College football coaches won’t hesitate to make decisions in a game that the rest of the world thinks is stupid. When they do, they’ll smugly tell the rest of us that we just don’t understand because we’re not coaches, and we didn’t play the game. To put it simply, we don’t have “Football IQ.”
Well, in my experience, Football IQ is just cover for making a dumb call that should be scrutinized. We don’t need the fancy words from smug coaches. Most of the time, any fan with eyes can see when something was stupid. As a result, it’s time to start calling these coaches out. They make millions of dollars to use their intellect, and they usually fail miserably at that.
With this post, we’re starting a weekly series that documents the worst decisions made by college football coaches. Perhaps this is because it was so easy this past weekend that it went to a next level, but I guarantee you, they’ll be easy to find every Saturday. Here are the stupidest college football Week 6 coaching decisions where “Football IQ” was on display.
5. Arkansas’s illegal substitution out of a timeout
Honestly, Sam Pittman made a litany of timeout errors. He burned one when his team was going for it only to settle for a field goal in the second half, and that cost him as he was trying to stop the clock on the final drive in the Arkansas Razorbacks’ 27-20 loss to the Ole Miss Rebels.
However, a mistake in the first half was even worse. Late in the second quarter, Arkansas used a timeout after forcing a fourth down. It makes sense, as they wanted the ball back to try to score. However, on the Ole Miss punt, the Hogs came out with 12 men on the field. That penalty gave the Lane Kiffin’s team a first down.
Sure, Ole Miss still didn’t score on that drive, but it cost the Hogs a chance to score at the end of the first half. After a timeout, you should never have a substitution penalty. This barely beat out Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Kenny Dillingham burning a timeout to ice Colorado Buffaloes kicker Alejandro Mata with 18 seconds left, as he may have needed that TO.
4. Arizona doesn’t go for two after TD
Jedd Fisch actually showed his incompetence at the beginning of the second half, when he burned a timeout on 4th and goal from the 4 to avoid a delay of game. Yes, he burned a timeout to make sure a 21-yard field goal wouldn’t have become a 26-yard field goal, which should still be automatic.
Still, that didn’t change the game too much. What did change it was overtime. After the USC Trojans scored, Arizona scored to make it 45-44. The choice was simple. Go for the win, or go for another overtime. When you’re an outmatched team on the road, all the analytics say for for the win.
However, Fisch has “football IQ,” so he went for the extra point. He tried to go for the extra point in the second OT, not knowing that wasn’t allowed. Predictably, USC won in the third OT, and the college football world was robbed of an upset. Perhaps this is unfair, but Fisch blatantly ignored win probabilities.
3. Washington State runs down clock, burns 4th and 1 timeout
Trailing the UCLA Bruins 25-17 with just under two minutes to go in the game, the Washington State Cougars brought up a 4th and 1 at roughly the UCLA 40 after a four-yard completion by Cameron Ward. They had two timeouts left at the time. However, because of a substitution issue, they let the play-clock run all the way down.
To avoid a delay of game on a key 4th and 1, Jake Dickert took a timeout. WSU was stopped then on an ensuing run play by Ward. This was egregious in two ways. First, how was Dickert not prepared for the substitution he was going to do? Second, why did he burn a timeout? Because they failed on the run, WSU could run out the clock. This was Les Miles level incompetence.
2. Jimbo Fisher burns timeout to kick field goal
You’ve got to love the incompetence Jimbo Fisher showed as the Texas A&M Aggies lost to the Alabama Crimson Tide. He punted on 4th and 1 from the Alabama 45 at one point, and that alone is embarrassing. However, what happened at the end of the game was a beautiful display of coaching incompetence.
Trailing 26-17, Fisher faced a 4th and goal from the 2. He made the wrong decision going for the field goal, but it was a tough call. That’s fine. What’s not fine is the fact that before the decision, he let the play-clock run down and then burned a timeout to do it. That forced him, after cutting it to 26-20, to do an onside kick.
Well, Alabama recovered, and all they needed was one first down to win. If Fisher doesn’t waste that timeout, he would’ve had one last chance. His explanation was getting the right unit on the field to make sure it wasn’t blocked, but that seems unlikely for a 19-yard field goal. It was just stupid.
1. Mario Cristobal refusal to kneel
Nobody shocked the college football world with their coaching stupidity more than Miami Hurricanes head coach Mario Cristobal over the weekend. Cristobal, with 30 seconds left on the clock, his team up 20-17 and his opponent, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, having no timeouts, decided to run a play even though a kneel-down would’ve won it.
The play resulted in a fumble. Georgia Tech recovered. They then scored a touchdown on a Hail Mary because Miami, inexplicably, was playing the quarterback and not the deep pass. All of this, though, came down to that one decision by Cristobal not to kneel. Tracking his coaching, he apparently hasn’t been kneeling all year in these situations.
In 2018, Cristobal made a similar decision refusing to kneel against the Stanford Cardinal, and this cost him. No college football coach should get away with this twice. He worked with Kevin Steele under Nick Saban at Alabama, and Steele made this mistake with the Baylor Bears in 1999. We all love seeing coaching incompetence rub off on proteges.