From Todd C.
For the mailbag — let's discuss all of the 2018 (too early) SEC east and west football win totals. Give your over/under numbers (I like the 7.5 or 8.5 number as an arguing point).
Todd C. —
My pleasure my good man.
Alabama — 11.5. And as crazy as it seems, we'd lean toward the over considering that Alabama and Nick Saban have had the best stretch in college football history and have not really had an elite quarterback in the last nine years. Now, they will have all of that — just look at all the freshmen who played Monday night — and now they have Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback. Look out.
Arkansas — 5.5. We would lean toward the over here for two reasons. One the Hogs non-conference is Eastern Illinois, at Colorado State, North Texas and Tulsa and their non-traditional East crossover is Vandy. That should be five right there. So ask yourself if Arkansas is going to go bagel-and-7 against the West and Missouri. Here's betting they win one of those and go over the 5.5.
Auburn — 9. Under. The schedule for Auburn is always tougher in even number years with trips to Athens and Tuscaloosa. Now add in replacing 80 percent of the starters on the O-line, more than 80 percent of last year's rushing yards and three secondary starters and good luck Gus. You are going to have to earn that monster contract extension.
Florida — 7.5. We will go under, but just barely. The Gators have the best chance in our view of flipping the misery and going from 4-8 to 8-4. We believe that much in Dan Mullen and what he can do with quarterbacks.
Georgia — 10.5. Over. Georgia will be loaded on offense with Jake Fromm, D'Andre Swift and the rest of the talented youngsters. Gang, buckle up for the foreseeable future that will have anything other than an Alabama-Georgia meeting in Atlanta in December be called a surprise.
Kentucky — 6.5. One of three teams that plays MTSU in the non-conference, so the Blue Raiders could stake a claim as the 15th SEC team. So there's that. We'll go over with UK because of the a) Benny Snell, b) the badness of the lower part of the SEC East and the unpredictability of everyone in the East not named Georgia, c) getting A&M and Miss. State in the crossover, d) Benny Snell.
LSU — 9. Under. Ed Orgeron is there. Under forever.
Ole Miss — 5.5. Over. Not like it matters, but Ole Miss seems feisty.
Mississippi State — 7. Over. We do not know a great deal about Joe Moorhead, but we know that Dan Mullen left a lot of likable pieces in Starkville.
Missouri — 6. Drew Lock coming back helps, but this is the least-talented team front to back in the league. We'll go under and think that Missouri has a chance to have at least one if not two of the league's worst non-conference losses considering it plays at Purdue and at home against Memphis.
South Carolina — 8. Over. Love Bentley and we think Muschamp will build a real contender in Columbia.
Tennessee — 5.5. Does this seem low? OK, take away the non-conference cupcakes that are ETSU, UTEP and Charlotte and the Vols likely will be picked to be 3-6 heading into the November closing stretch of Kentucky, Missouri and Vandy. Will they sweep those? Maybe, but we'll go with under the 5.5 and UT finishing 5-7.
Texas A&M — 7.5. Under. Welcome to the league Jimbo. Enjoy the coin. And the tail whippings. You are not going to have the extreme talent advantage you had against the ACC at FSU.
Vanderbilt — 4.5. As DP mentioned on Press Row earlier this week, we believe that Derek Mason is on the hottest seat in the SEC. That has a lot to do with all the other hot seats being either extended (Hi, Gus) or blown up (Bye, Butch). Still with a sneaky good Nevada and MTSU as well as Notre Dame on the non-conference we'll take the under here. And thanks for being a nice interview and guy, Derek. You will be missed.
Rushmore this week
NBA nicknames: First let me say great suggestions from a lot of you folks. And these two qualifiers: No rhyming names. No Wilt the Stilt, Clyde the Glide, Hakeem the Dream, Earl the Pearl, well, you get the idea. Too easy and too easy to discount. Also, shortened names — think Shaq for Shaquille or Chuck for Charles, et al;. — also are out. With that caveat, we'll offer two Rushmores, the all-time great players with great nicknames and the more obscure great nicknames for average players. All-time superstars with the best nicknames: Air Jordan, Magic, King James and Dr. J. As for the others, and as NBA players these guys were good but not of the caliber of those other cats: The Iceman, The Human Highlight Film, Chocolate Thunder, Cornbread Maxwell. And that's with all apologies to World B. Free, Sleepy Floyd, Pistol Pete and Vinnie "The Microwave" Johnson.
Sports stars wearing numbers 1-through-1:
1 — Oscar Robertson over Ozzie Smith and Warren Moon.
2 — Derek Jeter, in a close call over Moses Malone.
3 — Babe Ruth. The absolute no-brainer of the list.
4 — Bobby Orr. And this one is right there with No. 8 on being sneaky great across all sports. Baseball's No. 4: Lou Gehrig. Football's No. 4: Brett Favre. Hoops No. 4: Dolph Schayes. That's some star power friends.
5 — Kevin Garnett, which may surprise some folks, but the baseball debate between Brett, Bench, DiMaggio, Brooks Robinson, Pujols, and Bagwell, Hall of Famers all, was too close to call. Whether we realized it in the moment or not, but Garnett was the the first of the perimeter 7-footers that could guard and create.
6 — Bill Russell, narrowly over Dr. J, who also worry 32, so there is that, as well as Stan Musial is one of the most underrated truly great baseball players of all-time.
7 — John Elway narrowly over Mickey Mantle
8 — Kobe Bryant narrowly over Steve Young, Alex Ovechkin and Cal Ripken. Yes, Kobe also wore 24, but still dude is one of the 10 best in his sport ever. This may be the most well-represented number in terms of true excellence across the four sports considering the names there.
9 — Gordie Howe narrowly over Ted Williams, which is tough for me because I truly believe Williams to be the best pure hitter in baseball history. So there's that.
10 — Chipper Jones. OK, maybe I am feeling the Hall of Fame surge, and yes, Tarkenton and Clyde Frazier were right there, but Chipper's numbers and his place among his position in history are undeniable. Think of it this way: If you were asked to name the best points guard ever or the best quarterbacks ever, here's betting you would rattle off way more names before you got to Clyde or Fran than you would before you got Chipper when asked about the best third baseman of all time.
All-time college football coaches: Saban, Bear, Eddie Robinson, Chizik. If you want to replace that last one with Rockne or Hayes or Neyland or Johnson, I'm all right with that too.
One-name music stars: Prince, Elvis, Bono, Madonna
(While we are here because we considered Dolly on this list, but realized it was more about the oddity of her name than the magnitude of her career. Still, was anyone else somewhat disappointed that she took the word "Dixie" out of her "Stampede" shows? Dolly is a brilliant business person and has played her cards, career and characterization into a nine-figure fortune. Kudos. And we know that Dolly and Co. are looking to expand the Dixie Stampede shows beyond Pigeon Forge and Branson, Mo., but man, the preemptive "This could hurt someone's feelings somewhere sometime in the future" knee-jerk reactions that white people are being shamed into are eye-popping. So it goes, I guess.)
I didn't see anything you wrote about the NFL Hall of Fame finalists. Do you think this is the year that TO gets in.
Go Mocs, and when do you think you guys will have Coach Lamont Paris back on the radio show?
Big Blue —
Great question and thanks for playing along.
The NFL Hall of Fame finalists include a lot of big-time names.
The list was trimmed to 15 earlier this month and there are a lot of names on that list that feel like Hall of Famers. (Side note: Where as the baseball voters can pick 10 and they complain about that number, the NFL rightly has tougher standards. It is the Hall of Fame after all, and not the Hall of "Hey that guy was pretty good aka Hello Alan Trammell" to be fair.)
So with the 15 names of modern-era players and the three other contributors on the ballot, and with the knowledge that between four and eight individuals will be inducted, this is a tough list.
First, let me say this: T.O. is a no-doubt, should-be-first-ballot Hall of Famer. In a game and time that has transformed to this place of pass success, T.O. has numbers that are Rushmorian. He is second in career receiving yards, eighth in career receptions and third in touchdown receptions.
To make matters worse, Randy Moss is also on this ballot and he will be — and should be — a no-doubt inductee. And Moss and T.O. are carbon copies in almost every way, including stats and off-the-field concerns.
That said, while T.O. deserves to already be in the Hall, we think it will be very close this year. When the committee meets on selection SAturday, look at the names before them.
Moss, T.O., Ray Lewis (and the fact that Lewis will be a no-brainer and T.O. has been held out because he was a "distraction" or whatever else and Ray was involved in a murder for Pete Rozell's sake, well there's that), Urlacher, and a lot of other slap studs.
We know T.O. should be in the Hall. We think T.O. will get there this year, but it's only slightly better than 50-50.
What a game. What a game. Yes, I am an Alabama fan and loved what you and Wells did on the radio Monday.
My question for you is do you think this was the best championship game ever? What makes your all time Rushmore of all time championship games?
Thanks and I love Press Row.
Thanks for playing along.
Wow, Rushmore of championship games is a tough one.
OK, if we are going all-time in all sports, Game 7 of the 2016 World Series is there. Last year's Super Bowl is probably there. Kyrie's shot to get LebRon and the Cavs to the title in Game 7 of the NBA Finals is likely there. (Man, we had a great run of title showdowns over the last couple of years, right?) And we'll go with the NCAA title game when Jimmy V and NC State broke my heart and the hearts of Phi Slamma Jamma supporters nationwide.
If we are going to get specific to college football — and we will kick this around with Paschall on Press Row later today — and the Rushmore of title games (in the BCS era mind you) we'll go with Monday night, the Clemson win over Alabama, the USC-Texas classic and Auburn-Oregon that was decided on a last-second field goal.
Now all-time, the Nebraska-Miami Orange Bowl after the 1983 season was a classic, too.
Great questions and thanks again for listening and reading.
From several of you
Will you pick the NFL games (and list them as most likely to hit or miss)?
We will pick the games.
We will list them around lunch.
We will likely finish 2-2.
We will enjoy the weekend either way.
Great week gang.