No matter what happened Monday night in Santa Clara, we knew the Clemson Tigers were going to be a top national title contender in 2019. But after the Tigers dismantled Alabama in the most impressive championship game performance of the short lifespan of the College Football Playoff with true freshmen leading the charge at quarterback and wide receiver, we may have just had a glimpse of just how strong the Tigers are going to be again next fall.
We have not been strangers to seeing young players step into the championship spotlight during the College Football Playoff, of course. It was just last year when Tua Tagovailoa stepped onto the scene to save Alabama’s national title hopes against Georgia as a freshman, with the Bulldogs also being led by a young quarterback in Jake Fromm. But the display of aerial brilliance exhibited by Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and wide receiver Justyn Ross was something for the ages.
Lawrence showed he was not afraid of the big moment against the best team he has faced all season by throwing for 347 yards and three touchdowns in the biggest game of his life. Ross was undeterred too with six receptions for 153 yards with a handful of plays that will be added to his preseason Biletnikoff Award campaign for the 2019 season. And these were just freshmen who a year ago were in high school. On Monday night, they were responsible for shredding apart an Alabama defense that had been cracking in their pass defense in the postseason. Lawrence and Ross were just there to break things wide open against the Tide.
Sophomore slumps? Don’t count on it from these two players. Clemson has this dynamic duo for at least two more seasons, barring any unforeseen changes to the eligibility rules and possible changes on the landscape with the NFL or other outside influencers. For now, Dabo Swinney has a quarterback and a wide receiver and you know the rest of the roster is going to be loaded as well. Winning his first national championship two years ago was the crowning achievement of Swinney’s career, but winning his second puts Swinney in even more elite company as a two-time championship-winning head coach. To be able to win both of his national championships against the undisputed king of college football in the BCS and playoff era, Alabama’s Nick Saban, makes Swinney’s case as one of the best today even stronger.
Ohio State’s victory over Oregon in the inaugural College Football Playoff national championship game was impressive. The previous two battles between Alabama and Clemson were instant classics, as was last year’s Alabama victory over Georgia. But what Clemson did to the team that had been No. 1 all season long on a stage Alabama usually delivers was single-handedly the most impressive championship game performance in the playoff era. It should not be a suggestion that Alabama is on the decline, because that is simply not true. It is, however, another example to suggest just how strong a program Swinney has molded.
Not too many coaches get the best of Saban in the postseason, especially when a championship is on the line. With Lawrence and Ross, it may not be a surprise to see Swinney get another chance to take down the Tide.
As Miami was closing out the first spring under new head coach Manny Diaz, former Miami head coach Mark Richt was close by keeping an eye on things with his former program. On Saturday, it was announced Richt will be heading to a role in television and he said what so many coaches in similar positions have suggested before; he is content away from coaching and not planning a comeback.
Not yet, at least.
Richt was officially announced to be the newest member of the college football TV crew being put together by ESPN for the upcoming ACC Network. With plenty of experience in and around the ACC in his coaching career, not to mention his extended period of time in the SEC, Richt should fit right in with the target audience for the ACC Network, which will launch later this year.
“I was able to coach for 12 seasons in the ACC, and so, I’m very excited about the opportunity to join ACC Network as a football analyst,” Richt said in a released statement. “I’m not only looking forward to helping tell the story of one of the greatest football conferences in America but also staying close to the game that I love so much.”
The obvious question is just how long will Richt remain in a TV role? Maybe he truly is ready for life after coaching, but history has shown many coaches using TV jobs as temporary placeholders before the next coaching opportunity comes along. Urban Meyer spent one year in the booth calling games for ESPN after retiring from Florida before heading to Ohio State (Meyer, of course, is back in TV as an analyst for FOX Sports this season). Rich Rodriguez spent a cup of coffee with CBS Sports Network after losing his job at Michigan before he eventually returned to coach at Arizona. Even Mack Brown is making his long-awaited return to the sideline this season at North Carolina after spending years with ESPN after retiring from Texas.
Richt may still have some coaching gears in him that will get him to come back at some point, but for now, that’s not the plan he is putting out there. If the right offer comes along, who knows. For the 2019 season, at least, we’ll get to see how Richt does on TV.
Helmet sticker to Sports Illustrated.
Could a new in-state rivalry be about to form in the state of North Carolina? Though it will take decades to rival the intensity of the Duke-UNC rivalry, perhaps the seeds are being planted for a budding rivalry between Appalachian State and Charlotte. The two schools have agreed to a four-game scheduling agreement that builds off a current two-game series in the midst of being played.
Appalachian State and Charlotte will exchange home dates between 2026 and 2029 on an annual basis. Appalachian State will host the 49ers on Sept. 19, 2026 to begin the four-game set. The series will shift to Charlotte on Sept. 18, 2027 and return to Appalachian State’s campus on Sept. 16, 2028. Charlotte will host the final game in the agreement on Sept. 15, 2029.
“This is such a natural rivalry, and I am excited for our program to be able to compete against App on a more regular basis,” Charlotte athletics director Mike Hill said in a released statement. “I appreciate [Appalachian State AD] Doug Gillin for working with us to schedule this series. We would have liked to have started the series sooner but several long-term contracts on both sides prevented us from doing so. We are looking forward to our trip to Boone this fall as well as this future rivalry series.”
The two schools met last season for the first time, with the Mountaineers winning by a score of 45-9. Appalachian State will host Charlotte this season on Sept. 7.
Oregon State has pulled back the curtain on their new Nike football uniforms for the 2019 season, and the casual observer probably won’t notice much of a difference from most of the looks the Beavers have worn in recent seasons. Or should that just be the Beavs?
All three uniforms to be worn by Oregon State this season will have the abbreviated nickname of the Beavers, “Beavs,” slapped across the front of the uniform just above the uniform number. The uniform set comes with a traditional white uniform and two solid-color combinations of black or orange to be worn at home. All three uniforms are topped with a black helmet with an orange stripe down the middle and the orange Beaver logo on the side of the helmets.
From top to bottom, these are fine looks for the Oregon State football program. And the different combinations that can be thrown together should keep things interesting and refreshing on a weekly basis for the program in the fall. The best combination may be one with the orange pants and black jersey. And although the only helmet shown off is the black helmet, never count Oregon State out from throwing in an alternate helmet at some point in time.
The internet was blazing with reactions to a poor showing by new Miami quarterback Tate Martell during a recent spring scrimmage, and it seemed as though we could be in for a sub-par follow-up as the Hurricanes closed out their spring with a scrimmage in Orlando. Martell was not one of the top two quarterbacks to start the spring game. N’Kosi Perry and Jarren Williams were the first passers to get some work in.
As the afternoon continued, however, Martell seemed to provide some highlights with his new teammates at Miami, suggesting there still could be a positive outlook moving forward for the Ohio State transfer. Martell ended the spring on a positive note by throwing for 154 yards and two touchdowns.
So maybe Martell just had a rough day in the previous scrimmage that was scrutinized heavily and maybe he showed to new Miami head coach Manny Diaz the ability to shrug that off his shoulder pads to come back strong the next time out. There could be some positive to be drawn from this performance, but whether that means Martell will elevate himself above Perry for the starting job is a bit of a reach right now.
With the spring in the books, Diaz and his staff will now be able to spend some time digging into everything that observed in the spring practices and scrimmages and determines what needs to be done in the summer leading up to the start of the new season. Martell is eligible to play for the Hurricanes this season after receiving approval from the NCAA for his waiver request after leaving Ohio State. Unlike some transfer quarterbacks, Martell didn’t walk into a spot where he is going to be given the starting job right away. If the spring is any indication, he needs to prove he is worthy of the starting job in Miami.