Q&A: College Football Flops; John Wick 3

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Q&A makes a triumphant return to The Open Man, and I really have to take my hat off to you readers. This week’s round of questions are collectively the best in this column’s history, starting off with a John Wick-inspired bang.

I won’t belabor the introduction, so let’s get the requisite details out of the way — you can submit questions for The Open Man Q&A on Twitter @kensing45 or @the_open_man, and via email to kyle@theopenman.com — and dive right in!

The timing of this question couldn’t be any more perfect, given former LSU head coach Les Miles is making his big-screen debut soon. The charismatic and funny Miles might make a good detective following the series of killings piling up in John Wick’s wake.

I’m not certain Miles is one of the three best figures for a place in John Wick’s world, however. Considering Boban Marjanovic will likely function as a more modernized version of James Bond’s Jaws, I tend to look for someone who might fulfill the role of an Oddjob type: a bruising, intimidating henchman who can bully John Wick in hand-to-hand combat.

Look no further than Houston’s destructive defensive lineman, Ed Oliver. Does he have acting chops? I don’t know, but taking on an Oddjob-like silent assassin role compensates if not. All he needs to be is a deadly ass-kicker, and Oliver’s that.

SEC Network analyst Maria Taylor oozes charisma on TV and has an impressive athletic background. Taylor can play a love interest from John Wick’s past (before Helen) who’s since graduated to an elite, hired gun. Might there be a showdown similar to the John Wick 2 face-off with Ruby Rose?

Now, this exercise might seem like the perfect excuse to mention Lane Kiffin’s Twitter weirdness. Having been in a few interview situations with the FAU coach, however, his social media style doesn’t translate to other mediums. Jim Harbaugh may be a more obvious coach from the coaching world, but his energy is all wrong for the Wickiverse. Ditto Big Ten counterpart P.J. Fleck.

A third Big Ten coach, Jeff Brohm, exudes enough media savvy but with a more cool edge that better fits the role of a tertiary villain in John Wick’s Hero’s Journey.

QB: Khalil Tate, Arizona

Before a late-season injury, Khalil Tate was making a strong case for a Heisman ceremony invitation. He showed off his arm in the Foster Farms Bowl, proving he’s not just a running quarterback. Tate’s dual-threat play-making should play nicely under Kevin Sumlin.

RB: Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

Selecting either Jonathan Taylor or Bryce Love is a real Sophie’s Choice. Both have more than capably carried the mantle for program’s that, in recent years, could stake claim to the title Running Back U. However, I like Taylor’s supporting cast slightly more (though Stanford should be pretty dangerous on offense this fall).

With Wisconsin likely to factor into the College Football Playoff race, Taylor strikes me as the most obvious Heisman ceremony option heading into the campaign.

WR: Penny Hart, Georgia State

If you haven’t watched Penny Hart in action, tune into a Georgia State game sometime this season and be amazed. The 5-foot-9 dynamo is a playmaker in space reminiscent of Tavon Austin during his West Virginia days.

WR: David Sills, West Virginia

Speaking of West Virginia, David Sills transformed the narrative of his college football career from The 7th Grade QB Lane Kiffin Recruited to Most Prolific Touchdown Catcher in the Nation.

WR: N’Keal Harry, Arizona State

Were I building a Create-A-Player at wide receiver, I’d probably end up with N’Keal Harry. He combines length (6-foot-4) with explosive route-running in a vein comparable to Terrell Owens.

TE: Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri

Drew Lock is going to put up a boatload of points in 2018. Albert Okwuegbunam is going to account for a fair share of them. He’s the top touchdown-scoring tight end returning to college football, functioning almost like a wide receiver in Missouri’s wide-open offense.

Since we don’t have an official Top 25 yet, I’ll refer to Sporting News‘ ranking to determine Top 15. USC strikes me as a possibility due to turnover at the skill positions, but the Trojans’ defense will be too nasty for them to fall off too much.

Michigan strikes me as the answer you’d be most likely to get asking a panel of college football reporters, in part because the Wolverines play a brutal schedule, but also due to the echo-chamber criticism of Jim Harbaugh that started to percolate last offseason.

While I do pinpoint the Big Ten East for your answer, it’s not Michigan: Look to Penn State.

James Franklin’s done an incredible job there, winning a Big Ten title and Fiesta Bowl, and falling just four points shy of the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff a season ago. Trace McSorley’s return overshadows a lot of question marks this year, though.

Saquon Barkley did so much for that offense, his loss will not be easily absorbed. Perhaps more difficult to replace, however, is coordinator Joe Moorhead. I’ve followed Moorhead since he was head coach at Fordham, and I think Mississippi State fans are going to be really pleased. His departure is a huge loss.

The Big Ten East might also be the most top-heavy division in the sport. Someone has to finish fourth; with Michigan State returning an experienced nucleus, Michigan doing likewise and Ohio State reloading as only Ohio State can, Penn State feels destined for that spot.

Adapting literature to film is a difficult task due to the restrictions of run-time, studio executives offering their input, director’s vision vs. author’s, and the likelihood of tone and context losing across mediums. If nothing else can be said of the superhero cinema genre, it’s impressive how well studios have translated written source material to the screen.

The number of films that did the books justice overwhelmingly trails the opposite. One of the most stark contrasts is how well Peter Jackson adapted the Lord of the Rings series vs. the somewhat disappointing Hobbit adaptation. I actually enjoyed the first two installments of The Hobbit, but it ran out of steam by the third — not that surprising, really. Two movies was as much as could be realistically squeezed from the source material.

Rarely are movie adaptations better than the book, and I can’t think of examples in which the film version is so superior as to ruin the book. However, the 2000 American Psycho film is much more enjoyable than Bret Easton Ellis’ book. The movie more effectively balances the comedy and late-1980s yuppie culture satire within the horrifying framework of Patrick Bateman’s madness. The book tends to go into painstaking detail describing scenes of gore, which is equal parts nauseating and monotonous.

Frankly, I appreciated the movie’s less-is-more approach on violence, instead revealing some of the more graphic moments of the novel when Jean discovers Patrick’s doodle pad at the film’s climax.

Conversely, one of the quintessential examples of filmmakers botching the film interpretation of a novel is the cinematic adaption of another Bret Easton Ellis book, Less Than Zero. The movie is a very Reagan-era Just Say No morality tale, while the novel’s very genius is in how it depicts each of the young, affluent characters as lacking morality.

I have my quibbles with non-NXT WWE booking, but the Money in the Bank briefcase is one of the story-telling devices that has remained consistently strong since its inception in 2005. Last year’s version elevated Carmella to a legitimate player in the Women’s Division while Baron Corbin…well, I wrote consistently strong, not always strong.

This year’s Men’s Money in the Bank has some intriguing possibilities. While audiences were hot for Braun Strowman as a main-event star, his character isn’t the type that needs nor would benefit from the briefcase. Rusev might be the most over act in the company, and Aiden English brandishing the case in his client’s honor would make for some entertaining Rusev Days.

However, I think this should be a different Day’s time to shine — a New Day, if you will. Kofi has deserved a World title run for years now; the perfect time would have been around 2013 when Alberto Del Rio, Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler were in that mix. All three are now out of the company *clears throat*

While it felt as though Kofi’s time had past and he’d found a niche as a career tag-team specialist, Money in the Bank is the prime opportunity to give him a shot.

Now, I believe Kofi (or Samoa Joe, whose time as a top guy might be Now or Never) *should* win. I predict Money in the Bank is used to return The Miz, who has had an excellent 2018, to the main-event scene.

On the Women’s side, Sasha Banks is the only candidate I’d even consider if I had the book. And my end-goal for her time with the case is immediately spoiling a triumphant title win for Bayley.

I understand the rationale behind filling roster spots with local products: Establish good rapport with the area pipeline, and if a blue chip ever surfaces nearby, your previous relationships give you a leg up. I also tend to wonder if Charlie Strong was railroaded in his time at Texas from the jump, in part for going to the Florida recruiting pipeline he knew as opposed to massaging the egos of Texas high school coaches.

It’s a double-edged sword for the college coaches. However, if you’re a high school who steers a prospect away from a program not for malfeasance — i.e., a coach lying to a recruit, blowing off meetings, etc. — but for passing on a player, that’s bush league. It’s also a disservice to the prospects.

Recruits should go to the best spot for them regardless of area — and part of dictating the best spot is being somewhere the coaching staff really wants them.