Memo to Longhorn Nation: do not book flights to Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex or reserve hotel rooms in that area for the time around Jan. 12, 2015; you’re head coach says your team won’t be there.
While not exactly a statement that goes against conventional wisdom when it comes to the 2014 college football season, Charlie Strong surprised some observers Monday when he talked about expectations for his first season at Texas. Or, more to the point, he significantly lowered the first-year expectations of the media and fans alike.
“We have everything available, and I don’t know why we can’t be successful,” Strong said while speaking to fans on his tour of Fort Worth. “There’s no reason for us not to be. Now, I can’t tell you how soon it’s going to be. Don’t hold me to that. Don’t say, ‘Ooh, coach said next year we’ll be in the national…’ We will not be in the national championship game.”
While some will criticize Strong for a defeatist attitude, others — myself included — will applaud the first-year UT coach for injecting some reality into a fan base that ofttimes suffers delusions of grandeur.
The Longhorns haven’t been a factor nationally since the 2009 season. The past four years, they’ve sported a 30-21 record and earned three postseason berths — two to the Alamo Bowl, one to the Holiday Bowl. While they played for a Big 12 title the final day of the regular season, that had more to do with other conference teams stumbling.
In other words, UT has a tough row to hoe to get back to where they belong nationally — especially with an unsettled quarterback position heading into his inaugural season in Austin. Good on Strong — not an overwhelmingly popular hire to begin with — for shooting straight with his new fan base and not blowing the kind of rectal sunshine for which most coaches are infamous.
Texas Tech may be getting ready for a bowl game, but they will do so without three defensive assistant coaches. Co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Mike Smith, cornerbacks coach Kevin Curtis and outside linebackers coach Trey Haverty have been cut from the coaching staff, head coach Kliff Kingsbury announced today.
“We appreciate all that Mike, Kevin and Trey have done at Texas Tech over the last three seasons,” Kingsbury said in a released statement. “All three are great Red Raiders and we wish them the very best.”
Texas Tech had the Big 12’s ninth-ranked total defense after allowing 540.2 yards per game. That was nearly 100 yards more per game than Iowa State’s eighth-ranked defense. Only Kansas had a worst defense, allowing 560.8 yards per game. Texas Tech’s defense ranked 126th in the nation out of 128 schools. The Red Raiders were torched through the air, allowing 268.3 yards per game through the air, which was ranked 113th in the nation.
Offense appears to be the key to success in the Big 12 and defense has tended to be a hurdle for the Red Raider program. This much appears to be clear though. Kingsbury is making moves with his roster to find a way to improve defensively and become a more well-rounded threat in the Big 12.
Forget about all of the talk regarding 5-7 teams going to bowl games or not, because teams that have actually qualified and deserved a bowl trip are starting to line up their postseason plans. Western Michigan confirmed today it will head to the Bahamas Bowl, where the Broncos will face Middle Tennessee of Conference USA.
There were three potential bowl destinations for Western Michigan. The two in addition to the Bahamas Bowl were the Boca Raton Bowl and the Poinsettia Bowl. There really wasn’t a bad destination here for Western Michigan, but a chance to go to the Bahamas seemed to be a crowd pleaser, and how could it not?
After the video revealed the bowl destination for the program, head coach P.J. Fleck went on to commend the Broncos for accomplishing a number of firsts for the program this season, including its first win over a top 25 team, a share of the division crown for the first time in over a decade, and the first time going to bowl game sin back-to-back seasons. Now, Fleck wants his program to put together an eight-win season, which would mark the first back-to-back eight-win seasons. Keep rowing that boat, Western Michigan.
The odds are pretty good East Carolina never would have received a bowl invitation as 5-7 teams wait in line for a rare bowl invitation to fill bowl vacancies. Either wayt, East Carolina is on the record now to say it would not accept any bowl invitation.
“While we understand there are still numerous programs with higher APR scores ahead of us who merit stronger consideration, we have already determined that we would decline an offer should one be extended,” East Carolina Director of Athletics Jeff Compher said in a released statement. “Our efforts should be centered on positioning the Pirates for future championships.”
With Nebraska and Illinois already reportedly ready to accept any bowl invitation they would receive, East Carolina was already going to eb locked out of the postseason as long as the Huskers and Illini stayed true to those reports. Missouri has publicly said it would turn down an ofer, but there are still other schools that would stand in the way of ECU, which is way down the order on the wait list.
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 ESPN.com 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.