From Sidelines to punchlines

A Different View of Sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while admitting I’m already bored with the college football season because I’m growing tired of the pecking order:

Girl power

I’ll confess to having tapped the brakes on a bicyle whenever descending a hill with a slope greater than 30 degrees – even if the downward stretch covered no more than 30 feet.

And I’m not talking about childhood memories; these are all-time memories. Heck, I may have even feigned an injury (chafing?) or two so I could walk the bike to safety with a fake limp.

So no, I definitely have never had the courage Denise Mueller-Korenek had last week to put all Tour de France daydreamers to shame while breaking the land speed record for a motor-paced bike at 183.93 mph.

Clearly, her mode of transportation wasn’t just any contraption with handlebars and a pair of spoked wheels, either.  Her low-slung, KHS chopper-style bicycle has 17-inch motorbike wheels to provide greater stability and a two-wheel drivetrain to propel the massive gear apparatus.

Plus, she was tethered behind a race car driven by team partner Shea Holbrook until she reached a launching speed of 100 mph.

If traditional cyclists can’t use performance-enhancing drugs to climb the mountain stages in the Tour de France, they can’t get away with using jet power to boost their peddling power. But just knowing what’s involved in chasing the motor-powered bicycle speed record tells you how much courage it requires. Indeed, several cyclists have died since Charles “Mile-a-Minute” Murphy set a 60 mph pace drafting off a steam train.

The previous speed record of 167 mph was established by a Dutch rider Fred Rompelberg in 1995. He twice crashed at Bonneville Salt Flats at speeds of over 100 mph, breaking 24 bones in 1988.

We should also note that Mueller-Korenek has a 23-year gap in her competitive resume, having taken time off to have three kids. That’s one hurdle most competitive bike racers can’t list in their bio.

After falling short of setting the all-time record two years ago, Mueller-Korenek and Holbrook pulled into Bonneville last weekend with the same 1,000-horsepower dragster that Rompelberg had used to set his record.

John Howard, who has worked with Mueler-Korenek for three decades, is listed in the record books himself with a 1985 clocking of 152 mph. He also had previously guided them to the women’s record of 147.7 mph.

Now they have the all-gender record.

Mixed reviews

SportsPickle.com: “Sam Darnold struggling against the Browns makes the Pac-12 look even worse.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson:  “The Cleveland Browns won a game. Statistically, this occurs less frequently than total solar eclipses.”

Comedian Eric Stangel:  “Kind of hoping for the season the Browns go 6-5-5.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “New Orleans Saints tried to gift wrap a win for the Browns. The Browns returned the gift.”

Fark.com: “Browns win. Browns win. Browns win.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.com: “The Cleveland Browns suspended a sideline reporter for eight games for yelling at an official. After which the players were asking why he was the lucky one.”

Too much protection?

Even if he has had his share of injuries, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers questions some of the penalties being whistled for roughing the passer.

Two of those questionable flags in his opinion were thrown in Sunday’s tie between the Packers and the Minnesota Vikings. The last one wiped out an interception that allowed the Vikings to continue a drive that led to the tying field goal.

Rodgers didn’t agree with the foul called on Clay Matthews for his hit on the Vikes’ Kirk Cousins. But he also was surprised a flag was tossed on the Vikings’ Eric Kendricks for a sack of Rodgers earlier in the game.

The irony is that the NFL tweaked the roughing the passer rule largely because Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone in a game against Minnesota last season. As a result, defensive players can be flagged for what otherwise might be considered a clean hit if an official decides it was packed with a little intentional “oomph.”

Rodgers doesn’t like referees making such judgement calls.

“Some of the rules are maybe going the wrong direction. They’re trying to think about the progress of the game and the safety and stuff,” said Rodgers. “But it’s still a collision sport, and those to me are not penalties.”

They said it

NBC comedian Jimmy Fallon on the Chiefs and Rams playing in Mexico City on Nov. 19: “It’s all part of the league’s plan to combine as many things that Trump hates as possible. It’s really clever. Rosie O’Donnell is doing the halftime show. Jeff Sessions is a referee.”

ABC comedian Jimmy Kimmel on America’s love of fantasy sports: “Most of the guys I know studied harder for their fantasy-football draft this year than all of high school and college combined.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson: “On paper, Bethune Cookman looks to be better than a couple of Big Ten teams.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Georgia State football coach Shawn Elliott celebrated his team’s touchdown in a 41-7 loss to N.C. State with a fist bump — and tore his right biceps doing it. Luckily his team scored just that once, or Elliott might have wound up in traction.

Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg, on why Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is having trouble rehabbing his injured knee after leading the Packers to victory from a 20-0 deficit: “He wants to get into the exercise pool, but he keeps walking on top of the water instead.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Ten games left in the season and in American League now all playoff spots are set, making those games essentially meaningless. So for a little over a week everyone gets to see what it’s like to be an Orioles fan.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Among the demands in the Buffalo Jills ongoing lawsuit against the Bills and the NFL is paying cheerleaders at least minimum wage. Only seems fair since they have to wear minimum clothing.”

Comedian Eric Stangel on Twitter: “Way to fix the Giants offense. The Super Shotgun. Eli lines up from a punting position. Problem solved.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “Archaeologists have discovered a 73,000-year-old drawing on a cave wall in South Africa. Initial reports say the depiction is a dead ringer for Woody Hayes’ off-tackle play.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson, again:  “I’ve just figured out I’ve collectively spent 14 months of my life waiting for the results of some dumb booth review from a football game.”
Jim Barach of JokesByJim.com: “University of Colorado’s mascot Chip the Buffalo was carried off the field after a T-shirt gun malfunctioned and shot him in the abdomen. Which immediately sparked demonstrations by students for T-shirt gun control.”

Coaching legend Lefty Driesell, 86, during his Basketball Hall of Fame induction speech: “The older you get, all you do is try to remember names and go to the bathroom.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, again: “The LA Dodgers have 7 players with 20 home runs. Unless Evan Longoria goes on a tear and hits 4 in the last 10 games, the SF Giants won’t even have one.  I’m not a “chicks dig the long ball” kind of gal, but this is ridiculous.”

Brad Rock of Salt Lake City’s Deseret News after a calm.com poll suggested the dullest sports to watch are golf, cricket, soccer and baseball: “Synchronized swimming officials are demanding a recount.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “Washington pitcher Stephen Strasburg, with just one magic bullet of a pitch, hit Phillies batter J.P. Crawford’s arm, catcher Matt Wieters’ mask and plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt’s mask. Strasburg’s next act, we assume, takes place in a saloon, with a six-shooter, a mirror and a frying pan.”

The greed principle

Eric Dickerson may have played in college at SMU, but the former All-Pro running back apparently wants to adopt the SEC’s marketing line.

He’s convinced his name “just means more.” Because of that name recognition, he believes the NFL should fatten his retirement account and that of other Hall of Famers.

He’s leading an NFLPA effort to get a $300,000 a year stipend for life. The push includes increased health care benefits. But in pushing to get the increase for players who didn’t have the opportunity to earn today’s dollars, the NFLPA is suggesting that that stars of the past could boycott future hall of fame festivities.

Its comforting to know that some former greats don’t agree with the  tactics, saying the $300,000 figure seems arbitrary and excessive.

It also should be pointed out that Dickerson appears to be trying to get a do-over for the fact he crossed the picket line during the 1987 strike, which undermined the NFLPA’s push at that time for better health care and retirement benefits.

Headlines

Fark.com: “ESPN’s Monday Night Football producer admits he has no idea what he’s doing.”

TheOnion.com: “Can a serial marijuana user like Josh Gordon fit in with the Patriots’ cocaine-based culture?”

Sportspickle.com:  “Celtics fans are going to be shocked when they find out what Danny Ainge used to do for a living.”

Fark.com: “NCAA moves quickly to ensure entertaining football play never happens again.”

TheOnion.com: Will Monday Night Football cut Jason Witten after the analyst went 0 for 65 while talking?”

Sportspickle.com: “The Steelers have figured out how to get around the new tackling rules by not tackling anyone at all. Smart.”

TheOnion.com: “Jimmy Butler gives Wolves list of 29 preferred trade destinations.”

SportsPickle.com: Seattle clears major hurdle for an NHL team mascot expected to be made-up bird.”

TheOnion.com: “Is football bad for the NFL?”
Fark.SportsPickle.com: “No one ever expects the Hail Mary kick return.”

Fark.com: “T-shirt related injuries are pretty darn rare but when they happen they’re spectacular.”

SportsPickle.com: “Troy Aikman broadcasting tonight’s game means there’s a future in media for Ryan Fitzpatrick.”

Culture clash

No matter where you turn these days, there seems to be a porn star ready to weigh in on the most popular topics.

Politics and sports.

We’ll leave Stormy Daniels to speak for herself on all matters Donald Trump. But now former adult-film star Mia Khalifa has jumped into the Florida State’s football coaching debate by starting her own GoFundMe page to buyout Willie Taggart’s contract.

Trying to get Taggart dismissed just three games into his coaching career in Tallahassee strikes me as little more than a case of premature … uhh ….ejection.

Yes, three weeks into the season the Seminoles have looked poorly prepared on offense and are 0-2 in the ACC while scoring a combined 10 points in losses at home to Virginia Tech and at Syracuse.

Khalifia, who is an FSU fan, has a goal of raising $21 million. So far she’s raised $121. Yes, were talking hundreds, not millions for her overblown publicity stunt.

But to be fair, Khalifia has long inserted herself into sports debates, including having co-hosting duties on sports radio. Sounds like a sensible career move since sports radio dialogue is often about as intelligent as in pppppher former job.

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11

  • Baker Mayfield comes off bench, leads Cleveland comeback from down 14-0 to a 21-17 win over NYJ and Sam Darnold.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve missed Urban Meyer. Raise your hand if you’ve ever craved a Thurmanator sandwich. Trust me, neither is good for you, so let go of the insanity.
  • FSU’s offense has just 4 first downs and are closing in on dozen 3-and-outs heading into fourth quarter while losing 20-0 at Syracuse. The Seminoles should leave the ACC and petition the AAC for membership.
  • Stupid clock management by FSU cost chance to put points on the board at Syracuse. Willie Taggart, what were you thinking? 

From Sidelines to punchlines

A Different View of Sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while admitting I’m already bored with the college football season because I’m growing tired of the pecking order:

Girl power

I’ll confess to having tapped the brakes on a bicyle whenever descending a hill with a slope greater than 30 degrees – even if the downward stretch covered no more than 30 feet.

And I’m not talking about childhood memories; these are all-time memories. Heck, I may have even feigned an injury (chafing?) or two so I could walk the bike to safety with a fake limp.

So no, I definitely have never had the courage Denise Mueller-Korenek had last week to put all Tour de France daydreamers to shame while breaking the land speed record for a motor-paced bike at 183.93 mph.

Clearly, her mode of transportation wasn’t just any contraption with handlebars and a pair of spoked wheels, either.  Her low-slung, KHS chopper-style bicycle has 17-inch motorbike wheels to provide greater stability and a two-wheel drivetrain to propel the massive gear apparatus.

Plus, she was tethered behind a race car driven by team partner Shea Holbrook until she reached a launching speed of 100 mph.

If traditional cyclists can’t use performance-enhancing drugs to climb the mountain stages in the Tour de France, they can’t get away with using jet power to boost their peddling power. But just knowing what’s involved in chasing the motor-powered bicycle speed record tells you how much courage it requires. Indeed, several cyclists have died since Charles “Mile-a-Minute” Murphy set a 60 mph pace drafting off a steam train.

The previous speed record of 167 mph was established by a Dutch rider Fred Rompelberg in 1995. He twice crashed at Bonneville Salt Flats at speeds of over 100 mph, breaking 24 bones in 1988.

We should also note that Mueller-Korenek has a 23-year gap in her competitive resume, having taken time off to have three kids. That’s one hurdle most competitive bike racers can’t list in their bio.

After falling short of setting the all-time record two years ago, Mueller-Korenek and Holbrook pulled into Bonneville last weekend with the same 1,000-horsepower dragster that Rompelberg had used to set his record.

John Howard, who has worked with Mueler-Korenek for three decades, is listed in the record books himself with a 1985 clocking of 152 mph. He also had previously guided them to the women’s record of 147.7 mph.

Now they have the all-gender record.

Mixed reviews

SportsPickle.com: “Sam Darnold struggling against the Browns makes the Pac-12 look even worse.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson:  “The Cleveland Browns won a game. Statistically, this occurs less frequently than total solar eclipses.”

Comedian Eric Stangel:  “Kind of hoping for the season the Browns go 6-5-5.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “New Orleans Saints tried to gift wrap a win for the Browns. The Browns returned the gift.”

Fark.com: “Browns win. Browns win. Browns win.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.com: “The Cleveland Browns suspended a sideline reporter for eight games for yelling at an official. After which the players were asking why he was the lucky one.”

Too much protection?

Even if he has had his share of injuries, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers questions some of the penalties being whistled for roughing the passer.

Two of those questionable flags in his opinion were thrown in Sunday’s tie between the Packers and the Minnesota Vikings. The last one wiped out an interception that allowed the Vikings to continue a drive that led to the tying field goal.

Rodgers didn’t agree with the foul called on Clay Matthews for his hit on the Vikes’ Kirk Cousins. But he also was surprised a flag was tossed on the Vikings’ Eric Kendricks for a sack of Rodgers earlier in the game.

The irony is that the NFL tweaked the roughing the passer rule largely because Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone in a game against Minnesota last season. As a result, defensive players can be flagged for what otherwise might be considered a clean hit if an official decides it was packed with a little intentional “oomph.”

Rodgers doesn’t like referees making such judgement calls.

“Some of the rules are maybe going the wrong direction. They’re trying to think about the progress of the game and the safety and stuff,” said Rodgers. “But it’s still a collision sport, and those to me are not penalties.”

They said it

NBC comedian Jimmy Fallon on the Chiefs and Rams playing in Mexico City on Nov. 19: “It’s all part of the league’s plan to combine as many things that Trump hates as possible. It’s really clever. Rosie O’Donnell is doing the halftime show. Jeff Sessions is a referee.”

ABC comedian Jimmy Kimmel on America’s love of fantasy sports: “Most of the guys I know studied harder for their fantasy-football draft this year than all of high school and college combined.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson: “On paper, Bethune Cookman looks to be better than a couple of Big Ten teams.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Georgia State football coach Shawn Elliott celebrated his team’s touchdown in a 41-7 loss to N.C. State with a fist bump — and tore his right biceps doing it. Luckily his team scored just that once, or Elliott might have wound up in traction.

Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg, on why Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is having trouble rehabbing his injured knee after leading the Packers to victory from a 20-0 deficit: “He wants to get into the exercise pool, but he keeps walking on top of the water instead.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Ten games left in the season and in American League now all playoff spots are set, making those games essentially meaningless. So for a little over a week everyone gets to see what it’s like to be an Orioles fan.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Among the demands in the Buffalo Jills ongoing lawsuit against the Bills and the NFL is paying cheerleaders at least minimum wage. Only seems fair since they have to wear minimum clothing.”

Comedian Eric Stangel on Twitter: “Way to fix the Giants offense. The Super Shotgun. Eli lines up from a punting position. Problem solved.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “Archaeologists have discovered a 73,000-year-old drawing on a cave wall in South Africa. Initial reports say the depiction is a dead ringer for Woody Hayes’ off-tackle play.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson, again:  “I’ve just figured out I’ve collectively spent 14 months of my life waiting for the results of some dumb booth review from a football game.”
Jim Barach of JokesByJim.com: “University of Colorado’s mascot Chip the Buffalo was carried off the field after a T-shirt gun malfunctioned and shot him in the abdomen. Which immediately sparked demonstrations by students for T-shirt gun control.”

Coaching legend Lefty Driesell, 86, during his Basketball Hall of Fame induction speech: “The older you get, all you do is try to remember names and go to the bathroom.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, again: “The LA Dodgers have 7 players with 20 home runs. Unless Evan Longoria goes on a tear and hits 4 in the last 10 games, the SF Giants won’t even have one.  I’m not a “chicks dig the long ball” kind of gal, but this is ridiculous.”

Brad Rock of Salt Lake City’s Deseret News after a calm.com poll suggested the dullest sports to watch are golf, cricket, soccer and baseball: “Synchronized swimming officials are demanding a recount.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “Washington pitcher Stephen Strasburg, with just one magic bullet of a pitch, hit Phillies batter J.P. Crawford’s arm, catcher Matt Wieters’ mask and plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt’s mask. Strasburg’s next act, we assume, takes place in a saloon, with a six-shooter, a mirror and a frying pan.”

The greed principle

Eric Dickerson may have played in college at SMU, but the former All-Pro running back apparently wants to adopt the SEC’s marketing line.

He’s convinced his name “just means more.” Because of that name recognition, he believes the NFL should fatten his retirement account and that of other Hall of Famers.

He’s leading an NFLPA effort to get a $300,000 a year stipend for life. The push includes increased health care benefits. But in pushing to get the increase for players who didn’t have the opportunity to earn today’s dollars, the NFLPA is suggesting that that stars of the past could boycott future hall of fame festivities.

Its comforting to know that some former greats don’t agree with the  tactics, saying the $300,000 figure seems arbitrary and excessive.

It also should be pointed out that Dickerson appears to be trying to get a do-over for the fact he crossed the picket line during the 1987 strike, which undermined the NFLPA’s push at that time for better health care and retirement benefits.

Headlines

Fark.com: “ESPN’s Monday Night Football producer admits he has no idea what he’s doing.”

TheOnion.com: “Can a serial marijuana user like Josh Gordon fit in with the Patriots’ cocaine-based culture?”

Sportspickle.com:  “Celtics fans are going to be shocked when they find out what Danny Ainge used to do for a living.”

Fark.com: “NCAA moves quickly to ensure entertaining football play never happens again.”

TheOnion.com: Will Monday Night Football cut Jason Witten after the analyst went 0 for 65 while talking?”

Sportspickle.com: “The Steelers have figured out how to get around the new tackling rules by not tackling anyone at all. Smart.”

TheOnion.com: “Jimmy Butler gives Wolves list of 29 preferred trade destinations.”

SportsPickle.com: Seattle clears major hurdle for an NHL team mascot expected to be made-up bird.”

TheOnion.com: “Is football bad for the NFL?”
Fark.SportsPickle.com: “No one ever expects the Hail Mary kick return.”

Fark.com: “T-shirt related injuries are pretty darn rare but when they happen they’re spectacular.”

SportsPickle.com: “Troy Aikman broadcasting tonight’s game means there’s a future in media for Ryan Fitzpatrick.”

Culture clash

No matter where you turn these days, there seems to be a porn star ready to weigh in on the most popular topics.

Politics and sports.

We’ll leave Stormy Daniels to speak for herself on all matters Donald Trump. But now former adult-film star Mia Khalifa has jumped into the Florida State’s football coaching debate by starting her own GoFundMe page to buyout Willie Taggart’s contract.

Trying to get Taggart dismissed just three games into his coaching career in Tallahassee strikes me as little more than a case of premature … uhh ….ejection.

Yes, three weeks into the season the Seminoles have looked poorly prepared on offense and are 0-2 in the ACC while scoring a combined 10 points in losses at home to Virginia Tech and at Syracuse.

Khalifia, who is an FSU fan, has a goal of raising $21 million. So far she’s raised $121. Yes, were talking hundreds, not millions for her overblown publicity stunt.

But to be fair, Khalifia has long inserted herself into sports debates, including having co-hosting duties on sports radio. Sounds like a sensible career move since sports radio dialogue is often about as intelligent as in pppppher former job.

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11

  • Baker Mayfield comes off bench, leads Cleveland comeback from down 14-0 to a 21-17 win over NYJ and Sam Darnold.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve missed Urban Meyer. Raise your hand if you’ve ever craved a Thurmanator sandwich. Trust me, neither is good for you, so let go of the insanity.
  • FSU’s offense has just 4 first downs and are closing in on dozen 3-and-outs heading into fourth quarter while losing 20-0 at Syracuse. The Seminoles should leave the ACC and petition the AAC for membership.
  • Stupid clock management by FSU cost chance to put points on the board at Syracuse. Willie Taggart, what were you thinking? 

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while noting that idiots are hard at work offering fake Nike coupons “for people of color” containing Colin Kaepernick’s image. May the perpetrators be caught and prosecuted:

Stormy season

Everything is falling into place for Central Florida – UCF to those too embarrassed to admit the school wouldn’t exist without FEMA funding – to claim another mythical national championship in college football.

Yes, the Knights just had a game against an Atlantic Coast Conference team canceled by a hurricane for the second straight season. That means athletic director Danny White could soon be free to schedule a replacement game against a woefully weak opponent to make up for Saturday’s scrapped road game at North Carolina.

Last season UCF had a home game against Georgia Tech cancelled by Hurricane Irma, and losing that Power 5 opponent hurt the Knights in every ranking but the final Colley Matrix.

Technically, they are calling it a postponement, but the game won’t likely be rescheduled. There are even reports that White might not bother to find a replacement game.

But just in case, White may want to give Liberty University a quick call before someone starts a bidding war. After all, the Flames are on fire in the Bottom Ten of most computer power polls and they have an open date on Oct. 27.

Scheduling Liberty wouldn’t even hurt UCF’s strength of schedule since Josh Heupel’s team already will be lining up against AAC East members UConn, (110), Temple (109) and Eastern Carolina (103), who all rank in the Bottom 30. That’s also true of AAC West opponent SMU (104), which visits Spectrum Stadium Oct. 6. That means only AAC foe Tulsa (100) is missing from the Knights list of guaranteed cupcakes this season.

So chalk up a huge win for Hurricane Florence, who matched the 2017 devastation caused by Irma, which forced the cancellation of a game against Georgia Tech.

Kickoff 2018

NBC comedian Jimmy Fallon: “After losing all 16 of their games last season, the Cleveland Browns’ first game of the year ended in a tie. Yep, the Cleveland Browns: Even when they don’t lose, they don’t win.”
Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “So will Aaron Rodgers be first NFL player to win Comeback Player of the Game?”

Comedian Eric Stangel on Twitter: “Marshawn Lynch looking great on Oakland’s first drive. Raiders now calling around for trade partners.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe, again: “Mayor of a New Orleans suburb just rescinded the city’s ban on Nike equipment and clothing after players on the Saints complained.  Good to know that even in times of prejudice there are priorities in Louisiana.”

Comedian Eric Stangel on Twitter: The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results. With that said, GOOOOOOOOOOO #Chargers!!!!!!!!!!!

 Pole position

Katie Coates is on a mission to make pole dancing an Olympic sport.

Don’t laugh. If rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming and ballroom dancing (under consideration) can be Olympic sports, then why not pole dancing?

Coates swears her vision of pole dancing has no resemblance to the seductive routines performed at gentlemen’s clubs. While it is not officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee, the sport of pole dancing is funded as a serious sport by many countries, including Mexico. And there is competition for men and women.

“I still have to work as a coach as well as being an athlete but Mexicans are very positive about pole,” said 2018 world silver medalist Moises Reyes.

But the reaction Coates often receives isn’t always positive.

“I’ve had people spit in my face, call me up screaming down the phone and telling me I’m a bad person,” Coates, president of the International Pole Sports Federation, told Al Jazeera.

But the sport is slowing growing, and held its first world championship six years ago.

Coates’ goal over the next couple of years is to expand the sport’s reach to 40 federations on five continents, which would make it eligible for IOC consideration.

The IPSF started with routines that included up to 20 required moves and now has a sanctioning book that is 170 pages.

You might even find moves that resemble routines found in synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics.

“I can’t say for sure that we’ll ever get there, but they told us that we’re an interesting, funky, youth sport so we’re on their radar,” said Coates. “It’s an ambition for all our athletes to be part of the Olympic Games. So never say never. Everyone laughed at me when I first said we’d become a sport, and look where we are now.”

They said it

Lee Corso, to Florida State boosters in 2014, on FSU football teammate/actor Burt Reynolds, who died last week at 82: “I was famous for one thing at Florida State: I was Burt Reynolds’ roommate. … With his looks and my car, we’d kill ’em in Tallahassee.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson: “Iowa State has scheduled a football game vs. Incarnate Word which sounds like something you’d play on your iPhone.”

Comedian Argus Hamilton on what the arrival of September means: “That month when Americans can forget politics and go back to hating each other over the football teams we support.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “SF Giants now selling 2019 Spring Training packages. With all due respect, anyone who wants to watch Spring Training level baseball can just go to an SFGiants game this September.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Rest in peace Burt Reynolds, perhaps the most famous moustached star in history. Unless you include those East German women shotputters.”

Comedian Eric Stangel on Twitter: “Fantasy football update. I’m losing to a guy who started a player who started the season on IR and is out for the year.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Tigers analyst Rod Allen allegedly assaulted play-by-play broadcaster Mario Impemba, grabbing him from behind, but Allen’s agent says it didn’t happen. Flummoxed Elias Sports Bureau types can’t decide whether to credit Allen with a blown hold or a no-hitter.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter, again: “To spotlight the UNL campus Saturday during the football game ABC chose to show about 8 students separately taking selfies. A top rated Ag college, business school, law and liberal arts & the network chooses selfies.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “A survey says 90% of PGA golfers believe Tiger Woods will win another major tournament. The other 10% agree, but are just depressed in realizing they would make more money if they stopped playing golf and became his caddie.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter, again: “Glad that Nike finally found a spokesperson who’s non-polarizing. Second and third choices were Julian Assange and Kim Jong Un.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: “Your Pacific Coast League manager of the year  — Stubby Clap; one of the best names in baseball. Not such a good name had he wanted to be a porn star.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “Boxer Saul “Canelo” Alvarez says he visualizes a knockout against his opponent every night before going to bed. Then he lets his opponent knock him out so he can get a full night’s sleep.”

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Cameraman strikes gold with tubby fan eating ice cream, dancing, holding baby.”

SportsPickle.com: “Pete Carroll is going to yell at the Broncos for hurting Russell Wilson’s feeling by intercepting him.”

Fark.com: “Red Sox usher usually catches a foul ball in one hand, towels off wet seat with the other.”

TheOnion.com: “Russell Wilson asks Seahawks to modify play where he’s immediately tackled by six players.”

Sportspickle.com: “Do you ever sit and think: ‘My god, there are people watching baseball right now.’’’

Fark.com: “The future of sport is here: Olympic pole dancing.”

TheOnion.com: “Matthew Berry admits he just drafts Fantasy Players whose name he recognizes.”

Sportspickle.com: “Rutgers voted best football team in the country.”

Fark.com: “The Chargers’ record continues to be unblemished by success.”

TheOnion.com: “Fan going to see how first few games go before declaring moral objection to watching NFL”

Fark.com: “ACC schools continue to wait until the last minute to avoid playing UCF.”

SportsPickle.com: “Rodgers returned to game because he heard his family was going to visit him at hospital.”

Fark.com: “DeShone Kizer thanks Aaron Rodgers for the assist.”

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11

  • Mets’ David Wright, who has neck issues, is retiring, saying “It’s debilitating to play baseball.” But I just read where the players are tossing miniature footballs around the locker room and shooting miniature basketballs. So do we really have to blame baseball?
  • Boston College’s Anthony Brown’s 5 TD passes accounted for 202 of the 304 yards passing he had against Wake Forest Thursday. He completed 16 of 25 passes overall.
  • FEMA’s Jeff Byard said Hurricane Florence was going to deliver a “Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast.” It would have been more appropriate if he had called it a “Joe Frazier punch.” After all, Smokin’ Joe was from Beaufort.
  • Packers should try to extend Aaron Rodgers’ @AaronRodgers12 career by letting him sit out until third quarter of every game.

 End of era

New York Mets third baseman David Wright is scheduled to play his final game on Sept. 29, at which point he will reportedly hang up the cleats and gloves.

Technically, he’s not retiring, but he will go back to being inactive because of unsuccessful surgeries for spinal stenosis that has caused pain in his neck, shoulder and back.

Because the Mets still owe him $27 million over the 2019 and 2020 seasons, he will remain on the disabled list so the club can recoup most of that money from insurance.

“From everything the doctors have told me, there’s not going to be any improvement,” said Wright, who has a career .296 batting average and 242 home runs but hasn’t played more than 38 games since 2016. “Some days the pain could be moderate and manageable. Some days it was too much to be thinking about baseball. … It’s debilitating to play baseball.”

It’s just another reminder that it’s not whether you win or lose, its how you play the game.

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while noting that not only has the NFL continued to mishandle the flag debate, the league still can’t decide what constitutes a catch:

Key game

It may be early in the college football season, but that doesn’t mean some teams aren’t already raising the table stakes.

Take the showdown happening in the SEC East Division this weekend in Columbia, S.C. There’s not a game being played this Saturday that is more important than No. 24 South Carolina hosting No. 3 Georgia at 3:30 p.m. ET at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Never mind that ESPN’s College GameDay crew is headed to Lubbock, Texas for the tilt between No. 2 Clemson and unranked Texas A&M, which will be televised by ESPN at 7 p.m.

And yes, the other “USC” also is playing the only other game in the country featuring two ranked teams – No. 17 Southern Cal at No. 10 Stanford.

None of that matters. The place to be is Columbia, S.C. (or in front of your TV tuned to CBS), for the clash between the Cocks and the Dawgs.

South Carolina fans will tell you that beating Georgia will allow them to set their hopes and dreams a little higher.

As for Georgia fans, they’ll tell you they aren’t going to lose, but if they do,  a loss won’t dash their season goals. It’ll just increase the degree of difficulty for a UGA team determined to make up for that crushing loss to Alabama in the national championship game in January.

Despite all that, I’m feeling pretty good about South Carolina’s chances, even if the Vegas oddsmakers all seem to favor Georgia by 9 or 10 points.

Why? Because I had my first cardiology appointment today since moving back to South Carolina, and the nurse who put me through the pre-exam routine was wearing a South Carolina T-shirt in an office of Clemson orange.

That has to mean something, right?

Also, my EKG showed a nice rhythm — strong and steady, just like the Gamecocks’ offense will be on Saturday.

Reading between the lines, I’m predicting South Carolina to prevail 27-24.

No easy answers

Before former long snapper Nate Boyer turned his attention to playing football at Texas and in the NFL with Seattle, he was a Green Beret.

He was also instrumental to advising Colin Kaepernick after the then San Franciso quarterback started to gain attention for sitting during the National Anthem to protest the shooting deaths of unarmed African-American men, and children, by police officers.

Boyer first wrote a letter to Kaepernick, and then they met and discussed the issue, with Boyer advising that it would be a more respectful form of protest if the 49ers’ quarterback took a knee during the anthem.

Other NFL players followed suit, bringing more attention to a flawed criminal justice system. But with more attention, has come considerable pushback from President Trump and others, who have labeled the protests as unpatriotic.

The Donald has made the flag dispute a central part of his overly divisive stump speeches.

Boyer has urged people “on both ends of the political spectrum” to embrace and respect conflicting viewpoints. He says that “nobody is a perfect patriot.” While he would prefer for Kaepernick to find another way to protest, Boyer says he will continue to support the players’ right to kneel during the anthem.

“It’s hard for me to grasp why this is so difficult for people (from both ends of the political spectrum) to understand,” wrote Boyer in an editorial for NBC. “It’s OK to be different, it’s what makes us the same – embrace it and remember that nobody’s a perfect patriot, especially not me.”

Kaepernick is into his second season without a roster spot in the NFL, and recently won an arbitrator’s decision to continue with his collusion complaint against the NFL.

Nike has added fuel to the fire by featuring Kaepernick in its latest ad campaign.

 Kneel- jerk reactions

NBC comedian Jimmy Fallon: “Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick is the new face of Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign. Some people are upset with Nike over the new campaign, and are even destroying their Nike gear in protest. Then Kaepernick was like, Oh, so you LIKE protests now?’”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson: “Internally I’m pretty sure the Nike Kaepernick campaign is called “Let’s piss off middle aged people in the Midwest & South to really appeal to the rebellious Millennials in urban areas we want to buy our shoes.”

NBC comedian Seth Myers: “After Nike announced that former NFL quarterback and activist Colin Kaepernick would be the face of its new ad campaign, angry consumers began posting photos of themselves burning their Nike shoes. Unfortunately, he’s also been named the face of Yankee Candle, and now they don’t know what to do.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Trump says Nike made “a terrible mistake,” Serena Williams lauds their Kaepernick ad. How long for the Presidential tweet saying Serena is overrated?’”

Life’s a beach

OK, South Carolina sports fans, I’m not buying it. All bar stool cowboys should be staging an uprising, too.

According to Southern Living magazine, the best college football bar in the state is Liberty Tap Room & Grill in Myrtle Beach.

Yes, they chose a beach bar, which would probably make more money on a Saturday morning in the fall selling shaved ice. Beach daycare centers and dog groomers even do more business on Saturday mornings than beach bars.

Yes, a beach bar. Those are fighting words.

Drinking establishments in Clemson, Columbia, Greenville, Charleston and Spartanburg immediately should be throwing challenge flags. Same for Pickens, Lexington, Laurens, Beaufort and Woodruff.

How can Myrtle Beach throw shade on the rest of the state?

The swim trunks and bikini crowd are more focused on tossing Frisbees than footballs, sitting in beach chairs than stadium seats and chugging water than Mad Dog 20/20.

Ever try to play football at the beach? It’s impossible to do. You get sand blown in your eyes and it’s hard to avoid those stretches of sand mixed with broken shells. Plus,  you can’t turn on a dime to catch a pass without raising a new blister.

The folks on the Grand Stand need to stick to beach volleyball.

They said it

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Rafael Nadal – Dominic Thiem US Open match lasted 4 hours and 49 minutes. Wow. That’s almost as long as the average Red Sox-Yankees game.”

“Cleveland Browns assistant coach Bob Wyli, on HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’ on why he’s not a fan of modern training techniques: “We won two world wars without stretching.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter: “Only the Cleveland Browns would cut all five young players featured the most on “Hard Knocks.” I haven’t been this upset by a viewing experience since I was 6 and saw Bambi’s mom get slaughtered.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Two things CFL receiver Duron Carter has in common with former U.S. president Jimmy Carter: Same surname; both have worked for peanuts.”

Comedian Eric Stangel on Twitter: “Nick Foles is currently fifth in the #NFL this season in receiving yards.

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants says his superstar status makes him feel like a ‘zoo animal.’ Especially the part where the Giants ignore the warnings and feed him $95 million.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson again, on Twitter: “How many out of town visitors will pull up to the CHI Health Center in Omaha in search of medical care annually only to walk inside the find a volleyball match or a Brad Paisley concert? I’m guessing about 1,000.”

Comedian Eric Stangel on Twitter: “I have 73 fantasy football teams, so I’m rooting for and against every player on every play.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “Swimming and diving has been banned off the coast of Landévennec, France, thanks to the relentless amorous advances of a bottlenose dolphin. Which certainly answers the question: What do you get when you cross Flipper with Pepe LePew?”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “Tom Brady says he is looking to play five more years in the NFL. Let’s just hope no one let’s the air out of his dreams.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter, again: “There’s a rumor that Bill Moos will allow Ralphie on the Memorial Stadium field Saturday for the first time. The forecast calls for more storms. Yeah, let’s see how an enormous buffalo reacts with nearby lightning strikes.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe, again: “Nick Saban called a reporter personally to apologize after being nasty over a question on his quarterback situation. Imagine how cranky he’s going to be after Alabama’s first loss?”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “Arsenal soccer coach Unai Emery has banned high-sugar fruit drinks from his team’s training menu. Still no word on the status of mom’s halftime orange slices.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: “Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch is the first-ever athlete to be featured on a pack of Skittles. So how long before there’s Snickers for the Cleveland Browns?”

Bright future

New Georgia men’s basketball coach Tom Crean has to be feeling good about his move south after being cut loose at Indiana University.

That’s because Athlon Sport’s 2018-19 College Basketball Preview magazine is on the newsstands, and all signs point to a promising future. Not only does the Bulldogs’ 6-foot-9 freshman Amanze Ngumezi earn a lot of praise entering this season, but the top two cities in the magazine’s Hoops Hotbeds are Atlanta and Indianapolis.

Crean should have well-established contacts in both, and Athens is just a short drive from Atlanta.

So there you go Dawg fans. Not all the news is bad this week.

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Does Notre Dame’s mascot trivialize the heartbreaking genocide of leprechauns.”

SportsPickle.com: ”Kind of surprised the NFL didn’t just decide to play the game and deny the science behind weather.”

Fark.com: “Something interesting finally happened at a Detroit Tigers’ game – the announcers got into a fist fight.”

TheOnion.com: “NASCAR race stops to wait for family of ducks to pass.”

Sportspickle.com: “Considering what we’ve seen from Jim Harbaugh the last few years, there’s a case to be made that Colin Kaepernick was the greatest quarterback of all-time.”

Fark.com: “It’s official: Alabama’s new minor league baseball team will be the “Rocket City Trash Pandas.”

TheOnion.com: “Alexander Overhkin thrilled to learn he won Stanley Cup last year.”

Sportspickle.com: ”I wonder if Florida State realized yet that they hired a guy with a 47-50 career record.”

Fark.com: “They could tell he was a Tigers Woods impersonator because he didn’t hit on anyone.”

TheOnion.com: “Is it fair to not pay college football players when the mascots make $10,000 a year?”

SportsPickle.com: “The Big Ten hasn’t offered Appalachian State a membership because they want more than one team to win conference titles.”

TheOnion.com: “Aging Tom Brady decides to conserve energy by no longer returning kicks.”

National pastime

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “The Miami Marlins — nearly 30 games under .500 and drawing sparse crowds — are trying to drum up interest by encourage fans to bring musical instruments and noisemakers to games next season. In lieu of singing “Take Me Out To the Ball Game,” maybe the fans should play “Taps.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe, again: “As Miami Marlins stagger to the end of their seasons, they would like to thank the Florida State Seminoles and Miami Hurricanes for distracting Florida sports fans this weekend.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com, again: “Detroit Tiger announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen reportedly got into a fistfight following a game. What’s worse is they landed more hits than the entire team got during the game.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: “For a while this season, Astros ace Justin Verlander was flirting with a sub-200 ERA. Not nearly as much fun as previous seasons when he was flirting with Kate Upton.

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11

  • Will the flag dispute go away if every NFL team agrees to run at least one Statue of Liberty play every game?
  • Seminoles had 10 plays in red zone for minus-11 yards. No they weren’t running reverses or taking a knee every snap.
  • FSU should end the night with a bonfire in the Doak Campbell parking lot. Surely those new uni’s are flammable. If not, Taggart can get things started with a few pages from playbook.
  • So is it still Beamer Ball when Beamer ain’t coaching?
  • Grow up Patriots fans and sip your Dunkin’ Donuts coffee in those Eagles’ Championship cups with deserved humility … and then go to Boston’s South End and order a real tasty treat from Blackbird Doughnuts and pretend to be eating crow.

From Sidelines to punchlines

 A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while recognizing that an arbitrator has given credence to a collusion conspiracy being committed by NFL teams against Colin Kaepernick:

Championship path

When I made an upgrade in sports editor jobs in August 1999, leaving Anderson, S.C. for Tallahassee, Fla., my farewell column noted I was going from covering Tommy Bowden at Clemson to writing about Bobby Bowden at Florida State.

I didn’t have to be Grantland Rice to realize FSU’s Bowden had the better chance that year to win the national title, and following a championship team while working for the newspaper of record was on my career bucket list.

Mission Accomplished.

The Seminoles went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in 1999, beating Virginia Tech and the Hokies’ dynamic quarterback Michael Vick, 46-29, in the 2000 Sugar Bowl.  That was also Bobby Bowden’s last championship – something I wasn’t smart enough to predict – so timing is everything.

While the Seminoles again played for the title in the Orange Bowl the next season, Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke picked a horrible night to throw two more interceptions than touchdown passes. For the record, he tossed two picks.

Oklahoma prevailed, 13-2.

Flash forward to this season. I’m again a homeowner in Anderson, and Clemson is the team favored by many to win the national title. Strange how these things work out. If it happens, it will also be Clemson coach Dabo Swinney’s second title.

So consider my relocation a good omen, Dabo, even if you did pull it off without my help in 2016.

I won’t be documenting the Tigers for a daily newspaper – those don’t really exist anymore. But I will be frequently blogging here and tweeting (@Randy.Beard11) about the season as a free-agent journalist, even if I’m not writing separate blogs on the ACC, SEC and Big Ten as I did last year.

Oh, one more outstanding omen heralding my July move from the Midwest to the South: Florida State opens the season Monday night against Virginia Tech in Tallahassee.

That’s not a coincidence. It’s a sign.

Boiler pride

Purdue freshman Rondale Moore introduced himself to the college football world Thursday night by setting the Boilermakers’ school record for all-purpose yardage in a game with 313, including  125 return, 109 receiving and 79 rushing. Alas, there was still 12:05 left in the fourth quarter and the Boilermakers failed to take further advantage of Moore’s playmaking skills in a 31-27 loss in their Big Ten opener against Northwestern in Ross-Ade Stadium.

But keep an eye on Moore. He has the chance to be a much needed impact player for Purdue, especially if coach Jeff Brohm figures out how to take full advantage of the 5-foot-7 speedster. That relationship between player and coach should be special since Brohm and Moore both starred at Louisville’s Trinity High, and Brohm’s father is still an assistant coach at the high school.

They said it

Comedian Eric Stangel on Twitter: “The Manafort jury just sent a note asking for clarification on the new NFL helmet rule.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Packers signed Aaron Rodgers to 4-year, $134 million extension. In related news expect Green Bay to announce beer and brats can now be paid for with an interest-free loan.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Golf Digest reports a man needed stitches after asking to play through a foursome who then beat him with their putters. When I played golf, it was my own putter that beat me.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Corey Bellemore, winner of this year’s Beer Mile World Classic in Vancouver, B.C., was disqualified when race officials ruled he didn’t consume enough beer during the race’s four mandatory brew stops. It’s believed to be the first time in sports history in which a runner was stripped of his title for failing to fail a drug test.”

Brad Dickson on Twitter: “The Oak View Mall in Omaha has been purchased by a man who lives in Canada. That means all the stores will close to make way for minor league hockey.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe: “Cleveland releases LB  Mychal Kendricks after he was charged for insider trading over making over  $1 million in illegal investments in 2014.  Well, at least Kendricks didn’t do something obvious like betting against the Browns.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: New “Monday Night Football” sideline reporter Booger McFarland will ride up and down the sidelines on a motorized cart dubbed “The Booger Mobile.” It’s believed to be the greatest innovation on wheels since the Pinto, the Corvair and the Edsel.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: “Danica Patrick told Rachel Ray seven things she likes about her boyfriend, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. When Tom Brady heard this, he said: ‘Gisele listed 14 about me.’”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “Hall of Fame player Eric Lindros says the NHL should eliminate body contact. Two minutes for laughing, anyone?”

 Title debate

UCF gained some legitimacy for the school’s claim to national championship when the NCAA recognized the Knights for finishing last season as No. 1 in the Colley Matrix, one of the number-crunching computers it recognizes.

Page 115 of the 2018 NCAA Football Records Book bestowed that questionable logic on the Knights, giving them a “shared” title with Alabama. But yeah, the Colley Poll is published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, so that counts for something.

Central Florida whipped Auburn 34-37 in the Peach Bowl to complete a 13-0 season, and quickly seized on the fact that Auburn had beaten both Georgia and Alabama during the regular season.

Those, of course, are the two schools that played in an all-SEC title game,

While the four-team playoff system may be flawed, traditionalists still prefer to recognize Alabama as the legit champion after the Crimson Tide’s 26-23 overtime thriller over the Bulldogs.

That won’t stop the folks in Orlando, especially Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi or UCF athletic director Danny White from feeling vindicated for all their drum-beating madness during the offseason.

So the UCF championship banners will continue to hang and the players will wear their national title rings and T-shirts.

However, Scott Frost, who coached UCF last season to that mythical title, quickly reversed field after he and his staff took over the Nebraska program.

Now even  he can proudly jump back on his former school’s bandwagon.

Identity crisis

Speaking of Bianchi, he wrote on Aug. 11th that UCF was entering the season as the “most hated team in college football.” So it must have come as a surprise to him that a poll by @sportsTVratings listed the most hated programs and the Knights didn’t make the cut.

The real defending champions, Nick Saban’s Alabama squad, led the way with 16 percent. Following the Tide are Ohio State (12%), Notre Dame (10%), Penn State 7%), Michigan (6%), Southern California (4%), Texas (3%), Oklahoma (2%), Nebraska (2%).

Add them all up, and that only accounts for 68 percent of the gridiron hatred in this country, so there’s still room for misplaced, illogical anger.

Since we can assume the remaining 38 percent includes a fraternity of one-percenters, UCF likely makes that cut.

Perhaps if they dropped the acronym and proudly embraced “Central Florida” on first reference, the Knights might become more hated.

Or they can accept being called Mickey Mouse University.

Countdown clock

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson on Twitter: “This morning at Husker practice Larry the Cable Guy was getting reps at quarterback with the fourth team offense.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “Former Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith ripped the school’s investigation of him on Twitter. Which means if nothing else, he is now well prepared to run for public office.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe: “USA Today has college BOWL projections out today. And we thought Pumpkin Spice Lattes in August were jumping the gun.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com, again: “A report says college football attendance is falling. Mostly because recent graduates don’t have time as they are working three jobs just to try to pay off all their tuition loans.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “The Cactus Bowl has been rebranded the Cheez-its Bowl. You’ve got to like Wisconsin’s chances of getting the first invite.”

Comedy writer Brad Dickson, on Twitter again: “Look for me at tomorrow night’s Husker game. Odds are good I’ll be the only one in the stadium holding a sign reading ‘Bring back Bill Callahan.’”

End of era

Former Furman University soccer player Clint Dempsey has retired, but memories of his heroic moments for the U.S. National Team will not be easily forgotten.

He chose to step away at the age of 35 this week, ending a 15-year professional career with still two months left in the MLS season. And in typical fashion he did it quietly, issuing a statement from the Seattle Sounders that focused on his decision being made with the help of his family and thanking all the coaches, players and support staff he’s worked with throughout his career.

He also thanked the fans of MLS clubs New England and Seattle and English clubs Fulham and Tottenham.

“It has always been my dream to make it as a pro. I’m grateful to have been on this ride,” stated Dempsey.

He leaves tied for most goals with the USMNT with Landon Donovan with 57 goals, but much more popular despite Donovan’s non-stop promotional stunts. Dempsey captained the USA in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, helping to lead the team to the knockout stages against Belgium.

He is the only American player to score in three different World Cups. He’s also the first American to score a hat trick in the Premier League.

Former U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller said Dempsey changed European opinions about American players having a strong work ethic but lacking skills needed by attacking players. “He actually could do something special with skill. Some of the goals that Clint scored for Fulham were truly world class.”

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Eagles hang beer-drenched, charred Super Bowl banner.”

SportsPickle.com: “Little League announces LLWS will move to new $400 million stadium in Los Angeles.”

Fark.com: “Former boxing champion Jermain Taylor arrested for trying to relive his boxing days with a woman.”

TheOnion.com: “Do the Buccaneers regret bringing in a sexual predator to mentor Jameis Winston?”

Sportspickle.com: “Ohio State should stop paying Urban Meyer his $8 million annual salary because he would never remember he’s owed any money due to memory loss.”

Fark.com: “SI admits that simply writing an article about Lane Kiffin Jr is in itself, clickbait.”

TheOnion.com: “Baseball statisticians unveil new analytics model measuring precise amount of joy they suck from the game.”

Sportspickle.com: “There are a lot of bad things in the world. But we still have the Browns. And for this we are blessed.”

Fark.com: “Serena Williams responds to the French Open’s new dress code by invoking one of her personal heroes, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.”

TheOnion.com: “Nick Foles reveals he turned down big volunteer opportunities at church to remain with Eagles.”

SportsPickle.com: “Thanks to my memory loss, I forgot how big a piece of garbage Urban Meyer is.”

TheOnion.com: “Rafael Nadal reminds self it’s called ‘football’ over there.”

Dietary advice

NBC sportscaster Al Michaels seemed slightly embarrassed when Colin Cowherd told him Friday that his wife considers Michaels physically “buttoned up.”

“That’s a guy who looks great. That’s a guy who takes care of himself,” said Cowherd, quoting his wife Ann, during Michaels’ appearance on FS1 “The Herd With Colin Cowherd.”.

“No vegetables. I’ve told you many times,” replied Michaels, 73. “I walk past a restaurant, or drive by, something called ‘The Veggie Grill’ once in a while. I get nauseous. I really do … Steak and chops, baby. Steak and potatoes. Occasionally, some fish.”

Cowherd added that his wife is vegan, so she and Michaels would never get along.

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while watching summer quickly give way to the start of the college football season:

Dotting the ‘I’

Urban Meyer has been the head football coach at Ohio State for six seasons,  forever endearing himself to Buckeye fans by winning the 2012 national championship. But that doesn’t mean he should be still coaching in Columbus this season.

Or coaching anywhere else, for that matter.

He should have forfeited that privilege when he lied at Big Ten Media Days in July after being asked about a 2015 domestic abuse incident involving assistant coach Zach Smith. If that bungled cover up wasn’t reason enough for Ohio State officials to decide to part ways with Meyer, they should have shown him the door once they learned he had erased text messages on his cell phone.

Smith was fired on July 23 and when Meyer was asked the next day about reports that Smith’s former wife, Courtney, had filed an order of protection from him in 2015, the Ohio State head coach claimed he hadn’t been aware of the incident.

A week later Meyer was placed on administrative leave after evidence that he had known came to light. He should have joined Smith in the unemployment line then. And yet Meyer is still employed by the Big Ten power, earning a $5-million salary.

Meyer compounded his error on Wednesday when he failed to apologize to Courtney Smith. He finally did that in a statement he released on Twitter on Friday when he said:

“My words and demeanor on Wednesday did not show how seriously I take relationship violence … I sincerely  apologize to Courtney Smith and her children for what they have gone through.”

It’s a little late, and you’ve got to believe that Meyer was prompted to issue the statement by his wife, Shelley. But how he really feels was demonstrated in 2015 when he protected Zach Smith’s job on his coaching staff.

It’s a pattern of behavior for Meyer, who also had other opportunities to fire Zach Smith, and never did. But hey, at least he added a morality clause to the coaching contracts after learning about Smith making trips to strip clubs while on recruiting trips and also having an affair with a department secretary.

He also had Smith on his coaching staff at Florida, and gave him a pass for a 2009 arrest for domestic violence. So he hired Smith at Ohio State knowing what he was getting.

And yet  we’re now supposed to believe Meyer has finally learned his lesson about setting the right example and demanding a higher standard for his staff and players..

Some have suggested that the three-week suspension without pay Meyer received this week will be enough to knock him off his arrogant stride; that having his reputation  smudged in such a public manner will set him straight. But that assumes Meyer even cares what anyone outside Buckeye Nation thinks about him.

Here’s a clue:  He doesn’t. I learned he doesn’t give a damn about the fans when he was coaching Florida and I was the sports editor in Tallahassee, which has a large and active Gator Club despite being home to Florida State. Meyer came to spring booster club gatherings his first two years as the UF coach, then bypassed the state capital whenever he could as he reduced the overall contact he had with fans outside of Gainesville.

He doesn’t have to make such subjective decisions about fan loyalty as coach of the Buckeyes, who essentially own the entire state. As long as he beats Michigan and has the Buckeyes contending for another NCAA title, Ohio State fans will embrace his overblown ego.

Say what?

Traded by the Miami Dolphins to the Cleveland Browns last March, wide receiver Jarvis Landry is still tasting grass and shoe leather because of the comments he made about his new team.

He stuck both cleats in his mouth when he accused Dolphins coach Adam Gase of scheduling his career funeral in Cleveland, where the Browns were 0-16 last season. “I just felt like, for some reason, Adam (Gase) sent me here to die,” he told ESPN.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection, he was traded to the Browns in return for mid-round draft picks.

Landry, who signed a five-year extension worth $75.5 million in April, said he never felt like he fit in with the Dolphins. But with Miami going 6-10, Landry did have a career-high 112 receptions for 987 yards and nine touchdowns last season.

His attitude – and the Browns’ fortunes – may have started to turn around on Thursday. Although it was just a preseason game. Cleveland beat the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles 5-0.

No, that’s not a typo.

They said it

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “AP Top 25 Preseason Poll is out and Ohio State is #5. Even Pete Rose wouldn’t bet on Urban Meyer being fired.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, perhaps referencing some NFL teams will have male cheerleaders this season: “The Buffalo Jills haven’t cheered the Bills since 2014 after doing something the NFL found egregious and way out of line for women. They asked to be paid at least minimum wage.”

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson on Twitter: “Breaking news: Urban Meyer has been suspended for almost as long as the average booth review takes.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Elon Musk’s The Boring Company wants to drill a tunnel from a subway station in East Hollywood to Dodger Stadium that would reduce an hour-long car trip to under four minutes via electric vehicle. It’s believed to be the first speed-up proposal in MLB history that might actually work.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe: “Caesar’s Palace Sports Book reports there are more bets on the Browns to win AFC North than the other three teams combined. Beam me up Scotty….”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh said he doesn’t eat chicken because it’s a nervous bird. Shame it didn’t stop his Wolverines from laying an egg last year.”

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson on Twitter, again: “If you’ve put the autographed jersey Scott Frost signed for you up for sale on eBay YOU ARE NOT A REAL FAN.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “Semiretired Chris Berman could return to ESPN in a reduced role on “SportsCenter” and NFL-related programming, the New York Post reported. In other words, Berman might be … nah, too easy.”

Comedy writer Brad Dickson, again, on Twitter: “Forget trying to speed up the game of baseball. Can somebody please figure out a way to speed up Cornhole?”

RJ Currie of Sportsdeke.com, again: “Dwight Howard, the much-travelled new Wizards forward, reportedly carries just three per cent fat on his body. Twenty per cent if you include his head.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “Election officials in Michigan are trying to ban straight-ticket voting. Critics say the tactic inevitably leads to a lazy electorate — or even worse, 22 Detroit Lions starting in the Pro Bowl.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com on a study saying that having a weak grip might signal health problems, even in children: “The good news there: Just try to get an iPad out of the grip of any 10-year-old.”

Comedian Eric Stangel on Twitter: “Going to go out on a limb here and say there’s no one better in baseball today at flying out to straightaway centerfield than Greg Bird.”

Jim Barach of jokesbyjim.blogspot.com: “FIFA’s Jose Maria Marin of Brazil has been sentenced to four years in prison for corruption. It turns out those soccer officials never use their hands either except to take sacks of bribe money.”

Comedian Eric Stangel on Twitter, again: “Matt Schaub has made over $87 million in his career. Just in case you were looking for another reason to be depressed about your life…”

Ball boys

We should have known LaVar Ball would find a way to ruin the Lithuania “vacation” he took with sons LiAngelo and LaMelo.

After agreeing to a sponsorship deal with the BC Prinai-Skycop team in the Lithuanian pro league, Ball tried to dictate how much playing time his sons received as they attempted to develop into NBA draft prospects.

When they didn’t attract the attention of NBA scouts, the two brothers headed home with their dad with two games left in the season. By then, coach Virginijus Seskus was glad to see the Balls leave – even if it did leave the team without a sponsor.

LaVar Ball blamed Seskus for the lack of skills development made by his boys. Seskus fired back, saying the Ball brothers “have no inner drive to become better.”

LiAngelo averaged 12.6 points and LaMelo averaged 6.5.

Next chapter

Tyra Buss, who led the Indiana University women’s basketball team to a WNIT championship last season, has signed a professional contract with Greece club Sporting Athens.

With her work ethic, you can be sure Buss won’t squander the opportunity to develop her skills so she can take another crack at making a WNBA roster.

“It has always been a dream of mine to play professionally and I am so grateful for this opportunity I have been given,” Buss said. “I am excited for this new journey and look forward to all the opportunities I’ll have to work on my game.”

As a senior last season, the Mt. Carmel, Illinois native averaged 20.6 points and 4.7 assists while leading the NCAA in minutes played at 40.0 per game.

She also was the WNIT’s most valuable player and finished her college career as IU’s all-time leader in seven categories, including points scored (2,364), assists (574) and steals (293).

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Andrew Luck vows to bring Indianapolis another great pizza ad.”

SportsPickle.com: “Joe Flacco’s career won’t last much longer. Please treasure every hilarious moment.”

@NinjaEonomics: “LeBron James to lose to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals instead of the NBA Finals.”

Fark.com: “Baseball fights are still stupid, awful and extremely watchable.”

SportsPickle.com: “Stop feeling bad for Tyrod Taylor. Now he will never have to play quarterback in a real game for the Browns. Tonight saved his career. #blessed.”

TheOnion.com: “Nation would be totally fine just doing World Series now.”

Fark.com: “Jon Stewart could lose backup Giants RB job, may have to return to hosting show on Comedy Central.”

SportsPickle.com: “Let he who roots for a Big Ten program that has not had its own disgusting scandal cast the first stone.” – Legends and Leaders 10:16.”

TheOnion.com: “Doctors clear Ben Roethlisberger for unwanted contact.”

Fark.com: “Virginia teen doing pullups monopolizes squat rack for 20 hours.”

@NinaEconomics: “Nobody wants to deliver the paper anymore. Which is great since nobody wants to receive it.”

Fark.com: The New York Knicks fan has given up hope on his team so he sells his soul to highest bidder.”

Bears watching

Chris Zorich deserves credit for having the confidence he can make a difference as the athletic director at tiny Chicago State.

Given a three-year contract with a base salary of $135,000, Zorich is overseeing a school that spent just $5.5 million on 13 Division 1 programs in 2016. The school earned less than $3,000 in ticket revenue.

Having made his name in football as a player at Notre Dame and with the Chicago Bears, his first challenge at Chicago State was to hire men’s and women’s basketball coaches, which he did with the recent introductions of Lance Irvin and Misty Opat. The two coaches take over programs that have gone 21-107 and 9-108 since 2014-15.

But Zorich is undeterred after coming off an encouraging three years as AD at Prairie State. He’s determined to make a difference, even if the school doesn’t have a football program and is still facing financial and academic issues.

“I didn’t take this blindly,” Zorich said. “All I know is what I’ve read in the newspaper — and there were some crazy things written in the paper. I want to change that. I want people to know we’re open for business.”

It’s not the first adversity he has faced in his life. Each time he’s been counted out, he’s battled back. He credits the guidance he received from his mother, Zora, as he grew up facing poverty and gang violence before getting a football scholarship at Notre Dame.

“If not for athletics, I’m not sure where we’d be,” he says.

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11

  • Time to revise your NFL predictions after what may be the greatest preseason upset based on last season: winless Cleveland beats champions Philadelphia. But yeah, neither team scored a TD in Browns 5-0 win.
  • French Open is imposing a dress code. No superhero costumes allowed, which means Serena Williams can no longer live her cat woman fantasy.
  • Isn’t it nice to know Ohio State’s 3-Game suspension of Urban Meyer won’t leave the Buckeyes at a disadvantage for any Big Ten games that matter. Rutgers? That game has already been won by OSU hasn’t it?
  • Urban may need to adopt nickname Houdini
  • Pharoh Cooper, whose Twitter handle is

@KingTutt_chdown, got some love with sideline interview on NFL Network during
Rams 19-15 win over Raiders. Not bad for guy who caught 2 passes for negative
yardage,

  • Evansville’s Bosse Field claims to be 3rd oldest pro baseball stadium in operation behind Wrigley and Fenway. But Bosse opened in 1915 and Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Ala., opened in 1910. The Birmingham Barons still play there once a year, so put an asterisk on Bosse’s claim.

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while noting that dozens of high schools nationwide have announced they are dropping football because of low participation numbers. And so, the soccer revolution finally begins, right?:

Flurry of Aces

Some girls have all the luck.

Scotland’s Ali Gibb, who now lives in London, won the 36-hole Ladies Club Championship at Crohum Hurst Golf Club on Thursday when she compiled a two-day score of 163, following up her first round 81 with a closing 82.

But the bigger news is that she had three hole-in-ones on par-3 holes during the tournament in South Croydon outside London. She owned the 144-yard No. 5 hole twice and also aced the 190-yard No. 11, according to Golf.com’s Sean Zak.

The chances of an average golfer coming away with a hole-in-one in an 18-hole round is estimated at 12,500 to one, but three in 36 holes? Or three in five hours? The best guesstimate a Cambridge mathematician could offer was “in excess of 160 million to one,” according to the Sun.

We also should mention that she defended her title, but it wasn’t so easily done despite the three aces. On back-to-back holes that bridged the two rounds, she needed 17 strokes – giving her something to agonize over.

“On my card I had a nine, two eights, sixes, fives, fours, three, twos and three ones,” said Gibb, who began playing golf 25 years ago when she was invited to a corporate outing.

The 51-year-old amateur had previously aced the 151-yard No. 7 hole and also had pocketed two other hole-in-ones in her outings since 2009. But three in two rounds and three in one tournament?

“The club gives out a bottle of Champagne for every hole-in-one, so they gave me three,” she said. “We had a great night. It was just a weird, weird day.”

“My mother scored a hole-in-one at St Andrews in sixties,” she said. “So I guess it runs in the family.”

If it does, she’s taken it to a new level with a half-dozen in less than 10 years.

Marlins 101

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has reported that the Marlins have implemented an educational program for players and staff that is designed to create better communication and camaraderie.

It’s simple, really. If you speak English, you’ll be learning Spanish. And if you speak Spanish, you’ll be learning English.

No one gets off the hook. Not even Marlins part owner and CEO Derek Jeter.

“Everybody expects the Latin players to make an effort to speak English,” said Jeter. “Well, especially here in Miami, if you don’t speak Spanish, you don’t fit in. I think it’s important.”

The Marlins are also tutoring their younger players on budgeting, shopping and cooking.

But if the Marlins aren’t going to go shopping for veteran talent, the pressure is on manager Don Mattingly and his coaching staff to teach the young Marlins how to win. And that’s going to take a considerable investment in time.

They said it

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Browns rookie QB Baker Mayfield reportedly told Hard Knocks they couldn’t film inside his motorhome. To some guys an RV is prime wheel estate.”

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson on Twitter: If you aren’t planning to cash in your IRA or 401K early and take the penalty in order to afford more “Frost Warning” T-shirts YOU ARE NOT A REAL FAN.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Aug. 4 marked the 25th anniversary of White Sox hitter Robin Ventura charging the mound and taking a pummeling after Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan put him in a headlock and delivered a series of quick punches upside the noggin. It’s believed to be the only bobblehead night in baseball history in which no dolls were given away.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe: “Bud Light will be giving out free beer at 10 Cleveland-area bars when the Browns win their first regular-season game. Prompting the obvious question – so how long can beer age?”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: “The NFL preseason opened with the Ravens beating the Bears 17-16 in the annual Hall of Who Cares game.”

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson on Twitter, again: “I was expecting the following first question at the Brooks Koepka presser after winning the PGA: ‘Can you get me Tiger Woods’ autograph?’ ”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “Antonio Callaway turned a short pass into a 54-yard TD in the Browns’ exhibition opener, just days after the rookie receiver was pulled over and cited for marijuana possession. Just one question: If the cops can catch him, why can’t the New York Giants?”

Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot, trying to look on the bright side of Johnny Manziel throwing four interceptions in his CFL debut: “That did give him an opportunity to make two tackles.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “Death Valley, Calif. recorded the hottest month on record with an average of 108 degrees in July. Though Urban Meyer’s seat at Ohio State already is threatening to break it.”

Hoops pioneers

Lindsey Harding is the latest former WNBA player to join the coaching staff on an NBA team after the Philadelphia 76ers hired her as a full-time scout for the 2018-19 season.

Harding joins three other women making inroads in the NBA – San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon, Dallas Mavericks assistant Jenny Boucek and Los Angeles Clippers assistant Natalie Nakase.

“Your gender shouldn’t even matter,” Harding said. “It should be about if you can do it, if you’re good, you’re experienced, if you know what you’re doing and what you’re talking about.”

Harding was the WNBA’s No. 1 overall pick in 2007, but retired after last summer after nine seasons with six teams. Harding told ESPN her goal is to parlay her scouting position into a coaching or front office job in the NBA.

“I would love to be in the front office and really understand how to put a team together,” Harding said. “I still love being on the floor and having the opportunity to coach. But I really just wanted to get my foot in the door.”

Cutting edge

Cleveland Browns safety Jabrill Peppers, who played for suspended Maryland head coach DJ Durkin when he was the defensive coordinator at Michigan: “His tactics were different. It felt extreme a times … I thought once he became a head coach that he would calm down a little bit, become more of a people person, a player’s coach.”

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson on Twitter: “I know. To really punish Urban Meyer make him the new head coach at Maryland.”

Serena Williams on how she reacted after coach Patrick Mouratoglou told her a few months ago she needed to put tennis first and quit breastfeeding her daughter Alexis, who was born last September: “He’s not a woman, he doesn’t understand that connection, that the best time of the day for me was when I tried to feed her. I’ve spent my whole life making everyone happy, just servicing it seems like everyone. And this is something I wanted to do.”

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “Urban Meyer would tell you anything just to get through the next 5 minutes of the press conference. It didn’t matter if it was true or not…he’s probably the most disingenuous coach I’ve ever covered.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: A sure sign the Montreal Alouettes already consider this a lost CFL season? The Als gift shop is selling cushions in the shape of a toilet seat.

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, again: “SF 49ers now say there’s nothing they can do about the intense sun & heat faced by fans on east side of Levi’s Stadium. But they will lower the price of bottled water from $6 to $2 so fans can stay hydrated. The NFL equivalent of ‘thoughts and prayers.’”

Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg: “Swimmer Ryan Lochte has been banned for a year after posting a picture of himself getting injected with a performance-enhancing substance. The number of Olympic medals Lochte has is 12. The exact same number of his IQ score.”

Unruly changes

ESPN the Magazine’s Steve Etheridge provided “The Unwritten Rules of Baseball – Written” in a recent column. My top five favorites:

  • Don’t hit a home run if they opposing team has already hit a home run. Find your own thing.
  • If a pitcher hits a batter with a pitch, he has asserted his dominance and is now the father of the batter’s children.
  • If a bunt is rolling down the line teetering between fair and foul, do not use a leaf blower to change the ball’s trajectory in your favor.
  •  Never question why your uniforms have belts. Just go with it.
  •  If it’s been a while since the third-base coach had gotten to do the “Run home!” windmill gesture, call timeout and let him go wild for a minute or two.

Minor accomplishment

According to Seattle Times’ Dwight Perry in his Sideline Chatter column, two pairs of minor league baseball teammates, Gio Brusa and Jalen Miller of the Class A San Jose Giants, and Kevin Newman and Jacob Stallings of the AAA Indianapolis Indians, have managed to hit for the cycle this season in the same game. That’s a remarkable accomplishment – even more so since no MLB teammates have ever done it.

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Should the MLB ban infield shapeshifting.”

SportsPickle.com: “Nick Foles looks bad. Time to end this experiment and return him to his natural position of wide receiver.”

Fark.com: “Kobe Bryant must be good at investing, where a $6 million investment turns into $200 million.”

SportsPickle.com: “It’s time for the NFL to ban shots to the head in training camp fights.”

TheOnion.com: “Bill Belichick announces this final season he will coach in current mortal form.”

Fark.com: “You’re 3-12 this season, and your  opponent’s first batter is a hot rookie who has homered in 5 consecutive games. What do you do?”

TheOnion.com: “If Urban Meyer didn’t want to get up in an abuse scandal, why was he hanging around college football.”

SportsPickle.com: “Being placed on paid administrative leave is the American Dream. Congratulations to Urban Meyer and DJ Durkin.”

TheOnion.com: “Scouts highly doubtful Tim Tebow will ever make it to heaven.”

Fark.com: “Ryan Tannehill kicks rookie RB out of Dolphins’ huddle, forces him to eat lunch by himself.”

Tortoise torture?

No one can accuse Maryland interim head football coach Matt Canada of being a cruel and heartless taskmaster.

”The focus of our player’s health and safety is No. 1, and our players are feeling that and understanding that,” Canada said Wednesday.

Yeah, good job reading the tea leaves, Matt.

Canada is seemingly taking credit for having two tents installed at the Terrapins’ practice fields to provide relief for players needing to escape the heat, take a drink, get some ice and cool off in front of misting fans. Most practices are also now limited to two hours.

Of course, school officials mandated such corrective actions after the death from heat exhaustion of freshman offensive lineman Jordan McNair.

McNair collapsed on May 29 while running 110-yard sprints and no one on the training staff immediately diagnosed him with heat exhaustion. Thus, the treatment protocols that might have saved him – fluids and ice – weren’t provided in a timely manner. He died in the hospital on June 13.

With former players and athletic staff leveling accusations that suspended head coach DJ Durkin had a “toxic environment” in his program, the university’s athletic department will be sliced and diced under the microscope for the foreseeable future. There’s no way Durkin isn’t fired after an independent investigation is completed.

Already Durkin’s choice of strength coach, Rick Court, has been forced to resign – if you can consider it a resignation when someone receives a $300,000 parting gift.

Durkin and Court should be joined in the unemployment line by University of Maryland President Wallace Loh, who chose one year ago to reject a plan that would have had all athletic trainers receiving training and guidance from the UM medical school in Baltimore.

Friendly fire

When Furman University serves as the sacrificial lamb for Dabo Swinney’s powerhouse Clemson program on Sept. 1, Paladins’ quarterback Harris Roberts could be staring into the familiar faces of a classmate or two.

There may even be a few Clemson students in the stands cheering him on if he steps on the field.

When Roberts chose to play football at Furman, he knew that in order to accomplish his academic goals that he would have to enroll in a cooperative educational exchange program that would allow him to obtain a mechanical engineering degree at Clemson.

So after earning his pre-engineering degree at Furman in three years, he took aim at receiving a second bachelor’s degree from Clemson, which is 30 miles away.

“The drive back and forth sometimes gets a little monotonous,” said Roberts. “That takes a lot of time out of the day that I could use for studying for class, studying film or taking a nap. Being able to manage my time is the most difficult part, but it’s been going well.”

According to sports information director Hunter Reid, Roberts would be the first Furman player enrolled in the co-op program at Clemson in at least 30 years who is on track to play against the Tigers.

Follow the DNA

For now, the days of David Stockton dribbling in his dad’s footprints are over after he was waived by the Utah Jazz.

The son of Hall of Fame guard John Stockton finished the 2017-18 season with the Jazz but only played three games as a backup. Like his father, David also played in college at Gonzaga, helping add to the Zags’ NCAA tournament history.

Stockton, who spent most of the past four years playing for the Reno Bighorns of the NBA G League, plans to play for Medi Bayreuth in Germany this season. His older brother Michael has played for several German teams.

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11

  • In addition to being an alleged serial wife abuser, former Ohio State assistant Zach Smith reportedly had sex in coaches offices with a OSU staffer and also took photos of his genitalia, including possibly during visit to White House in 2015. Hey, he was an OFFENSIVE assistant.
  • newarena.com‘s Top 5 NFL quaraterbacks:
    1. Tom Brady, Patriots; 2. Aaron Rodgers, Packers; 3. Drew Brees, Saints; 4. Carson Wentz, Eagles; 5. Russell Wilson, Seahawks.
  • So, Eagles’ Nick Foles isn’t one of the 32 best QBs in NFL in listing by http://newarena.com? He’s just the returning
    Super Bowl MVP even if he did chose to be Carson Wentz’s backup. Foles led Eagles to win over Patriots and Tom Brady, who is No. 1 on list.
  • Marlins are taking a bilingual approach to baseball, requiring English-speaking players to learn Spanish and Spanish-speaking players to learn English. But wHich language does Taiwan pitcher Wei-Yin Chen speak?
  • IU’s Lilly King finished 2nd to fellow American Micah Sumrall in 200m breaststroke at Pan Pacific swimming Sunday. The Evansville native had .05 lead at 100m but finished .71 hundredths behind her U.S. rival, posting final time of 1:08.88.

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while continuing to be amazed by Brooks Koepeka’s masterful display of golf since bouncing back from a wrist injury that kept him out of The Masters:

Big Ten Turmoil

Ohio State’s Urban Meyer has a new contender for the hottest preseason seat in college football. Maryland’s third-year head coach D.J. Durkin could have even moved closer to the exit door, based on a Friday report by ESPN.

The Buckeyes’ Meyer has been accused of protecting former receivers coach Zach Smith for years despite multiple domestic abuse incidents, and then perhaps lying about it. Meanwhile, Durkin has been accused of abusing players verbally and physically while operating a toxic culture at Maryland.

The scrutiny has only gotten more serious after offensive lineman Jordan McNair, 19, died of heat stroke in June during a team conditioning workout.

Two current Maryland players only agreed to be interviewed off the record by ESPN because they fear repercussions from Durkin and Rick Count, the strength and conditioning coach. But both have had their allegations supported by multiple former players and current and former athletic department staff members.

Defensive lineman Malik Jones, who transferred to Toledo after last season, said he and Durkin got into an altercation after Durkin accused him of “bad-mouthing the program” and encouraged him to leave.

“I’m not going to let a guy bully me,” said Jones. “… He called me a b—- and stuff like that. I’m not going to tolerate that.”

One former staff member told ESPN that he would “never, ever, ever allow my child to be coached there.”

There are allegations of constant verbal abuse and physical intimidation of players.

Court is alleged to have cursed players and attempted to punish some by forcing them to lift more weight than they’re capable of handling.

“He’s just a ball of testosterone all the time,” one player told ESPN. “He’ll single people out he doesn’t like, which is a common practice here. Guys are run off … He’s kind of Durkin’s tool to accomplish that.”

Multiple members of the Maryland football support staff were placed on administrative leave on Friday amid an investigation into the circumstances surrounding McNair’s death. But according to the Baltimore Sun, Durkin is still expected to be the Terps’ coach this season.

It’s hard to see how that can be possible, though, if the allegations against Durkin prove to be true.

Bearing down

Brendon Morphet may have lost the marathon, but at least he lived to tell about it.

He also came away with a pretty good story after two grizzly bears got in his way during the closing stretch of the Yukon River Trail Marathon in Whitehorse, Canada.

Morphet said he rounded a corner in the third leg of the marathon near Chadburn Lake when he encountered two grizzlies, which weren’t about to get out of his way. When they started moving toward him, Morphet retreated. He ran into a couple of runners who were participating in the relay portion of the event and another marathoner, Denise McHale. McHale was in second place at that point.

After asking the other three runners why they were retreating, McHale chose to keep going forward. It turned out to be the smart move. The grizzlies had moved on, clearing the path for her to win the marathon for the second time in 10 years. She won the 2009 race in 3:18.34. her time this year was 3:34.52.

McHale also has had top four finishes in 2016 (3), 2015 (4), 2013 (3) and 2011 (4).

“He kind of got ripped off a little bit,” McHale said of Morphet.

Morphet, who had led by about 15 minutes, clocked a second-place time of 3:26.51. He also finished second in 2017.

Ken Sylvestre, the director of the race, said runners are forewarned that they can encounter bears on the trails and that no race times are adjusted for such unexpected detours or roadblocks.

“Well, it’s a wilderness race,” Sylvestre told CBS News. “There are bears. We’ve had bears before.”

They said it

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson on Twitter: “At last report Urban Meyer was huddling with his closest loved ones – BTN analysts and play-by-play men.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: Two brothers in New Jersey uncovered five rare Mickey Mantle baseball cards. Even better, they didn’t find them clipped next to the spokes on their old bicycle.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Police at the Tour de France using tear gas on protestors accidentally sprayed several cyclists. The protestors cried; the cyclists asked for something stronger.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe: “QB Chazz Surratt was one of 13 UNC Carolina football players suspended up to 4 games this season for selling school-issued, special-edition Nike Jordan shoes. So are the Tar Heels now a big-time football program?”

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson on Twitter, again, when there was a lull at Big Ten Media Days: “Rutgers is up at the podium, so everybody breaks for lunch.”

NBC comedian Seth Myers: “The NFL’s Arizona Cardinals have launched a new competition where fans can win a team jersey and get their photo on the scoreboard if they eat a burger consisting of five patties, five hot dogs, five bratwursts, eight slices of bacon, eight chicken tenders, 12 ounces of fries, lettuce, pickles, sauce, and 20 slices of cheese in under an hour. Said one fan, “Ugh, lettuce?”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: “Ravens rookie QB Lamar Jackson took a serious shot near the sidelines in the Hall of Fame Game. He was hit so hard it knocked both the chips off his shoulders.”

Bob Molinaro of pilotonline.com: “I was surprised to hear last week that Washington Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg was turning 30. Seems like just the other day the big righty was a gangly kid appearing on his first disabled list.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, again: “Johnny Manziel threw four first-half interceptions for the Montreal Alouettes in his first CFL game. So Johnny’s auditioning to get back with the Cleveland Browns?”

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: “What’s better. to be through the roof or off the charts? Off the grid or under the radar? Underrated or overserved? Over-exposed or half-baked?”

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson, again on Twitter: How good have the Huskers looked so far in practice according to the coaches? Try this on for size: “Super Bowl contenders.

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “Star receiver Antonio Brown arrived at Steelers training camp in a helicopter. Holdout RB Le’Veon Bell, not to be outdone, immediately booked a Brinks truck.”

Nebraska football coach Scott Frost on his team’s wide-open QB competition: “Have you ever played Monopoly? Everybody’s on Go right now.”

Brad Rock of Salt Lake City’s Deseret News, after Stanford  RB Bryce Love skipped the Pac-12’s media day because of academics: “Ute fans are already telling him, ‘Don’t forget the Oct. 6 Stanford-Utah game will be during midterms!’ ”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “Sean Newcomb and Trea Turner have joined Josh Hader as MLB players who’ve had years-old offensive tweets suddenly revisited. Just guessing they’re no longer big fans of instant replay.”

LeVar Ball, insisting the L.A. Lakers are still his son Lonzo’s team, despite the arrival of LeBron James: “You can say what you want, but we know what it is. I told you, Lonzo didn’t go to Cleveland. LeBron came here to L.A. We already over here.”

CBS comedian James Corden on news HBO is picking up LeBron James’ Barbershop concept talk show that airs on his digital network Uninterrupted: “Apparently, LeBron’s talk show is going to be him and four random guests you may or may not have heard of. You know, like when he plays basketball.”

Tired of winning

Does President Trump believe that as Commander in Chief, his rule and authority goes beyond being the figurehead leader of our military? And does he realize that such a position of privilege doesn’t give him the authority to order the rest of us to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, sing “God Bless America” or not kneel for the “Star Spangled Banner?”

Because, seriously, he’s just the President. No one appointed him Commissioner of the NFL.

Yet, he was back to binge Tweeting in recognition of the NFL opening its preseason Thursday night.

He once again wrote a lot of meaningless gibberish and then signed off with this gem: “… Stand proudly for your National Athem or be Suspended Without Pay!”

I don’t believe he knows the words to any of those exercises of patriotism, and I suggest we make that a future test before we allow any president-elect put their hand on a Bible.

For all Trump’s bluster, only a couple of players kneeled during the playing of the National Anthem Thursday night, while a few raised their fists in protest of social injustice.

Meanwhile, Trump continues his attempts to distract from the destructive policies of his administration and the acts of corruption that line the pockets of him and his cronies.

If this is what it feels like to win, then yeah, I’m tired of winning.

Unintended tragedy

It’s tragic the way Sandor Szabo lost his life. But it’s also criminal the way Jamill Jones reacted after Szabo, allegedly drunk, started banging on car windows.

Jones, an assistant basketball coach at Wake Forest, didn’t intend to kill Szabo with the punch he threw. I think we can believe that much. But the unintended reality is that’s what happened when Szabo fell backward and hit his head. The punch knocked him out and he never regained consciousness.

The incident happened last Sunday night in New York. Szabo was taken off life support  Tuesday. Jones turned himself in Thursday, and Wake Forest placed Jones on leave Friday.

Based on eyewitness reports, police state Szabo, 35, was confronted by Jones, also 35, after Szabo banged on his window. Jones got out of his car, punched the Floridian, and then sped off. Witnesses believe an inebriated Szabo was trying to locate a Uber driver.

His death has been ruled a homicide caused by blunt impact to his head.

Headlines

Sportspickle.com: “Space Force is getting crushed by the Cleveland Browns. Not a great start for our space troops.”

TheOnion.com: “Terry Francona still amazed people think managing baseball hard in any way.”

Fark.com: “Baseball player catches heat for old tweets. Not a repeat from … wait, how many of these have we done now?”

Sportspickle.com: “Brandon Weeden is 9-for-11 tonight with 2 TDs. The Browns wouldn’t have needed to draft Mayfield No. 1 overall if they had kept Weeden.”

TheOnion.com: “Will new NFL Player Safety rules ruin football injuries.”

Fark.com: “Madden 19 will allow you to relive the glory of the San Diego Chargers.”

Sportspickle.com: “LeBron James became the best in his field, a billionaire, a worldwide brand, opened a (real) school – – and did it all without getting a loan from his father. Clearly he’s a dumb guy.”

TheOnion.com: “Can Carmelo Anthony help Rockets clean up around the arena after games?”

Fark.com: “Patriots to add $5 million in incentives to Tom Brady’s contract, including a bonus for catching a football while wide open.”

Sportspickle.com: “Look, if LeBron James really cared about people, he would have cured cancer. Until he does, I don’t want to hear about him.”

Belated congrats

Indiana University swimmer Lilly King keeps racking up the medals, winning gold in the 100-meter breaststroke at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championship in Tokyo Thursday.

The reigning Olympic gold medalist and world-record holder in the event, King posted a time of 1:05.44 — the second fastest in the world this year.

And the best thing about the senior from Evansville, Indiana is that she doesn’t seem to care about anything but the joy of winning. The medals she claims are willingly shared with young fans.

Gone too soon

Australian golfer Jarrod Lyle lost his battle with leukemia at the age of 36 Thursday after he stopped treatment last week.

He leaves behind wife Briony and children Lusi, 6, and Jemmi, 2. He died at home in Melbourne.

Lyle elected palliative care on August 1 after acute myeloid leukemia returned for a third time beginning at 17.

“He asked that I provide a simple message: ‘Thanks for your support, it meant the world,” said Briony. “My time was short, but if I’ve helped people think and act on behalf of those families who suffer through cancer, hopefully it wasn’t wasted’.”

Fantasy 101

I’m no longer in a Fantasy Football League, but if I were I’d insists on having a starting lineup that I promise wouldn’t change unless there was an injury or a bye week.

Here’s my lineup: Quarterback – Drew Brees, Saints; Running backs – Saquan Barkley, Giants, Christian McCaffrey, Panthers; Wide receivers – T.Y. Hilton, Colts, Alshon Jeffrey, Eagles; Tight end – Jack Doyle, Colts; Kicker – Ryan Succop, Titans; Defense – Texans.

I figure that should be enough to score  60 points each week in a old school league. You know, back when Joe Montana was still hooking up with Freddie Solomon and Dwight Clark.

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while growing tired of the other fake news problem in this country – advertorial content accompanied by misleading headlines that  link to clickbait:

Dollar-bill defense

Five former University of Louisville basketball players have filed suit against the NCAA because they allege their reputations have been sullied for having played for former coach Rick Pitino.

OK, that’s not actually the basis for their lawsuit – even if it probably should be the main thrust of their argument.

Technically, the lawsuit accuses the NCAA of smearing the reputations of all the ‘Ville players and casting them in a false light as a result of Stripper Gate. Their hope is to have the Cardinals’ 2013 national championship restored along with 123 wins from four seasons and any individual honors that were stripped away because of an escort scandal.

The players are arguing that the NCAA was too harsh in its punishment even if there were strippers in the basketball dorm on a regular basis hooking up with some of their teammates and recruits.

Former players Luke Hancock, Gorgui Dieng, Stephen Van  Treese, Tim Henderson and Michael Marra claim they didn’t participate or know about the sex parties. But they would have to successfully plead a “Choir Boy” Defense in order to win their case.

Hancock was named the most outstanding player of the Final Four that year but insists he did not participate in any of the shenanigans arranged by basketball staffer Andre McGee through escort Katrina Powell. But it’s been well documented that there were strippers on the premises, and that’s where it gets problematic for Hancock and Co.

For the NCAA to impose sanctions for rules violations, not every player on a team has to be found guilty of receiving extra benefits.

There’s a reason why Louisville was stripped of the 2013 national championship, 123 wins and millions of dollars. And there’s also reasons why Pitino is no longer the Cardinals’ coach and Tom Jurich is no longer the athletic director at Louisville.

Guilty or not, Hancock should be content that the NCAA also hasn’t taken away that championship ring he is still wearing. He needs to hold on to  his memories and do his best to put the scandal in the past.

Perspective is everything

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was recently asked how he “endured” the death of his wife Erin a few months back and all the frustrations he faced as a coach last season, including a seventh-place finish in the NBA’s Western Conference and a first-round exit in the playoffs.

“When you say we’ve endured, this is basketball,” said Pops, arguably the most politically and socially aware coach of this generation. “We’re playing a child’s game and getting paid for it. If you look at what’s going on in the world, there are billions of people enduring. We aren’t enduring anything.”

Popovich is active in numerous charities, humanitarian causes and social justice issues. He’s also the longest tenured coach in the NBA, posting 21 consecutive winning seasons and leading San Antonio to five league championships.

They said it

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: “Rams running back Todd Gurley’s new deal includes $45 million in guaranteed money. Or about $9 million per fumble.”

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson on Twitter: ‘This is impressive: many of Urban Meyer’s former players at Florida are planning to rally to his defense after they make parole.’

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley finished dead last at the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament, but at least his wild tee shots were memorable. The words ‘get down’ hadn’t been uttered this much since the disco era.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe: “Cowboys’ QB Dak Prescott says NFL anthem protests take away ‘from the joy and the love that football brings.” But hey, maybe the CTE will help players forget.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Here’s a disturbing thought: If NFL wideout Dez Bryant signs with Chicago, we may have to call him Bear Bryant.”

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson on Twitter: “Tanner Farmer just predicted the Husker football team will win a gold medal and the America’s Cup. Stay tuned for more on this breaking story.”

Comedian Steve Hofstettler on Twitter: “I’m in favor of sending Dennis Rodman to North Korea. Either he helps over there or he gets executed. Win-win.”

 Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel after Aaron Gordon said signing his four-year, $76 million dollar contract with the Magic “brought tears to my eyes: “The first confirmed case of someone who actually was crying all the way to the bank.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, again: “Even fans of the 1962 Mets are beginning to think the 2018 Mets really suck.”

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson, again on Twitter: “Nebraska is about to begin fall football practice. The only people in full pads today will be several super gung ho fans.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “Detroit and Cleveland came in Nos. 1 and 3 in Wallethub.com’s latest ratings of America’s most distressed cities. People cheer for the Lions and Browns there. Any more questions?”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: Rangers pitcher Bartolo Colon will likely end the season as Latin America’s winningest pitcher. With that waistline, it’s clear he’s had no trouble finding the plate.”

Former Duke, Florida and South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier on his zero-tolerance rule for domestic abuse: “I think it should be a rule in all of college football.”

Dog days

Newarena.com released its list of “Greatest College Running Backs of All-time” and Georgia fans should be barking up a storm. Yep, Herschel Walker came out on top even after all these years.

After all,  the “Grand Dog of All” is a who’s who of running backs with Barry Sanders of Oklahoma State coming in second, Ron Dayne of Wisconsin finishing third, Archie Griffin of Ohio State claiming fourth and Ricky Williams of Texas at No. 5.

You knew Williams was good because he always left a trail of smoke, right?

I won’t reveal the complete the list of great backs but it includes 30 overall, and while you can argue the order they appear, Newarena.com didn’t overlook all-time greats like (7) Red Grange of Illinois or  (19) Jim Thorpe of Carlisle.

We should also note that No. 10 on the list is Doak Walker of Southern Methodist, the 1948 Heisman Trophy winner whose name you should recognize because the award for the nation’s top running back is named after him.

As for Walker, he had a 16-year career in the USFL and NFL after rushing for 5,239 yards and 76 touchdowns at Georgia, led the Bulldogs to the 1980 national title and won  the 1982 Heisman Trophy.

End is near

And then there’s this from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Latest sign that the apocalypse is nearly upon us: Bryce Love, Stanford’s Heisman-worthy running back, chose staying back at school to go to class over an appearance at Pac-12 Football Media Day.”

Headlines

SportsPickle.com: “I know it’s hard to compare eras in sports, but Ty Cobb would have broken all MLB records for racist and homophobic tweets.”

Fark.com: “Ronaldo scores rare “shoulder goal” in first week of training with Juventus. My god, he might be better than Tebow.”

TheOnion.com: “Neil deGrasse Tyson debunks stadium’s home run animation depicting ball launching into the stratosphere.”

SportsPickle.com: “Okay, so other than Penn State, Michigan State and Ohio State, the Big Ten seems like it’s good people.”

Fark.com: “A 10-year-old named Clark Kent beat a record that Michael Philps held for 23 years. No word if his mom is named Martha.”

SportsPickle.com: “Congratulations to 2019 Alabama offensive coordinator Urban Meyer!”

Fark.com: “Washington Nationals beat the Mets by three touchdowns, 25-4.”

SportsPickle.com: “How does Jim Harbaugh feel about John Harbaugh coaching a team named after a bird?”

Fark.com: “Looks like Ohio State is about to have another coaching legend get canned.”

 Timing, timing

The Ohio-based eatery Bob Evans Restaurants has “fired” Urban Meyer as its “head breakfast coach.” Knowing that, can the real punishment be far behind for Ohio State’s suspended football coach?

The chain recently signed a marketing deal with Meyer, who has been suspended by the university amid reports that he knew about domestic abuse incidents between former assistant coach Zach Smith and his wife.

In a statement from the restaurant chain, it was announced: “We are suspending the current partnership with Urban Meyer and removing all related content pending the results of the official Ohio State University investigation.”

Meyer is on paid administrative leave, but his contract does provide provision for him to be fired by the school for conduct, including lying to the university.

At the recent Big Ten Conference media days, Meyer admitted that he knew of a 2009 incident between Smith and his then-wife when he hired him as a receivers coach in 2012, but Meyer insists he did not know about any other incidents of domestic abuse, including a 2015 incident.

European rehab

If Meyer is fired or forced out in Columbus, maybe he can start a new life for himself in Europe as former Baylor coach Art Briles has chosen to do.

Briles is going to coach in Italy after a nearly two-year exile for his mishandling of multiple sexual assault allegations by numerous players from 2009 to 2016.

Now Briles is going to coach an American football team in Florence, Italy – although the season won’t begin until March.

Meanwhile, in the past week Briles’ attorneys turned over nearly 4,000 pages of documents and six audio recordings to lawyers representing 10 women in a Title IX lawsuit against the university because of the handling of the sexual assault charges. After all the delays and denials he and his staff made for years, Briles has now told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he in hindsight he “would have done more.”

Baylor should be required to do more too. They certainly went beyond the call of duty in their cleaning house of Briles and former president Ken Starr. Yes, that Ken Starr.

As part of its settlement with Briles, Baylor paid the former football coach more than $15 million – his contract had included a $39 million buyout. The school also gave Starr  more than $4 million to get him to step away as chancellor. Then it gave him a job teaching in its law school.

What a country!

Now Briles is going to work in a country where many believe it’s merely recreational sport to harass women and pinch butts.

Last word

Shaquille O’Neal started a buzz in L.A. by suggesting that Kobe Bryant was considering coming out of retirement to wrap up his career with a better ending while playing with LeBron James.

Only one problem. Shaq should have talked to Kobe’s wife Vanessa.

Vanessa Bryant has since made it clear that Kobe’s days of basketball are most confined to him coaching his girls and shooting hoops for fun – mostly alone.

“Kobe will not be coming out of retirement to play again,” she said. “He doesn’t want to play again and frankly we really enjoy spending time together as a family without all the crazy game schedule conflicts interfering with birthdays, holidays and special events.”

Bryant, 39, was slowed by injuries the last few years of his career, playing in just 107 games the last three seasons. But he did win an Academy Award for best film short, “Dear Basketball” in 2018, so he’s already accomplished in a second career.

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while pulling for my favorite swimmer, Indiana’s  Lilly King, to continue her 50 and 100 meter breaststroke dominance this weekend at nationals:

Home, sweet, home

South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp, who says spending time at five Southeastern Conference schools, gives him a unique perspective, is obviously a little biased toward his current employer.

The Gamecocks are just putting the finishing touches on their new football operations building, so he had reason to strut like a proud rooster during his appearance at the SEC Media Days in Atlanta last week. The football ops building is 110-square feet of magnificence, which is a $50-million investment in the program.

“It’s been a difference-maker for us in our program,” said Muschamp, a former Georgia player who has coached at Auburn, LSU, Florida and South Carolina. “People have asked me all of the time: ‘You guys really seem like you’re recruiting well.’ When you invest in the student-athletes, like we are doing now in South Carolina and we’ve never done before, wholeheartedly with the football program, it makes a difference … It’s going to be a lot of fun moving forward.”

While things appear to be on the upswing athletically, the Gamecocks are already near the top of the collegiate world academically. South Carolina’s football program was first in the SEC in graduation rate and third in the nation last year and the team finished with a spring semester cumulative GPS of 2.87, which is third highest in school history.

“We represent 27 different majors on our campus on our football team,” said Muschamp. “That’s impressive. I worked at some institutions in this league that had about two.”

Sounds about right.

$70-million man

Well, that seals the deal.

Nick Saban will have the rest of us to kick around for at least another seven seasons.

Alabama has announced the Crimson Tide head football coach has agreed to a contract extension through the 2025 season. His base salary this fall will be $7.5 million and will automatically increase by $400,000 annually.  He’ll also received $800,000 bonus payments at the end of  the 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 seasons. That means that by the time he walks away from Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Feb. 28, 2026, Saban will be have pocketed approximately another $70 million, even if he doesn’t win another title.

Pays to be good

Speaking of salaries, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, isn’t doing too poorly himself. He just had the Board of Trustees sign off on a 5-year deal that will pay him a total of $11.6 million, not counting bonuses.

As it is, he will earn $2,2 million this season, which is a half-million dollar raise from 2017. Not bad for coaching a little ball and being restrained on the sidelines a dozen times a game.

In addition to adding two years to Venables’ contract, the school will provide further compensation for each season he stays through life insurance premiums totaling $1.2 million over the next four years.

And then there’s the benefit Venables will receive of getting to watch his son, Jake, play for the Tigers. You can’t put a monetary value on that.

They said it

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Iowa defensive lineman Brady Reiff was arrested for public intoxication – to the tune of .204 BAC – after he tried to open the door of a University of Iowa police car that he mistook for a Uber. Hawkeye apologists immediately accused the cops of disguising their coverage.”

NBC comedian Seth Myers, after police arrested a Massachusetts man for stripping naked and doing yoga poses at a Planet Fitness gym: “That story again: A man in Massachusetts has become the first person ever to successfully cancel his gym membership.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe: “Vince Carter has re-upped for his 21st year with the Hawks. Your turn, Manu  Ginobili   #GoSpursGo.”

Danica Patrick, hosting the ESPYs: “Why do people keep talking about Tiger Woods when he isn’t winning? I mean, who does he think he is? Me?”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Justin Verlander predicted Aaron Judge would homer in the All-Star game. He also foretold Middle East unrest, a World Cup player diving and Donald Trump having a bad hair day.”

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson on Twitter: “After seeing how confident Scott Frost was at Media Days I’ve begun work on my banner congratulating the Huskers for winning the 2021 national championship.”

 Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel on Ricky Stenhouse and Danica Patrick breaking up: “Valentine’s Day in the garage at Daytona just won’t be the same without Ricky romantically giving Danica a dozen long-stemmed socket wrenches and a box of chocolate-covered lug nuts.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, again: “Larry Nassar alleges he was assaulted in prison. “I feel so sorry for him,” said absolutely, positively nobody.”

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson, again on Twitter:  “After hearing Lovie Smith’s assessment of the present state of the Illinois program, grief counselors were brought into the room to help the assembled media deal with their emotions.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “The U.S. women’s fencing team, competing in Wuxi, China, became the first American squad in history to win a senior world championship in the foil discipline. Guess you won’t be hearing them say, “Curses – foiled again!” any time soon.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: “Watching the Nadal-Djokovic Wimbledon match after the Isner-Anderson servers’ duel was like taking in an Impressionist art exhibit after looking at a fridge covered in finger-paintings.”

Former NBA coach George Karl, writing in his 2017 memoir, “Furious George: My Forty Years Surviving NBA Divas, Clueless GMs, and Poor Shot Selection,” alleging some NBA players had used performance enhancing drugs: “How are some guys getting older — yet thinner and fitter? How are they recovering from injuries so fast? Why the hell are they going to Germany in the offseason? I doubt it’s for the sauerkraut.”

Pearls of wisdom

Now managing the Chicago Cubs, Eddie Vedder.

Ok, not really. But the Pearl Jam singer is getting a look at Joe Maddon’s lineups before each game, even if the group is on tour in Europe.

Whatever works. After all, Vedder is a Cubs fan from Evanston, Ill., and Maddon is superstitious enough to believe that the rocker’s support had something to do with the club winning it all in 2016. Vedder even wrote a song, “All the Way.”

So if Maddon wants Vedder looking over his lineup card, so be it. The team has the best record in the National League.  That has to count for something.

Long odds

Patricio Heras reached a career-high ranking of No. 269 on the ATP Tour when he was 24. That was nearly five years ago, which probably should have been the Argentinian tennis player’s sign to hang up the racket.

Why? Because he’s now been sanctioned for trying to fix a 2015 match on the ATP Challenger circuit in Barranguilla, Colombia. Now 29, he has been found guilty of the charges and has been suspended from playing until his punishment has been decided.

Another Argentine player, Nicholas Kicker, was recently suspended for six years for match fixing, so Heras would be wise to give up his dreams of Wimbledon glory.

Besides, he’s now ranked No. 306.

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Promotion offers fans free pizza if Phillies don’t blow any easy plays in 5th inning.”

Fark.com: “The Cleveland Browns unveil new slogan, and its pretty Cleveland Brownsy.”

TheOnion.com: “Royals players concerned about fan who stuck out 3-hour rain delay.”

Fark.com: “Carmelo Anthony continues tradition of blaming anybody but himself.”

TheOnion.com: “NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL team owners vote to unionize.”

Fark.com: “In other news, Vince Carter is still in the NBA.”

Fark.com: “Arena soccer includes a penalty box, power-play and substitutions are done on the fly. Why has there never been a sport like this before?”

Russian collusion

The start of the European Championships in track and field are less than two weeks away, and once again Russian athletes won’t be waving their country’s flag when the competition begins in Berlin.

The IAAF Council extended the sanctions against Russia’s federation of track and field.

Rune Anderson, a Swede who heads up the IAAF’s Russian taskforce team, did hold out hope that the testing of the country’s athletes has shown significant improvement.

However, to be reinstated fully by the IAAF, Anderson said the Russian federation must do three things: reimburse the IAAF for its investigation of the doping scandal; must be reinstated by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which includes a confession that doping was sanctioned by Russian authorities; and the IAAF must be given access to drug tests conducted at RUSADA’s Moscow laboratory between 2011-15.

Russia was accused in a WADA report in 2016 of widespread state-sponsored doping. Its track team was barred from that summer’s Rio Olympics and also missed the IAAF World Championships in London a year later.

A number of Russian athletes, however, have been granted permission by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to compete as neutrals. However, the IOC lifted its Olympic ban on Russia after the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games.

Ranking the pros

According to Business Insider, the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles will enter the season as the best the National Football League has to offer

After that, it’s pretty much the usual suspects,

The top eight teams in their rankings: 1. Eagles; 2. Los Angeles Rams; 3. Minnesota Vikings; 4. New England Patriots; 5. New Orleans Saints; 6. Carolina Panthers; 7. Jacksonville Jaguars; 8. Atlanta Falcons.