2019-08-23 06:35

It feels like there has not gone much time by, but the reality is, the college football season 2019 is about to start!

The demanding project is a bit less demanding now, but can pick up speed again anytime.
I will try to make the stuff the best I can.
Again, I will pick 3 to 5 games each week to have a little preview and review on those.

It did again initiate a College Football Pick’em at ESPN, and Peter did offer a 3 month free supporter account for the winner! More on that in the forum, see link down below. It starts not upcoming weekend (which is week 0), but in week 1, so still time to sign up and play.
College Football Pick’em 2019

We have of cause a Week Zero start, again and this season it features only 2 games, but I love the pairings.

Remember, Week Zero started with the Cal vs Hawaii game in Australia in 2016 and since then did Hawaii schedule each season a game.
All other teams this season never had a Week Zero game.

Before we start with the games, some news from the college front.

27 teams do have a different coach than they had end of the season 2018.
Some of those changes were cascade effects when high values coaches did change to other high value programs and those teams they left pick a new coach and that team did have to pick a coach and so on.
One of the biggest hires was Kansas getting former LSU HC Les Miles to get the Jayhawks out of the pit it is in since seasons. Miles was let go at LSU because he did not win the big games, but he was a good coach.
Charlotte got Will Healy as new coach. The old one had the team with a 5-7 record on his last season, but that was not enough to secure his job. Healy comes from FCS team Austin Peay, where he had 1 great season in 2017 (8-4), but his 2018 season was not that good (5-6), but he still got the job.
UMass did part ways with their long time coach on officially mutual agreement (after 11 seasons). The Minutemen are so far not on a level the university did want it to be, when it was moved from FCS to FBS. No Conference affiliation so far and their record is 16 wins in 5 seasons in FBS. Walt Bell is a young new HC, formerly OC of Florida State, Maryland and Arkansas State in the past few seasons. He will have a tough job ahead of him, in which UMass likely can only lose. If Bell wins fast and much, he will be likely off to a better program fast, if he loses, well then UMass does still lose. But I guess at least 2-3 season we will see, what Bell can do.
Central Michigan hired former Florida Gators HC Jim McElwain, which is huge for the program. Last season he was WR coach at Michigan, and prior to Florida he did boost Colorado State as HC. So this HC position is the smallest one he ever had. Could be he is looking for a reboot, or a retirement program. Anyway, it should help CMU at least for now.
The next big fish announced to get a new gig was Mack Brown, former HC of the Texas Longhorns, coming out of 5 years of retirement to lead once again North Carolina, where he coached for 10 seasons and which did give him the Texas job in the 1st place. Of cause many Tar Heels fans are happy, just keep in mind that not all returns do work out perfectly. It's 20+ years since Mack left and that means he also got older. He did not leave Texas because he wanted to, right?
Texas Tech got rid of their former coach (now astonishing the HC of the Arizona Cardinals) and got Matt Wells, former HC of Utah State. He finished last season on a higher note with 10-2, but with no division or conference title involved. He will have to make the Red Raiders more competitive and get them out of the losing record / .500 area Kingsbury was not able to surpass often.
Since Wells bolted the Aggies for Texas Tech, they did hire as new HC their former HC Gary Anderson, who left the team to become the Wisconsin HC in 2013 Wells was his successor at that time). Anderson did bolt then Wisconsin for Oregon State and was last season assistant HC at rival Utah Utes. He inherits a good team, like Wells got from him when he left.
Western Kentucky did let their HC go after 2 season (he is now Utah States OC by the way) and hired Tyson Helton as new HC. Helton did serve as Tennessee OC last year and was also OC at WKU on 2014 and 2015 season. The Hilltoppers were very good in that time.
Bowling Green hired Scot Loeffler as new HC. He served in the past 5 seasons as OC for Virginia Tech and Boston College. I'm not sure what to expect from him, I guess expectations are high on him in such a small school.
After Paul Johnson did decide to call it a career, 11 seasons with Georgia Tech under his belt and several other schools before that, the Yellow Jackets needed a new guy and found him in former Temple HC Geoff Collins. The defense minder led Temple for just 2 seasons but got them on a winning record in both. It will be interesting to see, what they will do now at Georgia Tech, but I guess we will see a much more balanced offense and no longer a run-run-oh-wait-let's-run-offense as in the past 11+ years.
So, Temple needs a new HC and hired Rod Carey, former HC of the Northern Illinois Huskies since 2012. He won several titles with the team, including last season the MAC conference. A good hire I think.
And with that NIU needs a new HC and got it with Thomas Hammock. And if you think who that is, well, I had to look it up also. He served as RB-coach with the Baltimore Ravens since 2014 and had before that several college-teams as RB-coach also. So a big jump here, but he is still under 40 and can learn and gets a good team.
Next is Texas State in need for a new coach, since they fired their old one during the season. They did s e l e c t Jake Spavital, former OC of West Virginia and before that of Cal. He had a good QB under his wings the last 2 years at WV, so he should be able to develop something better than the Sun Belt average QB, which should help Texas State big time.
Kansas States Bill Snyder did call it a career at the program a 2nd time and this time it is very likely his last time, giving his age. The university did s e l e c t Chris Klieman, the former HC of the FCS program North Dakota State from 2014 to 2018, in which he won 4 National Titles in 5 seasons. We will see, how he will adjust to that FBS environment, but at least all signs do signal that Kansas State got a capable man. Whether the Wildcats will grow into a Big12 Competitor, who knows ...
Akron did hire Tom Arth as new HC to guide the program into next season. Arth was the last 2 seasons the HC of Chattanooga, a FCS program. Not sure the university did do the right thing with firing Terry Bowden after 1 setback season, but that is the business and we will see, whether Akron will drown back into the pits of FBS football, or Arth will keep them on that level they had the past few season or even will lift them up.
East Carolina did find a new HC in Mike Houston, who did lead The Citadel in 2014 and 2015 and since then James Madison as HC. He won 1 National Championship in 2016 (that one is missing at North Dakota State, who lost to James Madison in the semis) and lost the final in 2017. His program was a bit of in decline, so it's hard to tell, whether he did just cash in the success of his predecessor or whether that was his all alone.
Liberty, a quite new FBS team, did hire Hugh Freeze as new HC. Freeze was the Ole Miss HC from 2012 to 2016 and had basically 1 great season there and the rest was not good at all. He was let go after a 0-7 start in 2016 and during his time at Ole Miss there were also several violations of NCAA rules. He has some serious health problems right now.
Urban Meyer did call it a career again, this time at Ohio State, and the team got Ryan Day as new HC. He was the OC of the Buckeyes the last 2 seasons and did also serve as interims HC when Meyer had to sit out 3 games because of Meyers issues with the domestic violence case of one of his assistants. Likely he will not miss a beat but he is not Urban Meyer, so only time will tell, whether Ohio State did the right thing. It is at least a reasonable move. Day would have become a HC at some other major program anyway in the next few seasons.
Louisville got Scott Satterfield as new HC, the former Appalachian State HC. In 6 seasons with the Mountaineers he won 51 games, moved to FBS with the team, won 3 conference championships in the Sun Belt and won all 3 Bowls, which is good as Sun Belt team. A big jump from the Sun Belt to the ACC.
In that turn did Appalachian State s e l e c t Eliah Drinkwitz as new HC. Drinkwitz did serve as OC at NC State the past 3 seasons and before that at Boise State for 1 season.
Maryland got their business hopefully taken care off by hiring Michael Locksley, who did serve as Alabama OC (within that complicated Alabama coaching structure) the last 2 seasons. Maryland had some serious trouble with the death of an OL last season and with some sort of 'environment of fear' allegations.
Colorado got inpatient last season with their former HC and did fire him in a down season. Next guy for 2019 is Mel Tucker, who was Georgias DC in the last 3 seasons. He also served as assistant HC for several teams in the past, including NFL teams, so he will be likely OK with the job. Whether he will bring Colorado back to glory is a different story.
One of the most surprising changes was the leave of Dana Holgorsen at West Virginia to guide from this season on Houston. If someone is leaving a power 5 conference team to lead a non-power 5 team, it should be alarming. Fine, Houston did himself develop into some bigger team inside the non-power 5 conferences but still, Houston has almost zero chance to win a national championship, while West Virginia as Big12 team would get a shot if they play perfect or almost perfect. Great hire for Houston, for sure.
And since Holgorsen did leave West Virginia, they did need of cause also a new HC and selected Neal Brown, the former HC of Troy since 2015.
He was very successful at Troy, won a conference and a division championship and won a lot of games. It's a big jump to coach a Big12 team from the Sun Belt, but only time will tell, how he will manage that. All signs are positive right now.
Which made Troy a team in search for a HC and they selected Chip Lindsey, who was the Auburn OC in the past 2 years.
The next change does almost seem to be like a soap opera. Manny Diaz was the DC of the Miami Hurricanes for the last 3 seasons. Then, when Temple lost their HC to Georgia Tech, they did not look around long and hired Diaz as new HC. A week later did Mark Richt, the HC of the Hurricanes decide to call it a career and quit, leaving Miami behind when many of the promising HC candidates were already on other teams. But Miami did pull some strings and Diaz decided to leave Temple after that 1 week (and left them with the HC search problem) and return to Miami as HC. Not sure whether he will be a good HC, but his defenses was great in the past seasons.
Also with a new coach is Coastal Carolina, a quite new team in the FBS. Their last coach, how did guide them from FCS to FBS, did retire, which opened the door for Jamey Chadwell, the Coastal Carolina OC the past 2 seasons, who also served as interims HC in 2017 when the HC was on medical leave. Chadwell was also several times already a HC on different teams in FCS or lower since 2009. He is in his mid 40s only, so he will likely push his career further.

Teams realignments:
Nothing happened this season with immediate impact, but for next season there might big a new problem. The university of Connecticut does leave The American Conference after this season and will participate in the Big East Conference from 2020 onwards. The problem here is, that the Big East does not support Football. So UConn will become likely an independent team in 2020 and The American will have only 11 teams left. It is at least plausible that the conference will try to invite another team into the conference, and it is open which team this will be.
I think it is safe to say that no power 5 conference team will join, so that leave teams from all other conferences and the independent teams, except Notre Dame, UConn and likely also BYU.
This could lead to another cascade of conference realignments, or not.

That's it for now, I spare you the gossip inside the FBS, so much nonsense happening that it's hard to tell what might be important and what not.
A general trend seems to be that more players are transferring during their playing career and that they do enjoy more freedom doing so.
And it also seems that the NCAA and the universities are in a defensive battle over player compensation.
It will likely need some time, but I think we will see it happen, that college players will get real dollars for playing.
Whether this will happen in a short or long period of time is speculation.
Right now there is just momentum and political will building up.
The law side effects would be huge, and the competition side effects would be even bigger.

Let's have a look at the upcoming week zero games.


Sat. Aug 24
Miami vs #8 Florida
The season starts with a big one.
A rivalry game is always a good thing and these 2 teams have some history.
They did meet first in 1938 (Miami won) and played against each other the last time in 2013 (Miami won).
Overall they did play against each other 55 times so far and Miami does lead by 3 wins.
Since 2002 this is part of the Florida Cup in which both teams and Florida State have to participate to make it count.
Since all 3 teams do play in different conferences, it not hard to see that this does not happen that often.
Of the 5 times the circumstances were that way, 3 times did Miami win (2002, 2003 and 2004) and Florida won once (2008) and Florida State won once (2013).
The last 2 time the winner of this cup won the National Championship.
THIS season another Florida Cup is on it's way, starting with THIS game.
The stakes are high.
Florida is in their 2nd season under Dan Mullen. The former HC of Mississippi State did not lose man games in his 1st season in Gainesville, Florida.
He won 10 of 13 and even the losses were not always against stronger teams, they did finish the season strong with a Bowl win against Michigan and a 4-game winning streak.
This season the expectations are of cause higher, Mullen was hired to do the same magic as he did with MSU, but with Florida resources, which does likely in many minds translate into CHAMPIONSHIPS.
Of cause there are the other competitors inside the SEC and on national area, so they will have to play strong throughout the season to get into the playoffs, starting with this game here.
The good news is, the Hurricanes got a new HC this season which is usually a time of change, often a small (or big) setback.
The bad news is, that Manny Diaz was the DC of Miami the past few seasons and did not only build the strong part of this team, he also knows the teams inside out.
He did spoil Temple in an unusual move and left the team 1 week after his hire to become the new HC of Miami, which does of cause thinks also in terms of competition, growth and becoming THE U again.
It's Diaz 1st assignment as HC, so maybe he will have some growing pains, but maybe he will just shift gears and get into full speed.
This game is played on neutral site in the Citrus Bowl (now officially named Camping World Stadium, and the game is named officially Camping World Kickoff).
So no home advantage for both teams.
Florida is a 7.0-point favorite to win this game, which is a quite high line for a rivalry game on day zero of the season.
Likely this will come down to the question who is ready to play on that 1st game.
It happens quite often that a team does drop the season opener as favorite, because the players and eventually also the coaches are not ready.
I can't tell how Diaz will perform, since this is his 1st season as HC, but Mullen did lose only 2 games in 10 seasons on the 1st day.
But to be fair, most of those 10 games were against less strong conference teams or even FCS teams.
He did lose against a ranked Oklahoma State teams once and also against South Alabama, once.
This game is something different and new for both coaches, the intensity and the importance is significant.
All indicators do point for Mullen, but I think this will be close, very close.
Still, Gators win.

Arizona @ Hawaii
And the 2nd game of the day does feature Hawaii to secure the streak since 2016.
Hawaii lost in 2016, but won in 2017 and 2018, but both games did not feature a power5 conference team.
Let's start with Hawaii.
Nick Rolovich is in his 4th season with the team and did so far turn the team from constant loser into a winning team, although his results were mixed.
He started 7-7, went 3-9 and got 8-6 last season.
Hawaii can play 13 regular season games, if they want, and if the play in a bowl they get even 14 games.
This season a lot can happen, but likely the will finish in mid level area inside the Mountain West Conference.
They lack some returning players to really make a push, but eventually they outperform my prediction and will play for the MWC Championship.
Arizona on the other hand had a disappointing season last year under new HC Kevin Sumlin, the former Texas A&M HC.
The team finished 5-7 in his 1st season and if this will not improve fast, he will be a former HC again.
You don't hire a former SEC HC to win 5 games.
I think the expectations are at least to win 6+ games for a bowl spot and to win the rivalry game against Arizona State.
That would be a trend upward (not enough in my books, but likely enough in Arizona).
But most important he needs to win the cupcake games and some Rainbow Warriors fans might not want to hear this, but that game on Hawaii is such a game.
Hawaii is far from being a powerhouse and does not even challenge the best teams inside their division or conference, so it is hard to see them challenging a mid-level PAC 12 team.
No wonder the line for the game here is -11.5 for Arizona.
I think the Warriors do only stand a chance if the Wildcats get lost in the travel stress and the season opener hectic.
Off all scenarios is can only see a total failure by Arizona to bring Hawaii the win.
Even a not 100% playing Wildcats teams should be able to overcome Hawaii, even on home field.
With Sumlin at the helm I do expect the team to be ready and play this game at 100%, which should make this game eventually entertaining, but predictable.
Wildcats win.

'Til next time

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