1. Florida State
You know, there are a lot of people in this office. And not a lot of them get that special parking spot that reads EMPLOYEE OF THE WEEK. It's an honor, and it's one this regional branch takes very seriously.
In fact, that space has, for most of fiscal year 2013 and a few before that, been reserved for one employee. And though we don't want to name names -- because we're a team -- I do think you might have a good idea of who that is. Let's be honest: we all know who that is. We know the big, stupid truck they park there.
And they've earned it every week until this week. As Regional Branch Manager, I know not every part of this job is fun. I know that for every four-hour lunch you take with a client, there's a 4-5 team you have to play on the road. For every easy time you get to work at home, there's drudge work you have to do on the road in some place that barely has a Hampton Inn, much less the kind of accommodations you're used to around here.
I get that. But listen; we can't be content, and we can't get sloppy, because even if you DO half-ass an assignment, and it just happens to be where someone won't see it -- oh, let's say, just pulling a place at random here, STARKVILLE MISSISSIPPI -- I assure you, we will see it. And when we do see it?
Well, let's just say that the Employee of the Week spot? It's gonna have a new truck in that spot. Someone who was given an unglamorous assignment this week and who didn't just phone it in from home. No, they went out and got Syracuse all over them in a 59-3 rout, doing what they've done with every team this year: slayed them in a quarter, then let the interns clean up the mess for the last three. Like I said, they got Syracuse all over them and didn't complain once, and I'm pretty sure that's a toxic substance you shouldn't come into contact with unless you have no other choice.
Enjoy the parking space, Florida State. Maybe SOMEONE will show a little more effort and get that back in a few weeks against Aub- ... I mean, when that unnamed employee gets a chance to redeem himself or herself in that next assignment.
A lackluster, 20-7 effort against Mississippi State is not something the Regional Branch Manager will ever be happy with, but Alabama was due for a misfire. It also happened against a team incapable of taking the free money that Alabama negligently left sitting on a Starkville park bench.
In fact, consider this a blessing. For once we get to talk about AJ McCarron having a mediocre game and about Alabama needing to improve prior to a matchup with Auburn in two weeks. It should also be deeply fulfilling for Nick Saban, who has something to be legitimately unhappy about and is now thus truly happy as a person.*
*Oh god please don't act like ranking Alabama No. 2 matters. These are the two teams we'd put in the title game right now without reservation, and flipping them is as much a product of boredom as anything else.
We came so close to giving Baylor that precious parking spot this week, but a good manager motivates in a lot of different ways.
For instance, you paste Texas Tech 63-34 and bring it in under budget by taking knees in the redzone at the end? Well, there's a $5 iTunes gift card for you, Art Briles. Don't say we didn't recognize what you've done here. Also, go ahead and eat whatever you want out of the company fridge this week, even if it has someone's name on it.
P.S. Don't eat Mack Brown's lunch. You'll give the Longhorns hope despite knowing you're never leaving the Baylor branch of this company, ever.
4. Ohio State
And even though we know you'll just blow it on more horrible faux-Buffett-lite musical sludge, you get a $5 iTunes gift card too, Urban.
Beating Illinois 60-35 isn't that special, but beating them so badly their coaches spat on the sideline? That's got to be worth something, and that something will be exactly four Kenny Chesney songs you'll blast during the 20 minutes a day you spend on the elliptical thinking about a third-world beach you'll never go to, because you think Nick Saban is going to any beaches for fun? Or without air support, 15,000 angry Marines behind him, and a five-star recruit he's gonna liberate from the clutches of some other, lesser quarterback? No, no he isn't, and thus neither are you, Coach.
We don't have any reason to bump Auburn up from Assistant Branch Manager and give it a huge raise out of the blue other than they're now doing scary things no one can explain, and we don't want to anger the malign and powerful spirits have now decided that Auburn is now their new best friend. If they beat Alabama, we're resigning, suggesting they take over the corner office, and getting out of their way. We're laying low in Florida for a while until whatever this is runs its course.
6. Michigan State
Not the most inspiring employee, exactly? But they do make a fine spreadsheet, always wear a tie, and turn in things like a 41-28 win over Nebraska on time and in swift fashion.
7. Oklahoma State
Unsure what a 38-13 victory against Texas means, but it's not a loss, and they do get a serious review of their personnel file against Baylor next week.
On vacation this week, but just lurking around the office and waiting for a shot at promotion.
Sometimes it's not who you are, but rather who you aren't. And this week in the office, Oregon won 44-21 and was not Stanford, which lost to USC. That puts Oregon right back in line for the Pac-12 Championship, and climbing the ladder is easy when everyone in front of you starts losing their grip.
At the edge
Fresno State, still skulking around the warehouse demanding to be taken as seriously as the people in the office are taken. UCF, barely edging out Temple and hoping you just forgot everything about "barely edging out Temple." Clemson, because they have one loss, and it's not their fault Florida State's so awesome. Louisville, now just muddling around after having UCF blow up that perfect season. Northern Illinois, because good sales numbers are good sales numbers even if you're doing them in the Midwest.