Rankman's Friday Mailbag

"Mr. Postman, look and see. Is there a letter in your bag for me?"

The Marvelettes

Rankman's got a brand new (mail) bag:

I’m so bummed my Irish didn’t live up to your No.1 ranking. Any way they crawl back into the CFP?

Brian Clark

Be bummed not, Brian, because I don’t think a double-overtime loss at Texas on Labor Day has eliminated Notre Dame from anything other than Bevo's Christmas card list. You can recover from that kind of early loss, especially when you wear helmets painted with real gold. I still think Notre Dame will make the playoff if it finishes 11-1. The Irish have a national schedule and play on national television every week. They are backed by a higher power (NBC) and still have poll-climbing opportunities against Michigan State, Stanford, and maybe even USC.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

What’s more, with Auburn, Ole Miss, LSU, Mississippi State already suffering early losses in the almighty SEC West, I think this could be the year a two-loss school makes the four-team playoff.

Shoot, I saw Nebraska make the national title game in 2001 coming off a 62-36 loss at Colorado the day after Thanksgiving.

Also remember, two years ago, when people eliminated Ohio State after the Buckeyes lost at home, to Virginia Tech, on Sept. 6? Some of the most respected names in the business declared the Big Ten was dead. Ohio State rebounded to win the national title.

Same thing last year, after Alabama lost at home to Ole Miss on Sept. 19. There were predictions by professional journalists, working for respected outlets, who declared Alabama’s “dynasty” was over.

How did that prediction work out?

The only loss that kills you early is a blow-out loss, say by 46 points, on national television. But Notre Dame didn’t have that kind of loss. That was USC.

SarkKiffian never dies. It just moves to Tuscaloosa

Mike Jelline

I want that on a bumper sticker...NOW! You talk about rubbing your nose in USC’s face? As if Sarkisian having an alcohol problem was USC’s fault, but maybe it was if they didn’t do their due diligence on him at Washington?

Or maybe USC knew but thought it could be contained? Ah, but I digress.

Anyway, back to SarkKiffian. A better name for the combo might be “Sarknado” for the way these guys blow in and out of towns.

We get it. Kiffin used the sanctuary of Alabama to win a national title and then spank the team that fired him, USC, by 46 points. That allowed Kiffin, maybe the most immature 41-year old who ever coached, to get his payback on Twitter. Which is fine and perfectly within his right, even if it might not look so professional to the next school that might want to hire him.

So here comes Sark, drafting on his old side-kick buddy at USC. And what a genius Nick Saban is pulling all the levers. Saban has to know this is probably Kiffin’s last year on staff, that he’s likely due for a "Lane" change. I suspect Saban may have moved Sark in to become Kiffin’s play-caller successor at Alabama.

This is why Saban is a generational coach. He has proven he will do unconventional things if they are in the best interest of winning football games. Bringing in Kiffin was initially seen as a big risk, but it has paid off with two straight trips to the CFP playoffs.

Think what you will of Sark. If he can keep his personal demons in check he can be an asset to a lot of programs. If Saban didn't think so, he wouldn't have hired him.

Are you attending the Battle at Bristol or does the Uncle Dale Amendment prohibit the quartering of non-AGFC journalists?

Fred Nunez

For those of you who don't know, AGFC is my code-name acronym for the SEC and lovingly stands for "America's Greatest Football Conference." Unfortunately, Fred, I cannot attend Saturday's football game\NASCAR race in Bristol. I have already committed to a hog-hollering contest early Saturday morning and then I'm judging "Miss Tractor Pull, USA," followed by the drag races at Pomona. I hope to have time to catch a bit of Tennessee playing Virginia Tech on an oval short track. You know it's a slow weekend in college football when this is the featured game. Only in the South can you combine a checkered end zone (Tennessee) with a checkered flag. I'm actually amazed at the amount of time, money and manpower spent to pull this game off. But it should be quite a spectacle.

I see a reference to “Blind Sisters of Mercy.” Is Rankman a listener of late ‘80s industrial Goth rock?

Kyle Kensing

Thanks, Kyle, but the only head-banging I've done lately was over Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney not kicking a late field goal to help cover the 7-point spread.

I can see why this gambling thing can give people ulcers.

While I didn’t bet money on the game, I bet my pride in our new Friday Pick 3 segment at TMG. I did use "Blind Sisters of Mercy" in a column reference but it was a completely random pull from my cranium. I looked up your “sisters” only to discover the group to which you are referring was not blind. They all had 20\20 vision and were called “Sisters of Mercy.”

They were formed in Leeds in 1977 and were named after a Leonard Cohen song, “Sisters of Mercy,” which is all right by me.

Rankman is not really into industrial Goth, but has known to use industrial strength “Drano” to clear out his pipes.

To say the LAX sports section isn’t the same minus @dufrankman is a gross understatement. College football coverage not as lively.

Don Norcross

Thanks for the kind words Don but I think you meant “LAT” sports section. Last time I checked the LAX sports section has never looked better. I love their agate page featuring all the arrivals and departures. Also, the section's really taken off with Captain Sullenberger's new Page 2 column on water-sports safety: “Never Sink With Sully.”

He replaced the old LAX Page 2 guy, the controversial Tarmac Jones (TJ), who recently hung up his wings after a short stint at John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

Did Ole Miss get put on NCAA probation at halftime?

Chris Foster

Yes, in extraordinary action, the NCAA handed down a 30-minute "Death Penalty" on the Ole Miss offense. The COI (committee on infractions) has been hounding Ole Miss like a one-eyed cat, peeping through a seafood store. Enforcement officials determined the Rebels' first-half output against Florida State was "highly suspicious" and continued to investigate while the team built a 28-6 lead.

During a time out, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze repeated to an NCAA official on the field what he tweeted three years ago: "If you have facts about a violation, send it to compliance." The NCAA didn't think Ole Miss could be leading FSU by 22 points without cheating, even if Freeze said any violations committed in recruiting players were innocent mistakes. Freeze, a religious man, then handed one investigator, who has achieved Marriott "platinum" status for all the stays he's had in Oxford, a transcript of what he said at SEC Media Day about perseverance.

" You know, if you're really going to be a person of faith that I say I am -- that doesn't mean I'm perfect; it means that's why I need it -- man, you really hold on to like James I: You consider it all joy when you encounter these trials and tribulations."

Well, it was all joy in the locker room at halftime in Orlando, even though FSU had cut the lead to 28-13, was getting the ball first to start the second half and was also getting comeback inspiration from former quarterback Jameis Winston's halftime speech.

The fun ended when the NCAA slapped a second-half whammy on Ole Miss, stripped the program 30 scholarships, gave 20 back after losing on appeal and then watched the Rebels get outscored, 32-6.

After the NCAA wrapped the case on Ole Miss, mid-way through the fourth quarter, it walked across the field and started asking Florida State questions.[/membership]

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