Thursday, December 7, 2017

Sportsyball: Tennessee Dumpster Fire Edition!

Adopt-A-Team: Well, good news is that Defensa y Justicia seems to be doing okay! We last checked in on October 13th and since then, we've had a loss to San Lorenzo, a draw with Olimpo and then four wins in a row, over Temperley, Lanus, Banfield and Godoy Cruz in that order. Right now, they're sitting at sixth place in the Super Liga Table. In short, for being where they are in the table, they seem to be doing what they should be doing at this point in the season. The draw with Olimpo (currently relegation bait along with Arsenal and Chacarita) is really the only bad result of the run. Yes, San Lorenzo thumped them pretty good, beating them 3-1, but San Lorenzo is second behind Boca Juniors in the table with an 11% chance to win the whole thing at this point in the season according to FiveThirtyEight anyway.

We'll see if they can keep it up, but it's somewhat heartening to know that apparently I'm not the kiss of death to whatever team I follow around for a season. (Weird side thought: I wonder if anyone broadcasts Superliga games in the US? Hmmmm...  might have to check into that.)

Coaching Carousel: With the college football season coming to an end, the coaching carousel began to turn almost immediately. In terms of major programs, this is what we started out with:

Oregon State: hired Washington OC and former Beaver QB Jonathan Smith. Everyone seems happy with this. 

Arizona State: fired Todd Graham with a ludicrous contract and are I guess going to hire Herm Edwards?

UCLA: hired Chip Kelly

Nebraska: unless Scott Frost goes to Florida State, should be hiring Scott Frost. If they don't, I have no idea what they're going to do, except possibly set the entire state on fire.

Arkansas: fired Brett Bielema and their AD, I've heard Mike Leach being mentioned for this job, but I've heard Mike Leach being mentioned for all the jobs at this point. (They hired SMU's Chad Morris, which seems like a good thing.)

Mississippi State: hired Penn State OC Joe Moorhead, which sparked a ton of Moor Cowbell billboards, which is kind of cool, but general opinion seems to be that Mississippi State made a really, really good hire.

Ole Miss: got some yummy NCAA sanctions and took the tag off their Interim HC to ride it out.

Texas A&M: lured Jimbo Fisher from Florida State for stupid amounts of money.

Florida: hired Dan Mullen away from Mississippi State- general consensus seems to be this was a good move for them.

Florida State: They got Willie Taggart from Oregon...

Tennessee: God Bless the Tennessee Volunteers...  I have absolutely no interest in the SEC and have zero connection to the program, but watching this flaming train wreck unfold on my Twitter feed has been the delight of my post-Thanksgiving existence. In the space of about a week and a half, they've attempted to hire Greg Schiano, David Cutcliffe, Mike Gundy, Jeff Brohm, Dave Doeren, Kevin Sumlin and Mike Leach before firing their Athletics Director John Currie and putting their Barry Alvarez/Tom Osbourne equivalent Phillip Fulmer in as the new AD. Guess what they still haven't done yet? Oh that's right...  hired a damn coach. (Though it sounds like as of this morning, they might have finally found their new Coach, bringing nearly two weeks of entertainment to an end.)

Hawkeye Football: So, it ended at 7-5. In general, against a brutal schedule, I'm okay with the results... I'd really like to win our Bowl match-up against Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl. Ferentz teams have, as a rule tended to peak in November- the good ones, anyway- so the offensive inconsistency/feast or famine aspect of their play was especially frustrating to deal with for some games. But on balance, do we have a lot to complain about? Not really. I had zero expectation for this season and it ended up being a winning one with flashes of brilliance and promise that could bode very well for the next couple of years. It's really hard for me to be upset about a winning season with a first year starting QB. We came close to beating Penn State. We thumped Ohio State and Nebraska. We kept Floyd at home by beating Minnesota and beat a legit good Iowa State team in Ames. Losing to Northwestern will always rankle me a bit, but the two losses that really stick in the craw are Wisconsin and Purdue, the latter more so than the former.

To me, we should have beaten Purdue and while it was probably a big ask to get two out of three between Penn State, Ohio State and Wisconsin, I feel like 66 yards of total offense was inexcusable as well. They should have been 8-4 this year. But given the questions on offense and defense and a new QB plus this schedule?  7-5 is just fine.

The whole question of Ferentz fatigue is starting to rear it's ugly head again, but given the Coaching Disaster unfolding at Tennessee and the bloodbath this year in general (there are a ton of openings this year) stability isn't something to sneer at it. I think Brian Ferentz has the opportunity to earn a shot at the top job when Kirk retires, but only if the next few seasons are consistently above average/meet expectations. Do I think Brian should be the automatic heir apparent? No, I don't... Iowa isn't the biggest job in college football, but it's not exactly the smallest job either and I'd be somewhat leery about handing the keys to someone with no actual head coaching experience. If Iowa's offense can buck trends and win a Big Ten Title or major bowl in the next five years, however, he's probably the next coach.

So, let's talk 2018 and make a stupid early prediction for next season:

Northern Illinois- W
Iowa State- L
Northern Iowa- W
Wisconsin- L
at Minnesota- W
at Indiana- W
Maryland- W
at Penn State- L
at Purdue- W
Northwestern- W
at Illinois- W
Nebraska- W

So, just going with my gut right now I have them at 9-3, but the non-conference isn't exactly easy next year. We can't come out flat against Northern Illinois or Northern Iowa or we'll get beaten. Iowa State I feel is due for a win at some point in the rivalry and it might be next year. It might not, but I feel like that one is probably going to be another overtime. They're going to be hungry and we have to be hungrier there. Wisconsin I just really really want us to get more than 66 yards against them at home. Minnesota and Indiana will not be walkovers, but I feel like those are winnable road games. I'm not sure how much Penn State has returning, but playing there is always tough. We better beat Purdue and Northwestern next year, especially the latter. Illinois... who knows and Nebraska will be in year one of a new Coach, so I feel good about that one as well. As always, I'll revisit these predictions close to the start of the actual season and reserve the right to change them.

(BTW: September next year is going to suck from a 'day job' point of view. Four home games in a row plus Iowa State and Wisconsin here? Ugh.)

COYG: Well, Arsenal is back in the top four and thanks to a delightful North London Derby victory over Spurs is above Tottenham in the table as well. Since we last checked in, this is what we have going on:

L to Watford
W over Red Star (Europa League)
W over Everton
W over Norwich City (League Cup)
W over Swansea City
D vs Red Star (Europa League)
L to Man City
W over Tottenham
L to FC Koln (Europa League)
W over Burnley
W over Huddersfield
L to Manchester United

Do I think Arsenal is going to catch Manchester City and win the League? At this point I'm not sure anyone will- do I think they have a shot to go deep/win in the Carabao Cup, Europa League and the FA Cup (whenever that gets going)? I do.  They've also made some interesting moves behind the scenes, bringing in Borussia Dortmund's chief scout Sven Mislintat and former director of football from FC Barcelona...  not sure what both of those hires mean quite yet in terms of on-field product, but everyone seems to be pretty stoked by them. (I really hope they can resign at least Mesut Ozil... Alexis is probably gone next summer though.)

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