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Cole Cubelic, SEC Network Analyst

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November 10, 2023 4:54 pm

Cole Cubelic, SEC Network Analyst

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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November 10, 2023 4:54 pm

SEC Network Analyst joins Zach

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No. 10 Penn State hosts Michigan tomorrow in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions have won seven straight home games with their last loss. They're coming to Ohio State last season. It's also important to note that James Franklin is 3-16 in his career up against top ten teams, and we know Michigan is in the top ten. But the biggest story right now is the backwards Big Ten finally has come down with the punishment on Jim Harbaugh. And he's allowed to be there all throughout the week, but then on game days until the conclusion of the regular season, he's suspended for the final three games of the season. Let's go out to one of the best in the business, Cole Kublick, who does a sensational job as an analyst for ESPN and the SEC Network. You can also listen to him mornings on Jocks FM, a legendary station for the Mac and Cube show. Cole Kublick, always appreciate the time. How are you?

I am doing great, Zach. Thanks for having me, man. So let me start you off with the Michigan punishment. This is just jackassery to me. He's not allowed to be around the team during, he's allowed to be there during the week, but then on game days he's suspended.

I just don't get the punishment here. Yeah, I guess part of it is going to be that the Big Ten is going to say that they don't have proof that Jim Harbaugh knowingly allowed this to take place inside of the program, and also that it is a university issue, not so much a football team or Jim Harbaugh issue. That's the conclusion that I come to with this. I just wonder how much the other Big Ten schools were pressuring Tony Petitti to make something happen now, instead of waiting it out and being able to make this happen the way that you probably could have or should have down the road. Now, what does that get in the way of as far as the division, the Big Ten championship game, the college football playoff?

I have no idea, but you would feel like this is one that you wanted to get right, not just satisfy people on the front end. And I feel like that's a little bit of that taking place right now with the Big Ten. Now, Michigan has gone through something similar earlier this year where Harbaugh was suspended for the first three games. He was allowed to be around the team during the week, and then on game days he was not allowed to be present.

Does that help them here? They were going up against cupcake teams earlier in the season. Now you're going up against Penn State or Ohio State, two of the final three games of the year. There are going to be two or three, four times a game that you're going to just need to understand from an organizational standpoint who offsets the decision making in certain short yardage situations, field goal, non-field goal, onside kick, special teams fake, things like that. Two, three times, four, five times a game max.

So once they have the organizational structure down of who's going to handle that and who's not going to handle that, it's not a whole lot different. When I came off the field, I went to my offensive line coach. Sometimes I spoke to the offensive coordinator. The quarterback coach went to the quarterback coach and the coordinator. The running backs went to the running back coach. Not everybody's running up to the head coach, especially a guy who doesn't call plays anymore.

So I don't think it does a whole lot. Like you said, Zach, they're used to it. I love the folks, too, that sit back and say, oh, Michigan against the world, this is going to get those guys pumped up. And I was like, well, they did it for the first four games of the season. They already know what this is about.

They know what this is. So I do think that that could be a part that helps motivate this Michigan football team. Maybe more so being a little bit more laser focused, wanting to get away from all this chatter. And that can push you into your prep for a football game. And that can make you want to go be more dialed in on football because that's your great escape as a collegiate athlete. Maybe that's a part that really benefits Michigan moving forward. But other than that, they've already done this.

And I don't see how it impacts them too much. If you were commissioner of the Big Ten, what would you have done, Cole Kublick? It depends on what I knew and what I had and the evidence that was clear. And then obviously when you see other lawsuits being threatened and other schools being dug into this, that is going to be a little bit of an issue and that's going to be a problem. And I'm going to probably second guess a lot of the things that I'm going to do. If I had stone cold proof of this, evidence of this, he's going to be away from the team for a little while, not away from the team on Saturdays, which could just essentially just be a break from one of some of the things that you do. And then we are going to have a real hard conversation about the postseason and what's going to happen there.

And this is where we run into that big problem, Zach, and we all know what it is. You've got a Cascow and Michigan football team sitting there. You cannot eliminate them from the playoff because at the end of the day, Tony Petitti is a businessman and he wants his business to be good and his business is good when he has teams competing in the postseason, far into the postseason, maybe multiple teams in the postseason.

And there's going to be a big part of them that says we can't risk taking that away. So I was listening to Desmond Howard earlier this morning on ESPN, and he said if this was Nick Saban, you knew Sankey would do nothing. Do you think Tony Petitti didn't do Michigan right here with what Desmond said in regards to how he thinks he would have handled this if this was in the SEC?

No, absolutely not. I think the – I know for a fact I've had conversations with Greg Sankey about things along the lines of sports gambling and just the – where we are with the game right now and how some of the lines have begun to be drawn so thin with the integrity of the game, it's something that he takes extremely serious and something that I don't think that he is going to allow to be clouded as far as the judgment of how people look at it, see it, and view it. And if he had the evidence necessary, I think he would have come down harder on Nick Saban. So I think it's a little bit of a foolish comparison, first and foremost, because it's not like we've had it. We haven't had Greg Sankey have evidence and not do anything to a Nick Saban or a Kirby Smart. So if you had that precedent in place, I would say fine, cool, yeah, go ahead and draw that comparison. But we don't have that.

So to me, I don't view it that way at all, no. I don't like this suspension, to be clear. I just yelled for about 15 minutes and lost my mind in reacting to this. But what I will say, Cole Kublik, is you've seen in the past – I know this isn't the NCAA right now, but they move so slow. Conferences move so slow.

It's crazy to me. Based off that in the past, how much we pump these things down the road, that in two, three weeks we come together with this suspension today, which I think is kind of weak in terms of he could be there during the week, but then he can't be there on Saturdays. I don't think anything should have been done right now, but I would have respected Petitti more if he at least jumped in and said, you're not allowed to be there for the entirety of the final three weeks. It's absolutely half-assed.

I mean, there's no other way around that. Because you're allowing a guy to game plan, be around his team, to be able to instruct, to coach, to organize, and have discussions with his coordinators, his position coaches, if you feel so strongly that what happened was against the rules and a punishment is then necessary. And if the punishment should be faced and levied against the university and not the head coach, then honestly, Zach, I ask this question because I don't know the answer. Why is the head coach paying the price for it then? I know it all falls in his lap, and we talk about that sometimes where certain head coaches get fired or a kid gets in trouble. Well, yeah, it does come back on the head coach, but is this really a punishment for the university?

If this is a punishment for the university, they'd be forfeiting games or not allowed to compete in certain games moving forward. So as you stated, it's nonsensical in a lot of ways. And I would imagine that's because they don't really have everything that they probably want to have or wish they had or needed to have to put the kind of suspension in place that we would deem necessary here. And I think that's also why it may not be in their best interest here to not kick that can down in the road. I agree with you that these kind of things usually take way too long, and it's ridiculous.

But this is one that when you want to have all the facts possible, and if there was more information out there that you thought it might be possible to obtain, wait it out to try and go get it. The other theory that I have too, and I don't know if an injunction is still in play, I'm not going to pretend to be a legal expert, but I do think Tony Petitti was trying to get the best of both worlds where, as we're talking to Cole Kublick, you suspend Harbaugh to whatever penalty, and then he gets the injunction in the courts. But with how long this has played out today, it kind of makes me think that maybe Petitti didn't know that the courts are closed today in observance of Veterans Day. And I don't know, could we get an injunction? A judge swoops in in the next 24 hours, grants that injunction.

He's on the sideline tomorrow. It wouldn't surprise me. I don't know how fast that can happen. I don't know to what degree. Yeah, we're not legal experts, right? Right. I don't know if you can make that happen, but I think Michigan has made it clear that they're willing to go long distances to be able to fight this and to be able to maybe allow this and help aid this blowup in people's faces.

So anything like that would not surprise me moving forward. Cole Kublick here with us. Get into some other teams. Your view of Alabama now is what? One of the best teams in college football. I would not put them on Tier 1, of which right now would probably be Georgia and Michigan. I think that there is a Tier 2 that's pretty close. Alabama may be on Tier 2.

If not, they're knocking on the door. I think there's a group of teams like Washington and Florida State. Then you talk about Oregon. You can have a conversation about Alabama and Texas. I think all those teams are pretty close.

There are certain things that you like more, certain things that you like less. But with Alabama, I think you have a defense that's really come together, one that can absolutely attack the passer. They have legitimate edge rushers on both sides. They have wonderful linebacker play.

Deontay Lawson not going to go this weekend against Kentucky, but he's been exceptional. We know the secondary is solid. The offensive line is rounded into form a little bit more. And I think the most important part is Tommy Reese and Jayla Milro are now on the same page, or more so on the same page than they've been this entire season.

Reese knows what he needs to offer up to Milro to be successful. And I think that either helping his offensive line out with tight ends or giving him more designed quarterback runs, which forces the defense to defend them certain ways, has allowed them to be more successful. Honestly, I know we say this because they don't have the star power in their winning games, but for Nick Saban and his staff, it is one of the best coaching jobs I've seen because I've seen points in which Jayla Milro has changed his game. We've seen this offensive line morph a little bit. The defense showed different looks against LSU last week. It's not just running out there and having receivers that can run past people or having a defensive line that's a brick wall that nobody can manage or get past. It's been very different for Nick Saban and his staff this year, and I think there's actually a lot of room for them to continue to grow.

We have certain players that we've only seen flashes of that still could be heavy contributors in the last couple weeks of the season. Coach Kublick, how alive is Ole Miss this weekend against Georgia? There are things, Zach, that they can do to complicate this game. Now, they need a lot to go right.

I'm not going to sit here and try to convince you that it's any other way than that. They need turnovers, and Carson Beck hasn't turned it over a whole lot. That team hasn't turned it over a whole lot.

They need mistakes. But this is a team, don't get it twisted, that is very dangerous from a skill position standpoint. Trey Harris can catch the ball over anybody. He can break tackles.

He can run past you. I think Quinn Sean Judkins is the best running back in college football, and their offensive line has begun to grow a little bit more compared to what they were early in the season. Now, they lose their right tackle most likely for this game, but Caden Priestcorn is sort of the straw that stirs the drink for Ole Miss. A big physical tight end that transferred in from Memphis, he allows them to do more formationally.

He allows them to do more from a movement perspective pre-snap. And when they do go fast, he gives them a physical element either closer to the ball on the line of scrimmage or out wide to help with the quick game. And Jackson Dart is playing great football. He's been pretty efficient.

He can run. He can give you some quarterback runs where you create an extra gap and have a plus-one in the run game. Their defense, I'm not one of these guys that's going to jump on here and tell you that the defense is night and day compared to what it has been, but it is better and it is more capable in a lot of ways. They are more physical at the point of attack and structurally the way Pete Golden runs it, they are absolutely much better against the run than they have been. They're a more responsible defense in that way, and they have guys up front that can make plays. So they're going to give Georgia's defense a lot of window dressing. They're going to utilize tempo at times. They're going to take shots down the field.

They have a tight end that can provide some mismatches. So I think a lot of that, you look at it and say, if Georgia's not on their game and they make a few mistakes, yeah Ole Miss can hang around, because Lane and Charlie Weiss Jr. can develop a plan to move the football, and if Georgia's not awake and they give the ball back and give Lane extra possessions, they can make that a football game in Athens, absolutely. I still think Georgia wins the game, but it easily can be competitive.

Something I just thought about, Cole Kublik. What happens if Georgia's undefeated going into the SEC championship game and then Alabama beats them by, let's say, a field goal? Is Georgia out of the college football playoff in your opinion? No.

What else are we looking at? I mean, do we have an undefeated Washington? Do we have an undefeated Florida State? Michigan, Ohio State? I mean, all I'm saying is that does have something to do with it, but your question more in Alabama or Georgia at that point, Alabama beat Georgia and Alabama's the SEC champion, so I think definitely Alabama is in. And then it would depend on what everybody else had done, whether or not Georgia would find their way in. I will say this, we all laughed at that schedule before the season.

Rightfully so. The back end of that schedule has changed dramatically. Missouri is a very good football team. Tennessee is a team that has found its personality. They're very good, and they get a top ten Ole Miss team this weekend. So the back half of the Georgia schedule has gotten better, and I think that's only going to continue to increase as far as their perception of what they've actually accomplished here in the last few weeks of the season. But let's just say for argument's sake, Texas, if they're a one-loss Big 12 champ, I think they have to get in over Alabama because they beat Alabama. I agree with that. If it comes down to Florida State, if they lose one game and they don't win the ACC championship game, let's say they lose in the AC championship game, and the Florida State Committee goes Alabama over Florida State, I think they would. Yes.

Okay. So that's what you probably need to- And Florida State's resume's underrated. We have all this resume talk, and Florida State's sitting there a couple spots down, and it's almost like they didn't go to Clemson and win. They didn't beat LSU to open the season, and they don't have a good win against Boston College. They do.

It's just sidebar. I don't know why Florida State gets no credit for their resume when it's actually pretty good. Yeah, I just think it's the way that- and this is always the thing that I hate the most. We look at the wins, how they happen, when they happen. A lot of people see how the wins age. Like the LSU win was tremendous in the moment. They blew them out. Those are two teams that had national championship aspirations before the start of the season, and now we look LSU a little bit sideways because their season hasn't panned out.

That's what's always bugged me with this. Sure, and we shouldn't because LSU had national championship aspirations five days ago, six days ago. I mean, when they kicked off against Alabama, in the national championship race. So just because Alabama knocked them out and they've lost a couple of games to national championship contenders, of which I think you can still qualify Ole Miss there, for right now, I don't think we should look at them and say that they were never in that picture or never count as a quality win.

All right, so last thing I'll ask you here. Who are your four teams? When it's all said and done after conference championship weekend, who do you think the four teams will be that get in? I think Georgia runs the table. I think they'll be in. I think Michigan runs the table. They'll be in.

I think Texas will win out and get in. They get Queen Ewers back this weekend. We've seen a little shaky the last couple of weeks without him. I think they get him back and that sort of ignites them the rest of the way through.

Be careful November 18th in Ames, Iowa, though. That is going to be much more of a dogfight than people imagine. And obviously, Oklahoma, again, is going to be difficult. And right now, I would probably say I think they haven't looked great recently, but I'm just a big fan of Kaelin DeBoer and Michael Penix and how that offense operates.

We saw them get downhill with Dylan Johnson last week. I still think Washington finds a way to get it done. Washington and Oregon both have a tough couple-week stretch here, but I think Washington's the one that finds a way to finish it out. So you would go one loss, Texas in, over, let's just say, an undefeated Florida state that wins the ACC.

That would be a little bit of a different conversation. I thought you were just asking who I think actually makes it in. If Florida State were to win out, I mean, I think Florida State's probably got to be in.

Gotcha. Now, if you're talking to one loss, Texas, against an undefeated Florida state, I would still probably lean undefeated for it. That's an ACC champion. I think they value that. They would value the undefeated season.

You think Florida State could drop one is what you're saying? Okay, gotcha. At some point, yeah. Well, great conversation. I always enjoy talking college football with you.

I probably could do it for another 30 minutes, but then my producers would start just telling me I have to get fired and leave the studio. So I always do appreciate it. What game do you got, by the way? I see you're in a hotel. What game you got this weekend? I am.

I'm in Baton Rouge. I've got Florida at LSU, so excited to see how LSU bounces back and see, you know, Florida and Billy Napier, they're still scratching and clawing. So it should be a really good one.

The environment should be fantastic. Well, go get some gumbo. We appreciate the time. Thanks so much. Thank you, Zach. There he is. Cole Kublick joining us on the Zach Gelb show on CBS Sports Radio. Let's get to Rich Ackerman with the latest CBS Sports Radio update.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-10 18:49:16 / 2023-11-10 18:59:02 / 10

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