SEC hot seats
Last week listed the bowl destinations across the SEC.
Not much has changed. Although with Tua on the shelf, if Bama wins out (and it likely will because its wide receivers are worth 17 points with me throwing the football, and as any self-aware, attention-paying Auburn fan can tell you, 17 is plenty against this offensive mess that causes all AU fans to get the Malzahn Morose SIGH), we think the Tide may not be the most attractive non-playoff SEC team. Think that likely will be Georgia, as long as they play a dogfight against LSU in Atlanta.
So as we scan the SEC, let's rank the teams by temperature on the coach's chair moving forward. Since the weather is changing, we'll go from cool to warm to Malzahn and the rest of the M boys with their heads on a swivel. (That's provided Malzahn doesn't up and leave for the Arkansas job during the editing process of today's effort.)
Alabama. If you are wondering why "The coach at (fill in the blank) is having a better year," well, that may be, but with the lone exception of Clemson no coach in the country is forever as safe as Saban. "Well, what about ... " Stop it, and answer this: If Saban walked tomorrow and called any school in America and said, "I want to come there and coach and bring a billion 5-stars" how many ADs would not go directly into their current coach's office and help him pack his desk? Again, maybe Clemson. The rest, well, "Nice knowing you, coach."
LSU. On track for a playoff date, a Heisman winner and all the spoils. Simply put, it's the perfect fit with the Swamp Monster that is Coach O. As for not aging well, how about this old tweet I found at the bottom of my timeline: "Hiring Coach O was a huge mistake. Yes, it was his dream job. My dream job is pitching for the Dodgers. Neither of us are qualified to do it." Wow, that has aged like buttermilk.
Florida. Yes, Florida is more TLF with Dan Mullen right now than Georgia is with Kirby.
Georgia. Kirby is in no means on a chair that is anything but ice right now. (Side question: OK, how cool was the old-school George Gervin poster with him in the white/silvery jumpsuit sitting on a chair of ice with "Iceman" over his head? Wicked cool. Kids of America were better when posters covered the walls of rooms across the land.) Still, there are folks wondering how good Kirby is in game, and there will be a lot of questions about the direction of the offense moving forward.
Kentucky. When a fan base is more worried about their coaching leaving than anything else, well, that's a very good sign for said coach. Mark Stoops has done a whale of a job.
Tennessee. Jeremy Pruitt has climbed this chart with a dazzling five-week run. Because with the flurry of second-year firings, looking back, the Mississippi State win cannot be overstated in terms of fan approval, locker-room commitment and Pruitt's own job security.
Texas A&M and Auburn. Meet the buyout brothers. There is frustration. There also is a certain amount of fiscal functionality. Both of these teams could fire Jimbo Fisher and Gus Malzahn, but both will have winning records and play in bowl games, and that makes really hard for a lot of top-dog school administrators to sign off on paying tens of millions to clear a staff and then tens of millions more to hire a staff. That said, let either one of these guys kick the tires on another job, and the reaction is going to be "When can you leave?" (And Malzahn is the hardest guy to rank on this list, right? The buyout matters. He is 2-5 against Bama, which is not good enough for Auburn folks but it's also more wins over Bama with Saban than the rest of the current SEC coaches have combined. Wow, this makes my head hurt.)
Ole Miss. Matt Luke has done an admirable job in an untenable situation handed down by the NCAA and in the wake of the Hugh Freeze mess. The Rebels are improved, and he hired a couple of top-notch coordinators. Still, a lot of the Ole Miss boosters I know realize that Luke is more Mike Shula than Nick Saban in terms of Alabama comparisons.
Missouri. Barry Odom is the first in this bottom group that needs a clear disclaimer. I do not think, other than Arkansas, there will be another SEC opening this year. But there are several guys who will need a much-better 2020 to continue. (Side point: OK, I almost wrote a "better vision in 2020" line or something of that ilk. I am going to try to live the code of not taking the easy way and avoid all eyesight-2020 links moving forward.) As for Odom, even with the NCAA cloud looming, this team has sorely under-performed and the loss to Vandy was a really bad optic, and one that cannot happen in 2020, when a lot of things will come into focus. (Hey, I tried.)
Vanderbilt. This may be a touch low, because, despite the vote of confidence, Derek Mason and Vandy feel right for each other. Still, Mason followed James Franklin,who lifted the ceiling for Vandy football, which right now is on the floor.
South Carolina. I think Will Muschamp is a very good football coach, and he would get another head coaching job if it doesn't work out. But it's hard to overstate what 2020 will mean for Coach Boom.
Mississippi State. Terribly hard to replace the guy, but that was the task for Joe Moorhead when Mullen left for Gainesville. He's in that group that a) could be looking around and no one would mind, and b) next year will be critical.
Arkansas. Well, they are on an interim guy after all. Which brings us to the question: Who gets that job? Chad Morris was a name a lot of people wanted when he was hired a couple of years ago in Fayetteville. They are going to have to hire a guy who can bring some sizzle, because they need an energy infusion. Yes, Mike Norvell at Memphis is a fine coach. But could this be a place that calls Lane Kiffin? Would Les Miles want to come back to the SEC?
Wow that got long in a hurry, huh?
Well, let's move a little more quickly from here on.
Our top 5/bottom 3 for the best conference in the country juggles a smidge.
Without Tua, I think Alabama slides a little bit, and I think it would be quite interesting too, to see what the spread would be with a Tua-less Bama bunch against, say, Florida on a neutral site.
Like Destiny on the main stage, let's get to the poll.
SEC top in order: LSU, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Auburn.
SEC from the bottom up: Arkansas, Vandy, Mississippi State. (Side note: This Arkansas team may be the worst in the SEC in a long time. Wow.)
We said last week that college football would work itself out. Oklahoma and Iowa dispatched the potential chaos-makers in Baylor and Minnesota.
The two most logical paths right now are as follows:
There is: the committee would love this path in that the top three — LSU, THE Ohio State and Clemson — hold serve and win out and Oregon and Utah win out and the winner of that Pac-12 title game gives the committee four conference champs and the final four would likely be THE Ohio State, LSU, Clemson and the Pac-12 winner in that order.
Then there is the SEC dream scenario, in which Georgia beats LSU in the SEC title game (with everyone holding serve) and the final four would be THE Ohio State, Clemson, Georgia and LSU in that order. (Yes, LSU over a one-loss Pac-12 winner.)
In some ways the Tua injury will allow the committee an easy way out in regard to Alabama and a spot.
In a lot of ways the committee really needs THE Ohio State to keep rolling.
This and that
— Mark Walton is facing some serious stuff, gang, and if it's remotely truth, forget worrying about what his NFL future may be, he's losing his freedom, and rightly so. Walton was released by the Dolphins after being arrested for allegedly pushing his pregnant girlfriend against the wall and reportedly punching her in the head and face.
— Gronk is having a load of fun right now. Here he's dancing with the Laker Girls.
— Pretty cool stat that LeBron James has now had a triple-double against every NBA franchise with last night's 25-11-10 against the Thunder. Side note about LeBron and worth monitoring: Want to know how many of the all-time top-25 scorers have led the NBA in assists in a season? One, Oscar Robertson, who is 12th all-time in points and led the NBA in it seven times before the NBA/ABA merger. LeBron is fourth in scoring — and likely will pass Kobe this season for third — and currently leads the NBA in assists.
— If you had the over 56 in the EMU-North Illinois game, you are welcome. the 45-17 win clearly went north of the 56. We're riding the lightning right now in college football — welcome back MACtion — and we are laying the monster bundle against Akron tonight, too. In No Pay November, the college picks are 17-7 against the number good times. (And that's 45-40-2 overall, which is 52.9 percent, which is better than anything that starts with a 4.)
— Press Row cohost David Paschall has had some kind of run in the TFP of late. Be it Lookouts news — here's the latest there — or the local woman from Ringgold who was trucked on the sideline at the Auburn game or his regular college football excellence, Paschall is winning at journalism right now.
Which way Wednesday starts this way.
Which team does the CFP committee need to win out?
Which team could do the most damage to the CFP committee's plan for peaceful picks?
Which SEC coach has the hottest seat?
Which under-26 quarterback would you draft first right now to build your NFL franchise around?
Got one, share one?
On this day, Nov. 20, well, let's explore.
Joe Biden is 77 today. So there's that.
On this day 35 years ago, McDonald's made its 50 billionth hamburger. Dear Lord.
Bo Derek is 63 today.
Mark Gastineau is also 63. He was part of the New York Sack Exchange when he was with the Jets.
While I don't think that will make it, what's on the Rushmore of nicknames for defenses? (Steel Curtain is the leader in the clubhouse, right?)
Go, and remember the mailbag.