You win some, you lose some.
In the month of January, the fortunes of college football teams and individuals varied. Between coaching changes, recruiting news and some pretty intense revelations, there were some big winners and losers on the college football landscape this month.
Let's kick off with the winners.
First up is Notre Dame. Sure, the Irish got their behinds whipped in the BCS National Championship Game, but on the bright side, at least they made the national title game. For a team that is just a few seasons removed from losing to Tulsa and playing in the Sun Bowl, that's a big step in the right direction.
In recruiting, the addition of Max Redfield to their commitment list is a big plus. They need safety help and Redfield is among the nation's best. If the safety can digest Bob Diaco's playbook, he can prove to be an immediate athletic upgrade in the back end, from an athleticism standpoint.
However, the real reason the Irish fall into the winners category is because the coach that led them to the BCS championship game appearance turned down the Philadelphia Eagles gig to stay in South Bend for another year. Brian Kelly is back, he's holding one of the nation's best recruiting classes in his pocket and a team that will be looking to get back on the big stage in 2013.
Our other big winners come by way of the recruiting trail as UCLA, Auburn, Ole Miss and Tennessee all grabbed a little shine.
Out west, UCLA is coming off a season in which it grabbed the Pac-12 South Championship, and head coach Jim Mora is using this momentum to put together a solid recruiting class. Currently, the Bruins are 10th in the 247Sports composite recruiting rankings.
Mora, a former defensive backs coach, also bolstered his back end with Tahaan Goodman and Priest Willis, two of the nation's best safeties. He's also landed some big-time offensive linemen.
Now, on to the SEC, because this trio is certainly putting in good work on the trail.
For Auburn it's about the way Gus Malzahn, after getting hired, has been able to cobble together a class that keeps getting better and better. He's hanging on to Carl Lawson, has Auburn again as the leader for Reuben Foster and he's got big-time defensive tackle Montravius Adams coming to take a look at The Plains.
As for Tennessee, last night it got the news that Marquez North, a wide receiver out of North Carolina, committed to the Vols (via MrSEC.com). That's a big get for head coach Butch Jones. Throw in the fact that safety Vonn Bell is running up to the wire with Alabama, Ohio State and Tennessee as his leaders, and it seems Jones knows what he's doing.
The last winner is Ole Miss. The Rebels, led by Hugh Freeze, are making a hard charge in the 11th hour of recruiting. Just this month Freeze has put three 4-stars and one 5-star on to his commitment list—three of which are from outside of the borders of Mississippi, two of whom are Midwest pulls for the Rebels.
With Freeze still in the running for safety Tony Conner and the nation's top player, Robert Nkemdiche, it is safe to say that Ole Miss will come out of January riding high and looking forward to February.
On the flip side of things, we have the losers.
That starts with the Oregon Ducks, who lost their head coach to the same Philadelphia Eagles team that Notre Dame was able to escape being poached by. Sure, the Ducks kept it all in the family by hiring Mark Helfrich, and the transition should ultimately be smooth from a game play and strategy standpoint.
However, losing Chip Kelly means that you lose some of the intangibles that he brought to the table; that tireless work ethic, the innovative thought processes and the drive to succeed that put him on the NFL's radar.
Does that mean Helfrich won't be able to do those same things? We shall see. All we know for sure is the Ducks are no longer led by one of the most successful head coaches in the college game.
Oregon was merely a slight loser, as it is largely operating on the unknown. The unequivocal biggest loser of January is the NCAA itself, as it was hit with two big strikes.
First was the NCAA's embarrassment during the Miami situation. The NCAA revealed that its own investigation team had taken improper liberties during the investigation to gain access to information that it should not have been privy to. Stick a fork in those guys because for the first time in recent history the shady practices of the NCAA got exposed for the world to see.
Ordinarily there are rumors about its tactics or situations seem to be off, such as deeming all Miami players who don't talk guilty. However, this time the NCAA had its pants pulled down and the collegiate world was watching. That is a tough loss to take.
The second L that collegiate sports' governing body took was in the court of law. Judge Claudia Wilken dismissed the NCAA's motion to prevent football and men's basketball players from pursuing money made from live television broadcast, per ESPN.
Not exactly a landmark win but a sure loss for the NCAA in its fight to retain the structure in its current form. The dismissal of the motion puts television revenues on the table, and that is not something the NCAA is looking forward to as the case moves closer to going to court.
For those uncertain as to what it means in the grand scheme of things, Senator Blutarsky from Get The Picture spells it out best:
And that’s what should make the NCAA more than a little nervous at this point. From where I’m sitting, it looks like you’ve got a judge who wishes the parties would get their collective heads out of their asses and reach some sort of settlement. Unfortunately, she may be underestimating Mark Emmert’s tone deafness. It wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened.
If this suit actually sees the inside of a courtroom, I have little doubt the plaintiffs – whomever they wind up being – will win. And that will be the cherry on top of the sundae that is Emmert’s presidency. Burn down the plantation, for the win!
The NCAA is certainly not in the best position from an enforcement and investigation standpoint, or on the legal side of things right now. Mark Emmert, and his team in Indianapolis, are in hot water, and they are the biggest losers in college football for the month of January.