College Football's Winners and Losers for the Month of February
Perhaps you don't remember the end of January, where at Your Best 11 we brought you winners and losers. Well, for the time being it is a thing, people. Which means as February comes to a close, it is time to talk about the big winners and losers from this 28-day month.
As always, we start with the winners.
First up for us, Florida State. Sure, losing assistant coach Billy Napier to Alabama appeared to be a big blow that would impact the restructured Seminoles staff. But FSU countered quickly adding Jay Graham to its ranks. He is a North Carolina guy who can help keep the 'Noles active in North Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and, of course, North Carolina. Napier, a former Clemson assistant, was going to do the same for Jimbo Fisher.
However, the 'Noles win not just by hiring Graham, they also came out with a favorable ACC schedule and put one of the nation's Top 10 recruiting classes together this month. Fisher's team gets a bye before the Clemson game, an advantage the Seminole faithful have been hoping to have for quite some time.
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As for recruiting, the Seminoles had the eighth-ranked class in the nation, according to 247Sports. Eighth is good, but the real win is that they continue to pace the ACC in recruiting. That is what they need to get to back-to-back BCS bowls and work to regain their stranglehold on the league.
Oh, and they hired veteran coach Tim Brewster to flesh out their staff. Brewster knows his way around college football. For some of the young guys on staff, he'll be a blessing.
Also on the winning track was happy with their recruiting class. We'll go with Ole Miss and Texas A&M—sparing you the rehashing of Alabama's dominance—Urban Meyer and Brady Hoke's two-man Big Ten battle and Auburn's late surge.
With Ole Miss, we had to remind people that there was more to it than the simple, baseless, "they must be cheating" explanation. The Rebels won a lot of battles and didn't concede any kids, which was a treat to see. With Texas A&M, we saw just how much being in the SEC meant, as it hit the recruiting trail harder than we've seen in recent memory.
And last, but certainly not least, our biggest winner is college football.
Sports Illustrated put the sport on the big stage by showing Braxton Miller and Jadeveon Clowney to the entire American sports landscape. Not sports like college basketball or the NBA in the midst of their seasons. Not NASCAR that kicked off with a nightmare before their biggest race. Not the NFL and the combine.
Nope, college football led the way to wrap up February and start March. And it was college football's spring practice that won. Big-time proof that the sport is as healthy as it has ever been.
Now, for the losers of February.
We'll lead off with Tennessee. Not only did it miss out on Vonn Bell thanks to Derek Dooley never laying groundwork, it also lost the man most instrumental in putting its signing class together, Jay Graham. Not a good start for Butch Jones and his staff.
The real reason the Vols are on this list is because they, like South Carolina, Arkansas and Mississippi State, finished in the Top 25 in recruiting. You'd think that would be a win, except their finishes in the Top 25 also put them in the bottom half of the SEC for this cycle.
It's a dog-eat-dog world, and even when you think that you've done alright, perspective comes in and reminds you of where you stand compared to your closest competitors.
Mario Cristobal makes the list next. Talk about a seriously humbling experience for a guy who, a year ago, was at the top of the coaching profession. Cristobal is now the offensive line coach at Alabama. Think about that: In a year's time, he's gone from head coach of an FBS program to a position coach.
It's quite the tumble and speaks to the difficulty in sustaining success.
Last, but not least, we have Alex Collins, whose signing saga exposed some of the ugly parts of picking a school. Let it be known, we're certainly not calling him a loser here. Rather, merely saying he took an "L" because his private business was pushed out into the streets.
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Truth be told, I felt bad for the young man. On the biggest day of his life to this point, he didn't have the support of his mother who wanted him to sign with hometown Miami and ran off with his letter of intent to prevent him from signing with Arkansas.
Collins isn't the only one. Matthew Thomas, a Florida State commit, landed in Tallahassee because his mother wouldn't let him go to USC. Last year, Gunner Kiel ended up at Notre Dame because his mother didn't like the distance between her Indiana home and LSU.
In the grand scheme of things, perhaps Collins, who ultimately got his father to sign his letter for Arkansas, is a winner. After all, he did end up at the school he chose and not the one his folks chose for him.
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