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College Football...stretch run....
[Posted Wed. a.m. I’m very pressed for time and thus will get to some sports obituaries next chat, like Bobby Doerr’s.]
College Football Quiz: Name the five quarterbacks (all different) for Miami’s five national title teams; 1983. 87, 89, 91, 2001. Answer below.
College Football...CFP Rankings...AP Rank next to it....
1. Alabama 10-0.....1 (AP)
2. Clemson 9-1.....4
3. Miami 9-0.....2
4. Oklahoma 9-1.....3
5. Wisconsin 10-0.....5
6. Auburn 8-2.....6
7. Georgia 9-1.....7
8. Notre Dame 8-2.....9
9. Ohio State 8-2.....8
10. Penn State 8-2.....13
13. Oklahoma State 8-2 .....10
15. UCF 9-0
21. Memphis 8-1...these last two, Group of Five / New Year’s Six candidates.
There is zero reason to get too excited about this week’s rankings. It’s going to sort itself out the weekends of 11/24 and 12/1.
There are literally no potential upset contests this Saturday save for Michigan at Wisconsin. It’s the following weekend that all hell breaks loose with Alabama-Auburn, Michigan-Ohio State, Georgia-Georgia Tech, Clemson-South Carolina and UCF-South Florida. The winners of some of those then impact the conference championship matchups the following week, or, in the case of Clemson and Georgia with tough rivalry games, potentially ruin their CFP hopes.
Anyway, more on this next time after we see how Saturday’s contests shake out.
--Kind of interesting, the latest rankings of players for the 2018 NFL Draft. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. weighs in.
1. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
2. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
3. Derwin James, S, Florida State
4. Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
5. Sam Darnold, QB, USC...Darnold and Rosen square off Saturday
6. Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming...shocking...I know he has the physical tools, but....
7. Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State
8. Arden Key, OLB, LSU
9. Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
10. Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama
11. Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College
--For the record, I just have to get down what transpired after the Giants’ disastrous Sunday in San Francisco, losing 31-21 to the previously winless 49ers to fall to 1-8.
Mark Cannizzaro / New York Post...late Sunday night
“They all proceeded, grim-faced, to the team bus after the latest in a season saturated with embarrassing moments...
“When Giants coach Ben McAdoo got to the bus, he was admitted on board without incident. Same for general manager, Jerry Reese, who declined to speak to reporters when asked on his way out of the locker room, ‘Why is this relevant?’
“Because, based on the quality of the quality of the product McAdoo and Reese oversaw on the field Sunday, you couldn’t have blamed Giants ownership if they’d barred their head coach and GM from entering the bus, instead leaving them to cab it to the airport and fly middle-seat coach cabin back to Jersey.
“But you can bet the thought ran through the disillusioned minds of John Mara and Steve Tisch.
“The Giants owners are not going to do this, because it’s never been how they operate, but this thing has gotten so bad with the Dead Team Walking that it feels like they need to make a coaching change.
“Not after this season. Now.
“If you wondered if this lost season could possibly sink to a lower point than it did last week when the Giants lost 51-17 to the Rams at home, wonder no more....
“It simply cannot get worse than this. Can it?”
I mean the 49ers had been outscored 93-30 in their previous three games.
Pat Leonard / New York Daily News
“The Giants leaked last Thursday that they wouldn’t make in-season changes to their coaching or management staffs to quell the chaos created by anonymous players claiming McAdoo had lost the team and players were giving up.
“But Sunday’s 31-21 loss to the previously winless San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium changes that.
“It has to....
“McAdoo on Friday called the player rips of his leadership ‘fake news’ and, well, he was dead wrong.....
“The anonymous players are still talking, too. Hours after the game ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported that a Giants source texted her, ‘Tried to warn you’ of Sunday’s listless performance. The Giants flew home immediately after the defeat and were due to land in the early hours of Monday morning.
“San Fran hadn’t led any of its previous nine games by more than three points at any time and beat the Giants by 10 (and it was an 18-point win really, at 31-13, until a meaningless late Giant TD)....
“McAdoo predictably got his back up when asked about his job ‘situation.’
“ ‘What situation?’ the coach bristled. ‘We have to go correct the tape, all right, and get ready for our next ballgame. We have a chance to play probably one of the best teams in football next week (in the Chiefs). There’s no situation.’
“Wrong. There is a situation. The situation is that there is no hope of the Giants beating the Chiefs or winning any other game after losing to the previously 0-9 Niners. That’s the situation....
“McAdoo continued to refuse to say he was embarrassed.
“ ‘I’m not embarrassed by this team,’ he said.
“That’s OK. Come Monday morning, it might not be his team.”
Mark Cannizzaro / New York Post...Monday p.m.
“What should have been done on Monday perhaps still will be done after this miserable Giants season comes to its merciful end, on Dec. 31 at home against the Redskins.
“So mark Jan. 1, 2018, on your calendars, outraged Giants fans. Your best hope now for a new beginning and a better Giants’ tomorrow may take place on New Year’s Day.
“Giants ownership didn’t fire Ben McAdoo or Jerry Reese on Monday....
“But with the groundswell of fan unrest that’s been gaining momentum like a runaway train in the aftermath of that outrageous loss (to the Niners), John Mara and Steve Tisch did release a statement about the state of their embattled head coach and general manager.
“The statement was not a universal vote of confidence, which is the second best news Giants fans could get on this day....
“Mara and Tisch made a mistake by not boldly pulling the trigger hours after the team suffered one of the most ignominious moments in franchise history, thus giving Giants fans some glimmer of hope for the future with change in these final seven games.
“ ‘Ben McAdoo is our head coach and has our support,’ the statement read. ‘We are in the midst of an extremely disappointing season. Our performance this year, particularly the past two weeks, is inexcusable and frustrating. While we appreciate that our fans are unhappy with what has occurred, nobody is more upset than we are.
“ ‘Our plan is to do what we have always done, which is to not offer a running commentary on the season. It is our responsibility to determine the reasons for our poor performance and at the end of the year, we will evaluate the 2017 season in its entirety and make a determination on how we move forward.’....
“The Giants need to clean house and start over. That means finding replacements for both McAdoo and Reese, who had an up-and-down 10-year run with the organization.
“The worst thing the Giants can do is fire one and not the other.”
The Giants have seven tortuous games left, four at home...this week Kansas City, then Dallas, Philadelphia and Washington, with road games at Washington, Oakland, and Arizona.
Can you imagine what those home crowds are going to be like? [Aside from over half Dallas and Philly fans, for starters?]
--Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank is freezing Jerry Jones out, while other owners are telling the Cowboys’ owner they are tired of his meddling. Jones was given a cease-and-desist warning Monday, according to the New York Times
Jones was apparently threatened with a fine, the loss of draft picks, or even suspension if he didn’t stop his rabble rousing. Some owners, according to Pro Football Talk, are so miffed at Jones that they are exploring penalties that could trigger forfeiture of the Cowboys.
While the ‘nuclear option’ is not likely to happen, it is a stunning rebuke of Jones, who at one time had the NFL in his back pocket but now seems to have overplayed his hand on the issue of Commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract extension as payback for Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension.
Blank said in a statement Monday: “The (compensation) committee is continuing its work towards finalizing a contract extension with the commissioner. The negotiations are progressing and we will keep ownership apprised of the negotiations as they move forward. We do not intend to publicly comment on our discussions.”
At Sunday’s Cowboys-Falcons game in Atlanta, Blank treated Jones like crap, not even taking him on a tour of the Falcons’ new palace, which is modeled after Jerry’s World.
Jones acknowledged after, when asked about the lack of pleasantries, “That’s rare. I’ve had games where I didn’t visit for whatever reasons, but it’s rare.”
Tuesday, however, Jones said he wasn’t giving in on the Goodell contract. Jones has a point. The contract has 18 months to go. What’s the hurry? At the same time, most of the owners just want stability at this tumultuous time and see giving Goodell an extension (which I have much more on next time in terms of the details) today to get this off the table.
--Sunday night, the Patriots improved to 7-2 with a 41-16 win in Denver against the hapless Broncos (3-6), as Tom Brady was his usual workmanlike self, 25/36, 266, 3-0, 125.4, New England tight end Martellus Bennett making his return in limited action after being waived by Green Bay for “failure to disclose a physical condition.”
Bennett said he needed shoulder surgery and was prepared to undergo it when he was released, immediately snapped up by New England, whom he had had a solid season for last year. As for the shoulder? What injury? Nothing to see here...move along people....
--Great game at the Garden Monday night, LeBron James in town to face the Knicks, days after he dissed the Knicks for taking Frank Ntilikina over Dennis Smith Jr. in the NBA Draft. But the scrawny 19-year-old rookie from France, when confronted by LeBron early in the first half, didn’t back down, but instead pushed him once...and then a second time.
I was watching...I was shocked, just like everyone in attendance, and LeBron seemed shocked. Then Knicks center Enes Kanter stepped in and James and Kanter jawed at each other, drawing double technicals. It was a signature moment for this new Knicks team, a different club entirely in the post-Carmelo Anthony era. An exciting one, for starters.
But in the end, the Knicks couldn’t hold onto a 73-50 lead, two minutes to play in the third quarter, and fell to the Cavaliers 104-101, as LeBron and Kyle Korver came up big down the stretch.
Kristaps Porzingis picked a bad night to have a poor shooting effort, just 7-of-21 from the field, 20 points, wasting Kanter’s 20 points, 16 rebounds, Tim Hardaway Jr.’s 28, and Ntilikina’s six steals.
But it was no doubt a good learning experience for the 7-6 Knickerbockers. The buzz is back, but these next 20 games or so will be key...to see if they can keep up their solid play and give their fans actual hopes for a playoff berth. The Garden would then be electric all winter.
And I loved what Kanter apparently said to LeBron upon confronting him in defense of Ntilikina.
“You ain’t coming to my house and playing that water bottle flip game again. I don’t care who you are. What do you call yourself, King, Queen, Princess, whatever you are. We’re going to fight. Nobody out there is going to punk us.”
Meanwhile, I totally agreed with Walt “Clyde” Frazier’s commentary that the Cavs (7-7) lack any chemistry whatsoever.
--The shocking Boston Celtics are 13-2, 13 in a row after an 0-2 start, winners Tuesday over Brooklyn 109-102, as Kyrie Irving returned, wearing a mask to protect his minor facial fractures suffered in a collision with a teammate.
--Three UCLA basketball players detained in China over suspicion of shoplifting arrived back in the U.S. on Tuesday, courtesy in no small part to the intervention of President Trump, who personally asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help secure their quick release.
The players, including LiAngelo Ball, said nothing on their arrival and now we wait to see what the school, Pac-12 Conference, and NCAA do. Suspend them for the season, I have said.
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block released a statement that read in part: “I want to be clear that we take seriously any violations of the law. We remain one of the world’s top academic institutions in large part because of our values and standards....
“When members of the UCLA family fail to uphold these values, we review these incidents with fair and through processes.”
LaVar Ball really needs to keep his mouth shut the next few weeks.
--No. 1 Duke beat No. 2 Michigan State in the Champions Classic on Tuesday in Chicago, 88-81, behind a career-high 37 points from senior Grayson Allen (the lone senior on the club), though the Blue Devils lost freshman phenom Marvin Bagley III to an eye injury midway through the first half, the extent of which I didn’t see yet.
Kind of shockingly, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski improved to 12-1 in his career against Michigan State.
In the nightcap, No. 4 Kansas edged No. 7 Kentucky 65-61.
--Separately, Wake Forest scored 66 points last night.....
In other news.....
Oh, sorry....Liberty scored 79 against us, another godawful loss at home and the first time since 1979-80 that Wake has opened a season 0-2. These are supposed to be the creampuff games on the schedule (the first loss to Georgia Southern). What can I say? Go Demon Deacon soccer and football!!!
--There was another upset of sorts Tuesday. Eastern Washington beat Stanford 67-61, the Eagles ending a 21-game losing streak against Pac-12 teams.
--Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger were named unanimous winners of the American and National League rookie of the year award; the first time that both leagues’ rookies of the year were awarded unanimously since Scott Rolen and Nomar Garciaparra in 1997.
Judge set the big league rookie record with 52 home runs, held by Mark McGwire (49) for 30 years. He also led the A.L. in walks (127) and runs (128).
Bellinger smashed 39 homers in only 132 games, exceeding the N.L. rookie mark of 38 by Wally Berger (1930) and Frank Robinson (1956).
Bellinger became the 18th Dodgers’ rookie of the year winner, far more than any other franchise, and second in a row, Corey Seager having won it in 2016.
--Carlos Beltran announced his retirement after 20 seasons, including his first World Series ring as a member of the Astros this fall. He now may be part of the Yankees’ managerial search.
Beltran finished with a .279 career batting average, 2,725 hits, 435 home runs and 1,587 RBIs (41st on the career list).
He is also one of just five players with 400 homers and 300 stolen bases; the others Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Willie Mays and Andre Dawson.
But is he a Hall of Famer? No. Top Fives are big with me...only one top five in the MVP voting, for example. [No other top-10s, actually.]
Yes, he did hit 16 home runs in 215 at-bats in the postseason, batting .307, with eight of those homers coming in his first 46 ABs during his heroic effort for Houston in their 2004 playoff run.
I just don’t seem him in the Hall, at least in his first few years of eligibility, though I see I’m in a distinct minority, all the other articles already talking about what cap he should wear.
--So nothing yet out of baseball’s winter meetings, but a ton of buzz surrounding Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who new co-owner Derek Jeter is shopping due to the $295 million the Marlins owe over the next 10 years on Stanton’s contract, Jeter to make comments on the team’s situation this morning. He wants to be able to use Stanton to acquire assets to rebuild.
But who can afford Stanton? And a team that perhaps could, the Dodgers, is already stocked in the outfield.
World Cup Qualifying
--Wow, picture being a fan of Italy, down 1-0 heading into the second leg of their match with Sweden, in Milan, and having your four-time champions fail to qualify for the first time in sixty years (1958 to 2018), 0-0...Sweden advancing for the first time since 2006 on aggregate.
Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi said, “It’s a black moment for our game. Unfortunately there will be a lot of time to analyze it.”
Yes, Italy’s fans are beyond pissed. And it didn’t help that their manager, Giampiero Ventura, did not speak to national television after the defeat but arrived at a news conference 90 minutes after.
I mean this is far worse than the United States flaming out. We have tons of other sports to fall back on, plus we’re so multicultural, especially in the case of Hispanic/Latin-Americans, they’ll be duly represented next summer in Russia.
Aside from the U.S., others not making the W.C. include Chile and the Netherlands.
--Meanwhile, Wednesday, Honduras squared off against Australia for another berth, this one 0-0 aggregate after the first leg, only to have the Aussies qualify for their fourth consecutive World Cup, 3-1 winners in the second leg. This was supposed to be the worst case for the U.S., a playoff in Sydney.
One more berth to go in the 32-team field...New Zealand or Peru.
--Men’s Division I Soccer Rankings (Coaches Poll, Nov. 12)
1. Wake Forest
4. Western Michigan
6. North Carolina
NCAA Tournament action begins Thursday, Wake Forest with a first-round bye. Last year, Wake lost the NCAA championship game on penalty kicks to Stanford.
--The Champions Tour is still buzzing, not necessarily in a kind way, about Kevin Sutherland taking the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship and the yearlong competition too, even though it was his first Champions Tour victory. [He won just once on the PGA Tour back in 2002.]
The 53-year-old Sutherland won for the first time in 78 starts on the 50-and-over circuit. He entered the week fifth on the Charles Schwab Cup season points standings, the last spot where the player had to only win the tournament to win the tournament to take the $1 million annuity. He earned $440,000 for the tournament victory.
Sutherland did have 15 top-10 finishes this season, finishing second three times and third twice.
But Bernhard Langer, the winner of the first two playoff events (seven total wins on the season!), by finishing tied for 12th in the Schwab Cup final, slipped to second in the season standings, missing a chance to win the title for the fourth straight year and fifth overall.
“It was never meant to be fair,” Langer said. “It was meant to be playoffs. Everybody in the field was given a chance to win. Is it fair? No, it’s not, but that’s how it is right now.”
I tend to agree with Langer, but his sour grapes doesn’t wear well.
That said, what I didn’t know when I posted last time is that if Sutherland had even finished second or third in the tournament he would have won the Cup and the bonus, despite going winless in that scenario.
--Last event of the PGA Tour’s fall schedule this weekend at Sea Island, Georgia...the RSM Classic.
Down to the finale on Sunday at Homestead, four drivers with a shot at the title...Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski. It also represents Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s final race of his career.
--WFAN is replacing Mike Francesa with a three-headed team; former WFAN producer of the “Mike and the Mad Dog” program, Chris Carlin, who has been on a show in Philadelphia recently, former NFLer Bart Scott, who was a victim of cutbacks at CBS Sports, and Maggie Gray, who now works with SI and CBS Sports Radio. I don’t know Ms. Gray, but I think the other two are a fit.
Carlin will remain the voice of Rutgers football.
So we wish them the best. Tough shoes to fill.
I’ll miss Francesa. Half the time I couldn’t stand him, but when there was a big New York sports story, you had to tune in for his 1:00 p.m. monologue, as I did Monday, to get his searing rant on the Giants and Ben McAdoo....it was a classic.
And this is just for those of you who know his act, but while I understand why he is leaving Dec. 15, Francesa normally taking two weeks’ vacation for Christmas and New Year’s, this is such a consequential end of season for the Giants the timing is awful in terms of finishing up a career. Kind of like the ending to “The Sopranos,” though I’m one who loved that one.
Top 3 songs for the week 11/12/77: #1 “You Light Up My Life” (Debby boone) #2 “Boogie Nights” (Heatwave) #3 “Nobody Does It Better” (Carly Simon)...and...#4 “It’s Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me” (Barry White...move along, kids...) #5 “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” (Crystal Gayle) #6 “I Feel Love” (Donna Summer) #7 “Baby, What A Big Surprise” (Chicago) #8 “Heaven On The 7th Floor” (Paul Nicholas) #9 “How Deep Is Your Love” (Bee Gees) #10 “We’re All Alone” (Rita Coolidge...I was in my sophomore year at Wake Forest...on the way to accumulating the worst GPA in the history of academia....)
College Football Quiz Answer: Five Miami QBs for national title teams. 1983: Bernie Kosar; 1987: Steve Walsh (Vinny Testaverde was the QB in 1985-86); 1989: Craig Erickson; 1991: Gino Torretta; 2001: Ken Dorsey.
Next Bar Chat, Monday.