BARNEStorming: Playoffs and other thoughts Around the College Football World
Of course, the statistic Ole Miss fans will remember at the end of 2020 is the Rebels’ 4-5 regular season record in the strange, abbreviated year. But, Ole Miss put up some gaudy numbers both as individuals and as a team this year.
Matt Corral ranked second nationally in total offense with 384.9 yards per game, just three yards behind the nation’s leader, Dillon Gabriel of Central Florida. Corral was also fifth nationally with 332.8 passing yards per game.
Elijah Moore led the college football in receiving yards per game with 149.1 and was also number one in the country with 10.8 receptions per game. He was second nationally with 1,193 receiving yards.
As a team, Ole Miss ranks third in total offense in the nation behind just Kent State and UCF. The Rebels are also sixth in the country in passing offense and sixth in passing efficiency. Ole Miss finished 13th in scoring.
EIGHT IS ENOUGH
Ohio State is in the college football playoff with just six wins. Should the Buckeyes win the title, they will do it with an 8-0 record.
Swinney, Smart & Saban among 7 coaches voting Ohio State outside Top 4 in USA Today coaches poll. Where they ranked OSU
11. Dabo Swinney, Clemson
6. Kirby Smart, Georgia
5. Nick Saban, Bama
5. Jamey Chadwell, Coastal
5. Butch Davis, FIU
5. Dana Dimel, UTEP
5. Gary Patterson, TCU
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) December 21, 2020
The last time a team won the national championship with eight wins was also Ohio State in 1969 when Woody Hayes’ team went 8-1. OSU was awarded the title by something called the Matthews’ Grid Rating. Another eight-win team won it all in 1961. Guess who? Yep, Ohio State. This time the Buckeyes went 8-0-1 and was crowned by the Football Writers Association of America and an entity simply called the “Polling System.”
The last team eight-win team to earn a national championship that was awarded by the Associated Press was the 1946 Notre Dame team that finished 8-0-1.
For those wondering which teams won the national title with the fewest wins, we must thank a gentleman name Parke H. Davis. In 1933, he started using statistics to pick the national champion retroactively from 1869-1932. He had six one-win teams take home the title. Princeton did it three times, with Harvard, Yale and Rutgers being awarded once.
Many fans think due to COVID-19, teams should get a pass for not playing a full schedule. This scenario has occurred before in America. In 1918 the United States was decimated by the Spanish Flu pandemic. That season, Michigan was named champion with a 5-0 record by two organizations, while Pitt at 4-1 was selected by three other groups.
The season before, Georgia Tech, led by John Heisman went 9-0 to win the championship.
In 1919, Texas A&M was a 10-0 champ, but shared the title with nine-win Notre Dame, Harvard and Centre along with Illinois at 6-1.
Does that mean college football gets back to somewhat normal in 2021?
A CROWDED PORTAL
Ole Miss signed 23 players on the early signing day and added two more before the period was over. Lane Kiffin said he wanted to save some room for players who have entered the transfer portal.
There is no lack of a pool of talent there.
An unofficial count has 630 players have put their names into the portal looking for a different college to take on their services. That is a lot of players and after the early signing day, not a bunch of spots for them to land.
In past 12 days, 190 players have now entered NCAA Transfer Portal. W/all players not losing year of eligibility, there could be massive roster issues nationally and/or a ton of players w/no where to transfer
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) December 14, 2020
By position, there are 67 quarterbacks, 51 running backs, 100 wide receivers, 17 tight ends, 70 offensive linemen, 94 defensive linemen, 81 linebackers, 129 defensive backs, five kickers, six punters, seven players regarded at athletes and even a long snapper.
In state, Ole Miss is only losing four players after Kiffin’s first season. Mike Leach has had ten players express their intent to leave Mississippi State and new Southern Miss coach Will Hall will not have a chance to coach seven Golden Eagles who are looking for a new home.
With all these players looking for new teams, the are competing for a finite number of FBS teams with available spots on their rosters.
That could be good news for FCS teams. Deion Sanders at Jackson State already has four players coming from the portal, each from an SEC school. One each will be coming from Missouri, Tennessee, South Carolina and the other from Mississippi State.
The South Carolina kid is not a shocker. It is Sanders’ son Shilo.
PAPA VAN ROSENBERG
LSU punter Zach Van Rosenberg had a great 2020 season averaging 43.95 yards per punt. He had 18 punts travel more than 50 yards and killed 27 inside the 20-yard line with only two touchbacks.
But the stat his is best known for is 30. As in he is 30-years old.
Van Rosenberg originally was going to play baseball at LSU coming out of Zachary High School, but the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted him in the sixth round of the 2009 major league baseball draft and he took the $1.2 million signing bonus and spurned the Bayou Bengals.
Zach Von Rosenberg was previously a professional pitcher in the Pittsburgh Pirates' organization, so he's no stranger to throwing balls accurately. If this were a movie, he'd take over as starting QB and LSU would win out, culminating in an NY6 bowl. https://t.co/VhEFiv3mdo
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) November 11, 2020
Although he was selected 46 spots ahead of future Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel, things did not work out for him in pro baseball. Injuries plagued him and he posted a 15-25 record in six minor-league seasons and he never rose about the High-A level. He retired and decided to walk on to the LSU football team.
Van Rosenberg’s left foot was good enough for him to punt for the Tigers for four years and since he has already earned his degree, it could be time to move on from Baton Rouge.
But imagine if he took advantage of the NCAA’s mandate during the COVID-19 crisis and returned for another season for the Tigers.
Next September 24, he could be a 31-year-old college football player and there have not been many of those.
ONE LAST TIME ON THE SOAPBOX ON THIS
A few years ago, Central Florida went unbeaten and almost did it again the next season and never came close to sniffing a spot in the college football playoff.
This year Cincinnati was snubbed – getting ranked behind two-loss Oklahoma — after going undefeated and winning the American Athletic Conference title. Coastal Carolina went undefeated and took a share of the Sun Belt championship after the title game with Louisiana had to be cancelled due to the virus.
Face facts. The playoff committee will NEVER allow a group of five team in the college football playoffs. So please, let’s let them have their own to determine the Group of Five National Champion.
This year the semifinals could be the undefeated Bearcats against Coastal and one-loss BYU, Louisiana or Liberty versus undefeated San Jose State.
Instead, Coastal Carolina will play in the Cure Bowl against Liberty, Louisiana gets Texas-San Antonio in the First Responder Bowl, BYU has UCF in the Boca Raton Bowl, San Jose State plays Ball State in the Arizona Bowl and Cincinnati gets the NCAA crumb of a New Year’s Six bid to play Georgia in the Peach Bowl.
A group of five playoff would be more compelling football
A CHRISTMAS WISH
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said last week if his team went to the Rose Bowl and the families of his players could not attend the game due to the local COVID-19 restrictions, his team just might boycott the semifinals of the college football playoff.
Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly about possibility competing in a @CFBPlayoff game w/no fans: “I’m not sure we’d play in the playoff if families can’t be there.”
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) December 18, 2020
The game was moved to Jerry World in Arlington, Texas, but I wish someone would have called Kelly’s bluff.
Does anyone actually think Notre Dame would let its coach walk away from the revenue and exposure the Irish would get by playing in that game? Come on.
If only the committee had decided to not put Notre Dame in the final four because it wasn’t sure it would play. Imagine Kelly explaining to his boss how his comment cost the school a shot at a national title.
The committee should have made Kelly put up or shut up.
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.