We're here, and we're finalizing the bowl contest. Giddy-up. Last year we had various point values for different games and went from there. Any one have any thing they'd like to add — and remember to pass it along to your buddies... the more the merrier.
From the "Talks too much" studios, it's time for the magic to happen.
One unlikely finalist made a huge push to get an invite. Four others survived late hiccups to get a trip to NYC. The final invitee — and the overwhelming favorite — became the front runner because he was was not charged with a felony.
Talk about an eclectic group.
Auburn's Tre Mason ran for 304 yards in the SEC title game a week after going for 168 against Alabama. Mason was named the SEC offensive player of the year on Monday. Dude has been a monster. In fact, he has been so good that while he will not win the Heisman, Mason has likely positioned himself as the top draft-eligible running back in this class and almost certainly has to declare for the draft. (RBs only have so many hits on their legs, and next year, when likely first-round picks Todd Gurley and T.J. Yeldon are available, Mason would fall down the board just by improved competition.)
The four survivors — quarterbacks Johnny Manziel, AJ McCarron and Jordan Lynch and running back Andre Williams of Boston College — each had surges through the season that made them as likely as a co-favorite or a legitimate darkhorse. In mid-November, Manziel's numbers were better than last year when he won the Heisman, but he struggled the last two weeks.
As for the all-but-assured winner, Jameis Winston has been brilliant on the field for the Florida State offense, but his status was left up in the air until an allegation of rape was investigated. State officials did not press charges, so Winston was allowed to keep playing and will win the Heisman.
Regardless of how many folks are invited to the party.
NFL Power Poll
Neither the Bears nor the Titans are in this week's NFL Power Poll, but the recent developments in Chicago could greatly affect the future of each franchise.
Chicago humbled the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night as Josh McCown accounted for five TDs in a 45-28 win in the freezing cold. (Side question: When did the NFL relocate to the frozen, ice planet of Hoth from Star Wars? Sweet buckets of hypothermia, every time you looked up this weekend NFL teams are playing in snow or there is so much steam coming from the huddle you think they are surrounding a camp fire.)
Anyhoo, yes, Josh McCown accounted for five TDs. Yes, the Dallas defense will not get confused with the '85 Bears — heck the Dallas defense is not as tough as the '85 Bears cheerleaders — but McCown's renaissance under Mark Trestman has been eye-popping. Consider this: McCown, the 11-year vet, has thrown 1,261 yards with nine TDs and one interception in four starts since Jay Cutler went down. Considering that the Bears have a nice collection of pieces on offense and need to spend some money on defense, that means finding good value at quarterback would allow the Bears to be good quickly.
McCown is that value. Cutler is a top-10 or -12 QB in this league. He has legit arm talent, but entering free agency, he's going to look for Ryan or even Flacco money. The Titans have to find a quarterback that can make plays. The Tennessee offense is good up front, has young playmakers at wide receiver and even if they let Chris Johnson walk, Shonn Green is a solid running back.
Cutler, who played his college football at Vandy, could be the solution for each team, and return to Nashville, which is where a lot of people thought he would land, considering when Cutler entered the NFL he was the third QB drafted at No. 11 overall behind Vince Young (Tennessee at No. 3) and Matt Leinart (Arizona at No. 10).
Here's the Power Poll:
3) New England
4) New Orleans
5) Kansas City
Bottom five (with current projection of first-round pick)
28) Oakland (No. 5 pick overall)
29) Minnesota (No. 4 pick overall)
30) Atlanta (No. 3 pick overall)
31) Washington (No first-round pick — St. Louis gets it as part of the Robert Griffith III trade)
32) Houston (No. 1 overall pick)
The bowl bids have been announced and while there are teams — hi Georgia and Nebraska, which are less than thrilled about their Weekend at Bernie's II walk-through 12 months later (Hardly Peaches and Herb-type stuff here) — and fans — hi Oregon fans who though the Ducks surely deserved better than the Alamo Bowl (they did, and don't call us Shirley) — that are less than thrilled with the destination of their teams, the players not involve in the title game are more focused on the swag. The gifts the bowl games can supply the players.
Know that that the NCAA limit is $550 per player from the bowls, an arbitrary number set by some NCAA wizard with his head in a rulebook we're sure. The schools can add another $400 worth of awards for participants and the conferences can add another $400 in swag. (Hey it's the least they can do since the SEC league office cashed a $20-plus-million revenue check last May, right?)
The gift packages go to up 125 members of the team, but schools can and usually buy extras for cheerleaders, staff and program VIPs That number is flexible in that bowl game officials can buy gifts in bulk and pass the savings along to the player. Who knew that bowl games were actually eliminating the middle man — and featured prices so low they actually are giving the stuff away.
Oakley, Sony and Ogio backpacks are two of the companies that are in several different gift offerings, as is Fossil watches and Best Buy gift cards. A new item in this year's swag meter is a high-tech recliner from Southern Motion Viva, which is giving a powered recliner that has two USB ports for mobile devices. The Military Bowl is passing out the recliners — and Sony PlayStation 4s — to participants, although we're unsure how the players will get them back to campus.
We thought the list was interesting and noticed that most of the one included shopping sprees (if you want to see all the swag offered, The SportsBusiness Daily breaks down all the bowls here).
This and that
— Reports have Wake Forest hiring Bowling Green State coach Dave Clawson to replace Jim Grobe. We believe that to be an excellent hire with two quick points: One, remember when Johnny Vols Fans thought Clawson and his Claw-fense was the root of UT's troubles in 2007; Two, when did Bowling Green become a state?
— According to Darren Rovell's Twitter feed — great follow by the way @darrenrovell — here's a great tidbit that surfaced during all the Mike Ditka love tonight as Ditka's number was being retired in Chicago: "Refrigerator Perry still has the largest Super Bowl ring ever made (size 23) -- size of a half dollar. Avg. man wears a size 10."
— Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa were elected to the baseball Hall of Fame on Monday. We have no beef with any of these — although we think Cox may be the least qualified of the three. Thoughts?
— Vic Grider heads to North Georgia to coach Coahulla Creek. Something tells us that regardless the scheme of the uniforms at CCHS, the biggest color in this transaction was green. CHA-ching.
— UT landed another highly regarded recruit when Charles Mosley pick the Vols over offers from Alabama, Georgia and Auburn.
Slew of things to discuss, right?
Here is another point of interest:
In honor of the Georgia-Nebraska sequel, let's review the best and worst sequels. And to start with, we're setting some ground rules. We're going first, and we'll take Caddyshack II and Godfather II off the board. Now, Irwin M. Fletcher, you choose and let's try not to duplicate anyone's previous answers.
Still need another: OK, where does Bobby Cox rank all-time among managers?
Discuss and remember Friday's mailbag?
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 ...