For those just tuning in, ICRC’s SEC Media Days performance is blowing up the web (see ESPN, New York Times blog, USA Today, Sporting News, etc.). His utter lack of pretension and real-deal country humor are making him seem like an ideal representative for a Vanderbilt program coming off a rough year and a school that, I guess we should confess, is often viewed around the southeast as a bit on the hoity-toity side. But while everyone’s focused on “bless[ing] Coach Caldwell’s heart” and rehashing the unprecedented applause he received from the media in Hoover, an anonymous poster who says s/he’ll be a Caldwell fan if we win 6 games or beat UT has raised an interesting (if Debbie-Downer-ish) question: As of right now, how many games does ICRC need to win this season to have a reasonable shot at keeping the head coaching gig for another year?
This question is certainly premature seeing as we haven’t even figured out who this team’s starting quarterback is going to be much less gotten to our season preview. It’s possible, even likely, that opinions on this will change as the season gets closer, but why not ask yourself -- if you were David Williams or the Board of Trustees or a booster of inordinate influence, what kind of season would it take for this interim head coach to lose the “interim” label and land a payday? Now obviously this decision is a lot more complicated than wins, losses and box scores; it includes a host of other factors such as (but not limited to) whether we have a strong alternative candidate to turn to come end of season. But I am of simple mind and need simple games to entertain myself. So enter a vacuum, rid your brain of rationally minded clutter, and humor me for a moment.
As the oddsmaker for Interim College Coaching Fantasy 2K10, I’m putting the early line at 4.5. Five wins and Caldwell’s got a good shot at staying on, four wins and he’s a goner. Here’s the reasoning:
1. There are two, and only two, “really oughta wins” on the schedule: Eastern Michigan (the worst team in the country) and Wake Forest (which is back to being an ACC bottom feeder after some pretty dramatic success) -- both home games.
2. As I see it there are at least three write-off games (Florida, Arkansas, and LSU) and one more probable loss (Georgia). Georgia has been very good under Richt and the only reason I put them in the “probable” category is because they’re revamping their defense and moving to a 3-4 after a less-than-awesome season on that side of the ball, plus QB is a huge question mark. With strong RBs and WRs though, plus the game being in Athens, you have to figure the Dores to be a long shot.
2a. Initially forgot to mention UConn. On the road, they are also a write-off. They return a ton and will be sick this year. Forget UConn.
3. South Carolina is interesting. They should be good again on D, even though they lost some studs, but the question (which is starting to feel eerily familiar) is whether they will discover an O-line and whether Stephen Garcia will decide to play like a quarterback. Highly touted RB Marcus Lattimore joining their ranks leaves me inclined to place this one in the L column, but not out of reach.
4. That leaves four games against teams that I think may wind up roughly in the same middling-to-decent category (i.e., top half to top third of FBS): Northwestern, Ole Miss, Kentucky, and UT. While it’s probably too early to predict exactly what our chances are in these four games, I’m saying right now they are all “winnable.”
So figure up the math and what you’ve got is a Commodore football team that could finish as bad as 2-10 or as good as 7-5, leaving us with an over/under of 4.5 wins to determine the ultimate Fantasy Football fate of everyone’s favorite new SEC coach/turkey farmer. What say you, Nation?