|Articles||Go Fund Me||All-Species List||Hot Spots||Go Fund Me|
|Web Epoch NJ Web Design | (c) Copyright 2016 StocksandNews.com, LLC.|
Latest CFP Rankings
1. Alabama 9-0
2. Notre Dame 10-0
3. Clemson 9-1
4. Ohio State 5-0
5. Texas A&M 7-1
6. Florida 8-1
7. Iowa State 8-2!
8. Cincinnati 8-0
9. Georgia 6-2
10. Miami 8-1
11. Oklahoma 7-2…playing Iowa State for Big 12 title
12. Indiana 6-1
13. Coastal Carolina 10-0
14. Northwestern 5-1
15. USC 4-0…need their cheerleaders on New Year’s Day…just because…right, Steve G.? And congratulations to Steve, terrific next-door neighbor from my childhood, he with the rainbow driveway jumper, who just told me he got married! A terrific woman from Colombia. And so life goes on…
19. Louisiana 9-1
24. Tulsa 6-1
And the nightmare we feared has come to fruition…Michigan-Ohio State canceled due to Covid issues on the Wolverines. [Kirk Herbstreit is suppressing a grin.]
Meaning as of tonight, Ohio State won’t be playing the conference minimum six games in order to qualify for the Big Ten championship game against Northwestern. Teams must play in six games, unless the average number of games throughout the conference falls below six.
The Big Ten says it needs to be fluid, and Ohio State could yet come up with an opponent for Saturday. The ACC and SEC have shuffled their schedules around when necessary, or the conference could just lower the minimum to five to accommodate the Buckeyes and no one should have a problem with that. I sure don’t.
We’ve also learned Ole Miss-Texas A&M and Cincinnati-Tulsa have been canceled, though the latter two will be squaring off in the AAC title game the following week.
I totally agree with the ESPN crew that if Florida and Clemson win their conference championship games over Alabama and Notre Dame, all four of them are in. Ohio State out. If Florida loses, OSU is in the final four. Obviously the same with a Clemson ‘L.’
As for the New Year’s Six, Group of Five bid, Coastal needs Cincy to stumble and beat Louisiana in the Sun Belt title game.
--After one of the worst play calls in the history of the sport, the Jets fired defensive coordinator Gregg Williams on Monday. With 13 seconds left, the Jets up 28-24, Williams took an unnecessary gamble, leaving rookie cornerback Lamar Jackson in man-to-man coverage against the speedy Henry Ruggs III, who burned him for a game-winning 46-yard touchdown, the Jets moving to 0-12 in the process.
After the game, Williams’ strategy was openly questioned by safety Marcus Maye, a team captain, and he was pilloried on all the post-game shows, including by Boomer Esiason and Bill Cowher.
Speaking of Cowher, Boomer then fanned the flames of the rumor that Cowher will be the next Jets coach. We pray this proves to be the case.
--L.A. Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn is being given the rest of the season to save his job.
At a videoconference with the media on Monday, Lynn said: “Right now, I don’t have time to worry about job status. As long as I’m the head coach here, my focus is trying to get this thing back on track and finish the season out the right way.”
It appears the team has no plans to do anything with Lynn and the staff until after the season finale Jan. 3 at Kansas City.
“I’ve worked my tail off my whole life to get here,” Lynn said. “Yeah, I’m having a down year, and I understand people are going to take shots and people are going to be critical. That’s to be expected. But we have had some success here, as well. I think I’m the guy to get this back on the right track.”
Lynn, in his fourth season, is 29-31 (1-1 in the playoffs), but the 2020 edition is 3-9. As I mentioned last time, however, the first seven losses were by one score. The Chargers were 9-7 in his first year and finished 12-4 and won an AFC wild-card playoff game in his second season. But they are now 8-21 since the wild-card win, Sunday’s 45-0 blowout at home to New England the most troubling; the largest margin of defeat in the franchise’s 61-year history.
Kicker Michael Badgley’s poor season hasn’t helped Lynn’s cause. There’s pressure to replace him but the Summit star will be gone if he doesn’t immediately put together some perfect games.
Oh, the life of a kicker ain’t easy. I’m praying for him.
--Denver is not a bad 4-8 team, but that’s what they are after a stout effort Sunday night against the 11-1 Chiefs, falling 22-16. Tyrann Mathieu picked off Broncos QB Drew Lock twice, even as the Denver ‘D’ held Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill in check.
--Monday, Washington, like the Giants the day before at Seattle, pulled off a biggie of their own, upsetting the previously undefeated Steelers 23-17, Pittsburgh now 11-1. Washington’s Alex Smith outplayed future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger, while the Steelers were hobbled again at running back, James Conner sidelined on the reserve/Covid-19 list.
As Steelers fans Jeff B. and Mark R. noted, the Steelers have been screwed by the NFL with the constantly shifting schedule that had them playing the Ravens Wednesday, a game originally scheduled for Thanksgiving, and then Washington the following Monday, while the Redskins were fully rested, having last played Thanksgiving. Totally unfair, but the NFL is plowing ahead, determined to stick to the schedule (re Super Bowl), when everyone else knows there has to be more flexibility.
We do have a highly entertaining contest next Sunday night…Pittsburgh at Buffalo.
Speaking of the Bills, they beat the 49ers (5-7) 34-24 last night to move to 9-3, Josh Allen with another outstanding game, 32/40, 375, 4-0, 139.1.
So when you look at Allen’s steady progression from a poor rookie year to All-Pro-like status two seasons later, it’s a reminder of what a crapshoot the draft can be when it comes to quarterback.
The 2021 NFL Draft will be loaded with top QB prospects…led by Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Kyle Trask, Mac Jones, Zach Wilson and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance. Dillon Gabriel is another.
So you go back once more to 2018 and that super class…on paper…and now largely panning out. 3 out of 5, that is.
No. 1 Baker Mayfield
No. 3 Sam Darnold
No. 7 Josh Allen
No. 10 Josh Rosen
No. 32 Lamar Jackson
Baker Mayfield is now blossoming in his third season, ditto Josh Allen. Darnold may yet emerge with another team, but Josh Rosen is obviously a total bust. As for Lamar, this year’s performance is kind of troubling, but he’s coming off an MVP season so he’s already done it.
The point is, you just don’t know, though I knew the Ravens had come up with a steal in Jackson draft day. Sam Darnold has had zero supporting cast, but he also hasn’t shown the ability to make those around him better.
Ergo, we look at 2021 and Dr. W. reminded me that when I last wrote he liked Trask, potentially over Trevor Lawrence, he was talking about in the context that if the Jets could get a huge haul for the No. 1 pick, they might be able to still get Trask. [Like swap picks with the Jags, let them take Trevor, and get the Jags’ second-round pick.] The Good Doctor and I have both watched a lot of Trask and he’s going to be a terrific pro…Roethlisberger-like to me with that big body.
Just Hot Stove-league-type chat for the long winter months, boys and girls.
Of course Jets fans and the local media would riot if the Jets did what Dr. W. is throwing out there (and he’s safely ensconced in South Carolina, though a Jets fan), but let’s wait to see what kinds of mind games Trevor is going to play…and let’s also see who the Jets get as coach. If it’s Cowher, Trevor will quickly change his tune.
New AP Poll (Mon.)…yes, this is a stupid start to the season, witness Tennessee hasn’t been able to play yet…and now Gonzaga has paused, missing four more games after its Saturday showdown with Baylor was called off.
1. Gonzaga (54) 3-0
2. Baylor (7) 3-0
3. Iowa 3-0
4. Michigan State 5-0
5. Kansas 4-1
6. Illinois 3-1
7. Houston 4-0
8. Creighton 3-0
9. Villanova 4-1
10. Duke 2-1
12. Tennessee 0-0 …finally playing tonight, Colorado…
19. Richmond 2-0..then beat Wofford, Monday, 77-72
21. Rutgers 3-0
24. San Diego State 4-0….time to get the Aztecwear back out of the sports drawer
So just now, Kansas beat Creighton 73-72. We also have North Carolina-Iowa, and Illinois-Duke tonight.
--Kentucky, in losing to Georgia Tech Sunday night, moved to 1-3, their worst start since the 2000-01 season. What’s worse, Georgia Tech (1-2) had opened its season with losses to Georgia State and Mercer.
Dick Allen RIP
It was just three months ago I wrote of former Phillies first baseman Dick Allen having his #15 retired by the team, a long overdue move. Allen thanked the city of Philadelphia, saying, “Even though it was rough, I’ve made some friends along the way.”
One of the franchise’s greatest players, Allen fought against racism during a tumultuous period with the team in the 1960s.
He was one of the sport’s most dynamic offensive players from 1964-74, winning the Rookie of the Year award and then MVP in 1972 with the White Sox. Allen made seven All-Star teams.
Mike Schmidt, the Hall of Fame third baseman who helped lure Allen out of retirement to return to Philadelphia for a second stint with the team in 1975, called him “an amazing mentor” who was wrongly labeled a “bad teammate” and “troublemaker.”
“Dick was a sensitive Black man who refused to be treated as a second-class citizen,” Schmidt said in a speech.
Allen died Monday, age 78.
“The Phillies are heartbroken over the passing today of our dear friend and co-worker, Dick Allen.
“Dick will be remembered as not just one of the greatest and most popular players in our franchise’s history, but also as a courageous warrior who had to overcome far too many obstacles to reach the level he did. Dick’s iconic status will resonate for generations of baseball fans to come as one of the all-time greats to play America’s pastime,” the Phillies said.
Phillies managing partner John Middleton broke from the team’s’ longstanding “uniform” policy of only retiring the number of players who are in the Hall of Fame to honor Allen. The team had been planning to honor him again in 2021 with fans in attendance.
Allen had the fifth-most home runs (319) over an 11-year span (1964-74) behind four Hall of Famers: Hank Aaron (391), Harmon Killebrew (336), Willie Stargell (335) and Willie McCovey (327). His .940 OPS during that time was second to Aaron’s .941.
Allen wasn’t elected into the Hall of Fame, unbelievably peaking at just 18.9%, but then he fell one vote short in Golden Era Committee voting in 2014. He could come up for a vote this coming winter and now the pressure will be immense to let him in. It’s just so sad it didn’t come before he passed away, a vote a few months ago called off by Covid. To many it’s outright infuriating.
Just a week ago, Mike Schmidt said: “If you go back in time and analyze Dick’s career and look at it by applying the modern-day analytics, his numbers are far and above a lot of the guys who are in the Hall of Fame.”
Bob Nightengale / USA TODAY
“If not for the blatant racism during his career, Allen likely would have already been in the Hall of Fame. Maybe if he ignored all of the hatred, he would have been elected long ago. Yet, as he told USA TODAY Sports six years ago, he wasn’t changing for anyone.
“ ‘I wouldn’t change a thing in my life,’ Allen said. ‘What I’ve done, I’m pretty happy with it. I probably could have handled things differently, but I’m glad I didn’t.
“ ‘I was just being me. People weren’t happy with me just being me. That’s why I got death threats my whole life, all of the hate mail and all of those boos.’
“Allen was the first prominent Black player in Phillies franchise history and still is considered perhaps the most controversial athlete in Philadelphia sports history.
“ ‘I might have been the modern-day Jackie Robinson,’ Allen says. ‘Everything he went through, I went through, only I did it in modern times.
“ ‘Jackie probably would have handled things differently. I couldn’t do that. God didn’t give me the gift of words.’”
Mark Carfagno, a former member of the Phillies’ grounds crew, will tell you he was simply misunderstood. “Dick Allen is the most misunderstood player, and person, I’ve met in my life. I’ll argue until my teeth turn blue that this man belongs in the Hall of Fame.
“You’re talking about a guy who played in Philadelphia during those times. I saw the way he was abused. They called him every name in the book. Every racial epithet. I couldn’t believe he could play with all of that pressure on him.
“He would come in and hang out with us on the grounds crew after games. We understood him. Nobody else did.”
To me, Dick Allen was simply one of my 3 or 4 favorite opposition players to watch. I saw him in person a ton. You didn’t go to the refreshment stand when he was coming up. [Or go to the fridge or bathroom at home, watching on television.]
Baseball’s winter meetings are being held this week and while it’s not like in the past where representatives from all 30 clubs and agents gather in one place for four days, during which we often have some big trades and/or free agent signings, this time it’s virtual.
As I go to post, the only moves thus far are by the White Sox, who acquired veteran hurler Lance Lynn from Texas for two pitchers, Lynn having one more year at $8 million remaining on his contract, a good ‘buy’ in today’s market. The White Sox are also bringing back outfielder Adam Eaton on a one-year, $7 million contract, as they are going to be aggressively going for it all…nothing less than a World Series title accepted, Tony La Russa at the helm.
But the clubs are dutifully being cautious, what with all the financial uncertainty heading into 2021. They need fans…lots of them. At some point next year you’d expect that to be the case, with vaccines rolling out, but you’ll have issues like how do you determine who gets in? Vaccine checks at the gates? Yes, at least this year you’ll have to have something like that.
“The Right Stuff”
We note the passing of Ret. Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager, the pioneering Air Force pilot who broke the sound barrier and was featured in the movie “The Right Stuff.” He was 97.
It was on Oct. 14, 1947, that Yeager became the first man to break the sound barrier as he piloted an X-1 rocket plane. He was one of the Air Force’s most decorated test pilots.
A World War II fighter pilot, Yeager was propelled into history that October day over Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California. He helped pave the way for the American space program by flying at Mach 1.05 – roughly 805 mph – at an altitude of 45,000 feet.
News of the then-astounding accomplishment, however, was kept from the public until June 1948 – but that didn’t matter to Yeager.
“It’s not, you know, you don’t do it for the – to get your damn picture on the front page of the newspaper,” Yeager told NPR in 2011. “You do it because it’s duty. It’s your job.”
His record-breaking flight “opened up space, Star Wars, satellites,” he told Agence France-Presse in 2007.
Yeager was famously portrayed in Tom Wolfe’s 1979 book, “The Right Stuff” – which was later adapted into an Oscar-winning movie – chronicling the postwar research in high-speed aircraft that led to NASA’s Project Mercury.
Sam Shepard received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Yeager in the 1983 film
Yeager was born on Feb. 13, 1923, in the tiny West Virginia town of Myra. In 1941, soon after graduating from high school and shortly before the United States entered World War II, he enlisted in the Army Air Forces, later to become the U.S. Air Force. He started out as a mechanic before attending flight school.
In March 1944, when Yeager was based in England, he survived being shot down behind enemy lines in France, where he was guided to safety by the French resistance over the Pyrenees mountains. Yeager then resumed combat and by the end of the war was credited with 12.5 aerial victories, including five in one day.
By the time he retired from the Air Force in 1975, he had flown in roughly 360 different military aircraft models.
--Bob Dylan signed a blockbuster deal to sell his entire song catalog, spanning more than 600 copyrights and six decades, to Universal Music Publishing for a reported $300 million, though no firm figure has been released.
“To represent the body of work of one of the greatest songwriters of all time – whose cultural importance can’t be overstated – is both a privilege and a responsibility,” Jody Gerson, the chairman and CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group, said in a statement.
Dylan, 79, has long resisted selling to a music major and has retained most of his own copyrights, but no one can begrudge this opportunity.
Dylan started out playing clubs in Greenwich Village in the early 1960s, before his game-changing performance at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival with an electric set.
Shortly after, he released “Like A Rolling Stone,” a six-minute production initially discarded as too long for the radio before it took off on rock stations, eventually peaking at No. 2, below the Beatles’ “Help.”
In 2016, Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”
Former President Barack Obama, who awarded Dylan the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, said last month that he’s been a fan “for a long time.”
“He was part of that kind of social conscience that was in rock music, and then later in hip-hop music. Look, I’m like everybody else, I like music about girls and cars and, you know, rock and roll and hip-hop. But whenever you can find some musicians that really have a message about how America might be, how the world might be, that always is something that I pay attention to. And he’s one of the greatest examples of that.”
--Lastly, just as yesterday was another anniversary of Pearl Harbor, which we’ll never forget, today is the 40th anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon. I want to say I was lying in bed, listening to WABC-AM, when I learned of his death, and not watching “Monday Night Football,” which started at 9:00 in those days, and this first announcement by Howard Cosell, even though it was at the half, was late.
Just as last chat I noted that Rafer Johnson helped tackle Sirhan Sirhan, and what a depressing time that was, this one was devastating.
So for you younger folk, this is how much of the nation learned of Lennon’s death.
Today, Paul McCartney wrote on Twitter: “A very very sad day but remembering my friend John with the great joy he brought to the world.”
Ringo Starr tweeted: “Peace and love John. I’m asking Every music radio station in the world sometime today play Strawberry Fields Forever.”
I was driving around, listening to Sirius’ 60s channel, and the DJ indeed played it. Two musicians/activists I wish that were alive today just to hear what they had to say would be Lennon and Marvin Gaye. Some probably wouldn’t like their message, but, you know, F--- ‘em.
Next Bar Chat, Sunday.
All About Coastal Carolina
[Posted Sun. p.m.]
***Once again I will add some material Tuesday evening following the latest College Football Playoff Rankings***
Olympic Decathlon Quiz: J. Mac and I were talking about the passing of Rafer Johnson, so, 1) Since the Olympic Games resumed following World War II, name the eight Americans to take Gold in the event. 2) Name the first Olympic Decathlon champion, 1912. Answers below.
College Football Review
[Comments written prior to release of new AP poll.]
Covid wreaked havoc again this weekend, but it gave us one of the more interesting football games in recent memory in Coastal Carolina-BYU. More on this one later.
8 Georgia-Vanderbilt was postponed, 14 Northwestern-Minnesota canceled, along with the likes of Maryland-Michigan and two big MAC contests, Kent State-Miami and Buffalo-Ohio.
And Wake Forest’s ongoing virus issues mean my Demon Deacons have played a mere 7 games this season, which is pathetic.
But the College Football Playoff picture remains clear.
1 Alabama (9-0) rolled over LSU (3-5) 55-17, the most points ‘Bama has ever scored against the Tigers, as the Crimson Tide’s Big Three shined again. Mac Jones, your 2020 Heisman runner-up, was a cool 20/28, 315, 4-0, with receiver DeVonta Smith having another monster game, 8-231-3, and Najee Harris rumbling for 145 yards and another three touchdowns.
Alabama has now scored at least 35 points in 22 consecutive games, the longest such streak in modern history.
2 Notre Dame (10-0) whipped lowly Syracuse (1-10) 45-21, though the Notre Dame ‘D’ gave up 40- and 80-yard touchdown runs. Quarterback Ian Book had another big game for the Fighting Irish, throwing for three touchdowns and running for another two.
3 Clemson (9-1) was totally unimpressive in beating Virginia Tech (4-6) 45-10. The score is deceiving as it was only 17-10 middle of the third and Trevor Lawrence had a poor day. Travis Etienne also had his sixth straight sub-100-yard game on the ground, though it was cool seeing popular senior running back Darien Rencher rip off a 50-yard TD run at the end.
4 Ohio State (5-0) rolled over Michigan State (2-4) 52-12, Justin Fields with two TDs passing and two rushing. The Buckeyes were even more impressive when you realize they were without three starting offensive lineman and starting linebacker Tuf Borland due to Covid.
5 Texas A&M (7-1) stayed in the conversation with a 31-20 win over Auburn (5-4), though the Aggies were down 20-14 after three.
6 Florida (8-1) is gearing up for its SEC title clash with Alabama, the Gators with a 31-19 win at Tennessee (2-6), your 2020 Heisman Trophy winner Kyle Trask with another four touchdown passes, giving him 38 on the year, with just three interceptions.
As Dr. W., Greenville, S.C. resident and observer of Trevor Lawrence tells me, the Jets should be looking seriously at Trask with the No. 1 pick. I don’t disagree, but it will be Trevor and I am lining up commercials for him.
7 Cincinnati was idle and next takes on 24 Tulsa (6-1), 19-6 winners over Navy (3-6). Cincy now will play Tulsa twice, which is good and bad. They can obviously wrap up the Group of Five, New Year’s Six berth, but it doesn’t help their CFP hopes.
Meanwhile, 9 Iowa State’s dream season continued, the Cyclones 8-2 after beating West Virginia (5-4) 42-6, Brock Purdy with a rather efficient 20/23, 247, 3-0 effort at QB. So coach Matt Campbell’s boys clinch their first Big 12 championship game berth ever.
10 Miami (8-1) certainly deserves a New Year’s Day bowl game if they win their final two, the Hurricanes annihilating Duke (2-8) 48-0, Miami outgaining the Blue Devils 524-177. Yikes.
12 Indiana (6-1) also remained in the New Year’s Six hunt with a 14-6 win over 16 Wisconsin (2-2). Jack Tuttle, subbing for the injured Michael Penix Jr., threw two touchdown passes but IU had only 217 yards of offense.
In perhaps the most shocking game of the year, but so very 2020, 21 Marshall (7-1) suffered its first defeat at the hands of Rice (2-2), 20-0, as the Thundering Herd’s Grant Wells was picked off five times! This is a guy but had 8 TD passes and no INTs his previous two games. Rice also had only 213 yards of offense.
But look at the two teams. Rice had its first three games of the season postponed, then another three were postponed or canceled, playing its previous three games Oct. 24, 31, and Nov. 21.
Marshall hadn’t played in three weeks and it showed.
Friday night, 25 Louisiana moved to 9-1 as the Ragin’ Cajuns had a solid 24-21 win at Appalachian State (7-3). I won’t get into the late safety issue with Louisiana’s coach, which was kind of controversial, but when you know they had issues with their long snapper, what the heck.
Rutgers had a disappointing effort against Penn State at home, falling 23-7, the Scarlet Knights with just 205 yards of offense. Both teams are 2-5, but this was a golden opportunity for RU to pick up its first win against PSU in 32 years.
So lastly we have 13 BYU at 18 Coastal Carolina in a battle of unbeatens. It came off as advertised, a terrific game, back and forth, the Chanticleers continuing their dream campaign, now 10-0, with a 22-17 win as they stopped the Cougars’ receiver at the 1-yard line on the final play of the game.
But what a story in even pulling this game off, which was so critical to BYU as it tried to earn respect in the eyes of the CFP selection committee.
As you know, Coastal Carolina was to play Liberty, but then Liberty suddenly had Covid issues, and BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe made the decision to send the BYU football equipment truck on a cross-country journey to South Carolina even before he knew if BYU would be replacing Liberty. Liberty canceled Wednesday and Thursday morning the game became official. There isn’t even a contract, at least there wasn’t by game time, and Holmoe doesn’t know Coastal’s AD Matt Hogue, but they’ve agreed to work out a home-and-home deal when the season is over.
Holmoe also said ESPN, which was hosting College GameDay from Coastal Carolina this week, played an integral role in helping cement the game.
“ESPN called and said, ‘Hey, can you do this? Do you want to do this?’” Holmoe said. “I knew these guys were ready.”
Holmoe said he was totally grateful to Coastal Carolina, who didn’t have to go forward with the game, and the Sun Belt Conference.
Should Cincinnati stumble in its games against Tulsa, J. Mac's Chanticleers are next up for the New Year’s Six, which would be amazing.
Chuck Culpepper / Washington Post
“A college football season too eccentric to understand found its quintessence Saturday evening on a teal field near Myrtle Beach that began this young century full of weeds and watermelons. Yeah, sure, why not?
“Teams from distant and disparate regions played an impromptu game arranged only Thursday, after which one of the two found the utmost moment in its ‘history,’ its history being a blip. Coastal Carolina, No. 18 in the College Football Playoff rankings despite being a program born in 2003 and ushered among the big fish of the Football Bowl Subdivision only in 2017 – and 13-23 since then, before this year – beat No. 13 BYU, 22-17, and went into a delirium in Conway, S.C.
“That delirium followed upon a palpitation, of course. BYU’s slot-machine offense and its dazzler of a quarterback, Zach Wilson, set aside a night spent harassed and slowed and spent the last 55 seconds of the game moving from their own 9-yard line to the other side’s 18. Then the game closed on one dramatic play suitable for a crowd bigger than the allotted 5,000, a play that conjured Steve McNair, Kevin Dyson and Mike Jones in that Rams-Titans Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta at the dawn of the century.
“Wilson threw a pass up the right hash mark to Dax Milne, who caught it around the 3 and churned toward the end zone only to stall around the 1, then was yanked around the waist back near the 2 in a herculean turn by Mateo Sudipo, a 195-pound redshirt freshman safety from Wake Forest, N.C.”
The Chanticleers simply played terrific defense (albeit they were a bit dirty at times), while running back CJ Marable picked up 132 yards and two touchdowns.
As for Zach Wilson, while his stats weren’t up to par, thanks to all the pressure Coastal applied, you can see he is a terrific talent and one lucky NFL team is going to come up with a gem. Running back Tyler Allgeier (cliché alert) will also be playing on Sundays.
But what an incredible effort by coach Jamey Chadwell’s boys.
So where are we?
Alabama is playing Florida in the SEC title game, Clemson gets an opportunity for revenge against Notre Dame in the ACC championship, Ohio State needs to be able to play Michigan next week to reach the conference minimum for eligibility in the Big Ten championship contest (or the conference can bend the rules for the Buckeyes), and the Big 12 and Pac-12 are irrelevant in terms of the final four.
Suddenly, should Notre Dame lose to Clemson in a tight one, there is a lot of talk the Fighting Irish would still get a CFP berth, and I don’t think anyone will argue too vociferously over that prospect.
Conversely, if Florida upsets ‘Bama, the Crimson Tide no doubt still get in.
So either the ACC or SEC will have two teams, and you’ll have Ohio State.
At least that is the opinion of moi, Sunday morning.
--Shane Beamer, an assistant head coach at Oklahoma and former assistant on South Carolina’s staff under Steve Spurrier, agreed to a deal to become the Gamecocks’ next head football coach. He’s the son of Hall of Fame coach Frank Beamer and coached under his dad at Virginia Tech from 2011 to 2015
And now your new AP Poll….
1. Alabama (62) 9-0
2. Notre Dame 10-0
3. Ohio State 5-0
4. Clemson 9-1
5. Texas A&M 7-1
6. Florida 8-1
7. Cincinnati 8-0
8. Indiana 6-1
9. Miami 8-1
10. Iowa State 8-2
11. Coastal Carolina 10-0…wow
12. Georgia 6-2
14. BYU 9-1
17. Louisiana 9-1…cravin’ gumbo
18. Tulsa 6-1
21. Colorado 4-0…surprise of Pac-12
22. Liberty 9-1
24. Buffalo 4-0
--So out of nowhere, the Jets were about to win a game, leading the Raiders 28-24 with seconds, Vegas’ Derek Carr playing very Sam Darnold-like most of the game, missing countless big throws despite putting up some numbers, like 200 yards to tight end Darren Waller on his 13 receptions and two scores.
And then it happened. On the Raiders’ last play, Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams inexplicably called for an all-out blitz, leaving the cornerbacks exposed and without help from a deep safety and Carr lofted a perfect 46-yard pass to speedster Henry Ruggs III, the Alabama rookie, and just like that, the Jets lost, 31-28! Yippee! I was going to have a sleepless night otherwise, but we’re 0-12!
This one will sting for some of the Jets players a long time. Sam Darnold played solid (despite three turnovers), with two touchdowns passing, one running, and the team rushed for 206 yards. But another ‘L’ for Gang Green and the Chase for Trevor continues.
For Vegas, 7-5, they remained in the wildcard hunt.
--The Dolphins would be in the playoffs today at 8-4 after a 19-7 win over the Bengals (2-9-1), Tua back behind center, throwing for 296 yards and a score.
--The Colts (8-4) have the last wildcard slot in the AFC as things stand today, 26-20 winners over the Texans (4-8), Philip Rivers outplaying Deshaun Watson.
--The Giants had a gigantic win in Seattle (8-4), 17-12, as New York and rookie coach Joe Judge have reeled off four in a row, this time with backup quarterback Colt McCoy, in place of the injured Daniel Jones, who did enough, while the Giants picked up 190 yards on the ground, 135 by Wayne Gallman.
The Seattle/Russell Wilson enigma continues; the Seahawks having started the season 5-0, Wilson a cinch MVP winner, but now having gone 3-4 since.
So the Giants remain on top in the NFC East. Pretty amazing story, and Jones should be back next week.
--Taysom Hill had his best game as a pro as the Saints moved to 10-2 with a 21-16 win over the Falcons (4-8). Hill, subbing for the injured Drew Brees, threw for 232 yards, two touchdowns, and rushed for 83; the kind of total game he is capable of.
--Cleveland raced off to a 38-7 lead at the half in Tennessee, and then had to hold on to defeat the Titans 41-35, Baker Mayfield with his fifth straight game without tossing an interception, though he had a fumble the Titans returned for a score. Mayfield was 25/33, 334, 4-0, 147.0.
The Browns held Tennessee’s Derrick Henry to 60 yards on 15 carries because the Titans were forced early to play catch-up and go to the air.
--The Packers (9-3) weathered a late comeback from the Eagles (3-8-1) to prevail, 30-16, as Aaron Jones had a clinching 77-yard touchdown run after Philly had cut it to 23-16. The Eagles benched an ineffective Carson Senor Wences, replacing him with Jalen Hurts, who moved the team better but it wasn’t nearly enough. Aaron Rodgers had another terrific game, 3 touchdown passes, becoming the fastest to 400 for his career in the process.
--The Patriots (6-6) kept their slim playoff hopes alive after a 45-0 thrashing of the Chargers (3-9) in Inglewood, CA. L.A.’s first seven losses were all by a single score, but now they are showing signs of laying down and coach Anthony Lynn’s job is in jeopardy. It hasn’t helped Summit’s Michael Badgley has not had a good season, including two missed field goals today, one blocked and returned for a touchdown (though the attempt was from 58 yards and the game was already out of hand).
--The Rams (8-4) took over first in the West with a 38-28 win over the Cardinals (6-6).
--The Steelers are 11-0 and play Monday afternoon against the Redskins (4-7) in a critical game for Washington, needing to keep pace with the Giants and the NFC East race. The Redskins will be well-rested following their Thanksgiving rout of Dallas.
The coronavirus is ravaging the season already, a prime example the postponement of a highly-anticipated matchup of No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 2 Baylor due to positive Covid tests within Gonzaga’s program. The teams will attempt to make up the contest, but as Scott Gleeson of USA TODAY points out, “the more glaring takeaway is whether playing December and January games amid a nationwide surge of coronavirus is worth it.”
“It’s a fair question to ask, ‘should we be doing this?’ We are going to continue to see these kind of disruptions over and over again,” ESPN college hoops analyst Jay Bilas said. “We felt like we knew this would be a bumpy ride throughout the wintertime with programs pausing activity and games being postponed or canceled.”
5 Illinois and 23 Ohio State also had their games canceled yesterday. Since the season began on Nov. 25, more than 50 games have been postponed or canceled and on Friday, Louisville became the latest high-profile program to pause activities. Wake Forest has also been on pause.
“This is total chaos,” longtime college basketball voice Dick Vitale said. “My feeling from Day 1 was that we should’ve started the season around February and then played conference games because this thing is out of control. Basketball is my life and my love. But it comes secondary when the disease is running rampant. We’re going to have a lot of this happen and we should be listening to the experts.”
The experts, such as the CDC, are advising Americans not to travel because of the surge.
Meanwhile, some games go on and Marquette upset 4 Wisconsin on Friday, 67-65.
--It’s hard to believe but the new NBA season is just around the corner. Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns said he is continuing to process the death of his mother, and six other family members who died of complications from the coronavirus.
“I’ve been through a lot, obviously starting out with my mom,” Towns said Friday. “Last night I got a call that I lost my uncle. I feel like I’ve been hardened a little bit by life and humbled.”
In an emotional Instagram video, Towns said: “I’ve seen a lot of coffins in the last seven months. I have a lot of people who have – in my family and my mom’s family – gotten Covid. I’m the one looking for answers still, trying to find how to keep them healthy. It’s just a lot of responsibility on me to keep my family well-informed and to make all the moves necessary to keep them alive.”
Towns’ mother rarely missed one of his games.
The NBA and the Players Association jointly announced Wednesday that there were 48 positive tests for Covid-19 out of the 546 players tested from Nov. 24 to Nov. 30. This was the initial round of tests for players as they returned to their teams’ markets ahead of the start of individual workouts Tuesday. The regular season is scheduled to start Dec. 22.
--Despite being a perennial All-Star and former MVP, Russell Westbrook is headed to his third team in three years, as the Rockets and Wizards pulled off a blockbuster trade; Washington sending John Wall and a draft pick in exchange for Westbrook.
Fans in Washington are saddened to see Wall go as he was a pillar of strength in the local community, though the five-time All-Star has been riddled by injuries the last few seasons and sat out the last one after suffering a torn Achilles’ tendon.
Westbrook is 32, Wall 30. Clearly the former has lots of game left, while there are questions about what Wall can still bring. For now it gives both players a fresh start. The two also are still owed $40 million+ for each of the next two seasons.
The Wizards are hoping moving Wall can provide a fresh start for shooting guard Bradley Beal, who has been busting out the past few seasons, including averaging 30.5 points per game this past one.
But for all of Westbrook’s skills, including averaging a triple-double three consecutive seasons, 2016-2019, he is a dreadful outside shooter and the real bottom line is, does he make his teammates better and do they win? Only once has a Westbrook team made it to the NBA Finals, 2011-12, when Oklahoma City lost to Miami.
--The Lakers are keeping their big two together; LeBron James agreeing to a two-year contract extension, keeping him with the team through the 2022-23 season.
And then the next day, forward Anthony Davis signed a five-year deal to stay with the Lakers, a contract worth $190 million.
L.A. is the clear favorite to defend its title, having added point guard Dennis Schroder and center Marc Gasol as well as signing center Montrezl Harrell and guard Wesley Matthews. Plus the club re-signed guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and forwards Markieff Morris and Jared Dudley.
Major League Baseball has all manner of issues to resolve, sooner than later, like the designated hitter.
Jared Diamond / Wall Street Journal
“MLB and the players’ union agreed to add the designated hitter to the NL for the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, ostensibly to help preserve pitchers’ health over the rigorous 60-game schedule. As of today, the universal DH won’t carry over into 2021, nor will any of the other experimental rules implemented as part of the sport’s safety protocols.
“That could change before opening day, after the two sides hash out the details of how to stage a second season under the specter of Covid-19. People across the industry anticipate the DH becoming a part of those discussions, with the owners likely to dangle it as a bargaining chip in exchange for an expanded postseason tournament.
“For now, however, pitchers are slated to bat in the NL, and the uncertainty has left front offices in the unusual position of trying to build a roster while a significant variable remains in flux.”
MLB is in deep merde financially, as one team after another slashes payroll, the Phillies the latest, reportedly letting go of 80 employees after losing in excess of $100 million last season.
--We had the final regular tour event of 2020, this one the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and 23-year-old Viktor Hovland, part of the class including Collin Morikawa and Matthew Wolff, picked up his second win on Tour with a birdie on 18, defeating Aaron Wise by one.
Congrats to the PGA Tour for getting virtually a full season in, save for The Open Championship. We pray we’re back to near-normal by, say, April and The Masters, a tradition unlike any other, on CBS.
--Rickie Fowler, who failed to make the cut, has now gone 17 tournaments without a top ten since last January.
--The great British golfer and broadcaster, World Golf Hall of Famer Peter Alliss, died Saturday. He was 89. Alliss won 31 professional tournaments including three British PGA Championships, and in September 1958, he won the national championships of Italy, Spain, and Portugal in three consecutive weeks.
But he couldn’t capture the Claret Jug, once coming within four shots and having five top-10 finishes.
To Americans, Alliss, “the Voice of Golf,” is best known for his broadcasting stints on ABC and ESPN during major events as he was doing his bit with the BBC.
Among Alliss’ more memorable quotes was this one:
“What on earth are you doing? He’s gone ga-ga. To attempt to hit the ball out of there is pure madness.” – his iconic description of Frenchman Jean van de Velde taking off his shoes and socks and wading into the Barry Burn on the final hole of the 1999 Open at Carnoustie.
“One of the good things about rain in Scotland is that most of it ends up as scotch.” – on poor weather during a tournament in Scotland.
“That really is a settler. Better than Alka Seltzer.” – after watching Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke sink an early final-round putt on his way to winning the 2011 Open.
Alliss also is said to have given Sean Connery some golf lessons before the filming of “Goldfinger.”
Fans started to trickle back into the stadiums of the Premier League this weekend, as Covid restrictions were eased, a few thousand allowed in. It’s a start.
Yesterday, Manchester City defeated Fulham 2-0, Manchester United beat West Ham 3-1, and Chelsea handled Leeds, 3-1, as American Christian Pulisic tallied the third goal late for the Blues.
--Today, my Tottenham Spurs had a big 2-0 win over Arsenal as the best duo in the world these days, Son Heung-min and Harry Kane, each tallied and assisted on the other’s goal.
And Liverpool whipped Wolverhampton 4-0, so Tottenham leads Liverpool at the top of the standings through goal differential.
Rafer Johnson, RIP
A true giant died the other day. A gentle, good man.
Ben Bolch / Los Angeles Times
“Sixty years after he edged a UCLA training partner on weary legs in one of the most dramatic finishes in Olympic history, Rafer Johnson’s presence continued to blaze on campus like an inextinguishable flame.
“He was a regular at track meets and basketball games and gymnastics meets even as his health declined, always graciously accepting requests to pose for photos with anyone who asked. He was also a confidant to longtime athletic director Dan Guerrero, serving as a special advisor who offered wisdom and guidance that no pricey consultant could match.
“Johnson’s legacy as a decathlon champion and humanitarian, not to mention his trusted friendship, made it especially meaningful for Guerrero to be part of dedicating the Betsy and Rafer Johnson Track last year at UCLA’s Drake Stadium.
“ ‘It’s not a stretch for me to say that Rafer was the greatest of all Bruins,’ Guerrero told the Times on Wednesday upon learning of Johnson’s death at his home in Sherman Oaks at age 86.
“ ‘When you think about it, apart from his athletic prowess, which placed him in history among the most heralded of all athletes, he passionately and selflessly and humbly dedicated his life to better people and our society whether it was through his work with Special Olympics, mentoring young students or his commitment to civil rights. He was a giant, there was no question about that, and while this description is probably thrown around rather capriciously, in this case it’s true.
“He was a friendly legend. Art Spander, who covered Johnson’s track exploits in the late 1950s as sports editor for the Daily Bruin before going on to become a longtime sports columnist in the Bay Area, recalled the nonchalance of his presence on campus.
“ ‘You know, it was a ‘Hi, Rafer’ type of thing and he went on his way and other students went on their way and he went to class,’ Spander said. ‘I’d see him on campus and we’d talk and he was a just a very unpretentious, good guy.’
“Johnson captained UCLA’s freshman track and field team upon his arrival before winning a gold medal in the Pan American Games in the summer of 1955. The next year, he led UCLA to its first NCAA track and field championship.
“He was elected student body president, displeasing detractors who sent him hate mail because he was Black. Johnson found refuge from the racial strife while playing basketball for two seasons under coach John Wooden, averaging 8.2 points per game as a starter during the 1958-59 season.
“With the Dodgers having just arrived in Los Angeles and the Lakers still playing in Minneapolis, track was a huge draw in those days. Spander recalled large crowds jamming the Coliseum to watch meets involving Johnson and C.K. Yang, a fellow Bruin who became his training partner for the Olympics.
“Johnson cemented himself as a worldwide sensation after holding off Yang in the final event of the two-day decathlon in the 1960 Rome Olympics. He finished only 1.2 seconds behind Yang in the 1,500-meter run, allowing the narrow points lead he had built entering the event to give him the gold medal.”
Rafer returned a hero, though he immediately retired from track and went on to help launch the California Special Olympics and later was selected to light the Coliseum caldron before the 1984 Olympics.
Avery Anderson, the UCLA director of track and field who had known Johnson for three decades, said he had a particularly nurturing way with disabled children. “When you were dealing with Rafer, you were dealing with a gracious, caring, loving person and he was that way with everyone.”
Johnson worked on the campaign of Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, and along with Rosey Grier helped tackle Sirhan Sirhan after Sirhan had assassinated RFK at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, June 5, 1968. Coming two months after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., there were a lot of tears across America in those days. The future looked bleak.
On a lighter note, when I was a kid I had a board game called “Decathlon” and it was patterned after Strat-O-Matic, with player cards for the decathletes, where you’d roll the dice to see what a Rafer Johnson did in a particular event. My games always came down to Johnson and C.K. Yang.
--The FIS World Cup ski season has been impacted by lack of snow in Europe, but then this weekend the women’s slate of Super-G races at St. Moritz was postponed due to too much snow and wind.
--The House passed a bill Thursday making the owning and trading of big cats illegal in a move inspired by the Netflix docuseries “Tiger King.”
The Big Cat Public Safety Act would bar private ownership of tigers, lions, leopards and other big cats and limit public contact with those animals. The bill was long championed by animal-rights activist Carole Baskin, whose nonprofit organization Big Cat Rescue was featured in the popular show.
Under the law, big cat owners may keep them as long as there’s no direct contact with the public. Anyone who’s found guilty of violating the act could face a fine of up to $20,000 and as many as five years in prison.
So if you’re thinking of swapping your tiger for that noble leopard your next door neighbor has, think again. And if you live in a multi-use building like I do, you can’t take your tiger into my Dunkin’ Donuts downstairs.
Top 3 songs for the week 12/7/74: #1 “Kung Fu Fighting” (Carl Douglas) #2 “I Can Help” (Billy Swan) #3 “When Will I See You Again” (The Three Degrees)…and…#4 “Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied)” (B.T. Express) #5 “Cat’s In The Cradle” (Harry Chapin) #6 “Angie Baby” (Helen Reddy) #7 “My Melody Of Love” (Bobby Vinton) #8 “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” (Bachman-Turner Overdrive) #9 “Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy)” (Al Green) #10 “You’re The First, The Last, My Everything” (Barry White…last three save the week…still a ‘C’…)
Olympic Decathlon Quiz Answers: 1) Eight Americans to win Gold since World War II: Bob Mathias (1948, ’52); Milt Campbell (1956); Rafer Johnson (1960); Bill Toomey (1968); Bruce Jenner (1976); Dan O’Brien (1996); Bryan Clay (2008); Ashton Eaton (2012, ’16). 2) Jim Thorpe won Gold in 1912. Technically, you see he shared it with Hugo Wieslander of Sweden, but that was because the IOC stripped Thorpe after finding out he took money to play some baseball prior to 1912, like literally pennies to play a little minor league ball, but in 1982 they gave it back to him, though he is still listed as a co-Gold medal winner. From his grave he is said to have commented, “Whatever.”
***Another Tuesday p.m. add-on after release of the latest CFP Rankings***