Category Archives: Clemson

PODCAST: The Big Ten Has Surpassed the SEC…Even We Have to Admit It


Chad Floyd (@Chad_Floyd on Twitter) and Andrew Hall (@DudeYouCrazy) get together to discuss the week’s big headlines – Oregon’s coaching staff imploding, the NCAA’s money grab with early March Madness rankings, etc. Then, they take a closer look (at the request of a commenter) at the new King of College Football, the Big Ten Conference.

UPDATE: There seems to have been a recording issue, stay tuned if you want more than 5 minutes. TheUnit2K16 got his wish and we did a B1G podcast…and we are working to get the rest of it there. Leave a 5-star review and we may talk about your subject of choice.

 

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Fixing College Football, Part I of ?: Doing Away With Divisions


Divisions in Power 5 conferences are stupid. There, I said it.

At a time where revenues are such that all away games, with few exceptions, call for chartered flights, I don’t buy the monetary concern. When preserving the ‘sanctity’ of a Georgia/Kentucky or Mississippi State/LSU rivalry, I don’t care. And following another season similar to the last few, where:

  • The SEC East is a complete dumpster fire, where 5 West teams could have easily won it.
  • Clemson and Florida State carry the crown for the ACC and play in the same division.
  • Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State (and Michigan State, until 2016) play in the same division because of geography, and THAT’S A BETTER SYSTEM THAN THE ONE THEY HAD IN PLACE!

I’m adapting from a model Bill Connelly posited on SBNation this summer, because its a fascinating thought exercise, and it makes too much sense. In it:

  • The Pac-12, with divisions and a 9-game schedule, is fine for now.
  • The Big XII, jumbled mess as it is, has a round-robin (and a conference championship game starting next year, because SPORTS).

For the three fourteen-team conferences, division play doesn’t work. Unless you look forward to Georgia’s FIRST trip to conference rival Texas A&M during the end of Trump’s second term. Or your next trip to the Grove in 2029.

I’m not down for that. I’m not down for watching the Missouris and Floridas of the world get PASTED in the SEC Championship. I (Bill C first) want the following: keep an eight-game schedule, with three annual rivals and a rotation through the other 10 teams on a semiannual basis. Meaning, instead of going Mark Richt’s whole tenure before playing an SEC West opponent twice, you play a home-and-home with everyone every four years.

I’ll workshop this for all 42 teams involved below, but an example of what this would look like for Georgia:

Primary rivals: Auburn, Florida, South Carolina

Year 1: Alabama, at Kentucky, Ole Miss, at Missouri, Vanderbilt
Year 2: at Arkansas, LSU, at Mississippi State, Tennessee, at Texas A&M

Done in four-year cycles, one could even adapt years 3 and 4 from the first two to account for random shifts in competitive balance. Perhaps pair off each team for their non-rivals, so Kentucky doesn’t draw Alabama and Auburn, Mizzou doesn’t draw Georgia and Florida, etc.

This is the best I could come up with from a “PRESERVE OUR RIVALRIES!” perspective (and this may match Connelly verbatim, but I’m not checking):

Team Rival Rival Rival
Alabama Auburn Tennessee Ole Miss
Arkansas Mizzou Texas A&M LSU
Auburn Alabama Georgia Miss State
Florida Georgia Tennessee South Carolina
Georgia Florida Auburn South Carolina
Kentucky Missouri Vanderbilt South Carolina
LSU Texas A&M Miss State Arkansas
Mississippi Miss State Vanderbilt Alabama
Mississippi State Ole Miss LSU Auburn
Missouri Arkansas Kentucky Texas A&M
South Carolina Georgia Florida Kentucky
Tennessee Vanderbilt Florida Alabama
Texas A&M LSU Arkansas Mizzou
Vanderbilt Tennessee Kentucky Ole Miss

Some thoughts: South Carolina and Kentucky were SUPER hard to place. Kentucky gets, from a historical perspective, the easiest three games of anyone. Off the top of my head, there are no major rivalries that go unprotected, with the exception of Alabama/LSU (a more recent one, anyway).

The biggest misses? Tennessee/Kentucky, as Kentucky gets screwed out of the one game they get really worked up about. Bama/LSU, obviously.

I’d give myself a 10/10 for this. A&M, Arkansas, Mizzou, and LSU all preserve their regional rivalries. South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida all keep many of theirs. Vanderbilt/Ole Miss in the Khaki Bowl is still an annual event. Bama maintains history with Tennessee and Ole Miss, in addition to (obviously) Auburn.

If you don’t care about the ACC, you can stop reading now. Tried to draw it up there as well, but it is MUCH harder with the four North Carolina schools and the ‘old vs. new’ mentality that persists behind the scenes:

Team Rival Rival Rival
Boston College Syracuse Pitt Clemson
Clemson Georgia Tech N.C. State BC
Duke North Carolina Wake Forest Louisville
Florida State Miami Wake Forest N.C. State
Georgia Tech Clemson Miami Virginia
Louisville Pitt Virginia Tech Duke
Miami Florida St. Georgia Tech Syracuse
North Carolina Duke N.C. State Virginia
N.C. State North Carolina Clemson Florida State
Pitt Louisville BC Syracuse
Syracuse BC Miami Pitt
Virginia Virginia Tech North Carolina Georgia Tech
Virginia Tech Virginia Louisville Wake Forest
Wake Forest Duke Florida State Virginia Tech

This was friggin’ impossible. So many games that don’t make sense, especially for the Florida schools and the Northern schools, who would indubitably want games in the fertile Florida recruiting grounds.

Competitive balance, as it stands now, is a problem. N.C. State gets hosed, while UNC, Virginia Tech, and Pitt get relatively easy runs. I thought I’d be able to place Miami with more than one old Big East rival, but no dice.

For the B1G, I quit because I don’t care. But they need it worse than anyone else.

What do you think? Should we do away with divisions in order to make the conference feel like a conference again? Did I blow it on any rivalries?

 

 

 

PODCAST: Is Georgia the Next Clemson? Is Alabama Dead? Is Lane Kiffin Beyonce? Is MINNESOTA the Next Clemson?


Chad Floyd (@Chad_Floyd on the Tweets) and Andrew Hall (@DudeYouCrazy) resume their tour of world domination after a three-month hiatus. After recovering from the pressures of fame and success, the two dive into a lively recap of Alabama’s crushing defeat to the Clemson Tigers in the National Championship Game. Later, they discuss Year One of the Kirby Smart Era at the University of Georgia, talk about coaching changes and take a way-too-early look at the 2017 college football season.

 

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Dabo Swinney, It’s OK to Act Like You’ve Never Been There Before; But You Should Act Like You’ll Be Back


I gained a lot of respect for Dabo Swinney during the playoff. I think a lot of people did. I’ve been pretty “meh” on the guy in general. The Clemsoning meme was always pretty good, but as a Georgia fan I know all about missed should-be-easy opportunities. So in that regard, I thought he was probably a better coach than the nation assumed. But I wouldn’t have classified him as a great coach. The fact remains that he lost an average of nearly four games per year over his first six full seasons (2009-2014, which excludes a 4-3 opening campaign in 2008). I thought he benefitted from a weak conference/division with a diminishing Virginia Tech program and rebuilding projects at Florida State and Miami. Obviously, Florida State is fully “back” and Miami and Virginia Tech may be headed there. But there’s something to be said for a coach who can lose five games in a season but still win his division (which Swinney did in 2009). The guy won his conference despite losing four total games in 2011.

So heading into 2016, the 2015 season seemed like it might have been an outlier. No matter how you slice it, last season stood out. Consider Dabo’s season win totals: 9, 6, 10, 11, 11, 11, 10, 14. That last number seems to pop. How about final rankings (Coaches Poll)? Unranked, Unranked, 22, 9, 7, 15, 2. Again, that second-place ranking kind of stands out.

But at the same time I felt all season long that Clemson was deserving of the playoff and on the shortlist of teams capable of beating Alabama for two very related reasons:

  1. They had almost beaten Alabama in last year’s national championship game*.
  2. Deshaun Watson is the best player in college football.

Notably, I didn’t give Dabo Swinney much credit for either of the points above. Sure he was the head coach and he got Watson on campus and put coaches in place to develop his talent and built a roster around him. But I didn’t give the guy that much credit. But credit is due now.

You’ll see the asterisk next to point number one above. And I think this is as good a place as any to remind everyone of that game. We’ve apparently all moved on from how epic last year’s national championship game was. Everyone is talking about Monday’s game and comparing it to the iconic Texas/USC BCS National Championship as the greatest title bout in modern college football history. I guess we’ve re-written or forgotten Alabama’s 45-40 win over Clemson last year. There were eight lead changes in that game:

  • Bama leads 7-0.
  • Clemson ties 7-7.
  • Clemson leads 14-7.
  • Bama ties 14-14.
  • Bama leads 21-14 then 21-17.
  • Clemson leads 24-21.
  • Bama ties 24-24.
  • Bama gains 31-24 lead and doesn’t relinquish it.

And there was no shortage of individual accomplishments:

  • Deshaun Watson racked up 478 yards of offense and four scores.
  • Jake Coker threw for 335 yards, 2 TDs and 0 INTs on 25 attempts.
  • Four Clemson Tigers registered more than 60 yards receiving (Wayne Gallman, Jordan Leggett, Hunter Renfrow, Charone Peake).
  • Derek Henry ran for 158 yards and three scores.
  • O.J. Howard logged five catched for 208(!!!) yards and two TDs.
  • Kenyan Drake had a 95 yard kickoff return for a TD.

That game was an all-time classic. But now that we have a newer version with an underdog victory and a revenge story, that game is forgotten. Now it’s Monday’s game vs. all the others. A 45-40 championship game is an “also ran” after a 35-31 championship game, I suppose.

Along those lines, my fear here is that recency bias and revisionist history will change the narrative of Clemson’s dramatic win over Alabama on January 9, 2017. The narrative may soon be that Deshaun Watson (again, the best player in the country by my estimation) came out and rolled the tide for 463 yards of offense and four touchdowns. The narrative may soon be shortened to “Alabama didn’t have an answer for Deshaun Watson.”

That storyline is an injustice to Watson, however. The reality is nobody has really had an answer for Deshaun Watson over the last two seasons. Sure, he racked up 941 yards of offense and eight scores against Alabama in sequential championship games. But he’s accounted for 10,431 yards of offense and 97 touchdowns over the past two seasons. This is as much about Deshaun flourishing as it is about Alabama struggling.

And that ties in to another potential injustice: a lack of credit for Dabo Swinney. People may forget Deshaun Watson’s early-game struggles. They may rightfully be overshadowed by the sum of his four quarters. But we shouldn’t forget what Dabo Swinney and his staff did for the entirety of the game.

Offensively, Clemson ran 97 plays on Monday night. 57 passes. 42 rushes. That’s nearly 23% more plays than the second most prolific play-runner Alabama faced all year—Ole Miss with 79 total plays. The Crimson Tide defense wore down. That go-go-go offensive game plan, simple and perhaps obvious, was well-executed throughout the contest even when the Tigers weren’t scoring points. Clemson had 19 plays of offense in the first quarter despite kicking off to start the game and committing a turnover. The Tigers then reeled off more than 25 offensive plays in each of the game’s final three quarters.

Defensively, the Tigers remained tough even as Alabama mounted an early lead and things seemed destined to get out of hand. After taking a 14-0 edge in the game’s first 20 minutes, Alabama was held without a touchdown for nearly 25 minutes of game time.

Swinney kept his squad tuned-in even as Alabama took a seemingly insurmountable lead. He stuck with his game plan, trusted the game plan and put his team in position to win the game. Late in the contest, he trusted his play-makers, showed patience even as some (myself included) panicked about clock management and left the Crimson Tide reeling from a gut punch with just one second remaining (is that familiar, Bama fans?).

 

I mention all this (the 900 words above) to say simply: I’ve got no problem with Dabo Swinney acting like he’s never been here before. He hasn’t been here before. And a lot of people, including me, didn’t expect him to be here. The dude was in elementary school the last time Clemson won a Natty. His name is Dabo for goodness sake. Dabo’s don’t get nice things. Dabo’s don’t get respect. And yet, here he is.

I gained enough appreciation for Dabo Swinney during the playoff that I’m willing to overlook post-game comments like:

And to see my guys fight, just believe me. I told them tonight, I told them that the difference in the game was going to be love. It’s been my word. My word all year’s been love. And I said, “Tonight we’re going to win it because we love each other. We’re going to love each other.”

The difference in the game was Pick Plays Deshaun Watson  Mike Williams’ recovery from multiple headshots Philanderer Lane Kiffin being replaced by recovering drunkard Steve Sarkisian as offensive coordinator a week before the national championship game Bo Scarbrough breaking his leg with 17 minutes to play love.

I can look past those comments because I recognize that Dabo Swinney is a better coach than I thought and I appreciate that he’s never been here before.

But going on the offensive against a sports talk radio show host like Colin Cowherd in your post-championship presser? Come on, dude. What is that? Cowherd’s certainly not above reproach. But you just won a national championship and in your press conference you’re doing this?

 

What was that? “I’m not a fraud, you’re a fraud. You didn’t do your homework. Print that, media. You guys only had us ranked second in the nation in the preseason behind Alabama. And guess what, we might have been the second-best team in the country with two seconds left on the clock, but with one second left and with no seconds left we were the best. You might be a fraud too. Let’s talk about all the people who didn’t see that final drive coming. I’m gonna name names while these two gentlemen flank me and look confused. We’ll celebrate tomorrow. Tonight, we name names because what’s the point of being a champion if you can’t be petty?”

I’m not calling Dabo Swinney a fraud. Colin Cowherd did that. But I will say that Dabo Swinney looks unbelievably desperate in the exact moment at which he should be at his career’s pinnacle of comfort and confidence. He just won the national championship and he looks shaken by a radio guy.

Dabo, you’re the most desperate national champion in the history of college football. You gonna call me out on that next time you win the big one?

Probably not. Because there won’t be a next time.

 

That’s all I got/

Andrew

The Playoff Race Is Interesting and Fun Right Now, So Let’s Talk About It


Saturday was a historic day in college football, as two of last week’s playoff teams lost to unranked opponents, and another lost to a left-for-dead-and-revived USC.

We got so much chaos, that…things should hardly change from where we were a week ago. Clemson, Michigan, and Washington’s losses don’t actually HELP the two reasonable teams we could’ve slotted into the playoffs in their stead, because they’re no closer to division championships.

If anything, the race only got more interesting because there’s a lot less room for error. Let’s handicap teams with a shot by conference:

SEC: Alabama.

That’s it. They’ve clinched the West, everyone else has a loss, and they’re unequivocally the best team in college football. Even if you’re dumb enough to think Auburn and Florida can BOTH beat them, that’s too bad because they’re still probably in and coming for your cookies.

ACC: Clemson and Louisville.

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You could’ve come up with a scenario whereby North Carolina and Virginia Tech both had outside shots. North Carolina lost to Duke, and Virginia Tech lost to Georgia Tech. Despite my best efforts in pumping up the ACC Coastal on this website and my Twitter account, the Coastal done Coastal’d.

While the Coastal was doing Coastal things, Clemson reverted back to Clemsoning. Failing to run out the clock needing just a yard on third and fourth down, the Tigers allowed Pitt to drive the field and kick a walkoff field goal, losing 43-42 at home.

And it doesn’t really matter, unless you think Wake Forest is beating Clemson this week. They still hold the tiebreaker over Louisville. Assuming Clemson takes care of Wake, South Carolina, and probably still Virginia Tech (ugh), they’re solidly in.

Louisville is an interesting case study without precedent, as the first two CFP’s were fairly clean with deserving conference champs. Saturday broke perfectly for them, as an 11-1 Louisville probably gets in if Michigan can keep the B1G fairly clean (thus eliminating Ohio State and Wisconsin in the process), and Washington drops one more (suddenly feasible).

So, the ACC still stands as the league with the best case to get two in the playoff for the first time, like we all saw coming three years ago. Clemson is basically 2014 Florida State and will lose the semifinal. Louisville is fascinating.

B1G: Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State

This is where things get wonky, because Barry Alvarez has too much influence. In order of simplicity, this is how these teams make it:

  • Michigan wins out, thus eliminating Ohio State (2 losses), Penn State (head-to-head), and Wisconsin (title game).
  • Wisconsin wins out, and gets in with two close losses to Michigan and Ohio State.
  • Penn State wins out and Ohio State beats Michigan, giving us by FAR the weakest CFP team in its short history. This is a team that got DRUG by Michigan and lost to Pitt (playoff team-killer Pitt, apparently). They hold the tiebreaker over OSU, and the B1G will have a representative.
  • Ohio State beats Michigan, Rutgers or Michigan State beats Penn State (lolyeahright).

I said above that the ACC has a clear path to two teams. The B1G may have a better case. Ohio State is likely #2 in this week’s rankings, so they’ll already have a leg up on Louisville. Win out, don’t participate in a silly 13th game, and set up a Saban/Urban rematch in the 1/4 game.

Pac-12: Washington, Washington State (?), Colorado (?)

Washington’s hold is now tenuous, but a bump from a win over a smoking hot Wazzu and a Pac-12 Championship probably puts them back in the 4 spot. Based on what I saw the other night, I wouldn’t give them even odds to get through the next three weeks alive.

Washington State and Colorado are fascinating. Wazzu lost to Eastern Washington and Boise early on, but has swept the Pac-12. An 11-2 Wazzu is probably Rose Bowl-bound, so they’d need all of the 1-loss non-champs to lose. Same goes for Colorado…but Colorado has super-quality losses to Michigan and USC.

No, Washington State and Colorado don’t have a shot unless we’re looking at UT-Chattanooga starting Alabama on a three-game losing streak and eliminating the SEC. Or Virginia Tech winning the ACC while Louisville drops one to Houston or Kentucky.

XII: West Virginia, Oklahoma

Thank God we don’t have to talk about Baylor anymore (this is a week late, but even more so now).

WVU and Oklahoma conveniently play this Saturday– assuming WVU wins out, their case really is pretty compelling. 11-1, the all-important “scheduling intent” with wins over Mizzou and BYU– there would have to be some committee mental gymnastics taking place, but a 1-loss WVU SHOULD be in over a 2-loss Washington, and probably a one-loss Ohio State or Louisville…right?

Probably not.

But maybe.

Oklahoma, meanwhile, lost to Houston and Ohio State, so their ‘scheduling intent’ game is SKRONG. A 9-0 finish would push them over a 2-loss Washington, I suppose.

I think both would need help from the B1G’s #2 and Louisville, but they’re not dead yet.

My Playoff Ranking Guess, Because I Love Being Wrong

  1. Alabama
  2. Ohio State
  3. Louisville
  4. Michigan
  5. Clemson
  6. Washington
  7. Wisconsin
  8. Penn State
  9. Oklahoma
  10. West Virginia
  11. Colorado
  12. Oklahoma State
  13. USC (highest 3-loss team)
  14. Auburn
  15. LSU
  16. Utah
  17. Florida State
  18. Washington State
  19. Nebraska
  20. Western Michigan
  21. Texas A&M (somehow)
  22. Florida
  23. Boise State
  24. San Diego State
  25. Virginia Tech
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