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Friday Quickies: Rivalry Weekend Edition

On U of L Game Eve and the day after Thanksgiving, we praise Jim Harbaugh, weirdo and elite coach, wonder how bad the SECE is in NCAAF right now and whether there is a truly great team in NCAAB this season, debate which "Rocky" movie is best, etc.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

I like my sports figures to be unique, idiosyncratic and even bizarre, in some ways.  That's why I love Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.  Saying the name Jake Butt makes him laugh as much as it makes me laugh.  Remember the shirtless dalliance on the practice field at camp last summer?  His $8 pleated khaki game remains peerless.  Harbaugh topped himself, however, after UM's victory over PSU last weekend.

Harbaugh is also one of the best coaches in all of sports.  He went 29-6 at San Diego.  He took over a smoldering dumpster at Stanford, improving each year of his tenure, culminating in a 12-1 season which concluded with a BCS bowl victory.  Harbaugh then took over a mediocre San Francisco 49ers team and went 44-19-1 over four years, leading the team to a pair of NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl.  Now, he is 9-2 in Ann Arbor with players that went 5-7 the year before.  That's an unbelievable resume for just a decade of work.

Harbaugh's UM squad takes on Ohio State in Ann Arbor tomorrow at noon ET on ABC.  To me, this is still the greatest rivalry in college football, even despite my professed dislike for OSU.

Though I don't agree with the order, here is a list of the top NCAAF rivalry games taking place this long weekend.  Use the first NCAAF link below to figure out how and when to watch.

Hat tip to Khaki Aficionado Nick for bringing that priceless quote to my attention.


*Here is a list of all the football on from today until Monday night.

*Jen Smith examines UK walk-on Charles Walker, who has been returning punts for the 'Cats.

*John Clay previews the U of L game via podcast.

*Card Chronicle breaks down UK's offense.  It's always a positive thing to get outside perspective.  Their sub-headline?

Kentucky comes into the Governors [sic] Cup with an untested quarterback and an aversion to running the football.

*And here is CC's breakdown of UK's defense.  The big picture take:

Mark Stoops is a defensive-minded coach but the results on the field don't seem to show that.

*The entire SEC East is included in this week's ESPN Bottom 10.  Though this list is hardly scientific, data-driven, or anything like that, I can't really argue with it.  The only "good" team in the East, UF, needed overtime in Gainesville to beat 2-9 FAU.


*In a development that's not getting nearly enough coverage, Syracuse partially prevailed in its appeal of the NCAA's recent sanctions.  The four-year scholarship reduction will be 8 instead of the original 12.  Head coach Jim Boeheim's appeal of his suspension has not been handled yet.  SU also beat #18 UConn last night.

*The SEC picked up a much-needed marquee non-conference victory yesterday afternoon when #25 TAMU edged Kyle Wiltjer's Gonzaga Bulldogs.  At 6-0, with wins over Texas and Gonzaga, coach Billy Kennedy's rebuilding process appears to be ahead of schedule.  TAMU takes on SU today at 3:00 p.m. EST on ESPN.

*We really got to see Charles Matthews work against Boston on Tuesday night.  Darrell Bird wraps up his performance and speculates on what we should expect from the under-the-radar SG going forward.

*CBT's Rob Dauster includes Tyler Ulis in his NPOY Power Rankings.  Providence PG Kris Dunn, averaging 19-8-7-5-1, leads the way.  Dunn has exhibited one glaring weakness over his career -- turnovers; yet he's only turned the ball over eight times this season.

*Myron Medcalf ponders whether there is a truly great team in the sport this season.  It's an oft-explored topic, but Medcalf looks at it with fresh perspective.  There are other notes there, as well, though some are dated at this point.

*Not even LSU head coach Johnny Jones can hold monster prospect Ben Simmons back ($ - Insider).  The hype is not unfounded.

ESPN's C.L. Brown also suggests that Simmons could be a little more self-centered in his play.  How often do we get a non-me-first prospect of this caliber?  Not often.

*Digging into the Canadian crates, Ryan Greco compares northern superstars Andrew Wiggins (former KU standout and #1 pick) and the 'Cats' Jamal Murray.

*Kyle Tucker previews this afternoon's matchup with Orlando Antigua's USF Bulls.

*FOX Sports' preview of the USF game.

*Former Houston coach and Hall of Famer Guy Lewis, of Phi Slama Jama fame, passed away yesterday.

2016 NBA Draft

*Though I acknowledge that mock drafts are fairly futile exercises, especially 6+ months before the actual draft is scheduled, I still check them obsessively.  My go-to is Jonathan Givony's Draft Express.  Current 'Cats are listed as follows for 2016:

1: Skal Labissiere

6: Jamal Murray

18: Isaiah Briscoe

38: Tyler Ulis

39: Marcus Lee

Alex Poythress recently dropped out, though I think it's safe to say he'll work himself back in as the season progresses.  As the aforementioned underclassmen go, I think the first three are safe bets to make themselves available to the NBA next spring and the other two are very likely to, as well, though Lee has returned to earth of late, which would certainly affect his standing.


*Basketball Reference's MVP Tracker, which uses a "model built using previous voting results" does not even include Anthony Davis.  The same goes for's oft-updated MVP column.

And honestly, nor should they.  Regardless of your own personal MVP criteria, a player on a bottom four team with just four wins is not MVP material.  The only plausible argument would be, "well, they'd have 0 wins instead of 4 if he weren't playing."  The Pels are in the cellar with the Lakers and 76ers right now, though they are in the midst of a 3-game win streak.

A.D. has MVP-like numbers, but so do a significant number of other players who are willing their teams to win.  I fully acknowledge that his supporting cast is not great, but the Pels won 45 games last year in a tough Western Conference.

*Any time Duke is part of a funny joke, Big Blue Nation should be laughing.  Let's all thank Chicago Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler.


*So Johnny Manziel was not necessarily benched for partying; rather, he was benched for lying to the Browns about it.

*Former Vol and current Chiefs DB Eric Berry has played well since his return from an offseason of chemotherapy for lymphoma.  ESPN takes a closer look at Berry's trials and tribulations.  This is a great story.

*Though former 'Cat Jacob Tamme only caught one pass from QB Matt Ryan for the Atlanta Falcons last weekendhe has probably been the most successful UK alum in the NFL this season, especially considering expectations.  Randall Cobb was expected to have a monster season when Green Bay WR1 Jordy Nelson suffered a season-ending torn ACL in the preseason, but Cobb has mostly struggled against double coverage this year.

*After Philadelphia's embarrassing and nearly unwatchable loss to Detroit in the first game yesterday, we may be witnessing the beginning of the end of Chip Kelly's NFL experiment.

If we are, the NCAAF coaching carousel, which will begin swinging as early as Sunday morning, will be even more interesting than we were expecting.


*Vauhini Vara appraises the status of Black Friday for The New Yorker.  Count me out!  FOREVER!

*Tool, one of the only worthwhile mainstream American metal bands of the 90s and early 2000s, is working on a new album, its first since 2006.  1996's AEnima was one of my favorite albums right around the time I became a neurotic teenage goon.

*Tim Grierson and Will Leitch debate which "Rocky" movie is best.  Though I haven't seen "Creed" and I think IV should be higher, these rankings are well-argued.

*Enjoy the day after Thanksgiving.  I'm going to do nothing but watch UK basketball, sweat out meat, and rewatch Trailer Park Boys episodes.


*Finally, I'm thinking about going full-bore on the dang Twitter, so follow me: