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Georgia photo by Mackenzie Miles / Georgia football coach Kirby Smart had an energy and a roster that Florida could not match during last month's 34-7 win by the Bulldogs in Jacksonville. Dan Mullen was fired as coach of the Gators this past Sunday.

College football rankings

So the rankings of the pen-penultimate release for the college football playoff are out.

And from those rankings come a crystallizing view of who makes it depending on outcomes.

So, barring an unimaginable loss to Georgia Tech — the Jackets are a five-TD underdog — Georgia is in. Period. Even a 48-10 loss to Alabama in the SEC title game would not change that in my opinion.

(Side note: Alabama's loss to A&M earlier this season could actually help Georgia a bit in that regard. Yes a loss to an unbeaten Alabama would look better on the resumé, but you would have to wonder how the committee would view an immediate rematch from an SEC title game in a playoff semifinal.)

Every other team with a reasonable shot sees its scenario start with the simple knowledge that they have to win out.

And yes, that includes Alabama, because barring chaos behind it, a second loss for the Tide will be too much to overcome.

Do I think Alabama is one of the four best teams in the country? Of course.

But, even with a 30-29 loss to Georgia, it's going to be next-to-impossible to see a two-loss Alabama — and remember it would be the four seed and then be facing an immediate rematch with Georgia, which is not preferable to the committee or fair to Georgia — in the field over a one-loss Big Ten champ, a one-loss Big 12 champ, an unbeaten Cincy or a one-loss Notre Dame considering that loss came to Cincy.

Thoughts?



Main course of college hoops

There were two powerful performances last night on the biggest stage in college hoops.

Gonzaga punched UCLA in the face early and often. (And yes, the Zags minus-6.5 was a Thanksgiving gift that paid for half the spread for the 15-plus coming to the 5-at-10 Compound. Gonna ride the Zags and the Mocs against the number for the foreseeable future friends.)

And know this: The 7-foot-1 white freshman that picked Gonzaga over every blue blood program in America is absolutely the real deal. And, by definition, Chet Holmgren going to Mark Few's squad makes Gonzaga a blue-blood in modern definition.

(Side question: On a which-way Wednesday, which program is in better shape today and moving forward, Gonzaga or UNC? Discuss.)

The second performance was Dickie V making it back to his ESPN announcing gig and got understandably emotional before the game. And it was awesome, Bay-BEE.

If last night was the first serving, and Gonzaga and Dickie V stole the show, then today is the drink-from-the-fire-hose blast of wall-to-wall college basketball.      

There are a lot of early-season fights between mid-level-or-higher programs over the next few days. One of the ones I'm watching is Auburn-UConn today at 2:30 for a multitude of reasons.

One of them being financial as I will gladly take Pearl's posse and the points.



What's in a deal

Some contract chatter if you please.

James Franklin got a monster extension from Penn State. It's a 10-year deal worth $75 million. (Which way Wednesday, No. 2: Which 'JF' coach at similar prices would you rather have, Jimbo Fisher or James Franklin?)

Franklin will assuredly not be the last coach to cash a monster check even if administrators or fans do not know if he's the long-term dude for their program.

First, the multitude of high-profile openings makes this a very expensive offseason. Heck, here's betting the very reasonable approach that Chas has mentioned about UK's annual one-year extension for Mark Stoops will get an overhaul as a slew of calls come to Lexington from 213, 225, 352 and other area codes.

Second, never has the question been more important and more difficult than "Who could we get that is really better?" in terms of the next coaching plan.

Sure, there are a few situations in which that answer matters less than the need to move on from a clearly broken situation. Or an apathetic one. I think LSU and likely Florida fall into that first category, and I'm not sure we'll ever know all the behind-the-scenes happenings in Red Stick or Gainesville. USC clearly landed in the apathy wasteland.

So now they are hunting. And praying.

And the only guaranteed winners are the guys like Franklin, who are going to get monster raises for having their agent answer a phone call.

Happy Thanksgiving indeed.  



This and that

— Speaking of contracts, good on Tampa for locking up future super-duper-star Wander Franco to a 12-year deal that could be worth $200-plus million and still has to be viewed as team-friendly. Somewhere Cal Ripken can only shake his head at that total and the phrase "team friendly" considering the Hall of Famer made a smidge more than $70 million total in his 19-year career.  

— And we're only going to whisper this because I do not want to upset anyone's stomach before Thanksgiving, but what the heck is going on? Why is Freddie Freeman's deal not done yet? Alex Anthopoulos to the white courtesy phone please. Alex Anthopoulos on the courtesy phone.

— Also, speaking of the college football playoff, the Cincinnati Bearcats are the biggest Georgia fans this side of Alejandro, Bearddawg and Jules. Cincy needs the Bulldogs to handle its business in 10 days. Period.

— One more college football playoff thing: How drab and awful would this be if the playoff field was 12 teams? Beyond playing for a bye, what dang difference would the next 10 days make for Alabama, Georgia, THE Ohio State, Notre Dame, either of the Oklahoma schools and maybe even Michigan? Not much. And devaluing the process and the prize of a conference championship would be a monster mistake in my view. And if you don't think this will devalue the conference championship — in terms of marketability for TV partners, in terms of coverage and in terms of import — when was the last time any power five school celebrated a conference basketball tournament title for longer than 75 minutes before the brackets were released?

— So, which is worse, using the queen mother of all slurs in a drunken rant or being accused of — and even admitting to — multiple inappropriate sexual actions? According to the folks who pick the artists eligible for the Grammys, it's clearly the former, as Morgan Wallen was shunned in every category but Louis CK, Marilyn Manson and Dr. Luke each got nominations. So there's that.

— I am sure Matt King, a Texas attorney, is a sharp dude. To even get on Jeopardy!, you have to jump through a cavalcade of academic hoops. But King was on Tuesday night and the results were not pretty. HIs final score was negative-$6,400. Ouch-standing. (And no, he did not have to write a check to leave, although that would be kind of cool, right?)

— Holy buckets of parlay paydays. Did you see this story? A Vegas bettor put $50 on a 15-leg parlay that covered multiple sports and won the tidy sum of $1.1 million. Now that's something to be thankful for. Among the bets that hit were some that were completely stress-free (Pats money line bet over the Falcons last Thursday), some that were amazingly clairvoyant (betting on Jin Young Ko to win the CME Group Tour Championship) and some that were dramatic as all Hades (Baltimore money line). OK, side question for the bettors out there: How much are you hedging come Sunday with only a couple of legs left on a Baltimore money line bet? Remember this was placed in the middle of last week, long before the Lamar Jackson illness stories started to leak, so there's that.

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall on the Vols erratic defense.



Today's questions

Which-way Wednesday continues this way: Which Thanksgiving side item is the best? Which is the worst?

I'll start. The best is my wife's dressing. Egad it's great. The worst? This may be an unpopular view but I'll pass on the sweet potato soufflé.

Which bread option are you serving?

And don't forget the Which-way-Wednesday questions above.

Also, which team outside of the top four has the best chance to get into the playoff?

As for today, Nov. 24, let's review.

Did you know that barbed wire was patented on this day in 1874?

Freddie Mercury died on this day 30 years ago. Could do several Rushmores that would include Freddie.

We'll start with this one: Rushmore of famous people with an intergalactic name.

Go and remember the mailbag, and feel free to list something random for which you are thankful for on this Wednesday before Turkey Thursday.

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