Three-Point Stance: More myths, underappreciated players, top coaches
Rivals National Columnist Mike Farrell is here with five more college football myths he wants to debunk, 10 players from the last 20 years who just don’t get the attention they deserve and going in-depth on the strengths and weaknesses of top coaches.
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1. FIVE MORE MYTHS THAT NEED TO BE DISPELLED
Last week I dispelled five common myths about the current college football landscape. Here are five more pesky myths that need to go away:
Texas A&M will never win anything – The Aggies are known for not winning much of anything historically, at least not since World War II ended. Texas A&M's last conference title was in 1998 when the team won the Big 12. The program's bowl victories – Chick-fil-A, Liberty, Music City, Texas, Belk and the like are uninspiring. The Aggies haven't been very relevant, but that is changing. A case could have been made that Texas A&M deserved a playoff spot last season and its win in the Orange Bowl should propel the program to bigger things moving forward. Alabama is still a major issue in the SEC West but the Aggies will win a national title under Jimbo Fisher, just watch.
Notre Dame can’t win it all in this day and age – This is simply not true. The Fighting Irish have a harder time than most programs due to academic restrictions that others don’t have to deal with but Brian Kelly has been to the national title game and has been in the playoff twice. To me it comes down to lucking into an elite quarterback and some outside receiver help. Get that and they have a shot.
Everyone cheats in college football recruiting – OK, by cheating I mean paying players and it’s simply not as rampant as people think. For every McDonald’s bag Tennessee scandal there are thousands of players that choose schools for the simple reason of earning an education and getting a chance to impress the NFL. I’ve been doing this job for nearly 25 years and I have yet to find irrefutable proof of rampant cheating. Does it happen? Of course, I’m not naïve. But let’s not think this happens all the time. It simply doesn’t.
East Coast bias exists – Pac-12 fans will tell you that there is clearly an East Coast bias because of the time zone their teams play in. So many big Pac-12 games are missed because they are on so late on the East Coast and everyone from the playoff committee to Heisman voters favor players and teams outside of the Pacific Time Zone. That's a garbage take. Name the last really good Pac-12 football team? The Oregon team that lost to Ohio State in the 2014 season? The Oregon team that lost to Cam Newton and Auburn in 2010? That’s a long time ago. It’s not the fault of anyone on the East Coast that the conference has been mediocre at best for such a long time. When Pete Carroll was churning out stars and winning titles at USC, there was a lot of attention paid to the West Coast. It just has to be earned.
Gus Malzahn was a disappointment at Auburn – This one puzzles me. Aside from helping Auburn win the national title as the offensive coordinator in 2010, Malzahn went to the national title game his first season and finished 12-2 in 2013. He never had a losing season at Auburn. Yes, being in the same state and division as Alabama isn’t easy and he won the division twice in eight seasons, but the man was 68-35 overall in his tenure and never missed a bowl game. A disappointment? No. He didn’t win as much as fans wanted, but only a handful of coaches have. UCF could be better off than Auburn right now with Malzahn in charge.
2. TEN UNDERAPPRECIATED PLAYERS SINCE 2000
I was looking through a few things about cornerbacks and the NFL Draft for some research on the position and I came across the name Chris Gamble. Remember him? He doesn’t get the attention he deserves for being one of the best college football players since 2000. Here are 10 underappreciated college football players since the turn of the century.
DB Chris Gamble, Ohio State – Gamble was a two-way player for Ohio State, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors and helping lead the Buckeyes to a national title in 2002. In 38 career games he started 18 times on defense, 12 times on offense and five on both. He was drafted in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft and had a very good NFL career as well.
QB Tajh Boyd, Clemson – Most Clemson fans know this but it needs to be understood nationally that, without Boyd as a bridge to Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence, Clemson is not Clemson today. He led Clemson to 10 or more wins in each of his three years as a starter and overcame the “Clemsoning” burden.
WR Percy Harvin, Florida – Harvin never had a season where he caught more than 60 passes and never surpassed 1,000 yards receiving. But anyone who saw him play and the impact he had on the Florida offense can tell you he was as responsible for the national titles in 2006 and 2008 as anyone. In three seasons he averaged 14.5 yards per reception and 9.5 yards per carry and had 3,781 yards and 32 touchdowns in those three years. He was simply amazing to watch.
QB Pat White, West Virginia – Talk about an unstoppable weapon, White was as dangerous as anyone during his time with the Mountaineers from start to finish. He passed for 6,049 yards and rushed for 4,480 more while amassing 103 touchdowns. He went 11-1, 11-2, 11-2 and 9-4 in his four years and I don’t think any of us knew how spoiled we were to watch those West Virginia teams.
RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin – Gordon was a first-rounder and still in the fantasy football discussion somewhat so how was he underappreciated? While he rushed for 4,915 yards in his career, he averaged 7.8 yards per carry and scored 45 touchdowns in essentially two seasons as a starter. His 2,587 yards in 2014 is second only to the great Barry Sanders for yards rushing in a season. He’s one of the best running backs in college football history but you won’t heard about it much. If he played for Alabama things might be different.
RB Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska – Remember when Nebraska was good under Bo Pelini? Abdullah was a big part of that. His last three seasons, he rushed for 1,137, 1,690 and 1,611 yards and scored 36 touchdowns. He was also an excellent receiving threat. He was one of the best backs in the Big Ten over the last 20 years.
WR Dwayne Jarrett, USC – Jarrett was amazing for a dominant USC team and lost three games in his three year career. He never scored fewer than 12 touchdowns in a season and had 3,138 yards in three seasons. He finished top-10 in the Heisman voting in 2006 but his best season was 2005 when he had 91 catches for 1,274 yards and 16 scores. And he’s rarely talked about because his NFL career was a bust.
WR Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech – Crabtree finished fifth in the Heisman voting in 2008 but his 2007 season was simply amazing. He had 134 catches for 1,962 yards and 22 touchdowns and he helped put Texas Tech on the national map. He’s famous for helping Texas Tech beat Texas but he led his team to a 20-6 record in his two years of dominance.
OL Bryant McKinnie, Miami – McKinnie was a JUCO prospect who played only two seasons at Miami but they were absolutely amazing years. He never allowed a sack as a left tackle in those two years and was a first-team All-American both years. He finished eighth in the Heisman voting in 2001. That’s top-10 for an offensive lineman. It’s incredible.
LB Derrick Johnson, Texas – Johnson had nine interceptions in his career at Texas and broke up 30 passes which are great numbers if you’re a defensive back. But as a linebacker? That’s special. He had 120 tackles or more in his last three seasons and was a first-team All-American in 2003 and 2004 while winning the Butkus Award.
3. STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF TOP COACHES
Finally, I named my top 20 current college football coaches a few months ago but I figured I’d dive a bit deeper into the strengths and weaknesses of each. I will start with Nos. 16-20 today. Keep in mind this is very subjective.
20. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan - Harbaugh is a good coach, we all know that, but he lacks in certain areas like player development (especially quarterbacks) and his use of talent as Michigan sends plenty of players to the NFL but can’t get over the hump.
19. Gary Patterson, TCU - Patterson is a terrific coach and his in-game and gameplanning abilities are excellent. Recruiting has been up and down, and more of a struggle recently with Texas getting more kids and with Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M, but he does a very good job developing talent.
18. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State - Gundy has done a very good job being in the same state as Oklahoma and he develops talent well. Recruiting isn’t his strong point and as a coach he is solid but can do some baffling things. But, overall, he’s the best fit for Oklahoma State by far.
17. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa - Iowa fans want more, and he can be conservative, but his strengths reflect how good a coach he is but also how vanilla he can be. His legacy is his strength as he’s obviously a staple at Iowa and will be remembered well.
16. Kyle Whittingham, Utah - Recruiting is an issue for Utah which drags down his ranking a bit but, as an in-game coach, Whittingham is excellent and he develops his players. His gameplans are solid for the most part and he’s one of those coaches under the radar nationally.