We've been counting down college football's biggest dumpster fires week by week. With the season now over, the time has come to take stock of all the flaming piles of garbage and figure out who left the largest smoldering heaps of refuse.
1. Colorado football (and coaching search)
No program has sustained the level of awfulness that CU has been able to achieve this year. The descent truly began with a 69-14 loss to San Jose State and was maintained through a five-game conference stretch where the Buffaloes lost by an average of 52 to 10.
CU fired Jon Embree and then spent three weeks offering around the job, only to be turned down by multiple candidates. The stories of Embree buying his coaches' beverages for team meetings because the football budget did not have enough cash probably didn't help the coaching search.
Ironically, CU just hired the ex-San Jose State coach to put out the fire.
2. Texas' SEC-style defense and quarterback recruiting/evaluation/development
Neither UT's defense nor its QB play deserve a spot by themselves, but combine them and you get a smoldering Bevo Sandwich.
No one play better personified the horrible effort by the Texas defense than the Trey Millard screen pass and run that featured one Burnt Orange defensive back falling to the ground like a stunned goat while another UT DB bounced off Oklahoma's fullback. In dominating UT, the Sooners had nearly 700 yards of offense.
The week before, West Virginia rushed at will. The week before that, Oklahoma State probably should have beat the Longhorns in Stillwater.
Later, UT lost its last two games mainly because of a completely muddled QB position. David Ash and Case McCoy don't look like All-Big 12 QB candidates. Insiders are already suggesting Connor Brewer isn't the answer. QB commit Tyrone Swoopes may not end up playing the position in college. Everyone else is able to find Heisman Trophy winners or first-round draft picks or starting NFL QBs from the Texas high school ranks. Meanwhile, UT has not been able to develop a replacement for Colt McCoy.
3. Bo Pelini and the Smoldering Shirt Defense
Based on his reputation as a defensive geniusPelini was given the Nebraska job after the dumpster fire that was Bill Callahan. It seemed like a good idea with Pelini having coordinated top-ranked defenses at LSU, OU and Nebraska. In his first three seasons as the head coach at NU, he certainly seemed to live up to his rep with All-American players in Ndamukong Suh, Jared Crick, Lavonte David and Prince Amukamara.
However, cracks started to appear on defense a year ago. This year things just fell apart. First, NU got exposed by UCLA's new offensive attack to the tune of 35 points and nearly 650 yards of offense, 344 of which came on the ground.
Then Nebraska got torched for 63 points and 371 yards rushing by Ohio State.
Then came the indignity of playing a four-loss Wisconsin team only in the Big Ten title game because probation had sidelined both Ohio State and Penn State. Nebraska gave up 70 points and more than 500 yards rushing.
Now, while OU suffered some defensive setbacks this year, NU was gettting bombed by some pretty mediocre offenses. That included a Wisconsin team that can barely pass the ball at all. Those vaunted Black Shirts are now charred by the ashes of a dumpster fire.
4. Lane Kiffin's coaching prowess
Lane Kiffin's career mostly consists of being given great jobs for no apparent reason. USC is just latest employer to be suckered into the mystifying appeal of Lane Kiffin, Head Football Coach.
With the presumed Heisman front runner and No. 1 draft pick at quarterback and the best receiving duo in the country to go along with a host of four- and five-star recruits, USC was the preseason choice to derail the SEC's dominance in the BCS.
Instead, USC never got untracked and was exposed early as being vulnerable by Syracuse in the second week of the season. Stanford smacked Barkley around multiple times and shoved around the USC D (again). Arizona outscored the Trojans in a shootout. Oregon embarrassed Kiffin's dad by dropping 61 points and 700 yards on 'SC. The season ended with bad back-to-back losses to UCLA where, again, Barkley got smacked around all game. The USC D had its best game in the season finale against Notre Dame, only to have Kiffin's game management issues cost them a season-saving win.
It's the worst showing from a preseason No. 1 in a very long time. The awesome USC recruiting class is starting to fall apart as kids wonder what is going on. The real question USC fans should be asking themselves is how bad this dumpster fire could get once Kiffin is managing a 55-player roster mired in the mess of reduced scholarships.
The fire was smoldering all year long in Troy, but it could get very hot next year.
We knew Cam Newton was a great college QB, but it looks like he might have been the best ever.
Two years removed from Cam, the entire Allburned football program completely collapsed. The Tigers did win two more games than Colorado, primarily because of the three creampuffs teams that they played out of conference. Auburn went 0-8 in SEC play and got carpetbombed in several games, including humiliating losses to Alabama and Texas A&M. The offense sucked all year long, and about mid-season, the defense, which had some talent, pretty much quit.
If that's all not bad enough, it appears some Auburn assistant coaches may have tossed their NCAA rulebooks in the fire as well.
Good luck, Coach Malzahn.