A different view on sports
Clearing my mind and notebook while hoping someone will send me a photo for my office wall of Miami coach Mark Richt wearing America’s best bling, the Turnover Chain:
Fox Sports color commentator Joel Klatt took aim at the designated cupcakes being consumed in the south on Saturday, noting Alabama and Clemson were enjoying “November byes.”
Granted, what Klatt said in an attempt to make a case for Wisconsin’s playoff worthiness contained a smidgen of truth. Dabo Swinney’s defending champion Tigers did spend Saturday afternoon overpowering The Citadel, 61-3. And yes, Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide pounded Mercer, 56-0, while going through the motions of being the nation’s No. 1 team.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin had to survive a stern Big Ten clash with Michigan, 24-10.
Is that fair? Probably not. But let’s not forget that the main reason Paul Chryst’s team is unbeaten after 10 games is a schedule that is only rated as the nation’s 50th toughest.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma (No. 1), Clemson (No. 4), Miami (No. 21) and Alabama (No. 23) have all played much tougher slates.
Klatt also should be reminded that Alabama plays Auburn this week and Clemson faces South Carolina. Those rivalry games will be road trips for the Crimson Tide and Tigers against teams that have winning records.
The Badgers? They face a 5-6 Minnesota team.
I do agree with the main point Klatt was trying to make when he slipped into snarky mode. College football’s guaranteed victories against step-down opponents should be played in September not November.
The final month of the regular season should be reserved for conference clashes and traditional rivals.
That’s the only way anyone can continue to argue that every game counts.
My power five
I’m not sold on Clemson being one of the four teams once the CFP dust settles because I don’t believe the Tigers will beat Miami on Dec. 2 in the ACC Championship game.
Breaking out my crystal football, the four teams I believe will be playing for the national championship are Miami, Alabama, Oklahoma and Ohio State.
SportsPickle.com: “Lonzo Ball arrested for shoplifting ‘How to Shoot a Basketball’ DVD.”
Fark.com: “Danica Patrick to retire from full-time racing in attempt to preserve her unblemished record of no wins.”
TheOnion.com: “NFL announces plans to stream ‘Thursday Night Football’ exclusively on Delta flights.”
TheKicker.com: “Report: Seahawks playbook just squiggly lines indicating Wilson’s scrambles.”
SportsPickle.com: “Christian Pulisic writes heartfelt essay on Players Tribune revealing it turns out he’s actually German.”
TheOnion.com: “Jim Harbaugh conducts entire ESPN interview with whistle clenched in teeth.”
Within minutes of Italy being eliminated from qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, I tweeted that the United States should “stage its own 8-team mini-World Cup” next summer with the likes of Italy, Netherlands, Chile, Ghana, Ivory Coast, South Africa and China.
Apparently, mine was a shared genius since ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt and others had similar thoughts.
But the real catalyst for such a tournament was the United States Soccer Federation. It was already kicking around a few ideas to make up for the failure of the U.S. men’s team in CONCACAF qualifying. With FIFA agreeable and ESPN apparently willing to bankroll it, momentum has quickly built.
It probably didn’t hurt that FIFA already has announced that the World Cup field in 2026 will be expanded to 48 teams, so there’s no chance this will become a regular pity party.
From Dwight Perry’s “Sideline Chatter” in the Seattle Times:
“Introducing your new No. 1 team in this week’s NFL Who Beat Who Power Rankings — the San Francisco 49ers! After all, the 49ers (1-9) beat the Giants (1-8), who beat the Broncos (3-6), who beat the Cowboys (5-4), who beat Washington (4-5), which beat the Seahawks (6-3), who beat the Rams (7-2), who beat the Jaguars (6-3), who beat the Steelers (8-2), who beat the Vikings (7-2), who beat the Saints (7-2), who beat the Panthers (7-3), who beat the Patriots (7-2), who beat the Falcons (5-4), who beat the Bears (3-6), who beat the Ravens (4-5), who beat the Raiders (4-5), who beat the Chiefs (6-3), who beat the Eagles (8-1).”
They said it
TBS comedian Conan O’Brien,after the IOC said it might include pole-dancing, poker and foosball in the next Games: “They also said it’s the first Olympics that will be held in a frathouse basement.”
RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Four more Russian cross-country skiers were stripped of their Sochi Olympic medals for doping. Officials became suspicious when they had faster times than the bobsledders.”
Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com “ No way was China putting American basketball players in jail for 10 years. If NBA pulled their shoe factories it would put tens of thousands of Chinese children out of work.”
Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “Just to add some extra incentive to the upcoming UCF-USF game, I think the winner — whether it’s UCF’s Scott Frost or USF’s Charlie Strong — should get the Gators job. On second thought, maybe the loser should get the Gators job.”
Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Browns fan Chris McNeil has secured a Cleveland parade permit for Jan. 6 just in case the team completes a “perfect” 0-16 season. Now comes the tough part: Convincing Roger Goodell to show up and hand out the participation trophies.”
Jim Barach of WCHS-TV in Charleston, W.Va., after golfer Tiger Woods said his knee is “trashed”: “Just like his marriage, reputation and driving record.”
Comedy writer Jerry Perisho, anticipating a debate question during the next presidential campaign: “Are you ready to take a 3 a.m. phone call from the UCLA basketball coach?”
No more miracles
Maple Grove High School ran out of miracles in the 6A Minnesota High School state football playoffs.
The Crimson, who scored three touchdowns in the final minute to beat St. Michael Albertville 29-27 last week, had no answers in a 26-0 loss to No. 1 Eden Prairie in the semifinals on Thursday.
Maple Grove’s best scoring chance again came late in the game but ended with an interception.
Eden Prairie improved to 12-0 and will face Minnetonka for the state title this Friday. Minnetonka defeated Cretin-Derham Hall 17-14.
Eden Prairie won 39-21 when it played Minnetonka (11-1) earlier this season.
Fact of day
A bat reportedly used by Lou Gehrig when he hit his final two home runs in 1939 is on the Heritage Auctions block just six years after it was bought for $403,664.
Rehastagging this weeks’ top Twitter shots from @Randy_Beard11:
“Baker Mayfield’s Heisman stats this week: 257 yards passing, 3 TDs, at least one FU and one crotch grab as Oklahoma cruises past Kansas. No, that’s not going to help him.”
“It really will be the Not For Long league if NFL meets Goodell’s reported demands for $49.5 million salary, lifetime health insurance and use of private jet for life.”
“Jay Bilas needs to stay in his lane and stick with basketball. His top 4 in college football would be Alabama, Miami, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. Badgers should make it only if they are still unbeaten and win Big Ten title.”
“It’s Duke. Of course it’s a dirty play by Wendell Carter Jr.”
“Well, at least the United States has another partner to share in the misery of not qualifying for the World Cup: Italy. Got ousted by Sweden.”
Back in trouble?
The NFL is investigating allegations that Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston grabbed the crotch of a female Uber driver in Scottsdale, Ariz., in March 2016.
The driver said she is not pursuing criminal charges or looking for a civil judgment against Winston, but felt the assault should be revealed in light of all the other women who have come forward to report being assaulted and harassed.
Winston denied the allegations on Friday, but not in the most convincing terms.
“While I am certain that I did not make any inappropriate contact, I don’t want to engage in a battle with the driver and I regret if my demeanor or presence made her uncomfortable in any way,” Winston said in a statement.
When he was playing football at Florida State, of course, Winston was accused of a sexual assault in 2012. He was never charged criminally in that case but he did settle a civil lawsuit with his accuser late last year.
If there’s fire to go with this smoke, it wouldn’t be good for Winston’s long-term future with the Bucs.
With all the non-conference games against second tier team, I should have had a good weekend of picks. And I guess I did, even if I did foolishly believe Western Carolina had a real shot at North Carolina.
Bottom line, I missed just one game each in the Big Ten and SEC and two in the ACC.
The 7-2 effort in the ACC improved my season total to 69-21 (76.6 percent) in the conference. In the Big Ten, I’m now 72-20 (78.2 percent). And in the SEC, I’m still above 80 percent after going 8-1 for a season total of 77-17 (81.9 percent).
At least my goal of an 80 percent winning percentage for the season is alive in one of the three conferences.