Written by: Joseph Yun
As the entire world sits down to reflect and give thanks for the small blessings that have marked a tumultuous 2020 calendar year to date, it’s time to look at what the Power 5 conferences should be thankful for at the dinner table.
First and foremost, we sincerely wish everyone the best of health and to enjoy this time off to spend with their loved ones if possible. Also, to thank those on the front lines fighting the good fight against the pandemic every day.
What should each conference be grateful for when everyone gets together for Thanksgiving?
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Stay safe!
The powers that be on Tobacco Road should be thankful for the brief sojourn that is Notre Dame joining the conference for the 2020 football season. The Fighting Irish joining on a temporary full-time basis has been a boon to the ACC’s SOS and prestige as the second premier P5 as they are currently ranked second in the first playoff ranking.
Clemson continuing to be the powerhouse that they are under lightning rod head coach Dabo Swinney is another blessing with a conference mediocre to below average writ large. “Traditional” ACC Coastal powers Miami and North Carolina being full on ACC Coastal wacky makes for yet another intriguing storyline on the road to Charlotte.
Florida State, while having a rough season in the middle of yet another rebuilding vision, at least has a coach willing to see it through the long haul?
Also, many kudos to Boston College and first-year coach Jeff Hafley for guiding the Golden Eagles to a fun competitive .500 record despite being outgunned offensively at times. Another recent wholly fun palatial intrigue is the spicy grenade lobbing between eternal rivals Clemson and downtrodden Florida State this week.
Also, this may go under the radar but Duke made a really great hire for their women’s basketball team. Kara Lawson will do awesome things in Durham.
A big thank you to outgoing Commissioner John Swofford for shepherding the conference but it’s time for a new voice.
Texas is back to.. hemming and hawing between back and not back I guess? Does someone actually want to run away with the title or no? Even with the pandemic inducing a topsy-turvy wildness, there were several playoff contention eliminating losses by Oklahoma (yikes, Kansas State), Texas (Tom Herman vacillating between looking at Indeed and permanent homes in Austin), Oklahoma State (Mike Gundy is 50!) to render it moot.
Matt Campbell of Iowa State is perpetually a hot name in the annual coaching carousel yet he remains firmly entrenched in Ames. He also has perpetual star running backs there, the latest being Breece Hall (look out for him in the coming draft cycles). Having star veteran quarterback Brock Purdy can’t hurt either.
Lincoln Riley the QB development guru reigns supreme. Spencer Rattler has really come on as of late after an expected development curve early.
Cowboys stars Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace returning for their senior seasons to pace the Pokes when they didn’t have to.
And oh, about that conference “parity” thing makes for fun football but not so much when it comes to the playoff committee.
The stunning rise of Indiana and Northwestern masking the equally spectacular downfall of Penn State and Michigan.
Speaking of the Wildcats, they’re in the catbird’s seat for the Big Ten West crown over perennial favorite Wisconsin due to head-to-head record and overall record (2020, I know). Longtime head coach and alum Pat Fitzgerald have them rolling after years of being a tough out for the big time powers.
Did Indiana unwittingly provide a nice Thanksgiving feast for Northwestern by giving them transfer QB Peyton Ramsey? It has been a win-win for both teams. Regardless, the Hoosiers haven’t been boring, that’s for sure. They almost went point for point with mighty Ohio State last week. Expect head coach Tom Allen to field some inquiries at bigger programs for his remarkable work in Bloomington.
Rutgers should send the University of Tennessee several crates of stuffing and yams for allowing Greg Schiano to escape the clutches of Big Orange all those years ago. The Scarlet Knights don’t have the greatest record but have been competitive for bits and pieces this season. For Rutgers, that’s a massive improvement from the past several coaching regimes.
Pac-12 Commissioner “Limo” Larry Scott should thank his lucky stars that the Big Ten’s inept leadership under Kevin Warren showed their rear ends first by canceling, then bringing back the season with 0 wiggle room. This move will have massive years of long implications for a conference that was already suffering from a soft narrative, to begin with.
Oregon has become a recruiting beast under head coach Mario Cristobal. The Ducks should be sending a nice healthy to-go plate of whatever Mississippi State desires for first firing now OC Joe Moorhead and then hiring their archnemesis Mike Leach away. It’s incredible how Oregon’s offense has transformed from a plodding old stodgy one into a dynamic offense that utilizes EVERY asset including the quarterback.
Pac-12 fans everywhere should rejoice that USC hasn’t realized that it’s freaking USC and fired the always befuddled yet somehow successful Clay Helton yet. Lifetime contract for Clay!!
Thankful for the conference making that first step that football pays the bills by hiring a football legend in Merton Hanks for a high ranking role at conference HQ. Now if only they can realize that making everything league-wide Las Vegas-centric is only helpful for them. Baby steps, people, baby steps.
Is Jonathan Smith the best coach in all the land? He’s done wonders for the moribund Beavers program, making them somewhat respectable from being a noncompetitive doormat most years. The man deserves his gravy boat and then some.
For most of the year, Georgia has been posting help wanted signs throughout the neighborhood to find a quarterback. Now they may have found one in a healthy JT Daniels. Sorry, Stetson, you’re still a great dude, though.
Jeremy Pruitt for having signed that contract extension a few years ago, which will inevitably pay him an exorbitant buyout fee when the Volunteers belatedly realize Saban assistants are the college version of Belichick assistants when they become head coaches. Side note, find a person that loves you like Pruitt loves Jarrett Guarantano.
Alabama, while having some dents in the armor, still being the Death Star program. Mac Jones has been better than reliable, allowing for freshman phenom Bryce Young to develop at his own pace.
Hey Kentucky, it’s been an inconsistent year but at least you have good health. We’re all rooting for that. I hear the hoops team should be awesome again too.
Auburn for being really fortunate for getting at least two wins this year due to refereeing gaffes. Seth Williams is a grown man. Tank Bigsby and Smoke Monday are stars in the making and leaders of the all name team. Please get Bo Nix a good private QB coach though for Black Friday.
Which SEC program will harken the return of the Freeze?
Speaking of coaching hires, we are all better for it since both sides of the Egg Bowl hired venerated masters of the press conference, the loquacious and verbally pugnacious Mike Leach and Lane Kiffin. I for one cannot wait for this game. This is on top of the hilarious hijinks of one Elijah Moore, who set off a chain reaction across the college football world in terms of coaching changes with one interesting celebration on Turkey Day last year.