The Silliest Of Seasons

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 11.29.2017


This time of year (mid to late November) is known as the ‘silly season’ in college football. It’s silly because of several reasons. First, the money spent to remove coaches and hire new ones. Second, the search process which as some schools have shown can be an absolute disaster. Football is a game and if you remove yourself and look at the big picture, what has occurred over the last few weeks or so is absolute nonsense.

Full disclosure, I am a graduate of the University of Tennessee and a very proud alumni.

Over the past few weeks universities (or major boosters) have paid out a minimum of $55 million to remove head coaches. That’s right. $55 million to pay coaches to leave. Meanwhile people in this country, who love these football programs and struggle to make ends meet, have to sit back and watch a coach like Butch Jones will get $205k a month for the next 40 months to not work. The best deal, how bout former Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin. Sumlin will get some $10+ million in the next 60 days to not coach football. Texas A&M doesn’t even get a deal on the payout if Sumlin takes another job. How bout that for an exit package!

Why are these buyouts so high? Well partially because the whole industry has gone off of the deep end. Arkansas head coach Brett Bielema was fired shortly after the teams last game of the season. In fact the media got the PR release immediately after the game which may have occurred before Bielema got the news.

Speaking of deep end, let’s talk about Tennessee and the fiasco that is still occurring there. Athletic Director John Currie fired head coach Butch Jones and was very frank and professional in the press conference following the firing. He gave off an air of professionalism and the expectation that Currie was planning far ahead and a new head coach would be in place soon. Several weeks later Currie tried to hire former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano. That outraged the Tennessee fanbase, media, alumni, boosters and even politicians to the point of protests on campus. It was so bad that Currie had to (from what we know) withdraw the offer and go back to the drawing board. That drawing board saw him get turned down by Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy and apparently be overruled on bringing in Purdue’s Jeff Brohm.

But back to the Schiano debacle. The pulling back from Schiano showed a few things; first that social media and boosters can stop a hiring if they don’t like it. Second that people associate anyone with the Penn State at the time of the Jerry Sandusky abuses as tainted goods and finally, the expectations at a Power 5 school like Tennessee is to have a “splash hire” and someone who can put their team back in the running for national championships. For some at Tennessee that means former Tampa Bay and Oakland head coach Jon Gruden. A coach who hasn’t roamed the sidelines of a football game in a decade and hasn’t coached at the collegiate level in almost 30 years.

Let’s be honest, all this is beyond the pale. This is college football where the players are not paid yet millions of dollars are being shelled out to fire coaches and hire new ones all the while the universities that the players represent saddle students with enough loan debt to make an economist have an extra shot of tequila. Social media turns into the digital equivalent of a forrest fire and fans get so fired up that they protest or confront coaches who might leave as one did at Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher’s weekly radio show.

Athletic Directors are beholden to big money donors who bless or curse hires. Coaches change jobs and receive millions of dollars while the players they recruited are stuck and can only transfer to schools in a lower division or sit out a season. They do not get to share in the riches  of revenue but put their bodies on the line for 12 games a year and then some. It’s time for this industry to look in the mirror and say that enough is enough.

College football is a wonderful sport but it is officially out of control. While the passionate fans found in Knoxville, Gainesville, College Station, Lincoln and Fayetteville among others deserve a quality program for the support they give, at the end of the day it’s still just a game being played by unpaid participants. The amount of money, time and attention being paid to firing and hiring coaches could and should be spent elsewhere. It doesn’t appear that this will change any time soon so do what you can do enjoy the fiery spectacle.

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The Sunday: Bad Tackling and Big Mouths

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Bad Tackling

The story of Saturday was LSU running back Leonard Fournette. He literally ran through the Auburn defense. While he clearly has next level talent, his talent was greatly helped by some very good blocking by the LSU offensive line and supremely bad tackling by Auburn. As we said, Fournette literally ran through the Auburn defense but trying to jump up on his shoulder pads? What was that? Auburn has some work to do.

Another example of bad tackling was when Tennessee defensive back Evan Berry was wrapped up by a Western Carolina defender….sort of. He spun out of it on his way to an  88 yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

 

Bad Idea = Great Result

While the talk down South is how Ole Miss beat Alabama in back-to-back years for the first time in school history, the real talk should be about the horrifically bad idea Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly made that turned out great. Kelly took a bad snap and with a defender bearing down on him, heaved the ball up for grabs. Luckily Ole Miss wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo was there to come down with the ball and score a touchdown.

Pretty sure head coach Hugh Freeze said later, ‘great job, don’t ever do it again.’

 

Big Mouths 

Brett Bielema has done a great job of firing up the fanbase at Arkansas and pissing off other coaches along the way. Arkansas looked like world beaters in the last three games of 2014 and the first game of 2015. Now, they have lost two in a row and Bielema’s big mouth is coming back to haunt him. Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury made sure everyone knew how he felt about Bielema’s rants this offseason after Texas Tech beat Arkansas in Fayetteville, AR.

Having a big mouth ended up in fisticuffs after the Monday Night game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Minnesota Vikings. A Vikings fan was pummeled in the parking lot after trash talking with 49ers fans. Our question is, when did 49er fans become Oakland Raiders fans? This is sad and unacceptable.

 

Sad

Notre Dame defensive back Drue Tranquill blew out his knee after doing a celebration jump with a teammate.

This reminds us of a few years ago when Georgia’s Malcolm Mitchell blew out his knee celebrating a touchdown with then Georgia running back Todd Gurley. Coaches may want to outlaw jumping celebrations.

But on a happier not, is there anything better than shots of sad Alabama fans? SBNationn put together a best of for us. We highly recommend checking it out here.

The Silly Season

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Some people call the last week of November and the first two weeks of December the “Silly Season.” Why? It’s when the college football media explodes into a frenzy of speculation over which college football coach will be fired and hired.

Hot jobs and hot coaches vary year to year. The best example of that is former Florida International Head Coach Mario Cristobal. Cristobal was let go after a 3-9 season. The two previous years he led FIU to bowl games and even tied for first place in the Sun Belt conference. He was considered one of the hottest coach’s in the college football head coaching rumor mill last season. Now he’s out of a job.

This years hot name was Louisville’s Charlie Strong. He led Louisville to a co-Big East Championship and BCS Bowl berth in his third season at the helm. Strong eventually turned down a reported $4 million a year from the University of Tennessee to remain at Louisville. His reasoning and passion are very evident as you can see in his speech to the media and fans.

A name that was not on anyone’s list but at least he thought he’d keep his job was John Embree at Colorado. He’s was let go after two season’s at his alma mater. There is an argument about what the biggest surprise was, Brett Bielema’s move from Wisconsin to Arkansas or Tommy Tuberville’s move from Texas Tech to Cincinnati.

Arguably the “best” job available this year was the head coaching position at the University of Tennessee. After several subpar years (four losing seasons in the last five years to be exact) Athletic Director Dave Hart went looking for someone to bring back the glory days to the Volunteer Nation.

Apparently Hart was turned down by former Super Bowl winning coach and current Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden. After he said no Hart then turned his attention to Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy and Charlie Strong. Both ended up saying no but not before the folks at Tennessee believed fully that Strong was their guy. The belief was so strong that people were tweeting the plane tail number of Tennessee’s major donor Jimmy Haslam claiming that the plane was either on it’s way to pick up Charlie Strong or was on it’s way back with him. After all the false hope Tennessee, the supposed best available job in college football, was still vacant and the Volunteer Nation was left wondering, “would former coach Phil Fulmer come back?”

By Friday morning Tennessee found it’s guy with the hiring of Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones. Jones was also ending his own coaching interview tour. He interviewed and turned down the jobs at Purdue and Colorado respectfully. He and Hart met for the first time Thursday evening in Lexington, Ky which would be about the mid point between Knoxville and Cincinnati. Around 5:45am Jones informed his Athletic Director that he was going to Tennessee and at 2:30pm EST he was formally introduced as Tennessee’s twenty-third head coach.

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He and Hart apparently hadn’t slept and until Thursday had never spoken about the coaching position.

With the “best” job filled and other potential candidates signing long term extensions you can see why it’s called the “Silly Season.”

As of Sunday December 9th the following head coaching positions are still available:

Wisconsin, Texas Tech, Colorado, Louisiana Tech, Arkansas St., FIU, Kent St, Southern Miss, Temple, Western Kentucky, and Western Michigan.

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