Happy Thanksgiving everyone, partucularly you football fans.
On no other day and night of the year is there such a confluence of food and football - a FoodBall Festival if you will. And if you don't like turkey and football at the same time, you are not a true American, even if you are.
Which brings us to our list of 10 reasons to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. And remember, sometimes the best gifts are from those who do not realize just how happy they are making you, or didn't mean to. Call it an inadvertent transfer of joy, or passing of Thanksgiving dishes.
1.THE McRIB: Sawdust with sauce. Quite possibly the worst piece of food in America. But McDonald's doesn't seem to realize this. I love it because once you've had one, you will enjoy all good food that much more. So today, go get one, then enjoy your turkey, stuffing (other than Stove Top, which is not far behind the McRibb), cranberry sauce (from the can only) and oyster dressing. Thank you, McRib for making everything else taste so good. And you deserve a break today - from McDonald's menus today and every remaining day until the end of time.
2. JIMBO FISHER: Welcome to Collapse Station, Texas, where no one is happy, including an army of millionaires and billionaires who have been trying to buy Texas A&M its first national championship since 1939. It takes a lot fewer Aggies to screw in a light bulb. They paid $75 million over 10 years to Florida State coach Fisher to come west after the 2017 season - four years after winning the national championship.
He did OK through his first four seasons (9-4, 8-5, 9-1 and 8-4, including a blockbuster win over Alabama in the 2021 season. Then he appeared on his way with the consensus No. 1 signing class in the nation last February, thanks to Name, Image & Likeness and those A&M booster billions. But Fisher has fallen to 4-7 and 1-6 this season. This is the Aggies' worst year since a 3-7 and 1-6 mark in 1965.
So, thank you, Jimbo, for proving that NIL may not be all it is cracked up to be. It's about coaching and team chemistry more than NIL and the ridiculous NCAA Transfer Portal.
Fisher has also proven that the highest paid are not always the best. After he went 9-1 in the COVID-2020 season and nearly made the College Football Playoff, Fisher got a raise from $7.5 million a year to $9 million a year. That included a four-year contract extension by athletic director Ross Bjork. And all Fisher did was make progress toward what he was hired to do in the first place. Since then, Fisher fell to mediocrity at 8-4 and 4-4 last year and to this year's disaster.
Bad move by Bjork, we have been told by members of the Baton Rouge media this week with SEC West champion LSU (9-2, 6-1) playing at A&M on Saturday (7 p.m., ESPN). Funny, this same group has not bothered to mention the real person behind the Fisher blockbuster failure. Perhaps because he is LSU's current athletic director?
Thanksgiving Joy For LSU With A&M Struggling
3. SCOTT WOODWARD: That would be our next man to be thankful for - LSU athletic director Scott Woodward, who was A&M's athletic director from 2016-19. He made the Fisher hire and has made so many people happy. LSU fans who wanted Fisher to replace Les Miles in 2015 or '16 are happy. Alabama fans who hate Fisher for his comments about Saban last spring are happy. And all non-A&M fans in Texas and beyond are happy. So are so many people nationwide who don't like people to get rich.
And suddenly, Woodward, who was once viewed as one of the top athletic directors in the nation for his hires, is mediocre as a headhunter.
His best long-term hire to date remains from his days as Washington's athletic director when he landed Boise State's Chris Petersen after the 2013 season. Before that, he hired Steve Sarkisian, who was just 26-25 from 2009-12 with the Huskies before a "breakthrough" 8-4 season. He moved on to USC and crashed and burned. After attending the Nick Saban Rehabilitation Program, Sarkisian is now still mediocre early on at Texas - 12-11 in his second season. Woodward hired men's basketball coach Buzz Williams from Virginia Tech to Texas A&M before the 2019-20 season. But the best Williams did in his first three seasons was the championship game last year - of the NIT.
But Woodward's worst hire so far is obviously Fisher. So, SEC fans and the former Southwest Conference fans say, thank you, Scott Woodward, appreciate it. Interestingly, some LSU fans actually think Woodward hired Fisher, knowing he would fail, because Woodward knew he would soon be LSU's athletic director. Yeah, pass the Wild Turkey.
And LSU fans also thank Woodward for what may soon prove to be the best three hires he has ever made - women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey, baseball coach Jay Johnson and football coach Brian Kelly. All three could do something none of Woodward's hires have done - win a national championship. The only question is which one will be first.
Thanksgiving Came Early For Appalachian State
4. APPALACHIAN STATE: Much appreciation to the App, which started Texas A&M trending downward with a 17-14 win on Sept. 10. And amazingly, the Mountaineers are not that good either. They are 6-5 on the season with a loss to Texas State, which is 4-7 overall and 3-4 in the fun Sun Belt.
5. HOUSTON ASTROS: Thank you, Astros, for proving what one of my elementary school teachers used to tell kids caught cheating on tests. "If you worked as hard at studying as you did at writing the answers on your arm and hands, you would have done well on the test."
The Astros beat Philadelphia in the 2022 World Series fair and square, which was not the case when they beat the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 2017 championship amid their state of the art sign stealing sabotage. The Asterisk Astros probably could have won it in '17, but we'll never know.
6. NICK SABAN: The Alabama coach may be Old School, but he made helicopter parents who just want to be their child's best friend everywhere thankful when he did not suspend wide receiver Jermaine Burton. After slapping a woman in the back of the head during Tennessee's field storm following a home win over Alabama on Oct. 15, Saban should have suspended Burton. But Burton played the next game. In the next game, another field rush ensued when LSU beat Alabama, but Burton calmly walked off the field. It's all about changing behavior with discipline of our young people, and Saban did that. He didn't do what everybody wanted, but whatever he did do with Burton worked.
7. NFL THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Thank you for showing us virtually every week just how much better college football can be than the NFL. Who can forget Indianapolis beating Denver, 12-9, in overtime on Oct. 6? There were an enthralling 12 punts. And just one week later, Washington beat Chicago, 12-7. Great thinking, Amazon.com, for shelling out approximately $1 billion for these cinematic experiences.
Ole Miss Coach Lane Kiffin Has The Right To Take His Time
8. PETER BURNS: Thank you Peter for reminding everyone not to try to be too funny, flippant, silly and cute on the air. Sometimes it works. Too often, it does not. And it is usually not a good idea in any context to discuss someone else's wife, particularly in front of that wife's husband, and in particular when that husband - Ben Watson - is a stand-up, non-flippant, no-nonsense former NFL player who never tries to be silly or cute. Peter will likely not be joking about anything with Ben in the future.
9. THE SAINTS: Thank you for reminding us to appreciate just how great quarterback Drew Brees and coach Sean Payton were in New Orleans from 2006 through 2020 and '21, respectively. In the first season without both of them since 2005 when the Saints were 3-13, the Saints may be headed that way at 4-7 with quarterback Andy Dalton and coach Dennis Allen.
10. LANE KIFFIN: Thank you for taking your time to make your decision about either going to Auburn or staying at Ole Miss. You owe that to yourself and your family. You do not have to tell anyone in the media anything until you're ready regardless of what ridiculous statement media members may make. You also owe nothing to your players. Before NIL and the NCAA Transfer Portal, that was not a bad argument. But with players entering the portal because coaches look at them wrong, do what you want Lane.
This is America.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.