5-at-10: QB culture in NFL power poll, Auburn's next coach, UT-UGA take center stage

FILE - Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin is shown during the Tigers' loss to LSU in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Auburn, Ala. Harsin was selected hottest seat in the Associated Press SEC Midseason Awards, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

NFL power poll

So, are we ready to discuss the QB needs across the country’s most popular sport?

Are teams prepared to Stink for Stroud, Yuck for Young or even Hang ‘em up for Hendon yet?

Here’s the crazy thing? Why?

First, all three of those dudes — THE CJ Stroud of THE Ohio State, Bryce Young at Bama and UT’s Hendon Hooker — are very good QBs. They likely will get a shot to start for one of those high-dollar franchises that play most of their games after the Sunday service and make all of us wonder, “Is it too early to crack open a CoCola if I am still in church clothes?”

Across the league — and maybe for the first time in my adult life — star power behind center is impossible to trust. (Side note: I’ve always prefered “behind center” over “under center” since really only a QB’s hands are under center and with at least 2/3s of offenses everywhere going shotgun, are we still under center at all? Side question on the side note: I understand the move to shotgun, especially in the era of athletic QBs, but why in the name of Red Grange and everything that is holy are we lined-up in shotgun on third-and-inches from the 2? Drives me batty. Get up there — dare I say, “under center” — and go to work. Discuss.)

Brady and Rogers stink and have lost more in October than that person you always see at the Mapco trying to wait and stretch their scratch-off dollar until the top of the hour.

Stafford looks washed, and Matty Ice has melted. That’s almost assuredly four Hall of Fame QBs and if the season ended today, none are in the dance. 

And it’s not just the aged either.

Trevor Lawrence was the best prospect not named Andrew Luck since Peyton Manning’s draft class. And we can’t blame Trevor Lawrence’s stinkiness on Urban Liar anymore. (Side question: If Auburn hires Urban Liar, which school should I switch my allegiances to? Wait, this may be a whole topic in a moment. Pause. Rewind. Where were we? Side question on the side question: Saying pause made me think of this: How cool were mix tapes back in the day? Yes, Chas and Spy and those folks could not make mix-45s. Vader and Intern Scott and some of the young pups are rolling their eyes at me right now. But BD and JTC and Jules, mix tapes were boss, right? Who’s with me?)

Where were we? Yes, QBs. 

And with the uncertain prospects about good-to-great college passers transitioning to Sundays, it offers a change in the narrative.

Yes, you need good QB play to win consistently. Especially when football moves to the -ry months.

But uncertain or even bad QB play is not the worst scenario in the game anymore.

Paying the going rate — be it draft capital or salary cap space — for an NFL starting QB who stinks is the worst thing in the game.

Ask Denver, Indy or even New Orleans, which shipped this year’s first-rounder to Philly, which is atop the power poll and holds a Saints’ first-rounder that could be a top-10 pick that could be a Jalen Carter for Pete Rozelle’s sake.

Speaking of Philly, let’s make like any excitable young person working at Ipsos and get to the poll.


1 Philly (7-0). We mentioned the draft day deal that allowed the Eagles to secure a Saints pick that could be top-10 next spring. Stil, that’s not the best offseason move the Eagles made considering they dealt two picks — a 1 and a 3 — to the Titans for AJ Brown. What has Brown done for them? Uh, he’s sixth in the league in receiving yards with 659 and tied for fourth with five receiving TDs. Brown has 39 catches for 659 and those five scores. The Titans top three WRs — Robert Woods, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Treylon Burks, who was picked with the first-rounder the Eagles sent to Nashville — have a combined 39 catchesfor 523 yards and one score. Edge Eagles. (And yes, they could make that deal and sign AJ Brown to a four-year, $100 million deal because Jalen Hurts is on a rookie deal and Ryan Tannehill signed a nine-figure extension with the Titans.)

2 Buffalo (6-1). Josh Allen — and Patty Mahomes — are not applicable to any and all of the above QB claptrap. Two quick points: Those two dudes are going to be the Manning-Brady of this generation and I’m 100% here for it. Second, claptrap is underused and underappreciated. Discuss.

3 Kansas City (5-2). Read the above.

4 Minnesota (6-1). Man, Mike Zimmer must be looking at the Vikings rolling and thinking, “Hmmmmm, wonder what the difference is this year?” Who knows, Mike. Who knows.

5 Dallas (6-2). So, we have dissected the Brady or Belichick question, and which all-timer deserves more credit for the Pats dynasty on more than one occasion. Are we ready to revisit the Mike McCarthy or Aaron Rodgers and who deserves the most blame that the most gifted passer I’ve ever seen has only one Super Bowl ring? Because McCarthy and the Cowboys are humming along and Man Bun is potentially on his swan song in Cheeselandia.


28 Pittsburgh (2-6). It’s quite the testament to the extended quality of that franchise that despite the clarity of the numbers — the record is clear and the Steelers’ minus-77 scoring differential is by far the worst in the league — it still feels strange putting the Steelers in the bottom five, you know?

29 Carolina (2-6). An inexplicable loss to the Falcons all things considered. Two things: If the Panthers make an extra point with 12 seconds left, every team in the NFC South would be tied for first and tied for last at 3-5. Think about that. Second, which South division is worse, the AFC or the NFC? Discuss.

30 Jacksonville (2-6). Pull up a chair, kids. There was a time, way, way, WAY back in the early days of NFL expansion when the Jags and the Panthers had savvy veteran QB play and rode with Mark Brunell and Jake Delhomme to great heights in the -ry months. Yes, it feels like a fair tale these days, but on Paul Bunyan’s blue ox I swear it to be true.

31 Detroit (1-6). I like Dan Campbell. I hope Dan Campbell can find a gig to stay in the football limelight. It likely will not be as a head coach however.

32 Houston (1-5-1). When you get manhandled by the same play for four consecutive games over a two-year stretch — even with a player as talented as Derrick Henry — that’s shameful. Especially when the Titans started rookie Malik Willis at QB. How much does Henry enjoy playing against the dreadfully bad run defense of the Texans? In his last four games against the Texans, Henry has 892 rushing yards and nine rushing TDs. Even Mattress Mack won’t bet on Houston against Henry.  

Bye bye Bryan

OK, so the Power Poll got lengthy. It happens.

So let’s move quickly.

Auburn fired Bryan Harsin in a move that surprised absolutely no one, Harsin included if he’s being completely honest about it.

The Tigers are bad. On all sides. They are poorly prepared the next good in-game adjustment will be their first, and the worst critique I can ever offer a coaching staff applies:

Auburn’s players are better than the sum of the team’s parts. And that’s the most succinct definition of poor coaching that I can think of.

So, let’s not waste too much time on the failed Harsin experiment on The Plains, considering he likely would have been fired before now if Auburn was not looking for an AD, and turn the page.

Who do I want to coach my alma mater? Glad you asked.

Job No. 1 for John Cohen, the new Auburn AD who was hired away from Mississippi State: Make Lane Kiffin say no. Multiple times. Make him a $10 million a year offer. 

And if you think money is an issue, well, here’s the most important lesson I can offer in terms of power programs in the Power Five these days. Granted, it’s not my money, but the only thing I am sure of in the finances of the power football programs — and Auburn is one of those even if they have not looked like it over the last few seasons — is they can afford to pay the Bryan Harsins of the world $20 million to go away. What those power football programs — and the towns that are built around those eight Saturday home games in the fall — cannot afford is to be mediocre in football and alienate a fan base to the point of apathy.

So make KIffin say no.

Then, tell Deion Sanders he’s got a $10 million budget for assistants and a $20 million slush fund (i.e. NIL recruiting budget) and get out of Coach Prime’s way.

(Side note: I’m not sure what I can do to get back on Deion’s good social media graces, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there since Prime Time has blocked me on Twitter. David Carroll has, too.)

As for the whispers of Urban Liar, oh please no. Please, please no. 

Do I think he can win? Of course, he’s done it everywhere he’s ever been.

Do I think he would win? Yes, I do (Side question: Could you imagine what guys like Urban or Pat Dye or Jerry Tarkanian or John Calipari could do with NIL and legalized paying of players? It would be unreal. Oh, wait.)

But I’m no longer interested in the questions if someone at my alma mater thinks Urban Meyer is the answer to be honest.

So after KIffin and Sanders, I don’t know. I think Justin Wilcox is a great football mind at Cal, but it’s going to take a dynamic personality to resurrect Auburn. 

That or a JC quarterback and $180,000. (Side question: If the Nico kid from Cali really got $8 million in NIL from UT, has there ever been a better sports investment than the $180,000 reportedly Cam Newton wanted? Discuss.)

Biggest game since

So, someone asked me this at basketball practice:

This Georgia-UT game is the biggest SEC game since when?

It’s a fair question, and one better suited for an SEC almanac like my cohort David Paschall in terms of 1-2 match-ups like the Dogs and Vols are headed into Saturday.

But I think the caveat for a better conversation needs a pretty important clause: This is the biggest SEC game — not involving Alabama — since when?

Which is fair, and a testament to the importance of almost every Saturday for the Tide in the last decade since it has always carried some form of national championship implication.

So my default answer is back to the days when the SEC hinged on the Tennessee-Florida showdown and Spurrier was lighting up the world.


This and that

— So those of you who have signed up for the Plays of the Day, our afternoon gambling newsletter, here’s hoping you followed our Monday Night Football picks. While the over 5 on Tee Higgins catches missed, we did get over 11 on Jacoby Brissett rushing yards — barely — to even that ledger. We also cashed on Nick Chubb scoring the first TD of the game at plus-600. And we decided on Chubb in large part because of the breaking news story Bearddawg shared that apparently Derrick Henry wears Nick Chubb jammies. Still time to sign up if you go here, and it’s free. 

— So those of you who warned me off the over in the UT-UK game, history favors your thoughts. According to my buddy Brian Edwards, here are the best under teams in college football this year: Miami of Ohio (the under is 8-1 in their games), Colorado St. (7-1), Marshall (7-1), Mizzou (7-1), Washington St. (7-1) and Kentucky (7-1).           

— You know the rules. Here’s Paschall with the first of many angles on the UT-UGA clash this weekend. 

— Game 3 of the World Series was rained out Monday. Man, what happened to get baseball to the crazy place that a majority of the World Series will be played in November?

Today’s questions

True or false, it’s Tuesday. Morning, Ern.

True or false, Auburn will find a way to botch this football coaching hire.

True or false, for the first time in the modern NFL, a stud WR is every bit as important as a stud QB.

True or false, you knew Game 3 of the World Series was rained out.

True or false, both Georgia and Tennessee make the college football playoff field.

True or false, you have signed up for Plays of the Day.

As for today, Nov. 1, let’s review. Before that, man, where did October go?

So “Titanic” premiered 25 years ago today. True or false, it’s the most overrated movie ever. Discuss.

On this day in 1950, two Boston Celtics made their debut. One was Bob Cousy. The other was Chuck Cooper, who was the first Black man to play in the NBA.

Fernando Valenzula is 62 today. Yes, it made me feel old too.

Rushmore of most memorable rookie seasons for an MLB pitcher, because Fernando-mania was amazing.

Go, and enjoy the day.