Three things nobody asked me but……
1—The on-the-field confrontation between Dan Mullen and Derek Mason was unacceptable: I’m glad the head coaches from Florida and Vanderbilt hugged it out after Saturday’s game in Nashville. They are two of the good guys in college football.
But the fact is their behavior—screaming at each other near the Florida sideline after a Vanderbilt player went down on a hit that was flagged for targeting—and then their inability to control their sidelines (Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham also got into the shouting) could have resulted in a full-scale brawl. Fortunately, it didn’t.
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I checked with Steve Shaw the SEC supervisor of officials, who confirmed that his crew enforced the rules correctly. Every player on both teams was charged with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for leaving the bench area, which restored some order to what was a chippy game. Two Florida players were ejected—one for the targeting hit (James Houston) and the other (Vosean Joseph) because the team-wide unsportsmanlike penalty was his second of the game.
SEC spokesman Herb Vincent released a statement to the Tennessean saying that any discussion about the conduct of the coaches would be handled between the commissioner's office and the two institutions.
I’m guessing that the fact that the two coaches embraced each other on the field after the game and then spoke highly of the other in the post-game press conference was a mitigating factor on whether disciplinary action was warranted.
That’s fine. But I’m also pretty sure that privately the commissioner will make it abundantly clear that this kind of behavior by coaches cannot be tolerated.
2—Here’s the ultimate nightmare scenario for the College Football Playoff Selection Committee: The first set of College Football Playoff rankings will be released two weeks from tonight (October 20). Between then and when the CFP field is announced on Dec. 2, you’re going to hear and read thousands of possible scenarios.
And that’s fine. It’s fun.
There are a lot of nightmare scenarios for the selection committee but trust me, dear readers, there is the mother of all nightmare scenarios. And it is this:
The SEC East champion (Florida, Georgia, Kentucky) beats undefeated and No. 1-ranked Alabama by a field goal in overtime and goes to the playoffs.
Ohio State goes 13-0 and makes the playoffs.
Clemson goes 13-0 and makes the playoffs.
Both the Big 12 and Pac-12 champs finish with two losses.
There is one spot left and the committee’s choices are:
12-0 Notre Dame and 12-1 Alabama.
Based on the current AP poll, Notre Dame will have one Top 25 win (No. 6 Michigan). Alabama would have beaten No. 5 LSU, No. 17 Texas A&M, and No. 22 Mississippi State.
It’s not supposed to be a factor but there are these two facts: Alabama has won five of the last nine national championships. The last time Alabama and Notre Dame met for a national championship (2012), the difference in the two teams was embarrassing. The game was not competitive.
3—Can we just stop with the Gus Malzahn-is-on-the-hot seat talk?
Fact: Auburn was a preseason top 10 team.
Fact: Auburn (4-3) is having a tough year and if the Tigers don’t win at Ole Miss on Saturday, they are probably looking at a losing season.
Fact: Gus Malzahn is the head coach now and will be the head coach next season
Gus Malzahn was a perfectly fine coach last season when the Tigers had a veteran offensive line and the SEC player of the year in running back Kerryon Johnson. Now Auburn has a young and struggling offensive line and running backs that are okay but not elite. That puts more pressure on quarterback Jarrett Stidham to carry the offense. He is not handling it well.
Not surprisingly, Auburn’s defense, which is elite, has been on the field too much. The wear and tear is beginning to show.
Whether or not Malzahn should have gotten a new contact (7 years, $49 million) is reasonable debating point. But he has it and that means he has earned the right to fix what is wrong.
My definition of a hot seat is that if you have a bad season you're going to get fired. Auburn is having a bad season but Malzahn is not going to get fired.