Happy Wednesday. Hope everyone is having a great week so far. Forgive me if this column seems more like incoherent rambling than it does a full dissertation. My thoughts right now are half-baked, at best, because as we approach the Ole Miss game, I’m walking that fine line between total exuberance and inevitable pain. Anyhow - I know how MY week has been going (ups and downs, per usual), but I’d really like to know how Scott Frost’s week is going. ICYMI - Frost was fired from his head coaching post at Nebraska for losing to Georgia Southern. There’s obviously more to it, but that was the last straw, as it probably should have been. So on one hand, the guy is jobless. Ouch. But as Jack, Jake, and Akshay wonderfully pondered in this week’s episode of Scions of the Southland, former Coach Frost is now figuring out his next steps atop a pile of buyout cash worth $15mil. Fifteen million dollars. For losing football games. And so it begins...
Or so it continues. This past offseason saw a number of unexpected moves with Brian Kelly flying south to Baton Rouge, Lincoln Riley pulling the ol’ switcheroo by heading west to Southern Cal, and in the ACC, Brent Venables finally leaving his job as Clemson DC for a chance to lead Oklahoma back to the promised land. Nebraska could have fired Frost at the end of last season, after a parallel 3-9 campaign, giving themselves a chance at some of the bigger available names, but they didn’t. Prior to this season, Frost only won 15 games in 4 seasons. People have been fired for less. But to the defense of the athletic department in Lincoln, Nebraska’s 3-9 looked about as good as it could have. Nebraska played six ranked opponents last year (Oklahoma, Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa), and they lost each of those games by single digits. In fact, every game they lost last season was by less than 10 points. Nobody likes to lose nine games in one year, just ask anybody wearing White and Gold, but if you pair those close games with a ~40-point average margin of victory on your three wins, then I can at least understand giving your head guy another shot. I mean, we lost our last two games by a total of 100 points, and we’re still riding with ours. So my point is - and this is a scorching hot take - our standards at the moment are clearly lower than Nebraska’s. Why?
We’ve long discussed the performance of this program under Geoff Collins. We’re about to finish the back half of a tough opening stretch, and it’s highly likely that we’ll need to muster five wins in our final seven games to achieve bowl eligibility. I’m not sure that bowl eligibility is a reasonable or realistic goal right now, but it should be. And if Geoff Collins wants to keep his job in the #ATL long-term, then it definitely should be. The Jackets are a Top 20 program when it comes to wins, national championships, and bowl game appearances. (Side note - the ‘90 natty was won against Nebraska, and the one before that? Ole Miss). Additionally, it wasn’t long ago that Tech was tied for the 2nd longest active bowl streak at 18 consecutive post season appearances. But it’s been five years since we sniffed late December/January, we’ve been trending downwards, and at some point something’s gotta give. We’ve been able to recruit talented players, but it hasn’t translated to wins.
You don’t have to be a Professor of Logic to understand that more successful programs typically generate higher revenues for themselves and for their conference, and with the ACC’s future as nebulous as ever, the administration will have a lot to mull over if we see more of the same from Coach Collins down the stretch. After this season, the Collins buyout will be less than half the amount Scott Frost just got paid. So far, the athletic department at Tech has continued to support Collins publicly. There are some apparent positives with the coaching changes, and the current .500 record under the re-worked staff is as expected, but how this Tech team plays against its remaining opponents will dictate, and maybe accelerate, internal conversations. How much promise does the program need to show in order for Tech to continue this experiment? Is it 4-8? 3-9 again but this time with some close games? 5-7 sounds nice... How does an athletic department monetize promise in the absence of wins? And is it worth saving $7mil in the face of conference realignment? Bowl eligibility definitely cools Collins’ hot seat, but anything less than that will spur controversy and potentially fill a seat on the 2022 college football coaching carousel.
On a lighter note - I expect Bobby Dodd to be packed out on Saturday afternoon, so that’s going to be fun. I’m sure there will be a large contingency of drunk, powder-blue wearing Mississippians, and Lane Kiffin’s antics are sure to add a twist, but Tech has another opportunity to shock the world. We’ll see if they take advantage. For now, I will stay hopeful. See you on The Flats. Go Jackets.