"Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel"

My new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" is the follow-up to "Illegal Procedure" and "Roughing the Passer" and is now available in print and in e-formats at amazon.com, smashwords.com and iBooks. Follow me on twitter @kevinkrest.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF SEMIFINAL PICKS

Four deserving teams face off in two great games in the semifinals, the winners meeting in the championship game in Arizona later this month. In the first match-up, two pretty even squads face off in the Orange Bowl with unbeaten Clemson trying to hold on to their unblemished record. Later, Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry leads Alabama against Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl. Can Alabama avoid a second straight semifinal defeat? Can the top seed get to the finals for the first time? I guess we'll see.

Capital One Orange Bowl (College Football Playoff Semifinal):

(4) Oklahoma (11 - 1) 28 vs. (1) Clemson (13 - 0) 27: This is possibly the most difficult pick of the season. Two balanced teams, two dual-threat quarterbacks, two great defenses and a couple of storied programs. Okay, it's been thirty-four years since a Clemson national championship, but it's still a premier football school. Oklahoma is one inexplicable loss to Texas from probably being the number one seed themselves. Clemson's defense is ranked much higher than the Sooners', but the Tigers didn't face nearly the caliber of offensive teams that Oklahoma had to stop. By just the narrowest of margins, I'm taking Oklahoma in what should be a great football game.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl (College Football Playoff Semifinal):

(3) Michigan State (12 - 1) 20 vs. (2) Alabama (12 - 1) 31: Alabama to me is just a grown up Michigan State. The Tide are almost impossible to generate a running game on, thus turning their opponents one-dimensional on offense. As good as Connor Cook is for the Spartans, he's not enough to carry Michigan State to victory. I look for Heisman winner Derrick Henry to take over in the fourth quarter, making a close game a runaway. There's no way Alabama will let themselves come in flat like Ohio State did against the Spartans. But the Tide isn't dominant enough to withstand turnovers, so if they give the ball back to Michigan State, this one could be close.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. The third installment, "Offsetting Penalties" is due out in January.




Wednesday, December 30, 2015

NEW YEAR'S EVE EVE COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL PICKS

Birmingham Bowl:

Auburn (6 - 6) 27 vs. Memphis (9 - 3) 30: The Tigers from the state of Alabama had a disappointing season and will try to end the year on a positive note by defeating the other Tigers, the ones that defeated Ole Miss earlier in the season. This is a tough one to call, considering that Memphis lost their head coach following the regular season. / But with or without Justin Fuente, they can throw the ball and Auburn has struggled on defense all year.

Belk Bowl:

NC State (7 - 5) 31 vs. Mississippi State (8 - 4) 30: These teams are pretty closely matched. The question is whether the Bulldogs will be able to throw the ball against N.C. State's pretty tough pass defense. I'm going to go with a big upset by picking the Wolfpack to keep Mississippi State's Dak Prescott under control.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl:

Texas A&M (8 - 4) 27 vs. Louisville (7 - 5) 26: Bobby Petrino's Cardinals came into the season with high hopes, but struggled to finish above .500. Defensively, Louisville is pretty good, but I look for the Aggies to be able to spread it out and pass effectively enough to pull out a victory.

National Funding Holiday Bowl:

(20) USC (8 - 5) 20 vs. Wisconsin (9 - 3) 24: Wisconsin finished the season on a bit of a roll after a slow start. They are outstanding on defense and USC will need to make some big plays to win the game. I like the Badgers to shut down the Trojans and get a rare Big Ten win on the west coast.

Chik-Fil-A Peach Bowl:

(18) Houston (12 - 1) 23 vs. (9) Florida State (10 - 2) 27: I'm betting on the fact that Jimbo Fisher will have his Seminole team ready for this game. Houston had a terrific season to qualify for this big clash, but I like the defense of Florida State to prevail.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. The third installment, "Offsetting Penalties" is due out in January.




Monday, December 28, 2015

COLLEGE BOWL PICKS: MIDWEEK INSTALLMENT

The bowl games continue this week with a smattering of good matchups. Navy comes off a tight win over Army and faces a tough Pittsburgh team while a battered Baylor tries to contain what is probably an angry UNC squad. LSU also has a chance to unleash running back Leonard Fournette for a big day against a porous Texas Tech ground defense.

Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman:

Pittsburgh (8 - 4) 23 vs. Navy (10 - 2) 27: Despite a strong rush defense, I don't like the lack of offense for Pittsburgh. Even though Navy struggled to get past Army, I believe they'll show up and run the ball effectively against Pitt, at least well enough to win the game.

Quick Lane Bowl:

Central Michigan (7 - 5) 30 vs. Minnesota (5 - 7) 27: Sub-.500 teams have actually fared pretty well during this bowl season. We have a MAC team against a Big Ten squad that can defend the pass pretty well, but that was outscored by their opponents on the season. Based on the performance of the Big Five teams against the Group of Five, I should probably go with Minnesota, especially given the difficulty of their schedule. But maybe I'm just not that smart.

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl:

California (7 - 5) 28 vs. Air Force (8 - 5) 31: The key matchup in this game is Air Force's second ranked running offense against Cal's 103rd rated rush defense. Air Force defends the pass pretty well and should be able to control the ball enough to minimize Jared Goff's possessions for Cal.

Russell Athletic Bowl:

(10) North Carolina (11 - 2) 43 vs. (17) Baylor (9 - 3) 35: A promising season for Baylor was derailed by key injuries and UNC gave Clemson a real battle in the ACC championship. If the Bears were healthy, I would go with Baylor in a track meet, but UNC should be able to keep pace with them simply because the Tar Heels are healthier.

NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl:

Nevada (6 - 6) vs. Colorado State (7 - 5): Both of these teams are similar defensively, but Colorado  State has a better offense, so I'll go with the Rams. I'm not sure what a NOVA Home Loan is, so I'm going to watch just to find out.

Advocare V100 Texas Bowl:

(20) LSU (8 - 3) 38 vs. Texas Tech (7 - 5) 30: After a disappointing season and tough losses to good running defenses, LSU should be looking forward to going up against Texas Tech's 126th rated run defense. The Tiger's Leonard Fournette should have a great opportunity to put up some big numbers to end the season.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. The third installment, "Offsetting Penalties" is due out in January.





Tuesday, December 22, 2015

COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL PICKS: THE PAC-12 IS BUSY AND BEAMER CALLS IT A CAREER

I'm off to a decent start in the bowl season, going 3 - 2 in games played on Saturday, Dec. 19. There are a number of quality games to round out the first week, notable Temple - Toledo, Boise State - Northern Illinois, Miami - Washington State and Frank Beamer's last game as Virginia Tech takes on Tulsa.

Miami Beach Bowl:

Western Kentucky (11 - 2) 38 vs. South Florida (8 - 4) 30: Western Kentucky should be able to throw early and often on the Bulls, who will be challenged when trying to keep up with the Hilltoppers on the scoreboard.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl:

Akron (7 - 5) 27 vs. Utah State (6 - 6) 24: This game is best watched with while eating potato chips and dip or a large order of McDonald's french fries. Akron has a tenacious rushing offense that will probably force Utah State to try to throw the ball, something they're not particularly effective doing. I'll always take a 7 - 5 MAC team over a .500 squad from the Mountain West.

Marmot Boca Raton Bowl:

(24) Temple (10 - 3) 26 vs. Toledo (9 - 2) 24: Both of these teams had a chance at representing the Group of Five in a New Year's Day game, but faltered down the stretch. I like the Temple run defense to make it difficult for the Rockets to move the ball, while the Owls should be able to gain ground through the air against Toledo.

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl:

Boise State (9 - 4) 30 vs. Northern Illinois (8 - 5) 21: This bowl, obviously named for a gift you get for opening a Christmas Club account, is not a good match-up for NIU. Boise likes to throw the ball and that's possible against a mediocre Northern Illinois defense. The Broncos will also be able to neutralize the running game of the Huskies.

GoDaddy Bowl:

Georgia Southern (8 - 4) 23 vs. Bowling Green (10 - 3) 31:Georgia Southern could use GoDaddy to launch a new website call www.wejustruntheball.com since the Eagles rank last in the FBS in passing yards per game. I look for Bowling Green to use a great passing game to overwhelm the Eagles. The weakness of the Falcons is in pass defense, which won't really be a factor against Georgia Southern.

Popeyes Bahamas Bowl:

Middle Tennessee (7 - 5) 34 vs. Western Michigan (7 - 5) 37: These teams get a real treat by advancing to a bowl game in the Bahamas. I'm assuming fried chicken will also be available in great volumes. This should be an entertaining Christmas Eve affair with both teams averaging almost 35 points a game. Once again, I'll take the MAC representative in a close one.

Hawaii Bowl:

San Diego State (10 - 3) 31 vs. Cincinnati (7 - 5) 27: San Diego State has a true shut down defense, and even with the Bearcats' fourth ranked pass offense, I like the Aztecs to run the ball effectively enough to limit Cincinnati's possessions. The time difference could also be a factor for Tommy Tubberville's Ohio-based team.

St. Petersburg Bowl:

Connecticut (6 - 6) 20 vs. Marshall (9 - 3) 24: This is probably one of the biggest mismatches of the bowl season. UConn simply has a difficult time putting points on the board, boasting the 120th ranked offense in FCS. Marshall isn't as explosive as they've been in the past, but should be able to get past the Huskies.

Hyudai Sun Bowl:

Miami, Fl (8 - 4) 31 vs. Washington State (8 - 4) 35: Washington State is a classic Mike Leach-coached team that's first in the nation in passing and last in rushing. Miami should be able to slow down the Cougars, but with the team in transition before new coack Mark Richt takes over, I'm not sure they can generate enough offense to outscore Washington State.

Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl:

Washington (6 - 6) 24 vs.Southern Mississippi (9 - 4) 30: Southern Mississippi has a lot to play for, notably the satisfaction that would come with a victory over a Pac-12 team. I also think they can outscore a Washington team that struggles on offense. This is a big upset pick, as Washington should be able to take care of business, but I don't believe they will.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl:

Indiana (6 - 6) 32 vs. Duke (7 - 5) 40: Duke has a chance to salvage a disappointing season by taking advantage of Indiana's porous defense, the worst against the pass in the nation. The Blue Devils have struggled, but should  be able to prevail in what is likely to be a very high scoring game.

Camping World Independence Bowl:

Tulsa (6 - 6) 27 vs. Virginia Tech (6 - 6) 38: In 1993, Virginia Tech began their current bowl appearance streak against Indiana in the Independence Bowl. Frank Beamer will end his legendary career as the Hokies' head coach in the same place, a fitting bookend to his storied run. As a Tech alumnus and fan, it will be a special moment as he exits the field for the last time. Regarding the game, it's a contrast in styles as the Hokies prefer to win low scoring affairs, whereas Tulsa,  because of a poor defense, is forced to try to outscore their opponents, giving up a lot of points in the process. Look for Virginia Tech's pass defense to shut down the Golden Hurricane air attack and send Beamer out a winner.

Foster Farms Bowl:

UCLA (8 - 4) 31 vs. Nebraska (5 - 7) 26: It's appropriate that the Cornhuskers would play in a farm bowl. Of course the game is played in Santa Clara at the new 49er's stadium and site of Super Bowl 50, not in a field in the rural Midwest. Even though Nebraska might be the best 5 - 7 team in the country, their pass defense is not very good and will be tested all night by UCLA's freshman QB Josh Rosen.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. The third installment, "Offsetting Penalties" is due out in January.




Saturday, December 19, 2015

COLLEGE FOOTBALL OPENING BOWL WEEKEND PICKS

At best, picking bowl games is a difficult task. Between teams being led by interim coaches and trying to figure out whether other coaches are really attempting to win, reliably predicting winners is almost impossible. There are teams from lesser conferences that want to make an impression by defeating an opponent from a Big Five league. Some coaches would prefer to use the extra practice time to prepare next year's starters for game action. And unlike the BCS era, it's not particularly important on where a team is positioned in the polls at the beginning of next season.

Gildan New Mexico Bowl:

Arizona (6 - 6) 28 vs. New Mexico (7 - 5) 30: The Lobos are playing a virtual home game and are one of those teams that is looking to step up in class and beat a Pac-12 squad. Really now, the bowl game is named for their school. Suspicious, yes, so I like them here. Arizona has been disappointing all season and New Mexico should be able to run on the Sun Devils.

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl:

BYU (9 - 3) 27 vs. (22) Utah (9 - 3) 20: Mormons in Sin City. It sounds more like a bad reality show than what should be a good college football bowl game. How two teams from Utah end up in a Nevada game is beyond me. I like BYU to continue the Utes late-season slide.

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl:

Ohio (8 - 4) 27 vs. Appalachian State (10 - 2) 34: Appalachian State is a relative newcomer to the FBS, but they have continued the postseason tradition they developed as an FCS member. The Mountaineers rolled through an easy Sun Belt schedule, losing to Arkansas State to miss out on a conference championship. Ohio went 5 - 3 against a tougher MAC schedule, finishing on a high note with three straight wins. If the Bobcats can't stop Appalachian State's running game, it could be a long day.

AutoNation Cure Bowl:

San Jose State (5 - 7) 27 vs. Georgia State (6 - 6) 24: Otherwise known as the "Who Cares Bowl", this boasts two teams with a combined sub-.500 record.They were both outscored by their opponents for the season. Really?

Carriers New Orleans Bowl:

Arkansas State (9 - 3) 23 vs. Louisiana Tech (8 - 4) 28: Despite having a better record, this isn't a great match-up for the Red Wolves.  The Bulldogs have a very good rushing defense that will make La. Tech do something they don't do very well, and that is throw the ball. The home state fans will be celebrating on nearby Bourbon Street after this one.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. The third installment, "Offsetting Penalties" is due out in January.




Thursday, December 3, 2015

COLLEGE CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND: CAN FLORIDA OR NORTH CAROLINA CREATE CHAOS FOR THE COMMITTEE?

Two of the participants in the college football playoff are most likely locked in: Number 3 Oklahoma, winners of the Big 12 and the victor of the Big Ten championship game between Number's 4 and 5 Iowa and Michigan State. Beyond that, it's certain that wins by Clemson over UNC and Alabama over Florida would round out the top four. But speculation abounds about what the committee will do if other circumstances arise. Can Clemson survive a close loss to UNC and still stay in the mix? What if the Gators also knock off the Crimson Tide? Does Stanford sneak in by beating USC if one of the top two stumble? Does the committee take a two-loss conference champion over a one-loss Ohio State, losers by three points to Michigan State?

Let's take these questions one at a time. First, I don't think Alabama and Clemson will both lose. It's possible of course, as the past has taught us that crazy things can happen on the last weekend of the college football season. However, Florida has had trouble scoring against much worse defenses than what they'll face Saturday in Atlanta. Their defense is good enough to slow down a plodding Crimson Tide attack, but it's going to take an incredible effort to pull the upset. Much more likely, in my opinion, is for North Carolina to spring a surprise against the Tigers. While the Tar Heels lack an elite defense, they can score a lot of points and put pressure on Clemson to keep attacking to stay ahead. Assuming a UNC upset and Clemson dropping out of the top four, who replaces them?

A Stanford win would leave them with two losses, but with a conference championship. Ohio State, currently ahead of them in the committee's rankings, is idle and didn't even get into their title game. I believe that the only way the Buckeyes have a chance is for both Clemson and Alabama to lose or for one of them to drop out and have Stanford lose. In any event, we may get to see just how serious the committee is about rewarding conference champions with a playoff spot over teams that don't win one.

Regular Season Finales:

Texas (4 - 7) 24 @ (12) Baylor (9 - 2) 48: Baylor suffered a disappointing loss at TCU in some of the worst conditions possible for a November game in the Dallas Metroplex. The weather should be more conducive to goo football and that's probably not such a good thing for Texas. With the exception of an inexplicable win over Oklahoma, the Longhorns have been a big disappointment, putting coach Charlie Strong on the hot seat after just two years on the job. Baylor is fourth in the nation in rushing offense and Texas doesn't even crack the top 100 in defending the run. Not a good match-up for Strong's crew.

West Virginia (7 - 4) 37 @ Kansas State (5 - 6) 27: The Mountaineers have feasted on the bottom half of the Big 12, winning four in a row after consecutive losses to the big four: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and TCU. Kansas State is trying to get officially bowl eligible, although they'll have a shot at another game even if they finish 5 - 7, which is pretty likely. Only a pathetic non-conference slate has given K-State any chance at all for a bowl bid. If Bill Snyder, the Wildcats' coach has any integrity at all, he'll turn down a bid since they will most assuredly lose on Saturday.

American Conference Championship (Houston, Texas):

(22) Temple (10 -2) 20 vs. (19) Houston (11 - 1) 31: This looks a lot like last week's game between Houston and Navy. I think Houston just has a little too much offensive firepower for Temple and the Cougars should be able to nail down a spot in a big bowl game with the win.

Southeastern Conference Championship (Atlanta, Georgia):

(18) Florida (10 - 2) 13 vs. (2) Alabama (11 - 1) 24: Florida's offense was shut out by Florida State in the Swamp last week.  While the 'Noles' defense is solid, it's not as good as Alabama's, so if the Gators couldn't score on Florida State on their home field, what are their prospects against the Tide on a neutral field? Not very good, that's what. Of all of the championship games, this one appears to have the least possibility for an upset. But strange things happen on championship weekend. Just sayin'.

Pac-12 Conference Championship (Santa Clara, California):

(20) USC (8 - 4) 35 @ (7) Stanford (10 - 2) 31: Stanford won the first meeting between these teams 41 - 31. But since then, the Trojans have changed coaches and won five of their last six games. The Cardinal stayed in playoff contention, but just barely, by winning a thriller against Notre Dame. USC actually has a pretty effective rushing defense and can throw the ball well enough to give Stanford some problems. Even though this is virtually a home game for the Cardinal, I'm going to give USC a slight nod for the upset.

Big Ten Championship (Indianapolis, Indiana):

(5) Michigan State (11 - 1) 27 vs. (4) Iowa (12 - 0) 24: These teams are pretty closely matched, but Iowa likes to move the ball on the ground and that's what Michigan State stops best. Look no farther than the way they bottled up Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott two weeks ago. An undefeated Iowa team would certainly give the playoff committee some interesting seeding decisions, but I don't think it will come down to that. The Spartans, since losing to Nebraska, seem to be a different football team.

Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Charlotte, North Carolina):

(10) Clemson (12 - 0) 34 vs. (10) UNC (11 - 1) 30: This game shapes up to be something of a shootout, especially if Clemson gets out on top and the Tar Heels have to put their foot to the floor. UNC can score quickly and in bunches, which will put some pressure on the Tigers' seventh rated defense. Ultimately, though, I think the balance of the Clemson team will end up winning the day, but not before the Heels give the Tigers a fight.

Mid-American Conference Championship (Detroit, Michigan):

Bowling Green (9 - 3) 37 vs. Northern Illinois (8 - 4) 30: Bowling Green is third in the nation in passing yardage and will put a lot of pressure on Northern Illinois' secondary. But if NIU can stay in the game into the fourth quarter, their experience in big games could make a difference. I just believe that Bowling Green has too much offense for the Huskies to keep up with.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. The third installment, "Offsetting Penalties" is due out in the fall.




Tuesday, December 1, 2015

COLLEGE FOOTBALL OPENINGS: THE GOOD AND THE BAD FOR EACH

At this writing, there are a number of open head coaching positions at FBS college football schools. I've ranked them in terms of attractiveness and described what I see as the good and bad attributes for each opportunity.  Okay, maybe my criteria are arbitrary, but not any less valid than anyone else's.

1) South Carolina

Good: A great fan base despite a lack of a high degree of success in the past. Facilities are fine and the likes of Lou Holtz and Steve Spurrier have taken stints coaching the Gamecocks. They're coming off a 3 - 9 season, but quick improvement is possible given the level of talent still on the team.

Bad: Competition is tough in the SEC and if Holtz and Spurrier couldn't get this team to an SEC title game, how successful can anyone else be, especially given how good intrastate rival Clemson is at the moment?

Prognosis: Since USC and Virginia Tech have been filled, I feel this is the best job available, given there is a lot of room for improvement and expectations of the fans and administration are fairly reasonable.

2) Virginia

Good: I know, putting the Cavaliers' job second is probably a little crazy. But there has been success in the past in Charlottesville as evidenced by the George Welsh era. Expectations are far less than a place like Georgia, where Mark Richt consistently recruited great athletes and went to New Years' Day bowl games. The ACC Coastal also doesn't have a dominant team, so it's possible for the 'Hoos to aspire to a division title now and then.

Bad: Tougher academic requirements still hamper the overall recruiting effort. Even though I mentioned Georg Welsh, before him and after him the program has not been that great. UVA is a basketball, lacrosse, soccer and baseball school, so it's difficult for the football program to get a lot of traction.

Prognosis: This is still a good job and one where a solid coach with FBS background could have an immediate impact. After 12 straight losses to Virginia Tech, however, the new guy needs to find a way to beat the Hokies on the field and in the living rooms of recruits.

3) Missouri

Good: There is really nothing wrong with the position in which Gary Pinkel left the Tiger program. Recent SEC East titles and Big 12 success before that has strengthened Missouri's recruiting position. The suspension of QB Maty Mauck doomed the offense to a dismal season, resulting in a down year of 5 - 7.  But there's no reason to think a new coach couldn't pick up where Pinkel left off.

Bad: The unrest on campus contributed to a tough season. It may be difficult to regain momentum from past seasons. Missouri is also a poor fit for the SEC, with no natural rival, despite the league's attempts to create one with Arkansas. It's tough to understand where the Tigers fit long term, trying to recruit in Big Ten country and playing in SEC land.

Prognosis: Recent success, a good base for a strong defense and playing in the relatively weak SEC East gives a new coach reasonable expectations that they can compete for division titles.

4) Georgia

Good: Athens is at the center of a great recruiting territory that includes Georgia, parts of Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and into Virginia and North Carolina. The stadium is one the most storied locations in college football and the fan base is as loyal as they come. Recently departed Mark Richt was able to maintain a high level of success for his fifteen years as the Bulldog coach, but wasn't able to meet the expectations for conference titles and national relevance.

Bad: If 9, 10 and 11 wins a season aren't good enough, then Richt's successor has a tough job. The SEC won seven straight national titles, but Georgia wasn't one of the four teams to claim one. Defining success as a national title is difficult for any coach who isn't named Urban Meyer or Nick Saban to consistently fulfill.

Prognosis: Despite the high expectations, this is still one of the great jobs in college football, even if only one coach in the last fifty plus years has been able to deliver a national championship to Athens. Getting one of the premier jobs in the premier football conference in the nation is definitely worth pursuing.

5) Miami

Good: It's been fifteen years since the Hurricanes have been nationally relevant, but there is still strong name recognition for the program. The glamour of South Florida helps with recruiting and there is also a strong base of talent in the region that doesn't mind playing close to home. Miami finished strongly this season, winning four out of five after the blowout loss to Clemson that resulted in the firing of Al Golden.

Bad: The Hurricanes play twenty miles from campus in a pro stadium in front of crowds that number consistently below 25,000. Most of the national notoriety has been diminished by an inability to even win a division crown since joining the ACC in 2004. To put that into perspective, Va. Tech has four ACC crowns to its credit in the same timeframe.

Prognosis: Miami is still a good job, with the South Florida advantages for recruiting. But before anyone starts to put a national championship as an expectation, they might want to begin by just competing for an ACC Coastal crown.

6) Memphis

Good: The Tigers are coming off a 9 - 3 season under Justin Fuente and have been repositioned as a quality Group of five program. The win over Ole Miss gives them some recruiting ammunition over some SEC schools and the right person could continue to build on the momentum. Fuente's move to Va. Tech also makes it possible for someone else to use the job as a stepping stone to a bigger program.

Bad: Fuente put Memphis on the map again, but it's not a guarantee that the next coach will be able to keep them there. Before the current coaching staff, the Tigers were routinely drilled by not just Big Five Teams, but those in the same or lesser conferences. And let's face it, Memphis is and always will be a basketball school.

Prognosis: This is probably a good job for a high profile coordinator to cut his teeth as a head coach, have some success and move on. The Liberty Bowl, while famous, is outdated and not one of the better facilities in college football. But Fuente had success, and so can someone else.

7) Toledo

Good: I'm a big fan of the MAC, so I've elevated this job above where most experts place it. The conference is a great place for coaches to begin their careers, having to face quality non-conference and MAC opponents week in and week out. Toledo defeated Arkansas this season, and before running out of steam down the stretch, had an excellent chance at a New Years Six bowl appearance.

Bad: While I'm a MAC fan, a lot of people aren't and many coaches will not have this job on their list. Toledo will never compete for a national championship and larger programs will have more cache.

Prognosis: Like Memphis, it's a great stepping stone program, as long as a coach can have some success. After all, the last guy at Toledo just took over at Big 12 member Iowa State. Okay, not the best job in the world, but at least they moved to a Big Five conference program.

8) Syracuse

Good: Regionally, they're the only real big college program outside of Boston College. The Carrier Dome is an exciting place to play and the Orange have a long history of sending players to the NFL. The ACC Coastal, while tough recently with the success of Florida State and Clemson, isn't that tough top to bottom, giving Syracuse a chance to compete for a title now and then.

Bad: Football players increasingly want to play for a top coach or in a great location. The last time I checked, winters in Syracuse don't compare favorably to Tallahassee, Baton Rouge or Tuscaloosa. And there hasn't been a high profile coach strolling the home sideline in the Carrier Dome for a long time. Throw in having to play Florida State and Clemson every year and, well...

Prognosis: The large number of vacancies at schools similar to Syracuse will hurt their chances to grab an impressive candidate. The weather and lack of recent success makes this job a tough one.

9) Maryland

Good: The Terrapins are a recent addition to the Big Ten and that's probably about the only real positive thing about this job.

Bad: Byrd Stadium is not great, the urban location of the school is not exactly a recruiting advantage and team such as Penn State, West Virginia and Virginia Tech have a big leg up in the region. The current AD also hasn't exhibited a lot of patience, so the situation as a whole just isn't very attractive.

Prognosis: Someone will take this job, but it's not going to be an easy one to fill.

10) Rutgers

Good: See the Maryland description.

Bad: Location, location, location.

Prognosis: Good luck.

11) Tulane

Good: The New Orleans location can be a recruiting positive for players. Nice weather and decent facilities help. As with Memphis and Toledo, it can be a great avenue to a better job.

Bad: The same thing that attracts players can be a deterrent for the parents. The Green Wave haven't had much in the way of good seasons and have very little tradition to fall back on.

Prognosis: As with other lesser FBS programs, it will probably be a coordinator looking to move up to head coach that will be attracted to the job.

12) North Texas

Good: A nice location in the Metroplex makes this a good spot for recruiting. The schedule also affords opportunities for an occasional high profile upset.

Bad: A location in the Metroplex makes this a tough place for recruiting, continually having to go up against well established programs like TCU, Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma. Having to build an identity virtually from scratch is very difficult.

Prognosis: Not all that good.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. The third installment, "Offsetting Penalties" is due out in the fall.