It has been a while since the last time I got one of these mailbag posts together, so hopefully the wait was worth it. At this point in the college football season we are now starting to see which teams have a realistic shot to make a run to the first College Football Playoff, but there is still some uncertainty over which teams are going to be in at the end of the regular season. This is also the time of the year when some fans will begin to turn a page with their favorite programs, wondering what coaching changes could be coming and so much more.
I asked for your questions and a small handful of you delivered this week. Remember you can submit your questions for an upcoming mailbag post at any time via email, Ask.FM, Twitter or Facebook. There wasn’t much to choose from on the Twitter or Facebook machines this time, so I had to go with whatever made its way through the inbox. Here’s what was sent in by a few of you readers.
Brady Hoke’s gotta be done at Michigan this year, right? – Derrick C., Livonia, Michigan
I just cannot envision anything that saves Hoke’s job at this point outside of running the table the rest of the way this season. Let’s be real here, this is not going to happen. Michigan has three games remaining this season, the third coming at Ohio State. Michigan needs two more wins in order to become bowl eligible, and the last thing Hoke and the Wolverines would want is for the bowl eligibility clinching victory to have to come against the Buckeyes on the road. Even if Michigan manages to reach the postseason, I think the time is now to find a new leader for the Michigan football program. There are no real signs of progress being made at Michigan under Hoke, and a program like Michigan cannot afford to go this long without any progress being made.
The first question that needs to be answered in An Arbor is when will the school have a new athletics director hired? Second, will the university allow an interim athletics director to make a football coaching hire if a permanent AD is not placed within a certain amount of time? Penn State hired Bill O’Brien with an interim AD in place, so it is not exactly uncommon for this to occur, although it would likely be more ideal to have a new AD in place with the opportunity to make his or her own final decision on the football coach. Keep in mind the AD may be the one tied to a coaching hire, but there are plenty of other voices having a say in the decision at any university.
Whatever the case, Michigan will likely have a new coach in 2015.
Florida had a good win against Georgia this week and now somehow still have a shot at winning the SEC East. Has Will Muschamp done enough to keep his job? – Justin S., Queens, New York
Like Hoke at Michigan, Will Muschamp is in his fourth season in charge at Florida. Unlike Hoke, I think Muschamp now has a puncher’s chance at staying on the sidelines for the 2015 season in Gainesville. I still feel as though Florida will make a coaching change at the end of the season, but Muschamp might have a chance to save his job the next few weeks if Florida can finish strong. But first, forget about the SEC East. Yes, Florida can win the SEC East, but it is far too complicated to expect to unfold the way Florida would need it to play for the SEC championship. The Gators do have two conference games left, against Vanderbilt and South Carolina, and each appear to be games Florida is capable of winning. Do so and Florida will be bowl-eligible and should be sitting on seven wins when they head to Tallahassee to take on Florida State. And guess what. Florida State may be locked into a College Football Playoff spot by that time, but they are not invincible. If Florida wins the next three games and puts up a decent fight against Florida State, I think the Gators can go to the postseason with some optimism.
The only thing that could happen that I think guarantees Muschamp is back in 2015 would be winning at Florida State to end the regular season on a five-game winning streak heading into a bowl game. Has Muschamp done enough to save his job for 2015? He night be close, but there is still some work to be done. End the season on a relatively high note with signs of progress and development at quarterback with Treon Harris, and a case might be made to bring Muschamp back next year.
Is the SEC really going to get two teams into the College Football Playoff? They have had multiple teams in the top four each week of the new College Football Playoff rankings. – Jason M., Columbus, Ohio
I do not see it happening. I have released my own College Football Playoff projection a few times now, including a preseason projection, and not once have I included two teams from the same conference in my projected final four. I am not necessarily against the idea if we reach a point where a legitimate case can be made to include two teams from the same conference, or even the same division, but I think the SEC West will pick itself apart and only one team will rise from the rubble. Right now, I think Alabama will be that team.
When all is said and done, I believe Florida State will run the table to represent the ACC with one of the playoff spots. I have Oregon reaching the playoff out of the Pac-12 and I assume any SEC champion will end up being rewarded with one of the playoff spots. The fourth and final spot appears to be up for grabs between the Big Ten and Big 12, but Notre Dame could linger around long enough to make an argument. The only scenario in which I believe a second SEC team would get the fourth and final playoff spot ahead of a Big Ten champion, a Big 12 champion and a potentially 11-1 Notre Dame team is if Mississippi State goes undefeated and wins the SEC (13-0, giving them one playoff spot), and Auburn goes the rest of the season without a loss to end the year 11-1. Seeing Kansas State win the Big 12 would also give Auburn a strong case with a road victory in Manhatten earlier this season. But of course, as I have already stated, I have Alabama coming out of the SEC, which would include victories over both Mississippi State and Auburn this month.
So I do not think two teams from the SEC reach the playoff this season. I do believe, however, it could happen in the future and I would be OK with that in principle. I want the best teams to reach the playoffs, but I support the concept of rewarding conference champions regardless of conference affiliation if the race is tight between candidates. This is why we need an eight-team playoff (but don’t get me started on that one…).
Michigan State got passed by Kansas State in the latest College Football Playoff rankings. What if Sparty didn’t play Oregon this season, where would they be ranked? – Lawrence B., Mount Clemens, Michigan
This has been a popular question this week. Michigan State is sitting in eighth place in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, which has many wondering where the Spartans would be ranked if not for a road loss at Oregon. What if the Spartans played Toledo or a directional Michigan school instead? Or any other Group of Five school? It is absolutely a fair question to ask in light of the discussions about strength of schedule and non-conference scheduling. Given what we have seen from the selection committee’s rankings thus far, I think Michigan State could possibly be ranked third in the playoff rankings, behind undefeated Mississippi State and Florida State, but I am not sure that is a given. The committee has taken strength of schedule to heart, so I think a solid case could be made to have Michigan State as low as fifth, although a win against Nebraska is still on the schedule so I see no reason they would be any lower.
But forget about the Oregon game. What if the Oregon game was still on the schedule and Michigan State replaced Jacksonville State with another FBS opponent? Michigan State, TCU and Kansas State have all played one FCS opponent and lost one game. If the Spartans eliminated a FCS opponent and had one more FBS opponent on the schedule instead, would that be enough to put the Spartans in front of TCU and Kansas State right now? Yeah, I think so. TCU and Kansas State each lost to teams ranked outside the top 10, while Michigan State’s loss came against the fourth team in the latest rankings, on the road as well. Replace Jacksonville State with another team form the MAC or the American Athletic Conference and maybe, just maybe, Michigan State is a couple spots higher in the rankings today.
Now, some quick hits.
Who is your Heisman favorite at this point in the season? – Alvin S., Ocala, Florida
I’m leaning toward Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. Win this weekend at Utah and I think he will finish strong.
Should Stefon Diggs have been ejected from the Penn State game? – Michael Orr, Jeannette, Pennsylvania
I think so, considering Diggs looked to shove a Big Ten official in the face in the pregame scuffle with Penn State players after the teams took the field. Diggs was suspended for one game by the Big Ten, but he probably should have been ejected from the Penn State game.
Is Colorado State the best non-power conference team? Will they get the access bowl spot? – Steve L., Denver, Colorado
I think Colorado State is the best Group of Five school out there right now, but I think they ultimately get locked out under the structure in place. Boise State is standing in the way thanks to a head-to-head victory earlier this season, and I am not sure the Broncos lose any of their remaining games (but keep an eye on that Utah State game). Who ends up with the access bowl invite? I’m thinking Marshall has a shot at it now that East Carolina lost last week, but I think Boise State is gaining momentum at the right time. Give me another week or two to get a better idea of this one.
Thanks for all of your questions this week! Maybe we can try to do another mailbag next week, so fire away with your questions at any time! You can even leave a question for consideration in the comments section below.