A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while  predicting that the University of Georgia will win the national football championship Monday night:

Mythical  nonsense

Only in the era of mythical national champions would Central Florida be able to stake a claim as the best team in college football.

But this is the playoff era, so get real, Danny White.

If the UCF athletic director wants to cut bonus checks totaling $325,000 to Scott Frost and his staff for an undefeated season – one which will lead to even bigger paydays at Nebraska – so be it. Seriously, no matter how many banners and signs you hang around UCF’s campus, or how many pages you waste reminiscing about a self-proclaimed title in next season’s media guide, it won’t make it true. That makes the parade disingenuous, too.

Yes, UCF beat Auburn 34-27 on Jan. 1 in the Peach Bowl, and did it in the same stadium in Atlanta that will host the College Football Championship game Monday night between two other SEC schools, Alabama and Georgia.

That’s the problem.

While Auburn beat Georgia. 40-17, and defeated Alabama, 26-14, the Tigers lost a rematch with Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs, 28-7.

Alabama, Georgia and Auburn each played tougher schedules throughout the season. Put UCF into that weekly SEC grind and the losses will add up, too.

Yes, scheduling makes a difference. So don’t try to twist the weekly refrain that every game matters.

UCF is unbeaten, going 13-0 against a schedule that ranked only as the nation’s 103rd toughest.

But hey, they did enough this season to deserve another review of the CFP system, which we can only hope leads to an expansion to eight teams in the playoffs. There’s no reason college football can’t tack on another weekend of postseason play, even if it means eliminating the conference championship games.

All Power Five conference champions would be in the field with the three at-large spots going to the next best teams. Furthermore, no conference could have more than two teams and an at-large berth would be reserved for a so-called Group of Five team that is ranked in the Top 10.

And while we’re at it, let’s get rid of the terms Power Five and Group of Five.

Participation Trophy, Part I

To underscore the fact that Alabama won’t be satisfied with anything but coming away with the national championship on Monday night, Crimson Tide strength coach Scott Cochran destroyed the runner-up trophy from last season’s CFP title game.

Clemson beat Alabama 35-31 in that game.

To motivate the Alabama players and to pass on head coach Nick Saban’s disappointment from that game, Cochran picked up the trophy this week and threw it to the floor. He then finished the job of destroying the hardware with a sledgehammer.

The Tide, of course, pretty much destroyed Clemson in the CFP semifinals at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans last Monday.

Alabama plays Georgia for the 2017 title at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Monday.

Participation trophy, Part II

Kobe Bryant, who recently had two jerseys retired by the Los Angeles Lakers – Nos. 8 and 24 – says he no longer shoots baskets with anyone but his daughters, Natalia and Gianna.

During an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel’s show Thursday night, he also revealed that he coaches his daughters and their team runs the triangle offense he learned from Phil Jackson.

He also may be using some of Jackson’s mind games as motivational techniques.

When his players were upset with a fifth-place finish in a tournament and wanted to destroy the trophies they received, he huddled them one more time and told them to use it as motivation.

“None of us want this trophy. I get it. But don’t break it. Take it home. Put it right there on the mantle in your room, and every day you look at that trophy, remind yourself what you will never win again … I sucked today. I will not suck tomorrow.”

They said it

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “According to USA Today, LaVar Ball is still convinced his son Lonzo is better than Steph Curry. If there was a concussion tent in basketball, they’d never let LaVar out of it.”

Dwight Perry of Seattle Times: “Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and race-car driver Danica Patrick were reportedly spotted out on a date at a Green Bay restaurant. Either that or they were just discussing the finer points of two-minute drives.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “With weather that may not hit the teens this weekend in Boston and Buffalo, how thankful are NFL fans that the Patriots have a bye, and the Bills have an away game?”

Brad Dickson of the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald on DePaul basketball walk-on Pantelis Xidias: “Everybody’s rooting for him to make it except the DePaul play-by-play guy.”

Jim Barach of WCHS-TV in Charleston, W.Va., on Alex Rodriguez’s reward for serving as the University of Miami’s commencement speaker: “An honorary degree in chemical engineering.”

Looking ahead

We’re still waiting to crown the 2017 champion, but that hasn’t stopped Athlon’s and The Sporting News from releasing their 2018 early look/preseason polls.

So for your reading and debating pleasure, have at it.

Athlon’s 2018 Pre-Preseason: 1. Alabama; 2. Clemson; 3. Ohio State; 4. Georgia; 5. Miami; 6. Oklahoma; 7. Michigan; 8. Wisconsin; 9. Auburn; 10. Michigan State; 11. Penn State; 12. Washington; 13. Southern Cal; 14. Stanford; 15. Notre Dame; 16. Virginia Tech; 17. Florida State; 18. Texas; 19. LSU; 20. Boise State; 21. Mississippi State; 22. West Virginia; 23. Oregon; 24. Kansas State; 25. Florida.

Sporting News 2018 Pre-Preseason: 1. Alabama; 2. Clemson; 3. Georgia; 4. Ohio State; 5. Oklahoma; 6. Wisconsin; 7. Miami; 8. Auburn; 9. Notre Dame; 10. Penn State 11. Washington; 12. Southern California; 13. LSU; 14. Stanford; 15. Virginia Tech; 16. Michigan State; 17. Michigan; 18. TCU; 19. Florida State; 20. Oklahoma; 21. Central Florida; 22. Texas; 23. South Carolina; 24. Memphis; 25. Texas A&M.

Jackson’s future

Rather than returning to Louisville for his senior season, Lamar Jackson has declared for the NFL draft.

Only a junior, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, who finished second in the voting this season, had the option of coming back for a third shot at being named the best player in college football.

But that wouldn’t have improved his draft stock. It also would put him behind another year in making the transition to wide receiver.

While Jackson is a dynamic playmaker, he’s not going to feast on broken plays in the NFL like he did in college. He’ll face bigger, stronger, quicker defensive linemen on every snap as a pro. But get him the football in space, and watch him go. That’s how he can be a game-changer at the next level.

Besides, entering a draft with pro-style passers like UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Southern Cal’s Sam Darnold, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudoph and Wyoming’s Josh Allen puts him at a disadvantage in the QB Lottery.

But as a receiver, Jackson would be a good gamble late in the first round for a team that believes he can make a quick transition to receiver while also getting snaps as a wildcat QB.

Jackson will insist in pre-draft interviews that he wants a shot at QB, but if he’s not flexible in terms of working out at receiver, he could fall to around the fifth round. And if he’s smart, he’ll be working on his footwork and passing accuracy in the weeks ahead.

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top tweets from @Randy_Beard11

Georgia wins 54-48. Heisman jinx befalls Baker Mayfield.

Fat lady about to sing, “In the SEC, it just means more” … as in more teams in national championship game. Georgia vs. Alabama playing for title makes a 4-5 bowl record for conference feel much better.

Label game a big game and sit back and watch Michigan and Jim Harbaugh choke. South Carolina comes from 16 down to win Outback Bowl, 26-19. Five turnovers by Wolverines in second half.

Who needs Jadaveon Clowney to beat Michigan? Gamecocks scored final 23 points to topple Wolverines 26-19 in Outback Bowl. That’s two bowl wins over UM in five years.

Lamar Jackson showed again why he didn’t win the Heisman for second year. He had 329 yards total offense and 3 touchdowns but only completed 13 of 31 passes for 171 yards with 2 TDs and 4 INTs.

 High times

According to Business Insider, former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson is heading a investment team that broke ground last month on a cannabis resort in California City, Calif.

Plans are for the resort to include a campground, a cultivation school to teach growers how to fine-tune their products and a store that will offer edible treats. There will be 40 acres of land, located 65  miles southwest of Death Valley National Park, reserved for growing marijuana. The farm also will produce CBD oil, which has medicinal properties.

Fishing for love

From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “New Zealander Angela Potter — piqued when her angler boyfriend abruptly ditched her — exacted revenge by going online and offering up the GPS coordinates to his favorite fishing holes to the highest bidder. She wound up with 90,000 responses — and $3,000.

“She also has a new boyfriend who likes fishing, too, but she hasn’t disclosed the secret spots to him.

“I wouldn’t do that,” Potter told Stuff magazine. “I’m fairly honorable in that respect.”

Headlines

TheKicker.com: “After making trick shot, Ginobili signed by Globetrotters.”

Fark.com: “Grinch to become defensive coordinator at Ohio State.”

TheOnion.com: “Football saved my life, says man who will be left paralyzed by sport.”

TheKicker.com: “Dedication: Belichick forces children of players to attend school during blizzard.”

SportsPickle.com: “Report: Steelers worried Patriots will pick up Le’Veon Bell if they cut him.”

TheKicker.com: “Giants considering anyone who’s ever met Belicick for coach.”

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