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Scoggins blog: Coaching carousel churns in college football

The calendar hasn’t even reached October and the firing season in college football already has begun.

LSU fired Les Miles after a loss to Auburn dropped the Tigers to 2-2. The timing caught some people by surprise but context offers clarity.

The school came close to firing Miles late last season reportedly at the urging of a group of powerful boosters. Miles survived that episode but he began this season on thin ice.

The 2-2 start coupled with an anemic offense caused LSU to make a move now. For all their talent, the Tigers are ranked 110th nationally in scoring offense.

LSU officials probably decided to fire Miles now to avoid a potential scenario in which his team gets on a roll, which would force the school to stick by him.

The early firing gives the school plenty of time to woo potential candidates behind the scenes. Two names that assuredly will receive plenty of attention: Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher (former LSU offensive coordinator) and Houston coach Tom Herman.


The coaching carousel in college football never seems to stop, or even slow down. The FBS level welcomed 28 new coaches this season.

According to the website, there were 94 coaching changes from the end of the 2012 season to the start of this season.

Miles and Florida International’s Ron Turner already have been fired with more undoubtedly to follow.


Speaking of coaching changes, former Gophers defensive coordinator Greg Hudson is getting another shot in that capacity at Notre Dame, his alma mater.

Hudson replaced Brian VanGorder, who was fired by Coach Brian Kelly after a stunning loss to Duke at home on Saturday.

The Fighting Irish are 101st in scoring defense and 103rd in total defense.

They had to make a move.

Hudson served as the Gopher defensive coordinator under Glen Mason. He held that same post at East Carolina and mostly recently Purdue.

Hudson was fired by Purdue after last season and was working as a defensive analyst for Kelly before being promoted.


Don’t see this too often: Clemson is a home underdog.

That illustrates the magnitude of Saturday’s marquee showdown with Louisville at Death Valley.

This game has everything -- Two Top-5 teams, Heisman Trophy candidates at quarterback (Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson), potential implications on the College Football Playoff.

The key matchup will be Louisville’s offense vs. Clemson’s defense.

Louisville leads the nation in scoring at 63.5 points per game. I double-checked. That’s not a misprint.

Clemson allows only 11.0 points per game, fifth nationally.

Here’s a video of Clemson’s stadium entrance to get you in the mood.


Chris Petersen is fast-tracking the Washington Huskies back to relevance. Some league observers picked the Huskies to win the Pac-12 North division after finishing 7-6 last season, Peterson’s second in charge.

Washington is 4-0 this season and ranked No. 10 nationally, but the schedule so far has been relatively soft – Rutgers, Idaho, Portland State and Arizona.

The real test comes Friday night when the Huskies host No. 7 Stanford. The Huskies have a chance to prove that they’re ready to return to national prominence with a win.


As I covered the Gophers-Colorado State game Saturday, my phone and twitter feed blew up from people who were watching my beloved Tennessee Vols host Florida. The responses started like this …

What’s wrong with your Vols? Good thing you’re not watching this. Please tell me you didn’t record this game.

To this …

OMG! Can you believe this? Congratulations!

Down 21-0, the Vols responded with one of the most dominating second-half performances you’ll see to win 38-28 and stop an 11-game losing streak to their rivals.

Yes, I sang Rocky Top a few times that night. My living room might have sounded like this.


The biggest surprise in college football might be Wisconsin. The Badgers began the season unranked, with questions at quarterback, a new defensive coordinator and a hellacious schedule.

The Badgers shot up to No. 8 in the polls this week after pounding Michigan State on the road 30-6, a win even more impressive than their season-opening victory over LSU at Lambeau Field.

The Badgers allow only 11.8 points per game under new coordinator Justin Wilcox. They’re seventh nationally in scoring defense, a formula that will win a lot of games.

That defense will be put to the test Saturday at Michigan, which is averaging 52.0 points per game, fourth highest nationally.


What has happened to once-mighty USC and Oregon?

The Trojans fell to 1-3 after a loss to Utah. The Ducks are 2-2 after losing at home to Colorado.

Those programs don’t strike fear in opponents like they did a few years ago.

“I’ve never been in a train wreck, but that’s probably what it would feel like,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said after the loss.

Good times.

Scoggins: Louisville's Jackson becomes talk of college football

On August 31, an article with my name attached to it that focused on pre-season Heisman Trophy candidates ended with this gem: “My list of five Heisman candidates this season is 100 percent can’t-miss (bet at your own risk, just in case).


Good thing I put that disclaimer in there. Looks like my streak of overlooking the eventual winner might remain intact.

Yes, the season is only three weeks old, but Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson has emerged as a Heisman frontrunner and the talk of college football in leading the Cardinals to No. 3 in the AP poll this week.

Jackson has simply been the best and most exciting player in college football the first month of the season.

He is averaging 459 yards of offense per game and has accounted for 18 touchdowns.

He has passed for 913 yards and eight touchdowns with only two interceptions. He also has rushed for 464 yards and 10 touchdowns.

He ranks second nationally in rushing and 19th in passing. Hard to be more dual threat than that.

 This isn’t a case of a player solely feasting on September weaklings in non-conference. Jackson ran circles around Florida State’s defense in a 63-20 victory on Saturday.

Jackson rushed for 146 yards and four touchdowns and passed for 216 yards and one touchdown.

His next big test comes Oct. 1 when Louisville plays at Clemson in a game that will have playoff implications.


Every coach in the nation should talk to their players about the proper to celebrate a touchdown. Some along these lines: DON’T DROP THE BALL BEFORE YOU CROSS THE GOAL LINE!

We saw that brain cramp happen twice over the weekend by Oklahoma and Cal players who inexplicably started to celebrate prematurely by dropping the ball short of the end zone.

Other players have made that same embarrassing gaffe in recent years. It’s maddening because it’s entirely preventable.

Here’s an idea: Hand the ball to the official in the end zone. And then celebrate with teammates.


If I were still an AP voter, I would put North Dakota State in my Top 25 poll. The Bison’s 23-21 victory at Iowa was no fluke.

NDSU was more physical along the lines, which doesn’t happen very often to Iowa.

The Bison play with supreme confidence, which they should, considering the remarkable success by their program.

Big Ten athletic directors agreed to stop scheduling FCS opponents moving forward. I’m guessing other conferences will avoid scheduling the Bison, as well, because they have won six consecutive games against FBS opponents.


Remember all the preseason talk about Ohio State being young and inexperienced after losing a boatload of starters on both sides? Yeah, never mind. The Buckeyes are scary good, again.


Former Gophers quarterback Philip Nelson, now the starter at East Carolina, ranks fifth nationally in passing at 365 yards per game. Nelson leads the nation in completion percentage at 78.9.


Oops: Notre Dame is 1-2 and realistically already out of playoff consideration, and matters got worse for head coach Brian Kelly.

A tweet imploring Kelly to fire defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder was “liked” by someone operating Kelly’s official twitter account.

Kelly explained to reporters that he has several people that monitor his account and that one of them inadvertently “liked” that tweet as they scrolled through mentions.

Notre Dame ranks 94th nationally in scoring defense and 102nd in total defense.

Safe bet that Kelly’s assistant no longer has access to his twitter account.


Tennessee has lost 11 consecutive meetings against rival Florida entering Saturday’s showdown in Knoxville. That’s not a misprint. Eleven …. consecutive …. games!

If the streak reaches 12, someone please check on me. Thanks in advance.


I thought Miami playing at Appalachian State potentially could be a trap game ripe for an upset, but first-year Mark Richt had his team mentally focused in a 45-10 rout.

The Hurricanes have crushed three inferior non-conference opponents to start the season. They have a bye this week before starting ACC play. Curious to see if they can sustain this early momentum under Richt, the former Georgia coach.


Wisconsin opened the season by defeating LSU at Lambeau Field. Tough opening opponent but now comes the hard part.

The Badgers begin Big Ten play Saturday at Michigan State to start a ridiculously challenging five-game stretch that goes thusly:

At Michigan State

At Michigan

Ohio State

At Iowa



Further proof that preseason rankings are pointless other than to create barstool conversation: Oklahoma.

The Sooners were ranked No. 3 in the preseason and a trendy pick to make the four-team playoff (including by this dummy).

The Sooners fell to 1-2 after getting drilled by Ohio State at home on Saturday. Oklahoma looked out-classed by Houston in the opener, too.

The difference in speed and overall talent between Ohio State and Oklahoma was unmistakable.

TV Listings

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