5-at-10: Recruiting stars in '23, NASCAR nixes "Let's Go Brandon" and ESPN storylines

NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Brandon Brown (68) during a NASCAR Xfinity Series auto race on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Familiar names

So the recruiting cycle for the class of 2023 will be quite interesting.

The top football player, as you may have heard, is some QB named Manning. And the recruiting path for Arch Manning, Cooper's son and Eli and Peyton's nephew, will be much ballyhooed for sure.

Not to be outdone, one of the top basketball recruits in the same cycle is some perimeter player named James. And the pitches and courting of Bronny James, LeBron's oldest son, will be just as big a spectacle.

Here's a MaxPreps story from earlier this week that says while Bronny James has been quite mum about his college plans, the top four are Texas, THE Ohio State, Duke and Tennessee. Hmmmmmm.

And how nuts would it be if they both ended up at the same college?

Tales from the hood

The whole "Let's Go Brandon" thing is kind of surreal, right?

Brandon Brown is a NASCAR driver who won at Talladega last October at the height of chants at sporting events of "(Bleep) Joe Biden." In Victory Lane, Brown was being interviewed by an NBC reporter and the offensive chant about the president was audible to everyone but the reporter, who said the fans were chanting "Let's Go Brandon."

So of course, the "Let's Go Brandon" chant has become code and an inside joke as a replacement for the other one.

Well, an upstart, PR-savvy cryptocurrency company called LGBCoin - yes, it's for Let's Go Brandon - wanted to sponsor Brown's car for the upcoming Xfinity Series and wanted to put "Let's Go Brandon" on his hood. NASCAR kiboshed the idea.


NASCAR has a long history of being able to control which companies can partner with their drivers. That's why tobacco products, for example, are no more. (Side note: The old Skoal Bandit car was legit friends. LEE-git.)

And it's their track and their rules and they can take their gas can and go home.

But does that make it right? Because if Black Lives Matter wanted to sponsor Jimmy Spencer - now that would be a match made in reality TV Hades - would they say no to that?

Plus, it's not like they are putting "Let's Go Brandon" on Kyle Busch's car. It would actually be on Brandon's car, so of course we all know what they are trying to do, but they also are supporting their driver too.

In the end, Brandon Brown did nothing wrong, and now he's having to work to find a sponsor. Again.

Dateline, Bristol

Whole lot of ESPN news today.

First, the ratings have landed for the College Football Playoff games on Friday, and yes, the mailbag query from last week proved clairvoyant.

Playing the semifinals on New Year's Eve - and a couple of drama-less SEC blowouts - led to deep dips in the numbers. A smidge more than 16.6 million watched Alabama push Cincinnati around, and 17.2 million watched Georgia punish Michigan. Last year, Bama-Notre Dame drew 18.9 million viewers and 19.1 million watched Ohio State-Clemson. It was the smallest audience for the semifinals since a 2015 semifinal between Clemson and Oklahoma that also kicked off at 4 p.m. on - wait for it - New Year's Eve.

Second, Geno Auriemma, the state of Connecticut's most famous non-Bristol-based name, was in the news again.

Earlier this year it was Candace Parker vs. Auriemma. Now it's former Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw vs. Geno, and neither side is pulling its punches in a debate about whether ESPN is biased toward UConn (Muffet's point) or whether UConn's success generates and deserves the coverage (Geno's counter). My answer: Both can be true. Especially considering UConn's locale, success and the number of former Huskies stars working behind the desks in Bristol.

Third, Mina Kimes pulled a Lucy Van Pelt and got the last laugh on ol' Charles Brown.

To be clear, I like Mina Kimes, an ESPN analyst who has found her niche on the network's coverage of the league. She is smart, understands analytics and brings non-traditional views to topics that I can appreciate. She predictably and not-surprisingly gets untold amounts of blowback from pigheaded, old-school football folks who still want Lisa Olson out of the locker room.

She shared one of those hollow and sexist emails on her social media and included the emailer's name, which was Charles Brown, which generated a slew of Charlie Brown gifs and memes in response.

Finally, it appears ESPN and Rachel Nichols have reached a settlement in their parting of ways after the year-old tape of Nichols' comments about Maria Taylor surfaced last summer. Here's more.

This and that

- You know the rules, when TFP college football sage David Paschall writes about college football - which is a lot from SEC media days until Groundhog Day or so - we read and link Paschall's prose about college football. Today he writes about Georgia super freshman Brock Bowers, who is a total difference maker. Bowers falls into that Jadeveon Clowney category that if he could declare for the draft he would be a first-rounder as a freshman.

- So our college bowl picks continue to be very Jerry Seinfeld, Mr. 50-50 as we head to the finish. K-State covered quite easily after building a quick 21-0 lead, which made the Wildcats' first half line of minus-5.5 an easy cover. But the fourth-quarter fireworks blew the total well north of 48 in K-State's 45-20 win over half of LSU. Seriously, been a while since we've seen a roster that depleted, with a fifth-year WR playing QB. Talk about LS-Who, even Tigers diehards like Vader needed programs to ID the players.

- As we discussed some on Tuesday, here's a report claiming that Derrick Henry will return to Titans practice today. Buckle up AFC, because if the DH delivery truck lines up in the blue-on-blue-on-blue that is the Titans uni, well, cue Clubber Lang's prediction in "Rocky III" - "Pain."

- Reports have Terrell Owens saying he wants to play for the Bucs, who are looking for WR help after recent injuries and the Antonio Brown thing.

- So Coach K got crotchety with an opposing player? Color me shocked. Shocked, I say. And get off his porch too, you no good trouble-maker. You'll probably wind up in the hoosegow.

Today's questions

Which way Wednesday starts this way: Which famous recruit will be the better player, Arch Manning or Bronny James?

Which way would you go if you were the Browns GM - sign Baker Mayfield long term or let him walk after next year?

Which was your reaction when you first saw the Titans uniform - they blue you away, the Titans blue it, or they just made you blue?

Which is more doctored, Coach K's image or his hair color?

As for today, Jan. 5, let's review.

On this day in 1920, the Yankees purchased some dude named Ruth from Boston. Yeah, that worked out well for one side of that transaction.

Diane Keaton is 76 today.

Robert Duvall is 90 today. Moment of silence.

Can he fill three Rushmores? Go.