The college football world was riveting this week. Last minute heroics by top teams made for must watch television.
There should be a raging debate at Clemson this week about whether or not former starting quarterback Kelly Bryant should come back to the team or even be allowed to return. The senior QB lost his job last week to true freshman phenom Trevor Lawrence who was rated by several recruiting services as the number one overall recruit in the nation. Bryant led Clemson to a 16-2 record as a starter–pretty darn good to put it mildly. When the game was on the line at Texas A&M, Dabo Swinney went to his senior and benched the freshman Lawrence for most of the third and all of the fourth quarter.
Lawrence was clearly the better quarterback statistically over Clemson’s first four games, and looked better in the dreaded “eye test.” Bryant did not take his demotion well, deciding to transfer and claiming he was not given a fair shot on his way out the door. Swinney did not belittle or criticize Bryant, saying he loved the kid and wished him the best.
Here is where the new NCAA transfer rules come in. A player can now appear in four games during the season and still get a redshirt season. Had Swinney just kept his current system in place, he could have played Bryant in game five and then benched him. Swinney opted not to do that, instead giving Bryant an escape hatch that the quarterback took. The senior already has his degree so he will not have to sit out next season as other transfers would.
Bryant leaving left Clemson in a precarious position and that potential problem came to a head Saturday when the Tigers were hosting 4-0 Syracuse. Freshman hotshot Lawrence got knocked out of the game with a shot to the head and neck in the first half, leaving the Tigers season in the hands of former third stringer Chase Brice. The Tigers inexperienced signal caller somehow led Clemson on a 93 yard drive late in the fourth quarter to win the game for Clemson but it’s very clear he cannot lead the Tigers to a shot at the National Championship. What if Lawrence is out weeks or has to leave again? Should the Tigers take Bryant back? Bryant did not withdraw from school yet and so he could theoretically return. Swinney would not field questions on the matter, saying he would only speak about the players that were there. Did the coach do the right thing? Did Bryant? What would you do? Should your team be trying to land Bryant via transfer for next season? Feel free to leave your feedback.
I can tell you three coaches that didn’t do the right thing this week. One is getting punished, another should be punished and the third should simply be criticized. It’s 2018 people, not 1990.
Massachusetts Head Coach Mark Whipple, you cannot say the refs “raped” your team. Enjoy your well deserved one week suspension. Texas A&M Coach Jimbo Fisher, you cannot grab your players by the face mask and jerk them. You should be punished for that. Finally, what were you thinking James Franklin up at Penn State, trying to run the ball on 4th and 5 when your team was down late versus Ohio State with a terrific senior quarterback. You don’t deserve more punishment than our ridicule.
I just can’t put Alabama at the top spot this week. I “think” they are the best team in college football but all these other teams are piling up outstanding wins while the teams Alabama has beaten get worse and worse each week (see Louisville, Ole Miss). Bama has plenty of top teams in the SEC still on their schedule and they should be at the top of the rankings when they earn it.
Top 25 for the Week Beginning September 30
- LSU (5-0) Combo of victories at Auburn and versus Miami on a neutral field are the best pair of wins in the country.
- Notre Dame (5-0) Right behind LSU’s pair of wins was the Irish beating Michigan and Stanford though both were at home.
- Alabama (5-0) Played lousy teams except Texas A&M. Nobody’s been competitive against the Crimson Tide.
- Ohio State (5-0) Have won at TCU and at Penn State. Great wins to be sure but I have questions about both teams.
- Kentucky (5-0) The best three wins in the country are the Wildcats victories at Florida, versus Mississipi State and versus South Carolina.
- Clemson (5-0) Travis Etienne is a legit Heisman candidate and Syracuse is a quality win for now.
- Georgia (5-0) UGA’s marquee win at South Carolina looks worse with every passing week.
- Oklahoma (5-0) Another team with no quality wins yet.
- West Virginia (4-0) Which win is better? WVU at home over Texas Tech or Oklahoma at Iowa State?
- UCF (5-0) I wanted to see them versus a Power 5 school and they blasted Pitt (for whatever that’s worth).
- Auburn (4-1) Only loss on a last second field goal and they did beat Washington.
- Stanford (4-1) If you’ve got a loss have you beaten anyone? Stanford got USC and Oregon.
- South Florida (4-0) Played two Power 5 teams and beat them both (even though it was Illinois and Georgia Tech).
- Colorado (4-0) Their wins are terrible but get Arizona State, USC and Washington next
- Washington (4-1) BYU and at Utah are decent wins but not better than the one loss teams above them.
- NC State (3-0) Best wins are UVA and at Marshall. Yuck.
- Penn State (4-1) Wins aren’t great but they played close with Ohio State.
- Cincinnati (5-0) Did the same thing to UConn everyone else does, beating the Huskies 49-7.
- Wisconsin (3-1) See below.
- Michigan (4-1) Neither one of these teams has a good win. Can I just leave them beside each other until they meet in two weeks?
- Texas (4-1) They have beaten TCU and USC. The Maryland loss doesn’t look as horrible as it did at the start of the season.
- Miami (4-1) You may have seen the turnover chain since it was out six time when the Canes played UNC.
- Syracuse (4-1) Played a top Clemson team and looked very tough.
- Oregon (4-1) Cal should be considered a decent win.
- Oklahoma State (4-1) Only team to beat Boise and their loss is home to Texas Tech.
Reach Mike Synan at Mike.Synan@floridadaily.com.