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National Writers Grade Football Coaching Hires

Yesterday must have been national “grade the coaching hires” day at the big sports sites.  Both Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com and Stewart Mandel of SI.com handed out their grades and/or rankings for America’s newest batch of college football coaches.  Their thoughts on Will Muschamp to Florida and James Franklin to Vandy?  We thought you’d never ask:


Will Muschamp

* Mandel gave the hire a B with an asterisk.  “Muschamp fits a similar profile to former Florida defensive coordinator Bob Stoops at the time Oklahoma hired him.  He knows how to recruit and motivate.”  The asterisk — and a downgrade from B+ — came because of “Muschamp’s bizarre hiring of Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator.”

* Dodd ranks Muschamp’s hiring as the #1 hire in the nation (out of 21).  “Florida should expect to compete for the SEC title quickly and win a national championship eventually under Muschamp.”

Our take:  We see nothing wrong with the hire of Weis as offensive coordinator.  He’s a big name and he can recruit offensive players.  He’s not the head coach, he’s the coordinator… and he’s always been pretty darn good in that role.  We agree with Dodd that UF should expect to compete for titles under Muschamp.  But with Florida’s money, facilities and recruiting base, we’d have said the same thing even if Jeremy Foley had re-hired Ron Zook.


James Franklin

* Mandel gave Vandy’s hire a B grade as well.  “It’s hard to gauge much from his time at Maryland, but the school’s previous administration thought highly enough of him to name him Ralph Friedgen’s head coach in waiting.”

* Dodd ranks Franklin’s hiring #16 out of 21 coaching moves this offseason.  “Just when you thought Vanderbilt had sacked up and decided to pretend like it was serious about football, it seems to be slipping back.  I’d blame the athletic director, but Vanderbilt doesn’t have one.”

Our take:  So Mandel grades Franklin’s hire as being equal to that of Muschamp’s?  Muschamp was chased by Tennessee last offseason.  His name has always been on the “potential next guy” lists of Georgia and LSU fans.  His roots are deep in SEC soil.  On the flip side, Franklin (and his staff) have few ties to the Deep South recruiting zone.  And Maryland’s current administration let Franklin walk in order to go hire… Randy Edsall?  Who knows who’ll be better in the long run, but on the front end, Franklin’s hiring does not rival Muschamp’s.

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MrSEC.com Takes Auburn… Barely

Fact: At some point, the SEC will lose a BCS Championship Game.  It’s going to happen.  Sometime, somewhere, an SEC team will come up short in the big game.

But it won’t happen tonight.

Since the advent of the BCS, the SEC is a perfect 6-0 in title games.

1998 — Tennessee 23, Florida State 16
2003 — LSU 21, Oklahoma 14
2006 — Florida 41, Ohio State 14
2007 — LSU 38, Ohio State 24
2008 — Florida 24, Oklahoma 14
2009 — Alabama 37, Texas 21

Tonight it’s Auburn’s turn to push the league’s record to 7-0 in national title games.  Doing so will also insure that the crystal football resides in the Deep South for a fifth-straight year.

And the Tigers will get it done.  Barely.  Before we give you our 3 reasons for an AU victory, let’s take a last look at some key statistical comparisons…



Quick Strike Ratings: The number of plays run between touchdowns by each offense.

School
Offensive Plays
Total Offensive TDs
Plays Per TD
Auburn
863
70
12.32
Oregon
951
71
13.39


Auburn gets the slight edge, scoring a touchdown once every 12 plays run.  The Tigers went up against tougher defenses in the SEC, too, so this indicator deserves attention.



Offensive Efficiency Ratings: The number of points scored as compared to the total amount of offensive yards gained. 

School
Offensive Yards Gained
Points Scored
Yards Per Point
Oregon
6450
592
10.89
Auburn
6470
555
11.65


This category takes into account special teams and defensive ability, too.  Good returns and/or turnovers — for example — set up offenses with shorter fields.  A slight edge to Oregon in this one.



Slow Grind Ratings: The number of plays an opposing offense has to run between touchdowns

School
Defensive Plays
Total TDs Allowed
Plays Per TD Allowed
Oregon
878
24
36.58
Auburn
890
39
22.82


A big advantage to Oregon in this category.  The Ducks have made their opponents work much harder for scores than the Tigers have.



Defensive Efficiency Ratings: The number of points allowed as compared to the total amount of yards allowed by a defense.

School
Defensive Yards Allowed
Points Allowed
Yards Per Point Allowed
Oregon
3979
221
18.00
Auburn
4708
318
14.80


Again, Oregon has the edge.  Duck opponents have had to put more work into scoring than Auburn’s foes have.


Oregon holds the edge in a couple of other key areas, too:

Turnover Margin:  Oregon +13, Auburn +5

Sacks Allowed:  Oregon 7, Auburn 21


So if Oregon holds a clear advantage in so many important categories why are we picking Auburn? 


1.  Rust Less Of A Worry For Auburn.

A 40-day layoff can result in an awful lot of rust.  But Auburn is more reliant upon just one truly special player than Oregon is.  While the Ducks’ precision offense might have some hiccups after so many weeks off, Cam Newton remains a person who can take over a game by himself.  His ability to run over and around linebackers should not have been affected by a few weeks off.


2.  Auburn Is Mentally Tough.

Auburn has been on a big stage before.  The Tigers have already bested Arkansas and LSU in nationally televised showdowns.  They also put together a comeback for the ages to win 28-27 at Alabama in the Iron Bowl.  And with Newton once again the focus of the press leading up to the SEC Championship Game, the Tigers whooped up on South Carolina 56-17.  This team has proven its mental toughness again and again.  Oregon won a 52-31 shootout over Stanford back on October 2nd.  But the Ducks didn’t face another squad the rest of the way that finished with fewer than five losses.  Their last game on this type of media stage was last year’s Rose Bowl… which Oregon lost to Ohio State.


3.  Auburn’s D Will Be The Difference

You can expect a shootout.  To the tune of 75+ points perhaps.  But you can also expect Auburn’s defense — battle-tested through the wars of the Southeastern Conference — to be one-stop better than Oregon’s tonight.  If the game comes down to one team being able to make a stop on defense, expect the SEC defense to be the D to get it done.


Prediction:  Auburn 38, Oregon 35

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Auburn Football Game Notes

Auburn and Georgia meet Saturday in the Deep South’s oldest rivalry, as the teams will meetfor the 114th time.
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Tyler’s Picks: What is it about the Deep South and mascots?

The Olympics peaked for me 14 years ago when Atlanta unveiled the worst mascot in the history of sport, offending every country and human on earth in the process. Neglecting the traditional five rings as a backdrop for a simple and respectable logo – always a guaranteed winner – Atlanta made the peculiar decision to roll out… Izzy.

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