College Football

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Lucky Dawg

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The first scenario that has Georgia making it to the college playoffs is pretty straightforward- beat LSU in the SEC Championship game and you’re in. Nothing very complicated about it, except for, you know, the fact they have to beat LSU.

What’s more intriguing to me is whether or not there’s a scenario where Georgia could still make the playoffs, even if they lose to the Tigers; something I assume most Georgia fans have already begun contemplating.

To start with, let’s go ahead and assume Ohio State, Clemson, and LSU all win their respective title games and are in. That leaves the winner of the Big-12 matchup (Oklahoma or Baylor) and possibly the winner of the Pac-12 (Utah or Oregon) that the Bulldogs would have to contend with for the final spot.

I’m going to just skim right over Oklahoma and Oregon because if they Sooners win, they’re in. And if Oregon happens to win, I think they would end up behind either Big-12 winner and Georgia since they’ll have two losses and the Pac-12 is basically regarded as an inferior spin-off of a better conference.

Where it gets interesting is if both Baylor and Utah win. The argument for putting Georgia in ahead of either of those two teams begins and ends with one thing; name recognition.

As much as the NCAA wants us to believe the committee is choosing the four most deserving teams, they’re not. What they’re looking for are the four biggest named teams ($$$) that they can realistically justify putting in the playoffs. I mean, how else do you explain their love affair with Alabama and their FCS looking schedule?

The committee will play their part and acknowledge that Georgia will ultimately have one more loss than either Baylor or Utah, but then I imagine they’ll argue Georgia comes from a tougher conference (they do), had a better overall season (debatable, especially considering the South Carolina loss), and that the Dawgs pass everyone’s favorite metric, the eye test (probably true), as reasons as to why the Bulldogs made the cut ahead of the other two.

When the teams were announced for the college playoffs inaugural season in 2014, there was a large contingent of fans arguing Ohio State only made the playoffs, not on their merits, but because of their national recognition. It would be no different this year; Ohio State vs. Georgia is much more appealing on paper than OSU vs. Baylor/Utah. (By the way, I went ahead and put Ohio State as the overall #1 seed because if this scenario actually plays out, just watch the committee place Ohio State ahead of LSU. But, remember, this whole thing is purely objective and nothing is based on matchu…….hahaha, I can’t even finish typing it out.)

Look, I’m not promising this is what will happen, or even that it’s what should happen, I’m just so skeptical when it comes almost everything the NCAA touches, that I almost expect that’s the way things will turn out. After all, it’s a business, and Georgia is better business.

Of course, this all changes if UGA gets steamrolled by LSU, or best-case scenario for Bulldog fans, they happen to win Saturday.

That said, if the latter takes place, and Oklahoma winds up winning the Big-12, it may bring up an even more interesting question- what does the committee do with LSU?

Either way, don’t be shocked if a one-loss Baylor or Utah team is on the outside looking in. I know the NCAA won’t be.

Broken System

By: Mike Anthony

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The latest College Football Playoff rankings are out and – just as all of these releases are, up until the final one – it’s just a song and dance meant to drive argument and interest in the race for the four spots in the championship postseason.

It really doesn’t matter that Ohio State is ahead of LSU. The Tigers could very well pull ahead with a win, in what will be perceived as a tougher matchup in its conference championship game.

It really doesn’t matter that Georgia is fourth while Alabama is fifth. A win for the Bulldogs in the SEC title game will guarantee them a spot – and a higher seed – in the playoff, while Alabama knows all about sitting out of a conference championship game and moving up by default.

It really doesn’t matter that Clemson has pinballed around the rankings so far. They’re the defending national champions and they’ll be in the playoff so long as they remain undefeated.

In the end, everything seems to be on a crash course for yet another round of bashing the selection committee for including one team while leaving out another. And when you look at the big picture, the NCAA has brought a lot of that scorn upon itself.

Of the 10 conferences in FBS football, there is a split between the ‘Power 5’ and the ‘Group of 5’. Those names weren’t originally created by the NCAA, but the association acknowledged the split several years ago when it set special stipulations to mandate that at least one G5 team is represented in the six major New Year’s bowls.

But, by doing that, the NCAA has stepped in an even bigger puddle. There is now a de facto admission that five conferences are seen as superior and will get preference in rankings and bowl allotments.

That much isn’t so bad as the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12 and SEC consistently put forth the best teams in the country. But the problem arises when elementary math takes over and there are five power conference champions and only four playoff spots.

It’s as if a ship named five officers and only provided four lifejackets to go between them. Regardless of anyone else on board who is deserving of a vest, it’s impossible for anything other than a power struggle to result.

There have been plenty of years in which a P5 conference hasn’t produced a national championship-caliber team. And there have been years where one P5 conference has objectively had two of the best four teams in the nation that both deserve to play on.

Of course, there are also about a half-dozen instances dating back to the BCS days where a G5 team went undefeated and wasn’t even allowed the ability to keep playing toward a national championship before being dismissed and cast aside while P5 schools battled it out.

With P5 conference members given more of a benefit of the doubt for losses and those same teams mostly controlling who and when and where they play any non-conference game, it’s almost guaranteed that every season will end with a couple of shoe-in playoff teams, along with about a half-dozen other P5s with solid cases to make and a few G5s who can’t get the time of day due to their PERCEIVED lack of schedule strength.

It’s past time for the playoff to expand. If the P5 schools are so far above the rest, then each of the conference champions should have a chance to play for a title. And when great G5 teams get bashed for their schedule, it should be taken with a grain of salt since obviously no P5 squad wanted to bring them in for a perceived easy win.

There are too many teams and not enough weeks to work out a perfect regular season that produces a unanimously agreed upon playoff field. So, it’s up to the powers that be to come up with something that isn’t designed to ensure plenty of legitimate contenders left on the sidelines each fall.

Sunshine Rivalry

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

This is the best week of the year for college football fans.

Rivalry week is finale week to yet another college football season.

The feast begins Friday night at the Bounce House with “The War on I-4”, and ends Saturday night with Florida vs. Florida State.

We have heard it so many times in our college football lives, “You can throw the record book out when these two teams get together.”

This year it may be different, both UCF and Florida are heavy favorites in their respective matchups.

“The War on I-4” is the end of the year battle between UCF and South Florida. The Knight’s open up as a 23-point favorite. These are two teams heading in polar opposite directions.

The Bulls lead all-time series 6-4, but the Knights have won the last two games of the “War on I-4.”

Take it from me, this game is going to be a blow out! The Bulls have lost three home games in a row against Temple, Cincinnati and Memphis. Coach Charlie Strong is on the “HOT SEAT.” We can call it a local rivalry game, but the Bulls are no match for the Knights in 2019.

UCF has been one of the best offensive teams in the country with the points to prove it. The Knights have 30 or more in 31 straight games, which is the longest streak in the AP poll era (1936).

On Friday night, the Knights will extend the 30 or more point streak as they boat race the Bulls.

My prediction is this game is going to be ugly if you are a South Florida Bull.

Like all UCF home games this season, the game will be over by half time.

UCF 56 South Florida 20

Florida versus Florida State: The sheer richness of noteworthy games, assures us some wild rides and crazy results.

The Gators haven’t beaten the Seminoles in Gainesville since 2009. Since 2000, Florida State holds a 10-9 advantage, despite how close the record is the games have not been close.

Just two short years ago, the Florida Gators were in the same boat as this Florida State team. Florida fired Jim McElwain mid-season and the Seminoles thumped the Gators 31-13.

Fast forward to 2019, Florida State has fired Coach Will Taggart. Florida State is 2 and 0 since Intern Coach Odell Haggins took over the reins. The Seminoles became bowl eligible with a convincing 49-12 victory over Alabama State.

Coach Haggins is 4 and 0 for his career as a head coach at Florida State. Saturday night in the Swamp Coach Haggins will take his first lost.

Florida State has been a dumpster fire since the day Willie Taggart was hired. Don’t get me wrong, the Seminoles have a lot of talented players on their roster. It’s just those players talent has not translated into wins for the Seminoles.

Quick fact: Florida State ranked 124 in the NCAA in pass defense (the lowest in School history). The Gators ranked 19 in the NCAA in pass offense.

Florida State will start the game with a lot of fire and desire but at the end of the day they are no match for this year’s Gator team.

The Gators are playing for a New Year’s 6 bowl, and they would like to send their senior class of 18 players off with a victory.

The Seminoles have given up 36 sacks and 102 hurries in 2019, whereas the Gators have sacked the quarterback 38 times and 134 hurries.

Side note: Florida State’s search for a new head coach has taken a few turns over the past few weeks.

First, FSU strikes out on Bob Stoops. Next, brother Mark Stoops tells FSU no thanks.

The hot names are Norvell, Campbell, Clawson and Haggins.

Also, a report surfaced that Willie Taggart did not sign his contract. This report is not correct Willie Taggart signed his contract, but FSU administration did not sign. Just like the regular season FSU cannot finish.

Final Score:  Florida 45 Florida State 20

The Trask Train

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Gators started slow against Missouri in Columbia. Blame it on the coaching, the weather, or anything you want, but do NOT blame it on Kyle Trask.

After going into the locker room with a 6-3 lead, Gator Nation on Twitter was in meltdown mode. The major debate before, during, and after was: should Kyle Trask be the starting quarterback at Florida?

Kyle Trask was the backup quarterback after Feleipe Franks went down with a dislocated ankle. Trask stepped in and stepped up.

Trask has led the Gators to a great season and afforded a chance for a New Year’s Six Bowl Game.

The optimist on Twitter would look at Kyle Trask and say he holds the ball too long; he isn’t a running threat and he doesn’t fit Dan Mullen’s offense.

No one was paying attention when Trask lead a come from behind win against Kentucky. Nobody cared when he showed intestinal fortitude in the convincing win against Auburn. Trask had fans believing in his team in a shootout in Baton Rouge. As Birdman would say, put some “Respeck” on Kyle Trask’s name.

The loss to Georgia has some fans not caring about the 2020 season.  The big question fans are asking, “Is Trask able to lead this team to a championship or would Florida be better off playing Emory Jones to gain experience for 2020?”

Let me throw another monkey wrench into the quarterback room. What happens if Feleipe Franks decides to return to the Gators next season?

I have seen a lot of fans questioning Dan Mullen on Emory Jones’s playing time. The reason is that Emory has not progressed enough in the passing games to allow him to take the QB1 job.

I think Kyle Trask won the backup quarterback job during camp and now give the Gators the best chance to win. He is completing 66.8% of his passes this season, a bit over 2/3.

Remember this is Trask’s first year playing as a starting quarterback since Junior High. Trask’s ability to make the correct reads and deliver the football on time in limited playing time has translated into wins.

Florida’s rushing attack has been non-existent this season. The offensive line can’t bust a grape and the running backs are averaging less than 4.1 yards per carry.

Coach Mullen was hired to win games. Florida’s new fun and gun offense put their talent in the best position to win. Kyle Trask as the starting quarterback also puts the Gators in the best position to win.

The answer to whether Trask can win a championship has proven to be “NO”, at least for the 2019 season.  Trask is a redshirt Junior and has one year left at Florida.

The 2020 team will be different. Florida loses a lot of leadership and production players, but Coach Mullen has changed the direction of the program in two short years and has the Gators trajectory heading in the right direction.

Perhaps it would behoove Gator fans on Twitter and Facebook to be a little more patient with Kyle Trask. Just last year, LSU fans were having the same discussion with Joe Burrow. This season Burrow is lighting it up and is the favorite to win the Heisman.

I am not saying Trask will take the same path as Burrow, but you have to let the young man develop. Trask is going to have to take the right steps forward in a continually challenging SEC Conference, but his trajectory indicates success on the Swamp’s horizon.

Mullen, Gator Nation, and the players know that to win a championship, you have to beat Georgia. That is not an easy task, considering Georgia is an Elite, championship program.

To the fans questioning Coach Mullen’s decisions, I say “Trust The Process!

There is still work to be done. There is still time to jump on the Trask Train! Trask 2020, make the Gators Great Again!”

Not Your Father’s Tigers

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The college football regular season is winding down. Clemson won the national championship last year and they are in the hunt again this season.

They currently have the top ranked recruiting class for 2020. Let’s take a look at some of the incoming talent.

So far, they have 20 commits including six 5-star recruits and nine 4-star. The Tigers have a hard commit from the top player in the nation, defensive tackle Bryan Bresee. He attends Damascus High in Maryland.

At 6’5, 290 pounds he already looks like a pro lineman. He’s dominant and if you have not seen his highlights yet I advise you to check him out.

Another 5-star defensive lineman joining Bresee in Death Valley is defensive end Myles Murphy. Murphy attends Hillgrove in Powder Springs, Ga. He’s 6’5, 260 lbs. so he also looks physically imposing. At The Opening he ran a 4.65 forty and had a 34.10 vertical. He’s the No. 4 recruit in the country.

Quarterback DJ Uiagalelei is the best pro style QB in this entire recruiting class.

He’s like a bigger more powerful version of Tua, standing at 6’4 and 246 pounds. You might be familiar with him from the show QB 1 Beyond the Lights.

He plays for national power St. John Bosco (California). Getting a highly recruited player like him from California shows just how much Clemson has grown as a program. They typically recruit well in the Southeast but rarely get players from outside that region.

DJ also plays basketball and baseball so he’s a good athlete and he moves well for his size. Through 11 games this season he has passed for 3,177 yards, 35 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. He also completes 63% of his passes.

His team travels and plays several ranked teams from out of state. They also played the top high school team in the nation, Mater Dei so his numbers are impressive.

Running back Demarkcus Bowman (Lakeland, Fl) is ranked No. 3 nationally at his position. He averaged 11.9 yards per carry this season and last season was the same. Through 10 regular season games he has 1,523 yards and 23 touchdowns. He’s a big play threat and his longest run of the season is 88 yards.

Cornerback Fred Davis II (Jacksonville, Fl) is 6’0 so he has good size for the position. He’s ranked third at the position nationally. His official forty time is 4.3 so he’s very fast. He is expected to step on campus and be a shutdown corner.

The final 5-star player is defensive tackle Demonte Capehart from IMG Academy. IMG recruits nationally so being a standout player for that team means he’s an elite player. He’s the No. 4 recruit in the state of Florida.

Capehart is 6’5 and 295 pounds. Many of these players have prototypical size already.

Clemson has been very successful without having top 5 recruiting classes. Now that they are getting this much talent it’s frightening for the rest of the college football programs.

Their defensive line should be the best within the next two years.

The Inflated SEC

By: Mike Anthony

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

On Tuesday night, the latest installment of the College Football Playoff rankings were released.

There weren’t too many surprises. LSU topped the chart after an historic win over Alabama. Ohio State continues to churn along and the defending champions from Clemson won’t drop out of a coveted top-4 so long as they remain undefeated.

The only small surprise was that Alabama fell all the way out of the top-4, coming in at No. 5 while Georgia claimed the final spot – for now – in the ultimate playoff.

There is still a month to play in the regular season and history suggests that a big shakeup or two are still in store, but the latest rankings continued a long-running trend.

For more than a decade it has been pretty much impossible for Southeastern Conference teams to not make up a large portion of any poll.

To be fair, there is no reason to be surprised by seeing SEC teams ranked near the top. The conference won seven consecutive national championships from 2006-12 and has won two more since then. A team from the SEC was also the runner-up in three other title games since 2012.

It’s inarguable that the SEC routinely produces some of the best teams each year. But a quick look at how the rankings – both the playoff rankings and the Associated Press poll – play out each week shows why the league is all but guaranteed to get a crack at the title, even in down years.

The fact that the thousands of bowl game fans doing the ‘S-E-C’ chant don’t want to admit is that, for all the greatness of the top few teams each season, the bottom of the league features bad teams the likes of which can be found in any other conference. But the real issue with the SEC and the rankings comes from the 4-5 teams in the middle of the conference standings.

Year in and year out, ranked SEC teams that suffer tough losses never seem to suffer the same sort of hit in the polls as similar middling teams from other leagues.

As an example, from the most recent playoff rankings, Florida and Auburn are the two highest ranked two-loss teams and both come in ahead of undefeated P5 school Baylor, as well as five other teams with just one loss.

The constant argument is that the SEC is just so much better that its teams play exponentially tougher schedules and deserve the benefit of a doubt.

That’s simply not true in practice. Alabama has yet to beat a ranked team this season and only has one left on its schedule.

Auburn has only beaten one ranked team this season in Oregon. Florida’s only win over a ranked team came when it beat Auburn.

That’s the vicious circle which continues to play out in the SEC’s favor. Anytime a favorite wins, like it should against a league doormat, it gets extra credit for winning an SEC game.

When a favorite loses, the blow in the rankings is softened for the same reason. And anytime an otherwise unimpressive SEC team jumps up to beat a league rival, the voters overreact and race to throw that team right into a top-20 spot.

And that’s how the league continues to take up nearly a third of each new poll despite not being nearly the dominant force it was a decade ago.

The top few teams in the SEC are great and have a legitimate shot at a national championship each season. But all of their lesser friends need to stop sucking up all the air in the rankings that could be used on better teams from other conferences.

Improving The Gator Bite

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

I have spent a lot less time writing about recruiting during the college football season.  The season is short and I want to enjoy every Saturday while I have it.

After watching the Georgia-Florida game, I definitely see a talent difference between the two SEC programs.

Georgia has been recruiting at an elite level since Kirby Smart arrived in Athens. Florida’s recruiting classes under Mullen have been good, but not elite. If Mullen wants to compete with Georgia on the field, he must first start winning some battles off the field.

Georgia has four commits from the state of Florida, all five are top 50 players in Florida.

They are four-star QB Carson Beck out of Jacksonville, four-star DT Jalen Carter out of Apopka, four-star OL Joshua Braun out of Live Oak and four-star WR Marcus Rosemy. I do not count 4-star DT Warren Brinson from IMG Academy because he is from Savannah.

Three of the four commits live less than a two hour drive from Gainesville. Coach Mullen must do a better job keeping the in-state talent in state (this goes for Miami, FSU and UCF).

Georgia is currently ranked fifth nationally and third in the SEC with 16 commits. Florida is currently ranked 11th nationally and sixth in the SEC with 19 commits.

Mullen’s current staff does not have an Alpha on the recruiting trail. Mullen must add one or more to his staff and increase staff in the recruiting department.

Florida currently has 19 commits and can take as many as 30 this cycle. I believe the Gators will take right around 27 this cycle.

The Gators’ strong season and HBO special exposure is having a positive impact on recruiting. Also, Willie Taggart’s firing will provide positive ramifications due to lack of competition.

Florida recruiting class has one quarterback, three receivers, four offensive linemen, one tight end, four defensive linemen, one linebacker and five defensive backs. Florida appears to be done adding to this class.

The Gators need to address depth on the offensive line and defensive line. This class should have five or six players in the trenches.

Here are some of the top targets still in the noncommitted group.

St. Thomas Aquinas offensive tackle Marcus Dumervil is the Gators main target. Dumervil is a four star and this is going to be a Florida-LSU battle.

Miami Columbus wide receiver Xzavier Henderson is the top wide receiver on the board. Henderson has offers from Georgia, Clemson, Alabama, ect. This is a three-way battle between Clemson, Georgia and Florida.

Deerfield Beach running back Jaylan Knighton has turned his interest towards the Gators after decommitting from FSU.

This 2020 class is in the same shape as the 2019 class. If fans are relying on on-field performance to provide a significant bump in this class, the loss to Georgia certainly doesn’t help.

The early signing period is December 18th. National Signing Day always brings a few surprises, and this year will be no exception.

Who is flipping and who is delaying their signing until February? Can the Gators close the talent gap with Georgia and the other elite programs?

 

Pick A Number

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

We are coming off the biggest weekend of the college football season. There were two games featuring unbeaten, highly ranked teams. No. 2 LSU beat No. 3 Alabama 46 – 41. No. 17 Minnesota defeated No. 4 Penn State 31 – 26.

The AP and Coaches Poll rankings for the week were revealed. Alabama only dropped one spot, which has upset fans of other one-loss teams. Let’s look at my top four teams.

#1 LSU: The Tigers have the best resume in the nation. They have beaten four ranked teams; all of them were ranked in the top 10 at the time. This is the first LSU team I can remember with a potent offense.

They are ranked fourth nationally in total offense despite playing one less game than two of the teams ranked ahead of them.

Quarterback, Joe Burrow is the frontrunner to win the Heisman Trophy. Burrow has passed for 3,198 yards, 33 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions.

He also completes 80% of his passes. They also have a great running game led by Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He has 11 TD’s, averages 5.8 yards per carry and he’s on pace to eclipse one thousand yards.

The surprising weakness is defense. The Tigers rank 33rd nationally in total defense, allowing 340 YPG.

#2 Ohio State: The Buckeyes are the most balanced team in the nation. The defense is #1 in total defense, only giving up 215 YPG.

The offense is fifth in total offense with 536 YPG. Quarterback, Justin Fields is also a Heisman contender. He’s the best dual threat QB in college. He’s passed for 1,859 yards, 27 TD’s and only one interception. On the ground, he has 347 yards and 10 touchdowns.

J.K. Dobbins is one of the best backs in the game. Dobbins has already gained 1,200 yards, 11 TD’s and averages 7.2 YPC.

Star defensive end and possible No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft, Chase Young may miss significant time with a suspension. He did not play the last game due to a possible NCAA violation from 2018.

#3 Clemson: The Tigers are the defending national champions but they struggled early in the season. They narrowly beat unranked North Carolina 21 – 20 the last week of September.

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence looked great in the national championship game but he has not performed up to expectations thus far.

Lawrence has thrown 23 touchdowns and 8 picks. Running back Travis Etienne has been dominant with 1,214 yards, 13 TD’s and 8.9 YPC. Despite the problems, they rank second in total offense at the FBS level. They also rank fourth in total defense.

So far, they faced one ranked opponent and have one more on the schedule, No. 19 Wake Forest.

#4 Oregon: The Ducks began the season with a 27 – 21 loss to No. 16 Auburn. Since then they won 8 consecutive games.

They’re led by QB Justin Herbert, who will be a top five pick in the 2020 draft. He has thrown for 2,329 yards, 24 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

Oregon should play No. 8 Utah in the Pac 12 championship game and that will be a good win.

The first team on the outside looking in is Georgia. The Bulldogs lost at home to unranked South Carolina.

The only ranked team left on the schedule is No. 11 Auburn. If they win the rest of their games including the SEC Championship, they have to be in the playoffs.

Alabama still has an outside shot of making it if some upsets happen and they win out.

New Coach Chant

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Florida State University fired head football coach Willie Taggart following the Seminoles 27-10 loss to Miami.

The buyout for Coach Taggart is more than 17 million dollars. Florida State will end up paying more than 20 million to buy out the whole staff at the end of the year. This will mark one of the biggest buyouts in college football history.

Florida State looks to hire their next head football coach. Here are my thoughts on 7 coaches who could land the job in Tallahassee.

Bob Stoops is a bit of a surprise. After 18 years coaching at Oklahoma, Stoops is currently the coach and GM of the Dallas XFL franchise. Stoops is a perfect person to bridge the gap for 3-5 years. He is a proven winner and there is no buyout.

Matt Campbell is the current head coach at Iowa State. Campbell was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year twice (2017 & 2018). Campbell has a very large buyout. He has been successful at two stops Toledo and Iowa State. Cambell record is 59-37.

Mark Stoops is the current head coach at Kentucky. Stoops is in his seventh season with the Wildcats and served as Defensive Coordinator at Florida State from 2010-2012. Stoops record at Kentucky is 40-34.

P.J. Fleck is a popular choice on everyone’s list of candidates. Fleck known for his “Row the Boat” quote. Fleck is a proven program builder in the Midwest.

He spent four years at Western Michigan with a record of 30-22. Currently, he is coaching Minnesota to an 8-0 record and in three seasons at the Gophers helm he is 50-35.

Fleck just signed a seven-year extension with Minnesota. So, you can take his name off the board.

Mike Norvell is the current coach at Memphis. This 38-year-old is a hot name anytime there is an opening. Norvell is 34-15 in his fourth year on the job. He is also rumored to be the leading candidate if or when the Arkansas job comes open.

Mike Leach, the Washington State head coach and offensive wizard is a fan favorite. He’s weird, but he wins football games. Leach, a former Valdosta State assistant, almost took the Tennessee job in 2017.

Josh Heupel is the current head coach at the University of Central Florida. In two seasons at UCF, Heupel has a record of 19-3. Heupel already has recruiting ties in the State of Florida and he is an offensive guru.

Here are a few other names you may hear:  Tom Allen-Indiana, Scott Satterfield-Louisville, Jeff Scott-Co-offensive Coordinator Clemson, Brent Venables-Defensive Coordinator Clemson, Sony Dykes-SMU and Urban Meyer-Former Florida and Ohio State head coach.

This is a big-time job! Florida State has some obstacles to overcome in hiring their next football coach.

Florida State has an interim Athletic Director and a lame duck President. Both are in their last year of their respective contracts.

Firing a head coach before his two years are up means you have some problems that may have deterred some coaches.

Florida State is a program built to win a national title.  Florida is a talent rich state in recruiting, FSU plays in the ACC, and the logo still has clout.

This is an important hire for the Seminoles. If you get the hire right, everything else will fall into place. If you get it wrong it set your program back ten years (just ask the Florida Gators).

The random internet rumor generator will have a different FSU coach hired every day until one is found.

The firing of Willie Taggart had to be made. The Seminoles have shown no improvement in two years, and even worse, have regressed this season.

Defensive Line Coach Odell Haggins will serve as interim head coach the remainder of the season. In Tallahassee there is already a garnet billboard with a big gold “ODELL” written on it. It appears the locals are happy.

FSU President announced today that he wants a coached hired by the end of the month.

Coaching search rumors are entertainment like no other.

Who is next at FSU?

Taggart Time Over

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

So, who had a year and a half in the “Taggart’s Time in Tallahassee” office pool? I had three years, so once again, I lose.

If you’re wondering why Taggart’s tenure at Florida State ended as soon as it did, there’s a picture making its rounds on the internet that sums it up pretty nicely.

The photo is one of a Miami Hurricanes player about to score a touchdown with a pair of Seminole defenders trailing on the play, both of whom seem either more interested in yelling at each other, or are in the midst of an intense game of “1,2,3 Don’t Blink”, than trying to make a play.

The picture really does encapsulate just about everything you need to know about what has taken place since Taggart’s arrival. Losing to an in-state rival? Check. Losing to a less than mediocre football team? Check. A complete lack of discipline? Check.

And if you’re curious as to how desperately they wanted Taggart out, Florida State was able to raise the more than $17 million dollars needed to buy him out, mostly from donors and alumni, quicker than Don Draper’s marriage vows when a beautiful woman walks by. (Sorry, I’m binge watching Mad Men at the moment.)

While the immediacy of Taggart’s dismissal may have come as a bit of surprise, I don’t think the ultimate outcome is. I don’t recall too many people feeling confident in the hire when it happened as much as taking a wait and see approach; not exactly what you would expect from a program like Florida State.

In fact, Taggart’s hire kind of reminds me of Cardale Jones and Mitch Turbisky. What I mean by that is scouts and analysts were fawning over how Jones should’ve entered the NFL draft after he led Ohio State to a national title, although he had played in only a handful of games. Instead, he returned to the Buckeyes the following year and people realized they were a little overzealous about his abilities after seeing a larger sample size.

And Trubisky was the first quarterback drafted in his draft after starting for only a year, even though there were more accomplished quarterbacks available. Now, it seems pretty obvious that he may only be the fourth best quarterback in that draft class.

In Taggart’s case, he did well at South Florida, but only spent one mediocre season at Oregon, so there wasn’t really much of a coaching history to justify the hiring at a school at Florida State, outside of just thinking he might be successful.

As to where Florida State goes from here, I have no idea. I vaguely remember them having difficulty before finally bringing in Taggart- something that certainly could explain his hiring- and I doubt his firing will make things more enticing than they were a year and a half ago; the product on the field certainly isn’t.

However, they are still Florida State and due to the timing of Taggart’s termination they will have ample time to hone in on one or two coaching candidates, making sure they are the right fit, before announcing a hire.

Right now, that Miami photo is only indicative of the Taggart years. If the Seminoles happen to miss on this upcoming hire, that picture could represent their program as a whole. And it may take less than three years for them to get there.

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