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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Notre Dame could be in CFP without a coach

by Wally Hall | December 2, 2021 at 2:37 a.m.

The College Football Playoffs are staring at two possible firsts.

Alabama, if it loses to Georgia with a respectable score, could become the first two-loss team to make the Final Four.

Or if the Tide don't make it and Oklahoma State loses to Baylor, Notre Dame could become the first team to make the CFP without a head coach.

As everyone knows, Brian Kelly -- the Fighting Irish's coach of 12 years -- opted to move south of the Mason Dixon line for the first time in his 60 years and become head coach of the LSU Tigers.

Nick Saban was 49 when he left Michigan State for LSU, and Les Miles was 52. Of course those are just numbers, especially if you can keep most of the homegrown talent in Louisiana.

Notre Dame will find an interim head coach, but that's never happened in CFB history either.

Just don't expect Lou Holtz to be the interim, although the last time Notre Dame won a national championship was 1988 and the former Arkansas coach was the head coach of the Fighting Irish.

As for the next-to-last CFP poll, the Razorbacks were No. 22 and the highest ranked team with four losses, but three of those losses were to No. 1 Georgia, No. 3 Alabama and No. 8 Ole Miss, a game they had a chance to win.

The other 8-4 team was Texas A&M at No. 25.

* * *

It is almost unbelievable what the change in racing dates is doing for Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs.

The meet starts Friday and has brought some of the game's legendary trainers and jockeys to the Spa City.

While Bob Baffert is the biggest name in racing and will ship horses in, there is no one larger in the jockey world than Joel Rosario. It is not an accident he's the richest rider of this year with $32.9 million in earnings.

Rosario, a native of the Dominican Republic, started riding in 2005 and in 2009 joined an elite company of Bill Shoemaker, Laffitt Pincay and Kent Desormeaux by riding six winners on one card.

In 2013, he won the $10 million Dubai World Cup and five weeks later, the Kentucky Derby.

Rosario is an international rider but has spent much of his career in Calilfornia, which had become the racing capitol of the world.

Oaklawn, though, is the only track that continues to increase purses, and several California jockeys and trainers have pulled up stakes and moved to Hot Springs.

The race meet begins Friday, and will include three stakes races for 2-year-olds this month, and ends on May 7.

* * *

As of this writing, there are still two major college football head coaching jobs available and seven others.

Oklahoma and Notre Dame are the big ones and no doubt they are looking for guys who will win the news conference, which is a little odd because Lincoln Riley was promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach of the Sooners and Brian Kelly was at Cincinnati.

No one apparently is paying attention to what has happened at Arkansas, which hired an offensive line coach who also had the title assistant head coach.

Sam Pittman has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt there are lots of capable assistants out there who just need an opportunity.

* * *

It was my embarrassing mistake, Florida's athletic Director is Scott Stricklin. That's how is last name is spelled.

In paying his dues from media relations assistant to AD at one of the best athletic programs in the country he also spent time at Auburn, Tulane and Kentucky as an assistant or associate athletic director.

At Mississippi State, his alma mater, he raised millions of dollars to renovate the football complex.

Print Headline: Irish could team in the CFP without a coach


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