5-at-10: Weekend winners (Coach Khaki) and losers (OBJ) and should the CFP field be set

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh argues with a game official during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Ohio State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Weekend winners

Jim Harbaugh. OK, rightly or wrongly, Coach Khaki was 100% on the hot seat heading into THE Game with THE Ohio State last year. Yes, Coach Khaki is good at his gig. But, while I don’t believe any fan when they say, “If we go 1-11 as long as that 1 is against X that’s OK” because no fan is ever OK with 1-11, there are certain jobs that 11-1 is not long-term viable if that one is to rival X every year. Well, last year Harbaugh exorcised THE demons in the Big House. This year, he grabbed control of THE Big Ten with a pantsing of THE Buckeyes in THE Horseshoe. And the whole nation watched, as it was the most-watched college football game of the season and one the most-watched of the last decade. Also, the win gave Michigan the division title (worth $500,000 to Harbaugh) and made them a multiple-TD pick to win the Big Ten conference title game (which would be worth another $1 million in bonuses for Coach Khaki). Yeah, those NIL deals are outlandish, right?   

Hiring plans for GT and Wisconsin. Both schools grabbed likable coaches who appear to be very good at their job. Both schools did it on the down low with little to no hullabaloo from boosters or backers. Georgia Tech got Willie Fritz, who will get Coach of the Year chatter for his work at Tulane this fall. Fritz has experience recruiting in Georgia, and moreover, has an offense that can work and work well without five-star dudes, which has to be appealing to the academic admissions office on The Flats. Wisconsin got Luke Fickell, the Cincinnati coach, and here’s the best praise I can offer that: I wish Auburn had landed Luke Fickell. 

U.S. soccer. Hey, I admit, I know next to nothing about it, but those folks I know who do know a little about kickball told me over the weekend that tying England was a big deal. Moreover, seeing how upset the England fans were with the outcome also screamed volumes about how big an upset the 0-0 result was. OK, side tangent. Saying that 0-0 is an upset just feels wrong. To that end, Alejandro — a show regular around these parts — was at the 5-at-10 compound during the holiday. One of his buddies shared a voice mail from said buddy’s grandmother who said she watched the U.S.-England match and wondered since they tied, “Are they going to play again?” Because, as she reasoned, how can you have a tournament and people are tying. She has a point.

Tyner football. The Ram Train is headed to the state championship game, and considering what that program has gone through with all the coaching turmoil, kudos to the wherewithal of that crew. Later this week when the BlueCross Bowl hits Finley, we’re all aboard the Ram Train, right folks?

Longtime friend of the show Russ Huesman, who led the Richmond Spiders to an impressive 41-0 win in the first round of the FCS playoffs over the weekend. War Spiders.

Our Plays of the Day. Hey, you ride the rails of the picking roller coaster. Some days are good, and you get to tell the Mrs. to go ahead and do some extra holiday shopping. Some days are wretched, and you don’t want to look at the caller ID and see "Rocco, personal financing." Well, last week was smoking. In a great way. We started 6-0. We hit a Thanksgiving hiccup that included the dreadfully bad beat in the Dallas game and the Lions-Bills total. That’s 6-2. We missed Arkansas (lost outright as a 2-point favorite against Missouri), the Egg Bowl and LSU (let’s skip that one) coming home. That’s 6-5, which is enough to avoid a call from Rocco and better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. But now, counting the Vikings (minus-3 over New England), Florida (plus-7.5 against FSU), over 46 in Green Bay-Philly, UK minus-2.5 over Louisville, well, that’s 10-5 for the week (and that’s not even counting the suggestions of Auburn and Tech plus the points) and even Vader, in his post College Station malaise knows that’s stout. We’re 17-8 in our best bet of the day and plus-5.8 units to date. That’ll do, pig. That’ll do. (If you are still not signed up for the "Plays of the Day" email at 5 p.m. every weekday, go here to get on the list. Pssst, it’s like the beer at the Delta House — It don’t cost nuthin’ friends.)  

Weekend losers

Odell Beckham Jr. OK, OBJ is an all-timer physically. One of the best to ever do it. On Sunday afternoons. But the questions have always been about his presence in the locker room and within the organization. And as he’s looking to find a team for which to play — and those teams are asking themselves if his physical skills are worth the potential clubhouse drama — getting kicked off an airplane for being hammered and refusing to buckle a seatbelt is downright stupid.

Denver Broncos. Ouch-standing, this may be the worst long-term scenario in an NFL that includes a) the Houston Texans and b) Daniel Snyder (at least currently). Denver is in year one of new coach Nathanial “I can’t” Hackett and he may not make it through year one. Denver also is in year one of the Russell Wilson Experience. After dealing sizable amounts of draft capital to Seattle for Wilson — who signed a five-year, $230 million deal with Denver earlier this year — the Broncos stink. The Broncos defense — one of the best in the league — has been hitting every QB they see, and Sunday, they were really close to hitting Wilson, who was Commander Checkdown, going 19-for-35 for 142 yards in a 23-10 loss to the lowly Panthers. 

Auburn. No this has nothing to do with the Iron Bowl. That was expected. Heck, maybe Auburn turning the coaching search into a profile of tail-wagging-the-dog mismanagement should be expected, too. So, the Tigers were close on Lane Kiffin before Kiffin turned AU’s into an obscene raise to $9 million per. Then the sites were flipped to Hugh Freeze, who like Kiffin has limped to the finish line amid all these distractions, and that appeared all but done. But now there is chatter about buyouts and potential preemptive buyer’s remorse about the skeletons in Freeze’s closet that have muddied the waters. Of course this is going to be a debacle and we’re going to be left with Cadillac Williams. 

Zach Wilson. The former No. 2 overall pick was benched by the Jets. His back up, Mike White, looked more like Danny White by comparison and dropped the mic. (See what I did there, Spy? Side note: Tried to play off the first name in the QB comp, but I’m not sure if have you noticed, but there are surprisingly few accomplished QBs named Mike. Mike Glennon? Mike Tomczak? Discuss.) Well Mike White was 22-28 for more than three bills and three TDs as the Jets moved to 7-4. Yes, the Jets are 7-4.   

College football’s conundrum

I have long said that playoff expansion in college football will hurt the regular season. I believe that.

But the way the field has culled itself and the way the season has played out, the question to me is now whether the conference title game should matter in terms of the playoff.

Asked another way, should the playoff field be set? 

Georgia, Michigan, TCU and USC should be the top-four come Tuesday, and that would be my order.

Those are the top-four — three unbeaten power conference teams and the Pac-12 front-runner that is 11-1 with a one-point loss at Utah — and I have a hard time see anyone cracking that list.

And I think there is a real chance that any of those unbeaten top three will get into the playoff even with a conference championship loss, which would gut the overall merits of said title games.

Buckets, what would the committee be forced to do if the apple cart gets unhinged and Georgia loses to LSU, Michigan loses to Purdue and TCU loses to K-State? Tigers, Boilers and Cats, oh my.

But the bigger conversation that hit me is should USC playing a 13th game count against its playoff case since? If the Trojans lose, they will be 11-2 and judged on its merits against an 11-1 THE Ohio State and a 10-2 Alabama, but that second lose was because of the success USC had by earning a spot in its conference title game.

Should that 13th game — something THE Ohio State nor Alabama earned — count against Lincoln Riley’s crew?  

And, while we all know my stance on expansion in terms of the college football playoff, a six-team draw would likely include THE Ohio State and Alabama as five and six, and that would be glorious for TV numbers. 

But six would assuredly not be without controversy since, Tennessee, which beat Alabama head-to-head and has the same 10-2 mark, would be a salty seven on the outside looking in.

As for 12, well, if the top seven above would be in — provided there was no craziness in the conference title games — and you add in the ACC winner to get eight and whomever the top-ranked Group of Five is, that gets you to nine. 

Which begs the next question about the expansion: “Are there three other teams worthy of inclusion?” 

This and that

— Be very aware, gang. If you have not picked up your Christmas tree, gerd up your sticker-shock loins. In the latest avenue of the hard-hitting impacts of the dreadfully real and non-academia state of super-inflation that has gripped our economy, prices for trees are through the roof. Went to the same place we have gone to for years. Got the same size, style tree we have for years. Paid almost 50% more for it this year compared to last year. 

— Speaking of inflation, if you are not aware of "shrinkflation" — the process of manufacturers using smaller packages and charging the same (or even more) for less product — this fellow is determined to shine a light on the issue. And apparently the leading area of "shrinkflation" is toilet paper. Man, this economy is going to wipe out all my savings.  

— Prayers and condolences to the Bryan College volleyball community as one of their freshman players and her father were killed in a car wreck over the holidays. The accident happened in her hometown in Cherokee County, Georgia, outside of the A-T-L. Hug the folks you love, friends. Life is precious. 

— You know the rules. Here’s Paschall on UT’s slappin’ of Vandy over the weekend.

— So, I’m sure there was an SEC basketball team that lost to someone it was not supposed to over the weekend, and I’m sure Doug will point it out. But man, looks like all the familiar names are taking pre-conference punches at some point or the other, and Duke got smoked Sunday.

Today’s questions

Weekend winners and losers. Go.

As for Multiple Choice Monday, we’re going to offer two.

What drew most of your sports-fan attention over the holiday weekend?

— College football (duh);

— NFL football (double duh);

— The other futbol (no way);

— Other (please specify).

The other is a little more personal. What will happen with the Auburn coaching search today?

— Hugh Freeze come on down;

— Urban Meyer picks up steam;

— Cadillac gets the call;

— Other (please specify).

As for today, Nov. 28, let’s review.

The Grand Ole Opry was first broadcast on the radio on this day in 1925.

Rushmore of "grand" and be creative.