The Top Whatever: If the shoe flits

There's a lot of Dan Mullen stuff in here. Plus USC, Georgia, and the blessed joy of being done with football.

Welcome back to your weekly ranking of only the CFB stuff that must be ranked.

1. Throwing shoes, by Jason

For commentary, let’s go live to the guy who once threw his shoes at George W. Bush:

2. Dan Mullen sent Florida out to play with no pants and one shoe on, by Spencer 

Florida lost against LSU because they were negligent, blasé, sloppy, and half-assed. When a team leaves a whole cheek’s worth of concentration on the couch at home, that’s on the whole team to figure out. This is a metaphor about whole-assing something, and I promise it’s going somewhere. 

Bringing half your butt gets said butt kicked. Kyle Trask had his worst game of the year, turning the ball over three times, including a ghastly pick six that crippled Florida’s ability to put the game out of reach. The offensive line couldn’t block for the run game, something Mullen’s playcalling appears to have largely given up on anyway. The defense played out of position, left an LSU receiver completely open for a touchdown by blitzing both corners, and made freshman Max Johnson look as good as every other quarterback Florida has played this year.  

Playing half-assed doesn’t happen without encouragement by management. There’s no way of saying confidently who decided to leave half of Florida’s ass on the couch, only scenes, such as Kyle Pitts openly asking staffers to let him play after he was scratched from the lineup, defenders hitting wrong assignments all night, and Mullen acting like a pissed-off toddler after the game.

So it’s going to be fun making shoe jokes. Please. Make them, this was funny as hell, and will be funny for the rest of time. The Gators played a crap game, something great teams can do against lesser teams and still win. This is not a great team. Great teams can win with half their ass on the field, but transcend when they whole-ass. If anyone wants to see what whole-assing looks like, it’s going to happen next Saturday when Florida loses by 5,000 points to the Crimson Tide, a team that never forgets to bring its entire five-star butt. 

3. V̶a̶n̶d̶e̶r̶b̶i̶l̶t̶ ̶I̶l̶l̶i̶n̶o̶i̶s̶ ̶A̶r̶i̶z̶o̶n̶a̶ Auburn go triple option, by Jason

̶̶̶V̶̶̶a̶̶̶n̶̶̶d̶̶̶y̶̶̶,̶̶̶ ̶̶̶y̶̶̶o̶̶̶u̶̶̶ ̶̶̶h̶̶̶a̶̶̶v̶̶̶e̶̶̶ ̶̶̶n̶̶̶o̶̶̶t̶̶̶h̶̶̶i̶̶̶n̶̶̶g̶̶̶ ̶̶̶t̶̶̶o̶̶̶ ̶̶̶l̶̶̶o̶̶̶s̶̶̶e̶̶̶.̶̶̶ ̶W̶i̶t̶h̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶r̶ ̶a̶c̶a̶d̶e̶m̶i̶c̶s̶,̶ ̶y̶o̶̶̶u̶̶̶ ̶̶̶c̶̶̶a̶̶̶n̶̶̶ ̶̶̶b̶̶̶e̶̶̶c̶̶̶o̶̶̶m̶̶̶e̶̶̶ ̶̶̶t̶̶̶h̶̶̶e̶̶̶ ̶̶̶C̶̶̶o̶̶̶a̶̶̶s̶̶̶t̶̶̶a̶̶̶l̶̶̶ ̶̶̶C̶̶̶a̶̶̶r̶̶̶o̶̶̶l̶̶̶i̶̶̶n̶̶̶a̶̶̶ ̶̶̶o̶̶̶f̶̶̶ ̶̶̶N̶̶̶a̶̶̶s̶̶̶h̶̶̶v̶̶̶i̶̶̶l̶̶̶l̶̶̶e̶̶̶!̶̶̶

̶I̶l̶l̶i̶n̶o̶i̶s̶,̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶h̶a̶v̶e̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶h̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶l̶o̶s̶e̶.̶ ̶N̶e̶b̶r̶a̶s̶k̶a̶ ̶f̶a̶n̶s̶ ̶m̶i̶g̶h̶t̶ ̶c̶o̶n̶v̶e̶r̶t̶!̶

̶A̶r̶i̶z̶o̶n̶a̶,̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶h̶a̶v̶e̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶h̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶l̶o̶s̶e̶.̶ ̶A̶n̶d̶ ̶b̶y̶ ̶h̶i̶r̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶J̶e̶f̶f̶ ̶M̶o̶n̶k̶e̶n̶,̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶c̶a̶n̶ ̶m̶a̶k̶e̶ ̶u̶p̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶f̶a̶i̶l̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶h̶i̶r̶e̶ ̶K̶e̶n̶ ̶N̶i̶u̶m̶a̶t̶a̶l̶o̶l̶o̶ ̶l̶a̶s̶t̶ ̶t̶i̶m̶e̶!̶

Auburn, you have nothing to lose. You … actually, you know, Nick Saban really, really hates defending against the option. This idea is actually good.

4. Actually, the rulebook doesn’t say a damn thing about not being allowed to chuck your opponent’s footwear all the way down the field, by Alex

Let us list out all the things the NCAA claims are unsportsmanlike conduct: 

  • “Pointing the finger(s), hand(s), arm(s) or ball at an opponent, or imitating the slashing of the throat.” No, Florida’s Marco Wilson did not do this. 

  • Taunting, baiting or ridiculing an opponent verbally. No, this was not verbal. 

  • Inciting an opponent or spectators in any other way, such as simulating the firing of a weapon or placing a hand by the ear to request recognition. Well, the only thing being incited here was one guy going to pick up his shoe. 

  • Any delayed, excessive, prolonged or choreographed act by which a player (or players) attempts to focus attention upon himself (or themselves). No, this was not choreographed. There was also no delay. The shoe was hurriedly thrown.

  • An unopposed ball carrier obviously altering stride as he approaches the opponent’s goal line or diving into the end zone. No, there was no striding. 

  • A player removing his helmet after the ball is dead and before he is in the team area. No, this is about your own helmet, not the other guy’s shoe. 

  • Punching one’s own chest or crossing one’s arms in front of the chest while standing over a prone player. No, there was no punching or crossing. 

  • Going into the stands to interact with spectators, or bowing at the waist after a good play. Obviously not.

  • Intentionally removing the helmet while the ball is alive. No.

  • Dead-ball contact fouls such as pushing, shoving, striking, etc. that occur clearly after the ball is dead and that are not part of the game action. No.

  • After the ball is dead, using forcible contact to push or pull an opponent off the pile No, unless “the opponent” means “a shoe” and “the pile” means “his foot.” And even then, I’m pretty sure the shoe came off the LSU player’s foot all on its own. 

Much like Big 12 officials just up and deciding the Horns Down hand sign is a penalty because it makes Texas sad, it appears the SEC has given into pressure from Big Footwear. 

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5. The season mercifully coming to an end, by Richard 

I’m not here to do some grandiose commentary on whether we should have payed college football in a pandemic, but I am here to relay this: Everyone is just so goddamn tired. Multiple teams have opted out of bowl games already, and I’m sure more will follow, and I don’t just mean the LSU version of self-imposing a convenient postseason sanction

From Boston College: 

“A huge piece to this is for the players to take a deep breath and process everything and slow down for a second to enjoy their family and loved ones,” AD Patrick Kraft said. “They haven’t been able to get a hug from mom or dad or grandma and grandpa in months. That’s real.”

And Virginia:

“Unless you live it each and every day, it is impossible to understand the mental, emotional and physical sacrifice these young men have made since their return in July,” said AD Carla Williams.

Stanford, on the road since December 1 due to coronavirus protocols in their home area, said they’ll finish next week and then finally go home. Pitt also says they’re done.

In some ways, this season has been fun. It’s been football, and imo some football is better than no football. But this season has also sucked, man. It’s been a husk, limping to the finish. It’s been a dizzying cocktail of cancelations and player opt-outs every week. Some teams will carry on with their bowl games, and that’s fine, but to the ones who won’t, can we blame them for saying enough is enough?

6. Dan Mullen should just be quiet sometimes, by Alex

When you take an L on the field, the most important thing to do in your postgame press conference is to avoid another L.

Florida’s head man has had significant struggles in this area. The latest was this effort to weigh in on Florida’s extinguished Playoff chances: 

“I know we’ve played 10 games, so I guess probably the best thing to do would’ve been play less games,” Mullen said. “Because you seem to get rewarded this year for not playing this year in college football.”

It was either a complaint about the ACC’s title teams getting to take the weekend off and/or a dig at Ohio State, which is 5-0 and going to make the Playoff after clobbering Northwestern in next weekend’s Big Ten Championship. Setting aside that basically everyone is playing fewer games this year because it’s a global pandemic, Dan, the Gators also lost one of their first give games. Did they expect to make the Playoff at 4-1? 

After losing that game to Texas A&M, Mullen urged Florida’s administration to let his team “pack The Swamp” for their next game (despite A&M not having remotely packed Kyle Field for the win over the Gators). Inevitably, Mullen had to apologize, and his boss had to talk about him like he was a 12-year-old, and Mullen had to look like both a crybaby and someone who doesn’t care about public health. 

Nobody cares about any of these things if Florida wins, of course. So my recommendation is to spend less time defending Todd Grantham in defiant press conferences and more time firing him. 

7. The art of subterfuge via visual concealment, by Jason

Army and Boise State won.

8. Dan Mullen can, on second thought, please continue talking, by Alex

9. Arizona State!, by Richard

There are ass-whoopin’s, and then there is what Arizona State dished out to its rival, ending the Kevin Sumlin regime after a string of 12 straight losses. At 70-7, it was a comprehensive victory that transcends mollywhopping, moves past lambasting, and is a tier above well and truly blowing someone the fuck out.

This was not how this was supposed to play out. Arizona, not Arizona State, had the young(ish), trendy coach supposedly able to recruit Texas. Well, the Wildcats are dead last in the Pac-12 in roster talent, per 247Sports’ team talent composite. The Sun Devils are fifth

Arizona, not Arizona State, was supposed to usurp the Pac-12 back from the northern overlords. Yet it was the Sun Devils who toppled Oregon last season. 

Arizona, not Arizona State, was supposed to be taken seriously after ASU announced Herm Edwards as head coach in head-scratching fashion. Yet it was Arizona State that won the Territorial Cup in all three years of the Sumlin-Edwards rivalry, putting quite the exclamation point on this year’s game. 

10. You know what? Actually, Dan Mullen, just stop talking, by Alex

Prior to the Iron Bowl, Bo Nix called Mac Jones the GM-word: game manager. It did not matter that Nix was praising Jones, for the GM-word is a slur, particularly when addressed to a generic-looking quarterback who plays for Alabama. 

Alabama then won the Iron Bowl by a final score of a lot to a little. Jones had a big day. Bama even made a meme about Nix’s innocuous remark.

Now let’s kick it to Bama’s next opponent: 

Jones was already going to throw for 431 yards and four touchdowns against Florida’s secondary. Let’s make it 458 and five. Take that, Dan. 

11. 2021 Georgia hype, by Richard 

In light of Georgia’s recent offensive success thanks to JT Daniels, all I want to do is leave this here:

Oh, no reason in particular. Just want to make sure it’s on your calendar.

12. USC, masters of ENTERTAINMENT, by Jason

As week [whichever week this was] had just about wrapped up, ESPN dropped off this little incendiary device. No one knew what to make of it.

  • Bama’s in, regardless of whether they beat Florida, though they’ll very likely beat Florida? Ok, got it so far.

  • Ohio State has a ~90% chance of beating Northwestern, and then a ~90% chance of making the Playoff? Sure. (FPI gives the Buckeyes a 91% chance against the Wildcats, meaning it envisions one reality in which Ohio State wins the Big Ten and misses the Playoff. Thank you for this vision, FPI.)

  • Notre Dame already has one win over Clemson and might not need another one, but would be wise to keep it within a touchdown or so? Still with you.

  • … USC? What the shit?

  • Clemson’s number makes little sense, especially since FPI (like every other system) favors Clemson to beat Notre Dame, but let’s go back to USC.

  • Texas A&M is also listed with quite a high percentage, because we have to acknowledge Texas A&M’s ranking until it goes away. No! Focus! USC!

2020 has been hard on all of us, and ESPN’s normally reputable FPI is no exception. This poor computer sees USC as an undefeated Power 5 leader, sees Clemson as a one-loss hopeful, and concludes USC is on the verge of a more committee-friendly résumé, even as it acknowledges Clemson is a much better team. At least I think that’s what’s happening.

It’s not just FPI. Lots of computers are having hard times. UCF’s beloved Colley Matrix is leading its annual uprising by ranking Coastal Carolina, Cincinnati, and the Cajuns in its top five. Donchess has Alabama at #5. Howell has Ohio State #24. SRS has been a carnival all year.

And no computer knows what to make of USC. The assembled Computers Of College Football rank the Trojans as high as #3 and as low as #46, the kind of disparity usually reserved for non-power oddballs like San Jose State.

And yes, USC is hard to explain! They’re 5-0 and favored to reach 6-0 by beating Washington. They also have three one-score wins against UCLA, Arizona, and Arizona State, teams that have combined to beat nobody but each other (and Cal). The Trojans goof off until the last moment, winning games with 80 seconds, 24 seconds, and 16 seconds to go.

Let’s keep USC’s drama party going, no matter how much it strains our poor computers. Now that FPI has tantalized us with the vision of USC in the Playoff, I am in favor of it. Reward these Trojans for how much/little they’ve worked in the name of entertainment.

13. Dan Mullen should have told Florida’s players on the first day of fall camp that you can’t throw your opponent’s shoe, by Alex

A responsible head coach simply uses bullet points: 

  • I will show up on time.

  • I will respect my teammates and coaches.

  • I will give 100% effort.

  • I will not throw my opponent’s shoes. 

14. The over in Army-Navy, by Jason

Worrying trend:

15. Dan Mullen is at least doing better than the guy who replaced his replacement at his old job, by Alex

Mike Leach’s first year at Mississippi State will not cost him buy-in from the same people who decided in 2020 that it was a good idea to have Mike Leach lead a bunch of college students. He will remain until he loses more Egg Bowls or tweets something so incendiary that Mississippi State’s power brokers decide to remove him, and who knows how high that bar is. 

However, Leach fielded arguably the worst non-Vanderbilt team in the SEC, and he entered the most discouraging data point yet for the idea that the pure, uncut air raid can thrive in that league. The capper: a 24-10 loss to Auburn, during which the Bulldogs averaged 4.3 yards per pass attempt on 60 drop-backs.

Mississippi State’s season followed this arc: LSU played an ill-advised man coverage scheme against them and gave up a historically large chunk of passing yards. Then everyone else stopped blitzing and started playing zone, and Mississippi State was reduced to ash. Then teams started blitzing again, and Mississippi State couldn’t move the ball anyway. 

So MSU won two games, one against Vandy and one against the picked carcass of LSU. A bunch of the team’s best players left the program. It’s hard to have a worse first season than this one. 

16. Arizona, by Spencer

[Correction: This happened last year. The point still stands.]

In the pregame festivities at the Territorial Cup, Arizona achieved a new nadir for cheap heat. The Wildcats massed around the Sun Devils’ midfield logo and stomped away, dislodging chunks of turf and demonstrating that — despite what the haters have been saying — they could come together and destroy painted grass. 

The Wildcats followed up this display of strength by failing four fourth down conversions, turning the ball over seven times, and losing by 63 points. The Sun Devils scored the most points in the history of the series, Arizona finished 0-5, and for god’s sake don’t ever, ever disrespect the turf management team. Because if you hurt the grounds crew, well, you’re gonna get hurt back, buddy. 

17. A LIST OF GOOD AND BAD NAMES FOR THE CRITICAL PENALTY BY MARCO WILSON DURING THE END OF THE 2020 LSU-FLORIDA GAME I AM WRITING DOWN OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD AND NOT EDITING AT ALL, by Spencer 

  • The Aiming of the Shoe 

  • InStepTion

  • Laces High

  • The Lizard Fling 

  • The Boot-out at the OK Corral  

  • The Fumbleshooski 

  • The Empire Spikes Back 

  • No Country for Sole Men 

  • Dr. StrangeClog 

  • Air Forces One

  • The Silence of the Vans 

  • Shoe, Fly, Shoe 

  • Game of Throwns

  • Halt and Snatch Tire 

  • The Kicks Six 


Hello, how are you today?

We also have a new episode of Split Zone Duo on all this, plus an inbound Shutdown Fullcast on … well, it’s on nothing but the shoe and Auburn.

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