From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

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

SEC lull

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stats don’t matter

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

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

They said it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thrill hills

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jail birds

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

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

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

Smiling Miles

Looks like Les Miles is back in the game.

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

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

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

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

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

Headlines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Live remote?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another reason I’m glad I retired.

Twisted perspective

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

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

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

They said it, too

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pouring it on

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

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

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

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

Football revival

The Flying Feet is back in the football business.

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

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

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

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

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

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

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11:

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

 

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

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

Tough off-season

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Looking for sweep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They said it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Train-wrecked marathon

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

Pre-race roadwork? Check.

Cross-training? Check.

Train-crossing? D’oh!

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

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

CFB Storylines

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

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

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

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

 NFL drama

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

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

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

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

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

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

Foot in mouth

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

It can be rather embarrassing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Headlines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11:

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

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while hoping the Braves can give me reason to jump on the baseball bandwagon this postseason:

Knockout punch?

HBO’s decision to eliminate live boxing coverage from its sports programming was another body blow to the sport.

Based on its stockpile of Emmy’s for original programming, the network no longer needs sports programming to increase its viewership numbers. But that doesn’t mean it’s abandoning sports, altogether.

HBO just plans to concentrate on doing more feature coverage of athletes, like its recent series on Serena Williams returning to tennis after having a baby, its documentary on Muhammad Ali, LeBron James’ “The Shop” and the NFL reality series “Hard Knocks.”

The final boxing card for HBO will be on Oct. 27, featuring former middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs and Russia’s Sergiy Derevyanchenko at Madison Square Garden.

HBO first tested the boxing waters with its coverage of the 1973 heavyweight championship fight between George Foreman and Joe Frazier.

Peter Nelson, a vice president for HBO sports, didn’t rule out the network bidding on a future fight if it generates significant interest among average sports fans, but he said lower than expected ratings for boxing figured into the decision.

“We have a tremendous heritage to point to in regard to the road map we provided on how to humanize these fighters and their communities … that aspect of storytelling is one we look to continue,” said Nelson.

Former HBO boxing commentator Larry Merchant had this take on the decision, comparing HBO to a fighter who hung on too long: “Once upon a time we were a promising kid. Then a challenger. Then a champion. A great champion. A long-time champion. And then a has-been who finally retired. So long, champ.”

What’s shaking?

Last week’s college football drama in the Palmetto State centered on the quarterback position at Clemson.

That focus is now in play at South Carolina.

Gamecock starter Jake Bentley sprained a knee late in last week’s game at Kentucky. But it was also his poorest effort in three seasons. He finished with three interceptions and only had nine yards passing in the first half against the Wildcats, who opened up a 24-3 lead at the break.

If Bentley can’t play this week against Missouri, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp is prepared to start fifth-year senior Michael Scarnecchia. Muschamp is going to take his time making that decision with the noon start on Saturday his only deadline.

But frankly, what do the Gamecocks have to lose by making a change. Even if it is only temporary, it might be enough to shake things up. Maybe even light a competitive fire in Bentley.

Meanwhile, at Clemson, Dabo Swinney is still facing season-long concerns after  senior Kelly Bryant decided to transfer prior to last week’s game against Syracuse.

Bryant made his decision after Swinney announced that freshman Trevor Lawrence would get the start against Syracuse. Based on Lawence’s ability to get the Tigers into the end zone with his passing accuracy, it was the right decision.

But it was enough to upset Bryant, and he quickly took advantage of the NCAA’s new transfer rule to preserve his senior season. He’ll be able to transfer with no penalty while using this season to sit out, even if he has played in four games.

But that decision could have proven costly to the Tigers, who had to rally in the final minutes to avoid losing to Syracuse for the second consecutive season.

When Lawrence suffered a concussion, there were Clemson fans hoping Bryant was at the stadium and would come running out of the locker room any minute to save the day. Didn’t happen.

What did happen was the emergence of redshirt freshman Chase Brice as a legitimate backup to Lawrence. Maybe even a fill-in starter in combo with tailback  Travis Etienne, who rushed for 203 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries in the 27-23 win.

Brice, meanwhile, completed 7 of 13 passes for 83 yards and scrambled for 17 yards on the winning 94-yard drive.

Brice said one of the first people to congratulate him after he left the stadium was Bryant, who wasn’t second-guessing his decision to transfer.

“Yeah, he sent me a text congratulating me and all that,” said Brice. “I saw him after the game and he was happy for me and he gave me a hug … I’m happy for him that he’s gonna be happy. Hope he finds the right spot.”

They said it

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson: “Last night I was watching the local news and it was one depressing story after another. And that was just the sportscast.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Richard Sherman says that new NFL rules make quarterbacks ‘unstoppable.’ Jets fans are thinking, can somebody tell Sam Darnold?”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Hear about the minor-league pitcher who split his pants in a couple of places while throwing a 100-mph strike? I’m guessing it was a two-seam fastball.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Fans of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, MLB’s  San Diego Padres and NFL’s Cleveland Cavaliers came in 1-2-3 in ESPN’s Fan Misery Index Ratings, based on championships, playoff appearance/wins, heartbreaks and rival teams’ success. Mariners fans – merely 17th – have never been so happy to finish out of contention.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com:  “A report says soccer organization FIFA spent $11.7 Million on private jets and sightseeing trips for top officials. What were they doing, auditioning for a position in Donald Trump’s Cabinet?”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter, again:  “Bill Murray was at the Nebraska football game. Based on the 8 straight losses I believe he was doing research for “Groundhog Day II.” (III?).”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, again: “Nick Saban is upset that Alabama student section was only half full for last weekend’s game, a 56-14 win over over Louisiana-Lafayette. Uh, here’s a suggestion, schedule a real opponent that would give the game more drama than Lions vs. Christians.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: “This just in: the Mayweather-Pacquiao rematch set for December may be in jeopardy. One of them has tested positive for Poligrip.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter, again: “It’s 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning and the referees just called another penalty on Nebraska.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe, again: “Meanwhile, University of Georgia dismissed star 1st baseman Adam Sasser from the baseball team for allegedly shooting racist slurs at Georgia QB Justin Fields during last week’s game. Kudos to the Bulldogs for doing the right thing. Of course, it probably doesn’t hurt that for Georgia fans, football rules!”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: “Richard Mietz of Germany broke a Guinness world record for fastest marathon by a guy dressed as a landmark. It was a monumental achievement.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter, again: “If you’re big on stats Kade Warner is the all-time Husker leader in receptions among sons of guys who used to work at grocery stores in Cedar Falls.”

Greg Cote of The Miami Herald on the Browns winning for the first time in 635 days: “And now, a few words from Cleveland Mayor Baker Mayfield.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson, again,  on the 106,000 packing Michigan Stadium for the Nebraska game: “It looks like the last time I went to the DMV on a Saturday.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com, again: “Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith will reimburse a fan after throwing their cellphone. Not only that, he threw it so far he has to cover the roaming charges.”

Omaha comedy writer/blogger Brad Dickson on Twitter, again: “Purdue could’ve been called for having 14 men on the field including the officials.”

Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com, again:  “A report says golf fans like the one at the Ryder Cup who was injured by a Brooks Koepka tee shot probably have no legal recourse. Although hopefully she can pay for a few medical bills by selling the autographed golf glove Koepka gave her on eBay.”

Nice catch, Mom

As reported by Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:

Julie List, 78, found quite the $1.49 bargain at a thrift store in Jupiter, Fla. When she discovered her son Christopher’s Little League glove with his name still written on it. He’d lost it 40 years earlier in Willoughby, Ohio – 1,000 miles away – amid the postgame celebration after hitting two home runs in the season-ending game. “He was thrilled, he was jumping up and down,” she told the New York Times. “He just said, ‘Mom, bring it home.’ He plans to pass it on to a grandson someday.”

Rough outing

After whiffing during last week’s Ryder Cup, Phil Mickelson has decided that he no longer has any interest in playing on golf courses that have “brutal rough.”

The American golfer failed to win a match for the United States, which was defeated 17.5 to 10.5 by the European team.

Mickelson also had to bear the additional embarrasment of being selected for only two matches at Le Golf National in Paris. He lost his only singles match to British Open champion Francesco Molinari and also was defeated in a foursome match in which he was paired with Bryson DeChambeau.

Mickelson, 48, said his game isn’t suited for courses with narrow fairways and deep rough.

“I’m not going to play tournament golf with rough like that anymore. It’s a waste of my time,” Mickelson said. “I’m going to play courses that are playable, and I can play aggressive, attacking, make lots of birdies.”

 Juvenile behavior

TheOnion.com: “Let’s avoid the Brett Favre comparisons until Patrick Mahomes can consistently send dick pics to reporters.”

Fark.com: “Iowa bar offers to unlock fridge full of beer for Nebraska fans when the Huskers get their first win of the season.”

TheOnion.com: “NFL player rewarded for butt wiping celebration with an endorsement contract. Other players excited by the news that Tri-State Colonoscopy is still searching for a spokesman.

SportsPickle.com: “If you are a fan of dorky celebrations, there is no better entertainment than Ryder Cup golf.”

Safety first

South Carolina football fans could find themselves being scanned by metal detectors at Williams-Brice Stadium for Saturday’s football game against Missouri.

Although the metal detectors won’t be at every gate this weekend, Gamecock fans better get used to it. The school prides itself on being a leader in security procedures.

When the SEC mandated two years ago that it would have a clear bag policy in place for this season, South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner made that a policy at USC facilities last season.

So  now the SEC’s Working Group on Event Security has mandated that metal detectors will be used at the conference’s football stadiums by the 2020 season. USC, which is making a test run this weekend, plans to have the devices at all gates by next season.

Tanner said that the school will welcome any additional security measures that make the game day experience safer for fans.

The school has already been recognized for its security procedures at Williams-Brice. The stadium is only one of three college facilities to receive the Facility of Merit for Safety and Security Award from the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security.

Seriously, that’s a real thing.

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Polite high school football team runs around banner that took hours to make.”

Sportspickle.com: “Kliff Kingsbury should probably be fired for never winning more than 7 games with Patrick Mahomes.”

Awfulannouncing.com: “A whole lot of media thought Grant Wahl’s Twitter joke about U.S. Soccer waiting for Jose Mourinho was a serious report.”

TheOnion.com: “Should the Houston Texans change their crude, offensive nickname?”

Sportspickle.com: “Credit to the Falcons for playing every game like it’s the Super Bowl.”

TheOnion.com: “High school kicker finds it helpful to imagine football as object that needs to be kicked through goal posts in order to gain points.”

SportsPickle.com: “It costs too much to play sports nowadays. The Detroit Lions’ parents couldn’t even afford to buy them real uniforms.”

Awfulannouncing.com: “Paul Finebaum’s pick to win Oklahoma State-Boise State: the Oklahoma Sooners.”

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11:

  • Europe won Ryder Cup 17.5 to 10.5, giving them 9 of last 12 showdowns. You’d think we’d be better than this since golf is so important to our president.
  • Guess Tiger Woods’ comeback is on hold after 0-4 performance in Ryder Cup. But he wasn’t alone in playing disappointing golf for USA. Only Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau and Webb Simpson had winning records, going combined 11-5.
  • Gamecocks threaten to pull within one score but end 20-play drive with goal-line interception that costs them a scoreboard opportunity. That’s not easy to do, but then, that’s not something you want to do.
  • South Carolina’s Jake Bentley, often touted as one of best QBs in SEC, completed 3 of 11 passes in first half vs. Kentucky for 9 yards. I could be wrong but I don’t even think that’s considered elite in Pop Warner.
  • Uhh oh, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence is shaken up. Is it too late for incumbent QB Kelly Bryant to change his mind about transferring?
  • Clemson needs most of first quarter to take 7-6 lead over Syracuse. If this was Big Ten, not ACC, this would be a trophy game. The Orange JULIUS Bowl? Hey, Dairy Queen now owns the frothy drink and a DQ is always right down the road.

From Sidelines to punchlines

A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while pulling for my favorite swimmer, Indiana’s  Lilly King, to continue her 50 and 100 meter breaststroke dominance this weekend at nationals:

Home, sweet, home

South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp, who says spending time at five Southeastern Conference schools, gives him a unique perspective, is obviously a little biased toward his current employer.

The Gamecocks are just putting the finishing touches on their new football operations building, so he had reason to strut like a proud rooster during his appearance at the SEC Media Days in Atlanta last week. The football ops building is 110-square feet of magnificence, which is a $50-million investment in the program.

“It’s been a difference-maker for us in our program,” said Muschamp, a former Georgia player who has coached at Auburn, LSU, Florida and South Carolina. “People have asked me all of the time: ‘You guys really seem like you’re recruiting well.’ When you invest in the student-athletes, like we are doing now in South Carolina and we’ve never done before, wholeheartedly with the football program, it makes a difference … It’s going to be a lot of fun moving forward.”

While things appear to be on the upswing athletically, the Gamecocks are already near the top of the collegiate world academically. South Carolina’s football program was first in the SEC in graduation rate and third in the nation last year and the team finished with a spring semester cumulative GPS of 2.87, which is third highest in school history.

“We represent 27 different majors on our campus on our football team,” said Muschamp. “That’s impressive. I worked at some institutions in this league that had about two.”

Sounds about right.

$70-million man

Well, that seals the deal.

Nick Saban will have the rest of us to kick around for at least another seven seasons.

Alabama has announced the Crimson Tide head football coach has agreed to a contract extension through the 2025 season. His base salary this fall will be $7.5 million and will automatically increase by $400,000 annually.  He’ll also received $800,000 bonus payments at the end of  the 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 seasons. That means that by the time he walks away from Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Feb. 28, 2026, Saban will be have pocketed approximately another $70 million, even if he doesn’t win another title.

Pays to be good

Speaking of salaries, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, isn’t doing too poorly himself. He just had the Board of Trustees sign off on a 5-year deal that will pay him a total of $11.6 million, not counting bonuses.

As it is, he will earn $2,2 million this season, which is a half-million dollar raise from 2017. Not bad for coaching a little ball and being restrained on the sidelines a dozen times a game.

In addition to adding two years to Venables’ contract, the school will provide further compensation for each season he stays through life insurance premiums totaling $1.2 million over the next four years.

And then there’s the benefit Venables will receive of getting to watch his son, Jake, play for the Tigers. You can’t put a monetary value on that.

They said it

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Iowa defensive lineman Brady Reiff was arrested for public intoxication – to the tune of .204 BAC – after he tried to open the door of a University of Iowa police car that he mistook for a Uber. Hawkeye apologists immediately accused the cops of disguising their coverage.”

NBC comedian Seth Myers, after police arrested a Massachusetts man for stripping naked and doing yoga poses at a Planet Fitness gym: “That story again: A man in Massachusetts has become the first person ever to successfully cancel his gym membership.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe: “Vince Carter has re-upped for his 21st year with the Hawks. Your turn, Manu  Ginobili   #GoSpursGo.”

Danica Patrick, hosting the ESPYs: “Why do people keep talking about Tiger Woods when he isn’t winning? I mean, who does he think he is? Me?”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Justin Verlander predicted Aaron Judge would homer in the All-Star game. He also foretold Middle East unrest, a World Cup player diving and Donald Trump having a bad hair day.”

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson on Twitter: “After seeing how confident Scott Frost was at Media Days I’ve begun work on my banner congratulating the Huskers for winning the 2021 national championship.”

 Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel on Ricky Stenhouse and Danica Patrick breaking up: “Valentine’s Day in the garage at Daytona just won’t be the same without Ricky romantically giving Danica a dozen long-stemmed socket wrenches and a box of chocolate-covered lug nuts.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, again: “Larry Nassar alleges he was assaulted in prison. “I feel so sorry for him,” said absolutely, positively nobody.”

Omaha comedy writer Brad Dickson, again on Twitter:  “After hearing Lovie Smith’s assessment of the present state of the Illinois program, grief counselors were brought into the room to help the assembled media deal with their emotions.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, again: “The U.S. women’s fencing team, competing in Wuxi, China, became the first American squad in history to win a senior world championship in the foil discipline. Guess you won’t be hearing them say, “Curses – foiled again!” any time soon.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com, again: “Watching the Nadal-Djokovic Wimbledon match after the Isner-Anderson servers’ duel was like taking in an Impressionist art exhibit after looking at a fridge covered in finger-paintings.”

Former NBA coach George Karl, writing in his 2017 memoir, “Furious George: My Forty Years Surviving NBA Divas, Clueless GMs, and Poor Shot Selection,” alleging some NBA players had used performance enhancing drugs: “How are some guys getting older — yet thinner and fitter? How are they recovering from injuries so fast? Why the hell are they going to Germany in the offseason? I doubt it’s for the sauerkraut.”

Pearls of wisdom

Now managing the Chicago Cubs, Eddie Vedder.

Ok, not really. But the Pearl Jam singer is getting a look at Joe Maddon’s lineups before each game, even if the group is on tour in Europe.

Whatever works. After all, Vedder is a Cubs fan from Evanston, Ill., and Maddon is superstitious enough to believe that the rocker’s support had something to do with the club winning it all in 2016. Vedder even wrote a song, “All the Way.”

So if Maddon wants Vedder looking over his lineup card, so be it. The team has the best record in the National League.  That has to count for something.

Long odds

Patricio Heras reached a career-high ranking of No. 269 on the ATP Tour when he was 24. That was nearly five years ago, which probably should have been the Argentinian tennis player’s sign to hang up the racket.

Why? Because he’s now been sanctioned for trying to fix a 2015 match on the ATP Challenger circuit in Barranguilla, Colombia. Now 29, he has been found guilty of the charges and has been suspended from playing until his punishment has been decided.

Another Argentine player, Nicholas Kicker, was recently suspended for six years for match fixing, so Heras would be wise to give up his dreams of Wimbledon glory.

Besides, he’s now ranked No. 306.

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Promotion offers fans free pizza if Phillies don’t blow any easy plays in 5th inning.”

Fark.com: “The Cleveland Browns unveil new slogan, and its pretty Cleveland Brownsy.”

TheOnion.com: “Royals players concerned about fan who stuck out 3-hour rain delay.”

Fark.com: “Carmelo Anthony continues tradition of blaming anybody but himself.”

TheOnion.com: “NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL team owners vote to unionize.”

Fark.com: “In other news, Vince Carter is still in the NBA.”

Fark.com: “Arena soccer includes a penalty box, power-play and substitutions are done on the fly. Why has there never been a sport like this before?”

Russian collusion

The start of the European Championships in track and field are less than two weeks away, and once again Russian athletes won’t be waving their country’s flag when the competition begins in Berlin.

The IAAF Council extended the sanctions against Russia’s federation of track and field.

Rune Anderson, a Swede who heads up the IAAF’s Russian taskforce team, did hold out hope that the testing of the country’s athletes has shown significant improvement.

However, to be reinstated fully by the IAAF, Anderson said the Russian federation must do three things: reimburse the IAAF for its investigation of the doping scandal; must be reinstated by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which includes a confession that doping was sanctioned by Russian authorities; and the IAAF must be given access to drug tests conducted at RUSADA’s Moscow laboratory between 2011-15.

Russia was accused in a WADA report in 2016 of widespread state-sponsored doping. Its track team was barred from that summer’s Rio Olympics and also missed the IAAF World Championships in London a year later.

A number of Russian athletes, however, have been granted permission by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to compete as neutrals. However, the IOC lifted its Olympic ban on Russia after the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games.

Ranking the pros

According to Business Insider, the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles will enter the season as the best the National Football League has to offer

After that, it’s pretty much the usual suspects,

The top eight teams in their rankings: 1. Eagles; 2. Los Angeles Rams; 3. Minnesota Vikings; 4. New England Patriots; 5. New Orleans Saints; 6. Carolina Panthers; 7. Jacksonville Jaguars; 8. Atlanta Falcons.