In the only real news for Frog faithful, TCU offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie is loading his U-Haul to brave the four-hour drive down I-20 to the dust capital of Lubbock. Cumbie, the former Texas Tech quarterback, has accepted a lateral assignment to take over the offense at his alma mater. It almost seemed as if TCU coach Gary Patterson would keep Cumbie no matter what, but the deed is finally done. Though Cumbie wasn’t fired, one can assume that accepting the same job with a conference rival who is struggling was an agreement to part ways with a wink and a nod. The arrival of special assistant Jerry Kill and rehiring of former co-coordinator Dough Meacham this season were definitive signs that Cumbie’s performance wasn’t meeting expectations. Though Cumbie’s recruiting acumen cannot be denied, the purple offense has been but a shell of expectations in recent years. It’s not clear if the vacated position will be filled by a current staffer or new blood will be pumped into Fort Worth, and fans might not know for some time.
The season is over. In reality, the Frogs’ season was over at the conclusion of their Bulldog beatdown, but no one knew. What was supposed to be an SEC matchup with Arkansas for the Frogs in the Texas Bowl was canceled thanks to a COVID outbreak within the Frog locker room combined with featured players opting out to focus on the NFL draft. An intriguing game that could have been, wasn’t. The truth: The Mercari Texas Bowl didn’t matter, and neither do the majority of bowls. Arkansas would have been a challenging opponent for our boys — I know, I wrote an entire column on the ins and outs that would have been which was never published — but TCU had far more to lose than gain by playing a surprisingly capable three-win Razorback squad. The Texas Bowl represented the final of 19 total bowl cancelations in college football’s hodgepodge of a postseason. The games that mattered happened, along with a few others. Before we move on, we should acknowledge that our conference frenemies were flawless. Oklahoma flattened a Florida squad where it seemed everyone but the Gator coaches had opted out for the NFL. Iowa State was consistent enough to stay ahead of and pull away from imitation PAC-12 champion Oregon to win the Fiesta Bowl. Oklahoma State outlasted Miami in a squeaker, and West Virginia made up for an early collapse by clawing themselves back against Army to claim a close victory.
More importantly, the national detractors regarding those selected to the four-team playoff were unequivocally silenced. My fingers are cramping in protest as I write this, but it seems the committee was correct once again. Unsurprisingly, Alabama absolutely truck-sticked Notre Dame in the New Year’s Day afternoon game. The Tide scored twice before the Irish found the endzone, then scored a few more times leading into the fourth quarter to total 31 points. ND scored a face-saving TD in the final minute to tally a slightly less embarrassing 31-14 loss. Ohio State shocked many, including yours truly, by running roughshod over a Clemson team that was the odds-on favorite to return to the National Championship game. The Tigers and Buckeyes played three perfectly matched quarters in which they went score for score — the problem for the Dabo Disciples was that the Buckeyes outscored the defending runners-up 21-0 in the second frame and finished with a convincing 49-28 victory and a date with Alabama next week. (I’ll forego the requisite Alabama-date-cousin joke and let your mind run wild.)
The results are a disappointment to many, including Aggie faithful who were hoping to see the Irish succeed against Alabama or the Buckeyes stumble mightily to better make their point they were unfairly omitted from the final rankings. Texas A&M’s effort in the Orange Bowl didn’t make or deny their case convincingly either way. The box score against North Carolina, 41-27 in favor of Reveille, seems more dominant than a game that was actually a slugfest between two teams that are talented, balanced, and deadlocked with approximately three minutes remaining. If not for a dominant second half — especially the final minutes — from true-freshman Devon Achane (#6), Mack Brown’s Tar Heels were in position to claim victory. Ohio State — however undeserving they were of their ranking after six total games — proved themselves the correct selection for advancement to the playoff. Just like in 2014 when they weaseled their way past the Bears and Frogs and finished the year as national champion, OSU seems the only team capable of truly challenging Bama. Notre Dame, like in 2018 when they had their clovers shredded by Clemson 30-3, showed up overmatched to a degree that onlookers will call an embarrassment, but who wants to watch a TAMU v. Alabama encore besides maroon maniacs? One could argue the Tide wouldn’t mind as they beat their division foe by a heavy handed 52-24 margin early in the season. We’ve suffered repeat SEC matchups during New Year’s Day before, but they’ve always come at the heels of a gut-check three-point slobberknocker earlier that season, not a rout. I pondered out loud to my wife during Texas A&M’s award ceremony about what their victory meant to the final conversation. With sweet naivety, she asked, “Doesn’t it only matter that they won?” It didn’t take but a moment to spit out, “No, style points matter. At least in college football, they do.”
So ends Buck U’s commentary on this truly bizarre season of college football which ended the way all the others do anyway. It’s time to retreat indoors, and we’ll jump headlong into college hoops starting next week.