Weekend of football shows a lot

Detroit Lions running back Ameer Abdullah (21) falls into the end zone for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

It has annually been one of the most action-filled weekends for football fans everywhere.

But this past weekend had enough plot lines and suspense for the most zealous of pigskin followers.

I’m not necessarily talking about the College Football Playoff. Just about every sports fan knows that football factories like Alabama are going to be in the hunt year after year.

The Crimson Tide don’t ever seem to rebuild, they just bring in the second string from a season ago.

And while the SEC is already talking (bragging is a better word) about the matchup between ‘Bama and Georgia for the National Championship, there were other storylines for the rest of the country.

How about the often-maligned BIG Ten, for instance?

The conference won seven of its eight bowls, the only blemish a loss by Michigan to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.

The defeat cast more doubts for Wolverines fans about the coaching skills of Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh was supposed to be the second coming in Ann Arbor three years ago. But he’s gone 1-5 against league rivals Ohio State and Michigan State, lost three bowl games and seems not to know what to do when the game is on the line in the late going.

On the other hand, Michigan State and Wisconsin were both impressive in their postseason appearances.

Coach Mark Dantonio of MSU brought his team back from a 3-9 record in 2016 to 10-3 this year. And he did it with a young team that is only going to get better.

Wisconsin continues to impress with its determination and grit. The Badgers seldom seem to flinch, even when they’re facing a more athletic opponent.

There was plenty of activity on the professional scene, too.

The Green Bay Packers showed they’re not content to miss the playoffs by dismissing general manager Ted Thompson and defensive coordinator Dom Capers.

Thompson’s biggest mistake was staying away from free agency talent. Capers ran an outdated defensive scheme.

The Packers front office is aware it has a team that is getting older. And it realizes that 34-year-old quarterback Aaron Rodgers isn’t going to be there forever.

The Detroit Lions also displayed some foresight for a change by axing head coach Jim Caldwell. Caldwell was stuck in his conservative mode of coaching, and it showed big time against the better teams.

The Lions brass is going to have to make a wise choice in the coaching department. There are plenty of names out there, but I would personally like to see a guy like Jack Del Rio hired. He’s the kind of hard-nosed coach who could make his players realize they have to work harder to reach the next step.

And winning is that next step.