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Red Sox, it’s yours to lose; Saban vs. Snyder is a pipe dream; I can’t advocate freeing Devin White

Boston won again last night. The Red Sox are now halfway home to their fourth World Series title this millennium following a 4-2 victory.

The Red Sox are, as Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic said often during the NFL season, a Stone Cold Lead Pipe Lock.

The last five teams to take a 2-0 lead in the World Series have won in either four or five games. The roll call: 2004 and ’07 Red Sox, 2010 and ’12 Giants, 2015 Royals. Only the 2010 Rangers and 2015 Mets managed to win a game in their home park.

The 2001 Yankees are the most recent team to fall behind 2-0 (to the Diamondbacks in Phoenix) and at least get the series back to where it started. That year, the home team won EVERY game, the same way it occurred in ’87 (Twins over Cardinals) and ’91 (Twins over Braves).

In 1998, ’99 and 2000, the Yankees won the first two games of the series and it never returned to where it started. In ’98 and 2000, the series began in the Bronx; in ’99, the Yankees won the first two in Atlanta, then the next two at Yankee Stadium II.

Only three times has a team lost the first two games at home and come back to win: 1985 Royals, ’86 Mets, ’96 Yankees.

The Dodgers are down 2-0 for the fourth time since making their first World Series appearance representing Los Angeles. In 1965 (vs. Minnesota) and ’81 (vs. Yankees), the Dodgers won all three games at Chavez Ravine, then won the series on the road (Game 7 in ’65, Game 6 in ’81). In 1966, the Dodgers lost twice at home to Baltimore and were cooked; the Orioles won a pair of 1-0 games in Maryland. Shortly thereafter, Sandy Koufax, who beat the Twins in Game 7 of ’65 on two days rest, retired.

In 1955, the Brooklyn Dodgers were behind 2-0 after losing twice in the Bronx. The Bums won all three at Ebbets Field, only to lose Game 6 back in the Bronx. Fortunately for the Brooklynites, Johnny Podres pitched the game of his life to give the Dodgers their first world title.

The next year, the Dodgers took a 2-0 lead at Ebbets Field. To nobody’s surprise, the Yankees won all three in the Bronx, with the last of those three being Don Larsen’s perfect game. Brooklyn won Game 6 back at home, but the Yankees pummeled the Dodgers 9-0 in Game 7 in the last World Series game in Flatbush.

The Red Sox swept the Cardinals in 2004 and the Rockies in ’07, but they were up 2-0 on the Mets in ’86 going back to Fenway. The denizens of Queens won Games 3 and 4 before Boston won Game 5. Then you know what happened next…Bill Buckner.

The Dodgers won’t be going back to Fenway. Not this season at least. It’s over. Boston will have a long flight to celebrate its latest World Series championship, much the same way the Bruins had a transcontinental journey from Vancouver when they won the Stanley Cup in 2011, or the Celtics after vanquishing the Lakers in 1962, ’68 and ’69.

The Patriots have never played in a Super Bowl in California. Three in New Orleans, two each in Houston and Phoenix (technically Glendale), one each in Minneapolis, Jacksonville and Indianapolis. I would have loved to be on the flight back from Tempe after the Patriots lost to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. I’m sure it was tons of fun. If that were the case, I’ve got a beachfront house under construction in Russell.

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Speaking of Bill Belichick, I’m sure I would pee in my pants if I were anywhere near him or Nick Saban. Actually, I got pretty close physically to Saban during media day at the Sugar Bowl 15 years ago when LSU played Oklahoma for the national championship. People say Belichick and Saban are different people away from football. I don’t know either man personally, so I can’t tell.

If I did meet Saban, I would love to ask him about how he game planned at Michigan State for facing Iowa. When Saban was the defensive coordinator in East Lansing (1983-87), the Hawkeyes’ offensive coordinator was none other than Bill Snyder. Saban went to the NFL in 1988, Snyder’s last year in Iowa City, and ’89, when Snyder took over at K-State. Their paths last crossed in 1987, when Michigan State went to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1965. Iowa went to Pasadena in 1985.

Of course, you cannot convince anyone in Kansas (minus Jayhawk fanatics) that there is a college football coach greater than Bill Snyder. I’m not denying Snyder has done great things at Kansas State. However, I am not buying into the narrative of him being the best coach ever.

I will say one thing: Saban and Snyder are 180 degrees apart when it comes to scheduling.

Saban wants to play all Power Five teams and nine conference games instead of eight. He would rather not play the ‘buy games’ to give the fans much more bang for their buck, but it isn’t feasible if nobody else wants to do it. Until every other SEC school agrees to play only Power Five teams, Saban simply is stuck.

The SEC and ACC should have to play nine conference games. If the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 are doing it, the other two should have to as well. I honestly think the College Football Playoff committee should seriously penalize SEC and ACC schools until (a) they play nine conference games or (b) cut the crappy teams and play at least two Power Fives in non-conference.

I’m not the biggest Saban fan, but I applaud the man for willing to put his considerable money where his mouth is, not backing down from the best.

Snyder would rather load up his schedule with cupcakes and lesser lights, the fans be damned. He doesn’t mind feeding Wildcat faithful filler until Big 12 season goes along. I’m sure he was royally pissed when the Big 12 required a full round-robin schedule following the loss of Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas A&M, and the addition of TCU and West Virginia. Snyder wanted two five-team divisions so he could schedule at least one, maybe two, more softies. At least the Big 12 had the foresight to ignore him.

Because of that, Saban and Snyder will never face off unless they are matched in a bowl game. No chance Snyder wants to take the Wildcats to Tuscaloosa. None. And no way K-State gets into Alabama’s ionosphere for a bowl game, so the Saban vs. Snyder dream match will have to remain a relic of the old Big Ten, when the conference actually had 10 teams.

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As for Saban’s current team, Alabama visits Baton Rouge a week from Saturday for another apocalyptic game, at least for LSU fans. Crimson Tide rooters really could care less, because as Bear Bryant famously said, he would rather beat the Cow College (Auburn) once than Notre Dame (or LSU or just about anyone else) ten times.

LSU fans have been in a tizzy since about 2100 Saturday, when All-SEC linebacker Devin White was ejected for targeting on a hit against Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. With just under five minutes remaining and LSU leading 19-3, White was called by referee John McDaid for leading with his helmet and hitting Fitzgerald below the face mask, which is the definition of targeting.

It appeared White attempted to hold up, and he led with a two-hand shove, not a launch with the helmet. It was a very, very questionable targeting. Yes, White should have been penalized, but ejecting him was probably over the top.

The worst thing about a targeting call in the second half is that player is suspended for the first half of the next game. This means White will be a spectator or held in the locker room during the first minutes of the tussle between the Bayou Bengals and Crimson Tide.

Had this been against the Alabama offense of two years ago, it might not have been so bad. LSU and Alabama were scoreless through three quarters before the Tide offense got going and won 10-0.

Now, it is a major loss.

Alabama has a more explosive offense than Joe Namath, Bart Starr or Kenny Stabler ever could have dreamed of. Tua Tagiviola, who came off the bench in the second half of last year’s national championship game vs. Georgia and rallied the Tide from a 13-0 deficit to win in overtime, is favored to win the Heisman. In fact, you cannot get even money odds on Tua at any Las Vegas sports book. Alabama has routed every opponent so far, and Tua has yet to see the fourth quarter of any game.

The Twitter hashtag #freedevinwhite trended immediately after the game and most of Sunday. LSU athletic director Joe Alleva was incensed and begged SEC commissioner Greg Sankey to overturn the suspension.

It got so heated political guru James Carville, a Louisiana native and LSU graduate, wrote a letter to The Advocate in Baton Rouge claiming the officials of the SEC were in cahoots with Alabama. Carville claimed the directive to uphold the targeting call against White came from SEC Director of Officials Steve Shaw, an Alabama graduate and native of Birmingham.

Carville wasn’t the only politically connected Bayou State resident who chimed in.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, who also graduated from LSU, demanded to know from Shaw and Sankey why White was ejected and just how it was targeting.

Edwards is the first governor to be this invested in LSU football since John McKeithen helped Charles McClendon recruit during his two terms (1964-72). John Bel, no relation to Edwin Edwards, has traveled with the Tigers and is very close to Ed Orgeron and his wife Kelly.

It’s nice to see JBE loving LSU football. Edwin Edwards graduated from LSU, but really didn’t care about sports, although he was on the LSU plane to Philadelphia for the 1981 Final Four. Dave Treen graduated from Tulane, so he saw LSU as the enemy, at least in athletics. Mike Foster graduated from LSU, but only cared about hunting and fishing. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco hated LSU, having graduated from UL Lafayette. As for Buddy Roemer and Bobby Jindal, they didn’t give a you know what–both graduated from Harvard.

As it turns out, neither Shaw nor Sankey has the power to vacate the suspension. That belongs to the NCAA and Director of Football Officiating Rogers Redding, who, like Shaw, was a longtime referee in the SEC. Redding said it’s not happening.

Orgeron, to his credit, has moved on and is focusing on getting the Bayou Bengals ready for the Tide. Alleva is taking up the fight, which is what a good athletic director should do. Governor Edwards has bigger fish to fry, though. It’s nice to see him care about the state’s flagship school, but funding the academic side should be priority one, not the football team.

I’m of the mind that if the officials–McDaid, Shaw, the replay official in the booth at Tiger Stadium and any other officials in Birmingham with Shaw at command central–did not see enough clear and convincing evidence to overturn the targeting call, it should stand. McDaid said the call was “confirmed” after replay, which meant there was clear and convincing evidence in their minds.

Steve Shaw was the sine qua non of college football officials when he wore the white hat. Every time there was a huge game involving an SEC school during the regular season, Steve Shaw was the man announcing the penalties. If there was a major bowl game, there was a good chance Shaw was the man in charge. He only got to work two national championship games (Florida State vs. Virginia Tech in ’99, USC vs. Oklahoma in 2004) because the SEC almost always had a team in the title game, so by rule, Shaw and all SEC officials were barred from working. But three Rose Bowls isn’t a bad consolation, especially considering SEC officials never worked the Rose Bowl until the 1991 season.

Shaw is one of the two greatest college football officials who ever lived. The other is Jimmy Harper, who was a referee in the SEC from the early 1970s through 1995. Harper had a Georgia drawl which made me laugh nearly every time. And Harper explained penalties so well you could understand even if you had never watched a football game before.

My father loved Harper. My dad called Harper the ‘white-haired gentleman’. The good news is Harper was probably watching the LSU-Mississippi State game from his home in Atlanta. He’s still alive and kicking at 84.

Shaw and Harper both could have been NFL referees. I’m sure they would have been as legendary as Jerry Markbreit, Ed Hochuli, Jim Tunney and Ben Dreith. But they chose to stay in college, which obviously was a great decision.

I don’t believe for one nanosecond Steve Shaw has a biased cell in his body. He is a man of the utmost integrity. He doesn’t care the teams playing. He only cares that the game is played fairly, and that when someone violates the rules of the game, he is penalized accordingly. I will never buy LSU fans claiming Shaw is biased. No way.

It’s a tough break for LSU, but it’s football. White will learn and be better for it.

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I’m rambling yet again. Sorry. That’s all for now.

No American football? Nirvana

Tonight is the first night of high school football in Kansas. I’m at home in my basement watching a Lifetime movie.

And I feel pretty freaking great. I don’t miss high school football. I don’t. There are many better ways to spend a Friday night in my opinion.

I followed through on my pledge not to watch college football last night. I’m doing it again tonight. And I’m sure as hell not going to watch tomorrow, Sunday or Monday.

College football is corrupt as hell. Whenever an asshole like Urban Meyer (URBAN LIAR) can get away with only a three-game suspension after covering up an assistant coach’s dastardly deeds at TWO major universities, you know the game is full of shit and should  not be supported by any sane human being.

Ohio State fired Woody Hayes, who won 205 games in 28 seasons in Columbus for punching an opposing player (Clemson’s Charlie Bauman) in a fit of rage, yet it can’t fire Urban LIAR for covering up a man who threw his pregnant wife against a wall and continued to abuse her after moving from Gainesville to Columbus? WHAT THE FUCK?

You know college football is corrupt when two power five conferences are allowed to play by a different set of rules.

The ACC and SEC fucking refuse to go to nine conference games like the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 have. They lay out a bullshit argument that it’s too tough to force them to beat up on one another.

There’s only one voice of reason, and as much as it pains me to say it, it’s Nick Saban.

Saban wants nine conference games, but everyone else in the SEC are big pussies and don’t want it. Same with everyone in the ACC, including Dabo Swinney. What’s wrong, Dabo? That scared of Duke, Virginia or Pitt? If you are, then get out of the business, pal.

Same to all the SEC coaches who oppose Saban’s idea. Yes, you’re tired of him kicking your asses all the time. I understand. My alma mater has been the most abused by Saban’s Alabama teams. But LSU has no business playing Southeastern Louisiana, Louisiana Tech and Rice in the same season.

How would it hurt if LSU traded one of those teams for Vanderbilt, Kentucky or Missouri? IT WOULDN’T. It might help the bottom line because LSU wouldn’t be on the hook for a ridiculous guarantee and pocket $3 million in revenue from tickets and concessions, and even if that game were on the road, they’d come out ahead over having to pay some shit team $900,000.

If the College Football Playoff committee had any balls (they don’t), they would demand the SEC and ACC play nine conference games, or else be held to a much stricter set of standards when determining the playoff berths. Playing five road games in the SEC shouldn’t mean a damn thing if you’re that good. Saban isn’t afraid of it. Too bad there are too many emasculated pussies in the ACC (John Swofford, Swinney, Mark Richt, Jimbo Fisher before he left Tallahassee for College Station) and SEC (Greg Sankey and Mike Slive and Roy Kramer before him, Ed Orgeron and Les Miles before him, Fisher, Gus Malzahn, Will Muschamp, Kirby Smart and Richt before him, Dan Mullen) for Saban to prevail.

Saban also wishes his school would stop scheduling cupcakes and play only fellow power five teams. Alabama’s administration won’t listen to him, but maybe it should. I don’t care if Saban scheduled Kansas, Rutgers and Oregon State, arguably the worst three schools in power five leagues. It would be a major improvement over the shit SEC and ACC schools play in non-conference for the most part, save South Carolina playing Clemson and Florida playing Florida State every year, plus the occasional neutral-site game.

LSU could play Texas, TCU or Texas Tech home-and-home. Revive the series with Georgia Tech and discuss playing the Atlanta game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium instead of Grant Field. Nebraska? Hell yes. Wisconsin? Why not, home-and-home would be just as fabulous as Houston and Green Bay were. North Carolina State? I like. Stanford? Yep.

Get the TV networks involved. Maybe Saban and James Franklin would consider reviving the Alabama-Penn State series, which was a fixture throughout the 1980s. Demand Texas and Texas A&M play a minimum of four years, possibly playing once in Arlington and once in Houston. Same with Missouri and Kansas, with all games in Kansas City. Missouri, Nebraska and Colorado should all play at least one Big 12 team per year. Texas A&M should also play Baylor, TCU and Texas Tech regularly.

Enough college football. At least the real football starts in under 10 hours.

Jeremy Foley & Mother Nature KO LSU

LSU will not be playing football tomorrow.

The Bayou Bengals’ game at Florida, which was supposed to kick off at 11 a.m. Central, was called off due to the threat of Hurricane Mathew, which is currently paralleling Florida’s east coast about 80 miles (130 kilometers) offshore. Gainesville is receiving heavy rain now and will continue to have rain the rest of the evening.

LSU offered to move the game to Baton Rouge, and play Saturday, Sunday or Monday. LSU went so far as to procure hotel rooms in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and offered to pay for all of Florida’s expenses, including the charter flight.

Florida flat out refused. The Gators also refused the idea of a neutral site, such as Birmingham, Nashville or even Atlanta. Florida was bound and determined to play the game in Gainesville, even though as early as Monday night, it appeared the city would receive some significant effects from Matthew.

Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley, who is now in his last month in the position, dithered and farted around until it was too late to do anything but call off the game. I’m sure his football coach, Jim McElwain, told him to stall as long as he could. Florida currently has many players injured, including several defensive linemen and starting quarterback Luke Del Rio.

Foley and McElwain got their true wish: no game this Saturday. Even though LSU is now led by interim coach Ed Orgeron, the Gators were well aware facing the Bayou Bengals would be a difficult task fully healthy, even more so without the injured players, although the Bayou Bengals were going to be without All-American running back Leonard Fournette, who missed last week’s game vs. Missouri with an ankle injury.

Florida wants to play the game Nov. 19. The Gators and Bayou Bengals both have non-conference home games that day. LSU would have to pay South Alabama a $1.5 million buyout if cancels, and would lose over $3 million in ticket revenue, not to mention parking, concessions and gift shop sales. LSU has every right to want to honor the contract with the Jaguars. It is not at fault here.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey should have stepped in. He should have done something Tuesday, or at the latest, Wednesday by noon. He should have told Florida in no uncertain terms the game would be played in Baton Rouge Saturday, or in Gainesville Sunday or Monday. In the professional sports leagues, the commissioner has the power to change the site and/or date of the game if a natural disaster is imminent. It’s too bad the SEC presidents and athletic directors haven’t vested the same power in the commissioner.

On the other hand, Sankey hasn’t been in the job too long. He doesn’t carry the clout of his predecessors, Roy Kramer and Mike Slive, who were among the most powerful people in college sports during their tenures. Kramer nor Slive would have let this drag out. They would have forced Foley’s hand and gotten something done.

I don’t understand why it would be so hard to move the SEC championship game back one week to Dec. 10, then have the College Football Playoff selections made that night or early the next morning. Start the SEC title game at 11 a.m. Central (prior to Army-Navy), then make the CFP selections at 6 p.m. Not hard.

If anyone knows about moving games due to hurricanes, it’s LSU.

The Bayou Bengals postponed their 2005 season opener vs. North Texas to late October. The game was scheduled to be played Sept. 3, which turned into the Saturday following Katrina’s landfall.

The next week, LSU moved its scheduled home game with Arizona State to Tempe. LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center and Carl Maddox Fieldhouse were being used as emergency medical centers, and helicopters were landing on the infield at Bernie Moore Stadium, the track facility across North Stadium Drive from Tiger Stadium. It would have been very easy for LSU to cancel the game. Arizona State would have understood. But the new LSU coach that season, Les Miles, knew playing the game, even if it was in Tempe and kicked off after 9 p.m. Central, would be a unifying influence and a way for refugees to forget about their miserable situations, even if only for three and a half hours.

LSU’s new home opener vs. Tennessee had to be pushed back to a Monday night due to Hurricane Rita, which devastated southwest Louisiana and dropped heavy rain on the rest of the state. College Gameday was supposed to broadcast from Baton Rouge, but moved to Virginia Tech.

Last year, South Carolina moved its scheduled home game with LSU to Baton Rouge when flooding hit the Palmetto State hard. LSU rolled out the red carpet from the Gamecocks, and the Golden Band from Tigerland even played the Carolina fight song.

See, Florida? It’s not that hard. All of the blame for this situation belongs to one man: Jeremy Foley. Hopefully Scott Stricklin, Foley’s predecessor, won’t be so stubborn if this happens again.

LSU returns to the field Oct. 15 at home vs. Southern Mississippi. I hope the Bayou Bengals pour it on. I have never been a USM fan, thanks to Curley Hallman’s disastrous four-year tenure in Baton Rouge after he went 23-11 in three seasons in Hattiesburg (thank you, Brett Favre).