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CFP Rankings & NFL Midseason Stories

In this podcast, Professor Mike Lewis gives his initial reaction to the newly unveiled 2022 College Football Playoff Rankings and previews the pivotal Georgia/Tennessee matchup. Following a discussion of the College Football Playoff landscape, Mike dives into storylines across the NFL and pop culture.


Watch/listen the full episode here:

Also streaming on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, & Stitcher.


Transcript:


Mike Lewis 0:08

Hey, welcome, everyone. Welcome to the Fanalytics Podcast brought to you by the Emory marketing analytics center. As usual, not always but as usual. My name is Mike Lewis and I'm joined by Doug Battle. How are you Doug?


Doug Battle 0:21

Well, Mike is your name not usually... is it not always Mike Lewis?


Mike Lewis 0:25

Well, you know, sometimes it's not. It's Mike Lewis and my name is


Doug Battle 0:31

an alternate name you go by, but yeah, I'm doing well. I don't know if I'm doing as well as Tennessee fans. Right now. They're riding high coming in at number one in the college football playoff ranking. And I gotta say, I think they got it right. And I think they know it. Tennessee fans. If you're watching and you're not seeing the video. I apologize. But the one fan that really summed it up this week for me was the dancing security guard. Mike, did you see that?


Mike Lewis 1:05

How could you not see a dog? I mean, every social media platform is going to tell you to watch that. Dug I don't even know who I don't know what's happening. Tennessee is their number one in the like they're not number one in the what the AP poll or whatever it is people pay attention to really I assume their number. What are they number two number? They're


Doug Battle 1:25

number three in that one? Yeah. Okay.


Mike Lewis 1:28

But Tennessee has won the first half of the college football season. Well, the question no to and they have set a standard for fandom. I don't know who's number two in terms of fandom. You tell me, Doug.


Doug Battle 1:41

Upstate, we kind of forgot about them. They had a nice run there that a little Linsanity moment.


Mike Lewis 1:47

Paint a picture for the people on the security guard fake security guard real security. Yeah.


Doug Battle 1:53

So I think he's so real. I think I read that he's an actual security guard at Neyland. First off Tennessee doesn't write for their home games. Yeah. If you've been on social media this year, you've seen a million videos of the fireworks, the T formation, how they come out. And so during the game, I guess, you know, I guess they played Kentucky this last week. And they had they had which some people had them. I know, people that thought they might look ahead to Georgia and get caught off guard by Kentucky. So it was a team, right? I mean, not a bad, not a bad football team. I got a quarterback that's hyped up for the NFL. But at some point during the game, and this wasn't televised to the best of my knowledge, something that happened in the stadium, part of the game day experience, you know, it gets people in the seats, is they had a security guard standing in the way of the some of the dancers on the cheer squad. And someone tried to remove him and he kind of resisted and then like on cue on the beat just went right into a dance with the team. And he was phenomenal. I don't know phenomenal is the correct word. Mike, do you have a better word?


Mike Lewis 3:02

Perfect. antenna is perfect. No, he was he was just the right amount of awkward while knowing the routine. Perfect, you know, beautifully.


Doug Battle 3:12

He knew it. Well, I would say he was fabulous. I think that's the word that I was looking for. They really, really nailed


Mike Lewis 3:22

the way they played it off with the sort of the the dancers almost being upset at him. But obviously kind of fake to


Doug Battle 3:31

Yeah, the show must go on. And they did when the music came on. Everybody did their job. Except the security officer. He did someone else's job. And he did it very well.


Mike Lewis 3:40

Yeah, you almost wonder is like, it's almost like they need to they they almost need to queue that for that kind of stuff for the TV cameras. I mean, in some ways that makes it even better, right when it Oh, if that's not televised, they're just like, they're just doing their own thing. Right. They're not putting on a show for the rest of you. They're putting on a show for themselves. Yeah. And


Doug Battle 3:58

the TV crews, they're missing out on stuff. There's, I mean, you know, I'm a Georgia guy, you're listening. You know, I'm a Georgia guy. Sanford stadium has a tradition of lighting up the whole stadium for night games and everyone it's really beautiful to see. And every time I've been at those games, it's the best part of the experience. And everyone talks about it that when and then you go home you rewatch the game on television, and there's not even a they don't even show second of it. And you're like, man, they're missing. Someone needs to alert these television crews on on the game day experience and capturing that. And again, I guess the universities probably prefer that way because they're getting their TV money but they're also packing out stadiums, people that want to be a part of that and want to experience the things you don't experience watching on TV.


Mike Lewis 4:42

Well in and that's, you know, that's a good way to put it because you you think about what fandom is really about and how you construct it in the benefits. I know folks that have said told me that they don't like go into Tennessee. Like they can't stand to go they will acknowledge The specialness of Tennessee fans, but do not like to go there, especially if their team's not very good, because they're gonna hear that song over a lot, again, and also complaints about how narrow the seats are, that it's a big stadium, but it's really packed in there tight.


Doug Battle 5:17

I don't know that they accounted for


Mike Lewis 5:21

population growth and population


Doug Battle 5:23

growth and on an individual level and the South, and particularly in a state like Tennessee, some of the schools. So, yeah, they see 100,000 regular sized people. I think that's kind of their estimate, but I'll tell you what, Coach, you know, Coach heipo I don't know if you can fit 100,000 Coach eyeballs, and it's a big guy. You definitely you certainly couldn't fit 100,000 Tennessee football players, you know, former players out there. It's okay. I love going to games in Neyland. But my team's won every time I've been so I haven't been on the miserable side of that. Yeah. Well,


Mike Lewis 6:05

you know, Tennessee's back and those things maybe evening out over the next couple of years. And yep, you're Rocky Top Plane, you know, seven times, right.


Doug Battle 6:14

Well, that's the thing I because people would always tell me Oh, it's miserable. You're gonna hate it. You're all you're gonna hear is Rocky Top. And the game. I think the first game I went to Georgia beat them like 49 and nothing. And so they played Rocky Top, once before the game. And once before the opening kickoff was the second half. And that was it. We heard it twice the whole game. And I was like, this isn't so bad. But now that they're scoring like every possession, I see how that would get old. I see.


Mike Lewis 6:42

Okay, Doug. So speaking of Georgia, Tennessee, yeah, like biggest game of the season was Alabama, Tennessee. You know what, we forgotten about that? And the biggest game of the season coming out? You know, right. A few days after the college football playoff. Essentially, that committee. That committee gave the Georgia your Georgia Bulldogs, some bulletin board material, didn't they? You're not?


Doug Battle 7:10

I don't think I don't think Georgia fans are necessarily upset about that. Georgia has been number one and the AP poll pretty much all year and I think everyone's kind of it's good to be the hunter not the hunted and in the words of Kirby smart. So I think that it's great because you got it's one v one you got number one in the AP poll going up against number one and the college football playoff rate rankings. About it's beautiful. Yeah. And and, you know, Tennessee, Alabama was the biggest game of the season so far. But if you look at that game, Alabama wasn't number one, Tennessee wasn't anywhere close to number one at the time. So I mean, this is this is really one verse one, one, verse two, however you want to look at it, you can't get a bigger matchup, the closest I can think was back in the day Alabama LSU. And those two schools were number one back and forth. And they played twice in one season. The interesting thing about Georgia, Tennessee is it's very possible that the loser of this game makes the college football playoff and gets a basically a bye week from losing. So it's kind of like the most insignificant, significant divisional game you'll ever see.


Mike Lewis 8:24

The loser gets an easier path to a national championship


Doug Battle 8:27

potentially, potentially. Yeah, I


Mike Lewis 8:30

have one last top five, you know, the potentially the loser has to be one less one, one fewer top five team than everyone else.


Doug Battle 8:38

Yeah, we saw that with 2017. Alabama, loses to Auburn, and Jordan hare, and then doesn't make the SEC championship game slides into the playoffs. I don't know if they were the three or four slides into the playoff and ends up winning the national championship game over Georgia team that was an SEC championship. So if like let's say Georgia loses to Tennessee, Tennessee beats Alabama. Again, I think Tennessee and Georgia both make the playoff. I think if Tennessee loses to Georgia, Georgia beats Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia both make the playoff. The only scenario where they don't is if Alabama wins that SEC championship. And that's assuming Alabama makes the SEC championship, I guess you could say Alabama or LSU? Because those are the two teams that are truly in contention right now.


Mike Lewis 9:25

No. And Doug you're alluding to, in the beauty of when that first playoff ranking comes out. And suddenly we're now in this world of what if? You know what if this then what if that? Yeah, it's especially delightful when you're living here in the heart of the South. Yeah, and the station takes on kind of crazy, crazy tones of can we get three SEC teams into the college football playoff? I think the answer is no. I don't think that's ever gonna happen. But you get the scenario where you got these top three teams and they've all been in you know They've each been in one and they've each lost to the other.


Doug Battle 10:02

Yeah. It's this year's, this is the year it feels like it feels like it could really happen. And I'll say this. Every Ohio State fan I know is convinced that that's what's going to happen. And it's due to SEC bias.


Mike Lewis 10:20

Are they convinced and I'll put that out there. Ohio State and three SEC teams.


Doug Battle 10:24

Yes. Okay. That's and I'm like, Well, the good thing about that is that would mean Michigan wouldn't be in


Mike Lewis 10:31

the know.


Doug Battle 10:33

Clemson is a to know. Yeah. Clips it clips is the team that I'm from Tennessee or Georgia, Ohio State or Alabama. That's probably the one I'm least scared of having watched on their games, but who knows we've had years with Clemson looks like that. And they they turn it on in the playoffs. So undefeated, they all those teams control their destiny.


Mike Lewis 10:58

I'll say this is the team I'm least rooting for. Just because I don't want to try and say the quarterbacks name.


Doug Battle 11:06

That was how you were with to its underlie Lola would always start. You'd say yeah, the Alabama quarterback to dug into a guy.


Mike Lewis 11:17

I've been traumatized by anything in my career. It is trying to pronounce students names as a professor. Well, you know, there's a lot of I'm glad that we're back in person, rather. Yeah. So now there's a lot of dude, sir. Buddy. Yeah,


Doug Battle 11:34

you just point out him. Just point out Yeah, I, I specialize in the heart names. I like to a tongue of Iowa. I really worked on that one hard. I have TJ younger les. Say that 10 times.


Mike Lewis 11:47

Okay, so Doug, my favorite thing when you look at these college football, when you look at the the playoff rankings is figuring out luck. I mean, so it is it's a delight to figure out how many SEC teams can get in there. Yeah, it's so fun to go. Okay. You might be ranked up there. But there are some teams that I can't imagine any scenario where they're actually making the college football playoff. TCU Okay, I think,


Doug Battle 12:16

yeah, they're what are they one spot in front of Alabama right now? Or maybe one spot behind? I don't know. They're right there with Alabama. It's just hard to imagine. Let's say they finished with the same record as Alabama. It's hard to imagine someone picking up Texas Christian over Alabama, and the playoff there's there's a reputation element to these things, it seems.


Mike Lewis 12:39

Yeah. And it just you just wonder if it gets interesting. Is being undefeated enough? I mean, you go back a few years to what was it Central Florida. Yeah. Right. And it's just


Doug Battle 12:51

national champs.


Mike Lewis 12:53

Yeah, sort of. You do wonders, like, you know, and especially this year, you know, you can almost imagine a scenario where you evolve to the team that no one thinks fairly has a chance to kind of squeak in is number four. But this SEC being really top heavy and the big 10 Maybe being kind of top heavy. Yeah. That really kind of tough of leaving one of those. Leaving one of those out look it to me another a beautiful outcome for all this, given sort of my speculation that we're moving towards two super conferences, is if somehow you got Michigan and Ohio State versus two SEC teams. Yeah.


Doug Battle 13:33

People have been sleeping on Michigan, it's like, their resume is not that different than Ohio State's and they're gonna play each other. That's the thing that's always funny to me with these rankings. It's like, like this week, I'm sure there are Georgia fans out there who are up in arms about, you know, Georgia's got a better win against Oregon and Tennessee has and Tennessee is just flashier and blah, blah, blah. Like the teams are gonna play each other it'll work itself out and if your team's a better team, they're going to end up ranked higher if they're playing that team. So you know Michigan fans who are upset that they have more or less the same resume as Ohio State and we're ranked significantly below them. Your times coming you you'll have your shot. And Michigan's a team that I feel like you know, we talked about scenarios where one loss Georgia one loss Tennessee one loss Alabama makes college football playoff. Is that is one loss only provided for an SEC school because like one loss Ohio State or one loss, Michigan do they are they in the conversation are they did they just dropped to like number 12.


Mike Lewis 14:35

I grew up in Illinois. I went to the University of Illinois big 10 country. And last year in college football playoff. Georgia played Michigan. Yeah, I think it might have been the higher seeded team. Yep. And what was the margin of victory for Georgia?


Doug Battle 14:51

Maybe 31 I don't know.


Mike Lewis 14:55

I think look it everyone wants to pretend everything starts out even at the started the year but no, I mean, these reputations matter. And, you know, the big 10 has not. The SEC has proven itself as much as you know, people nationwide don't want to admit that. Yeah, they have. And so yeah, one last SEC. Look, I mean, you look at these polls, Alabama, the college football, Alabama's seven and one TCU is a to know what more can do TCU do, right? They cannot get in front of a team even when a team loses.


Doug Battle 15:28

You can't win nine games when you only play games. That's what it seems they would have to do to be number one same situations UCF. So you kind of imagine if Ohio State or Michigan makes the playoff and there's three SEC schools and that team Ohio State or Michigan runs through, you know, they they blow out Georgia in the first round. And then they go smack Tennessee or Alabama and the championship. You'd have to imagine next year we get in the same situation. And maybe the big 10 gets to teams. But we'll see it'll play itself out. That's the thing. A lot of times


Mike Lewis 16:06

it has to do that for five years in a row. Right? Yeah.


Doug Battle 16:08

Well, that's the road credibility. That is a that's fair. That is quite fair. So Georgia, Tennessee. It's going to be crazy. The ticket prices are through the roof. I don't know what the average price is right now. But I know it was $600 or so not too long ago. It's seems like it's been on its way up.


Mike Lewis 16:33

It's a 330 game, right. Why?


Doug Battle 16:36

Well, it's there's some politics that go into that CBS. Yeah, TV stuff. But yeah, that's kind of a bummer to me. I think at night, it would just would be maybe the world's not ready for that for Athens night game between to number one. But I'll tell you what Georgia fans travel. And I've been to Georgia games in Neyland, where Georgia is having their year, and they take over a good chunk of the stadium. And from what I've heard this year, Tennessee fans are traveling at that same level. So I mean, these are two, I would say right now, because Georgia is kind of coming off there at the top or were at the top last year. They're not at that same level of hunger that Tennessee has Tennessee's like Georgia in 2017. But regardless, it's two very passionate fan bases that travel for games that spin the money. And it's no surprise to me that this is going to be the highest price ticket in college football this year, at least until the national championship, I actually think, based on previous national championships, that this game will be cheaper, partially because that games on a Monday night, and usually in a different state than either the teams. So it's, it's gonna be I think College Game Day. I mean, it's just gonna be a fandom highlight reel on Saturday. And I hope I hope that cameramen are ready to capture some of it because when we hosted Tennessee and I was a student, you know, you still have the checkerboarded overall, kids in the student section for Tennessee. I mean, they travel, they bring their guys so they bring their people. And George has got that spike squad. They've got like, two or three different paint lines, and it's gonna be fun.


Mike Lewis 18:12

What's the paint line? Oh, yeah, people people


Doug Battle 18:15

ask me, I always say that, like, it's just common knowledge. It's just a group of students that paint from head to toe to show their passion for their team. Yeah.


Mike Lewis 18:25

Okay. I mean, look, I've said this to you off, Off mic. But you know, if Illinois wins a national championship, I'm going to ask you for some advice on how to paint up for a class


Doug Battle 18:36

I will be your makeup artist, I


Mike Lewis 18:38

got a really orange bald head with a big blue eye on it. We


Doug Battle 18:42

should have done a Halloween episode where I painted Georgia and you painted next year. We'll keep that all right down to


Mike Lewis 18:50

Johnny, right. I mean, the completely smooth hat has got to give me an advantage in some ways. Variants


Doug Battle 18:57

I've got experienced, but yeah, you've got the smooth I see for the longest time I couldn't figure out what to do with my hair because the character I wanted to paint as was bald, and and so I had to come up with a whole wig. For those of you that aren't familiar, we're referring to my college days of expressing my enthusiasm for my now alma mater at sporting events.


Mike Lewis 19:23

Plus, if you're not looking at us just I mean to paint the picture. I've got a head that looks like a helmet. And as I said to Doug, as we were quite getting set up today, he looks like a grown up Disney kid so just to give you our various aesthetics


Doug Battle 19:36

I don't know if that's a compliment or an insult in either direction. Yeah, but grown up Disney kid i That's the first time I've gotten that.


Mike Lewis 19:48

Now I think that's nothing but that's nothing but a positive dog you can add to your Tinder profile. Okay, so looking at this college, very small, small appoint the University of Illinois ranked for the first time and all this. And I'll just make sure to make a, you know, a quick observation. You said something like the GA kind of at the top of the mountain and Tennessee's climbing it. That's an interesting way to look at fandom, right? Because our tendency is terrible. If this game was at Tennessee, and Tennessee one, they would pull down the goalposts. Again, Georgia fans are not going to pull down the goalposts


Doug Battle 20:27

they won't be on the field, they won't be on the field, Illinois is seven and one


Mike Lewis 20:31

ranked in the you know, for the first time gonna go to a projected to maybe go to the Rose Bowl, you know, really kind of amazing stuff. And they're almost filling out the stadium. They're almost filling up the state. So it's kind of, you know, you kind of see these progressions and an Alabama fans are, I don't know, their, their passion is


Doug Battle 20:50

bored, right? They're miserable. Like they're miserable. They win by 48. But the spread was 51. And they missed a field goal at some point. That's the miserable bunch. And Georgia is getting there. Man. I'm telling you Georgia is getting there. Tennessee is a few years out. But I like the peak of college football. The pinnacle is where Alabama is right now. And that's where the fan base is miserable. But the pennant, the peak as a fan base, as we're Tennessee's out right now, which is where you still haven't done it yet. But I remember as a Georgia fan, like not very long ago, it is so fun to feel like this is our year, we're gonna get over the hump like, this is special. It's like watching a movie in real time. Alabama doesn't feel like they're watching a movie in real time. They're on like the 14th season of a TV show that has the same storyline and every season and they're just it's just a cash cow at this point.


Mike Lewis 21:41

Yeah, they're just walking. I mean, they're literally just walking around college football thinking they're better than everyone else. Right? Whenever they're mad,


Doug Battle 21:48

they're mad that, like, it's different. Like I like I'll say, this is a Georgia guy like as a Georgia fan. I'm excited for this week's game more so than any other game this year. Not because I think we're gonna win. But because Georgia finally is playing someone their own size, like their play. It's like, oh, we could lose this game. This is awesome. It's a reusable game. This is what we love this. This is what this is what everyone else gets every week. And I think,


Mike Lewis 22:18

let me ask you this though, Doc. I mean, this is sort of a deeper lesson on fandom. Do you actually and I want you to I want you to think this through do you actually enjoy this game? Or is this just a day full of extraordinary tension? Is this just your stress?


Doug Battle 22:38

I think last year, prior to winning a championship, these games were pure stress, like even national championship day. I wasn't just partying all day, like Super Bowl Sunday, you know, like, oh, yeah, football. I was I was like, if we lose to Alabama again, it's gonna we're never going to, we're never going to outlive, I mean, that's going to haunt us forever. And so there was this stress. In those games, the Michigan game was like that the SEC championship was like that I went to that game and everyone tailgating us just like, better not lose. This could be you know, this could be traumatic for all of us. But I think that when you're in a situation like Georgia, and right now, it's a little bit unique, where it's like, they haven't had a challenge since the national championship game. And I think people are looking forward to it. I think it's just like, Oh, finally a, you know, an entertaining football product for us to consume. And hopefully, you know, you want to win those games. You don't win them all. And I like I'm here for I'm here to watch. I'm here to watch two great football teams go head to head. I think Tennessee fans. They're also the they're at a level I don't think they're stressed about it either, Mike, because they have this. Like we are God's chosen team for this season mindset where they're invincible right now. They're invincible and you see it when you have a dancing security guard. you're invincible Okay, when he got that guy clogged dancin before the Alabama game they celebrate it as if they won the Alabama game before the game started and then they still want it


Mike Lewis 24:06

is that what that's called? That I was gonna say was to step in.


Doug Battle 24:09

I don't know what he was. I don't


Mike Lewis 24:13

like guys don't know what we're talking about. You know? Follow Tennessee football on Instagram because it's it was sort of this very kind of was that like a mullet kind of guy and he's sort of to stuff and


Doug Battle 24:26

yeah, just you're kind of you know, Tennessee mountain man. dancin like I guess I'll Tennessee mountain dance. And but that was the thing that Alabama good week. I remember that whole week thinking man. They are full of it. They are acting like they've beaten Alabama. They're almost like prematurely celebrating a game that hasn't even kicked off yet. Against the team. They've lost to 15 times in a row. And they still went out there and won the game. And so I think after that they're just like, yeah, we're, you know, it's our gear. It's our we're not scared. We're looking forward to beating Georgia. Nathans it's gonna be a blast. So I think that's their mindset. I think both fan bases are very positive.


Mike Lewis 25:05

Okay, Doug, you made a comment that this is the first test for Georgia since the national championship


Doug Battle 25:11

game. Oregon, you know


Mike Lewis 25:13

well, and I'm looking at these rankings Oregon is number eight and seven and one. Yeah. So Jor Oregon agreeing to play Georgia you know, is the is the only thing that eliminated them from being the beast of the Pac 10 and potentially being you know, ranked something like number four,


Doug Battle 25:34

yeah. Or undefeated Oregon right now, probably number four, playoff bound. Georgia, we would be scared we'd be saying I don't know if you know, their high powered offense, we have an answer for that. And Dan, leanings defenses always play sound football. So it really is. I thought about that, scheduling that first game. I don't know if it's in their best interest.


Mike Lewis 25:59

No, I I don't know why anyway. And again, like, I'm not an SEC, Homer. I don't know why anyone wants to play an SEC team in that first game, you know, because you can also go down the list. And what's Where's Utah is number 14, six and two. Right. So you inevitably get into these things of, you know, Florida's one in four in the SEC. Does that mean that? Does that mean that Utah would be a two and four team in the SEC.


Doug Battle 26:26

Right. But on the flip side, if Utah doesn't play Florida that early in the season seven and one right now, top 10 football team and in the hunt for Pac 12 title, I mean, they could be you know, if they knock off Oregon, they could be the the playoff team. So yeah, I but I also think all that goes to show that this whole like 12 team playoff format, it's exciting because more teams can technically be in the hunt. But we've kind of learned that those the bottom of the top 12 I don't know that they're necessarily competitive with those top couple teams.


Mike Lewis 27:02

Again, maybe this is because of this might be purely at Tennessee effect. But looking at this, looking at the rankings right now, it feels like there's six legitimate teams to be a national champion this year. And that's, that's like two or three more than most years.


Doug Battle 27:19

And of those six, several will play each other in the regular season. And these last couple of weeks. So I mean, by the end of the season, it'll, it'll feel like for you know, just for teams that that are really in the high end, I think sometimes there will be five like there will be a fifth team. But oftentimes, it's still a team. Like I remember as a Georgia fan being bummed out that we missed the playoffs. But we had just lost Alabama SEC championships like that's pretty much a playoff game. And you you get we had our chance, you know, Georgia had their chance against Alabama and they lost so it's like someone else should get that shot moving forward. So I don't know. I feel like the end of the day. There's rarely more than four teams that are really in the mix.


Mike Lewis 27:57

Okay, Doug, these are the winners of college football so far. Biggest Loser of college football season, biggest disaster.


Doug Battle 28:06

And are you going?


Mike Lewis 28:09

Well, is there any doubt? Texas a&m


Doug Battle 28:12

If Bret Bielema is the Coach of the Year, which is debatable, and he probably won't win it. But I know. That's the Fanalytics opinion. And by Fanalytics, I mean, Mike Lewis, Jimbo Fisher,


Mike Lewis 28:26

let's let's stay with us for a second a little home or just the greatest thing, this is the best moment in Illinois football in more than a decade. They're ranked at this point in the season seven and one the fan again, think about how the, again, the fan story and all this, we were talking about Tennessee and Georgia in terms of where they're at in Alabama, the Illinois fans are coming back, like ranked number 16 The fans are coming back to the stadium. So after this long drought, you just go seven and one you get into the top 20. And you can start to pull the folks back in I mean, that that the enduring nature of these connections to these teams, you know, I mean, you probably can't even imagine it. But if Georgia had a terrible decade, you know, a season of a decade of winning two games, one game three games. You know, you might say, you might shy away might not even be watching, but just Illinois a lesson on how quickly they would get you back. And I think you know, I don't?


Doug Battle 29:28

Yeah, yeah, of course. And I think Auburn's getting there. They're getting to a point where people are kind of, I mean, death, certainly by the second half of the season. That fan base is they're clocked out. They're ready for basketball season.


Mike Lewis 29:43

Of all time, go for it. Okay. Tuberville realizes that being a senator means nothing goes back to Auburn at $8 million a year. I think


Doug Battle 29:55

you're a more powerful figure in the state of Alabama as the head coach for Your Auburn University, then as a senator,


Mike Lewis 30:03

that'd be the greatest story of all time, though. A little side note,


Doug Battle 30:07

but when it's tough, so I'm from Birmingham, for those listening that aren't familiar with my background, but from Birmingham, when tuber Phil was running, there were you'd go through and you go through like really nice neighborhoods. And there were signs in the yard that said T and T. Tuberville in, like I guess and Trump. So that that was apparent. Was that a positive or a negative? No, it was a positive Yeah, that well, that's the thing. Yeah, but that was that was a positive that was kind of like I don't know if that was an official slogan. But got those two paired together. And apparently that was a winning formula. But Auburn certainly is looking for a winning formula and they probably missed the the Tuberville days. So I don't know I kind of I personally might be talking about Tuberville going in to back to football. I'd like to see since we're having so many football figures go into politics. I'd love to see a political figure who has no history of football, go coach some football. Let's just let's reverse let's flip the script here. Let's get like, yeah, Raphael, Warnock to go coach, the Auburn Tigers or like Marco Rubio to be the coach at UCF or something. Okay, so we're, let's flip the script. Let's just Let's get weird.


Mike Lewis 31:23

Well, and let's get back to you know, let's get back to celebrity caught. We'll finish up with some celebrity culture issues, because there's a lot. There's a lot that kind of feels like red hot rails. But you know, if our purview is fandom, there's some stuff we need to talk about. But before we get there, yeah, we were both alluding to the fact that maybe the biggest disappointment in all of college football is Texas a&m. Preseason ranked number five, nowhere to be seen on all this. Does Jimbo Fisher even retain that job?


Doug Battle 31:54

Jimbo Fisher is in a great spot, Mike, because he's getting paid. It's like Bryan Harsin. at Auburn, he's getting paid. Either way, his buyouts ridiculous. So he's, he's either gonna be doing a poor job and making a lot of money or doing no job and making a lot of money. That's the American dream.


Mike Lewis 32:15

Sort of hits and misses. Am before this before the NFL season, I spent a lot of time developing a quarterback metric and doing a forecast for how the season was going to play out. Now, I'm not just going to sort of go through team by team, I've run some numbers, frankly, Doug, my forecast, ESPN and NFL, they're all about the same thing. That's


Doug Battle 32:38

not what I wanted. You should have adjusted the Browns Mike shabby ahead.


Mike Lewis 32:43

No one's no one's kind of crushing it. It's all kind of in there. But you know, it's an interesting thing when you get that deep into the weeds and the data. And then you start to look at what happened. I think you can, you can actually teach yourself and you can learn some stuff about about the NFL, and how it works and how you might be getting things right and wrong. Like I'll tell you straight out, Doug. I mean, and this is the thing that no one really gets. The big problem that everyone and doing these forecasts have is the New York football clubs. I think last year, both of those teams won like four games. And they're both now really solid clubs. And that's the thing. You know, that's the thing that you really can't there's just no way to forecast that. Well,


Doug Battle 33:26

the forecast the you did, Mike was quarterback oriented. The Giants have a new coaching regime, which I think a lot of people attribute. I don't know how you predict the success of a new football coach


Mike Lewis 33:41

like yeah, quarterback coach pair is definitely something but when


Doug Battle 33:46

it's a new coach, like with quarterback like Daniel Jones, we had data we knew Brian table, the head coach for the New York football Giants know had coaching experience prior I don't know how you can statistically model success, I guess the same way you would with a first round rookie quarterback where you just assume he's going to lose a little bit more, and he's going to get better as he goes. But that's not always the case with coaches enables a great example of that some some coaches, and I've seen I mean, the Giants, particularly, they've had a lot of coaches to have their best year year one and then fizzle out after that. I think Ben McAdoo was an example of that. And so, Brian table, we'll see if he can continue his success, but I don't know how you predict a first time head coach. Yeah, I think it's just like, we'll see who knows.


Mike Lewis 34:32

The quarterback coach pair is I mean, so there's a there's a bunch of dilemmas, the progression from a young quarterback to a season quarterback. Again, it's not that's nothing I was trying to do. But you know, guys like two or Jalen hertz, that's another one where there's there's a little bit of a gap in terms of, you know, what I thought was going to happen and what actually happens? It does appear and again, this is sort of why this was a nice learning exercise that While quarterbacks are playing earlier and earlier, they also seem to be maturing sort of maybe slower and slower, which may be a function of most of these guys hitting the league with much less experienced than in the past. But you know, maybe you really do need to let these things play out to the almost the entire rookie contract before you know what you got.


Doug Battle 35:21

Yeah, maybe so. Daniel Jones, solid year for him. He might. I mean, he's definitely earn himself some money, he might earn himself a roster spot in New York for the foreseeable future. So we'll see. But yeah, I don't know Mike on those. I think it's anomalies in New York. With the exception of buffalo Of course, Buffalo we kind of all saw that come in. So NFL on the flip side, our quarterbacks who we thought were sure bets to just always be winners, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers. Maybe not having the best years I think Drew Brees might be sitting out this season watching and saying, Yeah, I think I think I cashed out at the right time.


Mike Lewis 36:01

Yeah, we but even some of those guys, you know, it's, it's a little bit interesting when you actually dig into the data, when you actually look at things like, you know, one of the numbers that I always like to look at is the touchdown to interception ratio. And Brady and Rodgers are not doing that poorly. Right. And look, you know, if you want to add to this, you know, Brady also had a coaching change as well. Right. And so again, that's kind of a little bit of complexity. And all this of, you know, you went from who was at Aryans down in Tampa Bay to, and I forget who I forget who got bumped up, but Todd Bowles? Yeah, but these guys are not.


Doug Battle 36:43

What's that? Talked about? A lot. I don't even think I don't know that the average NFL fan is aware that Bruce Arians, I mean, that might be it right there in Tampa, I might be the whole issue.


Mike Lewis 36:53

Well, in look, there's also the fact that Tom Brady is going through a divorce in the middle of the season.


Doug Battle 36:59

I know. But I'm saying like, that's getting all the attention, and people are attributing everything to that. Whereas like, from a football standpoint, I don't I think it's probably more likely that a head coaching change is making a significant impact on the outcomes of their season so far, their season license,


Mike Lewis 37:16

I suspect it's enormous. I mean, when when the data head coaching changes, and again, the devil is always in the details, head coaching changes tend to, you know, people will refer to this as like a disruption effect. But changing the head coach in the data, the analysis I'm talking about is much more at the college level. But firing a head coach probably costs you a win the next year. And it makes sense, right new system, things are just different new new players, new assistant coaches. Now in a case like Tampa Bay, where I think the you know, and I think it was Arias was gonna stay and then when Tom Brady came back, then he stepped down. That might be a little bit weird in that there might have been a lot of stability, but but I


Doug Battle 38:00

would Aryans have stayed had Tom not retired.


Mike Lewis 38:04

I think that was the plan. I mean, it was fine. It was a strange deal.


Doug Battle 38:08

Yeah. Yeah, that's, that's not good. That's not what you want.


Mike Lewis 38:13

But but like I said, you know, I mean, like he left. He obviously he left. I mean, now we're doing celebrity gossip here.


Doug Battle 38:20

But you know, he left camp aside for that segment anyway, for like, he left camp for a while


Mike Lewis 38:26

and came back. And so the I mean, by the end of the season, you know, my guess is that Tom Brady will figure it out that NFC West is or NFC South is a fairly weak division. You know, the Atlanta Falcons going to hold off Tom Brady.


Doug Battle 38:42

No, it doesn't you find we've seen that before we've seen it. We've seen them with a much larger lead on Tom Brady that they were not able to hold on to. So I have no doubts about that.


Mike Lewis 38:54

Other things that I missed, but no one was gonna get this stuff, right. Geno Smith.


Doug Battle 38:59

Yeah. What in the world make I'm gonna mean, playing great. You know, his career maybe not as good but we're kind of reminds me of Andy Reed, where Andy Reed for the longest time was kind of like a middling NFL coach and Philadelphia wasn't winning Super Bowls, had had some really good football teams that didn't win Super Bowls. And I think he kind of had that Mark Richt reputation of, you know, can't get it done can't win the big one. And so when he went to Kansas City, I don't know that chiefs fans were fired, you know, as fired up as when you hire this big up and coming offensive coordinator turn head coach for the first time, like the Giants right now. I don't know that the Chiefs had that enthusiasm. They probably felt like we're getting a guy that's he's good, but not great. But we forget, you know, we tend to put people in a box people evolve, people develop. And Andy Reid, over the course of his career, learn from his mistakes adjusted and became a better head coach. Feel like Geno Smith might be a quarterback who's done In the exact same thing, when I


Mike Lewis 40:02

looked him up, I didn't do you realize how little he actually played up until this year?


Doug Battle 40:05

Yeah, not very much.


Mike Lewis 40:08

I mean, he had like a couple of years of playing a lot with very, very middling results.


Doug Battle 40:13

Well also in really score situations, but then has


Mike Lewis 40:16

been on the shelf for, you know, four or five years.


Doug Battle 40:19

Yeah. So, I mean, I think Matt Cassell, I don't know if you remember him Mike, but he was a backup his whole college. Yeah, when he went in behind Brady and then ended up being really good and the college situation would be the Florida quarterback Kyle Trask at Florida who didn't start in high school and didn't start in college for a few years. And then he got out there and turned out to be a Heisman candidate quarterback. I think if there were a Heisman in the NFL Geno Smith might be a candidate right now. And pretty remarkable considering going into the season if we had to rank quarterback rooms. I think most people would have Seattle dead last.


Mike Lewis 40:59

Probably dead last right. Yeah, maybe, you know, the Houston Texans might have been made up might have been there and despite the lofty draft picks, maybe the Carolina Panthers but I think that's probably about that's probably about right. So looked it up. So Aaron Rodgers despite, you know, the Packers struggles. Rodgers is ranked fifth in the league and touchdown passes in his touchdown interception ratio is 13 to four. That's very solid season.


Doug Battle 41:33

Yeah, efficient.


Mike Lewis 41:36

few mistakes.


Doug Battle 41:38

Now, not a you know, I think on if you put if you looked at yards, he might not be as high. And I think part of it is like his, there's not a lot of continuity in Green Bay. Like Dave, his supporting cast is almost entirely new faces and guys you've never heard of before. He's 12 yards, by the way. Yeah. So I mean, that's kind of middle of the pack, but touch. He's always been efficient. And so touchdown interception is no surprise to me, but it's not like he's fallen off and that in his efficiency, I just think the volume of production and in terms of yards and moving the football has fallen.


Mike Lewis 42:15

You know, these conversations about Cuba, quarterback metrics, I love it. It's always it's always this challenge between having to like keep six numbers in your head versus what's your favorite number? Because you know, who's number six in the league and in yards thrown? Matt Ryan will add an a, you know, a an amazing kind of end or, you know, development to his career at this point.


Doug Battle 42:43

Yeah, that's pretty. I guess his touchdown interception probably wasn't as is nice.


Mike Lewis 42:49

99 Yeah,


Doug Battle 42:51

that's, that's a big deal.


Mike Lewis 42:56

This, this was another one if anything, I got this one a little bit. Right. I did not fall for the Indianapolis Matt Ryan, or the Denver Bronco.


Doug Battle 43:06

Russell Wilson.


Mike Lewis 43:08

Wilson hype.


Doug Battle 43:09

Yeah, I I expected a lot more from Ross and in Denver. That one's that one. I surprised a lot of people. So I think your your analysis probably outsmarted conventional wisdom on when it comes to those aging veterans on the move.


Mike Lewis 43:31

And you know, and since I've, as I, as I've shifted to yards is our metric. And again, I don't want to geek out too much. So you tell me when this is just getting too much numbers. You know, number one in terms of yards, Joe burrow. Right. Yeah, really interesting. Player number. Where is he? I saw that number 19 In terms of yards thrown. Lamar Jackson. Right. And so it is this complexity of can't judge these, you know, you gotta judge these guys. It kind of you got to figure out a way to put all this stuff together.


Doug Battle 44:05

Yeah. And Lamar, of course, he gets a lot of yards on the ground as well. But he started he started the season red hot passing. He was he was one of the league leaders in passing a couple of weeks into the season, but clearly kind of regressed to the, to the media and a little bit or mean.


Mike Lewis 44:23

So I mean, Doug, you know, from your perspective, what's kind of surprised, and maybe we've heard a lot about what's what surprised you about the quarterbacks or the teams in the NFL this year?


Doug Battle 44:33

I think, to me, it's just the with the exception of Josh Allen, and I guess Patrick mahomes. The dominant teams haven't you know, it's not Brady and Rogers and these guys that we've come to just assume that wherever they are, is going to be the dominant teams. The Philadelphia Eagles, you know, Jalen hertz a guy and this is where not to not to disagree with your premise on the NFL, but this is where I personally feel like the other parts of football play a huge factor in the success of a quarterback. So if you look in Philadelphia, their offensive line is phenomenal. Jalen hertz is doing really, really well. And I always wonder how would Trevor Lawrence look in that situation? How would Joe burrow? How would Mack Jones how some of these other young How to Look how some of these other young quarterbacks? Would we be thinking of them as like, would they be a top five quarterback in our minds with Tom Brady be lighting it up in Philadelphia right now? Are Aaron Rodgers and so? Yeah,


Mike Lewis 45:40

this is, this is kind of an interesting point. I just want to highlight something that's what Yeah, it's like the, the illusion. I'm gonna call this like the illusion of wins. Yeah. Right. You know, so if you put, you know, eight wins on a quarterback versus having four wins on the quarterback with the same kind of performance, and I know that's a little bit, that gets a little bit fuzzy, because we have the same performance, the same amount of wins, but like, Daniel Jones is not lighting the world on fire, statistically, but the team is


Doug Battle 46:12

very, very mediocre statistically, statistically,


Mike Lewis 46:15

he's probably below Rogers or Brady, but got it looks like, you know, it looks like he's doing something right. This it's almost like there's another bias and all this of the over attribution of wins.


Doug Battle 46:26

Exactly. Back. Yeah, exactly. And Daniel Jones is a perfect example. He's a guy by the way that I've I've defended over the years, and I, I still feel like I want to see him with a good group of receivers and a little bit more time in the pocket to make an evaluation on him. He's never had great situations. But when he would have the same exact stat lines a year ago, the perception was that he's not the guy he's never going to be the guy's not a winner. Now he'll go out, he'll throw for 175 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception you know, complete 60% of his passes. Same statline as a year ago, in the same game, the Giants instead of losing by a field goal, they win by a field goal. The perception is that Daniel Jones has turned the corner. The Giants need to double down on him make him there guy. reality as his performance hasn't changed that much.


Mike Lewis 47:20

But now they have to pay him $120 million.


Doug Battle 47:22

Yeah, instead of what 20 million or something. So it's, it's I mean, that's how it is with quarterbacks in the NFL. And that's why I mean, I think the Tom Brady doubters have always said like, well, he's there's over attribution of Championships where you know, where he's, he's getting all the credit for playing on these amazing teams. And I know like, I know, people that will say that in college football about guys, like Stetson Bennett where it's like, oh, he's actually an average or below average SEC quarterback. He just played with really good defense people. I remember people saying that about Eli Manning and Joe Flacco like that's kind of an age old debate. Is a quarterback actually great? Or do they just play in a really good team, and they're good enough to not lose the game? And so I mean, I think clearly Tom Brady's a guy, that's more than that is more than someone that's just good enough to not lose the game. But like Peyton Manning, when he played for the Denver Broncos, I kind of felt like Tim Tebow would have won a championship on that team had they kept him at quarterback, Brady just kind of his role was to not lose the game. And because those defenses were so good, so anyway, yeah, the seeing a guy like hertz and a team like the eagles be the NFC standard, instead of an Aaron Rodgers or a Tom Brady, that just defies my expectations just based on watching football over the years and it just seems like it's always one of those guys and rarely is it someone who wasn't perceived to be even a top 10 quarterback going into the season.


Mike Lewis 48:48

Okay, now I'm gonna go totally into the weeds, but this is one that fascinates me and, and you've actually referenced a little bit of this sort of indirectly in the as we've talked today, the New England Patriots. Okay. Matt Jones statistically was the best performing quarterback of his rookie class even though he was the least hyped of the of the top guys. Jones has struggled this year but New England plugs in this guy Bailey zappi from Western Kentucky and he doesn't look bad he looks pretty good. So I think a couple of things like you know how much does you know having that really smart coach and that really smart system you know, what is that actually worth to these to these quarterbacks? Because in some ways you think you think it through and being drafted by a Bella check might be worth you know, many, many, you know, you think about all these guys, Baker Mayfield, Marcus Mariota you know, all these kind of NFC South guys, Sam darnold. Right. Yeah, how different things might have been with a different with a different scenario.


Doug Battle 49:59

Yeah, and And I've always I mean, I've looked that last year when everyone was hyped up about Mack Jones, as I was saying, you know, what it feels we're in that situation, what if? Or what if Daniel Jones were in that situation? Would we be talking about him like he's, you know, the next great quarterback in the NFL. Another twist to the whole Mac Jones zappi conversation is, I've seen this a lot in college sports, where when a new quarterback comes in, sometimes they have more success early on. And eventually it's like, teams figure them out. I think part of it is because they have tendencies. And part of like is particularly in the NFL, a huge part of playing defense is just film and understanding those tendencies and how to anticipate what someone's going to do. So when a guy like zappi comes in, and there's no I mean, it reminds me of two are coming in against Georgia in the national championship game and it was like Georgia had Jalen hertz all figured out, also an NFL starting quarterback, but to a ton of Iowa comes in and his tendencies are completely different. He would roll left instead of right, he would, you know, he'd be looking for the long ball instead of the check down. And he like, it's sometimes in the second season, those same two teams played and to kind of do anything because Georgia had film on him. And they understood the tendency, so sometimes with a guy like zappy, or even Mac Jones a year ago, you wonder, you know, these guys prove that they can have success early. How are they going to do once defenses, have enough film on them to understand their tendencies and adjust for that? And I think that's something that maybe Mac Jones, it's like, well, you know, when there's quarterbacks of the second year slumps, I think that's part of the issue. And I think with Zapier, it's something that we've yet to see. But if he gets significant playing time moving forward, it would be something to keep an eye on.


Mike Lewis 51:40

It does appear that Bill Belichick knows how to put new quarterbacks in there in a way that confuses the rest of the league though


Doug Battle 51:45

Matt Cassell, a guy that lit it up, then gets a big contractor, the chiefs and he's not very good. Bill checks he's got he has a way of doing that. And of course, Tom Brady coming off of drew blood zone, placing Drupal. Yeah, he was he was a little bit more successful than Matt Cassel or Matt Jones so far, but


Mike Lewis 52:06

okay, Doug. So we talked a little bit about Tom Brady, I think, you know, Tom Brady's the closest thing to Tom Brady as transcends the NFL and gets into popular culture with Giselle and his Yeah, tick tie.


Doug Battle 52:21

I saw a kid at a away game. This is a good fandom story. Little kid, probably seven years old, had a sign and he was on the front row of the stadium. Brady's on the road playing an away game, little kid has a sign and there's a picture. I mean, Brady's walking right by he sees the sign. And the sign says, Hey, Tom, tell Giselle I'm single too. As little seven year old. So


Mike Lewis 52:51

but you know, beautiful stuff. And you know, John react.


Doug Battle 52:57

I don't know that he did. But it was just a beautiful photo. That was just like, man, that's that's fandom right there. It's like the Eli Manning telling the story of the four year old Philadelphia Eagles little girl flicking him off. As he entered the stadium. It is it's great. It comes to flows from the family. And then their blood.


Mike Lewis 53:19

And that's where I think why we love this stuff is you know, when the when this stuff transcends just being about the competition to being about the culture, right? You mentioned Eli Manning, you know, at for some reason, it's still regularly crosses my, you know, Twitter feed, you know, somehow be like that thing where Peyton was playing football with the kids in the park on Saturday Night Live. And, you know, being in the kid and making them sit in the Porta Potty. And it's like, yeah, that's the beauty of all this. And so, as little as I think either of us wants to at this point, this is a big week. And this is strange times in popular culture and a lot of interesting stuff going on, that's eventually going to impact or is, you know, pretty closely related to, you know, related to the world of sports, you know, the big one is, of course, gotta be Elon, and because I think it's a wild card at this point. Elon Musk now owns Twitter. For some reason, he walked in with a sink, right? He walked in, you know, suddenly sort of telling dad jokes about you know, for no real reason. I don't know what's going to happen with that, you know, are people going to get back on but you know, are the arguments just gonna heat back up again, because it the same time when we've got, you know, Elon taking over the free spirit, essentially the social media platform where where we argue with each other. We've also got, you know, the Kyrie Irving story we've got Kanye is continuing fallout, right? So everything ends up being related. Now. I'm going to ask you a question purely based on youth, Doug, Kanye in a day. It is, how culturally significant was that partnership? Because it seems enormous to me, as someone that teaches students that are concerned about sneakers and sneaker culture.


Doug Battle 55:12

I know a lot of people that think that Kanye made Adidas, like the street brand, like the streetwear, t