There was only one really exciting matchup on the college football docket on Saturday, and Coastal Carolina-BYU, arranged at the last minute after the Chanticleers’ game against Liberty was canceled, lived up to having the College GameDay crew on hand in Myrtle Beach.
Why College GameDay is still taking its show on the road in the middle of a pandemic is a reasonable question to ask, but the game… oh, the game… what a game. The first half ended with an intercepted Hail Mary and a benches-clearing, baseball-style brawl, and the clash of unbeatens wound up coming down to the last play, with the Cougars coming up just shy of the winning touchdown.
Coastal Carolina is now 10-0, with wins over ranked BYU and Louisiana, but of course won’t sniff the College Football Playoff because the College Football Playoff is patriarchal bullshit designed to reinforce existing power structures and get hotel points for some old white dudes who also apparently don’t care that there’s a pandemic going on and they could do their meetings in any other format than in-person.
Like, what do they even have to do this week? Check the scores of the top teams.
No. 1 Alabama 55, LSU 17
No. 2 Notre Dame 45, Syracuse 21
No. 3 Clemson 45, Virginia Tech 10
No. 4 Ohio State 52, Michigan State 12
Before moving on from that combined 197-60 margin for the top four, check out DeVonta Smith, because, whoa.
There’s an obvious gap between the top 4 and the next couple of teams. No. 5 Texas A&M needed a 17-point fourth quarter to beat Auburn on Saturday, 31-20, while No. 6 Florida didn’t exactly dominate a dreadful Tennessee team, winning 31-19 in Knoxville.
No. 7 Cincinnati, undefeated at 8-0, didn’t play, and you can safely ignore No. 8 Georgia, the fourth-best team in the SEC. After that, you’ve got No. 9 Iowa State, which had early losses to good Louisiana and Oklahoma State teams, but now has five straight wins, including Saturday’s 42-6 pasting of West Virginia. And rounding out the top 10 is Miami, which has lost only to Clemson and spent Saturday night putting up a 48-0 road rout of Duke.
Even with a clear top four, it’s bonkers that two of the Power 5 conferences will be left out of the CFP, and as insulting as ever that going undefeated in another conference isn’t enough to warrant an invitation to the party.
But since everything about college football this year has been made up on the fly anyway, why not apply that to the playoff? Major League Baseball and the NFL expanded their postseasons this year, and while the NBA and NHL didn’t officially do so, they really did by having teams outside the top 16 in their truncated seasons as part of their bubble setups.
So, why not college football? Many of the minor bowl games already have been canceled, which means that we’re going to get less college football at the holidays than we ordinarily would, and there’s TV time to fill and money to be made. As much as this season shouldn’t be happening, they’ve gone all the way ahead with it, so why not finally do it right and have an eight-team playoff?
The selection process is just as easy with eight teams as it is with four. It’s Alabama, Notre Dame, Clemson, and Ohio State, then Texas A&M, Cincinnati, Iowa State, and Coastal Carolina.
Florida is out for having lost to Texas A&M. Georgia is out and Iowa State in because the Bulldogs aren’t close to the best team in their conference, and the Cyclones are tops in the Big 12. Undefeated teams make it. Where’s the Pac-12 in all this? Having all its teams ranked behind Coastal Carolina, pride of the Sun Belt, that’s where.
The added bonus of this plan is not having to play the rest of this stupid regular season, but if college football does insist on persisting for another couple of weeks, it’s certainly possible to make adjustments. Maybe Colorado or USC, the only remaining unbeaten teams in the Pac-12, where nobody has played more than five games, would warrant consideration. Who knows, it’s been a crazy year. Or Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss could mess up Jimbo Fisher’s life with the Aggies next week. Or Ohio State could lose to Michig—
—haha, this year’s crazy, but not that crazy.
Well outside of any playoff conversation, South Carolina is reportedly hiring Shane Beamer as its new head coach. It’s a departure from the Gamecocks’ last three coaching hires, as Lou Holtz, Steve Spurrier, and Will Muschamp all had previously been head coaches, while Beamer is merely the son of a longtime head coach, Frank Beamer, whom Shane played for at Virginia Tech in the late 1990s.
Will it work? Almost certainly not, at least by the standard of the Gamecocks becoming title contenders, but getting to an SEC title game for the first time since 2010 would be a decent long-term goal to set, and the East isn’t impossible.
Still, it’s not a place where success has been common. In the last half-century, the only South Carolina coaches who have even had winning records are Jim Carlen from 1975-81, Joe Morrison from 1983-88, and Spurrier from 2005-15. But it’s a smart move to change the direction of the program, and presumably, a cost-effective one given that Muschamp still is on the hook for $3.3 million a year not to coach. The problem for South Carolina is that if Beamer really is successful in this, his first head coaching job, he’ll quickly price himself out of Columbia. That’s the Catch-22 of where the program is and why their peak is generally the Outback Bowl.