And we're back! Here's part two of our roundtable discussion of the biggest issues in college football. If you missed part one, here it is.
7. What is your prediction for the future of the Big East conference?? Will it still be a BCS conference in five years?? Who will be the premier program in the Big East in five years??
Jeremy: I know the BCS has come under quite a bit of “heat” this offseason, but what motivation is there to change anything? Anyone who matters in the equation is making a ton of money, and they’ve actually managed to whip up a few decent results over the years. I definitely agree that the system is broken, but I just don’t see things changing anytime soon.
As far as the Big East goes, it's not a viable football conference. But I’m thinking Cincy and UCONN become the beasts in the conference in the near future. Edsall and Kelly are two of the better young coaches in the NCAA, and the better question might be how long can their respective programs keep them around in their present jobs? Both have very publicly said that they aren’t interested in going anywhere, but they’d be crazy not to consider a move if one of the big boys come calling.
Dan: I actually think this could depend on the future of the basketball conference. If the basketball conference splits, the football conference will not have much of a reason to stay together. I do think the basketball conference is destined to fall apart, so I’ll say that the Big East will be a different or non-existent conference in 5 years.
Matt: Interesting question. It really comes down to West Virginia. If they can stay as the perennial BCS contender, I think the Big East can hang around where they are now with WV and USF as the lead teams, and a solid slate of Rutgers, UConn, Pitt, Louisville, Cincy and maybe a revitalized ‘Cuse. I know, that’s not great, but that is enough to be a BCS conference for sure. Unfortunately for ‘Neers fans, I don’t think they are going to be the premier program in 5 years. For me, that label goes to South Florida. They have the homegrown talent to choose from and a solid head coach (which is more than you can say about most teams in the B.E. – Wanny, Stewart, Kragthorpe??) I think the Bulls are on the rise.
Mike: Despite being a Big East supporter, I realize that the league is the weakest of the BCS conferences. Nonetheless, the individual programs within the Big East should remain strong enough to ensure that the league will receive an automatic bid in the next round of BCS contract negotiations. I am not bullish on the entire crop of current coaches, especially Bill Stewart, Dave Wannstedt and Steve Kragthorpe, and the top coaches such as Greg Schiano, Brian Kelly and Randy Edsall are frequently mentioned for other jobs, but there is enough talent in the league to maintain a seat at the lucrative BCS dinner table.
I do not expect for one particular team to emerge as the clear leader of the Big East in recent years. While Pittsburgh and West Virginia have the most tradition and perhaps the best talent, both teams will likely underachieve under their bumbling head coaches. South Florida and Rutgers have shown potential, but the latter will be hurt severely if Greg Schiano decides to leave, perhaps to Penn State. I think Cincinnati and Connecticut are flashes in the pan and Syracuse, though rich in tradition, is so far in the tank that it will take years to climb back out to the ranks of the respectable.
Doug: I think the Big East will have a tough time remaining viable as a BCS league, especially if the basketball side of the league breaks down some time in the next few years (which I still think will happen). There's just not a lot of anchor tenants in the Big East right now. Not one in fact. The only program I would consider to be close to a big time football program in the Big East is West Virginia, and even WVU sits on shaky ground. A few questionable years with Bill Stewart, and that program could easily go back to mediocrity for a long time.
The rest of the league is pure mediocrity. Would any of these schools be upper echelon programs in any other league? Pitt is a second tier program that doesn't even have its own stadium. UConn and Rutgers are gaining traction, but both are still a long way from becoming crown jewels in the league. Cincy and Louisville are basketball schools that don't have the access to the football talent that you need to be a consistently great program. As we have seen with Louisville, one bad coaching hire and the program completely falls apart. If Brian Kelly ever leaves UC, they will have the same problems. South Florida is somewhat intriguing, but it's tough to say if they have the financial support to continue to move up in the college football pecking order.
Incredibly, the school that might be the worst program in the Big East right now (Syracuse) might be my pick to claim the mantle over the next few years as the premier program in the league again. The Cuse have as much tradition as anyone in the league, and I've been hearing some good things about Marrone. If he can sell that program, there's plenty of room for the Cuse to get right back on top in the Big East.
The other school that really should be going all in financially to build up the program is Rutgers. Rutgers has the in-state talent base and population to have a good talent base year in and year out, and I think Schiano is one of the most underrated coaches in the country. I thought he did one of the more amazing turnaround jobs I've seen last year. They could have easily packed it in after a tough start, and ended up finishing as one of the hottest teams in the country. I think they are heading into 2009 with a ton of momentum and might win the league this year.
If I was the Big East, I would make a huge push behind the scenes to the following schools:
Penn State, Boston College, Miami, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Maryland, Notre Dame
Go out and try to land 3-4 of those schools, and you might have something. If they could get PSU and Miami, the league would suddenly have a ton of credibility again.
I think we're going to see a ton of grumbling from the Seton Halls and DePauls of the world within a year or two about how they can't compete in the Big East in hoops. I don't see why you would hang around in the Big East when you can't compete in the league. Is the money that good?? What about attendance when you're sititng at 2-9 in the league??
When the basketball side starts erupting, the Big East better be ready with a backup plan for football if the league breaks in half. If they could hold together some of the football schools and entice a couple big names into the league from elsewhere, they can probably hold onto their BCS status. If not, I could see the Big East getting the boot.
6. What are your predictions for the Lane Kiffin era??
Jeremy: I must say that I’m getting a big kick out of Orson and Co. and their constant shots at Kiffykins. I must also say that I completely agree that Kiffin is going to be a complete disaster at Tennessee. I’m no fan of Al Davis but it certainly sounds like Kiffin was just as culpable during the Raiders episode. His antics thus far in Knoxville don’t seem to be endearing him to anyone. UT fans seem much more enamored with Mrs. Kiffin (and rightfully so). Also, I can’t help but remember the SC fans on NDNation breathing a sigh of relief when Kiffin left South Central. They all seemed to be of the opinion that Sark was the better coach and better recruiter, and would have been a bigger loss once Kiffin made the jump to Oakland.
Dan: Not off to a good start. Not only that, but Carroll assistants have not had a great track record. UT were dissatisfied with what they had, but what they had was a good thing. Now they have an uncertain commodity and 5 years from now, they’ll be exchanging him for a different commodity.
Matt: What is it that Spurrier used to jab Fulmer with? You can’t spell Citrus without UT? That’s about the level I see the Vols rising (Or Outback / Champs Sports Bowl in today’s lingo). I just don’t see any national championship banners coming to Knoxville any time soon. Kiffin has been running his mouth since Day One, and he obviously has upgraded the recruiting. But I don’t know if he’s beating the Florida’s and Alabama’s and LSU’s of the SEC on a consistent basis. But it will get better than it was under Fulmer the last couple of years.
Mike: To Kiffin’s credit, he has assembled a staff of ace recruiters and, through his antics, he has made Tennessee football relevant again. Still, in the absence of any evidence that he can actually coach, I find it hard to believe that Tennessee will ever challenge for SEC titles under Kiffin’s watch. In a conference with great coaches who have more access to in-state talent than the Vols, it will be an uphill battle for the inexperienced Kiffin. In the end, Kiffin will be known for his bombast, not his coaching acumen.
Doug: I'll start by saying that I am fervently rooting against the Tennessee Volunteers this year. That actually makes me a little sad because I actually like Tennessee. I love their unis, love the orange and white checkered endzones (my high school did the same thing), love the huge letters on the back of the jerseys, love Rocky Top, loved my time in Knoxville for the ND-UT game, loved Neyland. Tennessee fans are among the best fans in the nation. Easily in my top two fanbases next to Nebraska fans. UT is one of the schools that I would love to see ND play on a regular basis.
But I can't stand Lane Kiffin!! He's got the Charlie Weis syndrome. Constant foot-in-mouth disease. All sizzle and no steak. He's been running his mouth since the day he got hired even though the guy hasn't even coached a game. I just hate that style of management. It's a house of cards. As soon as your players see that you can't back up your words, you lose the locker room and your team falls apart. What is the point of all the bravado, especially when you KNOW he's not going to back it up right away?? Kiffin is going to look like a complete clown when Florida is up 41-0 just before halftime, and Urban is kicking onsides to try to put another one on the board.
To be honest, I actually think Kiffin will be ok at Tennessee someday. He's put together a great staff with Coach O and his dad running the defense. They are going to get some talent, and Kiffin is a pretty good coach himself. He's got the pedigree, and he actually did a good job with the Raiders given the circumstances of what he had to work with. I think UT can be a regular top 20 type team with him. There's probably not much more that you can do at Tennessee these days with all these other great coaches in the league.
That's the thing that annoys me about Kiffin's antics. I would really be rooting for him to do well this year if Kiffin had just put his head down and gone to work instead of calling out every other SEC coach and acting like a jerk. Instead, he took the pompous route, and now I want them to go 0-12. I would like to see Tennessee return to prominence, but I don't want Kiffin to be the guy who does it for them.
5. Does Tim Tebow make your list of top 10 college football players of all time??
Jeremy: Right now? Probably. Win another Heisman and another title and he could be #1. I know everyone likes to throw around the “system QB” label, but honestly, what great college QB isn’t a system QB? Enough has been said about this kid. He’s incredibly special, let’s leave it at that.
Dan: If he goes and wins a 2nd Heisman and a 3rd national title this year, how can he not? How many players have won two Heisman Trophies? One. How many players have won three national titles as starters or co-starters (counting TT as a co-starter his freshman year)? Not many. Since I think that is what will happen, he has to be in the top 10.
Matt: For sure. Not even a question. Ok, so I’ve only been around since 1980 and my first college football memories are from Notre Dame in the late ‘80s. So Beano Cook would probably be a better person to answer this question than me. But absolutely Tebow is. I know that a lot of people are sick of hearing about him, but guys like Tebow only come around every so often. Allow me to channel my inner Dickie V – the guy is just a flat out winner. IF he wins another title or Heisman this year, he will vault to Number One. Ever. He’s that good.
Mike: Yes. Tebow will go down as an absolute legend: incredible leader, tremendous performer and a winner of multiple national championships. Moreover, Tebow could join Archie Griffin as the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner. Although the excessive praise for Tebow can get annoying (I’m looking at you, Thom Brennaman), he is the type of player that only comes around about once every decade.
Doug: Of course! How could he not make my list?? The three best college football players I've watched this decade are Reggie Bush, Vince Young, and Tim Tebow. We're judging players on what they did in COLLEGE, and Tebow's accomplishments are right there with anyone in the history of the game.
Does his game translate well to the NFL?? Probably not. He might not ever be anything more than a backup QB. Maybe he'll find a niche as a Wildcat/H-Back/Slash type player who can come into a game and make a play, but he's probably not going to be lining up behind center as an NFL starter.
But that's not the measuring stick. In terms of his impact on the college game and his team, I can't think of anyone who has made a bigger difference. Tebow has been the most dominant force in college football the last two seasons, and his best may be yet to come. He is their primary running back, he makes plays through the air, and he's a leader. I don't know how you could watch Florida and not appreciate Tim Tebow.
My criteria for legendary status is whether I will remember that player well 20-25 years from now. There aren't many guys that you can say that about, but Tim Tebow is one of them. All I know is that Tebow won the Heisman as a sophomore (deservedly so), should have won the Heisman last year, and is probably the favorite to win it again along with a 3rd national title. If he does all that, he'll go down as one of the best players I've ever watched in college.
4. Who do you think is the strongest non-BCS conference football program?? Do you think a non-BCS school will play for the national championship in the next five years?
Boise and Utah are great, but I’m gonna take this in another direction. BYU. Bronco Mendenhall is methodically creating the perfect small conference team – explosive, pass-happy offense with a quirky, pressure defense. Mendenhall is young, he’s a legend at BYU, and he’s not going anywhere. Plus they’ve got an in on any big-time LDS athletes. And there seem to be more and more of these every year.
Dan: Boise State. No. Who cares?
Great question. And a tough one. To me, it comes down to Boise State or Utah. No disrespect to TCU, who is has carved out a nice little niche under Gary Patterson, but I think they are a half rung behind the other two. I’ll go with Utah, if only because they play in a tougher conference and have proven they can beat the big boys. That beatdown of Alabama last year was absolutely stunning.
But to answer the second question – NO. I don’t see it. If Utah couldn’t squeeze their way in last year, then it’s just not happening. I have mixed feeling about that too. If you would have asked me last year before the Sugar Bowl, I would have said no way in hell should the Utes be in the title game. But after the game, I would have loved to see them have a shot at it. Maybe that’s where a plus one game would have been great – we could have had Florida – Utah. Although then USC would have had a legit complaint. Ahh, I don’t know…
I am, admittedly, a sucker for defense, so I have a strong admiration for the job that Gary Patterson has done in Fort Worth. Boise has been remarkably consistent, but the WAC is not nearly as strong as the Mountain West, which proved its mettle last year by bullying the Pac-10 (most notably of which was BYU’s 59-0 massacre of UCLA in Provo). Furthermore, Utah deserves to be commended for its performance last year, but the Utes have not been as strong as other non-BCS schools on an annual basis and there were plenty of games that could have gone the other way in 2008.
As for the second part of the question, a non-BCS program will not play for the national championship in the next five years. The recent successes of Utah and Boise State in major bowl games have improved the reputation of these teams, but the current system will preclude these teams from playing for the title. Although some may claim that this setup is unfair, I really don’t care. College football, like life, is not always fair and there will always be the haves and the have-nots. Besides, nobody in their right mind really believes that any non-BCS team could run the gauntlet in a major conference during the regular season, so it is perfectly appropriate to exclude these teams from the national championship. Hence, any argument for a playoff system that cites the need for “equal access” to the national championship for the smaller schools should be summarily disregarded.
Kind of a tough decision here. I gave consideration to a number of different schools. Historically, BYU has probably had the most success among the non-BCS schools How many non-BCS schools have produced a Heisman Trophy winner and a national title in the last 30 years?? I can't think of anyone other than BYU. There are only a handful of BCS schools that have done it.
Boise State also merits some consideration. How can you argue with what they've done in the last decade?? They're the dominant program in a region that is small but growing (Idaho, Dakotas, Montana, etc). And those folks are football crazy. As mentioned in a post earlier in the year about Big Ten expansion, I think Boise is a VERY intriguing option for the league if some of their prime targets don't pan out. There is a real commitment to have a great football program out there, especially on the financial end.
TCU is also hard to ignore. I don't know how they're doing it down there with so much competition for players in the state of Texas. You got all those Big 12 teams going into Texas for recruits, SEC teams, even Big Ten teams and ND, and yet TCU seems to be good every year. They routinely beat BCS schools and often on the road. Gary Patterson is doing a heckuva job down at TCU.
But I think my vote has to go to the Utah Utes. This pick makes me a little guilty of jumping on a bandwagon, but I really believe that we are seeing the emergence of a potential power program in Utah. Not only are they the flagship state school in a state that is growing rapidly in population (they are about to add 2-3 seats in the House of Representatives in the next census), but they also have the added affiliation with the Mormon religion. The football program benefits from the missionary efforts of the Mormon church out in the Pacific Islands. Hawaii, Samoa, Phillipines, etc. Utah has a steady pipeline of Samoan players on their roster every year that doesn't seem to be going away any time soon. Outside of Notre Dame (the new Samoan U!) and maybe USC, Utah is the preeminent Samoan football school in the country right now.
This is a huge generalization, but football seems like a huge deal in the Mormon community. What else is there to do if you're a Mormon kid?? No drinking, no caffeine, no troublemaking. You might as well watch film, get huge in the weight room, and work on your tackling/routerunning/throwing. If football continues to grow in popularity in the Mormon world, there are going to be a ton of players interested in going to Utah someday.
Within 10 years, I'm predicting that Utah and BYU will be playing in a BCS conference. Maybe it's the Pac 10, maybe it's a recalibrated Big 12, maybe there's a new spinoff conference that forms, but I do think they will get their spot in the BCS club at some point down the road.
As for the title game question, I'm going to say that it COULD happen under the current formula. This Orrin Hatch congressional thing has really put Utah and the non-BCS schools on the radar. I think the voters are going to be looking to put one of those schools in the title game if they have another 12-0 season with multiple wins over BCS schools like Utah did last year. I don't think Utah deserved to be considered for the title game last year, but their performance in the Sugar Bowl certainly didn't hurt. If we get another team like that in the next couple years and no clear cut top two among the BCS schools, I think it would be the perfect storm for a non-BCS school to play for the title.
If that happens, it would be a TRAVESTY. There is no way that a non-BCS school should ever be in a title game. You can't tell me that these teams would go undefeated in a BCS conference where you are facing tough competition in tough venues week in and week out. Unless you'd played a full slate of BCS-school competition, you shouldn't be playing for a championship. Could you imagine a Boise State-Penn State title game because the SEC champ and USC each had a couple losses?? I would boycott that game.
3) Who is the best college football coach in America??
Jeremy: Pete Carroll
There’s really only 4 potential answers to this question, right? Let’s take them in reverse order.
Bob Stoops – He’s got a ring, but 2000 seems like a long time ago. The only bowl win in the past 6 years was the Holiday Bowl in 2005. Granted, the 5 losses all came in BCS games, but he’s starting to acquire a reputation for coming up small on the big stage. Generally considered to be a defensive mind, his Sooner defenses haven’t been great in the recent past.
Nick Saban – Brought MSU back to respectability. Turned LSU back into a powerhouse, including a (shared) title in 2003. Quickly bringing Bama back to its rightful place at the top of the college football world. Since he’s been something of a journeyman thus far, he hasn’t really had the opportunity to cement a legacy as the best coach in the game. One of the finest defensive minds in college football and turning into an amazing recruiter as well.
Urban Meyer – An amazing winner everywhere he’s been, no more evident than in his two titles in four years at the Swamp. I’m very interested to see what he plans to do this year to mix it up with Tebow, and especially interested to see what he can do once Tebow is gone. Appears to be a great recruiter, though it certainly doesn’t take much to recruit to Gainesville right now. If it weren’t for the next guy, Meyer would be a runaway.
Pete Carroll – I know his teams sometimes lose focus during the middle of the Pac-10 season, but there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s going to win when he lines his squad up against the best of the best. The best recruiter in the country, Carroll has waves upon waves of 5-star talent at every position. Until he leaves, no one’s better.
Dan: Urban Meyer
This is tough. I’d say it is definitely one of three: Pete Carroll, Urban Meyer, or Nick Saban. Pete Carroll consistently gathers the most talented players and has coached the only team that I would feel comfortable stating that his USC team every year for the past 6 years could compete with and beat every team in the country. But he lets his teams get bored during the middle of the season every year. If USC played in the SEC instead of the PAC-10, maybe that would not happen. Nick has been successful at 3 different schools. He turned Bama around almost instantly. Is there any doubt he’ll win a title at Alabama if he stays? No. Is there doubt he’ll stay put? Yes. Will he be consistent? I am not sure. Urban Meyer? Do I really need to say anything about what he’s done? Bowling Green. Utah. Florida. I think either Florida or USC will win the title of this year. The winner of that gets the best coach title. In the mean time, I’m going to go with Urban Meyer.
Matt: Pete Carroll
Hmmm. Pete Carroll. Sure he has a stable of players, but so do all of the big boys. He gets a roster full of 5 stars to buy into the committee approach, and it seems like his players LOVE playing for him. At times, it looks like our guys wouldn’t run through a wet paper bag for Charlie Weis, let alone the proverbial wall.
Mike: Pete Carroll
Urban Meyer and Bob Stoops are in the discussion, but Carroll’s record of success stands unrivaled as the best. I really hope he leaves USC.
Doug: Pete Carroll
So many great coaches out there. Urban Meyer has won 2 national titles and might win a 3rd. Bob Stoops has already won 6 Big 12 titles. Nick Saban has built two programs into powerhouses in the toughest conference in America. It's really hard to argue against any of those guys.
But how could you pick anyone other than Pete "Anytime, Anywhere" Carroll?? I don't see how you could possibly pick anyone else. If you had to pick one guy to win you a big game, who are you picking?? I'm going with Pete Carroll.
I don't think I've ever seen USC come out flat in a big game. I love USC's approach in the big games. They go for the throat right out of the chute. They blitz you, they hit you in the mouth, they go for the jugular on offense, and they're fearless. I love that. All coaches should coach big games like that.
When you watch USC in a big game, it is amazing to watch them assert their will as the game goes on. You look up at the scoreboard and suddenly it's 21-3 late in the 2nd quarter, Joe McKnight and Stafon Johnson are ripping off 10-15 yards a pop, and Musberger is waxing poetic. This is the USC football that we've seen ever since Pete Carroll has been there.
USC would have 4-5 national titles if they had been allowed into more of these national title games in the last few years. Does anyone really believe they wouldn't have beaten LSU in 2008 or even Florida last year?? I don't have any doubt about it.
I also love Carroll's attitude about scheduling. I think he encourages the athletic department to go and take on all comers. They will literally play anyone, anywhere. How many other top 5 programs open the season on the road with no return home game like SC?? That type of attitude rubs off on the entire program. They don't duck anybody. Unlike the Big Ten schools with their 4 MAC opponents to open the year and ND's recent trends in scheduling, USC sends a message to their players that they are the best in the nation and want to prove it week in and week out.
USC has lost a lot of personnel, but I still expect them to be the most impressive team in the nation by the end of the year in 2009. That's a credit to Pete Carroll.
2) On a scale of 1-10, rate the Tom Hammond-Pat Haden duo for Notre Dame football. Is there anyone else you'd rather see in the booth calling ND games for NBC??
Jeremy: 6 or 7
Hammond stinks, but there are certainly worse out there. Haden definitely knows his stuff. I’d rather not have a USC guy doing color, but I also don’t want any Ron Santo types in the booth, openly rooting for the home team. Maybe I’m mellowing in my old age, but they don’t bother me as much as they used to.
They are miserable. I want nothing to do with Tom Hammond. My guess is that he can’t even tie his shoes anymore, let alone remember players’ names and numbers. Pat Haden is ok, but really nothing more than maybe serviceable. You know who I’d put in the booth? Bob Davie and Chris Collinsworth. Not really sure who would do the play by play, but maybe we could bring in someone else for that and do a 3 man booth. Chris already works for NBC, and Davie has ND connections. Say what you will about the ole “footbaw” coach, but he knows the game and I actually enjoy him as an announcer.
OK, I’m sure I’m definitely in the minority here when it comes to ND fans and announcers, but I don’t mind the Hammond – Haden duo. Sure, Hammond can at times take apparent glee in the failings of ND, but to me, those two voices represent ND football. I actually think that Haden is a very good color commentator and for the most part is both insightful and fair when it comes to discussing ND.
Without a doubt, if I could take any other announcing pair, I would take Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson. I probably wouldn’t attend any more ND games just so I could watch Gary break down the play before it happens and here Verne throw around some “In your life’s!”
Hammond is scary in HD and Haden adds little to the game as an analyst. I would like to see Ted Robinson, who is a Notre Dame alumnus that is already employed by NBC for other sports, including tennis, as the play-by-play announcer. I always enjoyed Robinson’s work as the lead broadcaster for the Mets and I think he would be a perfect addition to the booth for Notre Dame games.
I might be one of the few ND fans who don't really mind the Hammond and Haden team, but even I'm not going to say that they are one of the best college football broadcast teams out there. Not a lot of legendary calls from Tom Hammond that I can recall, and Pat Haden is really just there as the resident "Mr. Nice Guy" who isn't going to say anything too controversial. I know it's hard for NBC to attract a big time crew for only 6-7 home games a year, so I can live with the Hammond-Haden team. Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson are not walking through that door. Brent Musberger and Kirk Herbstreit are not leaving the ESPN stable for 6 ND games a year.
I do like Pat Haden though and actually enjoy his analysis of the ND football team. I know he's not funny or a big time personality, but I think he watches film and really knows the ND team inside and out. That's really all I'm asking for. Plus, Haden is a class act. I don't think I've ever heard him say a bad thing about ND in all the years I've watched him do games. Haden seems to have a great affection for the institution and our players.
As for Tom Hammond, he definitely is a goofy looking guy, but how can you not respect those pipes?? Hammond has one of the best voices in the business, and I don't really have a problem with his call. I don't get goosebumps like I do when I'm watching a classic Verne Lundquist game, but I think Hammond is capable of rising to the occasion when the moment calls for it. Go back and watch his call of the Quinn to Samardzija drive in the 2006 UCLA game. Great stuff. I don't know how he could have handled that any better.
With that said, I think the Hammond-Haden booth is screaming out for a 3rd guy to come in and shake things up. Hammond and Haden are basically the same personality. Nice guys who bring the same demeanor and sensibility to the table. They're basically just background voices for the ND telecast.
If I was NBC, I would bring one of these two guys into the fold:
Lou Holtz or Bob Davie
Holtz would be a homer (which I don't really want), but I think he'd be great. Lou would be there purely for comic relief and some storytelling. If he gave you some football insight, even better. He's a perfect third wheel. If you told him to tone it down and not go overboard, I think he would be a lot of fun to listen to during ND home games. I don't think he'd get in the way of what Hammond and Haden are trying to do, but he'd bring something to the table.
The other guy who would be even better would be Robert Montgomery Davie. Say what you want about Davie's coaching career, he is one of the most entertaining analysts out there. He's got stories, he's funny, and he knows the game. And make no mistake, Davie loves ND. He is always singing our praises every time he does a game. I think he has come to appreciate his time at ND, and it shows during his telecasts.
Davie seems to be getting marginalized a little bit at ESPN. Now, would be a great time for NBC to swoop in and offer him the ND gig. I think he'd take it, and I'd be thrilled to have him on board.
1) Are you a fan of the "head coach in waiting" trend that is popping up at schools like Texas and FSU where the school names the future head coach while the current head coach is still there??
Not a fan. These guys have no HC experience. Even if they’ve been learning at the foot of some of the best in the business. Of course its questionable just how much guys like Bowden and Brown do anymore, so maybe the “coaches in waiting” are doing the brunt of the work after all. But in my opinion, tabbing guys who haven’t actually been there is pretty dangerous. ND has been burned twice in the recent past by this – Bob Davie probably would have been a decent HC if he had gotten some experience prior to starting in South Bend. He was too hands-on and unwilling to delegate to his assistants. Charlie Weis seems to be heading down a similar path. While it may seem like a dangerous move to let guys like Jimbo Fisher and Will Muschamp go sow some royal oats at a smaller school, I wouldn’t want to turn my program over to a first-time head coach
No. It’s a terrible idea. I’m a Colts fan. I hated it for my team. Look at Texas and FSU. They are settling for assistants years in advance. I think they try and do this to provide stability for recruits. But who cares? These programs are going to get the recruits regardless of the coach. And by settling for 2nd tier candidates with no HC experience, they are almost damning themselves to several years of mediocrity followed by a second coaching search. It’s an awful, awful, idea.
Not really. But I get it. If you want to hang onto your valuable ‘right hand men,’ you’ve got to give them something to stick around for. For FSU and Bowden who will probably be gone soon, fine. Let Jimbo Fisher start to plan what he’s going to do and maybe get more involved in the day to day operations. But with Texas, I don’t really get it. Is Mack Brown really going anywhere soon? He could easily coach another 15 years if he wanted to and nobody would think anything of it. Is Will Muschamp just supposed to wait it out? What if LSU comes calling in 5 years and he’s still just sitting there waiting for Mack Brown to hang up the whistle? I guess it just depends on the situation whether the head coach in waiting makes sense.
Yes, tentatively. As with other areas of business, it seems sensible for programs to engage in succession planning. In fact, Purdue has already used this approach to effectuate a successful transition from Gene Keady to Matt Painter, so it is easy to see why the Boilermakers were eager to nominate Danny Hope as their coach-in-waiting. Of course, since the practice has not been used in college football until recently, it is virtually impossible to predict whether this plan will work on the gridiron.
This year, Chip Kelly and Hope will take the reins at Oregon and Purdue respectively, so it will be interesting to chart their progress. Likewise, all eyes will be squarely fixed on Will Muschamp and Jimbo Fisher, both of whom will have the unenviable task of following in the footsteps of two legends. Although it is, as mentioned above, exceedingly difficult to predict the future, I suspect that the coaches who take over smaller programs will have a higher probability of success than those first time coaches who, despite having no head coaching experience, are asked to lead a high-profile program.
I'm still trying to wrap my head around this whole idea. Part of me think it's smart planning, but part of me thinks it is way too risky.
In theory, I like the idea of having a succession plan in place. That's what you see at just about any corporation or business out there. The smartest companies will groom their CEO from within and make the transition as easy as possible. Continuity can be a good thing for a college football program as well. At a school like Texas, Mack Brown has built a recruiting and winning machine. He has put a fence around the state of Texas that all but guarantees 9-10 wins a year at a minimum. It makes sense to train the next guy in the Mack Brown system and keep that good thing going. If you go out and hire an outside guy after Mack Brown retires, that guy might not have the relationships with local Texas high school coaches. Suddenly, the cracks in the foundation of the Texas program start showing, and you're starting all over.
On the other hand, what if this groomed replacement isn't any good?? What if Will Muschamp can't hold it together like Mack Brown did?? He's never been a head coach before. I don't care how much training you have. Until you've sat in that big chair, you are an unknown. If Muschamp takes over and can't get it done, you could set your program back for a decade. It just seems like a huge risk that a school like Texas shouldn't necessarily have to take.
The other thing is that you don't get a chance to look around at other hot young coaches out there. It's the freaking University of Texas. When Mack Brown retires, they could literally have their pick of the litter. What coach wouldn't want to coach at Texas?? You have the first crack at the best talent in the state of Texas, you have tons of money and resources at your disposal, you get to live in a fantastic city like Austin, great weather, great school, flagship institution in the state of Texas. I'm not sure there's a better job in America than Texas.
That's why it's so strange that a school like Texas would be in such a hurry to name their replacement from within the program. It's not like Texas groomed Mack Brown from within. They brought him in from North Carolina. If you are always looking internally, you might miss on a chance to hire an elite coach from another program. What if the next Mack Brown is out there coaching at another school but you're already committed to Will Muschamp?? What if Major Applewhite goes to another school and wins big?? Wouldn't he be an attractive candidate for the Texas job as well?? Why eliminate the competition to find the best possible head coach??
How do we even know that Will Muschamp is going to continue to be a great defensive assistant?? What if Texas' defense stinks next year?? Will that mean that Muschamp is not only out as the future head coach but also potentially out as a defensive coordinator??
The key will obviously be whether Muschamp turns out to be a great coach. If he is, then it's a genius move by Texas to lock him up. By all accounts, he is one of the bright young coaches in the game. I love watching him fire up the troops on the sideline. I thought he was going to end up at Auburn or Clemson last offseason, so maybe Texas is absolutely convinced that Muschamp will be a coaching superstar someday.
Chip Kelly is the first of these "succession" coaches to take over. It will be interesting to see what he does at Oregon. He's been credited as the brains behind the Oregon offense in the last few years, so it's logical to think that he'll be a great fit as the head coach. But you never know.
I'm predicting that one of these "succession" schools reneges on their offer at some point. Maybe FSU with Jimbo Fisher if their offense doesn't start looking better in the next couple years. And I still don't think it's set in stone by any means that Will Muschamp will be the head coach at Texas. Things can change in a hurry.