Harvey Perlman

Winners & losers: post-playoff edition

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And, yes, hours after the official announcement, it still feels good — perhaps even drop-dead sexy — to use the words “playoff” and “major college football” in the same sentence without it veering toward an Onion-worthy post.

Of course, there are still issues that need hashed out.  Yes, even this four-team baby step is being met with scorn by the more-more-more crowd failing to realize that, even in its infancy, this just-birthed format is already infinitesimally better than what the BcS has wrought over the past decade-plus.

Even with a selection committee involved in the process… even with a way-too-limited field… even with every single argument against the specific playoff wheels that officially hit the pavement Tuesday, the game will be better off because of this first step.  Those who thought the powerbrokers would cannonball right into the deep end of an eight- or 16-team playoff pool?  They’ll eventually get over themselves and realize what a monumental day this was for college football and its fans.

Speaking of which, there were certainly some (a lot of) winners with the announcement of a four-team seeded playoff beginning after the 2014 regular season, and (not as many) losers stemming from the same glorious event.  So, well, here are but a few of them…

WINNERS

— THE FANS
When it came to a playoff poll on this site, you could count on anywhere from 70 to 90 percent of our readers being in favor of a change to the current system used to determine a “national champion.”  Other polls would range from 65-70 percent to, well, well above that mark.  The fans have clamored for it for years and, while it may not be what the majority wants, it’s certainly a day when the sport gave the fans that support it exactly what was wanted, regardless of the motive$ behind it.  Which, of course, leads us to…

— EVERY FBS* FOOTBALL PROGRAM
Will a four-team playoff likely exclude the non-power conferences to a greater degree than it had in the previous system?  It very well could.  With $500 million annually at stake — nearly triple of what was paid out under the old system — the members of those non-power conferences, diluted already thanks in large part to expansion wrought by the BcS, will be able to wash away their collective exclusion angst with crisp $100 bills.  As for the power conferences?  The rich merely got richer today — and separated themselves further from the have-nots.

— MIKE SLIVE & JOHN SWOFFORD
The commissioners of the SEC and ACC, respectively, were at the forefront of a push several years ago to implement some type of playoff, only to be rebuffed by the Jim Delanys of the college football world.  Even as they may not have gotten exactly what they wanted this go ’round, each of those two men and their staunch pro-playoff stances were vindicated.  And the sport is all the better for their collective and unwavering approaches to the offseason.

— THE BOWLS
We touched on this earlier but it bears repeating: the fact that, after there had been some level of discussion of hosting pre-title games at on-campus or neutral-site venues, the semifinals will be hosted by existing bowls on a rotating basis is a huge win for the Football Bowl Association.  The inclusion of six upper-echelon bowls in the playoff process is significant for the FBA, although raising the bar on bowl eligibility could be the death knell for postseason games that almost no one will miss.

— THE ACC
There are currently four “power conferences” in major college football: the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC.  With just four precious playoff spots available over each of the next 12 years, that would seem to be a rough deal for a conference like the ACC, especially based on how this exact playoff format would’ve played out if it were in place over the past decade.  This conference, though, has four things in its favor when it comes to the future format: Clemson, Florida State, Miami and Virginia Tech, football-rich traditions which, while in “down cycles” at the moment nationally, give the ACC more than enough opportunity for its playoff water to find its level.

— DAN WETZEL & PLAYOFF PAC
Enough.  Said.  Other than there’s a fairly good chance that the sport wouldn’t be where it’s at right now, playoff-wise, without those two and the pressure they, and by extension the fans, exerted on the process.

LOSERS

— THE BIG EAST
Given the whole television contract negotiating thing, I should probably tread carefully here, but there’s really no gray area when it comes to this.  The Big East signed off on a deal that will likely preclude that conference, given the recent defections generally and specifically if Boise State reneges on its expected future move, from being a major or even minor playoff player for the foreseeable future.  If the Broncos follow through on their move, or if another Louisville circa 2006 is in the offing, the Big East may find a spot at a corner table, even if it’s just occasionally.  Other than that?  They should’ve been the loudest voices at the table for an expanded playoff field.  Or merely be satisfied with cashing that lucrative postseason check.

— HARVEY PERLMAN
The Nebraska chancellor and staunch anti-playoff intellectual (pictured) would’ve been fine with the status quo.  Or a Plus-One abomination.  He got neither.  Life is good.

— THE ANTI-PLAYOFF “CROWD”
Their stance is not one I could even begin to fathom let alone start to wrap my head around, yet the presence of that sentiment kept the sport from taking the righteous path for years or even decades.  The fact that some of the staunchest anti-playoff proponents were part of the group that actually implemented a playoff induces mild chuckling… and hope that those very people are actually beginning to “get it” when it comes to an issue that’s vitally important for the future of the game.

(*with the official death to the BcS, I’ve decided to officially retire the “Div. 1-A (FBS)” designation.  It’s the least I could do.)

Local Auburn man arrested after setting Toomer’s Corner oak tree on fire

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 10: Fans of the Auburn Tigers roll trees at Toomer's Corner after defeating the Arkansas State Red Wolves at Jordan Hare Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Auburn, Alabama. The Auburn Tigers defeated the Arkansas State Red Wolves 51-14.(Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
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Police have identified and arrested a 29-year-old Auburn, Ala. man after he allegedly set fire to one of the oak trees at the famous Toomer’s Corner.

Fans traditionally celebrate a Tigers victory by “rolling” the trees with toilet paper and did so once again on Saturday night following an 18-13 victory over LSU. However, video surveillance showed a suspect lighting some of the paper on fire, setting the tree ablaze as he walked away.

The Auburn city police department, in a release obtained by USA Today, stated that “witnesses at Toomer’s Corner identified a suspect, who was immediately detained and taken into custody by police on an unrelated charge of public intoxication.” Several reports identified the suspect as Jochen Wiest.

Firefighters quickly responded to the fire and extinguished the burning tree but university officials are still evaluating the damage to the oaks.

“From the ground we can easily see damage to the leaves and base of the tree. It is significant,” Professor of Horticulture Gary Keever said in a statement released by the school. “I expect the foliage will continue to drop. The full extent of damage may not be known for several weeks. The best case scenario would be to see a flush of new growth next spring, but right now it’s too early to tell how the tree will respond.”

The incident is all the more emotional for Auburn fans given that the tradition had just been revived this season following a three-year absence as a result of an Alabama fan poisoning the oaks. Hopefully the area around Toomer’s Corner can recover in time for the Tigers’ next win, which might be as soon as Saturday when they host Louisiana-Monroe.

Notre Dame officially parts ways with defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder

FILE - In an Aug. 29, 2014 file photo, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, right, talks with defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder during practice during media day for a NCAA football team in South Bend, Ind. It was announced Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, that Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has fired defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder following a 1-3 start. The school tweeted a new release saying VanGorder is being replaced by defensive analyst Greg Hudson.(AP Photo/Joe Raymond, File)
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Notre Dame has officially parted ways with embattled defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder.

“This is a difficult decision,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. “I have the utmost respect for Brian as both a person and football coach, but our defense simply isn’t where it should be and I believe this change is necessary for the best interest of our program and our student-athletes.”

Notre Dame has allowed 134 points through their first four games and are just 1-3 after extremely high preseason expectations. This was VanGorder’s third season in South Bend but the Irish have regressed significantly and ranked 101st in FBS scoring defense after Saturday’s home loss to Duke.

Defensive analyst Greg Hudson, a former Notre Dame linebacker who has served as defensive coordinator at Purdue, East Carolina and Minnesota, was elevated to fill VanGorder’s role.

“It’s never easy to make a change on your staff, but I’m confident in Greg’s ability to lead our defense,” Kelly added. “As a former player at Notre Dame and an experienced defensive coordinator, he not only understands the expectations necessary to compete at the highest level, but he’ll bring a fresh perspective to our sideline, practice field and meeting rooms.”

The move to make staff changes on the defensive side of the ball isn’t exactly surprising to Irish fans who have seen the team play this year but the timing is notable. Kelly remarked that the coaching was not the problem on defense after the loss to the Blue Devils but still opted to make a change on Sunday. It will be interesting to see if a very young defense will respond, and perhaps even rally, now that a big message has been sent.

Notre Dame plays Syracuse on Saturday at noon ET.

Florida International fires head coach Ron Turner after 10-30 run

HADLEY, MA - SEPTEMBER 17:  Head coach Ron Turner of the FIU Golden Panthers looks on during the game against the Massachusetts Minutemen at Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Hadley, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
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The firing season in college football is getting started earlier and earlier. Just ask Ron Turner.

The Florida International head coach was fired early Sunday in a move that was hardly surprising aside from its timing.

“I want to thank Coach Turner for his contributions to the FIU football program, most importantly his commitment to academics and community service,” athletic director Pete Garcia said in a short statement. “At this time Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Ron Cooper has been named interim head coach.”

Turner went 10-30 over four years at the school but was 0-4 to begin the season after a 53-14 loss to Central Florida last week. While he is far from the first coach fired in 2016, Turner did become the first head coach to be fired after the season got underway.

Cooper had a 45–55 record in nine seasons as a head coach at Eastern Michigan, Louisville and Alabama A&M. He was elevated to FIU’s defensive coordinator prior to the season and notably served as LSU’s defensive backs coach when Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu starred in Baton Rouge.

The Panthers are set to play local rival Florida Atlantic on Saturday.

LSU head coach Les Miles, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron fired

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 24:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers looks on during the game against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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The Mad Hatter is looking for a new gig.

LSU has fired head coach Les Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, the school announced on Sunday. The news was first reported by the Baton Rouge Advocate.

“Decisions like this are never easy ones to make,” athletic director Joe Alleva said in a statement. “Coach Miles has done a tremendous job here and he’s been a great ambassador for our University, which makes this even more difficult.

“However, it’s apparent in evaluating the program through the first month of the season that a change has to be made. Our commitment to excellence and competing at the highest level is unwavering, and our goals for the remainder of this season haven’t changed. We have an obligation to our student-athletes to put them in the best position to have success on the football field each week and we have great confidence that coach Orgeron will do just that.”

The move comes just hours after the Tigers lost to Auburn in the final seconds to drop to 2-2 after beginning the year as a trendy national championship pick and top five team in the polls.

Miles has been in Baton Rouge since 2005 and posted a 114–34 record at the school, including a national title in 2007 and a pair of SEC championships. He was nearly let go after the 2015 season but was retained following a huge wave of public support and potential implications with a large buyout.

Defensive line coach Ed Orgeron was named the interim head coach for the rest of the season. Former LSU quarterback and current tight ends coach Steve Ensminger is slated to become the new offensive coordinator, according to Fox Sports.