The first full Saturday of the 2019 college football season is over.
Each Sunday, after the craziness of the day is over, you will get the big-picture storylines and videos of eye-catching plays from the colorful world of college football.
What stood out in Week 1? Prominent programs, including those in the SEC, took gut-punches right out of the gate.
South Carolina was favored by 12.5 points to beat North Carolina. The Gamecocks lost.
Missouri was favored by 16 points over Wyoming. The Tigers lost.
Ole Miss converted only one third down (imagine a CFL team converting only one SECOND down in a game) and lost to Memphis, scoring only 10 points.
Those losses were all bad for obvious reasons… but none of them approached Tennessee losing at home as a 25-point favorite to Georgia State of the small-fry Sun Belt Conference.
— GSU Football (@GeorgiaStateFB) September 1, 2019
The Volunteers have a second-year head coach, Jeremy Pruitt. Head coaches get a grace period in Year 1 if they are clearly inheriting a rebuilding situation, as Pruitt did last year. The second year for a head coach in a rebuild needs to show clear progress from the first year. If the program stagnates, the third season is a make-or-break year for the coach.
If the program REGRESSES in Year 2, a firing won’t necessarily happen, but it will often be considered.
Losing at home as a 25-point favorite in Week 1 of a second season is how a coach gets fired quickly.
Tennessee, if you didn’t already know, hasn’t won the SEC championship since 1998. The Vols haven’t won a conference title this century. Tennessee keeps cycling through coaches, and none of them have provided the answer.
Various SEC programs are hurting, but none more than the one in Knoxville, Tennessee. The “Big Orange” got squeezed by Georgia State, which is why the winning coach (Shawn Elliott) got drenched by a Gatorade barrel in the cover image for this story.
There are other programs in situations similar to Tennessee’s. Like the Vols, UCLA and Nebraska also have a lot of tradition and prestige, but they have not won a conference title this century. Nebraska’s last Big 12 Conference title came in 1999. UCLA’s last Pac-12 (formerly Pac-10) Conference title came in 1998.
All three programs are stuck in the muck, and Week 1 did not do much to change that reality.
Nebraska did beat South Alabama, but of its five touchdowns, only TWO were scored by the offense. The Cornhuskers needed a pick-six, a fumble return for a touchdown, and a kick return for a touchdown. Scoring 14 offensive points against South Alabama at home? Oy. That’s alarming.
At least Nebraska won, though.
UCLA and coach Chip Kelly could not do much of anything on offense against Cincinnati. UCLA might have a decent defense, but this feels like a team which will finish with a losing record for a second straight season. UCLA cannot accept that. Kelly has a lot of work to do.
Crisis programs aren’t limited to the SEC. The same state of play extends to UCLA (Pac-12) and Nebraska (Big Ten). Florida State (lost at home to Boise State after leading by 18 points) and Virginia Tech (lost to Boston College), both in the Atlantic Coast Conference, are also immersed in a world of hurt.
Crisis is not too extreme a word for those schools and their head coaches.
Let’s give you some crazy plays for the week:
My goodness pic.twitter.com/VFpVZAb1ch
— Brooks Carter (@BrooksACarter) August 31, 2019
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) August 31, 2019
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) August 31, 2019
Yes, for this next video below: This really is a head coach having a hospital-style bed IN THE PRESS BOX, WHERE HE WAS COACHING HIS TEAM.
Liberty University head coach Hugh Freeze guided his team with a headset and microphone from a hospital bed and signaled to Syracuse University head coach Dino Babers after Syracuse’s win:
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) September 1, 2019
What a world. What a sport. College football.
It is only Week 1, with Houston-Oklahoma on Sunday and Notre Dame-Louisville on Monday.