Hope everyone out there enjoyed their long holiday weekend.
College football is back, thank heavens, and the opening weekend did not disappoint. Teams we suspected were good delivered. Teams we thought maybe would take a step back indeed looked terrible. And, in between, there was chaos.
It should make for a fun season. So, after one week, let’s do a recap, shall we?
What We Learned
The Powers That Have Not Been Powers Recently That Were Supposed To Be Powers Again Are Still Not Powers
At the moment, Mizzou fans don’t have much room to talk. That one time in Laramie is to never be discussed again (except a few paragraphs from now).
But, Tennessee and Florida State, what the hell?
Jeremy Pruitt deserves a fair shot in Knoxville, but for a team that is fully expected to make a large leap this season, losing to Georgia State, which won only two games a season ago, will surely make the locals restless.
The kicker is, not only did Tennessee look largely disinterested for much of the game, especially on defense — Pruitt’s specialty — but the Vols paid the Cougars and head coach Shawn Elliott, a former SEC assistant, $950,000 for the embarrassment.
Further south, the Seminoles blew an 18-point lead to visiting Boise State in a trainwreck that is symbolic of Willie Taggart’s coaching career. Everywhere he goes— Western Kentucky, South Florida, Oregon, Florida State— for some reason, Taggart is hired as the next big thing, actually starts to deliver, and then abruptly bolts before finishing the job.
Perhaps, then, it should come as no surprise that Florida State — predicted by the media to finish third behind Syracuse in the ACC Atlantic Division— built a large lead going into the locker room at the half, thanks in large part to QB James Blackman’s 12-for-15, 278-yard performance, failed to score on their next eight possessions, and whimpered to a 36-31 defeat, mustering a measly 68 yards of offense in the final 30 minutes.
What We’d Still Like To Now
Is The SEC Still The Best Conference In America?
Mizzou lost handily, and in my opinion, could’ve lost by 2-3 scores... to a mid-tier Mountain West team. Ole Miss put up 10 points in a loss to Memphis. Arkansas let Portland State hang around way too long. Same with Kentucky and Toledo. And then there’s Tennessee.
Thank God for Auburn’s last-minute comeback.
The rest of the country has been saying it for years: the SEC only goes as far as Alabama can carry it. On one hand, that has been true, but in the process, a core of fellow SEC programs has bolstered the Tide’s resume and helped carry the baton. Right? Well…
In each of the Tide’s national championship seasons – 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, and 2017 – only once have more than four SEC teams finished ranked in the final AP Top 25 poll. That year was 2012, when six SEC schools finished the season ranked in the poll, including four in the Top 10.
During those same seasons, the Big Ten featured at least four programs in the final AP poll. Same as the Big 12. Slightly behind is the ACC, with an average of just under four.
Once you get past Alabama and Clemson— and perhaps a small handful of other schools— there’s more parity in college football than ever before. It’s evident every Saturday.
And it was very evident this weekend.
What We’d Like To Forget
Remember Hugh Freeze?
So, now he’s the head coach at Liberty. He watched over his team’s 24-0 loss to Syracuse on Saturday — apparently half naked — from the coziness of a hospital bed in the coaches’ box.
Freeze — who resigned as the head coach of Ole Miss in 2017 amid accusations of lack of institutional control and was found to have used a university-issued phone to call an escort service — underwent back surgery earlier this year for a herniated disc.
I suppose the guy deserves some kudos for his dedication.