There is a hot topic brewing amongst Pac-12 fans during bowl season. It is causing serious debate in Facebook groups and subreddits. Should Pac-12 fans “Back the Pac” and cheer for every other conference team to win, including their rivals?
There were many recruiting surprises during the early signing period. A couple of teams may have signed program changing classes. Assistant coaches also have more power than they ever have.
Do you Back the Pac-12? Leave a comment or send us an email to email@example.com.
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Please leave a review of our podcast on iTunes if you can! We record a podcast once a week during the off-season for football and then from the months of August to January we record two podcasts per week. Our podcasts are always heavy on Pac-12 football but we make it a point to also try and cover the other notable Men’s and Women’s Pac-12 sports. We cover recruiting and any other major storyline in the Pac-12 universe.
George Wrighster is a former Pac-12 and long-time NFL tight end. As a television/radio host, opinionist, and analyst, who is UNAFRAID to speak the truth. Contrary to industry norms he uses, facts, stats, and common sense to win an argument. He has covered college football, basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB since 2014. Through years of playing college football, covering bowl games, coaching changes, and scandals, he has a great pulse for the conference and national perspective.
Ralph Amsden is a Wyoming-born sportswriter and podcaster who spends his days tweeting through the misadventures that come with shuttling four kids around the Arizona desert. Ralph is the publisher of Rivals’ ArizonaVarsity.com, the founder of ArizonaSportsCast.com, and was previously the managing editor of the Arizona State Rivals affiliate, DevilsDigest.com. He is also a professional hater of all things pineapple. Whether you’re talking food, movies, music, parenting, politics, sports, television, religion, or zoological factoids, Ralph has questions for you. He might be sub-.500 in spousal disputes and schoolyard fights, but he’s always UNAFRAID to square up.
It is that time of year again. College football playoff and bowl game season! The College Football Playoff (CFP) matchups are set. Bowl game matchups are set. There is a lot at stake during the college football post-season. Bragging rights for winning a bowl game, being crowned the CFP champion, and last but not least – MONEY. There are millions of dollars at stake for coaches, conferences, and schools. However, there is one group that is systematically left out of the financial distributions. That group is none other than the football players themselves.
It is true that the NCAA permits bowl game participants to receive up to $550 in gifts. However, those gifts severely pails in comparison to the rewards that coaches, schools, and conferences receive. Right out the gate, the conferences of the schools that qualify for the College Football Playoff semifinal games receive 6 million dollars for each team. Conferences that do not have a CFP contender still have a chance to rake in 4 million dollars for each team that qualifies for a bowl game. However, this revenue barely scratches the surface of all of the money that is at stake. Let’s take a look at how much the coaches, schools, and conferences stand to earn during the college football post-season.
The CFP and Bowl Games are a Cash Cow for the Participating Coaches
Several college football coaches enjoy million-dollar salaries. CFP champion coach, Dabo Swinney, signed a 9.3 million per year contract for his base salary Many more coaches enjoy salaries in the upper six figures. However, the college football post-season is the sweetest time of year for qualifying coaches. It is sweet because qualifying for post-season play demonstrates that the coach has led the team through a very successful season. It is also sweet because qualifying for post-season play equals sizeable bonus money for the coaches.
Coach Mack Brown at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Take the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill coach, Mack Brown, for instance. He will receive $75,000 for the Tar-heels qualifying for the Military Bowl. This $75,000 is additional compensation on top of the $3.5 million he earns as an annual salary. Brown is not the only person on his staff who will be a bonus beneficiary. The Tar-heels assistant coaches will receive bonuses up to “two-twelfths of their annualized salaries”. Meanwhile, the football players will receive a compilation of arguably useless gifts up to $550 in value.
Coach Ryan Day at Ohio State University
Another coach who stands to make more in bonus money than most people make in a year is Ohio State’s Ryan Day. Day replaced Ohio State coaching legend, Urban Meyer, and quickly realized that he needed to make a name for himself. Make a name for himself is just what he did in leading the Buckeyes to the CFP for the first time since 2016. Day stands to earn an additional $450,000 in CFP bonuses. Per Day’s contract, he will earn $200,000 just for the Buckeyes making an appearance in the CFP. Day stands to make another $250,000 if the Buckeyes make it to the CFP semifinals.
However, Ohio State and Clemson are set to face off in the Fiesta Bowl. If the Buckeyes are successful in that game, Day will not receive $250,000 if the Buckeyes make it to the CFP semifinals. Instead, Day will receive $350,000 for “team participation in the finals of the College Football Playoff.” These are only the bonuses that two coaches stand to receive for post-season play. Every other qualifying coach stands to receive similar compensation. Meanwhile, the football players are left with arguably useless gifts totaling up to $550 in value.
Conferences and Schools Rake in the Cash from the CFP and Bowl Games too
Merely having a school qualify for the CFP semifinals or a bowl game earns a conference at least 6 to 4 million dollars respectively. There is so much money available to the conferences and schools from post-season play. Each conference with a school that qualifies for post-season play receives $300,000. Each qualifying independent school receives $300,000 as well. An independent school is one that does not belong to a conference like Notre Dame.
Additionally, each of the ten conferences receives a base amount of money. Conferences who participate in the Orange, Rose, and Sugar Bowl receive approximately $66 million for each conference. Conferences that do not participate in those bowls receive approximately $90 million in the aggregate that is dispersed as the conferences see fit. If Notre Dame qualifies, it receives $3.19 million as an independent school. The other three independent schools receive $1.56 million.
Furthermore, each conference with a school participating in the Cotton, Fiesta, or Peach Bowl or the CFP National Championship receives an additional $2.43 million to cover game expenses. This is a lot of money. Meanwhile, the football players receive arguably useless gifts totaling up to $550 in value. The schools do use some of the money to fund their athletic departments to make collegiate sports participation possible. However, there is still enough money that football players can receive more than $550 worth of gifts.
The Bowl Gifts Are a Joke in Comparison to the Coaching Bonuses and Revenue the Conferences and Schools Receive
Football players who participate in bowl games and the CFP are allowed to receive $550 worth of gifts. In the scheme of things, the gifts are arguably worthless and pails in comparison to the six-figure bonuses their coaches receive. Participants in the Peach Bowl will receive a $390 Vanilla Visa Gift Card, a Fossil watch, and a football. While a $390 gift card sounds nice, it is nothing for all of the hard work and effort players put into their sport. It is certainly nothing compared to the bonuses the coaches receive.
Participants in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl receive a PlayStation 4 Gift Package, a Fossil watch, an Ogio Shuttle Pack backpack, a history of bowl games book, and an Ice Shaker Insulated bottle. A PlayStation 4 is a nice gift. However, is it really that useful for a college football player who puts in 40 plus hours a week on football and has to study too? It would seem that sharing the revenue with the players would be a better option. However, that is not going to happen because of the NCAA’s farce of amateurism.
What if the NCAA, Conferences, and Schools Decided to Share the Revenue With the Players?
If the revenue was shared with the players it would provide a major financial boost for the players. This is especially true for players who come from disadvantaged situations. Such players often need extra money to make ends meet. Players who may need extra cash cannot even sell their gifts without fear of being declared ineligible for receiving an impermissible benefit like Terrelle Pryor. In 2010, Pryor was suspended for selling his sportsmanship award from the 2008 Fiesta Bowl. If the NCAA, conferences, and schools decided to share some of the revenue they could eliminate this problem for their athletes.
The NCAA could hold the money in a trust for the football players to receive after they graduate. They could provide financial planning seminars to help them manage the money and use it in a productive manner. This would help the players way more than a fossil watch ever could. With all of the money floating around college football post-season play, the players should receive more than a $550 gift.
Quarterback Steven Montez was an important figure in Colorado Buffaloes football from 2016-2019, setting numerous records during his time in Boulder. He began his career as a redshirt freshman in 2016 and started every game for the Buffaloes from 2017-2019. Montez accrued an overall record of 17-22 (9-21 in Pac-12 play).
Montez has set over 40 school records. He is the all-time leader in passing yards with 9,649 passing yards and has 63 passing touchdowns.
How representative of Steven Montez is His 17-22 Record?
Montez had some great moments in a Buffaloes uniform but also had some not so great moments. Accountant Brandon Westbrook, a Buffaloes fan for over 20 years, believes that the record is representative of the type of quarterback Montez was at CU.
does have some stats that make him look a lot better, but I think ultimately
his (17-22 record as the Buffaloes’ starter) speaks to the caliber of quarterback
he was,” Westbrook said.
A fan may look at a 17-22 record and think Montez was mediocre. Some fans, including Westbrook, believe this to be the case. However, Neill Woelk, the contributing editor at CUBuffs.com, points out an important statistic that he believes sets Montez apart: touchdown to interception ratio. Montez ranks No. 1 in that category with 63 touchdowns and 33 interceptions.
Despite Records, Fans Left Frustrated With No Bowl Game Appearances Last Three Seasons
Many fans will give reasons why Steven Montez was great for the Buffaloes, while other fans may give reasons as to why it may have been frustrating for fans to watch his career unfold. Despite fans being awed by his arm strength and physical capabilities, Montez never led the Buffaloes to a bowl game in his three full seasons as the starting quarterback (2017-2019).
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“At the end of the day though, we never really got to the promised land,” CU Student Drew Sharek said. “(Montez was a) heck of a talent, great arm, great personality, but just never was able to get the ultimate job done (of making a bowl game).”
The Colorado Buffaloes football team finished 5-7 each of the last three seasons with Montez as the starter. Fans of any team lay a good chunk of the responsibility for the team’s record on the quarterback. Montez was never able to get the team to the promised land, and that is why he will not be looked in the same light as other CU quarterbacks, such as Kordell Stewart and even Sefo Liufau.
However, there are plenty of people within the Buffaloes’ faithful who supported Montez, including Keith McCormick, a Buffaloes fan for 60 years who lives in Westminster, Colorado.
“I’m a fan of Steven Montez,” McCormick said. “I’ve always believed that he plays better under pressure and under a faster-paced game.”
Montez’s Biggest Home Win: September 7, 2019 Versus Nebraska
One example of Montez playing well under pressure was on September 7, 2019, when the Buffaloes welcomed the rival Nebraska Cornhuskers to Folsom Field.
They trailed Nebraska 17-0 at halftime and looked out of sorts under new head coach Mel Tucker. Then, the Buffaloes offense and Montez alike got going in the second half.
McCormick remembers the play that ended with 14:06 remaining in the fourth quarter that cut Nebraska’s lead to 17-14. It was the flea flicker to wide receiver K.D. Nixon that silenced the Nebraska invaders at Folsom Field. Montez took the pitch back from running back Alex Fontenot and threw the ball deep down the middle of the field to Nixon, who dashed into the end zone.
“That one play completely turned the game around, and the momentum and the emotion and gave (the Buffaloes) the opportunity to come back,” McCormick said.
It was time for Montez to come up strong in the clutch. The offense got to the Nebraska 26-yard line with 46 seconds left to play, and Montez threw a perfectly placed pass to wide receiver Tony Brown in the right corner of the end zone to tie the game at 31. The Buffaloes would go on to win the game in overtime, 34-31, with Montez recording 375 yards passing with two touchdowns and one interception to go along with it. Both McCormick and Neill Woelk believe that this game was his legacy game.
going to go down as his highlight as a CU Buff,” McCormick said.
“That’s the kind of game that I’m going to remember from Steven because it demanded a big play at a big moment,” Woelk said.
Montez Also Beat Nebraska On the Road in 2018
Along with the heroics of 2019, Montez led the Buffaloes to victory against the Cornhuskers in Lincoln on September 8, 2018. He was able to accomplish this in what was Nebraska head coach Scott Frost’s first game in charge. Frost, who was Nebraska’s quarterback on their national championship-winning team in 1997 and is revered by the Cornhusker faithful. The Buffaloes played spoiler, as the offense got the ball back with 2:23 left to play in the game. Montez delivered, as he hit wide receiver Laviska Shenault for a 40-yard touchdown with 1:06 left to play, giving the Buffaloes a 33-28 lead. The defense would hold on for the victory.
When Buffaloes fans think Steven Montez, the two wins against Nebraska will stand out as some of the best memories of the team while he was quarterback. Even though Nebraska football may be looked at by some as worse than Colorado, the win was vitally important to Buffaloes fans.
Beating Oregon in 2016 Another One of Montez’s Great Moments
Another standout game in the minds of many fans was Montez’s first start of his career his redshirt freshman year in 2016. The Buffaloes had never beat Oregon since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, and Montez had to come in relief for injured starting quarterback Sefo Liufau. Montez introduced himself to the fans and left a great first impression, leading the Buffaloes to a 41-38 victory in Eugene. Drew Sharek was particularly impressed with many throws by Montez in this game, including his pass to wide receiver Bryce Bobo to give the Buffaloes the lead in the fourth quarter.
was incredible to see him scramble around (the pocket), stay calm, and make
some absolutely perfect throws,” Sharek said.
Oregon was thought to be a stepping stone for greater achievements to be had in
Montez’s career, but Brandon Westbrook believes these achievements never came.
would have thought he would have gotten better over the years but I actually think
he regressed each year,” Westbrook said.
Frustrating Losses Also a Part of Montez’s Legacy
A frustrating loss that sticks out in Westbrook’s mind is when the Buffaloes played USC on October 25, 2019 in Montez’s senior season. The Buffaloes were coming into the game off of two embarrassing road losses to Oregon and Washington State, 45-3 and 41-10, respectively. The Buffaloes built up a 31-21 lead going into the fourth quarter but would ultimately lose the game 35-31.
Montez left the game momentarily late in the third quarter after he took a hit while rolling out to his left. He came back, and Westbrook thought he did not look the same. Even though it was the defense that gave up the 10-point lead, Montez and the offense had one last chance. On a 4th and 4 in the Buffaloes’ own territory, Montez threw a swing route to running back Alex Fontenot that was behind the line of scrimmage. Westbrook believes this was a bad decision by Montez and a product of not being able to improve each year.
“When the offense is looking out of sync, that comes back on the quarterback,” Westbrook said.
Inconsistencies Go Back to Constant Coaching Carousel
may have been wildly inconsistent at many points throughout his career, but he
also had to deal with coaching changes throughout his career. He had three
quarterback coaches, three offensive coordinators, and two different head
coaches in his career. Neill Woelk attributes this as one of the main reasons
Montez was inconsistent.
been hard for Steven to develop any kind of continuity because every year
there’s a new quarterback coach saying, okay, this is the way we do things,”
have expected the Buffaloes to have more success with Montez at quarterback,
but it never yielded the results of a bowl game. However, Keith McCormick felt
empathetic towards Montez with having to go through coaching changes.
just felt for the kid,” McCormick said. “(Montez) had a lot on his plate during
mid-season last year. I know he was close to coach (Mike) MacIntyre.”
Montez could have foregone his senior season to test the NFL waters but decided to stay. He had some good moments as the quarterback on first-year head coach Mel Tucker’s team. He led the Buffaloes to surprise victories in conference against Stanford and Washington. Although the season did produce its struggles, Tucker stood by Montez the whole season.
“Hats off to Mel Tucker for hanging in with him and letting him finish out his senior year,” McCormick said.
Montez Will Be Remembered As Decent, Not Great Quarterback
Some of Montez’s struggles can be attributed to the coaching changes, but he kept showing the same inconsistencies throughout his time at CU. He was never able to elevate his play enough against good teams, and that will be the knock against him. Steven Montez was a great statistical quarterback at CU, but in reality, he was a decent to average quarterback for the Buffaloes.
McCormick goes up to Boulder for the parade before the first game each year and met Steven Montez at this parade.
was taking some video and he walked right past me,” McCormick said. “I took a
couple snapshots and a selfie, and he was very professional about it, very
friendly and talked with me.”
Willie Taggart, Chad Morris, and Matt Luke are all college football coaches who were fired, while Clay Helton, Will Muschamp, and Kevin Sumlin were all retained. It is abundantly clear that many college football programs do not make good decisions when it comes to deciding whether to retain or fire their head coaches. So I am here to help. I have come up with a simple, absolutely genius, and foolproof Coaching Test to determine whether or not your head coach needs to be fired. Thanks to social media, fans, and boosters that scream about wanting their coaches fired are now heard except at USC. More often than not get their wish granted.
2019 Coaching Changes
As of December 12th, there have been 15 FBS head coaching jobs that have come open. All of the schools fired their coaches except two. Chris Petersen (Wash) and Jeff Tedford (Fresno St) unexpectedly resigned.
The Power 5 firings happened at Arkansas, Missouri, Florida State, Ole Miss, Boston College, and Rutgers (Is it ok to call them Power 5).
None of these coaching changes were unexpected, but were they justified? Often, coaches are on an extremely short leash and are expected to win now despite the dysfunction they inherited. College football fans and school administrations demand microwave results for problems that took years to make.
Fans and boosters have called for Clay Helton (USC), Tom, Herman (TEX), Gus Malzahn (AUB) fired. But should they be gone as well?
Cost of firing a coach
With some coaches having enormous buyouts, there are obvious financial ramifications to firing a head coach. For instance, for USC to fire Clay Helton they would have to pay out over $20 million for him and his assistants remaining contracts. Kevin Sumlin is another name that rings a bell. The school just paid Rich Rodriguez a buyout and is probably reluctant to pay another so soon.
In addition to financial ramifications of firing the coach, there is often a lot of uncertainty when you don’t know who the next head coach is going to be. Many fan bases that have called for their coaches to be fired are learning a hard lesson. You may get your wish with your coach being fired, but your new coach may be from the “scratch and dent bin.” There are good coaches in the scratch and dent bin, but they aren’t perfect and have some unsuccessful times in their history. But you got what you wanted, a new coach.
Most importantly, recruiting classes are often destroyed when recruits believe a coach will be fired. No matter how good a coach is, he cannot win without players.
Unafraid Show Coaching Test
Every head coach needs to be reevaluated every season. It does not matter whether the coach went undefeated and won the championship or went defeated and zero games. You only need to answer two questions to know whether your coach needs to be fired or not.
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Is there a coach that is guaranteed to take your job that is better than your current coach? Example: James Franklin is the head coach at Penn State. In fact, they just gave him an extension. He is winning football games while recruiting well, but PSU would fire him without a second thought if Dabo Swinney or Nick Saban were walking through that door. Often coaches are fired, and the schools have no clue who will replace him. I believe that is part of the reason USC did not fire Clay Helton. They kicked the tires on Bob Stoops and Urban Meyer but ultimately couldn’t get a deal done. So, Helton lives to “fight on” for another day.
Coaches are more often valuing the stability at a top 11-25 job rather than jumping at the chance to coach a top 10 team.
Is there still hope? Can your current coach go into the living rooms of 17-21-year-old players and sell them and their parents on the fact that the future of your program is brighter than the past? Can you make them buy-in, believe, and go all-in with you? If you can’t answer both of these questions in the affirmative, then you need a head coaching change. The Unafraid Coaching Test is a simple and foolproof test. If Athletic Directors and administrators answered these two simple questions every season, they wouldn’t consistently mess up their programs.
This method of determining whether to keep or fire your coach is an easy explanation for the boosters and other influential people around your program. It will keep the waters from being muddied by people with personal agendas and faulty reasoning. When Athletic Directors and administrations listen to the mob of angry fans, they mess up their programs by firing a coach too prematurely, or they rely on their gut/pride and keep the coach too long. The angry mob of fans and boosters change their minds like the wind; their opinions cannot be trusted in the short term. Think about this. Last year Florida State fans couldn’t wait to get Jimbo Fisher out and Willie Taggart in. Now, they would happily take Jimbo back. Texas fans were unsure about Tom Herman’s prospects as head coach. Now the Longhorns fanbase is smiling. Here are a couple of common questions I got when I explained this on the Pac-12 Apostles Podcast:
What if the coach is winning, but he can’t recruit?
If your coach can’t recruit, then he can’t win long term. If he can’t win, there will be a loss of hope. When the loss of hope happens, fire your coach. Don’t fire a winning coach!
Those people that tell you “recruiting stars don’t matter” are delusional. There is no coincidence that the best teams in college football every year finish at the top of the recruiting rankings.
What if the coach recruits well, constantly goes 8-5 or 9-4, and can never get you “over the hump”?
This is clearly referring to the coaches like Tom Herman and Mark Dantonio. These coaches are expected to compete for conference championships and sometimes be in the national championship conversation. Coaches that consistently recruit well stay in around 8-9 wins per season. They are really close to breaking through and will eventually win the conference. But, fan bases aren’t happy with nine wins per season. They want a maximum of one loss per season. It is damn near impossible to put up win totals like Nick Saban every year.
Next time you get into a discussion about whether or not the coach of your favorite college football team needs to be fired refer to the Unafraid Coaching Test.
At 9 and 1, the Utah Utes are truly coming into their own. After moving from the Mountain West Conference to the Pac-12, they took a few seasons to get their feet under them. Now. ranked No. 7 in the nation (just one spot behind Oregon), the Utah Utes are making their name known. Just two more regular-season games and a pivotal clash against the Oregon Ducks in the Pac-12 Championship. If the Utes win all three, they earn College Football Playoffs or at least a Rose Bowl appearance.
Utah vs Oregon. Who gets playoffs?
The gap between the Utah Utes and Oregon Ducks is slight. Both programs sit at 9 and 1 in the Pac-12 and they are side by side in the AP rankings. Additionally, Oregon’s only loss this season came to Auburn (currently ranked 15th), while USC (currently ranked 23rd) beat Utah. ESPN’s Football Power Index gives Oregon a 48.1-percent chance of winning the Pac-12 Title and Utah a 38.1-percent chance. It’s ever so close.
Across the experts, analysts and fans, the debate is tight. SB Nation’s Fan Pulse ranked Utah at 7 and Oregon at 8. Even ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura and Mark Schlabach are split in their Oregon vs Utah projections. While both have LSU making the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Bonagura has Utah and Schlabach picked Oregon.
Ever so close to each other, here’s why the Utah Utes will reign supreme in the Pac-12.
The Utah Utes Defense is Elite
Through 10 games, they’ve allowed just 11.3 points-per-game to opponents. They are elite.
According to PFF grading, Utah’s defense is the third-best in the FBS. Breaking it down further, PFF ranked Utah top-five in both run-defense and coverage. Against Utah, runners average 2.3 yards-per-carry, while only scoring three rushing touchdowns against them all season. There’s no room to run with stars like Leki Fotu and John Penisini hovering.
In coverage, the Utah Utes are equally impressive. Terrell Burgess and Julian Blackmon are at the top of their game. Opposing quarterbacks average:
56-percent Completion Percentage
193 Passing Yards
1 Passing Touchdown
Their defense is stout against the run, can cover any receiver and is opportunistic. In addition to their 13 interceptions, the Utes also have 7 fumble recoveries. They capitalize on mistakes. And, they limit opposing big plays.
For anyone that watches Utah Utes games, Tyler Huntley is the Russell Wilson of college football. Efficient, accurate and deadly in limited opportunities. Remember that Tyler Huntley was the best quarterback in the Pac-12 and still is now. He’s the big reason why the Utah Utes are averaging 34.7 points-per-game and blowing out opponents.
Yes, Justin Herbert is still ranked as the better quarterback prospect by most. But, come on, we can’t keep ignoring Huntley. His efficiency is off the charts!
In comparison, Justin Herbert only ranks higher than Huntley in passing yards and passing touchdowns. The rest goes to Huntley and proves he’s the better quarterback right now.
In addition, Zack Moss continues to prove he’s a top running back prospect.
His stats this season are unbelievable:
61 broken tackles on 154 carries
955 rushing yards
288 receiving yards
14 total touchdowns
Moss is powerful, physical runner. He’s difficult to tackle and has the ability to take any carry to the house. Combining his rushing talent with Huntley’s elite passing created the best offense in the Pac-12.
Utah Utes and Oregon Ducks common opponents
So far this season, the Utes and Ducks had four common opponents. USC, Washington State, Cal and Washington. In those matchups, Oregon won all four. The Utah Utes, on the other hand, lost to USC. So, Oregon is 4-0 against common opponents, while Utah is 3-1. The edge goes to Oregon. Right?
Actually, it’s a bit more complicated. Oregon handily beat USC 56-24, while Utah lost 23-30. They also both let Washington keep it close. But, Utah beat Cal and Washington State by far better margins. Oregon won 17-7 against Cal. Meanwhile, Utah torched Cal 35-0. Additionally, Oregon barely beat Washington State 37-35. But, Utah won with ease 38-13.
Yes, they lost to USC. But, it’s far closer than people think. Utah is proving to be a powerful adversary.
The first College Football Playoff Committee rankings were released and this is the perfect time to start the “Road to the CFB Playoff” series. I will examine every team with a realistic path to the top four and how they can get there. Every Sunday I release the College Football Top 10 Rankings As It Should Be. Nine of my top teams were there, and 1-5 were almost exactly like the committees, except mine, are ranked by three criteria: quality wins, schedule played, and dominance.
College Football Playoff Committee Rankings Week 11
From the Top 25 teams, there are 12 teams with ANY shot to make the top four. The entire top 10 is in play plus Baylor and Minnesota. Auburn is eliminated for now because they have no path to the SEC Championship game, and would need a lot of weird things to happen. Plus they would need to beat Georgia and Alabama. The same is true of Wisconsin. They have a path to the Big Ten championship, but chaos would have to happen for them to get in the top four.
As of this week here is how it appears the CFB Playoff Top 4 will shake out.
Undefeated Big Ten Winner- Ohio State, Penn State, Minnesota
Undefeated or 1 loss SEC Champion- LSU, Alabama, Georgia
Pac-12 Champion- Oregon, Utah
Now one to each team and their path(s)
Ohio State: Win and they are in. There is no scenario where they are undefeated and/or win the Big Ten Championship with one loss and don’t get in (it would be impossible for them to lose to Rutgers or Maryland). Even if the Buckeyes lost to Penn State in a couple of weeks, they would have a strong case compared to 1-loss Alabama, Oregon, Utah. The Buckeyes could make it undefeated to the Big Ten Championship and lose to Minnesota which would send college football into a tailspin.
LSU: Win and they are in. Beat Alabama, don’t get tripped up by Ole Miss, Arkansas (LOL), or Texas A&M. Ohio State and LSU are the only teams that could lose in their conference championship games and still have a playoff case.
Alabama: The Crimson Tide have NO room for error in 2019. Their awful non-conference schedule plus only playing no ranked teams before this weekend against LSU will hurt. Even if Alabama beats LSU and goes on to the SEC Championship and loses to 1-loss Georgia, they will be out unless Ohio State, Penn State, or Clemson lose in their conference game to a 1 or more loss team.
Penn State: Win out and no one can leapfrog them. Penn State has a better resume than Alabama but the CFB Playoff committee still put them behind Bama, so is there any way the Nittany Lions get in the pot four with a loss? I do not see a scenario that doesn’t involve Ohio State losing twice and PSU winning the Big Ten Championship which is far fetched.
Clemson: There are two ways Clemson gets in; win out and they are guaranteed a playoff spot, or pray for the unlikely demise of about 3-4 teams. We won’t even go down that rabbit hole, it’s too weird.
Georgia: There is only one way Georgia gets in, winning out. They cannot afford any more losses. The CFB Rankings already rewarded them for the Florida and Notre Dame wins more than it punished them for the horrendous S. Carolina loss. Even if UGA wins the SEC Championship but loses one of their last three games to Auburn, Texas A&M, or Georgia Tech they will be left out of a playoff of undefeated Big Ten champ, Clemson, 1 l-loss Pac-12 champ.
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Oregon and Utah: The Pac-12 is very alive even though people tried to bury them early in the season. Both teams are in nearly the exact same situation. If both teams are 11-1 when they meet in the Pac-12 championship it should be a top 5 or 5 vs 6 matchup. The winner will most likely get in the playoff. Oregon will have a better shot than Utah because traditionally, the committee has leaned toward named brand teams.
Oklahoma: Lincoln Riley’s team is sitting at #9. It is much lower than most people thought, but right about where I had them in the College Football Playoff Rankings As It Should Be (CFPRAISB). They need Oregon or Utah to lose and the other win the Pac-12. In addition, they need LSU to beat Alabama. They also need to beat Baylor twice and Baylor to finish 11-2. A Clemson loss wouldn’t hurt either.
Florida: Florida needs a miracle at this point. Their last three games are Missouri, Vanderbilt, and Florida State. None of those games move the needle. They would also need Georgia to lose two games to send Florida to the SEC Championship. If that happens they would need to beat an undefeated LSU or Alabama. And… nevermind. It’s not happening.
Baylor: The Bears are in the same situation they were in in 2015 when Ohio State jumped Baylor and TCU. They don’t have the respect of the nation. The difference is that they are still undefeated. Baylor needs to dominate Texas, beat Oklahoma twice, or beat K-State in the Big 12 championship.
Minnesota: Win out and they will make the playoff. They sit at #17 right now, but if they defeat Penn State, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Ohio State over the next five weeks they will be the #1 team in the nation. No one will have run a gauntlet like that.
This playoff top four would be a lot easier to figure out and there would be no need for expansion if teams scheduled better. Imagine a college football world where everyone scheduled 10 or 11 Power Five games. Every Saturday would be power-packed. That is part of the reason there are some who believe the traditional conference model will go away and there will be one super conference of around 30 teams that only play each other.
The way this season is shaping up, everyone may be on board with an 8 team playoff. There will be so many 1 loss teams who will be deserving of a chance to play for a championship. Wouldn’t it just make more sense to have the five Power 5 champions and highest-ranked Group of 5 team to get automatic bids? There would still be two spots left for at-large bids. You would always get the best and most deserving teams in the tournament. That might actually cause teams to schedule better non-conference games because they would know they could still get in the CFB Playoffs with 1-2 losses. Fans would then get better games.
While the Oregon Ducks held onto the spotlight with their seventh-straight win, the Utah Utes deserve more recognition. Granted, the Utes are ranked ninth in the nation, but they still don’t get the love they deserve from Pac-12 fans. With a top defense and an effective offense, the Utah Utes are the best team in the Pac-12.
The Oregon Ducks showed weakness against Washington and Washington State
After dominating opponents for five straight weeks, Oregon slipped. Now, they didn’t lose to Washington or Washington State. But, their wins were too close for a top team.
Nevada, Montana, Stanford, Cal and Colorado: 195 Points Scored: 25 Points Allowed
Washington and Washington State: 72 Points Scored: 66 Points Allowed
Against Washington and Washington State, Oregon’s point differential dropped from Plus-175 to Plus-6. Their defense bent against Jacob Eason and Anthony Gordon.
Additionally, they also needed heroic wins against the Huskies and Cougars. In Week 8, the Oregon Ducks overcame a 14-point deficit and got the benefit of a late, no-call on the Huskies final drive. Additionally, they needed a last-second field goal to beat the Cougars. Yes, the Ducks got the wins, but it wasn’t pretty.
Additionally, Utah has PFF’s two highest graded defenders, Julian Blackmon (86) and Terrell Burgess (84). These safeties are just one reason why Utah steamrolls its opponents. Defensively, the Utah Utes have it all. Teams can’t run against them, pass against them or score against them. It’s a deadly squad ready to win a championship.
Quality and consistent on offense
With such a stifling defense, the Utah Utes only need an average offense to compete. A game-manager at quarterback would suffice. Considering that their holding opponents to 10.3 points per game, the offense doesn’t have to do much.
However, Utah’s offense is putting up 33.1 points per game with a quality, balanced, offensive system. In six of their eight games, they’ve scored at least 30 points. Their quarterback, Tyler Huntley, is having a quiet and underrated season. Currently, Huntley has 1,778 passing yards, 10 passing touchdowns, 229 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns and just one interception.
Additionally, per PFF, Huntley ranks first in the nation in Adjusted Completion Percentage. This metric factors out “dropped passes, throwaways, spiked balls, batted passes and passes where the QB was hit as he threw the ball.” His 86.9-percent Adjusted Completion Percentage displays his elite accuracy. Huntley’s 10.3 yards per attempt (6th in nation) and 123.4 passer rating (7th in the nation) show how underrated he is. Huntley is accurate, efficient and elite. Don’t sleep on Tyler Huntley.
Moreover, the Utah Utes utilize their powerful running back, Zack Moss. Moss, per PFF, is forcing a missed tackle on 45-percent of his rush attempts, third highest of the league. His five forced missed tackles and 65 yards after contact in their recent win display this. Moss’ 10 rushing touchdowns lead the Pac-12 and he also rolled up 728 rushing yards. Keep in mind, Utah’s benched Moss multiple times this season in blowout wins. If he played every quarter this season, he’d likely have over 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns. Moss is a top runner in the nation and the Utah Utes lean on him to close out games.
Move Aside Oregon, it’s time for the Utah Utes to rise
In almost every defensive metric, the Utah Utes are better than the Oregon Ducks. Additionally, quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss are efficient and productive when called upon. They have an elite defense, a strong offense, and every reason to be crowned as the Pac-12 kings.
The UW football team just lost to a second-string quarterback who didn’t even complete the game. Davis Mills left during the third quarter and Jack West played the rest of the game… without throwing a single pass.
Against Stanford, the UW football team was lackluster and disastrous. They were outgained 482-294 yards and beat 13-23 even though they were 17-point favorites. With another unexpected loss, the Huskies lost their chance for college football playoffs and likely any chance at a Pac-12 title.
1-2 in Conference Games
In Pac-12 football games, the UW football team is not meeting expectations. Against Cal, at least they lost to a team that beat North Texas and Mississippi in the following weeks. There was also a lightning weather-delay. If the Huskies kept winning, the ranking system could brush the Cal loss away.
But come on. A loss to Stanford. Really? This was a Stanford team that had a losing record, lost its starting quarterback and was playing three freshmen on the offensive line. It was an inexcusable loss. Their conference game record is a reflection of a defense that lacks turnovers and an offense without creativity.
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Jacob Eason in three non-conference games:
77.5-percent completion percentage
901 passing yards
Jacob Eason in three conference games
54.3-percent completion percentage
548 passing yards
Is UW football’s conference record all Jacob Eason’s fault. No. Yes, he certainly has made mistakes and lacks consistency. However, his receivers, offensive system and personnel groupings aren’t doing him any favors. Against Stanford, Eason targeted Aaron Fuller 17 times for 9 receptions and 171 yards. On his other 19 targets, his receivers totaled just 7 receptions for 35 yards. With the pressure the Husky offensive line let through, Eason needed playmakers. But his receivers either couldn’t get open or dropped big-time throws.
On the year, Fuller and Hunter Bryant are the most consistent receiving threats for Washington. In 2019, the Huskies just four receivers with 10 or more receptions. The targets are heavily consolidated. But worse, Andre Baccellia totals just 6 receptions for 41 yards and zero touchdowns. He’s the wideout opposite of Fuller and lacks Pac-12 production. Yet, the coaches are still putting him out there as a starter. Either he isn’t getting open, drops passes, or he doesn’t have chemistry with Eason. Bottom line, he needs to step up or step off the field.
If the UW football team wants to have more offensive success, they need to start experimenting with different receivers and play calls that will give Eason open looks.
Washington Huskies vs Arizona
Now, the Dawgs face off against an Arizona football team on a four-game win streak. After their loss to Hawaii, they beat Northern Arizona, Texas Tech, UCLA and Colorado. Yes, the Huskies are 9.5 favorites to win the game, but they were 17 point favorites against Stanford. Everyone saw where that got them. Arizona is a good team on a streak. They put up 35 points against Colorado last week. In comparison, UW’s highest point-total against Pac-12 competition this season in 28 points (against USC). This game is going to be tougher than expected and UW football fans might witness a three-game losing streak.
Chris Peterson and the UW football program need to figure out a better system, offensively and defensively. Whatever it is they’re doing right now is not working.
It’s time to make a change to my College Football Playoff rankings. After Week 5, it’s time to update my top four teams because frankly, my previous number one team has not played like it. I’m still waiting for this team to really show what they can do, but for now, they have been surpassed by four teams. Going into Week 6, my College Football Playoff includes:
If you’ve watched college football this year, there’s no way you can say that Clemson has been one of the four best teams in the country. In fact, my number five team would be Ohio State followed by Clemson at six. Trevor Lawrence and the Tigers have struggled all season and it’s clear there’s a championship hangover in effect. Now, I fully believe Clemson will turn it around and make the CFP, but for now, they’re the odd man out. Here are the Top 5 CFP storylines heading into Week 6.
One Month Before First College Football Playoff Rankings
We are just about a month away from the release of the first College Football Playoff rankings. If the rankings were to be released today, the top four would be Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio State. Does being in the top four in the first ranking matter? Since the CFP’s inception, 13 of the 20 teams revealed in the first week made the CFP. So, teams will be fighting to make the first ranking over the next month. Buckle up.
Get All Details on CA’s Fair Play Act and NY, Colorado, S. Carolina, and Florida Bills on the Podcast
Jim Harbaugh’s Last Stand
After the first month of the season, did you ever think that Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh would be on the hot seat? One close win against Army and one ass-kicking against Wisconsin put Harbaugh’s job in jeopardy. This Saturday, Michigan welcomes the undefeated Iowa Hawkeyes to the Big House. This is a must-win game for Michigan. I don’t care what happens the rest of the season. If Harbaugh can’t beat Iowa at home, he doesn’t deserve to coach Michigan.
Auburn Continues To Run The Gauntlet
Defeat Oregon on a neutral site? No problem. Beat Texas A&M at Kyle Field? No problem. So far, Auburn passed every challenge with flying colors. Unfortunately for the Tigers, it’s only going to get harder. Undefeated Auburn heads to the Swamp to take on the undefeated Florida Gators in an SEC showdown. Bo Nix continues to improve as the freshman quarterback has thrown for 980 yards and seven touchdowns to two interceptions while adding two rushing scores. For the Gators, Kyle Trask has flourished since he took over for Feleipe Franks. Trask is 2-0 as the starter this season and has given the Gators a jumpstart on offense. The winner of this game will have a shot at cracking the top 5 in next week’s poll.
Ohio State Is Just Fine Without Urban Meyer
I knew Ohio State would be good, but I never expected it would be this good this quickly. The Buckeyes rank eighth in total offense and second in total defense. Ryan Day taking over for Urban Meyer reminds me a lot of when Lincoln Riley succeeded Bob Stoops. Both teams never missed a beat and even improved. After curb-stomping Nebraska in Lincoln, the Buckeyes return to Columbus to take on a tough Michigan State defense. I can’t wait for the Buckeyes to face Wisconsin at the end of the month.
Watch Out For Texas
Oklahoma, watch out. Oklahoma may have Jalen Hurts, but Texas has Sam Ehlinger, who has arguably been just as impressive. The Longhorn QB has thrown for over 1200 yards with 15 TDs to 1 INT. Texas only has a loss to LSU so if the Longhorns can survive at West Virginia this Saturday, they can take control of the Big 12 with an upset win over Oklahoma next weekend. Please, Texas, don’t lose this weekend.
What are your top College Football Playoff storylines for Week 6? Leave your thoughts in the comments or tweet us, @unafraidshow.
Sitting at No.10 overall, Utah eyes its first college football playoff birth. It’s a great time to be a Utah fan. Their upcoming matchup is the Pac-12 South game of the year. Utah vs USC. No. 10 Utes vs the now-competitive Trojans. If Utah continues to win, they’ll surely rise up the ranks. But, Pac-12 scheduling set this game for Friday night. Will this night game hurt their national exposure? In a line of poor ideas and bad commissioning from Larry Scott, Utah’s late matchup harms both Utah and the Pac-12. The conference outsources it’s scheduling to a company in Colorado. Then the Pac-12 brass, school presidents, and athletic directors approve it.
The Problem with Night Games
Keep in mind, night games are not inherently a problem. Especially for east coast teams and viewers. But, on a Friday night, Pac-12 games can be extremely bothersome. For example, the Utah vs USC game starts at 6:00pm on the west coast. That’s not too bad. For those who get off work at 5:00, they can make it home by the first whistle.
However, that same time is 9:00pm for east coast viewers. It’s not rocket science to figure out why that is a bad idea. Because college football games last an average of 3 1/2 hours, they have to stay up past midnight to see how it ends. 12:30am, at the end of a workweek, to watch a Pac-12 rivalry game. Honestly, how many non-conference fans would commit to that for Pac-12 games? It undermines national exposure for the Pac-12 conference.
Even Chris Peterson agrees with this sentiment.
“It hurts us tremendously in terms of national exposure. No one wants to watch our game on the East Coast that late, and we all know it,”
Late games just get less eyes. From fans, from scouts and from the press. For a contending team like Utah, they need all the eyes they can get. But, because of Larry Scott and his ideas, he’s holding back the Pac-12. Again.
We Discuss the Friday Night games more on Pac-12 Apostles Podcast
Why Does Larry Scott Want Late Games?
“The reason we play almost a third of our games at night is that was a way to unlock significant value from television in our last negations,” Scott said. “ESPN and Fox placed a high value on us giving them a little more flexibility and being willing to play more night games.”
“We essentially extend their day,” Scott said. “We give them a whole other window of high-quality, highly rated games. … Playing more night games than we did in the past unlocked the kind of value our schools were looking for.”
To Larry Scott, the exclusivity of the late-night games are worth the pain. With more flexibility to play later, he claims to obtain “high value”. However, perhaps it is just a complete lack of leverage. Recall that Larry Scott deliberately put a wedge between major networks and the Pac-12. Betting on the Pac-12 Network to hit it big didn’t happen. Because every other power five conference has contracts with these networks, it leaves the Pac-12 to pick up the scraps. So, instead of putting the lower-ranked teams in the Friday night lights, Larry Scott and the Pac-12 schedulers put Utah.
For goodness sake, the Utah vs USC game deserves to get national exposure. The Utes deserve that. Does anyone think Roll Tide fans would stand for this? Of course not. If Larry Scott wants a Pac-12 program to make it to the college playoffs, he has to put steps in place for them to get there. Playing on Saturday, during the day, when everyone can view them, is best practice. But, then again, it’s unclear if Larry Scott actually knows what’s best for the Pac-12.