A few weeks ago I wrote that the Entire Bowl Season was awkward with coaches accepting new roles, interim coaches, programs that began the season with high expectations, and are now in lesser bowls (Houston, LSU, Texas A&M). Teams playing over their head the entire season that got blown out in bowls (Colorado, Iowa). To top the awkwardness Nick Saban “fired” former offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin a week before the National Championship game. I put fired in quotes because technically Kiffin moved on to be the head coach at Florida Atlantic, but Saban had enough of Kiffin’s immaturity and used it has an excuse to move on. This might be the first time where a coach was fired from a program that he had moved on from. Besides being awkward College Football bowl season taught us a few things.
- Coaching matters: Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern and Bill Snyder of Kansas State continue to consistently win at programs that have disadvantages over other power five teams. The strict academic standards of Northwestern place Fitzgerald in an uphill battle in terms of recruiting in the Big 10 and the location of Kansas State University place Snyder in a position to look for Jr college recruits (I have driven through Little Manhattan and there is nothing there but flat land that seemingly goes on forever.) Both of these coaches beat teams in Bowls that have NFL talent in their backyard. Northwestern beat Pittsburg in the NY Pinstripe Bowl and Kansas State beat Texas A&M. Texas and Pennsylvania are both in the top five in terms of states with the most available talent.
- Option Football still works: Teams that run the option are four and one throughout this Bowl Season. New Mexico, Army, Air Force and Georgia Tech all posted victories with Navy only losing by five. Army, Air Force, Navy and Georgia Tech each gained more total yards than traditional powers like Florida State and Alabama. Army had over five hundred yards rushing alone in their victory over North Texas. Perianal bottom feeders such as Kansas, Rutgers, Buffalo have to consider the option has a system to compete in their respective conferences.
- The Big 10 is overrated: Going into the last week of the season Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State were all in consideration for the playoff and debate ensued over putting two Big Ten teams in the playoffs. All three of those teams lost; Michigan lost to Florida State, Ohio State was shut out by Clemson giving Urban Meyer his first shutout since 1993. Penn State was involved in one of the best game of this Bowl Season but lost to a very hot USC team. The Big 10 had a chance to make a statement this Bowl Season and fell short.
- The ACC is going to be scary good next year: The ACC made a statement in this season’s Bowl season by winning nine games including the National Championship game. Florida State returns quarterback Deondre Francois and defensive back Darwin James, Lousiville returns the reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, Clemson has recruited extremely well since Dabo Swinny took over in 2008 and should be able to replace Deshawn Watson and the rest of the skill position players. Virginia Tech and Miami both exceeded expectations and won Bowl Games with first-year head coaches. Boston College, NC State, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest all won their bowl games
Alabama can be beaten (only if the planets align): Alabama started a true freshman quarterback, underclassmen at running back, wide receiver, changed coordinators a WEEK before the national championship game (A week to game-plan, build chemistry, and call plays in a National Championship game……extremely difficult), a superman effort by Deshawn Watson to beat the Tide in the National Championship game, and two blown offensive pass interference on pick plays that enabled Clemson to score two touchdowns. All that had to take place in order for Clemson to pull the victory over Alabama.