From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

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

Punting on season

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

Yes, the punters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clearly, this whole situation has been mishandled.

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

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

Party on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flag them for excessive celebration.

World Series hotflashes

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

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

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

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

Super Patriot

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

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

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

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

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

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

They said it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hoops hysteria

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

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

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

When Crean was the basketball coach at Indiana:

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

—  He called me out for wearing an ACC lanyard

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

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

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

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

 Headlines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gridiron glory

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

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

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

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

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

Coping with Stars

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

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

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

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

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

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11:

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

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

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

Recruiting bling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But sadly, Purdue isn’t represented.

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

Catch of year?

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

Her name is Diana Hsaio.

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

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

So her “talented” cleavage catch quickly went viral.

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

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

Other Twitter reactions:

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

@Swearengen95: “Top shelf save right there.”

LeBron’s world

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

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

They said it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishful thinking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giant steps

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

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

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

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

Splitting splinters

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

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

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

Headlines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11:

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

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while waiting for Tiger Woods to see if he can now prove he’s a better person off the golf course:

Backup plan?

Now that the burning embers of what could have become a divisive quarterback controversy at Clemson have been snuffed out, can the Tigers refocus on making a national championship run?

The odds still favor Dabo Swinney’s squad remaining undefeated this season. They even have what was their toughest game out of the way, beating Texas A&M 28-26 three weeks ago in College Station, Texas. Both senior Kelly Bryant and freshman Trevor Lawrence tossed touchdown passes in the contest — proving two QBs aren’t necessarily a bad thing.

And yes, Clemson’s defense is good as advertised.

But that’s charting the season on paper. It doesn’t account for untimely turnovers, unexpected uprisings or unfortunate letdowns. Or devastating injuries.

And now, there’s the decision by Bryant to ask for permission to transfer after Dabo Swinney gave Lawrence the keys to the offense, starting with Saturday’s noon home game against Syracuse.

The timing is somewhat unsettling since Syracuse did upset the Tigers last season.

But that’s why it won’t happen again.

Lawrence will torch Syracuse’s secondary. He’s already thrown for nine touchdowns (on 39 completions) even while splitting time with Bryant through the first four games.

Not only can the kid thread a needle, he could probably embroider tiger paws on hand towels after every touchdown – and do it before he has to take another snap.

But with Bryant leaving, Clemson does have the potential for a leadership void. And the fact Bryant is leaving with hurt feelings could be an issue if Lawrence struggles as a starter.

Also, where do the Tigers turn now if Lawrence tweaks an ankle, dislocates a shoulder or bangs a thumb off a helmet?

UPDATE: or suffers a concussion?

Next stop

Early speculation is Kelly Bryant could be headed to the SEC with both Auburn or Arkansas on his list of possible destinations.

Gus Malzahn’s offense would be a great fit for the dual-threat abilities of Bryant,  especially if Jarrett Stidham leaves early for the NFL. Same deal with Arkansas, and head coach Chad Morris is a former Clemson offensive coordinator who could help Bryant feel right at home.

With a redshirt bailout, he’ll have plenty of other opportunities to reclaim his senior season.

But if he goes to Auburn it also could create an interesting scenario if those other Tigers and Clemson each make a run at the 2020 College Football Playoffs.

Bryant vs. Lawrence – as farfetched as that might be, it can’t be ruled out if Bryant does land in the 36845 zip code.

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Should the NFL do more to protect quarterbacks from themselves?”

SportsPickle.com: “Goodwin’s Law: The longer a football game goes, the more passes Chris Goodwin will drop.”

Fark.com: “Warrant issued for NASCAR Truck Series driver who was driving it like he stole it for a reason.”

TheOnion.com: “Troy Aikman warns fans about comparing concussions between eras.”

Sportspickle.com: “I’m tired of people complaining about the sack rules. Shut up and think. If superstars like Alex Smith get hurt, no one will watch the NFL.”

Fark.com: “Why the Philadelphia Flyers new acid trip of a mascot must be stopped.”

TheOnion.com: “New NFL Safety Rule encourages players to take out more aggression off the field.”

Sportspickle.com: “Maybe Tiger Woods is the next Tiger Woods.”

Fark.com: “Royals offer season tickets, two-year contract to fans who can hit a home run at Kauffman Stadium.”

TheOnion.com: “Man can still win fantasy football this week provided tight end scores 9 touchdowns on Monday.”

SportsPickle.com: “I’m old enough to remember when Tiger Woods couldn’t win and the Patriots couldn’t lose.”

TheOnion.com: “Sean McDermott wonders if he still needs to act angry even if everyone already knows Bills going to lose.”

Fark.com: “The NBA finally admits that only the last 12 minutes decide an NBA game.”

SportsPickle.com: “Some people regret winning because it ruins their draft position. Others because they have to drink Bud Light.”

New Day?

One good thing came out of Urban Meyer’s suspension at Ohio State. The Buckeyes were able to give Ryan Day a successful test run as the Buckeyes’ head coach.

Ohio State went 3-0 in impressive fashion, allowing Day to justify becoming the Buckeyes’ first million-dollar assistant coach.

Sadly, Meyer doesn’t appear to be going anywhere any time soon. He’s only 54.

But if Ohio State is working on a coach-in-waiting contract for Day, as has been rumored, there has to be a reasonable timetable to the process. He’s 39. He almost bolted for Mississippi State after last season.

So it doesn’t make much sense that he’d wait more than another five years to get a fulltime head coaching job.

The Buckeyes should target 2020 as an exit date. Meyer has 178 wins overall and 73 victories at Ohio State. That’s enough time to give him a legit shot at finishing with 200/100 wins.

 They said it

ABC comedian Jimmy Kimmel: “Tiger Woods made a big comeback, and boy did he pick a perfect cultural moment to do it … I think Tiger had four back surgeries over the last few years. He almost retired. But the problem with being a professional golfer is, once you retire what do you do all day? You play golf all day, right? So he figured he may as well do that for money.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson:  “I never thought I’d predict that Nebraska would finish the season with a record of 3-9 and be branded “too optimistic.” But it just happened.”

NBC comedian Jimmy Fallon: “The Cleveland Browns beat the New York Jets for their first win since 2016. To put that in perspective, the last time the Browns won, Trump wasn’t president and Kevin Spacey was.”
Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Alexandra King, a model who was apparently 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s ex-girlfriend, posted a smile emoji after his season-ending ACL injury on Instagram with one word “Karma.” Just guessing their split wasn’t amicable?”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Brit Jamie Buckland broke a Guinness World Record for fastest marathon by a man dressed as a French maid. Not only that, he dusted the competition.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “It took Tigers pitcher Dennis McLain just 49 more days to post his 30th victory in 1968 than it took the Orioles to win their 30th this season.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com after ex-NBA player Matt Barnes claimed he smoked pot before every game: “Pick-and-roll your own.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter, again: “Did you ever think you’d see the day when North and South Korea are taking steps toward peace and the state of Nebraska is inching toward war with Wendy’s restaurant.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com, again: “The San Francisco 49ers tried out seven quarterbacks to take the place of injured Jimmy Garoppolo. People were surprised. There are seven people who want that job?”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, again: “Old Dominion Saturday beat Virginia Tech 49-35. Biggest shocker for many college football fans – Old Dominion had a football team?”

Comedian Eric Stangel on Twitter: Julian Edelman’s first game back he’s gonna get 40 receptions.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com, again: “The U.S. celebrity golf team beat the European celebrity team at the Ryder Cup. The sad part for the celebrities is that at this point, the galleries would be ten times larger just to come out and watch Tiger Woods lace up his golf shoes.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe, again: “Scott Frost apparently told Nebraska players after 56-10 loss to Michigan that things can’t get any worse. Fans of Northwestern from 1979-82 might disagree. (34 losses in a row.)”

Comedian Eric Stangel on Twitter, again: “This has gone too far. Refs just threw a flag because the football is “too pointy.” #PittvsTB

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: “Hear about the MLB manager who went against all the sabermetrics analysts and dealt to get a southpaw? He said a pitcher is worth a thousand nerds.”

 NBL Alternative

After Terrance Ferguson’s path to the University of Arizona’s basketball program was blocked by the NCAA because of questions about his eligibility after playing at Prime Prep and API high schools in Texas, he chose to play for the Adelaide 36ers in the National Basketball League.

The NBL has teams in Australia and New Zealand.

After Ferguson spent a season there and then was drafted 21th overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder, Now Brian Bowen is following that path after recruiting issues cost him a chance to play at Louisville and the NCAA never cleared him to play last season at South Carolina.

It was alleged that Bowen’s family received $100,000 from an agent to sign with Louisville. Bowen denies he ever received any extra benefits in his recruiting.

So after putting that behind him, he decided to spend this season with the Sydney Kings. Although he declared for the 2018 NBA draft, Bowen withdrew his name to sign with Sydney in August.

He’s hoping to give the NBL another first round draft pick in the NBA in 2019.

“I never got a full, 100 percent answer (from the NCAA),” Bowen told The Athletic. “I still haven’t received one. I was over it, so I just decided to look forward to the future and find another route.”

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11

  • The Uber Drive of the Week goes to Jameis Winston, who returns to “action” this morning with the Bucs. But no, he won’t be given a free pass. #noentitlement #timetogrowup #respectwomen
  • Tiger Woods won a PGA tournament for first time in 5 years. He should be congratulated, of course. But Waffle Houses are now on high alert.
  • A lot can happen in 18 holes.
  • South Carolina won at Vanderbilt. That’s enough to revive my interest in this college football season. Sad.

From Sidelines to punchlines

A Different View of Sports

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

Girl power

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now they have the all-gender record.

Mixed reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

Too much protection?

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

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

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

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

Rodgers doesn’t like referees making such judgement calls.

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

They said it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The greed principle

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

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

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

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

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

Headlines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Culture clash

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

Politics and sports.

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

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

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

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

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

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11

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

From Sidelines to punchlines

 A different view of sports

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

Championship path

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

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

Mission Accomplished.

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

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

Oklahoma prevailed, 13-2.

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

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

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

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

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

Boiler pride

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

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

They said it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Title debate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Identity crisis

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

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

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

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

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

Or they can accept being called Mickey Mouse University.

Countdown clock

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

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

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

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

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

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

End of era

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Headlines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dietary advice

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

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

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

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

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

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

Dotting the ‘I’

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

Or coaching anywhere else, for that matter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Say what?

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

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

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

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

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

No, that’s not a typo.

They said it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ball boys

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

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

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

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

LiAngelo averaged 12.6 points and LaMelo averaged 6.5.

Next chapter

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

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

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

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

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

Headlines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bears watching

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11

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

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

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

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

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

Flurry of Aces

Some girls have all the luck.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marlins 101

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

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

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

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

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

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

They said it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hoops pioneers

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

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

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

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

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

Cutting edge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unruly changes

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

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

Minor accomplishment

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

Headlines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tortoise torture?

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

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

Yeah, good job reading the tea leaves, Matt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friendly fire

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow the DNA

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

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

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

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11

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

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

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

Big Ten Turmoil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bearing down

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They said it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tired of winning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unintended tragedy

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

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

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

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

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

Headlines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Belated congrats

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

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

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

Gone too soon

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

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

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

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

Fantasy 101

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

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

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

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

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

Dollar-bill defense

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perspective is everything

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

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

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

They said it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dog days

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

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

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

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

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

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

End is near

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

Headlines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Timing, timing

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

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

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

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

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

European rehab

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a country!

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

Last word

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

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

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

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

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

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while noting that one of the biggest disappointments about being retired is not having a working gig during today’s Kentucky Derby:

Stirring it up

Sometimes Charles Barkley is the biggest knucklehead in the TNT studio. He just can’t help himself.

Such was the case after Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors and Rajon Rondo of the New Orleans Pelicans went nose-to-nose while engaged in “some unfriendly chatter” Tuesday night.

During TNT’s halftime show, Barkley suggested Green deserved to pay a price for trying to intimidate and provoke Rondo into fighting.

When Ernie Johnson asked the panel for their thoughts, Barkley said, “I just want someone to punch him in the face. I really do. I just want someone to punch him in the face.”

After the game when Green was asked to respond to Barkley’s comments, the war of words was on.

“He’s seen me a million times,” said Green.” If he feels that strongly about something, then punch me in my face when you see me. If he’s not going to punch me in my face when he sees me, then shut up. It’s no different than someone sitting behind a computer screen and tweeting, “I’ll knock you out, and you never see them in your life.”

Green continued his rant by suggesting Barkley should have the guts to follow through on his threat.

“Punch me in my face when you see me. If not, no one cares what you would have done. You’re old and it is what it is,” said Green. “If you aren’t going to punch me when you see me, then stop talking about it. Period.”

When he initially had trouble putting the microphone back on its base, he looked at the reporters in the room and said, “Drop the mike.” Then he got up and left the interview session.

Meanwhile, Rondo laughed off the incident and said it was essentially gamesmanship between the two. He said he wasn’t trying to “bait” Green, but he wasn’t going to back down, either.

For the record, the Warriors lead the West semifinal series, 2-1, after the Pelicans bounced back for a 119-100 win Friday night. Neither Green or Rondo was much of a factor scoringwise in that game, combining for 15 points. But Green did have 12 rebounds and nine assists and Rondo had 21 assists and 10 rebounds.

So, no title?

For the record, Scott Frost, now the head football coach at Nebraska, doesn’t claim he won a national championship at UCF last season after completing a 13-0 season by leading the Knights past Auburn in the Peach Bowl.

Sure, he understands why UCF athletic director Danny White scheduled a title parade, hung banners around campus and purchased championship rings for the team. Heck, Frost and his coaching staff even accepted the championship bonus checks – and then all bolted for jobs with the Cornhuskers.

Not a bad way of double-dipping on your football salary, if you can manage it.

“All I’ll say is if I had stayed there, I would have had a hard time getting behind it,” said Frost. “I think it was smart by them because it has kept UCF in the media and in the conversation. But you know, like our rings, I kind of wish my ring just said ‘Undefeated Season’ and ‘Peach Bowl Champion.’”

All the media fuss the championship claim has created is reportedly been worth $200 million in publicity for UCF. And it hasn’t cost UCF anything but the expense of the parade, banners, rings and coaching bonuses.

“I do think it was almost criminal how low (the CFB Committee) kept UCF in the rankings, and I think it was intentional,” Frost told USA Today. “But at the end of the day, the playoff system  is that the national champion is the team that wins the playoff.”

So while White sticks to his assertion that UCF has a championship claim because it beat both Alabama and Georgia – the two teams that played for the title in the same stadium in Atlanta – Frost recognizes the Crimson Tide as the true champions.

’Skins game

The New York Times reported this week that several Washington Redskins cheerleaders were forced to go topless or wear only body paint during a 2013 calendar shoot in Costa Rica. Since there was no nudity in the calendar, the real problem is that the women allege corporate sponsors and other men were on the trip and were invited to watch the photo shoots. The story also alleges that the cheerleaders were then required to escort those men to a nightclub.

It took a few days, but the team is now finally, and predictably, pushing back on those charges. Two former squad captains who were on the Costa Rica trip dispute that the team was “pimping us out.”

“Those terms — ‘pimped out,’ ‘escort’ — they just need to stop, because it’s absolutely not what happened,” Rachel Gill said in an interview with NBC’s “Today” show alongside fellow ex-team member Charo Bishop.

The Times, which interviewed five former cheerleaders, stands by its reporting. The women remain anonymous because they were required to sign confidentiality agreements to go on the trip.

While none of the cheerleaders have alleged they were required to have sex, they do claim that the squad’s director, Stephanie Jojokian, used them “as sex symbols to please male sponsors.”

Bishop, however, said she didn’t see anything wrong with the cheerleaders’ roles at the team’s corportate events. She also told NBC that going topless at the photo shoots was, “All optional, voluntary. Some girls were excited to do those things.”

The Times report also alleges that during a 2012 private boat party the men were allowed to shoot liquor into the mouths of cheerleaders with turkey basters” and “handed out cash prizes in twerking contests.”

Team president Bruce Allen said in a statement Thursday that the team is investigating the allegations.

“I can promise that once we have completed looking into this matter, if it is revealed that any of our employees acted inappropriately, those employees will face significant repercussions,” Allen said.

Of course, what’s really needed is for the NFL to get serious about its diminished image and realize that a growing percentage of its fans are female. So where is the side of beefcake?

Right step

Meanwhile, over in the NBA, another step in the right direction toward women’s rights comes the news that the Milwaukee Bucks plan on interviewing Becky Hammon for their vacant head coaching job, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com.

Hammon already has been a trailblazer in the league, serving as an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs. In 2015, she coached the Spurs’ Las Vegas Summer League team and won the championship.

Despite being undrafted in 1999, the former standout at Colorado State played 16 seasons in the WNBA with the New York Liberty and the San Antonio Stars and was named as one of the league’s top 15 players all-time in 2011.

The Bucks interviewed Hammon for their general manager job in 2017 but she wasn’t a finalist

For the coaching vacancy, Milwaukee is expected to interview several other candidates, including former Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer, former New Orleans coach Monty Williams and former Cleveland coach David Blatt.

They said it

Mike Bianchi of Orlando Sentinel on the report that some Washington Redskins cheerleaders were forced to pose topless during a 2013 calendar shoot in Costa Rica:  “New team motto: “We’re a sexist organization with a racist nickname!”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “You can slip us this Mickey anytime: A 1952 Mantle baseball card has sold for $2.88 million — or 384 times the $7,500 he was paid to play that season.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe: “FIFA called out Trump on ethics after he tweeted about not supporting countries who don’t support North American World Cup 2026 bid. Give Donald Trump credit – who else could give FIFA the moral high road?”

TBS comedian Conan O’Brien: “A study reveals that the best way to add years to your life is to exercise, lose weight, and not drink too much. To which all of America replied, “What else you got?”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Two ex-cheerleaders who filed NFL discrimination suits said if Commissioner Roger Goodell met with them, they’d settle for $1 each. Or twice their old salaries.”

Dwight Perry, again: “Scientists in Singapore created a robot that can put together an Ikea chair in roughly 20 minute. So now it’s on to even tougher challenges, like assembling a roster for the Cincinnati Reds.”

Age-old problem

Jerry Richardson is clearly not smarter than a fifth-grader.

The 81-year-old owner of the Carolina Panthers is being forced to sell his NFL team because of numerous harassment complaints, including sexually suggestive comments he made to female employees.

One such incident even borders on middle-school hijinks since Richardson allegedly passed a note to at least one woman that sought to determine if she had any interest in having a relationship with him.

“Do you think of me as: 1. Your grandfather; 2. Your second father; 3. Your second husband; 4. Your friend; 5. Your boyfriend; 6. Something else.

 Gridiron grandstanding

When NewArena.com compiled its listing of the top college football coaches, the Big Ten surprisingly came out on top with  nine of the 33 ranked coaches. Ohio State’s Urban Meyer led the way for the league at No. 2, while Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh was No. 5.

Meanwhile, the ACC had the second most coaches on the list with seven, giving the league two more than the SEC. But despite those overall numbers, it’s interesting to note that Clemson’s Dabo Swinney was the only ACC coach ranked among the Top 10.

Alabama’s Nick Saban was No. 1 overall to lead the SEC’s three coaches in the Top 10, including Jimbo Fisher of Texas A&M at No. 7 and Gus Malzahn of Auburn at 10.

But based on numbers, the Pac-12 could claim dominance with UCLA’s Chip Kelley ranked No. 4, Washington’s Chris Petersen at No. 6 and Stanford’s David Shaw at No. 8.

We should also note that Fisher bolted from Florida State of the AC at the end of the season to take the Aggies’ job. If that hadn’t happened, the Pac-12 would have been the only league with three coaches ranked in the top 10.

The list: 1. Nick Saban, Alabama; 2. Urban Meyer, Ohio State; 3. Dabo Swinney, Clemson; 4. Chip Kelley, UCLA; 5. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan; 6. Chris Petersen, Washington; 7. Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M; 8. David Shaw, Stanford; 9. Gary Patterson, TCU; 10. Gus Malzahn, Auburn; 11. Bobby Petrino, Louisville; 12. Mark Richt, Miami; 13. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame; 14. James Franklin, Penn State; 15. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State; 16. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State; 17. Kyle Whittingham, Utah; 18. Paul Chryst, Wisconsin; 19. Mike Leach, Washington State; 20. Bill Snyder, Kansas State; 21. Dan Mullen, Florida; 22. David Cutcliffe, Duke; 23. Ken Niumatalolo, Navy; 24. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech; 25. Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech; 26. Tom Herman, Texas; 27. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern; 28. Clay Helton, Southern Cal; 29. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa; 30. Scott Frost, Nebraska; 31. Mike Norvell, Memphis 32. Matt Campbell, Iowa State; 33. Jeff Brohm, Purdue.

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Don Mattingly yelling at Marlins for leaving dome open with AC on.”

Fark.com: “Boston Marathon gets to keep some of the prize money because three of the top 15 runners lack Y chromosones.”

Onion.com: “LeBron James credits teammates with providing 4 bodies necessary to avoid forfeiture against Pacers.”

TheOnion.com: “Joe Maddon saves up all his mound visits for one long trip in 8th inning.”

Fark.com: “There are dumb people in the world but until today I didn’t know there were people dumb enough to say, ‘let’s put a Super Bowl in London.”

TheOnion.com: “White Sox promotion puts first 9 fans at ballpark in starting lineup.”

Fark.com: “High school baseball player sues third base coach for telling him to slide.”

Fark.com: “Stay classy, Redskins management.”

TheOnion.com: “No (expletive) chance kid who bought mitt to 400 level getting near foul ball.”

TheOnion.com: “Gym patron just resting for a second until will to live returns.”

Higher expectations

Josh Rosen wasn’t pleased that he fell to the 10th pick of the first round of the recent NFL Draft.

“I thought I should’ve been picked at 1, 2 or 3,” said Rosen, who was selected by the Arizona Cardinals. “I dropped, and I was pissed. I was really, really angry. I wasn’t really showing it. I was trying to keep calm, cool, composed.”

So much for projections that Rosen was the top quarterback in the draft. Perhaps the problem with that evaluation is that it caused ‘Chosen Rosen’s” head to further swell, and then burst when he was drafted 10th.

One team GM said Rosen was psychologically a combination of Jeff George and Jay Cutler, two polarizing quarterbacks who can divide teams. It was a way to suggest that Rosen doesn’t have the leadership skills to last in the NFL

But what he did demonstrate in college was that he can make the quick, short-yardage throws that keep the chains moving in a West Coast offense.

Rosen responded to the criticism he’s heard by saying that he would make it a goal to be a leader. “I’m not going to come in and be an a–hole and think that my s— don’t stink,” he said.

Replacement player?

Ben Roethlisberger may have been merely voicing his desire for more help in getting the Steelers to another Super Bowl when he criticized Pittsburgh for taking Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Randolph in the third round. But by bringing it up during a KDKA radio interview on the Cook and Poni Show, he sounded territorial.

Roethlisberger is entering his 15th season in the NFL and he wouldn’t mind sticking around for another few years. Since Big Ben has had a knack for playing through injuries, starting an average of 14 games a season, he thought the Steelers could have used a lower draft pick on a quarterback and gotten help for another position of need.

“I thought that maybe in the third round, you can get some really good football players that can help this team now,” he said.

Personal note

I haven’t fully decided, but this blog may go into hibernation for a few weeks because my wife and I are in the process of relocating from Indiana to South Carolina.

If I can still manage the time to write, I will. You’ll just have to tune in during this transition, but I shall return at some point.

Personally, it’s a good time to take a break since I was kicked to the curb by Gannett one year ago during one of the company’s many downsizing moves. It came less than two weeks after I was recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists with two 2016 writing awards, including second best columnist in Indiana.

As always, you can always reach me by email at randy.beard@yahoo.com