Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Going Deep: Quiet coaching-change season in SEC?
(Eds: With AP Photos.)
By RALPH D. RUSSO
AP College Football Writer
Some Florida fans may be a little disappointed to hear this right now, but there's a good chance no Southeastern Conference coach will be fired this season.
That doesn't happen very often. The last time was 2009, but that's only if you count Phillip Fulmer's resignation from Tennessee as voluntary.
Before that it, 2005 was the last time there were no firings in the SEC. In fact, `05 is the only year since 1991 in which there were no coaching changes in the SEC.
It's not just the SEC. There has been so much turnover throughout FBS in the last couple seasons -- 30 teams replaced coaches from 2012 to 2013, following 26 in 2011-12 -that major college football was due for a relatively calm silly season. Though that could change if more high-profile jobs such as Southern California come open and create a domino effect. Or if the NFL comes calling.
In the SEC, four coaches are in their first season with their current teams, and two more are in their second.
Will Muschamp is in his third season at Florida and was coming off an 11-2 record in Year 2. This season has been a wreck for the Gators, who are 4-5 and will need to upset either No. 11 South Carolina on Saturday or No. 2 Florida State in their regular-season finale to avoid the program's first losing season since 1979.
"It's frustrating," Muschamp said Monday. "It's very frustrating. (But) you work. People are depending on you to do a good and do a good job for the players and do a good job for the university and that's my job."
Injuries have crushed Muschamp's Gators in 2013, taking some of the bite out of a defense that looked as if it could be the nation's best.
Linebacker Antonio Morrison (knee) became the seventh starter on either side of the ball lost for the season after being hurt in an ugly loss Saturday to Vanderbilt in the Swamp. Florida's offense has, on the other hand, been problematic since Muschamp took over. Patience is short in Gator Nation, but it would seem that all the injuries will allow athletic director Jeremy Foley to write off this season and focus on the good job Muschamp has done in recruiting.
The only other SEC coach that could be considered to be in a precarious situation is Mississippi State's Dan Mullen, and that seems like a stretch. Mullen is in his fifth season in Starkville, and coming off three straight bowl appearances, a first in Mississippi State history. The Bulldogs are 4-5 with games left against No. 1 Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi. Cutting bait on coach with a 33-27 record, that routinely faces one of the toughest schedules in the country, would seem to be an overreaction.
Of course, no firings doesn't necessarily mean no turnover.
Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin has already been mentioned as possible target for USC, and he could draw NFL interest as well. He did last year. Vanderbilt's James Franklin could also be a hot commodity, depending what jobs do open.
And did you hear about Nick Saban and Texas?
Bo Schembechler was unhappy and not holding back.
"This is the lowest day in my athletic career. I am bitterly resentful at the way this thing was handled," the Michigan coach said back in 1973 after a vote of Big Ten athletic directors determined Ohio State would go to the Rose Bowl and not Schembechler's Wolverines.
The aftermath of the 10-10 tie between the Buckeyes and Wolverines is the subject of the documentary "Tiebreaker," which premieres on the Big Ten Network Saturday night.
Michigan rallied from behind to tie the game in Ann Arbor, leaving both teams 7-0-1 in the conference. There was only one bowl bid for the Big Ten back then, so it was Rose Bowl or nothing.
The vote went the Buckeyes' way, sending them to the Rose Bowl for a second straight season.
"The expectation from my part was that we were probably not going to get the shot because we had been there and Southern Cal had beaten us pretty good the year before," Ohio State's two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin said during a conference call with the filmmakers on Monday. "I wasn't waiting to hear them say we were going."
Michigan quarterback Dennis Franklin broke his collarbone in the Ohio State game and would not have been able to play in the Rose Bowl. Speculation was that was why Ohio State won the vote.
"Michigan, on the other hand, felt very good about our chances," Franklin said. "We felt like we won the game, that fact that we came back. Everything looked like it was in our favor and we were very surprised we didn't get the opportunity to go."
Imagine that. A bunch of athletic directors deciding which team would advance to the postseason and play in one of the biggest games of the season. Crazy, right?
In other news, the selection committee for the College Football Playoff that starts next year met for the first time Monday in Washington, D.C.
- The Mid-American Conference game of the year will be played Wednesday night in DeKalb, Ill., when West Division powers Ball State (9-1, 6-1) and No. 20 Northern Illinois (9-0, 5-0) meet. The winner has the inside track to the MAC title game and the Huskies are trying to keep their BCS hopes alive. Most fans know about NIU star quarterback and fringe Heisman contender Jordan Lynch, but Ball State's quarterback is a stud, too. Keith Wenning has thrown for 3,164 yards and 27 touchdowns and is drawing some NFL interest.
- Kansas State started the season 2-4, including an opening loss to North Dakota State. But be careful doubting a Bill Snyder coached team. The Wildcats (5-4, 3-3 Big 12) have won three straight, behind defensive end Ryan Mueller, a former walk-on who leads the nation in sacks with 10.5. K-State finishes with TCU, Oklahoma and Kansas.
- Da'Shawn Hand, a defensive from Woodbridge, Va., rated the top recruit in the 2014 class by Rivals.com is scheduled to pick between Michigan, Alabama and Florida on Thursday. His decision will air on NBC Sports Network's SportsDash with Yahoo Sports at noon EST.
A nonvoter's top three.
1. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
2. Jameis Winston, Florida State
3. Marcus Mariota, Oregon
BCS championship game -- Alabama vs. Florida State.
Rose Bowl -- Stanford vs. Ohio State.
Orange Bowl -- Clemson vs. Michigan State.
Fiesta Bowl -- Baylor vs. UCF.
Sugar Bowl -- South Carolina vs. Oregon.
UNDER THE RADAR GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 24 Miami at Duke. A victory by the Blue Devils puts them in the driver's seat for an ACC title game appearance if Clemson beats Georgia Tech on Thursday night.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP