Ole Miss regresses ... again
Just when we thought Ole Miss might live up to a fraction of its preseason hype, the Rebels went out and laid an Egg Bowl. Dan Mullen couldn't lead Mississippi State to a bowl game in his first season, but claiming the Golden Egg with a 41-27 victory will help the Bulldogs win some of the fierce recruiting skirmishes in the talent-rich Magnolia State.
Since Mullen landed the job, one of his popular talking points has been that the state of Mississippi produced Jerry Rice, Brett Favre and Steve McNair, and none of them went to Mississippi State or Ole Miss. Mullen wants the next Rice, Favre or McNair to play in Starkville, and he'll have a much better shot at landing any in-state target after his team's dominant win Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Rebels have to be wondering how their season could have started and ended so poorly. Fresh off a thrilling-but-lucky win against LSU, Rebels quarterback Jevan Snead threw three interceptions. Snead, who started the season as a potential 2010 first-rounder, probably can sign another apartment lease in Oxford.
Rebels coach Houston Nutt won't get fired like the last two Egg Bowl losers (Ed Ogeron and Sylvester Croom), but he will face an entirely new challenge this offseason. After the game, Mullen threw down the gauntlet. He grabbed the mic and told the Scott Field crowd, in so many words, that at least one program in the state is headed in the right direction.
Mangino takes a stand
Kansas lost a heartbreaker to Missouri on Saturday, and after the loss -- the Jayhawks' seventh in a row after a 5-0 start -- coach Mark Mangino had to answer another round of tough questions. Will it be the last round of tough questions Mangino faces as the Kansas coach? He doesn't know.
"Why don't you ask the decision-makers?" Mangino asked reporters after the 41-39 loss in Kansas City. "I've been answering a lot of questions for two weeks. I haven't run. I've been up-front with nothing to hide. Sometimes people ask me questions, and I'm not the one to be answering them."
Mangino said he plans to coach Kansas next year, and he said he didn't know when the school would finish its investigation into accusations he mistreated players. Mangino said his coaching style did not require changing. He also said his style helped him build the program in recent years.
"I'm confident in my ability, and I feel good about everything I've done," he said. "When I was hired at Kansas, they told me that they desperately needed structure and discipline in the football program. The people who hired me said it was the key point. I've done that the right way."
Mangino also didn't sound like a man who would quit without a fight.
"I don't have anything to say to any decision-makers," he said. "I'll leave you with what a friend of mine told me one time that I think is a very good way to go about life. That is, 'I'd rather die on my feet than live on my knees.'"
The good, the bad and the ugly
Nike's Pro Combat uniform rollout the past few weeks was hit-and-miss. The subtle alteration to the iconic Texas uniform (numbers over the Longhorn) looked pretty cool. So did Virginia Tech's whiteout gear. But the pewter-and-black Missouri helmets looked ridiculous, as did the horrific stitching on Florida's jerseys, which looked like either alligator paw prints or a cannabis leaf.
I like the classics when it comes to unis. Michigan, Penn State and Alabama are particular favorites. I understand the desire to sell gear, but hopefully all that fancy technology can be blended into a more eye-pleasing kit.
I also have one question for Nike executives: With all the people who worked on this project, did no one speak up and ask why you were calling it Pro Combat when so many college-age Americans are overseas right now wearing real professional combat gear to protect them from enemy fire? For a company with as much PR savvy as Nike, that's a pretty offensive misstep.
Clemson caught looking ahead
Well, we know one participant in the ACC title game was looking ahead to Tampa. Other than C.J. Spiller returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown, Clemson looked completely uninterested in beating South Carolina. The Gamecocks, though, were more than happy to pound the Tigers, 34-17.
South Carolina, which had lost three in a row entering Saturday, needed the win badly. Now after Saturday's feel-good victory the Gamecocks can enjoy a month of positive momentum before their bowl game, which might be the Chick-fil-A in Atlanta.
Clemson, meanwhile, still has a big prize to play for, though ACC officials can't be thrilled about the prospect of a four-loss conference champ. If you think a win against Georgia Tech is impossible given the way the Tigers played Saturday, don't be so hasty.
Clemson looked awful in the first half of the matchup with Tech in Atlanta on Sept. 9, but came back to take the lead in the fourth quarter. Two late field goal drives saved the Yellow Jackets that night.
If the Tigers put all their eggs in the ACC title-game basket, I wouldn't be shocked. We'll have to wait until later tonight to find out whether Georgia Tech adopts the same attitude.
So long, Swamp
Contrary to popular superstition, a puff of white smoke did not appear above Florida Field when Gators quarterback Tim Tebow emerged from the tunnel for his Senior Day introduction.
Tebow got a big hug from Florida coach Urban Meyer and a thunderous roar from the Florida Field crowd. While Tebow received the loudest cheer, he did not have the most elaborate Senior Day entrance. That belonged to senior cornerback Wondy Pierre-Louis, who stopped on the five-yard line and executed a textbook LeBron James talcum toss.