Yes, 2017 has come and gone.
The year that provided us with a heated Playoff debate, the FAU version of Lane Kiffin and an instant classic National Championship is over. Nick Saban was on to 2018 about 24 hours after that thrilling title game, as was the rest of the college football world.
But before we completely turn the page, I’d like to begin a new tradition to close each season. In this age of social media, there are so many takes that get thrown out within the span of a given Saturday.
It’s hard to keep track of them whether they’re good or bad. Fortunately for those of us who love a take that ages horribly, there’s Freezing Cold Takes (@OldTakesExposed). If you somehow don’t already follow or read the content provided by founder Fred Segal — you should — consider this your introduction to all things cold takes.
I’ve had my share, too:
College Football Playoff picks:
Don’t @ me (or do and we can yell about it).
— Connor O'Gara (@cjogara) August 31, 2017
Let me be first to say that an Oklahoma-Clemson national championship would be electric.
— Connor O'Gara (@cjogara) December 2, 2017
I also went on a Fayetteville radio show before the season and said that I thought Arkansas would win 9 games. Dig around and you can probably find a bunch of dumb things I said or tweeted.
Inspired by my own cold takes, I teamed up with Segal to provide the 10 coldest SEC takes of the 2017 season. To be fair, we went with takes from people who at least have a following on social media. Cold takes were obviously based on how horribly they aged, and they got a boost if they implicated something that defined the year that was.
So without further ado, here are the 10 coldest SEC takes of the 2017 season:
10. Kansas City radio host dismisses Missouri’s bowl chances
It was a tale of two seasons for Mizzou in 2017. The first half, as everyone remembers, was lousy. The Tigers’ only win in their 1-5 start came in the season opener against FCS Missouri State. Needless to say, Barry Odom’s seat was hot.
So like many at the time, 610 AM Sports Radio host Carrington Harrison didn’t think Missouri had any chance at a bowl game in the middle of the 53-28 loss at Georgia:
What happened next was something that few could have predicted. Not only did the Tigers earn a bowl berth, but they clinched it in the second-to-last week of the season by winning their fifth consecutive game by at least 28 points. Mizzou’s six consecutive wins to close the regular season didn’t lead to a bowl victory, but it did lead to Drew Lock returning and declaring that “there’s no reason Missouri shouldn’t end its 2018 season in a championship game.”
Something tells me that Freezing Cold Takes already bookmarked that one.
9. Greg McElroy picks Tennessee to “pull the stunner” against Georgia
Back in September, it wasn’t so crazy to think that the Vols could at least hang around with the Dawgs. Believe it or not, Georgia was only a 7.5-point favorite to win in Knoxville. The Dawgs were 4-0, but the Vols were 3-1 having only lost at Florida on Feleipe Franks’ miracle Hail Mary.
So McElroy took the bait and predicted what would’ve been a huge win for Butch Jones’ squad:
Greg McElroy is picking Tennessee to "pull the stunner" and beat Georgia
— SEC Mike (@MichaelWBratton) September 30, 2017
Then 41-0 happened.
Jake Fromm lit up Tennessee in his first SEC road game, and Georgia did its best Alabama imitation on defense. It led to a mass exodus from Neyland Stadium that day and a heavy dose of reality.
Some would argue that the nail-biter against UMass a week earlier was the beginning of the end for the 2017 Tennessee squad. But the Georgia loss showed just how massive the gap was between Tennessee and the top of the SEC East. One team was a play from winning the National Championship, and the other fired its coach and won as many SEC games as your little brother’s Pop Warner team.
McElroy isn’t higher on this list because while he was way, way off, he probably wasn’t the only college football analyst who predicted Tennessee would “pull the stunner.”
8. Birmingham radio/TV personality speaks too soon for Auburn at LSU
One of the great things about Twitter is that it gives a time stamp of exactly when a tweet is fired off. For cold takes, that’s huge.
In the case of WJOX-Birmingham radio and TV personality Ryan Brown, the time element is important for what he tweeted on Oct. 14. Had he simply tweeted BEFORE the Auburn-LSU game that Gus Malzahn’s squad was going to win at Tiger Stadium for the first time since 1999, no harm.
Instead, Brown brought the ammo when Auburn jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter:
Brown was right. It wasn’t pretty. It just wasn’t pretty for Auburn.
LSU turned a 20-0 deficit early in the second quarter into a 27-23 victory, which added another year of Tiger Stadium frustration.
At the time, many (myself included) declared 2-loss Auburn dead in the Playoff hunt. The Tigers went on to run the table in the regular season with wins vs. No. 1 Georgia and No. 1 Alabama, but Auburn’s away-from-home woes came back in the SEC Championship and in the Peach Bowl.
Auburn will try to overcome 20 years of Tiger Stadium frustration when the teams meet in Baton Rouge in 2019.
7. Detroit Free Press tweets that South Carolina isn’t good at football during Outback Bowl
The B1G was on its way to capping a perfect 8-0 bowl season. All that had to happen was Michigan needed to hold on to a 19-3 lead against South Carolina with 19 minutes left in the Outback Bowl.
This tweet from the Detroit Free Press sports account came at some point in the third quarter when Michigan led by double digits:
@Freepsports: Bad at predicting football games.
The Gamecocks dominated Michigan in the final 18 minutes and stormed back with 23 unanswered points to pull out the 26-19 victory.
The odd part about that tweet was that South Carolina and Michigan actually had the same record coming into the postseason. And if you recall, the Wolverines only finished the season with 1 win against a team with a winning record (7-6 Purdue). Even if South Carolina fell short, to claim the 2017 Gamecocks were “bad at football” as an 8-4 team seemed a bit much.
Fortunately for the Free Press, that cold take was nowhere to be found in the following day’s newspaper.
6. Everyone predicts Gus Malzahn will leave Auburn for Arkansas
Clay Travis, Travis Haney, Bill Jones, Chris Vernon, your mom, your dad and your neighbor probably told you that the Auburn coach was off to Arkansas after the SEC Championship loss.
Freezing Cold Takes rounded up a few of the best tweets implicating that Malzahn would replace Bret Bielema at Arkansas:
Well, I don’t have an exact number but… pic.twitter.com/SSyvKSui5H
— Freezing Cold Takes (@OldTakesExposed) December 5, 2017
In defense of all those cold takes, there were reports before the SEC Championship that Malzahn was strongly considering leaving for Arkansas win or lose.
What ended up happening was Malzahn had all the leverage he wanted to go back to Auburn and get a hefty raise. He signed a new deal that will pay him $7 million annually the next 7 years.
That of course opened the door for Chad Morris to land the Arkansas job, where he’ll make a whole lot less than what Malzahn would have made in Fayetteville.
5. Mike Bianchi writes why Jimbo Fisher is never leaving Florida State for Texas A&M
The Orlando Sentinel columnist was strongly opposed to the idea of big-time coaches leaving the state of Florida in 2017. He was a major voice in the “why would Scott Frost leave UCF for Nebraska?” crowd.
Bianchi took a similar stance on the idea of Jimbo Fisher leaving Florida State for Texas A&M:
— Mike Bianchi (@BianchiWrites) November 8, 2017
Bianchi’s column was LOADED with cold takes on Fisher’s future in Tallahassee. (He wasn’t alone. A former SDS columnist also tweeted that Fisher wouldn’t leave FSU.)
Let’s start with Bianchi’s lede:
“This, ladies and gentlemen, is why people don’t take the media seriously anymore.
“The Jimbo-to-A&M “report” was nothing more than a wayward rumor on a slow news day that actually was being treated as a credible news story.”
But wait, there’s more!
“I’m going let you in on a dirty, little secret: When there is a coaching job opening (or a potential job opening), media outlets compile a list of candidates based more on speculation than information.
“In other words, Jimbo’s name being “mentioned” is code for, “Texas A&M knows it has almost no chance of getting Fisher, but he’s on their wish list nonetheless.”
“I’ll compare it to going on an online dating website: You swing for the fences and click on the most attractive women available even though you know you have NO SHOT WHATSOEVER!
“I’ll tell you the same thing I told Finebaum last year when there were rumors and rumblings about LSU pursuing Jimbo: “Pawwwwl, why would Jimbo leave FSU for a lesser job such as LSU?”
And the kicker?
“So can we please stop the click-baiting, rumormongering reports that Jimbo might be headed to Texas A&M.
“Memo to all credible reporters, radio hosts and other members of the media: Be better than dignifying these rumors by pretending they might actually come true.”
Man, am I glad I clicked on that take (and even more glad that I didn’t publicly say the exact same thing, which I thought about doing).
4. Geoff Ketchum roasts Kirby Smart in middle of Rose Bowl
The coldest takes are usually, ironically enough, in the heat of the moment. In-game tweeting with sweeping declarations always seems like a bad idea. Whether that’s declaring Saquon Barkley won the Heisman in October, or calling out Kirby Smart, they usually don’t turn out well.
OrangeBloods.com owner/publisher Geoff Ketchum did the latter.
With Georgia trailing Oklahoma in the first half of the Rose Bowl, Ketchum took aim at the Sporting News Coach of the Year:
Ketchum might have forgotten that Smart pioneered a huge early-season road victory at Notre Dame, and he was only 4 weeks removed from dominating Auburn in the SEC Championship Game, which was essentially a Playoff quarterfinal.
Instead, it was first-year coach Lincoln Riley who made some questionable decisions that cost Oklahoma a chance at playing for a national title (I still don’t understand that kick at the end of the first half). Smart didn’t win it all, but he quieted the few doubters who were left by helping Georgia overcome an impressive 17-point deficit in the Rose Bowl.
Ketchum, as the owner/publisher of the No. 1 Rivals site (per his Twitter bio) which is all things Texas, should’ve known that a Big 12 defense is always capable of coughing up a 3-score lead.
3. Dan Wolken isn’t sold on Alabama dominating Vanderbilt
Stop me if you heard this before: Dan Wolken had a cold take about Alabama.
OK, so the USA Today columnist didn’t declare the Tide’s dynasty was dead this time, but he did offer up an icy take about Alabama’s chances of dominating at Vanderbilt in Week 4.
In Wolken’s defense, Vanderbilt was 3-0 having just knocked off top-25 Kansas State. In those 3 games, the Commodores actually led the nation with 4.33 points per game allowed. As we all remember, Vanderbilt’s Nifae Lealao had the infamous “Alabama: You’re next” line, which might’ve been the coldest take from a player in the entire 2017 season.
After Wolken questioned the Tide and praised Vanderbilt, he was given an out…but he didn’t take it:
Vandy, as it turned out, was not legit. Alabama, as it turned out, was. The Tide’s 59-0 beatdown that day was what we’ve come to expect when Saban’s team gets called out. Perhaps the buzz about Alabama not being worthy of that 19.5-point spread added fuel to the fire.
What made Wolken’s take even colder was the fact that Vanderbilt’s defense allowed an astonishing 43.3 points per SEC game en route to a 1-7 conference record. If not for dumpster-fire Tennessee in the regular-season finale, Vandy would’ve finished without an SEC win. Lucky for Wolken, Alabama fans totally let him off the hook.
I’m kidding, you guys.
2. Phil Steele ranks Florida as “No. 1 surprise national title contender for 2017”
Steele’s annual preview magazine is must-read stuff for all college football fans. In it, he has to make a ton of predictions. He likes to remind everyone how accurately his preseason top 10 is, too. One prediction, though, was not worth bragging about.
Steele didn’t predict that Florida would start 2017 in the top 10, but he did dub the Gators his “No. 1 surprise national title contender.” He picked them, and not Georgia, to win the SEC East. Why?
As Steele detailed in an interview with WJOX 94.5 FM, he liked the odds of Florida continuing its dominant defensive ways, and he believed that the offensive woes would end in 2017. After all, Jim McElwain had capable quarterback options with redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks, Luke Del Rio and incoming graduate transfer Malik Zaire. Steele also claimed that Florida had its “best group of receivers in 5-10 years.”
The best part of Steele’s prediction was that he was big on the Gators’ schedule, citing that they only had road games against Kentucky, Missouri and South Carolina.
Soooooo … about that.
Florida fell apart defensively, which was partially due to the offense’s inability to stay on the field. There was no answer at quarterback after Del Rio went down again. The Gators’ leading receiver had 410 yards, and that easy road schedule? They went 1-2 with the lone win coming because Kentucky failed to cover a Gator receiver … twice. McElwain didn’t even last long enough to coach in those 2 road losses.
In Steele’s defense, he made that prediction before 11 Florida players were suspended in the credit card fraud scandal. Still, the 4-win Gators were more than a few key players from being anywhere close to nationally relevant in 2017.
1. Danny Kanell jumps the gun in the National Championship … thrice
You knew it was coming.
Of course the coldest SEC take of the 2017-18 season was going to come from Mr. anti-SEC himself. The question was which of Kanell’s SEC takes it was going to be.
I have to come clean. Freezing Cold Takes pointed me in the direction of not one, not two, but three Kanell takes that were too cold not to include on this list. They all occurred during the National Championship, which Kanell claimed viewership would take a major hit because it featured two SEC teams. Still, though, Kanell and an average of 28.4 million other people watched the title game.
And fortunately for us, Kanell had some fire takes in his holster.
The first of which came when Georgia took a 13-0 lead at the end of the first half:
Alabama did, however, decide to come out for the second half. And to Kanell’s astonishment, Saban elected to bench 25-2 Jalen Hurts in favor of true freshman Tua Tagovailoa:
In Kanell’s defense, he wasn’t the only person who was skeptical that the guy without any significant snaps could lead Alabama to a comeback in the national championship. Kanell got a little victory when the Tide went 3-and-out with Tagovailoa to start the second half.
So naturally, he fired off another take:
As it turned out, Saban knew more than the guy who couldn’t spell Jalen Hurts’ name correctly. Tagovailoa delivered a performance for the ages, which was capped by his 41-yard, walk-off touchdown pass in overtime.
How did Kanell react to that? Surprisingly, he admitted defeat:
Kanell did later tweet that Saban was the GOAT and that he’d win 10 rings by the time his career was finished (cc: @OldTakesExposed).
But once an SEC troll, always an SEC troll:
Was pretty cool running into the head coach of the brand new national champs last night at game!!! pic.twitter.com/aFITatn7jE
— Danny Kanell (@dannykanell) January 9, 2018
You do you, Danny.