5-at-10: Trying to understand CFP rankings, Grades for coach hires, Tiger vs. Phil

FILE - Tiger Woods, of the United States, stands on the 11th hole during the first round of the British Open golf championship on the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland, on July 14, 2022. Woods was out before he was officially back, withdrawing Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, from his Hero World Challenge with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)

Stankin’ ranking

Wow, lots to get to this a.m. Like Dan Fouts tried to tell Musberger at the Bourbon Bowl, “Can’t hold anything back now.”

So the college football playoff committee released its playoff rankings headed into the conference championship week.

As we discussed earlier this week, there is a fair argument that even with losses TCU and USC have strong cases to be included in the playoff since a) none of the other teams outside of the top worth considering even made their conference title game and b) the discussion of if qualifying for a 13th game work against a team.

That said, the rankings came out anyway and they are at best puzzling and at worst a conspiracy theory that demands a 30-for-30 that would never be made because ESPN is in cahoots with the most apparent reason — TV appeal.

So, Alabama ahead of Tennessee is akin to a casting director picking Kathy Bates over Kathy Ireland for the role of the hero’s prom date in a late 1980s teen rom-com. Sure, maybe Molly Ringwald is the dorky girl who becomes a knockout by simply taking off her glasses and changing her wardrobe, but no high school hunk is picking Ringwald over Ireland. Period.

And no casting director is choosing the former Kathy over the latter. Want to know why?

Head-to-head. Period. End of discussion. 

(Side note: The committee made a huge mistake by not playing up the Hendon Hooker injury angle in the conversation last night. Granted, I still think Tennessee should be 6 and Bama 7 (at best) but there is precedent — Kenyon Martin comes to mind — of a team losing its best player and its postseason ranking being affected.)

The rest of the hullabaloo is semantical discourse that has been bandied about more than a little across these here interwebs. 

But what about the conspiracy angle you mentioned Jay? Glad you asked.

We’ll start with the internal conspiracy theory from the committee.

Picture all the muckety-mucks on the committee sitting around a table, lighting Cuban cigars with $50 bills (last year it was hundos, but Biden’s economy is hitting all of us) and mumbling cuss words about the greed and dishonesty of the players wanting that dang NIL.

Fat Cat 1: “Hey, this will be easier when we have the playoff expanded right?”

Fat Cat 2: “Yeah, a little. But are we worried about the regular season being devalued by taking the meaning out of games like THE Ohio State and Michigan?”

Fat Cat 3: “Who cares about the game? Pass the Beluga please. And the CheezWhiz.”

Fat Cat 1: “Maybe a little. Because THE game would be meaningless with an expanded playoff because they are both in. Same with all these conference championship games. Same with USC-Notre Dame. Same with…”

Fat Cat 3: “WE get it dude. BEEEEE-LUGA, stat!”

Fat Cat 2: “Hey, what about this? What about we start to slyly devalue the regular season now so then it will not be as big a shock when we expand. Thoughts.”

Fat Cat 3: “I think somebody best start passing the Beluga now before I go off like a Baptist woman who can’t hear the Bingo calls at the summer revival.”

Fat Cat 1, as he reaches for the caviar: “Tell me more.”

Fat Cat 2: “So, let’s completely ignore head-to-head. That guts the meaning of the regular season right?”

All the fat cats save No. 3: “Yes.”

Fat Cat 2: “We put Alabama over Tennessee, which is stupid, nonsensical and everything that is not sports in a sports-related ranking and the message is clear.”

Fat Cat 3: “That we need more Beluga.”

Fat Cat 2: “No, say it with me. The regular season is not as important as what we say, want and do.”

Fat Cat 1: “Do you think we can pull that off?”

Fat Cat 2: “Of course (as he looks over the the ESPN producer who is ‘not’ in the room as said producer nods with a monster, Cheshire cat grin). Ask him. Plus, here’s betting our “partners” with four letters who shall not be named would love for us to have a preemptive plan in place that if either TCU or USC lose — and God help us, both fall — we have the most TV-friendly and stacked playoff ever.”

ESPN producer (allegedly) says nothing but slowly puts his right index finger on his right nostril. Taps twice and walks out.

Fat Cat 1, wistfully: “If TCU and USC lose and we rank THE Ohio State and Alabama 5 and 6, we could have a top-four of Georgia, Michigan, THE Ohio State and Alabama. Do you know what that means?”

Fat Cat 3: “More Beluga?”

Fat Cat 2: “Bingo.”

Coaching moves

OK, I got a little wordy with my imaginary dialog there so let’s try to move quickly.

Now that Tech has officially out-Auburned Auburn in a coaching search, let’s grade what we know to this point in the coaching carousel. Deal? Deal. 

To backtrack, Willie Fritz elected to stay at Tulane. Here’s the chronology of the Tech hiring process I have heard from someone dialed into the discussion.

Again, this is what I have heard. Tech offers Coastal Carolina coach Jamey Chadwell the job. Chadwell wants to bring a lion’s share of his CCU staff, and Tech is less sure about that so Chadwell stays.

Tech and Fritz reach agreeable terms but Fritz wants to coach the bowl game with his Tulane Waves, who are now Green with envy apparently. Tech boosters, realizing that Auburn backers have not meddled enough in the hiring process and there’s a real opportunity to stir the pot, cry foul for Fritz.

The alumni conversation turns to how great a job Brent Key did and that he’s an alum and that he loves the school and that this is his dream job. Side note: The ‘dream job’ stuff is poppycock. I am an Auburn alum, and being the AD at Auburn would be my dream job and a pray they never hire some yahoo like me. Of course it’s his dream job. It’s lifetime wealth coaching football where you played.

I tend to the believe the above scenario, because if we’re being honest here, if Key was their guy from the get go, the hire would have been announced Sunday by the time church let out, no?

As for the hiring report card, let’s move quickly:

> Wisconsin hires Luke Fickell: A-plus right? I mean Fickell has been the top name on most coaching carousels for 24 months now, and the Badgers grabbed him with little fanfare. Exceedingly well done in terms of process and result. As Dean Wormer might say, “Congratulations, Kroger, you're at the top of the Delta pledge class.”  

> Nebraska hires Matt Rhule: B-plus. Considering the state of the Cornhuskers program — including the very real fact that they just axed a favorite son (who had his dream job no less) — Rhule was better than I expected. Plus, his success in college is undeniable, so maybe NU is ready to find its way back to relevancy. 

> Tech hires Key. B-minus. Key finishing the year at 4-4 with that roster and those injuries at QB is admirable for sure. And stated a strong case. Could he be Dabo Swinney, who turned a strong run as an interim into his chance at Clemson? Yeah, maybe. Could he be Ray Goff? Yeah, that’s possible too. Plus, the Tech names — including quarterback Jeff Sims — hopping in the transfer portal yesterday after news is not a ringing endorsement.

> Colorado offers Deion. If the Buffs land Prime Time, home run. Home bleepin’ run. If not, well does it matter?

> Auburn hires Hugh Freeze. So, reusing a Dean Wormer line when he addresses the Dela crew in “Animal House” let’s cut to what the Dean told Daniel Simpson Day, all courses incomplete. Freeze could be a grand slam, especially with Cadillac on board. But would it truly shock  any of us if there’s a Mike Price-kind of situation lurking out there and Freeze never coaches Game 1?

If that’s the case, call Deion. Or give it Cadillac. It’s his dream job after all.

Fore-shadowing

So, the greatest golf rivalry of my lifetime never really developed on the course.

Tiger vs. Phil could have been — should have been if you ask me — better than Jack vs. Arnold.

It never was because a) Phil underachieved and b) Tiger got sidetrack by ailments and the opposite sex.

Well, now, in the mire that is the PGA-LIV fight, maybe the duel has hit the fevered pitch we all wanted a decade or more ago.

Tiger says that if there’s ever going to be peace between the LIV and the PGA, Greg Norman can’t be part of the equation. And for a global superstar like Tiger who has made a career of talking for hours without saying anything, the verbage was clear and direct.

“I think (Greg Norman) has to go, first of all,” Woods said Tuesday, “and then obviously the litigation against us and then our countersuit against them. Those would then have to be at a stay as well, then we can talk, we can all talk freely.”

Tiger was hit with a follow-up question that must be asked and honestly answered by Woods and a lot of the PGA players who have openly and bluntly criticized the LIV but have to be giddy at the jacked up prize money that is coming in as a result.

The reporter asked Tiger: “Part of those changes you talked about, there’s a lot more money coming in at tournaments from the Tour that weren’t available before LIV came around. A guy like Mickelson, for example, obviously is the face of that, and he took a lot of criticism and he’s taken most of the bullets for that and he was criticized heavily by players on Tour for it who now will be making a lot more money at tournaments because of him shaking that tree. Do you feel like to some degree they owe an apology … ”

Woods said, “No, absolutely not, no,” in terms of LIV and the increased purses for the PGA. Woods claimed that the money was jacked up because the Tour made business decisions and took out loans during the pandemic that made the increases possible.

Woods’ angst toward Phil is fine. Whatever. If he thinks the PGA jacked up the paydays has nothing to do with the LIV, then the only two things he did at Stanford was chase a little white ball during the day and coeds at night. 

Mickelson wasted no time in his response, taking to Twitter for just the ninth time since his ‘Scary mother(bleepers)” interview in February. 

Gentlemen, may we suggest lob wedges from 50 yards?

This and that

— U.S.A! U.S.A! And those that get the afternoon Plays of the Day email (sign up here if you do not receive it) already know this, but the U.S. World Cup win over Iran was a kick to the shin guards for Vegas bookmakers. According to ESPN’s David Purdum, the betting handle before the U.S. 1-0 win was 93% on the Americans. Wow.

— Speaking of the Plays of the Day, our picks went 1-1 with our first loss on our best bet in more than a week. Thanks for nuttin’ Kentucky, which was awful in the first half of a 60-41 win over Bellarmine as a 25-point favorite. We hit on Luka over 32 points last night against Golden State.

— Speaking of the coach hiring carousel, news hit last night that Trent Dilfer is on the verge of becoming the UAB coach. Dilfer, you may recall, is the uber-successful Lipscomb Academy coach who is bringing his top-ranked and 12-0 crew to Finley to play for a state title on Thursday. Know this, considering the Lipscomb roster reportedly has kids from more than half a dozen states, it’s clear Dilfer can recruit at an elite level. 

— Speaking of the college football rankings, here’s Paschall’s story on the proceedings last night. You know the rules people.

— You know the rules, part II. Here's Hargis getting everyone ready for the BlueCross Bowl with an excellent story on a pair of Baylor brothers.  

— So, I love the draft. You know this. Here’s a mock from The Athletic (pay site) that has Bryce Young at 1, at least four Alabama players and four Georgia players going in round 1 and UT WR Jalin Hyatt going at pick 30 overall. 

Today’s questions  

Which way Wednesday starts this way in an homage to Fat Cat 3: Which is your opinion of caviar?

— Slimy and gross;

— Delicious;

— Blah;

— Never had it.

Discuss.

Which college has made the best hire so far in the college football silly season?

Which would be better team golf theater next fall, the Ryder Cup or PGA vs. LIV?

As for today, the last day in November, let’s review.

“Gandhi” was released on this day 40 years ago. Which way Wednesday continues with, ‘which actor looked the most like a real-life person they played’ because Ben Kingley as Gandhi is pretty high up there?

Also on that day 40 years ago, “Thriller” was released.

This one is tough, but does “Thriller” make the all-time Rushmore of albums?

Go and remember the mailbag, and the Beluga.