|Articles||Go Fund Me||All-Species List||Hot Spots||Go Fund Me|
|Web Epoch NJ Web Design | (c) Copyright 2016 StocksandNews.com, LLC.|
The Playoffs Are Here...and the Bar Chat Awards!
Update...Jan. 1...Happy New Year!
Wild Card Weekend
Indianapolis (10-6) at Houston (11-5)
Seattle (10-6) at Dallas (10-6)
Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) at Baltimore (10-6)
Philadelphia (9-7) at Chicago (12-4)
The Colts, winners of nine of their last 10, became just the third team ever to reach the playoffs in a season in which they started 1-5, joining the 1970 Bengals (can’t believe I actually remember this) and the 2015 Chiefs.
--I didn’t have a chance last time to note, for the archives, that the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes became the second NFL player to throw for 50 touchdowns and 5,000 yards in a single season, the other being Peyton Manning, who did so at age 37 in 2013.
And Browns rookie QB Baker Mayfield set a record for passing touchdowns in his first year, 27, passing Manning and Russell Wilson.
--“Black Monday” started early for the NFL’s head coaches, with the Jets’ Todd Bowles and Tampa Bay’s Dirk Koetter let go following their teams’ games. Then Monday, Cincinnati’s long-time head coach Marvin Lewis, Denver’s Vance Joseph, and Arizona’s Steve Wilks were let go; Joseph after two losing seasons, the first back-to-back such campaigns for the Broncos since the early 1970s, and Wilks after just one league-worst 3-13.
Bowles, Lewis, Joseph and Wilks are African-American.
Miami let go of head coach Adam Gase, who led the team to the playoffs in his first season in 2016, but was then 13-19 the next two.
Earlier in the season, Hue Jackson was fired by Cleveland and Mike McCarthy by Green Bay.
But the firing of four black coaches (plus a fifth, Jackson), raised more than a few eyebrows on Monday. I can’t recall a topic where I received more comments from the readership. The reaction was the same. Basically, ‘uh oh.’
It’s not that any of the five didn’t deserve to be let go due to their performance, it’s just that in a sport struggling to put more minorities in the coaching profession...well, we have the following.
Bill Pennington and Ken Belson / New York Times
“The NFL’s 32 owners made an unexpected announcement after meeting a few weeks ago: the league was strengthening rules that obligate teams to consider minority candidates when hiring coaches and executives in their front offices.
“At the same time, the league said it was just trying to beef up existing regulation, not reacting to criticism that teams had been skirting the rules for years.
“ ‘Our focus was simply: How do we make the Rooney Rule better?’ Robert Gulliver, the league’s chief human resources officer, said, referring to the rule adopted in 2003 and named for Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers at the time who pushed for the regulations.
“Now, the league’s stated commitment to the rule will be put to the test.
“On Monday, the number of African-American coaches fired in 2018 soared to five, leaving only two black coaches* in a league where at least 70 percent of the players are African-American.
“Race is already a much-discussed topic in relation to the league. Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who in 2016 began kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality toward people of color, has not played in the league for the last two seasons. His protests amplified an already polarizing debate across the country, and he has filed a grievance accusing the NFL of colluding to keep him off the field.
“Coaches losing their jobs at the conclusion of the regular season is routine and expected... In addition to the five black coaches fired, three white coaches were let go this season, in Green Bay, Tampa Bay and Miami. But with the NFL under pressure to increase the percentage of minority coaches and executives, the makeup of the latest class of jettisoned coaches was especially startling.”
*The two black coaches remaining are the Chargers’ Anthony Lynn and the Steelers’ Mike Tomlin. The Panthers’ Ron Rivera, who is Latino, is the only other minority head coach.
So with eight coaching vacancies, there seem to be only two obvious minority candidates; Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and Stanford head coach David Shaw.
Under the new regulations enacted a few weeks ago, teams looking to fill positions must interview at least one minority candidate from a list kept by the league’s Career Development Advisory Panel, with teams required to detail records of who they interview.
Meanwhile, there could still be another coach or two to fall in the next week or so.
--Just a word on fired Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. There is little doubt Lewis should have perhaps been out at least a season earlier, but Cincinnati ownership loves stability and Lewis in his 16 seasons did do his share of winning, 131-122-3 overall, despite ending with three straight losing seasons.
It’s just that this guy will forever be known for his 0-7 playoff record, as well as 8-26 against the Steelers.
That said, there are a lot of fan bases that would have willingly took seven postseasons in 16.
--Washington Redskins fans would have liked seven in 16, rather than the four they’ve had.
And while many fans, in all sports, like to bitch about ownership, as Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post observes, there are none worse than Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, who has already been at the helm 20 years, if you can imagine that, and he’s still just 53.
“Daniel Snyder’s first 20 years as owner of the Washington Redskins concluded in brutally symbolic fashion Sunday with a sickly, shorthanded 24-0 loss to Philadelphia at FedEx Field. The place was swamped with visiting Eagles fans, their green jerseys outnumbering those fans in burgundy and gold by three to one, according to unofficial estimates.
“This was an afternoon when D.C., and the rest of the football-watching nation, could see a once-beloved franchise in full fan-base free fall.
“After the sights and sounds of this dismal contest, when Washington gained 89 yards and Philadelphia fans chanted ‘E-A-G-L-E-S’ as they left the stadium, what on earth will the next years bring if Snyder continues to control the team’s reins and uses them as a noose to strangle its future?
“This game, and the scenes that filled it, marked the culmination of a team deterioration and fan alienation that have required years. Often, the Redskins’ loss of stature has more to do with their perceived bad character as an organization than merely a poor record.
“Now, it appears to be a combination of both, and the result Sunday was a less-than-capacity FedEx Field that felt as if the Eagles’ home stadium had moved a few hours south. The shrinkage of the fan base has become shocking.
“The Redskins’ attendance has fallen from an NFL-best 89,625 in 2005 to 75,175 last season to 60,719 this year – a drop in just one year of 24 percent to 29th among 32 teams. This latest plummet, it should be noted, has happened when the team was still in contention for a playoff spot until just a week ago.”
Well, Thomas Boswell goes on to detail all the poor decisions in the game itself, and now another ugly offseason awaits.
Actually, not to get too much into the weeds with the D.J. Swearingen situation (that’s for football junkies), “The day after Christmas, the team’s chief operating officer, Brian Lafemina, Snyder’s handpicked executive brought to bring a more open, fan-friendly tone to the team, was fired. Three executives who came with him departed, too. So much for a change in tone and tenor.”
President Bruce Allen has been in the position for nine years, during which time he’s 59-84-1. Coach Jay Gruden is 35-44-1 over five seasons. If he is replaced, Snyder would begin a search for his ninth coach.
And quarterback Alex Smith may never play again, while Colt McCoy and Josh Johnson aren’t Alex Smith.
As Mr. Boswell sums it up:
“We know exactly what depths we’ve reached. The echoes for this season at FedEx have died out now. But the last ones heard were bitter indeed.
--Kind of interesting that since 2000, including interim hires, the Bills and Dolphins will have had ten different head coaches come next season. New England has had one in that time.
--According to both the NFL Network and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, star receiver Antonio Brown, who was out of action in the Steelers’ finale against the Bengals Sunday, skipped practices, a walkthrough and a team meeting Saturday night and eventually left the game at halftime due to frustrations over a disagreement with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, which boiled over at Wednesday’s walkthrough.
Following the Wednesday session, Brown was listed under the DNP designation for did not practice. The reason given was “coach’s decision.” Then Brown didn’t show for Thursday’s practice. He was listed again as DNP, but then Pittsburgh issued a reason of “coach’s decision/knee.”
Brown didn’t show for Friday’s practice, at which point coach Mike Tomlin said he was undergoing testing for the knee injury. He was eventually labeled as questionable for Sunday’s game.
Brown skipped Saturday’s walkthrough and team meeting but showed up to Heinz Field for the game Sunday, where he was declared inactive. Then he reportedly left the stadium at halftime.
Pittsburgh won the game, but needed Baltimore to lose to the Browns and the Ravens pulled it out, 26-24.
Apparently Tomlin didn’t address the situation with the team on Monday during their exit interviews and final team meeting.
So now everyone expects that Brown is finished with the team.
--Arizona’s 3-13 season earned it the first pick in the draft.
2. San Francisco
3. NY Jets
4. Oakland (or wherever they will be next season before moving to Vegas the following year)
5. Tampa Bay
6. NY Giants
I’m psyched for my Jets. Gonna get us a lineman, no doubt.
As all football fans know, last year’s draft was the year of the quarterback, five eventual starting QBs in the first round.
This year it’s all about linemen, both offense and defense. There isn’t a single quarterback worthy of a top 15 or so pick, at the best. [Maybe...Dwayne Haskins moves from about 20 to 14.]
--As I watch a little of the Sugar Bowl, recognizing I’m not making it to the second half, with just this game and the national title contest left, no conference dominated bowl game play; the Big Ten finishing 5-4, the Pac-12 3-4 (an improvement on last year’s 1-8), and the ACC and Big 12 will either finish one over, or one under, .500. The SEC is 6-4 heading into the Sugar Bowl and next Monday’s title tilt.
The American Athletic Conference finished a highly-disappointing 2-5.
Today’s first three games were very entertaining, Iowa (9-4) defeating 18 Mississippi State (8-5) 27-22 in the Outback Bowl; 11 LSU (10-3) over 8 UCF (12-1) 40-32 in the Fiesta Bowl; and 14 Kentucky finishing perhaps its best season ever at 10-3, 27-24 winners over 12 Penn State (9-4) in the Citrus Bowl.
In the UCF game, the Knights clearly missed three-year starting quarterback McKenzie Milton, out with his awful leg/knee injury, but after UCF broke out to a 14-3 lead, it was essentially all LSU, the Tigers outgaining the Knights 555-250.
In the Kentucky game, the Wildcats had only 297 yards of offense, but running back Benny Snell ended his career with 144 on 26 carries and two scores, Snell headed to the NFL.
For Penn State, quarterback Trace McSorley’s career is over at Happy Valley, battered and beaten. McSorley was only so-so his senior season, but the Nittany Lions didn’t surround him with a lot of talent. Certainly there aren’t any Saquon Barkleys on the roster.
But good for Kentucky. Great for college football to have a fresh face, and needless to say, coach Mark Stoops can write his ticket just about anywhere, though he’d be foolish to leave Lexington.
Finally, in the Rose Bowl, I and tens of millions of other fans were hardly fired up over a matchup of 6 Ohio State and 9 Washington. I mean the Buckeyes deserved to be in this showcase game, but I’m tired of four years of Huskies quarterback Jake Browning.
Browning goes down as a very good college QB, but he regressed from his sophomore campaign and when Washington needed him most, in the first half, his throws were all over the place. Ohio State rolled to a 28-3 lead after three and survived a late rally to prevail 28-23 in Urban Meyer’s last game.
Meyer leaves Ohio State with an 83-9 record, a national title, three Big Ten titles and this Rose Bowl. He’s just 54, but you get the sense he finally realizes his health is everything and coaching football could kill him.
--As I noted last time, four days after Miami’s dismal loss to Wisconsin, 35-3, in the Pinstripe Bowl, coach Mark Richt announced he was retiring, saying that “stepping down is in the best interests of our program.” But Miami immediately tabbed defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who quickly decided to stay put after accepting a job earlier this month as the head coach at Temple. So how do you think the Owls feel?
“I never saw this coming,” Diaz said, after being promoted within hours of Richt’s unexpected decision on Sunday. “No one did.”
--Observing West Virginia the final few weeks of the regular season, you just got the sense coach Dana Holgorsen was ready to move on, and now he is expected to be hired as the next coach of the Houston Cougars, a reported five-year contract worth $20 million, which would make him the highest-paid coach of a Group of 5 program.
Holgorsen had served as the Cougars’ offensive coordinator in 2008-09 under then–head coach Kevin Sumlin. Holgorsen is succeeding Major Applewhite, who was fired after two-plus seasons.
Holgorsen and WVU were negotiating a contract extension, with a pay raise, but he asked for more than the school was willing to offer.
AP Poll (Dec. 31)
1. Duke (35) 11-1
2. Michigan (9) 13-0
3. Tennessee (12) 11-1
4. Virginia (4) 11-0
5. Kansas (4) 11-1
6. Nevada 13-0
7. Gonzaga 12-2
8. Michigan State 11-2
9. Florida State 11-1
10. Virginia Tech 11-1
18. North Carolina State 12-1
20. Buffalo 12-1
Virginia Tech beat Notre Dame (10-4) 81-66, Florida State beat a pesky Winthrop 87-76 (I was following this one all the way online, thinking there could be an upset...it was 75-72 late), but 16 Marquette was blown out by St. John’s (13-1), the Red Storm making a major statement.
The season now heats up. No more fun and games...it’s all about conference play and seeding come March.
Saturday we have two biggies...8 Michigan State at 14 Ohio State; 9 FSU at 4 Virginia.
--On one hand it wasn’t surprising, on the other, it kind of was, but UCLA fired coach Steve Alford, who was 124-63 in his 5 ½ seasons, leading the Bruins to four NCAA tournaments and three Sweet 16 appearances. This year the team was struggling mightily at 7-6, losing their last four, including by 15 points at home to Liberty on Saturday.
Assistant coach Murry Bartow will be the interim coach for the rest of the season.
I read the Los Angeles Times every day so have a decent sense of the L.A. sports scene when it comes to USC and UCLA and the Bruin fan base just never warmed up to Alford, who in turn was often aloof. And, let’s face it, Sweet 16 appearances (losing in the regional semis each of the three times), plus a First Four loss last season, just don’t cut it in Westwood. Alford did a terrific job of recruiting, then failed to deliver.
It’s going to be interesting to see if the Bruins stay in the college ranks or take a look at former NBA coaches.
--Houston superstar James Harden had his fourth straight 40-point game on Monday, leading the Rockets over the Grizzlies 113-101 for their fifth consecutive victory. Harden added 10 rebounds and 13 assists for his fourth triple-double of the season and 39th overall.
Harden also set an NBA record with his eighth straight game with at least 35 points and five assists, besting Oscar Robertson, who twice had seven-game streaks.
Tottenham did exactly what it had to do after its awful 3-1 loss to Wolverhampton over the weekend; whipping Cardiff City on the road, 3-0, today, while Arsenal defeated Fulham 4-1.
But it’s all about Thursday (3:00 ET), Liverpool at Man City.
As baseball fans wait to see where Manny Machado and Bryce Harper go, as well as the upcoming Hall of Fame vote, which is interesting in terms of any progress for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the Seattle Mariners kind of shocked some folks in signing one of the best pitchers in Japan, lefty Yusei Kikuchi, to a unique contract that has the 27-year-old in Seattle for three years, thru 2021, after which the Mariners can trigger a four, $66 million extension.
This is the same Seattle team that has been trading the likes of Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz in a major rebuild.
The biggest pitching name remaining on the free agent front is Dallas Keuchel.
I did catch some of the Winter Classic at Notre Dame, the Bruins beating the Blackhawks 4-2. To me this game has long lost its luster, the first few Winter Classics garnering so much attention because it was such a novelty.
But then over 76,000 showed up to attend today’s game and that’s awesome. Next year it’s at the Cotton Bowl.
[Posted Sunday p.m.]
NBA Quiz: I was watching the Knicks play the Bucks the other night and the announcers were talking about the Greek Freak, Giannis, and how he was on track for a 20 pt., 10 reb., 5 asst. campaign, which is one mark of a true superstar. So name the five in NBA history who had three or more such seasons, 20-10-5. Hint: Russell Westbrook is headed towards his third, so don’t include him. Answer below.
Philadelphia at Chicago
Seattle at Dallas
New Orleans and L.A. Rams with byes
The Eagles sneak in with a 24-0 win over the Redskins, while the Bears beat the Vikings 24-10, Minnesota laying an egg with just 164 yards of offense. That is your basic choke job, #KirkCousins. Philly has won five of six. But who will be the QB if Carson Wentz is ready?
Seattle had clinched a spot last week, but finished with a 27-24 win against the Cardinals.
L.A. Chargers at Baltimore
Indianapolis-Tennessee winner at Houston
Kansas City and New England with byes
In a dramatic 15 minutes, the Steelers did what they had to do, defeat the Bengals, 16-13, to stay alive. Rookie kicker Matt McCrane, signed on Friday to replace the injured Chris Boswell, was 3 of 3 on field goals, including the deciding 35-yarder.
But then the Steelers had to watch to see if Cleveland could pull out their game against Baltimore, which would send Pittsburgh to the playoffs and eliminate Baltimore, but Baker Mayfield and the Browns fell short, Mayfield playing heroically (23/42, 376, 3-3) but throwing some poor balls in the deciding drive, which ended in a pick, securing the win for the Ravens, 26-24.
Nonetheless, Cleveland, in finishing 7-8-1, sent a message it will be in the hunt next season.
In other games of import, the Rams finished 13-3 with a 48-32 win over the 49ers (4-12), with Jared Goff throwing four touchdown passes, and C.J. Anderson, picked up just a few weeks ago to fill in for the injured Todd Gurley (who will be ready for the playoffs), rushing for 132.
Kansas City wrapped up the AFC West with a 35-3 win over the Raiders, the Chiefs finishing 12-4 and having the tiebreaker over the Chargers, who also finished 12-4 with a 23-9 win over the Broncos.
Houston had an outside shot at a bye, but will now host the Indy-Tenn. winner following a 20-3 win over the hapless Jaguars, who finished 5-11 but announced coach Doug Marrone will be back. I do have to note that the Texans’ DeAndre Hopkins had another monster game, 12 receptions for 147.
The Saints had wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the NFC, thus allowing them to sit Drew Brees against the Panthers, who finished their highly-disappointing season 7-9, the Saints losing 33-14. New Orleans was able to give Teddy Bridgewater some valuable playing time, though, and while he was ineffective, he got some reps should he be needed in the playoffs. Brees, though, will get an extended break with the bye, and that can only be good for him.
There is no doubt that after a 1-7 start, the Giants played much better in the second half, but they still finish up 5-11 in losing to the Cowboys (10-6) 36-35 at home, in what was a highly-entertaining contest despite neither team having anything to play for. Dak Prescott pulled it out for Dallas with a sweet 32-yard TD pass to Cole Beasley, Beasley making a spectacular catch, Dallas then converting on the two-point play for the win.
But the Giants have major issues to deal with in the offseason.
Such as in Odell Beckham Jr., who has now been in the league five seasons.
His first three, he had at least 90 receptions, 1300 yards, and 10 TDs. A true All-Pro. A budding superstar.
His last two, he’s played just 16 of 32 games, and while he had 77 receptions for 1052 yards this season, he missed the last four with a quad injury.
In the five years he’s been in New York, the Giants have also gone:
In the playoff season of 2016, the Giants lost to Green Bay in a wild card game, 38-13, Beckham with 4 receptions for a whopping 28 yards and a key early drop. The dude came up small when it counted.
So now many fans in the region are wondering if he’s going to be traded, even though he signed a big deal in the offseason and the Giants would eat $16 million in 2019 by dealing him. I mean this is a guy who dissed playing in New York...after he signed the contract extension of a lifetime; six years, $98 million extension, $65 million guaranteed...and trashed Eli Manning, a major no-no.
As for Manning, Giants fans at MetLife Stadium today were be wondering if they were watching Eli for a last time as well. Hard as it was to believe after the team’s 1-7 start, Manning remains the team’s best hope for 2019, after not having drafted a viable future QB (sorry, Kyle Lauletta).
But Manning would only return if he takes a cut from his scheduled $23 million, or they could release him and save $17 million on the salary cap.
As for the Jets, as expected they just fired coach Todd Bowles tonight, the team finishing 4-12 after a desultory 38-3 loss up in New England, New York significantly depleted by injury. At least Sam Darnold emerged unscathed today.
So who will the team turn to? Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley, the hottest college prospect, took his name off the list this week.
“I can’t tell you how I’m gonna feel in 10 years, but no, not right now,” said the 35-year-old Riley, when asked about his interest in coaching in the NFL. “If I wasn’t at one of the elite programs in the country, maybe, but no, I’m very happy where I’m at right now....
“The way the college game has evolved, financially it’s a lot better situation now (vs. 20, 30 years ago) when you compare it to NFL teams. We’re at a place where we’re happy, and we don’t take that for granted.”
College Football Playoffs
--Here we go again....
Chuck Culpepper / Washington Post
“Cue the national gabfest about whether college football and its shiny five-year-old playoff have already careened into a rut. Cup your ear for the exploratory dialogue on what it might mean that a sport with 130 programs somehow keeps distilling to the same two combatants year after year after year. Realize that some chunks of the country might ignore the conversation altogether.
“Maybe it’s intriguing, maybe it’s stale, but Alabama and Clemson will play yet again and in yet another final, after the Crimson Tide’s 45-34 win over Oklahoma in an Orange Bowl semifinal that seemed a fait accompli most of the way here at Hard Rock Stadium, following a Cotton Bowl national semifinal that seemed a fait accompli most of the way over in Texas.
“Somehow, by Jan. 7, within the mere first five years and 15 games of a playoff concept generally viewed as a boom, Alabama and Clemson will have played each other in all four U.S. mainland time zones. They will gather two Mondays from now in Santa Clara, Calif., for their third national championship match in the past four years and their fourth playoff match in the past four years....
“Among sequel-mad entities, there have been 35 films of ‘Godzilla,’ eight of ‘The Fast and the Furious,’ eight of ‘Rocky,’ 11 of ‘X-Men’ and 11 of ‘Halloween,’ which is also a semi-holiday that doubles as Nick Saban’s birthday. Whether the country can stomach a fourth installment of its college football Godzilla is up to the citizenry, but the Orange Bowl deepened a reality reestablished in Texas.
“There’s a tier above all the other tiers, and only two programs occupy it.”
Dan Wolken / USA TODAY
“The problem is this shiny new playoff was supposed to add drama, to goose television ratings, to take everything that was already great about the sport and amplify it to bigger audiences and fatter wallets.
“Instead, under the veneer of making college football more democratic, it has wound up in the throes of oligarchy. And it’s kind of a drag.
“With the premise of interest in college football exploding alongside a long-awaited playoff, ESPN paid $7.3 billion over 12 years for the right to broadcast this thing. Does anyone really think they have gotten their money’s worth?
“We have now seen 10 semifinal games under this system. A grand total of two – count ‘em, two – have been compelling for viewers.”
Oh, stop bitching. It is what it is. And the four most deserving teams reached the playoffs this year. Expanding to eight teams clearly won’t make it better.
We have two super teams in the country. Deal with it. At some point the worm will turn.
Or as Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com put it:
“Instead of complaining about the sport’s lack of parity and how it’s becoming as predictable as the NBA or women’s college basketball, ask yourself this: Why wouldn’t you want to watch Alabama play Clemson again?
“Their first two meetings in the CFP National Championship were two of the greatest college football games ever played; it’s nearly impossible to decide which one was more memorable. And there’s no reason to believe this season’s edition at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on Jan. 7 won’t be as electric.
“Instead of grumbling about having to watch the No. 1 Crimson Tide play the No. 2 Tigers again, we should be embracing what they’ve accomplished during the CFP era and particularly this season. It has undoubtedly become the greatest rivalry in the sport – they played in the CFP national semifinal last season, with Alabama advancing – and it’s probably not going to end anytime soon.”
As for the action on the field last night:
The Orange Bowl was over in the first quarter, as Alabama sprinted out to a 21-0 lead, 191 yards of offense to Oklahoma’s zero. They stretched it to 28-0 early in the second, and it was only then Oklahoma got its sea legs, making it mildly entertaining at one point, 31-20 with three to play in the third, only to see Tua Tagovailoa and the Tide systematically drive 75 yards on nine plays for a 38-20 lead that was the final nail on the coffin for the Sooners, the game ending 45-34, the margin of victory, however, beating the spread of 14. [For those who were betting some shekels on the contest...Bama taking a knee inside the Oklahoma 10 to end the game.]
In the battle between the Heisman Trophy winner and the runner-up, Tua Tagovailoa played liked his Heisman self (that is like the first ten or so games of the year...before he struggled a bit and lost the Heisman to Kyler Murray), Tua going 24/27, 318, 4-0, in a spectacular performance.
Murray got off to a poor start, and was no doubt hurt by a sub-par Marquise Brown, who was clearly hobbled and dropped two key early passes, getting shut out for the game. But Murray did recover to go 19/37, 308, 2-0, with some sweet deep throws, while running for 109 yards and another score.
In the opening event, the Cotton Bowl, Clemson established itself early and piled up a 23-3 halftime lead that could have been even greater. Freshmen quarterback Trevor Lawrence officially arrived on the national stage as the college game’s next superstar, 19/26, 264, 3-0...just in the first half! [He finished 27/39, 327, 3-0...but this was despite a number of drops by his receivers.]
Notre Dame never got on track, losing to 30-3, quarterback Ian Book a miserable 17/34, 160, 0-1, while the Fighting Irish rushed for only 88 yards on 35 carries.
The Tigers, on the other hand, picked up 211 on the ground, Travis Etienne with a scintillating 62-yard TD run, as Clemson outgained the Irish, overall, 538-248.
And I should add for the record that Clemson didn’t miss All-American defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, who was suspended by the NCAA after failing a drug test for having the banned drug ostarine in his system...none of us ever having heard of this one. Coach Dabo Swinney described it as a “sliver” of the substance.
“I’ve had guys fail drug tests before,” Swinney said prior to the Cotton Bowl. “Without a doubt, (they) have not intentionally done anything to jeopardize their opportunity or this team. I want to make that real clear.
“We have no idea how it got there.”
No word on whether Lawrence could be cleared for the title game. For his part he said, “I’m confused. I’m mind-boggled. I honestly don’t know,” insisting that he does not know how the substance entered his system.
--As for the fate of Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, after the ‘Bama game he said he hadn’t thought about whether he played his last football game, Murray having to decide whether to enter the NFL Draft or jump right into baseball, the Oakland A’s having selected him in the first round of the baseball draft.
--One thing we learned, prior to play New Year’s Day, is that UCF did not deserve to be in the playoffs just because they beat everyone in their conference, the AAC.
Look what the AAC did in their bowl contests thus far....
Duke beat Temple 56-27 (great game for quarterback Daniel Jones, 30/41, 423, 5-2, as he’ll get some attention in the upcoming draft).
Army destroyed Houston 70-14.
Wake Forest beat Memphis 37-34.
Marshall beat South Florida 38-20, handing the Bulls their sixth consecutive loss.
Only Tulane won...41-24 over Louisiana (and that isn’t Louisiana State University).
--In the Peach Bowl, 10 Florida (10-3) manhandled 7 Michigan (10-3) 41-15, the Wolverines giving up 250 yards on the ground when they had yielded just 116 on average all season. That’s your ballgame. Between this one and the 62-39 loss to Ohio State to end the regular season, not exactly a great finish for Jim Harbaugh’s boys; Harbaugh again being mentioned as a potential NFL coach.
--Wisconsin embarrassed Miami 35-3 behind Jonathan Taylor’s 205 yards rushing.
Then today, Miami coach Mark Richt shocked the faithful in announcing he is retiring effective immediately...thus opening up an attractive position.
Miami was out of sync all season, and, according to experts, it had a miserable recruiting campaign based on ‘early commitments.’
--Gardner Minshew led 13 Washington State to a 28-26 win over 24 Iowa State, the Cougars finishing 11-2 for the first time in school history.
--No. 20 Syracuse finished a super season at 10-3, after being 4-8 in each of Dino Babers’ first two seasons as head coach, with a 34-18 win over 16 West Virginia (8-4), which was playing without quarterback Will Grier, who sat out to focus on the draft.
--Auburn set an NCAA bowl record with 56 points in the first half and led Purdue 56-7 at the intermission, on the way to a 63-14 win.
--In what was perhaps the worst college bowl game in history, not that Auburn-Purdue wouldn’t be in the conversation, TCU beat Cal 10-7 in overtime in the aptly named Cheez-It Bowl in Phoenix.
Cal’s quarterbacks were 17/33, 164, 0-5, while TCU’s were 8/21, 28, 0-4.
Yes, nine interceptions. And, yes, that was 28 yards passing for TCU.
It was such an awful game that TCU swapped kickers after Cal called a timeout at the end of regulation – and missed a potential game-winner. Then in OT, the Horned Frogs went back to their original kicker, Jonathan Song, and he kicked a 27-yarder for the win.
--Then you had Boston College and Boise State in the First Responder Bowl in Dallas on Wednesday. B.C. led 7-0 early when officials stopped play and cleared the field with 5:08 remaining in the first quarter, due to severe weather.
But after a delay of 90 minutes, thunderstorms were still expected to remain in the Dallas area for several more hours, so officials decided to cancel the game.
It was believed to be the first bowl game canceled by weather. Hawaii’s planned second postseason game of 1941, against San Jose State, was canceled because of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Just a very unfortunate situation, but I was following the radar as well...it was just an awful day for much of Texas overall.
--Back in September, Old Dominion shocked then-No. 13 Virginia Tech 49-35 behind quarterback Blake LaRussa, who came off the bench to rally ODU. He then went on to have a solid junior season; 19 TDs, 10 INTs, 3,015 yards.
But this week LaRussa announced he was foregoing his senior season to attend the seminary. LaRussa said, “This fall (2019) I will be going to seminary school to start my Masters of Divinity. I am so grateful for all my coaches and teammates who I have grown so close with these past four years.”
As Johnny Mac said, this isn’t a story you see often these days.
--Following Wake Forest’s Birmingham Bowl win, I forgot to note that All-American receiver/punt returner Greg Dortch has opted for the draft. It’s a big loss, but the Deacs will be fine. I suspect Dortch will wow the scouts at the NFL Combine and at worst be a high-second-rounder.
--There haven’t been any titanic upsets involving top ten teams the past few days, but No. 17 Arizona State (9-3) fell to Princeton (7-5), at home, 67-66 on Saturday, which was rather shocking. Primarily because Duke had defeated Princeton 101-50, and Arizona State then upset No. 1 Kansas.
--My Bar Chat “Pick to Click” No. 6 Nevada moved to 13-0 yesterday with an 86-71 road win over Utah (6-6).
--But Wake Forest once again laid an egg of epic proportions, losing at home to the Big South’s Gardner-Webb (10-5) 73-69, the Deacs shooting 32.7% from the field as they fell to 6-5. Assuming they recover to beat Cornell on Wed. at home, their final win total for the season could be 7, because this squad is headed for an 0-18 mark in conference play.
I watched the entire second half on the computer and as I noted the other day, what really blows me away is the lack of talent. We would struggle to finish in the middle of the pack in the, say, MAC...or Big South, for that matter.
But I’m tired of calling for coach Danny Manning’s head. The athletic director has to go as well, and it seems highly unlikely we are going to make a move before the season is over.
What makes things worse, is that freshman ‘potential’ star, Jaylen Hoard, clearly won’t stick around, nor will his possibly talented freshman forward, Isaiah Mucius, who no doubt would transfer, ditto sophomore center Olivier Sarr, and we’d be left with Division III talent next season!
This program will be in the darkness for years to come, no matter who we bring in. I’ll be long dead before we ever crack a Top 20 again. That’s depressing.
Seriously, our team next year will be nothing but grad transfers (though why such a student would choose a program in freefall for his final year would be a mystery) and JUCOs, because our supposedly decent recruiting class for next year you assume would be given permission to pull their commitments. [The issue for them would be do other high-profile schools still have scholarship slots open, say, come April.]
By the way, Gardner-Webb is not in any way related to the late-PGA golfer Gardner Dickinson, in case you were wondering, Dickinson having won seven tour titles from 1956-71.
Ah yes, the holidays. Nothing better for PL fans. Non-stop action. But with four games crammed into about 12 days, you get tired players (especially with those teams who are also involved in Champions or Europa League action as well) and anything can happen.
So it was that on Wednesday, Boxing Day, Leicester City shocked Manchester City 2-1, the second straight loss for City, and the first time they’ve lost two in a row in two years.
Liverpool, on the other hand, was staying unbeaten on the season with a 4-0 win over Newcastle, while Tottenham blitzed Bournemouth 5-0.
Chelsea defeated Watford 2-1, and Arsenal managed only a 1-1 draw with Brighton, so at the midway point to the season, 19 of 38 having been played, suddenly my Tottenham Spurs had vaulted into second, while Liverpool had a commanding six-point lead; Man City, once seen as invincible, suddenly down to third.
1. Liverpool 51 points
2. Tottenham 45
3. Man City 44
4. Chelsea 40
5. Arsenal 38
Then Saturday, Tottenham hosted Wolverhampton, the Spurs jumping to a 1-0 lead on a sweet goal by Harry Kane at 22’, and your editor was feeling good about things.
But it was still 1-0 at the half, and 1-0 at 70 minutes, with the Wolves having the better of play by a wide margin after the intermission, and I was thinking, ‘Uh oh.’
Suddenly Tottenham was playing with no energy and boom, boom, boom...Wolverhampton scored 3 goals in 15 minutes for a stunning 3-1 victory.
It was classic Spurs...or as they say, in big moments they tend to go “Spursy.” Every time you think, ‘maybe this is the year we win it all,’ they lay a monumental egg. It sucks.
Liverpool then fell behind in its biggie against Arsenal, but Roberto Firmino scored twice in 90 seconds and it was off to the races for manager Jurgen Klopp’s boys, Firmino ending up with a hat-trick, Liverpool blasting the Gunners 5-1.
Man City got back on track with a 3-1 win at Southampton; Manchester United won its third-in-a-row behind new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, as Paul Pogba doubled for a second straight game; and Chelsea beat Crystal Palace 1-0.
So now, after 20 of 38...W-D-L...pts
1. Liverpool 17-3-0...54
2. Man City 15-2-3...47
3. Tottenham 15-0-5...45...shocking no ‘draws’
4. Chelsea 13-4-3...43 ...Champions League line
5. Arsenal 11-5-4...38
6. Man U 10-5-5...35
Every team plays again between Jan. 1-3, with the biggie on Thursday, Liverpool at Man City. If Liverpool wins, extending their lead to at least 9 points, depending on what Tottenham does against Cardiff, it’s over. Finis. If Man City wins, and Tottenham wins, well we’re right back where we were a few days ago, only it’s closer.
And as for Man U, they have to be fired up. With games remaining against Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal, they should feel like they are back in the Champions League hunt. Good for them. [And it’s great for the PL, ratings, and euros...if you catch my drift.]
Alpine World Cup
--Mikael Shiffrin did it again...and now has a big record. Shiffrin, in Semmering, Austria, became the most successful female slalom skier in the 52-year history of the World Cup, capturing her 36th win, besting childhood idol Marlies Raich, who retired in 2014 with 35.
Ingemar Stenmark, the overall WC leader with 86 wins, had 40 in the men’s slalom.
With the win Saturday, Shiffrin became the first, male or female, to win 15 World Cup races in a calendar year, besting past men’s overall champion Marcel Hirscher of Austria, who won 14 times in 2018, Hirscher coming up empty this weekend.
--Speaking of the men the past few days, Italian Dominik Paris is the toast of his country, winning both the downhill and super-G at Bormio, in Italy, his first two wins of the year. That’s cool.
--I have to remind myself to catch a little of the NHL’s Winter Classic New Year’s Day, Blackhawks and Bruins at Notre Dame Stadium.
--Very excited about the new PGA Tour schedule that places The Players Championship back in March, and moves the PGA Championship to May, part of a redesigned calendar that will finish up in August, to avoid going up against the NFL.
March – The Players
April – The Masters
May – The PGA
June – The U.S. Open
July – The Open Championship
Aug – The FedEx Cup Playoffs and Tour Championship
The issue is how do players manage this compressed schedule? It’s going to be tough
Golf returns this week at Kapalua with the Tournament of Champions, followed by the Sony Open at Waialae. I’m ready.
--As the New York Times’ Adam Skolnick described:
“In what could go down as one of the great feats in polar history, the American Colin O’Brady, 33, covered the final 77.54 miles of the 921-mile journey across Antarctica in one final sleepless, 32-hour burst, becoming the first person ever to traverse Antarctica from coast to coast solo, unsupported and unaided by wind.
“O’Brady’s transcontinental feat, which took him an actual total of 932 miles with some zigzags along the course, was remarkable enough; but to complete the final 77.54 miles in one shot – essentially tacking an ultramarathon onto the 53rd day of an already unprecedented journey – set an even higher bar for anyone who tries to surpass it.
“ ‘I don’t know, something overcame me,’ O’Brady said in a telephone interview. ‘I just felt locked in for the last 32 hours, like a deep flow state. I didn’t listen to any music – just locked in, like I’m going until I’m done. It was profound, it was beautiful, and it was an amazing way to finish up the project.’....
“O’Brady’s culminating effort joined some of the most remarkable achievements in polar history, including expeditions led by Norway’s Roald Amundsen and by Robert Falcon Scott of England, who battled Amundsen to become the first to reach the magnetic South Pole. There was also Borge Ausland’s magnificent traverse in 1996-97, when he became the first to cross the continent alone and unsupported – though he was aided by a kite.”
--From Sports Illustrated’s Steve Rushin: “A 57-year-old man charged with DWI in Wayne, N.J., in November told police, ‘I drank too much because the Jets suck.’” Some of us can identify with this sentiment...but no drinking and driving.
--A lion was shot dead today at the Conservators Center in Burlington, North Carolina, after it escaped from its enclosure and killed a young worker. The victim was cleaning the enclosure when somehow the animal left a locked area and “quickly” killed her.
--What was the biggest single sports event of 2018? No. 16 seed UMBC’s titanic upset of No. 1 seed Virginia in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship has to be right there. No 16 seed had ever beaten a No. 1. 0-135.
And then it happened on a Friday night. Maryland Baltimore County. And it wasn’t even close, 74-54. The Retrievers made 12 of 24 from three-point land (UVA was 4 of 22) and outrebounded the Cavaliers 33-22.
For Virginia it was a humiliation of equally historic proportions, which makes how they handle this current season, come March, all the more interesting.
--We note the passing of the following from the world of sports in 2018:
Dan Gurney, David Pearson, Jim Taylor, Willie McCovey, John Gagliardi, Stan Mikita, Bruce Lietzke, Hubert Green, Hal Greer, Jo Jo White, Tex Winter, Bruno Sammartino, Chuck Knox, Red Schoendienst, Wayne Huizenga, Dwight Clark, Keith Jackson, Roger Bannister, Ed Charles and Rusty Staub.
--And now your EXCLUSIVE....
2018 Bar Chat Awards!!!
--The following is from just a few days ago....
“Hero dog”...from the New York Daily News:
“A suspected gunman who opened fire outside a Florida mall Monday shot and killed a K-9 dog while fleeing officers.
“A Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said that officers were tracking suspects from an attempted murder several weeks ago when they were reported at the Wellington Green Mall Monday evening.
“The deputies waited outside the mall for the three suspects to exit the shopping center, at which point one surrendered, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said.
“The other, allegedly a member of the Latin Kings gang, fled on foot while firing behind him at the pursuing officers.
“In the gunfire, the suspect shot a K-9 dog who was chasing him.
“The dog was taken to a local veterinarian emergency center but died during surgery.
“ ‘We got two very dangerous people off the street,’ Bradshaw said. ‘Unfortunately, it took the life of one of our dogs, but he did his job. He saved the lives of the deputies.’
“The gunman, who was also hit, was taken to the local hospital. His condition is unknown.
“No civilians were hurt, Bradshaw said.”
--“A-Hole of the Year” nomination to Boonchai Bach, a 40-year-old Thai who was detained in a town on the border with Laos while smuggling protected animal parts, including 14 rhino horns, worth around $1 million from Africa to Thailand. [BBC News]
--A “Good Guy” plaque to Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts, who showed true class in getting benched in last season’s CFP championship game for Tua Tagovailoa. Hurts then exhibited class all this past campaign and came to the rescue in the SEC title game against Georgia.
--“A-Hole” hardware for two unnamed Iowa boys who vandalized a honey farm causing $60,000 in damage. The boys, ages 12 and 13, faced felony charges for the incident that left 500,000 bees dead, according to Sioux City police. The owners of the 50 hives that the youths destroyed faced being forced out of business.
--“Idiot” hardware for the governor of Hawaii, David Inge, who on the morning of Jan. 13 could not access his Twitter account to inform the public that they would not die in a ballistic missile attack because he forgot his Twitter password.
Hawaiians were sent reeling that morning after receiving the false emergency missile alert on their cell phones.
“I have to confess that I don’t know my Twitter account log-ons and the passwords,” Ige said.
17 minutes after the ballistic missile alert was sent to millions, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency released a follow-up alert telling people it was a mistake.
--An “A-Hole Award” to coach Josh McDaniels.
As Greg Doyel of USA TODAY put it:
“Be embarrassed, Indianapolis Colts, but also be relieved. Josh McDaniels is a punk and a loser, but he’s not your punk. He’s not your loser.
“He’s not your head coach, thank God.
“Imagine, knowing what we know right now, infecting this franchise with that fraud. And make no mistake: He’s one of the biggest frauds in the NFL. He confirmed it Tuesday night. After agreeing three weeks ago to terms with the Colts to become their next coach, after hiring multiple members of his coaching staff, after arranging to fly Wednesday morning from Boston to Indianapolis on Jim Irsay’s jet to be introduced at an afternoon news conference, Josh McDaniels backed out.”
McDaniels ended up staying with the Patriots as their offensive coordinator.
Well, five days later Indy named Frank Reich as their new head coach and they’ve done just fine, thank you very much.
--Sorry, Trump supporters, but I can’t help but give the president a “Jerk of the Year” nomination for the following.
In a 2011 interview conducted with Stormy Daniels, she said she spent an evening hanging out with Trump while he watched a TV special about sharks. “He is obsessed with sharks,” Daniels said. “He was like, ‘I donate to all these charities and I would never donate to any charity that helps sharks. I hope all the sharks die.’”
--“Jerk of the Year” consideration to U.S. speedskater Shani Davis, who skipped the Olympic Opening Ceremonies after he was not named the U.S. delegation’s flag bearer.
Luger Erin Hamlin was selected after a coin toss because she and David tied in votes.
--Speaking of the Olympics, an “Idiot” nod to Katie Couric, who was forced to apologize for suggesting Olympians from the Netherlands excel at ice skating because the Dutch skate to work every day.
Couric said during the opening ceremonies that the Netherlands “has lots of canals that can freeze in the winter. So for as long as those canals have existed, the Dutch have skated on them to get from place to place, to race each other and also to have fun.”
Tweeted one Dutch native: “And this folks is why Americans are less bright about the rest of the world as they spread fake news!”
--“Jerk, and Idiot” hardware to the Philadelphia Eagles fan who ripped off a purple plastic seat from U.S. Bank Stadium following the Super Bowl.
“The man had his new souvenir strapped to his carry-on suitcase when he pulled up a seat next to Marcus C. in the gate area, and boldly let everybody within earshot know who the new world champions were.”
Video later emerged of the guy ripping out the seat.
--An “Idiot” award to a contestant on “Wheel of Fortune,” who missed out on an easy $7,100 (along with a trip to Europe) after botching his pronunciation of the word “Flamenco.”
“Jonny” had a complete answer on the board reading: “Flamenco Dance Lessons.”
But he said “flamingo,” and Pat Sajak had to buzz the startled man for a wrong answer.
Jonny’s opponent, Ashley, cleaned up the mess and no doubt enjoyed her trip somewhere in Europe, as well as the cash.
--An “A-Hole” mention to Boston Bruin forward Brad Marchand, who licked opponents’ faces in the playoffs.
--A special “Jerk” mention to Hall of Fame wide receiver Terrell Owens, who failed to show for enshrinement weekend in Canton because he was upset he wasn’t selected until his third year of eligibility.
--A “Good Guy” award to French soccer superstar Kylian Mbappe, who scored four goals for France as they claimed their second World Cup title. Mbappe donated his earnings (over $350,000, including the bonus for winning it all) to a foundation that provides free sports instruction to hospitalized and disabled children.
--Free Beer to golfer Eddie Pepperell, who admitted he was a “little hungover” during his final-round 67 in The Open Championship, that when he finished had him just one shot off the lead.
Pepperell had started the final round 8 off, and he admitted later he was “so frustrated” and had “too much to drink last night.”
The golfer ended up T6, three strokes behind winner Francesco Molinari.
--“Dirtball” hardware to Raymond Reinke of Oregon, who was caught on video harassing a bison in Yellowstone National Park, Rangers later realizing it was the third disturbance in less than a week committed by the a-hole, Reinke having been disorderly at Glacier and Grand Teton National Parks as well.
--“Hero Dog Award” to Rex, a German shepherd living in the state of Washington, who sacrificed himself to save his 16-year-old owner, Javier Mercado, who was home alone when two people broke into the house. Rex took a beating and three bullets in the initial assault.
But Rex retreated back to the closet where Javier was hiding, Javier then holding Rex. When the intruders reached the teen’s hideout, Rex’s instincts took over and he sprung out again, with what little strength he had left.
Sounds of sirens in the distance chased off the pair and help arrived.
Rex survived, but I never saw if he fully recovered.
--In Memoriam, a “Good Guy Award” to former Met icon Rusty Staub, who died this year. Rusty established the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund in 1986, distributing over $11 million in the first 15 years of its existence.
But then after the tragedy of 9/11, Staub helped raise another $112 million. Last January, he announced that in conjunction with Catholic Charities, his foundation had served 9,043,741 meals to the hungry at food pantries throughout New York over the prior ten years, with funds through his annual wine auction dinner and foundation golf tournament.
--And In Memoriam we honor the late-hockey great Stan Mikita. Back when Keith Magnuson and another teammate were rookies, Mikita and Bobby Hull told them: “You guys are coming with us.”
The rookies thought they were going to have lunch and a few beers. Instead they went to a charity event at a nearby church where they signed autographs and had their pictues taken.
“This is part of your obligation as a hockey player,” Mikita and Hull told them. “This is one of your responsibilities as a pro athlete. You have to give back to the community.”
Mikita had a lifelong passion for supporting a hockey school for the deaf, which later evolved into the American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association.
--A “Good Guy” plaque to Oakland A’s slugger Khris Davis. When the A’s hosted a Make-A-Wish Foundation gathering, Davis had Anthony Slocumb, a 10-year-old in remission from cancer, sign his jersey.
Davis then wore the signed jersey throughout that night’s game against Texas.
“I wanted to rock that. I wanted him to know that I was thinking about him,” Davis said. “He just told me I was his favorite and he was here to watch me play.”
Davis then launched a home run in the third inning off Bartolo Colon, saying, “I thought about (Slocumb) around the bases.”
--“Good Guy” honoraria to Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving, who donated $110,000 to the Lakota tribe, to be used in drug abuse prevention and youth programs, after he found out his late mother was enrolled in the tribe before being adopted as a youth. In a naming ceremony at the reservation, Irving was given the name Little Mountain. Irving said during the visit he considers the tribe “family for life.”
--A “Jerk of the Year” mention to Serena Williams for her atrocious behavior at the U.S. Open, which had winner Naomi Osaka in tears while she accepted her trophy.
--Free beer to Buffalo Bills fans, who contributed to Bengals’ quarterback Andy Dalton’s foundation after he led his team to a season-ending win over the Ravens, which propelled Buffalo into the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
--“Jerk” hardware for Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and his total mishandling, and dissembling, during the Zach Smith investigation.
--The flipside... “Good Guy” Dave Clawson, the Wake Forest football coach who visited Syracuse defensive back Tyrone Perkins, recovering from a serious leg injury in a hospital in Winston-Salem, after his Syracuse teammates and coaches flew back to school following a Wake-Cuse game. Syracuse coach Dino Babers said, “That was something that was very gracious on his end. For him to go out and visit one of my guys in the local hospital is something I’ll never forget; something that I’ll always appreciate.”
--We honor French police officer Arnaud Beltrame, who gave his life saving the lives of hostages in a supermarket siege by an Islamist gunman in southern France. Lt-Col Beltrame was shot and stabbed after he traded places with one of the captives following a shooting spree.
Leaders from around the world praised his actions that helped lead to the end of the siege that left three people dead. The gunman, seeking the release of the most important surviving suspect in the Nov. 13, 2015 Paris attacks that killed 130 people, was killed by police.
--“Man of the Year” mention to 14-year-old Adul Sam-on, who helped the 11 other members of a youth soccer team, along with their coach, in their Thai cave ordeal that captivated the world.
Adul, proficient in English, Thai, Burmese, Mandarin and Wa, politely communicated to the British divers his squad’s greatest needs: food and clarity on just how long they had stayed alive. After 10 days, equally heroic divers freed them.
--“Hero Dog Award” to Maiko, the U.S. military dog I recently wrote about, who died in a clash in Afghanistan in which an American soldier was also killed.
The 7-year-old was leading Rangers into a compound when at least one militant fired at him, revealing the militant’s position, which the Rangers then targeted.
A biography of the dog said, “The actions of Maiko directly saved the life of his handler... and other Rangers involved during the clearance.”
--Needless to say, the “Animal of the Year” is once again ‘Dog.’
--“Man of the Year” goes to Lt-Col. Beltrame.
Top 3 songs for the week 12/25/65: #1 “Over And Over” (The Dave Clark Five) #2 “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season)” (The Byrds) #3 “I Got You (I Feel Good)” (James Brown)...and...#4 “Let’s Hang On!” (The 4 Seasons) #5 “The Sounds Of Silence” (Simon & Garfunkel) #6 “Make The World Go Away” (Eddy Arnold...great tune...) #7 “Fever” (The McCoys) #8 “England Swings” (Roger Miller) #9 “Ebb Tide” (The Righteous Brothers) #10 “I Can Never Go Home Anymore” (The Shangri-Las...only this last one prevents this from being an A+ week...)
NBA Quiz Answer: 20-10-5 seasons....
Kevin Garnett 6 (surprised?)
Larry Bird 5
Wilt Chamberlain 4
Elgin Baylor 3
Oscar Robertson 3
*In Milwaukee’s 129-115 win over the Nets last night, Giannis Antekounmpo had a 31-10-10 effort. This guy is fun to watch. Fans in Milwaukee are duly psyched over their postseason prospects.
No formal Bar Chat Thursday...I’m just going to add some stuff up top on Wed. a.m.