Wow, what a weekend. What a sports roller coaster.
Here's how big this weekend was: Brian McCann signed with the New York Yankees and it hardly made a ripple. Derrick Rose likely suffered a second season-ending knee injury and it was a whisper outside the Windy City.
From the "Talks too much" studios, in a weekend of bests and worsts, let's be at our best when they are expecting our worst. Giddy-up.
College football rewind
As Maximus Decimus Meridius asked, "Aren't you entertained?" Wow, what a weekend of college football, huh? We also believe that when your team has a bye and you can just sit back, unattached and unstressed about when your team plays or how they're going to play or whether you're going to get your chores done before kick off or whether you got enough Co-Colas on hand, well, the afternoon is more fun. So yes, Maximus, we were entertained — and we were very close to being well-rewarded in the entertainment department. More on that below.
We will merge the weekend of college football greatness with the American Music Awards.
Best individual effort: There were a slew, including Keenan Reynolds, the Navy quarterback running for seven TDs against a San Jose State defense that apparently is allergic to contact. (Yes, we had San Jose State, and yes we are a little bitter.) We'll go with Andre Williams, the Boston College running back who went for 200-bills yet again and busted off a big run to set up a game-winning field goal in the Eagles' 29-26. And can all agree that the quick, sneaky timeout right before an attempted game-winner is rarely a good idea. Ask Maryland coach Randy Edsall, who called a timeout right before the snap on a play that the BC kicker missed his kick.
Lifetime achievement award: Aaron Murray. In a tragic, yet somehow fitting exit for the best of these snake-bitten Bulldogs, Murray's college career is done. And what a career it was. Thanks for the ride Aaron Murray, you would have made Maximus proud — and from Auburn fans everywhere, sorry about the Nick Fairley hit in '10.
Best costume: Tennessee. Are the Grays forever mothballed now that they are 0-2 and have resulted in two real gut-punch losses. Wow, that Vandy ending was a kick to the shins and completed the three-year program flip for the Commodores and the current state of the Vols. Consider the following: You weren't that shocked that Vandy won were you? If Da'Rick Rogers had not made the best play of his career two years ago, James Franklin would be 3-0 against UT. That was a bad loss — a loss that UT had two weeks to get ready for looked under-prepared.
Best entertainment effort that almost was historic: The Fab 4-plus-several picks went 4-3 last week. We're 44-31-1 on the year. We hit Duke, BC, Tulsa and Michigan State. We missed on San Jose State, which lost in there overtimes to Navy despite having several chances, over in Oregon-Arizona, which was the biggest 'Wow' game of the weekend, and UCLA, which failed to cover. And let's say a certain online sports columnist took an early afternoon flyer on a three-game Big Ten parlay and had Michigan State -7, Michigan +6 and Illinois -5.5. Three-game parlays return a 5-to-1 ratio on your entertainment dollar, so when Illinois, up 6, took a self-inflicted safety on the final play, well, that was less than entertaining.
Best reason to believe struggles happen to every college football team: Hi Florida, which lost to Georgia Southern in the Swamp on Saturday. Will Muschamp... doomed on headed for the hottest seat in college football history? And wow, what's FSU going to hang on these Gators in a half-empty Swamp that will have a few dozen thousand FSU fans and will be ringing with the Chop.
Best drama in a Heisman vote in forever: It seems like in recent years, the tumblers have clicked in the Heisman race to where there is little drama leading up to the ceremony. This year, as November dwindles, the frontrunners are sprinting to the back of the pack, and the clear leader — FSU quarterback Jameis Winston — is mired in a serious criminal allegation that is over-arcing the entire process. If we gave you A.J. McCarron or Winston right now, who you got?
Best director: We'll go Gus Malzahn. Got into a Twitter debate this weekend with TFP ace Downtown Patrick Brown and former TFP anc current 247 ace Wes "Mother" Rucker about who deserves college football coach of the year? We're on the Gus Bus; those two are riding with Duke's David Cutcliffe. Who you got?
Best FCS team not in the playoffs: Man, UTC still lives in the dichotomous world. The best season in a generation ends with sad faces and playoff dreams dashed. Hard not to be frustrated of course, but when the pain fades, this year will be fondly remembered and could be the year that a decade from now we look back on and say that was the year that turned the ship.
Any more awards you'd like to hand out?
Be careful what you wish for
This Saturday also made us remember why the craziness of November is so much fun. And this coming weekend will be even better — that said, the early point spread are so tough that we may have a Fab 1 next week. Seriously.
It will continue when the four-team playoff is activated next year.
But we all realize that the four-team playoff will be short lived, and as the field expands, the drama of Saturday will be lost.
If there becomes an eight-team playoff — or goodness forbid a 16-team field — the Baylor loss is not as dramatic. The BCS stakes Saturday in Jordan-Hare would not be as great. The monster game that was FSU and Clemson six weeks ago would be meaningless since each would get in the draw.
So it goes. And in the not too distant future, there's a real chance will embrace the philosophy of H.I. McDonough, who said, "We fear the salad days are no more."
Congrats to the Titans for a last-second win Sunday. Dallas landed a nice road win in the dreadful NFC East. Pittsburgh moved back into the playoff discussion with a win at Cleveland. Hey, the Falcons didn't lose this Sunday either (they gagged on Thursday night, remember). Good times.
We also got an eyeful of Cam Newton doing some rotten things in the first half and doing some impressive things in the second half as the Carolina Panthers won their seventh straight game with a 20-16 rally in Miami. We may have a man-crush on Cam, but the Panthers are going to be a tough out in the postseason with the league's most underrated defense, and an offense that features Steve Smith, DeAngelo Williams and Greg Olsen
But all the build-up on a fun Sunday — and as cold as it was in Chatta-Vegas, it was a good Sunday to get re-acquainted with the NFL — led to a Sunday night game that was ugly and perfect and boring and dramatic and filled with enough storylines to keep Dickens busy for the better part of the next six months.
Wow, what a comeback for Tom Brady and the Patriots, who rallied from a 24-0 halftime hole for a 34-31 overtime win. Brady was awesome in the second half, completing 80 percent of his throws in a wind so strong that when New England won the overtime toss, the Pats took the wind over the ball.
It was classic Brady, who never looked lost in the moment and improved his mark to 10-4 all-time against Peyton Manning, who looked like he was having about as much fun as someone having a root canal.
More on this to come... and feel free to chime in. But wow, that second half was something that left a mark — for each team.
This and that
— Iron Bowl ticket meter: On StubHub, a ticket to Saturday Auburn-Alabama game in Auburn between the No. 1 Tide and the No. 4 Tigers is listed at $300. That's for a single. The prices start at $345 a piece if you want to take a friend.
— The early Iron Bowl line started at Alabama minus-9.5 and has already moved to -10.5. It will go higher folks, so if you like the Tide, put your entertainment to work now.
— Speaking of the NFL: The Titans currently are the final team in the AFC playoffs. Is it fair to wonder if that's a good thing? The Titans are looking a lot like the NFL's version of the Atlanta Hawks — good enough to make the playoffs every other year, no where near the top-tier talent to contend for a title. And if you finish 8-8 every year, it's going to take a miracle to fill a draft class with enough difference makers picking No. 15 in each round.
This is one of those Mondays in which we have nothing but questions. So much happened and the cosmic tumblers have clicked together to set up the biggest Iron Bowl at least since 1994 when Auburn was 9-0-1 and Alabama was 10-0 and the biggest game in Auburn ever other than the 1989 Iron Bowl.
Egads, buckle up buttercup. Here we go.
Mocs fans, how are you this morning? Tough ending to a good year, for sure. It would be interesting to see how you finish this sentence: The 2013 season was __. (We believe UTC is a playoff-caliber team. Period. That said, the numbers-crunch of the three-way tie atop the Southern Conference makes sense if Furman was the automatic qualifier, and we all can agree that the SoCon most likely was not a three-big league this year.)
Should the Braves have ponied up the five-year, $85 million the Yankees did to keep Brian McCann in the 404/770/678?
Got into a Twitter debate this weekend with TFP ace Downtown Patrick Brown and former TFP anc current 247 ace Wes "Mother" Rucker about who deserves college football coach of the year? We're on the bus with Gus Malzahn; those two are riding with Duke's David Cutcliffe. Who you got?
How big of an advantage does Alabama have in the intangibles this weekend, considering the magnitude of this game and the Tide's comfort level walking in such circles? It's huge. Think of it this way: If you were to say this is the biggest SEC game since _, three of the top five answers likely have Alabama in it. Auburn? Well, not since Cam Newton has this stage been set.
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 ...