College football playoff positions
Wednesdays mean a few things around these parts. County commission meetings. Church, if that's your cup of tea. Dinner with the family.
It also, though the fall, means we'll look at our four seeds as of the moment for the college football playoff. Forget polls — and granted we have to assume conference championships in certain cases — but this is how we see the top four and where as of this Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. Shall we call the roll?
1. Clemson. The Tigers have double-digit road wins over ranked Virginia Tech and Louisville. The Tigers have two All-Americans on a defensive line that is as dominant as any position group in the country. The Tigers handled Auburn, which looks like its no worse than the third-best team in the SEC. The pipeline of talent Dabo Swinney has opened — especially at quarterback where Kelly Bryant has replaced Deshaun Watson with a five-star freshman waiting in the wings and another five-star recruit coming in February — rivals any this side of Tuscaloosa.
2. Alabama. Speaking of Tuscaloosa, the Tide's resume is not as complete or littered with ranked foes as Clemson's but the sheer dominance in which Alabama is running roughshod through opponents is staggering.
3. Oklahoma. Yes, there feels like there's a pretty big gap between the top duo of Clemson and Alabama, which you could really have ranked 1B if that suits you, but the Sooners are the leader of that next group because of a clear and decisive win over THE Ohio State at THE Horseshoe. The winner of TCU-Oklahoma will likely have to play the loser of TCU-Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game, which will beg the question of which is more important the regular-season meeting (especially if the road team wins) or the neutral-site, conference title game.
4. Georgia. Yes, two teams from one conference seems far-fetched considering Alabama and Georgia are on path to meet in early December in Atlanta. Even if both shows up unblemished — which is Gus Malzahn's worst nightmare — to Mercedes-Benz, the loser likely is out. But, as of right now, Georgia road win over a Notre Dame team that is on track to win 10 games and destructions of Mississippi State and Tennessee by a combined 72-3 stamp a Bulldogs' blitz from middle of the rankings to elite.
And yes, that creates a lot of potential chaos, and this year more than the last couple, each conference has a chance to offer an undefeated conference champ to the committee. So what do you think would happen if Washington, Alabama (or Georgia), Clemson, Oklahoma and Penn State all sprinted to the end with a bagel in the loss column?
Let the games begin.
Our go-to baseball saying is things don't really matter in baseball until you get to the 'er' months.
We're here, and the energy and the drama of last night's AL Wildcard game was tangible and enjoyable.
Yankees in front of a full house that Ruth built and Jeter renovated, used power arms and power bats — 13 Ks from a bullpen that went 8.2 (yes, 8.2) and three homers — in an 8-4 win over the Twins. It was postseason baseball at its core in a lot of ways and it was fun. And it was also frustrating.
Today's baseball has morphed into a situational, act-and-react 12-act play that featured 11 pitchers and took almost five hours. (Know this, and we don't think is a coincidence, but we have looked at no fewer than a dozen websites with box scores and have not been able to find an actual length of the game.)
It's baseball today. Power arms pitching to players with power bats and long-ball intentions.
In 2017, starting pitchers lasted an all-time low 5.5 innings per start. Starters last fewer innings and managers are quick to go get this flame-thrower for the final two outs of the fifth. And the Yankees are flush with power arms. After Luis Severino got only one out Tuesday, New York manager handed the ball to one pitcher after another that was blowing smoke up there at 97, 98 and 99 mph.
Heck, remember what it was like when those of us a certain age, would watch Goose Goosage and Lee Smith come into the game and hit 96 on the gun and be like "Wow, that's hard." Those guys would be lucky to be long relievers in today's power-packed bullpens.
Never mind take the closer roll from Aroldis Chapman, who was dropping some serious, mitt-popping, 103-mph gas.
The game has changed, and we all like to see those guys throw that hard — the average fastball for the Yankees pitchers among their 172 pitches was better than 98 mph. But how many of us made it to the finish line in that marathon?
And Coach K speaks
We have been waiting for some of the big-time big names of college basketball to step to the mic after the FBI confirmed what we all suspected of the long-rumored and wide-reaching corruption of college hoops.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski met with the media — a sheepish media for that matter — and delivered his best politician responses to the news of last week.
"The landscape of college basketball for the player, from middle school to high school to college to the pros, keeps changing," Krzyzewski told the media. "We in college have not changed as much as the landscape has changed. We are not equipped right now to handle that. We don't have a good model, a model that fits what's happening in basketball, so college basketball's going to have problems. Before these kids ever come to us, we are not the only ones recruiting these youngsters. Talent is being recruited all the time in every shape and form—in singing, dancing, studies, sport, whatever.
"When we recruit, the grassroots culture of basketball before we get them has changed dramatically. And not necessarily all bad—I think the kids are more organized. Kids get more opportunities .. it's a little bit more business."
Sounds very Pollyanna-ish for me. C'mon.
Hey, when Auburn is landing four- and five-star players under Bruce Pearl, well, maybe that alone would be an outlier. But hot-shot names like Sean Miller at big-time programs like Arizona and Oklahoma State are different. And the fact Louisville and Hall of Famer Rick Pitino are neck deep in this begs the simple question: Is everyone doing this?
Look, Louisville is a true blue blood of the sport. And if a blue-blood is offering five-stars $100,000, it's not overly practical to believe against really any of the following:
a) That other five-star players and coaches and shoe reps are not aware of the money being offered;
b) That other elite players would not expect similar money;
c) That any of these kids would pick a Duke or UK or UNC for no money over Louisville or Arizona for big money.
That's fair right? Yes, Duke has tradition and if you play at UK you are likely going to the NBA. But we're talking six figures right now.
But for Coach K to blame this on landscape rather than coaches doing the right thing is hollow. These big-time coaches are control freaks who known every detail of every prospect, but are somehow caught by surprise when someone violates rules and federal laws.
And in truth, Coach K — or John Calipari or Roy Williams or you name big-time coach — should step to the mic and address this beyond Bob Ross clouds-and-trees abstracts.
Coach K, do you guys pay recruits or AAU coaches or reps or what have you? How about you Coach Cal? How about you Ol' Roy?
Come out and say, "We don't do that, that I am aware of, and if someone does or has done that here, they will be fired on the spot. College hoops is broken. This is not about rationalizing the problem or deflecting the blame. This needs to be about fixing the problem and that problem revolves around the millions shoe companies are funneling to these kids on these elite programs. We at (Duke, UK, UNC, Kansas, et al.) are committed to winning championships as we always have, but we are also committed to helping college basketball get to a better place and leave this great game — and those that play it, coach it and cheer for it — better than we found it and them."
But no, Coach K — not unlike a politician not wanting to talk about gun control after taking big money from the NRA — continued the spin cycle.
"Last week was bad, doesn't mean all of college basketball is bad," Krzyzewski said. "It also doesn't mean that it's necessarily the tip of some iceberg. I don't necessarily agree with that. I think the iceberg is really good."
So did the captain of the Titantic coach.
This and that
— One thing will never change in baseball. When Yankees catcher Gaby Sanchez took a foul tip to the jewels, every dude over the age of 12 all winced, shook our head and sent our silent best wishes for him. Ouch-standing.
— We all know that Butch's seat is extremely warm. Here's Bob Stoops at the Atlanta Touchdown Club earlier this week saying "you won't see me on a college sideline or a pro sideline." https://www.yahoo.com/sports/bob-stoops-wants-stop-thinking-hes-coming-back-coaching-183941095.html
— Heard this morning on ESPN that this weekend on College GameDay, Lee Corso will put on a head gear to make his pick for the 300th time Saturday. Just passing along a stat without judgement on Corso's schtick. That said, GameDay is by far the best non-game regular show on the Mothership in our view.
— U.S. women's soccer star Alex Morgan and some of her friends apparently had a cocktail or six and got tossed from Epcot at Disney World in Orlando. So there's that.
On this day in 1537, the first complete English-language Bible was printed.
On this day in 1883, the Orient Express made its initial voyage. Pretty sure there was not a murder on that one.
On this day 11 years ago Wiki Leaks was launched.
Hey, on this day in 1927, Gutzon Borglum started sculpting Mount Rushmore. Kudos Gutzon, who worked on the project for 14 years.
Charlton Heston would have been 94 today. Susan Sarandon is 71.
Janis Joplin died on this day in 1970. Crazy to think, she died the day after the 5-at-10 was born. The Mrs. 5-at-10 died the Elvis died.
Sixty years ago, "Leave it to Beaver" debuted on CBS.
As for a Rushmore, after the big game last night in the Bronx, what is your sports bucket list of venues to watch a playoff game?