It’s time to mock an entire regular season’s worth of ridiculousness before we move on to mocking the bowl season. It’s my opportunity to salute the courageous decisions to fire coaches, not fire coaches when your preferred replacement decides not to come and to otherwise f up matters in so many festive ways throughout the three-month sprint that is the college football regular season.
It’s been as batshit crazy a year as ever, and while I’ll stick around for the bowls (and a now-necessary bashing of Texas A&M), I’m planning a handful of (hopefully) interesting things for the off-season, including something (serious for a change) about where college football is really going that comes from my very unique background.
Thanks for reading this hot mess for whatever portion of the year you’ve read it. The whole Chaos Index archive and website can be found here. See you at the Army-Navy game this Saturday.
- LSU – Oh sure, when it comes to chaos, Texas started fast this year. But you, LSU, you know how to finish strong! With two weeks to go in your season, you were about to cap a coach with a .780 batting average, as many SEC titles as any other LSU coach, and a natty. With two days to go, he was so totally done that your perpetually unsatisfied fan base actually started mourning the guy enough that you let things get weird with Jimbo Fisher while the school prez suddenly realized that dropping $25 mil or so on changing football coaches might not be a good look for the school, so by the third quarter of Les’ Last Stand, the Tiger “braintrust” decided to let him keep standing. Since that can’t possibly mess with recruiting, y’all can now geaux on with the on-again off-again sacrifice of Cam Cameron.
- Texas – Bonus points for the double nosedive, Horns, and double bonus points for finishing with a win against a powerhouse team…that was down to playing a wide receiver at quarterback. Starting 1-4 was ugly, but not unpredictable. Beating Oklahoma & K-State to leave Iowa State between you and .500 was, uh, a tad more unpredictable (though we saw the OU win coming). Getting blanked by I-State to kick off a 2-3 finish? Now that was some creative chaos! We can’t begin to imagine what sort of horrors you’ve worked up for Charlie’s third year, though your schedule sure sets up for another 1-4 open, and we assume you’ll be screaming for his head at some point. At least Sonny Cumbie won’t be around to deal with it.
- USC – At this rate, Pat Haden will have enough head coaches to fill a starting offense in just 18 more years. This assumes, of course, he won’t be run out of Heritage Hall in the next 18 weeks, which is decidedly possible. One fun note: by officially hiring Clay Helton, Haden was presumably voting for something along the lines of continuity. It’s nice, then, to see that the firings have already begun, not to mention that they’ve been awfully public, much like that little lawsuit that Sark is now pushing. The Tragic Tale Of Troy will, er, Traveler into 2016.
- Georgia – Congratulations, Dawgs – you did what LSU managed to find a way to not do: run a pretty damn successful coach out of town on a rail and replace him with a guy who looks good on paper and who might could be either the next Jimbo Fisher or the next Coach Boom. Just don’t blame us if you find yourselves staring at .500 in a couple years.
- Miami – Not that The U is going to be back on top of the world in nine months, but for a program that spent the first half of the season stinking like something that swam out of Biscayne Bay and spent a couple months decomposing onshore, complete with somebody flying Fire Al Golden banners over road games, the Canes sure came out of this smelling like a rose. This year sure was messed up though, wasn’t it?
- Rutgers – Welcome to that portion of the Chaos Index devoted to programs that managed to run both the HC and the AD out of Dodge. Oh sure, Julie Hermann did most of her damage while at The Ville, but she didn’t exactly keep it classy in Jersey either. Better (in the chaos sense, anyway), you get bonus points for capping Kyle Flood while he was in the middle of a recruiting visit, forcing him to helicopter back to campus to clear out his shit. That was a fitting end to a year marked with player arrests and a coach suspension for academic tampering. Well misplayed, Knights!
- Illinois – Y’all stayed under the radar most of the year by torching Tim Beckman early. Big ups on making another run an the chaos crown by waiting ten weeks to do likewise to Mike Thomas, even though he was overseeing matters when Beckman went Junction Boys on his roster. The pièce de résistance, however, was keeping Bill Cubit and his brand of .500ish ball for all of two years – which will no doubt massively help recruiting – while your interim A.D. christened his reign with the immortal words that his hiring was “not ideal, but for now, I don’t think it’ll put a dagger in the heart of the program.” We can feel the inspiration from here.
- UCF – If it wasn’t for the horrors of the Beckman regime, you’d have beaten out Illinois, Knights. (Geez – Knights again? We feel like we’re seeing a pattern here.) After all, any season where you get the coach and the A.D. to walk, while also going winless, is pretty danged impressive on the Chaos Meter. Oh sure, the coach and the (interim) A.D. were the same guy, but since he left the jobs at different times, it was still like the you did the double during a season highlighted by coming within a point of beating Furman.
- SCAR – It takes one hell of a mess to drive a legend into retirement. Considering that South Carolina was officially the worst team in the SEC this year – yes, worse than Vanderbilt – USC East now has one hell of a mess on its hands. As the Cocks remove their visage of 80-foot Jesus, er, Spurrier from Williams-Brice, we wonder whether that 33-win run from 2011-2013 was just an outlier. (Hint: until proven otherwise, it was definitely an outlier.) It’s also hard not to find it more than a little weird that, after hiring the former Florida head coach who made the school’s offense a legend, Cocky is now going to be led by the former Florida coach who made the Gators into an offensive Dust Bowl.
- Nebraska – Has a season ever been marked by so many bizarre last-minute losses? Add in the equally bizarre last-minute win (over a playoff team, no less), and the fact that the new coach (who left behind a team that couldn’t win a single conference game) managed to “direct” the team to a bowl game while finishing 5-7, and you have one of the curiouser seasons of all time. Makes you wonder what next year’s team will do for an encore, doesn’t it?
- Auburn – It’s a dream team! With the offensive genius of Gus and the defensive brilliance of Boom, how could things possibly go wrong? Okay, so 6-6 is pretty much the definition of things going wrong (at least if you start the year thinking national championship). Bonus points go to any program that finds a way to extend chaos into the off-season, and War Eagle is off to an excellent start. Even before Boom found himself back in the big chair in Columbia, it was apparent that he wouldn’t be back at Auburn, which gives you the impression that something is a bit screwy.
- Georgia Tech – The Jackets would like to correct us about something. 6-6 is pretty much not the definition of natty dreams going astray, not when you thought you’d be duking it out with Clemson and Felony State for the ACC and instead found yourself one miracle kick six (as if there’s any other kind) from going 2-10 with wins over a program that fired their coach and an FCS school. Have I mentioned lately that I’m not a big fan of the triple option at the Power 5 level?
- Tennessee – Ahh, the magic of a frontloaded schedule. In December, Vol Nation is celebrating an 8-4 regular season that clearly demonstrates improvement and a move back toward SEC East contention. Five wins ago, the talk was about the 3-4 record featuring nothing but one-score losses in games that could have qualified as “signature wins”, featuring three two-score collapses, a lead against Alabama with six minutes to go, and of course, the 11th straight loss to Florida that included a bizarre decision not to go for two with a 12-point lead and ten minutes to go. Somewhere along the line, Butch Jones has gone from the hot seat back to just being bUTch. Set your calendars for weeks 4-7 next year to see what sort of fun emanates from Knox Vegas.
- The AAC – We say it all the time: sometimes, chaos wears a smiley face. Here’s to the 2015 Smiley Face Of Chaos Champion, the sorta-former Big East Conference, which totally played to form as an almost-Power 5 dealybob. Look at you AAC, with three teams finishing the season ranked plus a really good Memphis team! Don’t worry about which of your coaches will be poached in the coming years – it looks like it’ll only be Justin Fuente this go-round – live in the now and celebrate.
- Missouri – The Chaos Index does not mock real world stuff, and there was way too much of that happening in Columbia this year. The Chaos Index happily mocks the madness that goes with multiple suspensions of the starting quarterback that led to a touted freshman coming in before he was ready. Even more mockable was the 12 points in three weeks run that included 9-6 and 10-3 losses to quarterbackless Georgia and Vanderbilt. It takes a lot to go from winning the SEC East to finishing behind Kentucky and Vandy, and Mizzoops had plenty of the wrong stuff this year.
- Boston College – If you didn’t realize that B.C. stands for Boring College, you do now. Look at that 20 points per game average, and you’ll think, “Say, that’s not very good.” Take away the hundred they hung on a couple FCS schools in the first two weeks (really 100 points in two weeks against cupcakes), and you’re down to 14 points a game, which only scratches at the magnitude of the trainwreck that is B.C. Even those consecutive losses by 9-7 and 3-0 (in what was easily the worst game of the decade) doesn’t completely capture the awfulness of it all. At this point, the Eagles should roll out the red carpet for anyone who wants to transfer out.
- Kentucky – Finishing up on a 1-6 tear? It’s sort of like trending upward, but without the actual improvement. And now, Patrick Towles is all up out. Not that he was the GOAT, but the offense will now be run by a QB whose only meaningful game action involved a mediocre showing against Charlotte and getting roasted by Louisville. When we start thinking about coaches on the hot seat in 2016, we know who’s going to be near the top of the list.
- UTEP – And then there’s the kind of chaos that’s nobody’s fault. You think your team had injury problems? Take a look at what Sean Kugler was dealing with all year: it’s one thing to lose arguably the best running back in C-USA; it’s another to lose pretty much everybody else, to the point where you’re ripping the redshirt off a walk-on…who eventually put up a 100-yard game. The QB position was pretty much a game of “Who’s Kinda Healthy This Week?” Name a position, and there was a crisis. Of course, firing both coordinators to start the off-season is a kind of crisis too, isn’t it?
- Oregon State – The Beavs weren’t exactly on fire at the end of the Mike Riley era – a handful of games under .500 in his last five years (so nice hire, Nebraska) – but it took a coaching change to really take the meltdown of a program that used to be consistently dangerous to the next level. Gary Andersen was apparently the right man for the job, considering that OSU quietly lost every single P12 game without putting up anything resembling a fight in seven of those nine games, posting their worst season in 20 years. With Wazzu and Cal seemingly on the up, Corvallis may find itself looking at the bottom of the P12 North for a long time to come.
- Kansas – Really, Kansas, you coulda done better at doing bad. After all, you managed to finish last in the nation in scoring defense, but you were better than five teams in scoring offense. What’s up with that? Buck up, Jayhawks! Somebody figured out that the key to not going winless next year lies in picking victims properly. Instead of opening with a good FCS team like you did this year, you start next season with 1-10 Rhode Island, so the chances of a second winless season are, like, less than 50/50. (Note: we call that sarcasm. In case you haven’t noticed, it gets served up a lot in these parts. Really, we think you’re at least a 60/40 bet to win that game.)