Let's review our daily chores.
First, you know the rules. Here's Paschall on some UT tidbits. And here's Hargis on high school football winding down. Man, feels like it was two weeks ago that high school football kicked off, right?
Second, the balloting for your favorite Braves player has come down to the two greatest position players in Atlanta baseball history — Hammer and Chipper. Thoughts? And you have a small window this morning to get your final vote counted.
Finally, the Rushmores.
Rushmore of fast-food breakfast sandwiches. And we'll start with a major visor tip to Fat Vader, who flexed his au-thor-a-t-EYE on this category. He's correct, the Egg McMuffin is the OG and hence deserves a spot even if there are four tastier options out there. And this is coming from someone who gets the Egg McMuffin at every Mickey D's breakfast stop. The Chick-Fil-A chicken biscuit is there. I give Hardee's the slight edge over Bojangle's in terms of biscuit quality, so that's my choice for the old-school plain buttered biscuit. I respect Vader's personal affection and his emotional connection to the breakfast burrito, but it falls just short. And yes, the universal attraction of the bacon-egg-and-cheese biscuit makes it a staple. But, right there in the OG category with the Egg McMuffin of this entire genre is the sausage biscuit, and we must respect its greatness. That is the biscuit staple from which all other options are generated and morphed. And yes, I like mustard on my sausage biscuit. And yes, I love biscuits and gravy, but that does not feel like a fast-food breakfast sandwich. And, there are going to be more than a few of us who had 'that' gas station in our hometown that was a must-stop for a quick breakfast option on the way to a deer stand, a ballpark or a Cooper's Lake on a still-dark Saturday morning in our father's pick-up. In Smyrna's, ours was B&W Texaco, and their pork link biscuits were heavenly. In taste and in the sense that if you ate more than like one in a sitting, you were going to Heaven earlier than you expected because of the calories, fat and all that other stuff we were blissfully unaware of back then.
Rushmore of Martin. Should we go both sides? Martin Scorsese is a personal fav even if he only made "Goodfellas." There has to be Martin Luther King Jr. Then there is the other Martin Luther, too. And for me, Martin Short has always been a decent fellow, I must say. Last name Martin: Steve Martin, Dean Martin, Ricky Martin and of course when we go to the box store we go Wal-Martin' right? No. OK, what about George R.R. Martin, of Game of Thrones fame then? (Bonus: Sports Martin Rushmore: Martin Brodeur, Curtis Martin and Mark Martin).
Rushmore of currently working brother-sister acting combos: John and Joan Cusack. The Gyllenhaals are there. Are Eric and Julia Roberts — War Smyrna — still considered currently working? If so they are there. Final spot — currently working remember — goes to Oliver and Kate Hudson.
Rushmore of TV Lawyers: Perry Mason. Saul Goodman. Lionel Hutz from The Simpsons. Jack McCoy. Tough category and I feel for Jackie Childs and Ben Matlock. (Side question: Did you know Gomez Adams was a lawyer and would qualify for the conversation?) But that's a strong Rushmore and on this hill, I will fight.
Which takes us to the bag.
In response to your Rushmore question, I must ask: Which is more surprising to you — that Susan Dey went from teen queen Laurie Partridge to case-closed Grace Van Owen on "L.A. Law," or that Elle Woods went from California sorority sister to Harvard valedictorian?
I put nothing past Elle Woods. She showed some true moxie. And — sadly — there are a lot of times we pigeon-hole folks in places in which they feel the need to hide their strengths and treat them like weaknesses.
OK, Hallmark moment over. Still, Elle was money.
In fact, Reese Witherspoon — any relation to John Witherspoon, who played Ice Cube's dad in "Friday?" No? OK. — has crafted a quarter-century of excellence in her pedigree if you look at it. She turned 45 earlier this year and has a full spectrum of hits from "Legally Blonde" and "Sweet Home Alabama" romcoms to the HBO smash "Big Little Lies" to musical high notes in "Sing" and "Walk the Line" and some heavy parts in "Fear," "Cruel Intentions" and "Election."
As for the teeth of this question that made my head spin, Laurie Partridge running away from fame and changing her name to become a lawyer in L.A. is quite the TV arc, if we believed that the child TV character was who went on to be the one playing the adult TV role.
Young and impressionable Doogie Howser growing up to be Barney on "How I Met Your Mother" also would qualify, no?
Of course, I would have to guess that Opie Taylor either had a terrible family tragedy in Mayberry and was sent to live with his relatives the Cunninghams in Milwaukee who adopted him. That or witness protection.
From breakfast sandwich savant Fat Vader
How do you rank the attractiveness of the current HC openings? Is it just my homerism that thinks LSU is the most attractive job out there, followed by USC? Where do Washington and VT rank on there? Does the top-ranking change at all if Florida opens up?
Side question: With the current state of College football is it foolish to extend a 10-year contract to anyone whose name doesn't end in -aban?
I believe USC is the most attractive job on this market currently, but it's incredibly close.
There are a slew of things that impact the 'attractiveness' of a job in my mind. And LSU and USC have both of them in mass abundance.
— Money, for coach, staff and the ability to contend. Check and check for LSU and USC, which are easily the two biggest jobs currently open. After that, my list would be Washington, TCU and Virginia Tech and then you start head-on-a-swivel to the point that hotshot assistants are in play. (Side note: To answer your second question, this all changes if Florida comes open because Florida becomes the most desirable job in my mind. And that all changes if Texas comes open, and then the other UT becomes No. 1 on the list.)
— Resources. Check and check.
— Recruiting bases. Check and check.
— Getting to follow a goof. Check and check. (This is sneaky important in the potential success/failure of almost every hire in almost every work endeavor. If you have to follow a Saban or a Munson or a Larry Ward or, you get the idea, then you are going to have your work cut out for you. If you follow a Barfield or a Gillespie or a Pruitt or, you get the idea, then you have a wider window of understanding.
As for my rankings, I give the slightest edge to USC because Alabama is not an everyday hurdle for them. Seriously, Saban clouds everything in college football. He's Voldemont. And, yes that could impact the Florida perception sooner rather than later considering what Kirby "Dice Man" Smart — the mouth on that one — is building in Athens.
In some ways, that factor plays into why I think Lincoln Riley is 100% in play to go to Red Stick. Since we know the Sooners are headed to the SEC anyway, Riley has to be smart enough to realize Oklahoma does not have the recruiting base or connections to get the Jimmys and Joes to fight Saban from Norman. Hence, that negates arguably Oklahoma's biggest asset for Riley, and that was the easiest path to the playoff. (Until this year, that is.)
And yes, I hate coaching searches too because every coach — candidate or not — is looking to do the Jimmy Sexton Shuffle.
And Mel Tucker is having an amazing year in East Lansing, but egad, if he's worth 10 years at $9.5 million per for one surprise run with a transfer-filled roster, isn't Saban worth $15-plus million per? Or more?
Jay, how did the Braves not have someone as an MVP finalist?
Great question, and the answer is pretty simple, and twofold: It's a regular-season award, and the brilliance and balance of Albies, Freeman and Riley pulled support from all three.
I think Bryce Harper is great. Truly. And this slices as the V word in the award, because how truly valuable is a player like Juan Soto, who is fantastic but did fantastic things on a last-place team.
Side note: Did you see the bath Vegas took with Shohei Ohtani winning the AL MVP? One bettor plopped down $30K at 30-to-1 before the season and walked away with a cool $900,000 in profit (before taxes).
It's an imperfect system for sure, and the timing of the ballot makes it feel somewhat clouded after the fact. But the reverse is true, too, because Eddie Rosario would have gotten some MVP support if the votes were cast in November instead of early October.
Jay, I love your work. Thanks for speaking the truth. What would you do if you were running the Falcons? Thanks, and it would be cool if you used this [Friday].
From Joe Don
For the Mailbag
This one sentence in Monday's musing really caught my eye: "Yes, QB is the most important position in sports"
Is football's QB more important than baseball's pitcher? The pitcher and QB both handle the ball the same amount of time for their team – except the QB does it on offense and pitcher does it on defense.
If your QB has an "off" game, the running back can still do wonders. Heck, the defense and/or special teams can save your bacon and score a TD or three. But if your pitcher is lobbing softballs, there's not much anyone can do to stop it except take him out. The baseball defense can't score.
One final thought: Dan Quinn and the Cowboys said all the right things publicly about the Falcons, but do you think in team meetings last week that Quinn told OC Kellen Moore something akin to the Bill Yoast-to-Herman Boone exchange in Remember the Titans: "Run it up Herman. Leave no doubt."
These both had Falcons-related angles so I merged them.
First, if I was the Falcons GM, well, I'd pray. A lot. (While we are here, that was a gift from the gambling Gods last night. Egad, Pats minus one score over that version of the Falcons? And considering the crowd in attendance last night, anyone want to ballpark that attendance for the day after Christmas when the Lions come to Atlanta? Wowser.)
What a mess. You turned the best WR1-WR2-TE1 room in the league into Russell Gage-Some dude named Zaccheus and Kyle Pitts.
The offensive line is filled with more busts than Canton. Matt Ryan is aging quicker than the end of Benjamin Buttons. The defense, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.
You identify your building blocks. Jarrett, Deion Jones, AJ Terrell on defense. Pitts and Calvin Ridley — if he returns — on the other side. And then you blow the thing up. Entirely.
Take every call. Every piece other than Pits and Terrell — dudes on rookie deals, and did we mention the Falcons have arguably the worst cap situation in the league, which also begs the question how truly awful was Tommy Dmitroff as his job? — is available for picks or young players.
As for Dallas running it up, I don't think that is ever going to be an issue against Atlanta because the conversation on the sidelines these days against Atlanta is taking the air out of the ball so your players do not get hurt.
JoeDon, the starting pitcher as a position, I suppose could have been in the conversation several moons ago, and at one point, when we expected those dudes to go seven innings-plus every time they got the ball and teams drafted RBs No. 1 overall, it may have been the No. 1 position in terms of importance in sports.
(And yes, Spy is somewhere in South Georgia screaming about the importance of a hockey goalie and yes. It's important. But it's still hockey.)
The starting pitcher position, however, is not the same as starting pitcher person, and the person will always be devalued compared to the QB because a) he gets the ball every fifth day (at most), and b) is only expected to be good-or-better for the first half by comparison.
Enjoy the weekend friends.