About Travis Normand

Attorney, Husband, and Father. - Interests: College Football, Rugby, Cigars, Freemasonry, History, Research, Writing, LOAC / IHL, Law, and much more.

Following the Pandemic-Playoff (2020)

Travis Normand

If you follow this site, you have seen my other College Football Playoff related posts before. If not, you can find most of those posts under the “Playoff” category; or you can go to this link (which is my comprehensive and on-going playoff post).

I have decided to start this new post for all of my notes related to the 2020 Playoff. Once the playoff is over on January 11, 2021, I will probably add the more important aspects from this post to the comprehensive post.

For those of you reading this for the first time, this is not an editorial style posting. This is merely my unedited notes from each week of the playoff rankings, which helps me (and others) track what the rankings/committee are doing, and whether they are following any precedent. Enjoy!

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The Longhorns’ Thanksgiving Tradition … is Wrong!

by Travis Normand
November 29, 2020
(Update for editing December 2, 2020)

Mistakes happen in college football media guides all the time; after all, no one is perfect and typos are often missed (this blog is no exception). However, there is a fine line between a typo or mistake, and misinformation based on ignorance. Having said that, I recently noticed an interesting section in the 2020 Texas Football Media Guide (hereinafter, sometimes referred to as the “2020 Media Guide”). The section I found, which is discussed below, appears to be more than a simple typo, and is much closer to misinformation caused by the author’s ignorance.

Across the bottom of page 183 of the 2020 Media Guide is a section titled “Thanksgiving Day Tradition.” When I found this section, I began to wonder how long it had been appearing in Longhorn football media guides. After a review of the media guides I had available, it appears as if this section shows up at least as far back as the 2006 Texas Football Media Guide (and every year since then).

In fact, it appears on page 173 of the 2006 Texas Football Spring Guide; page 177 of the 2007 Texas Football Spring Guide; page 165 of the 2007 Texas Football Holiday Bowl Guide; page 187 of the 2008 Texas Football Spring Guide; page 217 of the 2008 Texas Football Fiesta Bowl Guide; page 209 of the 2009 Texas Football Spring Media Guide; page 222 of the 2010 Texas Football BCS National Championship Guide; page 202 of the 2010 Texas Football Spring Media Guide; page 202 of the 2011 Texas Football Spring Media Guide; page 206 of the 2011 Texas Football Holiday Bowl Media Guide; (online PDF) page 178 of 275 of the 2012 Texas Football Media Guide; (online PDF) page 65 of 162 of the 2012 Texas Longhorn Media Guide – Supplement; (online PDF) page 200 of 278 of the 2013 Texas Football Media Guide; page 220 of the 2013 Texas Football Alamo Bowl Guide; page 195 of the 2014 Texas Football Texas Bowl Guide; (online PDF) page 167 of 229 of the 2015 Texas Football Media Guide; (online PDF) page 77 of 89 of the 2016 Texas Football Media Guide; page 189 of the 2017 Texas Football – Texas Bowl Media Guide; page 167 of the 2017 Texas Football Media Guide; page 212 of the 2018 Texas Longhorns Football Media Guide; page 198 of the Texas Football 2019 Sugar Bowl Media Guide; page 162 of the 2019 Texas Football Media Guide; page 193 of the 2019 Texas Bowl Media Guide; and page 183 of the 2020 Texas Football Media Guide.

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Clemson vs. Georgia Tech on October 17th

Today’s match-up between Clemson and Georgia Tech was the 85th meeting between the two schools (with their first meeting having been in 1898). Clemson won the game today by a score of 73-7, making the date of October 17th a bit of a problem for Georgia Tech.

Today’s game was played on October 17, 2020, and as I already stated, the result was a final score of Clemson 73 – Georgia Tech 7. This is only the second time in 85 games that Clemson has scored more than 70 points against Georgia Tech, with the first time being on October 17, 1903. On that date, Clemson beat Georgia Tech 73-0.

If there is a positive take-away, it is that while Clemson can’t get over the 73-point barrier, at least Georgia Tech has improved from 0 to 7 points.

In any event, Clemson and Georgia Tech have only played twice on October 17th (once in 1903 and again in 2020). Both were Clemson victories and both times Clemson was able to score 70+ points. At no other time, in 83 other games, has Clemson been able to score 70+ points against Georgia Tech; as Clemson is apparently only able to do that when the game is played on October 17th.

For these reasons, my guess is that Georgia Tech will do everything they can to avoid having to play Clemson on October 17th ever again.

I know I would.

Footnote: The head coach at Clemson in 1903 was John Heisman. After the 1903 season, Georgia Tech hired Heisman, making the 1903 season his last at Clemson. Heisman was the head coach of Georgia Tech in 1904. While this is an interesting footnote to the October 17th story, I don’t think history is going to repeat itself in this manner. In other words, I don’t think there is any chance Georgia Tech is able to steal Dabo Swinney away from Clemson at the end of this 2020 season … but I guess we will have to wait and see.

2020-2021 Playoff Prediction: G5

by Travis Normand

In this the 7th season of the College Football Playoff, I am predicting that a team from the Group of Five Conferences (“G5”) will finally be awarded one of the four semifinalists spots. The only question that remains is “which” team will it be?

With only three Power-5 conferences playing this 2020-2021 season (and Notre Dame playing as part of the ACC), the committee can select one SEC team, one ACC team, and one Big 12 team; and they will then still have one spot remaining. This final spot can be given to an at-large Power-5 school or a G5 school.

Considering all that is going on with college football during this COVID-19 season, if the final spot is given to a Power-5 school (thus including every Power-5 conference and one of them getting two bids), you will hear an intensified argument about how the College Football Playoff is actually designed to exclude the G5 schools.

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Re-visiting the 2006 Fiesta Bowl

by Travis Normand
May 8, 2020

If you don’t listen to the “Solid Verbal,” you really should. It is probably the best college football podcast out there. It started back in 2008 and I have never missed an episode.

During this COVID-19 pandemic, the hosts of the Solid Verbal show (Ty and Dan) have been revisiting great games from the recent past. I am a little behind on the show right now, but so far they have covered the 2005 “Bush Push” game between Notre Dame and USC, and I am currently listening to them discuss the 2007 Fiesta Bowl between Oklahoma and Boise State.

While I encourage you to listen to their recent episode about the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, I can’t help but post about it myself.

I remember the 2007 Fiesta Bowl very well, as it was one of the most exciting games I had ever seen (at the time). In fact, during the 2006 season, I was co-hosting a podcast for TexAgs.com titled the “Fan Show.” My co-hosts (Brandon and Hunter) and I were recording an episode of the “Fan Show” around bowl season, and towards the end of the show we ran through all the bowl games and gave a quick-pick of who we thought would win.

I remember Hunter was leading that segment and he skipped over the Fiesta Bowl. I called him out for skipping it, and he asked me if we really needed to discuss it. I replied that we did because “I am picking Boise State to win that one out-right!” He scoffed at the idea, and like always, we had some friendly back-and-forth about it. However, a few nights later, when Boise State pulled the upset over Oklahoma, I felt pretty good about my upset pick!

I have the audio from that show saved on a hard drive somewhere, and if I ever find it, I will post it here.

In any event, here is the game in its entirety (hosted on YouTube.com):

 

If you don’t have time for the entire game, here are some highlights from the game:

Wisconsin’s “Hippo” Formation

Wisconsin Bucky Badgerby Travis Normand
October 4, 2019

I don’t normally write or comment on the “Xs & Os” of the game; however, that is merely because it is not my specialty (it is not because I don’t find it interesting).

In other words, while I truly enjoy in-game strategy, formations, and plays; there are other guys who are much better at discussing, writing about, and dissecting the finer points of the “Xs & Os.”

Having said that, there comes a time when I can’t help myself. After all, we all know a thing of beauty when we see it, and Wisconsin’s “14-Hippo” or “Hippo” formation was just that … a thing of beauty.

On September 21, Wisconsin unveiled this new formation against Michigan, and it worked to perfection. Actually, everything worked well for Wisconsin that day as they defeated the No. 19 Wolverines 35-14.

So, if you like “heavy” run packages, I would encourage you to check out what Wisconsin is doing with their Hippo formation. The formation includes seven (7) offensive lineman, two (2) tight-ends, a quarterback, and a running back (11 total players); and it really compliments the running game that is lead by Jonathan Taylor (RB). Taylor ran for 203 yards against Michigan, his highest of the season so far.

The formation has been covered at various sites that you can find here (USA Today), here (FiveThirtyEight.com), here (Bucky’s5thQuarter.com), and here (247Sports.com). I found the article at FiveThirtyEight.com especially interesting, as it was titled “In the spread offense era, can Wisconsin rush its way to the playoff?

In any event, if you enjoy old-fashion power football where a team simply lines up and runs the ball down the other team’s throat, I would highly suggest that you start watching more of Wisconsin’s games this year.

The most important game on Texas A&M’s 2019 schedule

Arkansas Razorbacksby Travis Normand

Last spring I wrote that Arkansas was the most important game on Texas A&M’s 2018 schedule. Fortunately for the Aggies, they were able to defeat Arkansas 24-17, in what ended up being a crucial bounce-back game for A&M, one week after they lost to Alabama (and put A&M’s 2018 overall record at 3-2 instead of 2-3).

While Texas A&M’s 2019 schedule features some huge match-ups against Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, and LSU; it also features Arkansas again (as it does every year, as the two schools are both SEC West Division foes).

For a lot of the same reasons as last year, Arkansas is an important game again in 2019 for the Aggies. A better way to describe it might be to call it a crucial “swing game.” After all, Arkansas is rebuilding and had a “down” season in 2018. Further, with all the big match-ups A&M has scheduled in 2019, the Aggies don’t have any room to drop a game against a program that they should have long-since surpassed.

Further, like last year, Arkansas’ coach is an Aggie and their defensive coordinator is John Chavis. While I think A&M upgraded at the defensive coordinator position by hiring Mike Elko, Chavis is a good coordinator and you don’t want the guy you tossed out beating your “upgrade.”

Finally, before the 2018 season began, I felt like all of this was important and Arkansas was a game that A&M must win. After the game was played and A&M had won, I felt like these issues had been put to bed and were something that didn’t need to be discussed again. However, as you are probably aware, A&M’s back-up quarterback, Nick Starkel, decided to transfer to Arkansas a few months back and he should be their starter when A&M faces them in 2019. In other words, Starkel has brought the Arkansas game back to the forefront in 2019. Not only does A&M need to win all the games it can (especially with Clemson, Alabama, and Georgia on the schedule), but we are going to find out if Chad Morris and Nick Starkel can keep pace with Jimbo Fisher and Kellen Mond.

So, while I am sure that Aggies everywhere will be circling games against Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, and LSU on their 2019 schedules; I would urge them to at least underline the Arkansas game.

College Football Playoff History (and Precedent)

CFP Playoff TrophyTravis Normand
Originally Published on Nov. 7, 2017;
Updated: (1) Nov. 14, 2017 (Post-rankings); (2) Nov. 26, 2017; (3) Dec. 3, 2017 (Post-final rankings); (4)
Nov. 29, 2018; (5) Dec. 12, 2018 (Post-final rankings); (6) Dec. 8, 2019.

This post has not yet been completely edited or finalized due to the nature of the constantly-changing information it contains. I am posting it as a rough-draft in order to make sure the information is relevant and timely. I will try and update this post as necessary; please bare with me as the in-season information is constantly changing.

As of September 10, 2020: 

To date, 24 teams have been selected for the first six playoffs. Of those 24 teams, 21 have been undefeated, or 1-loss, Power-5 conference champions. Of the other 3 remaining teams, two of those were 1-loss Power-5 teams that did not play in their conference championship game; and one was an undefeated independent team (Notre Dame). No Power-5 team with two or more losses has been selected (regardless of their status as a conference champion); and no team from the “Group of Five” (or G5) has been selected.

CONTENTS OF THIS POST

Below you will find a break-down of each of the CFP selections starting with the first in 2014. Under each year you will find:

  1. a break-down of the top 4;
  2. a discussion regarding the selection for that year; and
  3. a follow-up discussion after the CFP is over and how it played out.

You will also find (typically) a running discussion that evaluates the precedent of the CFP selection which is usually written at the time of that year’s selection and is therefore not updated later if the information changes. For example, under a particular year, like 2017, it may say that only 2 & 4 seeds have won the CFP. If a number 1 seed later wins the CFP in 2019, I have likely not gone back and updated the statement from 2017 (so read the 2017 statement as a fact that was true at that particular time). I have tried to make these year-by-year sections fairly similar so that they are easy to compare, but that has not worked out as perfectly as I had hoped.

Next, after all of the CFP years have been discussed, there is another discussion that follows. It is primarily a discussion of what has happened in all CFP selections, or a synthesis of information. In other words, some may find it helpful to skip to that section if you are not interested in reading the year-by-year breakdown. I believe I titled that section “Precedent & History.”

Finally, there is a “Legend” at the very end. However, having the legend at the bottom worked great when this post first started (as it was fairly short); however, I am now including it here at the top so that you will see it before you go through the post (and so that you won’t have to scroll to the bottom in order to figure out what the symbols mean).

Legend:

  • CFP = College Football Playoff.
  • SOS = Strength of Schedule
  • Bold = CFP National Champion.
  • *  = Runner-up / Lost National Championship Game.
  • # = Conference Champion, but not via a Conference Championship Game.
  • & = Non-Conference Champion.

INTRODUCTION

This post reviews what has happened in prior CFP decisions, tries to digest those decisions into some kind of logical explanation, and then considers possible scenarios for future CFP selections. While I don’t believe the CFP Committee wants there to be a “precedent” that would dictate how a particular CFP decision should go, it is fascinating to watch the decision making process as it plays out. Also, whether they like it or not, if the Committee takes a particular course of action over and over, or makes the same type of decision based on the same criteria, they are effectively setting some kind of precedent. It may not be precedent that they are required to follow, but reversing course and making decisions that are completely contrary to their own prior decisions (with no logical explanation) will have potential negative effects on the CFP.

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House of L Podcast – Univ. of Chicago Football History

Travis Normand
July 18, 2018

A friend of mine who is a University of Chicago fan sent me the following podcast link. I have written about Chicago’s football history before and this particular podcast goes well with what I have previously written. The podcast interview is with Dave Revsine (Dave on Twitter) who wrote The Opening Kickoff: The Tumultuous Birth of a Football Nation. If you enjoy college football history, you really should pick up a copy of his book.

Anyway, enjoy the interview / podcast …

“House of L Podcast”

The House of L podcast is an intimate look at media in all forms and how it works. Let Laurence Holmes take you behind the curtain with your favorite media personalities.

Episode 5: U of C Sports History

(Episode Synopsis): The University of Chicago is known for its academic reputation, but it has one of the most fascinating Athletic histories. I had an incredible conversation with Dave Revsine about Amos Alonzo Stagg’s rule of the university when it began, but a friend at U of C, told me another crazy sports story from Hyde Park, so I wanted to share it with you.

Links to podcast episode: