Forty names, games, teams and details making news in college football (offensive coordinators are sold separately in the Mountain West, where two have already been fired this season):
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We’ve reached the heady part of the season – the tempers are getting shorter, the lines are getting easier to catch, everyone’s a little more captive. We’re in the conference game, and there’s a lot on the line, including seven-figure jobs (see Dash First Quarter for details on that). It’s time for frat fights in the stands in mississippi (21)and it’s time for the coaches to go crazy.
We had the undercard match on Saturday, leading up to the headline showdown this week. We had Ryan Day vs. Greg Schiano (22) in Fake Punt Fury at the Horseshoe. Days Ohio State The team led in all the judges’ scores and also on the scoreboard, 49–10, in the fourth quarter. That’s when punter Jesse Mirco called his own number on a fake free kick, running for first. Given the score, this was not accepted by Rutgersand return man Aron Cruickshank was living Mirco after he had already gone out of bounds.
That resulted in an ejection for Cruickshank, followed by Schiano running across the field to exchange angry words and shake the finger at Day. The two, who worked together under Urban Meyer at Ohio State, had to be separated and both were assessed unsportsmanlike conduct penalties of their own.
To the dismay of many rubbers, the two appeared to cool off and smooth it over after the game. But Ohio State’s football Twitter account got in one last look, sending out a tweet touting Mirco as the game’s special teams player.
Now, the main event: Nick Saban vs. Jimbo Fisher (23). The verbal sparring in May was epic — the Alabama coach coming out unexpectedly swinging at Fisher and Texas A&M because he allegedly “bought all the players on their team” and Jimbo is hitting hard.
“Some people think he’s God,” Fisher replied. “Go dig how God made his deal. you may learn about a man many things you don’t want to know. We are building him to be the czar of football. Go dig into his past.”
The whole thing fell apart when the two got together and pretended nothing ever happened at the SEC spring meetings, but that bell can’t help but ring. The Aggies visit Tuscaloosa on Saturday. They don’t look like a team ready to shock the world coming off a loss to Mississippi State, but they did come off a loss to the Bulldogs last year when they took down the Crimson Tide in College Station. And Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young’s availability is in question after a shoulder injury.
Regardless, Saban breathed fire on the media in his Monday press conference, talking about “rat poison” and generally trying to attack any apparent overconfidence that may surround (or even permeate) his team. Bama is favored by 24 points, but the coach clearly wants his team locked in. If the tide is too high late in the game, how Saban handles the extra point attempt may be a truer indication of how he feels about Fisher than any of the conciliatory rhetoric from the offseason.
The other quality coach struggles to come this season:
Jim Harbaugh vs. Ryan Day (24). The Michigan–Ohio State The game is always loaded with emotional baggage, but it got a boost last November when Harbaugh made a comment after finally beating the Buckeyes that has resonated ever since. “Sometimes there are people who stand on third base and think they’ve hit a triple,” he said. “But they didn’t.” This was an obvious reference to Day landing a job at Cadillac at the age of 39 with no prior head-coaching experience.
Harbaugh was asked about the third baseman’s comment at Big Ten media days in July. His response: “I have no comment on this at this time.” Rest assured, others will comment as this year’s game approaches.
We need more. A list of coach matches The Dash would like to see:
Mike Leach vs. Lane Kiffin (25). Two wise guys and gunslingers who get along too well to be on opposite sides of one of the fiercest rivalries in the country. The Egg Bowl thrives on hate and we need the coaches Mississippi State and Mississippi to do their part to feed the beast. The Egg Bowl will be played in Oxford on November 24th.
Brian Kelly vs. Billy Napier (26). This has to happen, right? LSU and Florida they’ve fought up a hurricane and played some wild, weird games against each other. Why shouldn’t coaches have fuss and fights too? Napier was interested in the LSU job, but he couldn’t get a sniff — and the sport is better when the Florida coach tweaks his opponent anyway. Kelly often needs someone to get mad at. LSU plays at Florida Oct. 15.
Mike Gundy vs. Anybody (27). The Oklahoma State the trainer and self-proclaimed expert on all things is aggressive enough on his own, but he needs a dance partner. Oklahoma’s Brent Venables is the obvious choice, but he may not opt to commit.
Gundy did his part last month to (correctly) lay the blame for the end of the Bedlam series rivalry at the feet of the Sooners. His comment: “Bedlam is history. we all know this. We knew this because OU chose to follow Texas and the money to the SEC. It’s okay Well now we’re having, in my opinion, childish discussions, in my opinion, about something that has been done. And I would like to make this last statement that I have because I have no hard feelings. But what’s happening now is almost a husband and wife, or girlfriend and boyfriend situation, where you know you’re wrong and you’re trying to turn the tables and make them think they’re wrong, when the State of Oklahoma doesn’t has no part in it.” Venables responded without offering a personal view on the matter.
If anyone else in the Big 12 would like to step up and spar with Gundy, The Dash would appreciate it.
Kirby Smart vs. Josh Heupel (28). If Tennessee is really going to come back as a relative SEC power, it would be nice if Heupel could mix it up with the East Division’s 800-pound gorilla. There was some low-level chatter from Tennessee supporters about how Heupel should have won the coach of the year award over Smart last year — something no Volunteers coach has won since 1998 — but that’s about it. Maybe the NIL/collegiate landscape can cause some turmoil on the recruiting trail, like it did between Saban and Fisher. Or maybe if the Vols can threaten (or beat) the Bulldogs this year between the fences. The game is scheduled for November 5.
Pat Narduzzi vs. Mario Cristobal (29). There must be something here. Narduzzi will pop. Cristóbal has a chip on his shoulder. Pittsburgh and Miami they’ve played some entertaining games against each other in both the ACC and Big East, including two upsets by the Hurricanes in the past three seasons. The two finish the regular season in Miami on Nov. 26.
Chip Kelly vs. Lincoln Riley (30). Kelly is a smart New England moose who needs a foil. Riley isn’t too fond of that kind of crossfire, quietly offering nice comments about Kelly during the offseason. It might help if the two meet more often on the recruiting trail, but so far they haven’t done much cross-pollination in that area. (It’s admittedly early.) Kelly might have saved his job at UCLA by beating USC last year, and the two could be cooking when they meet later in the year if they continue on their current course. Their first matchup at their current positions is Nov. 19 in the Rose Bowl.
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