Deion Sanders Is Making An Extremely Risky Bet On the Transfer Portal To Make Colorado A Winner

Deion Colorado

We need to talk about Deion Sanders.

42,277 people attended Colorado’s Spring Game last weekend, and that’s about the same number of players that have asked to transfer or been cut in the last week. 

I hope Deion Sanders knows what he’s doing. Because I’m going to be honest- as a Pac-12 fan. As someone who has a podcast covering the Pac-12. As someone who played at a current Pac-12 school… I don’t know what he’s doing. 

Maybe I’m shortsighted. Maybe I don’t see the vision. 

But my lifelong understanding of the game of football has led me to believe that in order to play football, you need football players. 

As of this moment, with over 50 scholarship players hitting the exit since Deion’s arrival, they don’t have the ability to field a competitive team next year. 

Yes, I know players will transfer in. But Deion and Colorado aren’t going to be the only ones chasing available prospects. 

Deion Sanders told Pat MacAfee that one of the reasons he cut so many players was because in order to make room for new furniture, you have to get rid of old furniture. 

While I’m sure the players he got rid of will like being described as old furniture as much as they’ve enjoyed not being given access to their 2022 practice film in order to help themselves land a new spot, I understand his metaphor. 

But the difference between furniture shopping to fill a new house- something I’m literally in the middle of doing, and hunting the right prospects that have a higher pedigree and more potential to help you win, is that you don’t bid on a one-of-a-kind dining room table against 50 other shoppers.

Deion seems to be assuming that his cult of personality is going to lead him to be the primary option for the country’s elite displaced blue chip prospects. And maybe he’s right. Betting on himself is what got him in this position in the first place. 

But you don’t churn three-fourths of a roster unless you plan on winning now, and in the Pac-12, you just don’t win without depth. Is he really going to be able to re-stock, establish chemistry, and develop talent in time to be able to go head to head with Lincoln Riley and Dan Lanning?

And speaking of other Pac-12 coaches; you have master developers out here like Jonathan Smith at Oregon State, and Kyle Whittingham at Utah. They’ll take a JuCo DB or a two star skinny lineman from Texas and turn them into NFL draft picks. They are teachers, which up until recently, seemed to be one of the primary functions of coaching. 

What does it say about your own faith in your ability to develop if you spend a few weeks around someone and tell them they’re better off anywhere but in your presence?

Deion’s son, Deion Sanders Jr., responded to that exact criticism on Twitter, saying the game has changed because as a coach you only have 2-3 years to make a team competitive or you’ll be fired, so coaches are motivated to instead seek out ready-made ballers.

But this assumes the portal is full of exactly that. And it isn’t. Outside of a few select prospects testing a still-turbulent NIL market, it’s almost all leftover musical chairs. The only way to get ready-made ballers is to have the resources to entice them. Does Colorado have that cash? More than USC? More than Oregon? 

And even if you have the resources, you need to be careful the way you backdoor some of these transfers. You get a kid in trouble because you had a handler put a feeler out there to see if a backup SEC DB might be interested in a move to Boulder, is that kid, his family, or the handler going to fall on the grenade if the NCAA comes knocking?

Deion Sanders told a 247 Sports reporter who inquired about the cuts that he knows what he’s doing, and “it isn’t his first rodeo.” Where I’d push back on that is that it’s EVERYBODY’S FIRST RODEO. 

This is a brave new world of college football, and almost nobody knows what they’re doing. 

But sometimes, when the boundaries are undefined, it’s better to move fast, break things, and ask for forgiveness instead of permission. I hope for Colorado’s sake that this is one of those times. 

Let that sink in.

Caleb Williams Is The Villain College Football Needs in 2023

We need to talk about Heisman winner Caleb Williams, and why USC losing three games this year might be the best thing for college football in 2023.

Caleb Williams is electric. He might be the most elusive quarterback behind the line of scrimmage of all time. That’s right, I said it. All time. 

He’s an elite passer, has game changing speed, absurd pocket awareness, and is one of the most sound decision makers in all of college football. 

The thing I like most about Caleb Williams is that he has the mindset at all times that no one is going to outcompete him. 

Every good story needs a villain, but the best villains are the ones you secretly like.

Stephanie Garber

Now, I’ve been accused of being a USC hater, so to some, this is going to sound like I’m celebrating the Trojans demise after Tulane scored 46 points in the Cotton Bowl, despite only EIGHT pass completions, to move Lincoln Riley to 1-4 all-time in New Year’s 6 Bowl games. 

I’m not celebrating, but I’m also not mad about it. 

USC losing that football game, as well as losing twice against Utah in 2022, sets college football up for an incredibly compelling narrative heading into the 2023 season. 

There’s a Stephanie Garber quote that says “Every good story needs a villain, but the best villains are the ones you secretly like.

In a vacuum, it’s impossible to hate Caleb Williams, or to think of him as a villain. But when you put his 11-3 season, and Heisman run in context, you see Williams’ villain arc come into focus. 

Everyone is a villain to somebody, so of course USC’s natural rivals, Notre Dame and UCLA both have a reason to hate Caleb Williams. And of course the entire Pac-12 is sore about USC heading to the Big 10, so there’s 10 more teams rooting on Williams’ demise. But when you add in Williams fingernails being painted to say F ASU and F Utah, you now add an extra bit of spice to those games next year. 

Plus, let’s not forget all of Sooner nation praying on Williams downfall for following Lincoln Riley from Norman to Los Angeles. And you know that Texas fans haven’t forgotten Caleb Williams coming in down 28-7 in the Red River Showdown and leading the Sooners on a 48-20 run, and a win. I can’t imagine Longhorn fans are rooting for Williams just because he left Oklahoma. 

And I’ve heard from enough Tennessee and Texas Christian fans that think Caleb Williams shouldn’t have even been the Heisman winner, and when you consider that Williams had the lowest percentage of available points for any QB winner since Robert Griffin III, it would seem that a decent amount of this country’s sports media agrees with that sentiment.

2023 is setting up to be a high stakes revenge tour that that we probably wouldn’t have gotten if USC had made the college football playoff in 2022. Williams still having a year of eligibility left, with the target on his back of being the defending Heisman winner, and the surefire #1 overall pick in 2024, in the Trojans last year in a conference filled with players poised to make their own Heisman runs in Bo Nix and Michael Penix Jr, and with Utah returning as the bully on the block?

You couldn’t script a better drama than this. 

Get your popcorn and your fancy fingernail polish ready, because next year’s fixing to be a movie. 

Let that sink in.

The Transfer Portal Is A Good Thing- But You Can Have Too Much of a Good Thing.

We need to talk about these restless college football youths.The transfer portal is a good thing, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. 

I love players being able to transfer, and have the same freedoms as the coaches and administrators that make a living off of their blood sweat and tears. 

But just like how not every coaching move is the right one, there’s often a price to pay for movement for the sake of comfort or short term gains. 

Have you ever been driving the speed limit, and someone comes along whipping in and out of traffic like they’re in a Fast and Furious reboot, only to end up sitting at the same exact red light. 

Now they won’t look you in the eye because you know and they know they didn’t have to do all that movement for the sake of movement?

Some of these players are hitting the portal two or three times only to end up in the exact same place as they would have had they just stayed the course. 

Fans used to be able to invest their interest in 90% of any given roster to stick around for anywhere from 3-5 years. While most people are fans of the laundry above all else, many did invest deeply in the personalities and talents of the young men that elected to represent the university they love.

Now you have NFL-level roster turnover in the NCAA.

Whether or not it’s a fallacy that fans were able to separate the NFL being a business from the so-called purity of the NCAA’s “amateurism cartel,” the fact that players stuck around and earned their place both on the field and in the hearts of the fans is a very real reason why people love the sport.

I don’t fault people for hating that the transfer portal takes them out of the fantasy that college football isn’t a business. 

But it is a business. And if we’re being honest, some of these players and their families are out here making Sam Bankman-Fried style short term business decisions.

Your business might be booming today, but if you’re not smart, it could be belly up tomorrow.

Look, there are a lot of lies told on the recruiting trail, but the whole thing about how your college choice is a 40 year decision isn’t one of them. 

I cannot tell you how blessed I’ve been to be part of the Oregon Duck community as I’ve gotten older. Do you think I’d have the same networking and relationship benefits if instead of jumping to the NFL after three years in Eugene, I’d treated my lack of playing time as a freshman like it was everyone else’s fault but mine? Or what if I’d decided to take this smile to Seattle for the million dollars my mother says it’s worth?

You’d be surprised how fast a million dollars gets spent. Even a million after tax. And now I’m old and wise enough to know there’s no amount of money I’d take to be a Husky. 

I’m just playing, Washington fans. 

My point is this. If you’re out here selling yourself to the highest bidder, don’t sell yourself short.

Yes, having a bank balance is better than being broke. Yes it feels better to be built up by recruiters than broken down by coaches, and yes it’s sometimes hard to reconcile when the recruiter and the coach are the same person. 

But nothing feels better than proving yourself where you planted yourself, and discovering that your worth goes beyond your net worth. 

Maybe the best spot for you is somewhere else. And every case is different. Especially for quarterbacks, or other positions where only one person can play. But wherever the best spot for you is, it will only be because you brought the best version of yourself to that spot. 

And if you haven’t brought the best version of yourself to the spot you’re already in, you might want to try that before jumping ship. 

I think you might find that it’s good for business.

Let that sink in.

I’m Disappointed Deion Sanders Left Jackson State for Colorado, But I Get Why He Did It.

I said I’d roast Deion Sanders if he left Jackson State.

I said I would. 

But if Prime can switch up, so can I. 

Let’s get into it.

My main issue is that I felt like the job at Jackson State, of getting eyeballs on the HBCU as a viable academic and athletic option, wasn’t finished. And to be honest, I still don’t think it’s finished. But who says it has to be Deion Sanders that finishes it?

In a metaphor I’m sure Deion could appreciate, Moses didn’t see the promised land. Some progress is generational, and it’s very possible that the foundation has been laid for people to come in and build the house that will stand for years to come.

Look, I get it. When Deion said “you either get elevated or terminated” as a coach, I felt that. In the performing arts world, he’s following the credo of “leave them wanting more.” 

In the process, he’s trying to create opportunities for some of his assistants by recommending his own replacement at Jackson State, and create an opportunity for more assistants in his new position at Colorado. 

I cover the Pac-12, and everybody that knows anything about college football knows what a special place Folsom Field is, and wants to see a competitive Buffaloes team instead of the doormat they’ve been for the last two decades. 

Deion making his way to the Conference of Champions is only going to make my life more fun. He’s one of the biggest stars in all of sports, and he’s going to stand out spectacularly in a conference that isn’t exactly known for its dynamic coaching personalities. 

And in thinking about myself and how this impacts me, I came to the re-realization that none of this is charity. Deion Sanders wasn’t at Jackson State to change lives and elevate the HBCUs. The fact that he did that is simply a byproduct of who he is. And Deion isn’t headed to Boulder because he has fond memories of Kordell Stewart and Rashaan Salaam, he’s there because they’re offering him market value for his services, and he’s ready to elevate to meet the next challenge.

Colorado administrators have to know that Prime is only here until the next challenge presents itself, and kudos to them for understanding that they need a jolt like this and still making the investment. Some people are here for a long time, and some people are here for a good time. In business, there are operators and there are owners. Operators are in love with running the business. Owners are about investment and returns. Maybe Deion’s calling is to be an owner. 

And in the end, Colorado, just like Jackson State, will be better for it.

Let that sink in.

NIL and the Transfer Portal Can Take You From the Outhouse to the Penthouse, Or Vice Versa

We need to talk about the new age of parity in college football.

It’s never been harder to be great in college football, but it’s never been easier to be good.

One of the things that has kept the NFL the most compelling American sport is its parity- the ability for a team that is completely out of the playoff picture to make a couple of staff adjustments, hit on a few draft picks, and make a splashy free agency signing to all of the sudden flip from pretender to contender. 

But it also means that the opposite can happen. Look no further than last year’s Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams sitting at 3-8, the worst record in the entire NFC. 

I’m not sure college football fans are ready for that kind of volatility, but they better get ready, because we’re already seeing it to a certain extent. 

With the emergence of the transfer portal, and the ability of schools to tap into Name, Image and Likeness as an enticement for athletes looking to monetize their skillset, every school could potentially be its wealthiest donors shifting focus toward direct player benefits away from being immediately competitive.

Yesterday, at the introductory press conference of new Arizona State head coach Kenny Dillingham, a booster in attendance publicly pledged $1 million dollars toward NIL opportunities

Arizona State went 3-9 this year. Could they be 9-3 next year? With looming sanctions, it’s unlikely, but in this new age of college football, it’s not impossible. 

Look at USC. They were 4-8 last year, hired Lincoln Riley away from Oklahoma, they started buying up players through their NIL collective and now they’re one win away from a College Football Playoff appearance. 

Look at Washington. They went from 73rd in the country in passing offense in 2021 to being the best in the country in one year thanks in part to the transfer portal. 

Tennessee used to have to fill McDonalds bags with recruiting enticements, and now they can do it out in the open. Not only did they just put together a 10-win season with a victory over Alabama, they have one of the top incoming freshmen QBs in the country headed their way with reportedly the largest sum of NIL money to date involved. 

It’s never been easier to spark positive change in a program. If your school has an alumni base with deep pockets, you might just find yourself in the hunt. Shoot, if Donald Trump and Elon Musk wanted to make nice and stop competing with each other for world domination, they could put together a hell of a football team at University of Pennsylvania. 

But the trick is going to be staying good, and making that spark into a flame. Michigan State went from 11-2 last year, and Mel Tucker getting a market-resetting contract extension, to 5-7 this year. And what the football gods gave to USC this year, they took away from University of Oklahoma, who finished the season with their worst record since yours truly was in high school.

And all these sparks will come at the expense of someone. It’s going to be harder and harder for Nick Saban to run the table. Are Alabama fans ready for that? 

Look, just because college football is changing, and things might be more volatile, doesn’t mean you’re not going to still get solid, homegrown, underdog teams that go on magical runs like Cincinnati last year, and TCU this year, who despite changing head coaches, isn’t overly reliant on transfers. Sometimes the volatility of everyone else actually provides more of an advantage for teams with a steady hand and a brick-by-brick mindset. Just look at University of Utah. 

But if you’re a fan of the sport, and you want to keep being a fan of the sport, you need to be open to the idea that the new reality is that anything can happen in any given year. 

And maybe next year could be your year.

Let that sink in.

This Thanksgiving, I’m Grateful for Bo Nix

It’s Thanksgiving Season, and this year, the thing I’m thankful for is something I never could have expected.

I’m thankful for Bo Nix.

Last year at this time, I was still healing from Oregon’s 38-7 beatdown at the hands of the Utah Utes, and was convinced that the loss would cause then head coach Mario Cristobal to redouble his efforts to chase after a National Championship in Eugene.

A lot changed in a very short amount of time.

Mario Cristobal went to Miami. Georgia won a National Championship, and the Ducks hired Defensive Coordinator Dan Lanning as Cristobal’s replacement. 

It wasn’t hard to get behind Dan Lanning, but when I heard Bo Nix was transferring in from Auburn to reunite with former Tigers Offensive Coordinator Kenny Dillingham?

Like any cranberry sauce that wasn’t made by yours truly, that was a hard bit to swallow. 

You can check my Twitter history, I’m not sure I’ve been harder on any college quarterback over the previous three years as I was on Bo Nix. I thought he stunk.

His first college game was against my Ducks, and outside of one throw, I thought he looked terrible. It would be one thing if it was just a random Auburn freshman that had won the job, but this was the #1 Pro Style QB in the class of 2019 according to Rivals, while 247 had him as the #1 Dual Threat QB. 

When I watched at Bo Nix, I didn’t see the #1 anything. And after the first game against Georgia? I might have used the number two to describe some of what I saw. But definitely not #1.

But after the Georgia game, Bo Nix quit being a turkey, and started bringing the stuffing. The stat stuffing. 

Nine wins, 3,500 yards of combined offense, and 40 combined touchdowns later, not only did the Bo Nix help my Ducks get revenge over Utah, they’re on the verge of playing for a Pac-12 title against fellow 5-star transfer QB Caleb Williams and the USC Trojans. 

The job’s not done, but this is a heck of a redemption story for what everyone who knows him swears is an excellent human being. Whether it’s this year or next, he’s going to have a shot at making his NFL dreams a reality, and might even find himself in New York for the Heisman ceremony.

One thing that anyone that has overcome adversity will tell you, is that it teaches you gratitude. Bo Nix has been through a lot as a college quarterback, and while I’m sure he’s grateful for his situation in Eugene, I can speak for the entire Oregon alumni and fan base by saying that after the roller coaster of temporary coaches and inconsistent QB play we’ve had over the past couple seasons, we’re just as grateful for Bo Nix, if not moreso. 

Happy Thanksgiving, and Let that Sink In. 

The Perfect Job for Deion Sanders in 2023 is the One He Already has- Head Coach of Jackson State

We need to talk about Deion Sanders.

Coach Prime has been at Jackson State for three seasons, and has won 11 games each of the last two years. Jackson State is on the verge of repeating as Southwestern Athletic Conference champions. Their last championship before the Deion Sanders era came in 2007.

Under normal circumstances, a coach that won back to back conference championships at an HBCU, and somehow managed to convince the consensus #1 recruit in the country in Travis Hunter to come and play for him, would be a hot name for any potential Group of 5 suitors. 

But this is Deion Sanders we’re talking about.  

His name has been linked to every opening in the country, and even some jobs that aren’t open, like his alma mater Florida State. Charles Barkley said he wants Deion at Auburn. Fans at last weekend’s Nebraska game against Wisconsin were spotted holding up “Bring on Neon Deion” signs. Arizona State President Michael Crow said on a radio interview that the name people feed him most often about their opening is Deion Sanders.

This week a report from Carl Reed at 247 Sports came out that Deion is at the top of two school’s lists– University of Colorado, and University of South Florida. Before this season, Deion was actually in the mix for the jobs at Colorado State and Texas Christian.

But there’s one school nobody seems to be talking about that is a perfect fit for Coach Prime’s personality, coaching style, and personal value system, plus is comfortable with both his past history as co-founder of the ill-fated Prime Prep Academy, and his business relationship with the often controversial Barstool Sports.

Deion Sanders’ next employer should be none other than his current employer.

That’s right, I’m saying Coach Prime should ride things out at Jackson State.

Deion Sanders got ESPN’s College Gameday to come to Jackson, Mississippi, and helped the show pull in its best week 9 viewership in 13 years

Deion Sanders convinced 22 NFL teams to fly representatives to Jackson State for an all-Mississippi Scouting combine, and called out the 10 NFL teams that didn’t make the trip. He also helped James Houston IV become the first Jackson State player to be drafted by an NFL team since 2008.

Deion Sanders helped Jackson State navigate an ongoing clean water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi that kept the team from being able to stay on its own campus, while calling attention to the issue nationwide, and pressuring the state’s Governor into action

At Jackson State, Deion Sanders has had the privilege of coaching his sophomore QB son Shedeur Sanders, who has thrown over 6,000 yards and 60+ touchdowns.

And most importantly to my point, when rival Alabama State head coach Eddie Robinson Jr. called Sanders out by saying he “ain’t SWAC,” Deion responded by saying “If I ain’t SWAC, who is SWAC?

The best way for Deion Sanders to prove that he’s SWACv is to stick around in the SWAC and not make a jump to a middling FBS school that we can all agree would only be a brief stopping point until he proves to the SEC or ACC powers that be that he’s ready for the big leagues. 

Why jump from stepping stone to stepping stone when Jackson State provides you with the perfect platform to be who you are, and to do what you do? 

Just like Deion made 22 NFL teams fly to Jackson, if his ultimate goal is to be at Auburn or Florida State, or even to succeed his Aflac commercial co-star Nick Saban at Alabama, I believe he should make them come to him. 

Let that sink in.

The Bryan Harsin Auburn Marriage Was Doomed From the Start. What’s Next for Both Parties?

We need to talk about Auburn and Bryan Harsin.

On Halloween, Auburn gave Bryan Harsin a trick and the War Eagle fan base a treat by firing their embattled head coach after a 3-5 start to the season. 

Now, two things can be true. You can have toxic working conditions, and a bad head coach. Some people might try to make it seem like Bryan Harsin was doomed from the start because he was brought in to a school that is notorious for dictating to its coaches which assistants to surround themselves with, but at the end of the day, for the school to be at blame, you still would have needed to see maximum effort from the coach in order for him to remain blameless. 

Now, I don’t think Bryan Harsin is worried about blame. He’s got another $15 million coming his way on top of about $8 million dollars worth of checks cashed for less than two years’ work. Nobody’s crying for Harsin, much less anybody with the last name Harsin. 

But let’s get into what exactly made Bryan Harsin such a bad coach. 

First, you can’t come into the SEC without a plan to recruit. Boise State spent over a decade as the Alabama of Group of 5, and if a west coast three-star recruit wasn’t getting offers from USC, UCLA, Oregon or Washington, they had as good of a chance at ending up at Boise State as anywhere else. Auburn doesn’t recruit itself, and even if it did, it’s not a task you can pawn off on assistants… and even if you can, you have to be surrounded by assistants that you trust and treat with dignity. 

It took just four games into Harsin’s tenure to fire wide receivers’ coach Cornelius Williams, a Birmingham native, who was then scooped up by rival Alabama. 

Bryan Harsin kicked offensive coordinator Mike Bobo out the door after one year, only to replace him with a 32-year-old Austin Davis, who resigned after six weeks. Defensive Coordinator Derek Mason took a $400,000 paycut just to not have to see Bryan Harsin’s face around the office anymore when he bounced to Oklahoma State.

But at least the players had Harsin’s back right?

Well, sort of. Every player is built differently, and you saw a pretty clear split between the Auburn players that wanted someone that was invested in who they were on and off the field, and the players that didn’t need anything but a coach to push them on the gridiron. 

Of all the players that left Auburn, one of the most common criticisms was that Bryan Harsin had no interest in who they are or where they came from. Smoke Monday, now with the Saints, said Harsin had no curiosity or interest in him as a person.

Former Auburn WR Kobe Hudson, now at UCF, said“If Harsin learned to relate to the people … he’ll be the next Nick Saban.”

Maybe the best evidence that Harsin was an uncaring football robot came in his refusal to discuss the issue of vaccination publicly in fall 2021, when the state of Alabama was being ravaged by Covid deaths and hospitalizations. 

Harsin’s interpersonal issues, along with the program’s worst record in a decade and massive roster exodus, led to one of the uglier attempted booster coups in college football history, with rumors of an affair with a staffer dominating the headlines. Once that happened, it was only a matter of time before the situation became untenable. Not only are the Tigers 3-5 at the end of October, their 22 total touchdowns this year is nine less than their former QB Bo Nix has produced in the last seven games alone.

So now Auburn is back in the situation of needing a new coach while two dozen influential boosters likely make some more of the “too many cooks in the kitchen” mistakes they made the last time around. Auburn is a circus, and a circus needs a clown. 

Jimbo Fisher already identified two clowns in the SEC, and you ain’t getting Saban, so it might be time to hop on the Lane train. 

Lane Kiffin, come on down.

As for Bryan Harsin, he’ll be fine. His track record and reputation out west will get him in the door for every interview that comes open, and it’s not crazy to consider him as a clubhouse leader for University of Colorado, or any Mountain West job that opens this offseason.

The marriage between Auburn and Harsin severely exposed the flaws of everyone involved.

If Auburn’s boosters can’t back off and let their next coach build his own program, and if Bryan Harsin can’t find a way to relate on a human level to everyone around him, the next chapter for both parties involved in this debacle is going to have the exact same ending.

Let that sink in.

There Is No Defense For The Nepotism That Has Kept Brian Ferentz As Iowa’s Offensive Coordinator

We need to talk about the nepotism that is ruining the football program at University of Iowa.

Some of you might not know what’s going on at Iowa, and some of you might just be checking college football box scores on Sunday morning and wondering if the Iowa score was an accidental century-old misprint from the era of leather helmets and no forward pass.

So for those of you that aren’t up to speed on the country’s slowest offense, here’s the deal:

Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz, who has been with the Hawkeyes since the 1900’s, has had all three of his sons come through Iowa as players during his tenure. His oldest son Brian was hired on at Iowa to be the offensive line coach in 2012 after three years as an assistant in the New England Patriots organization.

If you follow football at any level, you know that nepotism is beyond commonplace. Plenty of coaches throughout the country have their children on staff in some capacity. The list is endless- Bill Belichick, Mike Shanahan, Pete Carroll, Marvin Lewis, Andy Reid, Jeff Fisher, Steve Spurrier, Bobby Bowden, Shane Beamer, Joe Paterno, it might be easier to make a list of coaches that didn’t employ their own kids. 

So what makes the Kirk Ferentz, Brian Ferentz arrangement any different?

Well, first of all, the University of Iowa actually has rules and regulations in place that are supposed to prevent nepotism.

In order to get around those rules back in 2012, the program was forced to lie and cover up that Kirk had any hand in hiring Brian to be on staff, despite Brian saying the reason he took the job was that his father called him up and asked him to apply.

After that initial lie, the guardrail Iowa supposedly put in place to give the appearance of objectivity, is that for the last 11 seasons, Brian Ferentz has technically been a direct report of athletic director Gary Barta.

So, father and son technically have the same boss, and that boss, independent of any input from Brian’s father, decided that after five seasons of coaching his own brothers on the Iowa offensive line, Brian was ready for a promotion to offensive coordinator. 

That brings me to my next point about why this is an extra special brand of nepotism

Brian Ferentz absolutely, objectively sucks at his job

In the last five recruiting classes, Iowa has landed two total four-star skill position players- Arland Bruce and Keagan Johnson. They would have had a third, but 2023 RB Kendrick Raphael saw this offense in action and decided black and gold weren’t going to be his colors.

So he can’t recruit, so what? Some people are more innovators and less salesmen. 

Just not Brian Ferentz. He managed to have 7+ future NFL players on his 2018 and 2019 offenses, and never ranked better than 86th in the country in those seasons. 

But hey, sometimes it’s about getting your own players into your system, right? So let’s look at the last three years, over which they’ve gone a very respectable 19-9. 

The Hawkeyes went from 40th nationally in points per game in the Covid-shortened 2020 season, to 99th last year, and are sitting at 127th this year, just ahead of University of Colorado. And in offensive yardage, which Kirk Ferentz has called an overrated stat, Iowa went from 13th in the Big Ten last year, to dead last in the country this year, and so far behind last place in the Big Ten that if you doubled their output, they’d still only be in third place.

There are statistics and realities that can be used to crush every excuse for continuing to employ the head coach’s son as the Hawkeyes play-caller. For those who say Iowa is a running team and they shouldn’t be expected to put up big numbers in the passing game, there are currently 38 FBS players that have rushed for more yards than Iowa has as a team, plus the Hawkeyes haven’t had a running back selected in the NFL draft since 2009.

For those that say Iowa is all about playing for the field goal, four out of every 10 possessions for Iowa this year have ended without a single first down. They aren’t playing for the field goal, they’re lucky to ever even get an attempt. 
Six times in the last calendar year, Iowa has been held to seven points or less, and they only have 18 offensive touchdowns in their last 14 games. You can tell yourself “That’s just Big Ten Football,” but isn’t Marvin Harrison Jr. playing in the same Big Ten as Iowa? He has 12 touchdowns in his last seven games by himself. 
Gary Barta, Brian’s “real boss” says that they’re not going to evaluate the status of any position coach until the end of the season. Which means we’re going to get to see the worst offense in football take the field six more times this year, starting with a guaranteed bloodbath at Ohio State on October 22nd. 

We don’t have the ability to see Iowa’s struggles through a father’s eyes. All we see from the outside is an offense that 

can’t gain yards, can’t score, can’t recruit, and has had one wide receiver selected in the NFL draft since 2013. 

If Brian Ferentz didn’t have his father’s last name, what defense would there be for keeping him on? I can’t think of a defense on earth that would be good enough to justify keeping him.

Not even Iowa’s.

Let that sink in.

Matt Rhule Will Be In-Demand in College Football, But His Time with Carolina Should Serve as a Warning

We need to talk about what’s next for recently fired Carolina Panthers Head Coach Matt Rhule.

Nobody feels sorry for Matt Rhule right now. His contractual buyout is in the $40 million dollar range, and despite an absolutely putrid record of 11-27, wasting an awesome defense in 2021 due to a bottom three offense, making three different quarterbacks look washed, and emptying Bank of America Stadium of any trace of Panthers fans over the last two weeks, he’s still somehow the hottest name on the college coaching market heading into next season!

Yes Matt Rhule turned around Temple, and yes Matt Rhule brought Baylor back to life. It was those efforts that led owner David Tepper to personally recruit Rhule to the Carolina Panthers like Rhule was the LeBron James of football coaches. Maybe that goes to show that David Tepper didn’t understand the nature and history of his own team. 

Matt Rhule is a proven commodity as a re-builder. The Carolina Panthers didn’t need a rebuild. The Panthers, historically, have been a bounce-back franchise. Despite two Super Bowl runs in the last 20 years, and two other NFC championship appearances in the franchise’s short history, the Carolina Panthers have never had back-to-back winning seasons. Not even in the run of making the playoffs four times in five years under Ron Rivera. 

But what have the Carolina Panthers traditionally always had? Stability at quarterback. Whether it was Kerry Collins, Steve Beurlein, Jake Delhomme, or Cam Newton, for 90% of this franchise’s history, they’ve had the right piece under center that allowed them to tinker everywhere else until they put together a team capable of a playoff run. 

The Panthers worst years have always come when it was obvious that they didn’t have someone that should be starting in the NFL under center. In fact, you can thank Chris Weinke going 1-14 in 2001 for the Panthers ending up with Julius Peppers, and you can thank the combination of Jimmy Clausen and Matt Moore going 1-14 in 2010 for the Panthers ending up with Cam Newton. 

Matt Rhule didn’t walk into a situation where the Carolina Panthers needed a complete overhaul, they just needed a competent quarterback to take over for the physically spent Cam Newton. And even if they did need a complete overhaul, they never completely went in that direction. 

Instead of looking to chase a QB in the draft and start from scratch, they’ve been content to see if they can make reclamation projects out of castoffs three years in a row. They still have the same primary running back and primary receiver as they did when Matt Rhule took over. Guys that Matt Rhule inherited on defense like Donte Jackson, Shaq Thompson and Brian Burns are all still the heart of what they do defensively. 

He didn’t even make a symbolic change at longsnapper.

A lot of people are going to ignore his time in Carolina and only look to the collegiate experience, but I think Matt Rhule’s time in Carolina is exactly why he’s a higher risk than most other pundits. 

People are quick to point at Steve Spurrier or Nick Saban or Chip Kelly’s time in the NFL as a reason that the pro experience need not be taken into account, but people forget that those three, while they might not have been a perfect fit, looked competent in the NFL in a way that Matt Rhule never did. 

But let’s say everyone is right, and that a trip back to college football will show the world why an NFL team was willing to drop $70 million on Rhule in the first place. Where does he fit best?

We don’t know if Matt Rhule is capable of sustained success, and it seems we do know that Matt Rhule might not be the best coach for a team that is just one or two pieces away from being competitive. The only thing we know is that Matt Rhule can create something from nothing. So which college programs will give him “nothing” to work with?

Well, there are two in the Pac-12, that are potentially future members of a conference where he’s already coached, that might offer him the blank slate he needs to work his magic. 

Arizona State currently has about 70 players on scholarship, and probably 10 of those are former walk-ons, while another 6-7 are quarterbacks that don’t play. Beyond that, they’re facing sanctions from their time under Herm Edwards, and rumors that someone on staff was leaking information to quicken Herm’s firing means that in order to take the job, everyone down to the stadium window washers would probably have to be replaced to make a high profile coach comfortable with taking that job. It’s as close to a true rebuild as you can get. 

And what about Colorado? They’re in the opposite boat, with too many kids on scholarship. But under NCAA rules, a new coach is allowed to make cuts in order to reshape the roster to their liking. Colorado’s best years came from recruiting connections established throughout Texas, and Matt Rhule in only 2.5 years removed from having to recruit the state in order to resurrect Baylor. Colorado might not have the financial considerations that you’d need to typically attract a top-level coach, but Matt Rhule is sitting on more unearned cash right now than a January 2021 Gamestop investor, so that shouldn’t be an issue. 

Some people might say that Nebraska needs a rebuild, but if I’m Matt Rhule I’m looking at Lincoln, Nebraska like it’s the Charlotte of the Plains. Nebraska seems to have plenty of talent, but unless you attract a quarterback that is either transcendent as either a runner or passer, you’re going to fall into the same trap that Mike Riley and Scott Frost did. And the one thing that Nebraska can’t afford Matt Rhule in the way that Arizona State or Colorado can is lowered expectations. If the Huskers aren’t on the verge of 10 wins by 2024, we’re going to be right back here talking about the next reclamation project for Matt Rhule.

But he won’t have the same shine he has right now, and instead of Tempe or Boulder, we might be talking about Troy, Alabama or Reno, Nevada. 

Let that sink in.