Kirby. Yes, the Bulldogs keep rolling, welcoming all challengers and punching them directly in the face. UT's quick start and a rocking homefield did not faze the top-ranked Bulldogs in the least. Kirby's got his bunch focused on the next game, the next series, the next play, and while the offense is fine, this defense is generational. Truly. (Side note: Another thing Kirby picked up from Saban that fans notice and appreciate: He's involved — and animated — with that defense when needed.)
Mike Leach and Will Rogers. Hey look, the SEC player of the week — offensive POY possibly? — and a coach who was able to manage his game fearlessly and wisely. Unlike Saturday counterpart Mike Bobo, who continually finds ways to overcoach and outsmart himself, Leach found something that worked — and worked well — and picked at that scab until Auburn bled to death. It was very Spurrier-esque in its brilliant simplicity. As for the guy calling the defenses against Rogers, well, let's wait a few graphs.
Patrick Mahomes. Best way to shut up loud keyboard captains like your truly when they are pondering what's wrong with Patty Mahomes is to drop five TDs and 400-plus passing yards in prime time like Mahomes did Sunday night against Las Vegas. Yes, QB is the most important position in sports, and the Chiefs — despite their erratic ways — have to be on everyone's shortlist of potential Super Bowl winners because when Mahomes plays like he did Sunday night, they are the best team in the league. How about this stat: Mahomes now has three career games with 400-plus passing yards and five TDs. That's tied for the most in league history with three M dudes you may have heard of — Manning, Marino and Montana. And now Mahomes.
NFL underdogs. According to David Purdum of ESPN, underdogs are covering at a 58.2% clip this year. Yeah, that's entertaining.
UTC basketball. This has the feel of a special run, friends. Potentially very special. And know this: If you or anyone you know likes to wet your beak on the occasional sports wagering options around, the oddsmakers are still unaware how good Lamont's legions are. They were catching 7 at a Loyola-Marymount and won outright (money line winner) and were laying only 12.5 Sunday before destroying UNC-Asheville. A home game Tuesday against the Tennessee Techsters will be followed by a Saturday trip to VCU. I'll take Paris' players in both.
UTC football. Wow, that one stings. A 10-6 loss to Mercer filled with self-inflicted wounds all but ends the postseason dreams of a team too talented not to be dancing come December. And to make matters even more painful for the Mocs masses here's betting that five years from now when three or more of the guys on this roster are playing on Sundays, looking back without even a trip to the playoffs in 2021 will sting then too.
Derek Mason and the Auburn coaching staff. Yes, Mason is the DC so he'll get top billing, but the entire coaching staff failed their football team Saturday. We'll start with Mason's performance, which in my mind was such a poor effort that it should be a fireable offense. With cause. Mason sat back and personified the clinical definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. In a man-under, three-deep zone, Auburn rushed here and made Will Rogers look like Joe Montana. At one point, with zero pressure — what's this crazy new-fangled thing called a blitz? — Rogers completed 35-of-37 throws from late in the second quarter until late in the fourth when the game was clinched for the visiting MSU Bulldogs.
Steve Sarkisian. Buckets. I mean buckets. Auburn's collapse would have been the biggest weekend loser if not for what Sarkisian's Longhorns did (and didn't do) at home against Kansas. OK, some parameters. First Kansas may be the worst college football program in America and almost assuredly is the worst Power Five team in the country. Second, if you are unaware, football is kind of a big deal for Texas. And third, how about this stat: Since 1978, Kansas was 0-100 when playing as a 24-or-more-point underdog. Over that same span, Texas was 79-0 outright in games in which the Horns were favored by 24 or more points. Kansas' 57-56 OT win snapped its 56-game Big 12 road losing streak. (Side note: Say you know a guy who writes a daily morning family-oriented, interweb-based column-type thing who also enjoys the occasional bet. Say, said guy, took an odds boost and played the money line on 10 teams favored by three TDs or more in a 10-team parlay. Say those odds were going to double his money because of the number of teams involved that included Georgia, THE Ohio State, Florida, UCLA, Utah App State and a few others. Say, also, that the first nine hit and the last one to finish was (Wait for it) Texas-Kansas. Tanks for nuttin' Sark.
Atlanta Falcons. Egad. What was that?
So, first-year Auburn Bryan Harsin is not the most popular fellow among his fan base. He's not the most unpopular either. That'd be Derek Mason.
Conversely, Josh Heupel could run for mayor of Knox County right now and win in a landslide.
Such is the import of first impressions.
Side note: Your predecessor in these matters also matters. For example, Harsin was charged with taking Auburn from pretty good to much better than that. Ultimately that will be Heupel's goal too, but when you are replacing Jeremy Pruitt, who replaced bumper-sticker-spewing Butch Jones, just walking and chewing gum at the same time is a striking improvement.
As our society embraces the "50 is the new 30" — side note: I'm 51; 31 was a lot better — the inverse scale is now clearly true for college football coaches. Year 1 is like year 3, and year 2 better be locked and loaded.
Look at Sarkisian, who is being vilified for the Longhorns debacle. Ask Dan Mullen, who is less than a year removed from almost toppling eventual national champion Alabama in the 2020 SEC title game.
Ask Jimmy Lake, who was fired 13 games into his run at the University of Washington. Yes, Lake had a run-in with a player, but ion the Huskies had lived up to their preseason hype rather than limped to a 4-6 mark (with a season-opening loss to Montana) 10 games in, that run-in would have been handled with the one-game suspension Lake served Saturday before being dismissed.
It sets up a full buffet at the football coaching carousel with jobs at LSU, USC, Washington, TCU and Washington State. And that's during the season.
This and that
— OK, we have a ruling. All those who had Pittsburgh in the Eliminator Pool are permitted to advance. We came to this decision by seeking input from other players not still swimming and the final feather was that ESPN.com's eliminator pool considers a tie as a win in their contest. More like kissing your step-sister I guess. So all five advanced to this week.
— Jason Kokrak won the Houston Open on the PGA Tour over the weekend. My pre-tourney pick Matthew Wolfe tied for 11th with Luke List among others. List and Wolfe each pocketed $166,875 for the effort. Fellow Baylor grad Stephan Jaeger tied for 35tth and made the palindromic sum of $36,563. Keith Mitchell was a shot back of Jaeger's group and finished tied for 41st, which paid $28,125.
— Speaking of college football — and you know the rules — here's Paschall SEC wrap-up column.
— Interesting story about some Nebraska fans yelling at Maryland volleyball players who were kneeling during the national anthem to stand up. Apparently it upset the Nebraska players as well. So the players can kneel and everyone has to respect that. It is their right and their choice. But the people who are upset by someone kneeling during the anthem can't have an opinion on it or voice that opinion? Hmmmmmmmmm.
— Side question: Did anyone else know that former NFL first-rounder Trev Alberts is the Nebraska AD?
— Wow, just seeing this. Bo Nix will miss the last two games because he needs surgery. Yeah, that Iron Bowl line just went to Alabama minus-31. (Lay all dem points.)
— Also, great nominations of the most popular Atlanta Braves player gang. The polls will open this week, so keep your eyes peeled.
Weekend winners and losers. Fire away.
As for multiple-choice Monday, who is the third-best team in the SEC? And man, that Egg Bowl is setting up to potentially be the most entertaining rivalry-weekend college football game considering the stinkfests that Georgia-Georgia Tech, Florida-FSU, Clemson-South Carolina and the Iron Bowl look to be.
As for today, Nov. 15, let's review.
Smoke 'em if you got 'em. Columbus noted the first recorded reference to tobacco on this day in 1492.
On this day 35 years ago, the Beastie Boys released "Licensed to Ill." And while I am admittedly biased in favor of Mike D and the crew, I contend "Licensed to Ill" is as good as any debut album by any artist in any genre ever. For real.
Sam Waterston is 81 today. He played Jack McCoy.
Does Jack McCoy from "Law & Order" make the Rushmore of TV lawyers? Go.