From the "Al Davis Studios," here we go...
College football's greatness
This college football season has been excellent. The games have been exciting and played with the verve and energy reserved for warrior poets.
This college football season has been impressive. There a select few of truly dominant teams that feature true superstars doing super things.
This college football season has been surprising. Be it the dizzying offense and enthusiasm of Dab Swinney or the quick start at Vandy or the underdog role in Manhattan, Kan., by K-State, there have been at least a dozen, "Wow, who knew?" moments.
This college football season has been special, and promises to be even more so with showdowns like Alabama-LSU and Oregon-Stanford and Oklahoma-Oklahoma State still on the schedule.
And all of these things are great.
But, this college football season may also represent the beginning of the end of current system of college athletics. There is a perfect storm brewing.
The conference expansion craze has hardly slowed, and whenever Missouri finally makes its decision in the coming days (we're still saying the Tigers are SEC-bound) the spin cycle will be on full tilt once again. The mad push for expansion is the conferences way of putting themselves in a position of increased strength when the TV renegotiations happen later this decade.
NCAA president Mark Emmert on Monday backed a proposal to increase scholarship with $2,000 to "more closely approach" the full cost of a scholarship. This proposal would have to apply to all athletes at participating schools, meaning the field hockey reserve at Stanford would get the same 2-grand that Andrew Luck would. More on this to come.
There is a group of current and former college athletes called the National College Players Association, which terms itself as an advocacy group for athletes, that is collecting signatures from current college athletes wanting the NCAA and college sports to recognize their demands. Sounds a WHOLE lot like a union, huh? Well among the things this group would like is that figure be closer to $3,300 to "more closely approach" the cost of a scholarship.
So the big conferences are positioning themselves to make more money — even at the risk of having to spend crazy amounts of that money. (How much bigger is Texas A&M's travel budget now that every sport will have to travel to Gainesville, Fla., and Lexington, Ky. or the same for Boise State, which has been invited to join the Big East?) Which will continue to widen the divide between the power conference teams and those that are not.
The NCAA is exploring a plan for schools to offer a $2,000 stipend for schools that can. Emmert said he expected all of the BCS schools to adopt it, and that makes sense because they are the ones that can afford it. The others that can't afford it, well, it seems like another big-time stretch and the gap between the haves and the have nots is only going to grow.
But as that gap grows, the feeling of exclusion will grow, and will most of the power conferences could not care less what their little brothers in college sports have to say, here's saying that politicians will. And once Congress gets in this thing, well, who knows where this could land.
So, that likely leads down a path with a fork in the road: This way is a Congressional overhaul of college sports (and sweet buckets of amendments and vetoes there are a ton of other problems and pressing issues facing this country that need Congress's attention, nevermind the fact that no one knows how bad Congress would mess up college sports if/when they did get involved in it); that way is splintering off the BCS leagues into their own branch and the rest of college sports would have to find a way to survive.
What does this mean? When will it get here? What are we having for lunch? Can it be fixed? Well, it's hard to know any answer other than this one: If these are the salad days of college sports on the field, then as H.I. McDunnough says, "I preminisce no return of the salad days."
Let us get this straight: Crowd noise, confusion and a bad connection prevented St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa from making a timely pitching change in Monday's 4-2 Game 5 loss to Texas? Seriously, that's the story the Cards are going with and plan on sticking to?
The St. Louis Cardinals celebrate after the ninth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the Texas Rangers Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011, in St. Louis. The Cardinals won 3-2 to take a 1-0 lead in the series.Photo by (AP Photo by Eric Gay)
Well, for starters, here's saying Daniel LaRusso could work the phone well enough to get some one warmed up and if that fails, let's get the Verizon guy on staff for the rest of the Series. Can you us now? Puh-lease.
Here's how the story goes: Cards manager LaRussa called in Marc Rzepczynski to face lefty David Murphy, but he did not have a right-hander warming up to face Mike Napoli, who was waiting on deck. LaRussa said because of crowd noise his bullpen coaches could not hear him ask to get closer Jason Motte up and ready. After Murphy reached on an infield single, Napoli's game-winning double gave the Rangers the win and a 3-2 lead in the Series, which heads back to St. Louis for Game 6 on Wednesday. It also made Ron Washington look like a much better manager than LaRussa, and who would have predicted that two weeks ago.
That's the craziness of baseball. And bullpen phones. Hey, we get it there's a lot of stuff going on down there. Lots of calls to make and things to do. There's the early-inning naps. The games of grab tuckus to waste time. There are postgame after-parties to make sure everyone is aware of. The pizzas have to get called in. There's the SI football phone that needs to be ordered. Maybe some telemarketing calls. Maybe even some crank calls to the Rangers' dugout:
Rangers dugout: "Hello?"
Cards bullpen: "Yeah, hi. I think my sister works there. Amanda is her name. Amanda Huggenkiss. Will you check?"
Rangers dugout: "OK. Is there Amanda Huggenkiss around here?"
Thank you we'll be here are all week. Here are the folks that still have a chance in the Not-So-World-Serious
5-at-10: Cards in 7 (Albert Pujols)
Mrs. 5-at-10: Rangers in 6 (Ian Kinsler)
Oso: Rangers in 6 (Nelson Cruz)
Spy: Rangers in 6. (Michael Young)
OTWatcher: Rangers in 6 (Adrian Beltre)
SportTalk’s Dr. B (He’s a doctor after all): Rangers in 6 (Josh Hamilton)
SportTalk’s Quake: Rangers in 6 (Nelson Cruz)
WarEagle: Rangers in 6 (Josh Hamilton)
BetterthanYou: Rangers in 6 (Mike Napoli)
Friendoftheshow: Rangers in 6 (Napoli)
NFL power poll
There some movement among each 5s. The top five had some changes — Lions have no lost two straight and that was a bad loss Monday at Jacksonville for the Ravens. The movement came in direction for the bottom 5, which did not change a lot of team but the Colts are woeful. Here's saying that the Colts need never worry about washing their uniforms ever again, because there is no way their pants could stink worse than the stink-pants showing Sunday night in a 62-7 loss at New Orleans that featured injured Saints coach Sean Payton calling plays and eating hot dogs in a sky box.
Here we go (and we have to move quickly since the first couple kind of went long):
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
1) Green Bay: Scary good. Didn't play well and the Vikings played so far above their heads their noses are still bleeding and the Packers won at Minnesota by six.
2) New England: After the off week, the Pats have a fun one this week against the Steelers.
3) New Orleans: Sweat bloody blowouts. Scoring 62 in an NFL takes some effort — on each side.
4) Pittsburgh: Yes, it was a bad start, but as friend of the show SteelerFan has told us on more than one occasion the Steelers' schedule is front loaded and if they start to find their stride, look out.
5) San Fran: At 5-1 in the NFC West — the league's worst division BY FAR — the 49ers may be able to clinch by Thanksgiving. Seriously.
28) Arizona: The Cardinals first appearance here begs the question,"Didn't this bunch play in a Super Bowl like three years ago?" Wow.
29) Minnesota: Bad scene for the Vikings, who have some nice pieces and good fans. But are a bad team in a very stout division. Has anyone fallen faster than Donovan McNabb in the last say three years?
30) St. Louis: The Rams have been without their star RB (Stephen Jackson) and their franchise QB (Sam Bradford) at different points this season. No fun at all.
31) Miami: The Dolphins need Andrew Luck so bad it's hard to overstate it. Miami is a proud NFL franchise that has hit rock bottom. Plus, with Luck to build around, here's saying some of the top coaching names out there (Cowher, Gruden, Dungy, etc.) who would have ignored calls from the Miami-area before would be more than willing to listen with a decade of good Luck on South Beach. (LeBron says hi, JordanRules.)
32) Indianapolis: We joked about it at the beginning of the season, but after that 62-7 beatdown, Peyton Manning's MVP candidacy just got a real jolt of energy. Our ballot right now would be Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Frank Gore. Seriously.
This and that
— USC quarterback Matt Barkley said Notre Dame "gave up" during the Trojans' 31-17 win Saturday. Has not exactly been a smooth year for Brian Kelly in South Bend, huh?
— The NBA is preparing to cancel two more weeks of the regular season, wiping almost all of the November games from the calendar. Don't say you weren't warned NBA.
— Don't know if this is sports or not, but here goes: Has anyone seen the commercial with the new electronic Yahtzee with the digital tiles instead of the dice? That's right we've become so lazy and so convenience-obsessed as a culture that we can't role five dice? Really? We need Yahtzee to be digitalized? Excuse us, the 5-at-10 is going to go back our head against a wall for five minutes in protest.
— Here's Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh on the claims by Falcons players that Suh was taunting Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan when he was injured on the turf in Sunday's game: "To me it's karma for all the bad stuff they've done in the past. Their offensive lineman hurt their own quarterback."Suh has big game and talks big game. Can't help it, the 5-at-10 has always been a fan of defensive players that are not afraid to say they're bad and then back it up. Suh qualifies, by the way.
Quite simply gang: Do college athletes need/deserve to be paid? Be it a stipend or a check or what have you.
And, regardless of your answer, how will it shape college sports?
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...