Rose Bowl Game - Wisconsin v TCU

Lone wolf coach votes TCU No. 1; was he right?


As they are a part of the cartel system used to determine a national champion, the coaches are expected to fall in line with the results of the BcS title game and vote for the winner in the final USA Today coaches poll.

For the second time in three years, one coach has bucked the system.

Auburn claimed 56 of the 57 first-place votes — two coaches could not be reached in time to place their vote — while the other vote went to unbeaten non-automatic qualifier TCU.  The identity of the coach was not revealed, but some reasonable assumptions could be made as to who may have broken ranks with the other coaches — Utah’s Kyle Whittingham and Boise State’s Chris Petersen are two of the 59 voters this year.

In 2008, Utah was the only team to receive a first-place vote after Florida laid a beat-down on Ohio State in the national title game.

While the name of the coach who voted TCU No. 1 was not revealed, he will be ultimately.  And, more than likely, he will be vilified by a good percentage of the country.  That would and will be a shame.

Almost as big of a shame that there has to be this argument in the first place, that a national champion can’t be decided on the field instead of on some subjective ballot filed by someone who simply doesn’t possess the time to make a rational decision.

As Penn State assistant Jay Paterno tweeted Tuesday morning, “Not sure TCU isn’t the best team in the Nation—someday the system must allow a team like that a shot at all the marbles.”

And that’s the thing.  A playoff would afford a team like TCU, like Boise State in 2009/2010 or Utah in 2008, the opportunity to prove their worth on the field of play.  Just like every other sport governed by the NCAA currently crowns their champions.

Not to impugn what Auburn accomplished last night or over their previous 13 games against a rugged schedule — they are indeed worthy — but there is a better way to determine a national champion.  Like it or not, teams like TCU and Boise State have earned the right to, as Paterno wrote, have a shot at all the marbles.

Plus-one, eight-team, 16-team playoffs and anything in between, teams like the non-AQs must be allowed the opportunity to prove, one way or the other, whether they deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the so-called traditional powers.

All I know is, it’d be a step in the right direction arguing about the fifth-, ninth- or 17th-best team getting screwed over for a playoff spot than the current system that only allows two of 120 schools to have a shot at hoisting the crystal at season’s end.

Until Congress acts, though, I’m not holding my breath.

Kentucky QB Patrick Towles to transfer

Patrick Towles

Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles will transfer, he announced in an Instagram post Sunday afternoon.

Towles leaves school as Kentucky’s sixth-most prolific passer, completing 427-of-759 passes for 5,099 yards with 24 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Once compared to Ben Roethlisberger, Towles’ career peeked in a 2014 game with then-No. 1 Mississippi State, as he completed 24-of-43 passes for 390 yards with two touchdowns in a 45-31 loss to the Bulldogs.

But Kentucky stumbled down the stretch, starting 5-1 and finishing 5-7, and Towles stumbled through a 2015 campaign in which he threw nine touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

He’d been passed by freshman Drew Barker by the end of the season, and threw only four passes in a loss to Louisville on Saturday.

A junior, Towles will complete his political science degree in December and be eligible for immediate playing time at a new destination in 2016.

Penn State fires offensive coordinator John Donovan

Penn State football practice, Sept 9, 2015

Penn State has fired offensive coordinator John Donovan, the program announced Sunday.

“I have tremendous respect for John and the work he has put in the last five years,” head coach James Franklin said in a statement. “I wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future.”

Donovan originally hooked up with Franklin when the two were at Maryland, then coordinated his offenses at Vanderbilt and later Penn State.

Despite playing with what many project to be a future first-round pick in quarterback Christian Hackenberg, Penn State ranked 101st nationally in scoring, 108th in total offense and 80th in yards per play.

Penn State dropped its final three games of the regular season and averaged only 14.6 points in its five losses.

Purdue retains head coach Darrell Hazell, fires both coordinators

Markell Jones
AP Photo

It’s never a good thing when a head coach has to fire both of his coordinators on the same day. Of course, it’s never a good thing to be 6-30, either.

Both are realities at Purdue, as the Boilers announced Sunday head coach Darrell Hazell will return for a fourth season in 2016, but offensive coordinator John Shoop, defensive coordinator Greg Hudson and defensive line coach Rubin Carter will not.

“I appreciate the efforts of each of those guys over the last three years,” Hazell said in a statement. “They are quality men who are well respected by their players and their peers, and I am disappointed that things didn’t work out better. But I believe that in order to turn around this program, we need to make some significant changes and move in a different direction at those positions.”

Purdue, 2-10 in 2015, ranked 115th nationally in yards per play and 112th in yards per play allowed.

Virginia Tech announces Justin Fuente as head coach; Bud Foster to stay on as DC

Associated Press

Justin Fuente is officially Virginia Tech’s new head coach. A day after reports linked the two parties, the Hokies made the match official by announcing the 39-year-old as their new head coach on Sunday afternoon.

“Justin is a very impressive individual who also happens to be one of the brightest offensive minds in college football,” Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock said in a statement. “He elevated Memphis to unprecedented heights. His recruiting philosophy is progressive and comprehensive. Coach Fuente has displayed tremendous talent in evaluating players and developing young men as they strive to reach their full potential. Simply put, Coach Fuente exudes all the qualities that Hokies hold near and dear. We are excited to officially welcome Justin Fuente as the leader of the Virginia Tech football program.”

Fuente went 26-23 in four years as Memphis’s head coach, but his success runs far beyond a simple won-loss record. After going 7-17 in his first two seasons, Fuente guided the Tigers to a 19-6 mark in 2014-15, which included a 15-game winning streak, a No. 13 national ranking and a win over rival Ole Miss within that run.

Simply put, it was the absolute peak of modern Memphis football.

And now Fuente is tasked with taking Virginia Tech to new heights. The Hokies dominated the ACC throughout much of the 2000’s, taking conference crowns in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010. But as Florida State and Clemson have risen, Virginia Tech has fallen.

After posting 13 top-25 finishes in 14 seasons, the Hokies are set to conclude their fourth straight campaign outside the national rankings, going just 16-16 in ACC play over that span.

The offensive numbers state exactly why Fuente was hired, and what he must do in Blacksburg; Memphis ranks seventh nationally in scoring offense and eighth in passing efficiency, while Virginia Tech sits at 64th and 59th, respectively.

The cupboard is not bare, though. Virginia Tech is in the midst of a 23-year bowl streak, and Fuente has already secured one key commitment — longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster has agreed to stay on staff.

“I’ve been privileged to work for a legendary coach who always did it the right way,” Foster said. “I enjoyed that chapter and the success we’ve had, however, I am equally excited for the next chapter and working for Justin. Justin and I share a vision for the future of our program. After spending time together, I’m convinced he’s the right person to continue building on the standard we’ve established at Virginia Tech. I’m truly looking forward to working with him and supporting him.”

Clearly, Babcock and the VT brass believe, a Fuente offense and a Foster defense are what the Hokies need to catch Clemson and Florida State.

Now it’s Fuente’s job to make that happen.