From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while pondering whether I’d really rather be shoveling snow in Indiana or raking this daily deluge of leaves I’m getting in South Carolina:

SEC lull

This isn’t the week to be a Southeastern Conference football fan unless you are looking to sit back in the recliner chugging beers and celebrating touchdowns.

Yes, for the most part, this is the Saturday SEC fans get to watch their favorite quarterbacks, receivers or running backs padding statistics. If that’s not what happens, I apologize. All I can say is better luck next year.

The only true SEC-worthy bouts on the schedule are Arkansas visiting Mississippi State, Missouri traveling to Tennessee and Mississippi visiting Vanderbilt.

Then there’s what could be labeled “Bowl or Bust Weekend” for the rest of the schools.

Well, OK, at least South Carolina can call it that after blowing a 17-point lead last weekend at Florida. If the Gamecocks had held on, Will Muschamp’s team would have already pulled off its sixth win.

Now it’s up to Southern Conference member Chattanooga (6-4) to play nice and roll over for the Gamecocks (5-4). At least that’s what South Carolina AD Ray Tanner is hoping will happen Saturday night after agreeing to a “guaranteed-win” contract with the Mocs, who are supposed to be 30.5 point underdogs to the SEC school.

If all goes according to plan, UTC will head back into the hills with a $600,000 infusion of cash for its athletic department. But I’m pretty sure they want more.

And let’s face it, nothing really ever goes according to plan when it comes to South Carolina football. So if the Mocs rise up and steal a victory, denying the Gamecocks a guaranteed bowl payout in the process, that’s just being greedy.

Especially with unbeaten Clemson Tigers waiting to feast on their state rivals next week on national television.

Meanwhile, if you’re desperate to watch meaningless football, the rest of the SEC’s cupcake schedule features:  Alabama vs. The Citadel; Florida vs. Idaho; Kentucky vs. Middle Tennessee; Auburn vs. Liberty; Georgia vs. Massachusetts; Texas A&M vs. UAB, and LSU vs. Rice,

Stats don’t matter

Davidson College’s football team rushed for a record 789 yards against San Diego on Nov. 10 in a 56-52 loss. Yes, the Wildcats lost.

But back in mid-September, the Pioneer League football program did beat Guilford 91-61 by rewriting the FCS record book with 974 yards of total offense, including 685 rushing yards.

They said it

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson: “I actually heard this: “It’s expected to snow on Saturday during the Nebraska-Michigan State game but the stadium SHOULD still be sold out.” Dude, a volcano could erupt on the 30-yard-line & the stadium would be sold out.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “The Florida Marlins announced the signing of touted Cuban outfielder Victor Victor Mesa. Team officials can’t decide whether to start him out playing in Walla Walla or Pago Pago.”

Norman Chad of the Washington Post on the slow pace of baseball: “Basketball plays well with any music as a backdrop — rock and roll, jazz, country, hip-hop, et al; baseball plays well to a funeral dirge.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot: “Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert says he is not trying to buy the Detroit Tigers. If that was the case he could then go after the 49ers and the pro sports franchise catastrophe trifecta.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Miami Marlins will have new logos and uniforms next year. Unfortunately, those new uniforms will have the same players in them.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson: “The state paid a Colorado company millions of dollars to come up with the slogan “Nebraska: It’s not for everyone.” I have a better slogan. “Nebraska: OUR BASKETBALL TEAM IS FINALLY GOOD!”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Chowdaheads.com has come up with a couple scented candles with Red Sox fans in mind: “Fresh Cut Fenway Grass” and “Up on the Monstah.” Hey, don’t laugh: It’s certainly better than “Eau du Oakland Coliseum.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “Earlham College in Indiana has suspended its football season after 53 straight losses. To which the Cleveland Browns are saying “Cowards!”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Winnipeg Blue Bombers coach Mike O’Shea called RB Andrew Harris’ work this season a ‘masterpiece.’ If Montreal QB Johnny Manziel’s work was art, it’d be taped to a refrigerator.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson: “That lady in the TV commercial screaming “Mo money, mo money!” just committed to Louisville.”

Mike Hart of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the 1-8 Raiders visiting the 2-7 Cardinals: “Scalpers in Glendale, Ariz., will have to get a second job this week.”

Janice Hough of LeftcoastSportsBabe.com: “NFL moving Chiefs Rams Monday Night Football game from Mexico City to Los Angeles. Wonder why the league didn’t consider Oakland? Fans there would love to watch professional football.”

Thrill hills

Olympic gold medalist skier Lindsey Vonn, who has had her share of downhill thrills through the years, including of the death-defying variety, recently detailed her history of injuries to Sports Illustrated.

You may want to sit down for this. She did during months of rehab during her career.

After reading her list of necessary repairs, the first thought that occurred to me is that Lindsey Vonn could gingerly step into another reboot (no pun intended) of Lindsey Wagner’s role as the Bionic Woman.

Vonn has had two ACL reconstructions, four tibial plateau fractures, multiple meniscal repairs; numerous concussions; broken fingers, a broken ankle, dislocation of a medial-collateral ligament and a humerus spiral fracture.

She’s lost track of the screws and metal plates that now hold her body together.

Meanwhile, we should note that the 2007 version of Bionic Woman only lasted nine episodes with English actress Michelle Ryan in the role of Jaime Sommers. The busty Ryan claims to be naturally endowed, which should have disqualified her from the start.

Jail birds

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson: “Normally Ohio State fans only boo the assistant coaches’ parole officers.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “A former Adidas executive was convicted in the college basketball corruption case. It looks like he will be wearing gear with a whole new set of stripes.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Saints coach Sean Payton admitted he smashed a fire alarm that wouldn’t stop blaring in his team’s locker room 20 minutes before kickoff in Cincinnati. But, as Payton apologists were quick to point out, there were no bounties involved, and he didn’t lead with his head.”

Smiling Miles

Looks like Les Miles is back in the game.

The former LSU football coach moved one step closer Friday to taking over the program at Kansas by agreeing to settle his buyout deal with the SEC school at a bargain rate. Miles, knowing he’ll have bigger paydays ahead, walked away from LSU with $1.5 million in his bank account.

While that’s not exactly pocket change, the deal did let LSU off the hook for another $5.4 million. Miles’ buyout with LSU would have continued to pay him roughly $1.6 million through 2023, offset by any other coaching salary.

But Miles is already 65, and he knew that time was slipping away if he was still going to successfully market himself for a coaching job.

By settling, Miles still essentially receives another year of his buyout with LSU and is now free to negotiate with Kansas. The Big 12 school is reportedly ready to pay him more than $2.5 million, plus incentives, to get him back on the sidelines.

Miles, who won a national title in 2007, has an overall record of 141-56. He was fired at LSU after the 2016 season.

Headlines

SportsPickle.com: “Important fact: 99.999% of those who dunk on people on Twitter are unable to dunk in real life.”

TheOnion.com: “Should Dunkin’ Donuts end its promotion with the NFL that gives fans one free medium coffee for every first down?”

Fark.com: “Washington Capitals fan travels all the way to Antarctica to personally remind the penguins that the Caps won the Stanley Cup.”

Awfulannouncing.com: “This Week in Hot Takes: Cheddar’s Jon Steinberg says ‘Traditional sports are dead, nobody knows who won the World Series.”

SportsPickle.com: “Aaron Rodgers is an all-time great at blaming other people for an incompletion.”

TheOnion.com: “Should Carmelo Anthony return to his prime?”

Fark.com: “LeBron has now scored more than Wilt Chamberlain. Well, on the court anyway.”

Sportspickle.com: “The one likable thing about Draymond Green is that he hates Kevin Durant.”

Fark.com: “The Art of Seduction” by Mike Leach.”

SportsPickle.com: ‘Marvin Lewis is the asbestos of coaching: fire proof and eventually kills everyone exposed to them.”

Awfulannouncing.com: “‘Both NBC and CBS are now claiming to be the ‘ “most watched network.’”

 Live remote?

I didn’t realize television networks weren’t always positioning announcers courtside while broadcasting college basketball games. And no, I’m not referring to some older arenas that give broadcasters and writers a bird’s eye view up near the rafters.

To save money, ESPN and other networks are choosing to do remote broadcasts from studios. That practice is fairly common with the Olympics and international soccer.

But now it’s becoming more common with college basketball. ESPN has even done it with early rounds of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament in recent years.

ESPN plans to have announcers at remote locations for more than 200 games this season by using its studio locations in Bristol, Conn., Charlotte, N.C. and Orlando, Fla.

That’s in addition to ESPN’s contracts with colleges that put at least some of the production burden on student crews.

To be sure, the remote model is a growing trend. ESPN had only 45 remote broadcasts of college basketball games in the 2014-15 season. That practice will more than quadruple this season.

But I now realize newspapers were just ahead of the game back in the 70s when I began my journalism career. And actually, its a practice that gained second wind in my final years working for papers.

I confess, I was never a big fan of covering a game by watching it on television, and to avoid it I often ate the price of a hotel room and gas in my car to sit in a stadium press box or in a courtside seat.

But when I had no choice but to stick to the newsroom budget, I joked I was covering s game from my location “teleside.” That usually meant my couch.

Now, you can’t even trust that the broadcasters are at the game.

Another reason I’m glad I retired.

Twisted perspective

Which fact about Washington State coach Mike Leach do you find more disturbing?:

— Hanging in his office is the painting of Seinfeld’s George Constanza posing on a couch in his underwear, only its been doctored with Leach’s head replacing that of actor Jason Alexander.

— That Leach did not apologize for tweeting out a video of President Obama that had been altered, and as a result, Washington State has lost the promise of future estate gifts that are valued at $1.6 million.

They said it, too

Bob Molinaro in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot on why Duke freshman basketball sensation Zion Williamson already has about 2 million Instagram followers: “His high-school and AAU dunking highlights give cat videos a run for their money.”

Red Sox advisor Bill James, considered the father of sports analytics, in a tweet:  “If the players all retired tomorrow, we would replace them, the game would go on. In three years it would make no difference whatsoever. The players are NOT the game, any more than the beer vendors are. The entire GAME is the product.”
Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner on the 18-inning Game 3 of the World Series: “I think my beard got about three inches longer.”
Stewart Hass Racing vice president Greg Zipadelli, after NASCAR cited Kevin Harwick for using an illegal rear spoiler: “We work tirelessly across every inch of our racecars to create speed and, unfortunately, NASCAR determined we ventured into an area not accommodated by its rule book.”

Comedian Alex Kaseberg: “Today on Halloween four kids came to our door dressed as Jacksonville Jaguars. They gave us a bar tab for $64,170 and then ran away.”

Orlando columnist Mike Bianchi: “Florida, Florida State and Miami all have lost at least two games in a row for the first time since 1971 when Doug Dickey was coaching the Gators, Fran Curci was coaching the ’Canes and Larry Jones was coaching the Seminoles.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “Rory McIlroy says he won’t watch the Thanksgiving match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. If he wants to watch something that overinflated on TV, he can always turn on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Janice Hough of LeftcoastSportsBabe.com: “A Comerica Park stadium worker who spit on a pizza has been placed on probation. He was fired by the Detroit Tigers, but reportedly has a call from Los Angeles – they think he might be able to improve the taste of Dodger Dogs.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “A Red Sox fan won a $100,000 Mass Cash lottery prize by playing the jersey numbers of Rafael Devers (11), Andrew Benintendi (16), Jackie Bradley Jr. (19), Rick Porcello (22) and Steve Pearce (25). Is there a lottery that only uses one number?” asked an Orioles fan.”

Stewart Mandel of The Athletic on the difference between college and pro football: “College-football schools feel the need to schedule games 12 years in advance, while the NFL can relocate one on 5 days’ notice.”

Hall of Fame RB Jim Brown when once asked why he refused to block with the Cleveland Browns: “Do you ask Liberace to carry his piano?”

NBC comedian Jimmy Fallon: “Yesterday Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey hit the field goal posts four different times in the same game (34-24 win over Detroit). In his defense, that’s actually way harder to do … Then after the game it took him four times to get through the locker room doors.”

Pouring it on

Heinz Ketchup wants to cash in on Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes love of ketchup as he takes aim at the NFL’s record for passing touchdowns.

The magic number Heinz seeks is 57, of course. That’s one more than Mahomes needs to surpass Peyton Manning’s record of 55 touchdown passes in the 2013 season.

But hey, with Heinz promising Mahomes a “ketchup for life” deal, things could get interesting. He already has 31 touchdown passes this season, which is good enough to set the Chiefs’ single-season franchise record through just 10 games. So 27 more TD passes the rest of the way is definitely a worthy challenge.

“I’m not opposed to it,” said Mahomes. “If it happens and I get ketchup for life, I’ll be sure to share it with some of the offensive linemen.”

Football revival

The Flying Feet is back in the football business.

Erskine College, located in Due West, S.C.,  discontinued its football program in 1951.

Now 67 years later its on the comeback trail.  Erskine plans to begin play again in the 2020 season with a non-scholarship program.

Erskine AD Mark Peeler introduced Shap Boyd as the head coach on Thursday and said he will oversee a staff of six assistants, although they will be phased in over the first two seasons. Boyd comes to Erskine from Virginia College-Wise, where he was the defensive coordinator.

Peeler and Boyd have known each other since their days at the University of the South. Boyd played football and Peeler played basketball.

The process of restoring the sport actually began a decade ago, and now that the commitment has been made, the school will go slow in rolling it out. In all probability, the team may split its games between a couple of high schools stadiums over the first few seasons before deciding whether it makes sense to build a stadium on campus.

The sport does have a rich history at Erskine — and we’re talking decades worth of accomplishments. Among the Fleet’s victims are South Carolina (1917). Clemson (1930) and Florida State (1948).

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11:

  • Essentially Jeff Brohm issued a “no comment” when asked about Louisville job.
  • I’m with Halle Berry, what exactly is the Rams’ “Halle Berry” play? More importantly, can I score with it too?
  • Gamecocks made USA Today’s Misery Index after collapse against Florida. Not only that, Dan Wolken went to great pains to note that Will Muschamp is only 29-27 overall and 12-12 in SEC in his 3 seasons at South Carolina. Oh yeah, he added insult to injury with a Clemson reference.
  • Nick Chubb just torched Falcons for 92 yard TD — longest run in Browns’ history. Cleveland beating Atlanta 28-10 midway through third quarter.
  • Hey, despite a disappointing weekend in basketball and football, all Gamecocks can still climb on their high horses since South Carolina has No. 5 ranked equestrian team and knocked off No. 10 Fresno State & No. 4 Baylor this weekend. Uhm, but make mine a Shetland Pony, please.
  • I was hoping Frank Martin could defy the odds and get South Carolina’s basketball team back into NCAA Tournament, maybe even make another magical run to Final Four, but they lost at home to Stony Brook. Is that a school or a subdivision?
  • Purdue players playing like they are afraid of snow. Minnesota doing to them what Boilers did to Ohio State.

 

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports 

Clearing my mind and notebook while wondering how Notre Dame’s football game against Florida State was picked for a primetime telecast on NBC Saturday night:

 Horse play

I’ve had the opportunity to interview numerous thoroughbred owners, trainers and jockeys through the years and I can honestly say I’ve never been tempted to ask if I could saddle up.

I bring all this up because last week a 24-year-old man from Georgetown, Ky., mounted a racehorse at Churchill Downs and tried to ride it on to the track.

Yes, Michael Wells-Rody was drunk. And stupid. But fortunately, he was caught before he could do serious damage to the horse or himself during what was Breeders’ Cup weekend.

According to State Police, Wells-Rody “was manifestly under the influence of alcoholic beverages” when he “snuck into a restricted area he was not authorized to be in” and jumped on a horse.

Alas, he now has a record from his time at the Lousville track, but it won’t be listed in the Daily Racing Form.

As for me, I’m pretty sure I may hold the unofficial track record for two-furlongs at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky.

That was after one trainer tried to show me how to offer a peppermint to one of his prized animals, but I was so nervous I dropped the candy, which didn’t exactly please the old grey mare. I swear the horse was still giving me the evil eye as I headed back to my car.

Pecking order

In ranking its top 25 college basketball coaches, Yarbarker.com didn’t exactly make any surprising choices.

Villanova’s Jay Wright, with two NCAA titles in three seasons, tops the list. He’s followed by John Calipari at Kentucky, Tom Izzo at Michigan State, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and Roy Williams of North Carolina.

Calipari, however, may have to do his best coaching job in years to justify his No. 2 slot. The Wildcats were embarrassed Tuesday night by Duke, losing 118-84 in Indianapolis. That 34 point loss was the largest Calipari has suffered at UK, and the Wildcats followed that up by slipping past Southern Illinois at home on Friday.  

 They said it

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson: “Even Clemson, a school that has a pregame ritual consisting of touching a rock realizes that releasing helium-filled balloons is dumb.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Which football coach boasts more future first-round draft picks, Jon Gruden or Nick Saban?”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com on the Raiders, 49ers, Giants and Cardinals dueling for the NFL’s worst record and No. 1 draft choice: “It’s getting so bad, those teams are being flagged for excessive celebration when their opponent scores.”

Orlando columnist Mike Bianchi: “I’m not saying NBA coaches are totally unimportant, but Tyronn Lue won a championship and made it to four consecutive NBA Finals when LeBron James was on the roster. Without LeBron, Lue didn’t even make it through the first month of the season without getting fired.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “New York Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen just said Tim Tebow has earned the right to start 2019 season for a Triple A team. Does that mean Tebow will be starting for the Mets?”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter: “Call me overly optimistic but I’ve already began my NCAA Tournament bracket and have the Huskers advancing out of the first round.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “The Tampa Bay Rays have finalized a deal with 16 year old Cuban pitcher Sandy Gaston which includes a $2.6 Million signing bonus. Which makes him the only player in the league negotiating in percentages of their country’s GDP.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Recreational marijuana is now legal nationwide in Canada. Or as more than a few pro athletes now put it: The grass is always greener on the other side … of the border.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “Tiger Woods reportedly turned down $3.25 Million to play in a tournament in Saudi Arabia. He doesn’t need to go to the Sahara Desert because he is already catching enough heat for his pay-per-view TV match against Phil Mickelson.”

Jack Finarelli of SportsCurmudgeon.com, with college basketball’s least-surprising news: “Note that the UCLA basketball team did not choose to take a week or so trip to China in early November this year.”

Reboot needed

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones found himself defending his club’s coaching staff and front office after former quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach suggested major changes were needed if the NFL franchise was going to ever again be known as America’s Team.

“There has to be a complete overhaul of the organization,” Aikman told radio station 96.7 KICK The Ticket Tuesday after the Cowboys lost 28-14 to the Tennessee Titans on Monday. “In a lot of ways. there’s a lot of dysfunction.”

With the Cowboys only 3-5, head coach Jason Garrett has been under a lot of criticism from Dallas fans. And for good reason – the Cowboys have only had three winning seasons since 2010, and only twice during that time have they posted double digit wins.

Dallas is 71-65 over the past eight-plus seasons.

Added Staubach, “Overall, the team has been a disappointment … We can’t continue to play at this level and be happy with the team. That’s for sure.”

But Jones hasn’t lost faith in his coaching staff, or young stars like quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekial Elliott. He just thinks it will take more time to get things turned around, although he did note that wins were the key to Garrett’s future.

“These are tough stretches,” said Jones. “People are going to be critical and take their shots. I’m fully aware this is a time when we should be criticized.

 Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Is Cindy Gruden worth more than the 7th-round pick Jon Gruden traded her for?

Fark.com: “Notre Dame reveals their new Kermit the Frog-inspired uniforms.”

SportsPickle.com: “Good start for the Steelers, but 3 miles away, LeVeon Bell is working on a triple-double at the YMCA against a teams of 40-year-old dads. Impressive.”

TheOnion.com: “Compassionate fisherman doesn’t have heart to throw trout back into incredibly polluted lake.”

Fark.com: “There have been 233 starting quarterbacks in the NFL since 2001, and one of them is Tom Brady.”

Sportspickle.com: “The new attorney general will definitely not allow any investigations into Iowa’s tight ends.”

TheOnion.com: “Red Sox take out full-page ad in New York Times reminding city they won Word Series.”

Fark.com: “Harlem Globetrotters break five record for Guinness World Records Day. Washington Generals once again can’t catch a break.”

SportsPickle.com: “I’m starting to worry that Aaron Rodgers is wasting Mike McCarthy’s prime.”

Fark.com: “LeVeon Bell tweets from Australia.”

SportsPickle.com: “Julio Jones scoring a touchdown did not actually happen. It was shot on a sound stage.”

 Election recap

NotSportsCenter: “Breaking: The SEC Network is projecting Alabama to take control of both the House and Senate.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Florida voting to close greyhound racing tracks: “I love greyhounds & I’m strongly considering taking one. Wondering if I had to buy a fake rabbit for my new pet to chase around the outside of my house all day.

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “Florida voters passed an amendment to end greyhound racing. Mostly because it’s a lot more intense and interesting to watch and wager on what Florida is going to do on Election Day.

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Recreational marijuana is now legal nationwide in Canada. Or as more than a few pro athletes now put it: The grass is always greener on the other side … of the border.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter: “If you vote for Bo Pelini for office today you need to just take a deep breath and try to move on.”

Total loss

Former U.S. National Team star Eric Wynalda only has his memories from three World Cups now.

All his soccer memorabilia went up in smoke early Friday when his home in Ventura County was consumed by a raging wildfire in California.

“Gone,” said Wynalda. “Brutal … Watched it burn on live TV.”

Wynalda was alerted by text around 12:30 a.m. that a voluntary evacuation had been ordered because of the approaching fire that had closed the 101 Freeway. His wife loaded their three children into a car with important documents, jewelry and four suitcases of clothes and hit the road for her parents home in Corona, Calif.

Wynalda stayed behind to do more packing, but a little over two hours later police were banging on his door telling him he had to leave. So he left, leaving behind decades worth of jerseys and honors, including a plaque noting he had scoredthe first goal in Major League Soccer history.

He got a call from a friend as he was driving to his in-laws, who confirmed that TV had video of his home burning to the ground.  

By Friday morning, more than 10,000 acres had burned. But Wynalda said that of the more than 160 homes in his Westlake Village development, his home was the only one destroyed.

Wynalda, who was just named the head coach of a USL expansion team, the Las Vegas Lights FC, plans to rebuild.

 Straight talk

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, on the impending move of the Raiders: “Usually when a high-rolling loser comes to Vegas, the casinos set him up with a comp hotel room. With (owner Mark) Davis, they’re giving him a comp stadium.”

Orlando columnist Mike Bianchi: “Did you see the viral photo of the shirtless Florida State fan sitting alone and reading a book at the end of Clemson’s 59-10 demolition of the Seminoles? I’m thinking it was a book about FSU’s offensive line: “Slaughterhouse Five.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “A man using a blowtorch to kill spiders burned down his mother’s house in Fresno, Calif. He reportedly got the idea watching Jon Gruden tinker with the Raiders’ roster.”

NBC football broadcaster Al Michaels, when asked how the late Howard Cosell would view today’s sports-media landscape: “He would hate social media. He would hate talk radio. … He would describe it as a ‘cacophony of crap.’ ”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “New Raiders broadcaster Brent Musburger tweeted out a picture of people in Native-American headdresses at a Trump rally and captioned it ‘Elizabeth Warren’s “relatives” backing Trump in Montana.” I liked Brent better when he was just a dirty old man.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “A cheerleader for Colin Kaepernick’s old team, the 49ers, took a knee during the anthem on Thursday Night. Even she is more likely in the future to quarterback an NFL team.”

Indiana University football coach Tom Allen, commenting about some of his players questioning IU fans who leave Memorial Stadium early when the Hoosiers are losing: “To me it’s our responsibility to be able to put a team on that football field that plays for 60 minutes to a level where those fans don’t want to leave.”

 Kicking philosophy

As reported by Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: As retired Colts punter Pat McAfee — who also doubled as Adam Vinatieri’s holder — told ESPN: “Before every kick I viewed it as my job being his caddie to kind of keep it light. No matter what the situation is, I’m going to crack a joke.

“We’d talk about how bad the conditions were, or how beautiful the day was, or which drunk guy we’re aiming for in the crowd behind the uprights.”

 My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11:

  • Among top 10 states with highest incidence of major cardiovascular disease, 7 are home to 9 SEC football teams: 2. Kentucky (10.6%), 3. Mississippi (10.1%), 4. Alabama (9.8), 5. Tennessee (9.8), 6. Louisiana (9.7), 8. Arkansas (9.2), 9. Missouri (9.2). SEC: It just means more.
  • FINAL: Duke 118, Kentucky 84. It’s worst defeat John Calipari has ever suffered with Wildcats.”
  • Zion Williamson is a beast. That is all.
  • Just voted … but it was only semifinal vote for Biletnikoff Award. Blessed to help decide best receiver each year and to get to meet and chat with the original man with sticky fingers when I was sports editor in Tallahassee.
  • Before we send troops to the border, maybe we should make sure West Point cadets know that they should keep their hands off the Air Force Academy mascot.”
  •   Wait, did Texas A&M just lose its second in a row after Kirk Herbstreit said Jimbo Fisher‘s team wouldn’t lose again? Auburn, 28-24.

 They said it, Too

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Giants back-up QB Kyle Lauletta was charged with motoring offenses on consecutive days. These include recklessness, making illegal turns and outdoing Eli Manning for bad drives.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter: “Going outside with a football & kicking tee right now to see how many attempts it takes to kick the ball backwards when I’m TRYING to do so.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “LeBron James says the Lakers need to “ignore outside noise” at their games. Which if they keep on their current pace should result in a lot of silence at home games for the rest of the season.”

Janice Hough of LeftcoastSportsBabe.com: “Another week, another loss for the Cleveland Browns. But they’re still one win ahead of the Cavaliers.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “A 43-year-old man working the chain gang at a youth football game in Tuscaloosa, Ala., has been charged with harassment after he allegedly went onto the field and slapped an opposing player who had tackled his son. And you thought they take the Crimson Tide series down there?”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “The Dodgers say they will keep Dave Roberts as manager for 2019. Apparently unlike Roberts, they are going to avoid trying to pull him too early.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter: “I don’t have any children but if I did I’d be more concerned with how Scott Frost’s kids are doing in school than in how my own kids are doing. That’s the Nebraska way.”

Brad Rock of the Salt Lake City Deseret News: “A study by the American College Health Association says anxiety, panic and depression are rising among college students. This has nothing whatsoever to do with BYU’s football season. Nothing.”

Last word

The baseball world lost a legend and one of my favorites players in the past week when Willie McCovey died Wednesday at the age of 80.

The 1969 National League MVP had been in poor health in recent years and was in the hospital battling another infection when he passed. During a 22-year career from 1959 to 1980, spent mostly with the San Francisco Giants, McCovey hit 521 home runs, drove in 1,555 runs and hit for a .270 average.

It was legendary Mets manager Casey Stengel, during an early-1960s mound visit with pitcher Roger Craig, who voiced his respect for the slugger when he said, “Where do you want to pitch him, upper deck or lower deck?”

 

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while also wondering if Maryland is now wavering on its decision to jump from the ACC to the Big Ten:

Punting on season

Not to be in a rush to judgment but it’s hard to imagine things getting any worse for the University of Maryland football program after the Terps’ top two punters got into a brutal fight at practice.

Yes, the punters.

That’s just one of the stories making the rounds after Maryland finally fired head football coach DJ Durkin on Wednesday —just one day after initially reinstating him from 80 days of administrative leave.

It was the university’s board of regents that had decided to retain Durkin even though President Wallace Loh opposed that decision because of the campus turmoil that had existed since the mishandling of the heat-related death of freshman lineman Jordan McNair in June.

An investigation into the Terrapins’ program uncovered reports of a “toxic environment” under Durkin and abuse of players. Thus, that initial decision to restore Durkin as head coach drew criticism from political leaders across the state, campus organizations and McNair’s family.

“The overwhelming majority of stakeholders expressed serious concerns about Coach DJ Durkin returning to campus,’’ Loh wrote in the statement that announced Durkin’s dismissal.

It was after Durkin was briefly reinstated that the real fun began. Several players walked off the field in protest of Durkin’s return to the team. Then punters Wade Lees and Matt Barber got into a fight with all sorts of accusations flying around on social media.

Lees, who supported Durkin, has accused his backup of being a whistleblower during the school’s investigation into the program but he insists that the fight had nothing to do with any of that.

Time may show Barber to be on the right side of history, but he ended up on the wrong side of Lees’ punches. He suffered a separated shoulder, although he claims other players pinned his arms back as Lees assaulted him.

The fight was caught on film and is being reviewed by campus police.

Clearly, this whole situation has been mishandled.

With the football program in turmoil despite a 5-3 record heading into Saturday’s home game against Michigan State, interim coach Matt Canada may have trouble winning another game even if the Terrapins do play at Indiana, his alma mater, next week.

After that, Maryland plays host to Ohio State and then travels to Penn State, so if they aren’t bowl eligible by next Saturday, whoever is named as Durkin’s permanent replacement could have an even bigger mess on his hands.

Party on

Championship celebrations can get out of hand – especially in Boston.

That’s more or less what happened on Wednesday as the Boston Red Sox players and their families were enjoying a Duck Boat parade through downtown and fans were tossing cans of beer to the celebrants. Alas, not all the cans were caught, which should be a reminder to all that not everyone has the reflexes of a shortstop.

When there are children in the mix, it can become somewhat dangerous. Manager Alex Cora and his daughter, Jason Varitek’s wife and a team photographer were among those beaned by the projectiles. Outfielder Mookie Betts might have been hit if not for a Boston Globe photographer knocking down another can of beer.

Another can damaged the trophy, breaking several  of the golden pennant flags that rise from the base. It has since been repaired, so the damage wasn’t that bad.

There were six arrests, including 19-year-old Patrick Connolly, who was just trying to toss Cora a beer when it hit the manager.

“I know the kid didn’t mean to hurt anybody,” Cora told reporters. “Obviously, it’s dangerous, but it is what it is … We’re fine.”

Cora said he paid closer attention after the incident and caught two beers thrown his way.

It’s kind of a tradition that fans toss beer to the players during these celebrations, but several Red Sox didn’t seem too enthused about the beer-sharing idea.

Outfielder Betts said the practice, “definitely has to stop.”

But Betts and teammates probably met their limit for alcohol for the rest of the year during Sunday night’s postgame celebration in the locker room, at an L.A. nightclub  and then at a Boston night club on Tuesday night.

The bar bill on both coasts apparently topped $300,000, and we know the club left a tip of nearly $200,000 in Los Angeles, so we can probably assume the tip was just as large in Boston.

So how did the team with baseball’s highest payroll celebrate Sunday night in L.A. – with  150 bottles of champagne and more than 30 bottles of hard alcohol.

Flag them for excessive celebration.

World Series hotflashes

NBC comedian Jimmy Fallon: ‘Last night marks the first World Series won by the Red Sox since 2013. Today, 5-year-olds in Boston were like, ‘Finally, the curse is broken.’”

ABC comedian Jimmy Kimmel, wondering who President Trump was rooting for in the World Series: “Maybe Boston because he loves Tom Brady or maybe the Dodgers because that’s how he got out of Vietnam.”
NBC comedian Jimmy Fallon: “Today was the World Series victory parade and I saw a fan threw a can of beer and damaged the World Series trophy. The fan was named mayor of Boston.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “The Red Sox’ World Series parade was marred by fans throwing full beer cans that Mookie Betts said “has got to stop.” To which Baltimore Orioles players are saying avoiding dangerous situations like that is the reason they made sure to lose 115 games this year.”

NBC comedian Jimmy Fallon: “It’s Boston’s ninth time winning the Series. Or as the New York Yankees said, ‘Oh, isn’t that cute. Call us when you win 27.”

Super Patriot

No one can accuse New England Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski of being emotionally unavailable to his fans on social media.

When a 5-year-old boy from Franklin, Mass., was bullied at school for painting his fingernails, his father vented his outrage on Twitter with a photo of his son holding up a fish he had caught. Aaron Gouveia told his son, Sam, he shouldn’t care what other people think.

Other Twitter users quickly sent messages of support, including photos of other boys and men wearing nail polish. But when Sam asked if his favorite NFL player, Gronkowski, wore nail polish, Gouveia didn’t know how to respond.

Fortunately, it didn’t take long for Gronkowski to speak for himself.

“Hey Sam, what’s up? It’s Rob Gronkowski here,”’ Gronkowski tweeted. “I heard some kids at school were giving you a hard time for wearing some nail polish. I just want to say, stay strong and do what makes you the happiest, and keep being yourself.”

Aaron Gouveia said his son is a “rough and tumble” kid who also happens to like the look of nail polish because of the bright colors. But it took Gronkowski weighing in on the debate before Sam could feel good about himself again.

They said it

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter: “Saturday night I’d like to turn back the clock to a time when Nebraska football didn’t lose recruiting battles to Kentucky.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “Cavaliers forward J.R. Smith says he wants out of Cleveland. To which 400,000 other residents are saying “Hey, us too!”

Ex-slugger Prince Fielder when asked how Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell helped him when they were Brewers teammates: “There was one time I was thinking about bunting. He told me if I bunted he would punch me in the face.”

Orlando columnist Mike Bianchi on impact of Purdue’s upset of Ohio State: “Urban Meyer will soon announce he is stepping down to spend more time with his ESPN family.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter: “I just had a trick or treater in a sweatshirt going “See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil.” I said ‘Who are you supposed to be?’ The kid goes, ‘Urban Meyer.’”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “If everybody loves a winner, then why did Alabama, Ohio State and Notre Dame come in 1-2-3 in a survey asking participants to name the nation’s most-hated college football team?”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Los Angeles Lakers hung on for a 114-113 win tonight.  Well, Lebron and company may not make the playoffs, but they at least have as many wins as the Cleveland Browns.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “Former Miami Marlins pitcher Justin Wayne has been sentenced to four years in prison for insurance fraud. The only worse sentence would have been four more years with the Marlins.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter: “The only thing that changes faster than the weather in Nebraska is the way the people here feel about recruits who commit somewhere else @ the last minute.”

ABC comedian Jimmy Kimmel on Kobe Bryant being a guest on his show to promote a blog and a book: “Kobe, as you may know, won an Oscar earlier this year. So far Kobe has more wins than the Lakers do.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “WNBA players have opted out of their collective bargaining agreement. Apparently they feel they can negotiate their own contracts for a better deal than the current $7.50 an hour.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter:  “A stunning statistic heading into the Ohio State game: the same year Mike Riley was hired at Nebraska Adrian Martinez was probably trick of treat age.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “LeBron James is set to produce the reboot of “Friday the 13th.” Although the script is said to be nowhere near as scary as a last second jump shot by Lonzo Ball.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter: “I had a little boy trick or treater dressed as D.J. Durkin – wait, that was the real D.J. Durkin looking to stock up on free stuff.”

Director Doug Liman on actor Tom Cruise questioning why he had called a ball out while they were playing tennis: “I was like, ‘It’s not your fault. You’ve been a movie star for so long that no one ever probably pointed out to you that your ball has to land within the white lines.'”

Hoops hysteria

With college basketball cranking back up, I’ve been reminiscing about my former life as an employed sports journalist – 41 years overall, 25 years as a sports editor and columnist at three newspaper in three states.

Now that I’ve retired and moved back to South Carolina, I’m delighted to know that former University of Evansville coach Marty Simmons is just up the road working at Clemson for Evansville native Brad Brownell, and that Indiana coach Tom Crean is now the head coach at the University of Georgia.

Anyway, I posted this on my Facebook and Twitter accounts the other day as I was thinking about my many trips to Bloomington, Ind.

When Crean was the basketball coach at Indiana:

—  He said I only came to games for the pizza in the press room

—  He called me out for wearing an ACC lanyard

—  He challenged me to take on Victor Oladipo in a dunk contest

—  He set up blind taste test with Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi and motor oil

—   He called me a very stable genius, considering “I was just a sports writer.”

Confession: Only one of those multiple-choice answers is true and it has nothing to do with a basketball in my hands.

 Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Luke Walton inspires Lakers with story about zero-point, 2-rebound performance in Game 2 of 2009 Finals.”

Fark.com: “Dept. of Justice investigating Dodgers over recruitment of Cuban-born players.”

SportsPickle.com: “Regressing enough to get Hue Jackson fired makes Baker Mayfield the greatest Browns QB in modern history.”

Fark.com: “The Red Sox won the World Series just so the could troll the New York Yankees.”

Sportspickle.com: “Yes, bad coaching is the reason the Cavaliers are suddenly bad.”

TheOnion.com: “Will the Pacers ever be able to return to the glory days of their 2004 brawl with fans?”

Fark.com: “Are Boston fans sick of winning? No.”

SportsPickle.com: “I’m glad we can all agree that Tim Tebow is the greatest athlete of all-time.”

Fark.com: “Packers trade Aaron Rodgers nemesis for bag of used practice footballs and half a roll of athletic tape.”

SportsPickle.com: “What if the new Browns quarterback isn’t good?”

Fark.com: “The Bills are resorting to using plays from Tecmo Bowl.”

Awfulannouncing.com: “Ranking Hue Jackson’s biggest wins as head coach of the Browns.”

Fark.com: The Texas Rangers poke fun at Dodgers as well as themselves by tweeting: “Hey @Dodgers, the support group for back-to-back #WorldSeries losers meets on Tuesdays.”

Gridiron glory

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “So who had Nick Mullens in Fantasy Football this week?”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “SI.com reports John Gruden is on a three-year rebuild so the Raiders win the Super Bowl in 2020. Why not use his old formula? Have Tony Dungy build the team, then take over.”

Janice Hough of LeftcoastSportsBabe.com: “How long until Vegas looks at their purchase of the Raiders under California’s “Lemon Law?”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia snapped at a reporter about his posture. Although if anyone should know about slumping, it’s the head coach of the Lions.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Trade talk has Giants QB Eli Manning, 37, reuniting with coach Tom Coughlin in Jacksonville. The G-men would get an O-lineman; the Jags get Manning and a defibrillator to be named later.”

Coping with Stars

Letting it slip that she’s now divorced didn’t earn sympathy votes for former gymnast Mary Lou Retton on “Dancing with the Stars.”

Neither did the haunted schoolhouse tango she and partner Sasha Farber performed on the show on Halloween night. Retton was eliminated from the competition on Wednesday.

She revealed to Farber on Monday that she and Shannon Kelly, her husband of 27 years, had gotten divorced in February. They have four daughters, all grown, and she credits them with helping her cope with the end of her marriage in February.

“I went through a divorce. People don’t know that. It’s the first time I’ve actually said it publicly,” said Retton, who won the all-around gold medal in the 1984 Olympics along with two silver and two bronze medals.

Kelly, a former quarterback at the University of Texas, has been the assistant head coach at Houston Baptist University since 2012.

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11:

  • Is Nick Mullens the next Brett Farve? A Southern Mississippi product like Farve, Mullens led 49ers to 35-3 win over Raiders, passing for 262 yards and 3 TDs. Not bad for first NFL start by undrafted QB.
  • D3 East Stroudsburg football coach Denny Douds, 77, called time with 4 seconds left in loss to Ohio Dominican, huddled his players, and announced his retirement with 2 games left. Then he walked to his car and “smiled all the way home.” Oh, he got flagged for TO he didn’t have.
  • Despite a three-game suspension, Jameis Winston has thrown a NFL high-tying 10 interceptions.
  • Where’s the outrage? Kentucky, at No. 9, has a better chance of climbing into the College Football Playoff final four than UCF, which is No. 12.
  • Someone has a clue in Tampa: Ryan Fitzpatrick Named Buccaneers Starting QB over Jameis Winston vs. Panthers.
  • Ex-Gamecock Steve Pearce homers again and collects two more RBIs. I think it’s only fair the team changes its name to Boston Garnet Sox.
  • The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party? I think the Gators are officially punch drunk, losing to the Bulldogs 36-17 with less than 5 minutes in game.
  • If game is still tied after 12 innings, do they go to a Home Run Derby tiebreaker? Or does team with most hits win? Most strikeouts? Most crotch grabs/adjustments?

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while gearing up for a southern smorgasbord of college football games between Clemson-Florida State, Georgia-Florida and Tennessee-South Carolina:

Recruiting bling

There’s a reason why the Southeastern Conference rules college football every season, and 247 Sports spells it out clearly with its current rankings of the Top 25 program facilities.

While Oregon makes the most of its money from Nike’s Phil Knight to claim the top spot this season for the Pac-12, and Clemson represents the ACC with the No. 2 spot, the next three schools are all from the SEC. Texas A&M is No. 3, Tennessee is No. 4 and Alabama is No. 5.

Yeah, that’s quite a handicap Nick Saban has to overcome, right?

Overall, the SEC claims nine of the 25 spots in the rankings with Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky, Auburn and LSU also making the cut.

The Pac-12 and ACC each only had two other schools to make the list. But yeah, Notre Dame made the rankings, so I guess you can argue the ACC should get half credit even if the Irish are independent in football.

The Big Ten with five schools in the rankings is the nearest challenger to the SEC when it comes to facilities, which includes stadiums, weight rooms, locker rooms, practice fields, etc. The Big 12 had four schools make the rankings.

If you’re curious, you’ll have to look up the full list yourself.

But sadly, Purdue isn’t represented.

Which gives me another reason to praise the Boilermakers for their butt-kicking of previously No. 2-ranked Ohio State. Urban Meyer’s lads tumbled to No. 11 in this week’s AP poll, one spot behind Central Florida.

Catch of year?

It was at a hockey game, and the thrown puck may have missed its intended target – maybe – but now seemingly everyone in the San Jose area knows a catch when they see it.

Her name is Diana Hsaio.

Hsaio said she was at the Sharks game against the Islanders, looking for a friend while talking on her cell phone before the game, when she saw a puck thrown by Joe Pavelski coming her way.

Reaching up with her left hand at the last second, she knocked the puck down, and then made a chest trap. And yes, she was wearing a low-cut tank top.

So her “talented” cleavage catch quickly went viral.

When she heard the roar of the crowd, she realized all eyes were on her, so she held up the puck in celebration. She then gave it to a girl in the row in front of her.

Her reaction on Twitter to the video: “I’m genuinely confused on why this video is going viral.”

Other Twitter reactions:

@philly_carl: “There’s a hockey puck in this video?”

@Swearengen95: “Top shelf save right there.”

LeBron’s world

RJ Currie of the SportsDeke.com: “Cleveland center Tristan Thompson said even without LeBron James the Cavs are the East’s team to beat. What color is the sky in his world?”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “I know it’s early in the season, but, somehow I missed NBA rule change that Lebron James has to take at LEAST four steps for refs to call traveling.”

They said it

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter: “On Halloween only kids dressed as Scott Frost or a Husker football player or Bill Moos will get a treat at my house. Otherwise, don’t bother.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “A former Adidas executive was convicted in the college basketball corruption case. It looks like he will be wearing gear with a whole new set of stripes.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Just pointing out to Fox Sports and ESPN that East Coast bias may not be so good for ratings when only West Coast fans can stay up to see World Series.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “A trio of tennis umpires in Thailand caught match-fixing got banned — for life. Now that’s a Thai-breaker.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: The cruise ship Titanic II is set to make its maiden voyage in 2022. And in a related story, Vince McMahon just named it the official cruise ship of the XFL.

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “Dell and Stephan Curry are now the number two father and son scoring team in NBA history, behind Kobe and Joe Bryant. However, they would all still behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar if his dad was in the league long enough to make one basket.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter: “The Nebraska men’s basketball team is ranked in the pre-season top 25. What in the name of Danny Nee is going on around here?”

Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg on Chris Sale, a 6-foot-6, 180-pound left-hander for the Red Sox: “Now, I don’t want to say Sale is skinny, but if the Red Sox wore pinstripes, he would wear a pinstripe.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “Top high school basketball prospect Darius Bazley has signed a shoe contract that could be worth up to $14 Million. At this rate, kids are going to be endorsing shoes before they are old enough to learn how to tie them.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter: “Breaking news: based on the huge turnout for the Husker men’s basketball scrimmage last night A.D. Bill Moos has extended Tim Miles’ contract for another two days.”

Nick Rousso, unimpressed with the upcoming Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson pay-per-view golf match: “Four-plus hours of two guys walking around an empty golf course? Tiger will need to drop several F-bombs to get your money’s worth.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is denying he cried after being injured. He was actually crying about being stuck on a 1-5 team that will probably finish with a worse record than the Browns.”

Janice Hough of LeftcoastSportsBabe.com: “So NFL took 49ers vs. Rams off Sunday Night football because it would be too much of a blowout.   Replaced game with Bengals vs. Chiefs. SF lost by 29 today. Cincinnati to lost KC by 35. Mean bitch karma popping an autumnal mead?”

Randy Turner of the Winnipeg Free Press on Connor McDavid playing for the struggling Edmonton Oilers: “Like Jimi Hendrix playing lead guitar for The Monkees.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter: “Bethune-Cookman game is a no-win situation. Win by only two touchdowns or god forbid lose & it’s “What’s wrong with this team?” Win 60-3 and it’s “Nebraska had no business playing the game.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “Tom Brady says he hates the Dodgers after growing up near San Francisco. He would also love to help the Red Sox win but is of no use since you can’t let the air out of baseballs.”

Wishful thinking

Now we know what Turner Sports plans to charge for the pay-per-view golf showdown between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson on Nov. 23.

I supposed that’s a bargain since Turner Sports has already lowered its price from a rumored $25 to $19.99. That’s still too pricey for me, especially for one of the worst pay TV sporting events since Zolani Tete only needed 11 seconds to knock out Siboniso Gonya in a WBO Bantamweight bout last November.

If you were snookered into paying for that fight, I hope you didn’t blink.

Meanwhile, unless Tiger and Phil replicate the alleged fisticuffs between Ryder Cup teammates Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, there will be nothing to see that you can’t catch at two dozen other golf tournaments.

It’s golf. A well-hit drive off the tee here, a soft landing on the green there and maybe a nice chip out of a bunker.

Like I said, it’s golf. The only sport where the players could also strut down a fashion runway.

Fittingly, it will take place in Las Vegas on a Friday afternoon so all the gamblers can gather and then celebrate a long weekend.

Woods and Mickelson will be battling over a total of $9 million in a winner-take-all cash grab. They’ll also be able to place side bets on all 18 holes, which gives the eventual loser a chance to reap a small windfall.

I’d be more excited knowing most of the money was going to a worthwhile charity on a Thanksgiving weekend.

Giant steps

Comedian Eric  Stangel on Twitter: “Eli Manning couldn’t get in on 2 QB sneaks at the goal line. They might have to draft a running back #1 in next year’s draft.”

Dwight Perry of The Seattle Times: “Harley-Davidson has recalled 238,000 motorcycles because they have a clutch problem. The NFL, not to be outdone, immediately recalled the New York Giants.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Peyton Manning has been retired for three seasons. If you’re keeping stats at home, so far this year Eli Manning has won one more game than his brother.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “Fans ripped the New York Giants for horrible clock management at the end of Monday night’s game. It’s just too bad they can’t manage the clock to turn it back to the last time they were good in 2012.”

Splitting splinters

Unless a player decides to gift a broken bat to a nearby fan, you can pretty much expect that the damaged equipment will be claimed by a memorabilia company to be sold on its website or perhaps donated to a charity to raise money for a worthwhile cause.

Meanwhile, in Japan, such bats are salvaged and turned into chopsticks. In a country that puts a priority on recycling, the process allows Japan to preserve and replenish the aodama ash trees.

There’s even a word for the recycling effort – “kattobashi.” It’s a mix of the word for chopsticks and the chant for getting a big hit.

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Manny Machado denies playing dirty after late slide into pitcher’s mound.”

Fark.com: “NFL clarifies their new roughing-the-passer rules, says it will only be called on the Packers and anyone approaching Tom Brady.”

SportsPickle.com: “Starting Clayton Kershaw always seems to me like a very expensive way to forfeit.”

TheOnion.com: “Busy referee regrets not finding time to throw flag around with son.”

Fark.com: “In Japan you can’t play baseball with a broken bat but you can still play chopsticks.”

Sportspickle.com: “NFL players need to have media contracts and media people need to have NFL contracts.”

TheOnion.com: “Does Amari Cooper’s experience playing under a terrible head coach make him a perfect fit for the Cowboys?”

Fark.com: “Breaking News: World Series tickets are expensive.”

SportsPickle.com: “If Amari Cooper is worth a 1st Round pick, LeVeon Bell is worth the entire NFL draft through 2044.”

SportsPickle.com: “Is there a baseball rule that the Red Sox must always have a closer who should be punched in the face?”

Fark.com: “Philadelphia Eagles go into 4th quarter up 17-0 against Carolina Panthers. Then things get all Atlanta Falcon-y.”

SportsPickle.com: “Every Browns game should start in overtime. And all the players should be drunk.”

Awfulannouncing.com: “Mike Francesca thought a legit question about Syracuse football coach Dino Babers was a prank call.

Fark.com: “Appalachian State is ranked for the first time ever, and they didn’t even need to beat a Big Ten team to do it.”

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11:

  • I feel much better knowing Ben Roethlisberger has said that crying in football, baseball, basketball, soccer, maybe even lacrosse, and also movie theaters is OK.
  • How good has Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa been this season? Of 61 drives he’s led, only 20 have ended without a touchdown and 5 of those have reaped field goals. That’s a 75.4 scoring percentage. That’s domination.
  • So bombing suspect has bunch of stickers on his van supporting Trump, including “Top youth soccer recruits for Trump” and one touting college programs in Carolinas, including Clemson. Clearly, these are all players suffering brain damage from improper technique heading the ball.
  • Boston takes 2-0 lead over L.A. in the North America Series.
  • Will Urban Meyer resign tonight to spend more time with his family? Hey could also claim an upset tummy after Purdue’s D.J. Knox torched Buckeyes for 131 yards and 3 TDs on just 15 carries. Two of scores were 40-plus yards.
  • Boilermakers > Buckeyes

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while having a hard time accepting that the NBA and NHL are again starting new seasons while our attention is supposed to be on football and baseball:

Time to waste

Here are suggestions on how to spend a Saturday when your favorite unranked college football team has a bye week:

  • Play catch with your kid – even if he’s now over 30.
  • Binge watch a TV show you’re too ashamed to admit that you’ve never seen, like Mad Men or Breaking Bad.
  • Throw out your back rearranging the living room furniture for at least the fifth time since you moved in.
  • If you have more than one dog, convince your wife that giving them a bath could double as a fun full body workout.
  • After your wife nixes the dog-washing idea, convince her to shop local at the mall so you can at least sample culinary delights from three food court vendors.
  • Take your car in to the shop to rotate the tires and get an oil change, which will give you at least a guilt-free hour of watching a random college football game.
  • Volunteer to take the grandkids to the library, so you can read magazines you once paid to have mailed to your home.
  • Spend an afternoon fishing, which is always a good excuse to drink beer, get a sunburn and argue with friends before storing the boat for the winter.
  • Enjoy a date night with the wife, but don’t make the mistake of thinking you can get away with a store-bought pizza and whatever movie is on cable.
  • Punt, and spend the day watching multiple games featuring ranked college football teams.

Young gun

Florida Atlantic football coach Lane Kiffen took the bait, and now 11-year-old quarterback Cole Leinart has a scholarship offer from the Owls.

Yes, it’s a bit ridiculous considering Kiffen isn’t expected to stick around FAU for even another five years. But Cole Leinart is the son of former Southern Cal QB Matt Leinart. And Cole already has a strong and accurate arm.

In fact, it was a 30-yard completion for a touchdown that prompted The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman to tweet a video of that throw with a sarcastic quip that he was surprised Kiffen hadn’t already offered to sign the kid.

Kiffen, after all, was an assistant at USC during Leinart’s college career.

They said it

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson: “Good news for Tim Miles. A.D. Bill Moos said if Nebraska wins the NCAA Tournament, goes undefeated and then defeats the Globetrotters he’ll consider keeping Miles for another season.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Florida Atlantic football coach Lane Kiffin has offered a scholarship to Matt Leinart’s son Cole — a 5-foot-7, 11-year-old sixth-grader. The NCAA is already looking into that shiny new bicycle he’s suddenly riding to school.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “The Nashville Predators, knocked out in Round 2 of the 2018 playoffs, raised three banners commemorating last season. I think one of them was for participation.”

Comedian Eric Stangel on Twitter: “I like when I do a crazy amount of research to painstakingly find my perfect fantasy football lineup, then I notice the person I’m playing against hasn’t updated anything since the draft.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “The NBA is revamping its officiating website to include plays that merited reviews. Or as they call that in the NFL, watching the game films.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter, again: “I don’t want to read about Ronda Rousey’s “big comeback” to regain her WWE title or her plans for her next WWE match or what she thinks about the upcoming WWE card – I just don’t.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, again: “Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. headbutted a giant cooling fan during the Eagles game. That’s odd; usually he prefers to butt heads with his coach.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: “According to USA Today, Alabama Crimson Tide’s problem is they always blow out the competition and aren’t used to close games. “We feel your pain,” said absolutely nobody.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “The Raiders have been fined $20,000 for violating the league’s injury reporting policy. Which is the NFL’s way of adding insult to injury.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter, again: “It’s hard for the ESPN/ABC crew to seem impartial when they spend half the telecast singing the Northwestern fight song.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, again: “Ohio State star DE Nick Bosa says he is leaving school to focus on rehabbing a muscle injury before the NFL draft. Because we all know it takes so much physical effort to read a book?”

Comedian Eric Stangel on Twitter: “Best moment of my day/week/month. Someone just asked me if I was a rugby player.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on  Twitter, again: “Take away  the worst start in 129 years of playing football for Nebraska and this really hasn’t been that bad of a season.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: “Reuters reports 409 Beadnose, a roly-poly brown ursine female in Alaska, has been named Fattest Bear. Judges said she’s the portliest Fattest Bear champ since William The Fridge Perry.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “Serena Williams’ coach says on-court coaching should be allowed. Although how much coaching can you really give a tennis player? “Hit it harder!” “Hit it over the net!” “Run faster!”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe, again: “Marijuana is legal in Canada starting tomorrow. And for a lot of professional football players the CFL just got more appealing.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “Experts say a rare 1792 U.S. penny set to go on the auction block in Baltimore this month could fetch $1 million. In a related story, Steelers holdout Le’Veon Bell is now demanding his franchise tag be paid in 1792 U.S. pennies.”

Mixed feelings

You have to wonder if Oklahoma City Thunder fans can continue to embrace Paul George after the California native admitted he still has thoughts of what life would be like in a Lakers uniform.

“I wanted to play in L.A. That is where I wanted to go,” said George. “Had that trade never went down, had I played one more year in Indy, I would have been in a Lakers uniform.”

Instead, the Indiana Pacers trade George to the Thunder prior to last season. That experience playing alongside Russell Westbrook was enough to alter George’s free-agency dreams, which is why he ended up signing a four-year contract extension worth $137 million.

“Going toward the summer and going toward free agency, I kind of had my mind made up talking with the team, talking with Russ and talking with the front office,” said Paul. “I kind of felt good where we were at.”

But that didn’t stop him from telling ESPN’s The Undefeated this week that he was still disappointed he didn’t get the chance to play out the final year of his contract in Indianapolis. By being traded to the Thunder, he felt like the opportunity to go to the Lakers became more complicated.

“It was 50-50 on deciding whether I wanted to come back home or if it was smarter to be in the situation I am in now.”

It’ll be interesting to see how the fans respond to George when the Thunder play their home-opener on Sunday against the Sacramento Kings.

Headlines

Fark.com: “Competitive pinball is now a thing.”

TheOnion.com: “Texas Rangers asking taxpayers to cover 60% of bribes related to new stadium.”

SportsPickle.com: “The threat of groin surgeries is what really could see kids choose not to play football.”

Fark.com: “Manny Machado called up to the bush leagues.”

TheOnion.com: “Skip Bayless rips Shannon Sharpe’s heart from body during debate on Cowboy’s O-Line.”

Sportspickle.com:  “I don’t know guys. I really think the Steelers should pay $20 million a year for their No. 2 back.”

 Fark.com: “LeBron James finally compares L.A. Lakers to instant oatmeal.”

TheOnion.com: “Sprinter feels like an idiot after finding out about jogging.”

Sportspickle.com: “I always thought there should be more than four teams in the college football playoff. Then I saw No. 5 Notre Dame play football.”

Fark.com: “Hockey team knows you’re in trouble when your home ice is turned yellow.”

TheOnion.com: “Golden State raises 2018, 2019, 2020 championship banners.”

Fark.com: “Soccer club under fire for handing out brothel vouchers to fans.”

Declining interest

Indianapolis Star conducted a poll on Twitter asking Colts fans  why they aren’t inclined to attend games this season, putting the franchise near the bottom of the NFL in attendance as the league nears midseason.

The answers weren’t that surprising considering the Colts are off to a 1-5 start this season despite the return of Andrew Luck at quarterback.

Forty percent replied that the team was “Not good enough.” Another 28 percent decided it had become too expensive, even if the Colts still have season tickets that are lower on average than most of the league.

Nineteen percent said they’d rather watch on TV and 13 percent gave “Other” as their answer.

Baseball rules?

Comedian Eric Stangel on Twitter: “If a catcher is allowed to stand up when the pitch is coming, then the batter should be allowed to sit down.” #EricStangelForMLBCommissioner

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “The Astros fan called for interference says he doesn’t understand why it wasn’t ruled a home run. To which somewhere, Steve Bartman is coming out of the shadows saying “Yes!”

Syndicated columnist Norman Chad, via Twitter on Dodger catcher Yasmani Grandal’s third inning in Game 1 of the NLDS: “Passed ball, catcher’s interference, error. Is that a hat trick or fielding for the cycle?”

Bigger opponent

Purdue is honoring one of its own at kickoff on Saturday when the Boilermakers play Ohio State. Instead of the traditional pre-kickoff chant of “IU sucks” directed at rival Indiana, the fans are being instructed to vent against cancer.

Tyler Trent, who fancies himself as one of Purdue’s biggest sports fans, is going through his third battle with bone cancer since his freshman year in high school. He now would be a sophomore at Purdue, if he was still enrolled in school. But last year doctors found that the cancer, osteosarcoma, had settled in his lower spine. The cancer first appeared in an arm and his pelvis.

Last month, the Carmel, Indiana native made it known that he would not be able to return to school because of his latest bout with the disease. “My health has taken a turn for the worse and the level of care I now need is too great,” he tweeted.

But he and his family will make it to West Lafayette for Saturday’s game.

NBA longshots

Stefan Bondy of the N.Y. Daily News, via Twitter with the latest NBA opening-night news: “A fan just knocked down a halfcourt shot for $10,000. The Knicks have missed all nine of their field-goal attempts.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “Golden State star Klay Thompson says he’d like to see five Warriors make Team USA. So which happens first: five Warriors on Team USA — or the entire Team USA roster on the Warriors?”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Kawhi Leonard got a standing ovation in his first game with the Raptors, and seems happy enough now to be in Toronto.  Of course, with Canada’s new marijuana laws, maybe he figures it won’t be long until some of his favorite superstar friends will join him.”

Charles Barkley, making a confession to NBC comedian Jimmy Fallon: “I’ve been 10 years without underwear. And, I feel good about it, Jimmy. I thought they were unnecessary for space in the house. So, I gathered all my drawers together and had a big ol’ bonfire.”

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11

  • Troy Aikman made it clear on Thursday Night Football he doesn’t listen to podcasts. Joe Buck seemed stunned. “You listen to podcasts?” asked Aikman. “Yes I do,” said Buck. Replied Aikman, “I’m going to call you next time you’re listening.” Masters of Chitchat.
  • Former Gamecock Josh Wolff, who is an assistant w/ Columbus Crew, is getting shot as assistant w/USMNT vs. Peru in exhibition in Hartford, CT. Makes me wonder if he’ll be contacted as candidate to replace Mark Berson. He’s only 41 and he’d be a great hire. #bringWolffhome
  • Dolphins’ Drake was shedding tears of relief for OT fumble after Jason Sanders bailed him out w/ 47 yd FG to beat Bears 31-28. Chicago missed FG. But my takeaways: Drake is ex-Alabama player who choked at crunch time; Colts were crazy for letting Gore go. 1-5 Colts, I might add.
  • Georgia and South Carolina have combined for 0 points in first half and are surrendering 29 points to LSU and Tennessee. So scrap my idea of a Fantasy Mixed Doubles Football League.
  • Charles Barkley just surrendered man card. Asked if he had been tempted to play football since Pat Dye wanted him, he said no, you had to be “real man” to play football. So his Auburn nickname, “Round Mound of Rebound” indicates only pancakes Sir Charles knows come with syrup.

 

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while hoping for a quick return to normalcy for friends, and my youngest son, who are still without power and dealing with storm damage from Hurricane Michael in the Panhandle of Florida:

Tough off-season

Tom Izzo swears he doesn’t know disgraced physician Larry Nassar, but that didn’t prevent ESPN from having an illustration that depicted him, Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio and Nassar for a story last February that alleged the school may be covering up sexual assaults and other misconduct.

The illustration even ran with the headline, “Spartan secrets extend far beyond Larry Nassar case.”

Nassar has been sentenced to 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting USA women gymnasts and Michigan State athletes. Meanwhile, Izzo and Dantonio have done nothing criminal.

“… This thing about hidden secrets, that picture, will go down as the worst thing that ever happened to Tom Izzo and Mark Dantonio,” Izzo said at Big Ten Basketball Media Days. “That picture, which was completely uncalled for, had nothing to do with anything. Didn’t know the guy, didn’t deal with the guy. What more can I say?”

When it comes to disciplining his players, Izzo admits he’s made some mistakes but did so while following university policies and waiting to see if criminal charges would be filed.

“I’ve kicked kids out for drugs. I’ve kicked kids off for academics. (You think) I’m not going to kick somebody off for sexual assault? That’s insulting,” said Izzo.

 Looking for sweep

Curling Night In America? Yes, that’s now a thing, thanks to NBCSN.

Guess the Major League playoffs, college football and NFL aren’t enough to command our attention this fall. Thus, NBCSN is offering curling as an exciting viewing option with a full slate of competition every Friday night through Dec. 14.

Yes, curling. Somebody’s got the stones to bring it to the forefront.

It’s another one of those gateway sports, like soccer and lacrosse that are meant to corrupt the youth of America and siphon off support for football. You’ve seen the commercial, right? And get this, they do it with brooms.

In case you missed it, it began with the United States men taking on Italy at 8 p.m. Next Friday, it will be mixed doubles between the United States and China, airing at 11 p.m. There’s also women’s competition between the USA, China and Japan.

I’m guessing there’s a points system involved to determine who will be crowned the “world champion.” And if that doesn’t grab enough viewers, the network could always host a Cornhole Night In America.

Keeping up with social media trends, the USA Team’s Chris Plys will be answering questions on Twitter @usacurl.

They said it

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com: “The San Diego Padres have fired their hitting coach Matt Stairs. People were surprised. With the team finishing the year 66-96, they had no idea the team even had a hitting coach.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Several reports said Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka came to blows after a post-Ryder Cup party. Maybe that’s why they’re called the Bash Brothers?”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “French competitive beard-grower Gal Vallerius, 36, was sentenced in Miami to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to drug and money-laundering charges. WADA figured something was amiss when he tested positive for Scotts Turf Builder.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com, again: “Former baseball star Lenny Dykstra has been indicted for drugs and making threats. The man who used to be called “Nails” is now more known for having some loose screws.”

Bob Molinaro in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot on manager Buck Showalter being fired for the Orioles’ worst season ever: “Idle thought: Was Showalter fired? Or was he granted clemency?”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter: “The Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots have reached a combined $750 million. That’s enough to pay the entire Louisville men’s basketball team for a season.”

Dwight Perry of The Seattle Times, again: “Detroit Tigers TV broadcasters Rod Allen and Mario Impemba — taken off the air after getting into a physical altercation Sept. 4 — will not be back next season. In other words, fans’ hopes for a rematch are now up to WWE.”

Comedian Eric  Stangel on Twitter, again: “Unbelievable to think there was a time the #Chargers had Philip Rivers, Doug Flutie, Drew Brees AND Cleo Lemon on the same roster.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, again: “Apparently more bets have been placed in Las Vegas on the Los Angeles Lakers to win NBA championship than any other team. If anyone wondered how they got the money to build all those big hotels.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: “Mavs owner Mark Cuban has promised the Dallas dancers will wear more family-friendly outfits. Meaning what? Doubling the length of their skirts to two inches?”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com, again: “LeBron James’ old locker in Cleveland was remodeled to be a towel closet. Which will be handy for those left on the team who can use them to cry on when they miss the playoffs next year.”

Dwight Perry of The Seattle Times, again: “Little Caesars Arena — the year-old home to Detroit’s NBA Pistons and NHL Red Wings — is switching out its 18,600 red-bowl seats for black ones because the sight of empty red seats in TV crowd shots made declining attendance obvious. In other words, they’re losing their seats so … they’re losing their seats.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe, again: “Since all Division series wrapped up in four games or less, there are now two days with zero Major League Baseball games. So we all get a brief taste of what this year was like for Orioles fans.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: “I may have pinpointed the problem with Blue Bomber assistant coach Richie Hall’s much-criticized defensive schemes. They all seem to be based on a dare.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter, again: “Husker fans, it doesn’t stop. Herbie Husker just announced plans to transfer after learning he’s now second team mascot behind Lil Red.”

Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg, after a runaway horse galloped into a bar. “Nobody was hurt, but a priest, a rabbi and a minister all spilled their drinks.”

Train-wrecked marathon

From Dwight Perry’s Sideline Chatter column in The Seattle Times:

Pre-race roadwork? Check.

Cross-training? Check.

Train-crossing? D’oh!

An estimated 25 percent of the field for last Sunday’s Portlandathon in Portland got delayed for up to 22 minutes when a Union Pacific freight train blocked the course on Naito Parkway at the Steel Bridge, which certainly put a kink in runners’ plans to post a qualifying time for, say, the Boston Marathon.

The men’s winner, Tomonori Sakamoto, was safely across the tracks before the train arrived He won by 27 minutes.”

CFB Storylines

Rick Bozich of Louisville’s WDR-TV, with about the only suspense surrounding top-ranked Alabama: “Will Tua Tagovailoa attempt a pass in the fourth quarter this season? Hasn’t happened yet.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson: “Northwestern is favored by 8 points on Saturday. Oh, great, Now the Huskers are underdogs to schools where the players actually attend class.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe, again: “QB Kelly Bryant who decided to leave Clemson when he lost the starting job to now injured freshman Trevor Lawrence, will visit UNC this weekend. Where no doubt he will try to impress the coaching staff of the 1-3 Tarheels with his leadership ability even through adversity.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter, again: “Nebraska gets a new governor, people are “Meh.” Nebraska gets a new punter, people are “Whoa! Where’s he from?! Where’d he go to school?! What’s his favorite color? DOES HE HAVE ANY PETS?!!”

 NFL drama

Dwight Perry of The Seattle Times, again: “Who says you need a “D” to spell Raiders?

Oakland’s defense is yielding 7.0 yards a play, the worst through five games since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger.”

Comedian Eric  Stangel on Twitter: “Can’t wait til the Giants draft another running back with their 1st round pick next year.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Worst thing for New York sports fans these days is that with Yankees out of the playoffs, they have to pay attention to the Giants and Jets.”

Dwight Perry of The Seattle Times, again: “NFL player arrests have been trending down since hitting a high of 71 in 2004. Don’t worry: The league is compensating for that with increased roughing-the-passer flags.”

Comedian Eric  Stangel on Twitter, again: “Cowboys-Texans heading to OT. This better not delay tonight’s George Michael Sports Machine.”

Foot in mouth

Paul Finebaum has had to apologize for plenty of stupid stuff he’s said, and probably written, through the years. But now that he’s jumped the shark and become an ESPN personality, he frequently exposes his SEC bias to a national audience that just wants to be informed with keen insights.

It can be rather embarrassing.

Finebaum had to apologize two years ago for saying he didn’t believe black people were still being oppressed as he criticized Colin Kaepernick for taking a knee during the national anthem. Somehow that was spun into a flag protest and anti-American rant.

Racism helped ignite that debate. Finebaum is an Alabama native, after all.

And in 2013, he called South Carolina’s Jadaveon Clowney “the biggest joke  in college football,” proving he has hard time recognizing talent unless it’s being coached by Nick Saban.

Those are just two of many instances when Finebaum has let his tongue bypass his brain and expressed opinions without the benefit of proper preparation and a backing of facts.

Then in mid-September, he further proved he doesn’t always know what he’s talking about. Analyzing” the Boise State at Oklahoma State football game on Sept. 15, he picked “Oklahoma” to win.

Then confirming he hadn’t simply misspoke, he talked about how much better the Sooners’ players were, naming names.  The problem was that Oklahoma’s Week 3 opponent was Iowa State. But at least Finebaum picked an Oklahoma team to beat Boise State.

So I guess from Finebaum’s perspective, even when he’s wrong, he’s partly right.

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Panicked Falcons discover scratch in Mercedes Benz Stadium.”

Fark.com: “Chelsea to send racists fans to Auschwitz concentration camp for reeducation.”

SportsPickle.com: “Odell Beckham seems like a very stable genius.”

TheOnion.com: “Should LeBron James leave ‘Space Jam 2’ for a movie with a better chance of winning an Oscar?”

Fark.com: “Seeing rocks glued to the wall in a gym inspired the man who invented indoor rock climbing.”

Sportspickle.com: “Hmm. Maybe (Roy Williams) doesn’t know what ‘dumbfounded’ means because he was educated at North Carolina.”

TheOnion.com: “Is this year’s Giants team an Al-Qaeda plot designed to hurt New Yorkers again?”

Fark.com: “Milwaukee Brewers fan has burger from 1987 in his freezer.”

SportsPickle.com: “Brian Cashman and the Yankees have spent $3.6 billion in payroll over the last 18 years to win one championship. So that’s cool.”

Awfulannouncing.com: “Joel Klatt wore a Baker Mayfield jersey to an interview with Colin Cowherd.”

TheOnion.com: “NFL urges pass rushers to try reaching peaceful resolution with quarterbacks before resorting to tackling.”

Fark.com: “Detroit Tigers broadcasters who got into fight will not be allowed to kiss and make up.”

SportsPickle.com: “Big deal. Brees will never break Alex Smith’s record for check-downs.”

TheOnion.com: “Study: 83% of marathon spectators only attend for sick thrill of watching fellow man suffer.”

Fark.com: “NFL clarifies their new roughing-the-passer rule, says it will only be called on the Packers and anyone approaching Tom Brady.”

TheOnion.com: “Busy referee regrets not finding time to throw flag around with son.”

Awfulannouncing.com: “A plea to MLB’s postseason broadcasters: at least pretend to like baseball.”

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11:

  • Red Sox win to advance to rematch with Houston for AL title. Go Astros.
  • If Jake Bentley is indeed the starting QB on Saturday for South Carolina against Texas A&M, here’s hoping he’s in the game until he throws his first interception. So three possessions? Two?
  • @dickieV wouldn’t be talking about the FBI investigation if he knew it would snare Duke’s Coach K or UNC’s Crying Roy. But what about Coach Cal at UK or Sneaky Sean at Arizona?
  • Brett Kavanaugh confirmed 50-48 to the Supreme Court. Never has a 3-pointer been needed more on any court.
  • Miami scores 3 TDs in 8:02 to rally from 20 down to near Florida State, 28-27, and ended game inside 10 before running out clock. I really miss covering that rivalry game.
  • Conventional wisdom suggests you don’t lose your job because of injury but Jake Bentley should be the backup quarterback until Michael Scarnecchia plays himself out of the job.
  • Someone please lend the Braves some bats. Pretty please?

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 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.