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The Grinch Who Stole Bowl Season

By now, you’ve heard the phrase “silly season” used to describe the stretch between the end of college football’s regular season and the bowl season. It’s the time where coaching changes alter the landscape of college football, even before we’re done admiring the view of the season.

But have you ever looked at how many bowl games are affected? How many players will play their final game under an interim coach? How many teams, who have done everything that the system has asked them to do since August, don’t get to play out their season with a full staff?

And I’m not talking about the major programs who’ve been relegated to third tier bowls who are firing head coaches after 6-6 seasons. I’m talking about the teams who have laid it on the line this season.

How about Northern Illinois? You can debate whether that team belongs in the BCS, but that’s not the point here. It has been a dream season for the Northern Illinois program, and one that has ended with an appearance in the Orange Bowl. However, that appearance will be without their head coach, who’s already gone to NC State. Across the field from them is Florida State, who will be without their defensive coordinator Mark Stoops who’s at Kentucky.

Okay, okay, I get it, that’s a MAC team and a coordinator, but then there’s Wisconsin. The Badgers are the Big Ten Champions and are playing in the Rose Bowl, but their head coach is already in Arkansas.

Gus Malzahn leaves behind an Arkansas State team that faces Kent State in a bowl game, and Kent State’s former coach Darrell Hazell is now at Purdue. (Though, to his credit, Hazell will coach the bowl game at Kent State, a great move for a deserving team that won 11 games this season.)

Cincinnati’s Butch Jones is in Tennessee, San Jose State’s Mike MacIntyre is at Colorado, Western Kentucky’s Willie Taggert is at South Florida and somehow Texas Tech’s Tommy Tubberville is in Cincinnati (though I think everyone would agree that everybody is better off with this one.)

This is all without even addressing coordinators. With Kliff Kingsbury now in Lubbock, Texas A&M will play the Cotton Bowl without its offensive coordinator. Georgia, a Capital One Bowl participant, had a coach hired by Gus Malzahn’s new staff in Auburn in this week. Texas and Oklahoma State will also be without their offensive coordinator.

It’s as hard to find games that aren’t in some way affected by the coaching carousel as it is games that are. Right now, it’s just the way college football is. I mentioned a few weeks ago that one of the biggest problems facing college football is the long layoff between the end of the regular season and the bowl season, and it’s because it helps feed this problem.

Schools and coaches know that the beginning of December is crucial in recruiting, so they don’t want to wait until January to get their new coach and staff in town.

And no, I don’t have a solution, but I do know that we have a problem. It’s a problem when a team wins 11 games in a season and makes a BCS bowl for the first time in program history and then loses their coach for that game. It’s a problem when we’re trying to decide who the best teams in the country are, but they’re not the same teams that we’ve seen all season.

And isn’t admitting that you have a problem the first step?

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