The Texas Option


In life opportunity doesn’t come around the corner often, but when it does, you better be ready for anything.  The University of Texas at Austin has a particularly controversial coaching decision to make after Coach Mack Brown stepped down earlier this week.  Many thought that Nick Saban from the University of Alabama was going to switch over, but it was highly unrealistic.  Looking forward there are some tough decisions to make, so here’s my top-three lists of potential hires.

Art Briles just signed a 10-year contract extension with Baylor University that will pay him $4 million annually.  Briles, 58, a born Texan has the background check that resembles a Texas head coach.  He has Baylor posting up record breaking offensive numbers, and playing against UCF for the Fiesta Bowl this season.  His 36-15 record in the past four seasons may scare Texas fans, but let’s look at Baylor’s program before Briles came along.  Oh, I almost forgot, Baylor wasn’t even relevant before his arrival.  Let’s just say that Texas must sign a Texan for fans to be ultimately happy.

James Franklin, Vanderbilt, has showed what hard-work and perseverance can do if done correctly.  Franklin has brought life to a program that was dead within the SEC East division.  He’s 23-14 at Vandy and has consistently found himself within the Rivals top 20 each season.  The charismatic youth could be something that makes his coaching stock rise for this job, but it could be a negative as well. Altogether, Franklin would be a great fit and help define the Longhorns future in college football.

Les Miles, LSU, is the mad hatter of college football and knows how to win big games.  Miles holds a 94-24 record at LSU and earns $4.3 million annually through 2019.  At age 60, are there many years left in his tank?  I would estimate that he has 7-10 years left coaching and will win another national championship in that time period.  Never underestimate a man who has showed multiple times that he’s a top-notched competitor who wins frequently.  LSU fan’s better not take Miles for granted, because he could be outing quickly if a contract is offered.

Briles, Franklin, and Miles are my top-three candidates, but there’s always a dark horse that steals the show.  Lovie Smith, Gladewater, Texas has to be the favorite NFL guy to take this position.  At age 55, he is young and unemployed since 2012.  Smith coached linebackers at Tulsa, Wisconsin, Arizona State, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio State, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  From 2001-03 he was the defensive coordinator in St. Louis under coach Mike Martz.  Smith in 2004 was hired head coach for the Chicago Bears and finished with an 84-66 record.  His experience notches my listed top-three and could potentially shock the country.  Don’t be surprised if Smith gets a call by Texas and considers the offer.

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The BCS Bowl Game Breakdowns


By Darrell Puckett

This year’s college football season is one of such magical endings that not even Walt Disney could have written it.  There have been multiple games that were decided by the last drive.  The countdown to the BCS is over and a list has been provided.  On this week’s edition of MVP Mondays, I break down the BCS bowl games and give a few winning components in each.

Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO – Jan. 1 at 5 p.m.

Stanford vs. Michigan State

This game provides two teams with hard-nose defenses.  If you’re looking for a game with a lot of upside, then look no farther.  Michigan St. sits atop the world after defeating Ohio St. in the BIG 10 championship.  They’re lead by sophomore quarterback Connor Cook.  Cook has completed 201 passes out of 344 for 2,423 yards.  He has thrown for 20 touchdowns and five interceptions, while completing 58.4 percent of his passes.  Stanford running back Tyler Gaffney has amounted 20 TD’s on the ground for 1,618 yards.  If either Cook or Gaffney can get going early, then that will be the deciding component in this game.   My prediction is for Stanford to pull away towards the end and run downhill consistently.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl – Jan. 2 at 8:30 p.m.

UCF vs. Baylor

Wow, where to start?  Baylor would be playing for a national championship if it wasn’t for that cold night in Stillwater, Okla.  Oh well, the Bears didn’t deserve that game, so here they are.  UCF defeated Louisville in a key game for the American Conference and received an automatic BCS bid, so that’s why they’re here.  Knights quarterback Blake Bortles has completed 239 passes out of 351 for 3,280 yards.  He has thrown for 22 TD’s and seven interceptions, while completing 68.1 percent of his passes.  Look for UCF to air out the field and exploit Baylor’s weak-side defense.  Baylor junior quarterback Bryce Petty has had an incredible season.  Petty has completed 220 passes out of 356 for 3,844 yards.  He has thrown for 30 TD’s and two interceptions.  Whoever wins, it will be an exciting match up.  I pick Baylor to come away with a victory in this one.

Allstate Sugar Bowl – Jan. 2 at 7:30 p.m.

Oklahoma vs. Alabama

This game will be completely dominated by the Crimson Tide.  Oklahoma has notched another lucky BCS game that will finish with a big loss.  Alabama senior quarterback AJ McCarron will destroy Oklahoma’s secondary with command and authority.  McCarron has completed 207 passes out of 306 for 2,676 yards.  He has thrown 26 TD’s and five interceptions, while completing 67.6 percent of his passes.  In no way shape or form do the Sooners notch this game out with a victory.  Look for the Tide to roll again and bring a Sugar Bowl trophy home.

Discover Orange Bowl – Jan. 3 at 8:30 p.m.

Clemson vs. Ohio State

It’s about time we get to see the two most overrated teams play this season.  Clemson proved to country that they aren’t better than Florida State after their terrible loss, 51-14.  Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd has something to prove for NFL scouts at this game.  Boyd has compiled 3,473 yards by completing 252 passes out of 372 attempts.  He has thrown for 29 TD’s with nine interceptions, while completing 67.6 percent of his passes.  Also, he notched nine rushing TD’s for 956 yards.  Ohio State senior quarterback Braxton Miller has completed 146 passes out of 241 for 1,860.  He has thrown for 22 TD’s with five interceptions, while completing 63.2 percent of his passes.  Miller is way more dangerous with his legs than arm by rushing for 10 TD’s and 1,033 yards.  The mobility of either quarterback will decide a winner.  Look for Clemson to beat the Buckeyes by 10 or more.

VIZIO BCS National Championship – Jan. 6 at 8:30 p.m.

No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 2 Auburn

The BCS committee has finally chosen this game correctly and provided everyone with an intriguing match-up.  Florida St. has been the understood number one team all season and looks to win another championship.  Auburn on the other hand has had a magical season that brought a broken fan base back together.  Head coach Gus Malzahn headed into this season with one goal in mind and that was simple.  Bring a team out of a losing mind set and start playing Auburn championship football.  Was there any more to say?  No.  He has brought a dismal 3-9 team from the darkness and now sits at 12-1 this season.  Wow, what a difference one year makes.  Heisman hopeful Tre Mason has been a huge contributor this season for the Tigers and doesn’t seem to be slowing down.  Florida St. quarterback Jameis Winston has completed 237 passes out of 349 for 3,820 yards.  He has thrown for 38 touchdowns with 10 interceptions, while completing 67.9 percent of his passes.  Winston will most likely win a Heisman Trophy this Saturday and put himself into the books of college football greats.  This game provides everything a fan could want or hope for.  My feelings haven’t been this strong for a game before, so I anticipate an exciting ending.  The victor must pressure the offensive line and pass efficiently downfield.  Auburn will no doubt lead the statistics in rushing, but they must design risk efficient passes to open up a stingy defense.  My prediction is Auburn by three in a closely played game.

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10 Gifts on a Budget

By Jessica Klinner


As if the year hasn’t flown by quick enough, it’s now time to start thinking about holiday gifts. New gadgets and gaming consoles often top wish lists and while they’re fun to receive, they’re not as fun to give, especially if you’re on a budget. Instead of giving a gift card or money as an alternative, try stepping outside the box and giving something a little more personal. Listed below are a few ideas for giving personalized gifts without having to spend a fortune.

1. Cards Against Humanity

“Cards Against Humanity” is a new party game that is taking the country by storm. It’s basically “Apples to Apples” for adults. The rules are simple: Each player draws ten white cards. One player is selected to be the Card Czar and plays a black card. The remaining players pick out a white card that completes the sentence or phrase on the black card. Once all the cards have been submitted, the Card Czar picks his/her favorite one. The player whose card is selected wins the round. It’s a great gift to give a friend or family member who has a great sense of humor and likes to have fun. The card game can be purchased or downloaded for free on the company’s website.

2. Magazine Subscription

Instead of buying someone a gift that might be used once and never looked at again, buy them a subscription to their favorite magazine. A magazine subscription is the gift that keeps on giving all year long. They’ll receive a new issue once a month for a whole year without having to pay a dime. For the sports lover, get “Sports Illustrated.” For the music lover, a subscription to “Rolling Stone” will be perfect. Most subscriptions cost no more than $20. So many specialized magazines exist today that it will be easy to find the perfect fit for everyone on your holiday shopping list!

 3. Movie Night Basket

Not everyone has the time or money to go see a movie when it’s in theaters. One of the best gifts you can give during the holidays is a personalized movie night basket. Buy a basket or bucket to fill with candy, popcorn, and a few great movies or just one of the best new releases. Try to personalize the basket by finding out the person’s favorite candy and a few movies they love that they may not already own. The recipient of this gift will love the thought put into the gift more than a fancy new gadget or gift card.

4. Make a Scarf

Instead of buying an expensive scarf at a small boutique, grab a crochet hook and make one yourself. While this may not save you time, it will surely save you money. Go to the nearest craft store to buy supplies like yarn and a “How To” book and you’ll be ready to go. A handmade gift shows how much time and effort you put into making it and will impress anyone who receives the gift.

 5. Quote Jar

Many people enjoy buying daily calendars with tear away pages containing inspirational quotes or funny jokes. This year, instead of buying a calendar, make your own motivational quote jar. Jars can be purchased almost anywhere, but the best place to get them would be a craft store. Print out as many quotes as you see fit, and place them into the jar. Try to pick out quotes that are special to you or pertain to a certain memory with the person who will receive the gift. Tie a colorful ribbon around the jar for a hint of decoration. This will be a wonderful gift to give to both friends and family. As they read the quotes throughout the year, they’ll be reminded of you.

 6. iTunes gift card

While this may fall under the category of impersonal gifts, iTunes cards are a great gift for the people on your list who are hard to buy for. The cards can be purchased at varying prices depending on how much you’re willing to spend. Not only can music be bought with the card, but also movies, music videos, TV shows and audiobooks. It’s a surefire way to please even the most difficult to buy for person on your list.

7. Personalized gifts

Have you had professional pictures taken lately? Or maybe there is a family photo that you just love? Why not put those pictures on a mug, t-shirt or iPhone case? Websites like Snapfish and Shutterfly allow you to print your own personal pictures on several different items. One of the more popular selections on these websites is the option to create a photo book. Basically, this allows you to create a scrapbook without having to spend days or weeks making it. The prices are very reasonable, and the quality is great. This will be the perfect gift to commemorate a special event or chronicle a year in your life.

 8. Coupons

Is there a service you can offer that would be helpful to a family member or friend? Make them a small coupon book filled with different favors you can do for them. This could include anything from doing the dishes and washing the car to giving a foot massage or paying for dinner and a movie. The possibilities are endless depending on who the gift is for. Coupons are an easy and fun gift to give anyone on your list.

9. Jar recipe

Sometimes trying to bake dozens and dozens of cookies for your co-workers, boss or friends can become a tiresome and time-consuming task. Not to mention the fact that sometimes your oven likes to burn things. To avoid spending hours slaving over a hot oven, fill a jar with dry ingredients for a favorite cookie recipe or hot chocolate. Be sure to include a copy of the recipe tied with a ribbon around the jar. This gift is a great way to share recipes and serve a delicious treat without spending hours baking.

 10. Sharpie mug

Mugs are great gifts for just about anyone, but finding the perfect one in a store can be difficult. The best way to give a personalized mug is to make one yourself. All you need is a plain white mug and a sharpie. Draw or write anything you like on the mug, bake it at 350 degrees and in 30 minutes, you’ll have a perfectly functional personalized mug. Some ideas for designs could be lyrics to a song, a personalized note, a quote or a drawing. This gift is an easy way to show off your crafty side while staying within budget.

2013 Iron Bowl Recap and SEC Championship Preview


By Darrell Puckett

Miracles only happen once in a lifetime, but inside Jordan-Hare the past two games have been nothing short of miraculous.  It’s ironic that Auburn was 0-8 in SEC play last season and now sit 7-1 after beating Alabama.  The Crimson Tide the past four years have been practically unstoppable and have won three BCS National Championships.  The only thing that stood in Bama’s way was Chris Davis and one second.

That one second cost Alabama everything and it happened quicker than anyone anticipated.  After Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall completed an impressive 39 yard touchdown pass to Sammie Coates, everyone’s thoughts were towards overtime, but that didn’t happen.  The Tide instead decided to kick a 57-yard field goal to defeat Auburn and solidify their championship destiny, but that didn’t work.

Auburn coach, Gus Malzahn, chose to put Chris Davis under the goal post and possibly get a game winning return.  Davis waited for freshman Adam Griffith’s kick to sail a few yards short and returned the ball 9 yards deep from Auburn’s end zone.  He then cut straight towards the sideline and into Tiger history as fourth- ranked Auburn defeated number one Alabama with one second left.  The return was totaled a 109-yard touchdown.  Auburn wins the most prolific game in Iron Bowl history 34-28.  Alabama in other words actually kicked Auburn an Iron Bowl victory touchdown.  Sometimes the truth hurts.

Now let’s move on past this Iron Bowl, if possible.  Auburn jumps to number three in the BCS behind Ohio State and Florida State.  They will play Missouri next Sat. for the SEC Championship with huge implications attached.  Who will win and earn a national title game?

The answer might seem difficult, but here’s a few statistics to help.

Missouri is undefeated this season when James Franklin takes the snaps.  Franklin has completed 162 passes out of 242 attempts for 1,952 yards.  His outstanding 66.9 completion percentage explains why he has thrown 16 touchdowns with only four interceptions.  If Auburn can’t contain Franklin and force mistakes, then Missouri stands a great chance.

Auburn’s key for success will be special teams.  I know this sounds ridiculous, but the kicking and return game is easily overlooked in tough match-ups.  Don’t forget what Auburn did to Tennessee and Alabama on special teams.  The small and simple things that are so fundamental will prove to be factors.  Look for both teams to try to spread each other’s defenses out looking for big plays.  Whichever team can dominate the line-of-scrimmage and make routine plays will win this game.

Look for both teams to take chances down-field with deep passes off play action.  Either way, this game has a lot of hype to live up to and should be an awesome watch.  Tune in to CBS on Dec. 7 at 3:00 p.m. for the SEC Championship game.

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