NCAA Football is Like Cinderella by Bob Ryan

Over Thanksgiving I read the story of Cinderella to my grand-daughter….it got me thinking…The NCAA football season and post-season resemble the story of Cinderella…take a look….in late-summer the bids go out…129 invitations are sent out to all the contestants… who will be hoping  that the glass slipper of the NCAA Championship fits them this year.  The contestants arrive being escorted by their dancing partner (coach)… There will be 12 dances(games)…if any contestant slips…or worse…falls..7x …they will be asked to sit out.  Their dancing partner come with various degrees of skill…and or rewarded accordingly. These partners were compensated …some very, very well….for their skill, experience and work throughout the evening. Generally the first 3-5 songs are slow and rather easy to stay in the competition…. the only dancers falling or slipping or the ones who have not invested huge sums of money in learning their craft, improving their athleticism or are poorly led by their dancing partner (coach). The best dancing partner for the football maidens are highly compensated for this evening of dances. As the evening rolls along….the music to the dances picks up the tempo and slips become more prevalent….around the 7th dance…the judges (NCAA committee) begin notifying  the best dancers of their ratings for the entire evening. Now during these dances….mysterious things seem to happen…some dancers get bit by the injury-bug and can no longer continue.  Other dancers looked brilliant in the earlier, slower dances but were unable to compete in the faster, higher paced songs. Still other dancers are breezing along until suddenly they get knocked over by a weaker dancer…sometimes that fall is fatal towards the final voting by the NCAA judges. Some dancers who were highly rated prior the dance beginning are found to be only average and certainly not worthy of any dances beyond the original 12 dances.  By the 9th or 10th dance….most dancers have at least 2 or 3 slips…..a fall is disastrous (losing big)…the judges really lean to the dancers with the experienced, well-known  partners or dancers who have made the “final” room frequently…. at the end of the 12th dance…56 dancers are invited into the “bowl” room….this is the expected goal of each of the dancers…any dancing partner not achieving this appointment to the “bowl” room is usually removed on the way out of the ball room…. just 4 dancers are invited into the BCS room to dance…who would the glass slipper fit?  There were just 2 dances more…always there were slips by two of the dancers in the 1st dance….sooo…the BCS final dance would determine which dancer wears the “glass slipper”.  The dancing partner was assured …if he wished…to return the following year…the maiden was thrilled that the glass slipper fit…but it was only a temporary fit…starting 8 months later….it would no longer fit…and the process will begin all over again

…the 2017 committee(judges in Cinderella) had 3 direct, easy choices- Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia…the last spot was between the Big 10 Champion-Ohio State and Alabama…a 1 loss team that didn’t make it to its conference championship….both teams are good..very good…I lean towards Ohio State….they played 4 teams in the top 12 of the rankings (at the time when they played)… beat #2 Penn State; beat #4 Wisconsin, lost to #5 OU (a NCS semifinalist); and beat #12 Michigan State..their blemish was a disastrous 55-24 loss to Iowa(7-5)…the Big Ten commissioner made the point that the Big-10 plays 9 conference games (most of any conference…hinting that upsets will occur more often..Alabama played 4 teams in the top 16 of the rankings…Beat Florida ST in opening week..who was ranked #3  in pre-season.. but finished 6-6…Bama also beat #19 LSU 24-10, #16 Miss State and lost to #6 Auburn 26-14…and the team that beat them…Auburn…was a 3 loss team….the Crimson Tide did play Mercer (FCS team) for one of their wins…Personally….I don’t think that ANY wins over FCS teams should count towards any positive consideration for a national title and should actually be counted AGAINST them for scheduling such a weak-sister…

OK….now away from the mythical world of Cinderella and NCS final 4…and go directly to the FIRING SQUAD…..ya know…the life of a SEC football coach seems to be about as long as a worm trying to crawl across a major 8 lane highway at 4:00pm on a Friday.. good luck!…take a look at the turnover…there have been Six SEC coaches..almost half the league..  fired since the July 2017… 

…The most notable was LSU firing Les Miles 4 games into the season (his 12th)… Miles had very impressive credentials –record of 114-34 (77%), five Top 10 finishes, 2 national title game appearances and 1 national title (2007) …what was the reasoning provided?…well.1)  his teams had slipped to 8-5 and 9-3 over the last 2 seasons 2) Alabama & Auburn (combined) had won 5 national titles since LSU last won their last title 3) final straw…ranked #18, trailing Auburn 18-13 with just seconds to go…LSU scored what appeared to be a game winning touchdown on the last play of the game but upon review …it was determined that the play missed getting snapped by a micro-second..negating the TD…thus LSU lost the game…result LSU goes 2-2 & Miles was shown the exit. Btw…had that played remained it would have been Auburn’s 3rd loss of the season and….there isn’t any way that the Tigers would still be in the BCS talk with 3 losses… one play taken away by a replay changed the fate of both of these teams.

…The Firing season began At Ol’ Miss….Hugh Freeze (Mississippi) was fired July 19th in a scandal….interestingly, Hugh Nutt (Freeze’s predecessor) had been accused of improper ethics and sued U of Mississippi for defamation… his lawyer then turned over the material to the NCAA .. and… it turns out that these improprieties and others… like several phone contacts to “special dating services”… took place under Freeze’s watch… bye-bye Hugh. Money doesn’t seem to matter to these SEC schools …who apparently … are rolling around in cash…Freeze had just signed a contract in 2015 that raised his salary to  $4.8m for 2017.

…Jim McElwain was fired by Florida on Oct 29…McElwain had won two of the last 3 SEC East championships. The 42-7 loss to Georgia sealed his fate days prior to his firing…they said, “his program has gone off the rails”  I guess losing several players(7) for the season …including one of top receivers in NCAA .. for inappropriate off-field actions doesn’t carry much weight.

…Butch Jones (Tennessee) fired Nov 12.  The fatalistic blows….1) no wins in SEC this year 2) severe loss to our Mizzou Tigers…his buyout should tidy him over quite well–$8.125m

…Brett Bielema (Arkansas) was notified as he walked off the field after his final game… boy.. how would you liked to have been in THAT locker room..”well…boys…you lost to Mizzou today and I lost my job….which is worse?” After taking his team to 3 straight bowls Bielema failed to do so in the last 2 years and was 4-8 this year..bye-bye

…Kevin Sumlin (Tx A&M)…had been over .500 in all 6 of his seasons…no losing seasons…a bowl appearance each year  but he was viewed as being “stuck in the middle of the SEC West pack”….he’ll heal his wounds with a $10m buyout and it appears that he’s set for another job.

…another opening just popped up at Mississippi State  as Head Coach Dan Mullen has decided to accept the more lucrative job ($30m) @ Florida. Mullen was 69-46 in a place that had been commonly accepted as the door-mat of the SEC West. He’ll now have a far larger budget to use in this recruiting, hiring of ast coaches, etc.   The replacement for him is of the same mold as Mullen (no prior head-coaching experience)-Penn State off Coordinator-Joe Moorhead. 

Sports odds & ends…

…SLU basketball is really having trouble scoring…66 ppg and a dearth of scoring from beyond the arc…also depth is a real issue as only 7 players are averaging more than 7.6 min/game…. one has to wonder what is delaying judgment on the 3 “accused” players …it seems like there has been adequate time to reach a fair judgment for all involved….  the pre-season hype led us …or maybe just me…to think that after 6 games the record…and level of play…. would be better than 3-3…but as I write this…the best record in the  A-10 is 4-2 so hang on until conference play ….things could improve.

…watched most of Mizzou-Cent Florida bball game…Tigers won…struggled… but won….some personnel observations–Sr Jordan Bartnett was the best player for Mizzou on that night… Frosh Jontay Porter…who skipped his Senior year of HS appeared to be “over his head”…very limited time, shot a hurried air ball…looks like he actually need that 4th year of HS. Frosh Ctr Jeremiah Tilmon continues to be plagued by foul issues…the opposition realizes that weakness so they work hard to feed the post man that Tilmon is guarding. It’s early in the season…so quick development should be coming…at least hopefully… over the next 4-6 weeks  for these Freshman players…or it’ll be another long season in CoMO.

….keeping up with our Blues….that “thud” you just heard was the Blues as they were flat on a 5 game home stand going 2-3… on the bright side the ¼ mark of the season, Jaden Schwartz leads the league 5 on 5 average assists for 60 min @ 1.73…he also is the leader with the same parameter @3.81.  the white elephant in the room is the play of Jake Allen…sure.. he does make many terrific saves but…his Goals against is 2.77 (21st in league), his save % is .907 (25th in the league)….now…granted…many goals may be due to inefficient defense in front of the net, spectacular shots or whatever…but the fact remains…at this moment…the Blues are giving up too many goals to go deep in the playoffs….on the immediate radar for the next game  is the historic Montreal Canadians…Montreal will be in an angry mood after being embarrassed by Detroit 10-1 on Saturday night…ten goals!…coming from a team (Detroit) who holds a mediocre 10-12-5 record.

…on the boys HS basketball scene….we’re very, very early in basketball season…in snapshot view…some clubs off to a good start.. In North County…Hazelwood Central & McCluer North are each 3-0, Parkway Central3-0) who won the Parkway round-robin looks to return to the MSHSAA  State Tournament again this year. St. Mary’s 6-0-won the Alton tip-off Classic – plays large school, CBC on Friday night as the Cadets (2-2) play their 1st game in Missouri this year. Other unbeaten teams are –St Charles Pirates 4-0, Orchard Farm Eagles 3-0 and Mehlville Panthers are 3-0 after winning the South Side Classic. Vashon is 3-0 with 2 very impressive road wins over Charleston & Whitney Young. Some schools have only played a game or two in this early season play..some of the above teams are looking to go deep in STATE …others are happy that they have started out of the starting blocks quickly.

…defense wins…we hear it all the time…in NCAA D-1 team defense (written prior to this weekend’s game)…Wisconsin was #1 in team defense and the Big Ten had 4 of the top 9 schools in that category…does that mean that the Big 10 is THAT good on defense or that the offense in that league isn’t the best in college football. The #1 team in Team offense is Oklahoma…no surprise there..7122 total yards, averaged 8.56 yds/play.

…a statistical gold nugget for you…Drew Lock is #5 in the NCAA D-1 in passing yards with 3695 yards. Mizzou is 14th in the USA in passing yards (due to Lock)! The most amazing stat(s) to me is that Lamar Jackson (Louisville) is 10th in NCAA in passing with 3489 yards AND 10th in rushing with 1433 yards—5300+ yards of offense for him.WOW!  Thanks for dancing with me through Cinderella…the glass slipper doesn’t fit me… but neither does the firing squad…. so I’m OK .  Thx for reading.


  1. Just possing a question. What is big-time NCAA football coach the best to work under? Just something I was wondering about with all the firings. Change should be just as eventful for the assistants.

  2. Jim Pleimann says:

    I give you a point or two for the Cinderella theme – pretty clever!
    Is there any coincidence that you write a nice blog on the Blues and then they go into an immediate funk?
    Me thinks college sports is a mess…
    At least you didn’t hammer the point home the Rams have nine wins! Ha
    Very disappointed with SLU – I was expecting a good year with a few more to follow. Not so much….

  3. Hi Coach…good article. I like the analogy and it just drives home to me that fact the process is very confusing. I don’t really have a dog in the fight regarding the Ohio St/Alabama decision. I would have also picked Ohio State…I believe if you make your conference championship game and win it, that should carry some level of importance in the committee’s mind.

    On another note, I got to thinking of the UCF situation. If you were to go to the committee before the season started and asked them, “What are my chances of getting into the playoff if I go undefeated, win my conference championship and am the only undefeated team left in the country?” what would you expect them to say? This is what bothers me the most about the playoff..there isn’t any clear cut path that an FBS member institution can follow to assure themselves a shot at the title. In basketball it’s easy. Win your conference automatic bid and that will get you into the tournament.

    In reality, if UCF can’t get into the playoff after doing what they did, they should just admit that non power conference members won’t ever be in the playoff.

  4. I think that we have come as far as the final four in college football can go. Meaning, that it is time for the final 8. You don’t have to add a game to the season, just go back to the 11 game schedule which stood for many years and then a 12th game was added about 10 years ago. It would be far easier to pick a final 8 and we would be assured of having all of the possible winners in the tournament. I agree that Ohio St. got screwed and should have made it, but then Alabama only had one loss. For that matter Wisconsin also had one loss, but when you lose your last game, it counts much more against you than if you lose in the first few weeks. There is really no logic to that, since your early opponents are not as good as the final one that you face in the league championship. It took the NCAA for ever to create the final 4, I’m guessing that it will take another forever to create the final 8.

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