Tom Osborne

NAIA renames championship trophy in honor of Tom Osborne


Former Nebraska athletics director Tom Osborne is best known for his success as the head coach of Nebraska, but his playing days saw him thrive in the NAIA at Hastings College. In honor of his dedication and support of the NAIA, the organization has renamed their football championship trophy in honor of the iconic figure.

“The NAIA is excited to unveil the Tom Osborne National Championship Trophy, in honor of one of our most prominent former student-athletes,” said Jim Carr, NAIA President and CEO. “Even before there was a formal Champions of Character program, Osborne exemplified the five core values during his time as a student-athlete and has continued to do so during his tenure as a coach, politician and athletic director.”

Osborne is widely respected throughout the NCAA and that respect is also seen in the NAIA, an organization similar to the NCAA in principle but consisting entirely of smaller schools that would be similar to many Division 2 or Division 3 schools at the NCAA level. At Hastings Osborne played football, basketball and ran on the track team.

While this is a fantastic honor for one of the legends of the sports of college football, it is a shame to also see one of the sport’s more interesting championship trophies receive a face lift. The old championship trophy was huge and had an actual football helmet on top of it. Now the helmet is gone but the trophy still looks pretty large.

If you were wondering, the NCAA does not award a national championship trophy at the FBS level, although there are a number of various trophies to be awarded for a national championship. The national championship trophies awarded to the FCS, Division 2 and Division 3 football champions are not named after anybody.

5-7 Illinois is ready to go bowling

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Illinois will happily join in the postseason fun despite its 5-7 record. It just needs Georgia State and South Alabama to lose this weekend to make that a possibility.

Brett McMurphy of reported today, via Twitter, the Illini would accept a bowl invitation should one fall into their laps. At 5-7, Illinois would receive a bowl invitation as bowls look to fill up bowl vacancies based on APR scores for the football program. Nebraska would be first in line among 5-7 schools hoping to wiggle into the postseason, and the Huskers have already reportedly confirmed they will accept the invitation to whatever bowl is left with the first vacancy to fill.

Missouri released a statement on Monday saying the school will not accept a bowl invitation following its 5-7 season, and instead will allow for coaches to pursue other opportunities while the school closes in on a coaching hire to replace the retired Gary Pinkel. Missouri would have received the second invitation. Kansas State is next in line, followed by Minnesota, San Jose State and Illinois.

Georgia State has a chance to become bowl eligible with a win this weekend, but it must defeat Georgia Southern on the road, which is not to be expected. Georgia Southern is a 21-point favorite in the game. South Alabama can also hit the six-win minimum to become bowl eligible with a home win against Appalachian State. This may be more likely to happen than Georgia State pulling off the road upset, but the Jaguars are an 18-point underdog at home against Appalachian State this weekend.

Greg Schiano and Will Muschamp rising coaching candidates?

Will Muschamp

While you just never know what will turn up when the coaching rumor mill starts turning, you should always expect some old names to pop up as possible candidates for jobs. Two coaching candidates reportedly gaining steam for possible jobs in this cycle are Will Muschamp and Greg Schiano.

Muschamp, after one season serving as Auburn’s defensive coordinator after being removed as head coach at Florida, is perhaps the more puzzling of the two. Muschamp has been reported to be a top contender for the opening at South Carolina, with Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports and Mark Schlabach of ESPN each reporting word of Muschamp’s rising candidacy for the job left open by the retired Steve Spurrier. If South Carolina is truly close to considering Muschamp for the job, you should probably be asking questions about the information they are gathering that you cannot see for yourself. Muschamp had one good season at Florida before things turned south in a hurry, and his impact on Auburn’s defense was not nearly as successful this season as hyped. So what, exactly, is the selling point on Muschamp to South Carolina?

What about Schiano? That is a bit of a different tale.

Feldman once again dropped the word that Schiano was a rising candidate for the opening at Miami. This is a move that actually makes some sense. Schiano was a former defensive coordinator of the Hurricanes in 1999 and 2000, which led to him being named the head coach of Rutgers in 2011. He lasted 12 seasons in New Jersey and proved capable of building a reputable program at a traditional doormat of a program. You might even argue Schiano is the reason Rutgers is in the Big Ten today, although he had moved on to the NFL, and failed, by the time that transition was completed. Schiano has not coached since 2013, when he was fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At Rutgers, Schiano was 68-67, a record that was bogged down by a 3-20 record in his first two seasons on the job. Rutgers had winning seasons in six of Schiano’s final seven years in New Jersey.

Both South Carolina and Miami should continue to explore all of their options, because it feels like neither would be making the best possible hire if the Gamecocks hire Muschamp and Miami resurrects Schiano’s coaching career.

Jimbo Fisher: I’m staying right here at Florida State

Jimbo Fisher

The whole LSU thing never panned out, but Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher is going on the record to shut down any potential coaching rumors tying him to other job openings still left to fill.

“You’re exactly right,” Fisher said Tuesday to Mike Bianchi during a radio interview. “I’m staying right here at Florida State.”

Fisher went on to acknowledge there are some good jobs on the open market for coaching candidates, but said his job is a pretty good one as well. He’s not wrong.

“There is no doubt I do (have one of the best jobs in America),” Fisher said. “This is a tremendous place. The Florida State people have been wonderful. This is a great place to live, a great place to coach; we’ve got great players, great tradition and great history. This is a tremendous job and a heckuva place. I love it here.”

It should be noted Fisher is already one of the highest-paid coaches in college football. The USA Today database of coaching salaries for 2015 listed Fisher as the fifth highest-paid coach in the country behind Nick Saban, Jim Harbaugh, Urban Meyer and Bob Stoops. All of those coaches, besides Harbaugh, have won at least one national championship. Florida State is also situated well for years of success with solid recruiting and will for be one of the top programs in the ACC far more often than not. So yes, Fisher does have a good job right now in Tallahassee.

College Football Playoff: What happens if Clemson or Alabama lose?

Ezekiel Elliott

Coming into championship week in college football this week it appears the four-team College Football Playoff is nearly set. Oklahoma, 11-1 and champion of the Big 12, appears to be locked into one of the four available playoff spots with no more games to play. The winner of the Big Ten championship game between undefeated Iowa and 11-1 Michigan State appears to be a playoff qualifier, with the Big Ten champion getting one spot. As long as top-ranked and undefeated Clemson and once-beaten Alabama come through with wins in their respective conference championship games, the field is set. Right?

But what if Clemson loses? What if Alabama loses? Who gets in then?

A Clemson loss would make for a pretty good case for North Carolina. The Tar Heels would be ACC champions with a 12-1 record, capped by the win against Clemson. A 12-1 ACC champion would seem like a very ideal playoff candidate, although aside from the hypothetical Clemson victory, what else is there to show? The ACC Coastal was a relatively weak division this year, although Pittsburgh didn’t have a terrible season and Miami somehow strung together a better season that it seemed might be possible earlier in the year. North Carolina’s biggest hurdle is having played two FCS opponents, which was a result of some scheduling obligations beyond their control forcing them to fill the schedule with an extra game against an FCS opponent. But does it really matter UNC played two FCS schools when they ripped through their division down the stretch and would have beaten Clemson?

Stanford is a rising candidate as well, despite having two losses. If the Cardinal get by USC in the Pac-12 championship game, they will have just the kind of late push needed to sneak into the argument and hope having a Pac-12 championship is what pushes them ahead in the end. A win against Notre Dame helps, but Stanford also lost twice, once to Oregon at home and once on the road at Northwestern. Oregon and Washington State aside, Stanford was fairly dominant in Pac-12 play, but two losses puts them behind the pack depending upon whom you ask.

Then there is Ohio State. The Buckeyes are defending champions, but what happened last year should have absolutely no bearing on what happens this season. The only loss suffered by the Buckeyes came two weeks ago against Michigan State, and it is fair to suggest Ohio State has not exactly been a dominant force all season long. It did, however, score better wins during the regular season than North Carolina will claim (well, besides Clemson under these scenarios), and one of those wins came on the road against one of North Carolina’s division rivals, Virginia Tech. If comparing similar opponents, Ohio State’s performance against the Hokies was also superior to the victory UNC had in Blacksburg. Advantage, Ohio State?

You can make an argument for all three options discussed above,but it is clear one of two things needs to happen to start opening the door for the Cardinal, Tar Heels or Buckeyes. Clemson or Alabama needs to lose. UNC will get a chance to do what they need to do against Clemson, but otherwise folks in Columbus and Palo Alto will be rooting hard for an SEC championship game upset by Florida. The higher-ranked team in the SEC Championship Game has won five straight times and 17 out of 23 seasons.