Some asked me on Monday if I feel sorry for Butch Jones.
Nope. Dude made a lot of money and part of that is dealing with the pressure and the pain of such a high-profile job. He made life-changing money, for he and his family.
Plus, add to the fact the unknown nature behind his calls to at least one recruit telling him to find somewhere else to go, the stories starting to emerge on how he treated some players and the letter Antone Davis wrote earlier this fall.
It also is fair to note at this point that Jones was overmatched by almost every coach in the league during the games on Saturdays. This is not to rejoice in anyone losing their job, but Butch was an ace recruiter and he was rewarded handsomely for that trait. (Now if you want to wonder if Jones was landing Rivals stars more than true football stars, well, that's a completely fair inquiry, but his recruiting rankings help redirect the narrative of a program that was completely decimated talent-wise under Derek Dooley.)
And Butch's checks and raises were linked directly to that ability to sell the program to recruits, and he'll get $8.2 million or so paid out in monthly installments until the end of February 2021. (If Jones does not take another job — the salary of any future employment would be subtracted from that settlement — and assuming the monthly payout is constant and starts at the end of this month, Jones will get a nice check with that Big Orange T in the corner for approximately $205,000 for the next 40 months. Yeah, that does not come with a side of sympathy in my book.)
Yes, there is more to life and happiness than money, but the exchange in the deal is clear and universal.
In truth, every coach that takes every job at just about every level — and especially the big-time levels of Power Five conferences and above — knows this is how it ends 95 percent of the time. If not more.
Think how many college football coaches in the 65 Power Five schools will get to craft their own exit strategy. Saban. Urban. Bill Snyder, most likely. Dan Mullen, most likely. Dabo. (And heading into the year, we would have certainly had Jimbo Fisher on that list too, but other than Saban and Urban and maybe Snyder — who does have his name on the stadium his K-State teams play their home games — you are one bad year away from people starting to wonder. Or worse yet, the coach starting to look.)
With that caveat, we think this is a pretty fair point to note, that considering all the hand wringing th Auburn faithful has done — and will always continue to do about everything football-related ever — about the status of and the temperature regarding the chair belonging to Gus Malzahn, the worm has assuredly turned.
Consider this very real possibility: If the Tigers, which is searching for a new AD mind you to be Malzahn's future boss, beat Alabama, Auburn will have to watch as Malzahn becomes the name du jour for every big-time opening anywhere. At the least, it would call for a hefty raise and a notable extension, something that would need to be negotiated and decided upon, you know, by the AD, a position Auburn is searching to fill. (Side note: What if the deep pockets of Arkansas — Malzahn's home state — bumped Bielema and asked Malzahn to come home? Think about that mess and craziness.)
As it comes full circle back to Knoxville, time is of the essence.
Adrian Martinez, the nationally ranked quarterback commit still part of the UT class, told our buddy Josh Ward on the Sports Animal radio station in Knoxville, that Currie told Martinez that a hire was coming quickly. Yes, that has a lot of folks believing the Jon Gruden stories. And it's worth noting here that Gruden is a heavy betting favorite in Vegas to be the next Vols coach. BetOnline.ag lists Gruden at +180, meaning you have to bet $100 to win $180. Next is Mike Norvell (+400), followed by Chip Kelly (+500), Les Miles (+500), Dan Mullen (+600), Jeff Brohm (+1000), Bobby Petrino (+1200), Mike MacIntyre (+1200), PJ Fleck (+1200), Tee Martin (+1600), and Jim Bob Cooter (+2000). The last three listed are worth tossing out too, since they are Lane Kiffin (+3300), Brian Kelly (+5000) and some dude named Peyton Manning (+5000).
(Man, could imagine the freaking freak-out if Peyton Manning was named the next University of Tennessee football coach? That would be simply nuts. Don't have any idea whether he would be a good college coach or not — certainly he'd have struggles early on — but dear Lord Johnny Vols Fans everywhere would flip their big Orange lids.)
Yes, this is a lot to digest, and there are a lot of moving parts. Yes, everyone wants Gruden, and the rock-star nature of that name brings a lot of value to a program that really has back-tracked.
We think Kelly is the best option listed above for UT, considering his past success at Oregon — which does include a Show Cause issue — his connection to Nike and his offensive innovations. But we also believe Kelly is Florida's top target and the teem to beat for his services. (And if the Gators land Kelly, you have to wonder how much getting a two-week head start in the process helped them, right?)
With that, we will move along, knowing that coaching big time college football is stressful — Butch looked like he aged at least 12 years in his five seasons with the Vols — and hard. On everyone.
It's also very lucrative, as Butch will see when he opens that $200,000-plus check in the mail every month from now until the end of February 2021.
NFL power poll
Let's jump in this thing.
We are curious as playoff position becomes a little more clear, and the teams dealing with injuries and issues (Hi, Zeke) are left wondering.
If you are Green Bay, and you can just stay in this thing, there is talk that Aaron Rodgers may come back in the middle of December.
If you are Dallas, if you can just tread water until Zeke returns, you know you can compete. (Side note: I know everyone everywhere thinks the Cowboys' line is the best ever, well, no Zeke, meant no rushing game for Dallas at Atlanta last week, regardless of who was blocking.)
With that, to the polls.
1. Philadelphia. The Eagles are the most complete — and not surprisingly — the most healthy team in the NFL coming off last week's bye. It's hard to put a relative value on the Eagles' healthy — they only had two players listed as limited-practice availability before their week nine game before last week's bye — as the season hits the final stretch.
2. New England. Got to admit, ever dropping the Patriots out of the top five was a mistake. That's on us. Now, as you look at this poll, and knowing that Pittsburgh, which currently owns the tie-breaker for the top spot in the AFC standings, has questions at quarterback whether the Steelers realize it or not, you have to love the Pats. In fact, with all the teams surging in the NFC — Eagles, Saints, Panthers, Rams, Vikings, Seahawks, and even the Cowboys and Falcons trying to find their stride — the pats feel like the Cavs, and the NFC feels like the NBA's Western Conference. Can you imagine how "intimidated" and "worried" Belichick and Brady are right now plotting their AFC playoff run against the winner of Titans-Bills or Jags-Raiders and then likely hosting the winner of Steelers-Chiefs. Yeah, not so much.
3. New Orleans. Man — cue the 30-for-30 dude — "what if we told you that the New Orleans Saints had won seven straight. And what if we told you that these Saints were doing it with a running game and a defense that will travel in the playoffs. And what if we told you these Saints had won their last four — and averaged almost 31 points per game — with future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees thawing all of three TDs and two picks in those four games." Man, these are not the Saints of old, friends.
4. Los Angeles Rams. That offense is simply overwhelming friends. And it's not just about the NFL leading 296 points. That offense forces teams to be desperate to score early, either risking things on fourth down or trying to do things vertically it can't. Yes, the Rams lead the NFL points scored, but that offense has helped a defense lead the NFC in points allowed with just 162.
5. Pittsburgh. Did anyone watch Big Ben Roethisberger play on Sunday? Dude simply looks like he does not want to be on the field. Period. He missed several throws he normally makes. He looked disinterested — think a Jay Cutler in a tax seminar-level disinterested — and at times confused. Big Ben has the greatest collection of toys of any QB in the league, and that offense struggled to get to 20 at the Colts on Sunday. Let that sink in.
28. Denver. Yeah, who figured this was possible right? Denver was in the other poll early in the year, anchored by a defense that looked like the best in the league. Well, then the real Trevor Siemian showed up and then the Broncos though the answer was somehow Brock Osweiler. Want a great stat? The Browns are paying Osweiler more this year than the Pats are paying Tom Brady in terms of salary cap commitment. Osweiler got $16 million of the Browns cap; Brady is getting $14 million of the Pats' cap. Somewhere Kevin Costner is thinking he could be a better GM than half the guys in this league. #DraftDay
29. Indianapolis. You know who has made the most of a really bad spot? Jacoby Brissett has looked the part of an NFL quarterback, even behind that dreadful offensive line the Colts roll out there each week. Brissett's numbers — he's thrown for 2,172 yards and completed right at 61 percent of his throws, which is better than Carson Wentz's percentage — will surprise a lot of people considering he has been sacked an NFL-worst 35 times this season.
30. San Francisco. The 49ers beat the Giants on Sunday for their first win of the season, and while those two teams only have one each, there's at least a light in the tunnel for San Francisco. It will be interesting to see when they let Jimmy Garoppolo take the field.
31. New York Giants. This will be the first coach fired in our view, now that Ben McAdoo — the tabloids are calling him McA-Doomed in the Big Apple — is blaming players for the struggles. Sunday at home against a Chiefs team coming off a bye may be it for McA-Doomed.
32. Cleveland. The Browns lost by two touchdowns against Detroit and their coach said they played their best game of the season. Cleveland Browns football, friends, feel the excitement.
College playoff positioning
Well, that was amazing.
It also was example 1,204 on why getting bent out of shape about the college football playoff rankings early is an exercise in futility. Think of the teams that we thought were so dominant through the course of the season and where they are now.
Early, we believed FSU was a true title contender. An injured quarterback and an avalanche of dashed dreams left the Seminoles bickering among themselves and coach Jimbo Fisher challenge FSU fans to on-field fights. There also was the September warriors that were Sam Darnold and the USC Trojans, who were gutted by Notre Dame. There was Notre Dame, and that power running game. There was THE Ohio State and J.T. Barrett finally figuring it out. Early there was the Michigan defense and the Penn State offense.
There are others, too. Schools such as THE other OSU, Washington, and even TCU.
And now, going into tonight's college football playoff committee's release here are the two things we truly believe to be the case.
First, unbeaten Alabama will be No. 1. We can all agree on that right? Right.
Secondly, it's almost unequivocal that there are now seven teams (and seven teams only Vasily) that control their destiny to get one of four invites to the dance.
Alabama will be one, and if they win out, the Tide is in for sure.
Miami, Clemson, and Oklahoma — in some order, in our view — will be 2-though-4, and if any of them win out, they are in. All of them can not win out because Miami and Clemson are bound to meet in what is shaping up to be the most-compelling ACC title game ever.
We think Wisconsin will be No. 5, and if the unbeaten Badgers win out — considering the Miami-Clemson winner will drop — they will be in for sure. (And to be honest, it was going to be very difficult to keep an unbeaten Power Five conference champ out of the dance, regardless of everyone else's resume before Saturday's craziness.)
With Auburn will be six tonight, jumping Georgia, which we guess will be seven tonight. We factor that on the overwhelming nature of Auburn's win over then-top-ranked Georgia on Saturday, but in truth, the number for these two teams is relatively meaningless, as long as they are poised as 6-7. Each controls its destiny; win out and punch your ticket.
Now, the craziness of Saturday, also leaves a precarious scene for SEC fans. Consider this: For the last couple of weeks, the notion that two SEC teams could get tickets was only growing, as Georgia was rolling people, and the Dogs' win over then-No. 3 Notre Dame was looking better with each passing week and each passing Irish double-digit win.
The double-edged sword of Saturday's smashing leaves Notre Dame looking like a long-shot and opens this potential disaster for the SEC.
What if Georgia Tech and that funky offense upsets Georgia on the last Saturday of the regular season? Then, Auburn wins the Iron Bowl.
And then a two-loss Georgia, with both defeat coming in the last three weeks of the regular season, wins the SEC.
Could the ACC, if Miami and Clemson win out heading to the title game, and play a close game with Clemson edging the Canes — who have a sneaky strong strength of schedule — get two in the playoff and the SEC get shut out?
If we know anything by now, however, it's not to put too much worry into these things on the front end.
This and that
— Speaking of college football, Vegas obviously took notice of what Auburn did to Georgia last Saturday afternoon. The Iron Bowl line was Alabama minus-10 before last weekend's games. As of this morning, the Iron Bowl line is Alabama minus-3.5. (And yes, we'd get on that now if someone could find Alabama at an even minus-3.)
— Braves hired Alex Anthopoulos as their new general manager. Anthopoulos was an executive with the Dodgers, and turned down Toronto's offer to be the Jays GM a couple of years ago.
— Carolina crushed the Dolphins on Monday nigh football. Man, there are few professional athletes that ride the wave of inertia — good and bad — more than Cam Newton. When things are truly rolling, dude is a real force. When things are going poorly, Newton looks like a mobile Josh McCown.
— Big time night of college hoops tonight. Still not how much time we'll give it, but Duke-Michigan State before Kentucky-Kansas is pretty strong.
— Saw this on Twitter. The sign posted outside of a professor's door read: Warning: To whoever keeps adding "og" to my doorsign, if I catch you, you are dead. Signed, Dr. A Hedgeh." And of course someone had already added the "og" to make it "Signed, Dr. A Hedgehog." Good times.
We'll start our true or false Tuesday with two questions high on the #Grumors radar:
True or false, Jon Gruden will be the next football coach at the University of Tennessee.
True or false, Jon Gruden will be a great college football coach.
True or false, if Peyton Manning wanted the job, you would hire him to be Tennessee's next football coach.
True or false, Butch Jones will never be a head coach at the FBS level again.
True or false, Auburn will be ranked higher than Georgia tonight by the college football committee.
Couple of birthdays to mention. Prince Charles is 69; Condoleezza Rice is 63. (Man, look at those two together and the difference of six years is a wide gap. Being a member of royalty may age you like being an SEC football coach.)
Curt Schilling is 51 today.
Let's go different on the Rushmore today. Rushmore of most influential rappers/groups ever, in honor of Rev Run (Joseph Simmons) of Run DMC fame turning 53 today.