Another week of college football, another school (two actually) has parted ways with its head coach mid-season and another wild special teams finish highlighted week eight of the college football season.
UCF Head Coach George O’Leary followed the lead of the Head Ball Coach at South Carolina and decided it was time to call it quits, effective immediately, after 11 seasons with the Knights including a 0-8 start to the 2015 campaign.
Quarterbacks coach Danny Barrett will serve as the interim head coach moving forward although school president John C Hitt stated he plans on making a permanent replacement from outside of the program.
In other coaching changes, Miami’s Al Golden was unable to survive a 58-0 licking from Clemson at home Saturday. It was the program’s worst loss ever and was the nail in the coffin for what has been a rocky tenure in South Beach for Golden. Tight-Ends Coach and run-game coordinator Larry Scott has been named interim head coach for the Canes’ remaining games.
You just had to see the writing on the wall for Golden. And after falling behind 42-0 at halftime Saturday I wondered if they would even let the guy finish coaching the game.
Former players including Warren Sapp and Ray Lewis expressed their disgust and desire for change on social media and chants of “Fire Golden” echoed through the nearly empty Sun Life Stadium from the 500 Hurricane fans that actually showed up for the bloodbath.
The Tigers appeared to be on a crash course with Florida State for a battle of top ten and undefeated squads in Death Valley with ACC title and playoff aspirations hanging in the balance on Nov. 7. However, Georgia Tech--under the lights of Bobby Dodd Stadium on Homecoming night--had other ideas.
It appeared the Seminoles were going to steal one in Atlanta via a last second 56-yard field goal off the leg of Roberto Aguayo, one of the best kickers in all of college football.
I remember sitting on the couch texting back and forth with a friend from college and she mentioned how crazy it would be for another Auburn-esque finish if Georgia Tech returned the missed kick for a touchdown to win on the game’s final play.
I remember replying, “that would be awesome but there’s no way that actually happens again,” Not to mention the chaos of the Michigan State-Michigan game just one week prior. Surely nothing that wild could happen two weeks in a row, right? Wrong.
It’s a good thing I didn’t bet any money because as soon as Lance Austin picked up the ball and headed for the corner down the sideline my mouth dropped to the floor. I couldn’t believe what had just unfolded before my eyes....but I loved it. It was yet another reminder just how great (and heartbreaking) college football can be.
It proved to be the latter once again for the fans of the Big Orange as the Vols were unable to pull the upset in Tuscaloosa coming up short, 19-14. However Tennessee showed they are still inching towards becoming the program of old and gave Alabama all it could handle. Hopefully the patience will pay off for the Vols in the near future.
Things appear to be looking up a bit over in California as the Trojans steamrolled previously ranked #3 Utah at home 42-24 ending any aspirations of the playoffs for the Utes.
The Trojans don’t face another ranked team the rest of the season and have a fair shot at finishing the year 9-3 with a six game winning streak. I’ll admit I had counted them out and did not expect them to pull the upset Saturday, but good for them.
If interim head coach Clay Helton is able to win out the rest of the season you have to think he becomes a strong candidate to earn the permanent head-coaching job.
However, it is way too early to tell and the domino effect of firing and hiring’s at season’s end will send a ripple effect throughout the country that will be felt by many.
One of the biggest surprises for me from the weekend was Texas A&M’s performance (or lack thereof) in a 23-3 loss to Ole Miss. With back-to-back SEC-West losses, the Aggies now fall to fourth place in the West with a visit from South Carolina and Auburn along with trips to Vandy and LSU still on the schedule.
Once again it looks like LSU and Alabama will be squaring off for not only a spot in the SEC title game but in the playoffs as well when the two teams meet in Tuscaloosa next weekend, Nov. 7.
That is shaping up to be a big weekend as far as conference championships are concerned. Oklahoma State welcomes TCU to Stillwater while Florida State and Clemson will tangle in the real Death Valley, both of which kickoff at 3:30 p.m. All eyes will once again be on the SEC in primetime, as LSU and Alabama will go at it at 8 p.m. on CBS. Could we perhaps see another wild special teams finish this weekend? I sure hope so.
Christopher Hall can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org