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Ohio State the early #1 in CFP
[Posted Wed. a.m.]
NFL Quiz: Dick “Night Train” Lane holds the single-season record for interceptions in a season, 14, 1952, with the Rams. But since 1970, only six players have had at least 11 INTs in a season, and all of them were between 1971 and 1981. I’ll give you the initials.
L.H., E.T., M.B., E.W., B.B., M.R.
--The first College Football Playoff rankings were released last night, and so....
1. Ohio State 8-0
2. LSU 8-0
3. Alabama 8-0
4. Penn State 8-0
5. Clemson 9-0
6. Georgia 7-1
7. Oregon 8-1
8. Utah 8-1
9. Oklahoma 7-1
10. Florida 7-2
11. Auburn 7-2
12. Baylor 8-0
16. Kansas State 6-2 (20 in AP)
17. Minnesota 8-0 (13 in AP)
19. Wake Forest 7-1
20 Cincinnati 7-1*
21. Memphis 8-1*
22. Boise State 7-1*
23. Oklahoma State 6-3
24. Navy 7-1*
25. SMU 8-1*
*Group of Five
Clemson fans should relax. Just win out. And count me as a non-believer in Penn State.
My dream final four would be Ohio State vs. Clemson, LSU vs. Oregon.
Yes, the Pac-12 is sitting pretty. A one-loss champ has a powerful case for the playoffs.
--So this coming weekend it’s all about two games. Penn State at Minnesota and LSU at Alabama. [And, selfishly, Wake Forest at Virginia Tech.]
--In the race for the Group of Five / New Year’s Six Bowl bid, post CFP Rankings, we have in the American Athletic Conference....
East...20 Cincinnati 7-1
West...21 Memphis 8-1; 25 SMU 8-1; 24 Navy 7-1
But Memphis has now beaten both SMU and Navy.
It all comes down to Nov. 29, and Cincinnati traveling to Memphis.
It’s possible the two would then meet the following week for the AAC Championship, but if Memphis lost, it could be SMU or Navy playing Cincinnati.
Regardless, the winner of the AAC championship game might have just one loss and a huge leg up on the final CFP rankings and the Group of Five bid.
But then we have the Mountain West Conference and 21 Boise State (7-1) and unranked CFP (No. 24 AP) San Diego State (7-1). They are in different divisions and do not play each other in the regular season, so they are headed for a major collision in the Mountain West title game.
As in, if Cincinnati or Memphis wins out, and Boise State or SDSU wins out...let’s say it’s Cincinnati and Boise...that is one tough call for the CFP committee.
But it would go to the AAC winner in this scenario, as the AAC is simply a superior conference top to bottom.
SDSU is no doubt very pissed at not being ranked in the CFP, but one look at their schedule says they have no right to complain.
And that’s a memo....
--There are all kinds of stories in these parts about the return of Greg Schiano to Rutgers, which is the only move to make before the Scarlet Knights are relegated to Division III. There are stories the move could be made today, Rutgers’ sesquicentennial date marking the first-ever college football game between Rutgers and Princeton.
From 2005 through 2011, Schiano led Rutgers to bowl games in six of seven seasons and compiled a 56-33 record during that span while producing dozens of NFL players.
Rutgers also interviewed former Tennessee coach Butch Jones, who was a graduate assistant at Rutgers in the early 1990s.
--As I alluded to last time, when Florida State suddenly fired Willie Taggart as head coach, Bob Stoops seemed a natural. The rumors were rampant early Tuesday, but then Stoops told ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit he’s “not a candidate” to replace Taggart. I wonder if Stoops is waiting for the USC job when Clay Helton is fired.
--FCS / Div. I-AA Coaches Ranking
1. North Dakota State 9-0
2. James Madison 8-1
3. Weber State 7-2
4. South Dakota State 7-2
5. Montana 7-2
6. Central Arkansas 7-2
7. Northern Iowa 6-3
8. Sacramento State 6-3
9. Princeton 7-0
10. Furman 6-3
13. Dartmouth 7-0
So it’s Princeton-Dartmouth at Yankee Stadium on Saturday. Who would have thunk it would be this big when they planned the game? Very cool. Unfortunately, it’s on (ESPU) at the same time as ‘Bama-LSU (and my Wake Forest-Virginia Tech contest).
Back to North Dakota State, what a program. Chris Klieman took the Bison to four FCS national titles in five seasons, and then was hired to take over at Kansas State, where he is a terrific 6-2 his first year. Matt Entz replaced Klieman and NDSU hasn’t missed a beat.
--What a disaster Monday night at MetLife Stadium, the Giants (2-7) losing to the Cowboys (5-3) 37-18. For the second straight game, Giants quarterback Daniel Jones lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown, while Jones lost an earlier fumble and threw an interception.
Jones now has an NFL-leading 16 turnovers (8 INTs, 8 lost fumbles) in essentially seven games, and he’s lost his last five after starting out with two wins, having replaced Eli Manning.
The 8 fumbles is an atrocious figure, though the decision making of head coach Pat Shurmur is doing Jones no favors. Bottom line, like his stadium-mate, the Jets’ Sam Darnold, Jones regressed.
This was a game the Giants led 12-3 with 2:50 on the clock in the first half, only to have the Cowboys score 10 in the last few minutes to take a 13-12 lead into the locker room.
Then there was the feline that found its way on the field in the first half.
Steve Serby / New York Post
“Of course it’s not the black cat.
“Of course it’s that the Giants – 37-18 losers – are simply not as good as the Cowboys. Right?
“Well, Sam Darnold saw ghosts. Daniel Jones and the Giants saw a black cat.
“Of course, let us not forget that the Giants have made their own bad luck since Super Bowl XLVI, and so it’s more probable than not that the Cowboys didn’t need any help from the defiant feline who interrupted matters in the second quarter and didn’t seem eager to leave the field for several minutes until pressured by security.
“The Giants did kind of look catatonic once the cat headed for the bleachers or wherever he or she calls home, didn’t they?....
“Ask the 1969 Cubs about black cats.
“Ask Jabrill Peppers about black cats. ‘I ain’t superstitious or nothing but any time I saw a black cat or it went across me growing up, something bad happened,’ he said. ‘I kinda grew out of it now, but I still don’t like ‘em.’....
“Look, it’s believed that single women in Japan who own black cats attract more suitors; that British sailors believed a black cat would bring the ship good luck and ensure a safe return home.
“So maybe it brought the Cowboys good luck. Or maybe it wasn’t the black cat.
“Maybe it was simply the 2-7 Giants once again. Right?
“ ‘I believe people create their own luck,’ (Cowboys’ lineman DeMarcus) Lawrence said. ‘I never was a believer in that.’
“You want to create your own luck? Bring on the Jets!”
Yes, the 2-7 Giants and the 1-7 Jets at MetLife Sunday.
Speaking of the Jets, you should have heard the local airwaves Monday morning (and afternoon) after the team’s unconscionable 26-18 loss to the “Tank for Tua” Dolphins.
The fan base is apoplectic that Adam Gase is still the head coach. No one wanted the guy in the first place, many wondering why the Jets didn’t hire someone like Mike McCarthy (similar to the Mets not hiring Joe Girardi this offseason).
But what’s upsetting now about watching Gase is that it clearly looks like he doesn’t care, and that’s beyond inexcusable.
What makes it even worse is he’s dragging Sam Darnold down with him, Darnold playing just awful the last three games, with eight interceptions, which comes after a very good effort in the Jets’ lone win against Dallas.
So Jets fans no longer know what they have. Is Darnold a franchise quarterback or not?
Steve Serby / New York Post
“Gase, asked if this was personally embarrassing for him, decided to say: ‘This is the NFL. You can’t be embarrassed by this s---.’
“Would 1-15 do the trick, perhaps?
“How could he not be embarrassed by:
“Ryan Fitzpatrick...resembling Dan Marino while Preston Williams and tight end Mike Gesicki looked like taller versions of Mark Duper and Mark Clayton?
“Darnold throwing an egregious red-zone interception and watching a snap from Jonotthan Harrison sail over his right shoulder for a safety and then get an earful from Brian Winters on the sideline?
“Ten penalties for 105 yards?
“Vowing to feed Le’Veon Bell but failing to give him the ball first-and-goal at the 2 prior to Darnold’s fateful interception?....
“Saying he was not embarrassed when he should have been furious instead of clueless.
“ ‘They’re not gonna cancel our season,’ Gase said.
“No, unfortunately for Jets fans, they’re not.
“ ‘You feel like crap,’ Gase said.
“You coached like crap, your players played like crap....
“In the parking lot before the game, there was this sign:
“FINS ARE TANKING
JETS JUST SUCK
“Now it is on Gase to try to keep his team from tanking. For Lincoln Riley perhaps?”
Back to Giants-Cowboys, in the battle between running backs Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott, Mr. Elliott wiped the table, 23 carries for 139 yards, a season best, while Barkley was held to a mere 28 on 14 carries (though he did have six receptions for 67). Guess which team has the better offensive line?
Barkley has to be a bit of a concern. He started off the season in great form, two, 100-yard games rushing, but since suffering his high-ankle sprain, he’s been a shell of his former self. But, again, he’s getting little help up front (just like the Jets’ Le’Veon Bell should be suing his O-Line for damages).
One other on the Giants....
Back on 10/10 in this space I said receiver Sterling Shepard had suffered his second concussion of the season, “which is scary,” and he’s been in concussion protocol since.
Well he was cleared to play against the Cowboys but after reporting to the team on Saturday night that he wasn’t feeling well and still not feeling well on Sunday morning, he was put back in the protocol. Pat Shurmur said Shepard had practiced fully this week.
Shepard, 26, is in his fourth season of what has been a productive start to his Giants career. He signed a four-year, $41 million extension this offseason and was being counted on to pick up the slack for the departed Odell Beckham Jr.
But now I’m afraid the nation is going to hear Shepard’s name more, because this is a big deal. You’re playing with the kid’s life. He should be shelved the rest of the season, and revisit next spring in OTAs.
I don’t know what portion of his new contract was guaranteed, but this is why players grab for that big chunk when they get the chance. I’m sure Shepard’s family is seriously considering walking away and taking what is rightfully due them.
--For the record, I wrote the following on 3/5/18 in this space, speaking of then-Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson.
“I like what I referenced about two weeks ago. Jackson is Deshaun Watson reincarnate, only even more athletic, and NFL defenses would be glued to him on every play, which opens things up for everyone else on his offense. This is really going to be interesting to see who selects him. No doubt he is now definitely a first-rounder.”
And then on 4/30/18, after the draft:
“Among the steals in the draft was Baltimore being able to select quarterback and former Heisman winner Lamar Jackson at No. 32. It’s a perfect spot for him, too, as he can sit and develop for a year behind Joe Flacco, who isn’t owed any guaranteed money after the 2018 season. A succession plan is now in place for the Ravens.”
Well as we all now know, Jackson took over for Flacco last year sooner than expected, going 6-1-0, and he’s now 12-3-0 for his brief career, 6-2 this season after Baltimore’s 37-20 Sunday night win over the previously undefeated New England Patriots (8-1).
Jackson was more than solid, 17/23, 163, 1-0, 107.7, plus he picked up another 61 yards rushing and two scores. He’s the most exciting player in the game, more so than Patrick Mahomes because of his amazing athletic ability, and Jackson is headed towards well over 1,000 yards on the ground. [Mark Ingraham contributed 115 yards rushing on just 15 carries for the Ravens.]
Baltimore is going to be great fun to watch come January.
Finally, yes, the Pats came in with a defense allowing only 7.6 points per game and just gave up 37. The Grumpy Lobster Boat Captain (the Journal’s Jason Gay’s term for Belichick) was no doubt tough to deal with Monday.
--Big news in Carolina, as Cam Newton, who was just not recovering from a foot injury, was placed on the injured reserve list, out for the season.
Newton aggravated the Lisfranc injury in a Week 2 loss to Tampa Bay and hasn’t improved.
So the Panthers are moving forward with second-year undrafted quarterback Kyle Allen, who is 5-1 as the starter (6-1 in his career). Newton had lost eight straight games dating back to last season.
Newton, 30, is slated to make $21.1 million in 2020, the final year of his contract, so he is likely to be released after the season, saving $19.1 million in cap space. You want him?
--Gardner Minshew was 4-4 in his eight games as a starter in Jacksonville, replacing the injured Nick Foles, with 13 touchdown passes, four interceptions, and a solid 92.8 PR. Not bad for a sixth-round draft pick this past spring.
But he’s struggled more of late after a hot start and Jags coach Doug Marrone announced Foles will be the starter when the team returns from a bye against the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 17.
--The Browns waived safety Jermaine Whitehead on Monday morning, just hours after he posted profanity-laced and threatening comments on social media following Sunday’s loss at Denver.
Broncos tight end Noah Fant ran over Whitehead on the way to a 75-yard touchdown reception. That, and a missed tackle on another big Denver play, drew criticism of Whitehead on social media. Shortly after the game ended, Whitehead responded on Twitter, including to former NFL player Dustin Fox, who appears on a postgame show for the Browns’ radio network.
In response to Fox’s criticism, Whitehead wrote, “Come get it in blood b---- made ass lil boy. I’m out there with a broke hand...don’t get smoked...”
Whitehead also wrote, “Imma kill you b----...that’s on blood” to another Twitter user.
The Twitter account was suspended before he had even left the visiting locker room.
Whitehead then took to Instagram to apologize for his performance, but not for the tweets.
--MLB announced its Gold Glove winners Sunday after I had posted. Among those with multiple Gold Gloves now we have....
LF – Alex Gordon (7)
CF – Kevin Kiermaier (3)
RF – Mookie Betts (4)
P – Zack Greinke (6)
3B – Nolan Arenado (7)
--The Hall of Fame announced its Modern Baseball Era Ballot (1970-1987), to be voted on by the Era Committee on December 8, 75% of the ballots cast being required.
Dwight Evans, Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Marvin Miller, Thurman Munson, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Ted Simmons, Lou Whitaker.
Sorry, only Marvin Miller deserves to be selected from this group (having reexamined each case), and it’s been a travesty he hasn’t been as yet.
--The Mets introduced Carlos Beltran to the press and the fan base Monday, and GM Brodie Van Wagenen stressed he wanted a calm clubhouse.
“It was important for all of us in the ownership group and the baseball operations department to feel like we could exhale when we walked into the manager’s office,” Van Wagenen said. “We didn’t want to inhale in anticipation of conversations.
“Instead, we wanted to feel comfortable, we wanted to feel welcome and we wanted to feel in partnership with the manager. We can trust Carlos, and that goes a long way.”
This was viewed as a shot at Joe Girardi, who the Mets passed over, while you can see that Brodie and his management team will be meddling more than ever, but if anyone can put up with it, it’s probably Beltran.
“When you’re a manger, literally, your GM has to be your best friend,” Carlos said.
As I noted last time, I’ve warmed to the pick, but it’s all about wins and losses come April. I do think it’s a huge positive to have a guy who only recently retired, 2017, now just 42, and a potential Hall of Famer (his record is better than any of the above on the Modern Baseball Era Ballot). The players will listen to him.
But Beltran obviously needs a good bench coach and it’s intriguing that he wants former Mets manager Terry Collins. I don’t see why Collins at his age, 70, would want to go back to the grind of a major league season, but he just needs to do the job for a year to put Beltran on the right track. [It now seems the Mets are looking at Jerry Narron.]
Separately, the Mets extended a qualifying offer to starter Zack Wheeler, one-year, $17.8 million. Wheeler will test the free agent waters, but the Mets have said they’ll be one of those attempting to sign him long term.
--The Braves made a qualifying offer to free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson, while re-signing outfielder Nick Markakis and catcher Tyler Flowers to $4 million, one-year contracts after declining their team options. Smart.
Meanwhile, Julio Teheran is an intriguing free agent now that the Braves declined to pick up his option. The guy has seven straight seasons of 30+ starts, turns 29 in January, and has a career 3.67 ERA. As in he’s the perfect No. 3 or 4 on most teams. I hope my Mets are thinking of him.
--And another intriguing free agent is now former Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius, the team deciding not to extend him a $17.8 million qualifying offer, making him a free agent, though Gregorius could work out a new deal to stay in Gotham.
After a terrific 2016-18, 20+ homers each season, Gregorius was limited to 82 games after undergoing Tommy John surgery and while his power numbers were great for just 324 ABs, 16 HR, 61 RBI, his average dropped to .238, his OBP a sickly .276.
It’s expected the Yanks would move Gleyber Torres from second to short, with D.J. LeMahieu playing second, if they don’t re-sign Didi.
--J.D. Martinez did a smart thing. He did not opt out of his contract with the Red Sox and by remaining can earn $62.5 million over the next three years. He has another opt-out after the 2020 season, but the 32-year-old, as productive as he’s been (he leads the A.L. in home runs the last three years with 124, and is second in RBIs with 339, with an OPS at 1.007 over that span), was not getting more than $20 million per for three years elsewhere.
--I said Knicks coach David Fizdale wouldn’t make it to midseason, and it might be sooner than that. After I posted Sunday, the Knicks were blown out at the Garden by 1-5 Sacramento, 113-92, in a pathetic performance, with the first “FIRE FIZDALE” chants echoing from the rafters.
Mike Vaccaro / New York Post
“ ‘We had nothing,’ said Fizdale... ‘For three quarters we were stuck in the mud.’
“That, in truth, would’ve been a better option than sitting through the rest of this deplorable basketball game – Kings 113, Knicks 92. The awkward silences were filled with angry screeds of freelance venom. The Kings’ relentless assault was met with boos, and, later, worse, indifference.
“See, this was really the first cold-water-to-the-face day of the Knicks’ season. You can tell yourself a thousand times a day that they aren’t any good, and they had mostly honored that cynicism across the first six games, losing five.
“But in all of them, until now, there were scraps of hope scattered across the mud. There was Friday night in Boston, feisty game, nice comeback, a little genuine heartbreak when Jayson Tatum knocked down a shot late for the Celtics.
“Oh yes: You can talk yourself into delusion, too.
“And then along comes a stinker like this, a game where the fans should be given nose plugs at the door, or small bottles of Glade. You knew you’d get a couple of these this year, because the Knicks aren’t a very good team. But neither are the Kings. This was bad. This was very bad....
“Besides, there’s so much more to weep about. In a cranky New York autumn, with so many sporting skells hearing the business end of a city’s displeasure, Fizdale had his name dropped on the same griddle where Adam Gase is presently being fricasseed. It was bound to happen sometime. A November no-show against a team stuck in the same low-rent district where the Knicks currently reside?
“That’s as good a place to start as any.”
--I have to admit I was surprised Atlanta Hawks big man John Collins, the former Demon Deacon, was suspended without pay for 25 games for violating the league’s drug policy, Collins having tested positive for Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide-2 (GHRP-2), the league said. Collins is appealing the suspension, but issued the now staple apology to teammates, fans, the community, Russia, and Turkey.
What cracks me up is when all these guys now say, “I have always been incredibly careful about what I put in my body, but I took a supplement, which, unbeknownst to me, had been contaminated with an illegal component.”
“But I thought it was fish oil, Officer.”
Collins is the second big star to receive a 25-game suspension for a drug violation this season, the other being Phoenix center Deandre Ayton.
But the Suns are off to a surprising 5-2 start behind budding superstar Devin Booker.
--Uh oh...LeBron James isn’t as washed up as some of us thought. Last night he had his third consecutive triple-double, 30 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds, the first Laker to do so since Magic Johnson in 1987.
The Lakers are off to a 6-1 start.
--And I have to note a game Sunday night in Miami, the Heat defeating the Rockets 129-100. For Houston, Russell Westbrook was a career worst -46 plus/minus, his previous worst being -36. [This has become my favorite stat, as it’s the most telling about a player’s impact while on the court.]
And this game marked the NBA debut for Chris Clemons, the third-leading scorer in NCAA Division I history with Campbell, who was undrafted last spring but made the Rockets. He had 16 points in 22 points in the losing effort.
--I was reminded last night how little I care about college hoops before end of November, as I watched 4 Duke beat 3 Kansas 68-66, the Jayhawks with 28 turnovers, while No. 2 Kentucky defeated 1 Michigan State 69-62, as John Calipari’s latest freshman star, Tyrese Maxey, scored 26 in a most impressive debut.
So much for the Spartans’ first-ever preseason No. 1 AP ranking.
But these results are meaningless...and won’t have any impact on seeding in the tournament next March.
--Meanwhile, Wake Forest starts its season today at Boston College and this promises to be another awful campaign on the hardwood for the Deacs.
Reminder...the Danny Manning era at Wake.
2014-15...13-19, 5-13 ACC
And he’s still in Winston-Salem, like a very bad dream....
--Not for nothing, but as ESPN.com’s Bob Haig put it, “PGA Tour brass in Florida could not have asked for much more from the tour’s foray to Asia, even if most of the heavy lifting for these events occurred overnight for American viewers.”
Think about it. The three winners were Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy.
It’s just too bad more weren’t able to watch it, given not just the time difference, but also the competing MLB Playoffs, as well as the NFL and College Football on those weekends.
--I was watching football Sunday and lost track of the parallel PGA Tour event held opposite the WGC tournament in Shanghai and Brendon Todd, a 34-year-old former PGA Tour winner, who had sunk to No. 2,006 in the Official World Golf Rankings at the start of the year, won his second event at the Bermuda Championship at terrific Port Royal Golf Course.
This is a guy who a year ago was ready to quit the game. So he credits reading a book on the website of former Tour pro-turned-instructor Bradley Hughes and phoned Hughes for a lesson.
The two clicked and Todd regained his card at the Korn Ferry Tour Finals this year, though he missed his first four cuts in the 2019-20 wraparound season, before a T-28 in Houston and now this.
I do have to say I have fond memories of Port Royal. I’ve been to Bermuda four times, absolutely love the place (though it is super expensive), but one year, way back in 1983, I went there by myself for six days at the next door Pompano Beach Club just to chill and play golf.
Port Royal is literally a one-hole walk from Pompano, and so I was sitting by myself at dinner the first night in this great restaurant at the hotel, when these two guys from Kentucky (I remember one of them was called “Mims”) invited me to their table.
It turns out the two were on a buddy golf trip, getting away from their wives, they adopted me, we played all of our golf together and had a blast. Many an adult beverage was consumed.
But when you look up Pompano Beach Club, just understand it’s much further from Hamilton than it appears on a map, so if you want a lot of night life, you might want to stay in Hamilton. [Which means you have a long drive to Port Royal!]
So that’s my commercial for the Bermuda Department of Tourism.
--The Champions Tour completed its second event of the Charles Schwab Cup playoffs on Sunday in Thousand Oaks, Calif., the final round of the Invesco QQQ Championship, and Colin Montgomerie won it with a par on the first hole of a playoff after Bernhard Langer took four strokes to get out of a greenside bunker. For Montgomerie, now 56, it was his seventh win on the 50-and-over circuit. The 62-year-old Langer has 40 senior victories.
But as to the bunker, Langer said, “It was a downhill lie with a big lip in front. It’s hell down there. You just can’t go down there. That bunker’s built very poorly.”
The top 36 in the standings now advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship next week in Phoenix. The top four in the points standings, Scott McCarron, Jerry Kelly, Langer, and Montgomerie, will be in a shootout.
65-year-old Jay Haas (Go Deacs!) made the final field, as did 60-year-old Fred Couples.
--We had a shocker Monday when it was announced that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IndyCar Series were sold to Penske Entertainment Corp., a subsidiary of Penske Corp., which is owned by billionaire Roger Penske, a move that relinquishes control of the iconic speedway from the Hulman family after 74 years.
As opposed to NASCAR, the IndyCar Series has seen improved television ratings and increased interest. Penske is the winningest team owner in Indianapolis 500 history with 18 victories, including Simon Pagenaud’s win in May.
Rival team owners are unanimous is praising the move, with Chip Ganassi saying “the place is going to be run like a business now.” Michael Andretti called it “positive news” for the series and the speedway.
Bobby Rahal called Penske the “perfect custodian” for Indy.
But Penske is 82. Keep Roger alive...Keep Roger alive....
--Kevin Harvick won Sunday’s NASCAR playoff event at Texas Motor Speedway (4th this year, 49th of his career) and punched his ticket into the final four for the NASCAR Cup title in two weeks at Homestead, Fla. The week before Martin Truex Jr. clinched his spot in the finale.
So we have six drivers fighting for the final two spots when they race next weekend in Phoenix. At least one driver will get in on points.
Defending Cup champion Joey Logano is in fourth in points, and basically it’s about the four behind him winning it that would potentially end his season before the finale. Kyle Busch is third in the standings.
So we have Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, Danny Hamlin and Chase Elliott needing to win this Sunday.
Meanwhile, seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson has gone a career-long 93 races without winning.
--Time to pour some Formula 1 on you. Sunday, in Austin, Texas, Lewis Hamilton clinched his sixth F1 title with a second place finish in the U.S. Grand Prix, placing him one behind the great Michael Schumacher. It was also British driver Hamilton’s 83rd career win, just behind Schumacher’s record 91, both of Schumacher’s records once thought unbreakable.
Hamilton has dominated the sport, winning five of his six titles the last six years, after his maiden championship in 2008.
When asked Sunday about his motivation to match Schumacher’s seven titles, Hamilton said: “It’s all about how you position your thought process. I’ve always said to you that reaching Michael’s was never a target for me. I’m not really one that really thinks of records and those sorts of things.
“I definitely had thought that getting anywhere near Michael was just so far-fetched and I remember having my one (championship) for a long period of time, then getting a second one. It was so far away and now yet it seems so close yet it is so far away that I still can’t really even comprehend.”
Hamilton, by the way, has won one in every three races (33.5%) he has participated in in his career (83 wins from 248 GPs started). Of all drivers who have taken part in at least 50 grand prix, only Juan Manuel Fangio (with almost one in two – 47%) and Jim Clark (35%) are better.
[We bow our heads at the mention of the great Clark, who was killed at age 32 at Hockenheimring in West Germany in 1968. This guy was so cool. In 1963, in winning the F1 championship, Clark won seven of the ten races.]
--Men’s Division I Soccer Rankings / Coaches Poll (thru Nov. 4)
1. Washington (23)
2. Clemson (1)
3. Georgetown (2)
4. Virginia (1)
7. Wake Forest
8. St. John’s
10. Missouri State
--Bob Hohler of the Boston Globe recently had an expose on a crisis in scholastic sports; no one wants to referee!
“Mary Fitzgerald’s distinguished career as a Massachusetts high school soccer official abruptly ended after a night game last year when a player’s enraged father pursued her to her car. She vividly recalls the parent spewing expletives, falsely labeling her a lesbian, and gesturing so menacingly that she feared for her safety.
“In ‘a fight or flight’ moment, Fitzgerald said, she cursed back and looked around for support. All she remembers seeing were adults watching silently.
“Fitzgerald said she was so distressed by the experience that she quit officiating high school soccer, a job she loved.
“Now she is the face of a burgeoning national problem – and epidemic, according to the National Federal of State High School Associations, which represents all 50 state interscholastic organizations. Unruly adults, mostly parents, so often create hostile environments at school sports contests that many game officials are walking away from the job, contributing to a national shortage.
“ ‘I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve never seen it any worse,’ said Theresia (sic) Wynns, the national federation’s director of sports and officials, who has been refereeing high school contests in Indiana since the 1970s.”
“Longtime game officials trace the problem to the coarsening of public discourse, and a culture that increasingly tolerates cursing in public settings and makes sport of character attacks.
“ ‘There are other reasons why officials are quitting, but there’s one consistent theme: a total breakdown of respect,’ said Bill Stewart III, a third-generation referee who serves on the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association’s game officials committee.
“ ‘I hate to see sports ruined like this,’ he said.”
--In Champions League play Tuesday, Liverpool beat KFC Genk 2-1, while Chelsea pulled out a thrilling 4-4 draw against Ajax, the Blues down 4-1 late in the second half before a fierce rally.
--Crain’s New York Business had a piece on Mitch Modell, CEO of the sporting goods stores that bear his family name, and the bet Mitch made on the World Series.
His business put in a seven-figure order with New Era for Washington Nationals World Series Championship gear right after the team tied the Fall Classic on Tuesday.
“If, God forbid, the Nationals lost, there would have been containers of merchandise going to Third World countries – we basically have to burn it,” said Modell, recalling the late rally that gave the Nats their first championship. “I was on the chair with my boys, and in the seventh inning we’re having a heart attack.”
Most of Modell’s 149 stores are on the East Coast, so it’s not like if the Astros won there would be a run on the gear, but Modell expects the Nationals’ gear to have been 2/3s sold by Nov. 1. He said it was a mixture of pent-up demand and the fervor of legions of newly-minted fans.
“Our customers expect us to have merchandise immediately after the game,” Modell said. “You can only have the first time once, and when it happens, people want to feel part of the glory.”
But with 105 of his 149 stores in the New York area, Modell admits had the Yankees won it would have been 15 times what they’ll do with Washington. He’s hoping, though, that the Mets or Jets would win in the years ahead, because “it could be crazy.”
Well, maybe the Mets in the next few years. The Jets? Heck, they should be relegated.
--So we have the movie “Midway” coming out, and the World War One flick at Christmas I wrote of the other day, “1917,” and now I’m reading in the current issue of Army Times that Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks are at it again. The duo that brought us “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific” are producing a new series, “Masters of the Air,” that will run on the new streaming service, Apple TV Plus.
The series is based on Donald L. Miller’s book of the same name, with the show following American bomber pilots of the U.S. Eighth Air Force who risked flying a 25,000 feet in freezing air to bring the fight to Hitler’s doorstep.
It is expected to be about eight episodes, with a production cost that could exceed $200 million. No word on timing.
--From the AP: “An attempt to tree a bear in North Carolina has ended with a hunter injured and the bear dead.
“North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission Capt. Andrew Helton told the Asheville Citizen Times the hunter rolled off a slight cliff with the 350-pound bear on Saturday.
“Helton says the hunter was with another man who had shot the bear while it was in a tree near Mount Sterling in Haywood County. The bear fell out of the tree and began biting the hunter. The bear walked away after the two tumbled off the cliff.”
Officials found a dead bear later. The hunter was treated in Asheville. I sent Johnny Mac to interview some bears in his neighborhood, J. Mac hailing from these parts, but they haven’t been cooperating.
Top 3 songs for the week 11/8/80: #1 “Woman In Love” (Barbra Streisand) #2 “Lady” (Kenny Rogers) #3 “He’s So Shy” (Pointer Sisters)...and...#4 “Another One Bites The Dust” (Queen) #5 “The Wanderer” (Donna Summer) #6 “I’m Coming Out” (Diana Ross) #7 “Never Knew Love Like This Before” (Stephanie Mills) #8 “Master Blaster (Jammin’)” (Stevie Wonder) #9 “Real Love” (The Doobie Brothers) #10 “Upside Down” (Diana Ross...god, what an awful week, ‘D’...gotta return to the 60s....)
NFL Quiz Answer: Six with at least 11 interceptions in a season since 1970.
Lester Hayes, 13, 1980, OAK
Mike Reinfeldt, 12, 1979, HOU
Emmitt Thomas, 12, 1974, KAN
Mel Blount, 11, 1975, PIT
Bill Bradley, 11, 1971, PHI
Everson Walls, 11, 1981, DAL
Just interesting how with the amount of passing in football the last 20 years in particular that no one has picked off 11. Plus we didn’t go to a 16-game schedule until 1978, so Thomas, Blount and Bradley had their success in a 14-game schedule.
And Night Train Lane had 14 in just 12 games!
By the way, where did Night Train go to school? Try Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff. I’ve been to Scottsbluff a bunch of times, and the actual bluff, which was part of the original Oregon Trail. Just a spectacular site.
But I wish I knew about Night Train as I would have stopped off at the school to ask some of the students, “Do you know who went here? Just one of the greatest players in the history of the NFL.”
Night Train had 68 interceptions overall in his career, fourth all-time, Paul Krause first at 81.
Next Bar Chat, Monday.