Welcome back, Saturday Six-Pack! Let’s look at six topics of interest for the weekend.
1 This summer, Archie Manning jokingly said he hoped he would have to recuse himself from the College Football Playoff deliberations when Ole Miss was discussed.
Now, with the committee’s first meeting coming up after next week’s games, it looks like the Rebels are going to be very much in the mix.
“I knew they were going to be better, because Hugh (Freeze) had put together a couple of good recruiting classes,” Manning, a member of the inaugural CFP committee, said. “But I don’t think anybody in the Southeastern Conference can project to be 6-0.”
Thanks to the tight restrictions the CFP has put on the selection committee, Ole Miss is the only team Manning is allowed to say anything about.
Manning put an extra restriction on himself — not revealing his No. 1 criteria when considering teams. The important thing, he added, is to get it as right as possible.
“We’ve got a big job, and the eyes of the college football world are going to be on us,” he said. “We’ve had four meetings and one mock session, but we haven’t had to deal with real events yet.
“You always know there are going to be unexpected things, but the thing I am most impressed with is how serious everyone on the committee is about our job. That’s why it’s an honor to be on it.”
It’s not always serious, though.
During Ole Miss’ victory against Alabama, ESPN “College GameDay” guest Katy Perry was a guest in Manning’s suite.
“My grandson got to dance with her,” Archie said. “Man, did he enjoy that.”
2Speaking of “GameDay,” ESPN’s college football extravaganza returns to Tallahassee, Florida, Saturday for the Florida State-Notre Dame game, which just happened to be the matchup in 1993, the first time the show hit the road (that one was in South Bend, Indiana).
But instead of a celebration of a showdown between two unbeatens, we have the double allegations hanging over Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston over whether he violated the school’s conduct code during an alleged sexual assault and whether he was paid for autographing several Florida State items, an NCAA no-no.
This week has featured Winston’s attorney accusing the school of not acting in Winston’s best interests, fellow Heisman winner Bo Jackson talking about how Winston has ignored his advice on how to conduct himself off the field and a group of Seminoles fans urging a boycott of “GameDay” because of ESPN’s investigative work on the Winston story.
College football is experiencing another wondrously entertaining season, and no sport so stirs our passion like it does.
But when the real world intrudes, it can get very messy.
3What are the odds that the two most prolific quarterbacks of all time would grow up within 50 miles of each other? And that the one that’s likely to finish at least No. 3 lives near the childhood home of one of them.
But that’s the case with Kiln, Mississippi’s, Brett Favre (71,838 yards, 508 touchdowns), New Orleans’ Peyton Manning (61,494 yards 506 TDs) and Uptown resident Drew Brees (52,655 yards, 372 TDs).
With Manning about to overtake Favre in TDs on Sunday, Brees reflected on their accomplishments:
“When (Dan) Marino set those marks, I think everybody probably thought those are untouchable,” he said. “And then Brett kept playing and kept playing, and he set those marks and you said, ‘Man, those are untouchable.’
“And now Peyton is at a point where he is still playing some of his best football, and he is about to eclipse these. You hope that God blesses you and allows you the physical capabilities to be able to do that for that long, but at the end of the day you just have to sit back and say ‘Wow. That’s impressive.’ ”
Brees would need this season and four more being as productive as he has been with the Saints to challenge for the top marks.
Wanna bet against him?
4 With Les Miles reaching his 100th victory at LSU, the question arises: Who goes on the Driskill Mountain (at 535 feet, the highest point in Louisiana) of Tigers football coaches?
1. Paul Dietzel: He gave us modern LSU football, including the uniform design and made the Tigers a national brand.
2. Nick Saban: After a decade in the doldrums (seven losing seasons in the 1990s), Saban brought culture change to the program from top to bottom.
3. Les Miles: Nobody wants to be the man who follows the man, but Miles has not just maintained, but improved the product. Miles’ .793 winning percentage is the best of any LSU coach since Edgar R. Wingard went 17-3 (.850) in 1907-08 and he’s not done yet.
4. Charlie McClendon: Mac also followed the man and lasted for 18 seasons, winning 137 games. And while 28 of Miles’ victories have come against teams from outside the Power Five, only five of the 203 teams McClendon faced would fall in that category.
5All Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame induction classes take on a particular characteristic.
The one announced this week has a particular home-grown feel about it. Seven of the eight — Kevin Faulk, Jake Delhomme, Yvette Girouard, Avery Johnson, Frank Brothers, Leonard Smith and Pat Collins were born in the state and made at least their marks in Louisiana. The eighth — Otis Washington came to Xavier from his hometown of Selma, Alabama, in 1958 and never left the state, so that qualifies him as home-grown as well.
Sometimes, persons elected to the Hall spent only a relatively short time in Louisiana, and it has shown in their attitudes about the weekend ceremonies in Natchitoches.
The early feeling is that this won’t be the case this time.
6In 48 years of doing this, I’ve written millions of words. Sometimes, you regret a few.
In a column on last week’s Tulane-Connecticut game, I said that Nick Montana wasn’t the quarterback his father is. That’s true. Nobody’s ever been better than Joe Cool.
But it wasn’t meant that way. What I was trying to say was that when you are the son of a coaching legend playing the same position he did, it’s nearly impossible to live up to that standard.
But Nick Montana has accomplished something greater. A fifth-year senior at his third school who was relegated to third team after being the starter last season, Montana nonetheless maintained a positive attitude and diligently prepared himself as if he were starting.
The opportunity came because of Tanner Lee’s shoulder injury and Montana responded by going 19-for-26 for 135 yards and the team’s only touchdown with no interceptions in a 12-3 victory in a season when the Wave is finding them hard to come by.
“I just love playing football,” Montana said. “And this is my last go-around so I keep my head into it.
“Whenever the opportunity comes, I’m going to be ready for it.”
Well said — a lot better than I did it.