Jim Harbaugh. This is the clearest, most no-doubt weekend winner since we started doing this more than 11 years ago, right? With all the angst and animosity around Coach Khaki and his kids, a dominant at-home performance over THE Ohio State stayed the King Kong-sized monkey on Harbaugh's back. Plus, it put the Wolverines a win over Iowa away from the college football playoff.
Billy Napier. The Murray County product landed one of the college football coaching Orcas over the weekend when he was introduced as the next coach of the Florida Gators. He checks a lot of boxes. Saban disciple. Accomplished recruiter. Personable. Head coaching experience. Is it a good hire? Can I get back to you in three years, because this time a few years ago, we all thought Dan Mullen was a 'grand slam' hire, right?
USC. Don't need the time on this one. Lincoln Riley is a monster program landing the monster name going against other monster programs. Riley is 55-10 at a powerhouse and got to multiple playoffs and led transfer castoffs to Heismans - and No. 1 overall picks - and he did that in Norman, Okla. Now imagine what he could potentially do with the flood of five-stars that land in the Land of Troy. Yes, any hire can unravel - see Mullen, Dan - but even if this one does, it's an A+ hire that could put USC back to the level of dominance it saw in the Carroll era.
Ole Miss. Sure, there were a lot of teams that pounded their rivals on a Thanksgiving rivalry weekend that was equal parts roller coaster and rock concert. But Ole Miss handled Miss State in Starkville. And before the Monday papers hit the street, got the above great news that two of the monster players riding the coaching carousel had found their guys and neither was named Lane Kiffin. A 10-win regular season, a possible Sugar Bowl trip and keeping Kiffin would make Ole Miss very merry this Christmas.
New England Patriots. Anyone in the NFL playing better than Belichick's Boys right now? Yes, they got a chance to punch at Ryan Tannehill and a collection of second-string skill players that were filling Group of Five rosters the last three years. But Mac Jones is efficient. That offense is simple and stout. And Belichick's defense - which is coordinated by a young Belichick who looks a fair amount like the dude that helped Walter White peddle meth on "Breaking Bad" - is relentless again. Side note: While Belichick's draft acumen is questionable at best - especially on first-round dudes - his ability to find defensive backs and coach them to become stars is quite simply the best I've ever seen in regard to one coach and one position.
Dave Chappelle. The comedic genius has come under fire of late for comments about the transgender community during a Netflix special. It made a few of the papers. Well, Chappelle is turning the attempts from protesters to cancel his act and stop his alma mater naming the school's theater after him into an interesting fundraising challenge. Chappelle on social media said he plans on attending the naming of the theater in April unless his detractors donate more money to the Duke Ellington School of the Arts than his supporters donate.
Bonus pick: Those of us who love leftover turkey sandwiches on white bread with pepper and mayo. Great times. I've had more than one, but less than 100. Maybe.
Bonus pick, part II: Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson gave his customized Ford F-150 Raptor truck to a Navy vet. God bless us, everyone.
The Match. That was bad. The best part was easily the announcing of Phil and Chuck. (And Chuck talking about cheating and drinking and playing golf like everyday folks was classic Chuck). But even with that Mickelson talked through the players swings over a live mic that clearly slowed play. Brooks was more charismatic than I expected; Bryson was less. And a 12-hole event that turned into a nine-hole runaway with only one par 5? Yeah. It was bad, and I wanted it to be so much more. (Side note: That said, not since Manning left the football field has there been a clear, no-doubt future announcing superstar that the networks will open their checkbooks for like Mickelson. Depending on who gets to Mickelson first, Faldo or Azinger may be doing updates from the 16th green.)
Geoff Collins. Year 3 produced three wins. Again. Hey, Collins had the most in-depth overhaul in recent college football, going from the pieces left for Paul Johnson's triple option. But after three years, Collins and the Jackets ended this season with a 55-0 loss at Notre Dame and a 45-0 loss at home (with more UGA fans in Bobby Dodd than GT fans) to your rival that could have been 90-0 if Kirby had been so inclined. Collins fired his OC and a couple of defensive guys. Not a hotter seat in America come August than Collins' in my opinion.
The knowledge that the Philly fans have to recall that the powers that be running the 76ers and the Eagles bungled recent drafts as badly as anyone in recent memory. How bad? Well, Jalen Reagor, who dropped two potentially game-winning passes in a 13-7 loss to the Giants, was plucked by the Eagles one spot in front of Vikings All-Pro Justin Jefferson. And that may be only slightly worse than Markelle Fultz at 1 in a first round that included Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum, De'Aaron Fox, Donovan Mitchell, Bam Adebayo, John Collins, and others. (And that was a year after the 76ers took Ben Simmons 1 in a first round that included Jaylen brown, Jamal Murray, Buddy Hield, Domantas Sabonis and Pascal Siakam.)
Auburn. Close doesn't count, especially when Alabama tried to give the Iron Bowl away. Yes, Auburn fought, and the effort was unquestionably the Tigers' best. But that begs the question about where was this effort - and scheme - against Mississippi State and South Carolina? The highest praise I believe for a coaching staff is a team is better than its individual pieces. I think that truly applied to Josh Heupel and his staff this year and it is consistently true of Mark Stoops and his troops in Lexington. So conversely, quite possibly the biggest slight against a staff is, your team is worse than its parts. And I believe Auburn has several NFL starters on its roster and it has the same record as Missouri and South Carolina.
Texas A&M. Raise your hand if you had the Aggies and the Vols with the same SEC record heading into the bowl bid process? Yeah, me neither.
OK, half the SEC feels pretty good-to-skywriting "Great" above their town right about now.
The other half, well, not so much.
It also made me wonder over the weekend, who is the SEC coach of the year?
Consider the candidates.
Kirby Smart has fashioned a generational defense, and he deserves the credit for recruiting at a Sabam-Like level. Heck, he may be the front-runner for national coach of the year and may not win the SEC coach of the year. It just means more apparently.
Nick Saban lost six first-round picks and is right where he always is. On the cusp of the college football playoff.
Lane Kiffin took Ole Miss to a historic 10-win season and turned Matt Corral into a Heisman front-runner and projected top-five NFL pick.
Josh Heupel. Tennessee was preseason No. 5 in the East - one spot ahead of South Carolina's Shane Beamer, who also overachieved as much as anyone since Ric Ocasek married Paulina Porizkova - and managed to win 7 games and make Hendon Hooker into a hot commodity.
And if we're talking about doing the most considering the expectations, Sam Pittman won eight games in Fayetteville with an Arkansas team that won seven games in the previous three seasons combined.
This and that
- MLB free agency is worth a look right now, even if it is slower than normal because of the looming labor strife. That said, Max Scherzer reportedly going to the Mets should concern all Johnny and Joanie Braves Fans everywhere. If Jacob deGrom can stay healthy, Max Scherzer may be the best No. 2 starter in the history of the big leagues.
- My picks went 3-2, hitting Ole Miss (another one you had to wonder why the wrong side was favored), Georgia-Georgia Tech under 54 and Iowa, which won because Nebraska doesn't know how to win apparently. Losers were THE Ohio State and Alabama minus-20. So here's that, and while I did not hear back from Matt after Friday's mailbag
- There's still time - do you guys have a vote on whether the $100 wager on the picks getting North of .500 should continue to conference title games and/or bowl games. Discuss. And know that after the 3-2 week, we are now officially at 44-43 on the year.
- Sad to see David Cutcliffe leaving Duke. In a business filled with a majority of folks who are eager to find ways for you to help them, Cutcliffe was one of the nicest, most genuine folks I've ever encountered. And I know for the most part I was a relative nobody on the college media scene, but whenever Cutcliffe came to town to see a recruit, he always spoke and he always called me by name. Kindness goes a long way friends.
- UTC hoops stumbled over the weekend at home vs. College of Charleston. So the hopes of 10-0 heading to Belmont are no more.
- You know the rules. Here's Paschall's SEC weekend column.
- OK, I now get it. For most of my life, my non-soccer appreciative self has always wanted more penalty kicks in the beautiful game. I now understand after watching the Auburn-Alabama loss being decided on two-point tries why that is a disservice to the game and the effort put in prior to a hocus-pocus carnival-style ending. What a joke.
Weekend winners or losers. Or some of both. Go.
As for Multiple Choice Monday, we'll ask again: Who is your SEC coach of the year?
As for today, Nov. 29, let's review.
- Pong was released on this day in 1972, and kids' lives were forever changed, whether they knew it or not.
- Chadwick Boseman would have been 45 today.
Rushmore of Chad. Go.