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College football pre-bowl recap: Big Ten shut out of playoff, Frost warning in Nebraska

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The biggest drama was off the field in college football this past week.

Big Ten Championship - Ohio State v Wisconsin Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

What’s next for Indiana?

Well, from the last time I wrote this column, the Hoosiers shut Rutger out 41-0, setting up a bowl-or-bust matchup in the Bucket Game against Purdue. That, uhh, didn’t turn out so well. I didn’t have anything positive to say after the game. Fortunately, Alex gave IU fans something positive to look forward to, and Auston was more constructive in his criticism of the season, while Kyle went all existential about watching Indiana football.

Regardless, Indiana heads into the offseason with more questions than answers about its football team, and while much of the offense will return, Tom Allen will have to rebuild his defense.

One thing that the Hoosiers could look into are transfers from Ole Miss, who are free to leave without sitting out a year due to the NCAA sanctions on the school. Tom Allen and WR coach Grant Heard are former Ole Miss staffers - could they capitalize on some transfers coming to Bloomington next fall?

College Football Playoff Rankings

Final Rankings:

1. Clemson
2. Oklahoma
3. Georgia
4. Alabama

For the first time in the four years of the CFP, the Big Ten has been left out.

Good.

Now, Alabama wasn’t the perfect choice for #4 - their best wins were against LSU and Misssissippi State and their big nonconference win against Florida State doesn’t look great in retrospect. But I’d argue they were a better choice than Ohio State. Despite OSU’s better victories, the Buckeyes lost by 31 to Iowa, a mediocre 7-5 team. Sure, Clemson and OU had close losses to mediocre teams, but OSU got absolutely throttled by the Hawkeyes. In addition, Ohio State didn’t win their division last year and got in, so the argument from Buckeyes fans that conference champions should have more sway does not hold water.

In short, don’t give up 55 points to Iowa.

(Perhaps this omission will force B1G teams to schedule more aggressively out of conference, or do a better job at politicking in the committee, or not punt the ball down six late in the conference title game like Wisconsin did on Saturday. All good steps forward, but instead they’ll probably just complain about SEC bias.)

But you know who would have been a better choice than both teams?

That’s right. Central Florida.

UCF went 12-0 against some tough AAC competition and had a great offense all year - why not give the Knights a shot? If UCF couldn’t even get a sniff this year, then it doesn’t bode well for any Group of 5 team down the road.

Grading the new head coach hires

Nebraska: Scott Frost wasn’t just the best choice, he was the only choice for Nebraska, which is stuck still remembering its glory days. Frost is a Huskers alum and played QB on the co-championship team in 1997. He was an assistant under Chip Kelly at Oregon, then went to UCF and in two years, brought the Knights from 0-12 to 12-0 and an AAC title. His spread offense will be a breath of fresh air in both Lincoln and the Big Ten West. And as Saturday night proved, some team needs to bring a challenge to Wisconsin’s cro-Magnon play and hegemony in the division after the Badgers’ lackluster performances in the past two B1G title games. But Frost’s toughest task might be getting the “Blackshirt” defense back in order in Lincoln. Grade: A

UCLA: Chip Kelly returns to college after five years and two tough stints in the NFL. Has his NFL experience humbled him? Will his offense still be as effective in college football? Will he be able to knock USC off its Pac-12 South perch? I have quite a few questions, but there’s no doubt that this is a bolt of energy for the UCLA program. Plus he gets to play home games in the Rose Bowl, which is pretty sweet. Grade: A-

Florida: Dan Mullen may not have been Florida’s first or second choice, but he’s a former UF assistant, has worked with Florida AD Scott Stricklin before, and knows the SEC well from his successful tenure at Mississippi State. And he’s only 45 to boot. A no-brainer for the Gators. Grade: A

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs have chosen to replace Mullen with Joe Moorhead, the Penn State OC and former Fordham head coach. When James Franklin brought Moorhead to Penn State, the Nittany Lions offense became a force. Moorhead hasn’t coached in the Magnolia State before, but he seems like a good choice for a school that faces tough SEC West competition year in and out. Grade: A-

Texas A&M: I believe two things can be true with the Aggies. First, the A&M program was becoming stale under Kevin Sumlin - blown 34-point leads, 4th quarter dogfights with FCS programs, annual November collapses, and offseason transfer drama meant it was probably time for a change in College Station. But also, while Jimbo Fisher was a huge name hire, I’m not sure how good of a fit he is at A&M, especially at $7.5 million a year for 10 years. Fisher is a former Saban acolyte, and Nick Saban loves to defeat his former assistants. In addition, Florida State struggled to contain Lamar Jackson and DeShaun Watson in the past two years - can Fisher keep up with “SEC speed?” Grade: B

Arizona State: They actually did it. They went out and hired Herm Edwards, who’s spent the last decade or so yelling about stuff on ESPN. Herm was always an entertaining soundbite as an NFL head coach. And I’m of the opinion that college football needs more entertaining coaches. Will it work at ASU? Probably not. Am I incredibly excited for the Herm Edwards era in Tempe? You know it. Grade: C- for hire, A+++ for fun potential

Ole Miss: Facing NCAA sanctions and another bowl ban for next year, the Rebels promoted Matt Luke to full-time head coach. It’s an emotional hire, but with four months to find Hugh Freeze’s replacement, it’s an underwhelming one. Grade: D

Florida State and Arkansas: Both are still searching for replacements, but it hasn’t really been an embarrassing search yet for either. Grade: INC

Tennessee: Oh man, if you’re not a Vols fan, this is the greatest coaching search ever. Last week, Tennessee tried to hire Greg Schiano - a downright terrible idea for several reasons, including his connections to scandal-era Penn State, his 68-67 overall record at Rutger, his god-awful tenure as Bucs head coach, and the fact that his OSU defense gave up 55 points to Iowa. Fans protested. Politicians condemned the move. Donors threatened to pull their money. Whatever the motive, by the end of last Sunday, the Schiano deal was kaput, and everyone seemed pleased about it, except, strangely enough, for college football media members. But when the Vols tried to hire a few other candidates - including Jeff Brohm - none of them panned out. Then when it looked like AD John Currie had struck a deal to bring Mike Leach to Rocky Top, Currie was fired as AD and replaced with former head coach Phil Fulmer. As of now, they still don’t have a head coach. What a mess. Grade: F