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Procession for world-renowned evangelist Rev. Billy Graham

Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Weekend Predictions: Georgia over Auburn for SEC, Clemson over Richt

Before getting to the most important moment of this college football season, or at least second to that time when a poor lost soul of an athletic director in Knoxville asked, “Wait, what’s Twitter? Do I need to worry about that?” here’s an update on the Tennessee coaching search:

Greg Schiano accepted a chance to become the next colossal failure as Tennessee’s coach. But before he could sign the contract, the offer was rescinded because the social-media underworld practically burned down Vol Land over flimsy allegations he may have covered up some of Jerry Sandusky’s degenerate dealings in Penn State. Also, and here’s what really mattered most, fans didn’t think he Schiano would be as good as Jon Gruden.

But Gruden said no because it turns out he’s not crazy. Mike Gundy said no because, and here’s even a bigger surprise, he’s not crazy, either. (Gundy recruited a player at Oklahoma State accused and later convicted of sexual assault, but Tennessee fans would’ve been fine with him because, duh, he can coach.)

So Schiano blew up, and Gruden said no, and Gundy said no, and Jason Witten can’t stop laughing and he said no, and the rejections keep coming:

Jeff Brohm. David Cutcliffe. Dave Doeren.

So now even the coaches at Purdue, Duke and North Carolina State don’t want the Tennessee job.

For the first time in my life, I wish I was Phil Fulmer.

There’s a petition to bring back Lane Kiffin. You know what’s even funnier? He said he doesn’t want the job either! (But he did find time to Tweet, “BREAKING NEWS: Kim Jung Un has turned down the Tennessee job.”)

Tennessee should move the team out of Neyland Stadium to a toxic-waste dump two states over. It would make the job more attractive to candidates and, besides, nobody would notice the difference in venue.

The good news for Tennessee athletic director John Currie is when he decides to turn pro, the Braves will hire him to run their scouting department, and he can sit at Terry McGuirk’s desk since that’s almost never used anyway.

Meanwhile, back where things make sense (transitions are for wimps):

Georgia and Auburn meet for the SEC championship. And a playoff berth. And a chance to say to Nick Saban, “Phhhht!”

The last time these two teams played, the Bulldogs had their arms ripped off. But that was in Auburn, the loveliest detention facility on the plains.

The rematch is loaded with potential equalizers. It’s a neutral site. Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson has an ailing shoulder. Georgia’s defensive and offensive lines have been called mushheads for three weeks and are looking for payback.

It will be physical. It will be close. But Georgia wins.

Tennessee’s search committee

And Down The Stretch They Come

Clemson vs. Miami (ACC title): A Mark Richt vs. Georgia playoff game would cause such a glorious internet meltdown, but Miami’s loss at Pittsburgh was probably more than a hiccup and Clemson ain’t playin’. Tigers win, cover 9-1/2.

Alabama: Off. Saban has time to polish his, “We should be in the playoffs” lobbying in the media, which is funny considering it wasn’t long ago he referred to the media’s influence as “rat poison.” I’m not sure the Crimson Tide has the resume to get into the final four, but we at Rat Poison Central are here for you Nick.

Ohio State vs. Wisconsin (Big Ten title): If it comes down to a Ohio State vs. Alabama decision for the fourth playoff berth, I would endorse a Saban vs. Urban Meyer public debate on the issue. Complete with 20 whipped-cream pies and inflatable clown mallets. Buckeyes win and cover 6-1/2.

My view of the Alabama argument

Oklahoma vs. TCU (Big 12 title): The Big 12 finally brings back a championship game to try to get a team in the playoffs, and now it’s going to backfire because Oklahoma has to beat the same team twice in one season to get in. At least that’s what I’m going with. Take the 7 points, but TCU wins in a straight upset.

USC vs. Stanford (Pac-12): It’s such a cute little conference. Now go play outside with the FCS kids. Trojans cover 4.

Louisiana-Monroe at Florida State:  FSU is playing this previously canceled game only to become bowl eligible, because nothing says Christmas like Shreveport. Jimbo Fisher is probably out the the door to Texas A&M, and on that subject one FSU fan attending Fisher’s weekly radio show asked the coach about his “loyalty.” The fan was thrown out and shoved by a hired goon. They’re not big on reality in Tallahassee. Seminoles cover 26-1/2.

I would’ve swung at the dude pushing

Kennesaw State at Jacksonville State (FCS playoff): KSU has won 11 consecutive, including last week’s playoff win over Samford, which is pretty good for a toddler program that not long ago had the head coach working out of borrowed office space in the back of a bank. But Jax State is a No. 3 seed and rested. The fantasy ride ends here. Owls lose, but take the 9-1/2. 

Idaho at Georgia State: Maybe it’s the “Year Of The Other Programs.” The Panthers are 6-4 and going to a bowl despite a canceled game, which is more than can be said for Georgia Tech. But State is 1-3 at the former Turner Field and 5-1 on the road. The Braves must have left some of their relievers behind. Panthers cover 6.

NFL Snack Pack

Vikings at Falcons: Welcome to the NFL’s alternate universe, where Minnesota quarterback Case Keenum is playing for his fourth team in five years, but was the NFC’s player of the month with 866 yards and seven touchdown passes in three starts. And he knows kung fu. Not a good time for the Falcons to have a banged up secondary, but Men of Thor go down. The 3 is covered.

Only explanation for Case Keenum

Bucs at Packers: Jameis Winston has been cleared. By doctors, not by Uber. Packers win. Take the gift 1-1/2.

Panthers at Saints: Cam Newton said this game could be a “defining moment” for Carolina. I agree. Just not how he thinks. New Orleans covers 4-1/2.

McAdoo deserves this

Giants at Raiders: Giants coach Ben McAdoo was determined to burn down the village before he got thrown out, so Eli Manning -- a two-time Super Bowl winner surrounded by stooges -- is on the bench. Wait, it gets worse. This was all so Geno Smith could start. Is there a concussion protocol for coaches? Oakland covers 9.

49ers at Bears: Jimmy Garopollo gets his first start. If he’s good enough in this game, they may let him start against an NFL team one day. Take the 49ers and 3 -- and in a straight upset.

Lilly’s Pick

Lilly lost last week after picking Alabama over Auburn, but she’s 8-4 going into the final week. Note: She nailed the Auburn-over-Georgia pick three weeks ago. This week, we cheese’d pictures of Auburn’s “Aubie” on the left and Uga X on the right.

Last week: 15-2 straight up, 12-5 against the line.

Bottom dollars: 142-42 straight up, 93-84-7 against the line.

Podcast with D.J. Shockley: Fresh “We Never Played The Game” podcast with D.J. Shockley, the last Georgia quarterback to win an SEC title. Great stuff on parallels between 2005 and 2017 teams, his decision to almost transfer, his text exchanges with Jacob Eason and more. Go to and click the “We Never Played The Game” tab.

Subscribe to the,We Never Played The Game” on iTunes or on the new AJC sports podcasts page.

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About the Author

Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.