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Who Gets the Last Bid?
[Posted Wed. a.m.]
NFL Hall of Fame Quiz: 1) Name the eight Alabama Crimson Tide greats who ended up in the NFL HOF. It’s not impossible...and you get major hints. 2 are offensive linemen, 1 is a linebacker, 1 is a tight end, 1 is a receiver (to me the hard one...but some think the greatest ever at his position...think long ago...), and 3 are quarterbacks. 2) Name the lone NFL Hall of Famer from Montana State...a kicker. Answer below.
College Football Playoff Rankings
1. Alabama 12-0
2. Clemson 12-0
3. Notre Dame 12-0
4. Georgia 11-1
5. Oklahoma 11-1
6. Ohio State 11-1
7. Michigan 10-2
8. UCF 11-0
9. Florida 9-3
10. LSU 9-3
11. Washington 9-3
14. Texas 9-3
21. Northwestern 8-4...same as AP
22. Boise State 10-2
25. Fresno State 10-2...squares off against Boise State for Mountain West title
No major changes vs. AP rankings, except for Michigan and UCF being reversed, and a rather big surprise, Texas just 14 in the CFP, but 9 AP, which can impact Oklahoma.
--So now it’s about Alabama-Georgia, Texas-Oklahoma, and Northwestern-Ohio State, to settle the fourth and final playoff spot.
Marc Tracy of the New York Times notes that the selection committee will probably look at three other teams, LSU, Oklahoma State and Purdue, to perhaps help them differentiate between Georgia, Ohio State and Oklahoma.
LSU gave Georgia its lone loss, 36-16, in Baton Rouge last month.
Oklahoma State has been the Big 12’s signature spoiler, defeating West Virginia (8-3) and Texas (9-3), and falling to Oklahoma by one point.
And Purdue dealt Ohio State its defeat, a 49-20 drubbing in West Lafayette, Ind., last month.
But regarding Purdue, the committee has to note that the Boilermakers defeated just two other teams with winning records, and lost to Eastern Michigan, which finished 2-10. Ergo, what does that say about Ohio State?
And how did Georgia lose by 20 to LSU, which was shut out by Alabama in Baton Rouge?
And Oklahoma State lost to Texas Tech (5-7), so why did Oklahoma struggle to beat the Cowboys?
Chuck Culpepper / Washington Post
“If Oklahoma can run past Texas this time, Ohio State can thwart Northwestern and Alabama can handle Georgia, it could come down to that Ohio State-Oklahoma chatter.
“Then we’d all have to weigh Ohio State’s opponents (currently 67-77) against Oklahoma’s (72-69). We’d have to say Ohio State has the best win (over Michigan). We’d have to say at least Oklahoma never got mauled (as Ohio State did at Purdue). Each beat two ranked teams (at the moment). That Oklahoma escape of Army (9-2) way back when looks stouter all the time. That Oklahoma defense, yielding 189 points the last four games, does not look stouter all the time, and may offend some of the retired coaches on the committee right down to their core.
“It would come down to parsing between two places which win all the time, a miserable reality epitomized Saturday when the first question to Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer went, ‘With all due respect, where has this team been the last two months?’
“A mirthless sport has a golden chance to get more mirthless soon. Maybe some fan base will get the chance at the privilege of holding a lifelong grudge.”
--In a rather startling move, 67-year-old Mack Brown is returning to coaching, and to North Carolina, where he went 69-46-1 in 10 seasons, including back-to-back 1-10 seasons his first two years, 1988 and ’89, as in 67-26-1 in his last eight. Brown then parlayed his success, which included six straight bowl contests his final six campaigns, into a massive contract, and long run, at Texas.
But Brown has not coached since resigning under pressure at Texas five years ago, after which he’s been a fixture as an analyst at ESPN.
I kind of like the move, as long as the fan base isn’t expecting too much too soon. It’s about stabilizing the program and getting it headed in the right direction and I imagine Brown will do that.
--Steve G., USC fan (when he’s not gallivanting around South America), warned me long ago that athletic director Lynn Swann wouldn’t have the guts to fire Coach Clay Helton, and he was right.
Bill Plaschke / Los Angeles Times
“When Lynn Swann was glamorously hired to run USC athletics in the spring of 2016, there was a quiet concern that he had no experience in athletic administration and no ongoing close connection with the program.
“In one stunning move Sunday, both fears were realized.
“By retaining Clay Helton as the Trojans’ football coach, Swann doesn’t seem to understand the basic role of an athletic director or the modern soul of USC. In failing to make a change in leadership after the Trojans’ worst season in nearly 20 years and with the program at one of its lowest ebbs ever, Swann took the easy way out by keeping Helton, almost as if he had no real plan and no desire to dirty his hands concocting one.
“In completely ignoring the scores of invested boosters who were demanding a change, Swann also showed a lack of appreciation for the passion that has helped fuel not only the greatness of the football program, but the success of the entire university.
“The Trojans family is shouting, yet he’s not paying attention. The Trojans program is in freefall, yet he’s not grasping the gravity of the situation. The USC football team is the university’s greatest and most important marketing tool, yet Swann is treating it like it will just sell itself. Maybe that was the case when he was a national champion receiver at USC in the early 1970s, but these days, he’s running the wrong route....
“One day after the Trojans finished at 5-7 with no bowl eligibility and losses to its biggest rivals in the final two weeks, Swann issued a statement Sunday that was all endorsement and no blame.
“ ‘Clay Helton is a good coach...let me be clear to everyone...Clay Helton is our head coach and he will continue to be our head coach,’ Swann said. Yet, in the same statement, Swann mentions there are problems in virtually every important area of the football program.
“ ‘We acknowledge and understand our deficiencies in areas that include culture, discipline, schemes, personnel and staff,’ he wrote. ‘We agree that changes need to be make...Coach Helton has a plan in place to get USC back to the top.’
“Just wondering, but if those changes are required in every corner of the locker room, should we really trust the plan in the hands of the guy currently running the locker room?”
Sounds a lot like Danny Manning and the situation with Wake Forest hoops, actually.
--UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton suffered a gruesome leg injury Friday in the Knights’ win over South Florida, but we just learned Tuesday how severe it was, his family issuing a statement.
Milton underwent immediate surgery to repair blood flow problems Friday night, and will have reconstructive surgery to repair his knee at a later date.
“His blood flow has been restored to his right leg and his nerve is injured but intact,” the family said. “He is recovering and healing and is receiving the best medical care.”
We’ll see how inspired UCF is on Saturday in the AAC championship game against Memphis. They need to win it to rest easy that they’ll receive the Group of Five, New Year’s Six bowl bid. The winner of Boise State-Fresno State is lurking behind.
--The UConn Huskies had a rather miserable season, 1-11, and it turns out they gave up the most points per game (50.4) of any major college football team in NCAA history.
--Kind of startling that the Houston Texans have won eight in a row, after beating Tennessee 34-17 on Monday night in Houston, to move to 8-3 and two games ahead of the Colts (6-5), the Titans dropping to 5-6.
Deshaun Watson was an efficient 19/24, 210, 2-0, 130.9, plus 70 yards on the ground and a score, while Lamar Miller rushed for 162 on just 12 carries, including a 97-yard TD run.
But what a strange game. Marcus Mariota completed his first 19 passes, was 22/23, 303, 2-0, 147.7, but somehow the Titans only managed to score 17.
--So the playoffs are taking shape....
AFC division leaders:
East: New England 8-3
North: Pittsburgh 7-3-1
South: Houston 8-3
West: Kansas City 9-2
Los Angeles Chargers 8-3
Wildcard contenders: Baltimore 6-5, Indianapolis 6-5
NFC division leaders:
East: Dallas 6-5
North: Chicago 8-3
South: New Orleans 10-1
West: Los Angeles Rams 10-1
Wildcard contenders: Minnesota 6-4-1, Carolina 6-5, Seattle 6-5
--There will be no miracle for the Giants after their 25-22 loss to the Eagles Sunday. A two-game winning streak that brought the team to 3-7 actually had some harboring dreams of running off eight in a row to finish 9-7, which seems good enough to win the NFC East.
But with the season now over at 3-8, once again it’s like last year. When are the Giants going to play backup Kyle Lauletta and sit Eli Manning, who is hardly the future.
--Zach Schonbrun of the New York Times had a piece on the state of quarterbacking in the NFL these days, which is pretty hideous, outside of the top six or seven.
“The quarterback roulette wheel is spinning again this year for multiple teams. Colt McCoy of the Washington Redskins started his first game since 2014 on Thursday and threw three interceptions. It still was not ugly enough to warrant bringing in Mark Sanchez, who was signed as his backup last week despite not having played in a game since 2016.
“Blake Bortles of the Jaguars and Josh Allen of the Bills faced off on Sunday and racked up 287 passing yards – combined. On Monday, Jacksonville Coach Doug Marrone said Cody Kessler would take over for Bortles. Kessler, formerly of the Cleveland Browns, has gone 0-8 as a starter during his three-year career.
“And when Josh McCown of the Jets injured his hand early in Sunday’s game against the Patriots, the player warming up to replace him was Davis Webb, who had been cut by the Giants in September. (McCown was ultimately O.K., and Webb did not come on.)
“So while scoring is at an all-time high across the NFL, fueled by rule changes that have constrained defenses and led to broken records in completion percentage, yards per game, touchdowns and quarterback rating, it is not because of an across-the-board spike in quarterback quality. The gaudy statistics from a limited pool of elite quarterbacks – such as New Orleans’ Drew Brees, Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, Indianapolis’s Andrew Luck and the Los Angeles Rams’ Jared Goff – tend to overshadow a wider field of weekly dreck.”
AP Poll (Nov. 26)
1. Gonzaga (32) 6-0
2. Kansas (31) 5-0
3. Duke (1) 5-1
4. Virginia (1) 6-0
5. Nevada 6-0
6. Tennessee 4-1
7. Michigan 6-0
8. Auburn 5-1
9. Michigan State 5-1
10. Kentucky 5-1
13. Virginia Tech 5-0...since I mentioned them last time, from the Dan Collins column
21. Buffalo 5-0...gonna be interesting to follow...and a helluva football season for the Bulls, too.
Monday, we had an upset...Texas Southern (2-4) defeated 18 Oregon (4-2) 89-84 in Eugene.
And some great action Tuesday...as I caught a lot of Virginia Tech’s first loss to Penn State (4-2), 63-62; and Louisville’s (4-2) big overtime win against 9 Michigan State, 82-78.
Pitt (6-1) suffered its first loss at 14 Iowa (6-0), 69-68; and your Bar Chat “Pick to Click” Nevada moved to 7-0 with a 79-65 revenge win against Loyola-Chicago (4-3). Last year, Loyola beat Nevada by one point in the NCAA South Regional semifinals, part of the Ramblers’ stunning Final Four run.
And then we had Duke’s demolition of Indiana (5-2) 90-69, as Zion Williamson scored 25 and RJ Barrett added 22, Williamson with a slam dunk for the ages...one that a lot of us thought was going to bring down the whole building.
Oh, and Wake Forest’s Danny Manning probably saved his job, at least for another few games, as the Demon Deacons (4-2) avoided a second straight awful defeat, hanging on to beat Western Carolina (2-6) 71-64.
Alpine / World Cup Ski Season
The 2018-19 campaign is underway and last weekend at Killington, Vermont, the women raced before some of the biggest crowds for any race in North America or Europe – nearly 35,000 fans for two races, as 23-year-old American Mikaela Shiffrin earned her 34th World Cup slalom victory on Sunday, just one behind the record for career Cup Slalom wins by Marlies Schild.
That’s amazing. It was also Shiffrin’s third consecutive World Cup slalom win at Killington.
And the win was Shiffrin’s 45th World Cup victory in any race discipline, a total she has amassed in just six years. It took Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden 15 years to capture his record 86.
Shiffrin won the season-opening slalom in Levi, Finland the week before, and picked up a third place in the opening giant slalom race at Solden.
Lindsey Vonn, with 82 career wins and trying to chase down Stenmark before retiring, opens her season this weekend at her favorite venue of Lake Louise, where two downhills are scheduled (weather permitting, as we always have to add with this sport).
--The Atlanta Braves are going all out. They signed free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson to a one-year, $23 million deal, and also reacquired catcher Brian McCann, the 34-year-old providing great depth at the position.
Atlanta got solid production from third out of Johan Camargo last season, but the Braves now have him penciled in as the primary right fielder, though he can easily spell Donaldson at third, as well as play short and second.
--Kind of humorous the Mets formally announced Jim Riggleman was being hired as bench coach for manager Mickey Callaway. The 66-year-old Riggleman is a lifer with 13 seasons as a major league manager, four times taking over as interim manager, i.e., if Callaway stumbles out of the gate, he has every reason to look over his shoulder.
--Manchester City and Manchester United advanced to the Last 16 on Tuesday, Man City drawing with Lyon 2-2, needing a draw in its next and last game of Group Stage to avoid playing another group winner in the next round. Man U, in defeating Young Boys (the strange name being that of a club out of Bern, Switzerland) 1-0, moves on along with Juventus in its group.
--Today, Wednesday, Liverpool plays Paris Saint Germain, critical for both teams, while Tottenham is hosting Inter Milan in a must-win situation for the Spurs or they are out before the final contest of Group Stage.
As I drag some of you kicking and screaming through the Premier League season, this is what the top four at season’s end get to qualify for, the club championship for all of Europe.
--When I wrote last Sunday of Wake Forest’s men’s soccer team losing in the NCAA tournament to Akron, 1-0, I had no idea as to the details, as I was just following the score online.
But it turns out it was a highly controversial contest as it appeared the Deacs had tied the game with a minute to play, only the goal was nullified by a questionable offside call.
Wake coach Bobby Muuss drew a red card and automatic ejection for arguing with the officials, but it was to no avail...the Deacs season coming to a screeching halt at home.
Wake outshot the Zips 13-6
--Marc Myers of the Wall Street Journal had a piece the other day on Todd Rundgren, who is up for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As Dr. W. reminded me, it’s not too late to vote so get it in. [I also voted for the Zombies.]
Myers’ story is about the genesis of Rundgren’s biggest hit, “Hello It’s Me,” #5 1973, which I’ve said since day one of Bar Chat is one of my three favorite tunes of all time, the others being Elvin Bishop’s “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” and Tommy James and the Shondells’ “Crystal Blue Persuasion.” [Yeah, I could probably make some changes to the list these days, but ain’t gonna do it at this point.]
Rundgren actually wrote “Hello It’s Me” back in 1967, a year after a painful high-school breakup.
The song was first recorded with his band, Nazz, which Rundgren co-founded. It was a slow ballad that he then updated in late 1971, upping the tempo, while recording the solo album “Something/Anything?”
Rundgren’s memoir “The Individualist” will be published Dec. 21, and he will tour in North America, Europe and Japan in the spring.
But in looking back at “Hello It’s Me,” in a recent interview Rundgren said in part:
“In the summer of 1967...Burt Bacharach was a big influence, especially his music for Dionne Warwick. The song ‘Walk on By’ still knocks me out. [Ed. funny, I love this one too.]
“Once the music for my song was set, I turned to writing the lyrics. I thought back to early 1966, when I was still in high school. Senior year had been an emotional time. I had a crush on a girl named Linda, and we started seeing each other.
“She probably liked me because I was the only guy in school with long hair. We became close and hugged and kissed a lot at parties.
“One day in May ’66, a friend dropped us off and I walked Linda to her front door. Her father, who was outside, hated me on sight. He turned the garden hose on me. Long hair on a guy was a political statement back then and a red flag for parents.
“A day or two later, Linda told me she was forbidden to see me anymore. Just like that, she stopped talking to me and wouldn’t take my calls. I adored her and was heartbroken, almost suicidal.
“That Christmas, I wanted to make a final gesture to win her back. I saved up and bought her a pantsuit. When I went to her house, the only person there was her sister, who invited me in. When I left, I realized I had to stop this.
“Writing my song in ’67, I decided to make the lyrics about our breakup. But instead of being the victim, I turned the song’s story around so I was breaking up with her. This gave me a little power and allowed me to imagine how I might have done things differently over the phone.
“I opened with, ‘Hello, it’s me / I’ve thought about us for a long, long time / Maybe I think too much but something’s wrong / There’s something here that doesn’t last too long / Maybe I shouldn’t think of you as mine.’
“To ease the blow, I wrote a bridge about why the breakup was good for her: ‘It’s important to me / That you know you are free / ‘Cause I never want to make you change for me.’
“I guess in some ways it’s how I would have wanted to be let down. As I continued to work on the song, I channeled other influences, including the Beatles and Beach Boys and their stacks of vocal harmonies.
“Admittedly, to write a song like this, you had to be especially insecure. I didn’t have a girlfriend all the way up through high school. Linda had been my first real relationship.”
So thirty years after the song came out, Rundgren was in Oklahoma to perform. “On the afternoon before the concert, the phone in my hotel room rang. When I answered it, a woman’s voice on the other end said, ‘Hi Todd? It’s Linda. Do you remember me from high school?’
“There was a long pause on my end. When we finally began to talk, she told me she lived in the area, that she was married and had kids. My voice didn’t warm up, and I avoided talking about the old days. I was pretty businesslike.
“I told Linda I’d put her on the guest list for seats. She thanked me and we said goodbye. I added her name but I didn’t include a pass for backstage access.
“Our lives had gone in two different directions and we really had nothing to say to each other. I think I also wanted to hold onto the image I had of her in high school. I never told her she was the inspiration for the song.”
--Mick Jagger, 75, is gearing up to tour America next spring with the Stones. He told the Associated Press that live shows still give him a rush that can’t be matched and it’s why he still loves touring.
The Stones’ No Filter tour launches in Miami on April 20, 2019, with tickets going on sale Friday...13 shows hitting Florida, Texas, Arizona, California, Washington, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Illinois and Washington, D.C.
Jagger, who will be joined by Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts, said: “Basically your life’s attuned to doing those few hours onstage and everything else is a build up to that. Of course, you get to enjoy yourself at other times, but really you’re thinking about the next show or the show you’re doing that night.”
Top 3 songs for the week 11/30/74: #1 “I Can Help” (Billy Swan) #2 “Kung Fu Fighting” (Carl Douglas) #3 “When Will I See You Again” (The Three Degrees)...and...#4 “Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied)” (B.T. Express) #5 “Longfellow Serenade” (Neil Diamond) #6 “Everlasting Love” (Carl Carlton) #7 “My Melody Of Love” (Bobby Vinton) #8 “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” (Bachman-Turner Overdrive) #9 “Cat’s In The Cradle” (Harry Chapin) #10 “Angie Baby” (Helen Reddy)
NFL Hall of Fame Quiz Answers: 1) Eight from Alabama who then had NFL Hall of Fame careers...John Hannah, Don Hutson, Joe Namath, Ozzie Newsome, Ken Stabler, Bart Starr, Dwight Stephenson, Derrick Thomas. 2) Montana State: Jan Stenerud.
Next Bar Chat, Monday.