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National Columnist Mike Farrell is here with the 3-Point Stance looking at the riskiest fits for the open Power Five jobs, the best defensive players so far this season and the coaches who have done the most with the least.


Oct 22, 2022; West Point, New York, USA; Army Black Knights head coach Jeff Monken speaks to his team in the locker room after a win against the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks at Michie Stadium.

Oct 22, 2022; West Point, New York, USA; Army Black Knights head coach Jeff Monken speaks to his team in the locker room after a win against the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks at Michie Stadium.

— The riskiest fit for each open Power Five job is easy. Here are my choices.

Auburn — Bill O’Brien 

— He’s had some success in college at Penn State and did a remarkable job there keeping the program alive but he was also a disaster in Houston in the NFL with his stubborn nature. That personality trait at Auburn dealing with boosters who run the show? Nah.

Nebraska — Jeff Monken 

— Monken has been mentioned as a finalist for this job and it puzzles me. He’s done a good job at Army for sure but his lone Power Five experience was a couple of years at Georgia Tech as an assistant. Nebraska has tried it all from the NFL to Power Five to alums so maybe this would work, but I can’t see the path to success here from a recruiting standpoint.

Wisconsin — Jim Leonhard 

— He’s not risky because he knows the program but he’s very risky because this is his only head coaching experience. It’s hit or miss on coaches who haven’t had that CEO experience and we’ve seen the struggles of Brent Venables at Oklahoma and Marcus Freeman at Notre Dame as defensive coordinators stepping into big roles. This would be very risky.

Oct 22, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Jim Leonhard reacts to a call during the fourth quarter against the Purdue Boilermakers at Camp Randall Stadium.

Oct 22, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Jim Leonhard reacts to a call during the fourth quarter against the Purdue Boilermakers at Camp Randall Stadium.

Georgia Tech — Deion Sanders 

— The recruiting boon would be great from his name and legend in the Southeast. And the job is in the recruiting hub of Atlanta but can he coach? It’s one thing to do it at the FCS level when your roster is elite but in the Power Five? Risky business.

Arizona State — Dirk Koetter 

— I’ve heard his name mentioned a few times but he last coached ASU in 2006 and he almost retired from coaching a year ago. He’s the OC at Boise State now and a good offensive mind but youth is needed here on the recruiting trail and I worry this would be another Herm Edwards.

Colorado — Troy Calhoun 

— The Air Force head coach is mentioned mainly because he’s in the same state and knows the lay of the land. But there is a stark difference between recruiting for Air Force and at a Power Five program and this would be risky from that perspective.


— The top offensive players in college football at each position had a lot of surprises on Tuesday. On defense it’s the same expect for the defensive linemen.

Defensive Tackle

Expected: Jalen Carter, Georgia

Actual: Carter

He's missed time with injury, but when he's on the field, no one is more disruptive than the big man from Georgia. There's a reason he's going to be a top 5 pick in next year's draft. 

Nov 5, 2022; Athens, Georgia, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) fumbles the ball in the end zone after being hit by Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Jalen Carter (88) during the first quarter at Sanford Stadium.

Nov 5, 2022; Athens, Georgia, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) fumbles the ball in the end zone after being hit by Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Jalen Carter (88) during the first quarter at Sanford Stadium.

EDGE

Expected: Will Anderson, Alabama

Actual: Anderson

The consensus best defensive player in college football coming into the season, Anderson has done nothing to change that status so far in 2022. While his counting stats aren't quite what they were in his historic 2021 season, he's still a menace and commands a double team on every snap.

Sep 3, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Utah State Aggies offensive lineman Alfred Edwards (72) blocks against Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31) at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Sep 3, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Utah State Aggies offensive lineman Alfred Edwards (72) blocks against Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31) at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Linebacker

Expected: Trenton Simpson, Clemson

Actual: Drew Sanders, Arkansas

The Alabama transfer has continued to have a simply incredible season for the Razorbacks even as the rest of the team is crumbling around him. He's a tackling machine, leads the SEC in sacks and forced fumbles, and has quickly become the heart and soul of the Arkansas defense.

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Sep 10, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks linebacker Drew Sanders (42) pursues South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Spencer Rattler (7) during the second half at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Arkansas won 44-30.

Sep 10, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks linebacker Drew Sanders (42) pursues South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Spencer Rattler (7) during the second half at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Arkansas won 44-30.

Cornerback

Expected: Eli Ricks, Alabama

Actual: Devon Witherspoon, Illinois

This one definitely came out of left field, but Witherspoon has been the leader of an Illini defense that is among the best in the country. He is allowing the lowest completion percentage when targeted out of all cornerbacks in the country, giving up only 14 catches on 47 targets with zero touchdowns, one INT, and 11 PBUs. He's been as good as it gets this season.

Oct 1, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini defensive back Devon Witherspoon (31) breaks up the pass during the first quarter against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium.

Oct 1, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini defensive back Devon Witherspoon (31) breaks up the pass during the first quarter against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium.

Safety

Expected: Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M

Actual: Ronnie Hickman, Ohio State

Hickman is an advanced stats darling, near the top of PFF's leaderboard in defensive grade and coverage grade. He leads the nation among all defensive backs allowing only 4.9 yards per catch when targeted and has clearly adapted seamlessly to Jim Knowles' defense.

Nov 5, 2022; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes safety Ronnie Hickman (14) tackles Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Brendan Sullivan (10) during the second half of the NCAA football game at Ryan Field. Ohio State won 21-7.

Nov 5, 2022; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes safety Ronnie Hickman (14) tackles Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Brendan Sullivan (10) during the second half of the NCAA football game at Ryan Field. Ohio State won 21-7.


— And finally the coaches who do the most with the least are led by a man in my backyard here in Connecticut.

1. Jim Mora Jr., UCONN

The turnaround in Storrs is arguably the most incredible development of the entire 2022 season. This program was an absolute laughingstock for the past half decade, and he has them on the precipice of bowl eligibility at 5-5. Mora didn't just make chicken salad out of chickens**t, he made a five-course meal.

Sep 3, 2022; East Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Jim Mora greets his players as they warm up before the start of the game against the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils at Rentschler Field at Pratt & Whitney Stadium.

Sep 3, 2022; East Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Jim Mora greets his players as they warm up before the start of the game against the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils at Rentschler Field at Pratt & Whitney Stadium.

2. Mike Elko, Duke

Speaking of turnarounds, Elko's first season in Durham is an unmitigated success even if they don't win a game for the rest of the season. He's got a gem at defensive tackle in DeWayne Carter, an offense averaging 35 points per game, and genuine excitement around the program. The fact that they're a ten point favorite against Virginia Tech this weekend tells you all you need to know.

Sep 17, 2022; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Elko reacts during first half against the North Carolina A&T Aggies at Wallace Wade Stadium.

Sep 17, 2022; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Elko reacts during first half against the North Carolina A&T Aggies at Wallace Wade Stadium.

3. Bret Bielema, Illinois

In his second season at Illinois, Bielema has molded the Illini in his image with a bruising ground game and stout defense. No one was picking Illinois to win the Big Ten West, no matter how bad that division is. And they're in the driver's seat right now with a key game against Purdue this weekend to effectively clinch it.

Oct 15, 2022; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Bret Bielema on the sidelines during the first half against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Memorial Stadium.

Oct 15, 2022; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Bret Bielema on the sidelines during the first half against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Memorial Stadium.

4. Sonny Dykes, TCU

This one has to start with an apology from me - I ripped the Dykes hiring as lazy and thought the program would take a downhill turn. Oh boy, was I wrong. Dykes is arguably the coach of the year at this point after turning TCU into an unstoppable force on offense with Max Duggan in full control despite not even beginning the season as the starter.

Oct 29, 2022; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; TCU Horned Frogs head coach Sonny Dykes yells at an official during the first quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium.

Oct 29, 2022; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; TCU Horned Frogs head coach Sonny Dykes yells at an official during the first quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium.

5. Lance Leipold, Kansas

I've been pretty bullish on Leipold all season, and after another big win over a much more talented Oklahoma State this past weekend, he's proven me right again. We're living in a world where we've got a very good chance of seeing Kansas, Duke, UCONN, and Kentucky all in the postseason. Didn't realize it was basketball season already.

Nov 5, 2022; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks head coach Lance Leipold watches play against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the first half of the game at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

Nov 5, 2022; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks head coach Lance Leipold watches play against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the first half of the game at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.