Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith has plenty of reasons to offer praise for the new College Football Playoff. His football program wiggled into the four-team playoff last season after nudging past and pulling away from Big 12 contenders Baylor and TCU, and then the Buckeyes took advantage of the opportunity by defeating SEC champion Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and Pac-12 champion Oregon in the first College Football Playoff national championship game. Naturally, Smith thinks the playoff worked out well, and he would prefer to keep it as it is moving forward.
Smith’s primary concern about potential expansion to the College Football Playoff appears to be the health of the players. A championship contender is already set to play 14 to 15 games in a single season (12 regular season games, conference championship game if applicable, one semifinal game and national championship game), and expanding to the length of an NFL season at this level is not something Smith feels would be a good idea.
“Could they (play one)? Sure,” Smith said Tuesday at the Big Ten spring meetings (He also said he expects Braxton Miller to stay at Ohio State in 2015). “Would we have had significant injuries? No doubt. We had a nice gap between the Big Ten championship game and the Sugar Bowl. But we still had guys recovering from playing the gauntlet of the regular season.”
The health and safety of the players has been a big topic in recent years, so it comes as no surprise there might be some hesitation to expand the postseason by at least one more round because of it. Remember, the players are not paid to play (beyond the value of a scholarship), and schools are preparing to offer more in total cost of attendance packages and more through the age of autonomy.
The College Football Playoff cooked up some massive TV numbers and the revenue generated from it was nice as well. You would think there would be some financial incentive to expand the playoff field by one more round, and the calls for expansion are already firing up (they were growing before the completion of one year of the new system), but the company line coming from the College Football Playoff is it remains committed to a four-team format for the duration of the current contract (so 11 more years of four-team playoffs).
The playoff is very likely to expand at one point. It is more a question of “When,” not “If.”
Come Saturday evening, when the results coming out of New York City are made official, I suspect this won’t be the first time we string the words “Joe Burrow” and “wins in a landslide” in the same sentence.
The Associated Press Thursday announced its College Football Player of the Year and, to the surprise of no one, Burrow claimed yet another piece of postseason hardware. There were 53 media members who voted for the AP award; 50 of them cast first-place votes for Burrow, helping give the LSU quarterback a total of 156 points.
The senior, who is now viewed by some as the likely No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, currently leads the nation in passing touchdowns with 48 and completion percentage at 77.9 percent; right now, the completion percentage would be an FBS record, surpassing the 76.7 percent put up by Texas’ Colt McCoy in 2008. The Ohio State transfer is also second in the nation in passing yards (4,715) and passing efficiency (201.5).
Speaking of Ohio State, a pair of Buckeyes, defensive end Chase Young and quarterback Justin Fields, finished well behind Burrow in the voting. Young, who was the only other player to receive first-place votes, totaled 29 points while Fields totaled 43. Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts was fourth in the voting.
All four of those players mentioned, incidentally, were named as Heisman Trophy finalists earlier this week.
After a season away, Lavonte Valentine is back at the FBS level.
By way of his personal Twitter account Wednesday, Valentine announced that he has decided to transfer to South Florida and continue his collegiate playing career with the Bulls. As Valentine, whose transfer from South Carolina was confirmed in August of this year, comes to USF from the NAIA level, he will be eligible to play immediately in 2020.
The move comes a couple of days after Clemson offensive coordinator Jeff Scott was named as the football program’s next head coach.
Coming out of high school in Melbourne, Fla., Valentine was a three-star member of South Carolina’s 2018 recruiting class, rated as the No. 18 all-purpose running back in the country. In part because of a torn ACL suffered his senior season of high school that caused him to miss spring practice and fall behind on the depth chart, Valentine took a redshirt for his true freshman season.
Valentine did, though, run track for USC this past spring, and he told The State that he will run track and play football at USF.
Not surprisingly, Eli Drinkwitz‘s first coaching staff in Columbia is taking on a bit of a Boone feel to it.
Although it has yet to be confirmed, Drinkwitz is expected to add Appalachian State special teams coordinator Erik Link in the same capacity at Missouri. What has been confirmed, though, is that Drinkwitz has brought Charlie Harbison along with him to the Tigers, a release from the football program announced.
Right now, Harbison will carry the official title of Associate Head Coach/Defense; his specific duties will be spelled out later.
“Charlie brings a wealth of experience with him to the defensive side of the football, having coached at the highest levels including the SEC and the NFL,” said Drinkwitz in a statement. “He’s an outstanding man of character who knows what it means to mentor players both in football and in life.”
Harbison spent one season with Drinkwitz at App State, where he served as the Mountaineers’ cornerbacks coach. He was also the Sun Belt school’s associated head coach.
Previously, Harbison has spent time as the defensive coordinator or co-defensive coordinator at three Power Five programs — Auburn (2013-14), Clemson (2009-12) and Mississippi State (2008). He’s also was the cornerbacks coach at Alabama from 1998-2000.
In addition to bringing in coaches that worked on his staff at App State, he’s expected to retain at least three of Barry Odom‘s former assistants, including defensive coordinator/safeties coach Ryan Walters, defensive line coach Brick Haley, and defensive backs coach David Gibbs. Those retentions have yet to be officially announced.
Every little bit helps, right?
Florida State’s decision to fire Willie Taggart less than two years into his contract came with a steep financial cost, with the deposed head coach being owed in the very ritzy neighborhood of $18 million. That buyout, though, would be offset by any money Taggart would make in his next job(s).
Wednesday evening, Florida Atlantic announced that Taggart had been hired as its next head football coach. As of this posting, FAU has yet to release the financial particulars of Taggart’s deal with the university.
At least a portion of that info, though, has now been made public.
For perspective, the man Taggart is replacing, new Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin, was paid $1.432 million in guaranteed compensation for 2019.
So, if Berkowitz’s numbers are accurate — and they normally very much are — FSU’s future obligation to Taggart would drop to just under $14 million. So they have that going for them. Which is nice.