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In this latest edition of the Quips, we’ll take a journey through some of the hot topics in sports, then browse some of the finest holiday movies around.

The Quips

The news came out Thursday that Houston Texans outside linebacker and No. 1 overall pick in this past year’s NFL draft Jadeveon Clowney will have season-ending knee surgery. It puts a rather fitting end to one of the most underachieving rookie seasons by a top overall pick in recent history. It was such a letdown that even JaMarcus Russell is probably chuckling about it.

Nebraska and Florida were two high-profile college football programs in the hunt for a new head coach after they fired Bo Pelini and Will Muschamp, respectively. That is no longer the case, as both confirmed their new hires on Thursday. For Nebraska, they selected longtime Oregon State head coach Mike Riley, which really rustled the jimmies of many notable sports media figures.

Meanwhile, Florida selected the largely unknown Jim McElwain, who manned the helm at Colorado State for a few years and really turned around the program. While both seem to have their supporters and their detractors, it seems that people are already giving Riley no chance at Nebraska, which I feel is unfair. It would not surprise me to see him be rather successful with the Cornhuskers, as he’ll have access to a larger amount of talent and an easier conference to deal with in the Big Ten.

As for McElwain, count me as another who believes he will turn the Gators around in spectacular fashion. Granted, the Southeastern Conference is a little bit tougher, but he’s had experience with it before. Also, like Riley, he’ll have access to a much larger array of talent, so I would expect McElwain to have the Gators in College Football Playoff contention within a few seasons.

There has already been a ton of big deals during MLB free agency, and I can’t help but feel a few of them will be epic flops when it’s all said and done.

The biggest of those is former Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez skipping the City of Angels for the Boston Red Sox for a four-year contract worth $88 million.

First of all, the man, while talented, is injured all of the time. Over the last two seasons, he’s played in only 214 of 324 possible games.

Also, the Red Sox are planning to play him in left field, a position that Ramirez has never played once in his pro career. This deal has disaster written all over it. To a smaller degree, I feel that the Mariners giving designated hitter Nelson Cruz a four-year contract supposedly worth up to $57 million, per CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, is just foolish. Of course, both of these might very well prove me dead wrong, so we’ll see.

Another headline that popped up this week regarding free agency was the Dodgers’ interest in left-handed ace Jon Lester. Newsflash – so is everyone else.

The Holiday Power Rankings

  1. “The Santa Clause” – This movie is more than just a clever play on words, as it provides a heartwarming story of a cold businessman whose new responsibility as Santa Claus allows him to bond with his estranged son and to discover a new self. It’s got some good laughs in it too, which is always nice.
  2. “Die Hard” – Perhaps the most controversial entry on this list, “Die Hard” is a good Christmas film. Plot wise, the movie doesn’t have a whole lot to do with Christmas, except for being set during that time. However, I believe that it embodies Christmas in other ways. Imagery, a romantic subplot, the grand ole Christmas moral that good will always triumph over evil; Die Hard has all of that. Think of main character John McClane as a more ostentatious version of Kris Kringle who shoots greedy, Christmas-ruining bad guys.
  3. “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” – Perhaps the funniest entry on the list, “Christmas Vacation” stars everyone’s favorite movie family, the Griswolds. Of course, the patriarch, Clark, played by Chevy Chase, gets himself into an array of hilarious situations along the way while trying to provide a perfect Christmas for his family. Many of these bits will have you holding your sides during your first viewing. In addition to the ripe amount of comedy, the movie translates the always heartwarming message of spending time with your family. It might not be perfect, but it’s yours, and you can’t ask for much more than that.
  4. “It’s a Wonderful Life” – The tale of a downtrodden bank manager who is ready to kill himself, played by Indiana’s own Jimmy Stewart, but changes his mind due to divine intervention has served as a Christmas classic for nearly 70 years. Its strong moral message and old-time charm keeps its popularity up to this day. It shows that we all have made a difference in this world, no matter how insignificant we might think that we are.
  5. “Elf” – Ah, now we arrive at No. 1. “Elf” features perhaps the best individual performance on the list, as Will Ferrell does an excellent job of portraying the cheerful and kind-hearted main character, Buddy. As a human raised by elves his whole life, Buddy goes on a journey from the North Pole to New York City to locate his real father, who happens to be on the naughty list. This movie has it all: the laughs, the imagery, the morals, you name it.

What makes it stand out is the execution of it all. It’s presented in unique way that appeals to people of all ages. This was the main deciding factor for me in choosing between this and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I feel that the latter isn’t as accessible to children as “Elf” is, and with Christmas, family accessibility is an absolute must.

So, there you have it – my Christmas movie power rankings. I wish all of you happy holidays. Stay warm and stay safe out there!

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