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Alabama and Saban Bag Another Title
[Posted early Wed. a.m.]
College Football Quiz: The AP started its poll in 1936. Name the six schools with at least five national titles since then. Answer below.
College Football Finale
“I’ve never been happier in my life,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “Never.”
Chuck Culpepper / Washington Post
“Once a rollicking Monday night had drifted past midnight into Tuesday, the human minds that occupied Mercedes-Benz Stadium began processing the feast of whiplash shifts they had both played and witnessed. The processing could prove painstaking. In this latest, dazzling College Football Playoff national championship game, Alabama’s 26-23 overtime win over Georgia came stuffed with enough hairpin turns to wreak decades of discussion.
“Alabama seemed imperiled, its offense barely budging as Georgia led 13-0 at halftime. Georgia seemed challenged as Alabama pulled to 13-7. Alabama seemed doomed as Georgia quickly stretched out to 20-7 with an 80-yard touchdown pass that looked magical enough to last for decades. Georgia seemed beaten as Alabama lined up for a 36-yard field goal on the last play of regulation.
“In short, everything that seemed, ultimately wasn’t, all the way to that final goose bump of a play, when Alabama seemed trapped, 41 yards from the end zone on a second down and 26, until somehow, on the 148th offensive play of this highbrow match of cave-man football, a receiver boomed free up the left sideline.”
Alex Scarborough / ESPN.com
“DeVonta Smith heard the playcall come in and knew he had a chance. On second-and-26 in overtime, with Alabama trailing Georgia 23-20, the freshman receiver had just learned he was going to run a go route into the end zone. He smiled and looked over at his quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa. ‘Trust me, bro,’ Smith told him.
“Tagovailoa, the true freshman who replaced starter Jalen Hurts coming out of halftime, didn’t say a word back. The lefty from Hawaii simply nodded his head, the picture of calm under pressure.
“Seconds later, Smith and Tagovailoa connected on a touchdown that now belongs to history – a 41-yard strike that delivered Alabama its fifth national championship under coach Nick Saban.
“ ‘Hole shot,’ Smith explained, referring to his splitting the coverage to get open.
“On the sideline, Hurts saw it all unfold as if in slow motion.
“Hurts had been benched, but the sophomore was still engaged, dissecting the coverage on his own. It was instinctual, he explained. He diagnosed a two-high safety shell and thought his backup wouldn’t dare try it.
“But Tagovailoa did and, moments later, Hurts was holding him in his arms. No one was happier for the freshman than Hurts.
“ ‘I love you,’ Hurts said he told Tagovailoa. ‘This is what you’re made for. You’re built for this.’
“As Hurts recounted the whole ordeal, as he revealed how he learned he was benched by Saban (‘Ain’t no conversation,’ Hurts said. ‘It was a decision he made. He’s a boss and he made a great decision.’), junior running back Damien Harris was shouting at him. ‘We took that s---,’ Harris said. ‘They said we ain’t supposed to be here. And we won the whole thing!’
“That they did.
“And without Saban’s decision to pull Hurts, who knows?
“It took guts. Ask former Alabama tight end O.J. Howard about Saban’s decision, and he would tell you it took another piece of the human body, not one suitable for family programming.
“Hurts was struggling, having completed just 3 of 8 passes for 21 yards. But he is still a former SEC Offensive Player of the Year with 61 career touchdowns, and he had taken this team to back-to-back championship games....
“Saban put his faith in a true freshman with eight games of mop-up duty on his resume. Tagovailoa promptly came in and threw for 166 yards and three touchdowns.
“ ‘I don’t know how Coach Saban found me all the way in Hawaii from Alabama,’ Tagovailoa said. ‘Thank God he found me and we’re here right now.’
What happens next year with Hurts, who is 26-2 as a starter and will be just a junior, and Tagovailoa, who is not a typical Saban QB? Fun problem to have.
Yes, Saban’s decision was the stuff of legend.
Howie Kussoy / New York Post
“When Alabama strangled the life out of LSU six years ago in the national championship, it seemed impossible to be more prepared. When the Crimson Tide forced undefeated Notre Dame to tap out the next year, Nick Saban looked like he was at the height of his powers.
“But when the greatest dynasty the sport has ever seen was teetering, Saban was at his best, unafraid to shred his once-brilliant plans, and play craps; willing to pause the ‘Process,’ and tweak it while time ticked off the clock.
“Two years ago, with the national championship game tied in the fourth quarter, Saban realized Deshaun Watson couldn’t be stopped, and called for one of the gutsiest onside kicks of all-time. The Tide seized the ball, control and another title.
“To match once-untouchable Alabama icon Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant for a record sixth national championship, Saban again did what no one saw coming – and became the greatest coach the sport has ever seen.
“After Alabama was shut out in the first half of Monday night’s national championship, Saban pulled his starting quarterback of the past two years – Jalen Hurts – and put the season on the shoulders of true freshman Tua Tagovailoa, who hadn’t played against an FBS opponent since Oct. 21.”
Saban is now 6-1 in national title games, suffering the lone loss on Clemson’s last-second touchdown last year.
“When we lost last year on the last play of the game, we said don’t waste a failing,” Saban said. “That’s the lesson we all wanted to learn. I think the resiliency this team has shown all year long certainly proves that they sort of learned something from that.”
“Saban’s never had first-round picks such as Watson or Jameis Winston or Cam Newton to lead his team to a title, yet he awoke two dormant powers – first at LSU, becoming the first-ever coach to win national championships at two different schools – with no quarterbacks drafted higher than the fifth round, if at all.”
Remarkable, I think you’d agree.
Ivan Maisel / ESPN.com
“The Nick Saban Decade began in Atlanta in August 2008 with a 34-10 victory over No. 9 Clemson so one-sided that Tigers coach Tommy Bowden came out and said his team had been ‘whipped about every way you get whipped’ – a remarkable thing for a coach to say.
“The Saban Decade ended in Atlanta, five national championships and 124 victories later, with a 26-23 overtime victory over Georgia that defied belief, logic and everything we have ever been taught about what it takes to win in college football.
“It takes experience. Down 13-0 at the half, Alabama fought back to win thanks to the play of six freshmen on offense, including quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
“It takes mistake-free football. The Crimson Tide took three points off the board in the first quarter because of a false start penalty. Andy Pappanastos missed that field goal – and another one that would have won the game at the end of regulation, one he badly hooked with a national championship at stake.
“Tagovailoa threw an interception on a running play.
“Trailing Georgia 23-20 in overtime, he took a 16-yard sack on first down.
“On the next play, Tagovailoa inserted himself in the Tide history books.
“ ‘How did we win?’ Alabama special-teams coordinator Joe Pannunzio asked after the game.
“Who changes quarterbacks at halftime of the final game of the season? And wins? This wasn’t the buy-a-victory game against Mercer the week before the Iron Bowl, when you’re trying to rest your starters. This was the game with everything on the line, and Alabama was down two scores....”
Saban is also now 12-0 against his former assistants, Georgia’s Kirby Smart having been defensive coordinator at Alabama for seven seasons, whereas “Bear” Bryant went 45-6 against his former aides.
“ ‘We knew it would be a hard game,’ said Alabama coach Nick Saban, holding the trophy. ‘If you can’t overcome hard, you’re never going to have any great victories in your life.’”
Alabama won 125 games in the past 10 years, 13 more than second-place Ohio State.
Dan Wolken / USA TODAY
“There is never just one moment that turns a win into a loss, that rips a championship from your grasp, that creates a lifetime of heartbreak.
“It’s a missed tackle here, a pass bouncing off a helmet there, a would-be interception that was bobbled so slightly and a facemask the referee didn’t see. It’s little moments of fate followed by big mistakes, a haze of preventable problems compounded by bad luck that will be a choose-your-own adventure of regret for years to come.
“But there is only one takeaway for Georgia from Monday night, in its home state, with 37 years of championship frustration on the verge of being erased.
“They blew it.
“They totally and completely blew it.
“A game that seemed like it couldn’t be lost is now etched in history as Alabama 26, Georgia 23, and nothing that happens for the rest of Kirby Smart’s long and probably successful career will hurt as bad as this one....
“Second-and-26 makes it so hard.
“Second-and-26. Words that will live in Bulldogs infamy the way 28-3 does for fans of another football team in this state. Which brings to mind: Does Georgia know how to do sports collapses or what?
“Maybe there’s a reason fans in Atlanta think they’re cursed: It just keeps happening.
“The Atlanta Falcons from 28-3 to devastation in the Super Bowl last year. The Braves coming away with only one World Series from 14 consecutive playoff appearances. The 60-win Hawks getting swept by LeBron James in the Eastern Conference finals.
“These fan bases are not all the same, of course, but the evidence of some epically bad juju within these borders is mounting.
“After blowing a 13-point lead, then getting an all-time lucky break when Alabama kicker Andy Pappanastos shanked a 36-yard field goal with no time left in regulation, how do you lose on second-and-26?....
“It was all unforgettable, every bit of it, including the nauseating feeling that had to creep into the stomach of Georgia fans the moment it started to turn.
“Because this was all but over. This was such a thorough domination that Alabama coach Nick Saban had to throw out his entire game plan at halftime and start playing freshmen at quarterback and running back....
“ ‘We had it in our hands and we just fumbled,’ receiver Mecole Hardman said. ‘We had chances to close the game out and we couldn’t do it.’....
“On the night Georgia got closer to winning it all than any time since 1980, anything except disaster would have sufficed. Then disaster arrived, reminding everyone that this is still Georgia and, until further notice, we shouldn’t expect anything less.”
--Meanwhile, outside Mercedes-Benz Stadium, before kickoff it was rather chaotic. The weather sucked and President Trump arrived.
David Wharton / Los Angeles Times
“While some fans got inside hours ahead of time, tens of thousands were left standing in the cold rain because multiple entry gates had been closed down.
“The trouble started when police cleared the street and sidewalks around one end of the stadium, telling people they would have to wait until after President Trump arrived before they could access their gate or, in some cases, retrieve tickets from a will-call window.
“Numerous additional gates were also closed as thick crowds pushed right up to the turnstiles. It was unclear if ticket-holders had any way to make entrance for more than an hour.
“Some fans stood in tears at the barricades and one man jostled with a local police officer. Security officers were announcing the delay might extend until after kick-off.
“This reporter, who had been walking the area around the stadium to check on planned protests against Trump, was subjected to vitriol as three security guards tried to provide an escort into the stadium. One man yelled an ethnic slur. Our group was forced back about 50 feet short of a gate because the situation was becoming too dangerous. (Using my media pass, I later talked my way into another entrance – not a ticket gate – on the opposite side of the stadium.)
“About 20 minutes before kickoff, College Football Playoff officials tweeted that a main gate had re-opened. ‘Thank you for your patience entering the stadium,’ they stated.”
Phil W., in attendance at the game as a guest of the championship, was fast-tracked in line, but he told me he can confirm the chaos for the others.
--Separately, Dan Wolken had a piece in USA TODAY prior to the title game talking about salaries in the coaching ranks, like Saban’s $11 million, but it is getting more obscene when you talk about offensive and defensive coordinators at the top schools now commanding as much as $2 million.
You can build a case that Alabama is a better institution because of Saban, attracting more students, a better faculty and such, ditto Dabo Swinney at $8.5 million, or Urban Meyer at $6 million. But you can’t say that about a freakin’ coordinator! [Georgia’s offensive coordinator Jim Chaney playfully complained to Wolken he was way underpaid at $850,000...public universities having to divulge such salaries.]
Wolken notes that support for the current system will only continue to wane further as more and more of it is exposed. It was last fall that a Washington Post / University of Massachusetts-Lowell poll showed that 66% of Americans now believe athletes should be paid when their name, image or likeness are used for commercial purposes; only 52% now believing a scholarship is adequate compensation for college athletes.
And Wolken also warns there are more sexual misconduct allegations against big-time coaches to come, following the firing of Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez under a cloud of harassment accusations.
--Finally, ESPN had monster ratings for the game...28.4 million watched; 27.4 million on the flagship channel, and another one million on ESPN2 and ESPNU as part of its “MegasCast” production. Last year the total was 24.4 million, and the year before 25.7 million. Monday’s telecast was the fifth-highest-rated college football game ESPN has ever broadcast; second-highest if the MegaCast is factored in, behind only Ohio State’s victory over Oregon in the 2015 championship game.
Viewership was also up for ESPN’s New Year’s Day slate of games and its entire 35-bowl-game season.
Timing is everything. Last year the semifinal rounds were played New Year’s Eve, and this year they were New Year’s Day.
But down the road there will be other scheduling issues, such as for 2020, when the national championship game won’t be played until Jan, 13, 16 days after the semifinals. [Kevin Draper / New York Times]
Final AP Poll
1. Alabama 13-1
2. Georgia 13-2
3. Oklahoma 12-2
4. Clemson 12-2
5. Ohio State 12-2
6. UCF 13-0....good for them...
7. Wisconsin 13-1
8. Penn State 11-2
9. TCU 11-3
10. Auburn 10-4
11. Notre Dame 10-3
22. Boise State 11-2
23. North Carolina State 9-4
29. Army 10-3...if you carried out the votes
*Boise State is already my lock Group of Five selection for the New Year’s Six.
--The NFL was lucky last weekend that Buffalo QB Tyrod Taylor and Carolina’s Cam Newton didn’t suffer more than what appear to have been ‘just’ concussions. I didn’t comment on either last time, but I saw both situations live and especially in the case of Taylor, that was scary stuff...his head getting slammed a few times (three if you count the weight of the Jacksonville player falling on him after being slammed to the turf).
I read a story that an hour after, in the Buffalo locker room, Taylor was clearly glassy-eyed and never spoke. The NFL’s concussion protocol doesn’t allow players to address their condition.
Taylor played poorly and his future as a Bill is not looking good, as Buffalo can release the seven-year veteran before March 14 and save paying a $6 million roster bonus.
But if you were a parent watching Taylor’s head get slammed as it did, and if there was still a shred of doubt on whether you’d let your son play football, I imagine Mom and Dad looked at each other and said, “That’s it. Bobby, stick with basketball and baseball.”
As for Taylor’s long-term health, you feel for him. Forget the fact the Bills missed a real opportunity to advance after a 17-year playoff absence against the Jags. I shudder to think about what we’ll hear about Tyrod down the road.
Meanwhile, the NFL and NFL Players Association on Monday launched a joint investigation into the handling of Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton and his head injury suffered in Sunday’s loss at New Orleans. Carolina could be subject to discipline from Commissioner Roger Goodell if its determined the team violated the NFL’s concussion protocols.
Earlier this season, the Seahawks were fined $100,000 for violating the protocols in the handling of quarterback Russell Wilson, though the Texans were not for their handling of QB Tom Savage, although the NFL and NFLPA concluded the outcome of the Savage evaluation wasn’t acceptable.
But one of the results of the Savage case was a new step for the protocols that requires when a player falls or stumbles after suffering a potential head injury, the player needs to be taken to the locker room for a concussion evaluation and not given a mere sideline evaluation, as was the case with Cam Newton.
Newton had absorbed a hard hit on a fourth-quarter sack Sunday and was helped from the turf. Newton made his way to the sideline but dropped to his knees before getting there. He was evaluated in the medical tent on the sideline, and ended up missing just one series; the Panthers saying he had been evaluated for a concussion and cleared to return to the field.
After the game, Newton and Coach Ron Rivera said Newton had been poked in the eye, and that Newton had been told to drop to a knee to give backup quarterback Derek Anderson time to warm up. So that answer creates more questions. The Panthers’ reply isn’t good enough, nor is it ethical.
--Talk about getting no respect, and the value of a good starting quarterback, the No. 1 seed Philadelphia Eagles are making history. As of Tuesday, I’m showing the Falcons as a 3.0-point favorite, according to ESPN, making the Eagles the first No. 1 seed to be an underdog in the divisional round since 1970.
Five previous home teams were underdogs in the divisional round since the merger, but all were No.2-seeded teams. But those five were 4-1 despite what Vegas was saying.
Of immediate concern for the Eagles is the play of backup quarterback Nick Foles, filling in for the injured Carson Wentz. Foles threw four touchdown passes against the Giants in his first start, but his last two have not been good at all, and the Eagles offense has stalled.
--At his weekly news conference Monday, coach Bill Belichick said he hadn’t read the ESPN piece by Seth Wickersham, that spoke to the discontent between the Pats’ coach, owner Robert Kraft, and Tom Brady, and didn’t respond to Wickersham’s claim Belichick was “furious and demoralized” over being forced to trade Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers.
“I know you want to report on things that are inaccurate and un-attributable, and I’m not interested in responding to all those random and in a lot of cases baseless comments,” Belichick said when asked about the report.
After that, it was all talk on the game with Tennessee, until he was asked if he’d be back as New England coach next season.
Well you won’t get the coach to say anything more than this until after the playoffs, but the New York Daily News’ Gary Myers did report that a source close to Belichick said he “sees an opening – an opening to get to the Giants.”
But the Giants can’t wait for another month, if New England made it all the way to the Super Bowl. Way too much organizationally needs to get done before then...at least that would be normal team behavior.
Saturday, for example, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy was named the Bears’ new head coach, replacing John Fox. Nagy interviewed the day after the Chiefs’ loss to Tennessee.
--Jon Gruden returned to Oakland on Tuesday, saying he had “unfinished business,” after being traded away in 2002, four years into his first head coaching stint.
“As a coach, I’ve been traded. I’ve been fired. I’ve missed the game terribly.
“But I’ve really missed the Raiders. For my career [here] to end on that night in New England, it still ticks me off,” referring to a 2001 AFC division playoff game between the Raiders and the Patriots – a now legendary game played on a snow-covered field that began Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s historic run of five championships with the Pats. After that season, the Raiders traded Gruden to Tampa Bay, with whom he won Super Bowl XXXVII in his first season.
The Raiders this time handed Gruden $100 million over ten years, which will include the team’s move to Las Vegas, probably in time for the 2020 season.
--In terms of the weather this weekend, we could have a little rain in Philadelphia, but it will be mild; ditto in Foxborough for Tennessee at New England.
But at least Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh will be cold and potentially a bit breezy, maybe a snow shower if we’re lucky, viewing from our couches at home.
Sadly, New Orleans at Minnesota is under a freakin’ dome, though a rather unique one.
AP Poll (Jan. 8)
1. Villanova 14-1 (52)
2. West Virginia 14-1 (12)...wow...
3. Virginia 14-1 (1)...ditto...
4. Michigan State 15-2
T-5. Purdue 15-2
T-5. Wichita State 13-2
7. Duke 13-2
8. Texas Tech 14-1
9. Oklahoma 12-2
10. Xavier 15-2
12. Kansas 12-3
13. Seton Hall 14-2
19. Clemson 14-1
20. North Carolina 12-4
21. Kentucky 12-3
When did you last see a poll, this far into the season, where neither Kansas, Kentucky nor North Carolina is in the top ten? [Beats me]
So, we had some action on Tuesday and 2 West Virginia prevailed at home over Baylor (11-5) 57-54.
9 Oklahoma bested 8 Texas Tech in Norman 75-65, Trae Young with 27 but another poor shooting night.
3 Virginia beat Syracuse (12-5) in Charlottesville 68-61.
5 Purdue edged Michigan (14-4) on the road 70-69.
But 13 Seton Hall got blown out at Marquette (12-5) as the Big Three Seniors for the Pirates had a combined 29 points...yuck. For the Warriors, Markus Howard only had 12.
And in a reunion of sorts at Madison Square Garden, Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing led his Hoyas over Chris Mullins’ St. John’s 69-66, in Ewing’s return to Gotham in his new capacity.
--After posting Sunday, the Knicks ended up winning one on the road, just their fourth (4-14), 100-96 at Dallas. Kristaps Porzingis had 29, but his shooting remained way off, 9 of 25 from the field. Instead, Enes Kanter had 18 rebounds in 25 minutes and his backup, Kyle O’Quinn had 11 boards in 23 minutes...pretty, pretty good.
But a lot of eyes were on the rookie point guard matchup between the Knicks Frank Ntilinka, who had 7 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists, while the Mavs’ Dennis Smith Jr., taken one pick after Ntilikina, had 11 points and 5 assists. Many observers in Gotham have argued the Knicks would have been better off with Smith, who is off to a better start for Dallas, but on this night, advantage Ntilikina.
--Then you have the ongoing deal with LaVar Ball, the Lakers, and ESPN.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle went ballistic when LaVar told ESPN that Lakers head coach Luke Walton had lost the team.
Carlisle said he was commenting as president of the coach’s association when he called the report “a disgrace” and labeled Ball a “blowhard loudmouth” with “ignorant” opinions. Carlisle added many coaches “are upset” at ESPN, saying it has now “eroded trust.”
“I view the recent ESPN article as a disgrace quite honestly,” Carlisle said. “Luke Walton is a terrific young coach who’s bringing along a young team. And it’s a difficult task, and if you don’t believe it just ask me. We’re going through that now.”
Carlisle said ESPN needs to understand the coaches go out of their way to help the network with its coverage, while Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said a father can’t possibly know what’s going on inside the locker room.
Carlisle: “Printing an article where the father of an NBA player has an opinion that is printed as anything like legitimate erodes trust that we built with ESPN.”
Ball, who is in Lithuania with his younger sons, told ESPN.com: “You can see they’re not playing for Luke no more. Luke doesn’t have control of the team no more. They don’t want to play for him.”
ESPN’s Dick Vitale wasn’t happy with what his own network did, taking to Twitter.
“Y do we chase LaVar Ball? R we that desperate for 1 of his absurd statements?”
Vitale ripped Ball as a poor “teacher & role model” whose tendency is to “quit” and “blame everyone,” alluding to the patriarch’s decision to pull his two youngest sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, out of UCLA and high school, respectively.
Walton “has more CLASS & HOOPS knowledge in his pinkie than LaVar!” Vitale exclaimed. “So pathetic that LaVarBall just rips good [people]” such as Walton, Vitale added.
“His theory [is] everyone is wrong but me,” Vitale said of Ball. “He is so sad & we give him a forum for his classless comments!”
For his part, Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball told reporters in Los Angles, “I’ll play for anybody.” When asked if he would ask his father to tone it down, Ball replied, “He’s a grown man. Like I said, he’s going to say what he’s going to say. I can’t do nothing about it.”
Walton said: “I’m fine with it, it doesn’t bother me. My only concern with any of it is for ‘Zo. As long as ‘Zo is fine with it, and ‘Zo can come in and play, and it doesn’t affect mine and his relationship, then it doesn’t bother me at all.”
Bill Plaschke / Los Angeles Times
“When asked whether he was fine with Walton as his coach, Lonzo said, ‘I’ll play for anybody.’
“I’ll play for anybody? Those are the words of a rookie whom Walton has constantly encouraged and empowered? That is the statement from a supposed team leader to a locker room under siege?
“A day later, on Monday afternoon, fellow rookie Kyle Kuzma responded much differently, saying, ‘Luke is my guy. I love playing for him...we stand by Luke.’
“Now that is an endorsement.
“The message from Lonzo was as flat as his jump shot, and now this ongoing drama grows even thicker. The Laker’s have to wonder how much the father’s loud and constant discontent is affecting the son, worry that maybe some of it is coming from the son, all of which is building toward a very serious question: Is Lonzo Ball worth it? Do the Lakers really need to stay in the Ball business?
“LaVar seems beyond restraint, Lonzo isn’t either strong or mature enough to shake off his influence, and together they are creating unnecessary rumbling under the feet of a young team not rooted enough to withstand it....
“Lonzo Ball says he’ll play for anybody, huh?
“Maybe the Lakers need to give him, and his father, that chance.”
I am not reporting on LiAngelo and LaMelo’s adventures in Lithuania, and will drastically cut back on my own LaVar coverage.
--Jim “Bones” Mackay is doing double-duty this week, caddying for Justin Thomas, while doing his on-course duties for NBC and Golf Channel, as MacKay fills in for Thomas’ regular looper Jimmy Johnson, who is recovering from a foot injury.
Thomas posted on Twitter he had received no shortage of interim caddie requests. He’s defending champion at the Sony Open, where last year he shot a 59.
--We learned in recent days that the PGA Tour was able to protect its tax-exempt status, amid the changes to the tax code with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Early drafts of the legislation had the Tour potentially losing it, but Commissioner Jay Monahan reached out to Jack Nicklaus, who then got the help of Davis Love III, with both lobbying Congress on the Tour’s behalf; Love meeting individually with members of the Senate Finance Committee in D.C.
The Tour helped generate more than $180 million for charitable causes in 2017, and without the tax-exempt status being saved, the Tour would have been forced to become a taxable nonprofit, which would have reduced the tax incentives and hampered its ability to contribute to charitable efforts.
An industry source told Golfweek that “It would have been a nightmare for the Tour and its charities.”
Thanks to Nicklaus and Love, it won’t be.
--I’ve been meaning to write about the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights and haven’t gotten around to it, waiting for them to collapse, but now after half the season has been played, one thing seems clear. Not only are they are first in their division with a 29-10-2 record (W-L-OTL), they will be the first expansion team in modern league history to finish over .500.
Since 1990, for example, the best of the nine prior expansion teams was Florida, 1993-94, which finished 33-34-17. The year before, the Ottawa Senators were 10-70-4!
Granted, the NHL set up the expansion draft in such a way that owner Bill Foley was not wasting his $500 million expansion fee, and the quality of players is far better than previous expansion teams started out with, but still.
The Vegas mass shooting was also Oct. 1, just before the season started, and the Golden Knights, with their first home game Oct. 10, became something that the city quickly embraced. Today, the team is treated as just another big show and the fans are eating it up.
--Men’s Division I Hockey Poll (Jan. 8)
1. Notre Dame
2. St. Cloud State
6. Ohio State
7. North Dakota
8. Minnesota State
16. Boston College
--Andy Murray announced he had hip surgery in Melbourne, Australia, on Monday, after saying days earlier he had withdrawn from the Australian Open due to his lingering hip issues.
Murray, 30, who has not played competitively since Wimbledon last year, said he would take his time with rehab, adding he had heard from players it normally took about 14 weeks. He’s targeting Wimbledon for his return.
--Heather Dinich of ESPN.com had a disturbing story on the 2018 American Football Coaches Association convention in Charlotte where former Baylor coach Art Briles was scheduled to speak, but his session was canceled “due to concerns,” according to a statement on Monday from AFCA executive director Todd Berry
“I am saddened that our coaches have lost an opportunity,” Berry said in a prepared statement.
When asked what concerns beyond backlash from social media prompted the cancellation, a spokesman said: “Social media criticism was the biggest concern.”
This sucks. You can question what Art Briles was doing addressing the coaches given his past history at Baylor, but Briles told ESPN, “My intention to speak at AFCA was to educate and inform coaches of making sure Title IX policies-procedures and reporting policies are in place. I want to give back to the profession that has given so much to so many!”
Briles, you’ll recall, was suspended by Baylor officials in the spring of 2016 after the school’s sexual assault scandal exploded. He later reached an undisclosed financial settlement with the school, having coached the football team to a 65-37 record and back-to-back Big 12 titles in 2013 and 2014.
Giving into a social media cabal is outrageous in this instance.
--We note the passing of Ray Thomas, a founding member of the Moody Blues. He was 76 and dies just months before the band is to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Thomas founded the Moody Blues in 1964 with fellow musicians Mike Pinder and Denny Laine, debuting with the ’64 hit “Go Now.” Their 1967 album “Days of Future Passed” is a progressive-rock landmark, and Thomas’ flute solo on the single “Nights in White Satin” one of its defining moments.
Top 3 songs for the week 1/11/75: #1 “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” (Elton John) #2 “You’re The First, The Last, My Everything” (Barry White) #3 “Junior’s Farm / Sally G” (Paul McCartney & Wings)...and...#4 “Laughter In The Rain” (Neil Sedaka) #5 “Mandy” (Barry Manilow) #6 “Only You” (Ringo Starr) #7 “Boogie On Reggae Woman” (Stevie Wonder) #8 “Please Mr. Postman” (Carpenters) #9 “Kung Fu Fighting” (Carl Douglas) #10 “One Man Woman/One Woman Man” (Paul Anka with Odea Coates)
College Football Quiz Answer: Most national titles, AP.
Note Dame 8
Ohio State 5
Next Bar Chat, Monday....didn’t have time to do the song lists I wrote of last chat. Will Monday.