Starting 11: Jim Harbaugh Is Overrated Edition

If I were on the playoff committee these would be my four playoff teams after week six of the college football season:

1. Alabama

2. Clemson

3. Georgia

4. Penn State

My fifth team would be Washington and my sixth team would be Ohio State.

That’s who I think is the best, not who I think is the most deserving. Clearly, Ohio State deserves to be ranked below Oklahoma, but I think the Buckeyes are playing better than the Sooners at this particular point in time.

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Okay, here we go with the Starting 11.
1. Jim Harbaugh is the most overrated coach in college football. 
Think about this, Harbaugh is now in his third year at Michigan and his team is just 1-4 against top rivals Michigan State and Ohio State and has never finished a season better than tied for third in the Big Ten East. Given that Michigan still has road games at Wisconsin and at Penn State and a home game against Ohio State, there is a very good chance the Wolverines finish year three under Jim Harbaugh at 8-4.
Here are what some other top coaches did in year two or three at their respective schools: Nick Saban went 26-1 in years two and three at Alabama, notching a national championship in year three. Urban Meyer won national titles in year two at Florida and year three at Ohio State and has come in first or tied for first all five years at Ohio State. James Franklin won the Big Ten in year three at Penn State and won nine games in years two and three at freaking Vanderbilt. Chris Petersen won the Pac 12 in year three at Washington. Jimbo Fisher won the ACC in year three and Dabo Swinney won his division in year three at Clemson.
Putting Jim Harbaugh in the same category with these coaches right now is, frankly, absurd.
Harbaugh has gotten a ton of attention for his off field shenanigans, but he has hasn’t won anything and his failure to find a decent quarterback in three years is entirely his own fault, given the fact that he came to Michigan with the reputation of an offensive guru.
Harbaugh is now 5-4 in his last nine games with the Wolverines. Nick Saban has lost four games in his past four seasons and Urban has only lost four games in his past three seasons.
Right now Jim Harbaugh is the fourth best coach in his own division. Maybe that changes in year four, but in his third year at Michigan Harbaugh is the most overrated coach in college football.
2. The SEC has a decent chance to get two teams into the playoff.
Alabama, Georgia and Auburn are all top title contenders as we enter the second half of the season and several other conferences have the potential of crowning a two loss conference champ. This means the SEC is alive for two playoff spots.
I’ll sketch it out below, but I think the Big 12 and the Big Ten have a decent chance of crowning a two loss conference champion. So does the Pac 12, honestly. If that happens wouldn’t you have to take a one loss Georgia or Alabama team as a playoff representative over a two loss title team?
Think about Georgia’s resume, for instance, if it lost a close SEC title game to Alabama. The Bulldogs would have a road win over Notre Dame, which might finish ranked in the top ten — see discussion below. They would have a nice win over Georgia Tech, which is a double OT loss away from being undefeated, and they would have a road win over Auburn, which is a top ten caliber team. If Georgia finished 12-1 with a single loss to Alabama in the SEC title game, I don’t know how you leave them out over a two loss title team from another conference.
Similarly, what if Alabama finished 12-1 with a single loss to Georgia in the SEC title game? Wouldn’t it be difficult to argue Alabama wasn’t still one of the four best teams in college football?
Finally, what if Auburn ran the table and finished 12-1 with a win over 11-1 Georgia in the SEC title game? Then you could have 11-1 Alabama with only a road loss to Auburn and 12-1 Auburn at the top of the college football heap. Remember that Auburn’s only loss would be on the road at night at Clemson in week two, by a score of 14-6. How would both Auburn and Alabama not have great shots to get in under this scenario?
My point is pretty simple here, after all the trendy talk about the SEC being down, the SEC has three of the top eight teams in college football right now and is poised to potentially become the first conference to place two teams in the playoff.
3. Washington is the most likely team in college football to go 13-0.
The Huskies have won every game by 16 or more points — all three conference games by 27 or more — and only have one top 25 team left on their regular season schedule, Washington State in Seattle to finish their season.
Chris Petersen is right, Washington is playing so late at night that most fans aren’t aware of how dominant his team has been, but I’d be very surprised if the Huskies aren’t in the playoff for a second straight year.
But here’s the tough spot for Washington, what happens if a two loss USC team beats Washington to win the Pac 12? A two loss USC — let’s say with losses to Washington State and Notre Dame — wouldn’t make the playoff, but would the Huskies have enough to get in at 12-1 over a second SEC team?
I don’t think so because the schedule is so weak.
So Washington probably doesn’t have any margin for error at all.
4. The Big 12 is in playoff jeopardy. 
What’s new, right?
Oklahoma’s disastrous home loss as a 30 point favorite was the seventh straight season Oklahoma has lost a game as a double digit favorite.
It also left TCU as the only undefeated team in the conference.
TCU seems unlikely to go 13-0 with road games still to come at Oklahoma, Kansas State and Texas Tech so the best possible result the Big 12 can hope for is that Oklahoma finishes the season 12-1. If the Sooners could do that it would be virtually impossible to leave out a 12-1 Oklahoma team, especially if Ohio State went on to win the Big Ten title.
But would a 12-1 Oklahoma State or TCU make the playoff over a 12-1 Alabama or 12-1 Georgia that lost a close SEC title game? I just don’t see it.
This means the Big 12 desperately needs Oklahoma to win out to ensure a playoff bid.
5. The Big Ten East title will come down to Penn State at Ohio State.
Michigan’s loss to Michigan State eliminated a three way tie between Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan. Given that Michigan is likely to end up with two or more Big Ten losses — I would be shocked if the Wolverines ran the table from here — the Big Ten East likely comes down to Penn State at Ohio State.
Ohio State also gets a tremendous scheduling advantage for this game, getting its bye week before the game while Penn State will play Michigan the week before. In fact, if I’m a Nittany Lion fan I’m definitely asking the Big Ten schedulers how we ended up with Michigan, at Ohio State and at Michigan State back-to-back-to-back. That’s brutal.
If Ohio State wins that game against Penn State then you feel pretty good about the Buckeyes being 10-1 headed to Michigan, which would mean that game meant nothing for the Big Ten East since Ohio State would have already clinched regardless of the outcome. Now the game could still have major playoff implications — Michigan would have a chance to knock Ohio State out of the playoff and Harbaugh would have a chance to finally win a game that matters, but they wouldn’t have a chance to do anything to Ohio State’s Big Ten title hopes.
Indeed, that’s probably the worst case playoff scenario for the Big Ten, 10-1 Ohio State loses to Michigan to end the Big Ten regular season and then bounces back to beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. At that point in time do you take a potentially 12-1 Wisconsin without many big wins or 11-1 Penn State which lost head-to-head to Ohio State for the playoff? Because I don’t think you can take 11-2 Big Ten champ Ohio State.
Although, how fun is this scenario? Because Penn State would be in the almost identical situation that Ohio State was in last year. Remember how the committee took 11-1 Ohio State with a road loss over 11-2 conference champ Penn State with a head-to-head win over the team that didn’t even win its own division?
Would the committee take Penn State using the same logic this time or not? Can you imagine if the committee still took Ohio State, leaving Penn State on the losing side of the same argument they made in 2016 to justify taking Ohio State over them?
6. Clemson has just one top 25 team left on its schedule — at N.C. State, but look out for the Miami Hurricanes under Mark Richt in year two. 
If the Canes can get past Georgia Tech next week then the only really tough game left on the schedule is Notre Dame. Win or lose that game and the Canes have a decent chance to roll into the ACC title game unbeaten in conference play and with a legit shot to make the playoff.
I know I said the SEC has a shot to get two teams into the playoff, but so does the ACC. What if Miami went 12-0 and beat Clemson to win the ACC title? Could you really leave 12-1 defending champ Clemson out of the playoff, particularly considering Clemson would also have a really good out of conference win over Auburn? I don’t think so.
By the way, this sets up an unbelievable potential playoff situation — can you imagine if Miami played Georgia and Mark Richt beat Georgia to win a national title at Miami?
Would there be anything more Georgia than this?
This would be the Georgia’ing of all Georgia’ing’s.
7.  This is the worst play-by-play call in the history of college football. 
Just revel in its majesty.

8. Notre Dame has a chance to go 11-1 and has won every game except Georgia by twenty or more points. 
The Fighting Irish are the most consistently overrated team in college football history. (This is proven by 538’s statistical analysis of preseason ranking compared with actual results.)
So maybe that explains why the Irish are not receiving any attention this year despite starting off the season 5-1 with the only loss being by a single point to Georgia.
The Irish have USC, N.C. State, Miami and Stanford in their final six so if you want a dark horse team to climb in the playoff rankings, look out for the Irish.
Could 11-1 Notre Dame be in the playoff mix?
I think so.
This also helps Georgia’s case quite a bit if the Bulldogs go 12-1 and lose to Alabama in the SEC title game. Fighting Irish fans need Georgia to go 13-0 and win the SEC.
9. Let’s take a look at the SEC coaching hot seat.
Gus Malzahn has removed himself from the hot seat and assuming he can win at least nine games this year, he probably gets an extension. (Now watch Malzahn lose four straight at LSU, at Arkansas at Texas A&M and against Georgia and get fired in a month).
Kevin Sumlin’s Aggies are 4-2 and I think it’s crazy to put him on the hot seat right now. The final six games of the season are all winnable for A&M, but how massive is that game at Florida right now? I think a 4-2 finish, which would leave Sumlin 5-3 in the SEC West, would make it virtually impossible to justify firing Sumlin.
Ed Orgeron got an absolutely massive win on the road at Florida to put his haters at bay for the moment.
So that leaves us with three coaches — and one rising star — at the top of the hot seat list.
Personally, I think Bret Bielema has to be number one on the hot seat list. The Razorbacks are now 10-24 in the SEC in Bielema’s fifth season and they are coming off a total beat down on the road against South Carolina.
Pray for Arkansas at Alabama next week because that is going to be really ugly. And it will leave Arkansas sitting at 2-4 with a legit chance to go 3-9 or 4-8 on the year. If that happens, and I think there’s a good chance it does, Arkansas would either have to bring Bielema back for a sixth season or pay him, wait for it, a $15.4 million buyout.
$15.4 million!
That’s an absolutely criminal buyout to owe a guy who has never been better than 8-5 in any season at Arkansas.
Butch Jones is next on the hot seat list, sitting at 3-2 with South Carolina and Alabama up next on the schedule. I don’t what will happen against South Carolina — Will Muschamp has now won three games this year as a Vegas underdog — but I know the Alabama game will be a blood bath. If Tennessee cares about winning I think they fire Butch right after the Alabama loss to avoid the possibility of Tennessee managing to win four or five to finish the season and post an 8-4 or 9-3 season. (The Vols are much more talented than Kentucky, Vandy, Missouri and Southern Miss and could certainly beat LSU in Knoxville so 8-4 or 9-3 wouldn’t be out of the question and it would be tougher to fire Butch with those results.)
In our third spot on the hot seat list, Barry Odom is now 1-4 in year two after going 4-8 in year one. I think Odom is a really good dude who inherited a dumpster fire at Mizzou so I believe you have to give him at least three years to see what he can do, but the natives are restless in Columbia and Odom is certainly on this list.
Finally, don’t overlook Jim McElwain entering our hot list at number four. His luck finally ran out against LSU and the guy could easily be 1-4 right now instead of 3-2. The Gators are a total mess on the offensive side of the ball and losses could still happen to A&M, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State. That Georgia game could be particularly ugly. If the Gators went 5-6 in McElwain’s third year, would he be entirely safe?
McElwain’s probably okay given the wins over Tennessee and Kentucky and the fact that it’s unlikely he’d lose to all four of those teams I listed above, but look out, all is not well in Gainesville and McElwain’s not very safe at all.
10. Here’s my Heisman top four:
1. Saquon Barkley
2. Luke Falk
3. Bryce Love
4. Baker Mayfield
This Heisman race is completely wide open.
In fact, I don’t remember a race ever being this wide open halfway through the season. There’s just no one standing out a great deal.
11. SEC power rankings 1-14:
The SEC power rankings are sponsored by Krystal. Krystal burgers are only 79 cents each all day, every day. And all wings – BBQ, Buffalo, Boneless or traditional – are only 49 cents each on Saturdays and Sundays during football season.
Krystal is hooking up the Outkick family again this season – text OUTKICK to ‘37793’ right now for some free Krystals and a soda. Enjoy!
1. Alabama
2. Georgia
3. Auburn
4. Texas A&M
5. Mississippi State
6. LSU
7. Florida
8. Kentucky
9. South Carolina
10. Tennessee
11. Vandy
12. Arkansas
13. Ole Miss
14. Missouri
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