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About the Author
Sean Moran currently a junior history major/biology minor at Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama. Sean enjoys reading works by Stephen King and Cormac McCarthy, hunting, and dreams of a day where Star Trek and Star Wars fans can admit that both franchises are awesome in their own way. On Twitter @SEANPM_61

The 2015 College Football Playoff Promises To Be Incredible

On Sunday the two matchups for the second College Football Playoff were announced. The No. 1 seed Clemson Tigers will the face No. 4 seed Oklahoma Sooners at 4 p.m. Eastern in the Capital One Orange Bowl on New Year’s Eve.

The Alabama Crimson Tide, the No. 2 seed, will face off against the third seeded Michigan State Spartans in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at 8 p.m., also on New Year’s Eve. Both games will be televised on ESPN.

Both games look to be great matchups, but there are also some interesting off the field storylines that will make this year’s college football playoff even more interesting than last year.

#1 Clemson vs #4 Oklahoma: This game is a rematch of last year’s Russell Athletic Bowl during which Clemson stomped Oklahoma 40 to 6. It was a sweet win for Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who faced his former team for the first time since he was fired in 2011. Clemson dominated the game from the very beginning as Oklahoma only managed to gain 275 yards of total offense.

Clemson hopes to do the same thing this year as it again boasts one of the nation’s best defenses. Led by players such as defensive tackle Shaq Lawson and safety Jayron Kearse Jr., Clemson has the nation’s 5th ranked passing defense, is 7th in total yards allowed per game, and has recorded over 38 sacks, good enough for 12th in the nation (NCAA statistics).

But outside of North Carolina and Florida State, Clemson hasn’t’ faced an offense as good and with as many athletes as Oklahoma’s.

But Clemson’s offense is just as good if not better this year under the reigns of true sophomore quarterback and Heisman finalist Deshaun Watson.

Clemson and head coach Dabo Swinney have had a great season and have finally put to rest the slur of “Clemsoning”.

Last year, Watson missed the bowl game after tearing and playing with a partially torn ACL during the season’s final month, but he’s been playing like a man possessed this year. Watson won the ACC Offensive Player of the Year award, as he threw for 3500 yards, rushed for nearly 900, accounting for 41 touchdowns.

Bob Stoops looks to get some payback for last year’s embarrassing lose and earn a shot to win his second national championship. The Sooners’ offense, under the direction of coordinator Lincoln Riley, has torched teams in the air and on the ground. Former walk-on Baker Mayfield, considered by many to be a Heisman snub, has played fantastic and running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon (a coveted high school player who sat out his freshman year for a domestic violence incident) are two of the better backs in the country. Senior wide out Sterling Shephard has also been one of the best wide receivers in the country during his four years in Norman.

Despite the Big 12’s reputation as pass happy, basketball on turf, Oklahoma fielded one of the better defensive units in the nation. The Sooners held opposing offenses to less than 21 points per game, recorded the 4th most sacks in the nation (38), and forced 26 turnovers (NCAA statistics). Eric Striker, properly named, is one of the nation’s premier pass-rushing linebackers, and cornerback Zack Sanchez has recorded six interceptions this year.

With two high powered offenses I wouldn’t be surprised if this turned into a track meet where the team with the ball last wins.

But if it’s soggy or raining in Miami, defense could ultimately determine who wins.

Clemson and head coach Dabo Swinney have had a great season and have finally put to rest “Clemsoning”, but I’m going with Oklahoma in this game. The Sooners are much more battle tested after having played in a fairly strong schedule against the Big 12 and a decent Tennessee team out of conference.

Final score prediction: Oklahoma 42-Clemson 35

#2 Alabama vs #3 Michigan State: Clemson and Oklahoma will be fast paced with lots of scoring, but this game will be more reminiscent of “old man football”. Both teams like to play smash-mouth football by running the ball down opponents’ throats on offense and stifling them with tough defense.

This game features another matchup of a coach going against his former school as Nick Saban leads the Crimson Tide against the Spartans. From 1995-1999 Saban led Michigan State and also employed current Spartan head coach Mark Dantonio. These two teams last met in the 2011 Capital One Bowl, a 49-7 Alabama victory.

These teams are so similar in regards to their playing style and philosophies, but Alabama just has better talent.

The Crimson Tide really has only one strategy on offense: giving Derrick Henry the ball. Henry has been a monster this year, shredding defenses on his way to one of the best seasons in the history of college football. Even when they know it’s coming, defenses have been unable to stop him. He broke Herschel Walker’s single season SEC rushing record with 1,986 yards and his 23 rushing touchdowns are currently tied for the SEC record with Tim Tebow and Tre Mason.

With teams selling out to limit the rushing attack and Henry, Alabama has enough of a passing attack to make them pay.

Jacob Coker hasn’t lived up to the enormous hype and expectations of Alabama fans, but he does enough to win games by avoiding turnovers and scrambling to avoid sacks. Calvin Ridley, a talented true freshman wide receiver, emerged as a playmaker alongside Ardarius Stewart and tight end O.J. Howard.

What hasn’t already been said about Alabama’s defense? Arguably the most talented front seven in the nation, the Crimson Tide are loaded on the defensive side of the ball.

In the secondary, Eddie Jackson has flourished after a move from corner to safety and Cyrus Jones has become an elite corner and return man. Linebacker Reggie Ragland draws comparisons to Bama greats Don’t’a Hightower and CJ Mosely, while the defensive line has potential NFL first round draft picks Johnathan Allen, A’Shawn Robinson, and Jarran Reed. This defense is simply lights out with the only concern being Kirby Smart’s possible source of distraction as he tries to balance his new job as Georgia’s head coach.

Michigan State follows a blueprint similar to Alabama on both offense and defense. Senior quarterback Connor Cook was receiving preseason Heisman buzz, but battled injuries and inconsistency all year. As the winningest QB in Spartan history, Cook has big game experience and when he’s hot he can beat anyone in the country. True freshman LJ Scott, the hero of the Big 10 Championship game, emerged as the leading running back this year and looks to continue his success against the best run defense in the nation.

Although they lost some talent to the NFL last year, Michigan State once again had one of the best defenses in the nation. Shilique Calhoun was a terror on the defensive line as he tallied up 10.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss and the Spartans ranked 7th in the nation in rush defense and turnovers forced.

These teams are so similar in regards to their playing style and philosophies, but Alabama just has better talent.

Michigan State prides itself on recruiting overlooked players to develop and coach up, while Alabama annually recruits the best athletes in the nation and produces numerous NFL draft picks. If this were 2013 or last year, I think Michigan State would have a great chance to win this game but they’ve been inconsistent at times this year (struggled against Western Michigan, barely beat Michigan, and lost to Nebraska). Meanwhile, Alabama has been out for blood since their home loss to Ole Miss in September.

Final score prediction: Alabama 23-Michigan State 10

Cover Photo Credit: John Martinez Pavliga/Flickr (CC by –SA 2.0).

Coaching Carousel: Ranking The Top Open Head Coaching Jobs in College Football

The college football season is halfway over and already there are nine vacant head coaching positions in the FBS: Illinois, Maryland, Miami, Minnesota, North Texas, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, UCF, and USC.

We usually associate the dismissal of a head coach with performance on the field, but this year has been marked by several off the field incidents. Illinois fired Tim Beckman days before the season started over allegations that he mistreated players and forced them to play with severe injuries

.USC fired Coach Steve Sarkisian after he allegedly showed up to practice intoxicated; this came weeks after a video of an intoxicated Sarkisian at an alumni dinner popped up on the internet. Finally, Jerry Kill stepped down as coach of Minnesota this past week citing health concerns. Kill, diagnosed with epilepsy, has a history of seizures and even suffered one on the sidelines in 2013.

The Head Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier, controversially resigned midseason from South Carolina after the Gamecocks got off to a 2-4 start. After an abysmal 0-8 start, George O’Leary finally stepped down as UCF’s head coach two weeks after previously stepping down as Athletic Director.

Due to leaks in the Athletic Department, rumors of Randy Edsall’s dismissal swirled around the Maryland program for a week before he was finally fired after a loss against Ohio State. Two blowouts led to the ousting of Al Golden from Miami (58-0 against Clemson) and Dan McCarney from North Texas (a 66-7 loss to FCS opponent Portland State).

On November 1, Frank Beamer announced that he will retire from Virginia Tech at the end of the season, ending one of the greatest runs in college football.

With this many openings at big time programs, the coaching carousel will already be in full swing by December. Many are already predicting that jobs at Kansas State, Rutgers, and Virginia will open up too. Until these positions actually open up, here’s how I’d rank the available head coaching jobs.

Rankings:

1) USC– I don’t see how anyone could not have USC number 1. This program brings in elite talent every year, regardless of the coach. California is one of, if not the best state for college prospects, and year after year USC sends guys to the NFL. USC has great tradition and prestige (the Coliseum, national championships, Heisman Trophy winners, etc.) and is definitely the football team in Los Angeles (sorry but not sorry UCLA). The negative here is the administration. Athletic Director Pat Haden has mismanaged the hiring and firing of two coaches in the past five years, has recently had some health scares that forced him to resign from the College Football Playoff Committee, and now faces backlash from a LA Times article about his numerous “side jobs” on numerous boards. If Haden, or better yet USC’s president C.L. Max Nikias, can hire the right guy, USC can be an immediate national championship contender with its loaded roster. Leading candidates- Clay Helton (current interim coach), Chip Kelly (Philadelphia Eagles HC) Kyle Whittingham (Utah HC), Brian Kelly (Notre Dame HC), Jeff Fisher (St. Louis Rams HC)

2) Virginia Tech– What else can be said about Frank Beamer? Sure he might have stayed a little too long, but Virginia Tech has always been a dangerous team under his watch. Just ask Ohio State in 2014. This has been the dominant program in the mid-Atlantic for decades and there’s no reason that shouldn’t change with a new head coach. The fan base is very loyal, and the Hokies play in the Coastal division (insert joke here), so the path to an ACC championship is not terribly tough. Virginia Tech has always been able to bring in great players, especially on the defensive side of the ball, so recruiting won’t be an issue either. The main thing here is continuity of philosophy: tough defense, excellent special teams play, and an offense that makes just enough plays. Leading Candidates– Bud Foster (longtime Virginia Tech DC), Justin Fuente (Memphis HC), Kirby Smart (Alabama DC)

3) South Carolina– This amazing fan base has grown accustomed to winning and they don’t expect anything less, especially in an SEC East that has been down since 2009. Regardless of what the next coach does, Steve Spurrier will go down as the greatest coach in South Carolina history. Spurrier was able to bring elite talent into Columbia (Marcus Lattimore, Jadeveon Clowney, Alshon Jeffery) and he won eleven games for three years in a row! The problem with South Carolina though is that their bitter rival, Clemson, seems to have finally kicked the “Clemsoning” bug and looks like a legit juggernaut. But because this is the SEC, South Carolina will have almost no problem affording a new coach and staff. They just need to make sure they get someone who can competitively recruit in the talent rich southeast. Leading candidates Kirby Smart, Lane Kiffin (Alabama OC), Shawn Elliot (current interim HC), Mark Dantonio (Michigan State HC and South Carolina alum)

4) Maryland– the talk is always about how Maryland should be a better job than it actually is. This program is backed by Under Armor (similar to how Nike backs Oregon), is in the middle of a great recruiting zone (the Washington D.C. area), and has now joined a conference that with a storied football tradition and suits its academic requirements (the Big Ten). Randy Edsall wasn’t a terrible coach; he probably overachieved at UConn, and then parlayed that into a better job at Maryland. This is a good job, someone just needs to make it prove it. Leading candidates– Chip Kelly (Philadelphia Eagles HC), Jeremy Pruitt (Georgia DC), Tom Herman (Houston HC), Greg Schiano (former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Bucs HC)

5) UCF– this team is a disaster only two years removed from a shocking Fiesta Bowl victory against Baylor. But that team had future first round draft picks Blake Bortles and Breshad Perriman. Now UCF is 0-8 and is fighting with Kansas to go down as one of the worst teams in college football. But as George O’Leary proved, this program can win if it gets the right players and coached by competent people. UCF has the largest student body in the nation, is located in Orlando (hello Disney and Universal), and should always be able to pick up players passed over by FSU and Florida. Leading candidates– Jeremy Pruitt (Georgia DC), Mario Cristobal (Alabama OL coach)

6) Miami– I’m sorry Miami fans, this is no longer The U. Miami has not won a conference title since 2003, and since moving to the ACC Coastal division (possibly the worst Power Five division in college football) has a 48-44 conference record (including this season’s shellacking at the hands of Clemson and a controversial win against Duke). Miami cannot spend a whole lot of money on a coach, and whoever takes this job will have to coach in an empty stadium a half hour away from campus (not that fans would show up to games if there was an on campus stadium) and have a multitude of former players breathing down his neck and criticizing his every move. The only positives to this job are the abundant amount of elite players in the Miami area and the overall weakness of the ACC. Leading Candidates- Lane Kiffin, Butch Davis (former Miami HC), Greg Schiano, Mario Cristobal

7) Minnesota– Jerry Kill did a marvelous job making this program competitive, but I’m not sure the next guy will be able to continue it. The Golden Gophers haven’t had that much national or conference success since the early 1960s. They play in the weaker West division of the Big Ten, but this team still has to compete with the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, and Wisconsin. Whoever gets this job should focus on developing his players rather than trying to recruit elite talent to St. Paul and Minneapolis. As long as the team remains competitive in the Big Ten West, the fan base and administration can’t complain. But before a coach can be hired, Minnesota has to also find a new AD. Leading candidates- Tracy Claeys (interim HC), Justin Fuente (Memphis HC)

8) Illinois– the Fighting Illini had a great run to the Rose Bowl in 2008 under Ron Zook, but since then has only been to three bowl games. The only team in the Big Ten that Illinois has a winning record against is Northwestern (FYI, Northwestern is not historically good at football). When Illinois has a good team, they compete for the Big Ten and go to a major bowl game, but these teams come around once every decade. The football team will never be as competitive as the basketball program and overall this is an average to below average program every year that cannot compete with the powers in the Big Ten. Leading Candidates- PJ Fleck (Western Michigan HC)

9) North Texas– North Texas lost at home 66-7 to Portland State. That tells your everything you need to know about the Mean Green. Leading Candidates– anyone who can go 1-11 every year and not feel too bad about it.

 

 

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Cover Photo Credit: A Syn/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Does The Movie “Suffragette” Create Delusions About Modern Day Feminist Success?

By Sean Moran

At the October 7 London premiere of the film Suffragette, several activists from the group Sisters Uncut crashed the red carpet and released smoke canisters as part of a protest against recent budget cuts to facilities that offer care to victims of domestic violence. When asked why they chose this film for the protest, one activist replied that the film’s “celebratory sense” has created a “delusional element” that feminism has accomplished its goals.

Suffragette, set to begin a limited American release on October 23, tells the story of one mother’s experiences as she gets caught up in the female suffrage movement in early 20th century Britain. The movie stars Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter (who also happens to be the real life great granddaughter of H.H. Asquith, the Prime Minister who opposed female suffrage), and Meryl Streep as the leader of the suffrage movement, Emmeline Pankhurst.

A movie can be effective in getting an ideological message across, but how much can you ignore or even distort actual history?

Along with the protest at the premiere, the film has also received some backlash against a promotional photoshoot where the actresses wore t-shirts that read “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave.” Critics immediately began criticizing this quote for perceived racial insensitivity. Some pointed out that Emmeline Pankhurst and many other suffragettes were not advocating for black female suffrage too.

As much as people try to argue that the Pankhurst was a progressive feminist, the truth is that she wasn’t. Pankhurst was aided by her two daughters, Christabel and Sylvia, the former much in her mother’s image, while the latter had much more radical beliefs. Neither Emmeline nor Christabel believed women should wear pants or short hair, and both detested the rise of the Labour Party that represented the working class. Emeline also believed women should remain chaste, and all but denounced her daughter Sylvia when she had a child out of wedlock.

This raises an important issue with historical films: is it okay to force historical facts to fit a modern narrative? A movie can be effective in getting an ideological message across, but how much can you ignore or even distort actual history?

It would seem more authentic if characters did have inconsistent beliefs about equality, believing men and women should be equal but only some men and women (white, educated, upper class, etc.).

So in a way, the protestors at the premiere were right; this film shouldn’t be seen as the epitome of feminist ideology (Note: I have not seen the actual movie yet, and the film could totally address these issues).

Having said all that, I think this film will provide an adequately objective viewpoint. In an interview with Variety’s Kristopher Tapley, screenwriter Abi Morgan admitted that she didn’t want to do a feminist film.

“I don’t think any of us said, ‘Let’s make a feminist movie.’ I think we kind of went, ‘This is exciting. We never see women blow up buildings. We never see them militant.’”

Like this piece? Rise News just launched a few weeks ago and is only getting started. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with global news. Have a news tip? Send it to us- editor@risenews.net. 

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