Sure, we just experienced a wonderful Thanksgiving and a weekend full of awesome rivalry games (not THE rivalry game, but you know what I mean). Utah finished the regular season on a high note, posted their first ever winning record in Pac-12 play, and is most-likely headed to the Sun Bowl to play an ACC team. BYU pulled it off on the road at Cal and got a much-needed win over a team that Sonny Dykes will have rolling sooner than later. They’ll be in the Miami-Beach Bowl, a product of independence and their lackluster 4 game losing streak mid-season. All of these positives give way now to the uglier side of college football, where the rankings inevitably leave a deserving team out of a New Year’s Day Bowl -or in the case of this season- a coveted spot in the inaugural 4-team playoff. Conferences with championship games to play will throw their hands up and lament the inclusion of Baylor or TCU at the end of the day. Non-conference schedules will be analyzed and over-analyzed, fingers pointed…etc.
But the worst part of it all is the carousel. The infernal, incessant, win-at-all-costs, cutthroat business side of the college football landscape.
Hoke, Muschamp, Pelini, names of guys who are all good coaches at places where good is not nearly enough. Their names hardly matter. They have been and will continue to be compensated handsomely, through buyouts or new jobs.
Michigan, Florida, Nebraska; those are the titles that really matter. Programs with deep pockets and a booster base willing to win at seemingly any cost. They’ll swing their big swords and find the guy that fits best, providing high-paying, high-pressure opportunities to coaches who have either been climbing the ladder through mid-major ranks, or proving themselves at less-prestigious jobs within the same conference (i.e. Dan Mullen to Florida potential). Because the premium recruiting is such a big deal, and every week matters, new coaches in the big jobs will likely have to abandon their old jobs even before the bowl game, leaving their teams and players behind in the pursuit of a bigger, better deal. One certainly cannot begrudge anybody upward mobility in their profession, especially when those new jobs often come with a four-fold pay increase. Still, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that the turning of the coaching carousel is a reminder of the business side of the college football, and the headhunting athletic directors don’t care about leaving a program like say… Utah State… in the lurch. The ripple effect from just those three jobs I mentioned will be felt far and wide across the country. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Utah State and Utah both affected by the fallout in one way or another. Paychecks, contract negotiations, bowl games, transfers, coaching changes, the month of December is the worst part of the college season. Aggie and Ute fans need to put Matt Wells and Kalani Sitake staying put on their Christmas lists, because you never know.