1. I don’t buy Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez’s rationale for losing another good coach to the SEC. Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda went to LSU for a reported $1.3 million per year, more than double what Wisconsin paid him ($520,000). Three years ago, Badgers coach Bret Bielema left for Arkansas after tussling with Alvarez over paying assistants. Alvarez blames the discrepancy on Wisconsin sponsoring 23 sports, while LSU and Arkansas have only 19. So what about Stanford (36), Ohio State (35) and Penn State (29)? Shouldn’t they be struggling? They’re not.
2. Leave it to ESPN Stats & Information to confuse me with facts. What do we know about the Alabama defense under Nick Saban? That it can’t handle a running quarterback, right? Well, that’s not exactly accurate. No quarterback has rushed for 100 yards against the Crimson Tide in Saban’s nine seasons. Middle Tennessee’s Brent Stockstill gained 29 yards, a season high against the Tide this season. The key distinction may be “mobile” quarterback. Think of Johnny Manziel’s ability to break down the defensive front. But then he passed.
3. Here’s how good Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables is: In eight of the last nine seasons – the first five at Oklahoma, the last four at Clemson -- Venables’ defenses have been among the 10 most efficicent in the FBS. The Tigers are second this season. Of course, on the opposite sideline, in the eight seasons that Kirby Smart has been in charge of the Alabama defense, the Crimson Tide has finished first in defensive efficiency four times, including this season. That’s right – the top two defenses made it to the championship game.