My Friday Five: On Sylvia Hatchell, Panthers News & A ‘Survivor’ Ploy(?)

1. Congrats, Coach Hatchell

UNC Women’s Basketball head coach, Sylvia Hatchell, became the fourth coach in Division I college basketball history to hit the 1,000 win mark on Tuesday. The 2013 Naismith Hall of Famer joined Pat Summitt, Tara VanDerveer, Mike Krzyzewski and Geno Auriemma in the 1,000-win club - with Auriemma earning a spot himself on the same day as Hatchell. I couldn't be happier for Coach Hatchell, who has garnered 728 wins in Chapel Hill after 272 victories in 11 seasons at Francis Marion, according to GoHeels.com. Here's to many more W's for her!

2. Panthers News

Whew! Quite a bit has happened in the past week or so regarding the Carolina Panthers. The biggest story of all being owner, Jerry Richardson's decision to sell the franchise at the conclusion of the season and step away from day-to-day operations amid allegations of workplace misconduct. Tina Baker has been named COO and will take control of organizational duties, according to the Panthers.

One big question that has come with the news of the Panthers franchise being sold is: will new ownership move the franchise elsewhere? Now, one wouldn't think so. At least, right away. The Panthers organization has been very successful both on and off the field. The fan base is large, continues to grow and is dedicated to the team. ESPN's David Newton reported on Thursday that NFL officials want to keep the Panthers in Charlotte. I certainly hope so. I've been a Panthers fan my entire life. Carolina Panthers football is all I've known. It would be absolutely despicable to move the franchise and, if that ever happened, they would lose this lifelong fan. It should be interesting to watch in the coming months.

3. Survivor Ploy?

The Survivor season finale was Wednesday and I wasn't too happy about how it turned out. I spare you the details and focus specifically on the last part of it and the person who ended up winning: Ben.

Late in the game, he "found" three Hidden Immunity Idols and played them all, back-to-back at successive Tribal Councils. I said "found" because the particulars of how it happened, especially with the last Hidden Immunity Idol, seem pretty suspicious to me. Then came the Tribal Council before the final three. Survivor tradition has it that the person who wins the final Immunity Challenge practically gets to choose who he or she wants to sit next to at the final Tribal Council. But this season, there was a "twist" and it set social media ablaze. Chrissy won the final Immunity Challenge - tying the most for a female contestant on the show at four - and also won an "advantage" for Tribal. Unfortunately for her, it wasn't an advantage. As opposed to the normal voting, Chrissy was directed to choose one person to automatically bring to the final three and the other two would duke it out in a fire making challenge for the remaining spot. It came down to Ben and Devon, with Ben winning pretty handedly. He joined the final three and eventually won the title of Sole Survivor.

This leads me to a point that I normally don't make about Survivor: something just doesn't add up, here. Frankly, I think there was some kind of ploy to hand the win to Ben. Particularly with that new "twist." Here's why: Per my observation, Ben didn't have that great of a social game leading up to the last several days of the show. Sure, he was a part of a couple alliances but would eventually find himself at the bottom. The Hidden Immunity Idol plays were pretty good but the last one he found seemed pretty suspect to me. What viewers saw on television was Ben talking about how he was in need of finding an Idol because he knew he was on the chopping block. Lo and behold, he magically finds one near the place he sleeps at. After not winning the final Immunity Challenge, Ben knew he was a goner. But a never-before-seen "twist" magically appears that ends up being just the advantage he needs to win the whole thing. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, host Jeff Probst defended the controversial twist, saying it "solves a problem" that has bothered him for many years: someone who plays a great game gets to the final four, all to be voted out by the other three simply because he or she cannot be beaten. Uh, newsflash, that's the game.

If I have to eat crow on this, I will. But these few convenient happenstances in the finale when it looked like Ben was clearly on the outs and someone else could become Sole Survivor just do not add up. In my opinion, the integrity of Survivor was lost on Wednesday night. Next season's theme is called "Ghost Island" - which, in itself, sounds dumb - so I very well may not watch it after being a lifelong Survivor fan.

4. Christmas Is Upon Us

Friends, it’s hard to believe that we are just a few days away from Christmas! It has always been my favorite holiday and I can’t wait to experience this amazing day once again. To get you in the spirit of the holiday season, here are a few of my top selections to put on your playlist...

"The Christmas Song" - Jordan Fisher | Haven't heard of this insanely talented dude? Shame.

"Christmas Time Is Here" - Sam Sparro  | New take on an old favorite..

"Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" - Brandyn Burnette | Love Brandyn's take on this classic.

"The First Noel" - Briarcrest Onevoice | Inspiring a cappella version from the AGT standouts. 

"From The Cold" - Cody Fry | Beautiful tune from an artist I've been a fan of for several years.

"Snowfall" - Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra | Neat little instrumental I discovered on the radio.

"This Christmas" - Fantasia Love her version of this song.

5. Stay Tuned

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog this year. Now that 2017 is coming to a close, it’s time to reflect on the year that was. Stay tuned for a special post next week where I recap what turned out to be a pretty dang good year!

Thanks for Reading