No reader questions this week, so I’m going to take things in a little different direction on the penultimate feature of the year.
I wanted to speak a bit on what has really become the story in college sports this year. We had yet another — though lesser — realignment domino fall Friday morning, as Incarnate Word announced its departure for the WAC. If you add this to the list of other moves that have already taken place, we’re now up to 26 total teams with new homes.
There have also been two realignment moves this week that were notable because they didn’t happen — McNeese will stay in the Southland Conference, while MTSU will stay in the — let’s call it newly-renovated — Conference USA. The latter move didn’t go over well with Middle fans, to say the least. Western Kentucky still hasn’t moved as of press time, but would reportedly accept an invitation to the MAC if offered.
One of the bigger storylines around realignment centers around the move made by the CAA to keep JMU from competing for championships, owing to its announced departure for the Sun Belt. The league doubled down on the decision Wednesday, which angered many. Our good friends at Yahoo! chimed in:
the last line of this statement:
“The opportunity to compete for a conference championship should be reserved for institutions and student-athletes that are committed to being part of the conference.”
The. Athletes. Aren’t. In. Charge. Of. This. Move. At. All.
What a crock. https://t.co/t9xfsJdxVi
— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) November 10, 2021
At the risk of asking an unpopular question, why should the athletes be in charge of the move? The motivations behind the realignment decision are obvious, as always. Further, as the Washington Post reports, this doesn’t even affect JMU’s football team. There’s also the messy issue of JMU having supported the allegedly oh-so-punitive 2013 decision referenced in the piece.
We’re not going to stop realignment. It is, like the transfer portal, here to stay. The grass has never been greener for most of these institutions, and screaming at windmills to go back to how things were in the good old days is a fool’s errand. That said, there’s one simple way to right the ship a bit, and the CAA even referenced it a bit in its release.
There needs to be a timeframe for realignment. Having it happen during the fall season may make things logistically better — if slightly — but it also leads to unwieldy situations like this. If you had all realignment happen, say, in June and July, there is still time to make all the chess moves without running as much of a risk of the screaming, gnashing reaction we’re seeing when athletes are caught in the crossfire of cash-seeking schools and conferences looking to clean up the mess left by other cash-seeking schools.
If you don’t get realigned before the “dead period”, tough. You can wait until next year — and maybe help cut down on the false-hustle thinkpieces from the national types.
Some tweet-length takes on some hot-button issues around college football:
- College football playoff: The entire thing is a joke. The “reveal” show is an hour-long nothingburger of “analysis” we’ve already seen in 500 places. Expand to 12 teams if you like, but fix the obvious stuff first.
- Cincinnati: Stop it with the “THEY AIN’T PLAYED NOBODY PAWLLLL!” nonsense. They’ve beaten everybody in front of them. They’re a top-four team.
- UTSA: If you don’t put UTSA in a NY6 bowl — assuming they finish undefeated, of course — that’s an even bigger joke than the two I’ve outlined above.
- North Carolina: UNC was a preseason top-10 team to many. The Tar Heels are 5-5. They’re easily one of the three biggest disappointments this year.
- Joey McGuire: Texas Tech’s new coach drew a pretty confused reaction from most around the college football landscape. The Red Raiders are going the UTSA route, tabbing a good football guy who has pounded the pavement in recruiting in the Lone Star State. I like it.
- Mora to UConn: This was completely out of left field. He has plenty of experience at the highest level, but ran UCLA into the ditch his final two years out there. He’s gotta make people care again.
- Happy trails to a great leader: Jacksonville State coach John Grass is leaving after parts of eight seasons with the Gamecocks. Grass finished with a staggering 72-26 record, including six playoff appearances. His words said it all:
After @JSUGamecockFB 's 40-25 win over Abilene Christian … coach John Grass let the media know today would be his last game as Jacksonville State's head coach.
— Jamie Hale (@JamieHaleSports) November 7, 2021
Let’s close it out with a look at the strangest line from each FBS conference game this week.
DISCLAIMER: This article will reference gambling lines and game odds. This feature is not meant to offer gambling advice or influence any financial transaction, and should not be construed as such.
All lines from Caesars Sportsbook, except where otherwise specified. All times Eastern. All games Friday night or Saturday considered for selection. All times Eastern.
ACC: Virginia +5.5 vs. Notre Dame: Virginia could be without starting quarterback — and Heisman darkhorse — Brennan Armstrong. If that happens, UVa is in deep trouble — not that they aren’t already, of course.
American: Tulane +3 vs. Tulsa: Neither team has attractive records — Tulsa is 3-6, Tulane 1-8 — but Tulsa has played big-time teams in Ohio State and Cincinnati really close. This seems a bit low.
Big 12: Baylor +5.5 vs. Oklahoma: Not buying on the Bears.
Big Ten: Iowa -4.5 vs. Minnesota: I don’t really know what to make of either of these teams. I can’t imagine how nerve-wracking it must be to bet on either of these teams.
C-USA: Louisiana Tech -7 vs. Charlotte: The 49ers have been maddeningly inconsistent this year — and Ruston is a tough place to play — but I can’t envision a 2-7 Tech team being a touchdown better than Charlotte.
Independents: New Mexico State +51.5 at Alabama: Is anyone — even as much of a mismatch of this game will be — willing to give 51 and a hook?
MAC: All games completed for the week
Mountain West: Colorado State +2.5 vs. Air Force: People are still really high on the Rams, for some reason. That’s a rugged Air Force bunch, and I can’t envision Colorado State putting up a ton of points.
Pac-12: Washington +4.5 vs. Arizona State: Both teams are in the middle of skids at the moment. If you bet either side, I’d love to see your card.
Sun Belt: Troy +6.5 vs. Louisiana: Troy needs a win to become bowl-eligible. I’m not sure they can get it — or even cover — against the Cajuns.
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