Tennessee Athletics Photo by Kate Luffman / Florida quarterback Kyle Trask led the Gators to their latest win in an SEC East rivalry with Tennessee they have come to dominate in the past two decades.

Bowl game decisions

Florida coach Dan Mullen praised his quarterback Kyle Trask for his commitment and character because Trask has decided to play in tonight's bowl game.

OK, and I understand that praising one player in one way does not work in the transitive property, but we all need to be really careful with that sentiment.

And this is nothing against Trask, who has been a made-for-TV Disney special considering he started liked 2 games in high school, waited behind the much-ballyhooed Feleipe Franks early in Gainesville and now has made himself into a first-round pick.

But it's fair to wonder if Mullen saying Trask has character and cares about his team for lacing them up in tonight's Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma means Mullen questions the character of the star Gators like Kyle Pitts who have opted out of tonight's game.

Again, this is not about the player as much as the statement and the faulty logic, because Pitts may read to elderly blind  women or he may kick puppies and knock over strollers, I have zero idea about Pitts' character.

But I do know that players with NFL hopes — and friends Pitts is the best TE prospect since OJ Howard — who decide to not play in a meaningless bowl — especially this year — are not showing their character as much as they are showing their risk management abilities.

Just ask D'Eriq King, the Miami quarterback who was the starter on the high school team he and Trask played on in Texas. King wrenched his knee last night in front of dozens of fans against Oklahoma State in the Cheez-It Bowl. 

In all likelihood, King will be fine, and football's a rough business. But making a business decision like Pitts did is not a mark on character.

It's a mark for financial planning.


This is not a good start

OK, we can all agree that 'Days of Thunder' was robbed of an Oscar, right? RIGHT?!?!

No matter your view on Harry Hogge and Cole Trickle and the very real logic that rubbing is racing, there's a scene in which Hogge (Robert Duvall) looks at the race car as it's leaking fluid and says, "This is not the kind of answer I'm looking for from you."

Well, as we wind down the debacle that has been 2020 and as we all look longingly and hopefully toward 2021, this is not the kind of answer I'm looking for.

The Masters bigwigs have decided to delay the ticketing process for the 2021 tournament. Sigh.

The green-jacketed leaders of Augusta National offered this in an email to ticket holders, according to ESPN: "As planning continues on how to stage the 2021 Masters Tournament safely and responsibly, we would like to inform you that Augusta National is delaying the ticket process for Patron Series Badges, which traditionally begins Jan. 1. Our intention is to communicate our decisions for the 2021 Masters to all patrons of record by the end of January. No further action is needed with your account at this time.''

Uh oh.

C'mon 2021, this is not the answer we're looking for from you.


Speaking of that

As we look back on the year that was 2020, it's impossible not to view everything through the COVID lens.


With that here are five sports headlines/realizations that were crystalized and/or finalized in 2020.

— Patrick Mahomes is the face of the NFL. Winning a Super Bowl is certainly a precursor to a statement like that, but even with the ageless Tom Brady and the peerless Aaron Rodgers, Mahomes is now the guy.

— No one had a bigger championship than LeBron. Yes Mahomes and Andy Reid getting a Super Bowl was huge. So was Clayton Kershaw getting a World Series and Dustin Johnson getting a green jacket. But James' fourth title — and with a third team mind you — has no measure. In truth, James with four — and goodness if he gets No. 5 next summer — titles, the all-time scoring crown and a top-five ranking ever in assists is a very strong GOAT argument, MJ included.

— The sportsperson of the year should be you and me. Sports needs fans every bit as fans need sports, and never has that been more clear than after the pandemic plagued sports year of 2020. Name a single event that's even close to as enjoyable as a viewer without fans. It's impossible.

— Nick Saban is the best there's ever been, and the best that ever will be, and his success, in truth, is a real threat to the watchability and enjoyability of the entire game of college football. Want a staggering statement about the divide between the uber-elites and everyone else in college football, well, how about this stat? Notre Dame is 43-7 in its last 50, beat Clemson a couple of months ago and is a three-TD underdog against Alabama. Wow.

— Sports gambling is here and only going to expand. The details of betting and the facts around it will affect every sport and do it in ways we realize and in ways we can only imagine.  


This and that

— We went 1-1 on bowl picks Tuesday, and there are two more today. I will ride with Wake Forest plus-10 and the Gators plus-5.

— Bowling for Bowls of Bowl Game Success (Bowler Optional) standings will be posted around lunch. Yes, I know.

— Alabama had five AP All-Americans. On offense. Here's TFP college football expert David Paschall on the Tide's OC's appreciation of that river of talent. Here's Paschall on the entire train car needed for the growing number of Vols entering the transfer portal.  

— Dwayne Haskins was released Tuesday by the Washington Football Team, and went unclaimed on waivers. Wow. Dude was the 15 overall pick a couple of years ago and now, jobless.


Today's questions

Which way Wednesday starts this way, which is more likely to have fans on time NBA playoffs, Masters, MLB baseball or college football next fall?

Which is your biggest sports headline of 2020, COVID and non-COVID options?

As for today, Dec. 30, let's review.

Well, a couple of sports dudes you may have heard of celebrate birthdays today. LeBron is 36; Tiger is 45. Which is the bigger international star, and in the non-soccer world of current sports superstars, does anyone crack the 1-2 of Tiger and LeBron?  

Also on this day in 1953, the first color TV went on sale. List price: $1,175. Wow, that will get you a monster TV these days.

Rushmore of black-and-white TV shows, and know this: Andy Griffith is a no-doubter.

Remember the mailbag, gang, and be safe out there.