Don't forget about Friday's mailbag.
We're trying something new this morning. In honor of watching UNC play hoops - a poetry of outlet passes, alley-oops and a full-speed assault - we're going with a fast-break 5-at-10, where every entry is three paragraphs or less (or you're next one is free). Besides, there're a lot of folks who think we talk too much anyway (shut it Jefe).
From the "Mama McNabb stage here at the Al Davis Studio," here we go...
The man with no name ranks the college bowl games
The good - The BCS title game; all of the Jan. 2 games, especially the Fiesta Bowl; Mike Bianchi's one-liner about Urban Meyer's influence on the Ohio State-Florida matchup in the Gator Bowl, which he dubbed Urban Renewal vs. Urban Decay - well-played indeed; Champ Sports Bowl, which lucked into FSU-Notre Dame, a shiny matchup of power programs which is the dream for smaller bowls.
The bad - The treatment given to Boise State and TCU - think of it this way, if Boise State had made a field goal vs. TCU, the Broncos would be in the BCS title game, but since they missed the kick they landed in the Las Vegas Bowl against an Arizona State team that fired its coach (which really puts a whole new spin on the "every game matters" argument, since a few dozen feet is the difference between facing LSU for the whole ball of wax and facing the Devils in Sin City); the attendance at the Music City Bowl, where a less-than-enthused Mississippi State fan base will need to carry the smallish fan base of Wake Forest.
The ugly - The 'interim' coaches news conferences at the Kraft Fight Hunger (and every other worthy cause) Bowl since Illinois nor UCLA have a head coach; that Ball State and Western Kentucky - each finished 6-6 - were left out of the bowl process despite UCLA getting a spot at 6-7; the shaft that Southern Miss (being forced out of the regular spot reserved for the C-USA champ) got and the shaft that Missouri got (moved to the bottom of the Big 12 poll pecking order, something that probably had NOTHING to do with Missouri leaving the conference for the SEC, huh?); Hey, didn't you used to be top-ranked Oklahoma, and what are you doing here at the Insight.com Bowl?
Baseball winter meetings
Albert Pujols has offers from the Cards and the Cubs and the Marlins that we know about. The numbers are staggering - nine or 10 years in the neighborhood of $200 million - and his influence and arrive for any of those teams makes them contenders in the National League. The Marlins have already added Jose Reyes and Heath Bell and are pursuing Mark Buerhle, so the Fish are looking to spend their limit.
Atlanta has been relatively quiet, but if the Marlins continue to make a charge - and the Nationals, too, who are considered to be the leaders for Buerhle - the Braves may be forced to make some noise.
The biggest trade so far is Boston sending manager Terry Francona to ESPN Sunday night baseball for former analyst Bobby Valentine. Considering Bobby V.'s off the charts on the irritability scale, this is a win for baseball fans everywhere and a possible lose-lose for Red Sox Nation.
Coaching carousel, part III
- Our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer has a fun story on former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer being interested in the job at Kansas. Couple of quick points: 1) It's hard to fathom that a guy with a 152-52 record and a national title is having this hard of a time landing a J-O-B; 2) There is nothing outside of Derek Dooley's control that would be worse for him and his regime than a motivated Fulmer (and you know he's going to work like heck and recruit his tail off) landing a job then making a recruiting splash and winning 8-plus games next fall. It would re-energize the UT old guard that thought firing Fulmer was a huge mistake and recharge their efforts to try to bring Phil back to Knoxville.
- There seems to be a lot of heavy petting between soon-to-be-former Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora and UNC (sorry CJ). Of course Spy mentioned that Fedora would be a good fit on working for Les Miles (that'd put Fedora on the Mad Hatter's staff). We see what you did there and we like it. What about Joe Kapp? Or Wilford Brimley? Maybe Beanie Wells could coach RBs? Fez Bryant could coach WRs? Garrison Hearst needs a spot on staff. We'll stop now.
- There figure to be some moves in the next 24 hours. In addition to Fedora and UNC, there's talk that Alabama OC Jim McElwain and Memphis are passing notes in study hall and Texas A&M is closing in on Houston's Kevin Sumlin. (Side note: We've said from the beginning that we'd be a little cautious of Sumlin, since we don't know how much of Houston's near-BCS run was Sumlin or record-setting QB Case Keenum, but we also feel there may be no tougher big job this side of Penn State than Texas A&M, which limped to the finish this year and will have to replace a lot of pieces as it moves into the SEC West, which is the toughest division this side of the AFC North).
This and that
- Completing their continent conquest by covering the corners of the country (how about that alliteration, gang?) the Big East has added Boise State, San Diego State, SMU, UCF and Houston. Boise State and SDSU will be members in football only. This is nuts.
- After starting his own rumors that he'd be interested in talking with some NFL teams, serial retiree Brett Favre has announced he has "no plans to play football." In other news, the 5-at-10 has "no plans to join the NBA," so all you interested GMs, just know that no means no. Seriously, Brett, it's time to ride off into the sunset. For good.
- Georgia landed a huge commitment Wednesday when running back Keith Marshall picked the Bulldogs over a slew of other interested suitors. As for the rumors and the ramblings that Isaiah Crowell is less than a great teammate, well, there's nothing that gets a kid's attention quicker than landing his replacement. We have said for a while now that when a program needs certain in-coming freshmen and young players (Crowell, Da'Rick Rogers, etc.) more than the player needs the program that's when big-time attitude problems can arise.
The Indianapolis Colts are 0-12 and have a two-game lead in the race for the No. 1 overall pick. Peyton Manning seems to be progressing to the point that he may be able to play again next year.
We all know that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck will be the No. 1 overall pick - he's the best NFL QB prospect to come out since Manning in 1997. Plus, with the new salary scale for rookies and draft picks, Luck will not command the high eight figure signing bonus that means he has to get on the field right now (by comparison, Cam Newton got a four-year, $22 million deal as the No. 1 pick last April). Peyton's camp fired the first shot Tuesday when Archie Manning said that a Luck-Peyton duo would not be the best fit for anyone.
The question is simple, if the Colts land the No. 1 pick and Manning is slated to come back, what do you do: draft Luck and let Manning groom him for a year or two; deal Manning and start over and count your lucky stars that your franchise will have 30 consecutive years of good-to-great QB play; deal the No. 1 pick, which likely will be the most valuable draft pick in all of sports? The question may be simple the answer is not.