Various Things Happening In College Football
Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Inside Higher Ed has a piece on HBCU’s scheduling payout games, where they play on the road against vastly superior teams. They take a beating, but make a lot of money. I don’t like it when FBS teams schedule FCS ones, including Southern Tech, but I must confess I cringe a little extra when we schedule an HBCU. They are not only FCS, but are are not competitive even in that subdivision.
I honestly think it would be better if the HBCU’s kind of went their own way. There are two HBCU conferences and one (SWAC) of which already doesn’t abide by FCS rules and exempts itself from the playoff. The other (MEAC) participates in the playoffs but rarely make it far. If they played one another for some trophy, I’d watch that game.
The article presents it as being mostly about giving the big schools an opportunity to fine-tune their schemes and players before starting conference play, but that’s only part of it and I would argue that it’s the smaller part of it. Nor is it strictly a matter of wanting a guaranteed win. The biggest reason is that big schools pull in a ton of money per game, and so it’s more lucrative to play a 7th or 8th home game and rent a doormat for a six figure payout. FCS programs almost always play these games on the road. Lower-end FBS program (so-called G5 schools) will also often take buyout games, but they’re more expensive. It’s also common that they get a 2-for-1 game. Whenever either of these happen, though, the G5 school will then turn around and schedule an FCS team so that they get at least five or (usually) six home games a season.
While I would prefer see FBS vs FCS games end for the most part, it does benefit all involved. The programs need the money and want the exposure. And – though this doesn’t apply to HBCU’s) sometimes they win and it’s something that will be remembered for decades. Which brings us to…
North Texas vs Portland State
The North Texas Mean Green (an FBS/G5 program) lost to Portland State (FCS) 66-7, which is likely the largest margin by which an FBS has ever lost to an FCS program. Now, Portland State is a pretty outstanding team this year, having previously defeated Mike Leach’s Washington State (which last week defeated Oregon at Oregon). Even so, that’s a staggering loss and North Texas’s coach, Dan McCarney, was immediately fired.
McCarney was shafted by Iowa State some time back. Neither of the Cyclones’ subsequent coaches have matched the success McCarney had there. It seemed like a good hire on paper, and actually seemed to be when McCarney took the Mean Green to their first bowl game in quite a while. Things went downhill after that and nobody knows why. Their last hire, Todd Dodge, was a bit of a risky one (straight from the high school ranks to the college ones), but McCarney wasn’t. Perhaps it goes back to the original sin of firing Darrell Dickey, a coach who had outstanding success for a while (26 straight conference wins, three conference titles), had two losing seasons, and was fired in 2006. They’ve had one winning season since. The angry alumn who owned the naming rights to their playing field demanded it be renamed Darrell Dickey Field.
Portland State, meanwhile, may have the most successful coach around. He hasn’t just beaten two FBS opponents, but he did it at a school that has trouble getting 3,000 people to show up to its games and where former NFL Coach Jerry Glanville couldn’t even find any success. I’ve got my eye on him.
Also fired was Randy Edsall at Maryland. I have no strong opinions of that firing, though their chosen replacement is shocking.
Mike Locksley was hired by New Mexico with much publicity. On paper, it was a great hire and (as the school’s first black head coach) historic to boot. But now if you ask me “What is the worst coaching hire in recent college football history” I would probably say “Mike Locksley.” In just over two season, he incurred a sexual discrimination lawsuit, a sexual harassment accusation, got into a fight with an assistant coach, and got picked up on a DWI. Also, he went 2-26 at a school that won six or more games in seven of its last eight seasons. The program still hasn’t recovered.
Anyway, he is the interim head coach at Maryland now.
Not fired (for now), but on leave is Southern Cal’s head coach Steve Sarkisian. After being hired away from Washington, Sarkesian has struggled at USC though not to the point that you would expect USC to take action until the end of the season (if then). However, a series of incidents suggest that he has an alcohol problem that has gotten the better of him. Thus making USC the fourth school to have an interim coach less than half way into the new season. (The first is Illinois, who fired their coach before the season began after allegations of player abuse.)
Central Florida and the Rivalry That Isn’t
The fifth may be Central Florida. Before the season started, head coach and interim athletics director George O’Leary allegedly told administration that he might want to move into the AD office full time. There is a lesson here, and that lesson is that a coach tells you that it’s time for him to stop coaching, you should listen. It’s the same lesson Florida learned when Urban Meyer needed to “retire.” Meyer is back, of course, but he clearly needed the break. Florida convinced him to stick around for an extra year and it was a remarkably unimpressive year. But UCF is not in the mood to listen, apparently.
The most recent game was against UConn. This is the notably one-way rivalry. UConn has declared UCF to be a rival and UCF says that sure they will take the trophy if they win they guess. Which, of course they didn’t.
Image by Parker Knight