Saturday Football: Will Muschamp fired, unusual B1G suspects and uniform talk
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Good morning and happy Monday! The season is starting to hit its stretch run as we approach Thanksgiving. That also means rivalry games are going to be coming in a matter of weeks. But, for now, we still have a number of teams that have yet to reach the halfway points of their seasons. The football action continues!
In today’s newsletter, we’ll discuss South Carolina firing Will Muschamp, a pair of surprising Big Ten division leaders and some of the best uniforms we saw over the weekend. Let’s get started then, shall we?
Will Muschamp is out at South Carolina. What led to this decision and where do the Gamecocks turn next?
Sunday night saw some big news take place in the SEC. South Carolina and coach Will Muschamp have officially parted ways. After a 2-5 start to the season, the Gamecocks decided to bite the bullet on Muschamp’s big buyout and move on from the embattled coach. OC Mike Bobo will serve as the interim coach for the rest of the 2020 season.
So, what led to this decision on Sunday night? And, where do the Gamecocks go from here? Let’s take a look at this huge story out of the SEC East:
- The last game in the Muschamp era was an intense one. The Gamecocks’ defense was awful in a 59-42 loss at Ole Miss. Muschamp had one last sideline meltdown just before halftime. Saturday Down South’s Keith Farner wrote that it seemed like rock bottom for the Gamecocks’ defense. Indeed, that performance was likely the final straw for Muschamp. Media members reacted to the news of Muschamp’s firing shortly after it broke.
- Moving on from Muschamp won’t be cheap for South Carolina. Per some updated figures, the Gamecocks will have to pay Muschamp a $13.2 million buyout. That’s no small chunk of change during a pandemic. USA TODAY’s Dan Wolken notes that this will make Muschamp’s total buyout figures from his time at South Carolina and Florida at a hefty $21 million.
- So, who will the next head coach at South Carolina be? AD Ray Tanner and president Bob Caslen both issued statements on the Muschamp decision, saying the search for a new coach begins now. According to one of Saturday Down South writer Matt Hayes’s sources, Liberty coach Hugh Freeze tops South Carolina’s wish list. Coastal Carolina’s Jamey Chadwell is another name that has been thrown out there, but he had a hilarious response when asked about his interest in the job. Various other candidates, including Louisiana coach Billy Napier, have also emerged.
What’s Will Muschamp’s next job? Well, many folks on Twitter joked that he will be the next defensive analyst to make his way through Nick Saban’s coach image rehabilitation center at Alabama. A number of former head coaches have worked under Saban and gone on to land bigger jobs after a couple of years. Muschamp has already worked under Saban during their time at LSU, so it’s not that crazy of an idea. We’ll see what happens next, both with Muschamp and with the Gamecocks’ search.
KEY STAT LEADERS
The offensive numbers being put up across college football this year continue to be staggering. Florida QB Kyle Trask may have taken over as the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy with a 6-touchdown effort against Arkansas on Saturday night. But, there have also been some outstanding defensive performances in 2020.
So, who leads the nation in some key statistical categories? Here are the current FBS leaders in 9 categories, from passing yards to interceptions (via CFBStats.com):
- Passing yards: Shane Buechele, SMU — 2,781
- Passing TDs: Kyle Trask, Florida — 28
- Rushing yards: Breece Hall, Iowa State — 1,034
- Rushing TDs: Javonte Williams, North Carolina — 15
- Receiving yards: Elijah Moore, Ole Miss — 1,054
- Receiving TDs: Jaelon Darden, North Texas — 10
- Sacks: Patrick Johnson, Tulane — 10.0
- Tackles: Isaiah McDuffie, Boston College — 87
- Interceptions: Three players tied — 4
The Power 5 teams are starting to catch up with the Group of 5 teams in terms of games played, so we’re seeing more Power 5 athletes lead in these categories. Will that continue next week? Tune in next Monday to see how things look nationally.
- Even though the SEC had several games postponed this week, there was still some excitement around the conference. Saturday Down South’s Joe Cox power ranked each SEC squad after Week 8. Meanwhile, Saturday Tradition’s Jim Tomlin updated the Big Ten power rankings after Week 4 action.
- There are plenty of teams searching for answers after the weekend. From Virginia Tech to Penn State and others, there are several schools locked in a state of misery. USA TODAY’s Dan Wolken breaks down which schools are the most miserable at this point in the season.
- There were some performances worthy of standing ovations this weekend. Conversely, there were also plenty of games that left us scratching our heads, confused. Bleacher Report’s Joel Reuter named several winners and losers from the week.
- The Masters just wrapped up on Sunday afternoon. College GameDay was live from Augusta National on Saturday morning. There are plenty of crossovers between the college football and golf worlds. ESPN’s Chris Low and Mark Schlabach detailed several legendary CFB coaches and their experiences at Augusta.
UNUSUAL B1G SUSPECTS
There are unusual names atop the B1G division races. How good are Indiana and Northwestern after both starting 4-0?
It took four weeks, but there are clear leaders atop both the East and West divisions in the B1G in 2020. The names? Indiana and Northwestern. Those aren’t the programs you’d typically find in the No. 1 spots, but both are the only 4-0 teams in their respective divisions.
Sure, they’ve gotten some help. Ohio State’s game against Maryland was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns from within the Terrapins’ program, putting them a game behind the Hoosiers. Wisconsin missed two games (Nebraska and Purdue) with outbreak issues, as well. Let’s not ignore the 4-0 starts, though. Regardless of circumstances, that’s really impressive in 2020.
If the season ended today, Indiana and Northwestern would meet in Indianapolis for the B1G Championship Game. Can both teams continue down this path of victory? They both looked good in Week 4:
- Indiana doesn’t consider itself lucky. The Hoosiers pitched a shutout in their first game as a top 10 team in over 50 years, defeating Michigan State 24-0. The message in the locker room after the game was that days like Saturday “are the new normal.” There’s a real belief that Tom Allen has instilled in his players, and they’re completely bought in. That’s why, according to Saturday Tradition’s Ryan O’Gara, Indiana actually has a chance against Ohio State next weekend.
- This looks like the Northwestern of old. ESPN’s College GameDay crew summed it up perfectly, saying “This is a Pat Fitzgerald team,” on Saturday morning. Then, Northwestern went out and defeated Purdue 27-20 in West Lafayette to improve to 4-0. The Wildcats’ impressive second half shutout streak came to an end against the Boilermakers, but Northwestern held Purdue to just 2 total rushing yards for the game. Further evidence that the Wildcats are the real deal.
- Both teams are getting some respect nationally. Indiana and Northwestern both moved up in the latest Associated Press Poll and both have been listed on ESPN’s Playoff Predictor with an outside chance to make the field. That doesn’t happen too often (or at all) for either program. And, oddly enough, the Hoosiers and Wildcats get a chance to shock the world in Week 5. Indiana will play Ohio State in Columbus while Northwestern will host Wisconsin to try to keep their respective spots atop the divisions.
Regardless of how it all plays out, Indiana and Northwestern have been pleasant surprises in the B1G. And, both are certainly two of the best teams in the conference. If both continue to play this well, it could result in a Champions Week matchup, which would probably be an ideal way to close the season for Wildcats QB Peyton Ramsey, who transferred after three seasons at Indiana.
JUST FOR FUN
All 10 FBS conferences have now begun their 2020 football seasons, but not every team has picked up its first win as of this week. In fact, there are currently seven FBS squads that have played at least three games and have yet to win. For today’s quiz, can you name those seven winless squads? Bonus point if you can also name the school with the most losses of that bunch.
Scroll down for the answers to today’s quiz.
Even with all the postponements, there were plenty of great uniform combos this week. Who wore it best?
Yes, we had a ton of games either postponed or canceled this past week due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there was still plenty of college football action to be seen on Saturday. And, that meant many schools brought out their best when it came to uniforms.
From Boston College to Marshall to Kentucky, it was a great week for paying tribute. So, let’s take a look at some of the best combinations of the busy weekend:
- Let’s start at Boston College with the Eagles’ awesome look. Every year, Boston College picks one game as its “Red Bandanna” game. That was this week against Notre Dame. The Red Bandanna uniforms can be seen in the picture above. The uniforms honor former BC lacrosse player Welles Crowther, who heroically led dozens of people to safety during the Sept. 11 attacks and continued assisting until he lost his life. You can see more photos of the Eagles’ uniforms and also watch the powerful ESPN story on Crowther here. This is a special game to the Boston College family every year.
- Speaking of powerful tributes, we’ll head to Marshall next. The Thundering Herd honored the 50th anniversary of a devastating plane crash that killed 75 people — including 45 members of the Marshall squad — in 1970. As you can see here, they wore black uniforms and white helmets, with the number 75 in green on each helmet to honor the victims of that tragic crash.
- Next, let’s talk about the Kentucky Wildcats honoring John Schlarman. Sadly, the Wildcats’ OL coach passed away last week at the age of 45 after a 2-year battle with cancer. The Wildcats took a delay of game penalty on the first snap of the game (which Vanderbilt respectfully declined), leaving the left guard spot Schlarman manned during his playing days open. Then, on the next play, Kentucky LG Landon Young took the field wearing Schlarman’s old jersey No. 65. Powerful stuff.
- Finally, we’ll discuss a throwback uniform in the Big Ten. The Purdue Boilermakers decided to honor their 2000 Big Ten title-winning team that made it to the Rose Bowl (before losing to Washington). That team was led by a guy you may have heard of before — Drew Brees.
As we’ve seen often this year, this past week was a great one for uniforms. As we head down the stretch, the games will get more important. That means we should be seeing a continued run of unique and incredible uniform combinations. Check back next Monday to see who wore it best this coming week!
The seven FBS schools that have played at least three games and have yet to record their first victories are:
- Louisiana-Monroe: 0-8
- Kansas: 0-6
- Vanderbilt: 0-6
- Penn State: 0-4
- Utah State: 0-4
- FIU: 0-4
- UNLV: 0-3
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“This was once a coach that was respected, and now, sadly, Jim Harbaugh has become a punchline in college football. It’s almost impossible to watch this guy. He makes $8 million per year. He was the talk of the sport a couple of years ago. Now, no one really knows what the future looks like. It looks pretty grim if Michigan decides to fire him. A lot of people up there are saying, ‘We want to keep him.’ For what reason? I have no idea.”
– SEC Network host Paul Finebaum thinks it’s high time Michigan moved on from Jim Harbaugh.
TWEET OF THE DAY
Even the DirecTV guide had trouble drumming up excitement for Saturday’s matchup between winless Nebraska and Penn State squads. Nebraska managed to hold on for an ugly 30-23 win. Better to win ugly than lose ugly, though!