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FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2019, file photo, the Big Ten logo is displayed on the field before an NCAA college football game between Iowa and Miami of Ohio in Iowa City, Iowa. Big Ten presidents voted 11-3 to postpone the football season until spring, bringing some clarity to a key question raised in a lawsuit brought by a group of Nebraska football players. The vote breakdown was revealed Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, in the Big Ten's court filing in response to the lawsuit. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Weekend winners

Sports fans. Yes, I know there are issues. Protests. Piped-in crowd noise. People not in stands. Still, the loaded sports weekend — filled with bets and boos, fantasy leagues and food galore — was certainly much appreciated and assuredly welcomed.

Cam Newton. And his tailor. Know this though, if Superman keeps going 15-for-19 with multiple rushing TDs, he can wear absolutely anything he wants to the postgame presser. And I love the narrative circulating about Cam actually getting a roughing the passer call now that he's playing in New England.

Sun Belt in general, University of Louisiana in particular. The league grabbed three non-conference wins over the Big 12, including the Ragin' Cajuns' big-play-fueled double-digit upset at No. 23-ranked Iowa State. That Louisiana team is now ranked for the first time since 1943.

Stewart Cink. Yes, no one was watching, but the 47-year-old Cink — best known for being the game next in line when Tom Watson unraveled and gave away the British Open more than a decade ago — grabbed his first win since 2009. (Side note: We've mentioned this before, but how's this for a Tiger factor in terms of purses. The Safeway Open — yes, Safeway — had Cink edge Harry Higgs by 2 and a group of Redman, Reavie, Streelman and Stuard by three and paid him $1.18 million to do it.

Alec Mills. Dude threw the first Cubs no-hitter since 2016, and may have authored the most fortunate no-no ever. In direct opposition to Wee Willie Keeler's philosophy — (Spy, where you in the news conference when Keeler said, "Hit 'em where they ain't" back in the day?) — Mills did not allow a hit despite getting only five swings-and-misses among his 27 outs. Still, a no-no, is a no-no, no?    

The 5-at-10 picks. The college picks went 3-2 and that's with Iowa State's underwhelming showing in terms of the over/under and Kansas committing three gut-punching turnovers in a loss to Coastal Carolina. (War Will Healy and the cover.) The NFL picks went 3-2 too, despite Detroit completely unraveling and turning a 23-6 lead into a 27-23 loss and making Mitch Trubisky look like the players the Bears drafted ahead of Patty Mahomes and DeShawn Watson.

And for the win courtesy of this video from Twitter star Rex Chapman, No. 50 wins the weekend, the month and 2020. War No. 50.

 

Weekend losers

Houston. The coach and team part ways and the questions are real about how far a team can go in the postseason with James Hardin and/or Russell Westbrook as your best player. Because the Rockets — a team that was a disastrous 3-point shooting nightmare a few years ago in a Game 7 from bouncing the Warriors and likely winning the NBA title — are facing a complete rebuild or staying in the lane of being good enough to get to the postseason and never coming close again to winning it all.

Mike Norvell. Harsh? Maybe. But after a rocky roller coaster offseason that included his best player accusing him of lying, the field figured to be the one place Norvell could find solace and some semblance of success. Well, think again. Georgia Tech went to Tallahassee and locked down an FSU offense that had assuredly been an affront to the Warrick Dunns and Charlie Wards of this once elite program. Tech was picked to finish DFL in the ACC, and amid the biggest rebuild job in college sports, Geoff Collins coached circles around Norvell.  

Intimidator Pool players. I had the Eagles. Loser. Press Row had the Colts. Losers. A slew of folks had both of those, as well as the 49ers, too. More than 60 of the 85 entries we got were bounced in round 1 friends. Egad.

Bad NFL coaches. Wow, this should have been a NFL picks weekend that made us enough entertainment cushion to last until Columbus Day. Good coaches were magnified. Bad coaches were doubly so. Same with QBs, and with the lone exception of the Eagles dropping a floater against a ferocious front seven from the Washington Football Team, new coaches and QBs also struggled. (For those counting at home first-year coaches in the most tumultuous offseason ever went 1-3 — straight-up and against the number — with Joe Judge taking the field tonight with Giants. And speaking of new and weekend losers, the bigwigs with the Rams took one of the best uniforms in sports and turned it into THAT? On purpose? Oh the humanity.)

People who wrote off the Yankees. Yes, I'm part of that sizable team picture, but after the worst 20-game stretch (5-15) this century, New York has won five straight. And we all know this: If they get even mostly healthy, that line-up is a headache for everyone, Dodgers included.
 

Say what?

 

Raise your hand if you can make heads or tails about the thought processes of the Big Ten? We'll wait.

By now you certainly know the details. Big Ten announced its revised football schedule on a Thursday in August. By the following Sunday, the university presidents in the conference had forced Kevin Warren to call off football in the fall.

And the avalanche started. Warren took a huge brunt of the blame — not the least of which came because his son is a tight end with Mississippi State — and a lot of it was unfair. We all make decisions as parents, but we are all forced to live with decisions by our bosses, and sometimes those are in contrast. (Granted, do I think Jim Delaney would have handled this better? Of course, experience and gravitas matter in magnified moments of pressure and power.)

Amid all that heat and backlash comes a call from the White House asking the Big Ten to play as well as demands from the parents of Big Ten players to see the conference's research and reasons for the decision.

And now, as everyone from The Citadel to the Sun Belt finds ways to get on the field — and with the ACC under way and the SEC prepared to start in less than two weeks — the Big Ten leadership met over the weekend with reports that they are looking at trying to get back on the field.

We'll ask again Say what?

Hey, I'm a big believer in the old Turkish proverb that it's never too late to turn around if you are traveling down the wrong road, but this completely underlines all of the original concerns of presidents worrying about their legacies and reputations more than all other matters.

Hey, I hope they do play. Heck, I hope we can find ways to keep playing, because with every score that came across the ticker Saturday that made me smile it felt like it was followed with this game getting cancelled or that team suspending practice because of the Corona.

But from the start, the patience of leaders like SEC commish Greg Sankey and others, showed a real commitment to finding a way rather than looking for the safe space of "No."

Ryan Day, the coach at THE Ohio State, said over the weekend that the Big Ten medical subcommittee has done "an excellent job of creating a safe pathway toward returning to play in mid-October."

We'll ask again Say what?

That's another thing that Sankey and the ACC and the Big 12 and other leagues did by exploring every option. They galvanized their league and avoided a tug-of-war between coaches and conference that is ultimately unwinnable for the leagues, at least in terms of public perception.

Will the Big Ten play this fall? Sure sounds like it according to Day.

Will any of them actually get to the College Football Playoff? Who knows, the COVID crushes dreams daily.

But the path to this Monday in September was completely botched by the Big Ten, whether they play or not next month or next year.    

 

This and that

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall on the Vols not having much to worry about in the kicking game and some weekend updates on Alabama (practicing) and Auburn (COVID-ing).

— Speaking of golf, Baylor grad Luke List made the cut and finished tied for 65th and made $14,124 for, you know, the effort.

— Speaking of golf, part II, who's in for a US Open contest. I say yes. As Bluto asked, "Who's with me. Let's gooooooo."

— Speaking of golf and Paschall, here's his story on Jack Nicklaus, who stopped by Press Row last week before his speaking engagement in McMinn County next month.

— Yes, there is a pandemic going on and baseball will always slide a step or three back when football kicks off (and yes, the Angels play way out west and way late in the night), but man Albert Pujols continues to climb to places that are going to make him among the most accomplished right-handed hitters not named Aaron of all-time. Pujols hit is 660th homer Sunday, tying Willie Mays for fifth all-time. Pujols moved into second all-time in RBIs earlier this year (third if you count Babe's unofficial total).

— Young man's game, huh? Did you guys and gals hear that Dominic Thiem became the first man born in the 1990s to win a tennis major. (And we all know he would not have won this one if Novak Djokovic had not lost his cool and got DQ'ed after he accidentally hit a line judge with a ball.)

 

Today's questions

Weekend winners and losers. Go.

Hey, it's Monday, let's go multiple choice, shall we? I say we shall.

How much football — and how would you describe it — did you watch this weekend?

— A ton (it was awesome)

— Some (it was OK)

— Very little (the lack of crowd really hurt the product)

As for today, Sept. 14, let's review.

On this day in 1956, the first IBM commercial computer was introduced. It weighed more than a ton.

On this day in 1868, Tom Morris had the first recorded hole-in-one in golf at Prestwick's No. 8. Hey, Spy, did he buy everyone a round after the ace?

Not sure if we ever did this one or not, but on this day 11 years ago, Patrick Swayze died. What's Swayze's Rushmore?

Go.

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