August is prediction season in college football. Every outlet from here to Kazakhstan will tell you who's going to make the Playoff and who's going to win the Heisman. We're here to tell you what everyone is going to be talking about this winter and beyond.
Scott: After three disappointing seasons at Texas, Charlie Strong rides one excellent season at USF...into a different job.
Following three consecutive 7-loss seasons at Texas, Charlie Strong was hired to follow Willie Taggart as the head coach at USF. Taggart's gift to Strong: a loaded roster. The Bulls' return nearly their entire starting offense from last season, including all conference quarterback Quinton Flowers. On the defensive side of the ball, the Bulls return three all conference players as well.
Combine the talent already on campus & a schedule ranked the 28th easiest in all of college football and my bold prediction shows Charlie Strong once again riding a high point on to the next one.
Strong's Bulls will be heavy favorites in every game until November where the schedule becomes modestly more challenging. If the Bulls can beat Houston and Tulsa in Tampa, they will be set for a primetime matchup with UCF on Black Friday. The Bulls blow out the resurgent Knights and blast a 10-win Navy to become the first Group of 5 team to reach the College Football Playoff (at 13-0 no less). ESPN, which has featured the Bulls throughout the month of November, continues to fawn all of this team, anointing Strong one of the elite college football coaches.
Following USF's Rose Bowl loss to Ohio State, his administration ponders offering a contract extension; but holds off waiting to see what happens after Taggart's players leave campus. Out of nowhere Jimbo Fisher is tabbed to take over as head coach of the Tampa Bay Bucs -- who struggled, once again, to a 9-7 finish -- reuniting Fisher with Jameis Winston. Within days, Charlie Strong is introduced as the new head coach at Florida State. USA Today's Steve Berkowitz reports shortly after the announcement that Strong, once again, has structured his contract to stick it to Texas, ensuring as with his USF contract that the first two years at FSU he "only" receives $1 million in compensation, whereas in the latter years of the contract he will receive nearly $10 million per year.
Zach: From where we sit on this beat, there is not a more interesting case than Texas A&M. Not Notre Dame. Not Tennessee. Not Auburn. Not Gruden or Chip. And that's because the Aggies can't afford not to be good.
A&M has invested half a billion dollars into the revamped Kyle Field, increasing the capacity to a now 102,733 seats to fill. At the same time, the Aggies now live in a jungle with a herd of deadly elephants and tigers of two different stripes to their east, and what should be a resurgent Texas program to their west. One wrong step and they could get trampled.
At the same time, an A&M opening would instantly move to the front of the line in any coaching cycle. It's a program with resources few can match: pristine facilities, access to four of the deepest recruiting territories in the country in Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, East Texas and Louisiana, an army of willing donors and a fan hungrier for big-time success than any in college football -- plus the panache of wearing the SEC logo on its chest. There are only 14 of these jobs available in college football, and A&M is one of the five with a credible shot at actually winning the league if and when everything in the program is operating to its potential.
So, after AD Scott Woodward all but announced Kevin Sumlin is on the hot seat this spring, the Aggies announce a change after a Nov. 4 loss to Auburn drops the Aggies to 4-5, the Aggies make overtures to Bob Stoops, Mike Gundy and Gary Patterson to find the timing simply isn't right, then open up the checkbook to pull Chip Kelly out of college retirement with a high-dollar, short-term contract that lets Kelly leave without penalty to an NFL head coaching job.
Doug: Jon Gruden returns to coaching...probably in the NFL.
Hey, the title of the article is bold predictions, so I decided to go big. At 54, Gruden is still relatively young, and there's no arguing that he still has the passion and juice to get back into the swing of things.
Gruden's been off the sidelines since being fired in Tampa Bay in 2008. Since then, he's become the favorite analyst of a lot of football fans, and a whole lot of coaches, he's founded the Fired Football Coaches Association, and his sit-down with quarterbacks studying their film before the NFL Draft quickly became must-see TV for football fanatics and coaches alike.
Gruden has a great gig as an analyst, and he's become a pop-culture personality of sorts since being away from the sideline, but there's gotta be a reason he's up before the sun studying the latest college and NFL film, and that's because football and coaching are in his blood. When the perfect opportunity comes calling, Gruden will be ready to put the whistle back on.
Back in late July, Gruden noted that he's preparing to come back to the NFL, and at the very least, interested in the right - or perhaps, perfect - opportunity. A few days later, he came out and said that he doesn't see himself "coaching anytime soon."
It's definitely bold, but I can see Jon Gruden back on the sideline in 2018 leading an NFL franchise.