Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football (paper bag headgear sold separately in Tallahassee, where the bottom has fallen out):
THE BALLAD OF BUTCH, REVISITED
Back in 2013, a more optimistic time in Big Orange Country, a Tennessee fan named John Cave Osborne (31) put his musical and comedic talents to work composing one of the great fan ditties of all-time: “The Butch Jones Song.”
(The Dash will give you a few minutes to gaze in awe at the video.)
With the Butch Jones (32) Tennessee tenure nearing a dismal end after failing to kick your ass, failing to kick your ass, failing to kick your ass, The Dash sought out Osborne for his view on the state of the Volunteers program. Osborne, a witty guy and the co-founder of rockytopinsider.com, obliged.
“I’m not sure a guy who did a parody video nearly five years ago is the right person to ask to put a bow on the situation,” Osborne wrote to Yahoo Sports. “But I’d sum it up as follows: When Butch Jones came on the scene, Tennessee football was in dire straits. Despite a promising first couple of years – especially from a recruiting standpoint – today, this program finds itself a lot closer to where Butch started than anyone could have ever imagined.
“Butch Jones is good at managing things he can control. Mantras. The recruiting process. Marketing the program itself. Those types of skills helped him stabilize the program, and he should be commended for them. But he’s not proven as adept at managing fluid situations beyond his control. In-game dynamics. The media [both local and national]. And perhaps even his own staff and players…. Add it all up and you’ll arrive at where Vol Nation finds itself today. On the near-certain brink of having to start all over for the fourth time in just 10 years.”
To the surprise of many, Butch outlasted Florida coach Jim McElwain (33), who was trap-doored Sunday during his third season. With Jones the most likely coach to follow McElwain out of his current position, The Dash offers three more whose jobs are in jeopardy.
Mike Riley (34), Nebraska. A furious fourth-quarter rally to beat Purdue certainly is preferable to NOT rallying to beat Purdue – but at 4-4 and bereft of quality wins, the third-year coach looks like the last year in Lincoln for Riley. But here’s the hitch: Cornhuskers fans who have been waiting for Central Florida coach Scott Frost to come home to his alma mater might well find him more interested in a shorter move – to Gainesville to replace McElwain. If that happens, Nebraska might be wise to go after …
Kevin Sumlin (35), Texas A&M. Yes, he could finish the season 9-3 – though that would require a complete reversal of recent November collapses. But regardless of record, it seems Sumlin’s time at A&M is done. The ugly fallout from that season-opening loss to UCLA pushed both sides to the breaking point. A guy with an 84-41 record and excellent recruiting ties in Texas will find another Power Five job. Wait for it.
Bret Bielema (36), Arkansas. The buyout is big, and Bielema began an attempted salvage of this season Saturday with a huge comeback to beat Mississippi. But the big man is just 11-26 in SEC play, 1-4 this year, and a losing season in year five might spur the Arkansas hierarchy to pay the money to start over. If so, this could be another potential landing spot for Sumlin.
DASH STAT OF THE WEEK
Not fake news: Defense is making a comeback in the Big 12 (37). The league that rode the hurry-up, no-huddle spread trend and blew up scoreboards is cycling back to stopping people.
In conference play, three teams are allowing fewer than 20 points per game: Iowa State (13.6), TCU (15) and Texas (18). Last time that happened was 2009, when there were actually 12 teams in the Big 12.
Two teams (TCU and Iowa State) are allowing fewer than 5 yards per play. Last time that happened was 2011.
If this continues over the last month of the season, it will finally be time to rewrite the Big 12 stereotype. Tackling is not dead in Texas, or points elsewhere in the conference.
COACH WHO EARNED HIS COMP CAR THIS WEEK
Steve Addazio (38), Boston College. Seemingly on the brink of being fired, the fourth-year coach has executed a 180 behind a freshman running back and freshman quarterback. The Eagles have won three straight to reach 5-4, climaxing the turnaround with a 35-3 Friday beatdown of Florida State – BC’s biggest margin of victory by far in the series.
COACH WHO SHOULD TAKE THE BUS TO WORK
Jimbo Fisher (39), Florida State. The Seminoles are on the flipside of that shocking score from Chestnut Hill last week – they’re 2-5 and in disarray. Fisher got a tough break when his starting quarterback was lost for the season in the opener, but the situation is getting worse instead of better. A 32-point loss to BC hints strongly at a team that is giving up instead of digging in.
When thirsty in Chicago, The Dash recommends a visit to the Lone Wolf (40), which a colleague described as “the worst bar in America which actually isn’t that bad.” On a recent visit it turned out to be a great place to revel in some Led Zeppelin deep cuts and engage in intense speculation on the heights of the bartenders. (One guy is 6-foot-8.) Order a Zombie Dust Pale Ale from Three Floyds and thank The Dash later.