Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Interview with college football expert Joel Hammond

1. Did Brian Kelly make the right decision leaving Cincinnati?

No doubt about it. All those who claim “you can’t win in college football today with those academic standards” miss Weis’ brilliant recruiting in his tenure: You don’t get Jimmy Clausen, Golden Tate, Michael Floyd and the linebacker from Hawaii by accident.

Weis’ problem came in bravado, an inattention to defense and, plain and simply, poor coaching.

I didn’t see Kelly’s introductory news conference, but I’ve read snippets and reaction from fans. It instantly re-energized that program; hell, I wanted to drive over to South Bend and suit up. He’s already established in Ohio, and clearly recruited well to Cincinnati, a basketball school. What’s to stop him from continuing recruiting well at Notre Dame, with the mystique in place?
Kelly will be the man to turn that program around.

2. A MAC guy, Turner Gill, is taking over at Kansas. Do you think the MAC will always be a minor league training ground for big-time programs?

Undoubtedly. Like it or not, small schools, like Bowling Green, Northern Illinois and Central Michigan, to name a few, are unable to generate the amount of revenue necessary these days to compete in college football. I mention those three specifically because they’ve been the most successful MAC schools, and they’re still at the bottom of the food chain, paying their coaches some of the lowest salaries in the FBS. Without significantly more revenue, how can they compete?

If Turner Gill likes Buffalo (it’s really, really snowy there, so why he would I don’t know), he’d likely stay there if he was offered a job with a $10,000 raise. While I haven’t seen what Kansas is paying him, you can bet it’s a significant raise over what he was making at UB, and who could turn that down? Add in the egos that all these guys have — not always a bad thing, mind you — and you have a perfect storm: a better chance to make a national name for yourself and more money with which to do it. Who wouldn’t make the move?

That’s why I was confused by Urban Meyer’s move to Utah, at the time at least. I didn’t see the step up in that move, but he apparently saw something there — and give him credit, because he was right — that was going to offer him a better opportunity to establish himself than he did at Bowling Green. You’re not going to see BG or NIU or CMU coaches make lateral moves, but there always will be bigger schools with more cash looking for the next big thing.

3. Does Cincinnati have a shot at Florida?

There’s too much working against the Bearcats, I fear. Meyer has too much pride (and too big an ego) to become the next Oklahoma or Alabama, BCS schools disappointed to be in the bowl in which they played and subsequently lost to a lesser opponent. Add in Kelly leaving UC — though, admittedly, there is potential of a “see what you’re missing?!” performance from the Bearcats — and Tim Tebow’s last game, and I suspect this one won’t be close.

4. Who do you like in the title game?
I’m not breaking any news here, but this one could be a laugher. Texas has played exceedingly poorly lately, and given Alabama’s performance in big games against top opponents, I can’t imagine a scenario where the Crimson Tide loses. The wild card is the Colt McCoy/Jordan Shipley offensive combination: What happens if the Longhorns can jump ahead early? I don’t think Nick Saban wants to have to put the ball in Greg McElroy’s hands, though McElroy has played better as the season has gone on. But Saban most likely wants to ride Heisman winner Mark Ingram to the title, and he may have to abandon that if McCoy/Shipley catch fire early.

5. Of all the Heisman candidates, who has the best shot in the NFL?

Ndamukong (I had to look it up) Suh likely will go in the top three, so it’s him, but given the increased focus on running back depth in the NFL — the Redskins are on starter No. 5, who ruined one of my fantasy football playoff games this weekend — Toby Gerhart and Ingram could have a future. The questions, though: Is Gerhart even interested? He’s a good baseball player, smart as heck and might simply bypass the NFL to not risk injury. Has Ingram peaked too early? Just a sophomore, there’s a natural fear about too much tread on those tires.
Tebow will have a cup of coffee, and McCoy has a chance, but his stock is dropping and could even further if he plays poorly in the title game.
So it’s Suh, because he’s good but also be default.



At 8:38 AM , Blogger Joel said...

Expert? I think you have me confused with someone else.


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