A Few Words

The NFL Draft

—I love Jared Goff. I have ZERO clue about Carson Wentz. I watched two games this season. Didn’t notice him at all. He got hurt, and I knew the backup took North Dakota State to the FCS Title game. Once again, I HAVE ZERO CLUE on Wentz. I’ve seen Goff way more in his career, and like what I see (For whatever the hell that’s worth). Hackenberg is another I like (I watched him a lot also).

— The “anonymous” scout is something I always look forward to leading up to the draft. Who knew that your cooking skills will raise or drop your draft stock?  Or the age old Not smart enough and lets throw more hidden connotations in my evaluations.. (For your time.. scroll to number 10).

–It’s all part of the process (good and disgusting),  Draft day is here. Hooray.

–I respect all 32 franchises in the NFL. That doesn’t mean said franchise doesn’t always do smart things. All a fan can have is hope. Tennessee and Cleveland folks, I hope for the best with new respective regimes. History has proven otherwise.

 

 

 

Sports randomness:

–Kobe Bryant dropped 60 points on his way out. Of course “well he shot it every time” person will scoff at the point total.  “Well he shot it every time” person also hates ice cream, pizza, sports cars, and money.

— If Conor McGregor could ever link up with WWE….

–GGG can punch a tad.

— Errol Spence can box a tad.

–Jon Jones is well.. Jon Jones. Really good.

–Justice Winslow. You started a hashtag revolution. Bravo sir.

— And yes, one of these days, I’ll join in.

–Injuries STINK in sports. Understand it’s part of it, but can they ever screw things up.

— Best play of the season in the Majors:  Puig.

 

One more thing and I’m out:

I was about six or seven  and at my baby sitter’s house, her daughter had a poster of this dude with long hair on a motor cycle with smoke surrounding the picture. I finally was able to watch this movie called Purple Rain, and besides my first ever crush, the lady know as Apollonia came in number two.

I could go on and on with the songs that the dude I came to know as Prince wrote, performed, etc. Had to drop a quick line or two for one of the best that ever did it.

I remember this performance

And this one in the rain. Go figure.

And the guitar solo during Purple Rain (and EVERY song on the album).  Didn’t even get to my favorite songs.. that would take a few pages. Thanks for some of the best music of all time and arguably the best 14 words in a song ever:

Dearly beloved.. we are gathered here today, to get through this thing called life.

Saban best ever… with another coaching great

NATTY.JPG

We are all prisoners of the moment. Knee jerk reactions aren’t silly, It’s just human nature. A player, or team has an accomplishment, it’s easy to throw out the best ever comparisons.

Monday night after Alabama’s 45-40 win over Clemson, I walked out to the field inside University of Phoenix Stadium (partly to stay awake) to think if Nick Saban is the greatest coach in College Football history. I think he’s the best coach in the college game right now (Urban Meyer, David Shaw the other two) and I think it goes without saying that Alabama is the best program in the game (Ohio St is number two).

But, is Nick Saban, THE greatest coach in the college game. He joins one coach atop the mountain (more on the other coach later). Here’s what’s made Saban’s accomplishments at Alabama all-time impressive:

 

1.Being able to adapt his game plan, and program

Alabama isn’t anywhere near the program they were when Saban came to Tuscaloosa. The game plan was even more of a run heavy, conservative, sound defense that wouldn’t make many mistakes. It worked the first few years in a big way (2009 National Title).

What’s made Saban great is being able to meticulously find every little detail before kickoff, and allowing his assistants to do the same. Case in point, the game changing onside kick Monday night.

You can go all the way back to Saban’s first National Title run  in 2009 and their win over Florida in the SEC Championship.

He can make adjustments, but he can also change as the college game changes. Would Saban have the success that he’s enjoying if he were staying true to his philosophy in 2008-09? Doubt it. He won games the last two season’s with Blake Sims and Jacob Coker, running a more up tempo attack.

 

2. Recruiting philosophy has changed

It’s one thing to stock pile elite recruiting  classes year after year in College Football. That means nothing if a coaching staff:

A) Can’t evaluate elite talent at the prep level that fit your needs schematically on offense or defense.

B) Can’t develop the talent you have once it arrives on campus.

How many programs have had top 10 classes, and can’t get 7 wins, much less a chance to win a conference or National title?

Now granted, EVERY college program will “miss” on talent over the years once on campus. That’s just the reality of  the game. Guys don’t pan out for one reason or another.

The biggest accomplishment for Saban is what he’s done to revamp his roster all while dealing with the “spread” or wide open scheme across the country and within the SEC. After the slow progression of a spread type scheme with Tim Tebow and Cam Newton at Florida and Auburn respectively to Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M, Nick Saban understood that he needed players on defense that were good enough to hold up in the trenches and in run support, all while being able to play in space.

The Dont’a Hightower’s, Rolando McClain’s, Trey Depriest’s of the world are a thing of the past. What Tide fans will see more of are body types like Rashaan Evans, Tim Williams, Reuben Foster, Shon-Dion Hamilton, Da’Shawn Hand, Mekhi Brown, or Adonis Thomas. Guys that can flat out run downhill, and able to make plays in open areas of the field when playing against spread attacks. Big fellas will always be needed (when dealing with more run heavy schemes),  along with rangy Safety’s in the secondary (one of, if not the most most important position on defense), it’s just that Saban understands he needs players for EVERY scheme he can or will face.

Like the other dual threat quarterbacks that Alabama has faced,  Deshaun Watson was magnificent Monday (478 yds, 4 passing TD’s). But even in the shootout, Some of those young Alabama defenders (Evans, Hand, Hamilton, Williams, Fitzpatrick) were called upon to help the veteran guys that needed a break going against such a tempo heavy scheme.

 

3. Being in the hunt every season an accomplishment in itself

Outside of Saban’s first season at Alabama (2007, a 6-6 record) he’s had the following records:

2008- 12-2

2009- 14-0*

2010- 10-3

2011-  12-1*

2012- 13-1*

2013- 11-2

2014- 12-2

2015- 14-1*

* National Championship season

 

Nick Saban has been in Tuscaloosa for nine seasons. Eight of those, Alabama has been in the hunt for a National Title, all while playing in the best conference in College Football. And if we all want to play the “if” game, “if” a handful of plays went Alabama’s way during these eight seasons, Saban  could have 5-7 National Titles total in nine seasons.

To be able to adapt his coaching philosophy, adjust his personnel, and have personnel on the field  to execute his coaching philosophy over the years, is what makes this run for Saban all time great.

Coaching record at Alabama:

100-18 overall

50-12 in SEC Play

4 National Championships

 

It makes him at this moment ONE of the two greatest coaches in College Football history. The other:

 

 

(Source: cnn.com, Getty images)

Florida State had zero. ZERO history. In comes Bobby Bowden in 1976. He had a losing season in his first season. He never had another in 34 years in Tallahassee.

From 1987 to 2000, Florida State won at least 10 games, and loss a combined 19  (along with one tie).

FSU finished in the top 5 from 1992-2000 (14 straight seasons).

Bowden “only” has two National Titles, but the reason I put him alongside Saban, is because he created a program that had no history, into one of the best programs in America, and a brand in College Football. Saban. Bowden. The very best in my opinion. There’s a coach in Columbus, Ohio that could make me revisit this a few years from now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Hitters

— Nothing wrong with the College Football rankings this week.. Yes, everyone ( including yours truly) needs something to talk about, and the Top 4 is OK in my book.  Clemson, Ohio State, and Alabama all control their own destiny. The only spot that’s up for grabs (if everything stays the same) is the four spot. Notre Dame, Iowa, Oklahoma State, Florida, are in the mix…. Any other team that wants in needs to hope for complete and utter chaos.

— North Carolina is not getting in. Every team in the top 10 needs to lose. A great season, especially if they cap it off with a win over Clemson., and their  defenisve coordinator has done a hell of a job this season. But you can’t lose to South Carolina early, when you have a number of other one loss or undefeated teams ahead of you.

–If Oklahoma State wins out, I have no problem with them jumping into the fourth spot. Undefeated and beating the likes of TCU, Baylor (Saturday) and Oklahoma in the season finale is a pretty good resume….

—BUT, if they don’t get in, the program can only look back at a pair of non conference games this season: Central Arkansas and Texas-San Antonio. The committee told everyone last season, go out and play people. That’s a program problem if teams decided to go against that and continue play cupcake state University.

—Your only hopes  Power Five leagues:

SEC- Florida, Alabama

Big Ten- Iowa, Ohio State

Big 12- Oklahoma State

ACC- Clemson

Notre Dame

Unless chaos happens, four of these teams will be in the Final Four. you can banter, get upset, whatever. It is what it is, and I believe the above teams are the best in the country.

Funday Thursday

—Anyone seen the dude happy about sweet potato pie? Hilarious. (some strong language)

—I don’t watch alot of movies, but checked out The Gift last week. Pretty good.

—I love reality TV. The DVR is full of shows. My better half told me there are Two new Real Housewives shows are coming to Bravo. I’ll be all over it.

—A fun show to watch over the years on E! was the Soup. Wednesday, it was announced that it’s saying goodbye after 22 years.

Derek and Hansel are back.

—So Ronda loss. Breaking news. It happens. As a boxing fan, styles make fights. Congrats to Holly Holm, who also was gracious in her win. UFC are the big winners in this once these two meet again.

— Excited about the Cotto/Canelo fight. Too close to call for me (along with rooting for both fighters)… If I had to make a pick today, I’ll go with the younger guy in this one in a action packed, fight of the year candidate bout.

I’ll be back with another post after Thanksgiving….so eat everything in sight and I’ll chat again in two weeks. Questions? Comments? find me on Twitter @CarlPratherWAFF or leave a message here

Enjoy the week, and Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

CP’s Top 6

We have 12 undefeated teams in the FBS Top 25. I’ve not watched a single minute of Toledo, or Iowa… so there’s that.

I decided to do a top 6. Four teams will make the College Football Playoff, and two on the outside looking in. So without further ado… CP’s top 6:

1.Ohio State (8-0)

I can name teams that have more impressive wins, or even multiple wins in and across the top 25. Fact is none of these teams have won 21 straight and the reigning and defending National Champions. If they lose during the regular season, that’s another discussion. But right now, there’s no way you leave them out when they’ve beaten everyone on their schedule thus far. And the way JT Barrett played last week, it’s going to be tough beating them. Those last two games in November will tell us everything we need to know.

2. Alabama

They may have the best resume in the country. Wins over two top ten teams (at the time) on the road (Georgia, Texas A&M), with the only loss to a Ole Miss team that will play for the SEC Championship if they win out. They have been shaky at times, and were a final drive away from a lost last week at home against Tennessee.  Still after 8 games, I’ve gotta put Bama in my top six. November 7th will change things one way or another.

3. Clemson

Two quality wins (at the time) over  Notre Dame and Georgia Tech, puts the Tigers in my top four. A big game with Florida State looms (Nov 7th).

4. Baylor

Should LSU be here? You have a case if you believe so. I put Baylor here because of the way they have bludgeoned everyone they’ve played this year.  yes, it’s not been against the best opposition, but they way they are winning, I had to give some credit. I believe their biggest strength (offensively) is better than anyone else’s strength in the country. Of course the Bears were dealt a major blow with the loss of Seth Russell. We’ll  see if the Bears are for real with a three game stretch mid November (Oklahoma, Oklahoma St, TCU).  For right now, I put them in the final four

Outside looking in

5. LSU

Alabama and the Bayou Bengals are basically interchangeable right now. Bama got the nod for having one more top ten win than LSU. The Tigers win November 7th, they’re in, and Bama’s out. No more, no less.

6. TCU

How they’ve kept winning with athe rash of injuries on defense is impressive. If Lenord fournette wasn’t being Leonard Fournette, Trevone Boykin would be your Heisman front runner right now. Like the rest of the teams above and below them in the Top 10, a lot can change, as we head down the final stretch.

College Football Playoff Committee

Remember the first poll will be released Tuesday night. The criteria for their rankings are as follows:

  • Championships won
  • Strength of schedule
  • Head-to-head competition (if it occurred)
  • Comparative outcomes of common opponents (without incenting margin of victory)

Enjoy the weekend everyone.

Four for Thursday

After a two week break, The Clipboard is back with four thoughts heading into this week:

1. Jeremy Johnson or Sean White?

The preseason hype surrounding Auburn was as hot as this song still is right now. Fast forward to five games into the season, and the Tigers are hoping for a decent bowl game that’s warm, and a starting quarterback that can jolt the offense and gain momentum toward a potential bounce back year in ’16. Jeremy Johnson got benched, Sean White came in, and now what? It appears that Gus Malzahn’s making everyone wait till tonight to see who will start.

My two cents: I have no earthly idea who will be the starter, and I have no earthly idea what Auburn will do from here till season’s end. Fair or not, one thing’s for certain. If they look awful tonight on the road against Kentucky, Tigers fans may want something more than just a new quarterback.

2. Another shootout in College Station?

I picked Georgia to beat Alabama on October 3rd. Didn’t turn out so well. Any Alabama fan worth their hounds tooth had reservations about that game for one reason. Jake Coker. Nothing more, nothing less. Turns out Grayson Lambert was the weak link for the Bulldogs in the 38-10 drubbing.

Now it’s another game I’m picking against the Tide, and it’s at Texas A&M. The Tide defense has been outstanding, with some players even saying they have the best unit in the country. Doesn’t hurt that a Huntsville native is playing the best within the unit. I picked the other QB (Lambert) against Coker earlier this season, I’m picking the other QB (Kyle Allen) Saturday along with the 12th man to knock off the Tide. Feel free to vent your frustrations at me Saturday night if the Tide (for the 1 trillionth time) prove me wrong and win similar to last season’s victory.

3. Khaki’s. Ann Arbor’s new fashion trend.

I’m a San Francisco 49ers fan. I love Jim Harbaugh.  Much like many college football fans, it wasn’t “if” but “when” Michigan would return to relevancy. Guess we have our answer after 6 games:

5-1 (only loss to the 4th ranked team in the country).

Since that loss, the Wolverines have surrendered a grand total of 14 points.

The last three games. 31-0. 28-0. 38-0.

The biggest test is Saturday when Michigan State comes to Ann Arbor. The Spartans already short handed with a handful of key players MIA due to the injury bug.

If the Wolverines find a way to win Saturday, that hype train will keep pushing to that game on November 28th.

4. The HBC

As a tyke growing up in Kentucky, with a rooting interest  in a football team from South Bend, all while watching every Jefferson Pilot SEC televised game, I had ZERO clue who Steve Spurrier was coming to Florida from Duke of all places. Once he made his presence felt in Gainesville as a head coach (visor and all), It was a rude awakening for the rest of the league. I even remember watching college football as a teenager, and seeing a score pop up that I couldn’t ever believe I would ever see again.

Jack Jackson, Danny Wuerffel, Javon Kearse, Errict Rhett, Reidel Anthony, Jabar Gaffney, Jacquez Green, Ike Hillard, Kevin Carter, Ellis Johnson, Alex Taylor, Fred Taylor, Lito Sheppard, were some of my favorite Gators ever.

The South Carolina run was fun to watch as well (let’s forget the Redskins happened), and getting to see the HBC in person at a handful of SEC Media Days was fun also in my professional career.

Here’s to you Stephen Orr Spurrier. You’ve made this great game of college football better. I hope to see you on a sideline just one more time before you turn in your visor.

Enjoy the games this weekend everyone.

Four for Friday

Four things as we head into the weekend:

1.Auburn Panic Meter at 1,000

Look, I thought Jeremy Johnson would flourish in Auburn’s offense. Fell in love with a first half performance against Arkansas last year and, well you know the rest (at least til this point):

5 TD’s, 6 INT’s. Demoted to backup this week in place of Sean White, who like Johnson, had a number of accolades coming out of high school, including high praise from Trent Dilfer.

He has yet to take a snap in a college game, so to assume we know what the heck the young man will do, is crazy. For Auburn’s sake, here’s hoping it’s a positive performance against a Mississippi State team who’s quarterback is confident of generating offense Saturday.

2. Alabama Panic Meter at 1,000

Or so it seems. It’s safe to say the following will lead to a loss 99.9 percent of the time:

  1. Playing a quality opponent (Ole Miss)
  2.  Turning the football over 5 times.
  3. Shaky quarterback play till late in the game.

Alabama didn’t quit, rallying late in the 4th, with a chance to win the game in Tuscaloosa. Jake Coker will get the start Saturday against the Warhawks of UL-Monroe, with a trip to Athens looming. If you’re a Crimson Tide fan, there’s many questions left to be answered. Those questions will have to wait till October 3rd.

3. Must win for the Vols?

Tennessee had a big game two weeks ago against Oklahoma, and couldn’t find a way to put away a Sooner team that showed some mettle in rallying from a 17-3 deficit to win on the road. Last season against Florida, the Vols led 9-0 heading into the 4th. Treon Harris is inserted, and the Gators find a way in Knoxville.

The Vols need this win, the Bleacher Report thinks so as well.  Florida will rely on Will Grier who gets the nod, by default with the suspensions handed down by Jim McElwain earlier this week..

4. Empire

I watch a lot of awful, putrid TV. I LOVE reality everything on the tube. Every Real Housewives show, basically every reality show on E! You name the show, I’ve probably watched it. I also watch Empire. Yep, if you want to hate on the over the top, hip-hop soap opera, go ahead, not mad at ya. I still watch. Every episode. My better half doesn’t miss it live for anything. She has a running text commentary with a handful of her closet friends on Wednesday nights. I have a feeling Cookie Lyon and company aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. And yes. I’m OK with that.

Enjoy the weekend.

PUMP THE BRAKES

Week 1 is over. And as you SHOULD imagine, Overreaction is at a 100. Quick 4 downs on this Friday.

1st Down:

PUMP THE BRAKES.  From Jeremy Johnson and Auburn being the worse football team ever, To Ohio State being “overrated” (heard that from a caller on sports talk radio this week), To TCU not that impressive against Minnesota, you would think that week one was week 12 and we have our playoff teams set.

PUMP THE BRAKES.

You know nothing more than what you knew before kickoff last Thursday night. We all have ideas, but we don’t have enough of a sample size to know who’s headed where. So if Jeremy Johnson throws for 45o yds, 5 TD’s and no Interceptions against Jacksonville St, he’s back on the Heisman train? If Tennessee beats Oklahoma Saturday, they’re a National Championship contender? Jake Coker the second coming in Tuscaloosa? WE. DON’T. KNOW.

PUMP THE BRAKES.

No one even in the conversation for a Final Four berth has a loss, and even if they lose between now and week 5, said team is still in the conversation. All together now….

PUMP THE BRAKES.

2nd Down

Because teams in the conversation had a close win in week one, that means that they aren’t good or their opponent isn’t good? TCU played a quality Minnesota team Thursday  night. Probably the best defense they will face all season. If Minnesota goes on to play for a Big 10 Championship, then the “well I didn’t know Minnesota was that good talk” will begin in late November/early December.

Auburn plays a quality Louisville team. Jeremy Johnson throws three bad interceptions. Even Gus Malzahn says Johnson was greedy trying to make some “splash” plays. So that means that Johnson is the worse QB in the country. Sure.

Ohio St trails 17-10 at the half. OMG! They should be unranked! They’re not as good as we think! Further analysis says the Buckeyes were a holding call away from leading 21-0 and completely blowing out the Hokies. In the first half. After the half, Ohio State flexed, Braxton Miller showcased another weapon for Urban Meyer, and, well you know the rest.

Teams that play other teams that have quality players will be better for it late in the season, than those that want to play teams they have no business playing. What good is it doing for Program X to play FCS Z and win 100-6? That’s unless you root for Wazzu. Then, you got me there.

3rd Down

True Freshman. Ballin. From christian Kirk at Texas A&M, to Mr. Rosen’s performance, to the lone bright spot for Texas in week 1 , true freshman are slowly becoming then norm, and making impacts for programs across the country. Cool to see, how coaching staff’s are getting these youngsters on campus in the spring, or during fall camp, evaluating how they can impact a game, and then watching the youngsters go to work. Look for more guys to show up on your radar in the coming weeks.

4th Down

Pick Time….

Michigan State over Oregon: East Lansing will be bonkers, Connor Cook will have a great senior remembrance game, and a running back will emerge for the Spartans en route to a win. NEITHER team is eliminated from the CFB Playoff with a loss.

Tennessee over Oklahoma:  I want badly to pick Oklahoma, and It wouldn’t surprise me if the Sooners win going away, BUT Butch Jones (one would think) is due. He’s had some heartbreaking loses in his tenure on Rocky Top. Alvin Kamara and Jalen Hurd won’t hurt matters  either for the Vols.

 LSU over Mississippi St: The Bayou Bengals could be the most talented team from top to bottom in the SEC not named Alabama, and I believe Brandon Harris will show that he has the right stuff to lead LSU to a win. Much like Tennessee, Leonard Fournette doesn’t hurt matters, along with a insanely talented front seven.  Not having Jalen Mills hurts but the Tigers have enough to win  behind what could be one of the best offensive lines at the end of the season in a entertaining game.

Enjoy week two. And Remember…

PUMP THE BRAKES.