Notes of Note: CFP Rankings; Pac-12 Alive; Trojan Moves; Taggart; World Series Postmortem; Warrior B
The first College Football Playoff selection committee rankings will be released tomorrow, and most of the pre-game studio shows last weekend focused on potential changes in the format.
Fox's Joel Klatt, who I believe is now the premier analyst in the game, favored keeping the four-team format, which to us makes no sense. College football must go to eight teams as soon as possible. With five major conferences, plus potential worthy candidates from the Group of Five, you can’t have a truly representative field with only four teams.
Another Fox analyst, former USC quarterback Matt Leinart, had it right. He recommended an eight-team field consisting of the champions of the Power Five conferences plus three at large teams. To be considered as one of the participants, a Group of Five team would have to be unbeaten.
Given the increasing groundswell of support for the expanded field, including from some conference commissioners, expect the move to eight teams to happen in 2024 or 2027 (thereby allowing the “New Year’s Six” bowls the opportunity to complete their three-year rotation of hosting the semi-finals).
Our guess on the committee’s initial rankings:
Pac-12 Still Alive: Veteran AP college football scribe Ralph Russo has Oregon in the playoff along with Ohio State, Alabama & Clemson.
It’s possible. Here’s what has to happen. Ohio State beats Penn State on Nov. 23 and then polishes off the West division champ (most likely Minnesota) in the Big Ten title game. Alabama beats LSU decisively this weekend and then beats Georgia in the SEC championship game. Oregon runs the table and beats Utah in the Pac-12 Championship game. (The same scenario works if LSU beats Alabama decisively).
But it Alabama-LSU is a barn-burner, the loser will likely get in ahead of one-loss Oregon.
Trojan Changes: According to multiple reports, Cincinnati Athletic Director Mike Bohn, who previously was the AD at Colorado, will be the new head man at USC. Bohn has no ties to USC, unlike the last three Trojan ADs, all of whom were former USC football stars—and all of whom were incompetent.
This is a good thing.
Bohn's imminent hiring, combined with the Trojans' one-sided loss to Oregon Saturday night, removed any doubt that Clay Helton will not be retained as head football coach at USC. Speculation has centered on former Ohio State/Florida/Utah coach Urban Meyer, who ironically now sits beside two former USC Heisman Trophy winners (Reggie Bush and Leinart) on the set of the Fox pre-game show.
Meyer’s hiring would be a huge "get" for the folks at Heritage Hall and, frankly, for the Pac-12. But it would also dredge up the skeletons in Meyer's closet relative to widespread criminal behavior of his players and multiple domestic violence charges against one of his assistants at Ohio State, all of which he ignored or swept under the rug.
Given USC's current image problems, stemming from recruiting violations and admissions scandals, that might not be the wisest course of action.
Taggart Ousted: Head coach Willie Taggart, the man who fled Oregon for Florida State after a year, was fired yesterday. His teams looked poorly coached, undisciplined and unprepared during his year-and-a-half tenure in Tallahassee, which resulted in a 9-12 record.
The venerable Seminoles’ program that went to 35 straight bowls under Bobby Bowden and Jimbo Fisher is in danger of missing the post-season for the third year in a row, and that proved too much for the school’s honchos and donors to swallow.
So the heavily-traveled Taggart is on the road again, but this time someone else sent him packing.
Meanwhile, Seminole fans fear that their administration, which for some reason is involving donors in the search for a new coach, might make another horrible mistake. The last one cost the school a $17 million buyout.
World Series Musings: When Bryce Harper departed via free agency, few experts gave the Washington Nationals a chance to make the playoffs, much less win the World Series. And on May 24, when the team's record stood at 19-31, the Nats were totally written off and manager Dave Martinez' job was rumored to be in jeopardy.
But baseball is a funny game. Washington went 86-43 the rest of the way—including the playoffs—and rode Stephen Strasburg's pitching and Anthony Rendon's clutch hitting, plus timely contributions from a lot of "over the hill" veterans and 21-year old wunderkind Juan Soto, to the championship.
And the oldest team in the league did something no one has ever done in professional sports—win all four games on the road in a seven-game series. Classic.
Silver Lining: A few nights after their blowout loss in the opening game at Chase Center, the Warriors lost superstar, face-of-the-franchise Steph Curry for three months to a broken left hand. With co-Splash Brother Klay Thompson already out for most—if not all—of the season, any hopes of gaining a playoff berth have been extinguished.
That's actually good news for coach Steve Kerr, who can now devote all his time to developing young players and determining who will be retained for 2020-21, rather than chasing a long shot playoff run that frankly wasn’t going to happen.
Final Thought: At the halfway point in the NFL season, the only unbeaten team in the league is...the San Francisco 49ers.