With the basketball season fully immersed in conference play, it’s time for your mid-January Five for Friday…
1. Clemson fans might be luckier than they think. Seriously, wouldn’t any program in America want its second-best NFL prospect to come back in spite of a second round grade that could easily elevate?
Not only that, but think about this: C.J. Spiller and Tajh Boyd both did exactly what Vic Beasley did in previous seasons. Beasley’s declaration that he would remain in school for his senior season means Tiger fans have been leading a charmed life when it comes to prime NFL prospects passing up riches for another year at Clemson.
One might argue that Clemson has had the highest-profile returnee in three of the past five seasons. In an era where way more people enter the NFL Draft than should—95 underclassmen declared this season—that’s a blessing.
2. Chad Morris’ patience is running thin. Yesterday, TCI reported that Morris asked Dabo Swinney about lowering his buyout to become an offensive coordinator after Texas showed legitimate interest in bringing him on-board. This offseason, there seems to have been a shift in philosophy from the Morris camp with regards to his coaching future.
Next season will be Morris’ fourth at Clemson. He has been particular about which jobs he pursues, seemingly content to remain in his cushy coordinatorship until the right job opened.
Now, Morris seems to be more proactive in pursuing his next destination. He was ticked about the nature of Louisville’s search and reportedly has interest in the Vanderbilt job. If the Commodores reciprocate, Morris may be more inclined to jump this time.
I have no insight into Morris’ state of mind, but it makes sense that he might have seen how his buddy Gus Malzahn ended up at Auburn. His detour through Arkansas State led him back to Auburn, and we all know how that ended.
Maybe Morris is looking for his gateway job right now. Vandy might be the one. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: TCI has learned Chad Morris is no longer in the mix at Vanderbilt. Lucky break for Tiger fans.
3. Blame the NFL schedule for the awkward timing of Vandy’s search. Normal college coaching searches generally conclude in time for bowl season. But sometimes extenuating circumstances extend the time frame and make the transition more awkward for jilted schools.
Whenever the NFL gets involved, the recruiting cycle is a casualty since the season drags on into late December. That gives only a few weeks for a new coach to cobble together a makeshift recruiting class.
Vandy’s job came open as a result of Bill O’Brien leaving Penn State for the Houston Texans. James Franklin replaced him, which is why Vandy finds itself in this predicament. It’s unfortunate, but whenever this hire is announced, whichever school loses its coach will only have a matter of days to reassure recruits all is well and find a replacement before signing day.
4. The key matchup in Saturday’s basketball game will be Rod Hall vs Codi Miller-McIntyre. Miller-McIntyre might be the second or third most dynamic point guard in the ACC. Marcus Paige is in his company, and maybe Quinn Cook—but that’s all.
CMM ranks inside the top ten in the conference in both points per game and assists per game. The Wake Forest offense runs through him at all times. The Demon Deacons also get to the line a lot, leading the ACC in free throw rate. Hall’s ability to cut off penetration will be key because CMM is great at drawing contact on drives to the basket.
5. Coming into the season, the Clemson-Wake Forest game was one to avoid. Now it might actually be worthwhile. These might be the two most surprising teams in the conference so far. Both teams could use a boost considering the margin for error is small in both cases.
The Demon Deacons have a bunch of winnable games in their immediate future. Currently, they are 2-2 in conference play, so the potential exists for Wake to be a long-term factor in the league. But they are 0-3 on the road so far, and no game has been decided by fewer than 15 points.
That’s a good omen for Clemson, who has been incredible at home defensively and could use a 4-1 record in conference play heading into a stretch of five road trips in six games. I like the Tigers by double digits in this one, although the improvements shown by Wake have me perplexed since I thought Jeff Bzdelik would definitely have been fired by now.