While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:
1. A sad farewell to 17 American-Statesman colleagues, including four of my closest buddies in sports who announced their retirements recently, although a few won’t leave until December. The perpetually hyper Mark Rosner brought basketball wisdom like few others. Crusty Randy Riggs, Cleburne’s finest, who arrives at press boxes before the gatekeepers, can write any story on any sport and make deadline every single time even though his idea of a hot time on the road is being the first at the McDonald’s drive-thru for a sausage biscuit. Irreverent John Maher was always the smartest, wittiest person in the newsroom and covered Formula One like no other, and we forgave him for being a Spartan/Buckeye apologist. Man’s man Mike Leggett was a consummate storyteller whose prose embarrassed the rest of us hacks. They and 13 others will be sorely missed, but we will make up for them because my pal Ced Golden has agreed to double his workload.
2. I can really see Baylor (9-1) falling to the Cotton Bowl after its lopsided loss to Oklahoma State because some of the glitter has come off its fantastic season and it wouldn’t have the star power of a Wisconsin, Oregon, Stanford or Auburn in competition for a BCS at-large berth. It seemed attrition caught up with the Bears as Art Briles was without his top two running backs, best wide receiver, left tackle and one of his best linebackers. I believe the Cotton would really like the Longhorns, who haven’t been in that game since 2003 and might not show up there again anytime soon since the College Football Playoff selection committee will assign teams to the six playoff bowls, starting next year, but it’s looking more and more like the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
3. Have you ever seen anything so stupid as the Giants’ first touchdown when two Dallas Cowboys defenders, especially Bruce Carter, failed to touch New York tight end Brandon Myers and allowed him to walk into the end zone?
4. Since the switch to Oregon- and Oklahoma State-style offensive football didn’t work out that well, Texas should consider emulating LSU’s power run game and play-action passing. How many stud running backs does Les Miles have, nine? … Does any defensive coordinator have a better plan for Johnny Manziel than LSU’s John Chavis, who held him to fewer than 300 yards and one touchdown and should be hired instantly by any division opponent of the NFL team that drafts the A&M quarterback? Chavis’ Tigers pushed Manziel to his left, blitzed opportunistically and took great pursuit angles.
5. So now who’s the Heisman favorite? I’ve got to believe it’s Alabama’s AJ McCarron, with Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch and even Boston College running back Andre Williams — four games with plus-250 yards rushing — having a shot. As wide open as I’ve ever seen it in late November.
6. More than 60 people had their first big meeting last week to launch preparations for college football’s first national championship game in the playoff era on Jan. 12, 2015, at AT&T Stadium. Hard to believe, but it will be the first time the national champion will emerge from a game played in the state of Texas in 37 years. Not since Notre Dame knocked off No. 1-ranked Texas in the 1978 Cotton Bowl has it happened. “That’s pretty unbelievable when you consider how great the football is in Texas,” Cotton Bowl President Rick Baker said. “We kind of feel we can make some history here, and we want to do it right.” That title game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington will seat 91,000.
7. Not sure if you saw the questionable spot on LSU’s fourth-and-inches try against Texas A&M that officials ruled was short of a first. Hasn’t the time come for radio-frequency identification chips to be inserted into footballs with laser-beam first downs to help officiating? I’m not a fan of instant-replay reviews, but this kind of technology would actually speed up the game.
8. Mike Gundy has one of the most complete teams in America. Oklahoma State is continuing to be the ascendant Big 12 power with the inside track at a second conference title in three years at a school that had just one league championship in the previous 58 years.
9. Rented “We’re the Millers.” I would laugh if Jason Sudakis read the obituaries. Gave it seven ducks.
10. Crazy prediction: Bob Stoops replaces Will Muschamp at Florida, opening up Oklahoma for Kevin Sumlin.