For the third straight season, Dabo Swinney and Clemson celebrate an ACC title.
For the third straight season, Dabo Swinney and Clemson celebrate an ACC title.

College Football, Playoffs and Coaching Hires — 4 Winners, 4 Losers

With the various coaching changes (What up, A&M!), athletic department coups (Hey, Tennessee!), NCAA sanctions (So sorry, Ole Miss!), and playoff drama, there has been no better reality television show than college football over the last week to ten days. It's been absolutely incredible, and we are just now getting to the good part — bowl season, playoff time, and the final stretch run of coaching hires.

This was a gigantic weekend, with Texas A&M committing $75 million to a new head football coach (after paying the previous one $10 million to go away) and with the SEC becoming the first conference to send two teams to the four team College Football Playoff. Let's examine closer and figure out the winners and losers from the last week or so in college football.

WINNERS

4. Jimbo Fisher's investment guy
You have to admire the "want to" of the Aggie athletics department (and whoever is cutting the checks for coaches in Aggieland), severing ties with head football coach Kevin Sumlin by paying him $10 million to go away and committing $75 million to lure Florida State head coach Jumbo Fisher to College Station. Here's the thing — relative to most Aggie football coaches, Sumlin was actually pretty successful, and he recruited pretty damn well. In the SEC West, it could very well be that the Aggies are destined to be an eight win outfit most seasons regardless of who is coaching the team, and if that's the case, what then for A&M, if Fisher turns out to be merely above average like Sumlin? Do they fire Fisher after five or six years, and pony up $12 million per year to Dabo Swinney on a 20 year deal? I guess I'm saying that I admire the Aggies' commitment, even if it might be slathered in delusion.

Also, this SEEMS a bit over the top, but who am I to judge.....

3. Nebraska
Of all the college football blue bloods of the last 30 years or so, the one whose head coaching job had fallen the farthest was clearly Nebraska, which dipped to 4-8 this season under Mike Riley, and hasn't been to a New Year's Six (or equivalent) bowl since the national title game in 2001. Conventional wisdom has been that it would be impossible for Nebraska to recapture their glory days since the option game that made Nebraska who they were is no longer in vogue and their legendary walk-on program from the '80s is impossible to replicate. Yet they managed to hire the best coaching candidate on the market, UCF head coach and Husker alum Scott Frost, who led the Golden Knights from a winless season in 2015 to an undefeated season in 2017. Scott Frost may be rescuing his alma mater from a permanent plunge into the abyss.

2. CFB Playoff committee
In what was, to this point, the most hotly contested debate for the fourth and final playoff spot, the College Football Playoff committee got it right, awarding 11-1 Alabama the final spot and leaving out Big Ten champ 11-2 Ohio State. The argument for Ohio State — won the Big Ten, beat a couple of top five teams — was not outweighed by the fact that they lost by 31 to a 7-5 Iowa team and lost by 15 at home to another top five team in Oklahoma. It was a season in which all of the playoff contenders had flaws, but Ohio State's biggest resume flaw was egregiously bad, and the committee recognized it. Kudos to them.

1. Lucas Oil Field turf guy
In that Big Ten title game, the most memorable moment of the game had nothing to do with actual football. Check out this groundskeeper trying to fix an unsightly and unsafe seam in the Lucas Oil Field end zone.....

If everyone were as passionate about their job as this guy is about rubber pellets, we would be crushing all of the other world powers. He even got the J.J. Watt stamp of approval!

LOSERS

4. Ohio State
Frankly, I was shocked by how many national college football "experts" (including the entire studio cast on the playoff reveal show on ESPN) were conceding that the committee would pick Ohio State, and most of them the reason wasn't a belief that Ohio State is better than Alabama, but a belief that the committee would do the politically comfortable thing by avoiding inviting two schools from one conference. That's sad and disturbing that so many would default to that line of thinking. Ohio State is NOT better than Alabama, and despite what Jesse Palmer will have you believe, they don't have the better resume. Furthermore, the team that "snuck in" over Ohio State is actually FAVORED to win the whole damn thing...

3. People looking to pay for Christmas shopping
That said, I am sad that we won't get to bet on Clemson against Ohio State in the semifinal again this season. The Tigers won 31-0 last year, and the gap between the two teams is actually bigger this season, in my opinion. I'll have to find a different game to wager upon in order to pay for my kids' Christmas gifts, I guess.

2. Tennessee
If you're keeping score at home, here is the list of coaching candidates who have either had their hire rescinded by Tennessee, been offered and rejected Tennessee, or had their potential hire sabotaged by Tennessee dysfunction:

Greg Schiano
Mike Gundy
David Cutcliffe
Jeff Brohm
Dave Doeren,
Mike Leach

I'm probably missing a few others, but it's cool. Nothing that a good old fashioned coup in which Philip Fulmer worked to get the athletics director fired so he could take his job can't cure. What a mess.

1. Turnover chain
When you're going 10-0 to start the season, and you're winning some games with smoke, mirrors, and — YES! — turnovers, then passing around a chain every time your defense gets a turnover is a cute little tradition. When you finish your season by losing to 4-7 Pitt by double digits and getting smoked 38-3 in the ACC title game, your little turnover chain is just a sad, lonely piece of metal, Miami.

Poor Turnover Chain.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.

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