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Stunner in College Basketball
[Posted Wed. a.m.]
Boxing Quiz: I have an item below on the greatness of Deontay Wilder, and in looking at some boxing history, it's an excuse for a quiz. Muhammad Ali was 56-5 in his career. Name the five he lost to. Answer below.
CFP…the new rankings…
1. Ohio State 11-0…flip from LSU, but not important
2. LSU 11-0
3. Clemson 11-0
4. Georgia 10-1
5. Alabama 10-1
6. Utah 10-1
7. Oklahoma 10-1
8. Minnesota 10-1
9. Baylor 10-1…No. 11 AP
10. Penn State 9-2
11. Florida 9-2
12. Wisconsin 9-2
13. Michigan 9-2
14. Oregon 9-2
15. Auburn 8-3
16. Notre Dame 9-2
18. Memphis 10-1*
19. Cincinnati 10-1*
20. Boise State 10-1*
22. USC 8-4
24. Virginia Tech 8-3
25. Appalachian State 10-1*
*Group of Five, New Year’s Six bid contestants.
--Forget all the discussion surrounding the above if you were watching ESPN’s CFP show Tuesday, as I did. Just play the games and it will work itself out.
So we have a huge weekend coming up.
Friday, it's Cincinnati at Memphis for the inside track at the Group of Five bid, and a biggie in the ACC, Virginia Tech at Virginia, for the right to play Clemson in the ACC championship game and a probable Orange Bowl berth.
Saturday, we have Ohio State at Michigan; Alabama at Auburn; and Wisconsin at Minnesota, all with major CFP and New Year's Six implications.
And LSU can't get caught looking ahead to the SEC title game as it hosts a solid Texas A&M squad.
Enjoy what should be a great weekend, and we’ll have another conversation on the other end.
--Rutgers fans are stupefied that the administration didn't work out a deal with former (successful) coach Greg Schiano for his return. Former Rutgers players are speaking out as well, including Rutgers icon Eric LeGrand.
Former quarterback Ryan Hart, who ranks third in Rutgers football history in passing yards and touchdowns, released a statement:
"After learning Greg Schiano is no longer a candidate for the Rutgers Head Coaching position, former players wanted to express our profound disappointment and frustration. The Birthplace of College Football is Rutgers University. That title holds significant weight and meaning. For every player that has put on the scarlet and white, they know what it means. You are part of a legacy, you are part of a family. It's bigger than one man, one name, one team. With that being said, as players...current or former, we rely, follow, and trust our leaders. Someone who can get the very best out of us. A person that molds us into men and inspires us to be better people. That leader for a lot of us was Greg Schiano. He had a vision and we as players bought in. We felt a bond with him that positively affected all of our lives. Greg brought joy, honor, and respect to this university and this state.... We know without question that Coach wanted to come back home to Rutgers. As former players, we believe it's time to bring him back...."
LeGrand, who was paralyzed while playing for Rutgers in 2010, has also been vocal in his support for Schiano, LeGrand saying the coach is like a father to him and, last Saturday, he implored Rutgers to hire Schiano at the end of a speech at halftime. The game honored LeGrand and his advocacy for spinal cord research.
"To the Board of Governors, you guys know what you need to do," LeGrand said. "So let's make this happen."
When it didn't happen, Monday, LeGrand tweeted: "Yesterday's actions leave me Disappointed and Embarrassed. I try to represent Rutgers with the most respect I possibly can. To see how this situation was handled makes me sick..."
Steve Politi / NJ.com (Star-Ledger)
"For decades now, the tweed-jacket detractors at Rutgers have demanded that their university give up on big-time athletics. Go back to playing Lafayette and Lehigh, they'd rail after every blowout. Stop wasting money on a losing football program that is clearly out of its league. Just give up already.
"Turns out, all these years later, they were right. Rutgers doesn't belong in the Big Ten. It doesn't have the stomach for big-time athletics. It is a small-thinking, decrepit corner grocery store run by incompetent middle managers trying to compete in a world with Walmart and Target, doomed to fail before it even opens its doors to customers.
"That's the reality in the wake of the stunning news that it couldn't reach an agreement with Greg Schiano to resuscitate its embarrassing football team. Patrick Hobbs [AD] and Greg Brown [leader of the Board of Governors], the Abbott and Costello team running this search, had two months to hammer out a deal with the one candidate who could light a fire under this fan base and finally stop the parade of New Jersey's best recruits from leaving the state.
"Any hope of that ended on Sunday afternoon when, after two weeks of haggling behind the scenes, Schiano withdrew his name from consideration. It is telling that, within minutes, a national website had a story with a 'source' doubting whether or not the 53-year-old New Jersey native was 'all-in' for the job.
" 'You can't take this position with 'the glass is half empty' culture. Rutgers fans deserve more,' that source told Brett McMurphy of The Stadium.
"Can you imagine? After four years of watching a football team that can barely tie its laces properly, someone in the athletic department - and we can all take a wild stab at who that someone is - would have the audacity to suggest that Schiano is the one bringing the glass-half-empty view? The glass isn't half empty, folks. It's shattered on the ground, scarring the feet of anyone who walks near it."
Politi reports that when the two sides met on Nov. 5, Schiano stunned people in the room with a detailed scouting report of the current roster and "a list of more than 100 potential targets in the transfer portal to jumpstart the rebuild. He had already started recruiting, behind the scenes, to salvage a 2020 class that looks like a hopeless cause now.
"Now Rutgers is going to try to smear him..."
Schiano didn't ask for the moon. It was to be an eight-year, $32-million deal, which would have placed him in the bottom quarter of conference salaries. Schiano just wanted assurances he would have the facilities, the infrastructure and the resources he needed to win.
--Finally, I missed writing about the Washington State-Oregon State game last Saturday, the Cougars prevailing 54-53 over the Beavers, Washington State becoming bowl eligible at 6-5, the Beavers falling to 5-6.
But the Cougars' Anthony Gordon, who I wrote of the other week as part of a quiz, threw for 606 yards and six touchdowns, becoming the Pac-12 all-time season leader in both categories with 4,920 yards and 45 TD passes.
Ergo, since Washington State is now going to play two more times (first against rival Washington, then their bowl contest where they will be an attractive team to have for a lesser bowl), Gordon should surpass the 5,500-yard mark and become just the fifth QB in FCS history to do so (Case Keenum having done it twice).
--Wow, the television ratings for Monday Night Football, Ravens vs. Rams, were the best since 2007. Pretty freakin' good, for a sport that some of us have claimed is going through a slow death. I've thought a lot about the game recently. What hooks us are all the fascinating individual stories, both good and bad. There's certainly a lot for the fan base to talk about each week.
But every NFL fan has now seen The Lamar Jackson Show on the big stage, in this case the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the superstar with a performance for the ages, given the Rams aren't totally chumps, though they are now 6-5 and in desperation mode for the playoffs from here on.
Jackson was the first to throw five touchdown passes on MNF, 15/20, 169, 5-0, 139.4. Plus he had another 95 on the ground. Jackson is the No. 9 rusher in the NFL with 876 yards and a 7.1 average. And he has a TD-INT ratio of 24-5. So much for Russell Wilson being the MVP.
I mean Jackson has pitched two perfect games, so to speak, this season...158.3 passer rating. And, most importantly, Baltimore is 9-2. NFL fans are salivating over the prospects for a Ravens-Patriots AFC final...save for fans in places like Kansas City, Houston and Buffalo.
But Baltimore is more than Jackson and the dynamic offense. The defense is fifth in football in fewest points allowed, holding the Rams to just 221 yards of offense Monday, quarterback Jared Goff, who L.A. has invested so heavily in, in the midst of a miserable season, 11 touchdown passes, 12 interceptions, a putrid 80.3 PR; this after terrific campaigns in 2017 and 2018. Rams fans have to be, err, something to do with bricks.
--Meanwhile....after I posted last time, the 49ers (10-1) manhandled Aaron Rodgers and the Packers (8-3), 37-8, Rodgers with a nightmare of a night, needing to throw it 33 times (completing 20) for a mere 104 yards, the two longest pass plays going for 14 and 15 yards; Rodgers sacked five times and constantly under pressure, the San Francisco defense with 12 tackles for a loss overall.
Jimmy Garoppolo was under control the whole way for the Niners, 14/20, 253, 2-0, 145.8.
--The surging Jets travel to Cincinnati to face the 0-11 Bengals this Sunday and Cincy has decided it would go back to veteran Andy Dalton at quarterback, replacing rookie Ryan Finley, who started the previous three games. Dalton, who had been the starter since the Bengals drafted him in 2011, has nine touchdown passes and eight interceptions in the eight games he's started this year.
--But while Jets fans are hopeful that they might be playing relevant football in another 4-6 weeks, Giants fans are despondent. At 2-9, having lost seven straight, and with rookie QB Daniel Jones showing glimpses, but not enough to win, there is a lot of talk that coach Pat Shurmur could be history.
And one name cropping up is Dallas head coach Jason Garrett, who has Giants connections, having suited up in 2000 at quarterback, while remaining on the roster for a while after.
Dallas owner Jerry Jones may be ready to jettison Garrett himself, he being rather vocal after the Cowboys' 13-9 loss at New England Sunday.
Every football fan knows Dallas has a lot of talent, and for years, Garrett has hardly done a fantastic job in getting the most out of it...the Cowboys reaching the playoffs in just three prior seasons in what is his tenth year.
Jones said, "We all saw why we didn't win it," he told reporters after. "It was pretty glaring as to why we couldn't get it done." It didn't help his mood that the only touchdown either team had was the result of the Patriots’ blocking a Cowboys punt. Jones said: "To me special teams is 100% coaching. It's 100% coaching."
Jones added: "With the makeup of this team, I shouldn't be this frustrated. I don't think there's a game where a coaching staff couldn't do better."
[It didn't help the Cowboys were screwed on two 'phantom' tripping calls in the game, one at a critical point late that resulted in a first down being called back, Dallas eventually forced to punt.]
Garrett reportedly wants to coach the Giants if he is fired by the Cowboys, assuming Shurmur is canned. This would be stupid.
--Pittsburgh is replacing Mason Rudolph at quarterback with undrafted rookie Devlin Hodges. “The decision is clear for us,” said coach Mike Tomlin, while noting the commitment was only for the upcoming game, a rematch against the Browns. Probably a smart move on a number of levels.
--New AP Poll (records through Sunday)
1. Duke (53) 6-0
2. Louisville (7) 6-0
3. Michigan State (4) 3-1
4. Kansas 3-1
5. Maryland 5-0
6. North Carolina 4-0
7. Virginia (1) 6-0
8. Gonzaga 6-0
9. Kentucky 5-1
10. Ohio State 5-0
13. Seton Hall 4-1
21. Colorado 4-0
--So then on Monday we had a rather big upset...Virginia Tech (6-0) taking out 3 Michigan State (now 3-2), 71-66, at the Maui Invitational.
In another significant game, Richmond stayed undefeated (5-0), 62-52 over Wisconsin (4-2).
But then on Tuesday, totally out of nowhere, Stephen F. Austin pulled off an upset for the ages, 85-83 in overtime at No. 1 Duke. Empirically, it was the biggest upset in 15 years, the Lumberjacks being 27 ½-point underdogs.
Nathan Bain, from the Bahamas, hit a layup at the overtime buzzer. Duke had the ball in the closing seconds, but point guard Tre Jones missed a jumper with about 15 seconds left and Wendell Moore rebounded it. But with the Lumberjacks’ high-pressure defense hounding Duke, the ball kicked away from Matthew Hurt in a scramble with about 3 seconds left – directly to Bain, who then went the length of the floor for the buzzer-beating shot.
Stephen F. Austin became the first non-ACC team to beat Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in nearly 20 years (2000) and the second unranked team to upset a No.1-ranked team on its home floor in two weeks after Evansville went into Rupp Arena and beat Kentucky 67-64.
I also can’t help but add for the casual sports fan that I wasn’t totally surprised, as the Lumberjacks have had a solid program for years…five NCAA tournaments since 2008-09, and each time as a 12- or 14-seed, though they are coming off a poor 2018-19. What surprised me was that they were that big an underdog.
In other games Tuesday, our two big winners Monday, Richmond and Virginia Tech, lost. The Spiders lost to 18 Auburn 79-65 at the Legends Classic at the Barclays Center, while the Hokies, no doubt having had too much fun in Maui after beating Michigan State the day before, lost to Dayton (5-0) 89-62.
Michigan State rebounded to beat Georgia 93-85.
And my ‘Sleeper Pick to Make Noise Come March,’ Colorado, was a 71-67 winner over Clemson at the MGM Resorts Main Event tournament in Vegas.
--Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo must have heard all my talk about Dallas' Luka Doncic as the 'Second Coming.' 'Hey, what about me?!' he mused...and off he went for 50 points Monday night in the Bucks' 122-118 victory over the Jazz, the victory Milwaukee's eighth in a row, its longest streak since 2002.
Further, Giannis has had 17 consecutive double-doubles for the 14-3 Bucks, averaging 31.1 points, 13.9 rebounds, and 6.4 assists on the season.
--Doncic went into Tuesday's game against the Clippers at 30.6 points, 10.1 rebounds, 9.8 assists, and promptly laid an egg, 22 points on 4-of-14 from the field, seven turnovers, the Mavs losing at home to the Clippers 114-99, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George combining for 54.
--In a 101-96 loss to the Raptors, the 76ers' Joel Embiid went scoreless for the first time in his career, 0-for-11 from the field. Eegads! Embiid said after, "I would have never thought I would be here talking about zero points in an NBA game, but it is what it is."
Mark R. wrote to say Philly fans are suddenly on suicide watch with this performance, on top of the obvious situation at quarterback for the Eagles. Carson "Senor Wences" is not a budding superstar. He teased the fan base in 2017. Instead, they're realizing, post-ACL, he's not the same guy. He's just another schmo.
--Kind of funny how things work. The Brooklyn Nets have won four-in-a-row to get to 9-8 after a 108-106 win over Cleveland Monday; all without Kyrie Irving. Jarrett Allen, the promising center, had a rather superb 22 points, 21 rebounds against the Cavs.
NCAA Men's Division I Soccer Championship
After the first week, no big upsets, the top four seeds are in the round of 16...
1. Virginia, 2. Clemson, 3. Georgetown, 4. Wake Forest
The Deacs had a surprisingly easy time with defending champion Maryland on Sunday, 3-0, and next face Michigan.
Tuesday, Jose Mourinho made his debut as Tottenham’s coach in the CL competition, but the Spurs, playing at home, immediately fell behind 2-0 to Olympiakos. Then Tottenham got their act together and scored the next four, two by Harry Kane, the Spurs winning 4-2 and advancing to the knockout phase.
Manchester City is also moving on, drawing yesterday, 1-1, with Shakhter Donetsk.
Real Madrid and PSG played to an exciting 2-2 draw, both of them moving on in the competition as well.
Liverpool and Chelsea are in action today.
--So the other day I mentioned that Deontay Wilder knocked out Luis Ortiz with a thunderous right hand in the seventh round, after trailing badly on points the first six. So I just watched a clip of it and there's good reason for boxing experts to now call Wilder the greatest puncher in the history of the sport, at least the heavyweight division.
In fact, Wilder, among all heavyweights, has the highest knockout percentage of all time...95%, 41 of his 43 bouts (42 wins) by KO, which is truly amazing.
BBC Sport boxing correspondent Mike Costello: "Wherever you may rank Wilder in the history of knockout artists, we are living in the era of one of the great all-time punchers in this sport.
"He had barely landed a clean punch (the first six rounds) and then that right hand. To quote what the referee, Mills Lane, once said about Mike Tyson: 'It had goodnight written all over it.'"
Now as Mr. Costello points out: "Edwin Valero*, a Venezuelan lightweight, may argue otherwise given he had 27 knockouts from 27 bouts - but if we just look at heavyweights, Wilder's knockout rate is 95%....Wilder is out on his own. Yes, you can argue about the opposition, but he continues to find the chin."
*Valero committed suicide in jail, 2010, after being arrested for allegedly stabbing his wife. Yikes.
Knockout percentage among heavyweights all time.
Anthony Joshua 91%
Rocky Marciano 88%
Vitali Klitschko 87%
George Foreman 84%
Mike Tyson was at 76%.
--Jack Nicklaus is very frustrated that the USGA and R&A haven't acted on what clearly is needed for the good of the game of golf, scale the ball back...10%, according to Nicklaus. The Golden Bear said it would make the game quicker, for starters, which, like with Major League Baseball, is a huge problem these days.
Nicklaus also knows future generations will blow off the sport if rounds just get longer and longer, ostensibly because of looking for lost balls. It's kind of simple to understand. And we aren't even talking about how some 'classic' courses have been taken out of consideration for holding major events because they can't easily be lengthened to accommodate the new distances.
But Jack acknowledges that PGA Tour players and Commissioner Jay Monahan are in the way of any effort to shrink the scale of golf.
"I know Jay Monahan, he likes the game the way it is," Nicklaus said at an event reopening his Great Waters Course at Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia after a renovation. [Lengthened, of course.] "I understand that, because that's what his players are telling him... But the game really needs to shrink a little bit and be a little quicker." [Golfweek]
--Alistair Tait in Golfweek [Nov./Dec. issue] had a piece on the sport's dirty little secret...appearance money, which is still taboo on the PGA Tour, but PGA Tour players can collect it when they travel on other tours. The exact details aren't shared, but the likes of Tait get it from reliable sources affiliated with the European Tour. For example, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson have received a minimum of $1.5 million to appear in events like the Saudi International, and a $1 million fee for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
As with most everything else involving money, Tiger Woods got it all started in terms of the major bucks, playing for a reported $1 million at the 2000 Deutsche Bank-SAP Open in Hamburg, Germany, most likely the first seven-figure appearance fee in golf history. Both Tiger and agent Mark Steinberg didn't talk about it back then. Lee Westwood's winning check that week was less than half Tiger's fee. No one complained, though. As Euro player Paul McGinley said at the time, "Look what (Tiger's) brought to this tournament. There are more spectators, more media interest, more prize money, more world ranking points. Everyone benefits. I think he's worth every penny."
But for all of the complaints among us schleps, perhaps, or tournaments that suffer because star names can choose where to play, as Alistair Tait put it: "It's called capitalism. It's rife in golf. Always has been. Always will be. Tiger just made it more acceptable."
Actually, I’ve never complained about it. I’ve only pointed out, oh, about a hundred times, these guys are independent contractors. No one is paying them NBA contract money for multiple years. They have to earn it…to channel the late, great John Houseman.
--Russian sports officials are speaking out against a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) committee's recommendations that the country be banned from the Olympics for four years, saying this was overly harsh and would hurt sport there.
The recommendations, published Monday, mean Russia could miss out on the next two Olympic Games and world championships in various sports over that time.
WADA's independent Compliance Review Committee recommended the ban after Moscow provided WADA with laboratory data that was found to have been doctored.
Russian officials claim they've made progress in fighting doping. The country was banned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from last year's Pyeongchang Winter Games, punished for alleged state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. But some Russian athletes without a history of doping were allowed to compete at Pyeongchang as "neutrals." And under the recommendation by WADA, the IOC said in a statement it would continue to allow Russian athletes to compete in that fashion.
Russia (St. Petersburg) is slated to host four matches in the 2020 European championships in soccer next year, as well as a Champions League final in 2021, but these probably won't be impacted because UEFA is not on WADA's list of signatories.
--As Johnny Mac noted, on your list of how you'd like to 'check out,' the following wouldn't be high on the list.
From the AP/CNN:
"Authorities say feral hogs attacked and killed a woman outside a Southeast Texas (Anahuac) home where she worked as a caretaker."
This is a horrible, and sad, event on so many levels, with Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne saying Monday, "In my 35 years, I will tell you, it's one of the worst things I've ever seen."
Well, you've heard the stories about feral hogs in places like Texas and Louisiana, and elsewhere. I'm not going to attempt to crack a joke about this. Shark attacks are one thing. Or a tiger targeting those taking its land away. But this blows. Feral pigs need to die.
--We note the passing of actor Michael J. Pollard, who earned an Academy Award nomination for his role as the getaway driver in the 1967 film "Bonnie and Clyde." Pollard was 80.
Pollard was forever known for his singular role as C.W. Moss in the film starring Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty; simply one of the all-time classics. I’ve jotted it down as a potential New Year’s Eve flick.
Top 3 songs for the week 11/25/67: #1 "Incense And Peppermints" (Strawberry Alarm Clock) #2 "To Sir With Love" (Lulu) #3 "The Rain, The Park & Other Things" (The Cowsills)... and...#4 "Soul Man" (Sam & Dave) #5 "Daydream Believer" (The Monkees) #6 "Please Love Me Forever" (Bobby Vinton) #7 "I Say A Little Prayer" (Dionne Warwick) #8 "It Must Be Him" (Vicki Carr) #9 "I Can See For Miles" (The Who) #10 "Expressway To Your Heart" (Soul Survivors...awesome week, 'A'...)
Boxing Quiz Answer: The five bouts Muhammad Ali lost were to Joe Frazier (bout No. 32 in Ali's career), Ken Norton (43), Leon Spinks (58), Larry Holmes (60), Trevor Berbick (61...last fight for Ali).
Next Bar Chat, Monday.