College Football Playoff rankings to be revealed tonight; be prepared for pointless debates

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For the first time this college football season, fans will be given a glimpse to how the members of the selection committee for the College Football Playoff have weighed the potential playoff contenders to date.

A couple of things to remember when these rankings are revealed;

Tonight’s ranking is based on the silly hypothetical phrase “If the season ended today…”

Remember that this is simply an assessment of everything we have seen on the field to this point in time, and the results on the field and the strength of schedule are used as major components for ranking teams in the selection committee’s closed-door meetings. So if Baylor is not ranked as highly as they are in either of the major polls, you can point right to the overall strength of schedule as the first reason why.

The top four teams tonight will likely not be the final four teams

There really is only one ranking that matters from the College Football Playoff selection committee, and it is not the one that will be revealed tonight, next week or the week after that. The only ranking that matters is the final ranking of the season that sets up the playoff field and the major bowl matchups. The committee starts from scratch each week, so a weekly ranking system is purely for entertainment purposes, and time-wasting debating purposes.

Of last year’s playoff contestants, only one was ranked in the first playoff ranking of the season (Florida State). The others were ranked fifth (No. 2 seed Oregon) sixth (No. 1 Alabama), and 16th (No. 4 Ohio State).

In reality, the top playoff contenders all still have their biggest hurdles ahead of them

The rankings may be unveiled tonight, but they could look drastically different next week and the week after that. The top playoff contenders all still have their biggest games coming up on the schedule. Clemson takes on Florida State this week in the ACC game of the year. Alabama takes on LSU in what should be a pivotal game in the SEC West and playoff picture. Ohio State and Michigan State are still set to play each other this month. Stanford take son Oregon and Notre Dame before the season is over. In addition, the Big 12 still gets to see games between TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State as the month of November unfolds.

The point is, no matter how these rankings look tonight, there is still so much to be played out on the field before these rankings really carry any value or substance. Tonight is simply a half-hour commercial for the College Football Playoff, because ESPN paid a boatload of money for the rights and they are going to milk it for every dime they can. (I really can’t blame them for that, as it has given me something to write about this morning as well. Yay content!)

OK, but who will be the top four tonight?

Last year the College Football Playoff rankings were first revealed in Week 10, which is once again the case this season. Mississippi State was the number one team in the first ranking, followed by Florida State, Auburn and Ole Miss. That top four was pretty close to the top four in that week’s AP Top 25, although No. 3 Alabama in the AP poll was passed over by the AP’s No. 7 team, Ole Miss. Alabama was No. 6 in the first CFB Playoff rankings. Right now, the top four teams in the AP Top 25 are Ohio State, Baylor, Clemson and LSU, followed by TCU, Michigan State, Alabama and Notre Dame.

Will there be any real surprises in the top spots when the playoff ranking is unveiled? Probably not. Maybe Ohio State will be passed over by a team like Clemson or LSU, but the defending national champions are probably still a safe bet to be in the top four somewhere. Baylor might end up being on the outside looking in based on overall strength of schedule, while Clemson and LSU each have top 25 wins on their list of achievements so far.

Michigan State and Iowa will be interesting to see how the committee evaluates each. The biggest wins for the Spartans came against Oregon, a team that took a downward spiral but may be finding its mojo at a good time, and Michigan, thanks to a miracle play. Iowa is undefeated, with wins against Pittsburgh and Wisconsin serving as the highlights. Iowa may have a stronger leg to stand on had the Panthers not lost Thursday at home against North Carolina.

When push comes to shove, here is how I think the top teams could be ranked by the committee tonight:

  1. Ohio State
  2. LSU
  3. Clemson
  4. TCU
  5. Baylor
  6. Michigan State
  7. Stanford
  8. Notre Dame

LSU confirms promotion of Tiger great Kevin Faulk as RBs coach

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An LSU football legend officially has an on-field role at his alma mater.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Kevin Faulk would be promoted from his current position as LSU football director of player development.  Thursday, the Tigers confirmed that Faulk has been promoted by Ed Orgeron to running backs coach.

Faulk replaces Tommie Robinson, who left to take the same job at SEC West rival Texas A&M.

“We would like to thank Tommie (Robinson) for being a part of our national championship program and wish him the best in his future,” the LSU football head coach said in a statement. “Kevin is a great teacher and mentor and someone that has earned the respect and love of our players. We are honored to have one of the greatest players in LSU history as part of our coaching staff. This is a home run hire.”

Faulk played collegiately for LSU football from 1995-98.  He is still the school’s all-time leader in rushing yards (4,557) and rushing TDs (46).

Faulk was then a second-round draft pick of the New England Patriots in 1999.  He spent 13 years in the NFL, joining his high school alma mater’s football coaching staff upon his retirement following the 2011 season.

In 2018, Faulk rejoined the LSU football program in an off-field role.  This will be his field on-field role at any level of college football.

“The day I graduated high school I knew I wanted to be a coach,” the 43-year-old Faulk said. “The coaches I had growing up meant so much to me and the community, and I knew I wanted to be that guy. To coach at my alma mater is the best thing I could ever hope for. I wear the purple and gold with pride every day, and I am ready to get going to help win another national championship.”

Ford Field to host even more MACtion in 2020

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The MAC title game isn’t the only bit of #MACtion that Ford Field will see in 2020.

The conference recently released their annual football schedule on Wednesday and among the notable league games is the rivalry contest between Central Michigan and Western Michigan. While this one figures to have division implications on Oct. 17, things are going to be slightly different this year.

Namely that it won’t be on either campus and will instead be played at Ford Field.

“Ford Field has been the location of many great experiences for CMU Football, and this is an opportunity to create another iconic experience for our program and our university,” athletic director Michael Alford said in a release. “CMU’s continued success means out-of-the-box thinking. Bringing this game — and the events surrounding it — to Detroit allows our athletics program to help engage thousands of people who are passionate about CMU.”

It’s an interesting move that will push CMU to over a decade without a win over their directional rivals in Mt. Pleasant. Still, the larger venue and the opportunity to make things an even bigger event in the state’s largest city seem to have won out.

The Detroit News reported on Tuesday that the Chips wanted to do a multi-year deal at the home of the NFL’s Lions but that WMU said no thanks.

The Broncos have won seven of the last nine meetings, including last year’s 31-15 win in Kalamazoo. Despite that head-to-head victory though, Jim McElwain’s squad got the last laugh by winning the MAC West in one of the biggest turnaround stories of the 2019 season.

They wound up playing at Ford Field in the conference title game where they eventually lost to Miami (OH) 26-21. The venue has been the home of the MAC championship since 2004 and will have the next edition played on either Friday, Dec. 4 or Saturday Dec. 5.

Georgia Tech adds 2023 game against Bowling Green, makes slight change to 2021 schedule

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Georgia Tech is loving itself some #MACtion.

The school announced a pair of future schedule moves against teams from the eponymous league on Wednesday. Among the most immediate actions for the Yellow Jackets is that their 2021 contest against Northern Illinois will be shifted to become the season-opener at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Sept. 4.

GT will then play FCS Kennesaw State at home and conclude the early non-conference slate with a trip to Notre Dame on Nov. 20, 2021. Their annual rivalry contest against Georgia will conclude the regular season the final weekend of November as usual.

Tech also added Bowling Green to their upcoming docket. The Falcons will head to Bobby Dodd Stadium on Sept. 30, 2023. A trip to Ole Miss and the in-state rival Bulldogs coming to Atlanta will round out the Jackets’ non-conference schedule with one more opening still to be signed (likely against an FCS opponent).

Head coach Geoff Collins’ 2020 squad will have their attention on a conference opponent to open the upcoming season as they take on ACC opponent Clemson at home on Thursday, Sept. 3. The two programs will also meet again in city for the 2022 season opener at nearby Mercedes-Benz Stadium as well.

While those big name opponents will get more attention from fans in the region, don’t discount a bit of that #MACtion heading South either.

Waiting to cancel game with FCS opponent cost USC an extra $500,000

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Keeping Clay Helton around wasn’t the only decision last year that upset USC fans. Now the school backtracking on a choice it just made has cost the program a pretty penny.

For those not in the know, cardinal and gold supporters up in arms last year when it was announced the program had agreed to a non-conference game with UC Davis for the 2021 season. Such a contest typically doesn’t draw much attention but it did in Los Angeles as it was the first FCS opponent the Trojans were to play in their illustrious history.

That would have left rivals UCLA and Notre Dame as the only two FBS programs not to play an FCS team.

Then things changed. The athletic director responsible for the deal, Lynn Swann, was shown the door. His replacement Mike Bohn has gone about trying to make amends and recently announced that USC had eventually backed out of the game against the Aggies.

In their place on the docket at the Coliseum that season is another Bay Area team, San Jose State. We already recounted how the Spartans made out quite nicely on the balance sheet as a result of this (and subsequent buyout from Georgia) swap. As it turns out though, they weren’t the only Northern California team to do so.

According to the Davis Enterprise, the buyout UCD was owed was only supposed to be $225,000. However terms called for that to jump to $725,000 after the start of the new year. Because the Trojans waited around they then had to pony up that extra half million for doing something they had been considering since the new administration came in.

“It’s pretty funny. We had every intention of playing that game,” Aggies senior associate athletics director Josh Flushman told the paper. “We just wanted to make sure (if there were) buyouts we were going to get the money.

“In December, (AD Kevin Blue) and I joking said, ‘Don’t take any phone calls from L.A. numbers until after the first.’”

The call didn’t come until February and the school is that much richer for it. On top of that they added a $400,000 guarantee game from Tulsa to replace Southern Cal on the schedule to boot.

Waiting may be the hardest part for some but it resulted in a nice seven-figure gain at UC Davis.