My Thoughts On the Post-Week 11 College Football Playoff Rankings

I agree with Georgia moving to #1 and Ohio State dropping to #2. I would have even done it a week ago. Georgia has defeated the #12 (Missouri) and #9 (Ole Miss) teams in back-to-back weeks. That carries more weight for me than Ohio State’s best wins (Notre Dame and Penn State).

I disagree with keeping Washington below Florida State at #4. After defeating then-#18 Utah, shutting them out in the 2nd Half, the Huskies deserved to move up. They have a slightly better strength of schedule and strength of record than Florida State. WTH? East Coast bias? Washington plays #11 Oregon State this weekend while Florida State plays FCS North Alabama. If both win and FSU stays at #4, the public is owed a detailed explanation as to why.

I still see 9 teams with a shot at the Top 4. Nos. 1-8, each of whom I think largely control their own destiny, and #10 Louisville, who I think would need a fair amount of help but do still have a path.

If We Had the 12-Team Playoff This Year

An Oregon-Oregon State matchup in Round 1? Count me in!!! That said, with three SEC teams in the same bracket, I could see them doing like the MBB tourney and slightly re-seeding teams for matchup purposes. [sigh]

Fire Up the Coaching Carousel

The wake of Week 11 saw 4 head coaches either fired or announced they will not return in 2024.

  • Jimbo Fisher – Texas A&M
  • Zach Arnett – Mississippi State
  • Andy Avalos – Boise State
  • Brady Hoke – San Diego State

It is also being reported on UCLA’s 247Sports site that Chip Kelly will be let go as soon as after the USC game this weekend, and if not then it would happen after the regular season finale against Cal. I won’t go into that much until I have better confirmation.

Interestingly, Texas A&M and Mississippi State played each other last Saturday. I wouldn’t begin to know where to research this, but it’s the only game I can recall where both head coaches were dismissed afterward. College football.

Obviously the Fisher firing has absorbed the most oxygen, as anyone with a $76.8M buyout would. Prior to that, the largest amount of dead money owed to a CFB coach was the $21.4M that Auburn is still paying Gus Malzahn. Since 2010 there has been over half a billion dollars in dead money paid or still owed to fired coaches. But remember, this isn’t a business. We’re all just here for the education and well-being of amateur student athletes, right?

The list of candidates to replace Fisher is now a big topic of conversation, as one would expect. Despite A&M’s lackluster on-field results, it is actually one of the premier head coaching jobs in college football. They obviously have the money, the infrastructure, the administrative and fan support; and if he did nothing else Fisher at least proved you can recruit elite talent there. They just haven’t hired the right head coach. Disagree with me? Well, think about where Georgia was before they hired Kirby Smart, and where they are now. Trust me, there are a slew of coaches out there who believe they can be Texas A&M’s Kirby Smart. This is a very desirable job.

As for the names we’re seeing, and at this point it’s purely assumptions, I’ll start with the long shots. I’d be shocked if it’s either of these guys; but hey, calling them doesn’t cost you anything.

    • Dan Campbell (Detroit Lions) – Yes, he’s an alum, but do we really think he’d leave Detroit now after what he’s been building and the fruit it’s beginning to bear?
    • Urban Meyer (TV Studio Analyst) – This might actually be the sort of gig that would lure him off the set of FOX, but I don’t think you want to go there with him now. He left Ohio State right before the new era of greater player empowerment (NIL + transfer portal) and given his performance in the NFL I’m not confident he’s ready to adapt.
    • Dan Lanning (Oregon) – There may well be a time and place Lanning would leave Oregon for, but that time isn’t now and that place isn’t Texas A&M. When asked about it this week Lanning gave one of the more convincing “I’m not leaving” speeches I’ve ever heard….so either he’s not going anywhere or he’s a very good liar.
    • Deion Sanders (Colorado) – Prime might be willing to listen to a pitch that returns him to his prior state of residence, where he’s obviously comfortable and familiar with the lay of the land. But like Meyer I’m not sure this is the direction A&M wants to go. Colorado was on board with the Prime aura because as much as they needed a better football team, they also needed people to pay attention and care about them. The Aggies are not in that situation, thus I’m not sure they’d be down for letting Deion do it his way.

Now the more realistic candidates.

    • Chris Klieman (Kansas State) – He’s won national titles at the FCS level and a conference title at the Power 5 level. I’d give him a shot to see if his ceiling is as high as the SEC.
    • Lance Leipold (Kansas) – Similar to Klieman, he’s won at multiple levels. As much as the word “culture” is badly overused these days, he’s built a good one at what was once of the most moribund programs in the sport.
    • Mike Elko (Duke, and former DC under Fisher) – This could be the move if A&M wants to try and keep as much talent currently on the roster from jumping in the portal, since Elko is a familiar face to many of the upperclassmen.
    • Jonathan Smith (Oregon State) – Have to respect what he’s built at Oregon State, which was in the dumps before he arrived. He’s been a West Coast guy all his life, so that might be a strike against him. Could be a name to watch if that UCLA job does in fact open up.
    • Jeff Traylor (UTSA) – Unlike Smith, Traylor is Texas through-and-through. His fast rise in San Antonio might have him ready for bigger things, though A&M might be too big right now.
    • Sherrone Moore (Michigan, DC) – If you want to look at top coordinators, this might be a good start. But I think A&M wants someone with head coaching experience. (and subbing in one game for a suspended Jim Harbaugh won’t cut it)

I’m sure there are plenty of other possibilities out there, and I’d even wager whomever is hired won’t be anyone I named above. I think this could be something akin to Lincoln Riley leaving Oklahoma for USC or Brian Kelly leaving Notre Dame for LSU, where all we can muster when we hear about it is a simple, “wow.”

The Real Champion of College Football is Billable Hours

On Tuesday a hearing for preliminary injunction took place in a small courtroom in rural Whitman County, WA. The Plaintiffs were Oregon State and Washington State, the defendants were the Pac-12, commissioner George Kliavkoff, with the University of Washington joining in to represent the interests of the 10 schools departing the conference next summer. At the heart of the case is who currently comprises the conference’s board of directors, and thus who controls the fate of the conference. Without going into details, it is clear there is a lot of mutual distrust between the departing 10 members and the remaining 2 right now.

To keep things brief, the judge’s decision was a win for Oregon State and Washington State that could enable them to have full control of Pac-12 assets, both present and future, that may ultimately be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Of course they are just as responsible for any liabilities too. The 10 departing members will appeal to the Washington Supreme Court, but I suspect no matter what comes of it we will begin to learn what OSU/WSU’s plan is for their future conference affiliation very soon.

About 2/3 of the way on the other side of the continent, a courtroom in Michigan will hear arguments on Friday from the University of Michigan and Jim Harbaugh for a temporary restraining order to prevent the Big Ten from enforcing a suspension of Harbaugh for the remainder of the regular season as punishment for the sign-stealing scandal. Michigan tried to get a TRO at the 11th-hour last Friday night so Harbaugh could be on the sideline to coach the Wolverines at Penn State, but a decision was postponed until a hearing could be held.

Harbaugh’s absence clearly didn’t seem to affect the Wolverines against PSU, and if he’s out Saturday at Maryland it won’t hurt them then either. Could it make a difference next week against Ohio State? I’ll ponder that more if and when we get there.

My Rankings


Week 12 Picks

Georgia at Tennessee (3:30pm ET, CBS, Line: Georgia -10)

I finally got on the right side of the ledger with a Georgia pick last week! Let’s see if I can keep the momentum going. The Bulldogs certainly have a ton of momentum of their own as they make the push to the postseason. Brock Bowers is back, Carson Beck has been efficient, and while their defense lacks the sort of game-wreckers we’ve seen in recent years the current group is still damn good. Meanwhile, the Vols just haven’t recaptured the magic they had going for them in 2022. QB Joe Milton hasn’t been the heir apparent to Hendon Hooker like everyone expected. The running game and defense are better than last year, but they just don’t have that explosive playmaking ability that really made the difference.

Pick: Georgia -10

Washington at Oregon State (7:30pm ET, ABC, Line: Oregon St -2.5)

Oregon State would love nothing more than to show the two main conspirators of the Pac-12’s implosion out the door. Here’s their chance. They have the Huskies this week and will be at Oregon next week. Win those and they likely get a rematch with Washington in the conference championship game. Along with their big win in court this week, it would be a huge measure of poetic justice for the Beavers to win the conference and keep both Oregon and Washington out of the playoff. But as well as they have played at home the past couple seasons, I’m not sure they can slow down Washington’s offense enough to get it done.

Pick: Washington +2.5 and S/U

Mike Lowe
Mike Lowe

College Football Analyst

Mike is a Baltimore native living in Portland, OR since 2007. He currently runs his own business specializing in video production and online marketing. Prior to that he was a legal technology consultant, worked for 9 years at Johns Hopkins University and served 6 years in the Air Force. He also enjoys travel, food, beer, and is a volunteer at the Oregon Humane Society.