Lots of big names managed to make this week’s list of worst college football coaching decisions. Our Football IQ segment from Week 11 includes last season’s Coach of the Year who went to the national title game, this season’s coach of September who is in the NFL Hall of Fame, a former NFL coach, the coach from last weekend’s biggest game and the coach behind the biggest fail of the year.
5. Sonny Dykes two passes from the 2
We get it. The TCU Horned Frogs are undermanned on the offensive line, and Sonny Dykes likes to run the air raid. That’s what got him to the College Football Playoff national championship game. However, in certain, basic situations, you still have to call the obvious play, and that’s what Dykes failed to do against the Texas Longhorns last Saturday.
Down 26-6 in the third quarter, TCU drove to the Texas two-yard line and had a 3rd and goal. They got down there by running the previous two drives. Then, despite Emani Bailey rushing for 98 yards in the game, he threw it two straight times. With TCU coming back to cut it to 29-26, that ended up proving costly in the end.
4. Deion Sanders punts twice on 4th and 1
Although Deion Sanders was the best coach in college football in September, he has now been on here three times because of dumb decisions. I already don’t love punting, but I especially hate it in a shootout on 4th and short plays near midfield when you’re the underdog. At home against a top 25 team in the Arizona Wildcats, Sanders did just that.
On the first drive of the second half, in a 24-24 tie, the Colorado Buffaloes had a 4th and 1 near midfield. Sanders decided to punt the ball there, passing up points, which are crucial in a score that high. Then, later in the game, with the score tied at 31, he punted again on 4th and 1 at the 44. That one wasn’t as bad, but the first one was inexcusable.
3. Mario Cristobal burns a timeout
Miami Hurricanes head coach Mario Cristobal is already the laughingstock of college football for his horrendous coaching decisions, and he makes the list again. Although the ‘Canes had the chance to beat the Florida State Seminoles, Cristobal lessened their opportunities by stupidly burning a timeout early in the third quarter.
Tied at 10 early in the third quarter, Cristobal burned a timeout to talk about a third down play. It was 3rd and 13 from the FSU 30. What was the play call coming out of the timeout? He called a screen that resulted in a three-yard loss. Miami kicked a field goal to go up 13-10, and they lost a timeout that they could have used late in the game.
2. Matt Rhule throws it with the game in hand
Against the Maryland Terrapins, the Nebraska Cornhuskers had a third-string quarterback in Chubba Purdy who had completed one pass but ran for 33 yards on three carries. They already had four turnovers in the game, and their other two quarterbacks had already thrown a combined three interceptions. Miraculously, they got into the red zone though with under four minutes to go.
In a 10-10 game, you play for the win given how things have gone. However, Rhule decided to throw the ball on 3rd and goal from the 7 when the Terps were obviously going to play it safe to stop the touchdown. Sure enough, Purdy threw an interception, and UMD responded with a game-winning field goal to win 13-10.
1. James Franklin…all game
This was one of those Butch Jones at Florida moments where we couldn’t pin it on one play. Franklin’s in-game management was so bad that the entire thing should come up, and it cost the Penn State Nittany Lions against the Michigan Wolverines. Late in the second quarter, PSU cut it to 14-9 with a touchdown. Franklin chased points and went for two to cut it to a field goal, always a bad move.
As if that wasn’t enough, Franklin burned a timeout on 4th and 2 near midfield early in the second half…only to punt the ball. Then, down 17-9 with two timeouts and over four minutes to go, he went for it on 4th and 6 from his own 30, which set up Michigan’s final touchdown. Finally, after a TD, Franklin called a trick play on a two-pointer that failed miserably.