The Ornery Frogs

TCU changes leagues, the Hurricanes' job opening, RichRod and more. The editors debate.

TCU changes leagues, the Hurricanes' job opening, RichRod and more. The editors debate.

Athlon editors Steven Lassan, Mitch Light and Braden Gall debate five burning questions about Championship Week in college football:

Follow us on twitter: @AthlonBraden / @AthlonSteven / @AthlonMitch

1. Should a one-loss BCS team play in the title game over an unbeaten TCU?

Mitch Light: If it is Oregon, no. If it is Auburn, no, but only because Auburn's one loss will have come in the SEC Championship Game, and I don't think a team that did not win its league should have a shot at the national title. Is TCU better than Stanford? Wisconsin? Ohio State? Who knows. The point is moot, though, because TCU is ahead of those three teams in the BCS Standings and will remain ahead of them barring some drastic shifts in the two human polls. TCU is very, very good and has proven on the field that it is one of the elite teams in the nation this season.

Braden Gall: There is a large grey area in this question — and I believe it applies to all polls or rankings anywhere. How do we reconcile what we know/think to what we have seen on the field? Is James Madison a better football team than Virginia Tech? Of course not. Do I believe that Auburn might be a better football team than TCU? Probably. Do they deserve the right to play for the national championship if they cannot even win their own conference? Absolutely not. I also do not believe you can bring a one-loss Auburn into the discussion without also including Stanford, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State. How do any of us know what would happen if those six (with TCU) "played-off" for a right to face Oregon? The final issue could be allowing the "mid-major" its shot this year to get it over with. If TCU plays Oregon and gets smoked, we could end the non-AQ talk all together.

Steven Lassan: If Auburn or Oregon loses this Saturday, TCU should get a spot in the national championship game over a one-loss team. Sure, the Mountain West isn’t as strong as the SEC or Pac-10, but the Horned Frogs are undefeated and deserve a chance to play for the title. The Tigers certainly have a strong resume, but I’ve never been a fan of allowing a team that doesn’t win its conference to play for a national title.

2. Did TCU make the right move by joining the Big East?

Mitch: Probably. You can argue that the school should have waited around for a few years to jump on board possible expansion in the Big 12, but it's hard to turn down an invitation to a conference with an automatic tie-in to a BCS bowl. We all want a playoff (or most of us do), but we are stuck with the BCS for the foreseeable future, so you can't expect a school from a non-AQ conference to turn down a bid to the Big East.

Braden: I do not know if any conversations have taken place between Big 12 commish Dan Beebe and the powers that be at TCU, but I would have held out for their offer. The Big 12 will have to expand at some point in order to keep up with the rest of college football, and TCU would have been my first phone call. The competition might be easier in the Big East than the Big 12, and the Frogs have expanded their recruiting base some. However, the roster will still be made up largely of kids from the Lone Star State. And in reality, does the Big East really give an unbeaten TCU a better shot at making the national title game? See the 2009 Cincinnati Bearcats.

Steven: I think so. The Horned Frogs get an automatic bid to the BCS and join a better league. If the Mountain West was composed of BYU, Utah and Boise State, then a strong argument could have been made that moving to the Big East was the wrong move. However, without BYU and Utah, the Mountain West isn’t looking as strong. The geographic fit may be imperfect and 17 basketball schools will be odd, but this gives the Horned Frogs a better opportunity to play for a BCS bowl every year and increases their profile for a potential move to the Big 12 – if it decides to expand.

3. Does firing Randy Shannon send the wrong message?

Mitch: It sends the message that Miami wants to win more football games. The school isn't giving the next coach the green light to return to the renegade days of the '80s and '90s. Randy Shannon did a great job cleaning up the program's image, but he simply didn't win enough games. Can you win big at Miami and do so with guys who stay out of trouble? That remains to be seen. It is still a great job with an unbelievable recruiting area, but it's not the job it was 10 or 20 years ago. But to specifically answer the question: I don't think firing a coach who didn't win games sends the message that all you care about is winning. It's not that simple.

Braden: Miami is a tricky beast. There is very little fan support, the facilities need upgrading and the stadium is 30 minutes from campus, but they want to compete for national titles every year. Randy Shannon was an excellent ambassador for the University. I also believe, had his starting quarterback not gotten hurt and was given more time, that Miami would be competing for ACC titles (which isn't really too far from what they were doing already, come to think about it — their record of 5-3 this year was third to only the Hokies and Noles). I commend Shannon for how he conducted business and the example he set for his players while still competing at a high level. Was it 34 straight wins good? No, but be careful what you wish for. Is a national title worth gang warfare on the field, actual murder and strapped defensive backs returning gunfire in his frontyard?

Steven: This firing certainly shows that no matter how well your team does in the classroom or how quiet it is in the police blotter, you have to win games. Although Randy Shannon did a lot of great things at Miami, the Hurricanes expect to compete for ACC and national championships. College football is a business and Miami wasn’t satisfied with a 7-5 record, especially with poor fan support all year. Whoever takes over in Coral Gables will be in good shape next year, with plenty of young talent on the roster. Although Miami was disappointed with how 2010 worked out, had Shannon coached this team in 2011, there’s a good chance the Canes would’ve played for the ACC title.

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Athlon's Editors debate the biggest issues from around the college football world. TCU to the Big East, the BCS title game, Randy Shannon, RichRod and much more in this week's edition of 5 Burning Questions.

4. If you were Michigan AD Dave Brandon, would you give Rich Rodriguez another year?

Mitch: Ordinarily, my answer would be yes. But in this case, I would fire Rodriguez and hire Jim Harbaugh. He is one of the top 5 coaches in the nation and he is a Michigan grad. It is a perfect fit.

Braden: Is it a bit strange that the banquet to honor the 1985 Michigan team — a team that Jim Harbaugh quarterbacked to a 10-1-1 record — takes place five days after the seventh straight loss to Ohio State, isn't it? Harbaugh is not supposed to be there, which is good news for the current staff because he would be the only reason why I would move past RichRod. There was clear improvement on offense, they led the Big Ten in total offense and rushing, and in the win column. The defense needs serious work, but it appears the Maize and Blue are headed in the right direction.

Steven: No question about it, I would give Rich Rodriguez another year. It’s easy to forget what Rodriguez inherited when he took the job in Ann Arbor and how difficult it is to change an entire culture. The Wolverines lost a key senior class – Chad Henne, Mike Hart, Jake Long, Shawn Crable and Jamar Adams, along with Mario Manningham’s early departure to the NFL. Rodriguez didn’t have a quarterback to work with in year one and each season has resulted in an increase of two wins. Michigan fans may be unhappy to see a slow climb back to the top, but Rodriguez is a good coach and given some time to address the defensive question marks, the Wolverines will be back contending for BCS bids.

5. Which team outside of the top six would you least like to play in a fictitious playoff?

Mitch: Arkansas. I've been high on this team all season. The offense is great, with tremendous balance. The emergence of Knile Davis at running back in the latter half of the season has made the Hogs that much more difficult to defend.

Braden: Virginia Tech. In fact, had Kellen Moore not completed that pass to Austin Pettis way back on Labor Day with a minute left to play, I believe we would be in a serious quagmire with four unbeaten teams including the Hokies. They have rattled off 10 straight wins and finished ACC play unblemished. The defense has come a long way since opening night and Tyrod Taylor is as good as any quarterback in the nation.

Steven: Arkansas may not have the nation’s longest winning streak, but there are few teams in the nation playing better right now. Since losing a 65-43 shootout against Auburn, the Razorbacks have reeled off six victories in a row, including wins over South Carolina, Mississippi State and LSU. The offense was dangerous going into this year, but has added another dimension and improved thanks to the emergence of running back Knile Davis. The defense isn’t elite, but the Razorbacks rank 16th nationally against the pass and 36th in total defense. If there was a playoff, the combination of Davis and quarterback Ryan Mallett would give the Razorbacks an opportunity to win a couple of games.

Campus Challenge (Championship Week is the final week of the challenge)

The rules: Each person picks a quarterback, running back and wide receiver to make up his "team" for the week in an effort to amass as many passing yards, rushing yards, receiving yards and total touchdowns as possible. Whoever has the best stats as the end of the year wins. All players selected must be from a BCS conference team playing an FBS opponent, and each editor can only use a player once during the season.

Week 14 Selections
QuarterbackDarron Thomas, Ore.Nathan Scheelhaase, Ill.Jake Locker, Wash.
Running backMikel LeShoure, Ill.Marcus Lattimore, S. Car.Chris Polk, Wash.
ReceiverJuron Criner, Ariz.Jermaine Kearse, Wash.Jonathan Baldwin, Pitt.


Week 13 ResultsStevenMitchBraden
Passing Yards264311148
Rushing Yards114117249
Receiving Yards157123199


Cumulative ResultsStevenMitchBraden
Passing Yards3,808 (1)3,051 (3)3,065 (2)
Rushing Yards2,086 (2)2,057 (3)2,385 (1)
Receiving Yards1,626 (1)1,357 (3)1,516 (2)
Touchdowns67 (2)56 (3)71 (1)

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