Takeaways from college football weekend

Published 7:03 pm Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Takeaways from the College Football weekend ending October 23, 2021:

1. Like many of you, I am perfecting the art of watching both ESPN GameDay and SEC Nation on the SEC Network at the same time. It is virtual tailgating at its best. 

2. I agree with Kirk Herbstreit when he says that there doesn’t appear to be anyone who wants the Heisman Trophy this year. But here is the question: Did we even start with a good set of candidates? There are plenty of underperforming QBs (the sexy picks usually) according to sports writers, yet there are plenty of young men leading their teams well. What I love seeing is the kid, usually the second team QB, who answers the call when the team is struggling. Georgia, Oklahoma, and Troy have examples of this. For now, you have to like Bryce Young’s chances on sheer performance.

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3. Conference re-alignments continue to evolve and are the underlying story line as we reach the halfway point in the season. It is almost like these teams and conferences have their own version of the transfer portal, but they are moving whole athletic programs. The question might soon be the idea of a conference asking a program to vacate their conference to make room for another one. Does that sound crazy? Time will tell – so will the money.

4. Bill Walton, who was UCLA’s guest picker on GameDay this weekend, was hilarious and fantastic, but he is an acquired taste. If you read John Wooden’s biography, you will see that he was one of his most problematic players, but also one of his favorite players.

5. Best GameDay sign: “THE CLOSEST OREGON WILL EVER GET TO A RING” It shows a picture of Saban in the Aflac commercial sitting at his desk holding up his national championship rings next to the Aflac duck. Close second: “7,280 UNIFORMS, O CHAMPIONSHIPS”.

6. ESPN GameDay is obviously committed to bringing more attention to mental and behavioral health this season. What I love about this choice of theme is how they are choosing to focus on how the families have chosen to deal with the tragedy of suicide. There are plenty of directions a family can go in when dealing with suicide and the network has done a good job of showing the best direction – using it to bring more awareness and committing to helping others gain understanding. 

7. I love the parallels of the military and sports, particularly college football. Both are walking case studies of leadership and should be studied in college business schools across the country. Establishing a culture of excellence was my #1 priority each time I was in a command position. If you show me a successful military unit, I will show you a cultivating operating and command environment that is guided by discipline and a values-based philosophy of how to do things. The same applies to college football. You are working with motivated young men who are eager to serve and perform. There is no reason why LSU cannot compete for a national championship every single year, but here they are struggling for an identity. I think we will find that leadership (coaching) matters and LSU lacked that. You have to lead by example and Orgeron took his position for granted and lost his way. Hard to feel sorry for him though, with a $16.9 million buyout payable to him over the next 4 years.

8. Lane Kiffin coaches an Ole Miss team that will now be in the Top 10, but he knows he cannot win a championship there. We all know that it is not his final coaching job. LSU has the resources, has the fan base, and if they want him they will offer him the moon. Look a little further down the road and you have to feel that Arch Manning wants to blaze his own trail – would Kiffin to LSU be the ticket?

9. Alabama and its defense looks vulnerable to capable teams that execute offensively. But the Tide tends to do one thing well this season and that is control the ball and time of possession against teams that stress their defense. High tempo offenses cannot do anything when they are not on the field and you can also expect much emphasis on the secondary during their off week to figure out why they give up the big play more than they should. One reason might involve players not getting into position at the snap. LSU will not be an easy game – because its LSU. I predict that Bryce Young has a huge game and takes another step towards making this his team – with his legs and his arm.

10. I finally made an effort to intentionally watch the Cincinnati Bearcats, the #2 team in the nation, in action. They could not stop the Navy running game initially and they showed a weakness to the run in general, but most teams struggle against Navy for the first half.  The first thing you recognize with the Bearcats is their size, but do they have the talent and resilience to play a team full of 5-star athletes?

11. Penn State in white shoes and numbers on their helmets? What universe are we in now? I bet you never see them again after the Nittany Lions got beat by an unranked Illinois team in 9 (nine) overtimes.

12. Clemson goes down again and now the Big Bully of the ACC is officially being bullied. Teams aren’t even intimidated anymore and Dabo’s easy street to the CFP is now a gauntlet of survival. They are at the point now that recruiting will be affected. As I mentioned last week, the transfer portal might be Clemson’s friend in the offseason. 

13. The post game interview with Mississippi State HC Mike Leach was priceless. Instead of asking about the game, the reporter asks him his favorite and least favorite Halloween candy and Leach gives a dissertation about “candy innovation” and how and why he hates candy corn and loves gummy bears. Can you imagine how long his QB meetings are? It reminds me of the story ESPN ran about him and his infatuation with pirates and history in general. His office is even decorated in a pirate theme and is a popular place for fans and recruits to visit. We need more Mike Leachs. His autobiography is also an interesting read.

Chris Amos (chrisjamos42@gmail.com) is a native of Troy, a huge Atlanta Braves fan, and enjoys traveling with his family when he is not attending dance competitions and coaching baseball.