Episode Description

College football’s offseason is (sort of) here and it’s time to take a moment of reflection. In this college football podcast episode, Ty and Dan are joined by Ari Wasserman from The Athletic to take a look back at the key storylines that emerged during CFB bowl season and discuss which situations have the most heat going into spring and the 2024 season as a whole. Plus, a quick chat about the NCAA’s investigation of the Tennessee Volunteers football program for NIL violations and Michigan’s quick move to make Sherrone Moore the permanent coach for the Wolverines.

(upbeat music) – Welcome to The Solid Verbal. – The Solid Verbal. – Come after me!

I’m a man, I’m 40! – I’ve heard so many players say, “Well, I wanna be happy.”

You wanna be happy for a day?

Eat a steak. – It’s that woo woo! – And now, Dan and Ty. (upbeat music) – Welcome back to The Solid Verbal.

Boys and girls, my name is Ty Hildebrandt, as always.

That fine gentleman over there, the one, the only, still the incomparable Dan Rubenstein, checking in from the heart of the Midwest.

We will have a very special guest with us momentarily.

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Dan Rubenstein, sir, good sir.

How goes it out there in the heart of the Midwest? – Really well, Ty.

It goes really well, really good.

Whatever it goes, I took a long walk today because I had to drop a car off to get a tire changed and felt the breeze, felt the cool. – Flat tire?

What was the deal there? – Flat tire, yeah.

Tire shot.

It’s okay though, because I was reintroduced to the act of walking for 25 minutes and it felt great, Ty.

It was invigorating and I’m ready to roll, Ty.

It gave me something a little extra, a little bonus. – I’m gonna welcome in our guest, Ari Wasserman, from The Athletic with a very important question, kind of on the heels of that.

Ari, how many times in your life have you changed a tire? – Zero. – Yeah, zero.

Dan, what about you? – Dan knew the answer to that one. – I’ve contributed to a tire changing, but I was not the sole changer.

Like I helped remove a flat tire and jack up the car and change the tire. – If you were on a deserted highway, do you think you could figure out how to do it if you blew a tire? – If you were given like a tire iron and a jack and a spare and everything? – Yeah. – Yeah, I’ve taken off whatever it is, nuts, bolts, whatever those are on a tire.

So unlimited time, nobody watching. – Yeah, this isn’t like Indy 500 pit crew-style.

I’m at like, you just need to get it on there so that you can get to point B. – Yeah, if it weren’t me like on the amazing race in 4K doing it and having that kind of pressure, if you gave me a solid five hours on the middle of like a 71 degree sunny day, yes, I could. – You could do it a lot quicker than that.

It is not that difficult. – I’m just saying I would need that to feel comfortable and no pressure, that’s all.

Ari Wasserman, how are you, my friend?

It’s been a while. – Good, sweating a little bit thinking about the scenario of being caught in that situation.

I would probably just die.

I don’t know. (both laughing) You know, 4K or five hours, I don’t know what scenario I would need, but yeah, I’m doing really well.

And you know, it’s January 31st is recording this today and I’m still waiting for the college football off season, but that is kind of what makes a sport great as it continues to evolve and I’m happy to be here. – The title of this episode is February Heat Check.

February Heat Check.

So we’re still waiting for that off season as well, but we’re kind of at the precipice of hopefully that moment in the quote unquote off season when it actually starts to feel that way.

So we pondered together, Dan and I, this episode a little bit earlier and what exactly is this, Dan Rubenstein? – So what we’re doing is we’re gonna take a number of schools or situations within schools, teams, whatever, and say, here’s what happened during bowl season.

Here’s what has happened early on in the off season in January.

And we’re gonna do a BTU check.

So that’s Bowl Thermal Unit, but it’s really bowl and off season because I think it’s what British thermal units is what the actual BTUs are, a measure of heat energy.

And so Ty and I each have a handful of these.

We’re gonna discuss it amongst all three of us.

The scorching level, or maybe it’s just a candlelight, maybe it’s a healthy fireplace fire, maybe it’s a roaring blaze, a forest fire, who knows?

But we’re gonna go through a number of scenarios and figure out where the heat is during these cold months. – Before we get there though, here is my question.

I don’t wanna dwell too much on either of these two stories because frankly, we don’t have all the information yet.

We still don’t know what the full Michigan staff is going to look like under Sherrone Moore.

We still don’t know what the roster is going to look like when the transfer window closes for the Michigan roster. – Right. – Who knows, right?

A lot can happen between now and then.

Also, we still don’t have all the information about the ongoing now, assumingly ongoing Tennessee investigation by the NCAA into NIL and Spyre Sports Group and Nico Iamaleava.

Did I get that?

I think I got that. – Somewhere in there. – You got the first 80%.

I think you kind of fell apart there. – I have the phonetic spelling and I still watch it. – The Danish judges were not impressed with how you stuck the landing, yeah. – Which of those two stories to you, Ari Wasserman, is a bigger deal?

The Tennessee deal or Sherrone Moore taking over for Jim Harbaugh? – Bigger deal and staying power, I think are very different in this scenario because I think that it is possible that the Michigan story could get thrust back into the main picture if the NCAA comes out with more information as regards to the Connor Stalions situation.

I don’t know that I’m on high alert for some big paradigm shifting revelation there.

But I think that the Tennessee stuff is a bigger deal, not because of what happens to Tennessee, but because of what this lawsuit and similar lawsuits like it are gonna mean for the framework of the sport moving forward.

Because we’re not really arguing the Tennessee break the rules, or they use a private jet, whatever, blah, blah, blah, we know.

How to kind of interpret what they did and whether or not that was right.

It’s whether or not it’s a sustainable model and rules that are in place that can be restrictive of what people are able to earn and when they’re able to earn it, thus maybe putting an end to any NIL regulations at all, which then puts us into a completely different scenario, at least above board.

I think there are people that are still kind of navigating that in a way where there are no rules, but saying there are no rules might change it even more.

So to me, I think the one that’s staying power, the one that’s more influential would be the Tennessee one, just based on what this means for not just Tennessee, but the entire sport. – Yeah, and the chancellor of Tennessee came out and ripped the NCAA.

I mean, speaking of BTUs, coming out hot, Ty.

I mean, talk about firing the take cannon, quote, “Instead, two and a half years of vague and contradictory NCAA memos, emails, and quote unquote guidance about name, image, and likeness has created extraordinary chaos that student athletes and institutions are struggling to navigate.

In short, the NCAA is failing.”

Between this, between what happened recently at Michigan, it seems as if the powers-that-be are not afraid to go back at the NCAA, which maybe should have been the writing on the wall that the power of the institution is not what it once was.

But the news came out, I guess, shortly after all of this news broke, or at least some of the rumors broke, that now the attorneys general of Tennessee and Virginia have filed a joint suit against the NCAA and the Eastern District of Tennessee, claiming, “That the NCAA is enforcing rules that unfairly restrict how athletes can commercially use their NIL, name, image, and likeness, at a critical juncture in the recruiting calendar.”

So yeah, a lot more to come on that front.

Dan, you’re married into a Michigan household. – It’s an Oregon household, but yes, continue. – You married into Michigan royalty. – I know, I know, yeah, yeah. – What was your take upon hearing that Sherrone Moore was handed the job at Michigan?

Like, it wasn’t a huge surprise.

We talked about it on the show.

We, I think, assumed as much, but now that it’s official, now that the portal window is open for guys on that roster and they’re trying to figure out what the staff looks like, Jesse Minter has left, the strength coach has left. – Ben Herbert, yep. – Like, has your opinion of that changed at all? – I like that you’re connecting this higher to the reaction in my household, as if my wife, who watches no Michigan football, was like really hoping Ben Herbert stuck around and like maybe Junior Colson would rethink his NFL decision or something.

There wasn’t a lot of pushback either way with the decision to keep Sherrone Moore.

It was, they hired more, right?

And they’re like, “Yes, okay.”

And then it was onto something else.

Look, my opinion of it, given Michigan proximity, I guess, because I do have Michigan friends who do care about this, and it seems reasonable.

It seems like the move, obviously, for continuity’s sake, when you’re a national championship caliber program, even with whatever Michigan’s going to lose on both sides of the ball, which seems to be considerable, especially with JJ McCarthy declaring for the draft.

You know, it looks like an Alex Orji team in this moment.

But what Sherrone Moore has been able to do on the recruiting trail, what he was able to do as the head coach for half of the regular season, for what he will likely be able to do in terms of keeping the remaining younger, promising players, guys like Kenneth Grant and Will Johnson, Mason Graham, on this roster, we’ve seen what happened with Alabama.

We saw what happened with Washington when a prominent head coach leaves this late in the game.

And so Michigan was probably looking at this like we can’t go back down to the studs with how difficult the Big Ten is becoming.

And so it seemed like Sherrone Moore did a good job proving himself in that role.

He’s under 40.

And so, you know, it’s energy, it’s promise, it’s potential.

He doesn’t cost a lot.

So especially at this point in the calendar, kind of seemed like a no-brainer. – Ari, I wanted to ask you this because you follow recruiting a lot closer than Dan and I.

One of the things that comes up frequently whenever a very successful coach leaves is, okay, he’s leaving it.

They just won the national championship.

The continuity, we have, I think, focused in on that with Sherrone Moore now taking over in Ann Arbor.

What in your mind is the risk for Michigan of longer term, this guy being able to sustain that?

‘Cause it doesn’t have the name recognition of Jim Harbaugh, but to Dan’s point from a couple episodes ago, he has sort of been recruiting this roster like in his own way since the, at least beginning of the season, because he has had several bites at the apple to coach this team. – And you mean like current player staying in terms of that? – Current player staying, recruiting new talent to kind of keep the train rolling. – The thing with Michigan that’s kind of been interesting to me in general is how they were able to win a national title without really ever signing a top seven or eight class during the previous four or five cycles.

So the recruiting of new talent there has always kind of been a hot button issue because I’ve always maintained that I believe that they could be doing better.

And I don’t know what the reason that they don’t do better considering the academic institution that it is, how cool Ann Arbor is, the storied program, the winged helmets, the facilities.

I mean, everything that you could have to sell, the money is all there in Ann Arbor.

And I always felt like Michigan could be one of those perennial top five recruiting programs that just dominate and they just never have.

So from that standpoint, I’m very curious to see what like the infusion of like a young, less weird version of Jim Harbaugh would look like.

And I don’t know if Michigan’s recruiting results are kind of predicated on how awkward Jim Harbaugh is as a human.

And I think that like even people who love Michigan can acknowledge that.

And I’m very curious to see like what Sherrone Moore would be able to do in that regard.

But I think there’s no question that the continuity of the current roster was at stake here because they are gonna be losing some pieces, but they’re also bringing some key pieces back from a national championship.

And I did find it kind of funny that Jim Harbaugh probably was outspoken, at least behind the scenes about how important it would be for Sherrone Moore to take over and how important that would be for Michigan from a continuity standpoint.

And then he proceeded to just raid the entire program of all the key pieces that kind of helped run it.

And that’s kind of just like life in the big city, but– – Yeah, and they didn’t have to go with him, right?

You know, they chose Jesse Minter chose, Ben Herbert chose, Jay Harbaugh chose, yeah. – Yeah, but it’s not like from a continuity standpoint when you ripple apart the entire roster of coaches, including the strength coach who people have a lot of respect for and obviously is a really good at his job because you don’t have a roster that doesn’t recruit to the same Alabama like level to win a national title if you’re not doing that piece right.

I think they lost quite a bit.

And I think it’s gonna be an uphill battle for Michigan to ever get back to this point here in the next two or three years.

But I do know that, you know, Sherrone Moore was a very steadying piece to the puzzle they were through pretty traumatic times and won some pretty critical games when Jim Harbaugh was suspended and, you know, did a very good job of like kind of steadying the ship but running a program and having to rebuild the coaching staff and the roster is gonna be a huge proposition and somebody who’s under 40 at Michigan, it’s gonna be an interesting thing to track for sure. – More to come on the Michigan coaching staff roster situation, obviously, as we hear more about Tennessee and this ongoing investigation, Tennessee under investigation again, which is sort of its own story altogether, but we’ll do our best to kind of keep tabs on that.

I’m sure it’ll be in the news here in the quote unquote off season, Dan.

Should we get to the February heat check? – BTU’s, I don’t know if you run warm, I run warm, I’m ready to do this.

Can’t play more than that.

We don’t own the copyright. – We don’t own that. – I was gonna say like in one second. – That’s all we got. – Incidental! – Dan, as you look through what transpired this bowl season, we’ve had people asking us via social media last couple of weeks, hey, you guys didn’t do a big bowl recap episode.

We talked about the new year six.

We obviously talked about the playoff and the national championship, but we’ve been sort of collecting some of these tidbits, these nuggets over the course of the last month or so to do an episode like this, where we could just pull out the highlights and talk about the things that we just wanna know what is the BTU?

What is the bowl thermal unit on some of these items that transpired during bowl season?

So why don’t you kick things off? – I’m gonna start with a topic that’s very near and dear to Ari’s heart.

And my first heat check is gonna be actually related to the fact that did you know that bodies don’t really decompose if they are found in a peat bog, Ty?

Did you know that? – A peat bog? – Like a bog, like a marshy bog.

If a body is decomposing, if there’s a cadaver under that bog, the peat maintains like the muscle tissue because of the acidity of the water and that oxygen can’t get in.

Yes, the peat bog.

And the reason I bring that up is because part of the reason is the moss keeps the body intact, keeps all of everything intact, which brings us to Miller Moss Watch, Ty. – Oh, I had that too. – I was gonna say, like, I didn’t know where we were going, but we sounded serial killer-y and I didn’t know why that was close to my heart. – We’re going with the journey for each of these.

So what is your heat check on the USC football program as they enter the Big Ten, specifically as it relates to Miller Moss throwing six touchdowns, an emphatic win, over Louisville in USC’s bowl game?

Makai Lemon was a highlight, Zachariah Branch was a highlight.

Do you think USC, now with more promise from Miller Moss than I think we expected as they went into the portal time of year and they were looking at Will Howard, they were looking at all these guys, do you think USC has more heat than anticipated after Miller Moss and his bowl performance? – Are we 100% sure?

Like, is it just over that Miller Moss is the starter? – As opposed to somebody who enters the portal in the spring period or even Jayden Maiava? – Yeah, Maiava came in.

So I don’t know, he was really, really good and very young.

And like, I just don’t know if I’m ready to get on the jump to conclusions, Matt, that Miller Moss is 100% the guy.

I think that like part of it is that way because they weren’t overly aggressive or successful with the name brand quarterbacks in the portal, but they still did bring in a quarterback and a quarterback who played last year.

So I don’t know if that’s 100% in the books, but I am very curious about USC’s functionality as a program.

I don’t think I’m going into the off season this year, guys, like viewing USC as a legitimate national championship contender, like I might have two years ago or the year before.

And I was very much fooled because I have a high profile wager with my friend Andy Staples that they would make the playoff in the first three years of the Lincoln-Riley era.

And that was before the 12 team expansion.

So maybe I can backdoor in there and it’d be right.

But it’s just been kind of terrible.

Like when you think about it, the first year was good.

They were almost, you know, half a football away from making the College Football Playoff.

But last year’s defensive breakdowns and meltdowns were just so terrible that it’s hard to even take them seriously at this point as a program.

Now, they went out there and they got D’Anton Lynn and they restructured the defensive staff and all those things.

So like, I’m more kind of concerned with whether or not they were gonna even just play functional defense next year, even more so than Miller Moss.

So I think USC on the BTU is pretty high just based on the interesting nature of the program.

But I feel like for the first time, and it’s kind of weird to say after losing Caleb Williams, that I’m more concerned with, are we gonna show competence and growth in a truly awful, I mean, honestly, I think that the Washington game last year was the worst defensive effort I’ve ever seen with my own two eyes, like ever. – It was bad, it was horrible. (laughing) Well, look, there was a USC assistant coach when he was a head coach at Texas Tech in Kliff Kingsbury, fielded some pretty awful defenses there. – Yeah. – I’ve watched some Don Pellum and Brady Hoke defenses at Oregon that I was pretty disappointed. – What about Colorado this year?

They had some moments. – Colorado had some terrible moments. – I just remember watching that Washington game thinking, there is no chance they are not scoring on this possession. – That’s true. – And like they literally did every time I think.

I don’t know, there might’ve been a stop or a turnover that I’m forgetting, but like, it was just awful.

All this to say that Lincoln Riley and Ryan Day even were in this position two years ago where they were considered two of the, if you would’ve had a top seven list of best coaches in college football, both of them would probably have been into the top seven just based on where they were, their offensive minds and being just young, smart people.

Lincoln Riley probably more deserving than Ryan Day in the sense that he made the College Football Playoff three or four years in a row and had all those Heisman winners.

But now they’re kind of both in the same position where it’s like, whoa, wait a minute, did we overestimate what these guys are capable of?

So like the notion of USC and whether or not he’s a good enough head coach to maybe fix what seemed to be irreparable damage to the defense is far more enticing to me as like something I could chew on with some BTUs going into the off season. – Sure. – And whether or not Miller Moss is gonna be very good ’cause I think we’re all just anticipating it’s just a major step back at quarterback no matter who gets it. – See, I’m all in on Miller Moss.

I’m ready.

I’m pushing the chips in.

Ty, have you seen USC schedule?

It’s kind of okay. – Yeah, I mean, this is sort of your moment because I think the Miller Moss watch that we started on this show was done more tongue in cheek, but then we saw him in the bowl game and it was like, holy crap. – I’m in Ty. – Six touchdowns against a good Louisville team.

Like that’s workable, right?

If you need a quarterback in 2024, he might be a guy you wanna look at. – I’m in.

I’m just saying it now. – I’ll say 7.3 out of 10 on the BTU scale.

We just made that up. – I’m an eight too. – Yeah, like I think to your point, Ari, we always expected that there was gonna be a step back at quarterback, but Malachi Nelson transfers out.

They bring in Jayden Maiava from UNLV.

Miller Moss goes into the bowl game, obviously throws a six touchdowns.

So that was always gonna be interesting.

It was just, I think, a function of who are the names gonna be because is it Will Howard?

Is it somebody else?

Like we didn’t know.

Honestly, I expected maybe that they’d be a little bit more active on the portal side of things, at least at the quarterback position, but that kind of being its own point of intrigue, you couple that with the defense, USC’s got a lot of BTUs on it. – Can I just butt in here and ask a question, guys? – Please. – You mentioned something about their schedule like being manageable. – Yeah. – It’s awful.

What are you talking about? – No, no, no, no, no, no.

Listen, listen.

USC opens with what still might be a catastrophic LSU defense and a new quarterback, right? – It’s not an easy game by any stretch of the imagination, but yes. – Does USC miss both Big Ten favorites on this schedule?

In Ohio State and Oregon? – They do, that’s right. – They get a kind of rebuilding Michigan team, right?

Michigan’s– – On the road in their first Big Ten game ever, yeah. – It’s on the road, it’s a very difficult game, but all things considered, like would you rather have got Michigan the last two years or this year?

Of course it’s this year, right?

I’m just saying circumstantially, this USC schedule isn’t horrible. – Road games at Michigan, I think we have a neutral site game against LSU, and I guess those could be helmet games, your point.

They could be helmet games.

But then you’re also playing Wisconsin and Penn State at home.

You’ve got to travel to Washington.

You’ve got what could be a much better Nebraska team. – Will Rogers Washington? – No, I understand that, but I’m just saying these are typically games that they struggle with in the Pac-12 in the past. – I hear ya. – So it’s not like it’s like they have the entire Big Ten West for a six week period.

Like every two weeks, they’re playing against a team that they could conceivably lose to, and all the things that you’re saying to neg the teams that we’re talking about also apply to the team we’re discussing. – Of course, of course.

But I’m saying, what I’m also saying is there’s a lot of change in a lot of these places, and USC weirdly has continuity for the first time in a while. – Yep, okay. – That’s all. – Here’s one.

I’m not gonna be as flowery in my description, Ari, but I’m just gonna call out that Arizona forced six turnovers of Oklahoma in the Holiday Bowl and won by 14-38. – Alamo Bowl? – What did I say?

Holiday Bowl, Alamo Bowl. – Alamo, yeah, yeah, yeah. – 38-24 was the final.

We had all the stats from Noah Fifita and T-Mac, which I think we’ve come to expect at this point.

But the defense stepping up in the manner that it did.

Now, new coach, it’s not a Jedd Fisch Arizona going into the 16-team Big 12, but on the topic of schedules. – Oh my God. – Arizona’s schedule in 2024.

This isn’t a preview show. – Look at this West Coast bias from Ty Hildenbrandt. – That’s what I thought you meant.

That’s a dream schedule.

I was like comparing it to USC, but yes, your point was right. – This is not a preview episode, but the schedule is very front-loaded and extremely workable because first five weeks of the year at Kansas State, at Utah, home against Texas Tech.

There are some other landmines a little bit later on this season, or a little bit later on in the season.

But all that being said, it sets up pretty well for a team that hopefully retains a fair amount of experience going into 2024.

And who the hell knows where this conference shakes out with all of the change that it has to endorse.

So heat check Ari, how many BTUs are you at on Arizona after the bowl with the changes going into a new conference? – I think it was like a seven and a half probably, like in the midst of it, but probably now I’m like a three or a four going out of it.

And I think the reason why it’s just national interest.

I don’t know if people are as bought into that program as maybe I was with my past.

And let me tell you guys, I have my head up in the clouds a lot in this job where I’m just kind of focused on what I’m working on.

But to have like the group chat experience where a lot of my closest friends that I went to school with there were complaining about it and me getting a front row seat to it.

It was like the raw nature of how those people were feeling.

When Jedd Fisch left was like a nice refreshing, front row seat for me of like, this really matters to people, even if you think it doesn’t.

So the fact that they were able to retain the two best players on their offense, one of which is a quarterback who showed a lot of youthful promise and T-Mac who I believe will probably be a first round pick in the draft.

It could have been a complete and utter dumpster fire in the sense of everything that Jedd Fisch built got torn down in a one week period.

And he did take some things and they lost some players, but it wasn’t nearly as catastrophic as it could have been.

And I think that it is still possible that Arizona goes into the off season as one of the two or three favorites to win the new Big 12.

And that schedule is really, really easy.

And I think it kind of, maybe I’m speaking your language here, Dan, but like for Pac-12 fans who are so used to what the Pac-12 used to look like, was kind of a bummer.

They feel like they escaped to the Big 12 before the whole thing exploded.

They thought they were safe.

Then you look at the schedule and it’s like, there was no USC and there’s no UCLA, there’s no Washington or Oregon.

It really does kind of take the flavor out of it a little bit.

If you’re accustomed to playing in a schedule that has those teams on it. – If you’re strictly going on a BTU scale of the best and hottest quarterback receiver tandems in the country, proven quarterback receiver tandems in the country, are there two better?

Is there one better?

Like where right now, and like you can look at a number of schools and say like, oh, that could be interesting, right?

DJ U to Florida States guys, or Dillon Gabriel to Evan Stewart or whatever.

But when you look at like the proven nature of Noah Fifita and T-Mac, like that’s 10 out of 10. – And together too. – That’s what I’m saying.

Tandem BTU heat from quarterback to receiver, I think is one of the best three in the country, if not even better. – Yeah, I’m with you on that. – Okay.

You ready for my next BTU heat check Ty? – I am. – Do you have a number? – For Arizona?

I was, one of the things that I want to call out, and I think it was your colleague, Stew Mandel, in his way too early top 25, Ari, had Arizona as like a top 15 team.

I was like, whoa, okay.

USC not ranked Arizona up there, but you get it.

And provided they can retain some of the talent, and that doesn’t change, I guess there’s still time. – What Jedd Fisch did was actually bring players in there for the first time ever.

Like Arizona, it wasn’t a miracle job.

They got top 50 players in recruiting who came in and actually hit.

And they were the types of talents that Arizona just never had in the past.

And they’re still there, going into a weaker schedule with a new coach that people have a lot of respect for.

So I think they could make some noise. – I think I’m like a 5.7. – I don’t think the Big 12 has a lot of BTUs in this. – No, well, I like the talent that Arizona brings back.

I think it’s an interesting situation going into a new conference.

And I think it’s especially intriguing that a school in Arizona that, for let’s be honest, a while was kind of a doormat, now has built up with a coach that has since left, goes into a new conference, and suddenly is one of maybe three favorites.

That’s interesting.

If nothing more, preseason, again, not a preview show, but that’s pretty damn interesting to me.

So I’ll go 5.7. – Yeah, and it could make the playoff, right? – Could make the playoff. – Just saying that sentence is exciting. – Yeah. – All right, my next one is, well, in just looking at this one, I learned that bears happen to be very good swimmers and rely on finding brooks and bodies of water to cool down.

They can shed their under fur as well, as they try to deal with the heat.

And I learned that because there might not be a higher level BTU situation than what’s happening in Oxford, Mississippi.

Bringing the players that they brought back, minus Quenshawn Judkins, bringing the players that they brought in, you know, Juice Wells, Walter Nolen, guys like that.

Right now, in terms of where the SEC is, in terms of where there is new hype, right?

Texas has been developing hype.

Georgia has been maintaining hype.

Alabama has lost hype.

Texas A&M starting over again.

LSU’s a wild card.

Ole Miss has like, kind of proven BTUs, and I think it was sort of emphasized with their win over Penn State in the bowl game.

Even with the Penn State defensive players who weren’t there, Ole Miss looked good, they looked confident, they looked prepared, they looked enthusiastic, which is not always the case for even good teams in bowl season.

I’m feeling a lot of the BTUs with Ole Miss right now.

What say you, Ty and Ari? – I mean, we talked about Ole Miss a couple episodes ago, and we did our portal eval, and like, if they don’t make the playoff, it’s kind of a failure.

You gotta make the playoff with this roster.

Now, I’m looking at the schedule.

The schedule may beg to differ.

The deeper you go into this thing, I think the harder it gets.

At LSU, they’ve got Oklahoma on this slate, they’ve got Georgia on this slate, they’ve got Florida on this slate to close things out.

Who knows what state Florida will be in by that point in the season. – Ooh, I might. – Well, I have a pretty good idea at this point, but I don’t wanna draw too many conclusions.

Again, it’s still January, a time of reporting.

First half of this thing works out really well, back half definitely toughens up in a pretty significant way.

So, look, they’ve got the ammo on board to make the playoff.

They should make the playoff if Lane Kiffin is halfway as good of a coach as we would expect.

So, I think there’s a lot of heat coming off of Ole Miss as well.

It’s gonna be one of those interesting scenarios, I think, in the SEC, just because suddenly we’ve got this vacuum.

Nick Saban is gone.

He drove all the other programs crazy trying to match him, and now he’s gone, and now suddenly who is going to step up and kind of fill that void if not Georgia?

And I think Ole Miss wants to be that team.

They fashioned themselves a playoff roster.

We’ll see if they can do it. – Where were nuclear and hydrogen bomb tests, the ATOLs, the small islands that were completely, that’s what I have BTU-wise with Ole Miss.

I have ATOL-level BTUs. – Wow. – Yeah. – I’m like an 8-1. – Yeah, I’m 9-7. – When you said it, my first thought was in the nines.

I’m more leaning towards Dan on this one because, well, I mean, eight’s good too, right?

I think that things in college football become more interesting when you start zooming out a little bit and not necessarily just on how good is Ole Miss gonna be, but the case study of what Ole Miss could do in terms of a roster-building strategy, like the notion of returning 10 players, or I mean a bunch of players from a 10-win team the previous year, looking at the schedule and saying, “Hey, well, we don’t play Alabama.

“We don’t have to play Georgia ’til mid-November.

“We could really, really do something here, “so why don’t we take all of our money “and allocate the resources in order to try “to build the best roster that we can “and just literally go for it?”

Like buying at the trade deadline and creating this notion of like, “Hey, when the opportunity strikes,” we might not be big NIL players every year, we might not be able to load a roster this way, but when circumstance and schedule and roster all match up the year before and you see that window, are we gonna see teams go on a spending spree or a resource spree the year before and then go all into a season?

So the notion of all into me is very fascinating.

Ole Miss is coming into the season with a playoff, and not just a playoff appearance, I think win a few games in the playoff even.

That’s what the expectation is, and even without Judkins on the roster, the players that they brought in, put ’em in a position where they should be able to do so, especially considering the fact their schedule is very manageable for it being in the new SEC.

I don’t see Alabama or Texas on the schedule.

So not only will Ole Miss make the playoff or how many games can it lose and still make the playoff and will it make a playoff game, is Ole Miss gonna be the new blueprint for how middle tier programs dying to win big actually approach their roster building in the future is fascinating. – Ty, you watched the bowl game closely. – I did, unfortunately. – And mentioned the defensive players that were out.

Was there anything in that specific bowl game where you’re like, “I think this can continue,” especially given the players that they added? – No, I mean, most of my hot takes are on the Penn State side, you know that. – Okay. – That’s right.

Most of my hot takes are on that side.

We expected that Ole Miss was gonna come in there and was gonna look good on offense.

I don’t know if I quite expected they’d look as good as they did throwing the football, and that was sort of my point of contention with that game, but Penn State was without some guys, and look, we’ve talked ad nauseum about their problems on offense, and a lot of that stuff still kind of was there.

So yeah, I’m excited about Ole Miss.

I’m excited to see what they look like and how they fit kind of in the pecking order in this new SEC, the Saban-less SEC, that I’m sure we’re gonna be blue in the face talking about all offseason long. – Are you seeing a Black Bear in public? – No, but I’ve been to the Black Bear Diner. – What?

(laughs) Where is the Black Bear Diner? – It’s kind of like, I think it’s like a Southwestern diner chain, very good. – Oh, it’s a chain, okay.

I’ve never been, never heard of it. – Yeah, yeah, it’s, I’ve seen it in mountain towns. – Ty, have you seen a Black Bear? – I have seen a Black Bear. – In the rolling hills of PA? – I have, yeah. – Oh, okay, I saw one in Canada once. – Yeah, my– – It was far away. – Editor’s number one irrational fear in life is encountering a bear in public. – Bears, yeah. – And he, it’s so irrational that he will avoid hiking trails and stuff because he can’t, and I find that to be very funny, just picturing him actually being chased by a bear, ’cause the odds of that actually happening are very, very slim, but you know, just like I have a friend who’s afraid to go on cruises ’cause he’s afraid of pirates, like that’s another one. – Oh, pirates, not even falling off. – Yeah, yeah, and I was like, and he said the word Gatling gun, and I’ve never in my entire life laughed harder than that, ’cause like– – Wait, a Gatling gun in reference to– – A grappling gun or a grappling hook, where it’s just like– – Those are two very different things, the Gatling gun and a grappling hook. – It’s both, yeah. – So he would only go on a cruise if it were equipped with grappling hooks? – He’s afraid that they are gonna use the grappling hook to go on board with machine guns.

Yes, while he’s on the cruise. – I gotta believe that Carnival has heard about the elephant hoses that you can use to sort of ward off a pirate. – Yeah, I’m just saying like a 35-year-old man being afraid of that is a very funny thing to think about. – Yeah, not falling overboard, not like the entire cruise ship coming down with some sort of bacterial infection or something that spreads quickly.

It’s much more the threat of pirates, even off like British Columbia, if you were to take an Alaskan cruise. (laughing) Great. – And how common are they?

Are there pirates out there?

Like how common are– – You don’t hear about ’em anymore that much with cruises. – It’s just orcas now, man. – Yeah, the orcas– – But do pirates, is pirating in the ocean and industry still? – I assume so, yeah. – Okay. – But I think it’s very specific to like certain areas of the Indian Ocean.

I think that’s where it’s been most prevalent. – And they’re just stealing like from cargo ships? – I don’t think they target cruises that much, though maybe I’m wrong.

It’s usually cargo ships, I thought. – Your editor took Captain Phillips, the movie, very seriously. – That’s great, though. (laughing) – No, the editor was the bear, my other friend. – The editor’s bear, okay. – Yeah, but yeah, either way, they’re both adults. – Fair enough, fair enough.

All right, what’s your next heat check?

I’ve got a two-way heat check here, centered around the pinstripe bowl, fellas, the pinstripe bowl.

Rutgers beat Miami in the pinstripe bowl, 31 to 24.

The Rutgers, we’re talking a lot about schedules here again, episode, not a preview. – Yeah, yeah, I don’t think there’s any heat on Rutgers, but you can continue.

There’s heat on Greg Schiano’s bank account, that’s good. – There’s heat on Schiano’s bank account, but there should be at least a little bit of heat on Rutgers because of the schedule.

The schedule to me is fascinating.

It is like a total 180 from where it’s been, right?

We’re accustomed to Rutgers playing Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan.

This season, they play none of them.

They play none of- – No Big Ten East powers? – None of those teams.

They do have to travel to USC.

They, I think, get UCLA and USC back-to-back weeks.

It’s still Rutgers, okay?

I don’t mean that as a pejorative, but they’re still trying to build this thing up.

But in the new Big Ten, Rutgers recruiting class, relative to newcomer Washington, was like .78 points worse.

So pretty close to where Washington was. – Well, I don’t think Washington has a recruiting class anymore.

So that might be like dividing something by zero.

Continue. – And should be a lot more experienced than they’ve been in the past.

They, I think, returned a fair amount on their defense as well.

Kyle Monangai, their big running back, is coming back for another season.

So this is not to say that Rutgers is going to be in contention for the Big Ten, but looking at the schedule, I say, okay, maybe a little bit of heat there.

On the flip side, Miami.

I don’t know what to make of Miami, guys. – Miami is almost an Ari Wasserman petri dish, right?

It’s the extent to which Ari will stand by his ethos, because this is a Miami team that recruits really well. – Stars matter, right? – The roster is talented, and they’re a situation where you’re like, at a certain point, it’s gotta matter.

But then you also see how they lose games, you see how they go into games, how they’re unprepared for games, and you’re just like, well, maybe stars don’t matter in the way they do.

Maybe Miami is a very specific test, specific to Ari Wasserman. – When Mario Cristobal left Oregon, and you were able to watch that last 30-second clip, if I could have just showed it to you then, would you have just been tickled pink? – Yeah, of course. (laughing) – The thing about the Petri dish– – Except he won the conference and won a Rose Bowl at Oregon. – Yeah, the Petri dish thing is funny, ’cause it exploded in my face when Michigan won the national title. – Right, true. – But also, too, Miami isn’t the first case of recruited really well and never is good either. – Right. – My thought process when it comes to the recruiting thing is that having X number of players or a certain number of talent on your roster is a prereq, excuse me, to winning a national championship, but it doesn’t guarantee being good.

It guarantees that you won’t win one if you don’t.

So that, to me, even is now kind of in question after what Michigan was able to do and what Washington might have been able to do had they won that game.

So Miami is always interesting to me because every single year when they sign these crazy good recruiting classes, you always think to yourself, is it finally gonna happen?

Is it finally gonna happen?

And at a certain point, ’cause they’ve done a really good job in what Mario did at Oregon was bolster the lines, and in the ACC, that’s a really good thing.

I think that they’ve gotten a lot of good line talent in both the portal and in the recruiting ranks.

So I am always on high alert for Miami just showing up and being good out of nowhere.

Not out of nowhere, but being good and better than we expect as a result of some of these players kind of growing up and having a good off season and Mario coaching well.

So that’s always the case.

But if they just stink again, that’s just gonna be status quo.

And as it pertains to Rutgers, if they won nine games next year, if they actually, if everything you said Ty comes through and they like win nine games, ’cause like they won seven this year and I don’t think anyone noticed.

So like if they win nine, like what would it take for people to notice Rutgers? – It’s who you beat.

It’s who you beat and how you beat them.

Because they were just sort of Boa constrictors last year when they were competitive, but they weren’t flashy.

They didn’t upset anybody big.

They just chipped away in a pretty down conference. – But then when they did beat Miami, people did notice that a little.

People did notice.

Miami to me, BTU wise is like an eight three, just because I’m prepared for anything, any given week with Miami.

Now that they’ve added Cam Ward, who’s like the ultimate wildcard.

The best of Cam Ward is crazy impressive.

And then he’ll just disappear randomly in late October, early November for two and a half weeks.

So I’m fully ready for Miami to like demolish Florida State and lose to a new Duke or I don’t have their schedule in front of me.

But the heat wise, they are going to be incredible to watch.

They’re gonna be the most entertaining team in the country to me because quarter to quarter, half to half, week to week, I think they’re gonna be like six different teams. – They open up in August, August 31st.

I think that’s a week zero game at Florida.

And if they win that game, like Miami could legitimately get the six or seven and O.

They play for Florida A&M, Ball State, South Florida, Vatek.

Oh, I heard, I learned this week, you can’t say Vatek, it’s V-T. – Oh yeah. – That’s offensive.

I don’t know if you guys knew that. – There’s– – I didn’t. – Yeah. – At Cal and then at Louisville, who I think is gonna be pretty good too.

And then Florida State in late October, but they have a chance to do that.

And if they won the ACC, it wouldn’t be surprising.

What it would just be like, oh, it finally happened. – It would be surprising because if you look at the math, doing it once in 24 years is a pretty low percentage. – Like Florida State was kind of surprising to me last year. – Really? – Florida State showed, well, I mean, when you look at the roster and the players that they have, like Jared Verse and Keon Coleman and Jordan Travis and all the Johnny Wilson and Benson, all the guys they had, it always added up to that, but it had been so long since we saw Florida State be so awesome, it kind of got into that no man’s land of is this magic lost?

Are they gonna be able to do it again?

And then they finally did it again.

It was kind of like, wow, they actually not only just beat the crap out of LSU on national television, but they did finish their season unbeaten.

And like, I’m with you, Dan.

I don’t know, like if they beat Florida, I don’t know that that necessarily means that Miami is back.

So if Miami were to end up doing it, it would be surprising, but the pieces at the end of the run, much like Florida State, it would make sense if they did. – What is the BTU ranking on both these teams?

I’m assuming Miami is higher, but it was of note that they played each other and of course that Rutgers won the bowl game. – I have a three one Rutgers, 3.1 for Rutgers, 8.3 for Miami.

Yeah. – Cam Ward brings Miami up probably into the seven, like seven three for me.

Rutgers is pretty low, but that doesn’t mean, I think Rutgers maybe like two eight, just because of all the emerging storylines and the Big Ten, I don’t know if that’s one that people are gonna get amped about.

That said, it’s not too long ago that Rutgers was a complete dumpster fire of a program that shouldn’t even be like, people were making fun of their inclusion in the conference.

And like Greg Schiano was probably the only coach on the face of the earth that truly understood like how to make Rutgers at least like semi-competent.

And he speaks the language in every single high school coach in New Jersey loves that guy.

And like the fact that their like win total next year might be like over under seven and a half or six and a half. – That’s crazy. – I don’t care what their schedule is.

The fact that he was able to accomplish that is a, you know, a hat tip to Greg Shiano for doing it, you know, and being willing to do it. – Ari, if out of the shadows emerged a billionaire booster at Rutgers. – The cake boss, is that what you’re? – The cake boss.

Let’s assume it’s the cake boss, I don’t know. (laughing) – Yeah. – If the cake boss suddenly finds $2 billion of discretionary income, how much of that money would the cake boss need to put into the Rutgers NIL infrastructure, what have you, in order to turn Rutgers into an immediate playoff contender? – Can I, can I just tell you like what I’ve always thought though about Rutgers before I answer that?

I always thought if they were New Jersey state that they would be better.

I think they’ve got a branding. – A branding issue, yeah. – Yeah, I don’t like, I don’t think I don’t even know what it means.

Like if they were New Jersey State and they had like a really cool, maybe even if they were still the Knights. – Yeah. – And they had a really like black and red uniforms that had like the outline of the state on the thing and people like acknowledged and knew where it was and made it, they would have a chance to make it cool.

I just don’t know if you can make the name Rutgers cool. – It was originally named Queens College. – Okay. – And it was renamed Rutgers College after Colonel Henry Rutgers in 1825.

He was a revolutionary war hero and the son of colonists from the Netherlands.

There you go. – That’s good to hear. – History lesson of the day. – And that was way before the birthplace of college football. – Yeah, but they were there for it. – Yeah, they were there for it.

So I don’t know.

I think that if you took 20 million, you could make a really good roster anywhere.

‘Cause, I mean, I guess like also too, if Greg Siano is still the head coach, he was an NFL head coach.

He was a coordinator at Ohio State.

He’s got a pretty extensive resume of working with football players.

It wouldn’t be like a joke of an institution to like be like, “Hey, go play there.”

And I think money talks.

I think people would go play anywhere if you threw enough money at it.

I think, you know, you see a lot of bogus NIL dollars flying around there, but they won seven games with what I assume is close to nothing or not anywhere near what other teams that are in the Big Ten were paying.

If you maybe turned it to 20 or 25, I think you could make the playoff pretty convincingly at that point.

That would be my number. – We talked on a previous episode about perhaps that method for a G5 school, because of course, as you know, group of five team gets in the playoff.

And if a G5 team finds a rich booster that’s willing to spend a lot of money, is that not the path of least resistance?

It might take a bit to convince people to come there, but if money talks, as you say it does, and of course, if you can put together an interesting G5 team that wins all its games, that seemingly is an easy way into the playoff with perhaps a lot of visibility for the school. – The question I have for you guys, and I don’t know the answer to this, I mean, you went to a school, Dan, that’s got some pretty wealthy people around it.

Why has no football obsessed billionaire just gone scorched earth yet?

Like you would think that like, ’cause when you think about how much money a billionaire has or what Nike is worth or what Apple is worth, like Tim Cook and Auburn, if you really, really, really felt like, like a billion dollars is like putting together a top three class as a drop in the bucket of a billion.

Like why has nobody, do you think it will ever get to a point where like a T-Boone Pickens, God rest his soul, decides, I’m 83 years old, I’ve got billions of dollars, the last thing I want is my team to win a national championship, and then actually just like pays every single member of their class $5 million to come there? – My guess is there’s something in the optics of it, right?

That you’re spending so much money on something that’s seen like internationally as pretty frivolous, even though we love it.

We were like, they spent how much money so that they could win three more football games when that money could have fed 300 million people, right?

That’s when they’re in the spotlight like that.

And I think Phil Knight might be a little bit different because he made his money in sports.

So maybe there’s a difference there. – And also it would be the easiest thing for him to do too.

If you’re, I would say, if I were Phil Knight, I would say if you’re a top 100 player in the country in the 247 sports composite, and you come to Oregon, I automatically give you a 10 year Nike deal and X number of dollars, whatever that comes out to be.

And it actually could be kind of used in the same vein that NIL was intended for, which is you are a Nike athlete, you wear Nike clothes, you post Nike things on your Instagram, you tweet about Nike and links to sales on your thing, and you’re actually an ambassador for the brand that exists right there.

Like, why don’t they do that? – The Oregon difference is at this point over the last whatever, 20 or 30 years, is it’s been a proven place that develops NFL players, that wins a ton of games.

So I think money gets players in the door.

But like, you’re saying like, why doesn’t, you know, a billionaire at Iowa State or Minnesota or something spend $40 million?

That’s fine, but you can make a bunch of money going there.

But if you’re thinking even medium term, are you gonna become a better football player?

Like, what are your odds of becoming an NFL quarterback if you go to Minnesota or Iowa State as Iowa State has an NFL quarterback starting in the Super Bowl? – That’s a great example. – But I’m saying, but the track record specific to those schools, right?

That like, it’s one thing to get players there, it’s another to say, okay, now that you’re here, we’re gonna develop you into an NFL, you know, top three draft pick. – But if a billionaire became maniacal about it, he could also hire a new staff. – Can hire the new staff, can hire the new facilities.

I just think it takes time.

I just think it takes time to build out that infrastructure.

And it takes commitment, not just financial commitment, but like, it takes your time, right?

You need to convince coaches that this is the place for you.

You need to build out like the NIL infrastructure of like how the deals are gonna work and hire a bunch of lawyers.

Like it just, it takes a good amount of your time.

I don’t think it’s like a turnkey, write a check, succeed kind of thing. – Tim Cook makes $83 million a year. – Great. – Right. – And Auburn has infrastructure. – But Auburn has had money forever.

Okay, I’ll use that as a cue and talk about a G5 school that has a mascot that actually has some fertility issues when it gets hot and stressed out.

I’m gonna talk about the G5 school that finished with the highest recruiting composite rank and emphatically won a bowl game.

That would be the USF Bulls.

How about that, Ari?

How about that for a transition? – So when they’re very hot, they have a hard time reproducing? – When they get very hot over the summer, bulls get very stressed out and the fertility issues start to grow. – Okay. – Like bull semen, according to VitaFirm, which is a company that makes mineral rich vitamins for bulls to keep their stress levels down.

Not a sponsor, I suppose could be. (laughing) If VitaFirm wants to come through with a bag for The Solid Verbal. – Solid verbal sponsored by VitaFirm.

Good help. – Yeah, apparently bulls need a mineral rich diet in the summer months to keep their stress levels down.

That helps with fertility.

USF though, absolutely demolishes, I believe Syracuse, right?

45-0 Alex Golesh, first year as head coach, bring in a couple of notable transfers, not a huge transfer class.

I don’t think the win and final score means a ton at the moment because of what Syracuse was going through in an interim situation.

But USF has a lot of work to do on defense.

Had a promising, I don’t know, two and a half, three quarters against Alabama early on in the year, but certainly took some lumps on defense, but there seems to be a good amount of heat.

Alex Golesh getting in front of microphones, talking a big game, which I love.

USF obviously geographically in a good place.

Schedule looks pretty decent moving forward.

What is the heat and BTU level with USF in this moment? – I’m still trying to shake off the words bull semen. – Yeah, of course. (laughing) – You’d be amazed at how often it comes up on this show. – Yeah, I mean, it would be a really funny sponsorship too.

And the thing that I think about too, sorry, I’ll get to your question in a second, but like somebody is a millionaire because of those vitamins.

Like do you ever think about like how awesome it is like these people who come up with these like obscure ideas that nobody in like regular modern society would ever think of, who now like have a house on Laguna Beach ’cause they came up with bull vitamins. – He is the bull semen king. – Bull semen king of Chicago, yeah. – Of Chicago, yeah. – Yeah, that’s I think that the, I mean my BTU. – I think it’s more Texas that has the issues with the heat and the cattle. – Okay, why are we worried about bull anxiety again?

Like what’s the actual? – USF, they’re the bulls. – No, no, I know. – And it’s heat, right?

The heat causes the stress and this is the heat episode. – Incredible fact.

I just mean why are humans concerned with the stress level of bulls in real life? – Because they make money off of the cattle.

Come on, are you’re in you’re in Texas. – Yeah, I don’t I am not a Texan.

I live in Texas, but I haven’t been indoctrinated yet. – Okay. – I mean, considering the fact that UCF was like one of the worst teams in college football two years ago. – Yeah, yeah, yeah. – What did I say? – You said CF. – USF, sorry.

I think they lost all but one game in 2022.

Like to me, I could probably get to like a 2.4 on this just because I think that every program in Florida, I don’t think that any program located in Florida should ever stink under any circumstance. – Great. – So the fact that they have some momentum, again, you can’t take a 45 nothing win over Syracuse considering what happened there, overly serious.

But what you can do is you can see a nice, tangible piece of growth there that can continue on into the following year.

And I’m old enough to remember when USF went like 10 and 0 that one year.

I think it was like 08 or 07 when they– – Yeah, they got killed by Oregon in the Sun bowl.

But yeah, that was a fun year. – But they had a really fun year.

And I think that everybody in Florida with the proximity to talent that they have is entitled to at least one fun year every six, seven years.

And I think that goes back to how weird it is that Miami’s been not very good for as long as they have.

So yes, I mean, I think I can put it up there with next to Rutgers in terms of BTUs. – I have it above Rutgers because of the location in Florida, because of the juice, because of the recruiting.

Young promising quarterback, Byrum Brown, I’m there.

I’d like a 5.4 for USF right now. – 5.4? – Yeah, absolutely.

I mean, especially with the bull fertility element. – Maybe you’re just like, yeah, I know you’re just like hot right now. – Gotta adjust my seat, yeah. – The bull thing, that was unexpected, Dan.

I’m not gonna lie. – Was it though, Ty, after all these years? – Maybe not.

Maybe not as unexpected as people who are new listeners would expect me to say.

I’m not higher than Rutgers.

I don’t think I gave my number for Rutgers.

I’m like a 5.3. – Oh, wow.

Okay. – On Rutgers.

Yeah, I’m just interested. – That’s how you prove to the people that you’re just the big college football guy. – I guess.

I mean, I live in this part of the world, so maybe I’m a little bit more interested.

For me, the USF thing, it’s more of a bigger picture heat check because they’re building the stadium.

And I wrote about it a lot in our newsletter that we sent out towards, I guess, the fall of last year.

There was some strife there with, do we actually want to build a $340 million stadium at the risk of leaving academics behind?

And they said, “Yes, let’s do it.

We’re going for it.”

We need to, you know, some of the rationale behind that decision was we don’t want to be left behind in the football world.

Like we see that we’re in Florida.

We see where this thing could go.

It’s a brave new world in college football.

And so we’re going to build the stadium.

It’s going to open in 2026.

It’s going to have a big freaking bowl, Dan.

I don’t know if it’s going to be sponsored by Vitafirm.

Maybe it could be. – Of course. – On one- – The amount of Vitafirm exposure on this episode. – So much.

They’re going to have a big old bowl, at least in the renderings, on one half of the stadium.

And so I just think there is a lot of heat there on that program. – First, the first two FBS programs that South Florida plays this fall, Alabama and Miami. – Yep. – I’m just saying, you buy low now, the heat’s going to be through the roof if anything crazy happens.

The heat’s going to be through the roof and they want to get into a power conference.

You know, they’re making these investments because they want to try and pave their way into the playoff at some point in the foreseeable future.

And so that’s why they’re investing as heavily as they are.

As for what USF looks like this year, I agree on the quarterback thing, not a preview episode.

I need some time with that one.

But I think overall the momentum around the program is there.

And so that makes it interesting, not more interesting than Rutgers, but I’ll go 5.1.

How’s that? – All right, next heat check, Ty.

I don’t know how much time, got time for a couple more? – Kyron Drones. – Ooh, specific. – Yeah, Kyron Drones.

So Kyron Drones, Baylor transfer, is quarterback at VT, Virginia Tech.

Ari, is that right? – That’s right. – Don’t say Va Tech, don’t say Louisiana. – VT. – Don’t do it. – Came on strong last half of the season.

Won the military bowl, beat Tulane, a good group of five team in its own right.

I think finished in his last five games with something like an 11 to two touchdown interception ratio, with the exception of the Louisville game. – Yeah, Louisville. – He did at least one good thing in all of the final five games, right?

Whether running or passing.

The schedule next season, speaking of beautiful schedules, is beautiful.

It works out really well for Virginia Tech.

They’re at Miami, they’re at Syracuse, they’re home against Clemson.

So there’s some name brand teams on that schedule, but this is a team to me that felt like it very much got its act together and was trending up in a good way when we last left them at the end of the season.

So that’s not to say this is a nine win Virginia Tech team, but I do think after a first season for the new coaching staff trying to figure out who is gonna play where, a lot of like positional changes, which was concerning.

Last season, it seems as if they put things together in a really substantial way.

And now going into 2024 with a good schedule, and I think a lot more experience coming back, I don’t know, like I’m pretty high on Brent Pry and where he’s got that program pointed. – I think that’s right.

I’m okay with this.

What number do you have for Kyron Drones? – 6.2. – 6.2, okay. – Yeah, I like, I really, I think we saw flashes in limited action at Baylor.

And when you and I remember, when you and I remembered that he was on the roster for Virginia Tech, and then when he started playing, it was like a couple weeks into the year, we got more regular time.

It was like, okay, this could be interesting to follow.

And then they went to a bowl and then they won the bowl.

And now I’m talking myself into Virginia Tech in a way that I don’t understand. – They lost to your precious Rutgers Scarlet Knights early. – This is true.

This is true, and they play again next year. – Yeah. – But I’m pretty high on them. – Yeah, it was, the second half of the year, more so than the bowl to me, was what I think upped the BTUs in February, January, February.

So yeah, I’d have them mid-tier BTU in I think a conference still desperate to get a little hot when the SEC and Big Ten seem to have all the juice right now.

So yeah, Virginia Tech has a fun home field.

The schedule, as you mentioned, looks nice.

A younger head coach who seems to be, seems to have an upward trajectory.

Kyron Drones is fun.

Yeah, I don’t know what the receiver room looks like.

I don’t know what the offensive line room looks like in this moment.

That’s an August conversation.

But in terms of where they stack up, in terms of just general vibes right now, yeah, I would say they run pretty high. – The most important thing for Virginia Tech is not the number.

It is not whether we’re at a 6.2 or a 6.3 or a 4.1. – That they’re just on this show at all? – Well, the fact that they’re on the show is important, but the fact that if we were to have done this show a year ago, that BTU number is definitely a tick up than it was a year ago.

And that’s all you want, right?

If you’re starting over in the way that Virginia Tech was starting over with that roster, the fact that that number is objectively higher on this episode is meaningful. – I’m no expert on Virginia Tech’s roster numbers right now, but it is funny that you mentioned this, Ty, because on our show, we had somebody call in and say, why don’t you guys talk about Virginia Tech?

I’ve heard already say that this is a dead program.

And if you actually look at their schedule in drones, next year there’s a legitimate chance with the returning production that we have that we can make the playoff.

And I kind of looked into it a little bit and I saw their schedule before the show.

And I kind of put two and two together.

I’m like, well, drones is somebody that I too also noticed at Baylor.

I know that he wasn’t always a starter there, but there were spot starts a few years ago where he came in and did some things that are like, oh, this guy’s got a flash of athleticism here that could be special.

And if you get a quarterback that kind of figures it out and you have a lot of returning production plus a favorable schedule, there is a chance that Virginia Tech could go win nine games and move that BTU meter up.

I’m higher than you, I think.

I’m closer to seven, maybe six, eight on this. – Nice. – Because I’m always excited about like what new can happen.

And as we found out this past year, like new teams pop up all the time.

That is an exciting proposition for me.

The thing I don’t understand is, and I remember vividly when I was covering Ohio State, we went to Blacksburg for the 2015 game.

That was the Braxton Miller spin move game, if you guys remember. – Yeah, yeah. – And I remember writing a huge feature before that game about like what happened to Virginia Tech?

Like why don’t they recruit the DMV any more the way that they used to?

Why don’t they get play?

Like if Michael Vick was born now or was 18 now, he never would go to Virginia Tech the way he could have gone.

And I think it’s kind of a sad story that like one of the name brand places that was competing for national championships when we were kids, kind of just like went into no man’s land and stopped recruiting.

They weren’t a factor in their own territory anymore.

And Penn State was eating up a lot of the best players in the DMV area and like Vatech, VT. – VT. – Wasn’t really even a, I’ve been saying Vatech for 20 years now.

It’s gonna take a minute for me to get out of that habit. – They’re probably one of the big losers of national recruiting, right?

That they are close enough to interesting talent, but now everybody can watch YouTube, everybody can watch Hudl, everybody can look at MaxPreps or whatever, wherever tape is that everybody can get to regional clinics and camps and everything like that, where that it’s cooler if you’re a top player in Virginia to go to Alabama or Penn State or any of these places. – Has anybody been a victim of that more than Virginia Tech though?

Like I’m just trying to think of like which teams used to be high, like if you think about the Virginia Tech program. – I mean, USC’s recruiting ground has been rated pretty significantly, right? – It has been, but they haven’t dropped from like top 15 program in America to like in the 70s. – True. – It’s like Virginia Tech has been pillaged to the point where it’s like not even visible or similar to what they were.

I mean, they were once one of the top 15 programs in America and now they can’t, they just signed a top 40 class for the first time in a few years and finished a few years, I think in the 50s, 60s and 70s. – People might argue Miami over the last 20 years since they were very strong, that Miami has sort of come down as local talent has been able to explore the opportunity to go elsewhere. – Yeah. – I just can’t even remember the last time Virginia Tech played in a nationally relevant football game. – Virginia Tech, well, look, they beat Ohio State in the year that Ohio State, so it’s 2014.

They had an interesting stretch with Jared Evans, Gerard Evans, it’s what, 2016, is that Fuente’s first year?

The JC transfer who probably should have stayed.

So I guess it’s really been 2016 since they were playing in. – So we’re getting on a decade now. – Yeah, we’re getting on a couple of president.

Okay, here’s my final, and there’s good continuity here.

Here’s my final heat check, my final BTU.

And actually the phrase I’m gonna use here was in Ty’s vows, quivering muscle fibers.

Quivering muscle fibers are how this animal stays warm.

You might think to yourself, it’s a bee, technically it’s a wasp because a yellow jacket is a wasp.

Okay, also fun fact about wasps is a female decomposes in every fig that exists, did you know that? – A female in every fig? – In every single fig that exists, there are the broken down proteins of a female wasp. – How on God’s green earth did you find that? – I don’t know, I just found that out one time that figs are dead wasp fruit. – Wow. – And it stuck with me. – Wait, do they go into the fruit as it’s blooming and then die? – Yes, as it’s blooming and die and the wasp carcass breaks down into a protein that’s within those. – That allows it to continue to grow to what a fig turns into a bee? – Correct. – So if a bee doesn’t die in the fig, then it can’t be a fig, or a wasp, excuse me, then it can’t be a fig? – I believe so, I believe so.

You can look it up, I can be fact checked, I’m wrong continuously.

But the fact of the matter is, Georgia Tech had a nice win over, I believe UCF, UCF in their bowl game, and became kind of a wild card last year.

Haynes King threw far too many picks, but made a ton of plays.

They were probably an average, even below average defense, away from beating what, Bowling Green, opened the season with a win over Louisville.

The offense certainly did enough in that game.

They get the win over Miami.

They make changes, much needed changes on their defensive coaching staff.

They hire a long time Mike Elko guy, Tyler Santucci, to run the defense.

He was at Notre Dame, Wake Forest, Texas A&M, Duke, Edgerrin Cooper’s now gonna be like a top 20 pick.

He was one of his linebackers at Texas A&M.

So, I know it’s easy to be seduced by the ceiling of recent Orange Bowl champion, Georgia Tech.

They’ve had some down years, but in terms of heat check, in terms of BTUs, in terms of vibes in this ACC, another Tech, I don’t know, I think they’re pointed in the right direction.

I think there’s some flames here. – The problem with Georgia Tech, I agree. – Yeah, schedule is an F minus, minus, minus, minus. – I was gonna say, there is a, we have to talk about the Delta, all right?

If we wanna get scientific.

We have to talk about the difference in the BTUs around the program and the trajectory and the vibes, BTUs versus what I think is reality next season.

Because I’m looking at the schedule now, they open with Florida State.

They’re also on the road at North Carolina, at Louisville.

They’re home against Notre Dame.

They’re home against Miami.

They play NC State, I don’t know what NC State’s gonna look like.

They close out the season on the road at Georgia, who, by the way, should still be pretty good.

So, ceiling there could be seven wins, could be seven wins with that schedule.

Again, not a preview episode, but it seems like that’s pretty difficult.

I feel really good about where the program is at though.

And I think we alluded to this frequently when we talked about Brent Key taking over that program as a whole, just felt like they played for him.

You know, they were in games and that carried through to this season as well.

They beat UCF in the Gasparilla Bowl.

They got to seven wins.

That’s a huge deal.

‘Cause again, they had a pretty tough schedule this season.

The fact that they got to the bowl, that they won the seventh game, I think is meaningful.

They should have a very experienced team again in 2024.

So that in and of itself against a tough schedule, who knows how things shake out.

Maybe they pull an upset or two and make things a little bit more interesting.

But that is my cap on the BTU meter.

I can’t go higher than like a five, five on Georgia Tech, if only because I look at the schedule and we have to be somewhat realist in our analysis here.

So I like them, I like where they’re at.

I like Brent Key, I like Haynes King, but I don’t see them, like, even if everything goes right, they’re not going better than seven and five. – Okay, can I ask you a weird question?

Because it’s late January, early February. – Is it Bull Seaman? – No, nothing related to cattle and reproduction.

When you look at the roster of ACC quarterbacks, I’m not gonna declare Haynes King, like the alpha atop this list.

I’m not gonna go as far as doing that.

But who is?

(laughs) Like you look at this list and he’s like, is it DJ U?

Is it Cade Klobnik?

Is it Max Johnson at North Carolina?

Like Maalik Murphy at Duke?

Is it whatever the, you know, maybe it’s Cam Ward at Miami. – Who would you pick? – Right, that’s what I’m saying. – If you had one here, I think I know who I would take. – Like Haynes King put up a lot of interesting numbers.

Obviously one of them was 16 or so interceptions, but he ran well, he was a gamer at the end of game.

Like he made plays.

I don’t know what, if Miami’s gonna start. – He has beaten Alabama. – He’s beaten Alabama.

Well, no, that was Zach Calzada, wasn’t it? – Oh, Zach Calzada, yeah.

And is he not starting in the ACC?

Because I feel like every former Texas A&M quarterback is a starting quarterback in our roster.

Sorry for getting those confused. – And I don’t know what’s gonna happen with, where was, was it an Albany’s quarterback?

Skeeter McDuffie, whatever his name is. (laughing) I think it’s something different. – But I’m buying stock in Jamal, I mean, Maalik Murphy, sorry. – Oh, Maalik Murphy at Duke, sure.

So who, is that your answer?

Who is the number one? – I don’t know if that’s who I would, if I could build my entire team, like these are two, like who would I take as like the best finished product right now, or who would I build my program around, I think are different questions. – You’ve got, what, Grayson McCall, NC State? – I’d probably take Cade Klubnik right now. – Okay. – Just based on ceiling, and I’ve like watched him camp in person, and I know that he’s got the goods. – Yeah, there’s some risk, but yeah. – There’s some risk, but I think physical attributes and star potential. – Kyle McCord, Syracuse? – Kyle McCord, yes, that’s another one.

I think I would take Maalik Murphy, just based on like the Anthony Richardson School of freak athletes, like who figures it out, and could be a first round pick one day. – Haynes King, probably the most accomplished, if that’s the right word. – You’re really selling Haynes King, even Haynes King is listening to this, and rolling his eyes a little bit. – Again, I’m not going as far as to suggest Haynes King is the alpha in this list. – All right. – I’m just saying, in terms of accomplishment, he was more fun, like DJ U definitely took a step forward for Oregon State, and will accomplish things at Florida State in this offense, but Haynes King is frisky, in the top group at least, I would say. – This episode brought to you by a bull semen company, or whatever they do, and Haynes King’s people. – And his quivering muscle fibers, was that the phrase that was in your vows?

Yeah. – That’s right. – This is great.

I would give Georgia Tech, independent of the schedule, because I don’t think a lot of people look at the schedule, and I don’t think Georgia Tech has a lot of buzz, no pun intended, at the moment, but I’d be high fives, low sixes. – I think you have to have a real conversation, and maybe this isn’t the day, can I come back in the summer? – Of course. – Like what actually is, like, ’cause you mentioned it too, it’s like Georgia Tech’s high ceiling.

It’s like, I don’t think that the ceiling at Georgia Tech is as high as other people do.

Yes, it’s in Atlanta, and then that’s it.

Like that’s where it stops.

Like, it’s just hard, because it’s actually, like apparently a very difficult academic school. – It’s an excellent school, yeah. – Both to get into, and to exceed expectations in, grade wise.

I just don’t know if this is a program that’s gonna be winning ACC titles, even if things go their way in the near future. – No, I think the relative BTUs would be around consistent eight-ish.

Consistent eight-ish, you know, maybe nine if everything breaks correctly.

Between seven and nine wins a year.

Consistent bowl team, I think, would generate a good amount of quivering muscle fibers. – Yeah, I’m with you on that. – Okay.

There’s your show, Ty. – All right. – BTUs, I didn’t keep track of them.

I’ll have to go back, I’ll jot these down. – Ole Miss is the ATOL BTU for me. – Yeah. – That’s, I think, the top. – Ole Miss is up there on pretty much all of our lists.

Ari Wasserman, what are you working on over at The Athletic?

I know you’ve been very busy writing, you’ve been very busy, of course, with your show until Saturday.

What’s new in your world? – Not much really new in my world.

I’m going to be running a story heading into signing day next week.

Have been talking to a ton of college football staffers about recruiting rules they find stupid and would like to change.

As kind of a way to, you know, preview a national signing day that used to mean something but now is actually relatively boring.

But other than that, no, just until Saturday, podcast at The Athletic and enjoying what I thought was gonna be an off-season.

You don’t know pain until you’re packing for a trip to Santa Barbara, and Nick Saban retires as you’re putting on the underwear. (laughing) That wasn’t fun.

And I went to a Tina Turner musical with my wife and my wife’s mother.

I was on the way to that when Jim Harbaugh retired.

So I’m just kind of hoping to get some normalcy back.

And next time I come on the show, we need to have like at least a 25 minute block of time scheduled for just a grab ass topic that has nothing to do with college football.

‘Cause I love picking your guys’ brains, but I appreciate you having me on.

It was fun as always. – Awesome.

Ari Wasserman, go and check him out, of course, over on The Athletic until Saturday is the name of his podcast.

Ari, always fun.

We will bring you back again at some point soon.

In the meantime for my normal co-host, Dan Rubenstein, for our guest of honor, Ari Wasserman, we appreciate everybody stopping on by, downloading, listening, supporting the show.

Make sure you hit subscribe or follow wherever it is you are listening to us now.

We’ll catch you all soon.

Stay solid.

Peace. (upbeat music) (upbeat music)

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