Inside College Football: Handing out extensions to some deserving coaches

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The first half of the season was rife with strife if you were a coach on the hot seat.

Poor Charlie Strong’s situation blows hot and cold week-to-week. Mark Helfrich has to explain himself 1.5 years after playing for the national championship.

Brian Kelly probably isn’t going to get fired, but at 2-5,
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
‘s coach is within shouting distance of the Irish’s worst season ever (3-9, 2007).

You might have heard Les Miles is out of a job.

With that in mind, it’s a good time to go positive heading into the second half. Here’s 10 coaches who deserve an extension based on their first seven weeks of work in 2016.

Dave Doeren,
NC State Wolfpack
:
Doeren was within an excruciating missed field goal of a career-defining upset at
Clemson Tigers
. Still, the Wolfpack are 4-2 for the second time in three years under the fourth-year coach. After a regression back to 7-6 in 2015, things are trending up at NC State. Doeren is 11-8 since he got a 2015 extension through 2019.

Jim Grobe,
Baylor Bears
:
Grobie is the Big 12’s version of Ed Orgeron at LSU. As the Bears’ “acting coach,” it’s assumed he’s a placeholder for the next coach. (He probably is.) But as long as Baylor keeps winning, the 64-year-old has to be considered. I was told this week that athletic director Mack Rhoades may be targeting
Western Michigan Broncos
‘s P.J. Fleck and/or
North Carolina Tar Heels
‘s Larry Fedora.

Dana Holgorsen,
West Virginia Mountaineers
:
The coach and his AD, Shane Lyons, have been going back-and-forth on an extension. Holgorsen has only two years left after 2016. Don’t know how the coach recruits now or in the future without an extension ASAP, especially after a 5-0 start.

Mike Leach,
Washington State Cougars
:
Coming off a nine-win season, Leach has the Cougars (4-2) in contention in the Pac-12 North. Wazzu has already beaten
Stanford Cardinal
and
Oregon Ducks
for the first time in the season since 2003. It’s not much, but the Cougars are averaging 140 rushing yards per game. That’s the most in Leach’s 15-year head-coaching career.

Mike MacIntyre,
Colorado Buffaloes
:
MacIntyre should absolutely march into AD Rick George’s office and demand an extension past 2017. That’s when his current deal ends. There’s suddenly a future at CU, which is 5-2 and has a realistic shot at winning the Pac-12 South.

Mike Norvell,
Memphis Tigers
:
Fans and administration are absolutely thrilled with Norvell in his first season. The former
Arizona State Sun Devils
offensive coordinator has kept the momentum rolling from the Justin Fuente era with a 5-1 start. Norvell is in the first year of a five-year rollover, so he’s basically got a static buyout. But if there is any way for AD Tom Bowen to sweeten the deal, Norvell deserves it. Memphis remained relevant post-Fuente.

Chris Petersen,
Washington Huskies
:
In two-plus seasons, Pete has dragged U-Dub out of decades of mediocrity. Win out and they’re in the College Football Playoff. That’s the only program west of the Rockies that can say that.

Mike Riley,
Nebraska Cornhuskers
:
Riles has calmed the waters in second season with a spot in the top 10 at the halfway point. The Huskers are the sum of their parts — no real stars. That’s sort of the Nebraska way. Significant quote: “I want this to be my last job,” said Riley, who has three years left on his current deal.

Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M: Summy went from outhouse to penthouse in 10 months. He has taken a lot of you-know-what from critics. This would be a perfect time to ask for an extension for a guy who is halfway through a six-year, $30 million deal.

Willie Taggart,
South Florida Bulls
:
AD Mark Harlan made a wise investment when he extended Taggart through 2020 in December. Since the beginning of 2015, Taggart has a better record (14-6) than three coaches in the top 10 (Petersen, Riley,
Louisville Cardinals
‘s Bobby Petrino). At 6-1, the Bulls might be the best unranked team.


Final thoughts on Big 12 (non-)expansion: Having waited a day and taken a deep breath after the joke that was expansion, here goes …

* David Boren is the most divisive force in the history of the Big 12. The
Oklahoma Sooners
president is the one constant among presidents in the 20-year history of the league. That has been a detriment to the league’s image and future in 2016. The whole expansion process started with his “psychologically damaged” comment in June 2015.

Boren conveniently backed away from his expansion push when it became as Big 12 board chair he would be the guy at the podium announcing expansion was dead. In a decidedly red state, this former Democratic governor still wields tremendous influence. But his meddling in Big 12 athletics may contribute directly to the conference one day breaking up.

Let’s not forget Boren’s infamous “wallflower” statement in 2010 that eventually drove
Missouri Tigers
toward the SEC. You can read the details here.

The Big 12 acted on expansion largely because of Boren’s influence and whim. It turned out to be dead from the start. Boren realized that and did a disservice to the schools who applied for admission in good faith.


Iowa State Cyclones
AD Jamie Pollard basically confirmed the Boren influence during this radio interview.

* You probably missed a former member of the College Football Playoff committee advocating for UConn in the process. Former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese wrote this memo to Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby last month.

It is a compelling reason for UConn to join the league from a man who was once one of the most powerful persons in college sports. For Tranghese to reach out reflects how serious a lot of those thought the process was and also how it really wasn’t.


Halfway Heisman:

1.
Lamar Jackson
, Louisville: On pace for 60 total touchdowns. The next, latest unstoppable force in college football.

2.
Donnel Pumphrey
,
San Diego State Aztecs
: With 1,111 yards, on track to post the fifth-highest single-season rushing total.

3.
Jabrill Peppers
,
Michigan Wolverines
: The most versatile player in 30 years. At least.

4.
J.T. Barrett
,
Ohio State Buckeyes
: His legs alone have bailed out the Buckeyes a couple of times this season.

5.
Dalvin Cook
,
Florida State Seminoles
: Quietly rushed for 900 yards, 300 more yards in receptions.


My All-America team ballot after Week 7:

The CBS Sports college football team named our Midseason All-America team, which you can check out here. This is how I voted.

QB:
Lamar Jackson
, Louisville
RB: Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State
RB: Dalvin Cook, Florida State
WR:
Corey Davis
, Western Michigan
WR:
Mike Williams
, Clemson
TE:
Evan Engram
,
Ole Miss Rebels

C:
Pat Elflein
, Ohio State
OL:
Cody O’Connell
, Washington State
OL:
Roderick Johnson
, Florida State
OL:
Jay Guillermo
, Clemson
OL:
Geron Christian
, Louisville

DE:
Jonathan Allen
,
Alabama Crimson Tide

DE:
DeMarcus Walker
, Florida State
DT:
DeAngelo Brown
, Louisville
DT:
Carlos Watkins
, Clemson
LB: Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
LB:
Zach Cunningham
,
Vanderbilt Commodores

LB:
Reuben Foster
, Alabama
CB:
Minkah Fitzpatrick
, Alabama
CB:
Sidney Jones
, Washington
S:
Malik Hooker
, Ohio State
S: Adoree Jackson,
Southern California Trojans

K:
Zane Gonzalez
, Arizona State
P:
Mitch Wishnowsky
,
Utah Utes

KR:
Quadree Henderson
, Pitt
PR:
Eddie Jackson
, Alabama
AP:
Carlos Henderson
,
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs


Trophies for everyone:
Oklahoma State Cowboys
finally won a national championship last week that smacked of a first-grade youth soccer participation trophy.

Oh, you missed it? It only came 71 years late. The American Football Coaches Association awarded the program the 1945 national championship retroactively.

Army, it should be noted, is largely recognized as that year’s national champion. It finished No. 1 in what was previously the AP Top 20.

There may be more after-the-fact champions to come — maybe, randomly. Former AFCA executive director Grant Teaff assembled a “blue ribbon committee” to scour the years 1922-49. (The Coaches Poll started in 1950.) There was no particular need or mandate, just a desire by Teaff. Adding to the mystery, the AFCA plans to add champions randomly.

With all the compelling issues facing college football and the AFCA, why is there a compelling need to hand out titles like they were Pez?

“Why not?” Teaff said.

Because like those Pez, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. It’s also a way to make the AFCA feel relevant. The new “champions” get the old crystal football awarded during the BCS days.

“It’s a symbol and it’s popular,” Teaff said.

It’s also tired. There’s enough of controversy with the likes of Alabama and
Auburn Tigers
claiming faux titles before the wire-service era. We don’t need to add to the confusion.


Short gains:
Leonard Fournette
is healthy again at LSU. Let the speculation begin on whether a future high early-entry NFL draft pick should shut it down to preserve his body. Fournette has missed almost a month due to an ankle injury … Washington State’s offensive line is rated in the top 10 in five of the nine categories tracked by FootballOutsiders.com. Wait, who tracks offensive line stats, much less in nine categories? … If Arizona State is stealing signs, shouldn’t the Sun Devils, you know, be winning more games? Mike Leach raised the issue again regarding ASU this week. (Stealing signs, by the way, is legal.) … Seven Alabama defenders have touchdowns this season. Nine offensive players have scored either rushing or passing.



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