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It's Utah vs. Oklahoma (and Baylor)
[Posted Wed. a.m.]
College Football Quiz: 1971 Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan died the other day. He was just 69. In one of the closer Heisman results that year, Sullivan received 355 first-place votes to 295 for whom? [Hint: He was a running back who went on to play for three teams over six seasons in the NFL, not particulary well, before he launched a totally different career.] Answer below.
[Comments written prior to release of latest CFP rankings.]
--So we know what the deal is. If Georgia beats LSU, both will be in, and Utah and Oklahoma (or Baylor) screwed. [I've also said that if Georgia lost like 22-21, their fan base could have reason to bark a bit.]
But as is more likely, if Georgia loses, then it's largely going to be about the eye test in terms of who gets the fourth spot in the CFP...the Utes or the Sooners.
In the Group of Five, New Year's Six Bowl bid (the Cotton Bowl, specifically), there is no question who gets it should Memphis beat Cincinnati for a second week in a row in the AAC championship game.
But if Cincinnati wins, and Boise State decisively handles Hawaii, you have to give it to Boise, right?
--Washington Huskies fans and players are in shock after head coach Chris Petersen suddenly resigned after six successful seasons, going 54-26, six bowl games, three final AP top 15 rankings. Petersen had been a huge success at Boise State prior to this, 92-12.
Over and over again, Petersen turned down big offers while he was at Boise, but when he finally left, he went to the place where he was most comfortable, not where he would have the best chance of winning a national title, or have the most resources.
"I'll be a Husky for life, but now is the right time for me to step away from my head coaching duties and recharge," Petersen said Monday.
He's only 55. He'll be back somewhere, or maybe he'll just accept a cushy broadcasting position for a decade or two. Petersen has a sterling reputation. He'd also make for a good athletic director, without having to deal with the daily grind that college football coaches go through, 24/7, 365 days a year.
You gotta admire the guy. Plus he left the program in good hands, as co-defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake, 42, was named permanent head coach. Fro now, Petersen is going to be an adivser to the athletic department.
--Ole Miss players and recruits are in revolt after the firing of popular coach Matt Luke on Sunday, Luke 15-21 in his three seasons at the school. Some of the Rebels' top recruits are decommitting, five at last count, including four-star recruit, Kentrel Bullock, a top running back prospect.
"It was a very bad idea," Bullock said. "He was a people person. He made people feel loved and wanted there."
--Steve D., Boston College alum, hopes the Eagles hire Al Washington to be the new head coach, replacing the fired Steve Addazio. Washington is currently the linebackers coach at Ohio State. He also played at B.C. at defensive tackle from 2002-2005. [There are all kinds of stories now emerging about Addazio, per the B.C. alum pipeline, that are less than complimentary.]
Steve D. just sent me a 'chalk' report...Al Washington is indeed the favorite.
So now...the new CFP rankings...and of course no big surprises.
1. Ohio State 12-0
2. LSU 12-0
3. Clemson 12-0
4. Georgia 11-1
5. Utah 11-1
6. Oklahoma 11-1
7. Baylor 11-1
8. Wisconsin 10-2
9. Florida 10-2
10. Penn State 10-2
11. Auburn 9-3
12. Alabama 10-2...lowest of CFP era...
13. Oregon 10-2
Group of Five Chase....
17. Memphis 11-1
19. Boise State 11-1
20. Cincinnati 10-2
21. Appalachian State 11-1
Now, just play the games. We can figure it out from here.
--Seattle had a big win Monday night at home against Minnesoat (8-4), the Seahawks now 10-2 with San Francisco, and in position for a first-round playoff bye. What makes this an even bigger deal than normal is that Seattle has won 10 consecutive playoff games at CenturyLink Field dating back to the 2005 posteason.
--Sunday night, the Patriots fell to 10-2, losing to the Texans (8-4) 28-22. Deshaun Watson outplayed Tom Brady, Watson 19/26, 234, 3-0, 140.7, plus he caught a six-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
Brady was subpar, 24/47, 326, 3-1, 85.9, but his receivers dropped the ball, they ran wrong routes, and he was as upset during the game as many have seen him.
I did just see that this has not been a good stretch for him, however. In his last nine games since Week 4, Brady has just 11 touchdown passes against six interceptions, with an 80.3 passer rating.
Meanwhile, New England's fourth kicker of the season, Kai Forbath, made his only field goal, but missed one of two extra-point attempts.
--So the six playoff spots in each conference as of today:
1. Baltimore 10-2...next at Buffalo
2. New England 10-2...Kansas City
3. Houston 8-4...Denver
4. Kansas City 8-4...at New England
5. Buffalo 9-3....Baltimore
6. Pittsburgh 7-5...at Arizona
7. Tennessee 7-5...at Oakland
8. Oakland 6-6
9. Indianapolis 6-6
1. New Orleans 10-2
2. Seattle 10-2
3. Green Bay 9-3
4. Dallas 6-6
5. San Francisco 10-2
6. Minnesota 8-4
7. Los Angeles 7-5
--So much for Nick Foles' honeymoon in Jacksonville. After signing a four-year, $88 million contract with Jacksonville in March, $50.1 million guaranteed, Foles then sat out the beginning of the season with a broken collarbone. Rookie Gardner Minshew, a sixth-round pick, guided the Jaguars to a 4-4 record as a starter, but then Foles returned and has been 0-4, benched at the half of Sunday's 28-11 loss to the Buccaneers.
Foles is due $15.13 million next season and that salary is fully guaranteed. The Jags would face an astronomical $33.87 million cap hit if they were to release him before June 1.
If the team trades him, the Jaguars would eat about $15.6 million, net.
Foles has been awful, and the team, and fan base, has rallied around Minshew and his exciting brand of play. It's going to be interesting to see what the team does now with the guy. It seems like a long time ago since Foles was the Super Bowl LII MVP for Philadelphia.
--Mike Vaccaro / New York Post...on the Giants
"It is still disconcerting when a football stadium looks and sounds the way MetLife Stadium looked and felt Sunday afternoon. It is still a shock to the system when the players wearing blue jerseys are booed when they jog onto the field, when the guys in the yellow helmets are cheered when they convert a third-and-7.
"That is the soundtrack of this building these days, of course, as this endless toothache of a football season grinds toward the finish line. A week ago, MetLife sounded an awful lot like Oakland's Black Hole when the Raiders visited the Jets; somehow, the Jets shook that off and actually seemed to draw a little inspiration from it.
"Not so much this time. The Cheeseheads were in abundance. There were Packers jerseys everywhere. When Aaron Rodgers did Aaron Rodgers things - and he seemed to do that whenever he wanted to all across this 31-13 Packers win - the only way you could tell the games wasn't being played at Lambeau Field was the Giants logo in either end zone.
"Jeez: there was even snow on the ground for most of the game.
" 'When you don't win,' Giants coach Pat Shurmur said, 'you have to expect that.'
"He was talking about a crestfallen fan base, and the vigorous criticism that has more and more been aimed at the men who run the Giants. This was an eighth straight loss for the Giants, and there is no end in sight.
"At some point, someone is going to have to take Shurmur aside and remind him that, for better or worse, nobody is much interested in hearing the way he qualifies and quantifies these losses. That happens every week now.
" 'The score got away from us in the end,' was how he started his postgame remarks, and while that might technically have been true (the Giants were within 17-13 after three quarters) the parts of the game where the score gets away count. It has been a four-quarter game for each of the NFL's first 100 years. Another Giants coach from another time used to say there are no medals for trying; there are also none for playing 45 solid minutes of a 60-minute game.
" 'You get a chance to watch us 20 minutes a day,' Shurmur said of one interrogator, falling back to a handy standby he's used two weeks in a row now, that those of us not on the practice field aren't privy to just how good these guys look in practice. Guess what? A chef can cook a mouth-watering steak in the privacy of his own home; if the ribeye he serves at his restaurant tastes like rat, he's going to have a problem....
"Nothing is easy about the Giants, or about this unending slog of a season. Not the games. Not the excuses. Not the abject surrender of MetLife Stadium to whoever the visiting team is in any given week. None of it."
--Mark Cannizzaro / New York Post
"Shame on the Jets.
"No one associated with the Jets should be immune to harsh criticism over the most ignominious result of the season, an insulting 22-6 loss Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium to a hapless Bengals team that started the day with an 0-11 record and ended it with their rookie head coach Zac Taylor getting a Gatorade bath.
"This was, without argument, the most inexcuable loss of the season for this Jets team, which has lost eight of its 12 games.
"What frauds the Jets turned out to be after they teased us with last week's inspiring 34-3 rout of the Raiders at home....
"Shame on every one of us (myself included) who bought in. [Ed...and moi.]....
"This was one of the most humiliating losses in a Jets history that's littered wtih a lot of them.
"This marked the second time this season the Jets served as an opponent's first win. They lost to the 0-7 Dolphins on the first Sunday of November. Now they've lost to the 0-11 Bengals.
Well, as emerged later, the Jets were the first team in NFL history, which as we all know is now 100 years' worth, to serve as an opponent's first win for two teams starting 0-7.
"On a day when the Jets needed Adam Gase to be at his best, their head coach called the worst offensive game since he was hired, inexplicably refusing to run the ball agianst a Cincinnati defense that entered the game ranked last in the league defending the run, yielding an NFL-high 166.4 rushing yards per game.
"In the first half, Gase called 27 pass palys and only nine runs....
"Gase looks hopelessly seduced by passing the ball and he coaches as if he has little use for running back Le'Veon Bell despite Bell's history of terrific production and the (contract they gave him in the offseason)....
"The Jets ran 69 offensive plays in the game and only three times did Gase call for two consecutive runing plays on a series....
"Tap-dancing after the game, Gase explained, 'That's just how the game was going' when asked why he was so pass-heavy in his calls.
"The game was 'going' that way because that's the way Gase was calling the game."
Heck, I normally don't cite the announcers for a particular game, but I do like the Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta combo that us Jets fans are getting these days. They're just solid, no B.S., no 'reaching' for entertainment value. And Archuletta kept saying from the first minute that he questioned why, when the Jets ran the ball, they ran straight into the D-Line, and never tried to run wide. You could tell how exasperated he was.
So on to Bell, as Jets fans have been aware all season, one of the issues is, why did they sign him if they aren't going to use him ?! In five seasons in Pittsburgh, Bell averaged 26.2 touches per game, 127.3 yards from scrimmage, and after the Jets signed him to a four-year, $52.5 million contract, he has received 19.8 touches this season for just 97.8 yards from scrimmage, including only a 49.1 average on the ground on 3.2 yards per carry.
As in, if you aren't going to use him, trade him this offseason.
--I wrote the following last Chat, after Carolina's dismal loss to Washington, 29-21:
"Trust me...you wouldn't want to be around Panthers owner David Tepper tonight. He's a volatile sort and liable to fire every employee down to the janitors."
Rather prescient...Tepper firing head coach Ron Rivera on Tuesday. Secondary coach Perry Fewell was named interim head coach.
Rivera was 76-63-1 in his nine-year tenure, plus 3-4 postseason. He was a two-time NFL Coach of the Year and took the team to Super Bowl 50, the Panthers losing to the Broncos in that one.
The mega-billionaire Tepper, who used to work literally a mile from me (across from The Mall at Short Hills), said in a statement: "I belive this is the best decision for the long-term success of our team....I will immediately begin the search for the next head coach of the Carolina Panthers."
Tepper added: "Our vision is to find the right mix of old-school discipline and toughness with modern and innovative processes. We will consider a wide range of football executives to complement our current football staff."
Tepper was a Pitt grad, and then picked up his MBA at Carnegie Mellon. He was a minority owner of the Steelers, before buying the Panthers for an NFL-record $2.275 billion. As in, he'll make some outside the box selections, I imagine. This is a very unique guy.
As for Rivera, he immediately enters the conversation for the Giants position, once Pat Shurmur is canned.
--AP Top 25 (records thru Sunday)
Yes, we had a shakeup after a slew of upsets.
1. Louisville (48) 7-0
2. Kansas (3) 6-1
3. Maryland 8-0
4. Michigan (9) 7-0...up 22 spots
5. Virginia (5) 7-0
6. Ohio State 7-0
7. North Carolina 6-1
8. Kentucky 6-1
9. Gonzaga 8-1
10. Duke 7-1...down 9
11. Michgian State 5-2...down 8
12. Arizona 9-0
16. Seton Hall 6-2
20. Colorado 6-0
Louisville is the fourth number one in five weeks*, while Michigan's jump, from the "others receiving votes" category the prior week, matched Kansas (1989) for the biggest jump from being unranked in the history of the poll, which dates to 1949.
*The record for most teams at No. 1 is seven, set in 1983, so we are more than halfway there.
--Well last night, Louisville took on Michigan and the Wolverines hardly looked like the No. 4 team in the land, falling 58-43, both teams miserable from the field. Michigan shot just 15 of 58 from the floor, 25.9%, and 3 of 19 from three.
Louisville wasn't much better; 22-60, 36.7%, 4 of 19 from downtown. It wasn't an easy game to watch.
Meanwhile, Duke rebounded from its historic loss to Stephen F. Austin to beat Michigan State in East Lansing, 87-75. Tre Jones had 20 points and 12 assists, but the star was freshman center Vernon Carey Jr., 26 points and 11 rebounds, Carey having been recruited heavily by Spartans coach Tom Izzo.
--Boy, Georgetown's program is in turmoil, as the school announced Monday that Josh LeBlanc and starting point guard James Akinjo were leaving the program. Akinjo, last season's Big East Freshman of the Year, was not named in an earlier complaint that mentions LeBlanc and Galen Alexander as receiving restraining orders resulting from accusations of harassment and burglary, and freshman Myron Gardner was accused of "sexual harassment and assault," according to one of the filings, obtained by ESPN. A Georgetown student filed for a restraining order Nov. 5 after the student's complaint read:
"In response to an alleged burglary that I believe Joshua LeBlanc committed against me on September 16, 2019, Joshua threatened bodily harm against myself and my roommate. He continued to threaten me verbally and via text message in the following week."
Gee, seems like a real quality guy.
Late Tuesday, Georgetown said both Akinjo and LeBlanc are no longer wtih the team because they intend to transfer and that Akinjo is not involved in any of the allegations.
--The Rockets lost to the Spurs Tuesday night, 135-133 in double-overtime, despite 50 points from James Harden, including an NBA record 24 free throws attempted without a miss. [He was also an atrocious 11 of 38 from the field.]
But the Rockets are hoping the league office will either award the victory to Houston due to the Rockets outscoring the Spurs in regulation or order that the final 7 minutes, 50 seconds be replayed at a later date.
Referees mistakenly didn't count a Harden dunk, with 7:50 remaing, that would have given the Rockets a 104-89 lead. As described by Tim MacMahon of ESPN, "The ball whipped through the net and back over the rim before bouncing off, and the officiating crew mistakenly ruled that Harden missed the dunk and denied Houston coach Mike D'Antoni's attempt to challenge the call."
The referees admitted after the game, and after reviewing the tape, they blew it.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the last time teams replayed a portion of a game was on March 8, 2008, when officials incorrectly ruled that Miami's Shaquille O'Neal had fouled out with 51.9 seconds left in a game with Atlanta.
--I have made very few sports bets and have stuck with just doing lineups for golf and NASCAR on DraftKings, because I can't put together a winning fantasy football lineup, and the three or four times I bet on something like college basketball I've largely failed.
But, boy, I almost pulled the trigger on Knicks-Bucks Monday night. New York was getting 16 1/2, but I got cold feet, thinking the line would be 14 or 15, and decided not to bet against them. Alas, it was 72-45 at the half, and the Bucks rolled by 44, 132-88. Giannis Antetounmpo had 29 points and 15 rebounds in just 22 minutes.
The Knicks are so amazingly dreadful. Now 4-17, they are headed towards their third 17-65 season in the last six, with seven straight seasons under .500.
R.J. Barrett, Dennis Smith, and Kevin Knox were 2 for 25 from the field, 0 for 10 from three. The team shot 30.8 percent for the game. Just shoot me.
--Mike Moustakas finally got a break. He was a free agent for a third straight season, having been screwed the last two, one self-inflicted, by having to receive far less than he was worth on the open market.
The Reds, rather surprisingly, are signing him to a four-year, $64 million contract, apparently to play second base, where he was more than adequate last season, though ending the year primarily at third for the Brewers.
Moustakas hit .254 with 35 homers and 87 RBI in 143 games in his first full season in Milwaukee.
Prior to that he was one of the leaders of the Royals, helping them to consecutive World Series in 2014-15. But after the 2017 season, he turned down their $17.4 million qualifying offer and then when he found no one willing to give him a long-term deal, he had to go back to K.C. for the 2018 season for all of about $6.5 million, including an option. Now the three-time All-Star finally hit the jackpot.
--All manner of talk that Milwaukee star reliever Josh Hader is available, which is surprising given he's under team control until 2024. But Hader is also now arbitration eligible and he's going to get some big bumps, so the Brewers are said to be asking around as to what they might receive in return. Both the Mets and Yankees could be interested.
Yankees fans are also wondering if there is any chance Didi Gregorious could return after they failed to give him a qualifying offer, allowing him to become a free agent, but the market for Didi elsewhere appears to be limited (the Phillies, perhaps).
Meanwhile, the Yanks (and others) are intensifying their talks with representatives for Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg. The Dodgers are reportedly in discussions with Anthony Rendon.
--USA TODAY Sports reported that the White Sox are "willing to pay a huge price for free agent starter Zack Wheeler, and have engaged in preliminary trade talks with the Los Angeles Dodgers for power-hitting outfielder Joc Pederson, according to two people with direct knowledge of the talks."
--Former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said in an interview with Fox Sport from his native Argentina that he was ready to return.
"There are a lot of clubs and attractive projects for me to take on," he said. "For the time being, the most important thing is for me to clear my head after five-and-a-half incredible seasons with Tottenham."
Pochettino added, "It is my intention to return to manage in Europe."
So Wednesday, Tottenham plays at Old Trafford (the return of Jose Mourinho), taking on Manchester United, whose own manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, is in trouble with ownership, which has long admired Pochettino, who guided the Spurs to four Champions League berths on a limted budget.
--Phil Mickelson announced he is not playing in the Waste Management Phoenix Open for the first time in 30 years; opting to play in Saudi Arabia instead, at an event that will feature Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, among others, DJ having won the event last year. [Tiger Woods turned down a reported $3 million to play in the same event, Tiger saying, he just didn't have the desire to go to Saudi Arabia. "It's a long trip."]
Mickelson had won at TPC Scottsdale three times in 30 starts, including 27 straight since turning pro in 2013; having spent much of his childhood in the area, including as a member of Arizona State's golf team.
--Graeme McDowell is taking over as 'host' of the European Tour's Dubai Duty Free Irish Open for 2020 and 2021. This is a good lad, McDowell basically ensconced in Florida these days, aiding greatly at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill following Palmer's death.
The Irish Open next year is at Mount Juliet Estate in Kilkenny. But McDowell wants it in his native Northern Ireland, Castlerock, in 2021. The bid is in.
--Big heavyweight fight this weekend...a rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr. in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia; Ruiz, the 15-1 underdog who knocked out Joshua in a shocker last June. Some are calling it the biggest heavyweigh rematch in decades. For those who follow the heavyweight division, this is huge. We need Joshua to win, with a hoped for unification title fight against Deontay Wilder in 2020, which would be...the biggest fight of the century. Really.
From all I've read over the years, the Brit Joshua is a good guy. Andy Ruiz is obviously a terrific story in his own right, but we want Joshua-Wilder.
Ahhhhhhh....Let's get ready to RUMMM-BLLLLE!!!
--From Brad K. and the Associated Press: "An elk is running around western North Carolina with a shredded hammock on its head, and apparently a love of apples is to blame. News outlets report Jim Beaver told the Haywood County (North Carolina) Sheriff's Office on Thanksgiving that an elk was stuck in his yard wtih its antlers tangled up in a hammock. The sheriff's office says Cpl. Ken Stiles climbed onto the roof, cut the hammock and freed the animal."
But the elk is still running around with pieces of the hammock in its antlers, having returned to the house a number of times, where he feasts on the apples.
--Spotify revealed its biggest songs, albums and artists of the last decade, with Drake emerging as the most-streamed artist of the 2010s.
The Canadian star has racked up more than 28 billion streams, with his most popular song, "One Dance", played 1.7 billion times alone.
But Ed Sheeran's "Shape Of You" had 2.4 billion streams, making it the decade's most listened-to track.
2019's biggest song was Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello's "Senorita," which has already been played one billion times. Billie Eilish's "Bad Guy" is at 990 million streams.
Most-streamed artists of the 2010s:
2. Ed Sheeran
3. Post Malone
4. Ariana Grande
--So last time I noted that, per the BBC, Harry Belafonte's album "Calypso" was the first in the U.S. to sell a million copies, which I didn't have the time to research, but this does seem to be the case. Just a little surprised.
Top 3 songs for the week 12/6/69: #1 "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" (Steam) #2 "Leaving On A Jet Plane" (Peter, Paul and Mary) #3 "Come Together/Something" (The Beatles)...and...#4 "Take A Letter Maria" (R.B. Greaves) #5 "Down On The Corner" (Creedence Clearwater) #6 "And When I Die" (Blood, Sweat & Tears) #7 "Wedding Bell Blues" (The 5th Dimension) #8 "Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday" (Stevie Wonder) #9 "Someday We'll Be Together" (Diana Ross & The Supremes) #10 "Eli's Coming" (Three Dog Nightl...#s 6-9 make this week an A-...)
College Football Quiz Answer: Runner-up to Pat Sullivan in the 1971 Heisman vote was Cornell running back Ed Marinaro. Marinaro was the first running back in NCAA history to rush for 4,000 career yards, leading the nation in 1971 (1,881 yards in just nine games). He was then drafted in the second round by Minnesota and later played for the Jets and Seattle, with limited success.
But Marinaro would go on to become an actor, most famously as Officer Joe Coffey on "Hill Street Blues" (1981-86), one of the great series of all time; the first real edgy crime drama, which paved the way for "NYPD Blue."
Anyway, what a terrific year for college football. Third in the Heisman vote was Oklahoma running back Greg Pruitt, followed by one of my early favorites, Johnny Musso (RB) of Alabama, Penn State running back Lydell Mitchell, and at sixth and seventh, quarterbacks Jack Mildren and Jerry Tagge, of Oklahoma and Nebraska, respectively.
Yes, this was the year of the "Game of the Century," #1 Nebraska vs. #2 Oklahoma, both undefeated, when on Thanksgiving Day, the Cornhuskers won it 35-31 in a true classic.
Nebraska then whipped No. 2 Alabama in the Orange Bowl, 38-6, while 3 Oklahoma beat 5 Auburn in the Sugar Bowl, 40-22, to finish second in the AP poll to Nebraska.
Back to Sullivan, he went on to play sparingly over four seasons in the NFL with the Falcons, completing only 42.3 percent of his passes, with five TDs and 16 INTs. But look at those he beat out that one magical season for him at Auburn.
Next Bar Chat, Monday....the College Football Playoffs will be set. It should be an exciting 'reveal' on Sunday night.