5-at-10: Weekend winners (football fans) and losers (the Patriots), amazing Iron Bowl reactions

Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe (4) celebrates after an NCAA college football game against Auburn, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe (4) celebrates after an NCAA college football game against Auburn, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

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Weekend winners

Football fans. Wow, taking a deep breath before hitting the hay last night I could not help but think of the great line from "Gladiator" when he looks at the crowd and shouts, "Are you not entertained?" Yes, yes we were. (Side note: Is "hitting the hay" more of A) a Southern expression, B) an old-person expression or C) an old Southern person expression? I lean toward C.) That said, what a weekend of food, family and especially football.

FSU. All they have to do is win, win, win no matter what. That's to get to the playoff, of course, and they survived The Swamp with Spy playing QB1. But in truth, as the the coaching carousel really starts to spin, FSU's patience with Mike Norvell is being rewarded in real time. Kudos.

Kentucky. Beat Louisville and derail any hopes of your in-state rival of playing for a natty. Check. Plus, with all the flirtation between A&M and Mark Stoops, UK still has its coach.

Sherrone Moore. The Michigan fill-in for Coach Khaki out-coached Ryan Day in The Game as Michigan punched its ticket to the Big Ten title game and likely to the playoff. That game was fun, but compared to the roller coaster that was the Iron Bowl, it was the merry-go-round at Coolidge Park.

UTC. Every win from this point forward is a good win as the Mocs advanced to round 2 of the FCS playoffs with a tight 24-21 win over Austin Peay. It wasn't easy, and it wasn't pretty at times, but it was plenty good enough to keep practicing this morning.

Texas A&M. I think Mike Elko — the reported hire in College Station who is now the former Duke coach — is a home run, and he has knowledge of College Station, having been the DC there from 2018-21.

Weekend losers

Texas A&M. Who ran that search, and why is the national media not blasting the A&M fan base — which rightly took to social media and for all intents and purposes stopped the Aggies from hiring Stoops — the way Tennessee fans were vilified a few years ago with the Schiano deal? Plus, you can't help but wonder if — even with my high opinion of Elko — if the Aggies just spent $100 million on football coaches and did not get any better? Discuss.

Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Mac Jones is cooked. The Pats are 2-10 after losing to the Giants 10-7. Wow, color me stunned.

Ryan Day. THE Ohio State coach has the weapons to play with anyone. But if you lose the big one, well, you're going to hear about it. That said, Day and his perfectly coiffed beard should not be anywhere close to the "should we fire him" conversation.

The Chargers. That team is too good to be that bad. When we discuss the best compliments for coaches, I always start if the product is better than the pieces. For Brandon Staley and the Chargers, the pieces are way, way better than the production.

My picks. Should have stayed with the Pacers, who continued to soar over the over. Over, Unger. Roger, Roger. What's your vector, Victor? "Airplane" is completely underrated. We finished 2-4-1 over the weekend on Jay's Plays, and tragically missed on the biggest pick of the weekend. Which leads us to ...

The Iron Bowl

Any questions about the best rivalry in college football, friends?

Even on a weekend when Michigan and THE Ohio State played a great football game with 2 vs. 3 stakes, it was merely the opening act for the drama that unfolded at Jordan-Hare.

Wow, what a game. Wow, what an ending. Wow, what a gut punch. Wow, what the hell am I doing on social media, where an army of Alabama trolls who only have ever been to Tuscaloosa on a Saturday in the fall arrived in mass like the orcs coming from Saruman's caverns.

There was so much — so, so much — from Alabama's 27-24 win over Auburn on a fourth-and-goal from the 31 TD pass in the final 40 seconds, that I'm not sure I can get to all of it.

My first thought was the memory of arguably the best college football column ever written.

Back in the mid-1980s, at the height of his powers, Lewis Grizzard — a renowned UGA football lover and alum — was writing general columns for the AJC. He was also on TV and doing comedy tours. He was a big deal.

Well, almost 40 years ago, the AJC let him write a week's worth of daily columns leading up to the Georgia-Georgia Tech game, and he blistered Tech with almost every paragraph.

Girls were ugly. Guys were dorky. Football team was weak. It was a river of insults.

Well, of course John Dewberry and Tech toppled Georgia on Saturday, and the Sunday AJC sports front had a column from Grizzard that simply read, "I don't want to talk about it." and there was nothing but white space down the entire left-hand rail.

It was a brilliant piece of newspapering by Grizzard and the AJC sports editor, and one that can never be duplicated.

And that's how I felt Saturday night. Oh my, it's never been easy being an Auburn fan, but Saturday is right there near the top of most painful losses ever.

And here is my top-five thoughts after it happened:

1. Total coaching malpractice/brain cramp to only rush two, and worse yet, why in the world did Auburn spy Jalen Melroe on the decisive play? It's fourth-and-31, you want the QB to run.

2. Auburn's enigmatic season — monster SEC road wins, inexplicable loss to NMSU — really boils down to this takeaway for me: Hugh Freeze and Co. played Georgia tighter than anyone this year and had Alabama beat until the aforementioned coaching collapse. Bama and Georgia are two of the three or four best teams in the country, and Freeze was within doubling Brock Bowers and defending fourth-and-31 from beating both. And did it with what almost assuredly will be the worst roster he will ever have at AU. So there's that.

3. Greg Sankey to the White Courtesy Phone, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey to the White Courtesy Phone please. Hey, Sankey leg, the officiating in your league sucks. Period. It's a several-hundred-million-dollar-a-year-operation and it feels like it's being called by Bennie Hill and his crew. And this is not about the outcome — there were a slew of missed calls for each side — but the gaffes are more magnified than ever.

4. Melore is going to win a Heisman. That dude is him.

5. How amazing has the Dark Lord, Nick Saban, been when there was part of all of us that expected Alabama to find a way? And I'll say this: That was the worst possible outcome for Georgia fans, considering Alabama still has everything at stake, and the Dark Lord is assuredly going to have their attention this week.

I'm going back to bed.

This and that

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall's SEC wrap column, that includes the tidbit that five SEC schools did not qualify for bowls.

— Jayden Daniels deserves the Heisman. Period.

— Man, that Eagles-Bills game was fun, right? So was the Washington-Washington State game. Again, football was aces this weekend.

— Wait, what? Taulia Tagovailoa is now the all-time Big Ten passing leader? How did that happen?

— Boise State and UNLV were picked to play in the Mountain West conference title game after a computer broke a multi-level three-team tie.

— Couple of hires that I like: Michigan State hired Jonathan Smith from Oregon State, and that dude has coached his headset off. Mississippi State hired Oklahoma OC Jeff Lebby, and dude can call ball plays.

— More coaching carousel news: Houston fired Dana Holgorsen because they finished 4-8 and not because of his really bad 1970s dad in a sitcom hairstyle. Also, Indiana fired Tom Allen, who was the toast of the town not that long ago before Michael Penix Jr. up and R-U-N-N-O-F-T-ed to Washington. Also, IU is reportedly kicking the tires on the Jon Gruden rumor mill. Yikes.

— How in the name of the South are we in a place that I can watch Andy and Barney at almost any time of the day and Lord knows there is one of the Law&Orders on at all hours but we can't get the Falcons game on broadcast TV at 1 p.m. on a Sunday? Someone's got some 'splainin' to do about that.

Today's questions

Weekend winners and losers. Go.

Multiple choice Monday will ask you for your one-word review of the Iron Bowl?

Go.

As for today, Nov. 27, let's review.

On this day 176, Marcus Aurelius gives Commodus the throne. Somewhere, Gladiator is ticked. Side question: I am stoked to see "Napoleon" with Joaquin Phoenix, who's with me?

"Frozen" was released on this day 10 years ago. Overrated.

Bruce Lee would have been 83. Jimi Hendrix would have been 81.

Chick Hearn, the former voice of the Lakers, would have been 107 today.

Does Chick's memorable turn in "Fletch" make the Rushmore of sports announcers cameos in movies?

Go.


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