Colin: Rose Bowl talk coming in Pt 2 but let’s cover some other areas...Urban Meyer has officially called it quits since we last chatted. Is this truly because of health issues or did the Zach Smith saga and Urban’s suspension factor into his retirement? And does Urban go down as one of the top 10 coaches in CFB history?
Baver: There is much talk about the OSU Board and the school president not publicly sticking up for Urban, and this being key in Urban’s choice to step down. I mean, they could have publicly hammered home the countless things Urban had done for OSU besides win football games. On the other hand, it’s been reported that Urban will take on an assistant AD role at OSU as well as teach a leadership class. If he is that ticked off at OSU, why stay on in multiple new roles? We’ll never know for sure, but I think Urban is still coaching this team into 2019 and beyond if Zach Smith’s skeletons were not dragged from the closet.
As for top 10 coaches, it’s pretty hard to compare coaches today to a Pop Warner, a Knute Rockne, or even a Woody Hayes. But in following college football pretty closely for 40 years, and just looking at coaches in the that time frame, I have Nick Saban in a league of his own, followed by Urban Meyer, before another drop-off.
Colin: Ryan Day seems like a genuinely good guy…I just hope he is ready for what he has gotten himself into. Did Ohio State make the right call here?
Baver: I hope so. I am guessing Matt Campbell at Iowa State was the next option, but with Campbell you would have definitely had a reset period of 1 to 2 years with a major recruiting hit. I think the continuity is huge here. I really like Day….he does indeed seem very genuine, and certainly has a lot upstairs. Before the choice was made, I had told people I felt Matt Campbell was the better option. But with the transition being pretty smooth, and with the buzz about Day’s smarts continuing to grow, it looks to me like OSU knew what they were doing with this hire.
Colin: The Buckeyes inked 15 guys, losing the QB that was supposed to be in this class but reeled in Zach Harrison while keeping him out of Harbaugh’s and James Franklin’s hands. This class is not where they normally rank nationally but considering the coaching change things could be worse. What are your thoughts on this class so far?
Baver: Yeah, it’s a solid class despite the coaching change which always hurts recruiting. I would have liked to have kept the QB Dwan Mathis, but you can’t have everything. One of the verbals that didn’t sign is 4-star guard Doug Nester from West Va who says he is still committed to OSU, but will take official visits prior to the February signing day. OSU is in need of more quality O-linemen, so Nester a is recruit they want pretty bad. A lot of people that follow Ohio recruiting closely think Zach Harrison could be a major bust, but OSU has never had a physical freak quite like Harrison. And as we all know, OSU has had their share of freak athletics. Larry Johnson coaching Zach Harrison? Yes, please.
Colin: Midwestern schools haven't had much luck playing Clemson. Can Notre Dame keep it close or is it going to be another embarrassment for the Irish on the big stage?
Baver: I think this is a pretty good Notre Dame football team. The problem is, this Clemson team dominated more this season that the elite Clemson teams from ’15, ’16 and ’17. That Clemson D-line, with or without Dexter Lawrence, I think will be too much for the Irish to handle. They allow just 2.4 yds per carry, tops in the nation. The one advantage ND does have is the size of their receivers which will create problems for the Tigers if Ian Book does find time to throw. On the other side, Notre Dame has a solid D, but Clemson has so many weapons to throw at them. 13 pts is a lot, but if I had to pick this game against the spread, I’d still take the Tigers.
Colin: Considering Oklahoma cannot stop the run, wouldn't Bama be wise to start Jalen Hurts and just pound the rock all day long keeping Kyler Murray off the field?
Baver: Interesting theory and makes some sense, but I don’t think it will matter. Bama should score at will on OU’s defense no matter who they line up behind center. The close game the Tide got from Georgia should prove to be a blessing….this Bama team needed to be challenged. This is another game with a spread that appears high (at 14), and I do think the Bama D will be in prevent mode with a 3-score-plus lead at some point in the 2ndhalf. I could see Oklahoma getting a back-door cover with a few late scores. But it’s hard for me to see anything but Bama vs Clemson Round 4, a week from Monday.