It's the last Stock Up/Stock Down of the 2017 calendar year and there is still plenty to talk about as we head into the most wonderful time of the year: bowl season.
The Buckeyes are heading to the Cotton Bowl for perhaps the most intriguing non-playoff game of the upcoming bowl schedule, with a matchup against USC looming, and are coming off of their first Big Ten title in three years.
With so much going on around college football right now, we start in Columbus, where the Buckeyes got improved play from their linebackers against Wisconsin.
Jerome Baker – Ohio State linebacker
After a season in which Baker struggled at times, the junior linebacker showed up for the Big Ten title game against Wisconsin. The Cleveland native accounted for 16 tackles – 15 of which were of the solo variety – and showed flashes of why some considered him a first-round prospect for the 2018 NFL draft.
Baker seems to be a candidate to sit out a bowl game because of his seemingly high draft stock, but if he does play against the Trojans, he will have a premier stage to improve his projection with a good showing against Sam Darnold, who is touted by some as the best quarterback available in the upcoming draft. If Baker builds on his Big Ten title game performance, it could erase many of the lowlights from early in the season from the minds of many.
Greg Schiano – Ohio State defensive coordinator
Talk about a man who dodged a bullet. Schiano looked to be all locked up for the Tennessee job before an internet angry mob viciously attacked both him at the UT athletic department until the deal fell through.
Instead, Schiano helped Ohio State's defense shut down a Wisconsin offense that managed just one score on its own, and enjoyed a good laugh after the game following a fan's comments as he headed up the tunnel with his wife and players. Schiano will get another head coaching job someday, but until then, he is still doing a pretty good job as defensive coordinator at Ohio State, a program that is happy to have him.
This is my favorite story in college football this season and it really isn't getting enough attention nationally.
The University of Alabama-Birmingham was without a football team for TWO YEARS after the school cut funding after the 2014 season, before reinstating the program after an outpouring of support from the UAB community. All the Blazers did in their first year back was go 8-4, finish tied for second in their division and get invited to the Bahamas Bowl to play Ohio University later this month. You might laugh at the Bahamas Bowl, but imagine what it must feel like for the fans and better yet, the players who were members of the 2014 team when the program was cut.
Head coach Bill Clark earned the Conference USA Coach of the Year award and had it not been for Scott Frost's run at UCF, Clark might have won the national award as well. Tip of the cap to Clark and the Blazers on one heck of a year.
What. A. Mess.
I never actually had anything against Tennessee before this whole mess, other than the fact Rocky Top gets stuck in my head at least once every college football season and takes a solid month to get out, but I digress. This whole situation makes me realize how crazy and insane college sports have become, and it is really quite sad when you think about it.
Not only is this entire search a bad look for the Vols, it is going to set recruiting back severely. Some kids might not care about a slightly off-kilter fan base, but others will. Good luck Tennessee, and whoever ends up taking that job. You're going to need it.
I genuinely feel bad for Oregon and its fan base. This is a program that experienced a pair of national title losses in the last decade, lost a premier name in the coaching ranks, and is now going on its third head coach in as many seasons with Willie Taggart off to Florida State.
The Ducks have so many recruiting tools with Nike and some of the best facilities in the nation, but creating a sustainable culture only comes with stability at the top, and Oregon has not been able to maintain that recently. I think Oregon will get back to national prominence before Tennessee, but it needs to get a proven coach who will be able to utilize the tools the Ducks can provide in order to get back to the top of the Pac-12.