Before we get started, we must share this we got from a regular. Hat Tip Doc Nole.
Mike Leach on Halloween tips. Enjoy.
First college football rankings
It was the four many of us thought, and the lone moving piece was whether LSU or Notre Dame would be three.
Now that does not mean it was not without surprises.
Washington State was a little higher than almost anyone projected at No. 8. That arguably puts the Fightin' Leachs in the rarified club of controlling their own destiny. Let's review that notion of the teams in the top 10:
1. Alabama. Duh. Alabama is in control of its destiny and is the only team in America that has a mulligan in his bag. Sure, if the Tide lost by four scores to someone, then that maybe not mulligan-able. But since the Patriots are not on Alabama's schedule, there's not a chance of a four-score loss.
2. Clemson. Complete control and likely the most likely team in the playoff considering how bad the rest of the ACC is. The wretchedness that has been the ACC leaves Clemson with zero mulligans and less room for error. Clemson is a 38-point favorite over Louisville on Saturday. A trip to BC and visits from Duke and South Carolina end the season and right now Virginia leads the Coastal by half a game.
3. LSU. Complete control that starts on Saturday when the Tide comes calling. LSU, not surprisingly since Coach O is involved, has the wildest array of possibilities depending on what happens Saturday and beyond and offers the committee the widest collection of headaches.
4. Notre Dame. Complete control of three destiny, and right now we'd bet on 1, 2 and 4 as three of the four invited to the most New Year's Eve (esque) Party on Dec. 29.
5. Michigan. The Fightin' Khakis have a 99-percent control of their own destiny. Only way a Michigan team that wins out does not get in is if there are two SEC teams invited. That happens with an LSU 1-point win over Alabama on Saturday and LSU running the table or Georgia running the table or Alabama running the table and losing 33-32 to Georgia in the SEC title game.
6. Georgia. Still controls its own destiny. Yes, a 20-point road loss at LSU is a downer, but there's no way a one-loss SEC champ is out of the dance. No way.
7. Oklahoma. Controls 75 percent of its destiny but needs help from an ACC also-ran or a Big Team team not named THE Ohio State and Alabama to roll its SEC foes. Oklahoma gets in if Clemson falls or Michigan falls to anyone not coached by Urban Liar.
8. Washington State. Needs a ton of help, and even then it could be close. Among the help, Washington State needs USC to beat Notre Dame, Clemson to fall hard and the Big 12 season-ending back-and-forth of Oklahoma at Almost Heaven West Virginia and a potential rematch between Almost Heaven West Virginia leave each of them with a 21-point loss and Alabama to have one close game left — and that be from Auburn. Side note: The 5-at-10's Fab 4 picks owe you an apology. Washington State and Mike Leach are a dazzling 7-1 on the season and an even more dazzling 8-0 against the number.
9. Kentucky. Completely controls its destiny. Again, a one-loss SEC champ is getting in. Period, end of discussion. Yes, it would behoove UK and Chas for that last step to be beating Alabama in the SEC championship game. (Side note: If that happens, we will, for one year, officially change the name of the biggest city in Georgia to Cat-lanta.)
10. THE Ohio State. Man, the committee is not fond of the house-party loss to mid-tier foes are they? Just ask Coach Urban Liar, who likely has already forgotten the debacle at Purdue and certainly had it erased from his phone by now. Still, THE Ohio State wins out means beating Michigan, which THE Ohio State now needs to win every game in style up until that point.
Worst-case scenario for the committee judging from this list would be UK over unbeaten Alabama in the SEC title game in a squeaker. (Side note: We are so there for the Nick Saban politicking tour, however. So there.) Clemson with a controversial loss at BC before rolling to the ACC title, Notre Dame unbeaten but unimpressive the rest of the way, one-loss THE Ohio State with a Big Ten title, a one-loss Oklahoma/West Virginia with a Big 12 title, a one loss Pac-12 champ from Washington State.
Chaos. Complete and total Chaos. And for those of you wanting the playoff field to expand, have the above happen and the final rankings look like Notre Dame, Kentucky, Alabama and Clemson with three conferences out and 60 percent of the Power Five hacked off.
Does offense = eyeballs
Maybe the original thought came from Maddux and Glavine in that memorable "Chick dig the long ball" commercial.
(Side note: That commercial was strangely awkward considering the PED generation, and rendered completely dated with the 'chicks' reference. True or false on a Wednesday, you use the phrase 'chicks.')
Anyhoo, the desire for offense by owners and leagues has always been the case.
Elimination of the dead ball. Moving the mound. The embracing of the forward pass. The rules that made the quarterback untouchable int eh pocket. The addition of the shot clock and the 3-pointer. We could go on.
Strategy has followed this clear call for offensive production.
In baseball it's launch angles and a premium on homers. In football, it's the 5-yard pass being the same as a toss sweep from 20 years ago. In hoops, it's the analytics of value of the shots and Real FG efficiency and other stats that would make Bob Cousey's head pop off.
But is the product better because of this power play for points and the run on runs? In baseball, the answer is no.
In football, the answer is absolutely but the interlocking connection between the rules and more offense and the rules and fewer injuries to one-name QB stars — Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Russell, Cam, etc. — can't be denied.
We got some excellent feedback from this hypothesis on Tuesday. You guys rock on social media — our Twitter handle is @jgreesontfp — and it's much appreciated.
We think Stewwie's point about the 14-second shot clock reset has helped in terms of possessions, but the biggest generator has been simple mat.
More shots = more points = more chance to win. More 3s at 40 percent > more 2s at 55 percent > 100 percent FTs on 10 shots per category.
Yes, this has completely led to the overhaul of the 7-footer. Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns are taking and hitting 3s. A generation ago they would be back-to-the basket bigs. Anthony Davis is going to pass Kevin Durant as the game's biggest freakazoid until the next chapter of this happens, which will be a 7-foot-5 2-guard.
But right now the numbers in recent years have been strong and the NBA revenue has trended upward.
One thing to watch beyond the offense — for stat hounds there are 19 of the 30 NBA teams averaging more than 110 points a night and there are 21 teams allowing more than 110 points a game; last year six averaged more than 110 and four teams allowed more than 110 per night — in terms of the TV numbers will be how much the game's biggest star moving to the Western Conference will alter the numbers in those early windows.
The Cavs-Celtics, Cavs-Raptors games of the last few years are now meaningless, and the default of LeBron against anyone in the East was a fine choice are gone.
The West's domination of stars will lead a lot of early window selections being a West team going to Boston, Toronto or NYC because it's NYC.
The committee that was convened to look into the culture of the Maryland football program after Jordan McNair's death in the offseason reinstated head coach DJ Durkin.
Three players walked out of a team meeting Durkin called on Tuesday after the news was announced, according to reports. Maryland AD Damon Evans, who has more professional lives that a lucky cat with a horseshoe in one pocket and a rabbit's foot in the other, also was reinstated.
The answers leave only more questions.
Why? That question likely had a lot to do with the input of attorneys, who made sure the school realized that if they found their staff guilty in an internal investigation, it would increase the settlements by increments of at least four.
What do they expect to happen? Well, mutiny will be one of the options. In addition to the walk-out Tuesday, check this social media post from Ellis McKenzie:
"Every Saturday my teammates and I have to kneel before the memorial of our fallen teammate. Yet a group of people do not have the courage to hold anyone accountable for his death. If only they could have the courage that Jordan had. It's never the wrong time to do what's right."
What does the future hold? Heck, it's already hard enough to recruit at Maryland in football. Now, how hard will it be to get parents and players to want to go to College Park.
Consider me shocked that Durkin and Maryland are trying to pretend like nothing happened and it's business as usual.
(And let's not bury the lead. Wallace Loh, the Maryland President who announced the re-instatements of Durkin and Evans also announced his intention to retire in June.)
This and that
— How about this Klay Thompson stat that makes him the most spot-up of spot-up shooters ever. Klay Thompson had more 3s (14) Monday than dribbles (13). Let that marinate for a moment. He needed 13 dribbles to score 52 points.
— Remember last week when we discussed our random Press Row picks had been scorching? Last night in a little Tuesday night MAC-tion, let's just say the tandem of Buffalo minus-7 and the under-68 in Kent State-Bowling Green was a very entertaining parlay as we head to the weekend. Good times.
— Here's everyone's fav TFP ace sports columnist Mark Wiedmer on the feel-good football Mocs, who at 6-2 still need to handle their BID-ness to get into consideration for a BID-ness for the FCS playoffs.
— Gang, we talk a fair amount about knowing when to step away and leaving on your terms. Meet Denny Douds who, on Saturday, called a fourth timeout — he told the ref he knew it was going to be a penalty — with 4 seconds left. He gathered his East Stroudsburg University team together and told them he was retiring. Right then. After 45 years as the ESU head coach and walked out of the stadium blowing kisses and waving and walked to his car.
— Enough already Boston sports teams have 11 professional championships in the 18 years of the 2000s. Egad. It's become such an avalanche of hardware that a lot of folks are shrugging their shoulders at the best Red Sox team ever. (Yes, 2004 will always be more beloved and more memorable for ending the curse in such an amazing way with the rally from 3-0 in the ALCS. But to have a machine of excellence that was this Boston bunch and it not crack the top five of favorite sports teams in your city in the last 16 years is crazy.)
— Maybe it was the fatigue of all the Boston success but the TV numbers for this World Series were bad. How bad? The five-game series between Boston and L.A. averaged an 8.3 ratings and 14.13 million viewers. That's down 22 and 25 percent respectively from last year's Houston-L.A. match-up and down 37 and 40 percent from Cubs-Indians in 2016. It was even down 5 percent from the Royals-Mets in 2015. The 2018 Series had the third lowest rating on record ever, ahead of 2014 (Giants-Royals) and 2012 (Giants-Tigers).
— While we are finalizing the baseball part of the show, according to the Twitter, the Red Sox hit 17 miles of homers this year. Just thought that was a cool stat to share. Also, here's the breakdown of the percentages the players of each team will get in terms of baseball postseason money.
— One more baseball tidbit: We are 100 percent here for the Braves dealing for Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. All-in in fact. It addresses a monster position of need. Players who leave the wasteland of misfit talents that is South Beach have flourished in new locales — check the numbers of Yelich, Stanton and Gordon last year. Realmuto was an All-Star last year and led all MLB catchers in WAR at 4.3.
On a which way Halloween Wednesday, does Mike Leach deserve coach of the year for his coaching advice on Halloween alone?
Which NFL team won the NFL trading deadline?
Which Halloween candy is your favorite?
As for today, well, it's all Hallow's Eve. On this day in 1962, "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" was released. That's a scary-blank movie friends that will surprise you.
Magician Harry Houdini dies of complications after his appendix ruptured. Or as Dell (played by Big John Candy) told us in "Plains, Trains and Automobiles" — "You could've killed me slugging me in the gut like that. That's how Houdini died you know." John Candy would have been 68 today. Moment of silence please.
On this day in 1892, "The Adventured of Sherlock Holmes" was published.
Vanilla Ice is 51 today.
River Phoenix died 25 years ago today.
Fred McGriff is 55 today. McGriff is there with Andruw Jones as dudes that deserved more HoF consideration than they got.
And Nick Saban is 67 today.
In honor of this Alabama bunch as the No. 1 in the rankings and the Dark Lord celebrating a birthday, Rushmore of best college football teams of the last 40 years.
Go, and remember the mailbag.