Whitley: Forked tongue season is in full blather

David Whitley
The Gainesville Sun
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“I cannot tell a lie,” — George Washington.

“I cannot tell the truth,” — Nick Saban, James Franklin, Lane Kiffin, Lincoln Riley….

The father of our country supposedly said that after his father, Augustine, (the grandfather of our country?) asked if he’d chopped down a cherry tree. Coaches essentially say that whenever they are asked about pursuing other jobs.

We are entering peak fibbing season, with “Help Wanted” signs popping up from Washington to Flori… wait, we don’t want to get ahead of things.

Potential candidates are naturally asked if they’re interested in Job X. People get mad when coaches say things like, “I am not going to be the Alabama coach,” only to appear a few days later yelling, “Roll Tide!” at a Tuscaloosa news conference.

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That was Saban in 2006. He later apologized for any “professional mishandling that might have occurred.” That didn’t assuage jilted Miamians, but coaches are in a no-win spot.

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If James Franklin said he’s been contacted by USC and is interested in coaching there, it would blow up Penn State’s season. So he says things like, “I talked to our team. It happens every year. I’m not worried about distractions in the media and with the fans. I’m worried about my team.”

Translation: My wife’s already checking out houses in Bel Air.

Jimbo Fisher said this week he’d be “the dumbest human being on God’s earth” to leave Texas A&M and its bountiful recruiting class for LSU. That was a pretty good denial, but if coaches really wanted to quash “distraction,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin set the gold standard when asked about the USC opening.

“Never say never, but NEVER!” he said. “There isn’t a booster with a big enough blank check.”

Few coaches go that far, but don’t let their Pinocchio tendencies bother you. If George Washington had been asked if he were interested in the LSU job, he’d probably have professionally mishandled the question.

Speaking of professionally mishandling a situation, I went 5-4 on last week’s picks. Thank goodness this week’s SEC schedule is so full of cupcake games even I can’t help looking brilliant.

Florida at Missouri: After beating Samford last week, Dan Mullen said there’s no such thing as a bad win. Huh? I predicted UF would win 45-3, which shortchanged Samford by 49 ridiculous points. It was such a bad win I’m too embarrassed to count it in last week’s total. This may make me the dumbest human being on God's earth, but... Florida, 31-27.

FSU at Boston College: The Seminoles are pumped after finally beating Miami. Course, they were pumped after almost beating Notre Dame in Week One and they proceeded to lose to Jacksonville State. B.C. is no Jax State, but I’m hoping the Seminoles win just to raise the stakes for next week’s game against the Gators. FSU, 24-20.

George Washington Trivia: The father of our country didn’t have biological children and never went to college. 247 Sports still ranked him a 5-star quarterback recruit based on him throwing a silver dollar across the Potomac.

Vanderbilt at Ole Miss: The Rebels just beat Texas A&M and face Mississippi State on Thanksgiving. This would be a classic trap game if Vanderbilt had a football program. After the game, Lane Kiffin will say he loves Ole Miss and deny any interest in working at LSU, USC, Texas, TCU, Virginia Tech, Flori…hold on, Washington, Washington State, Washington Tech or the Gainesville City Commission. Ole Miss, 38-13.

Auburn at South Carolina: Shane Beamer spent the week saying he loves South Carolina and isn’t interested in the Virginia Tech job. I believe him. Of course, I also believed the Gamecocks would beat Missouri last week after they’d throttled Florida. Auburn, 24-17.

Nick Saban Trivia: He once threw a headset across the Potomac after his quarterback misread the defense and threw an interception.

Arkansas at Alabama: With seven wins, the Razorbacks have already clinched a feel-good year and feel no pressure. They should be loose against a team that must go 14-1 or be considered a failure. That should keep things interesting for a quarter or two. Alabama, 35-17.

Upset SpecialCharleston Southern at Georgia: The Bulldogs will be looking ahead to arch-rival Georgia Tech and the Buccaneers can throw the ball and Georgia's top 83 players might test positive for Covid and… umm… I’m declaring it an upset if Charleston Southern stays within 65 points. Georgia, 64-0.

Dan Mullen Trivia: If he’d thrown a headset across the Potomac every time his quarterback misread the defense and threw an interception, he would have needed an arm transplant by Game 6.

Prairie View at Texas A&M: Oh boy, another cliffhanger.

I cannot tell a lie. I usually spend 20-25 hours a week breaking down film on all SEC games, but I see no need with the rest of this week’s offerings. Let’s just roll all those lemons into one prediction and get on with our lives.

Tennessee-Texas A&M-LSU-Mississippi State 193, Prairie View-South Alabama-Tennessee State-Louisiana-Monroe 41.

Afterward, every losing coach would say he’d take the USC job in a minute if it’s offered.

P.S. I don’t really spend 20-25 hours a week studying game film. But if a booster is interested, he or she could probably write me a big enough check to start.

— David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun's sports columnist. Contact him at dwhitley@gannett.com. And follow him on Twitter: @DavidEWhitley

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