Gerrit Cole throws at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 14 as the Houston Astros practice ahead of an ALCS game in New York. Cole and the New York Yankees agreed to a record $324 million, nine-year deal late Tuesday, a person familiar with the contract told The Associated Press. / AP photo by Kathy Willens

Anything but Cole in his stocking

As we predicted Tuesday, the Stephen Strasburg record salary for a pitcher lasted about 20 hours.

Gerrit Cole has posted undeniably unbelievable numbers in his short time in the bigs. Last year he was historic.

> He struck out at least one batter in 73 consecutive innings. ESPN baseball guru Tim Kurkijen said the ESPN research time went back 60-plus years and the next closest streak was 49 from Pedro Martinez at the height of his powers;

> Cole is the first pitcher with 300-plus Ks and a sub-2.50 ERA since the 1910s;

> He's 94-52 in seven years that included an up-and-down time with the up-and-down Pittsburgh Pirates.

The move clearly moves the needle in a ton of directions:

> At Cole's bank because the nine years, $324 million, is $36 million a year. Using last year's numbers, a season the Yankees would gladly love for Cole to replicate, that would be $1,090,909.09 per start, $1.8 million per win, and $110,429 per strikeout;

> At Vegas, where the Yankees went from 9-to-2 picks to win the World Series to 3-to-1 favorites;

> Across baseball, because now the Angels and the Dodgers are left with a wad of cash and will both look to overpay Anthony Rendon. All things considered, you have to believe that the Nationals feel very fortunate to a) go first in the buying of talent, and b) they landed Strasburg for what now seems kind of affordable dollars compared to Cole's astronomical dollars;

> Across the AL East since the Red Sox are now discussing possibly trading Mookie Betts, and this decision makes the Red Sox looking to redirect and retool seem like the smart decision all things considered. How's this for perspective: The Yankees are paying two dudes — Cole and Giancarlo Stanton — more than the Orioles will pay their entire roster. Seriously.

Now, who's left for those of us who pretended that the Braves were in the market for a legit ace? Great question. They may be in the running for Madison Bumgarner, but the asking price for all the non-Cole-sized fish in the free agency swimming hole just went up.

Here are the questions still around as the winter meetings continue in Southern California:

> Where does Anthony Rendon land? Most folks think the Texas Rangers are the frontrunner;

> Where does Josh Donaldson land? And the talking points that several NL East teams are interested makes the middle of the order more of a priority than any more pitching additions for the Braves. Seriously.

> What happens to the Houston Astros after all the sign-stealing stuff, if anything at all right now?

> And let's not forget that after all the splash and cash that has been the fast and furious free signing period, the owners are scheduled to discuss the looming details about the minor league contraction ideas at these winter meetings, which end tomorrow.


SEC Coaches

OK, the head coaching gigs are filled. (Side note: I watched the Belichick and Saban HBO thing last night. B-to-B-minus, but that is mainly because I had higher hopes. As expected, both guys are amazing and there are some insightful and revealing moments, like Saban bad-mouthing the practice of former assistants taking head coaching jobs and pulling assistants from Saban's staff for their new staffs at new locales. The mutual respect is clear and endearing because makes both of them more human than superhuman, which is rare for the rest of us to see. Still, and maybe my hopes were unrealistic, but I was hoping for more.)

Anyhoo, normally we rank the SEC teams in some way or shape here. But that's kind of not needed now. (And yes, Chas, we'll do hoops rankings on Wednesdays in the new year. Deal? Deal.)  

Missouri got the guy that replaced the guy at App State. Instant analysis: Meh. All right, I guess. That's a tough gig to fill, even with that kind of bankroll. (Side note: Excellent work here from TFP college football ace David Paschall on Will Healy, the local kid turned college football hotshot. And yes, I believe in my gut that Healy will be a Power Five coach sooner rather than later. And yes, I also believe that not going to Missouri — if he was even discussed in Columbia — will be a much better move long term for the Boyd-Buchanan quarterback.)

Arkansas got former Georgia OL coach Sam Pittman. Instant analysis: I can see it. And while we're here, there's something to the process of making your fan base panic at the thought of retaining the interim coach of a dumpster fire or finding a dog with huge fleas (Hi, Greg Schiano) and floating that idea and then hiring someone else so your fan base can say, "Well, Sam Pittman is better than that Looney fellow, right?"

Ole Miss got Lane Kiffin. Instant analysis: Home run. Love it. That fan base needed something to make them believe and someone to make it fun again. Check and check. But then again, I always believed that Kiffin was going to win and win very big. It could have been vacated, but it was going to start rolling in K-Town with Kiffin and Coach O and that staff. I think Kiffin was the one guy out there that brings real hope and energy to Oxford and even in an SEC West this good, is the only guy out there that would have considered Ole Miss that could win a championship bigger than a state title. (Urban or Stoops or the other universally viewed home-run hires were not going to Ole Miss.)

As for the landing spots for the dispatched head coaches, I think that South Carolina and Auburn both get excellent grades for adding OCs Mike Bobo and Chad Morris. I think Georgia hit a tape measure home run replacing Pittman with former Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke. (Here's the scoop from Paschall because, well, you know he's a college football guru.) I think Eliah Drinkzwitz adding Barry Odom as his defensive coordinator at Arkansas is also a great move.

The truth here is some guys are meant to be great coordinators or position coaches, and the move to a higher level takes away from the things that made them great coordinators or position coaches.

So there's that. Good times.    

Bowl Contest

Did you guys know that this is the 10th annual Bowling for Bowls of Bowl Game Success (Bowler Optional) college picking contest.

That's right we offered one that first college postseason after we started this daily routine in late October 2010.
So yes, the big-point game for the first Bowling for Bowls of Bowl Game Success (Bowler Optional) was Auburn vs. Oregon in the BCS title game. Seems like a lifetime ago right?

The entry sheet is below. Email your picks at Doesn't cost anything to enter. Winner gets some stuff.

Also, pass it along to your buddies and the Mrs. and anyone else you think would be interested. The more the merrier. The spreads listed below are final, friends. There will assuredly be line movements between now and kickoff on a lot of these games, but these are the lines we're using. Good luck, and let's go bowling.

One-point games (maximum 9 points)

Bahamas Bowl: Buffalo vs. Charlotte (+5.5) 

Frisco Bowl: Kent State vs. Utah State (-9.5)

New Mexico Bowl: Central Michigan vs. San Diego State (-4.5)

FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl: Liberty vs. Georgia Southern (-5.5)

Boca Raton Bowl: SMU vs. FAU (+3.5)

Camellia Bowl: FIU vs. Arkansas State (-3.5)

Las Vegas Bowl: No. 19 Boise State vs. Washington (-3.5) 

New Orleans Bowl: No. 20 Appalachian State vs. UAB (+16.5)

Gasparilla Bowl: UCF vs. Marshall (+17.5)

Two-point games (max 18 points)

Hawaii Bowl: BYU vs. Hawaii (+2.5)

Independence Bowl: Louisiana Tech vs. Miami (FL) (-7.5)

Quick Lane Bowl: Eastern Michigan vs. Pitt (-10.5)

Military Bowl: North Carolina vs. Temple (+5.5)

Pinstripe Bowl: Michigan State vs. Wake Forest (+3.5)

First Responder Bowl: Western Kentucky vs. Western Michigan (+2.5)

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Ohio vs. Nevada (+6.5)

Armed Forces Bowl: Southern Miss vs. Tulane (-7.5)

LendingTree Bowl: Louisiana vs. Miami (OH) (+14.5)

Three-point games (max 18 points)

Texas Bowl: No. 25 Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M (-6.5)

Holiday Bowl: No. 22 USC vs. No. 16 Iowa (-1.5)

Cheez-It Bowl: Air Force vs. Washington State (+2.5)

Music City Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Louisville (-3.5)

RedBox Bowl: Cal vs. Illinois (+6.5)

Birmingham Bowl: No. 21 Cincinnati vs. Boston College (+6.5)

Four-point games (max 24 points)

Belk Bowl: Kentucky vs. Virginia Tech (-3.5)

Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl: Florida State vs. Arizona State (-5.5)

Liberty Bowl: No. 23 Navy vs. Kansas State (-1.5)

NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl: Wyoming vs. Georgia State (+7.5)

Alamo Bowl: No. 11 Utah vs. Texas (+6.5)

Camping World Bowl: No. 15 Notre Dame vs. Iowa State (+3.5)

Five-point games (max 30 points)

Orange Bowl: No. 9 Florida vs. No. 24 Virginia (+13.5)

Outback Bowl: No. 18 Minnesota vs. No. 12 Auburn (-7.5)

Citrus Bowl: No. 13 Alabama vs. No. 14 Michigan (+7.5)

Rose Bowl: No. 6 Oregon vs. No. 8 Wisconsin (-2.5)

Sugar Bowl: No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 7 Baylor (+7.5)

Gator Bowl: Indiana vs. Tennessee (PK)

Seven-point games

Peach Bowl (CFP Semifinal): No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 1 LSU (-13.5)

Fiesta Bowl (CFP Semifinal): No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson (-2.5) 

National champ (just the winner no spread) is worth 10 points.


This and that

— OK, we all have a "That time I was so drunk that I" story. Heck, one of my best friends ended up half-naked in a closet of a family that lived on the same floor of the apartment building as his girlfriend. Less than good times. Well, this fellow may be the Jordan of that category gang. Meet Tomos Rhydian Wilson, who was the best man at his brother's wedding earlier this summer. OK, all's well, right? Service. Tears. Photos. We're good. Well, let's move to the reception and Tomos starts getting a snoot full as does his brother, the groom, Steffan. Well, the bride and her family tell the groom that he needs to go to bed because he's getting drunk. Danger Will Robinson. (And while we're here, don't get me wrong, I like a cold Co-Cola as much as the next guy, but if you have to get hammered to the point that the in-laws are asking you to leave your own reception, well, that has to be a top-three sign on the most basic AA brochure, right? 1) Did you drink before coming to AA? 2) Did you drink after leaving AA? Did you get sloshed at your own wedding? Who has one that cracks that top three?) Anyhoo, so Steffan's staggering and Tomos is seething. He starts shouting that his brother should have never married Erin and then threw punches at the bride and pulled and ripped her dress — yes, her wedding dress — as he dragged her down some stairs. Tomos assaulted Erin's sisters and her mother while hurling verbal abuse at everyone within earshot. He was found guilty of five charges of assault and criminal damage. It may have cost him his job, too. He used to be a — wait for it — prison officer. Oh.

— Our hoops play went belly-up last night. And man, right when we think college and NFL football officiating is poor, we are reminded that that guys doing major college hoops games are SOOOOOOOOO influenced by home and road crowds that it's a meaningful thing. In fact, one of the lines that jumped off the page this morning was Michigan minus-1 at Illinois. We still will ride with talent, but a tight game in Champagne will allow the refs to make those crowd-pleasing block/charges. If I was Maryland's coach last night, I would have almost assuredly gotten T-ed up. College picks 10-8 this season.

— Speaking of college hoops, Louisville was toppled by Texas Tech on Tuesday. It's quite noteworthy in this regard: The AP No. 1 team has lost four times in 10 games this season. The most losses for teams when they were ranked as AP No. 1s in a season is 10 in 1993-94.

— Hey, let's expand. We're roll with the Lakers minuus-6.5 at Orlando tonight. NBA picks this season 0-0. (Gotta start somewhere, right? Pickers gotta pick, and on that note, we're listening to the most underrated and underappreciated Willie song this morning. "Last thing I needed first thing this morning" is so great.)  

— There are a lot of places that making a factual mistake on the job is really bad. I have one of those jobs. But being the clue-writer for Final Jeopardy is also high on that list, no? Apparently last night, the final clue was factually wrong. Answer: "The first words spoken in this 1970 Best Picture Oscar winner are "Ten-Hut! Be seated." Well, those are the first words of "Patton," which won the 1971 Oscar for best picture. Uh, someone needs to be in Alex's office this morning and has some splainin' to do.

— Phillip McKeon, who played Tommy Hyatt, Alice's son on the mid-1970s sitcom hit "Alice" and was actress Nancy McKeon's brother, died Tuesday. He was 55. Man, that's too young, and I remember well a time when I thought 55 was old. Too, too young.

— The Presidents Cup starts this afternoon with the Fourball matches. (Fourball is a two-man team from each squad — America and the International team, which is made up of golfers from all around the world not from the U.S. or Europe — going against each other. Each player plays his ball from tee to hole, and the best score of the four guys wins the hole. So when Tiger and Justin Thomas face Marc Leishman and Joaquin Niemann today at 5:32 p.m., when Thomas, Leishman and Niemann each make par and Tiger makes birdie, that means the U.S. wins that hole and is 1 up. Questions?) There also will be 'Foursomes," which also is called "alternate shot" and then singles come Saturday night.


Today's questions

Which way Wednesday is here, friends.

Which 1970s TV catch phrase was better than "Kiss my grits" from Flo on "Alice?" (I think there were a couple on "Happy Days," but the original Flo's go-to line was aces, even if it was highly inappropriate for me to be laughing at as an 8-year-old. Oh, that Mel.)

Which is the most underrated song of your favorite musical artist? Discuss and share.

Which free agent signing will be better, Cole or Strasburg or, for the money, the Braves adding Cole Hamels?

Which SEC coaching move — head or assistant — will make the most difference next year?

As for today, Dec. 11, let's review.

Hailee Steinfeld is 23 today. That young lady has a slew of talent.

About 130 people — 102 Pilgrims and roughly 30 crew members — landed on Plymouth Rock on this day in 1620.

Joe DiMaggio announced his retirement on this day in 1951.

"Magnum P.I." debuted on this day in 1980. On a which way Wednesday, which was more iconic, Selleck's mustache, his short shorts, his Detroit cap or his car. (I'll say the latter.)

Rushmore of TV cars/vehicles. Go, and remember the mailbag and the bowl contest.