Hope this finds you well, and we think everyone knows what day it is — Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike. Hey, remember the mailbag.
We're going to cover some other, non-college football topics this morning. Enjoy.
From the "Talks too much" studios, when you believe in the impossible, the unbelievable becomes commonplace.
Hoops bouncing this way
OK, we messed around and watched Duke and Michigan face off, our first serious college basketball exchange since the UK-Michigan State song and dance last month. Duke was efficient and balanced and the game was crisp and fluid. Duke won 79-69 as the teams combined for less than 20 turnovers and made 31-of-37 free throws. Each of these teams will survive the first weekend of the tournament. (Side note: Quinn Cook can play. The Duke transfer guard had 24 points on 11 shots and nine assists while making 10-of-10 from the foul line. It was an old-school, elite point guard box score.)
And we believe that the new, tighter defensive rules will, in the short-term, truly help the elite teams in the country because they have superior depth, especially come tournament time. We also believe that eventually, the tighter defensive rules will make for a better brand of basketball.
Let's do a college hoops top 5 in 10 words or less — yes, the 5-in-10 by the 5-at-10, patent pending:
1) Duke can still guard: Devils held offensive-minded Michigan to 44 percent shooting.
2) Arizona is legit: Sleep on the guard-rich Wildcats at your own peril.
3) Syracuse gets even better with tighter rules: Match-up zone will be even a bigger edge with changes.
4) We believe in Will Wade, who stops by Press Row at 4 p.m. on Tuesdays: Like his focus and his knowledge of the game.
5) More on tap tonight: UNC at No. 1 Michigan State; Ohio State, Louisville have games.
Yankees swing mighty pen
On the day the New York Yankees finalized their deal with former Braves catcher Brian McCann, the club agreed to a seven-year, $153 million deal with Jacoby Ellsbury, the multi-tool former Red Sox center fielder.
Here's what the massive day of moola tells us:
• The Yankees can't stand being home in October.
• The Yankees full expect A-Rod — and his $25 million annual salary — to be suspended for the season.
• The first time Ellsbury and the Yankees return to Boston will be must-see TV.
• The Yankees have apparently moved on from Robinson Cano, the superstar second baseman who is looking for a $200-plus contract.
We do know this, baseball is better and more intriguing when the Yankees are good. Even Spy will admit that, and Spy hates the Yankees on a level of 1980s Russia and 1990s boy bands.
The Yankees' addition of the Ellsbury Dough Boy was just the highlight of a crazy day in baseball in which there were a slew of moves and signings and trades.
There were three major catcher acquisitions alone, as McCann's deal became official and the Marlins signed Jarrod Saltalamacchia from Boston, which replaced him with A.J. Pierzynski, which could only be topped in strange name replacements if a Russian exchange coach replaces Coach K at Duke.
Heck, the day was so busy the Marlins and the Astros added players Yes, those Marlins and those Astros, two teams with a combined payroll roughly equal to the Minnesota Twins.
Among the big coaching moves and news, USC hiring Steve Sarkisian is the biggest of this offseason.
Jim Grobe leaving Wake Forest may be the most challenging hole to fill.
And while the Texas job currently belongs to Mack Brown, the outcome of Saturday's game against Baylor could launch significant waves into the rest of the month for the entire Longhorns program. If Texas topples Baylor, it's hard to see Brown getting the axe after a 9-3 conclusion to a season that started 1-2.
If Baylor romps Brown, well, anything is possible. So that question mark looms large and the only major head coaching job open currently is Sarkisian's former gig at Washington.
What already has been answered is that two other big-boy jobs — Nebraska and Florida — appear to be sticking by embattled coaches for at least one more year.
With potential openings in the next 12 months at Florida, Texas and Nebraska — three top-15 national jobs — several schools happy with their current head coach have offered up lucrative extensions.
UCLA signed Jim Mora to a six-year extension, as did Texas A&M with Kevin Sumlin. Baylor gave Art Briles a 10-year extension.
This all swirls around the miracle-worker himself, Gus Malzahn, who was the subject of an SI column saying Malzahn should leave Auburn as soon as possible and quoting sources that Malzahn's dream job is to coach at Texas.
This column hit the interwebs about 90 minutes before news broke from Auburn that the school is looking at an extension and raise for Malzahn and his staff.
This and that
— Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota has announced he plans to return to Oregon next year. Interesting decision on a couple of fronts. First, Mariota, who earlier this year was the Heisman front-runner and a potential No. 1 overall pick, is a running quarterback, so who knows how many hits he has in his tank. Second, the expected wave of talented quarterbacks in this draft class — there could be as many five (Bridgewater, Bortles, Hundley, Carr, Manziel, McCarron and maybe more) in the first round and a few more in the second — Mariota figures to rank more consistently higher next year. Of course if Jameis WInston comes out next year, there's no way Mariota will be No. 1. Todd McShay, ESPN's No. 2 draft guru, says it's a good idea for Mariota to stay, and we tend to agree. We love the draft. You know this.
— Speaking of QBs, LSU's Zach Mettenberger has a torn ACL, meaning neither he nor Georgia's Aaron Murray, who also torn his ACL, will get to go through the pre-draft stuff.
— As we look at the prospective games for this week's Fab 4-plus-1 picks, not only have Missouri and Auburn surprised their fans this year, each team has extremely rewarded entertainment wagers who had confidence in those Tigers. Missouri is a national best 11-1 against the spread and has won by more than the Vegas line in each of its wins; Auburn went 10-2 against the number and has covered nine consecutive weeks.
— Jason Dufner, the pro golfer and devoted Auburn fan, only half-jokingly asked tournament organizer Tiger Woods if this weekend's event could be juggled and the players play 36 holes on Thursday and Friday so Dufner could watch the SEC title game. Woods politely declined, so Dufner tweeted that he may have to look into getting a bag like the one Rodney Dangerfield used in Caddyshack. Let's Dance.
— Final Auburn stat: Did you know that Nick Saban is now 6-6 all-time against Auburn and 0-6 against Auburn teams with at least nine wins.
— As the year ends, we will be flooded by top-10 lists. (Side note: We love top-10 lists.) Here are three that caught our eye:
2013 Top 10 Searches on Yahoo
1) Miley Cyrus
2) Kim Kardashian
3) Kate Upton
5) Selena Gomez
6) Obamacare (Affordable Care Act)
7) Amanda Bynes
8) Jodi Arias
9) iPhone 5
10) Justin Bieber
Top 10 girls' names of 2013
Top 10 boys' names of 2013
Want to know a boy's name that is vanishing? Dick. Just an observation.
— OK, we're as excited as anyone about the new Ron Burgandy movie, but with all the extra work Ron Burgandy has done lately — and he's scheduled to host SportsCenter tonight — has he had enough time to finish his movie? And who's taking care of Baxter for crying out loud? Apparently Burgandy is like Sex Panther, and 60 percent of the time, he's working 100 percent of the time.
— Sorry for the late notification and thanks to everyone for playing. Tiger Jim won the last-minute Iron Bowl contest with a 30-24 Auburn pick. Well done sir, and send us your contact info and we'll get you some swag. Also, the next contest on the horizon is our annual Bowling for bowls of bowl games Bowl Spectacular, and we may even incorporate it with the Press Row radio show as well. Keep an eye peeled.
Gang, remember the mailbag.
If you need some talking points, let's start here:
• How fast will the coaching carousel spin? Granted, Texas has it's cowboy-booted foot on the gas pedal and could make it go tilt-a-whirl, but that's still up in the air.
• Will Gus Malzahn be at Auburn next year? The SI column made an interesting and accurate point that each of the previous three Auburn coaches had unbeaten seasons and later got run out of town within five years.
• Could a program like Wake Forest come calling for UTC's Russ Huesman?
• For you Johnny Vols Fans out there, how big is today, with the decision from five-star in-state recruit Josh Malone hanging in the balance?
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...