LSU and USC are already open and Florida can follow suit. Three top-10 jobs that need coaches in the same offseason and have a number of interesting names moving up.
This sets the stage for an entirely fascinating coaching-carousel season that could be more interesting than this ho-hum year.
Jimbo Fisher (Texas A&M), James Franklin (Penn State), Dave Aranda (Baylor), Luke Fickel (Cincinnati), Mel Tucker (Michigan State) and Lane Kiffin (Ole Miss) will be in the game, some of whom may be in others’ posts.
It is already set to be interesting with two top programs – LSU and USC Open. But the situation in Florida, where Dan Mullen’s tenure has taken a nosedive in his fourth season, is compounded by intrigues.
Florida lost eight of its last 10 games to power-conference opponents and then came Saturday. The Gators won the game, but made an embarrassing effort in the 70-52 win over middle FCS foe Samford. The Gators basketball team is No. 1 overall. 20 Florida State’s upset allowed the same amount of points (55). The football team set a program-record 42 first-half points the same week the school sacked defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and offensive line coach John Hevesy. After the game, Mullen did no favors. He called it a “spectacular win” and said “calling a victory a disappointment is disrespectful to the game.” Florida fans probably feel the same way about their team’s performance this year, as it slumps to a boring fifth in the SEC East.
A big LSU target could be Fisher because his friend and former boss is the athletic director there. The other is Aranda, who has Baylor in his second season for the Big 12 title and served as LSU’s defensive coordinator in its 2019 national championship season. It is whispered that USC will target Franklin, though that may change now. Penn State has lost four of the five and is 10-9 the past two seasons. Cincinnati coach Fickel, who has been 30-4 in the last three seasons and knocking on the door of the College Football Playoff, has committed to running. Kiffin, a fantastic offensive mind, is one of my top picks at LSU or Florida. He has closed Ole Miss for its first 10-win season since 2015 and has developed a Heisman Trophy contender in Matt Coral. Maybe former Texans and Penn State coach Bill O’Brien, who serves as Alabama’s offensive coordinator for Nick Saban, gets himself in the mix.
It will be full training carousel with intrigue. Be prepared for non-refusals after exits, secret interviews and purchase negotiations and mega-contracts.
Too soon or too late
The only surprise was that it took so long for Oklahoma to lose. Saturday’s ugly defeat to Baylor, likely to expel the Sooners from the playoff chase, has been inevitable for some time. Oklahoma has been a disaster all season, struggling to get home at Tulane, West Virginia, Texas and Nebraska.
Now, I thought the Sooners were going to be very good this year. I chose them to win everything, which tells me about my divination skills. The playoff committee got it right by placing eighth when Oklahoma was unbeaten. After this loss, it should fall into the teens and the Lincoln Riley team can expect at least one loss in the regular season.
Bringing the rear
Don’t do that. Do not lose. This is our best advice for Texas coach Steve Sarkisian. This is already the first season to be forgotten, 57-56, Kansas punching-bag hit new lows with overtime loss to Kansas. But if the Longhorns don’t win one of their last two games, they may end up in the Big 12. It didn’t happen to Charlie Strong or Tom Herman, and neither of those men spent four seasons in Austin.
Texas, which has lost five straight games, will visit West Virginia and then host Kansas State to close out the season. These are the teams that can beat. Sarkisian is not fired after one season, but he could expedite his departure in the next two weeks without any damage control.
1. Georgia (10-0) (Last Week: 1)
Georgia has trailed twice on Saturday, which is a title unto itself. It happened for the first time this year. Of course, the Bulldogs scored 34 of the next 41 points to give Tennessee the courage to think of resentment.
2. Alabama (9-1) (2)
I’m sure there was a point in Alabama hosting an independent New Mexico state, but it wasn’t in the best interests of any of the players. The Crimson Tide’s 59-3 Aggies bushing was unproductive for both teams.
3. Ohio State (9-1) (3)
The Buckeyes are ready for their Michigan two-pointer to stay single in the Big Ten East, wiping out the troublesome Purdue with four touchdowns. Now his regular-season schedule comes to the teeth.
4. Cincinnati (10-0) (4)
You can pierce holes in the Bearcats’ rಮsum,, their uneven victories against miserable opponents, but they haven’t lost a game yet and they have a road win against a top-10 team. That should be important.
5. Oregon (9-1) (6)
Anthony Brown has put together a good season despite plenty of criticism, producing 20 touchdowns and a 64.6 completion percentage. Now they have to finish it off with a Pac-12 title and a playoff spot.
6. Notre Dame (9-1) (7)
Notre Dame is leading its fifth straight double-digit winning season and the seventh since Brian Kelly took office in 2010. The Irish had two of the 16 seasons before Kelly arrived in South Bend.
7. Michigan State (9-1) (8)
The Spartans ’defense was not impressive in giving up 451 yards of offense to Skidding Maryland after being shredded by Purdue. Unless that unit pulls a 180, it’s hard to see them upset Ohio State.
8. Michigan (9-1) (9)
How’s it for the irony: Michigan is rooting for bitter rival Ohio State on Saturday. If the Buckeyes beat Michigan State, the Wolverines could win the Big Ten East by winning – which comes with a win over the hated Buckeyes.
9. Oklahoma State (9-1) (NR)
Cowboy Defense has allowed 23 points in this three-game winning streak, placing Oklahoma State in the position of winning its first Big 12 regular-season crown in a decade.
10. Ole Miss (8-2) (NR)
The shaky Ole Miss defense has been huge this week, securing two trades and a 10-point victory over Texas A&M, keeping the Rebels’ hopes of a weak SEC West title alive.
Missed: Oklahoma (9-1) and Texas A&M (7-3)
QB Bryce Young, Alabama
Young now has four games with at least four touchdown passes, the most recent being a glorified scrimmage in a 59-3 deletion of New Mexico State.
RB Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State
In his last three games, the junior has averaged 158.6 rushing yards and 2.6 touchdowns. To move the needle in Heisman’s pursuit, he will probably have to surpass those numbers against Ohio State.
QB CJ Stroud, Ohio State
The Heisman Trophy reaches Stroud with a great finish. He took a big step in the right direction Saturday, completing 31 of 38 passes for 361 yards and five touchdowns.
QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
This is a magical season for seniors who have set career highs in virtually every category of notes and can take Pittsburgh to the ACC Coastal Crown with a win in Virginia on Saturday.
QB Matt Coral, Ole Miss
With the exception of the Alabama slump, Coral will not have a conference championship game to claim its case. Instead, it’s a stat-padding season against Vanderbilt and Mississippi State.