select Football Championship Series standings, plus News and Notes, the Kickoff Thermostat, a look back to the Kickoff Top 25 on Dec. 1, 1997, the statistically most improved teams of 2019, overall trends through last week, listings of this week’s games with our Power Ratings assigned, Division 1A FBS expanded standings, 2019 average margin of victory leaders, opening over/under odds and our picks, and listings of kickoff times and television schedules for this week, opening consensus odds and our picks, plus more.

After this weekend’s thrilling games, attention will turn to the final bowl picture as teams accept invitations. We still have three new issues remaining before the off-season.

We’ll look back on the 2019 season to review which teams lived up to the hype and which were disappointing.

And the Heisman race and coaching changes will come to the forefront of college football news.

Stay tuned as The Kickoff continues to cover the universe of college football.

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.

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