FILE - This Aug. 29, 2019, file photo shows the PAC-12 logo at Sun Devil Stadium during second half of an NCAA college football game between Arizona State and Kent State in Tempe, Ariz. There are 130 major college football teams, spread across 41 states and competing in 10 conferences, save for a handful of independents. The goal is to have all those teams start the upcoming season at the same time — whether that's around Labor Day as scheduled or later — and play the same number of games.(AP Photo/Ralph Freso, File)

Reopening plans

Are we close to taking a major step in our walk through the pandemic? Maybe. It's almost impossible to know with the differing numbers and viewpoints.

Those details are converging into a place of optimism and fear, a crossroad of hope and horror. As some states start to open back up, the ripples come to the sports world too.

Some NBA facilities are opening. The NFL is releasing details and guidelines about how teams can reopen. Heck, the NFL is releasing its official 2020 schedule. The MLB is looking at a mid-June spring training and expects to release a plan to return in the next week.

But all of this comes with the very real caveat of plans change and there's no blueprint for this puppy.

Still, the announcement of the Bundesliga returning to play soccer later this month is the next cleat to drop.

Are we through this? Of course not, and folks need to be reminded of that with every positive announcement of a restart or attempt to move back to what we enjoyed pre-Corona.


As for college football...

It's no secret that a lot of the regulars around these parts are most concerned about what will happen come September.

Sure we miss the Braves. Yes, not having the Masters in April was awful. I'd love to have LeBron gunning for title No. 4 right about now. But the concerns have landed clearly on college football and the discussion has been as difficult to tackle as Herschel Walker and as all-over-the-place as Gus Malzahn's job security.

When it could start? Will it start? Split season? Conference season only? We talked briefly about this Wednesday.

Well, a couple of things I have read and heard that caught my attention.

First, there's this. Penn State coach James Franklin said the return of college football should view this as "national or not all."

The competitive balance of all teams returning or no teams returning is an interesting conversation for almost every league.

But coming from the coach of a power program in a Power Five program that spends more on recruiting than say UTC spends on its entire football program, pleas for fairness and equality across football is downright hilarious.

This could be translated as "Hey, if you let the SEC play and we can't, well, I'm going to hold my breath until I get my way." James Franklin. champion of college football's level playing field. Wonder how he would feel about every school getting to spend the same amount on recruiting or on coaching staffs? Hmmmmm, that would be more fair, right James?

The second was an interesting interview with Peter Burns of the SEC Network on Thursday morning with Golic or Wingo.

Burns talked openly about the SEC being very serious about playing, even if they were the only conference with the go ahead. (Uh, sorry James.)

But, as Burns went further down the rabbit hole of change that the Corona will bring to all industries, sports included, his list of change was more dramatic than just about anyone could imagine.

Burns predicted that if the SEC played — and potentially the Big Ten (and if that do play, I wonder if James will still view it as all or no one) — the real loser in this will be the Pac-12. We discussed this a bit on Wednesday's Press Row with Paschall, and I noted that the severe inequity of the TV revenue among the Power Five.

Burns went a step further this pandemic may hasten the inevitable, because Burns said he has long believed that the difference between an SEC TV deal and the Pac-12 — a gap of $100 million over a five-year period — will lead the Power Five to become the Power Four with the Big 12 and the Pac-12 merging about the time the college football playoff expands.

Let that soak in. And now chew on this: Burns, who is pretty dialed into the college sports realm mind you, said that Power Four would breakaway and do its own thing, in football at first and then maybe across all sports.

So, there's that.


Greatest start in acting history?

Wow, that got wordy. And serious.

So let's go a different direction.

So Tom Cruise is working with NASA to try to figure out a way to shoot a space movie in outer space. So there's that.

Gotta believe there are some cheaper shooting locales than space, though.

That got me thinking — zip it Spy — and man, Cruise's Rushmore is a daunting task.

Sure there are a lot of Mission Impossibles and a bunch of hits and misses throughout the last couple of decades. But Cruise could have retired before Bus I was elected and he'd have a Hall of Fame résumé.

You could stack a very strong Rushmore with only 1980s movies, which leaves off A Few Good Men among others.

Cruise was great in All the Right Moves and Risky Business. Great. He was aces in supporting roles in Taps and The Outsiders. And of course there's the iconic Maverick. Yes, he's had some excellent turns since too, but that's a super strong first five out of the gate.

Seriously, who had a better career start that Cruise? Here are his first 11 credited roles: Very small part in Endless Love (and then check out this run), Taps, The Outsiders, Losin' It (Hey it happens), Risky Business, All the Right Moves, Legend, Top Gun, The Color of Money, Cocktail and Rain Man.

That's a DiMaggio-like hit streak friends.  


This and that

— I've said it before, and I likely will say it again, but this reminder on Twitter made me smile. Yellowstone is set to return in June. Good times. If you have not watched the first two seasons of the Kevin Costner drama on Paramount, well, you've got time to catch up before Season 3 debuts next month. And know this: It will be a talking point around these parts. War Yellowstone.

— Good to hear that Todd McShay is coming through his fight against The Corona. McShay even has a story about the teams with the most improvement after the draft, led by Dallas and Baltimore.  

— Put me in the Erik Barnes fan club. The Korn Ferry golf pro talks with a Golf Channel reporter here to discuss taking a job at Publix to provide for his family during this time. We're surrounded by heroes in all walks of life, and during this time Barnes' schedule is up at 3 a.m., at Publix by 4 to stack produce and replenish groceries. Clocks out at 1 p.m. and after a nap is working on his golf game by 3 or 3:30. I know he's not alone, but I enjoyed his story.

— It's been a long time since I purchased a pay-per-view. If Mike Tyson came back to box, I would pay to see that. There was a time at the peak of his powers, that I would rather have Mike shoot a gun at me than punch me in the face. At least with the gun, he might miss.

— Here's the second-best Alabama football player ever, according to TFP college football expert David Paschall. Hey, you know the rules. I will say this: Cornelius Bennett was a BAD dude in college. And can you imagine how difficult picking an Alabama top-five would be? If anyone can do it properly, it's Paschall because, well you know.  

— Here's today's A2 column with more praise for the Korean Baseball Organization and the void sports in general and baseball in particular has left.

— OK, we mentioned Wednesday the terrible look for Brett Favre, who reportedly took more than $1 million for speeches he never made. Well, Favre responded on Twitter, because, well, it's 2020 and rather than taking it to the street or calling a news conference, taking it to the Twitter is what we do. Here's more, and while he denied any wrongdoing because he claims he was in several ads for the Mississippi welfare agency — and he will not face criminal charges — he is in the process of repaying the $1.1 million.

— Speaking of taking it to the Twitter, in likely the most unexpected Twitter beef in modern history, apparently former Guns-n-Roses singer Axl Rose and Secretary of the Treasurer Steve Mnuchin are trading social media shots. Rose called Mnuchin a (bleep)hole. Mnuchin asked Rose "What have you done for the country lately?" Man, can't wait for David Lee Roth-Jared Kushner confrontation.


Today's questions

Lots to get to friends, and remember the mailbag.

Any interest in a "Welcome back sports NASCAR Contest" for the race at Darlington next weekend? Let me know.

Today is May 7. We could go Rushmore of condiments since it's 5-7 but we don't want to pressure anyone.
Still that one may be easy by comparison.

On this day 18 years ago, Allen Iverson issued his classic 'Practice' diatribe. So there's that.

It's got to be on the Rushmore of most replayed sports news conference right?

If we started there and added Jim Mora's "Playoffs? PLAY-offs?!?!?!?!" and my personal favorite of the Coastal Carolina coach bemoaning how his team needs more dogs — it's here.

Then there's Gundy's "I'm a man! I'm 40!" And this is before you get to Dennis Green "They are who we thought they were" or any of the Bob Knight rants. This is a tough one gang, so we need some help here.

Man, which of the Bob Knight all-timers would you choose? Game face?

Rushmore of sports news conference rants. Go, and remember the mailbag.