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NFL Playoffs Almost Set
Add-on posted early Wed. a.m.
CFP Championship Game
I turned it off at 52-7, though we all could have done so very safely at 31-7, seeing as how a good fan of the sport would have to at least wait to see if TCU responded at 24-7.
So for the record…Georgia, in winning its second consecutive national title, 65-7, a feat last achieved by Alabama under Nick Saban, outgained TCU 589-188 (largest margin in a national title game), zero turnovers, the Bulldogs’ defense sacking Max Duggan (14/22, 152, 0-2) five times, while the Horned Frogs didn’t sack Stetson Bennett (18/25, 304, 4-0; plus two rushing touchdowns) once. Georgia tight end Brock Bowers had a monster game, 7 receptions, 152 yards and a TD.
Yes, Georgia and Coach Kirby Smart have built a new dynasty.
“We wanted our kids to play without fear,” Smart said. “All year I told them, I said, ‘We ain’t getting hunted guys, we’re doing the hunting, and hunting season’s almost over. We’ve only got one more chance to hunt,’ and we hunted tonight.”
It was one of the all-time beatdowns in a big game, a la Nebraska running over Florida State by 38 in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl, or USC’s 36-point rout of Oklahoma in the 2005 Orange Bowl and Alabama’s 28-point BCS blowout over Notre Dame in 2013.
But this was worse. No team has ever scored more points in a national championship game, dating to the beginning of the BCS in 1998.
And Georgia can do it again, three-peat in 2023.
Dan Wolken / USA TODAY
“If it was just about recruiting stars, it wouldn’t have been this dominating. If it was just about measurables, the most important players in the game wouldn’t have been a 5-foot-11 former walk-on quarterback and a receiver who was going to play at Chattanooga before getting the scholarship offer of his dreams.
“Georgia isn’t sitting here as a back-to-back national champion just because Kirby Smart never met a signing day he couldn’t win. Do stars matter? Sure. Just ask TCU, which likely realized within minutes Monday that its size, speed and skill quotient were not the same as the team on the other side of the field.
“In miniature, Georgia’s 65-7 win was such a physical mismatch that there wasn’t a single part of the game where it looked like the Horned Frogs belonged in the same weight class.
“But what Georgia has done to repeat as champions for the first time in the College Football Playoff era is about far, far more than recruiting. Georgia isn’t just beating everyone else in that department, they’re evaluating better, developing better and coaching better than any program in college football.
“That doesn’t mean the Bulldogs are guaranteed to win championships as far as the eye can see. But would you bet against it, either? The fundamental reality of Georgia going 29-1 over the last two seasons is this: The rest of the sport has a lot of catching up to do.
“If this run was just about the blue chips, it wouldn’t have happened behind Stetson Bennett becoming a surgeon of a quarterback who makes quick decisions and delivers the ball with accuracy to the wide range of weapons he has at his disposal. That’s player development.
“If it was just about taking a list of the best skill players in a state loaded with them, Georgia wouldn’t have offered a scholarship to Ladd McConkey, who comes from a tiny town near the Tennessee border and didn’t draw any interest from other schools in the SEC. That’s player evaluation.
“And if it was just about rolling the ball out on the field, Georgia wouldn’t be so creative and beautiful to watch on offense, making quality teams look so ordinary week after week. That’s coaching.
“When you put it all together, you get Bennett, McConkey and the rest doing pretty much whatever they want against TCU. But in the wider lens, Georgia has all three elements of its program operating, at the absolute highest level, each one working hand-in-hand.
“It won’t last forever because, in football, nothing ever does. But when you see what’s always seemingly in the pipeline for Georgia – my goodness, did you see those freshmen defensive linemen making plays against TCU? – the vibes are unmistakably similar to Alabama’s dynasty at its peak. The difference is it might be even more terrifying for the opposition. At least with Alabama back in the day, they would play a surprisingly close game every now and then and maybe miss a field goal or two.
“But Georgia? They’re all business, and not a lot of programs are ever going to have what it takes to beat these guys when they’re humming like this.
“In fact, we saw exactly what it takes on New Year’s Eve. It took the best game Ryan Day ever coached and C.J. Stroud ever played at Ohio State for the Buckeyes to come within a missed 50-yard kick of pulling off a semifinal upset. And the reality is, outside of Alabama, Ohio State is probably the only program in America that recruits enough raw material to even make it a game.
“For all the $9 million salaries being thrown around in college football, that’s what everyone is up against. You can have your transfer portal, you can throw around as much name, image and likeness money as you want, but Georgia is still going to get its guys. And Smart has a program set up right now to develop them, send them off to the NFL and bring in the next group….
“The gap between Georgia and No. 2 is sizable, and Smart isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. Even moments after winning his second title, Smart was talking about what’s necessary to win a third.
“ ‘The disease that creeps into your program is called entitlement,’ he said. ‘I’ve seen it first hand, and if you can stomp it out with leadership, we can stay hungry. We have a saying around our place, ‘We eat off the floor.’ And if you’re willing to eat off the floor, you can be special.’
“Monday’s romp over TCU wasn’t just a football game, it was a statement to the rest of college football: If you want to get on Georgia’s level, you have to catch them on signing day, in evaluation and in player development. That’s the new standard in this sport. Best of luck to everyone trying to match it.”
Final AP Poll
1. Georgia (63) 15-0
2. TCU 13-2
3. Michigan 13-1
4. Ohio State 11-2
5. Alabama 11-2
6. Tennessee 11-2
7. Penn State 11-2
8. Washington 11-2
9. Tulane 12-2…awesome
10. Utah 10-4
11. Florida State 10-3
12. USC 11-3
13. Clemson 11-3
18. Notre Dame 9-4
22. Pitt 9-4
24. Fresno State 10-4
I gotta admit…the only Wild Card game I’m interested in is Giants at Minnesota (Sun.).
2 San Francisco vs. 7 Seattle (Sat.)
4 Jacksonville vs. 5 L.A. Chargers (Sat.)
2 Buffalo vs. 7 Miami (Sun.)
3 Cincinnati vs. 6 Baltimore (Sun.)
4 Tampa Bay vs. 5 Dallas (Mon.)
This is what College Football fans have to look forward to when they stupidly expand the playoffs to 12 teams in 2024.
Every Wild Card matchup is a rematch from the regular season…Dolphins-Bills split their two games; Baltimore-Cincinnati split, though the Ravens won when Lamar Jackson was healthy; Seattle lost its two against San Francisco by a combined 28; and the Vikings beat the Giants only because of a game-winning, 61-yard field goal. Lastly, Tampa Bay beat the Cowboys 19-3 at Jerry’s World in the season opener.
--Late Sunday after I had posted we had quite a choke job by the Packers, who needed to beat the Lions to get into the playoffs and lost, 20-16, at home, as Aaron Rodgers was less than stellar.
--Don’t expect Tua Tagovailoa to play for the Dolphins against the Bills. Coach Mike McDaniel said Monday that Tua hasn’t been cleared for any football activity after entering concussion protocol, again, Dec. 26. The team may get further clarity Wednesday. It’s possible No. 2 Teddy Bridgewater, who suffered a dislocated pinkie finger on his throwing hand in Week 17, could be ready for Sunday.
Running back Raheem Mostert broke his thumb in the win over the Jets and he’s required surgery…sounds like he’s doubtful for this weekend as well.
--The Titans fired four assistance coaches, including offensive coordinator Todd Downing, on Monday after their epic collapse, from 7-3 to 7-10. Earlier, they fired GM Jon Robinson.
Tennessee can save $18 million in cap space if they release quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
--The Texans fired coach Lovie Smith an hour after the team finished 3-13-1 in his first season. Houston has now fired back-to-back coaches after just one year, having ousted David Culley last January.
Smith, after his team defeated the Colts last Sunday, thereby losing the No. 1 pick in the draft in the process, said he expected to be back.
--Arizona fired Kliff Kingsbury, who in 2021, started out 10-2, but finished poorly and in four seasons was 28-37-1. And with the long-term massive commitment to quarterback Kyler Murray, who is slightly above average, at best, this team is a mess.
--The Rams completed the worst season-after performance by a Super Bowl champion in history in finishing 5-12.
The Rams had gone all-in during their boom-or-bust 2021 season and it paid off.
But winning a Super Bowl comes with costs, not always quantifiable.
Consider no team has repeated as champion since the 2004 New England Patriots.
And in 2021, the Rams played 21 games, the season not ending until Feb. 13 with their SB win over the Bengals.
So that meant a short offseason, players needing surgery not having the usual recovery time.
Super Bowl champs invariably lose assistant coaches, seven, in the Rams’ case. So the short turnaround affects the pool of available talent, and the time new coaches have to acclimate, and you get the picture.
--Bill Belichick is 25-25 in his last 50 regular-season games. He plans to return. Why? The Pats will suck next season.
--Damar Hamlin continued his amazing recovery Monday, as he was released from the Cincinnati hospital and transferred to one in Buffalo, after his doctors at the Univ. of Cincinnati Medical Center determined he had met the criteria to be released from intensive care and to have his condition upgraded from critical to fair or good.
Timothy Pitts, the trauma surgeon at the Medical Center said “[Damar] is making great progress. …A normal recovery from something like this is going to be measured in weeks to months. And he’s been a little bit ahead of that at each stage.”
Hamlin tweeted: “Headed home to Buffalo today with a lot of love on my heart. Watching the world come together around me on Sunday was truly an amazing feeling. The same love you all have shown me is the same love that I plan to put back into the world [and] more. Bigger than football!”
College Basketball Review
--New AP Poll (records thru Sunday)
1. Houston (34) 16-1
2. Kansas (220 14-1
3. Purdue (4) 15-1
4. Alabama 13-2
5. Tennessee 13-2
6. UConn 15-2
7. UCLA 14-2
8. Gonzaga 14-3
9. Arizona 14-2
10. Texas 13-2
11. Kansas State 14-1…from unranked to here
12. Xavier 13-3
13. Virginia 11-3
14. Iowa State 12-2
15. Arkansas 12-3
16. Miami 13-2
17. TCU 13-2
18. Wisconsin 11-3
19. Providence 14-3
20. Missouri 13-2
21. Auburn 12-3
22. Charleston 16-1
23. San Diego State 12-3
24. Duke 12-4
25. Marquette 13-4
--No big upsets Monday or Tuesday, but last night, Virginia (12-3) beat North Carolina 65-58, dropping the Tar Heels to 11-6, 3-3 in ACC play. Just amazing…UNC was preseason No. 1.
--The Nets received both good and bad news concerning Kevin Durant’s right knee…an MCL sprain after Miami’s Jimmy Butler fell into him during the Nets’ 102-101 victory Sunday night in Miami. Durant will be reevaluated in two weeks, but is likely out for about four weeks. Obviously could have been worse.
Brooklyn, 27-13, doesn’t play until Thursday against the Celtics, so it will be an interesting month or so.
--Steph Curry returned for the Warriors last night and scored 24 points, but Golden State (20-21) lost to Phoenix (21-21) 125-113.
--Monday, the Lakers (19-22) had their winning streak snapped at Denver (27-13), LeBron not in the lineup, 122-109, as Nikola Jokic had an amazing triple-double…14 points on 5-of-5 from the field, 11 rebounds, and 16 assists for the 6’11” center.
--The Mets have lost out to the Twins on the Carlos Correa contract front. After the Mets reached the same conclusion the San Francisco Giants had reached when the latter first offered Correa a huge contract, that Correa was a ticking time bomb, physically, the Twins, who Correa played for last season and wanted back, only to see him opt out of the final two years ($70.2 million) of his contract, swooped in with the Mets’ indecision and offered the All-Star shortstop, who was going to switch to third for the Metropolitans, $200 million over six years, pending a physical, with a vesting option that could bring the total to $270 million over 10 years, pending a physical.
As a Mets fan I am not upset. We have one of the better prospects in the game in Brett Baty waiting in the wings, a guy with home run pop, and I’m guessing by midseason we are saying Carlos Who? In the meantime, Eduardo Escobar is a more than capable fill-in.
Fret not, Mets fans. And now our dear Uncle Stevie can spend the Correa cash elsewhere, and/or just lie in wait for Shohei Ohtani, should the Angels opt to let him go, either in a trade at the deadline, or in free agency…which means if they don’t think they’ll be able to sign him, Ohtani goes in July…
--Mikaela Shiffrin failed to break Lindsey Vonn’s record 82 Alpine World Cup wins when she finished second to rival Petra Vlhova in a slalom in Flauchau, Austria yesterday.
--The golf world was buzzing into Monday over Collin Morikawa’s epic collapse at the Tournament of Champions, having given up a nine-shot lead to eventual winner Jon Rahm.
As I noted when I posted Sunday, Morikawa was just one of nine in PGA Tour history to blow a six-shot, 54-hole lead, a group that includes Greg Norman’s 1996 Masters collapse.
Morikawa was asked how he felt after shooting a final-round 72. “Sadness. I don’t know. It sucks. You work so hard and you give yourself these opportunities and just bad timing on bad shots and kind of added up really quickly.”
Among the others to blow a six-shot lead heading to the final round was Spencer Levin, at the 2012 WM Phoenix Open. Can you believe that was 11 years ago?! Good lord…that’s depressing.
Not depressing for Family Rahm was the $2.7 million check Dad cashed.
Morikawa soothed his wounds with $1.5 million in this new era of elevated purses for selected events.
It was good to see Will Zalatoris play solidly, T11, in his first event since September after suffering a back injury.
Next B.C. Sunday p.m.
Add-on up top by noon, Wed.
***Shiffrin Ties Vonn…details below…
CFP Quiz: In the 2015 CFP Championship Game, Alabama beat Clemson 45-40. 1) Who was Bama’s quarterback? 2) Who was the star running back and receiver for the Crimson Tide? 3) For Clemson, Deshaun Watson threw for 405 yards. Who were his three prime targets? Answers below.
Saturday, Damar Hamlin posted on Instagram:
“When you put real love out into the world it comes back to you (three times) as much. The love has been overwhelming, but I’m thankful for every single person that prayed for me and reached out. We (brought) the world back together behind this. If you know me you know this is only (going to) make me stronger.
“On a long road keep praying for me!”
We are Damar. We love you.
--For the record…just to set things up….
With the Bills-Bengals game rife with implications for postseason seeding in the AFC, Commissioner Roger Goodell and his competition committee laid out some unique recommendations – adopted Friday – that could lead to unparalleled postseason circumstances after opting not to reschedule the contest and allow the two teams to play 16, rather than 17 games.
Buffalo (12-3) entered Week 17 tied with the Kansas City Chiefs (13-3) for the best record in the AFC but held the head-to-head tiebreaker. Cincinnati (11-4) trailed both teams by one game but would have held a three-way tiebreaker with a win over the Bills. The Bengals beat the Chiefs in Week 13 in a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game.
For one, the AFC championship game would be played on a neutral field if either the Bills or Bengals are matched up against the Kansas City Chiefs. Second, even though the Bengals were declared AFC North champions since they currently retain a 1 ½-game lead on the Ravens, if the Ravens complete a season sweep of Cincinnati on Sunday, then the site of a potential wild-card rematch between the teams would be determined by a coin flip.
If Buffalo and Kansas City both win this weekend, the Chiefs get the bye.
--So….K.C. earned the No. 1 seed and the bye Saturday night in easy fashion, 31-13 over Las Vegas (6-11) as Patrick Mahomes passed for 202 yards, and picked up another 29 on the ground to reach 5,608 total yards for the season, an NFL record.
As to whether a potential K.C.-Bills AFC Championship matchup would be played on a neutral field, it was up to the Bills Sunday.
One note on the Raiders…Luke Masterson, outside linebacker, has played very well down the stretch, including nine tackles Saturday. An undrafted free agent out of little old Wake Forest!
--Also, Saturday, Jacksonville punched their ticket into the playoffs by capturing the AFC South with a 20-16 victory over Tennessee, the Titans completing a collapse for the ages…7-3 to 7-10.
Trevor Lawrence was far from sharp for the Jags, but the defense pulled off a strip sack/fumble recovery for a late touchdown with 2:51 to play to turn what would have been a devastating 16-13 loss into their first playoff appearance since 2017. Jags fan Steve G. partied allll night.
What a turnaround for Jacksonville in their first season under Doug Pederson, going from 3-14 last season (and 1-15 in 2020), to 9-8 and the postseason.
Pederson deserves major credit for the turnaround in Trevor Lawrence’s play between his first and second seasons after being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 draft.
2021…12 TD passes…17 interceptions…71.9 passer rating
Separately, Tennessee rookie punter Ryan Stonehouse finished the season with an otherworldly 53.1 average…smashing the all-time season mark of Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh, who set the bar at 51.4 per punt in 1940. The previous rookie record was 48.2 by Seattle’s Michael Dickson in 2018.
--OK, on to Sunday and the AFC wild card picture, the Pats in a ‘win and in’ situation, and in a Hollywood start, the Bills’ Nyheim Hines returned the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. Hines would later have a 101-yard effort for a second return TD, and a biggie in the game, putting Buffalo up 21-17, as the Bills knocked out New England (8-9), 35-23.
Hines became the eleventh player in NFL history to have two kickoff returns for touchdowns in a game, the last being Leon Washington in 2010 with Seattle.
--So could the Jets (7-10) knock off Miami, and keep the hopes of Steelers fans alive?
Nope…despite a nice show from New York’s spectacular rookie receiver, Garrett Wilson, 9 receptions for 89, the Jets were forced to start Joe Flacco, behind a decimated offensive line, and on the phone lines tomorrow at WFAN, the calls for the head of offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur will grow even louder, the Jets with a whopping 187 yards of total offense…New York losing 11-6, all field goals (and a final play safety), Miami’s Jason Sanders with a 50-yarder to win it at 0:18 left in the game.
[If you had the ‘Over’ at 37…you lost!]
Jets fans, and the organization, were hoping to get one more look at quarterback Mike White before the offseason, as they face some rather serious decisions this spring on the QB front.
But White said he has five broken ribs that prevented him from playing in the final game. He now heads into free agency, though he has strongly said he hopes the Jets keep him in their plans.
--So Miami (9-8) is in, breaking a five-game losing streak, and Steelers fans are distraught.
Pittsburgh did what it had to do, beating the Browns (7-10) 28-14, but it was all for naught.
But the Steelers do finish 9-8, and their future franchise quarterback, so they hope, Kenny Pickett, shows promise.
And in his now 16 years, Pittsburgh still hasn’t had a below .500 season under Mike Tomlin, which is rather remarkable.
--Back to the Bills (13-3), the potential for a neutral site championship game is very much alive.
--In other games, Chicago (3-14) snapped up the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft by losing to Minnesota (13-4) 29-13, while Houston (3-13-1) played too hard and beat Indianapolis (4-12-1) 32-31.
But the Bears have Justin Fields at quarterback, and the Texans should still be able to draft Alabama’s Bryce Young.
Tampa Bay was locked in the 4-spot as they faced Atlanta (7-10), but Tom Brady started the game anyway and went 13/17 with a touchdown, thus setting new NFL records for both completions, 490, and attempts, 736…the former his own record, the latter, breaking Matthew Stafford’s 727 in 2012.
The Falcons won the game, 30-17, with the Bucs in the postseason at 8-9. Eegads, the NFC South being the height of blowdom.
It was also Brady’s first losing season of his career.
--The Bengals finish 12-4 with a 27-16 win over the Ravens (10-7), and these two will match up again next week in Cincinnati…the big question mark being whether Lamar Jackson is finally able to play?
--In the NFC, the 49ers grabbed the second spot, 13-4, with a 38-13 win over the dreadful Cardinals (4-13); Brock Purdy with another superb performance, 15/20, 178, 3-0, 141.3.
--But the Eagles get the bye at No. 1, 22-16 over the 6-seed Giants (9-7-1), Philly finishing 14-3. Importantly, Jalen Hurts was back on the field, getting the rust out.
--The Cowboys ended up 12-5, 26-6 losers to the Commanders (8-8-1), and will be on the road at Tampa Bay.
--As for the final wild card slot, the Seahawks beat the Rams to go to 9-8, and now as we head to Packers-Lions, the Lions have been eliminated, but Green Bay is in with a win.
--The Saints granted the Broncos permission to interview Sean Payton for their head-coaching vacancy, ESPN reported. Denver would have to pay if they went with him as he’s under contract with New Orleans until 2024, so picks (or players) would head the Saints way.
--As I go to post, Georgia is still favored by 12 ½ against TCU Monday night.
--In a kind of bizarre situation, with Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh once again being linked to an NFL team or two, Michigan received its Notice of Allegations from the NCAA outlining potential rules violations involving the Wolverines’ football program.
According to The Athletic, Michigan faces four Level II violations and one Level I violation. The Level I violation, which is considered the most serious by the NCAA, is levied against Harbaugh for providing false or misleading information. The NCAA found that he failed to cooperate with investigators related to a Level II violation regarding contact with two prospects during the Covid-19 dead period.
The violations include impermissible contact made during that time as well as a self-reported violation for improper use of an analyst for on-field instruction. These violations are considered minor infractions.
Harbaugh released a statement Thursday reiterating his intention to coach at Michigan in 2023, though multiple sources have him leaving if offered an NFL job and the NCAA issues could factor into his decision.
Harbaugh, 59, is 74-25 in eight seasons at his alma mater with two Big Ten championships and appearances in the CFP each of the past two seasons.
The Level I charge against the coach, while serious, is not a deal-breaker and the school and Harbaugh could agree upon satisfactory disciplinary action and move forward.
--Meanwhile, down in South Bend, Indiana, Notre Dame and now former Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman made it official…Hartman has transferred there.
Next season, Notre Dame has Ohio State, Sept. 23; USC Oct. 14; Clemson Nov. 4; and, oh, Wake Forest Oct. 28. This will be fascinating.
But as I told Notre Dame alum Mark R., as good as Hartman is, and I’m sure the fan base is pumped to get such an experienced, high-level transfer to plug in immediately, get ready for a real clunker (or two) at the worst possible time.
--In the FCS (I-AA) championship today, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits won their first title, 45-21 over 9-time North Dakota State in Frisco, Texas.
Jackrabbit Nation is scrambling all over the place tonight, making babies.
--Not many upsets in the Top 25 since last post prior to Saturday, except on Wednesday, Providence handed 4 UConn (14-2, 3-2) its second loss in a row, 73-61, the Friars off to a fine start, 13-3, 5-0. It’s always cool to see Providence do well.
UConn recovered Saturday with an important win over Creighton (9-7, 3-2), 69-60. [Providence beat St. John’s 83-80, now 6-0 in the Big East.]
Washington State (7-10, 2-4) pulled off a huge upset on the road, beating 5 Arizona (14-2, 3-2) in Tucson, 74-61.
21 New Mexico (14-2, 2-2) lost its second in a row and won’t see the Top 25 again for a while, 84-77 to UNLV (12-3, 1-2) at The Pit.
In other important games, 7 Alabama (13-2, 3-0) made a statement with a 78-52 win over Kentucky (10-5, 1-2).
Illinois (10-5, 1-3) upset 14 Wisconsin (11-3, 3-1) 79-69…Wake Forest fans want the Badgers to do well the rest of the way to make our early road win in Madison look better.
8 Tennessee (13-2, 3-0) annihilated South Carolina (7-8, 0-2) in Columbia, 85-42, as Olivier Nkamhoua hit all 10 of his field goal attempts, while pulling down 10 boards.
In a big ACC game, Clemson (13-3, 5-0) edged Pitt (11-5, 4-1) 75-74 in Pittsburgh.
Wake (11-5, 3-2) picked up a road win at Louisville (2-14, 0-5) 80-72. You’re reading that record for the Cardinals right…and having watched them yesterday, they are not that bad. The Deacs were lucky not to blow a 20-point lead as it became a nailbiter late.
I must say, I have never seen a worse rebounding team up front than Wake. Thankfully, we have guards who hit the boards.
--With conference play now predominating the rest of the way in the regular season, looking back at how conferences did against Top 25 teams outside their conference….
--Texas formally fired coach Chris Beard for cause on Thursday, less than a month after his Dec. 12 arrest on third-degree domestic violence charges after an altercation with his fiancée.
Beard was offered the chance to resign, according to documents obtained by the American-Statesman, but he chose not to.
Perry Minton, Beard’s lawyer, wrote Texas, saying, “I want to be on record as emphatically stating, and herein memorializing, that Coach Beard has not done anything to violate any provision of his contract with the University of Texas.”
Beard, 49, was in his second season as head basketball coach. He had been suspended without pay by the university since Dec. 12 after his fiancée Randi Trew called Austin police and told them Beard had strangled her, bit her and caused her abrasions. He was booked in Travis County jail and released later that day after posting $10,000 bail.
Even though Trew later clarified that Beard may have acted in self-defense and had never strangled her, Beard has never spoken publicly about the episode. He faces a hearing on Jan. 18, and the Travis County DA’s office confirmed Wednesday that it is reviewing the case to determine whether to proceed with it.
Beard was 2019 AP Coach of the Year at Texas Tech, where he was national runner-up, losing in the final in overtime to Virginia.
This situation isn’t over, especially if Travis County drops charges….at least one would think that.
Meanwhile, assistant coach Rodney Terry will remain interim coach the rest of the season and the No. 6 Longhorns (13-2, 2-1) are playing well under him, including a 56-46 road win at Oklahoma State (9-6, 1-2) Saturday.
--Georgetown lost its 25th consecutive regular-season Big East conference game on Wednesday, 73-57 against Villanova. That’s unfathomable. As much as the school loves him, coach Patrick Ewing isn’t getting it done. But AD Lee Reed has given him a vote of confidence.
For his part, Ewing said after the game: “I’ll be the head coach at Georgetown until the president or the board decides for me to move on. …You know, a friend of mine sent me a quote today: ‘It’s not how many times you get knocked down; it’s how many times you get up.’ We got knocked down, so all we’re going to do is keep on getting up.”
Gee, Kevin McCarthy said the same thing this past week.
Georgetown made it 26 yesterday, falling 95-73 at Marquette.
--About two weeks ago, LeBron James said he didn’t want to be playing on a losing team in his final years, and made it rather clear he wasn’t happy with the state of the Lakers.
It was a none too subtle message to his teammates, and perhaps the front office, and in terms of the former, message received as the Lakers have reeled off five straight, including last night’s 136-134 win over the Kings, LeBron with 37 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists.
King James, who turned 38 on Dec. 30, has been playing terrific basketball, and L.A. is back in the playoff hunt at the midway point of the season.
New Orleans 24-16
6. Clippers 21-20
10. Utah 20-22
--My Knicks have been on an extreme roller coaster…win eight in a row to get to 18-13, lose five in a row, 18-18, win four straight, 22-18.
Brooklyn 26-13…had 12-win streak snapped last week…
6. Knicks 22-18
7. Indiana 22-18
--The Athletic had a piece on the scoring explosion in the NBA this season.
As in there are 44 players averaging 20-plus points per game, 13 more than any other season.
Twelve different players have already topped 50 in a game. I remember growing up, and then in the Michael Jordan era, 50 was accomplished only a handful of times a season.
As for why there is so much scoring, I agree with The Athletic… “the talent in the league is better than ever.” Ditto the college game, I’d add.
--One day after agreeing to a one-year deal to avoid arbitration, the Boston Red Sox made a move that reassured fans they are indeed thinking of the future, inking third baseman Rafael Devers to an 11-year, $331 million deal, the richest in club history by more than $110 million in total value.
Devers, 26, has been an All Star each of the last two seasons, has two 100-RBI campaigns, and is simply one of the better players in the game.
In terms of total money, his deal is the sixth-largest in MLB history, with Mike Trout No. 1 at $426.5 million (2019-2030).
This was a huge move for Boston fans, who have been doubting the front office’s intentions this offseason.
--The Dodgers announced Friday they were cutting ties with onetime ace Trevor Bauer as he returns from a suspension, reduced from 324 to 194 games, for violating baseball’s sexual assault and domestic violence policy.
In a statement on Twitter, the team cited that “extensive reviews of all the available evidence” – by both MLB and an independent arbitrator – had determined that Bauer was deserving of the longest-ever suspension for an active player.
“Now that this process has been completed, and after careful consideration, we have decided that he will no longer be part of our organization,” the Dodgers wrote.
The Dodgers will end up having paid Bauer more than $64 million for a total of 17 games pitched.
Bauer will turn 32 on Jan. 17. Will anyone now sign him for the MLB minimum? It’s not like he made one mistake. This guy was an online bully and a polarizing clubhouse presence when the Dodgers signed him to a three-year deal worth $102 million before the 2021 season. They are paying the price for poor judgment…and thank god the Mets, were in the bidding for Bauer at the time, didn’t sign him.
So he comes with major league baggage to go with his major league stuff.
Bill Plaschke / Los Angeles Times
“In a winter during which they have been roundly criticized for not spending money, the Dodgers just made the most important investment of many seasons.
“They spent $22.5 million to reaffirm their place as a leader in this community.
“They spent $22.5 million to reset the personal conduct standard for their employees.
“They spent $22.5 million on Los Angeles.
“In an obvious yet no less important decision announced Friday, the Dodgers chose to cut loose embattled pitcher Trevor Bauer amid the completion of his record 194-game suspension….
“They officially designated him for assignment, which means they have seven days to trade or release him, but in either case they’ll have to pay most if not all of the remaining $22.5 million on his contract.
“Good for them. Smart for them. They decided to stand on the right side of history at great cost. For Jackie’s sake, for Sandy’s sake, for Vin’s sake, it’s worth it….
“As expected, Bauer went down throwing a curveball. In a statement released shortly after the announcement, he claimed the Dodgers actually wanted him back.
“ ‘Following two weeks of conversations around my return to the organization, I sat down with Dodgers leadership in Arizona yesterday who told me that they wanted me to return and pitch for the team this year,’ he said.
“He’s right about the meeting, it was the first time they met since the suspension of two summers ago. But there is absolutely no indication that any member of the Dodgers leadership team told Bauer he was wanted back. It was more likely that Bauer was just trying to throw one last trick pitch.
“The Dodgers wanted him gone, and so he is gone, and that’s all that matters.”
Shockingly, a Los Angeles Times poll revealed that a majority of respondents wanted Bauer to return to the team.
And some players contacted by the Dodgers were also in favor of his return.
But Plaschke is right. The Dodgers did the right thing.
And as he concluded:
“The late great Tommy Lasorda once said, ‘Don’t play for the name on the back of your shirt, you play for the name on the front of your shirt.’
“In releasing Trevor Bauer, the Dodgers played for the name on the front of their shirt.
“That’s 22.5 million well spent.”
--Still no word on the Carlos Correa contract situation with the Mets, or others at this point.
--We note the passing of former Padres slugger Nate Colbert, 76. He hit 163 of his 173 career home runs in a San Diego uniform, 1969-74, including 20+ per season, 38 twice, from ’69-’73. He was also a 3X All-Star.
In 1972, Colbert became the second player in MLB history to hit five home runs during a doubleheader. He also tallied 13 RBI in the historic outing against the Braves.
[Aug. 1, 1972…4-for-5 in the first game, with two homers and 5 RBIs; 3-for-4 in the nightcap, 3 home runs, 8 RBIs.]
--At the opener for the 2023 calendar year, the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Kapalua, Collin Morikawa, who said before the week began he had renewed focus, after losing it at times last year, a year with no wins, is back with a vengeance.
Morikawa, seeking his sixth tour victory, has a six-shot lead heading into the final round.
Matt Fitzpatrick -18
J.J. Spaun -18
Scottie Scheffler -18
And out of nowhere, in a choke for the ages, Morikawa lost…to Jon Rahm, his 8th win, Morikawa just the ninth PGA Tour player to lose a final-round six-shot lead…ever.
Rahm ended up winning by two. At one point in the round, he was nine back!
More on this in my Add-on.
--According to an initial report, the PGA Tour’s new fall season is taking shape, with just seven events scheduled for September, October and November. In the 2022 fall slate, there were nine official events.
The fall slate will reportedly begin in Napa, California, at the Fortinet championship, Sept. 14-17. Then there would be two weeks off, which includes the Ryder Cup in Rome.
You would have three events in October, including Sanderson Farms and the Shriner’s Children’s Open in Vegas.
And three events in November, including the Bermuda Championship and the RSM Classic
--Mikaela Shiffrin ran her win streak to five on Wednesday in Zagreb with her 51st slalom title. That moved her overall career win total to 81, one shy of Lindsey Vonn’s record 82. A second race in Zagreb was postponed due to weather issues.
So it was on to Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, and on Saturday, Shiffrin tied for sixth in a giant slalom, breaking her winning streak. Valerie Grenier of Canada won the face for her first career victory. In 89 previous World Cup races, Grenier’s best had been a fourth in this same race last year, and a fourth in a super-G race in 2019.
This I can’t believe, but a Canadian woman hadn’t won a World Cup giant slalom since Kathy Kreiner in 1974. Kreiner went on to win the event at the 1976 Innsbruck Olympics.
So speaking of Kreiner, she won that GS by .12 seconds over Rosi Mittermaier, who nearly became the first woman to win three Alpine skiing gold medals at the same Olympics, Mittermaier winning the downhill and slalom races earlier at Innsbruck.
Mittermaier died this week. She was 72 and a major celebrity in Germany. She recalled in a 2020 interview her postman’s difficulties delivering 27,000 letters of fan mail to her parents’ mountain home in a single month after her Olympic performance. She worked as a TV sports commentator and was known for her support of charitable causes.
Well, today, Sunday, Mikaela Shiffrin tied Vonn’s 82, leading from start to finish to win a giant slalom by a large margin and can now break Vonn’s record Tuesday in a night slalom scheduled for Flachau, Austria.
Shiffrin said: “I was so nervous this run. I have a rash on my face I was so nervous. I don’t know why, maybe a little bit was because of 82. I just really wanted to ski well, and I did.”
How good are Vonn and Shiffrin? They have 20 more wins than the next woman on the all-time wins list, Annemarie Moser-Proll of Austria who had 62.
Vonn needed 395 races for her 82 wins, while Shiffrin has done it in just 233. And she’s only 27. Can she get to 100? Will she want to? Heck, she could be at 86+ by end of this season (86 Ingemar Stenmark’s record total on the men’s side).
--The Australian Open begins play on Jan. 16 in Melbourne, but the first grand slam event of the year will be without top-ranked Carlos Alcaraz, the 19-year-old U.S. Open champ pulling out because he got hurt “through a chance, unnatural movement in training,” as he wrote on social media…a leg injury. No further details.
So it will be all about No. 2 Rafael Nadal and the return of Novak Djokovic, who will be trying to win the Aussie Open for a 10th time.
On the women’s side, Naomi Osaka, Aussie Open champ in 2019 and 2021, withdrew, the latest turn in a strange career. No reason was given but Osaka hasn’t played in a tournament since September.
--The saga of U.S. Men’s Soccer coach Gregg Berhalter is very confusing and I have little interest in it with the next World Cup four years away.
But for the record, Berhalter was at a conference in New York following the U.S. appearance in Qatar, a conference on leadership lessons, and he was told everything would remain in the room. It didn’t.
So Berhalter’s comments on Gio Reyna, the young American star he chose to bench due to a poor attitude in practice suddenly blew up in his face.
Berhalter, in an interview this past Thursday with the Harvard Business Review, said: “If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t have told that story. It just brought too much unwanted attention to an otherwise shining example of team culture.”
Tuesday, Berhalter had revealed an unnamed person had approached U.S. Soccer during the World Cup with potentially damaging information about him and an incident that occurred 31 years earlier. It was blackmail.
In a lengthy post on social media, Berhalter explained the incident in 1991 involved a dispute outside a bar with his now-wife, Rosalind Berhalter, in which he kicked her in the legs. Though the pair separated at the time, as students at the University of North Carolina, they reunited seven months later and have been married for 25 years and have four children.
So the person who reached out to U.S. Soccer was Danielle Reyna, Gio Reyna’s mother and a former member of the U.S. women’s national team. She had been teammates with Rosalind Berhalter (then Santana) at UNC. Her husband, Claudio Reyna, was a childhood friend of Gregg Berhalter’s and later his teammate on the U.S. national squad.
“Our entire family is sad about these events. As we said in the statement, this isn’t something we were prepared to hide from then, and we won’t hide from it now,” Gregg said on Thursday. “To me, it’s about my wife. It’s about feeling for her. It was her story and I feel tremendously bad that my profession had to bring this to the public light. But having said that, we’re strong and we keep going.”
So in Qatar, Gio Reyna didn’t start any of the Americans’ four matches and came off the bench for a total of 52 minutes. The Reynas were upset with their son’s treatment. And then when Berhalter’s comments of Dec. 11 became public, they went over him to USMNT officials.
Danielle Reyna said in a statement on Wednesday: “I thought it was especially unfair that Gio who had apologized for acting immaturely about his playing time, was still being dragged through the mud when Gregg had asked for and received forgiveness for doing something so much worse at the same age.”
Claudio Reyna also sent multiple messages to USMNT general manager Brian McBride and director Earnie Stewart during the World Cup, in which he shared his frustration about Gio’s WC experience.
Multiple sources told ESPN Claudio threatened to share allegations about Berhalter’s past, but Reyna has denied this.
Gregg Berhalter’s contract expired at the end of 2022, with U.S. soccer officials saying he remains a candidate and will be considered once they complete their technical review of the program.
--The Premier League was off this weekend for FA Cup play.
Top 3 songs for the week 1/6/73: #1 “You’re So Vain” (Carly Simon) #2 “Clair” (Gilbert O’Sullivan) #3 “Me And Mrs. Jones” (Billy Paul…we got a thinnnng…goin onnnn….)…and…#4 “Superstition” (Stevie Wonder) #5 “Funny Face” (Donna Fargo) #6 “It Never Rains In Southern California” (Albert Hammond…except the last few weeks…) #7 “Rockin’ Pneumonia – Boogie Woogie Flu” (Johnny Rivers) #8 “Your Mama Don’t Dance” (Kenny Loggins & Jim Messina) #9 “Superfly” (Curtis Mayfield) #10 “You Ought To Be With Me” (Al Green…B+ week…)
CFP Quiz Answers: 2015 CFP Final…1) Jake Coker (16/25, 335, 2-0) was Alabama’s QB. 2) Derrick Henry rushed for 158 yards and three touchdowns, while OJ Howard caught five passes for 208 yards and two scores. 3) Deshaun Watson’s prime targets were Hunter Renfrow (7-88-2), Charone Peake (6-99) and Jordan Leggett (5-78-1).
Brief Add-on up top by noon, Wed. Enjoy the championship game!