The Open

OK, they are off at Royal St. George's — sorry, I misspell that every time, leaving off the "'s" to signify the ownership George has of the joint.

We asked yesterday about which course would you play this weekend if you had the choice of any course in the world.

And don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying the action this morning — it's going to make this 5-at-10 a bit tardy. But watching the bounces and the breeze, the rough and the rolls, Royal St. George's is not super high on my list of OMG tracks to play — with or without the 's.

As for the action, well, Bryson keeps doing Bryson things, and is it me or is he coming off more like a John Daly-inspired simpleton rather than a supercharged scientist?

Hey, Bryson, hit a bleepin' 4 iron into the middle of the fairway, you knuckle noggin. Also of note, and this from the ESPN scorecard, check out Bryson's picture that accompanies his update. He looks like a high schooler and that had to be 50 pounds ago.

The other big news from the early morning action is the big names teetering on Thursday trouble.

Harris, Jon Rahm and a slew of others are (right now) +2 or worse in a first round filled with sunshine and a slew of pars.

Hot seats?

As he does almost every year about this time, college football writer Dennis Dodd espouses his hottest seats in college football.

Some names are expected and some of those seats are scalding.

Jim Harbaugh would have been fired months ago if his name was anything but Jim Harbaugh. Scott Frost was supposed to make Nebraska 2021 what Nebraska was when we were growing up. He has not come close. Heck, he has not made his alma mater as good as his former program, UCF.

And there would not be any type of hot seat list without USC's Clay Helton, who certainly has asbestos-lined Jockeys at this point.

One of the names that surprised me on the list was Ed Orgeron, who went from a 0 on the 0-to-5 hot-seat meter heading into 2020 to a 4 heading into this season.

Just two years removed from a natty, even a program with the tradition of an LSU would be hard-pressed to can a coach who was on top of the realm the last time we had any semblance of normalcy in the game.

But we all know there are off-the-field issues, and while I certainly will give credence to Vader's view on this since he follows LSU more closely than the rest of us, Orgeron's issues are decidedly different than most.

Here's what Dodd wrote: "Part of this is the curse of an undefeated championship season in 2019; there's arguably nowhere but down from there. However, few predicted a fall to 5-5 even with COVID-19 intervening. LSU had to win its last two to reach .500. A self-imposed bowl ban followed. Then came the sexual assault scandal that got the interest of state government. Orgeron refused to testify in person. He's been named a defendant in a Title IX lawsuit. That's all the excuses LSU needs if he starts 3-3. Public opinion on LSU coaches can sway swiftly and sometimes unfairly. Last year, Orgeron was untouchable (0). LSU should start at least 3-1. It must at least contend for a New Year's Six bowl. Short of that, it could be a rocky one. 2020 rating: 0"

Coach O's off-the-field issues are a different kettle of fish and cannot or should not be influenced by the Tigers being 3-3 or 6-0 or 0-6 at the season's midway point.

These are not recruiting violations. These are not improper benefits.
These are allegations that the program — including Coach O — covered up a rape. That's not hot-seat fuel. That's fireable regardless of whether you're challenging Alabama for the West title or Mississippi State for the West cellar.

At least it should be.  


Down, set, shot

Speaking of college football, this will create some ripples. And I fully expect some other programs to follow along.

Notre Dame is requiring members of the media who cover their teams — especially their money-generating football program — to be fully vaccinated.

Hey, every part of this thing has been so over-politicized from the jump, it's ridiculous. That's not news.

So this will be, too.

But I completely understand Notre Dame's decision, and in truth, I can't see why anyone can't understand their logic on this, regardless of politics.

Even a school as flush as Notre Dame is staring at a financial need this fall, and simply put, risking a two-week shutdown — no TV money, no ticket sales, no merchandise revenue, et al. — because the videographer from Irish Illustrated has shrugged his shoulder at the COVID is unacceptable.

That's at least a $50 million risk, if I had to guess what Notre Dame generates on most game weeks, and maybe more if NBC withheld two weeks of game checks.

It also makes you wonder about the reaches of college football and true power within the South.

It will start with Vandy, which is a private school and can set its policies.

But what happens if the SEC implements this rule, and states like Florida or Tennessee that have taken hard stances against vaccines measures and mandates are forced to pick?

And know this: As conservative as Alabama is, if Nick Saban says everyone associated with the program needs to get a vaccine, even Roy Moore will be headed to the clinic.

And beyond politics, even as lucrative as it is, the SEC knows it can't afford multiple-week shutdowns during this football season.  


This and that

— Bucks evened the series last night with a rough-and-tumble 109-103 win. That's four games and four covers by the home team. Series is tied at 2-2. This one really feels like it's going seven now, right?

— I failed you folks. How did we not cover Peyton Manning bouncing his first pitch at the All-Star Game on Tuesday? That's on me, and I apologize. (Side question: Have I mentioned the down-the-middle strike I threw on my first pitch at the Lookouts game? I think it was clocked in the high 80s, with movement. Louie asked for my autograph.)

— Yep, All-Star Game numbers were less than great. And as we head to the second half — got some really good baseball mailbag questions for tomorrow — of course Rob Manfred is trying to redirect the narrative of his awful leadership into the forever echo chamber that is rule changes. He said he's open to listening about doing away with the runner of second in extra innings, seven-inning doubleheaders and eliminating the shift. The first two are tricked-up changes anyway, but I am exceedingly nervous of the slippery slope of changing team-issued strategy decisions in an effort to speed up the game. Are we going to require 10 3s a quarter or no more than 8 running plays a half? The shift is beatable; teams and the game choose not to beat it.  

— You know the drill. Here's TFP sports editor Stephen Hargis on the expansion of the Best of Preps high school football jamboree. Yep, it's about that time.

— Speaking of The Open, Jack Senior, an English golfer, started quickly and was 3 under Thursday. If Jack Senior has a son and passes along his name, he'd be Jack Senior Junior, right, and then dad would be Jack Senior Sr.? If they played in Mexico, would he be Jack Señor Señor? Hmmmmmm. Fore.

— Speaking of golfers' names, if I asked you which golfer's name sounds the most like he also raced Indy cars and I started the bidding with Dylan Fritelli, is there even another nomination? Because, sorry, Stewart Cink does not give me the image of 220 mph in a Grand Prix. Dylan Frittelli, though? Vroom, vroom.

— One more thing semi-related to The Open: Big picture, the pandemic is going to forever change the way these events are covered. Thursday morning The Anchors — Terry Gannon and Justin Leonard — covered The Open from the NBC sports studios in Connecticut. And you know what, I couldn't tell a difference. Could we not see a day when the play-by-play and lead analysts are covering the event from a studio with a couple of on-course reporters roaming the grounds and following the leaders? They are watching it on monitors in most cases anyway, and think of the savings for the networks.


Today's questions

Speaking of the Open, true or false on a Thursday, the Claret Jug is right there with the great trophies of all time. (Yes, Spy, Lord Stanley's is the MJ of this conversation, but the Jug — and if The Open is going full The Open, then shouldn't it be The Jug at this point? — does not have to apologize to anyone.)

Speaking of Peyton, is there any athlete ever that has been more adopted and loved than Manning? He's a Louisiana native, and they love him. Mississippi is not as high on Peyton, but they love the rest of his family. Tennessee loves him. Indiana loves him. Now Colorado loves him. I think he could be a U.S. senator in any of those states, to be honest.

As for today, July 15, let's review.

Happy birthday Damian Lillard and Diane Kruger. It's also Forest Whitaker's birthday. Dude is a gifted thespian, and "Godfather of Harlem" is legit good.

In honor of Peyton, Rushmore of athletes truly beloved in three or more states. Go, and remember the mailbag.