When you really think about it, a watch list for a college football award is nothing more than a way to keep public relations staffers in college football programs busy this summer. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it is nice to have a number of key players for the upcoming season highlighted whenever possible (unless you are a Big Ten team going to Big Ten media days). But a watch list is generally pretty pointles sin the long run for most awards. This is especially true for a watch list of college football coaches.
The Dodd Trophy watch list was released today with a list of 19 coaches from many of the top programs around the country. Yep, a watch list for head coaches. Silly, right? It really is the easiest watch list to put together.
The award watch list, compiled by the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, includes four coaches from the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC, two coaches from the Big 12 and one from the American Athletic Conference. You know all of the names, like national championship coaches Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and Dabo Swinney; household names like Jim Harbaugh, Mark Richt, Bill Snyder, and Chris Petersen; and conference championship coaches like David Shaw, James Franklin.
Some notable names not on the list? How about Jimbo Fisher of Florida State? Fisher has a playoff contender in Tallahassee and is the ACC favorite. He also has a national championship ring. Not having Fisher on a preseason watch list for top coaches seems like a bad oversight. Not having new Big 12 coaches Tom Herman (Texas) and Lincoln Riley (Oklahoma) also feels like a swing and a miss if pulling together a list of potential coach of the year candidates. If we are not going to just list all 130 head coaches in FBS, it seems silly to have such a weird collection of watch list candidates when Butch Jones is on the list.
Five coaches on the watch list are former winners of the Dodd Trophy; Snyder, Petersen, Swinney, Saban, and Paul Johnson. Paul Chryst, Ken Niumatalolo, and Petersen were finalists for the award last season as well.
2017 Dodd Trophy Watch List
- Paul Chryst, Wisconsin
- James Franklin, Penn State
- Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech
- Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
- Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
- Clay Helton, USC
- Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
- Butch Jones, Tennessee
- Gus Malzahn, Auburn
- Jim McElwain, Florida
- Urban Meyer, Ohio State
- Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
- Chris Petersen, Washington
- Mark Richt, Miami
- Nick Saban, Alabama
- David Shaw, Stanford
- Bill Snyder, Kansas State
- Dabo Swinney, Clemson
- Kyle Whittingham, Utah
With things not going anywhere close according to plan this season, Stanford head coach David Shaw is in need of a change. This week that change will come at quarterback, where Keller Chryst will get a chance to start his first game with the Cardinal. Chryst will replace Ryan Burns, who has been picked off seven times this season.
”I hate to get to this point,” Shaw said. ”But it’s the best thing for this offense. We need more production at that position. It’s our challenge to support Keller.”
Chryst has attempted 18 passes this season, completing seven for 63 yards with one interception. He has also rushed 11 times for 11 yards.
Stanford’s offensive woes are not to rest squarely on the shoulders of Burns, but one of the biggest ways to spark a struggling offense is to change the quarterback. Shaw hopes this change will turn things around before things get too much worse this season. Stanford’s offensive numbers are down much more than anyone would have expected this season. The Cardinal are averaging just 17.0 points per game and 299.1 yards per game. Stanford has reached the end zone on offense just 10 times. Oklahoma and Texas Tech combined for 17 touchdowns on Saturday.
”I’ve been working with both all year and they’re both great people,” Stanford wide receiver Trent Irwin said. ”Sometimes you just need a change. We’ll see where it goes and have fun with it.”
Stanford takes on Arizona in Tucson this Saturday night.
LSU opened up a high-profile head coaching vacancy on Sunday by removing head coach Les Miles as the head of the football program. As Miles was shown the door, the list of possible candidates started popping up just about everywhere you might look. Names like Houston’s Tom Herman and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher have been popular and trendy, but not so much for Stanford head coach David Shaw.
Asked about the new opening in Baton Rouge, Shaw was rather definitive in his stance.
“Are you serious? The answer is no,” Shaw said, seemingly without hesitation according to ESPN reporter David Lombardi.
It should be mentioned that it is incredibly rare for a head coach in a current position with one program would even drop a hint of interest in another position elsewhere, so keep that in mind as coaches like Herman and Fisher deny having any contact with LSU and so on during the annual coaching carousel. That said, Shaw leaving Stanford would be a pretty good shock, so we can probably take Shaw at his word here.
Stanford head coach David Shaw has not been one to partake in the satellite camp practice the way former Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh since his arrival at Michigan. As far as Shaw is concerned, there is little use to the practice from Stanford’s perspective.
The Pac-12 was one of the four power conferences to vote in favor of banning satellite camps. Unlike his counterpart at Washington State, Mike Leach, Shaw saw no problem with eliminating satellite camps. Given his point of view, his take is pretty fair. Stanford does operate on a different level when it comes to academic standards compared to many other programs, and it may be fair to suggest the majority of the high school kids participating in some of the football camps may not be able to make the cut for Stanford’s elevated academic standard.
Here is the full context of the quote, as provided by Rule of Tree;
“I have no opinion,” Shaw said. “It’s never affected us. People do them, and people don’t do them. We’ve got great attendance at the camps we have here — we get a lot of guys we want to come….But I didn’t like the way that a lot of people have put this as the SEC against Jim Harbaugh. That’s not what this has been about. Conference by conference, this has been going on for three plus years, since Jim was with the 49ers. This has been a battle. As a conference, we had a long discussion three years ago about what we were going to do about satellite camps….I’m great with whatever college football says, because it doesn’t affect us. It doesn’t make sense for us to go hold a camp some place where there might be one person in the entire state that’s eligible to get into Stanford.”
Shaw has focused on recruiting the talent that he knows will be able to be a part of his program, and that makes sense. Why waste time trying to recruit talent you are reasonably sure will not be able to make the cut at your university? By wasting such time, you could be missing out on talent that could go elsewhere. There is precious little time to waste on the recruiting trail, and Shaw is spot on with his take as far as things are concerned at Stanford. Had he been the coach of another program, he might be singing a slightly different tune.
Of all of the players in college football with something to prove this spring, Stanford’s dynamic Christian McCaffrey is most certainly not among them. The Heisman finalist did it all for the Cardinal en route to a Pac-12 championship last season, which is why David Shaw decided to give McCaffrey a little bit of a break in the spring game on Saturday.
“He went through all the practices,” Shaw said. “For me, it was just a mileage thing. We tried to make sure that we got him completely recuperated before we starting beating him up again.”
McCaffrey put up monster numbers last season in rushing for 2,019 yards on 337 rushing attempts, catching 45 passes for 645 yards, returning 15 punts and 37 kickoffs. He ended his tremendous sophomore season with 2,664 yards from scrimmage and 1,200 special teams yards. McCaffrey did see the field during Stanford’s spring game, calling for a fair catch three teams on punt duty, but that was all fans got to see of the 2015 Heisman Trophy runner-up.
“I wish I could be out here, but it makes sense,” McCaffrey said. “I feel great, and excited to be a part of this team.”
With McCaffrey taking it relatively easy in the spring game, the focus was on the quarterback competition with Ryan Burns and Keller Chryst attempting to replace Kevin Hogan. Shaw said he will have to look at the film before making any determination in which quarterback performed better, but the box score showed a pretty even afternoon for each. Burns completed 17 of 23 pass attempts for 153 yards and two touchdowns. Chryst completed 16 of his 25 attempts for 156 yards and he led two scoring drives.
“Hard to say who had the upper hand,” Shaw said. “We have to see what the decision making looked like. I was excited to see both guys come back and make some big-time throws. There were a lot of positives for both guys.”