Week 12's college football action is in the books, so we decided to fire up the Tuesday Tweetbag to tackle the burning topics on your mind this season, from top pro prospects to the best teams in the sport.
Feel free to submit your questions to @BryanDFischer on Twitter each Monday or early Tuesday morning to get them answered every week. Without further ado, let the smorgasbord of questions commence.
This question is likely in response to some outlets labeling Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy as one of the stronger candidates for the now-open Florida job. A number of Cowboys fans are therefore wondering about the future of the coach and the program. Part of the frustration of the fan base stems from the fact that the team is 5-5 and will have to beat either Baylor or Oklahoma on the road in order to go to a bowl game. This is quite a step back from what the team has been used to accomplishing, including six straight seasons of at least eight wins and a Big 12 title in 2011.
The thing is, we knew this would be a rebuilding year in the truest sense of the word, with OSU replacing more players off their two-deep than any other team in the country. Throw in the loss of quarterback J.W. Walsh, and 2014 quickly became about 2015 and beyond with such a young team that has struggled offensively (Gundy calls the plays, it should be noted).
If it comes to it, I think Gundy would check all the boxes for Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley: under 50, offensive-minded, good personality, and he's had success as a head coach in a major conference. Many think he would be open to the job (which would probably put him in the $5 million-plus a year club) because he flirted with Tennessee, and his relationship with a few athletic department officials has been tense. The losing this year hasn't really helped that, but he does have the support of the one person who matters in Stillwater: super booster T. Boone Pickens.
I think Gundy would listen if Florida called, but I would not be surprised if he turned the opportunity down for more control of his program, especially scheduling, and a pay raise from his alma mater.
Gundy's done a terrific job with the program and generally has the team competing for the Big 12 title every year. Cowboys fans should not want to push a beloved former player out the door, and the potential for a pair of good seasons in the years coming should be appealing despite the lumps this year. On the off chance he does move on, OSU should move quickly to hire Memphis' Justin Fuente, who has experience in that part of the country and has done a terrific job in turning around that program.
It's hard to believe, but Bo Pelini is in his seventh season leading the Cornhuskers, and once again we find ourselves at a crossroads between the high standards of fans and the reality of the situation. He's been a good coach, but not a great one at Nebraska, yet I think it's often overlooked that he's gotten the team in title contention nearly every season, and a 66-26 record isn't something that should be dismissed in a major conference. Nebraska AD Shawn Eichorst is unlikely to make any sort of move despite another embarrassing loss to Wisconsin, nor should he.
However, it should be noted that we're rapidly approaching the point where Pelini has been in Lincoln long enough. Once you start to approach 10 years at a school, no matter the kind of success you've had, I think you'll see the fan base start to take issue with just about everything, and that's a sign it's time for both parties to mutually part ways. We're getting to that point at Nebraska. If Pelini can't get the team to the Big Ten title game next season, I'd say it would be beneficial, to him and to the school, for him to look at taking another job. The Cornhuskers shouldn't fire Pelini or try to force him out because he's been better than people think there, but at some point a few fresh faces around the program will help everybody.
First off, the California head coach's seat is not at all warm. The team he had last season was the worst among the Power Five conferences, and now he's positioned them into a possible bowl game. That's tremendous coaching and parallels a turnaround similar to the one he pulled off at Louisiana Tech. I don't think the athletic director situation will have much of an effect on him or his staff, both because they're doing a solid job and because the school can't afford any buyouts.
Secondly, bad defenses are not limited to Dykes' teams. The same criticism can be lobbed at most Air Raid guys: Mike Leach, Kevin Sumlin, Kliff Kingsbury and (less so this season) Dana Holgorsen, among others. Their offensive systems put tremendous stress on defenders because they are either scoring quickly or going three-and-out super fast. Given the personnel losses and how far behind they were last year, I actually think Dykes' hire of Art Kaufman has worked out well and should continue to pay off down the road for the Bears.
I think he is able, but I would not say he will during his tenure at USC. Part of that is because the Pac-12 has turned into a brutal conference, and USC doesn't have a huge talent disparity over every team it plays anymore. I know he wasn't the most inspiring hire for Trojans fans, but he does fit the culture there and can recruit some quality NFL-caliber talent to the school.
USC has three losses on the season by a total of 13 points, and it could just as easily be undefeated this year and in the College Football Playoff. Depth has been an issue, but that's not an excuse for the team's second-half struggles. There have been a number of questionable coaching decisions, but I think Sarkisian can learn from those and become a better coach. My biggest surprise with the Trojans' struggles this season has been defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, who has done a tremendous job with less talented defenses but can't seem to get his USC players up to full speed in his system.
I tend to take the long view and think things will pan out in Los Angeles. In fact, I would be surprised if the Trojans aren't the favorite to win the Pac-12 next year, given what they could have coming back. It's just Year 1, but I can see Sark shake the "Seven Win Steve" moniker.