Which Semifinal Matchups Would Create the Juiciest 2019 College Football Playoff Possible?

We’re only two weeks into our long offseason nightmare, and you’re already asking about next season’s playoff…

From @HistoryOfMatt: Given everything that happened this offseason, would the greatest postseason look like this: Miami vs. Ohio State in one semifinal and Georgia vs. Texas in another, with Ohio State vs. Georgia for the national title? And Alabama vs. Oklahoma in the Sugar and Clemson vs. Missouri in the Orange?

I root for juicy storylines, so matchups involving quarterback transfers and their old schools definitely look intriguing. But I don’t think Ohio State–Miami would be as interesting after the 2019 season because I don’t think Ohio State quarterback transfer Tate Martell will be granted immediate eligibility at Miami. Martell’s attorney Travis Leach laid out some of Martell’s arguments for an eligibility waiver to Kyle Rowland of the Toledo Blade, and coaching turnover probably isn’t an unusual enough circumstance to get the NCAA to grant a waiver.

Matt’s other problem is he left Clemson out of the playoff, and that seems like the most unlikely result of all of them. I could buy Georgia (Matt’s team) beating Alabama and winning the SEC because that almost happened this year, but not Clemson missing the playoff because Miami won the ACC. I’m not sure if we can imagine a way for Kelly Bryant’s Missouri team to wind up playing Bryant’s former Clemson teammates, either. We could conceivably replace Ohio State in Matt’s scenario with Northwestern to get a game between Clemson and an offense led by former Clemson quarterback Hunter Johnson, but the possibility of Justin Fields playing for Ohio State against Georgia would create some incredible climbs up Mount Hot Take.

So let’s replace Miami with Clemson (because realism) and leave the Georgia-Texas rematch in the other semifinal (because drama of a different kind). We’ll put Alabama and Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl to get all the Tua Tagovailoa vs. Jalen Hurts stories we care to read. (Since both teams will enter 2019 expecting to make the playoff, they’ll both have the lack of motivation excuse, which would add another layer of intrigue.) We’d then need Fields to lead Ohio State past Clemson and Georgia to win the rematch against Texas to create a national title game matchup that would generate enough Fields-Georgia stories to make us realize just how long the break between the Dec. 28 semifinals and the Jan. 13 final is. It will seem interminable.

Yes. In case you didn’t realize this before, there will be 16 days between the semis and the final next season. And if Matt gets his dream matchup, we’ll be beaten over the head with a juicy story until all that’s left is pulp.

From Todd: Geoff Collins is generating lots of buzz in ATL (get it?). I'm a pragmatist and know this is going to take some time. What’s your take on a timeline to success (defined as beating Clemson every year ... just kidding, how about competing for a Coastal crown?)

Collins might need a year or two to get the offense in order because it takes time and recruiting to go from the triple option to what Collins calls a “spread, pro-style” scheme. Collins, whose background is on defense, brought coordinator Dave Patenaude with him from Temple to run the offense. Before joining Collins at Temple in 2017, Patenaude spent most of his career at the FCS level. The offense Patenaude ran at Temple wasn’t a hard-and-fast system. It was very adjustable based on the opponent. It also had elements that Paul Johnson’s Georgia Tech offense didn’t use. The tight end is a good example. Georgia Tech didn’t have tight ends, so Collins and his staff have had to add that position back into the offense. They brought in Connecticut graduate transfer Tyler Davis and signed high-schooler Dylan Deveney. In spring practice, Davis will be the first tight end on Georgia Tech’s campus since 2007.

The obvious need is at quarterback, because the skill sets for option quarterbacks and conventional quarterbacks are different. TaQuon Marshall is out of eligibility, so the job would have been open anyway. Backup Tobias Oliver had to play significant snaps in 2018, and he wound up rushing for 876 yards on 152 carries. If he shows he can throw during spring practice, he could give the Yellow Jackets a dual threat. Georgia Tech signed two quarterbacks from the Atlanta suburbs in December, but both committed to Johnson’s staff over the summer. Demetrius Knight II is a fast 6'2", 220-pounder, so there probably is a place for him even if he doesn’t wind up playing quarterback. Jordan Yates, meanwhile, is a 6'0", 186-pounder who threw for 4,601 yards in his final two seasons at Milton High, which won the 2018 Georgia Class 7A state title. Yates also the nephew of former North Carolina QB T.J. Yates.

Collins and the staff plan to take a thorough look at everyone currently on the roster during spring practice. Then they can evaluate whether they need to hit the transfer market. There will be options. For example, Texas A&M’s Nick Starkel announced Tuesday that he will graduate this spring and be eligible to play somewhere else for two years. More names also will emerge as depth charts sort themselves out during the spring.

“After spring practice is over, there is going to be another wave of the grad transfer market that opens up,” Collins told reporters earlier this month. “It’s just understanding the nature of college football right now relative to recruiting. We’re not in a hurry because I think we’ve got some really good players on this team that are really excited about the things that we’re going to be doing. So [spring practice] is going to be a good evaluation piece on all phases.”

Collins should make Georgia Tech’s defense competitive quickly. The real question is how long it will take for the offense to catch up. The good news for the Yellow Jackets is that they play in the historically inconsistent ACC Coastal Division. Miami and Virginia Tech should rule this division, but given the seasons those two programs just had, there should be a window for Georgia Tech to establish itself as a regular contender if Collins and his staff make good choices during their offensive evolution.

From Dan: Matthew McConaughey was recently seen playing the role of “hype man” for Texas basketball. Is there a celebrity that would be a better fit in the role for a college football team?

You’re referring to the new Minister of Culture for the soon-to-be-built Texas basketball arena. Perhaps McConaughey (and his glorious orange suit) was warming up for that role when he coached up the Texas bench mob during a 75–72 win Saturday against Oklahoma.

But this is a great question.

We’ve seen McConaughey in action at Texas football games as well, so we know he’s the guy for the Longhorns. But what about the other schools?

For Georgia, it’s clearly Quavo.

LeBron James has moved across the country, but he’ll probably still get to an Ohio State game or two. 

WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross already attends every Oklahoma game. Perhaps he needs to voice a highlight video for every win. He’s already been dubbed over every big hit in college football in the last 10 years anyway.

We already know actor Eric Stonestreet is a massive Kansas State fan, but the Little Apple would really rock if Fizbo the Clown showed up for Big 12 games.

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