Pac-12 Notes – California Week

October 13th

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Dear Andy Staples: Can Interim Coaches Hold Success? 

From The Athletic

Andy, this past week all the interim coaches won their games. While it’s still early, Nebraska and Georgia Tech have looked remarkably improved and resilient. Do the successes, particularly if they continue, give credence to more AD’s firing coaches extremely early in the season? Does having a clear potential replacement on staff (Jim Leonhard) make a difference? — Jeffrey

When Wisconsin fired Paul Chryst earlier this month, my first assumption was that it would give defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard seven games of runway to prove he should get the head coach job permanently. But I must admit that until I read Jeffrey’s question, I hadn’t thought of it as a potential strategy anywhere else.

The assumption is the firings are coming early so that schools can have their searches basically wrapped when the season ends. They interview the top candidate or two the next day and — boom — they have a new coach who has two weeks to salvage a recruiting class. I still think this is mostly the reason. I also think schools with unsuccessful programs want to signal to recruits that a change is coming. This way, they’re telling them to stay tuned.

But the side benefit to that is the interim coaches are going to get a great chance to audition for the permanent role or — if they don’t get that — a head coaching job elsewhere. I talked to Georgia Tech interim coach Brent Key this week for a story that will run next week; he has had head coaching aspirations. Now he’ll get his chance to show his bosses at Georgia Tech (or the as-yet-unhired new AD) and any potential employers how effective he can be as a head coach. Taking a team that was 1-3 when Geoff Collins was fired and going 2-0 is a great start.

Nebraska’s Mickey Joseph also has his team playing better. The Cornhuskers beat Indiana at home and finally won a one-score game last Friday at Rutgers. Nebraska AD Trev Alberts said Joseph will get a crack at the job, and the Cornhuskers, and any other program with an opening, would be crazy not to consider Joseph for a head coaching job if this keeps up.

This also has got me thinking about something we discussed a few weeks ago here. The numbers say that whether a head coach is an alumnus of the school is a negligible factor in terms of wins and losses. But having an alum on staff as a potential interim coach seems quite valuable.

Key and Joseph are alums of their respective employers. Who would you rather have recruiting through this awkward phase? An alum who can realistically describe what the school is like and what holding a degree from the school can bring? Or someone with no connection who is going to be gone in two months? This certainly wasn’t on Collins’ mind when he hired Key as Georgia Tech’s offensive line coach in 2019, but it probably will help Georgia Tech.

This also is something for the people at Auburn to consider when it inevitably fires head coach Bryan Harsin. The Tigers have two alums (defensive backs coach Zac Etheridge and running backs coach Carnell “Cadillac” Williams) on staff. One of them needs to be the interim coach. That’s who I’d want talking to recruits when no one knows who will be coaching Auburn in 2023. Etheridge was a captain on a national title team as a player. Williams was an All-American on an undefeated team. Each one can accurately describe what Auburn can be.

This was a great question from Jeffrey, and I’m curious to see what happens. Do the interims — with an extended tryout period — have better luck landing head coaching jobs either where they are or somewhere else?


October 12th

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Big Ten Commissioner: “I don’t believe we are in a position that we have to go out and aggressively try to recruit any other schools”

From The Athletic … In a Target Center suite a few levels above the playing floor Tuesday, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren outlined the next steps for his league regarding future potential expansion. And he chose his words carefully and ambiguously.

At the lectern, Warren told reporters the Big Ten needed to be “mindful” when it came to adding potential new members. In an exclusive interview with The Athletic, Warren described mindful as something more in tune with his staff and key Big Ten stakeholders rather than becoming influenced by any external factors.

“We’ve been blessed with 14 incredible institutions, and that is what is the foundation of the Big Ten Conference,” Warren said. “And then adding two more, USC and UCLA in 2024, there is so much work to be done between now and then.

“I said recently to our senior leadership, what are like the can’t-miss priorities? One of them is we have to flawlessly integrate USC, UCLA, which we will. We’ve got to flawlessly integrate our new network partners.”

The other piece is ensuring a successful transition to a 12-team College Football Playoff structure by perhaps 2024. It doesn’t mean expansion is not a priority, but it no longer has the immediacy it did during the summer.

“I’m always mindful of what’s going on at different conferences and the different markets and what’s happening,” Warren said. “But right now, we’ve got to make sure we take care of our business.

“I don’t think I’ve pushed pause on anything. Ever. I’m a big believer in taking care of what you have, taking care of these new opportunities. USC, UCLA and our new partners and CBS with basketball and football and NBC. And then making sure that you’re prepared when things happen.”

Continue reading story here

CU solidifies hold on No. 1 in ESPN Bottom Ten


Inspirational thought of the week:

Now that I put it all together, oh oh
Give me the chance to make you see
Have you used up all the love in your heart?
Nothing left for me?
Ain’t there nothing left for me?

Baby come back,
Any kind of fool could see
I was wrong and I just can’t live without you

— “Baby Come Back,” Player

Here at Bottom 10 Headquarters, located down the hallway from the medical facility where scientists are studying Pat McAfee’s blood because they believe it might contain enough electricity to power entire cities, we are basking in the warm glow of a different kind of positive energy. The kind of warmth and super-inflated ego that can come only with recognition on TV.

For years we have wondered aloud, tongue-in-cheek, what it would be like if the folks at College GameDay ever allowed themselves to join forces with us here at Bottom 10 GameDuh. No one ever understood us because deep down we all knew it would never happen. Also, have you ever tried talking with your tongue jammed into your cheek?

Then came last Saturday at the home of the Artists Formerly Known as the Nayhawks.

It was so good to see our people hadn’t forgotten us, even if they were trying to say goodbye. But that afternoon, as Kansas fell short in the closing seconds against TCU and the Rock Chalk fans finally emerged from their surrender cobras, there we were again, standing behind the end zone with a Willem Dafoe GIF look in our eyes and a cackle set to that “N-nuh n-nuh n-nunh-nuh” song when the Wicked Witch rides the bike in “The Wizard of Oz.” Because you can never forget your first true love. Especially when that first true love keeps following you to class and sliding into your DMs. And yeah, Kansas, that’s us, just in time for Halloween.

With apologies to Gayle Sayers, my old college girlfriend and Steve Harvey, here are the post-Week 6 Bottom 10 rankings.

No. 1 … Colora-duh  … The good news? The Buffs didn’t lose this week. The bad news? It’s because they didn’t play. The worse news? When the team got together for breakfast during its off weekend, the Buffs ran out of butter and jelly, which meant they still failed to cover the spread.

No. 5 … BOO!-mer Sooner … Now for sale on the State Fair of Texas midway: deep-fried Schooners.

No. 8 … North by Northworstern … You might assume the Mildcats would have a fighting chance this weekend against Iowa, a team that never scores actual touchdowns, but keep in mind Northwestern just lost 42-7 to Wisconsin, a team that doesn’t have an actual head coach.

Waiting list: Colora-duh State, Michigan State Sparse-uns, CMU Chippendales, Northern Ill-ugh-noise, US(not C)F, Strandford, FI(notA)U, Temple of Doom, Livin’ on Tulsa Time, the Mets.

Read full story here


October 11th

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The Last Remaining Winless FBS Team is CBS No. 1 in Bottom 25

From CBS Sports … The Great Bottom 25 Migration has begun. The first month and a half of the season has seen The Bottom 25 dominated by the MAC, but as I wrote last week, it was only a matter of time before we saw more parity reach us. The MAC had so many teams ranked here because, during nonconference season, the MAC spends its time getting beaten up by Big Ten and other Power Five teams. Those beatings often take time to balance out with wins elsewhere, and it’s not typically until a few weeks into conference play we begin to see things even out.

We’re seeing it this week. In fact, there’s a lot of change this week as we welcome eight new teams to this week’s rankings. Of the eight who left, three call the MAC home. None of our newcomers do. What’s happening is that a lot of Power Five teams were skirting the edge thanks to a stronger schedule (having more Power Five conference games in September has had an impact on The Bottom 25, too) and a few beatdowns of lower tier teams. The impact of those performances has begun to wear off in mid-October because your schedule strength can only do so much when you’re the team that’s getting beaten up by Power Five teams now.

That’s why you’ll see three of our new teams are from Power Five conferences. We also have a Power Five team at No. 1. So those of you who aren’t familiar with the methodology of this poll might finally be able to ease up on believing I hate the Group of Five and only include them here. Remember, I have no say in the rankings. It’s all in the capable hands of The Bottom 25 Gods.

No. 25 Boston College … The Eagles had been skirting the edge of the poll after a 1-3 start, but a 34-33 win over Louisville gave them breathing room. Breathing room that quickly vanished following this week’s 31-3 loss to Clemson. (Last Week: Not Ranked)

No. 23 Virginia Tech … I’ve had Hokies fans asking me why they weren’t ranked the last couple of weeks, and the answer was simple. They were 2-2! Well, now they’re 2-4 following a 45-29 loss to Pitt, and that 27-10 win over No. 25 Boston College looks less impressive every week. (NR)

No. 14 Northwestern … I have not been asked about any team more in the last few weeks than Northwestern. “How isn’t Northwestern ranked?” Well, in short, they played too well against Nebraska to open the year and followed it with a bunch of close losses. Wisconsin finally handed them a beatdown this week, and the floor fell out from under the Cats. (NR)

No. 4 Colorado State … And then there was one. With Colorado State’s 17-14 win over Nevada, only one winless team remains in the country. Also, in a crazy twist of fate, the Rams go from No. 1 in The Bottom 25 to second place in their division because they’re 1-0 in conference play (Boise State is 3-0). Greatness is molded in the fires of The Bottom 25. The Rams can prove it against No. 17 Utah State this weekend. (1)

No. 1 Colorado … Colorado had the week off and had to sit at home and watch Colorado State win a game, pushing the Buffaloes to No. 1 in the rankings. If that doesn’t sum up the Buffs’ season so far, I don’t know what will. The only thing we can do is root for them to get their first win of the season too. The next chance is this week at home against Cal. (2)

Read full story here


October 10th

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Pac-12 Lines … CU a two-touchdown underdog

  • California at Colorado … Noon, MT … Pac-12 Networks … Colorado is a 14.0-point home underdog
  • Arizona at Washington … 3:30 p.m., MT … Pac-12 Networks … Washington is a 17.0-point home favorite
  • Stanford at Notre Dame … 5:30 p.m., MT … NBC … Notre Dame is an 18.0-point home favorite
  • No. 7 USC at No. 20 Utah … 6:00 p.m., MT … Fox … Utah is a 3.0-point home underdog
  • Washington State at Oregon State … 7:00 p.m., MT … Pac-12 Networks … Oregon State is a 3.0-point home favorite
  • … Arizona State, UCLA, and Oregon have bye weeks …

Pac-12 media deal may be imminent (or not until after the season)

From the San Jose Mercury News

Do you think we finally get an answer on conference realignment by the end of the month? 

Until recently, I would have pegged the second half of October as the window for Pac-12 schools to sign a media rights deal (or experience an alternative outcome).

But commissioner George Kliavkoff’s recent comments on ‘Canzano and Wilner: The Podcast‘ suggest the process could last beyond the football season:

“I don’t feel, candidly, any sense of urgency at this point,” he said. “No one’s going anywhere; we’re all together; we’re focused on doing this.”

Let’s add two matters of context:

— The Big Ten’s media negotiations began in February or March — I’m not sure of the start date — and didn’t conclude until the middle of August.

Using that five-month timeframe as a guide, the Pac-12’s process could last into the winter.

— Had ESPN made an offer the Pac-12 couldn’t refuse during the exclusive negotiating period, the deal would be signed and sealed by now.

But why would ESPN have felt compelled to bid against itself? It didn’t make sense for the network to match the Pac-12’s ask, which we believe was in the range of $450 million to $500 million per year for five years.

Absent the killer offer from ESPN, the Pac-12 is now negotiating on the market and attempting to generate competitive bids that drive up the price.

To be clear: A deal could happen at any moment, but Kliavkoff’s response makes us believe a resolution remains months away.


October 8th

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Interim coach bump? ASU; Wisconsin; Georgia Tech post victories


Arizona Upsets No. 21 Washington … 

Trenton Bourguet threw for three touchdowns after Emory Jones was injured, Xazavian Halladay accounted for two more scores and Arizona State beat No. 21 Washington 45-38 on Saturday for interim coach Shaun Aguano’s first victory.

The Sun Devils (2-4, 1-2 Pac-12) lost their first two games after Herm Edwards was fired Sept. 18, though played No. 6 Southern California close last week before fading late.

Bourguet adeptly led the offense after Jones was injured in the second quarter against Washington, throwing for 182 yards on 15-of-21 passing with an interception. He hit Elijhah Badger for two touchdowns, including a 2-yarder in the fourth quarter to put the Sun Devils up 45-38.

Arizona State stopped the Huskies on fourth-and-9 near midfield and a botched snap all but ended the Washington’s final drive.

Washington (4-2, 1-2) had a solid offensive day in the desert, rallying from a 14-point deficit to tie it on Cameron Davis’ third rushing TD, from 5 yards out. Michael Penix Jr. threw for 311 yards on 33-of-53 passing, but no touchdowns.

The Huskies struggled defensively in last week’s loss to UCLA and continued to have breakdowns against the Sun Devils to remain winless in Tempe since 2001 (eight games).

Bourguet, a three-year backup, was sharp after Jones took a shot to the head in the second quarter from Washington safety Asa Turner, who was ejected for targeting.

Georgia Tech upsets Duke, posts second consecutive ACC victory for first time since 2018

Quarterback Jeff Sims ran for 95 yards and threw for 227 yards and two touchdowns before leaving with an injury on the first play of overtime and Georgia Tech held on for a 23-20 victory over Duke on Saturday night.

The Yellow Jackets (3-3, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) have won two straight for the first time since they beat Miami and Virginia in November 2018. A 26-21 win last week at then-No. 24 Pittsburgh snapped a nine-game losing streak against FBS opponents.

A week after stopping a 13-game ACC losing streak, Duke (4-2, 1-1) floundered most of the game until Sahmir Hagans’ 81-yard punt return for a touchdown down the right sideline pulled the Blue Devils within 20-13 with 5:55 remaining.

The Jackets lost leading receiver Nate McCollum, who had eight catches for 101 yards, to an injury with 5:45 left in the game. They quickly punted, and Hagans ran the ball back 50 yards to the Georgia Tech 44. But a fourth down from the 39 resulted in LaMiles Brooks’ pass breakup on a drag route.

Georgia Tech’s defense had to make one last stand in regulation but couldn’t overcome three 15-yard penalties that advanced Duke to the 2, before tight end Nicky Dalmolin hauled in a TD catch to send the game to overtime.

Wisconsin mauls Northwestern, 42-7, in first game since firing Paul Chryst

Graham Mertz threw for a career-high 299 yards and matched one with five touchdowns, Chimere Dike set personal bests with 185 yards receiving and three TD catches, and Wisconsin dominated in interim coach Jim Leonhard’s first game, pounding struggling Northwestern 42-7 on Saturday.

Braelon Allen added 135 yards rushing. He also threw a 23-yard touchdown late in the second quarter, and the Badgers (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten) raced out to a 28-0 halftime lead on the way to an easy win in their first game since coach Paul Chryst was fired.

Wisconsin decided to make a leadership change following losses to Ohio State and Illinois, led by former coach Bret Bielema, by a combined 55 points. Chryst was let go in his eighth season and replaced by Leonhard, a former All-America safety in his sixth year as defensive coordinator and seventh on staff at his alma mater.


October 7th

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Pac-12 Exclusive Negotiating Window with ESPN and Fox Ends Without a Deal

From the BusinessSportsJournal … The Pac-12’s exclusive negotiating window with incumbents ESPN and Fox Sports has ended without a deal, meaning the conference can now take its full set of media rights to the open market, sources tell SBJ. The next phase of talks is under way with the Pac-12 expected to open negotiations with other media companies for linear TV rights and streaming rights. This is where sports properties often expect — or at least hope — multiple bidders to drive the rights fees higher.

In the exclusive period, the Pac-12 could only negotiate the package of rights that ESPN and Fox had. Now that the conference has moved its rights into the open market, all of its games are open for bidding.

There isn’t a clear picture of when the Pac-12 will be able to finalize a deal. Its current arrangement has the conference in 12-year deals with ESPN and Fox that run through 2023-24. Sources have said that ESPN and Fox continue to have strong interest, but other digital companies like Amazon and Apple are thought to have an appetite for Pac-12 rights as well.

The negotiations are expected to continue into early 2023 if they’re not solidified sooner. Talks at this stage also bring more details to the table, such as night games and late start times, issues that have agitated Pac-12 followers in the past. The previous deal that paid the conference $250 million annually was negotiated a dozen years ago and was considered a lucrative, groundbreaking deal for the league at the time. The Pac-12 is negotiating its new deal on the heels of losing USC and UCLA to the Big Ten.


October 5th 

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We’re No. 1! CU rises (falls) to No. 1 in ESPN Bottom Ten


Inspirational thought of the week:

You’re not in Kansas anymore
Can’t be too careful that’s for sure
City lights will lead you on
Morning comes and they’ll be gone
So, write my number on your wall
And call me anytime at all
I’m so happy now, boy
You’re not in Kansas anymore

— “You’re Not in Kansas Anymore” Jo Dee Messina

Here at Bottom 10 Headquarters, located in the safe where Mike Leach keeps the $10,000 per kid he offered for them to elope and none took it, we have spent this first week of October watching and rewatching “The Wizard of Oz” while simultaneously listening to “Dust in the Wind” and sniffing a sunflower while also gnawing on a barbecue rib.

Why? Because after spending so many years of watching bad football played in a stadium as barren as the Great Plains that surround it, now the entire college football world is migrating to Lawrence, Kansas, to see the 5-0, 19th-ranked Artists Formerly Known as the Kansas Nayhawks … and we aren’t invited.

I mean, you’d think College GameDay would at least call and ask us to sit with the Bear and provide some perspective gleaned from remaining dedicated to keeping tabs on a team that won 23 games over the dozen seasons before this one, right? A team that was as much a part of these rankings as Pillow Fights of the Week, the Coveted Fifth Spot and making fun of Randy Edsall. A program that was so bad for so long that we have annually included former head coach Charlie Weis on our Bottom 10 Playoff Selection Committee.

You really think Rece Davis has spent as much time watching Kansas over the past decade? OK, that’s a bad example. Rece watches every game and knows every player’s name and where they grew up and what their parents do for a living … but you get the point here, don’t you?

Though we may not be invited, we will be watching from afar. Like a dad on that pivotal day of high school when his child first turns to him and says, “Just drop me off at the corner and I’ll walk from there. I’m a cool kid now and I don’t want you to embarrass me.”

Okay, Big Jay, have fun eating lunch at the middle table in the cafeteria with the cheerleaders and lettermen. Just know that when you inevitably snort milk through your beak when you laugh or trip over your own claws or fail to cover against the TCU Horned Frogs, the Plastics will once again turn on you. And we’ll be waiting around the corner, the ones in the repossessed U-Haul truck with bald tires, Kansas plates and the “2008 Insight Bowl Champions” bumper sticker.

With apologies to Paul Rudd, Mandy Patinkin and L. Frank Baum, here’s our post-Week 6 Bottom 10 rankings.

1. Colora-duh (0-5)

The Buffs take over the top spot, running past their instate rivals faster than Ralphie now sprints back to his trailer asking to get the hell out of Boulder and go back to his barn. Why? Because they fired not just the head coach, but the defensive coordinator as well. The interim head coach is offensive coordinator Mike Sanford, whom we all remember as the guy who led the Western Kentucky Hillstoppers to a spot in these rankings in 2018. Mike Sanford is actually Mike Sanford Jr., son of Mike Sanford, who coached unLv to multiple Bottom 10 rankings in the mid-2000’s. That whole paragraph reads better if you go back and read it aloud while also playing the theme from “Sanford and Son.”

2. Colora-duh State (0-4)

The Rams followed up their stunning Week 4 loss to Sacramento State with an even more shocking 21-3 loss to Open Date.

5. The 13th Man (3-2)

Jimbo Fisher is slated to make $90 million over the next 10 years. In related news, $90 million was also the reported production budget for 2019’s movie version of “Cats.”

Waiting List: U-Can’t, US(not C)F, Georgia State Not Southern, Arizona Skate, Strandford, FI(notA)U, Utah State Other Other Aggies, Lose-iana Tech, firing a guy who had you in the Rose Bowl like 10 minutes ago.

Read full story here


October 4th

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Colorado the headliner in CBS Sports Bottom 25

From CBS Sports … Coaches get fired in The Bottom 25. It happens every year, and it happens earlier and earlier every year. When it’s happening at Wisconsin to a coach who has never had a losing record or been featured in The Bottom 25 (Wisconsin didn’t crack the rankings even after starting last year 1-3), you know it can happen to anybody.

This week Colorado coach Karl Dorrell was one of those anybodies, though his dismissal comes as no surprise. Dorrell was a tricky hire from the start. The Buffaloes lost Mel Tucker to Michigan State in February 2020. Running a coaching search in February is never ideal, and when you’re doing so just before the onset of a global pandemic, it only gets more complicated.

Dorrell was the best of an uninspiring bunch, and though things went well during that COVID season of 2020, the Buffs have fallen back to earth. They’re 0-5 this season, and they’ve done nothing well (as evidenced HERE and HERE). It’s a spot the Buffs have found themselves in far too often for a program with its history and the potential to be good again. Hopefully, the next coach in Boulder, Colorado — whomever it is — can keep the Buffs out of The Bottom 25 for good.

No. 24 … Georgia Tech (only other Power Five team on the list … Georgia Tech is 1-0 in the post-Geoff Collins Era, but the first four games still count, and a win over Pitt isn’t enough to get the Bees out entirely. Still, considering how soft some of the ACC’s lesser teams have looked, there’s a chance the Bees could get another win or two. (14)

No. 2 … Colorado … Arizona was one of the more winnable games remaining on Colorado’s schedule. The Buffs lost 43-20. They have this week off, so they’ll need it to figure out where to go. The next game is at home against Cal on Oct. 15. (3)

No. 1 … Colorado State … The Rams had the week off, allowing them more time to lick their wounds following the 41-10 loss to Sacramento State. They’ll face Nevada this week in a huge grudge match that I really wanted to make The Game of the Century of the Week, but the Wolf Pack fell out of the rankings. The jerks! (1)

Read full story here

Pac-12 lines – Four of five games involve home underdogs 

From Vegas Insider

Saturday, October 8th

  • No. 11 Utah at No. 18 UCLA … 1:30 p.m., MT, Fox … UCLA is a 4.5-point home underdog
  • No. 21 Washington at Arizona State … 2:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks … Arizona State is a 13.0-point home underdog
  • Washington State at No. 6 USC … 5:30 p.m., MT, Fox … USC is a 13.0-point home favorite
  • No. 12 Oregon at Arizona … 7:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks … Arizona is a 13.0-point home underdog 
  • Oregon State at Stanford … 9:00 p.m., MT, ESPN … Stanford is a 7.0-point home underdog 
  • California and Colorado … have bye weeks …


4 Replies to “Pac-12 Notes – Cal Week”

  1. We’re #1! We’re #1! Oh wait. Wrong direction. But, don’t look now, the mean green fightin’ machine is on the waiting list, knocking on that door.

    Let’s see a good game this weekend. Would be nice to get a win. At least they’re practicing live tackling, and the ones vs. ones.

    Go Buffs

  2. There it is
    I dont even think corncob fan would try and argue against it if they had the record and stats, if thats what you want to call them.
    I wanted to say Osborn’s curse had nothing left to deliver as it is now totally victorious….but it can get worse.
    The football haters in the school now have the all the ammo they need to make a case for eliminating the sport right down to intramurals.
    KD now has …what?….7 more million coming his way?
    pure insanity
    And if we do continue on the gridiron its time to can RG as well.

    1. not sure I believe in any curse cast by one Dr. Tom Osborn…. if so, wouldn’t chosen son Scott Frost have succeeded inversely proportional to CU’s downfall? Something ain’t right in cornland

      1. Osborn shot his wad on CU. He probably has dementia by now if he is still alive. Even if it isnt Osborn it sure looks like a curse to me. also if you live by the curse you might have to die by the curse

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