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.

Scott Frost Was The Right Hire, But It Didn’t Work- Four Names Nebraska Football Should Look To Next

We need to talk about Nebraska football

First, let’s get something straight- Scott Frost was the right move. We don’t need any revisionist history here. He was an excellent offensive coordinator at Oregon, turned UCF into a national brand almost overnight, and the last time Nebraska was truly relevant, they had Scott Frost at quarterback. 

On paper, this was a match made in heaven, and no amount of revisionist history can say anyone could have anticipated he’d go 5-22 in one-score games.

With the amount of support and resources afforded to Nebraska football, enough to do right by Frost and pay him his full buyout instead of waiting three weeks for it to be cut in half, there should be no excuse for Nebraska to miss on a third consecutive hire.

And here are some of the names I think you should pay attention to:

First- Washington’s Kalen DeBoer. 

I know Huskies fans think I’m being a shit-stirrer, but take it from a man that watched Willie Taggart and Mario Cristobal leave not very long after they got to town- if the money is right, and Mel Tucker can tell you that Big Ten money is right, there’s nothing the Huskies are going to be able to do. DeBoer had success as a Big Ten offensive coordinator at Indiana, he’s shown he can be a successful head coach while at Fresno State, and he has Washington looking relevant again.

Second- Carolina Panthers Coach Matt Rhule

Matt Rhule is getting the Nick Saban treatment right now from the national media, and while I don’t think he deserves it, the media is pointing out that Saban had successful runs with multiple colleges before an average run in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins as a way to compare Matt Rhule making Tempe relevant and resurrecting Baylor. It doesn’t matter that he stinks in Carolina- most of the gripes about him are that he’s running a pro franchise like it’s a college team anyway. The problem for Nebraska is that they won’t be the only school trying to land Matt Rhule.

Third- Iowa State’s Matt Campbell

Matt Campbell has been linked to so many jobs in the last three years that people are starting to wonder if something’s wrong with him- like a Mel Kiper top 10 pick slipping into the second round of the NFL draft. Nebraska might be a good fit for Campbell though- he recruits the same areas, has shown he can develop three star recruits into NFL prospects, and his players love him. 

Last up, a name I haven’t hear anyone mention, BYU’s Kilani Sitake

I’m convinced that as long as the Cougars get a chance to hold onto Offensive Coordinator Aaron Roderick, they’ll be fine. And it might be hard to lure a former BYU player away from a school that just inked a deal with the Big 12, and someone that is 28-6 in their last 34 games, including wins over six ranked opponents in the last 4 seasons. And if you’re a Nebraska fan thinking to yourself “only six?” Let me remind you that Scott Frost had none. 

And the only thing about Sitake is, he actually figured out how to win one score games. After a rough start, going 5-11 in one score games in his first 3 years at BYU, Sitake has gone 9-6 in those games since 2019, including last week’s double overtime win over top-10 Baylor. 

BYU was a program carried by nostalgia that has actually built a successful modern brand- isn’t that what Nebraska is looking to do?

Look, it’s been forever since Nebraska showed it was even competitive, much less relevant. But the fan support is there, the money is there, and the team has plenty of untapped potential on its current roster. They just need a coach that can mix the ingredients correctly and cook up something that doesn’t taste like 3-9.

Let that sink in

Cale Gundy is Out At Oklahoma After Using N Word, Wrighster Reacts

We need to talk about Cale Gundy.


The University of Oklahoma WR coach, who has spent 28 of the last 32 years either playing for or coaching at Oklahoma, abruptly resigned this weekend after using the n word in a team meeting. 


Gundy says he noticed a player not paying attention in a team meeting, and he took the players’ iPad and read what was on the screen out loud. 


According to Gundy, it was not intentional, and he immediately apologized. 


Before we get into whether Cale Gundy should still have a job, we need to acknowledge some universal truths:


1) White people shouldn’t be saying that word. Ever. 


2) White people that want to have a conversation in my mentions about whether it’s a double standard that black people can use that word need to stop wasting time and energy and refer back to number one. 


If you didn’t want us to have that word for ourselves, then your ancestors shouldn’t have given it to us. Throw a seance and take it up with them. 


How and when that word is used now is black people’s business. You don’t own the issue, and going out of your way to try and own the issue makes it seem like that’s not the only thing you wish you owned.


3) Of course intent matters, but that’s not Cletus or Billy Bob to adjudicate. This is an issue for the current black players and black alumni to sort out- not just about whether Clay Gundy should continue to coach, but whether he’ll continue to be a presence in their lives. 


I believe in second chances, but I’m not in the Oklahoma receivers room. 


Joe Mixon, who is enjoying his NFL career right now after receiving a pretty big second chance himself, wrote an impassioned letter defending Gundy. 


Many others seemed to rush to Gundy’s defense, but Gundy has decided for himself, unless there’s some internal pressure from Oklahoma that we haven’t heard about, that he needs to step away from his role. 


Cale Gundy is taking accountability for his mistake on a much deeper level than Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley has, or Former TCU Head Coach and current Texas assistant Gary Patterson, or even his own brother Mike Gundy, who reportedly used that language maliciously toward University of Colorado players back in his playing days at Oklahoma State.

At this point, instances of white coaches using the n word has happened frequently enough that it’s time for football coaches to do the thing they’re best known for- prepare and plan. 
I realize that in Gundy’s case, if you believe him, you can’t prepare for a Ron Burgundy teleprompter moment, but for the rest of the white coaches out there, it’s time to take note of this trend and train your mouths and minds on what might cost you your career, divide your fan base, your locker room, and negatively affect your university’s ability to recruit.


Let that sink in.

Clay Helton has been Fired- Rating the Legitimacy of the Rumored Coaching Candidates

Recently, anyone and everyone has weighed in on who the University of Southern California should hire to replace the recently fired Clay Helton. Our own George Wrighster is no different- see below.

These are the non-negotiables- the new head coach of USC has to be relevant, proven, a relentless recruiter, and able to bring a running game back to the Coliseum. Using that criteria and basic logic, let’s rate the legitimacy of the candidates that media members and crafty agents have put out there as potential candidates to replace Clay Helton:

Donte Williams- Interim Head Coach

Six years ago, Donte Williams was knows as a skilled California recruiter that was helping San Jose State gain relevance. His reputation and results allowed him to quickly climb the coaching ladder, jumping from SJSU to Arizona, then Nebraska, Oregon, and finally back in California at USC, where he shocked the Trojans stagnant recruiting back to life, and helped hold off Arizona State for guys like Drake Jackson and Korey Foreman.

Why he makes sense: He’s already got the job, and one thing every fan base has been susceptible to is buying into the current staff if the team is able to make a drastic improvement. Williams is one of the top 3 recruiters in the Pac-12, if not the best, and USC is not going to want to lose him no matter who they hire, so if the Trojans find some way to run the table the rest of the way an play for a Pac-12 title, it will be very hard to hire over someone that won over the fan base and the players through the results on the field.

Why it doesn’t make sense: Looking internally and not weighing your options is what has contributed to the program’s inability to meet its potential. Williams has no head coaching experience, and has never called an offense or a defense at the collegiate level. If you surround an elite recruiter with the right assistants, you could end up trending up like Oregon, but if not, you could end up trending down like Washington. Does Williams have the connections and vision for USC’s style of play on both sides of the ball? Can he manage the politics and day-to-day elbow rubbing and donor schmoozing that comes with the gig? We’re only going to find out if the Trojans run the table for the rest of 2021.

Mario Cristobal- Oregon Head Coach

Mario Cristobal took over for Willie Taggart when after one year in Eugene, he took off to try his luck at Florida State. His energy as a recruiter, and willingness to seek out support staff that will help the team improve on the field have helped Oregon become the class of the Pac-12 North.

Why he makes sense: He’s everything USC is looking for. If Athletic Director Mike Bohn could pry Cristobal away from Oregon, he would.

Why he doesn’t make sense: Oregon is likely to match whatever anyone would offer to acquire Mario Cristobal. So the only reason for Cristobal to leave would be an assumption that LA gives him a less-resistant path to winning every single week. Mario Cristobal does not strike me as a person, all other things being equal, to jump ship to make things slightly easier on himself.

James Franklin- Penn State Head Coach

James Franklin took lowly Vanderbilt to back-to-back 9-win seasons before taking over for Bill O’Brien at Penn State, leading the Nittany Lions to three top-10 finishes since 2016.

Why he makes sense: Like Cristobal, James Franklin is pretty much everything USC would want in a head coach, but with more of a track record of success. Franklin has brought several top-10 recruiting classes in a row, and is competing for the top class in the country this year.

Why he doesn’t make sense: For the same reason that he does- several top-10 recruiting classes in a row, and is competing for the top class in the country this year… would you want to leave that? Franklin has coached all over the country, but he’s a Pennsylvania man. Leaving for Southern California to pull in similar recruiting classes in a less prestigious conference might not appeal to him. Moreover, for USC fans, Franklin would be a good catch, but he’s only won one Big Ten title thus far, and one of the primary goals of this search needs to be someone who maximizes the talent they bring in.

Eric Bieniemy- Kansas City Chiefs OC

Eric Bieniemy (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

Eric Bieniemy is the first name you think of when you hear the term “next-in-line.” Bieniemy works under Andy Reid to help run the Kansas City Chiefs offense, quarterbacked by the one-and-only Patrick Mahomes.

Why he makes sense: He’s the hottest name in coaching and has been for almost two years. He has experience in the conference, albeit not great experience, and he undoubtedly would be able to assemble one of the best play-calling staffs available.

Why he doesn’t make sense: He’s not going to coach a college team. The news of his interest leaked through Adam Schefter, the preeminent NFL newsbreaker. So what does that tell you? Bieniemy’s team is sending a message to any NFL team out there that might be thinking about a change, that there’s competition for his services. But there isn’t- not from USC.

Joe Brady- Carolina Panthers OC

Joe Brady is credited for helping call the offense on one of the greatest college football offenses ever assembled. He left LSU after their 2019 National Championship to join Matt Rhule with the Carolina Panthers.

Why he makes sense: It doesn’t make sense! But it would be fun! Brady is too green as far as executive experience, and the example of his success is contained to one very special season. You’d want to see him duplicate that with Carolina, but if he can make Sam Darnold look like the Sam Darnold of old, I’m sure there would be some USC fans that could get behind this.

Why he doesn’t make sense: See above.

P.J. Fleck- Minnesota Head Coach

P.J. Fleck spent a year as a grad assistant at Ohio State before beginning his climb up the coaching ladder. Western Michigan made him the youngest head coach in college football, and he turned a 1-11 first year into a 13-1 fourth year before accepting the head coaching job at Minnesota, where he won 11 games by year 3.

Why he makes sense: He almost makes too much sense. I’m always a proponent of coaches that have turned around more than one program, especially programs with lower relative resources. Minnesota’s average recruiting class is between 40-50 historically, and yet he’s maximized the talent there to make the Gophers competitive. He’s only 40, a relentless recruiter, and might be the only candidate on this list outside of James Franklin and Mario Cristobal that wouldn’t need to find a way to retain Donte Williams.

Why he doesn’t make sense: Any push back on Fleck’s candidacy would have to be regional. Or if the Trojans think they have a shot at anyone else they want. It could also be affected negatively if Minnesota fails to live up to expectations this year.

Lane Kiffin- Ole Miss Head Coach

Lane Kiffin used to coach USC. He used to coach a lot of places. Some Trojans have longed for a re-do in which Kiffin is unencumbered by sanctions.

Why he makes sense: He’s proven he’s a good college coach. He moved on from his Tarmac-firing by USC to have relative success in several places, and even took time to humble himself and coach in the shadow of Nick Saban as an assistant at Alabama. He knows the LA market, and he’s built for the college grind.

Why he doesn’t make sense: While I’m sure there’s some part of Lane Kiffin that wants to be wanted by the team that unceremoniously ditched him, he’s had a taste of big boy football culture in the SEC, and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for him to head west.

Luke Fickell- Cincinnati Head Coach

Luke Fickell (Sam Greene, The Enquirer)

Luke Fickell built Cincinnati into a team worthy of a major conference invite. He’s a big name in coaching circles, and nearly knocked off mighty Georgia in a bowl game last year.

Why he makes sense: He’ll win. It’s pretty obvious that in his time as a player and coach at Ohio State, the formula for success was engrained into his DNA. You’re not going to hire Luke Fickell and get worse. No chance.

Why he doesn’t make sense: Luke Fickell has coached and played his entire career in the state of Ohio. His son is on the Cincinnati roster. He’s gotten the Bearcats into the Big 12. USC would be a pretty drastic change at this point for him and his entire family, but if the price is right…

Billy Napier- Louisiana Head Coach

Billy Napier is linked to every major job that comes available. The failed Clemson OC turned longtime Saban assistant, turned Arizona State OC, turned Louisiana Lafayette Head Coach is an intriguing name when it comes to the next round of major college jobs.

Why he makes sense: Napier spent a lot of time at Alabama before leaving to take over Arizona State’s offense. A lot of those Alabama WRs you’ve seen flood the NFL over the last few years? Napier recruits. Plus, Louisiana hadn’t had a 10+ win season in my lifetime, and under Napier they’ve done it twice.

Why he doesn’t make sense: Napier is much more likely next up for an SEC or Big Ten job than he is a return tot he Pac-12. Napier would be the guy I’d expect to get a call if USC pulled Fleck or Franklin away from their current jobs.

Chris Petersen- Former Washington Head Coach

Chris Petersen elevated Boise State before elevating Washington before abruptly retiring before the 2020 season. He’s doing TV commentary now.

Why he makes sense: He was good at Washington. The same criteria USC used to hire Steve Sarkisian.

Why he doesn’t make sense: He’s retired. Like, actually retired.

Urban Meyer- Jacksonville Jaguars Head Coach

Urban Meyer made Utah and Florida and Ohio State into monsters. He’s probably the best college football coach on the planet not named Nick Saban.

Why he makes sense: USC fans want him.

Why he doesn’t make sense: USC, the actual school, for a hundred different reasons, does not want him. Plus, Meyer, if you take him at his word, already said there’s “no chance” he’d leave the Jaguars for USC.

Bob Stoops- Former Oklahoma Head Coach

Bob Stoops was the head coach of Oklahoma for eleven different top-10 finishes, and a national championship. He’s only 61 years old, and has been a feature on television ever since stepping down from the Sooners job after the 2016 season. He raised eyebrows with a brief return to coaching with the XFL’s Dallas Renegades- could he be looking to return?

Why he makes sense: He’s got the history of having carried a major college brand to meet expectations for almost two decades. Nobody else really has that on their resume.

Why he doesn’t make sense: College football has never had a more rapid shift in rules and culture than it has over the last five seasons. 2016-2021 is not the time to have a gap in your resume, no matter how good you were before that.

Matt Campbell- Iowa State Head Coach

Matt Campbell (Jeffrey Becker/USA TODAY Sports)

Matt Campbell made Iowa State relevant. He built them up over the last five years, gave them four consecutive bowl appearances, a Fiesta Bowl victory over Oregon, and has amassed four separate Coach of the Year awards across his time with both the Cyclones and at the University of Toledo.

Why he makes sense: I’ve witnessed Matt Campbell recruit. He’s made the Pac-12 country a contributing factor to his success at Iowa State, and he’s extremely talented at making a player feel like they’re committing to something larger than themselves.

Why he doesn’t make sense: While both Toledo and Iowa State did the most they could with the talent they had under Matt Campbell’s tenure, they’ve still struggled to move past being competitive to being dominant, or even having a leg up on their rival Iowa Hawkeyes. It’s going to be tough to convince USC alumni to get behind someone they believe does better as the conductor of The Little Engine that Could than at the helm of The Giant Engine that Should.

Bill O’Brien- Alabama OC

Bill O’Brien took the goodwill that came from steering Penn State out of disaster and parlayed it into a head coaching job in the NFL, and he’s probably still be a head coach in the NFL if he didn’t consolidate power to also become the Houston Texans’ General Manager. If talent acquisition is something he’s interested in having a hand in, then a full-time return to college football might not be a bad move after graduating from the Nick Saban school of image rehabilitation.

Why he makes sense: He’s a good coach, a big name, and has the confidence and personality to handle the pressures and media scrutiny that comes with one of the most talked-about jobs in all of college football.

Why he doesn’t make sense: Close your eyes and try to imagine Bill O’Brien getting along with anyone under the age of 35, much less Southern California college kids. Can’t do it? Me neither.

Tony Elliott- Clemson OC

Tony Elliot has been at Clemson for a decade. He’s helped assemble and activate a college football giant, and was responsible for calling the offense on two different national championship teams.

Why he makes sense: He can recruit, he can coach, he has a championship pedigree, he’s young, he’s intelligent, and he’s clearly very loyal- being four years removed from winning the Broyles award for the top assistant in all of college football, and still remaining entrenched at his alma mater as an assistant. USC might be one of the only jobs in the country that Tony Elliott would be willing to abdicate his evident “in-waiting” status at Clemson in order to assume the head coaching role.

Why he doesn’t make sense: Honestly, it’s be a really good hire if the Trojans could pull it off. But I’m not sure anyone involved in the USC hiring process is going to bring someone into the fold that believes coaching USC is a secondary reward to being able to coach somewhere else, and if they brought Elliot in, that’s what they’d be getting- someone people would immediately assume would leave USC for Clemson if Dabo Swinney ever made good on his promise to quit once kids start getting paid.

Have a take you’d like us to address? Email us at immad@unafraidshow.com and we’ll read your take on a future Wrighster or Wrong podcast.