Bob Stoops has been making the rounds through the ESPN Car Wash today and he has been throwing out a couple nuggets worth digesting. Aside from his latest jab at Alabama head coach Nick Saban‘s thoughts on the Sugar Bowl, Stoops took aim at non-conference scheduling by a former Big 12 foe, Texas A&M.
Texas A&M opens the regular season on the road in SEC play against South Carolina, the favorite to come out of the SEC East this fall, but after that the Aggies have home games against Lamar (and FCS school) and Rice. After that is a road game at SMU. On November 1 Texas A&M will host UL Monroe in College Station the week before a road game at Auburn. Looking at the non-conference schedule for the Aggies leaves Stoops unimpressed.
Texas A&M’s non-conference schedule is anything but a murderer’s row, that much is for sure. Lamar is coming off a 5-6 season at the FCS level last season. Rice made a surprise run to a Conference USA West Division championship and ended the season with a record of 10-4, but the Owls are hardly considered among the elite of the Group of Five at this point. SMU filed to meet eligibility for postseason play with a 5-7 record and ULM broke even at 6-6 but was not invited to a bowl game.
To be fair, Oklahoma has rarely gone out and put together one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country on an annual basis, but the Sooners have lined up some marquee non-conference opponents for home-and-home opportunities. Recent seasons have seen Oklahoma play Notre Dame and Florida State while future seasons will see Ohio State, UCLA and historic rival Nebraska. But the Sooners have a share of games against programs like Tulsa and UTEP littered throughout as well. Texas A&M will have future games against Arizona State, UCLA and Oregon coming up as well.
The other part of the argument is how difficult Texas A&M’s conference schedule will be compared to that of Oklahoma over the course of time as well. The Sooners may have to battle a resurgent Texas in due time, and Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Baylor have their moments, but the Aggies are pit in the same division as Alabama, Auburn and LSU.
Is Stoops fair to criticize the difficulty of Texas A&M’s schedule?
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.