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A Legend Walks Away at Ohio State
[Posted Wed. a.m.]
College Football Quiz: 1) Who is the all-time leader in career field goals with 96, currently kicking in the NFL. 2) Who is the all-time leader in passing yards, 19,217, currently in the NFL. Answers below.
--I thought weeks ago that Ohio State’s Urban Meyer was stepping down and now it’s official, Meyer and the school making the announcement Tuesday. While there is no doubt health issues played a role, Meyer, 54, is satisfied he is leaving the Buckeye program in great shape, and it’s true, with offensive coordinator Ryan Day, 39, taking the helm; Day having been interim coach during Meyer’s early-season three-game suspension.
Ohio State is coming off back-to-back Big Ten titles and Meyer was said to be looking at this transition as similar to that of Bob Stoops, when he left Oklahoma in 2017, handing the program off to Lincoln Riley, and the Sooners didn’t miss a beat.
Meyer will coach in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 against Pac-12 winner Washington, with Meyer never having coached in the game. He’ll enter the contest at 186-32.
He did say during his press conference Tuesday that his early-season suspension contributed to his decision to retire; the university putting him on leave while they investigated reports that he mishandled allegations of domestic violence and other inappropriate behavior made against former assistant coach Zach Smith in past years. Meyer lied to the university when asked for his side of the story.
Meyer said he believes the suspension will have some lasting impact on how his coaching career is remembered.
But whatever you think about the man, he goes down as one of the four or five greatest of all time, having led Utah to an undefeated season in 2004, then winning two BCS titles at Florida, and then moving on to Ohio State, where he led the Buckeyes to the 2014 national title and finished his seven seasons 82-9, a 7-0 record against rival Michigan and a 54-4 record in regular season Big Ten play. He’ll also be attempting to add to his 11-3 bowl record in Pasadena.
In Meyer’s 17 seasons as a coach, including his first two at Bowling Green, his worst records were 9-4 and 8-5 at Florida.
Of course many believe that Meyer, still just 54, will reemerge somewhere else. He stepped away from Florida after all in 2009, only to return in 2010. He cited a desire to spend more time with his family when he resigned again in late 2010, only to take the Ohio State job less than a year later.
But while there are rumors already he could be the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2019, his health issues (cyst on his brain that causes severe headaches) are real.
I’d be surprised if Meyer doesn’t take at least one year off, but if he can figure out how to get rid of the pain, no reason why he wouldn’t be back.
--Looking at the full bowl schedule, boy, there are a lot of games I just couldn’t give a damn about. In fact fewer games jump out at me as being of interest than any year I can remember.
Starting with the “New Year’s Six,” yes, Dec. 29, 2 Clemson vs. 3 Notre Dame, and 1 Alabama vs. 4 Oklahoma should be good ones. I fully expect Oklahoma to compete.
But the Peach Bowl matchup Dec. 29 of 10 Florida and 7 Michigan is not must-see to moi, that’s for sure, and the other three New Year’s Six, Jan. 1, No. 11 LSU and 8 UCF in the Fiesta, the aforementioned 9 Washington and 6 Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, and 15 Texas and 5 Georgia in the Sugar Bowl have me going, ‘Eh’.
Granted, I have to watch the Fiesta to pray that UCF kicks LSU’s butt; and you always watch the Rose Bowl (plus you do have the Urban Meyer finale), but, boy, you think I’m staying up for more than a quarter or so of the Sugar Bowl? Hell, the game won’t start until around 9:00 PM and why would I care to watch these two teams?
As for the other games, I do believe Wake Forest and Memphis is a great matchup, Dec. 22 in the Birmingham Bowl, and I’ll watch the game after, Houston vs. Army in the Armed Forces Bowl, hoping Army is wrapping up an 11-win season.
I will catch some of Buffalo vs. Troy in the Dollar General Bowl the same day, Dec. 22...this is an underrated matchup.
And Dec. 26, Boston College vs. Boise State in the SERVPRO Bowl (Cotton Bowl) is intriguing.
Temple vs. Duke in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 27 has potential, though my Duke friends are underwhelmed.
One that is the kind of matchup you do want to see, two top-20 teams, is West Virginia vs. Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl on Dec. 28.
Otherwise, that’s about it. I’m ticked Appalachian State* didn’t get a better opponent than Middle Tennessee. And Fresno State, Mountain West winners and 11-2, deserved better opposition than 7-5 Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl.
But you have so many Power Five matchups like Baylor vs. Vanderbilt, Purdue vs. Auburn, Iowa State vs. Washington State, and South Carolina vs. Virginia, that bore me to tears.
Well, it all gets started Dec. 15, North Carolina A&T vs. Alcorn State...cough cough...
*App State coach Scott Satterfield will not be on the sidelines, having signed a six-year contract to coach at Louisville.
--Despite having three teams – Oklahoma, Ohio State and Georgia – battling it out for the final spot in the playoffs, there was no real controversy in the end. Urban Meyer said after the fact that once he saw the final score from the Big 12, and Oklahoma beating Texas, he knew it would be “hard to jump” in the rankings. He needed a big blowout over Northwestern and that wasn’t to be (45-24, but closer than the score). Meyer appreciated the challenge the committee faced.
“There are some great people on that committee,” he said Sunday. “That was a tough job.”
Georgia coach Kirby Smart acknowledged that the loss to Alabama was costly.
“We had an opportunity,” Smart said. “We didn’t take full advantage of it.”
As usual, though, you had debate about extending the playoffs to eight teams. But my learned friend Ken P. reminded anyone harboring such thoughts, that would totally take away from the meaning of the conference championships.
As for UCF, winners of 25 straight now, every single football fan knows they aren’t top four this season (they had a better case last year). The Knights just need to keep stepping up their non-conference schedule. The problem there is some big programs won’t want to play them and risk what could end up being a CFP-killer second loss by season’s end.
--As for this weekend’s Heisman Trophy presentation, it’s no surprise who the three finalists are...quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama), Kyler Murray (Oklahoma) and Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State).
But as I noted last time, the final day for voting was Monday, and if every voter waited until the last weekend to cast their vote, then the presumed winner of the Heisman all these weeks, Tua, would not have had the support he had just two weeks earlier, as Murray and Haskins proved themselves quite ably on the big stage; Murray against West Virginia and Texas, Haskins against Michigan and Northwestern.
Sentiment changed in a big way. This could be one of the tighter votes in recent years.
ESPN reported that in a poll of 10 college football experts, Murray edged Tagovailoa. But USA TODAY said its Network Heisman survey revealed Murray received 12 of 16 first-place mentions.
Your editor is going to have major egg on his face for calling the race weeks ago, it would appear. Johnny Mac, did you ever send my sword as I requested? It’s the only honorable thing for me to do.
--In the FCS quarterfinals this weekend, we have....
Maine (9-3) at Weber State (10-2)
Colgate (10-1) at North Dakota State (12-0)...ESPN, Noon ET, Sat.
South Dakota State (9-2) at Kennesaw State (11-1)
UC Davis (10-2) at Eastern Washington (10-2)
--Maryland hired Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley to be its new head football coach, a five-year contract with an option for a sixth, at about $2.5 million per, according to the Washington Post.
Locksley is supposed to be introduced Thursday.
He has worked twice as an assistant on the Terrapins’ staff, including as interim coach for the final six games of the 2015 season after Maryland fired Randy Edsall.
After being passed over for the head coaching job for DJ Durkin, Locksley headed to ‘Bama. Tuesday, he won the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach.
Locksley is “beloved in the D.C. football community and known as a top recruiter of the area.”
But the guy was a head coach for 2+ years at New Mexico and went 2-26 with back-to-back 1-11 seasons, so, coupled with his interim stint at Maryland, he’s 3-31. Just sayin’.
And...as the Post noted, he “had multiple off-the-field issues” at New Mexico. I read a recount of the incidents...they are serious...punching an assistant coach in the face. An age and sex discrimination complaint filed by an administrative assistant. A run-in with a student reporter after he wrote a column critical of the program, allegedly confronting the student in an Albuquerque bar and yelling profanities. Heck, you were on your way to a 2-26 at the school, Locksley. There was another incident I won’t bore you with.
It’s just interesting, given all of Maryland’s problems, they selected this guy. The boosters obviously had a huge say in the decision.
Oh well...ain’t my school.
--Former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant is taking advantage of the graduate transfer rule and will QB Missouri next season.
--Bill Snyder finally walked for good at Kansas State, the legendary Hall of Famer having resurrected the Wildcats’ program a second time after a three-year retirement.
Geezuz, he’s 79...no one deserves a classic retirement in the truest sense than him. In 27 seasons on the sideline, he weathered seismic shifts in college football, along with throat cancer. Snyder sent dozens of players to the NFL and far more than that succeeded not only on the field but also in life.
Athletic director Gene Taylor said, “His impact on college football is unmatched, and his legacy is one that will last a lifetime.”
Heck, the stadium was named after him...before he came back a second time.
Snyder finished his career 215-117-1, with 19 bowl appearances and two Big 12 championships. This season, though, K-State finished a disappointing 5-7. He has a clause in his contract giving him input in the hiring of his successor.
When Bill Snyder took over at Kansas State in late 1988, he was a nondescript offensive coordinator from Iowa who learned the coaching ropes under the great Hayden Fry.
Imagine, the Wildcats had just four winning seasons the previous 44 years, and they were on a 27-game winless streak. Dozens of confidants told Snyder he would be a fool to take over what Sports Illustrated had called Futility U., certain it was a coaching dead end.
But as the Associated Press put it: “Snyder was still mulling his decision when he walked the campus one cold morning, and was smitten by the friendliness of the people, their earnestness and work ethic, and he accepted the job for the 1989 season.
“I think the opportunity for the greatest turnaround in college football exists here today,” he said at his introductory news conference, “and it’s not one to be taken lightly.”
Snyder’s start was rough, just a win over North Texas, but at least he broke the streak, then he got things headed in the right direction....
From 1993-2000, K-State finished in the final top 20 of the AP rankings each year, then a 6-6, and then two more top 20 finishes.
Snyder retired after disappointing seasons in 2004-05, but the program continued to drift for three seasons under Ron Prince, so Snyder came back in 2009 and in three years, K-State was back to 10-3, AP final No. 15, at one point being No. 1 in the nation, before playing in the Cotton Bowl. The next year the Wildcats were 11-2, losing in the Fiesta Bowl and finishing AP No. 12.
Five more bowl games followed but K-State didn’t reach the same heights.
This season, however, was a struggle, as Snyder lost his cool with reporters and players. Then in the finale against Iowa State to secure another bowl contest, the Wildcats blew a big fourth-quarter lead and as those following the program closely said later, he looked exhausted...and defeated.
You deserve your time off, Coach! You leave a true legend.
--As I was going to post Sunday evening, word had just gotten out that the Packers had fired coach Mike McCarthy after a beyond embarrassing 20-17 home loss to Arizona, a 14-point underdog whose other two wins came against down-and-out San Francisco. Plus the dome team Cardinals were playing at Lambeau Field in 23-degree wind chill.
It was such a strange and weird loss that kicker Zane Gonzalez, who had two field goals and two extra points, had never before experienced an NFL victory. The former Arizona State kicker was making his Cardinals debut after going 0-16 on the Browns in 2017, then with another loss and a tie with them this year.
Mark Murphy, chief executive of the Packers, on Monday outlined the reasons for parting ways with McCarthy, after the coach had gone 125-77-2, .618, guiding Green Bay, including 10-8 in the postseason and the 2010 Super Bowl Championship.
“I felt that change was needed,” Murphy told reporters. “Mike’s tenure had run its course. I think we needed a new voice. And that happens in our league.”
What killed McCarthy were two things. One, not making the playoffs a second consecutive season, and, two, the fracturing of his relationship with star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who publicly questioned McCarthy’s offense and play-calling all season.
Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin was promoted to interim coach. He was coach of the Dolphins from 2012 to 2015, going 24-28, having been the Packers’ offensive coordinator for five seasons before that.
McCarthy immediately became the leading candidate for all number of jobs, with Jets fans hoping we can snag him. He just needs a change of scenery, and a quarterback who’s not a diva. [Sam Darnold fits the bill.]
--Also Sunday night, what an end to Chargers-Steelers at Heinz Field; Summit, New Jersey’s own, rookie Michael Badgley, kicking a 29-yard field goal as time expired for an improbable come-from-behind 33-30 victory, San Diego overcoming a 23-7 halftime deficit.
The Steelers, a team founded in 1933, had never lost a game at home when leading by as many as 14 points...220-0-2...the Chargers improving to 9-3, the Steelers now 7-4-1 after their second straight defeat.
Badgley actually needed three attempts before the final kick was good, the Steelers offsides on three straight plays. Earlier in the game he had missed a 52-yarder, his first miss on a field goal attempt in the NFL.
So the lad is 10 of 11 on FGs, 18 of 19 on XPs.
Meanwhile, San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers is having his finest season at age 36...28 TD passes, just six interceptions, and a 115.7 passer rating.
--Monday night, the Eagles evened their record at 6-6 with a 28-13 win at home over the Redskins, who fell to the same mark.
Every team likes to talk about all the injuries they’ve suffered come this point in the season, but no one has suffered more than Washington, having lost basically the entire offensive line, and quarterbacks Alex Smith and Colt McCoy to leg injuries, McCoy going out early on Monday with a broken leg.
So it was up to veteran Mark Sanchez, who was just signed by the Redskins, and it was too much to ask for from the veteran as he went just 13/21, 100, 0-1.
In the NFC East we thus now have....
Dallas 7-5...four-game winning streak
The wild-card race in the NFC is going to be nuts: Washington and Philly, Minnesota 6-5-1, Carolina 6-6, Seattle 7-5.
In the AFC wild-card chase, the loser in the West between Kansas City (10-2) and San Diego (9-3) will clearly take one of the two slots, but then you have Baltimore (7-5), Tennessee (6-6), Denver (6-6), Indianapolis (6-6) and Miami (6-6) for the other one.
--The Mets introduced Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to the New York media and fan base on Tuesday, but it was the Washington Nationals making the big splash, signing free-agent lefty Patrick Corbin to a massive six-year, $140 million contract, a major step for the Nationals, who now add the 29-year-old All-Star to a rotation including Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. Awful news for Mets fans.
Yankees fans, who thought they were in the running for Corbin, along with the Phillies, were rather shocked at the amount Corbin received, the Yanks reportedly ‘only’ offering him $100 million over five years.
Corbin was 11-7 last season for Arizona with an ERA of 3.15, while throwing 200 innings for the second time in his career. He set a career high in strikeouts with 246.
The Nationals’ odds of winning the World Series went from 20-1 to 12-1 at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook after the Corbin signing.
The lefty did have Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2014 season and part of 2015.
--The Phillies, who are still said to be in the running for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, are determined to take a big leap next season and they acquired All-Star shortstop Jean Segura from the Seattle Mariners. Among other players involved in the deal, the Phillies are shipping first baseman Carlos Santana and shortstop J.P. Crawford to Seattle.
Segura, 28, batted .304 with 10 home runs, 91 runs and 63 RBIs in 144 games.
In June 2017, Segura agreed to a five-year, $70 million contract spanning 2018 to 2022.
With Santana (who hit .229 with 24 home runs and 86 RBIs in 2018) gone, Rhys Hoskins will return to first base for the Phillies after playing left field last season.
AP Poll (Dec. 3)
1. Gonzaga (43) 8-0
2. Kansas (19) 6-0
3. Duke (1) 7-1
4. Virginia (1) 7-0
5. Michigan 8-0
6. Nevada 8-0
7. Tennessee 6-1
8. Auburn 6-1
9. Kentucky 7-1
10. Michigan State 6-2
17. Buffalo 7-0
25. Furman 8-0...Johnny Mac tells me that this is the first time since Steph Curry and Davidson, 2008, that a Southern Conference school was ranked in the top 25, which is kind of remarkable.
Tuesday, Michigan then had a toughie on the road, but prevailed over Northwestern 62-60, while Furman didn’t choke in its first game since entering the rankings, defeating Elon 98-77.
--Fred Hoiberg was 42-40 and 41-41 his first two seasons in Chicago, but then 27-55 last year and after a 5-19 start this season, the Bulls fired him, promoting associate head coach Jim Boylen. EVP for basketball operations John Paxson said the Bulls were committed to Boylen long-term, and General Manager Gar Forman was “absolutely safe.”
The Bulls lost their first, Tuesday, under Boylen, 96-90 to the Pacers.
--Philadelphia 76ers guard Markelle Fultz, who has struggled mightily to stay on the court, while enduring heavy criticism for ongoing shooting woes, has been diagnosed as having thoracic outlet syndrome, a nerve disorder, which could explain many of his basketball issues.
A statement provided to ESPN by Fultz’s agent, Raymond Brothers, said the diagnosis was neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome, which Brothers said “affects nerves between the neck and shoulder resulting in abnormal functional movement and range of motion, thus severely limiting Markelle’s ability to shoot a basketball.”
The team and agent both said Fultz’s condition would be treated with physical therapy, and ESPN reported Fultz could be back on the court within three to six weeks.
The condition that Fultz has is more closely associated with baseball players, such as pitchers Matt Harvey, Josh Beckett and Chris Carpenter.
--Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric ended the Cristiano Ronaldo-Lionel Messi stranglehold on the Ballon d’Or, European football’s highest honor for Player of the Year.
Modric led Real to their third consecutive Champions League title and reached the World Cup final with Croatia this summer, where to be honest, I first learned to appreciate him (he played with Tottenham from 2008-2012, as I was just beginning to pick up the Premier League).
Modric finished ahead of 2017 winner Ronaldo of Juventus and Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann for the prize, leaving Messi, who was fifth, outside the top three for the first time since 2006. Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe finished fourth. Brazil star Neymar of PSG finished a distant 12th.
Mbappe won the first-ever Raymond Kopa Trophy given to the top under-21 player, the 19-year-old starring for France in the World Cup, scoring a goal in the final victory against Croatia.
In the Ballon d’Or balloting, among the Premier League stars, Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) finished sixth, Eden Hazard (Chelsea) was eighth, Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) was ninth, and Harry Kane (Tottenham) tenth.
--The Premier League has midweek matches, as well as this coming weekend.
Tuesday, Manchester City held off Watford 2-1.
Wednesday, the other five in the Big Six play, including Manchester United hosting Arsenal.
--Seattle is receiving an NHL franchise that will enter the league for the 2021-22 season as a member of the Pacific Division, the NHL’s 32nd franchise.
The cost for a league entry is now $650 million, up 30 percent from the $500 million paid by the Vegas Golden Knights to enter the NHL last season.
Seattle’s ownership group is renovating KeyArena to the tune of something like $800 million. A decision on a name isn’t forthcoming for a while.
--So I saw a story that Grade 1 winner Mendelssohn, who was involved in some of the bigger horse races of the year, like runner-up in the Travers Stakes, third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, and then fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, is retiring.
Earlier in the year, Mendelssohn had won the UAE Derby by 18 ½ lengths, so he went to the Kentucky Derby much ballyhooed, but then finished last. He won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf as a 2-year-old.
Now he will be standing at Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky., for the 2019 breeding season at $35,000 per. Not bad work...for anyone, let alone a horse.
But he was sired by Scat Daddy...and Scat Daddy sired Triple-Crown winner Justify! Boy, gotta hand it to Scat Daddy, sports fans.
And what is Justify getting to have a good time? $150,000 each time he, err, you know, err....
Coolmore, by the way, owns both.
--We note the passing of actor Ken Berry, who played the affable and clumsy Capt. Wilton Parmenter in the 1960s sitcom “F Troop.” He was 85.
“F Troop” was on only from 1965-67 but the show lived on in syndication and I watched it often.
Berry’s co-star in the show was Larry Storch, who posted on Facebook, “Ken, we hope you know how much you were loved. Goodnight Captain. We miss you already.”
Berry went on to star in “Mayberry R.F.D.,” the spinoff of “The Andy Griffith Show,” and also “Mama’s Family,” which aired for six seasons beginning in 1983. But “F Troop” remained closest to his heart.
--Yes, those were touching scenes the last few days, Sully H.W. Bush, service dog of former President George H.W. Bush, accompanying the late commander-in-chief one last time – traveling alongside his casket as it headed from Houston to Washington, D.C., and then paying his respects at the Capitol Rotunda Tuesday.
--Dog owners hopefully are aware that the Food and Drug Administration recalled eight dry dog food brands due to “excessive, potentially toxic” amounts of vitamin D.
In some cases the amount is 70 times that intended, which can result in kidney failure or death.
The products include:
Natural Life Pet Products
Sunshine Mils, Inc.
Lidi (Orlando brand)
ELM Pet Foods, Inc.
Ahold Delhaize (Nature’s Promise)
Check the FDA website for updates...and you should call your vet if your dog has been fed these brands.
--An Ohio radio station is dropping the Christmas classic “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” for having “no place” in today’s “extra sensitive” world.
“I do realize that when the song was written in 1944, it was a different time, but now while reading it, it seems very manipulative and wrong,” explained Glenn Anderson, a host on Cleveland’s WDOK-FM in a blog post last week.
Granted, the debate over this song comes up every holiday season.
--What a great show Garth Brooks put on at Notre Dame, Sunday night on CBS. And what a great commercial for the school, as I commented to N.D. alum Mark R.
Top 3 songs for the week 12/4/76: #1 “Tonight’s The Night (Gonna Be Alright)” (Rod Stewart) #2 “The Rubberband Man” (Spinners) #3 “Love So Right” (Bee Gees)...and...#4 “Muskrat Love” (Captain & Tennille) #5 “The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald” (Gordon Lightfoot...interminable...6:40 to be exact...but it is a kind of cool, albeit tragic, story...so with the passage of time I have become more tolerant of it...) #6 “You Don’t Have To Be A Star” (Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr.) #7 “Beth” (Kiss...their pathetic attempt to do a slow song for some kind of cred...) #8 “More Than A Feeling” (Boston) #9 “Nadia’s Theme” (Barry DeVorzon & Perry Botkin, Jr. ...so I always associated this with Nadia Comaneci, but it was really for “The Young and the Restless”...however, it was originally for the movie “Bless the Beasts and all the Children,” at least so says one site I just looked up...don’t hold me to it...I’m not that interested...) #10 “You Are The Woman” (Firefall...I was taking exams this week, freshman year at Wake Forest...it would be the peak of my academic career...it was straight downhill from there....)
College Football Quiz Answers: 1) The leader in career field goals with 96 was the aforementioned Zane Gonzalez, Arizona State, 2013-2016. 2) Case Keenum is the career passing leader with 19,217 yards while at Houston, 2007-2011.
Next Bar Chat...a really, really short and crappy one...maybe Sunday. I’m supposed to be out of town, but weather down south is going to play a big hand in what I do...and from where.