SDS Mailbag: Auburn panic level, football coaches under pressure and Super Bowl LVI predictions
This is going to be a fun weekend of sports, folks.
Saturday is filled with SEC men’s hoops action. College baseball teams are putting the finishing touches on their season preparations before a Feb. 18 start date. College softball gets started this weekend!
Oh, and there’s something called the Super Bowl on Sunday. Perhaps you’ve heard of it?
I’ll get to my Super Bowl prediction later. Here are your questions for this week’s SDS Mailbag:
On a scale of 1-10, how worried are you about Auburn after this week’s loss at Arkansas?
Oh, it’s definitely a 1. If I could have picked 0, I would have. I’m way more worried about the Auburn football program (as I’m sure almost everyone is).
Yes, the Tigers finally got bit after flirting with disaster on the road in recent games (beating Mizzou by 1 point and Georgia by 2), but losing in overtime at Arkansas, in front of a sold-out (and record crowd) Bud Walton Arena is far from a reason to panic.
I agree with ESPN broadcaster Tom Hart that Jabari Smith Jr. needs to hunt his shot more, but other than that, the Tigers had an off night at the free-throw line. That was their biggest issue. I’m not worried about that being a lingering issue. They have too many good shooters for that to happen.
Once they get Zep Jasper back, their defense will be a lot better, too. And, when they reach the SEC and NCAA Tournaments, those are all neutral-site games, so the road crowd won’t be a factor. I still think the Tigers are the No. 1 team in the country, even ahead of Gonzaga.
How would you rank the pressure and expectations that each of the following SEC coaches is under going into spring ball and the 2022 season – regardless of what year they’re in – and why? The coaches are: Billy Napier, Brian Kelly, Jimbo Fisher, Bryan Harsin and Josh Heupel.
Here’s how I’d rank them, from most pressure to least pressure:
- Bryan Harsin
- Jimbo Fisher
- Brian Kelly
- Josh Heupel
- Billy Napier
Here’s the caveat – there’s a big gap between No. 1 and No. 2. Harsin is currently being left to flounder in the wind by Auburn administration. At this point, the school needs to make a firm decision either way – is he staying or going? If he stays, he has to put together a strong 2022 season or this could all play out again next offseason.
Yes, Fisher is under pressure to win, but he just brought in the best recruiting class ever. He’ll get a couple of years for those guys to develop. But, he needs to do better than 8-4, that’s for sure.
Brain Kelly and Billy Napier are in their first seasons. Presuming they don’t have Harsin-like disasters in Year 1, they’ll be fine. Heupel also has Tennessee trending in the right direction, but we’ve obviously seen how quickly things can change on Rocky Top.
It’s going to be an interesting year for those 5 coaches, but 2-5 on that list should still have their jobs heading into 2023. We’ll see about No. 1.
Who wins the Super Bowl on Sunday? And will either Joe Burrow or Matthew Stafford be the MVP?
Interesting fact: In the first 54 Super Bowls, no team won on its home field. Tampa Bay changed that last year, winning at Raymond James Stadium. This year, the Los Angeles Rams could make it 2 years in a row at SoFi Field.
But … they won’t. I’m all aboard the Joe Burrow hype train! I have loved watching him play this year, and he clearly hasn’t lost a bit of chemistry from his days throwing the ball to Ja’Marr Chase at LSU.
The Bengals don’t have the best defense, but that unit makes plays when it needs to. Then, Burrow and the offense have been up to the task all year long. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that kicker Evan McPherson has the clutch gene.
I have a feeling that, after some early game jitters from both teams, things settle down and become a bit more intense. I’ll take the Bengals to pull off a narrow 30-28 win over the Rams on Sunday night.
What’s the best Super Bowl snack?
Keep it simple. Chips and dip is the way to go. Make a ton of different dips – sour cream and onion, buffalo chicken, guacamole, spinach dip, etc. The dips can also be used with vegetables, if you so choose.
But, simple chips and dip are the best snacks because they can be used with anything. Or, if you want, you can just eat them plain.
A close second is buffalo wings. For home cooking, I prefer bone-in wings, but I won’t judge you if you use boneless. I also won’t judge you if you prefer blue cheese or ranch. I like both. Just make sure the wings are cooked and seasoned right!
Have a question for next week’s Mailbag? Tweet at us using #SDSMailbag or email me at ASpencer@SaturdayDownSouth.com.