From the "Talks too much" studios, let's do work.
Coach search reflection
We can close the book on the coach-hiring craziness that was the last 20-plus days. It was a roller coaster that left four SEC schools with new coaches, and four fan bases looking around wondering who will fill out the staffs and who will recruit well and on and on.
In the end the only answer we have as college football fans is hope. We hope these hires turn out. We hope these guys are as good as they say and will do what they say in the introductory news conferences.
"We'll work hard."
"We'll get back to football."
"We embrace the challenge."
It's the same song and dance, really, just change out school-colored ties and pre-fabbed one-liners about family or other fan bases.
We had every intention to grade each hire, now that Butch Jones is on board in Knoxville. Instead of figuring where Jones fits in the hierarchy of rankings among Arkansas landing Bret Bielema, Auburn hiring Gus Malzahn and Kentucky getting Mark Stoops, we'll rank the others the same way we ranked jobs:
As Dean Wormer said to Daniel S. Day in his office in the moments before Flounder threw up on him, "All grades incomplete."
That's the only way to look at it. And it doesn't matter what the grade is today - if they win, they'll be loved and if they don't they'll be lambasted; and in the case of Gene Chizik, a lot of each in a matter of 22 months.
That's not to say public perception doesn't matter. It does. In a real and tangible way. The internal perception from a college fan base about their football coach is going to depreciate roughly 5 percent every year. Whether it's this booster that got accidently snubbed or that group of message-board leaders who are weary of the staff, it happens. Some years, it won't be 5 percent. Some years will be more. Some coaches - Saban, Spurrier - are Teflon to the theory, but those are the exceptions rather than the rule.
So if a coach starts with a 100-percent approval rating, and does a good job for a decade - and you'll have to do a good job to keep an SEC job for 10 years - he'll be hovering around the hot-seat button line of a 50-percent approval rating for no other reason than day-to-day depreciation. Is this fair? Of course not. It's just our theory.
Best examples: Fulmer, Richt and Tuberville. Each delivered on grand scales. Each had ups and downs, and each got to right around that 10-year mark and the seat started to warm despite the success and consistency.
Now, if the fan base's approval rating starts at less than 100 percent, the curve begins at a lower point so the drop is quicker and can be happen at bigger chunks, since there are already folks in the "Anti-" camp.
What does this mean as it applies to the four new coaches? Hard to know other than they are faced with huge hurdles and are paid huge sums to clear them. Winning is the ultimate converter of course, regardless of who wanted this guy or that rock star.
You win, you win them over. You lose, you lose your job.
Titans face rocky future
OK, we want some of the Indy Colts good fortune.
Seriously, how many organizations are going to be able to draft a quarterback like Peyton Manning in the spring of 1998, ride a ridiculously successful run for almost 15 years, part ways as cleanly as possible, only to land the future Peyton Manning in Andrew Luck.
One year of Manning injured mixed in allowed the Colts to land the No. 1 overall pick and draft Luck, who led the Colts by the Tennessee Titans 27-23 on Sunday. It was an outcome that secured the Colts of having a winning season and the Titans of having a losing one.
With Luck - and with luck - the Colts are primed to make the playoffs. With Luck, the Colts have flipped from 2-14 to 9-4. With Luck - and a slew of first-year players and rookies - the Colts will again be a playoff regular.
This does not just impact the Titans on Sunday. This means the Titans are now looking up at the Colts and the Texans in a just-got-tougher-for-the-next-decade AFC South.
Plus, with the unknown future of Jake Locker - got to believe that next year will be the "Can he do it?" season - magnifies the stress on an NFL team to answer the most important question in the league: Do you trust your quarterback?
Look at the teams currently in the playoffs (if the season ended today) and their trust meter in regard to their QB:
1. Houston: Matt Schaub is trustworthy, and the Texans are elite defensively and run the ball better than anyone.
2. Denver : Peyton Manning (duh)
3. New England: Tom Brady (double-duh)
4. Baltimore: Joe Flacco is close to trustworthy.
5. Indy: Andrew Luck (yep)
6. Pittsburgh: Ben Roethlisberger is trustworthy when healthy.
1. Atlanta: Matt Ryan is extremely trustworthy in the regular season.
2. San Francisco: Neither QB is trustworthy, but this is the league's best defense.
3. Green Bay: Aaron Rodgers (Discount Double duh)
4. New York Giants: Eli Manning (Yep, he's a Manning, so he's a suitor. He's bona fide even.)
5. Seattle: Russell Wilson (who proves trustworthy at every stop despite his doubters)
6. Chicago: Jay Cutler is not really trustworthy, but again, this is a defense that was elite before a serious of injuries and scored touchdowns at a historic pace.
There are only two teams on this list to draft more than one of the above QBs, and the Colts are staring at a 30-year run with 29 years of quarterback excellence.
It's back - the third annual "Bowling in the super bowl of bowl game contest."
We've tweaked the rules a touch - and thanks to those who offered suggestions. We thought about doing a confidence game, but wondered about the time that may take if we get 50-plus entries like we have in recent contests. We thought about trimming the field to like five or six games, but part of this is to give everyone a vested interest in the lesser bowls.
We'll award two prizes again from this year's event - first and last. It will likely be some tickets or possibly some BCS title game gear.
The marked point values are what you earn by picking them correctly and what you lose when picked incorrectly. These are straight-up picks, although we're committed to put the Fab 4 picks on every bowl game again this year. We'll start that Thursday.
Here we go with the games (and please e-mail your picks to firstname.lastname@example.org rather than putting them in the comments):
1 pointers (selected because we like the funkiness of the names - 5 max)
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - Toledo (9-3) vs. Utah State (10-2)
Poinsettia Bowl - San Diego State (9-3) vs. BYU (7-5)
Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl - Ball State (9-3) vs. UCF (9-4)
Fight Hunger Bowl - Arizona State (7-5) vs. Navy (7-4)
Pinstripe Bowl - Syracuse (7-5) vs. West Virginia (7-5)
2 pointers (because they teams are from the South - 8 max)
New Orleans Bowl - East Carolina (8-4) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (7-4)
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl - Central Michigan (6-6) vs. Western Kentucky (7-5)
Belk Bowl - Duke (6-6) vs. Cincinnati (9-3)
Russell Athletic Bowl - Virginia Tech (6-6) vs. Rutgers (9-3)
3 pointers (because these look like tough picks - 15 max)
Las Vegas Bowl - Boise State (10-2) vs. Washington (7-5)
Hawaii Bowl - SMU (6-6) vs. Fresno State (9-3)
Alamo Bowl - Texas (8-4) vs. Orgeon State (9-3)
Sun Bowl - Georgia Tech (6-7) vs. Southern Cal (7-5)
Heart of Dallas Bowl - Purdue (6-6) vs. Oklahoma State (7-5)
4 pointers (around the SEC - 32 max)
BBVA Compass Bowl - Pittsburgh (6-6) vs. Mississippi (6-6)
Music City Bowl - Vanderbilt (8-4) vs. N.C. State (7-5)
Chick-fil-A Bowl - LSU (10-2) vs. Clemson (10-2)
Gator Bowl - Mississippi State (8-4) vs. Northwestern (9-3)
Capital One Bowl - Georgia (11-2) vs. Nebraska (10-3)
Outback Bowl - South Carolina (10-2) vs. Michigan (8-4)
Sugar Bowl - Florida (11-1) vs. Louisville (10-2)
Cotton Bowl - Texas A&M (10-2) vs. Oklahoma (10-2)
5 pointers (the rest of the BCS - 15 max)
Rose Bowl - Stanford (11-2) vs. Wisconsin (8-5)
Orange Bowl - Northern Illinois (12-1) vs. Florida State (11-2)
Fiesta Bowl - Kansas State (11-1) vs. Oregon (11-1)
10 pointer (duh - 10 max)
BCS National Championship - Notre Dame (12-0) vs. Alabama (12-1)
That's a potential of 75 points or minus-75 depending on which way you're heading.
Enjoy, and fire away with any questions. One entry per e-mail address.
This and that
- Wow, hats off to the Lady Mocs for winning at Alabama. Well-played indeed. And for those of you scoring at home, the Lady Mocs are 2-0 in the SEC and would be leading the conference by two full games.
- At the other end of the basketball spectrum, it's your UTC men Mocs. Wow. And the published attendance of roughly 2,300 in Saturday's loss against Eastern Kentucky was tickets sold/given out/what have you. By all accounts there were less than 1,000 in the Roundhouse. We'll discuss this more later in the week.
- Hey, want to know someone who had a basketball Saturday as bad as UTC's men? Check out this free throw from App State's Brian Okum http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9M1Ks08cLs. If that's Okum-style, we'll pass. In the words of the WCU radio guy, "I'm not sure what that was. Good Lord."
- Full circle: Allen Iverson is fighting foreclosure in the A-T-L. Dude made $150 million playing basketball - that's not counting endorsements... Wow.
- We're still looking for basketball storylines to follow. Any suggestions? We were going to keep an eye on Downtown Patrick Brown's Memphis Grizz, but any team that can't beat the Hawks is hardly worth our time.
It's a free-for-all Monday. Have at it.
If you need a starting point, we can go here - If you did not watch the "You don't know Bo" ESPN documentary, you need to make time the next time it airs.
Very well done. Excellent in fact.
The 30-for-30 series - the documentaries ESPN has produced in the last couple of years - have been routinely excellent. Great stuff.
And this one was no exception. What's your favorite 30-for-30? We'd put this one right up there with The U, the Marcus Dupree one and the Len Bias one. It was excellent. Amazingly, the worst one we can recall was the one about the Alabama-Auburn rivalry.
So it goes.