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Mind of Mike: Thoughts on latest developments in college football

National columnist Mike Farrell bounces around college football topics that are inside the Mind of Mike.


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Mario Cristobal
Mario Cristobal (AP Images)

There was a lot of talk about Mario Cristobal tearing into wide receiver Kris Hutson on the sidelines this weekend after the latter got a personal foul for taunting. To me, it’s ridiculous. Announcer Rod Gilmore said during the broadcast of the game that Cristobal went too far in chastising Hutson. Gilmore’s take is an example of all that is wrong in the world these days. A good butt chewing, which Hutson handled well and with respect, is needed now and again, and Cristobal did nothing wrong.

But for some reason it’s become a hot topic nationally to the point that the coach had to address it at his press conference this week. I sarcastically posted Gilmore’s quote above the video this week on Twitter and it speaks to the attention span of most because people thought I was the one being critical.

It’s clear we are in a day and age when people want to judge and criticize more than ever, and I can bet Hutson will be the first one to tell you that he appreciated the emotion – and deserved it.



RB Bijan Robinson
RB Bijan Robinson (AP Images)

Can someone find me a better one-loss team than Texas? The Longhorns are becoming very dangerous and learned a bit from that pounding by Arkansas. The offense was never my question in year one with Steve Sarkisian. It was always about the defense, and while there is still work to be done there I feel they can outscore anyone on their schedule.

A case could be made for Florida, the way it played against Alabama and how well the Gators' defense looks. Perhaps Ohio State, too, with its offensive potential. But keep an eye on the Longhorns as they head into the showdown with Oklahoma in a couple of weeks.



Chris Rodriguez Jr.
Chris Rodriguez Jr. (AP Images)

Who’s the most important player to his team in all of college football? Think about that question a bit. You usually go with a quarterback, but this year’s crop has been disappointing, save for Matt Corral at Ole Miss, Bryce Young at Alabama and a few others. A case can be made for Corral, but Ole Miss might still be 3-0 without him against three average teams.

To me, it’s running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. for Kentucky, who doesn’t get his share of love. Yes, he had a big fumble against Missouri that almost cost the Wildcats the game, but without him they wouldn’t have had a chance and there’s no way they would be 4-0 heading into a huge game against Florida. Rodriguez Jr. has 85 rushes for 513 yards and three scores as well as five catches for 20 yards and a score. He is the heart and soul of this Wildcats team. If they pull an upset this weekend, he will be the key.



There have been many embarrassing things I’ve seen over my many years covering college football, and I’m going to add the University of Arizona advertising for walk-on football players after an 0-4 start to the season. Arizona will hold walk-on tryouts Oct. 6 in what appears to be a desperate attempt to improve its roster.

Things are not off to a great start for new head coach Jedd Fisch, and maybe this is a message to his current players, but it’s downright embarrassing for a Power Five program in my book. Kicker tryouts are one thing, but entire roster tryouts? Wow.


We often focus on coaches on the Hot Seat or coaches doing surprisingly well, while we rarely focus on coaches doing as well as expected and those not on the hot seat but failing to meet expectations. Here’s a few of both.


Nick Saban, Alabama We never really say much about Saban aside from that he’s the GOAT, but let’s remember that 99% of coaches probably would have lost that game at Florida.

Mario Cristobal, Oregon Oregon was expected to be good this season and make a playoff run, but did anyone expect a win at Ohio State without some key players? His coaching was a big key.

James Franklin, Penn State Can we give this man some love? I’ve heard so many Penn State fans whine about him as a coach over the years, and last year people wanted him gone. He has the best two wins of anyone so far this season: at Wisconsin and at home against Auburn.

Brian Kelly, Notre Dame Another coach who has fans complain about him because he hasn’t won a national title. He has as many wins as he has had left tackles this season: 4. That’s just one example of how good he is.



Paul Chryst, Wisconsin The Badgers are usually well coached but the offense has been miserable this year and the fault has to fall on Chryst. The offensive line is weak by their standard, and Graham Mertz is horrible.

Dabo Swinney, Clemson For all the accolades he gets for winning national titles he has to get some heat for this offense and how bad the play calling has been. He needs to prove he’s a great coach by overcoming a lack of elite skill on offense.

Matt Campbell, Iowa State He’s always talked about as a top 10 coach, but a blowout loss to Iowa and a bad loss to Baylor showed a lack of adjustment and game planning. I told you the Cyclones would lose four games this season.

Mack Brown, UNC I love Mack Brown, let’s make that clear. But this team has stumbled badly on offense and defense at times and has one really bad loss to Georgia Tech.

Ryan Day, Ohio State I also love Ryan Day, but the defense looks bad and his specialty — offense — is average so far. CJ Stroud has been a disappointment.