Saturday’s 6-pack, Quote, Quiz of the Day

College hoop information on hoops page………NHL info on hockey page……..NFL knowledge on NFL page……..NBA stuff on hoops page

Saturday’s 6-pack
Longshots to win The Masters in April:
110-1– JB Holmes
135-1— Jason Dufner
150-1— Ian Poulter
165-1— Ollie Schneiderjans
200-1— Patton Kizzire
225-1— Charles Howell III

Quote of the Day
“Credit goes to both the organizations from the standpoint of realizing how important it is to have a quality backup quarterback. Both Nick and Case entered the same scenario — at the start of the season, they were backups. They both are experienced, they’ve won games, they’ve played tough opponents, they’ve won games against good opponents. I’m not surprised at all.”
Jeff Fisher, who coached both Nick Foles/Case Keenum with the Rams

Saturday’s quiz
What is the capital of Ohio?

Friday’s quiz
Loyola Marymount is coached by Mike Dunlap, who used to coach the Charlotte Bobcats. He is probably also the only NBA coach who was born in Alaska.

Thursday’s quiz
Denver Broncos hold the NFL record for quickest TD scored in an overtime game- it came in a playoff game against Pittsburgh— Denver’s QB that day was Tim Tebow, who threw an 80-yard TD pass 0:12 into overtime.

Saturday’s List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here…….

13) There is too much anger and bad news in the world, so I give you this:

Former NFL running back Warrick Dunn’s mom was a policewoman in Baton Rouge; she was killed by a gunman when Dunn was 18. Dunn went on to star at Florida State, and then played for 12 years in the NFL.

To honor his late mother, Dunn started a foundation that built homes with Habitat for Humanity for single-parent families. He is still doing that.

Last month, Dunn’s foundation gave away their 158th and 159th homes, one in Detroit, one in Atlanta. You don’t think this makes a difference?

12) In 2006, Dunn’s foundation built a home in Gainesville, Ga; the family had an 11-year old boy who you may have heard of.

Deshaun Watson, now QB for the Houston Texans.

Who knows what would’ve happened to that family if they hadn’t been given a home in 2006. Sometimes all people need is a chance.

11) 106 college football players are leaving school early to apply for the NFL Draft- there were 74-95-95 such players the last three years. 26 of the players come from SEC schools, 24 more from ACC schools.

Florida State, LSU, Texas all lost six players each.

10) If JD Martinez can’t play ball for $25M a year, then the Red Sox should tell him to take a hike and Martinez should go find a real job, where he won’t make $25M a year.

Enough already; he’s had only two great years and will be 31 in August. Martinez has played more than 123 games in a season twice in his career.

9) They re-sodded the middle of the field in Philadelphia this week, after lot of players slipped in last week’s game. Re-sodding a field in the Northeast in January can be dicey, but Doug Pederson said the field is in great shape, so we’ll take his word for it.

8) There are murmurs on the Interweb that Tom Brady has multiple stitches in his passing hand, which is why he wore gloves to his news conference Friday.

Betting line has dropped from 9 to 7.5 points; if somehow Brady didn’t play Sunday, the line with Brian Hoyer playing QB for New England would be Patriots, -2.

7) Alabama hired former New Mexico coach Mike Locksley as its offensive coordinator; he was OC at both Illinois and Maryland, but is considered a better recruiter than a tactician.

6) Michigan State 85, Indiana 57— For some reason Alex Rodriguez was at this game last night, sitting in the student section, wearing an “Izzone” t-shirt. He’s been on TV a lot lately; he was at a Laker game with JLo and the kids, and was also at another game with his famous wife. Haven’t heard if ARod is going to get the Sunday Night Baseball gig on ESPN, but he’d be good at it.

5) Eagles-Jaguars will meet in London next fall; game could be a Super Bowl rematch, if both underdogs win Sunday. NFL fans in London deserve better games than they gotten recently.

4) NFL has an interesting way of staying in the news 24/7; ESPN started the other day with Mel Kiper’s first mock draft for 2018— he had the Browns taking Wyoming QB Josh Allen with the #1 pick, and then the Giants taking UCLA QB Josh Rosen with the #2 pick.

3) Le’Veon Bell showed up five minutes before the END of the Steelers’ walk-through the day before their playoff game, which may be part of why some of the limited partners in the team want a coaching change. Apparently he wasn’t the only player who had a trouble with being on time, and also an assistant coach or two was in that group.

Can remember Troy Aikman telling Joe Buck in an interview program how he retired from the NFL because discipline on the Cowboys slipped badly under Barry Switzer, and it drove him nuts. Aikman was a perfectionist, and he couldn’t stand sloppy preparation.

2) Have you seen the commercial on TV where the guy in the baseball cap adopts a dog at the shelter and brings him home in his truck? Didn’t notice until about the 70th time it was on, but the guy who adopts the dog has an artificial left leg. Just noticed it, thats all.

1) I’ve been scolded by some for talking about politics on here, but I will say this: if the government shuts down, then no politician should receive a penny of pay until it starts up again, and then no retroactive paychecks. If you want to get paid, do your damn job.

Friday’s List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind……..

13) Bill Belichick got his first NFL head coaching job in 1991, when he was 39; he interviewed 85 coaches for assistants’ jobs that winter- the first one he hired?

Guy named Nick Saban. Wonder whatever happened to him?

12) Six of the top 21 college basketball teams lost Wednesday night. Been a weird year.

11) I see that they’re moving up the start of college basketball season next year, up three days to November 6, which will also be Election Day. They’re trying to get the start of college hoop out of football’s shadows— hopefully there won’t be any MAC football games on TV that Tuesday.

10) NBC television is advertising the Olympics a lot- one of the ads has an athlete saying how every kid’s dream is to be in the Olympics. I can honestly say, not once did I ever dream of being in the Olympics, especially the Winter Olympics. Good thing, since I was a lousy athlete, but my idea of fun isn’t slalom skiing or anything to do with cold weather.

9) Funny story on Twitter this week about how a Vikings fan named Sara Zeigler got so excited when Stefon Diggs caught that pass at the end of the game Sunday night, she jumped on her couch and landed on her remote control, which changed the station on the TV before Diggs scored, so she didn’t see the winning TD she was so excited about, until one of the 1,000 replays after the game.

Moral of story: Remote controls are very valuable; never jump on them.

There have been numerous stories about people waiting for the PAT to be tried/not tried after that Minnesota touchdown, since the pointspread hung in the balance. Had to be fun to be in Las Vegas sportsbook for that.

8) Philadelphia Eagles went for it on 4th down 26 times this year, most in the NFL- they made the first down/TD on 17 of those 26 tries.

7) Shohei Ohtani is both a pitcher and a hitter; the Angels’ newest free agent acquisition has caused the folks at some grief this winter, as they worked to figure out how Ohtani will be dealt with in the fantasy league website’s stats column.

Apparently the problem has been resolved; doesn’t sound like Ohtani will be in the lineup enough to merit his inclusion as a fantasy league hitter. Albert Pujols DH’s for the Angels, so it Ohtani is the DH, Pujols has to play first base? Not ideal.

6) Cavaliers 104, Magic 103— Cavaliers blew a 23-point lead but survived the dismal Magic. Cleveland is 16-5 at home, 3-17-1 against the spread.

5) Surprising stat: Of the last eight Stanley Cup champs, only one of the eight (’17 Penguins) finished higher than 15th in NHL in power play efficiency during the regular season.

4) Creighton F Martin Krampelj will miss the rest of the season with a major knee injury; he’s started every game for the Bluejays, scoring 11.9 ppg, grabbing 8 rebounds a game- a big loss.

3) When I was a little kid 100 or so years ago (late 60’s), they built a restaurant near our house— Valle’s Steakhouse. Place had this huge, Vegas-like sign in front of it, and it was a fancy place. Cloth napkins, all that.

Valle’s went out of business a long time ago; the building is a college now, Bryant & Stratton College, and I found out this week that Bryant & Stratton is starting a basketball program. They haven’t said where they’re going to play their games. If I remember right, Bryant & Stratton used to be called Albany Business College, and it was located in the city of Albany.

I’m not 100% sure that ABC became Bryant & Stratton, but one came to being when the other closed its doors.

2) Anyway, Albany Business College had a good junior college basketball team back in the day; Willard Rice was the coach— I went to a camp once run by Coach Rice and his son Steve. They had a team when I was in college (late 70’s)- they used to play the Albany JV team every year, so this is life coming full circle. From looks of things, Bryant & Stratton is a 4-year school now.

1) One last story about Valle’s Steakhouse; one summer, my dad’s family was in town to visit and we all went to Valle’s for dinner. Probably 12-14 people, so a big group. The waitress brings a lot of dinners out at the same time, and a small dish slipped at the top of her load— she went to grab it………and there was a very loud noise. Food scattered everywhere.

I’m pretty sure the waitress was fired before the dishes stopped spinning around; as an annoying 10-year old, I was sure it was the funniest thing I’d ever seen, even if I did have to wait to eat a while longer. It was tremendous- stuff like that didn’t happen at Carroll’s Hamburgers. my preferred place to eat when I was 10.

Thursday’s List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud……

13) Webster’s defines scapegoat this way: “a person who is blamed for the wrongdoings, mistakes, or faults of others, especially for reasons of expediency.”

Pittsburgh Steelers lost a home playoff game 45-42 Sunday; there was much unrest in Steelers’ Nation, so a scapegoat was found— offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

You would think defensive coordinator would take some grief, but no. Maybe when the QB, a future Hall of Famer, tells the media that he isn’t allowed to audible to a QB sneak, maybe that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

12) Speaking of quarterbacks not being allowed to audible, when Mike Martz ran the Rams’ offense, his QB’s, Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger, weren’t allowed to audible either. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, especially when you have a veteran QB, but coaches have big egos, too.

11) TCU’s best guard, Jaylen Fisher, is out indefinitely after hurting his knee in practice. TCU is 2-4 in Big X, with five of the six games decided by 5 or less points- 3 of the 5 games went to OT.

10) Shaquille O’Neal’s son Shareef is a 6-7 power forward who is committed to play for Arizona next year- he is considered a 4-star (out of 5) recruit.

9) South Carolina 76, Kentucky 68— Wildcats led by 14 points with 11:30 left, lost in Columbia brickfest Tuesday where teams combined to go 6-34 on arc. Kentucky used nine players; six freshmen (five of them started) and three sophomores.

8) Thru Tuesday’s college basketball games, the national average on free throws was 70.9%, which would be the highest it has been the last 17 years, and 3rd year in row it has gone up.

Some conference championship game trends:
7) Over last four years, favorites are 7-1 vs spread in conference championship games.

6) In Belichick/Brady era, Patriots are 7-4 in AFC title games (6-5 vs spread), 5-1 at home (3-3 vs spread).

5) Last 12 years, road favorites in conference title games are 1-2-1 vs spread.

4) According to ESPN Stats, the last five NFL teams that won playoff games with a walk-off TD lost their next game, by an average of 23 points.

3) Gene Steratore will be the referee in the Super Bowl; he’s also worked 24 D-I basketball games this winter, 22 of them involving Big 14 teams.

Steratore wound up working 60 basketball games last year, 63 the year before.

2) Teams are averaging 70.2 possessions per game this season, most in the last 17 years. Teams are playing a little faster, but the shot clock was 0:35 most of that time, not the current 0:30.

1) Teams are scoring 73.6 ppg, most in the last 17 years; five years ago, teams averaged only 66.9 ppg, so that is positive change. People like to watch good offense, even if it is really bad defense.

Wednesday’s List of 13: Mid-week musings…….

13) A young man named Tyler Hilinski took his own life Tuesday; he was 21 years old.

What makes this newsworthy is that Hilinski was supposed to be Washington State’s starting QB next fall- he started the Coogs’ Holiday Bowl game against Michigan State last month. Playing QB for Mike Leach is often a ticket to playing pro football, he is that good a coach.

Apparently a suicide note was left; my thoughts and prayers go out to his family, who are now left with a near-infinite number of unanswered questions. It is a very sad thing.

12) You never know what demons lurk inside a person; would it be that terrible if we were all a little nicer to each other? In today’s society, kindness is often mistaken for weakness. Swagger and cockiness are attractive, but what if we were just nicer to each other?

Playing quarterback is a tough thing; you’re the most important player on the field. In this age of social media overload, people can hide behind their keyboards and be quite cruel. Hopefully that is not what happened here. I just hope his family can find peace when all of this settles down.

11) After consecutive 5-11 seasons, New Jersey Jets lowered season-ticket prices for 2018 by an average of 11%, lowest tickets have been for Jet games since 2008.

10) Clippers are 12-4 with PG Milos Teodosic in the lineup, 10-17 without him.

9) U of Arizona’s new football coach Kevin Sumlin will make $21.5M over the next four years; $11M from Arizona, $10.5M from Texas A&M, which fired him last month.

8) North Carolina 87, Clemson 79— Tigers are now 0-59 in Chapel Hill. Zero. and. 59.

Clemson played scared in the first half, were down 18, then caught fire, made 15 shots in a row and got within 71-69, but their rally fell just short. Clemson should make the NCAAs.

7) The Alabama linebacker who tried to punch an assistant coach during the national title game has transferred to I-AA Tennessee State.

6) When the Vikings took a knee on the PAT after the game-winning TD Sunday, it had to be been the first time since punters became specialists that both teams’ punters were on the field on the same time.

There was a time where some punters played other positions (Danny White, Dan Pastorini were QB’s, Donny Anderson was a RB) but that was a long time ago.

5) Jordan Tucker was #82 recruit in the Class of 2017; he signed with Duke. After playing only 14 minutes in two games for the Blue Devils, Tucker is transferring to Butler.

4) April 6, the Lakers will unveil a statue honoring Elgin Baylor outside Staples Center. Baylor played for the Lakers for 14 years- he was 1st-team NBA 10 of those years. He will be the sixth Laker to have a statue outside Staples.

3) According to the Wall Street Journal, the world’s busiest K-Mart is located…….in Guam.

2) Some limited partners of the Pittsburgh Steelers will apparently lobby owner Art Rooney to fire coach Mike Tomlin. This is a bad idea.

Tomlin is 116-60 (.659) with an 8-7 playoff record, a Super Bowl title and no losing seasons in his 11-year stint as the Steelers’ head coach…….

In case you were wondering, Bill Cowher was 149-90-1 as Steelers coach (.623). with a Super Bowl ring and a 12-9 playoff record.

1) Steelers are 45-19 in regular season games the last four years, but only 3-5 in playoffs since Tomlin won his Super Bowl. QB Ben Roethlisberger is nearing the end of his great career, and there is no promising young QB on the Steelers’ roster.

Tuesday’s List of 13: Nobody asked me, but……

13) I’ve never coached football, I’m not qualified to analyze play calls or to think I know more than NFL coaches. Guess what? Neither are 99% of writers around the country who are killing the Falcons or Steelers coaches for their play calling this weekend.

Someone texted me Sunday night: “What did you think of the Pittsburgh play calls?”

I answered: “They didn’t work.”

It is easy to criticize the Steelers for running a sweep on 4th and 1, but if the guy runs for a TD on that sweep, then Todd Haley is a play-calling genius.

12) Sad day for Pittsburgh Pirate fans; Bucs traded Andrew McCutchen for P Kyle Crick, some international pool money and a prospect. The financial realities of small market teams reared their ugly head here; McCuthen will make $14.8M this year, then he’ll be a free agent.

McCutchen is 31 and is still very productive, but with Gerrit Cole getting dealt to Houston, the Pirates are in a rebuild, and McCutchen wouldn’t re-sign with a losing team anyway, so Pirates got something for him. As an A’s fan, I know days like this suck for the team that deals its star.

Crick allowed only 22 hits in 32.1 IP (30 games) out of the Giants’ bullpen LY.

11) Fact that surprised me: Drew Brees is the only QB to start a Super Bowl who went to high school in Texas. That will change Sunday, since Case Keenum/Nick Foles are both from Texas.

10) Final Four of the NFL: Tom Brady and his five Super Bowl rings, then Blake Bortles, Keenum and Foles, who before this month, were a combined 0-1 in NFL playoff games.

9) Last four years, favorites are 7-1 vs spread in conference championship games.

8) James Madison’s basketball team is 17-38 the last two years, 7-17 in CAA games, after they fired Matt Brady, who was 139-127 in eight years at JMU, 68-74 in CAA games.

Why fire Brady, who was 40-25 his last two years? Are boosters that hungry for an NCAA bid? JMU had only one in Brady’s eight years, but not all change in positive.

7) There have already been 17 teams in the college basketball top 5 this season, the 2nd-most ever in a season and it is only mid-January.

6) Golfer Rory McIlroy caught some kind of viral infection in China a while back, and it resulted in his heart having an irregular beat. He says it isn’t a big deal, but that has to be scary.  If it was my heart that had an irregular beat, I’d consider it to be a big deal.

5) South Carolina gave football coach Will Muschamp a 6-year, $28M extension last week.

4) Duke 83, Miami 75— Blue Devils ended game on a 30-9 run. Solid road win.

3) Seahawks hired Ken Norton Jr as their new DC; Norton was fired by the Raiders during the season, then hooked up with the 49ers couple weeks ago, but Seattle gave him a coordinator’s job, so he is off to the Seahawks.

2) Colleges have to end this trend of court storming after big wins, before something terrible happens. You never know if a fan is drunk or just a jerk and says something or instigates a player and the player hauls off and starts a melee.

Few years ago in a high school game out west, I think in Arizona, kids stormed the court after a game and one of the star players wound up getting knocked down and broke a bone in his neck, which ended his playing career.

1) Kansas 71, West Virginia 66— Jayhawks trailed by 12 with 8:54 left, rallied for an impressive road win; Mountaineers were only 5-27 on arc. Kansas only turned ball over 13 times- hard for West Virginia to score when they don’t create turnovers.

Monday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Sunday

13) Jaguars 45, Steelers 42— Had zero idea this would happen, Blake Bortles putting up 45 on the Steelers in Pittsburgh. This was first time since 2010 the Steelers had a first round bye and they didn’t take advantage of it.

12) Vikings 29, Saints 24— New Orleans was shut out in the first half for the first time in their last 62 games, thats how their day was going. Then they played the second half, and what a second half it was.  One of the most dramatic endings in NFL history- if you had the under or the Vikings, -5.5, tough beat- they took a knee on the PAT after the last TD.

Case Keenum threw a 61-yard TD pass on the last play, is now 21-18 as an NFL starter; if his walk-off game-winning TD doesn’t cement him as the Vikings’ starting QB going forward, nothing will. He is now a Minnesota legend.

11) If the Vikings win in Philly next week, they’ll be the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home ballpark. Rams played the Super Bowl in the Rose Bowl in 1980, their home city, but not their home stadium. 49ers played a Super Bowl in Stanford Stadium; similar situation.

10) In 2016, Brian Daboll was the Patriots’ tight ends coach.
This past season, Daboll was Alabama’s offensive coordinator.
Next season, Daboll will be the Buffalo Bills’ offensive coordinator.

If I was a Bills’ fan, not sure how excited I’d be about that.

9) Nick Saban’s six national titles have been won with five different offensive coordinators.

8) Klay Thompson’s streak of 95 consecutive games with at least one 3-pointer came to an end Friday night in Milwaukee.

7) Pelicans 123, Knicks 118 OT— Anthony Davis had 48 points, 17 rebounds for New Orleans.

6) Heat 87, Bucks 79— Miami has won seven games in a row, is a quiet 25-17.

5) Someone on Twitter showed clips of 76ers’ rookie Markelle Fultz practicing his jumpshot Sunday; lets just say…….it didn’t look good. If I owned an NBA team and my #1 pick shot the ball like that, I’d be asking my basketball people some very pointed questions.

4) U of Arizona is going to hire Kevin Sumlin as its new football coach, which is a better hire than Arizona State hiring Herm Edwards.

3) Scouting/drafting are inexact sciences; Antonio Brown and Tom Brady were both 6th round draft choices, in a seven-round draft. It is a big part of what makes sports so interesting.

2) Tip on living in the frozen north; on really cold days, bring your car’s ice scraper in the house with you at night, so when you go to scrape your windshield the next day, it is warm enough so that it’ll actually scrape ice off the windshield.

1) It really is a small world: Nick Foles was traded from Philly to the Rams for Sam Bradford, who was later traded to Minnesota, where he started in front of Case Keenum before he got hurt. Now Foles is back in Philly and will lead the Eagles in the NFC Championship game, where he will face the Vikings, whose two QB’s are Keenum and Bradford.

Sunday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday

13) RIP to the great Keith Jackson 89, the voice of college football, who passed away Friday.

To me, Keith Jackson WAS college football, but he also was the original voice of Monday Night Football, and worked 10 Olympics, 11 World Series, as well as baseball and some NBA (worked the NBA with Bill Russell as his partner).

One of the all-time greats. RIP, sir.

12) Oklahoma 102, TCU 97 OT— Trae Young went for 43 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists. Horned Frogs are 1-4 in Big X play, losing their last two games in OT- they lost their other game against Oklahoma by a point. lost by 4 to Kansas. Big X is a really good league.

11) Duquesne 101, LaSalle 94 3OT— Dukes survived 29-45 shooting on foul line; they’re 4-1 in A-14 under Keith Dambrot, who was Lebron James’ high school coach.

10) Colorado State 78, Wyoming 73— Visiting State used nine players in this game; seven of them wound up with either 4 or 5 fouls, as Wyoming lost despite going 31-42 on foul line. This is a pretty big rivalry; refs tried very hard to keep the game under control. Maybe too hard.

9) Rhode Island 87, St Bonaventure 73— 11am tipoff, which means pre-game meals were at 7am, and that is way too early. Bonnies have good guards- they’ve played lousy defense on the road.

8) Duke 89, Wake Forest 71— Mike Krzyzewski missed this game with a virus; he is 70 years old and has missed lot of games last few years, mostly, with back/knee issues. Wouldn’t be stunned if this was his last season coaching.

7) Cal State-Fullerton 85, Cal-Davis 70— Issue was decided early on; Fullerton took a 24-second violation on purpose in the last minute, like in the NBA, then Davis jacked up a 3 in last 0:10 but for whatever reason, Fullerton’s coach yapped about it in the handshake line and teams almost went at it after the game. Seriously, the head coaches almost got in a fight.

I watched both Fullerton games this week; they was lot of pushing/shoving in both games. Titans have very good guards, and they’re 4-0 in Big West for first time since 1984, but referees might get tired of their attitudes. I’ll make sure to see their rematch with Cal-Davis.

6) Auburn 76, Mississippi State 68— Auburn is 16-1 and two of their best players never became eligible this season. Tigers trailed by 11 at the half here, but rallied for the win. If/when the Chris Mullin experiment ends, Bruce Pearl would be the perfect coach for St John’s.

5) Texas Tech 72, West Virginia 71— These might be best two teams in Big 12; think both these teams and Oklahoma are all better than Kansas. Tech was down 11 in second half, but they start three seniors, so they came back. West Virginia only had two guys score in double figures.

4) Kansas 73, Kansas State 72— Jayhawks are 4-1 in Big X, but none of the four wins were by more than six points. They’re in bottom 5 in whole country at getting to the foul line.

3) Upsets of the Day:
Colorado (+11.5) 68, UCLA 59
Michigan (+10.5) 82, Michigan State 72
Austin Peay (+9.5) 87, Jacksonville State 67
Memphis (+8.5) 75,Temple 72 OT
Florida Atlantic (+7.5) 73, Tex-San Antonio 69
Colorado State (+7) 78, Wyoming 73
Morehead State (+6) 71, Tenn-Martin 67
South Carolina (+5.5) 64, Georgia 57

2) Eagles 15, Falcons 10— Nick Foles was 23-30 for 246 yards with no turnovers; his job was to not lose the game, and he didn’t. Eagle defense blanked Atlanta in the second half, and now Philly hosts the NFC title game next Sunday night.

1) Patriots 35, Titans 14— The NFC is so much better than the AFC this season, it isn’t funny. You don’t think the Seahawks or Dallas would’ve made the playoffs in the AFC? Tennessee wouldn’t have been over .500 in the NFC this season. Those three games the Titans lost in a row in December? All to NFC West teams.

Saturday’s List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here……

13) It is wrong to sit back and say nothing about the stuff thats gone on in the White House this week. Saying nothing gives tacit approval to what has gone on, that the President of our country can openly say racist things and get away with it.

The second paragraph of our Declaration of Independence starts this way:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Rich people aren’t better than poor people; no race or religion is better than another.

“All men are created equal”…….very important words to remember

12) Arizona Cardinals players wore a saying on t-shirts this season:

Trust, loyalty, respect. 

Our culture is losing its respect for the diversity that has made this country great. Without respect, common decency takes a backseat to what we’re seeing now. Its not good.

11) You can go on and look up salary info for every major league team; it tracks salary commitments from now until 2023.

Right now, the Oakland A’s have $12,333,000 on the books for 2019.
Los Angeles Dodgers have $116,426,000 on the books for 2019.

10) Bronx Bombers have $87,343,000 on the books for 2020, $40,200,000 to pitchers.
New York Mets have $56,000,000 on the books for 2020, $43M of it to Cespedes/Bruce, $12M to David Wright, who is probably finished, and $0 to pitchers.

These two franchises are located eight miles apart physically, worlds apart in their approach.

9) Tampa Bay Rays have $19,833,000 on their payroll for 2019; they’re supposedly competing with the Red Sox and Bronx Bombers in the AL East— good luck there.

8) OVC heads into the weekend with a 5-way tie for first place at 4-1. Jacksonville State plays Austin Peay, Murray State visits Tennessee Tech in two matchups between 4-1 teams.

7) Six assistant coaches have left the Dallas Cowboys’ staff since the season ended.

6) Georgia QB Jacob Eason is transferring to Washington; he’ll sit next season, then have couple years of eligibility left. Eason sprained his knee in the Dawgs’ opener this season; freshman Jake Fromm replaced him and led Georgia to the national title game.

I wonder if Jacob Eason ever heard of Wally Pipp?

5) Think about Bruce Arians’ coaching career; he was an assistant at Alabama for Bear Bryant’s last season coaching, and he was Peyton Manning’s first QB coach. What a career— now he is hoping to move into television next season, and for my sake, I hope he does. Arians tells the truth and he’ll be great on TV— we’ll be able to learn a lot from him.

4) In 1972-73, the Virginia Squires of the ABA went 42-42 under coach Al Bianchi; this team was one of the great announcer’s nightmares of all-time. They had these three players:

Julius Erving. George Gervin. George Irvine. Three similar sounding last names.

Dr J and the Iceman went on to be two of the greatest scorers ever; Irvine went on to coach the Indiana Pacers, but what a tongue-twister that had to be when the Squires had the ball.

3) Blue Jays signed Josh Donaldson for one year at $23M; he is a free agent next winter, but is 32 and missed 49 games last year with injuries.

2) Utah Jazz’ Rodney Hood got fined $35,000 by the NBA for slapping a cellphone out of a fan’s hand as he left the court in Washington after getting ejected from a game.

He should have to buy the fan a new IPhoneX, even if he didn’t break the first phone. Grow up.

1) ESPN had an interesting stat last night; from 2012-14, the Power 5 leagues and Big East got 70.9% of at-large bids to the NCAA tournament.

Last three years, those six leagues got 84.3% of at-large bids. The mid-majors are slowly being squeezed out of the at-large process, in part due to how the big boys schedule and now with the big leagues going to bigger conference schedules, which will jack up their RPIs.

Friday’s List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind……..

13) MaxPreps did a thing looking at where the 12 starting QB’s for the NFL playoff teams went to high school; three are from California (Goff-Brady-Smith), three are from Texas (Brees-Foles-Keenum). Matt Ryan is from Philly; he’s going home this weekend.

12) Good news from Charlotte, where Hornets coach Steve Clifford has been cleared to return after missing more than a month to deal with severe headaches. Clifford has worked his way up the coaching ladder; in 1994-95, he was an assistant coach at Siena College here in Albany.

11) Oregon 76, Arizona State 72— Sun Devils are 1-3 in Pac-12 after being unbeaten coming into league play. Big road win for the Ducks.

10) Lorenzo Brown scored 24 points, had 12 assists for Toronto’s G-League team Thursday, then played 19 minutes for the parent Raptors in their win over Cleveland last night. Thats a full day.

9) NFL announced three London games for next season:
— Seahawks-Raiders, Eagles-Jaguars, Titans-Chargers

Rams are expected to play in the 2018 Mexico City game.

8) Underrated NBA record: Ricky Pierce scored 30+ points coming off the bench in 17 games one season, while playing for Milwaukee in 1990.

7) Wednesday, agents with U.S. Immigration, Customs Enforcement descended on 98 7-Eleven franchise stores across America, where they began audits and interviewed employees and managers. 21 people suspected of being in the United States illegally were arrested.

Those 98 7-Eleven stores were located in 17 different states, plus the District of Columbia.

6) Disappointed that ESPN scrapped Big Monday; they still have their Monday twinbills, but they don’t call it Big Monday anymore. Back in the day, ESPN had Big East/Big Ten/Big West triple headers every Monday, and they were mostly great fun.

Jerry Tarkanian’s UNLV teams, Bob Knight bitching about 9:00 starts, the heyday of the Big East before they expanded into the Midwest and signed up with FS1. Jerome Lane’s dunk breaking the backboard at Pitt was on a Big Monday— Arizona coach Sean Miller threw him the pass.

If I ran ESPN, I’d ask the WCC if they would be interested in Monday night broadcasts, seeing how today’s Gonzaga is a lot like Tark’s UNLV squads— a powerful program carrying an entire league on its shoulders. National TV exposure helps recruiting.

5) Louisville’s basketball team is headed to probation over its handling of Brian Bowen’s recruitment; the kid will wind up playing for South Carolina, starting next season. Before he could announce the signing, coach Frank Martin had ti to get it signed off by the school’s AD and compliance people, so if it all got this far, Bowen should be good to go.

4) Odd Fact: Every Norwegian’s income tax return is published on the Interweb.

3) Huge week for Western Kentucky’s basketball team; 4-star recruit, big man Moustapha Diagne has been cleared to play by the NCAA, making the Hilltoppers a legit 9-deep team. WKU won its last two games on the road, at Marshall/Old Dominion.

2) Carolina Panthers hired Norv Turner as their new OC; he is a great QB guru who should help Cam Newton a lot.

1) Get well soon Alex Trebek; the 77-year old Jeopardy host was diagnosed with a subdural hematoma and is on leave from the show after brain surgery.

Trebek also hosted gameshows like The Wizard of Odds, Double Dare and High Rollers.

Thursday’s List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud…….

13) Further evidence that I’m an idiot; spent 90 minutes in the local DMV office today, waiting to get my license renewed. No big deal, lot of people in there— not sure how their system works, other than some 70-ish year-old lady held things up for several minutes because she had to have her license picture taken 5-6 times until it was just right.

Anyway, they finally call my number and I go up to the counter, only it isn’t my license that needs renewal. It is my dad’s license that needs renewal— he passed away three years ago. Whoops.

12) 2007 Jacksonville Jaguars are only visiting team that has beaten the Steelers twice in Pittsburgh in the same season. Roethlisberger had one of his worst games ever against the Jags back in October- he threw five INTs, two of which were run back for TD’s.

11) Seattle Seahawks fired the OC and offensive line coach, and there are rumors the DC will be gone soon, too, so the Seahawks are basically starting over again with a new coaching staff and an aging roster. As long as they have Russell Wilson, they’re going to be a contender.

10) Heard on TV Tuesday nite that Fresno State isn’t flying charters to road game as much now, which is a big deal in the Mountain West, which has schools in out-of-the-way places. Flying commercial flights to Fort Collins, Logan, Laramie makes travel a lot more cumbersome.

9) Michigan State 76, Rutgers 72 OT— Spartans were a presumptive Final Four pick few days ago, then they got bamboozled by Ohio State and then this. Go figure.

Rutgers gave coach Steve Pikiell a contract extension this week; he’s upgraded their team a lot so far, but it hasn’t shown up that much in the won-loss column. Yet.

8) Villanova 89, Xavier 65— Xavier is 15-3, but two of their losses were by 16-24 points; they’re a streaky/erratic team. Villanova scored 87+ points in its last six games.

7) Oakland (-16) 95, Youngstown State 82— Penguins outscored Oakland 8-0 over the last 1:38 for the backdoor cover.

6) UMass 86, LaSalle 79 OT— Explorers were up 16 at the half, but Luwane Pipkins went for 44 and the Minutemen improved to 9-8. Tough loss for 7-10 LaSalle.

5) George Mason 81, St Joe’s 79— Otis Livingston drained a 30-foot buzzer-beater for the win.

4) Louisville 73, Florida State 69— Impressive road win for the Cardinals- it is their first win in four true road games this season. Seminoles led by 13 points at halftime.

3) The power of television: In only four days, that book Michael Wolff wrote about the White House sold over a million copies. Guy was on every talk show in America over the weekend.

2) Starlin Castro has requested a trade from the Marlins, who acquired him in the Giancarlo Stanton trade December 11. It is funny when people start jumping off a sinking ship, before they’re actually even on the ship.

What is the over/under for the attendance at the Marlins’ home opener? Half-full?

1) Best wishes to Texas Longhorns sophomore guard Andrew Jones, who was diagnosed with leukemia this week. Get well soon, young man.

Wednesday’s List of 13: Mid-week musings…….

13) Monday night was a COLLEGE football game, not the NFL. ESPN sucks for interviewing Jalen Hurts after the game- they were probably hoping he would pout, but the kid is all class.

Have you ever even seen an NFL QB who was benched interviewed after a game when his sub came in and won the game? Ever? What was the point?

12) Second half of the national title game is played with two freshman QB’s; that defies logic.

11) Four of the last five national champs in college football trailed by 10+ points in 4th quarter of the championship game.

10) Kudos to the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan, who is 26 for his last 33 on the foul line. Working on your game pays off— teams will stop fouling him on purpose soon.

9) Clippers’ Lou Williams is #2 in NBA in 4th quarter scoring; Clippers are his 5th team in the last five years. I remember seeing him play AAU ball in Orlando back when I used to go down there every July to see games. Seems like long time ago but it was 2004, not that long ago.

8) Patriots could’ve had the #4 pick in April’s draft if they had traded Jimmy Garoppolo to the Browns instead of San Francisco. Cleveland was willing to trade Houston’s pick to get a QB, but New England obviously wanted to ship him out of the AFC, and in fairness, Houston was 3-4 at the time of the trade- no one knew the pick wound wind up being #4.

7) Someone voted Duke 20th in the college basketball poll this week; I’d be curious who he thinks the 19 teams are who are better than Duke.

6) Football coaching carousel:
— Former Tennessee coach Derek Dooley is the new OC at Missouri
— Teryl Austin is still a defensive coordinator, only now in Cincinnati, not Detroit
— Rams’ QB coach Greg Olson is the Oakland Raiders’ new OC- he gets a 4-year deal.
— Carolina Panthers fired OC Mike Shula, QB coach Ken Dorsey

5) Unusual Fact of the Day: 1972 Miami Dolphins went 17-0, but starting QB Bob Greise started only six of the 17 games, and only one playoff game- the Super Bowl. When Miami won 14-7 in the Super Bowl, Greise threw only 11 passes the whole game. Football was different then. Backup QB for Miami back then was Earl Morrall, who also started Super Bowl III for the Colts.

4) Toronto Blue Jays were the oldest team in the major leagues last season.

3) Missouri football gets important, good news; QB Drew Lock will be back next season. He is very good.

2) Alabama’s football coaches banked a total of $1.27M in bonuses for winning the national title; Nick Saban gets a $100K bonus, but DC Jeremy Pruitt got the biggest one- $234K. Pruitt is now off to be the new head coach at Tennessee.

1) One of the interesting things about our country is how different sports are lot more popular in various areas of the country; New York ranked #52 out of 56 markets in ratings for the college football national title game Monday night. No one on NYC talk radio talks about college football recruiting, ever, not even on Signing Day.

You watch the Paul Finebaum Show on SEC Network and people in the south are discussing Ole Miss’ nickel defense on weekday afternoons in April. I’m not judging, just noting the diversity  our country has makes it a more interesting place.

Tuesday’s List of 13: Nobody asked me, but…….

13) Alabama 26, Georgia 23 OT— Freshman QB Tua Tagovailoa was 35-53 passing this whole season, before this game. Alabama put him in to start second half, trailing 13-0- they looked dead, but Tagovailoa was 14-24/166 with three TD’s, including the game-winner in OT, as Alabama wins another national title, in highly dramatic fashion.

Jalen Hurts is 25-2 as Alabama’s QB, but he’ll never start another game— will he transfer?

12) Watching the ESPN Film Room on ESPN News, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said: “In bowl games, officials are going to let ‘em play a little more. So if you have to hold, hold.” Kevin Sumlin agreed and said same thing also goes for defensive backs in pass coverage.

11) Gundy made another point just before halftime, saying how important it is for teams to have something positive happen right before the half. “It really helps the mood in the locker room at halftime.” Halftimes are lot longer in college ball than the NFL.

10) Kevin Sumlin got fired by Texas A&M after this season; if he wants to go on TV next year, he will be very good. Good natured guy, gets points across quickly.

9) Gundy and Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald agreed that their teams are better off with their coordinators calling plays, rather than the head coach, who has to manage the administrative aspects of the program. They were saying playcallers study film “for eight hours a day”.

8) 6.5 years ago, Georgia QB Jake Fromm played in the Little League World Series; now he was a QB in the national championship game as a freshman in college.

7) A gambler at South Point Casino in Las Vegas risked $557,500 to win $300,000, taking Alabama on the money line. No pointspread. Yikes.

I can’t even imagine what it must be like watching a game with half a million bucks riding on it. Especially this game!!!

6) Portent of the future? National anthem was played with Donald Trump on the field, but the players were in the locker room. Thats smart, avoiding any potential political displays or any other controversies that would take away from the game.

5) If Alabama played 14-0 Central Florida on a neutral field, they’d be a 13-point favorite.

4) In divisional round of NFL playoffs, #1-seeds are 16-5 against #6 seeds- the #6-seed won a road game the previous week, while the #1-seed had a bye.

3) When a 2-seed plays a 3-seed in this round, the 2-seed is 26-8- the bye really does help.

2) Since 2001, when the Patriots play at home in this round of playoffs, they’re 5-4-2 vs spread.

1) Chicago Bears hired Chiefs’ OC Matt Nagy as their new head coach. Nagy played six years in the Arena League— he joins Jay Gruden as former AFL QB’s who are now NFL head coaches.

Monday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend……..

13) Lamont Simpson is a college basketball ref who is a very busy man. Here is a sampling of the 35 games he has worked over the first 59 days of the season:

Nov 10-14: Works five consecutive nights, doing Duke-Illinois-Indiana-VCU games.
Nov 20-22: Tough duty; three days at the Maui Classic.
Nov 23-26: More tough duty: Wooden Legacy tourney in Fullerton; this is three games in four days, at least.
Nov 28-Dec 1: Four straight nights, including games at Purdue-Pitt-Nebraska
Dec 20-23: Four straight nights; three Big 14 games and a Oklahoma game
Jan 2-7: Mr Simpson worked the last six nights: four Big 14 games, two MAC games

These basketball refs have to be in really good shape, working six nights in a row (Kevin Durant would need some time off in there), but they’re banking $1,000+ per game, minus expenses.

12) Ohio State 80, Michigan State 64— I’m watching the Saints playoff game, and I flip over during a commercial and see: Ohio State 63, Michigan State 40 and I wonder why I spend so much time trying to analyze college basketball? Wildly erratic teams, all over the map.

Chris Holtmann upset #1 Villanova last year, when he was coaching at Butler; he upsets the #1 Spartans here, for Ohio State. So you ask: Who was the last coach to upset the #1 team in consecutive years, while coaching at different schools?

11) Odd Fact of the Day: The last coach to upset #1 teams in consecutive seasons while coaching different schools was Thad Matta, who upset St Joe’s in 2004 when he was at Xavier, then upset Illinois the next year, his first year at Ohio State. CBS came up with that nugget.

10) Eight of the top 17 college basketball teams lost this weekend.

9) Philadelphia 76ers are 17-12 when Joel Embiid plays, 2-7 when he does not.

8) Lakers lost nine of their last ten games, they’re eight games out of a playoff spot in the West and then comes news that the Celtics have their #1 pick in next June’s draft. Oy.

7) Oregon State basketball coach Wayne Tinkle is the youngest of 11 children; got to be tough with that many older siblings.

6) Back in 2003, people voted for the Georgia high school football player of the year; they chose a QB from a private school over a WR who went to a public school and then to Georgia Tech.

The QB wound up being a WR at Miami OH; he is Sean McVay, coach of the Rams. The WR wound up being a damn good NFL receiver, Calvin Johnson. Poor decision by those voters.

5) Why are ESPN/CBS running ads for the Masters on January 7th? Anyone who cares knows when the Masters is and who televises it. It is three months from now. Enough already.

4) Eagles are +3 at home against Atlanta next week- they’re first #1 seed (since 2001) to be a home underdog to a #6 seed in this round of the playoffs.

3) Who the hell fills out an NBA All-Star ballot and doesn’t vote for Lebron James?

2) Jaguars 10, Bills 3— Social media was harsh when discussing Blake Bortles Sunday, but fact of the matter is this: He led the Jaguars to a divisional title and they won a playoff game. Lot of guys making way more money than Bortles who haven’t won a playoff game yet.

1) Saints 31, Panthers 26— New Orleans won its 8th straight home game and heads to Minnesota for the next round of the playoffs. Saints beat Carolina three times this year- they’re first team in NFL history to go 3-0 against a team in one season, scoring 30+ points in all three games.

Early playoff lines for next weekend:
AFC: Steelers -13.5 vs Jacksonville…..Patriots -6.5 vs Tennessee
NFC: Falcons -3 @ Philadelphia……..Saints +5 @ Minnesota

Sunday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday

13) Titans 22, Chiefs 21— Kansas City is first NFL team to lose a playoff game after leading by 18+ points at halftime- they’re 1-11 in their last 12 playoff games, losing last six home playoff tilts. QB Alex Smith will likely be elsewhere next season.

12) Falcons 26, Rams 13— Any NFL team that is -2 or worse in turnovers stands less than a 20% chance of winning that game; against playoff-caliber teams, a lot lower %age. Rams turned ball over twice on special teams, had zero takeaways— cannot win that way.

11) Colorado 80, Arizona 77— On Selection Sunday the Buffaloes could be leaning heavily on this week, when they upset Arizona and ASU in Boulder. Colorado led here by 16 at the half- they start three freshmen. PG Wright had 16 points, 10 assists, 7 turnovers.

Quote of the Day, part 2, from Arizona coach Sean Miller:
“You always want your team to play for you as the coach, and our guys, they really struggle playing for me — they really do. I can’t get them to play hard. We do it for a while. I know we’ve had a win streak and we also have a good team. We have a lot of talent. With our team, it’s really hard to get our guys to run as fast as they can. That’s not them. That’s me. I have a hard time reaching our guys. I can’t reach them, I really can’t.”

That doesn’t sound good.

10) Florida 77, Missouri 75— Mizzou was up a hoop when they fouled a Florida 3-point shooter with 0:21 left- the kid made 2 of 3 shots, tying the game. Mizzou then held for last shot, but a casual pass on the wing was stolen by Chiozza and he beat the buzzer with a walk-off layup, an awful loss for the homestanding Tigers.

9) NC State 96, Duke 85— Kevin Keatts gets his first ACC win in Wolfpack’s ACC home opener; all five State starters scored in double figures. Wolfpack bench outscored Duke’s 25-4.

Virginia 61, North Carolina 49— Tar Heels shot 25.8% inside arc, turned ball over 19 times (-8); they lost 53-43 here LY, and then won the national title five weeks later.

8) Bad Beat of the Night: Iowa State (+7.5) lost by 9 at Oklahoma State, 96-87 in overtime.

7) West Virginia 89, Oklahoma 76– Trae Young scored 28, but no other Sooner had more than 12– Young had 8 turnovers, only 5 assists.

6) Providence 81, Xavier 72— Friars even their Big East mark at 2-2; they were crushed 44-28 on boards, but Xavier was just 5-18 on arc.

5) LSU 69, Texas A&M 68- Kid on LSU nailed a 30-footer for the walk-off road win for Bayou Bengals, who are 10-4. Texas Aggies were 11-1, looked like best team in country in November, but thanks to injuries, suspensions, are now 0-3 in the SEC.

4) Tennessee 76, Kentucky 65— Wildcats were up 37-29 at half, but lost for 4th time in last five visits to Knoxville. Volunteers get their first win in three SEC games.

3) Wyoming 79, Boise State 78 OT— Broncos were up 16 at halftime, lose in OT, their first loss in four Mountain West games. Wyoming is 11-5 now.

2) Western Kentucky 112, Marshall 87— Freshman Anderson scored 16 points in 19:00 off the bench in his first college game after becoming eligible Friday.

1) Jacksonville State 64, Belmont 60— Upset in the Ohio Valley Conference; Murray State/Austin Peay are tied for first now.