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AP photo by Tony Ding / The home fans cheer as Michigan takes the field for a Big Ten football game against Wisconsin on Oct. 13, 2018.

The first cleat to drop

Not sure many of us are surprised, but the Big Ten and the Pac-12 made Tuesday the worst day in college football history.

And in some ways the last day of college football as we knew it.

The Big Ten and the Pac-12 announced that they are shooting for a spring season, which is junk and hard to envision in almost any circumstance.

I'm tired of using this phrase, but it seems appropriate when discussing this: There are no right answers, there are only the best perceived bad options in dealing with this, because the risks and the unknown are real and changing.

Let's review some of the takeaways from the announcement:

> First, the hypocrisy of the Big Ten — which is allowing teams to practice (seriously) and still planning on having on-campus learning — is staggering. If football players — who can isolate way more than regular students — are deemed to be at risk, then how is The Ohio State going to welcome back 40,000-plus students in dorms and such?

Which brings us back to the original motivation for canceling the season. Was it because of possible litigation concerns? Was it because some numbers cruncher figured out that even with the monster TV deals of the Big Ten, that playing without fans was going to be a money-losing proposition?Or was it the down-the-road realization that actually listening to the players — at any point, and certainly on something as meaningful as this — is the first step toward players having way more control in the process?

But quotes about players' safety — after they have been quarantined and done everything asked of them — ring hollow if students are coming back. Because I completely agree with what Nick Saban had to say in that players are not going to catch the Corona 'on the football field. They're going to catch it on campus.'

> Speaking of Saban, man, it's tough to see SEC leaders or ACC leaders not seriously asking themselves if they can handle the optics of the Big Ten and the Pac-12 pulling the plug and those  leagues pushing forward. And how those news conferences and Zoom meetings will turn out when an outbreak happens, never mind, Goodness forbid, a player or coach dies.

If anyone can make it happen, it of course will be the SEC, but the pressure point has been altered drastically with Tuesday's news.

> If there is college football, every Big Ten or Pac-12 player should be immediately eligible at any school they choose.

> Where in the name of everything that is Holy, is Mark Emmert? Sweet buckets of echoing silence, the void atop of college sports is canyon-esque, and if the tightening purse strings of the Power 5 has not already made them look around about breaking away, how can any big athletic department not wonder, "Exactly why do we need the NCAA again?"

> As for Nebraska or any other Big Ten school looking around for games and playing as the rest of the Big Ten waits until spring, well, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren was asked if Nebraska could do that, Warren said firmly, "No, not and be a member of the Big Ten Conference."

> The reactions from coaches and players were pretty poignant. Here's more. Most notably was three very strong letters from Justin Fields: "Smh." I feel for the players. Truly.

> If the Big Ten is concerned about player safety, well, the notion of a spring-fall double dip in 2021 is just as hypocritical as the no sports, but students back on campus notion.

> Speaking of spring, that simply does not compute in my feeble noggin, gang. The logistics seem impossible. The questions are endless. How many players looking toward the NFL would opt out? What would you do about fall 2021? That feels like a complete non-starter.

> Speaking of the spring, how huge an advantage would the SEC and the ACC have if they play this year in recruiting, and how huge would that advantage be when Fall 2021 rolls around if the Big Ten does play next spring?

Man, my head hurts.

 

Thank you Todd, Todd, Todd

Been a crappy couple of sports days, no? Sigh.So what can take that sports frown and turn it upside-down?

Mock drafts. And not just any mock draft, a McShay mock draft. I love the draft. You know this.

And the top of the 2021 draft — seriously, other than the NFL playoffs, has there been a better sports moment than the NFL draft this sports year? — makes it even more painful that the season is teetering on the brink.Trevor Lawrence is drawing Manning- and Luck-level prospect grades. He's that special. McShay has him going 1 (as does everyone) and landing with Jacksonville. It's a great fit for the Jags, but man, that feels like the waste of a future star, no? Here's the link, but it's behind the ESPN+ paywall.

McShay's mock has nine SEC players — including UT offensive lineman Trey Smith — in round one. THE Ohio State and Alabama have the most first-round projections with four each. Heck, Wake Forest has two guys pegged as first-rounders, as does Oregon.

I love the draft.
   
 

Wild pitching idea

OK, here's where the Braves reside.One front-line starting pitcher in Max Fried. (Who, if we're being honest, has the potential to be a 1A starter but right now would be no better than the No. 3 on a serious World Series contender.)

Myriad young dudes who can reach the mid-90s but have mediocre secondary and tertiary stuff. Hi Touki and Kyle and Bryce. Say hello to Greg, Peter and Bobby if you get the chance too.

So, for a team that certainly has extreme depth — both in the farm system and in the bullpen — how's this for two possible solutions.

First, make a deal. The Braves are behind the 8-ball on this one, and even if everyone gets healthy, the rotation needs help after Mike Soroka and Fried. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen because Braves leadership has been hesitant to deal. And hesitant to spend big dollars on free agents and free-agents-to-be.

More likely, though, the Braves could be forced to skip the starting pitcher and go with an opener. For those unaware, the opener is a late-inning reliever who pitches the first and potentially the first two innings. Then, turn it over to the bullpen and go accordingly.

It could be especially effective in a seven-inning doubleheader. Go Fried in Game 1 and hope he gets you into the sixth or seventh, and then use the opener.

Because what they have right now is untenable. Let's go to the numbers of guys with multiple starts:

> Touki Toussaint, 7.27 ERA.

> Sean Newcomb, 11.20 ERA.

> Kyle Wright, 6.75 ERA.

> Max Fried, 1.59 ERA.

And, while W-L records are hollow, those four dudes are a combined 3-5, and Fried has all three wins. No es bueno.

Now review the numbers of the guys with more than five appearances out of the bullpen:

> Grant Dayton, 8.1 innings, two earned runs allowed (2.16 ERA);

> Luke Jackson, 8 innings, three earned runs allowed (3.38 ERA);

> Josh Tomlin, (10 innings), Tyler Matzek (7.2 innings), Shane Greene (6.2 innings) and Mark Melancon (5 innings) have collectively allowed as many runs as Spy, Jules and Alejandro combined — bagel.

That's 45.2 innings and five earned runs allowed. That's a 0.99 ERA friends, and that'll do.

Say it with me friends, "Opener," and get ready because it makes too much sense for this broken Braves rotation.

 

This and that

— Damian Lillard dropped 61 last night as the Blazers beat the Mavericks. It had to be especially sweet considering Lillard — affectionately known as Dame Time — has been beefing with universal sports gas bag Skip Bayless. Lillard became just the second player to score 60 or more in three games in the same season. The other is Wilt Chamberlain. And when it's you and Wilt on a scoring list — zip it, Spy — you are doing work.

— We spoke of reboots Tuesday, and now comes news that Will Smith is going to be part of resetting the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

— The reports from last night's season-opener of "Hard Knocks: Los Angeles" dealt mainly with fighting the Corona.

— You know the rules, when TFP college football expert David Paschall writes about college football, we read and link Paschall's prose on the matters. Here's DP updating the SEC's strong stance still aiming to play. And it includes a very typical Steve Spurrier zinger. "The SEC and ACC should just play their seasons and winners face off for the national title because one conference was going to win it anyway," Spurrier said. Don't ever change, HBC. Ever.

— More rules to follow. Here's TFP sports editor and prep sports guru  Stephen Hargis with a Region 3-2A preview. All aboard the Ram Train.

— More rules, gang. When TFP ace sports columnist college hoops hot-shot Mark Wiedmer preaches on college hoops, we're there for all of it. Here is Weeds' update on his beloved Kentucky basketball program and the movement on their coaching staff.

— And while we're here, Paschall with a double-dip and some great quotes from former Baylor School star golfers, including Keith Mitchell, who played with and toppled Tiger head-to-head on Saturday at the PGA. Man, the TFP sports department did work today.    

 

Today's questions

Which way Wednesday starts this way: Which sports leader is worse, Mark Emmert or Rob Manfred?

Which word would you use to describe Joe Biden's decision to pick Kamala Harris?
Which of the Baylor trio will be the next to win on the PGA Tour?

As for today, Aug. 12, let's review.

On this day in 1908, Henry Ford build his first Model T. On this day in 1981, IBM introduced its first PC.

Pete Sampras is 49 today. So there's that.

On this, the first day of school in Hamilton County, let's do a Rushmore of 'School' and be creative.

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