Jumping for joy

It’s official: presidents approve four-team playoff


Finally, common sense has prevailed in major college football.

While it’s far from what most fans and even some connected to the sport ultimately want, the BcS Presidential Oversight Committee has given its official stamp of approval for a four-team playoff.  The seeded event will begin following the 2014 regular season, with the current system being utilized this year and next to crown a champion.

The 12-year agreement signed off on by the presidents will consist of six bowl games rotating as hosts of the semifinals.  The championship game will be bid out separate from those two games.

In a joint statement, the committee acknowledged the “controversial” nature of the soon-to-be previous system while seeking to “build an even better college football season” — and possibly pulling a muscle or two congratulating themselves for taking the sensible path for once.

“We recognize that the BCS has been controversial in some years, but we also believe it has turned college football from a regional sport into a wonderfully popular national sport, much to the benefit of our alumni, student-athletes and fans,” the twelve members of the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee said in a joint statement.  “We now seek to build an even better college football season by creating a four-team playoff to crown the national champion, while protecting the regular season and the bowl experience.

“We’re delighted to support this format and congratulate the group of conference commissioners who have done so much for college football and who worked so hard to make this happen.”

In its release on the playoff development, the presidents addressed several issues that have been resolved, although at least a couple remain open for discussion.

  • The championship game will be managed by the conferences and will not be branded as a bowl game.
  • Enhance college football by playing the semifinals New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.  The date of the first semifinal games will be either Wednesday, December 31, 2014, or Thursday, January 1, 2015.
  • Create “Championship Monday” by setting the date of the championship game on the first Monday in January that is six or more days after the final semi-final game is played.  As a result, in the first five years the championship game will be played on Monday, January 12, 2015; Monday, January 11, 2016; Monday, January 9, 2017; Monday, January 8, 2018; and Monday, January 7, 2019.
  • Eliminate the “automatic qualification” designation.

Still to be decided?  Access and revenue distribution, the latter of which will likely be a rather significant tussle if rumors of $500 million per season to be divvied out were to come to fruition.

Also to be decided is the makeup and size of a selection committee.  An “agreement in principle” has been reached on a committee, although, as is ofttimes the case in a situation such as this, the devil will be in the details when it comes to signing off on the committee approach.

As it relates to the committee, the release notes that “[a]mong the factors the committee will value are win-loss record, strength of schedule, head-to-head results, and whether a team is a conference champion.”

Despite some questions that still linger, particularly as it relates to the size of the field, the sport feels like it’s gotten things just right on its first attempt.

“A four-team playoff doesn’t go too far; it goes just the right amount,” Virginia Tech president and committee member Charles Sterger said. “We are very pleased with this arrangement, even though some issues … remain to be finalized.”

While a name for the new playoff is one of those that has yet to be decided on, the group as a whole fall right in line with Sterger — this is a red-letter day for the game and a significant step forward for the sport.

“We are very pleased with this new arrangement,” the presidents said in the release.  “College football’s championship game is America’s second most watched sporting event and we’re proud to build on our successes as we grow the sport and hear the voices of everyone who loves college football.”

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.