10 things I'm absolutely overreacting to after Rivalry Week in the SEC
First, let’s quash the rumors, a’ight?
Lane Kiffin was not offered a columnist position at Saturday Down South. Doesn’t mean he won’t be, but it hasn’t happened.
Source? Me. I’m the guy who hires these guys.
Now, whether Ohio State reached out to Kiffin 7 seconds after watching its Playoff dreams implode in a brutal loss to Michigan is a question I can’t answer. (But if they didn’t, why not?)
Coaching chaos and a quickly crystalizing Playoff picture are just some of the 10 things I’m absolutely overreacting to after Rivalry Week in and around the SEC.
10. How many times did Nick Saban tell you he wasn’t going to be the coach at Alabama?
It was a lot. Maybe not as many times as he has beaten Auburn after, you know, becoming the Alabama coach, but Saban said repeatedly during the most critical 38 days in Alabama football history that he was not going to be the Alabama coach.
11 years ago today.
— Freezing Cold Takes (@OldTakesExposed) December 21, 2017
Saban is merely the most famous coach to try the ol’ end-around while in the middle of a job fair.
So don’t get upset when Lane Kiffin (or any other coach) blasts a TV reporter who, citing sources he (and his managers, I hope) deem credible, reports that Kiffin to Auburn was real.
And don’t blast the reporter, either (as long the source has been properly vetted, of course).
— Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin) November 26, 2022
Other media outlets also reported that Auburn had talked with Kiffin.
Auburn has narrowed its coaching search to Lane Kiffin and Hugh Freeze, sources confirm to @SINow. No formal offer or announcement is expected until after the Iron Bowl. The Tigers have communicated with both coaches.
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) November 26, 2022
And Kiffin hedged throughout the week, too, when he simply could have signed the extension earlier than Saturday.
Bottom line: Denial and faux outrage are as much a part of the job game as the buyout.
Keep that in mind as we enter the heart of Coaching Carousel Szn as it relates to any coach and any situation.
9. Hugh Freeze and the art of 2nd chances …
Seemingly within minutes of the news that Kiffin was signing an extension to stay at Ole Miss came reports that Auburn was in contract negotiations with former Ole Miss coach/veteran rule-breaker Hugh Freeze. And had been for weeks, according to ESPN.
The best part about NIL is that nobody has to pretend that character is a priority anymore.
Long live the show cause!
Hiring Freeze just cements that sentiment.
Hugh Freeze is more likely to get us on a 60 Minutes special than into the playoffs
— Aubie, M.D. ? (@DrAubie) November 26, 2022
Assuming it happens, on the field, Auburn is getting a proven offensive guru with a history of success in the toughest division in college football.
How, exactly, that happened? Irrelevant.
As long as Freeze wins games and occasionally beats Alabama, nobody cares about his baggage, the broken NCAA rules or nefarious behavior.
It’s all part of The (New) Process.
8. The B1G dream is gone
Michigan hadn’t even finished putting the final touches on an absolute beatdown of Ohio State before Joel Klatt started making the case for the Buckeyes to also make the Playoff.
Then B1G commissioner Kevin Warren took it 100 steps farther out of bounds.
“One-hundred percent,” Warren told ESPN on Saturday. “Clearly, Michigan and Ohio State are 2 of the best 4 teams in the country, and I think today proved it. Great football game. Epic football game. Without a doubt, I think they are clearly 2 of the best football teams in the country.”
In fairness, Warren once suggested the B1G play football in the spring, so producing lucid thoughts in trying times isn’t exactly a strong point.
However, just stop, please.
Michigan is a Playoff lock. But Ohio State lost by 22 on its home field to the only good team it played all year.
There’s no Playoff path, no matter how hard Joel, Joey and Kevin try to sell the virtues of an 11-1 season with a victory over Notre Dame.
As I’ve said repeatedly, beating Notre Dame in Week 1 with a new regime was so difficult that … Marshall beat Notre Dame in Week 2 with that slightly more experienced new regime. And Marshall did it in South Bend, too.
USC’s 11-point victory Saturday night over a vastly improved Notre Dame squad was infinitely more impressive than OSU’s win over the wide-eyed Irish in Week 1.
It’s over, Buckeyes fans.
We’ve been spared of 2 Big Ten teams making the Playoff.
7. FSU’s win says more about ACC’s issues than SEC
First, credit the Seminoles for delivering a thoroughly entertaining 45-38 victory over the Gators.
But understand that No. 16 FSU did the exact same thing that Vanderbilt did: Beat the depleted Gators on their home field by a single touchdown. Nothing more.
This wasn’t proof that the ACC can go toe-to-toe with the SEC’s best.
This was the exact opposite of that, actually. This was proof that the 2nd-best ACC team was marginally better than a team that went 3-5 in the SEC.
The fact that the ACC talking heads spent Saturday trying to spin this as a crowning achievement speaks to their status as a perennially offended little brother.
At this point, even mentioning the fact South Carolina beat the ACC’s best team, Clemson, or Kentucky crushed Louisville again feels like unnecessary roughness.
The bottom line is this: This was the worst year for ACC football since 2012.
The quicker you accept that fact, adjust and improve, the better for everybody.
6. 6 notable numbers
6: That’s how many SEC coaches will make at least $9 million next season, according to ESPN. The list: Nick Saban, Kirby Smart, Jimbo Fisher, Brian Kelly, Lane Kiffin, Mark Stoops.
83: That’s the most combined points in any FSU-Florida game. Frankly, given how explosive those offenses were during the rivalry’s glory days, that nugget surprised me.
4: That’s how many teams Mississippi State outrushed this season (Arizona, Texas A&M, Alabama and Ole Miss).
3: That’s how many times South Carolina punter Kai Kroger pinned Clemson inside its own 5-yard line. None was bigger than his final boot, a 63-yarder that rolled to a stop at the Tigers’ 3-yard line with the Gamecocks clinging to a 31-30 lead with 4:19 left.
15: That’s how many consecutive 10-win seasons Alabama has had. That’s ridiculous.
3: That’s Auburn’s APR rank among 5-7 teams, which means the Tigers are still in position to accept a bowl bid. Two 5-7 teams already are in the bowl field. Auburn is next in line. If Buffalo (5-6) loses to Akron (2-9) next Friday, the Tigers will be extended a bowl bid.
5. Ranking the Power 5 conferences
- Big Ten
- Big 12
4. The 4 Playoff teams are …
1. Michigan, 2. Georgia, 3. USC, 4. TCU
The Wolverines looked versatile and dominant. Georgia continued a puzzling propensity to play down to its competition for long stretches.
USC took out another ranked team, this time demolishing the Golden Domers. TCU dominated as expected.
Alabama? The Tide have lost 2 games, both to top-10 teams on the road, by a combined 4 points. I’d put them at No. 5, ahead of Ohio State, which just got blown out at home. And, yes, ahead of LSU, which just lost for the 3rd time.
Do the Tide have a path? Only if chaos ensues next weekend in the form of TCU losing big in the Big 12 title game and USC losing in the Pac-12 title game.
3. Shane Beamer did something even Spurrier couldn’t …
One week after shocking then-No. 5 Tennessee, South Carolina upset No. 8 Clemson on Saturday.
In the process, Shane Beamer became the first South Carolina coach in history to knock off top-10 teams in consecutive weeks.
He won’t necessarily care about that. But he will care about ending Clemson’s reign in this rivalry.
Saturday’s thriller ended Clemson’s 7-game winning streak in the series and also ended the Tigers’ 40-game winning streak at home.
2. Anthony Richardson and the $20 million question
As awesome as it would be to watch Anthony Richardson chase a Heisman next year in Gainesville, I think he’s thrown his last pass in a Gators uniform.
The reasons to go outweigh the only reason to return.
First and foremost, Billy Napier still hasn’t figured out how to build a game plan around Richardson’s unique skill set. That’s the most problematic issue in trying to gauge whether or why Richardson would want to return to Florida.
Does he really think Napier is the guy who’s going to smooth out the rough edges and turn him into a polished prospect?
That’s the goal, right?
This won’t happen, but if next year is purely about development, Richardson would be better off transferring to USC — where he would sit behind Caleb Williams but also learn daily from a legitimate QB whisperer in Lincoln Riley.
Remember all of those questions surrounding Jalen Hurts, the passer? They seem silly now, but they were real when Hurts left Alabama for Oklahoma. Riley helped Hurts fix the flaws.
Game reps are important, but coaching that position is even more vital.
I’m not convinced Richardson would be any better a year from now if he spent another year in Napier’s system, throwing to that collection of average receivers.
His arm talent screams top-10 pick in this year’s NFL Draft, which comes with a 4-year, $20 million contract. At least.
More than anything, Richardson needs to go where he can best develop.
I think that’s the NFL.
1. Don’t ever change, Buckeyes fans
I get it. Ryan Day just lost to Michigan for the 2nd time in 2 years.
Urban Meyer never lost to Michigan.
But this? The cries to fire Day and re-hire Meyer?
Ohio State fans chanting "WE WANT URBAN" as he's breaking down the loss lmaooo pic.twitter.com/lQGD3UqVdo
— Kevin Harrish (@Kevinish) November 26, 2022
Fans like this make overreacting easy. Thank y’all for another fun regular season.
Bring on the postseason.