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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.

Midseason Reflections on College Football Season

We are midway through the 2015 College Football Season and the stakes of each game are getting higher as we inch closer to the Playoffs!

Tommy Duff, Editor of The Kickoff, reflected on the season thus far and the challenges ahead for teams still in the hunt…

In the Oct. 19th edition of Kickoff Top 25, we had TCU and Ohio State replaced in the top spots by Utah and LSU. There were 14 undefeated teams in our Top 25, with single-loss Alabama ranked at No. 9. Our Strength of Schedule analysis in that issue showed that Ohio State played a schedule with the largest difference between their ranking and their average opponent ranking in 2015. This indicates that the Buckeyes may not have the “easiest” straight schedule, but in regards to their official rating, they have more of a schedule advantage than any other team in the country.

“Ohio State hasn’t looked good against lower rated teams and does not have any quality wins, plus they have two quarterbacks, which means they don’t have a quarterback,” Duff said. “TCU has been inconsistent. They only beat Iowa State (which had a 2-4 record) by 24 points last week. That’s the second time they’ve nearly been knocked off by a lower rated team.”

The Kickoff was high on Utah and LSU based on several factors, including wins against quality opponents in top-rated conferences, including the Tigers’ win over a Florida team that was undefeated until last week. “At this point, Utah has the most quality wins” over teams like Michigan, California, Arizona State and putting up 62 points against Oregon. Utah ended up losing Saturday to USC 42-24. LSU beat Western Kentucky 48-20.

In the Oct. 26 issue, LSU lept to the top of our Top 25 while Clemson jumped from No. 7 to No. 4. FSU, which lost a heartbreaker to Georgia Tech, fell from No. 8 to No. 15. Alabama moved up two spots after beating Tennessee in a close one. 

Duff said he expects the winner of the Alabama-LSU game to be in the Playoffs. “Leonard Fournette is one of the best players we’ve seen since Bo Jackson in terms of pure natural talent, speed and size. He just demolishes people, which is very rare. He hasn’t had less than 150 yards in a game all season. It is possible LSU is going to fall a bit in the ratings as their schedule eases up. When you look at strength of teams played, they benefitted from their opener against McNeese State being cancelled due to weather on Sept. 5th.”

In other words, we still have a lot of football left to play.

The weeks ahead will determine which coaches get pink slips or trophies. We’ve already seen Steve Spurrier and Steve Sarkisian leave their teams after 2-4 and 3-2 starts respectively. “I knew Spurrier wouldn’t last long with the way South Carolina was performing, but I was surprised he quit in the middle of the season,” Duff said.

Ohio State was atop our Preseason Top 25. Our No. 3 pick, Auburn, is perhaps the biggest shocker of the year, now at 4-3 and out of playoff contention after Saturday’s 4-Overtime game at Arkansas. The Tigers still have Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Georgia, Idaho, and Alabama  remaining on their schedule.

“The media, including The Kickoff, bought into a lot of hype about Jeremy Johnson based on the limited amount of work he did last season as a starter, which looked fabulous and suggested he had better skills than Nick Marshall, but the kid lost his confidence after throwing interceptions, plus Auburn lost Carl Lawson, who was supposed to be their leader on defense and an All-American. Gus Malzahn forgot how important a mobile quarterback was in his system,” Duff said.

Comparing the preseason and last week’s Kickoff Top 25s, Oregon, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Arizona State, Boise State, and Tennessee, all have failed to meet their potential in 2015. Teams that haven’t disappointed so far include TCU, Ohio State, Baylor, Michigan State, Clemson, FSU, Oklahoma State, and Arizona.

Our games of the week last week were Clemson at Miami, FL and Tennessee at Alabama.

We went with undefeated Clemson, which enjoyed a 13.6 difference in Power Ratings with the 4-2 Hurricanes. “Clemson could be in the playoffs, as they have done their thing under the radar this season. They’ll need better quarterback play to get past Florida State on Nov. 7th,” Duff said. The Tigers shut them out 58-0, leading to Al Golden being fired this week.

We assigned the Crimson Tide (6-1) a 9 point difference in Power Ratings over the Volunteers. Duff expected the game to be a close one. “Butch Jones has taken the leash off Josh Dobbs and let him play his own game. Statistically, Tennessee ran the ball all over Georgia. Alabama’s defense is set up to stop a classic pro offense and has problems whenever they face a spread offense with a mobile quarterback,” he said. Bama ended up winning 19-14.

It’s not too late to get our Halftime Subscription so you can arm yourself with knowledge when you face off at your family’s Thanksgiving Dinner against your know-it-all uncle who went to that rival school! We have nine issues left to publish this season. Pay just $10.62 to get a Mid-Season Email/PDF Subscription ($19.58 for printed issues sent 1st Class mail to your home or office).  As the season progresses, we’ll lower the price weekly so you only pay for what’s left of the season. Hey, better late than never to get in the game! Email [email protected] to sign up today.

Also, test your knowledge of college football by participating in our Thursday Throwdown trivia on Facebook. We stumped quite a few people this week with our question about the 1985 Fresno State team that was the only unbeaten Division 1-A team in the country, ranked 16th in the Coaches Poll that year.

Talk to us this weekend while we watch the games. Which upsets are you expecting? How is your team doing so far this year? Sound off! Use the hashtag #thekickoff on Facebook and Twitter so we can follow your conversations.

Enjoy this weekend’s games. We’ll be watching alongside you.

The Kickoff Launches for the 2015 College Football Season

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The 2015 College Football Season is almost underway!

In the first issue of the 2015 college football season, published August 31st, The Kickoff shares our Preseason Top 50 and sets the initial Power Ratings for teams playing in this week’s games.

It will come as no surprise that we have Ohio State atop our preseason poll with TCU right behind, but beyond that, we are of a different mind as far as other recent polls based on our analysis of where we expect these schools to end up at the end of the year. We’ll go into that more later this week after our valued subscribers have had a chance to read the first newsletter.

There’s been a lot of speculation on whether the Southeastern Conference is losing its grip on domination. The other leagues are closing the gap on the premiere conference, but we still expect the SEC to rule the world of college football for another year. The margin of difference assigned in the Power Ratings between the SEC and the PAC-12 is growing slimmer.

In the first of 17 issues we will publish each Monday during the season, we place the Vegas ranking, the Amway Coaches’ ranking and our Kickoff ranking side-by-side for an easy comparison of the Top 25 so you can have a tool for making your Week One picks based on a numerical rating of all three polls averaged together.

While The Kickoff isn’t affiliated with the Vegas oddsmakers, our newsletter is a useful tool in prognosticating the results. Take advantage of a Buy 1, Get 1 special on individual subscriptions for a limited time, and you can have our newsletter ready to look at when making your own choices.

In the new issue, we also share our 2015 Preseason Kickoff All Americans (First team, Second team and Third team choices), the leading Heisman candidates and who we expect to be the breakout players this year. You’ll learn which three teams are hot on the Kickoff Thermostat during Week 1.

We also display the relevant stats for our Games of the Week: Alabama’s season opener against Wisconsin and North Carolina in a rare matchup against South Carolina. The Kickoff looks back to this date in 1989, when Notre Dame sat atop the rankings.
Included in the first issue is a list the schedule of every FBS team in the country along with select Division I FCS schedules.

Each week, you’ll be able to consult our Power Ratings for a numerical evaluation of the matchups. We provide this information in a table where you can quickly and easily determine the home teams, their opponents, their respective Power Ratings, and the margin between those ratings. Each team expected to win is designated with an asterisk. These bite-sized bits of information bring you instantly up to speed and reflect the bottom line in a format that fits your busy lifestyle.

For those of you who are new to The Kickoff, we have a complete description and illustration of what you get on our website at https://thekickoffstore.com/the-newsletter/ – It’s all intended to enhance your understanding and enjoyment of college football.

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