Preseason college football polls are about the most counterproductive things ever devised by the minds of man. Every year, the usual suspects are gathered up, their recruiting classes are ranked as if those stars determine how high school prowess transfers into dorm life, independence, ability to adapt to the college workload, and all the other factors of a college student athlete.
Now that we have arrived at Week 10 it is a safer and more accurate time to begin selecting teams to fill a poll based on reality and not conjecture. Having crammed our opinions together and shaken them well, we now roll out our first ever ABG CFB Top 10
1) ALABAMA (1)(19)
2) GEORGIA (1) (16)
3) CLEMSON (14)
4) NOTRE DAME (13)
5) MIAMI (11)
6) OHIO STATE (7)
7) WISCONSIN (6)
8) (TIE) OKLAHOMA (4)
PENN STATE (4)
10) TCU (3)
Also receiving votes: Virginia Tech (2),
Oklahoma State (1), Washington (1)
By Sam Burnham
The coaching carousel hasn't really started turning yet but the custodians have begun dusting off the horses.The scary thing is the number of those custodians - the multitude of disgruntled fans who have never worked on a college coaching staff for as much as an hour - get this carousel warmed up every year and once it starts spinning, you never know who all will wind up on the thing.
Let me start with a few disclaimers:
1) College football coaches are human beings. Discussing the carousel involves their livelihoods and the ways they provide for their families.
2) Coaches who enter into that profession understand how the carousel spins before they ever take that first job.
3) At ABG CFB, both Curator and Coach have been around that carousel. We know what it means both personally and professionally. Any perspectives we offer here will be offered with those experiences in mind.
My biggest points right now are surrounding the first two men to get in line this season - Tennessee's Butch Jones and Florida's Jim McElwain. For good or ill, both of these coaches might as well pick a horse and climb aboard. They're in their last seasons at their respective schools. Both of these coaches have seen success elsewhere. McElwain has even seen some success at Florida. But both of these coaches have also ha some rough seasons as well, especially this one. And both are in programs that do not tolerate mediocrity, much less disaster. Both were also sent in to lead teams out of disasters caused by previous carousel rotations.
These men are also good examples of the dangers posed by the carousel. Tennessee and Florida fired coaches Derek Dooley and Will Muschamp, respectively. Dooley and Muschamp seem to be talented assistant coaches Neither seems to be in the mold of a head coach. Big colleges have gotten into the habit of canning their losing coaches and replacing them with coaches having big seasons at smaller or at least less storied programs. The new coaches are paraded around, big promises are made. Huge contracts with ridiculous buyout are signed. The new guys are given 2-3 years to fix problems made over 5-19 years and then the buyouts are activated and the coach is sent spinning again. Sometimes, as appears to be the case with McElwain, the school finds a loophole to not hold up their end of the bargain.
Seeing a tweet of a video of Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell this morning reinforced this idea and led me to this post. The 37 year old is in his sixth season as a head coach, his second with the Cyclones, and is taking Iowa State to places few expected them to go - Including yesterday's upset of #4 TCU. In his speech I can hear his methodology. I can see how he is getting this done. But Iowa State lured him from Toledo and I know the Tennessees, Floridas, and Mississippis of the world are licking their chops. I can see some team luring him away from Ames with a big contract, a big buyout, and promises of Power 5 glory. And I can also see the "5 Star" prima donnas who frequent those schools not buying into his simple team concept and opting for personal glory instead. Then we see the coach's star fall from the heaven, his buy out paid off and his next carousel ride.
Again, a coach knows the job. He knows the risks and the rewards. He knows that his job security is small and dependent on factors beyond his control. I just wish the process was more authentic. I wish it wasn't so predatory. I wish coaches like Matt Campbell had the opportunity to educate young men in football and life and find success in both. Hopefully he will. But the carousel spins again and again. We'll talk much more about that in coming weeks.
By Sam Burnham
We find ourselves facing the last Saturday in October. That means it's time for the Gators and Dawgs to head to Jacksonville.
Growing up, this was a major family affair every year. No going to the game in person but the game in general. My mother grew up in Florida and my seven uncles and my multitude of cousins represented a measurable percentage of the Gator faithful. Trips to Ocala were always more comfortable is the Dawgs won the game. Trash talk was going to happen anyway but if the Gators won...let's just say the Spurrier years were long.
I have just a few thoughts on the game itself. It's a long and storied tradition. It's been in Jacksonville since the 30's (save the two stadium upgrade years) and it should never, ever be played anywhere else for any reason whatsoever. It never needs to be in Atlanta, especially in that abomination with Voltron's Sphincter for a roof.
The game is known to the common folks as the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party." Feeble attempts to make the game some bourgeois "River City Showdown" are silly. Quit trying to dress it up. We don't want quiche. We want biscuits and gravy. This game was made by men like Erk Russell and Charlie Pell. It ain't ballroom dancing. It's a football game surrounded by people grilling steaks and drinking Bud Light. Just go with it.
So there you have it. 3:30 on CBS. Red and black on one side, orange and blue on the other. If your companion cheers for the other team I suggest end zone seats where the colors change. I'll address the game itself in C&C. Chck back in for that.
By Coach Drew Burnham
With all the tremendous upsets that happened this past weekend, The Curator seemed intrigued by how this could happen. I introduced him to a theory that I have which I have found to be widely true in my background in this great game. I’ve been in my fair share of upsets on both sides. In those upsets, and in every single other game, the 21 second rule has come to be true.
The average football play lasts 7 seconds. The average football game features about 150 offensive and defensive snaps plus special teams. The 21 second rule says that 3 of those plays, 21 real life seconds, will determine the outcome of every single football game. Close games, overtime games, 50 point blowouts, they’re all the same. 21 seconds decided the game.
“Alabama won by 50 points there was a lot more than 21 seconds that decided that game.” Not true. In every Alabama 50 point win (just pick one, there’s plenty to choose from), there is a moment when the rout is on and the rest of what happens after than is just a time filler. That moment is 7 of the 21 seconds. The other 14 were somewhere leading to that. Sometimes the 7 second pieces are easy to find, like a walk off game winning field goal, or a pick 6 to seal it. Sometimes they’re tougher to find, but they’re always right there if you take the time to look.
The tricky thing about the 3 plays is, during the game, you never know when they’re going to happen. Even a big situation may later prove itself to be insignificant. They can’t be found until the game is over which is why the coaches always say “play every snap like it’s the last one you’re going to get”. These 21 seconds are the keys to upsets. The 21 second rule is how Syracuse was able to beat Clemson and how Arizona State was able to knock off Washington. They never allowed the game to get away from them. They won the 21 seconds that they needed to win to make the other 59 and a half minutes not matter. It’s a true phenomenon which probably has you shaking your head right now, but give it a shot this weekend. Insert your team of choice. Watch their game this week. Take note of the big plays and the ebbs and flows of the game. When it’s over, no matter what the outcome is, you’ll be able to realize that you could have skipped the incredible majority of that game and just watched 3 plays and not missed anything important.