College football playoff rankings
OK, the SEC had three of the top five teams in the poll released Tuesday night by the 13-person college football playoff committee. Here are the details from TFP college football wizard David Paschall.
In the grand scheme of things, that and $4 will get you a Starbucks Venti caramel organic half-and-half latte thingy. Maybe.
Everyone needs to go full-blown Aaron Rodgers on these rankings.
The curious spot about the second round of these rankings, though, is the continued happenstance of critical thinking.
We all expected LSU to jump to No. 1 and the Tigers did.
But LSU's résumé was better than THE Ohio State's before the first poll, too, and the Tigers were No. 2.
(Side point: Thanks to the tireless work of handicapper and gambling-writing guru Brian Edwards — follow him @vegasbedwards on Twitter — here are his best guesses on the top five and the numbers Vegas would assess. Enjoy. "I usually say 'neutral tomorrow,' but let's call this neutral 2 weeks & thus, Tua 90% healthy. LSU -3 vs Clemson; Clemson -1.5 vs Bama; LSU -4 vs Ohio St.; LSU -8.5 vs UGA; Bama -1 vs OSU; Bama -6.5 vs UGA; Ohio St. -6 vs. UGA; Clemson -2 vs OSU; Clemson -7 vs UGA." So there's that.)
The top three were to be expected, I suppose.
LSU, THE OSU and a Clemson team that has shifted gears and been drumming people since the scare in Chapel Hill.
Small surprise that Georgia jumped Alabama for the No. 4 spot. Not sure if that is an overarching message in scheduling — good wins > bad losses — or a calculated placement because Alabama is the highest ranked team that must have help to make it into the playoff.
(Here's a weekly announcement, that yes, we're certain we have used it in the past, but the phrase "controlling their own destiny" is nonsensical because destiny is predetermined and out of everyone's control. That is all.)
To that point, ranking the teams with the most direct control of their postseason plans, let's review:
1. LSU. Control: 100 percent. Simple. Win out and the Tigers are no worse than the 2 seed, and most likely with that schedule, the 1 in Atlanta.
2. THE Ohio State: Control: 100 percent. Simple. Read the above.
3. Clemson. Control: 100 percent. But the stakes are higher for Dabo's Tigers, because unlike the two teams listed above, Clemson has absolutely zero margin for error, whereas there are scenarios that LSU and THE Ohio State have room for a mulligan.
4. Georgia. Control: 100 percent. And we believed that before the Dawgs moved to 4 Tuesday night. If Georgia wins at Auburn and then beats LSU on a neutral field, no one's keeping the Bulldogs from the field.
5. Minnesota. Control: 100 percent. Yes, 100 percent. Unlike Baylor, which still could be on the outside looking in as an undefeated Power 5 conference champ — which is a staggering statement — if the Gophers win out, which would mean beating THE OSU, PJ Fleck can row his boat in the field of four.
Everyone after that actually needs help. Those are the five that can look in the mirror and know that handling their BID-ness means Bidness into the dance.
Yes, considering that the SEC and the Big Ten have overlapping conflicts on the horizon, the open spot is not automatic for an unbeaten Baylor, a one-loss Oklahoma or a one-loss Pac-12 champ like Oregon or Utah.
How, you ask?
Pretty simply, let's say the Georgia scenario unfolds and they beat LSU — which has been the most accomplished team all year with four top-10 wins already — LSU would have strong support over the Baylor-OU winner or the Pac-12 champ.
And, no matter how much we are worried about expanded playoffs watering down the best regular season in sports, well, the images of an unbeaten Power 5 conference champ on the outside looking in will expedite the expansion of the field.
SEC rankings and bowl guesses
This is the part of the regular show we rank the SEC teams, listing the top 5 and the bottom 3.
Not unlike the AP poll, this feels rather hollow at this point, at least at the top, since what the committee says is the only thing that matters — even when it doesn't matter until the final version.
So, let's be the ying to that yang, let's zig while Mark Few zags, let's twist while others shout. (Side question on a which-way Wednesday: Which 80s movie "Twist and Shout" scene was better: Ferris Beuller's at the downtown parade or Thornton Mellon's at the bar in "Back to School?" Discuss.)
Here are the SEC teams in order and their bowl plans/destinations in our view:
LSU (9-0). College football playoff.
Alabama (8-1). Yes, I have Alabama over Georgia, because that South Carolina loss is inexplicable. So there's that. Sugar Bowl.
Georgia (8-1). As we detailed, the Bulldogs have more playoff control than the Tide, but the serious work is still ahead. Citrus Bowl. (Side note: As if Paschall doesn't already do an amazing job on all things college football, I greatly enjoyed this story reminding all of us that the normal date of the Auburn-Georgia game is going to change and it's going to be weird for everyone, players included.)
Florida (8-2). Winning out, I think the Gators could be an attractive team on a roll with arguably the best two losses in the country.
Auburn (7-2). Wow, how predictable is this. A 17-13 loss to Georgia because of a frustrating offensive showing Saturday. The best offensive performance of the year against Alabama in a 41-37 loss. Then a sleep-walk effort against Wisconsin or some other motivated Big Ten team in Florida and Gus finishes 8-5 with 18 NFL players on the field. I need a drink. Outback Bowl.
Texas A&M (6-3). The Aggies have South Carolina at home Saturday followed by dates with Georgia and LSU. If they finish 7-5 on a two-game losing streak, here's betting they fall to the Texas Bowl.
Tennessee (5-5). Yes, I think Tennessee gets there and wins out and hops some folks because the Florida bowl gurus would love to have an energized Big Orange Nation to ring in the New Year. The (artist formerly known as the Gator) Taxslayer Bowl.
Missouri (5-4). The last SEC team that will "earn" a spot, but man, tickets sales will be slow. Losable games against Florida and UT lead to the 100-percent winnable finale against Arkansas. Music City Bowl.
Kentucky (4-5). Three games left — at Vandy, UT-Martin and a better-than-expected Louisville — and the path is there. In some ways, considering the losses to graduation and injury, Mark Stoops may have done a better overall coaching job this year than in last year's historic season. Belk Bowl. (Yes, UK would rather go to Nashville and Nashville would rather go to UK, but man, sending a Missouri team swooning as badly as it is all the way to Charlotte is begging to send back 2,700 of the 3,000 allotted tickets.)
Ole Miss (4-6). Winning out would mean beating LSU on Saturday. Yeah, not so much. But a win in the Egg Bowl could mean some APR scanning if there are not 6-6 teams to fill all the slots. I think the Rebels are the better bet in the mad scrambled Egg Bowl. Give me Ole Miss sliding into Birmingham or even Shreveport for the Independence. (And yes, that leaves at least one SEC bowl tie-in open.)
Mississippi State (4-6). Winning out would mean beating Alabama on Saturday. Yeah, not so much. But a win in the Egg Bowl could mean some APR scanning if there are not 6-6 teams to fill all the slots.
South Carolina (4-6). The Gamecocks are staring 4-8 in the face with a trip to College Station and a date with Clemson left. No (soup) bowl for you, Cool Boom.
Vandy (2-7). Uh, no.
Arkansas (2-8). Uh, heck no.
So The Athletic reported a story that apparently everyone inside baseball knows.
The Astros have been using cameras and technology to steal signs, especially at home, and won the 2017 World Series in large part of the technological espionage.
Here's the story from The Athletic, which quotes former Houston pitcher Mike Fiers, and remember it's a pay site.
And how much did it help in the run to the 2017 championship? The Astros were 8-1 at home and 3-6 on the road in the 2017 playoffs. You decide.
As for this being a secret, Buster Only said Wednesday morning on "Golic or Wingo" that all of baseball suggested this was going on (which begs the very real question of "If that's the case, why is this the first we're reading about it?") and the Astros may not be alone.
OK, the questions from this are deep-rooted and hard to answer.
First, all of us who grew up loving baseball have forever known and embraced that the game is deeply connected with cheating and in a lot of ways those who were good at it — like Gaylord Perry or Bucky Dent allegedly using Mickey Rivers' corked bat in the 1978 play-in game against Boston (sorry Spy) or Bobby Thompson and the Giants stealing signs for the "Shot Heard 'Round the World'"— have been celebrated.
That has to change now, right?
"But what, this is different because the Astros used technology? Stealing signs the good-old fashioned way is still fine."
OK. Is taking PED pills OK but using the masking agents and syringes not allowed? Hey, the basis of cheating is apparently OK as long at you're not using Apple products and technological advancements to accomplish it. Right?
Maybe that is a stretch, but not overly. And that's not the most direct parallel for me.
And this one is tough, but the folks implicated in this need to be banned from baseball forever.
Yes, the sign stealers and the hitters who benefited from it. And here's why.
One, there is no fine big enough to really hurt the folks with eight-, nine- and 10-figure bank accounts who were involved in the execution of this.
Second, in a bigger-picture sense, this is worse than what Pete Rose admitted to — never mind much worse than the PED accusations or admissions around Bonds, Clemens, A-Rod and the rest of the stars from that era who have been blackballed by Hall of Fame voters — especially in this day and age.
They cheated to alter the outcome of who knows how many games. Tell me how that's not worse than Rose, who I have said forever should be banned from the Hall until the day after he dies.
I'll wait. Rose admitted to betting on his team as a manager, which means he was doing everything in his power to win a game. And the reason he rightly got booted is because the very real possibility that if fans ever believe that the fix is in — one way or the other — then any sport becomes professional wrestling.
And in this gambling age do we really believe some of the rank-and-file folks involved were not "wetting their beak" with this inside intel? PUH-lease. (And that does not even cross the possibility of how many class-action lawsuits from bettors who lost on that series could be in the works.)
But someone explain the differences, and it can't be as rudimentary as "Well, as long as you don't use technology," gang.
This and that
— Wow, that was a lot, with a lot more to get to. Colin Kaepernick is getting a tryout this Saturday in Atlanta. It will be a combine-like setting and you have to expect he will shine. In fact, as long as he doesn't kneel before going on the field and keeps his mouth and social media quiet, I'll bet he has an NFL job by the middle of next week. There is a lot of discourse about this, but an angle I have not heard covered yet is this question: "How much input or influence in this change of course did Jay-Z, the new NFL guru of cool and pop culture, have, if any?"
— These are things that make me tear up. Truly. (And yes, I'm a sucker for all those little kids sports movies. Shut up, Dro. I'm not crying, you're crying. Stupid "Hardball." Seriously, if you are not crying at the end of "Hardball," then you need some soul juice.) Where were we? Oh yes, Lincoln Riley and OU giving the game ball to a 12-year special-needs kid who has been bullied. (Side note: If you are bullying a special-needs kid, then you need a monumental tail-kicking. Side note on the side note: Arguably the second-worst beating I ever took — worst was at a frat party in Athens in what became a donnybrook, and I gave almost as good as I got, but I came across a high school wrestling champ and let's just say I was quite sore and lucky not to have broken my arm — was as a freshman in high school stepping in for a kid who was being bullied in the locker room. And I'd do it again in a second. Like Henry Hill says in "Goodfellas," "Everybody takes a beating sometimes.")
— OK, we'll ask, is there an world-renowned athlete or celebrity we know less about than Michael Jordan? Here's a great story from Jeremy Roenick, the former Chicago hockey player and excellent golfer, detailing how he took Jordan for "thousands" of dollars and how Jordan won it back by saying he would score at least 40 that night and the Bulls would win by 20. Did we mention that Jordan had like 10 Co-Colas on the golf course? Amazing.
— Alex Trebek got choked up at a kind message from a contestant Monday night. Oh, while we're here, "Jeopardy!" James Whosehisboots is going to get a shot at the librarian lady who ended his run in the tournament of champions. We'll take James and lay the points.
— Speaking of laying the points, we said it on air on Press Row and we wrote it two weeks ago that we're riding against the Akron Arths for the rest of the season, including last night's 42-14 home loss to one of the Directional Michigans. Yes, it was snowing, but did you see the crowd? Wow, there was maybe 500 people there who were not required to be there. We're counting it on the ledger.
— We went 1-1 on college hoops picks thanks to UT's furious comeback. We lost on Memphis. College hoops picks are 4-3, and we'll have one later today. Pushing the deadline. Here's more UT's late charge from Gene of Many Hats Henley, the TFP UT beat ace.
— Turn away Chas, but wow, who saw that coming with Walter McCarty leading Evansville over the newly minted No. 1-ranked Kentucky Wildcats? Stunning. And it will be forgotten sooner rather than later. Side note: McCarty was part of those great UK teams in the mid-1990s that often get skipped when mentioning the best college basketball teams since Wooden. Petino had like 10 NBA players on that roster.
Which way Wednesday starts here.
Which college football team do you feel the most secure about getting into the playoff?
Which kids sports movie not named "Bad News Bears" (the original) is the best?
Which team will sign Colin Kaepernick, because believe me when I tell you this really feels like it's happening.
Which baseball sin is the most egregious, PEDs, gambling or stealing signs with technology?
As for today, well it's Nov. 13 — where did the year go, right? — and we'll review.
On this day in 1982, Ray Mancini beat Duke Too Kim, who died four days later.
Arguably the best and maybe most-used cliché of all time was uttered on this day in 1789 when ol' Bennie Franklin dropped, "Nothing is certain but death and taxes."
Rushmore of all-time clichés/sayings. Go, and remember the mailbag.