What would a four-team playoff look like this year?

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As you’ve no doubt seen by now, all five BCS games have been filled. There was no drama when it came to selecting the championship game between No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Alabama, but Northern Illinois crashing the BCS at-large party set off more than a few complaints.

Two years from now the college football world will finally rid itself of the preposterous postseason selection process code-named “BCS” and will be replaced with a slightly less preposterous selection process code named “playoff.” Or, BCS 2.0 for the more cynical bunch out there.

But who wants to wait for that? Earlier this week, Sports Illustrated put together a mock selection committee of university admins to determine, on a simplified basis comparatively, what a four-team playoff would look like following the 2012 football season. As you can imagine, it was no easy task. UNLV athletic director Jim Livengood even said “The thing that jumps out at me is that there are just four teams, it’s not enough of a sample. I was not a proponent of going larger than four, and this changed my mind totally.”

With those daunting words in mind, we here at CFT have decided to form our own two-member mock selection committee and choose four teams to compete for our inaugural Kercheval-Taylor Coaches’ Trophy.

(For those wondering, it’s a bowling trophy with a tennis ball attached to the top. Still, very prestigious.) 

First thing’s first: Notre Dame and Alabama are in. There’s no discussion about that. Those two have without a doubt earned the right to compete for a championship. But which teams fill the other two spots? That’s a bit cloudier. We’ve selected five that we feel should at least be in consideration and stated what we feel helps or hurts their cause.

So check out our picks and let us know what you think below. Also, remember that we deliberately left certain teams out because we hate them. You know, the ones we’re biased against. Yeah, those teams.

WHO’S IN:

Alabama
Believe it or not, there is good football outside of the SEC. You just don’t hear about it since the SEC has won six straight BCS championships and hacks like us won’t stop shoving that little factoid down y’all’s throats. Anyway, the Tide finished the season 12-1 with a dramatic win in the SEC championship game over Georgia. Other than that, the Tide’s only real sensational victory was against LSU. Michigan and Mississippi State turned out to be farces and Nick Saban’s team was upset at home by Texas A&M. Still, Alabama has two wins over current top-10 teams. That’s more than good enough to put them in a four-team playoff without complaints.

Notre Dame
Like the Irish or hate ‘em, Notre Dame has earned its right to be in the BCS championship game. There’s really no debate here, at least not as it pertains to Notre Dame being worthy of one of four spots. Go undefeated in any conference – or, Independent, as this case would have it – and a team should have a shot to compete for the whole enchilada.

WHO NEEDS THE SELECTION COMMITTEE’S HELP:

Florida
This would be the most difficult selection by far even though Florida has the best résumé in college football. The Gators stand against everything expanding the championship field was supposed to correct (or, at least help correct). Will Muschamp’s team didn’t win its own division, let alone its own conference, nor did it win the head-to-head matchup with Georgia. But Florida does have wins over Florida State, LSU, South Carolina and Texas A&M. All are 10-win teams.

When someone says the regular season needs to matter, it can be viewed two ways. On one hand, that argument should favor the Bulldogs for the reasons mentioned above even though the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party turned into the World’s Largest Turnover Festival. On the other hand, if we’re talking about what a team did during the season, and not what it didn’t do, then it’s tough not to name Florida one of the four best teams in the country. No, it hasn’t always looked good for the Gators, but if the so-called “eye test” was the overriding consideration, Oregon would be a lock.

Georgia
The other side of the cocktail glass. What’s a Bulldog have to do to get a little respect, anyway? Georgia has the head-to-head against Florida and came thisclose to winning the SEC. Unfortunately, an ill-fated pitch and catch may be the difference between a shot at a national title and being left to wonder what could have been.

There’s no doubt Georgia’s a good team, but are they a final four team? Ask yourself this: do final four teams get beat 35-7 by South Carolina? If head-to-head battles mattered as much as Georgia might argue, what would be the cost of a loss like that one? Kansas State faces a similar situation with its loss to Baylor, which you’ll read below. Losses happen, but blowouts? The only way UGA gets the benefit here is that it happened early enough in the season that the Bulldogs could point to how well they’ve played since. Like Alabama though, Georgia’s overall schedule is so-so. Of its seven conference wins, only two came against opponents with winning records.

Kansas State
If there’s one thing holding the Wildcats back from being a lock for a four-playoff, it’s Baylor. It’s tough to remain perfect every single week. Individuals, teams have off days. It happens. So my general rule is to penalize teams less for losing and reward them more for winning, but it’s impossible to ignore the whipping K-State took in Waco at the hands of a team that didn’t even have a .500 record at the time. Granted, that started a three-game winning streak for the now-bowl eligible Bears, but the Wildcats were outmatched – dominated up front, really — by statistically one of the worst defenses in the country (123rd in yards per game; 122nd in passing yards; 117 in points per game).

K-State’s best win came on the road against Oklahoma in late September, but the rest of KSU’s wins are a bit deceiving. The Wildcats played four AP top-25 teams this year, but only two (Oklahoma and Texas) actually finished in the AP top 25. The reason? Tremendous parity in the league. Half of the Big 12 finished with a 7-5 overall record and a 4-5 conference record this year. Still, there are nine bowl-eligible teams from the Big 12 this season with a round-robin schedule.

Oregon
The Ducks are in a similar boat (so to speak) as Florida. Oregon did not win its division nor did it win its head-to-head game with Stanford. Oregon’s schedule is a bit like Kansas State’s too in that it played five ranked teams this year, but only two – Stanford and Oregon State – ended the season ranked by the AP. Prior to Oregon winning the Civil War last week, its best “W” was against a USC team that was on the verge of a late-season slide.

What the Ducks need from a selection committee is faith in how they look. Oregon is flashy and scores a lot in a hurry. The general curiosity about Chip Kelly’s team is whether it could score like that against a defense from Florida or Notre Dame. However, Oregon couldn’t do much at all against the Cardinal, statistically one of the best run defenses in college football. The Ducks could make an argument that loss was a fluke – it wasn’t – but it may have answered that curiosity.

Stanford
Stanford might be the hottest team in college football with seven straight wins. Not only that, the Cardinal had three consecutive wins over top 25 teams (four if you count UCLA twice; once in the regular season and once in the Pac-12 championship) to end the season, so David Shaw’s group is playing well at the right time too. That win over Oregon in Eugene is one of the best of the year.

But Stanford’s body of work isn’t spotless. An early-season upset over USC gives the Cardinal two wins against top-five teams, but the Trojans have fallen hard in the past month. Still, USC was highly-regarded at the time. The following week, however, Stanford fell flat on its face and was upset by a Washington team that finished 7-5. Overall, the Cardinal has most of what a selection committee would look for: a conference championship and a handful of quality wins.

SELECTIONS

Ben’s four: Alabama, Florida, Notre Dame, Stanford

John’s four: Alabama, Kansas State, Notre Dame, Stanford

Blood clot in C.J. Fuller’s lung caused ex-Clemson RB’s death

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C.J. Fuller died suddenly the afternoon of Oct. 3 after the former Clemson running back suffered chest pains as well as a suspected seizure.  Nearly 10 weeks later, a cause of the 22-year-old’s death has been released.

According to the Charleston Post & Courier, the Pickens County (SC) Coroner’s Office has determined that Fuller died as the result of a pulmonary thromboembolism and deep vein thrombosis stemming from a football injury.  A pulmonary thromboembolism is essentially a blood clot that breaks free and ultimately becomes lodged in the lungs.

Fuller had suffered a knee injury playing flag football in August of this year and underwent surgery the following month.  On the day of his death, he attended his first physical therapy session, one that reportedly went off without an issue.

“Our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies are with C.J.’s family,” Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney said in a statement at the time of Fuller’s death. “I’ve known C.J. a long time and watched him grow up through the Easley rec leagues all the way through Easley High School. I’m proud of what he accomplished as a Clemson Tiger, most of all, his accomplishment of being a Clemson graduate. Our deepest condolences and the thoughts of our program are with his family this evening. May he rest in peace.”

Following the 2017 season, Fuller left the team as a would-be graduate transfer. In late March, Fuller, who was expected to continue his collegiate playing career at another program, was one of three individuals charged in connection to an alleged armed robbery in downtown Clemson.

In 2017, Fuller, who began that season as the starter, was fifth on the Tigers with a career-high 217 yards and three touchdowns. He finished the Tigers portion of his playing career with 599 yards and four touchdowns on 147 carries, as well as 18 receptions for 155 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

One of those touchdown catches came in the College Football Playoff semifinal win over Ohio State in 2016. The Tigers went on to win the national championship that season.

Fuller earned a degree in sociology from Clemson in August, the same month in which he sustained the injury that preceded his death.

Auburn transfer TE Jalen Harris lists Georgia, Colorado among five potential landing spots

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It’s unclear at this point to where Jalen Harris will ultimately transfer, but the list of potential landing spots has been significantly whittled down.

In mid-September, Harris announced that he would be transferring from Auburn.  On Twitter Tuesday, the tight end revealed his list of five finalists that will serve as possible transfer destinations, including a pair of SEC schools in Georgia and Vanderbilt.

The other three schools include a pair of Power Five programs (Colorado, Kansas State) as well as one from the Group of Five (Troy).

A decision from Harris is expected at some point next week.

Harris did not play in more than four games this season, meaning he preserved a year of eligibility under the new redshirt rule.  He will also head to his new college football home as a graduate transfer, meaning he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2019.

As a fourth-year senior this past season, the 6-4, 257-pound Harris played in three games before opting to transfer.  The previous three seasons, the Montgomery, Ala., native played in 39 games, with most of that action coming on special teams and as a blocking tight end.

Harris did, though, catch a pair of touchdown passes among his four career receptions.  Both touchdowns came during the 2016 season.

Richmond confirms death of DB Augustus Lee

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Sadly, tragedy has yet again struck the college football community.

Tuesday, Richmond confirmed that Spiders football player Augustus “Gus” Lee had passed away earlier in the day.  According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Virginia Department of Health’s Central District Office of the Chief Medical Examiner declined to provide details on the cause of the redshirt freshman defensive back’s death.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Augustus Lee,” Richmond head football coach Russ Huesman said in a statement sent out by the FCS program. “Gus was a terrific young man and a great member of our Richmond family. His loss is a true tragedy to those who knew and loved him. Our thoughts and prayers are with Gus’ family. This is a very difficult time for everyone in the Richmond Spider family.”

“I have been in touch with Gus’s family to express our deepest condolences on behalf of the entire University,” a statement from president Ronald Crutcher began. “Gus was a sophomore from Fairfax, Virginia, who played on our football team. He was an undeclared pre-business major and a good friend, especially to his teammates and his fellow student-athletes. We extend our deepest sympathies to Gus’s family, his teammates, professors, and many friends on our campus.”

Lee played in 11 games this past season, with most of that action coming on special teams.  He was named Defensive MVP of the Spiders’ spring game earlier this year.

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all of those impacted by Lee’s passing.

Blake Cashman becomes second Minnesota player to skip bowl game

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A second Minnesota football player has decided to end the collegiate portion of his playing career prematurely.

On Instagram Tuesday, Blake Cashman announced that, “after a lot of thought and discussions with people close to me,” he has decided he will not play in Minnesota’s Quick Lane Bowl matchup with Georgia Tech Dec. 26. “This was a very a hard decision for me, but I feel in my heart that getting a jump start on training will give me the best opportunity at the next level,” the linebacker wrote.

This season serves as the senior’s final year of eligibility.

Cashman currently leads the Gophers in tackles with 104 and is tied for the team lead in tackles for loss with 15.  His 2½ sacks are second on the team, while his five pass breakups are good for third.

Earlier this month, teammate and starting offensive tackle Donnell Greene also used Instagram to announce that he has signed with an agent and will not play in the Gophers’ bowl game.  Greene and Cashman are two of at least a baker’s dozen players who have sidelined themselves for their respective team’s bowl game.

  • West Virginia offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste (HERE)
  • Iowa tight end Noah Fant (HERE)
  • Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary
  • West Virginia quarterback Will Grier (HERE)
  • NC State wide receiver Kelvin Harmon (HERE)
  • Arizona State wide receiver N'Keal Harry (HERE)
  • Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill (HERE)
  • Houston defensive lineman Ed Oliver (HERE)
  • NC State linebacker Germaine Pratt (HERE)
  • South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel (HERE)
  • LSU cornerback Greedy Williams (HERE)