By the time you’re reading this, I’ll be at my parents’ house in the middle-of-nowhere Illinois for Christmas.

It’s always nice to go back home and spend time with family and friends, especially since I only get to do it once or twice a year. Heading back to a place that might have snow on Christmas will be exciting, too.

If you need me, I’ll probably be in my parents’ basement, watching the great bowl games this week, yelling at/rooting for the Dallas Cowboys with my dad and watching the Boston Celtics and the other great NBA action on Christmas day. Happy holidays, everyone!

With that, here are your questions for the SDS Mailbag this week:


It’s transfer season! If you’re transfer shopping, would you rather have Justin Fields or Jalen Hurts for your team moving forward?

That’s an interesting question, as Fields — the former 5-star Georgia quarterback — is now officially in the NCAA Transfer Portal, and many analysts and fans expect Hurts to play somewhere other than Alabama for his final year of eligibility.

Both are talented dual-threat quarterbacks, with Hurts somewhat limited as a passer and Fields somewhat of an unknown product after being used sparingly in 2018. So, whom would you rather have? That depends on how close your team is to competing for a title.

Hurts will be able to play immediately in 2019, but then he’s done. Fields, meanwhile, may have to sit out the 2019 season due to NCAA transfer rules (he could also get a waiver to play right away, potentially), but would then have three years of eligibility remaining.

Let’s use two non-SEC examples for this question. If you’re a team like Oklahoma, with championship potential both this year and next, bringing in a guy like Hurts to replace Heisman Trophy-winning QB Kyler Murray makes a ton of sense. Meanwhile, if you’re a squad like Florida State, adding Hurts in 2019 doesn’t make as much sense, as the Seminoles are at least a couple of years away from getting back to the ACC power they have been in years past.

Therefore, if you’re Willie Taggart, you should go after Fields, who will potentially be able to play in 2020, 2021 and 2022 (though he’d be eligible for the NFL Draft after the 2020 season). If you’re Lincoln Riley, you should go after Hurts (although adding Fields, too, wouldn’t be a bad thing) to help you compete in 2019.

Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

BONUS: Dobbe’s Locks of the Week went 1-3 last week, but if you bet Ohio to cover, you won big! Bowl games are always tough to predict, as teams’ motivations are unclear and they have to deal with players sitting out and coaching changes and myriad other issues. So we’ll give Dobbe a chance to redeem himself this week. Here are his three locks for the next few days of bowl action:

  • Houston vs. Army (over 60 points) in the Armed Forces Bowl Something about this game brings the points. The last three years have been shootouts. Plus, Houston DT Ed Oliver isn’t playing.
  • Vanderbilt (-4) vs. Baylor in the Texas Bowl The Bears got shut down by some poor defenses this year. Vanderbilt goes into Texas and controls this game.
  • Miami vs. Wisconsin (+3.5) in the Pinstripe Bowl We’re still a long way from Thursday, but the weather isn’t exactly looking like the Orange Bowl. Also, Miami stinks.

Dobbe’s Locks season record: 12-15-1


The top three players in this year’s Heisman Trophy vote all sat for at least a year behind an established starter. With Justin Fields intent on transferring, will we see fewer 5-star recruits at premium positions (especially quarterback) committing to places already deep with talent and multiple years of eligibility remaining? Or does the pull of some coaches and programs ultimately win out?

It’s true that sitting behind an established starter (Jalen Hurts for Tua Tagovailoa, Baker Mayfield for Kyler Murray and J.T. Barrett for Dwayne Haskins) certainly helps, as it allows the player to learn the offensive system and get in a rhythm with the receivers, offensive line and running backs. Even at the NFL level, you see the success teams have had with sitting quarterbacks behind established starters Aaron Rodgers behind Brett Favre, Tom Brady behind Drew Bledsoe and Patrick Mahomes behind Alex Smith.

However, for every story like that, there are guys like Trevor Lawrence and Jake Fromm, who stepped in and helped their teams immediately. Lawrence probably could have been a Heisman contender if Kelly Bryant hadn’t started the first few games for Clemson, and he’ll be one of the favorites to win the award next year.

I think it all comes down to the player and the system. Alabama is always going to attract top talent (same for Georgia, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma and a number of other elite schools). Therefore, in order to go there, sometimes guys know they’re going to have to wait their turn.

I predict we’ll see a fair number of guys like Fields who don’t win the job and transfer out of the program, but I also think we’ll see some guys like Haskins who wait their turn, too.


Why does Nick Saban continue to bring in these troubled, out-of-work football coaches?

So, we all know by now that Nick Saban is the best coach ever to step foot on a college football sideline (any argument to the contrary is just out of spite or ignorance). As is often the case, coaches like this seem to think they can do no wrong.

I assume this question comes to us via the news that disgraced former Maryland coach D.J. Durkin, who was fired in the aftermath of an ugly incident in which a player died, was spotted in Tuscaloosa. While Saban has said that Durkin was not hired in any capacity and was just attending Alabama practices, I wonder if the move was to gauge the public’s reaction. Then, once the reaction was so negative, Saban immediately squashed the notion that Alabama was hiring Durkin as an analyst.

Yes, Saban has worked wonders with guys like Lane Kiffin, Mike Locksley, Steve Sarkisian and others (likely soon to be Butch Jones, as well), but Durkin brings a whole new level of toxicity to the mix. Even Saban would be wise to stay away from a guy who oversaw a program that had as much turmoil and ugliness as Maryland this past year.

Is this the reality check Saban needed? Perhaps, but don’t expect him to stop bringing in former head coaches (albeit ones with less controversial resumes than Durkin) in the future. It adds incredible experience and a new set of eyes to the program, and it’s a good move as long as the coach isn’t carrying real baggage.

Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports


What are the top SEC regional restaurant chains? I’m a Bojangles man myself.

Personally, I think you can’t go wrong with Chick-fil-A. Everything they make is freakin’ delicious. The only problem is that they aren’t open on Sundays (yes, I understand why, but it’s still frustrating).

Here are my top five fast-food chains when it comes to the SEC footprint:

  1. Chick-fil-A
  2. Waffle House
  3. Raising Cane’s
  4. Zaxby’s
  5. Krystal

You’ll notice that there are a lot of chicken places on the list, and that’s because no one does fried chicken like the Southeast. I’ve lived in a lot of places in my life, but man, there’s nothing like the South and fried chicken. You literally can’t go wrong.


It’s Christmas time and I’m avoiding the family and staying home during my two-week break. What are the best Christmas movies of all time? Does Die Hard count as a Christmas movie?

Personally, I’m okay with Die Hard being considered a Christmas movie, especially if you make it a tradition to watch it around Christmas. However, it’s not the best Christmas movie out there, in my opinion. Here’s how I’d rank the top five Christmas movies of all time:

  1. Elf
  2. Home Alone
  3. It’s a Wonderful Life
  4. Die Hard
  5. A Charlie Brown Christmas

You really can’t go wrong with any of those movies, and I’ll give an honorable mention to A Christmas Carol the original black-and-white version from 1938  for being an absolute classic. Anyone who disagrees with this list is a cotton-headed ninny muggins.

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