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 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  predicting that the University of Georgia will win the national football championship Monday night:

Mythical  nonsense

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

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

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

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

That’s the problem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Participation Trophy, Part I

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

Clemson beat Alabama 35-31 in that game.

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

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

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

Participation trophy, Part II

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

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

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

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

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

They said it

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

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

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

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

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

Looking ahead

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

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

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

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

Jackson’s future

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top tweets from @Randy_Beard11

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

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

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

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

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

 High times

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

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

Fishing for love

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

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

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

Headlines

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while losing count of the number of turnovers committed by Southern Cal quarterback Sam Darnold this season:

Half right

Give me credit. At least I was partially right with my top college football predictions in August.

  •  I was certain Clemson wouldn’t play Alabama for the national championship for a third consecutive year.
  •  I expected Ohio State to beat Southern Cal for the national title.

As New Year’s Day nears, we now know I was at least half right on both counts.

While Clemson and Alabama will meet in the postseason again, the so-called trilogy encounter between the last two national champions won’t carry the same weight for the winner this time around.

Instead, it will be a semifinal meeting in Monday night’s Sugar Bowl. So I was right. They’ll only be playing for the right to compete for the national title.

It still will be the most anticipated matchup of the season.

As for the Buckeyes and the Trojans, I did correctly predict a postseason game between the two legacy programs. Only instead of meeting in the College Football Playoffs, Urban Meyers’ squad will have to be content with beating the Trojans, 24-7, in the Cotton Bowl.

It was a dominating performance by the Big Ten champions, who cost themselves a spot in the final four with an inexplicable 55-24  midseason loss at Iowa.

Bad decisions

Trailing Northwestern 24-23, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops’ decision to go for two in the final seconds of the Music City Bowl was gutsy. And foolish.

He should have opted to kick the extra point and decided Friday night’s game in overtime. Instead, the conversion pass from Stephen Johnson fell incomplete and Pat Fitzgerald’s team won the battle of the Wildcats.

But that’s not what decided the outcome.

The real game-changing play happened early in the second quarter when referee Chris Coyte ejected Kentucky running back Benny Snell. Snell, who led the SEC this season by accounting for 33 percent of Kentucky’s offense, already had scored one touchdown.

But on what proved to be his final carry of the night, Snell was gang-tackled by several Northwestern defenders. As he was getting up, he pushed away the extended arms of Coyte.

Snell later explained that he didn’t need any help getting to his feet. But Coyte claimed that Snell had grabbed his arms and then shoved them away.

That’s not what the video showed, which means Coyte should face some disciplinary action. Can refs receive bowl bans?

“The rule or the ref is ridiculous,” said ESPN analyst Tim Tebow. “Don’t decide the game for the players. Let the players go out there and play. If you are offended he touched you, get over it. It’s college football. These are 18 to 22 year-olds who are emotional. He got hit by 17 players. Let it go.”

If Snell had said anything disrespectful while pushing away Coyte’s hands, the ejection might have been justified. But even Coyte  said that wasn’t the case.

They said it

Bob Molinaro of the Norfolk Virginian-Press: “If you think the replay official cheated the Steelers out of the game-winning touchdown pass against the Patriots, maybe you can appreciate the irony of somebody named Jesse James being robbed.”

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle on Lonzo Ball’s unorthodox, inefficient 3-point shot: “He might improve, but he will approach Curryesque efficiency only in his father’s dreams. Sometimes you can skirt the laws of physics, but you can’t openly mock them.”

Dwight Perry of Seattle Times: “British inventor Richard Browning, 38, set a world speed record by going 32 mph in a jet suit. Breaking the longstanding record set by Wile E. Coyote.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Duke vs Northern Illinois (in Quick Lane Bowl). ‘I’ll take teams that should be a March Madness instead of a bowl matchup for $400, Alex.’”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com “Anyone else see Denver defensive lineman Shelby Harris doing a sideline shimmy in the Thursday Night game? Let me tell you, orange isn’t slimming.’’

Brad Dickson of the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald: “In Atlanta for the Peach Bowl, UCF players have been entering a cold tub to recover after practice. Pro tip: once you UCF coaches get to Nebraska, walking outdoors will suffice.”

Jay Cutler to the Miami Herald on living in a hotel room the entire season after signing with the Miami Dolphins: “I did get the points.”

Big & Loud

There was an hilarious screw up during the Sugar Bowl media day when Clemson center Justin Falcinelli was identified as a cornerback on his name card.

He went with it during a tongue-in-cheek interview with “America’s first 305-pound cornerback” conducted by ESPN’s Andy Staples. Staples was a Florida correspondent for me nearly two decades ago when I was sports editor of the Tallahassee Democrat.

When Staples asked Falcinelli if his hips made a noise when he turned to chase a receiver, he said, “Yeah, it’s similar to a sonic boom, only louder.”

Well done, Justin. Well done, Andy.

Deion’s impact

New Florida State coach Willie Taggert may be close to pulling off the recruiting coup of the year. He has Deion Sanders interested in joining his staff.

“You never know,” Sanders told ESPN. “I’ve been known to make big plays with these colors on. That’s all I am going to say.”

Sanders was twice a consensus All-American as a defensive back for the Seminoles and finished eighth in the 1988 Heisman Trophy voting. Sanders was also a college roommate of Odell Haggins, who served as FSU’s interim coach after Jimbo Fisher left for Texas A&M.

Sanders would bring marquee value to FSU with recruits, having played in the NFL and major league baseball. His only liability is that he hasn’t coached at the college level.

“Coach Taggart is awesome,” Sanders said. “I’m there, behind him, 100 percent of the way, and I am happy to be back.”

Faithful fan

If the Cleveland Browns finish the season by finally winning a game on Sunday, it should be dedicated to Paul Stark.

The Huron, Ohio native took his dedication to the team to his grave on Wednesday. “Paul passed just before the Browns were prepared to turn the corner but had many well-earned blessings,” stated his obituary in the Mansfield (Ohio) News-Journal.

Although the Browns are 0-15 heading into Sunday’s final regular season game against their rival Pittsburgh Steelers, family members said he remained faithful to his favorite NFL team to his final breath.

But if you believe the obit, the team’s failure may have been a contributing factor in his demise, stating that Stark passed away on Wednesday from complications of a brief illness “exacerbated by the hopeless condition of the Cleveland Browns.”

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Could losing to Clemson hurt Alabama’s chances of making it to the national championship?”

SportsPickle.com: “Bill Belichick bans Rob Gronkowski’s imaginary friend Funny Pete from Patriots locker room.”

Fark.com: “The Cleveland Browns can’t be terrible forever, can they?

TheKicker.com: “Chairs voted into WWE Hall of Fame.”

SportsPickle.com: “Report: New XFL to provide EXTREME video replay review after every play.”

Fark.com: “Patriots pick up another scumbag cut by the Steelers.”

Fact of Week

The average salary in Major League Baseball in 2017 was a record $4.47 million.

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top tweets from @Randy_Beard11

Former Tennessee QB Tee Martin, now offensive coordinator at USC, was disappointed he didn’t get an interview for Vols’ heading coaching job. But the louder statement came with Southern Cal’s effort against Ohio State in Cotton Bowl.

Yeah, Sam Darnold looks like No. 1 pick to me. He and Browns deserve each other.

What was Mark Stoops thinking, going for 2 to win? Kick the PAT and go to OT. Kentucky hits sour note in Music City Bowl.

What was Pat Fitzgerald thinking! Turning ball over on downs at 39 with Northwestern leading Kentucky by 7 with less than 3 minutes left?

Got to like what Jeff Brohm has done with first season at Purdue.

Looking back

Top 5 memories of 2017 from Sportscumudgeon.com:

  • Clemson beat Alabama in the College Football Playoff for the 2016 national championship with a great last-minute TD drive.
  • The Patriots came back from a 28-3 deficit in the third quarter to beat the Falcons in the Super Bowl.
  • Mississippi State beat the University of Connecticut in the women’s basketball tournament semifinals, snapping UConn’s 111-game winning streak. The Bulldogs, however, lost to South Carolina in the championship game.
  • Serena Williams won the Australian Open while pregnant.
  • The Houston Astros beat the Los Angeles Dodgers the World Series, winning 5-1 in Game 7.

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while wishing my memories as a soccer player justified the pain I’m now feeling as I contemplate knee replacement surgery:

Staying on top

There’s a reason why Nick Saban’s Alabama football program is again in the mix for a national championship even if the Crimson Tide didn’t play in the SEC Championship game.

He knows how to stay in front of new trends and rules.

On Friday, Alabama became the first power-five program to announce the hiring of a 10th on-field assistant coach to its staff. Pete Golding has spent the past two seasons as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at UT-San Antonio. He’s also coached safeties at Southern Mississippi.

Golding won’t be able to participate in Alabama’s practices for a Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl College Football Playoff semifinal against Clemson or a possible championship game on Jan. 8. But he can serve in an off-field capacity until Jan. 9.

“Pete is an exciting young coach, who has an outstanding reputation as both a teacher and recruiter,” Saban said in a statement. “He will be a great fit in our organization with his knowledge of the game and his ability to relate to student-athletes.”

Saban also will need to replace his defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruittt who has been hired as Tennessee’s head coach. He will remain with the Crimson Tide until Alabama’s season is over.

They said it

Dwight Perry of Seattle Times: “The Class AAA Gwinnett, Ga., Braves have changed their nickname to Stripers in honor of the renowned bass-fishing at nearby Lake Lanier. Stripers pitchers, we hear, are already working on their hooks and sinkers.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com “Suspended national team goalkeeper Hope Solo announced plans to run for president of U.S. Soccer. The idea got her so excited, she beat up a couple of relatives.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “FSU’s Derwin James, a projected early 1st round draft pick, is skipping Seminoles’ postseason. Must have been tough decision, who hasn’t dreamed of playing in Walk-Ons Independence Bowl?”

Comedian Argus Hamilton on Oklahoma QB BakerMayfield’s mea culpas this year for bad language,planting the OU flag on Ohio State’s 50-yard line and grabbing his crotch: “He’s just an apology for sexual misconduct away from earning his degree in government.”

NBC comedian Seth Myers: “According to a new poll, 71 percent of American men believe they face pressure to act interested in sports. “Not us!” said the New York Giants.”

Yankees shortstop Didi Gregoriusin in a tweet to new manager Aaron Boone after the team landed home-run champ Giancarlo Stanton: “Hey, Skip, am I still batting 4th?”

Comedian Steve Hofstetter: “Well, at least now we know the Yankees aren’t signing Bryce Harper. #Stanton

Brad Dickson of the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald  on Warriors star Steph Curry teaching an online basketball class: “This is a little like walking into driver’s ed and learning the instructor is Dale Earnhart Jr.”

Winter wonderland

Have you ever dreamed of stepping on the frozen tundra at Lambeau Field and being paid to play? Even perform?

Now’s your chance. The Green Bay Packers are looking for as many as 600 people to show up at the Mills Fleet Farm Gate on the west side of Lambeau Field on Monday to help with snow removal.

You must be at least 18 and you will be paid $10 per hour. The work to clear the field will begin shortly after 8 a.m. The Packers will even provide the shovels, although I suspect there are fans who would like to have their personal shovel touch such hallowed ground. And if you can’t make it until the strike of noon, your help may be needed throughout the day.

The Packers, who are at the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, host the Minnesota Vikings next Saturday.

But here’s the thing. There may not be enough snow on the field Monday to even make a  few dozen decent snow angels. The current forecast doesn’t predict much snow until Wednesday and Thursday.

 Double duty

Who needs cheerleaders or dance teams? In Saturday’s NFL game between Detroit and Chicago, several players for the Lions celebrated T.J. Jones’ touchdown catch with a Rockettes-inspired chorus line routine.

But yeah, wearing full pads and helmets may have detracted from the performance.

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top tweets from @Randy_Beard11

Touchdown. Alabama!

Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger completes 44 of 66 passes for 506 yards and 2 TDS against Ravens’ defense that hadn’t surrendered 300 yards this season. Wish I had him on Fantasy Football team. Wait … I don’t play Fantasy Football any longer.

Stanford men join women as NCAA soccer champions. Men win third straight title, beating Indiana 1-0 on overtime goal by Sam Werner of Bozeman, Montana. Who knew Montanans even knew what a soccer ball looked like.

Where’s the Air Force when you need the aerial support? Army beats Navy 14-13 in the snow, but the big story is the two teams combined for 22 yards passing.

Panther noise

Cam Newton finally has someone to deflect attention from his antics.

While few details have been made public about why Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is under investigation by the NFL for workplace misconduct, Sports Illustrated has reported that he’s been accused of an assortment of incidents with employees that are sexist, racist and otherwise demeaning in nature.

Richardson, 81, is the only owner in the team’s 24-year history. He’s well-respected in the league and the Carolinas, where he played for Wofford College before playing two seasons in the NFL with the Baltimore Colts in 1959 and 1960. He used his championship game bonus from 1959 to invest in a Hardees fast-food franchise.

Long story short, he turned one restaurant in one chain to many restaurants in several chains to create a billion dollar empire. He was awarded an NFL expansion franchise in 1993, which began play in 1995.

The team played its first home schedule at Clemson University. I was the sports editor in Anderson, S.C. then and will always have great memories of those early years of the Panthers. I covered most of the team’s home games through 1998.

Before the NFL took over the investigation, the Panthers hired the law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan to investigate the allegations against Richardson. SI reports that Richardson has allegedly made suggestive comments to women employees, including how tight their jeans fit on casual Fridays, and made other inappropriate comments on their physical appearance. He’d even pay for manicures, give unsolicited back rubs and insist on buckling their seatbelts when taking female employees to business lunches. There have also been incidents allegations of Richardson making racially charged comments, including a slur directed at one scout.

He and team have allegedly made payouts with nondisclosure agreements to settle some disputes.

Name game

It burst on the scene in 1976 as the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana.

This year it will be contested on Dec. 27 and feature a monumental matchup between Southern Mississippi and Florida State, which is the real reason FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher took the head coaching job at Texas A&M.

Forgive him. He apparently had never been to College Station, Texas.

Meanwhile, Shreveport is fortunate to host a bowl game that leads the “league” in all-time sponsors. The revolving door of  corporate sponsors includes Poulan Weed Eater, Sanford (writing materials), MainStay Investments, PetroSun (gas), AdvoCare V100 (energy drinks), Duck Commander (hunting) and Camping World (campng supply stores) and Walk-On’s (bar and restaurant).

If you own T-shirts with all of those Independence Bowl logos, you’d have a lot of explaining to do.

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “NFL revokes Roger Goodell’s new contract after he fails physical.”

TheKicker.com: “Winter meetings mostly just people shouting, ‘Not fair!’ at Yankees.”

Fark.com: “Apparently, there is an SEC Cornhole Championship.”

SportsPickle.com:  “Confident  Blake Bortles vows: ‘I will be the worst QB to win a Super Bowl since Trent Dilfer.’ ”

TheOnion.com: “Browns encourage dissatisfied fans to at least stick it out until end of season.”

Fark.com: “Want to see Lambeau Field and get paid for it? Snow shovelers needed Monday.”

Bowl mania

In a separate blog entry, I’ve made my picks for all the college football bowl games. But below are my picks for the games that really matter, which means there is a team from the ACC, Big Ten or SEC involved.

Quick Lane Bowl, Dec. 26, 3:15 p.m. CT: Duke vs. Northern Illinois. MY PICK: Duke.

Independence Bowl, Dec. 27, 11:30 a.m. CT: Southern Mississippi vs. Florida State. MY PICK: Florida State.

Pinstripe Bowl, Dec. 27,  3:15 p.m. CT: Iowa vs. Boston College. MY PICK: Iowa.

Foster Farms Bowl, Dec. 27, 6:30 p.m.: Arizona vs. Purdue. MY PICK: Purdue.

Texas Bowl, Dec. 27, 7 p.m. CT: Texas vs. Missouri. MY PICK: Texas.

Military Bowl, Dec. 28, 11:30 a.m. CT: Virginia vs. Navy. MY PICK: Navy.

Camping World Bowl, Dec. 28, 3:15 p.m.: Virginia Tech vs. Oklahoma State.  MY PICK: Oklahoma State.

Holiday Bowl, Dec. 28, 7 p.m. CT: Washington State vs. Michigan State. MY PICK: Michigan State.

Belk Bowl, Dec. 29, 11 a.m. CT: Wake Forest vs. Texas A&M. MY PICK:  Wake Forest.

Sun Bowl, Dec. 29, 1 p.m.: N.C. State vs. Arizona State. MY PICK: N.C. State.

Music City Bowl, Dec. 29, 2:30 p.m.: Kentucky vs. Northwestern. MY PICK: Northwestern.

Cotton Bowl, Dec. 29, 6:30 p.m.: Southern California vs. Ohio State. MY PICK: Southern Cal.

Taxslayer Bowl, Dec. 30, 10 a.m. CT: Louisville vs. Mississippi State. MY PICK: Louisville.

Fiesta Bowl, Dec. 30, 2 p.m. CT: Washington vs. Penn State. MY PICK: Washington.

Orange Bowl, Dec. 30, 6 p.m. CT: Wisconsin vs. Miami. MY PICK: Miami.

Outback Bowl, Jan. 1, 10 a.m. CT: Michigan vs. South Carolina. MY PICK:  Michigan.

Peach Bowl, Jan. 1, 10:30 a.m. CT: Central Florida vs. Auburn. MY PICK: Central Florida.

Citrus Bowl, Jan. 1, 11 a.m. CT: Notre Dame vs. LSU. MY PICK: LSU.

College Football Playoff Semifinals

Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, 3 p.m. CT: Georgia vs. Oklahoma. MY PICK: Georgia.

Sugar Bowl, Jan. 1, 6:45 p.m. CT: Alabama vs. Clemson. MY PICK: Alabama.

Note: CFP Championship Game is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 8, 7 p.m. CT, Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta. It will be televised by ESPN.

College Football Bowl Games Predictions

 

Celebration Bowl

Dec.  16

11 a.m. CT

N.C. A&T vs. Grambling State, Atlanta, Ga.

NORTH CAROLINA A&T

New Orleans Bowl

Dec. 16

Noon CT

Troy vs. North Texas, New Orleans

TROY

Cure Bowl

Dec. 16

1:30 p.m. CT

Georgia State vs. Western Kentucky, Orlando, Fla.

WESTERN KENTUCKY

Las Vegas Bowl

Dec 16

2:30 p.m.

Boise State vs. Oregon. Las Vegas, Nev.

BOISE STATE

New Mexico Bowl

Dec. 16

 2:30 p.m.

Marshall vs. Colorado State. Albuquerque, New Mexico

COLORADO STATE

Camellia Bowl

 Dec. 16

7 p.m. CT

Middle Tennessee State vs. Arkansas State. Montgomery, Ala.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE

Boca Raton Bowl

Dec. 19

6 p.m. CT

FAU vs. Akron. Boca Raton, Fla.

FLORIDA ATLANTIC

Frisco Bowl

Dec. 20,

7 p.m. CT

Southern Methodist vs. Louisiana Tech, Frisco, Texas.

SMU

Gasparilla Bowl

 Dec. 21, 7 p.m.

Temple vs. FIU, St. Petersburg, Fla.

TEMPLE

Bahamas Bowl

Dec. 22,

11:30 a.m.

Alabama Birmigham vs. Ohio Univ. Nassau, Bahamaa

UAB

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Dec. 22

3 p.m. CT

Wyoming vs. Cent. Michigan Boise, Idaho

WYOMING

Birmingham Bowl

Dec. 23

11 a.m. CT

South Florida vs. Texas Tech Birmingham, Ala.

TEXAS TECH

Armed Forces Bowl

Dec. 23

2:30 p.m.

Army vs. San Diego State. Fort Worth, Texas

SAN DIEGO STATE

 

Dollar General Bowl

 Dec. 23

 6 p.m. CT

Appalachian State vs. Toledo, Mobile, Ala.

APPALACHIAN STATE

Hawai’i  Bowl

Dec. 24

7:30 p.m

Fresno State vs. Houston, Honolulu, Hawai’i

HOUSTON

Heart of Dallas Bowl

 Dec. 26

12:20 p.m.

West Virginia vs. Utah. Dallas, Texas

WEST VIRGINIA 

Quick Lane Bowl

 Dec. 26

4:15 p.m. CT

Duke vs. Northern Illinois, Detroit, Mich.

DUKE 

Cactus Bowl

Dec. 26

9 p.m. CT

UCLA vs. Kansas State, Phoenix, Ariz.

UCLA 

Independence Bowl

Dec. 27

12:30 p.m.

Florida State vs. Southern Miss, Shreveport, La.

FLORIDA STATE

 

Pinstripe Bowl

Dec. 27

4:15 p.m. CT

Boston College vs. Iowa. Bronx, N.Y.

IOWA

Foster Farms Bowl

Dec. 27

7:30 p.m. CT

Arizona vs. Purdue, Santa Clara, Calif.

PURDUE

Texas Bowl

Dec. 27

8 p.m. CT

Texas vs. Missouri, Houston, Texas

TEXAS 

Military Bowl

Dec. 28

12:30 p.m. CT

Virginia vs. Navy. Annapolis, Md.

NAVY

Camping World Bowl

Dec. 28

4:15 p.m. CT

Oklahoma State vs. Virginia Tech. Orlando, Fla.

OKLAHOMA STATE 

Alamo Bowl

Dec. 28

8 p.m. CT

Stanford vs. TCU, San Antonio, Texas

TCU

Holiday Bowl

Dec. 28

8 p.m. CT

Michigan State vs. Washington State, San Diego, Calif.

MICHIGAN STATE

Belk Bowl

Dec. 29

Noon CT.

Wake Forest vs. Texas A&M, Charlotte, N.C

WAKE FOREST

 

Sun Bowl

Dec. 29

1 p.m. CT

NC State vs. Arizona State, El Paso, Texas

NC STATE

Music City Bowl

Dec. 29

3:30 p.m.

Kentucky vs. Northwestern, Nashville, Tenn.

NORTHWESTERN

Arizona Bowl

Dec. 29

4:30 p.m. CT

New Mexico State vs. Utah State, Tucson, Ariz.

UTAH STATE

Cotton Bowl

Dec. 29

7:30 p.m. CT

Ohio State vs. Southern Cal, Arlington, Texas

SOUTHERN CAL

Taxslayer Gator Bowl

Dec 30

11 a.m. CT

Louisville vs. Mississippi State. Jacksonville, Fla.

LOUISVILLE

Liberty Bowl

Dec. 30

11:30 a.m. CT

Iowa State vs. Memphis, Memphis, Tenn.

MEMPHIS

Fiesta Bowl

 Dec. 30

3 p.m.

Washington vs. Penn State, Glendale, Ariz.

WASHINGTON

Orange Bowl

Dec. 30

7 p.m. CT

Miami vs. Wisconsin, Miami Gardens, Fla.

MIAMI 

Outback Bowl

Jan. 1

11 a.m.

Michigan vs. South Carolina, Tampa, Fla.

MICHIGAN

Peach Bowl

Jan. 1

11:30 p.m. CT

Auburn vs. UCF, Atlanta, Ga.

CENTRAL FLORIDA

Citrus Bowl

 

Jan. 1

Noon CT

Notre Dame vs. LSU, Orlando, Fla.

LSU

Rose Bowl

College Football Playoff Semifinal

Jan. 1, 4 p.m. CT

Oklahoma vs. Georgia, Pasadena, Calif.

GEORGIA
Sugar Bowl

 

Jan 1

7:45 p.m. CT, 

Clemson vs. Alabama, New Orleans, La.

ALABAMA

CFP National Championship

Jan. 8

7 p.m. CT

Atlanta, Ga.

TBD

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while bemoaning how quickly fall weather arrived and disappeared, especially in the Midwest:

Heisman dreams

By the time the college football season had reached November, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield was the clear front-runner to win the Heisman Trophy.

It was his to lose after the Sooners racked up road wins over  No. 2-ranked Ohio State on Sept. 9 and No. 11 Oklahoma State on Nov. 4 while proving a high-scoring loss against Iowa State on Oct. 7 wouldn’t be enough to derail them from their championship goals.

The final voting tally underscored just how dominant Mayfield was this season in becoming the Sooners’ sixth Heisman winner. He finished with 2,398 points, easily outdistancing Stanford running back Bryce Love (1,300) and Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson (793), the 2016 winner.

Mayfield received 732 first-place votes, while Love had 75 first-place votes and Jackson only 47.

Each first-place vote is worth three points, with two points for second and one for third. Mayfield finished with 86 percent of all possible points, which is the third highest percentage since 1950 – topped only by Troy Smith’s 91.6 percent of the votes in 2006 and Marcus Mariotta’s 90.9 percent in 2014.

Not bad for a guy from Austin, Texas who twice had to go from walk-on to starter, first at Texas Tech and then at Oklahoma. Although he grew up an Oklahoma fan, he wasn’t recruited by the Sooners or his hometown University of Texas.

He walked on at Texas Tech and won the starting job as a freshman. But despite passing for more than 2,200 yards and 12 touchdowns, the Red Raiders coaching staff failed to save a scholarship for his sophomore season. So he followed his heart to Norman, Oklahoma.

Now he has the Sooners back in contention for a national championship with a Rose Bowl semifinal date on Jan. 1 against Georgia.

Mayfield referenced his extraordinary path to winning the Heisman by thanking former head coach Bob Stoops and current coach Lincoln Riley, who was the Sooners’ offensive coordinator before taking over as head coach this season when Stoops retired.

“Coach Stoops you welcomed a chubby, unathletic kid into the program with open arms. I wouldn’t say that many would do that,” said Mayfield. “(But) the thing I’m most thankful for is the hiring of Coach Riley. The day you did that changed my life. I appreciate that.

“Coach Riley you’ve been a great mentor to me. We’ve been through a lot together, so I appreciate you.”

Mayfield finished fourth in the Heisman voting two years ago and third last year.

He enters the College Football Playoffs with 12,910 career passing yards and 114 touchdown passes with just 29 interceptions in four seasons. He could leave college with the two best single-season passer ratings.

He rattled off the names of his offensive lineman during his acceptance speech, saying this “wouldn’t have happened without you. Keep up the physicality. We’ve got two more (games).”

That’s as good as guaranteeing a win over Georgia, isn’t it?

But then, Mayfield leaves with a bit of a reputation as a player who’s not afraid to stir up controversy, including planting an OU flag at Ohio State after the Sooners upset the Buckeyes or getting into verbal exchanges with Texas Tech and Kansas fans.

My ballot: I’ve been a Heisman voter for 29 years and I’ve picked the winner all but six or seven of those years. This year I correctly picked Mayfield, but had Jackson at No. 2 and San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny as No. 3. The official tally had Penny as the fifth choice behind Penn State’s  Saquon Barkley.

Other honors

The other top award in which I’m still an active voter is the Biletnikoff Award for best receiver, which is given by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club. I was the sports editor in Tallahassee for eight years and always enjoyed attending the banquet and writing a column on the winner.

This year’s winner was James Washington of Oklahoma State, who led the nation with 1,423 yards on 69 catches with 12 touchdowns.

Finishing second was Colorado State’s Michael Gallop and third was West Virginia’s Donald Sills. Gallop was fifth in receiving yards with 1,345 but third best with 94 catches. Sills was 28th in yards (980) but led country with 18 touchdown receptions.

My ballot had Washington first with Sills second and Gallop third.

More awards::

Maxwell Award (player of year): Winner – Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma; 2. Bryce Love, Stanford; 3. Saquon Barkley, Penn State.

Chuck Bednarik Award (top defensive player): Winner – Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama; 2. Bradley Chubb, N.C. State; 3. Roquan Smith, Georgia.

Bronko Nagurski Award (top defensive player): Winner – Bradley Chubb, N.C. State; 2. Minkah Fitzgerald, Alabama; 3. Josey Jewell, Iowa.

Butkus Award (linebacker): Winner – Roquon Smith, Georgia; 2. Devin Bush, Michigan; 3. Tremaine Edwards, Virginia Tech.

Davey O’Brien Award (quarterback): Winner – Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma; 2. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State; 3. Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State.

Doak Walker Award (running back): Winner – Bryce Love, Stanford; 2. Saquon Barkley, Penn State; 3. Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin.

Jim Thorpe Award (defensive back): Winner – Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama; 2. Deshaun Elliott, Texas; 2. Josh Jackson, Iowa.

Lou Groza Award (kicker): Winner – Matt Gay, Utah; 2. Dominik Eberle, Utah State; 3. Daniel Carlson, Auburn.

Ray Guy Award (punter): Winner – Michael Dickson, Texas; 2. JK Scott, Alabama; 3. Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah.

Outland Trophy (interior lineman): Winner – Ed Oliver, Houston; 2. Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame. 3. Orlando Brown, Oklahoma.

Rimington Trophy (center): Winner – Billy Price, Ohio State; 2. Tyler Orlosky, West Virginia; 3. Ethan Pocic, LSU.

Saving grace

S.C. State point guard Ty Solomon didn’t score, didn’t have an assist and only played four minutes in what may be the last basketball game he’ll ever play.

But at least he’s alive.

Solomon collapsed seven minutes into last Saturday’s game in Raleigh, N.C. at PNC Arena against N.C. State. His heart had stopped but he was brought back to life because S.C. State trainer Tyler Long quickly administered CPR and N.C. State trainer Austin Frank came to the rescue with an automated external defibrillator (AED).

As the crowd of 13,000 prayed for his recovery, N.C. State team physician Dr. William Jacobs took over until the EMTs arrived on the scene to transport him to the N.C. Heart and Vascular Hospital.

Solomon, a redshirt senior, was hospitalized for five days before returning home to Johns Island, S.C.

Solomon’s family released a statement earlier this week that praised the medical care he received and asking for continued prayers.

“Ty recognizes that he was in the right place at the right time to have a serious medical emergency that could have had a tragic outcome. Instead, he’s looking forward to resuming a normal life, eventually returning to school and making every second count.”

They said it

Dwight Perry of Seattle Times:  “Football coach Jimbo Fisher reportedly tossed his Christmas tree to the curb after news got out he was bolting Florida State for Texas A&M. Hey, it was either that or have Chief Osceola light it on fire and stick it in the ground at the 50-yard line.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com:  “Oddsmakers put Tiger Woods’ chances at 20-1 of winning one of the next four majors. Elvis is at 19-1.”

Brockton (Mont.) High School girls basketball coach Terrence Johnson to the Great Falls Tribune on his players’ reaction after losing 102-0: “They did nothing wrong. At the end of the day, they all went home and asked, ‘What’s for dinner, mom?’ ”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “LaVar Ball pulling LiAngelo out of UCLA means the kid will miss out on potentially a great three months of college.”

NBC comedian Jimmy Fallon: “After going 2-10 this season, the Giants have fired coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese. Well, if you are wondering what happened to Ben and Jerry they are probably sitting on the couch eating some Ben & Jerry’s.”

Comedian Steve Hofstetter: “It’s a shitty day and I’m in a lot of pain. But the Giants just fired Ben McAdoo, so it’s not all bad.”

Brad Dickson of the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald on rumblings that QB Sam Darnold might stay at USC to avoid being drafted by Cleveland: “The Browns are now bragging about ‘doing our part to keep young people in school.’”

Cashing in

Roger Goodell should take two knees and bow down to the owners, coaches and players of the National Football League.

Being the commissioner of the NFL has made Goodell a very rich man who just got richer by agreeing to a new 5-year contract extension that will pay him $40 million per year.

Most of the money will come from bonuses, which are subject to approval by vote of the 32 team owners. His previous deal, which expires in 2019, will pay him a total of $31.7 million before the contact extension kicks in through 2024.

The new Republican tax plan should stretch his dollars even further.

Going bowling

Yes, there are too many bowl games, beginning with a full slate of five matchups kicking things off next Saturday.

But seriously, if you’re like me, you’ll still be looking for stocking stuffers next weekend so you can wait a little longer before you tune into college football’s postseason since none of the early games really matter.

At least to most of us.

But since I really can’t get away with making that big of a beach blanket statement, I promise I’ll make my full slate of bowl predictions by midweek. Until then, here are the 20 games that will involve teams from the ACC, Big Ten and SEC.

Quick Lane Bowl, Dec. 26, 3:15 p.m. CT: Duke vs. Northern Illinois.

Independence Bowl, Dec. 27, 11:30 a.m. CT: Southern Mississippi vs. Florida State.

Pinstripe Bowl, Dec. 27,  3:15 p.m. CT: Iowa vs. Boston College.

Foster Farms Bowl, Dec. 27, 6:30 p.m.: Arizona vs. Purdue.

Texas Bowl, Dec. 27, 7 p.m. CT: Texas vs. Missouri.

Military Bowl, Dec. 28, 11:30 a.m. CT: Virginia vs. Navy.

Camping World Bowl, Dec. 28, 3:15 p.m.: Virginia Tech vs. Oklahoma State.

Holiday Bowl, Dec. 28, 7 p.m. CT: Washington State vs. Michigan State.

Belk Bowl, Dec. 29, 11 a.m. CT: Wake Forest vs. Texas A&M.

Sun Bowl, Dec. 29, 1 p.m.: N.C. State vs. Arizona State.

Music City Bowl, Dec. 29, 2:30 p.m.: Kentucky vs. Northwestern.

Cotton Bowl, Dec. 29, 6:30 p.m.: Southern California vs. Ohio State.

Taxslayer Bowl, Dec. 30, 10 a.m. CT: Louisville vs. Mississippi State.

Fiesta Bowl, Dec. 30, 2 p.m. CT: Washington vs. Penn State.

Orange Bowl, Dec. 30, 6 p.m. CT: Wisconsin vs. Miami.

Outback Bowl, Jan. 1, 10 a.m. CT: Michigan vs. South Carolina.

Peach Bowl, Jan. 1, 10:30 a.m. CT: Central Florida vs. Auburn.

Citrus Bowl, Jan. 1, 11 a.m. CT: Notre Dame vs. LSU.

College Football Playoff Semifinals

Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, 3 p.m. CT: Georgia vs. Oklahoma.

Sugar Bowl, Jan. 1, 6:45 p.m. CT: Alabama vs. Clemson

Note: CFP Championship Game is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 8, 7 p.m. CT, Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta. It will be televised by ESPN.

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Lakers add Buffalo Chicken Wing stains to Shaquille O’Neal’s retired jersey.”

TheKicker.com:  “LiAngelo scores 47 in his first game at LaVar Ball University.:

Fark.com: “Lavar takes his Ball and goes home.”

SportsPickle.com: “Browns confirm they will skip NFL Draft to avoid drafting any future Browns.”

TheOnion.com: “New NFL safety rule requires players to be careful.”

Fark.com: “Unlike the Lions, Pontiac Silverdome fails to implode.”

SportsPickle.com: “Roy Moore reminds voters that many of Alabama’s top recruits have also tried to have sex with teenage girls.”

TheOnion.com: “New ‘This is SportsCenter’ commercial features Otto the Syracuse Orange laying off staffers.”

Fark.com: “Nike fires 7-year-old foreman of its NBA jersey factory.”

 Winning Tweet

Twitter really can be useful. Just ask John Goehrke, who turned the social media site into a dating app during the Super Bowl.

With the Atlanta Falcons up 25 points over the New England Patriots, Canadian tennis player Genie Bouchard made the mistake of proclaiming in a tweet that the Super Bowl was over.

We know what happened from there, and no one was more thankful about that than Goehrke, a Missouri college student. That’s because he had answered Bouchard’s tweet by asking if she’d go out with him if Tom Brady rallied New England to victory.

She agreed to his bet, and now it appears they have become friends who have hung out more than once, including going to a Brooklyn Nets game.

Team Tweeting

The best and worst of college Twitter accounts, according to Athlon’s Sports:

Ten Best College Twitter Accounts: 1. South Carolina; 2. Clemson; 3. Miami; 4. Oregon; 5. Georgia; 6. Oklahoma; 7. Ohio State; 8. Auburn; 9. Virginia Tech; 10. Utah.

Five Worst College Twitter Accounts: 1. Michigan; 2. Oregon State; 3. Notre Dame; 4. Alabama; 5. Penn State.

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top tweets from @Randy_Beard11

At least Jozy Altidore can say he scored one meaningful goal in 2017 with game-winner for Toronto in MLS Cup.

Where’s the Air Force when you need the aerial support? Army beats Navy 14-13 in the snow, but the big story is the two teams combined for 22 yards passing.

@IUMenssocer will play for its 9th NCAA men’s soccer title Sunday. Hoosiers beat North Carolina 1-0 and 2-time defending champion Stanford beat Akron 2-0. It was Hoosiers 18th shutout of season.

@_king_lil (Lilly King) deserves credit for getting this started with her antidoping stance in Rio in 2016

Sorry Urban, but two losses matter, but Buckeyes were No. 5 and Wisconsin No. 6.

Two teams from SEC make playoff, which underscores the need to expand the playoff beyond four teams.

On the move

Since we’re catching up with the usual postseason business, let’s acknowledge the coaching moves that have already taken place in my three favorite conferences.

ACC

Florida State: Willie Taggart (from Oregon)

Big Ten

Nebraska: Scott Frost (from UCF)

SEC

Arkansas: Chad Morris (from SMU)

Florida: Dan Mullen (from Mississippi State)

Mississippi: Matt Luke (promoted from interim coach)

Tennessee: Jeremy Pruitt (from Alabama, defensive coordinator)

Texas A&M: Jimbo Fisher (from Florida State)

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while shamefully admitting I was 0-for-3 in my predictions for the ACC, SEC and Big Ten championship games:

Emerging dynasty

Clemson left no doubt which team deserves to be No. 1 when the College Football Playoff committee announces its Jan. 1 semifinal matchups Sunday afternoon.

The defending national champion Tigers (12-1) crushed Miami in the ACC title game Saturday night in Charlotte, claiming a 38-3 win to secure the top seed.

Oklahoma (12-1) should move up to No. 2 after Baker Mayfield’s Heisman-clinching effort in leading the Sooners past TCU, 41-17, in the Big 12 Championship Game.

The third slot should go to SEC champion Georgia (12-1), which beefed up its playoff resume by avenging an ugly loss to Auburn just three weeks ago.  Beaten 40-17 at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium,  the Bulldogs rolled to a 28-7 victory in Atlanta.

That leaves the fourth spot for Big Ten champion Ohio State (11-2), which beat previously unbeaten Wisconsin, 27-21.

If every game counts in college football, as coaches like to say, it should matter that Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide wasn’t playing for the SEC title on Saturday.

Celebrating 50

Clemson has only six scholarship seniors – cornerback Ryan Carter, linebacker Dorian O’Daniel,  guard Tyrone Crowder, lineman Maverick Morris, tight end D.J. Greenlee and cornerback Marcus Edmond — but they will be remembered as the winningest class in ACC history.

That streak of success includes a national championship, three ACC titles and a 4-0 record against rival South Carolina. And they aren’t ready to stop at 50 wins, either.

Headlines

Fark.com: “The 2018 World Cup draw is set. The U.S. is in Group 1 with Holland, Italy and Chile.”

SportsPickle.com: “Archie Manning puts Eli up for adoption.”

TheKicker.com:  “LeBron lobbies NBA  for ability to eject refs that eject him.”

SportsPickle.com: “Greg Schiano drops interest in Tennessee job after discovering program’s ties to awful football.”

TheOnion.com: “New report finds Giants just 5 years away from acquiring offensive weapons.”

Fark.com: “Cleveland Browns are now officially eliminated from the playoffs.”

Volunteer movement

Most athletic directors keep handy a list of potential head coaches for football and basketball for when they have an opening. On Friday new Tennessee AD Phillip Fulmer didn’t exactly rule himself out, saying only that he wouldn’t “serve as interim coach of the Vols.” That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t consider a long-term contract to return to a job he held for 17 seasons until 2008, right?

With that in mind, we at sportseditorperspective were able to sneak a peek at Fulmer’s football coaching wish list:

  • Phillip “Legendary Vol” Fulmer
  • Phillip “Vol for Life” Fulmer
  • Phillip “Better than Johnny Majors” Fulmer
  • Phillip “No. 2 on UT wins list” Fulmer
  • Phillip “Need 22 wins to be No. 1” Fulmer
  • Phillip “Don’t hate like 2008” Fulmer
  • Phillip “Still should be coach” Fulmer
  • Phillip “Anybody can be AD” Fulmer
  • Phillip “Kick Kiffen’s Twitter butt” Fulmer
  • Plan B: Tee Martin.*

Tee time

Once the season started unraveling for Tennessee, Peyton Manning’s ears must have been burning.

He was being mentioned as a replacement for Butch Jones. And if not head coach, then offensive coordinator. And if not coordinator, then quarterback coach.

But let’s be serious. The next head coach at Tennessee should be  Tee Martin, who replaced Manning as quarterback and led the Vols to a national championship in 1998.

Martin, who is Southern California’s offensive coordinator, is one of the country’s top young coaches. Under Martin, the Trojans averaged 34.5 points and 489.5 yards per game, which ranked among the top 30 in the nation.

Fulmer should already have made Martin an offer he can’t refuse. Unfortunately, reports suggest that Fulmer has contacted Martin about returning to Knoxville only as offensive coordinator on a staff led by former LSU head coach Les Miles.

With Fulmer sitting in the AD office,  Martin would have all the head coaching advice he’d ever need.

Coaching carousel

With college football’s regular season over, it’s time to launch new coaching eras.  Of the five vacancies created (so far) in the Southeastern Conference, three of the schools  have found their man.

Dan Mullen filled one opening while creating another when he jumped from Mississippi State to Florida.

Such conference thievery could happen again if Arkansas can give native son Gus Malzahn enough reasons to leave Auburn. That courtship can become serious now that Auburn won’t be playing for the national championship.

Here’s an updated list of the SEC coach openings/closures:

  • Arkansas: Mike Norvell????
  • Auburn: Gus Malzahn says he’s staying
  • Florida: Dan Mullen
  • Mississippi State: Joe Moorhead
  • Tennessee: Les Miles orTee Martin?
  • Texas A&M: Jimbo Fisher

Jimbo jumps

Texas A&M just hired a coach who had a losing record this season. That’s right. Since Jimbo Fisher wasn’t stalking the sidelines during Florida State’s 42-10 win over Louisiana-Monroe, he finished 5-6 this season.

Meanwhile, the coach he replaces, Kevin Sumlin, was 7-5 this season.

No doubt Fisher got a better deal contracturally from the Aggies, but we’ll have to wait and see if the fans  agree that Texas A&M came out ahead in the switch.

They said it

Dwight Perry of Seattle Times: “A man proposed to his girlfriend at ‘Monday Night Raw.’ That’s what she gets for saying she expected a humongous ring.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com:  “Danica Patrick told USA Today when it comes to a Thanksgiving drink, she’s a ‘red wine kind of person.’ Hey; at least wine has a ‘win’ in it.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Congratulations to the Toronto Argonauts, winners of the Grey Cup. Few sports fans think the Argos could actually compete with NFL teams, though they might be two touchdown favorites against the Cleveland Browns.”

NBC comedian Jimmy Fallon: “The New York Giants announced that they are benching Eli Manning this weekend. Eli’s not sure what’s worse – not getting to play for the Giants, or having to WATCH the Giants.”

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle on the 49ers’ futile attempts to sack Seahawks QB Russell Wilson: “Trying to capture a butterfly with a soup spoon.”

Super K

Kayla Montgomery, a runner from Winston-Salem, N.C. who won three state high school championships in the 2013-14 school year for Mount Tabor High School despite having Multiple Sclerosis, will forever be an inspiration to all who hear her story.

I caught her ESPN E:60 documentary, “Catching Kayla,” the other day and found myself fighting back tears as I learned about all the hurdles she had to overcome every time she  stepped up to the starting line for a distance race. Because she loses feeling in her legs as her body begins to overheat while she is running, Montgomery needs to have someone waiting at the finish line to prevent her from falling once she stops. She also needs help to cool down as quickly as possible to avoid other health concerns that arise with MS.

She’s now a senior at Lipscomb College in Nashville, although it doesn’t appear she is still competing. Her last finish in a race, according to her athletic department bio, came in 2015.

But that doesn’t make her any less of  an inspiration.

Sweet Tweets

Rehastagging this week’s top tweets from @Randy_Beard11

So, if you combined the scores of the two games between the two SEC Championship Game participants, Auburn would beat Georgia 47-45, right?

Jimbo Fisher resigns at FSU to take Texas A&M job, proving some coaches leave even when grass isn’t greener on other side of fence. Concussions have horrible consequences.

Today I’m announcing that I will not be the next person to turn down the head football coaching position at the University of Tennessee. Alas, there are way too many folks who are more qualified to turn down the job ahead of me. But, if UT officials get desperate, I am available.

Laura Okmin just asked Titans’ Marcus Mariota how “it feels to get all these monkeys” off your back. So now there’s more than one monkey?

Titans’ Delanie Walker catches TD pass and does end zone celebration as salute to CPR, laying football on field and doing “chest compressions.” Announcer Chris Myers describes the celebration as “burping the baby.”

 Stat of week

Bavarian Bierhaus in Glendale, Wis., thought it had the perfect in-game promotion when the Green Bay Packers hosted the Baltimore Ravens.

The deal was to hand out free beer until the Packers scored. But wouldn’t you know it, Green Bay was shutout at home for the first time in 11 seasons, losing to the Ravens 23-0.

The brewery estimates it gave away as many as 300 beers as the suds flowed freely from the opening kickoff to the final whistle.

Latest CFP rankings

 

This week’s top four teams in the College Football Playoff rankings are the same with the only change being Miami’s move past Clemson into the No. 2 spot. The two teams are on a collision course in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 2.

Meanwhile, Clemson has a little more reason to be concerned about its regular-season finale at South Carolina. The Gamecocks moved into the CFP rankings at No. 24. Meanwhile No. 1 Alabama travels to No. 6 Auburn.

1  ALABAMA 11-0

2 MIAMI 10-0

3 CLEMSON 10-1

4 OKLAHOMA 10-1

5 WISCONSIN 11-0

6 AUBURN 9-2

7 GEORGIA 10-1

8 NOTRE DAME 9-2

9 OHIO STATE 9-2

10 PENN STATE 9-2

11 SOUTHERN CAL 10-2

12 TCU 9-2

13 WASHINGTON ST 9-2

14 MISSISSIPPI ST 8-3

15 UCF 10-0

16 MICHIGAN STATE 8-3

17 WASHINGTON 9-2

18 LSU 8-3

19 OKLAHOMA STATE 8-3

20 MEMPHIS 9-1

21 STANFORD 8-3

22 NORTHWESTERN 8-3

23 BOISE STATE 9-2

24 SOUTH CAROLINA 8-3

25 VIRGINIA TECH 8-3