So many people over the weekend asked me two questions, so I thought I would answer them more fully today after having a little time to mull them over.
Question 1, “What did I think of the hire of the new head coach at Florida?”
The University of Florida hired Jim McElwain as the their new coach to replace Will Muschamp. Both share a common thread in that they were on Nick Saban’s staff at one time. McElwain is considered an offensive minded coach. His offenses have been very successful wherever he has been. Clearly this is a positive step for a Gator team that has been offensively challenged over the last four years to say the least. Whether it is a great hire will depend on how well he can assemble a staff. Think about it, most head coaches do well when they have great coordinators on both sides of the ball. Guys who will probably move on to the NFL or become Head Coaches themselves. When that isn’t the case on one side of the ball, the HC is usually the coordinator in reality if not in title. Coordinator are usually only great when they have really good position coaches under them who can get guys to do things they never thought they could do and do them over and over again with success. And all of the coaches are only as good for the most part as the players they can recruit. If you give me guys who are more talented and stronger and faster than my opponents on a regular basis, I think I could coach them to more wins than losses. And the guys you have on the team are only as good as the strength coaches who train them. Everyone gets their fair share of 4 and 5 star recruits at the big schools, but what happens to them once they get there. Do they get better or stay the same? Do they get bigger, stronger, and faster or do they plateau? This is the job of the strength staff and to me that is the most important hire that McElwain will make in the coming weeks. If you want to win the battles on the field, you have to put the work in during the off-season and conditioning periods. Can you find a guy who can get your players to work to get better off the field so they can do more on it? I like the hire, he wasn’t my first choice but he might have been the first choice of the reasonable candidates!
Question 2, “What do you think of the playoff rankings?”
I would have kept FSU at four to maintain the regional battle to sell tickets in New Orleans but I like the four teams that were selected. If OSU hadn’t lost their starting/backup QB the week before I think they would have been #4 then. The committee had to think like I did that the loss of the first two QB’s would be too much for Urban Meyer’s team to overcome. But they were wrong. I actually picked OSU to beat Wisconsin in my picks league. I have seen the kind of magic Urban can work first hand. There is no better coach at getting guys to believe they can win than that guy. My Bama friends ought to be nervous about that matchup too. I know that Saban is a great big game coach as well and is probably my second choice for getting a team ready to play a big game. Neither of them will sleep much in the next three weeks! Oregon was lock and there was no way you could keep FSU out as the defending champ and being undefeated, even with a less than stellar schedule. I am not sure that TCU or Baylor played a tougher schedule than the Noles either.
Here’s a suggestion for the NCAA or the power picks or whoever is now in charge. Let each conference have a true championship game regardless of the number of conference teams! Decide it on the field and yes I know Baylor beat TCU. Ole Miss beat Bama too but that doesn’t mean they are the better team. And here’s another suggestion, go ahead and expand the system to either 8 or 16 teams. The FCS players do it and it’s not too much on them academically, physically, or too much money for their athletic programs. Do you really think more Florida fans are going to go to Birmingham for the no-name bowl against ECU than they would for a first round game against someone in a playoff, not that the Gators would be anywhere near a playoff this year?
Schedule the early bowl games as the first couple of rounds if you want to keep the bowls. More people would come than have been coming to the games in the past years anyway. And let’s keep the games moving along. Don’t wait 30 days to play the games that count the most. Play them next week or give one week off for finals and then start the tourney. Heck drop one of the games against a FCS opponent and start a week earlier. Share the revenue among all the teams and most would still come out on top. Just give us more games that count. I’d rather see two teams that had a chance to win the National championship really compete than see a game between Utah and Colorado State where nothing is on the line. And by the way if they were in a playoff, McElwain would still be there coaching his players in the bowl game instead of here in Florida and I would still be okay with that.
If there were an 8 team playoff the first round matchups would be:
Alabama versus Michigan State with the winner playing the winner of Ohio State versus Baylor
Oregon versus Mississippi State with the winner playing the winner of Florida State versus TCU
If there were 16 teams in the playoff the first round matchups would be:
Alabama against Missouri with the winner playing the winner of Michigan State against Ole Miss
Oregon against Arizona State with the winner playing the winner of Mississippi State against Arizona
FSU against UCLA with the winner playing the winner of TCU against Kansas State
Ohio State against Georgia with the winner playing the winner of Baylor against Georgia Tech
Obviously the committee would have ranked them differently to prevent a repeat of conference championship games but it some cases this year’s conference championships would have mimicked first round games under a different system. But what would have happened if Missouri, Wisconsin, Georgia Tech and Arizona had won the conference title games? Chaos would have ruled the day!
In the end, it’s better than the BCS but I would still like to expand it. Then a team could play a tougher schedule and risk a loss or two and still be in the hunt for the title. It would keep teams from scheduling an FCS team for the final home game every other year and make the regular season all the more interesting knowing that even with two losses, you had a shot for the national title if you can win four in a row!