It's that time of year when there’s nothing left but window dressing bowls for teams that don’t make the CFP which means it’s time for the MMQ grades and the MMQs! But First,
Talk about your INTRUIGING plot twists!!! So, at #5, Michigan is still in the middle of the mess! Amazing, but not so much when you really think about it. Michigan has victories over 3 teams in the Top 10, which can’t be ignored!! Wiscy has one victory over a team in the top 25. PSU has one victory over a team in the top 10 (osu). One of them will improve to 2 victories this weekend, but not exceed Michigan’s Top 10 Win totals. If Washington or Clemson loses, regardless of who wins the B1G Championship, the Committee is more or less saying, “We’re NOT going to have a repeat of last season where we totally screwed up and DIDN’T put a superior suckeyes team in the CFP (that destroyed the Domers in the Fiesta Bowl) and instead, put in a sparty team, that won the B1G Championship, but turned out to be a really bad team - in the end. And they totally embarrassed themselves on national TV. In addition, we REALLY screwed up putting in an Oklahoma team (that couldn’t play a lick of defense) over a Stanford team that DESTROYED their B1G 10 opponent (Iowa) in the Rose Bowl. Nope – NOT GONNA’ DO THAT AGAIN. And we don’t care who we piss off in the process.”
And you can bet that some folks in Happy Valley and Madison are going to be PLENTY PISSED OFF about that result if the winner Saturday doesn’t jump the team that beat them both (Michigan). But the Committee appears poised to do just that.
And I’m not sure that’s entirely a bad thing (and I’m speaking objectively here– HONEST!!!). Does PSU or Wiscy want to go into the CFP ala sparty in the 4th slot only to be demoralized by Bama? Look what happened to sparty this season after that humiliation. Me-thinks that the committee is looking to the past with both eyes wide open as to which team can compete against Bama (based on coaching and overall statistics) and at least give the audience a game instead of a 4 hour blow-out of mega proportions. Which is probably what you’d get with either Wiscy or PSU.
So, Clemson and Washington both have to win. If one of them loses….CHAOS!!!!
Michigan Offense: C+ I was going to give this a D based on what I thought were pretty good reasons, but then I looked at Bill Connelly’s SP+ Rankings after the last game. Michigan is still in the top 30 overall offensively (28th), and the number 2 team overall SP+. That’s pretty good, but nowhere near A or B work, but definitely better than the D I originally planned. If Michigan was in Indy for the B1G Championship and a shot at the CFP, this grade would be different. (For those of you not familiar with the SP+ rankings, Bill does a great job of adjusting all stats for opponent level, “meaningful game time” stats vs. garbage minutes at the end of the game, etc.) Probably the best stat site out there.
Michigan Defense: A+ I’m not sure what more they could have done and what more we could have asked. Michigan maintained it’s overall #1 rank in the SP+ on Defense which is why Michigan has been able to hang on to the overall #2 rank for the season. This defense was plenty good enough to win a Championship, but the offense failed them too many times…. And of course, there’s this:
The entire Defense was recognized and received all B1G 10 Honors. Each and every player. So, yeah, I guess an A+ here is warranted by the ole MMQ!
Special Teams: B Why the B? While JP was the real deal on returns, I’m not sure he took advantage of each and every opportunity he was presented with. And while his performance was better than B work when he did make returns, I have to look at what could have been. Also, kicking in general gave us some grey hair early in the season, but then Allen seemed to right the ship. Iowa definitely cost the special teams a half grade (punt coverage team) and could have changed the outcome of the season.
Coaching: B While the pre-season prep time was clearly something this team needed, 4th quarter performance in games that mattered was a major issue. And some of that has to fall on the coaching staff and the guy calling plays. As I stated earlier, sparty last year, Iowa and osu were all winnable games. One first down at critical times in all of those games results in a “W”. Good coaches need to figure out how to call those games at the end, get that first down, and win them. The B or B+ was there, just get one first down in either of those critical games this season.
Overall: B A 10-2 season is nothing to be ashamed of, but when expectations are so high and you have only defeated one of your rivals, well, it’s a problem. I guarantee you Coach Harbaugh knows it and will work hard to fix it in the future.
Every year I come up with some awards for outstanding players, coaches, teams and whatever other what-not that I feel are worthy of an MMQ award. In no particular order (and because I just like making stuff up as I go), here we go!
The MMQ for Best Game of the Season: Michigan vs. osu. I considered a couple of others, (actually, not really) and this game by far topped them all. 2nd place was probably the Clemson-Louisville game that went down to the final seconds, but for sheer stakes on the table, all or nothing, leave everything on the field, it has to be Michigan-osu.
The MMQ Game We THOUGHT was the Best Game of the Season: domers vs. Texas wins over sparty vs. domers. Turns out that Labor Day game for the ages was a bunch of shiny things wrapped up in pretty paper that had absolutely no substance to it what so ever, in the long haul. Ditto that sparty –domers game that was simply a battle of ineptitude, as it turned out. Strong’s gone, Kelly’s looking and neither team has much to hang their hat on this season.
The MMQ Player of the Year (that won’t win the Heisman): I’m a little biased on this one, but I do think that Jabrill Peppers is the most exciting player to watch in college football. Defensive End Jonathan Allen from Bama also controls games and is a handful for any team he faces, but for sheer excitement when he touches the ball, I’m giving it to Peppers.
The MMQ Coach of the Year: PJ Fleck. I was torn on this one, I really was. Fleck has set records in the MAC and given Western Michigan something to talk about for generations to come. I wanted to give it to Harbaugh (again, bias) but losing the way Michigan has lost is somewhat on the coaching staff. Other coaches strongly considered were McEntyre (Colorado), Franklin (PSU), Peterson (Washington) and Chrsyt (Wiscy). Where Fleck ends up after next Saturday will be interesting to see, and my money is on Purdue right now.
The MMQ Dumpster Fire inside of a Tire Fire Team of the Year: This one is SO HARD. Three candidates immediately jumped to mind: sparty, domers and Rutgers. (Also considered: Arizona, Texas, Purdue, BC, and UCLA.) Seeing as how everyone kind of knew that Rutgers was a disaster heading into the season and everyone is giving Chris Ash at least 5 seasons to right the ship, I can’t put them in first place. NOBODY saw the disasters at sparty and the domers coming, but which one is worse? Sparty has to play in the B1G East and they also beat the Domers rather decisively. The domers opponents this season are barely playing 0.500 ball, meaning that the domers had a fairly easy schedule. And while the sparty record at 3-9 is worse than 4-8, that heads up victory has to count for something. And Anthononio isn’t actively looking for other gigs, as far as we know, unlike Kelly, who wants to bail on the sinking ship. WINNER: The Domers it is.
The MMQ Team of the Year: While it’s easy to give this to an undefeated team and Bama seems like the logical choice, I’m leaning a slightly different way. Everyone kind of expected Bama, Michigan, osu, and Clemson to be pretty good. But there’s a team in the Pac 12 that is really good and will probably give fits to the rest of the Pac 12 for years to come. WINNER: Peterson’s Washington Huskies are a great team and still have a shot at winning the Pac 12 and going to the CFP. And NOBODY predicted that pre-season.
The MMQ for “What Could Have Been” Season: Again, it might be too early to hand this one out as we still have a weekend of football left. (especially if Clemson or Washington lose) But not everyone is playing and the CFP is probably pretty set with regards to who’s in and out. Several teams are in the running for this one: Wiscy, PSU, osu, Colorado, USC, Okie State and Michigan. I have a very funny feeling that only 1 B1G team gets in and it’s not going to be the one that everyone THINKS is going to make the CFP. Michigan’s losses (by 1 and 3 points) and osu’s loss (by 3 to PSU) are clearly the closest losses for the teams considered. Michigan decisively beat Colorado, Wiscy and PSU, so they’ve been eliminated from consideration. If osu is left out of the CFP for the 1-loss to PSU (assuming it’s Bama – Clemson – Washington – PSU/Wiscy winner) than osu can claim the award. Otherwise, it’s Michigan.
The Most Poorly Officiated Game of the Year: Again, another close one, but I do have a personal bias on this one. Candidates:
Michigan vs. osu: reasons have been stated and are obvious
Okie State vs. Central: Recall the play at the end of the game that SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ALLOWED and was due to an officiating screw up where refs were suspended for two weeks.
While I’m still bitter about the subjective officiating calls that were and were NOT made in the Michigan-osu game, the Central-OSU game has to be the winner. In what could be an easy decision to simply say the last play didn’t count, take the points off the board, the NCAA (and Las Vegas) isn’t allowing it. Crazy.
The MMQ for the Most Overrated Conference of the Year: Anyone else besides the SEC in this discussion is a non-starter. Clearly a conference that started with 8 teams in the top 25 (and 5 in the Top 10) pre-season to only have 1 Top 10 Team in the final rankings is worthy of this award. I know all about the Big Xii, but they weren’t supposed to be that great to begin with. However,
The MMQ for the Most Disappointing Conference of the Year: Can easily go to the Big Xii. They stink on ice and Texas and Oklahoma are leading the way with that stink. The Big Xii’s non-conference record was also atrocious, giving them this award hands down. Not to mention wasting all of our time with expansion that never happened.
The MMQ for the Worst Coaching Performance of the Year: This one is close. I’m not sure any of these coaches quit (maybe one), but they certainly didn’t do themselves any favors with things they said and did during the season. This award came down to coaches that are still active. IF you got canned somewhere along the way, I’m eliminating you from consideration as you’re already history. This award has to go to a coach that will be back on the same team next season (and as of this writing, hasn’t been fired), and probably in the top 5 as far as the Hot Seat goes. In no particular order:
Butch Jones – Cremesicles were unanimous favorite to win SEC East, and blew it. Not only that, but losing to a lousy Vandy team to end the regular season has the torch and pitchfork crowd fired up.
B. Kelly – domers were a top 10 pre-season team with 1st round QB
Dantonio – sparty was a pre-season top 15 team with plenty of returning talent
Smart – Georgia was not a dumpster fire and the cabinet wasn’t bare. Should have been a 9 win floor for Smart…
Rich Rod – 5th season on the job and he goes 3-9 after being a dark-horse pick pre-season by some observers?
Grobe – is he even coaching Baylor or just letting the assistants run the show? Baylor on a 5 game skid after starting 6-0. To be fair, Grobe doesn’t even have to be fired as he told the AD he’s done after the bowl game.
Chris Ash – lost by a combined 228-0 to Michigan, osu, and PSU. Even for a first year, that’s not good…
And the winner is: Kelly. I know it sounds like I’m always picking on the guy, but he is the only coach on the list that calls his players and assistant coaches out for not executing or playing good enough to win. My guess is that a lot of schools have seen that as well, which is why his nosing around for another job didn’t go so well. The biggest reason for him winning the award: I asked myself if I had to take coaches off this list to fill vacancies, who would be the last one I picked (Grobe excluded)? Rich Rod right before Kelly were the last two.
The MMQ for the Well That’s Fabulous Moment of the Year: Again, close. Okie State-CMU was considered, firing the winningest head coach at a school in the SEC was also considered, and playing a football game in a hurricane that could have been played on Sunday was considered. A couple of those have already received awards, so I’m giving this one to Hurricane Bowl. And the fact that the domers tried to pass the ball like the heavy stuff wasn’t going to come down for quite awhile!!!
MMQ for the Most Improved Team of the Year: Always tough, but without question the coaching change that Clay Helton made at QB for USC had a tremendous impact on that teams performance. And after watching a lot of the USC Washington game, there’s not a coach in his right mind that would WANT to play USC right now. That’s improvement.
The MMQ for the Most Non-Football Related Issue that Occupied Our Time: It’s close, and items considered were Baylor sexual abuse, Targeting Rule Discussion(s), and Big Xii Expansion. Winner: Big Xii Expansion. Tired of listening to it and talking about it.