Well, hope this finds you with a limited case of the Mondays — although after the extended holiday weekend and the feast of football that was overwhelming and outstanding, if you are a little sluggish this morning, we get it.
This afternoon, the reboot of Press Row, our radio show with TFP ace David Paschall, will return to 105.1 FM at 3 p.m. We're grateful for the chance and for all the support from all corners and the patience from all of you who have requested the show be restarted. Thanks for the support and give us a call — we're pretty certain a certain football rivalry that sounds like Myron Stoll will come it.
Anyhoo, let's do work.
From the "Talks too much" studios, we got a long way to go and a short time to get there.
Iron Bowl magic
Yes that happened.
Because of our connection to the Iron Bowl, Saturday became one of those sports moments that we'll forever remember where we were when Chris Davis went 108 yards with a missed field goal to stun the college football world.
The game has been hashed and debated and plucked to unforeseen levels — it was the topic of the first 30 minutes of the Sunday morning SportsCenter with a full day of NFL on tap for crying outloud.
Still the questions are as numerous as the "Oh. My. Goodness. — copyright Verne Lundquist" moments from Auburn's 34-28 win over the unbeaten and top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.
The lasting images — the realization that Auburn was actually going to win, the stunned looked of confusion on the stoic face of Nick Saban, who has been perfection's guardian and looked unsure how to react when his team imperfectly handled Auburn's perfect return, the scene on the Jordan-Hare turf afterward that served as the postcard for the complete and improbable 180 Gus Malzahn has turned the Auburn program, which was 0-8 in the SEC this time last year and is headed to the SEC title game et al. — will forever be a part of the latest installment in the greatest rivalry in college sports. It was unbelievable and still somewhat expected in a rivalry — and a magical Auburn run in 2013 — that has been defined by expecting the unbelievable.
But the lasting ripples still can be felt through this week and will reach high tide next Sunday when the final BCS standings reveal the two teams that will play for the national title.
Currently, FSU and THE Ohio State have the inside track for the invites to the final BCS.
(And before we go much further, let's examine how mucked up the future playoff that starts next year would be in this same scenario. Next year, the top 4 according to the BCS selection committee make the field, that would appear to be FSU, Ohio State, the SEC champion and Alabama. Which makes some sense and can be reasoned that those are at least by resume, the best four in the country. But would happen if the Auburn magic that carried the Tigers to late come-from-behind wins with an Immaculate Deflection and Returning Back the Tide runs out against Missouri? That means the Iron Bowl would have meant very little in determining the national title, and if the new system is going to devalue the best regular season in all of sports, then we are against. So against it in fact, I'd prefer the old-school bowl match-ups from the mid-1980s to anything that would potentially damage the magic and purity that is and has been Saturday like this past one.)
In truth, the desired, 'fixed' system that is slated for next year would put the No. 1 team against the No. 4 team in a national semifinal, something that in truth just happened when fourth-ranked Auburn beat top-ranked Alabama. But that's for next year.
We are dealing with the here and now, and the now has the polls and the computers claiming that Ohio State is better and more deserving a title shot than Auburn. Hogwash.
What's Ohio State's best win, a sluggish seven-point win over Wisconsin, which lost to Penn State on Saturday? Ohio State surrendered 600-plus yards Saturday to a Michigan team that has lost five games. If you are saying, "Yeah, well, Ohio State is unbeaten and Auburn lost at LSU at night in a monsoon in September," then where in unbeaten Nothern Illinois on your ballot? (And we can all agree that LSU would be a slight favorite over Ohio State in Baton Rouge, right?)
Granted, the final Saturday will have a lot to say about this because of the challenges ahead and the fact that the final impression is almost always the strongest. And in truth, with the SEC's run of dominance, we believe Missouri beating Auburn should be enough to get it to the title game. Missouri likely would fall short because, despite its amazing run — Mizzou's only loss was in overtime to South Carolina after leading 17-0 in the fourth quarter and the Tigers have led every opponent save Texas A&M by at least 17 points in the fourth quarter — Mizzou does not have the resume-clinching win over Alabama. Auburn does.
Ohio State will face Michigan State in the Big Ten title game Saturday night, right about the time the Tigers and the Tigers decide who wins the SEC.
Man, magical meets maniacal. PUre joy meets pure speculation. In a lot of ways, it's fitting that the BCS leaves this mess in its wake, right?
Other college football rewind
It was a magnificent weekend of college football. Sublime even. (Side qustion: Why did sublime catch on? Does 'Sublemon' not have a strong enough PR team. And if you picked a 7-Up rather than a Sprite, whould that be a 'Sub Lemon-Lime' in the grand scheme of things?"
The Iron Bowl deserves its own entry, and it got it of course. Let's go to the recaps:
— Lost in the magnificent and unforgettable final second of the Iron Bowl was that Tre Mason rushed for 164 yards against an Alabama defense that had stonewalled the run all year and that Nick Marshall's tricky run-pass option TD pass to Sammie Coates to tie the game was top shelf.
— Fab 4-plus-1 picks went a troubling 4-6 last week, and are 48-37-1 against the number this year. It was worth the loss of entertainment because of the volume of entertainment. Well, almost.
— Reports have USC being very interested in Vandy coach James Frankin, who just wrapped up another eight-win season at Vandy. Yes, Franklin has worked Auburn-like magic to the point that eight-win seasons at VANDY are ho-hum. Boise State coach Chris Petersen also is reportedly a candidate for the USC job.
— Speaking of the USC gig, the Trojans' 35-14 loss against UCLA that all-but ended Ed Orgeron's hopes of getting the USC job permanently is the fundamental definition of winning by losing.
— Duke won its 10th game of the season by beating rival UNC. In every other year of every other sport ever, David Cutcliffe should be the coach of the year front runner. Winning 10 games at Duke is like getting a No. 1 overall NCAA tournament bid at Auburn for crying out loud. And how about the year for some of these coaches: Cutcliffe, Franklin, Malzahn, Gary Pinkel at Missouri. Heck, Urban Meyer has managed to find enough time away from family to go 24-0 at THE Ohio State rebounding from a major NCAA scandal.
— Georgia escaped in double overtime over rival Georgia Tech after trailing 20-0. Despite TFP SEC ace David Paschall writing in today's paper that Mark Richt does not expect changes, there will be some tense holiday moments for defensive coaches in Athens and all the coaches in Atlanta. Spy, whatcha got?
— Florida axed offensive coordinator Brent Pease and another assistant. Man, the life of assistant can be a real roller coaster. One minute you're the hottest thing since Hot Wheels, the next you are a Chia Pet.
— Speaking of late-season twists and coaching perceptions, how about that Egg Bowl, which left Mississippi State bowl eligible and the vibe around Dan Mullen feeling all warm and fuzzy heading into the holidays. And for Hugh Freeze, the Ole Miss coach that had swept up all the pre-Thanksgiving goodies, well, back-to-back losses and a trip Nashville for New Year's Eve feels like a monster disappointment.
— We'll get more into the Vols looking explosive and motivated against Kentucky tomorrow, with some input from Downtown Patrick Brown, too.
Leave it up to the Falcons to win a game that they need to lose and lose the games they need to win. So it goes.
If this weekend revealed anything, the NFL has truly become as much about avoiding injury as it about your starting quarterback. And when those two worlds collide, man, ask the Green Bay Packers, who were humiliated on Thanksgiving by the Detroit Lions.
There are two things that are now crystalizing for us: The AFC will come down to New England and Denver. Period. The Patriots have survived a slew of injuries, and each team has eite-level quarterbacks. (Side note: Peyton Manning's numbers are off-the-charts: After throwing for 400-plus yards and five TDs in the Broncos' win over Kansas City, Manning has 41 TDs and 4,125 passing yards while completing better than 68 percent of his passes. He has reached that rarified air in athletics where you expect every pass to be complete, not unlike how we expected every Tiger Woods 6-footer to go in during the early 2000s and every big-moment MJ jumper to fall. In fact, when Manning throws an incompletion, the two thoughts are either "He was throwing it away" or "Wonder who ran the wrong route?" Dude is scary right now. Well, scary as long as it's warmer than 32 degrees.)
The other NFL clarity is that the winner of tonight's Monday night game between Seattle and New Orleans is the clear front-runner in the NFC.
Tonight's game should be something special.
This and that
— The Unibrow — Chas9er's main man Anthony Davis — broke his hand Sunday against New York. Davis was having a breakthrough season, averaging 19.6 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.9 blocks. According to the new-age stats hounds, Davis had the second-best player efficiency rating in the NBA behind LeBron James.
— Did you see the giant tears Knowshon Moreno cried before the Broncos-Chiefs kickoff. Take a look. Sweet buckets, was the pregame movie Steel Magnolias? Do you think when crocodiles cry they say they are crying Knowshon tears?
Yes, we feel fairly certain that a ton of college football — especially the Iron Bowl — will be discussed at length on today's return of Press Row at 3 p.m. on ESPN 105.1 FM. Give us a listen — heck, give us a call at 423-648-1051 — don't cost nothin'.
Here are two items we feel certain will be discussed today:
Who's your No. 2 in the BCS?
Where do you put the finish to the Iron Bowl on the Rushmore of endings of college football events? What about all of college sports? What about all of sports? Does the Iron Bowl get there? We say yes — Auburn scoring two TDs in 32 seconds to stun the super-power that is Alabama? Here's our four endings that we'll forever remember: 2013 Iron Bowl, Gibson's homer in the 1988 World Series, Laettner's shot and Al Michaels asking, "Do you believe in miracles?"
Yes we do Al. We watched Auburn.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...