Wednesday’s List of 13: College football knowledge…….

13) Since 2009, Alabama has been an underdog once in 125 games; in 2015, Bama was a 1-point underdog at Georgia. Alabama hammered the Dawgs 38-10 that day. 

12) Over last decade, Texas A&M is 14-22-2 vs spread as an underdog; average total in their last five bowl games is 79.6. 

11) Since 2010, LSU is 14-7 vs spread coming off a straight-up loss; since 2012, they’re 22-28-1 vs spread coming off a win.  

10) Ole Miss is 17-8 vs spread in its last 25 games as road underdogs; favorites covered their last five bowl games, only one of which was decided by less than 14 points. 

9) Since Urban Meyer bolted Florida eight years ago, Florida is 12-19-1 vs spread coming off a loss. Over last decade, Gators are 2-5 as home dogs, 7-10-1 as road dogs, 15-8 as road favorites. 

8) Last three years, South Carolina is +23 in turnovers; underdogs covered their last four bowl games. In two years under Muschamp, Gamecocks are 11-5 vs spread in SEC games. 

7) Auburn lost four of its last five bowl games, allowing 34+ points in all four losses. Since 2009, Auburn is 12-6 as a home underdog. 

6) Arkansas hasn’t covered as a road favorite since 2010; they’re 0-5 since then. Razorbacks are 9-15-1 vs spread the last two years.

5) Kentucky lost its last four bowls; their last bowl win was in 2008. Last two years, Wildcats are 2-9 vs spread when favored. 

4) Tennessee is on its 5th coach in 11 years, not counting interim coaches; last two years, Vols were 1-6-1 vs spread as an underdog, 3-12-1 vs spread in SEC games. 

3) Vanderbilt was 1-7 vs spread in SEC games LY, ending a 6-year streak where Commodores went 5-3 vs spread in SEC tilts every year. Vandy QB Kyle Shurmur is the son of Giants’ coach Pat Shurmur. 

2) Since 2009, Ohio State is 9-1 vs spread as an underdog. 

1— Over last decade, Michigan is 16-31 vs spread in road games. Wolverines lost four of their last five bowl games. Last four years, Michigan is -17 in turnovers. 

Friday’s List of 13: Our first 2018 dose of college football knowledge

One of the best days each summer is when the Phill Steele college football magazine comes in the mail. It is a great resource to use all season long. 

13) According to Phil Steele Magazine, the three toughest college football schedules for 2018 are: 1) UCLA, 2) Purdue 3) Michigan 

12) Best three offensive lines: 1) Wisconsin (150 starts back) 2) Georgia (69 starts) 3) Alabama (103 starts). 

11) Offensive lines with most returning starts: Wisconsin (150), Boston College (139), Wake Forest (131), Florida Int’l (129). 

10) Four best QB’s: Will Grier (West Va), McKenzie Milton (UCF), Jarrett Stidham (Auburn), Jake Browning (Washington).

9) Four best kickers: Matt Gay (Utah), Austin Seibert (Oklahoma), Rodrigo Blankenship (Georgia), Jameson Vest (Toledo).

8) Tulsa was the only team in America last year that lost five games by a TD or less. They didn’t win any games by a TD or less.

7) Army won six games LY by a TD or less; they lost two games by a TD or less. Troy and North Texas both won five games LY by a TD or less; they didn’t lose any. South Carolina won five and lost one. 

6) Since 1991, 369 teams have been +10 or better in turnovers in a season; of those 369 teams, 240 had worse records the next year. Only 85 (23%) had better records the next year. 

Over the last seven years, only 6 of 48 teams who were +14 or better in turnovers had a better record the following season. 

Best turnover ratios is 2017: Wyoming (+24), UCF (+17), Stanford (+16), Memphis (+15). 

5) In the past 27 years, 311 teams were -10 or worse in turnovers; of those 311 teams, 208 of them had better records the following season. 

Worst turnover ratios in 2017: San Jose St (-26), Rice (-23), Kansas (-17), New Mexico (-16). 

4) Four teams Phil Steele thinks will be the most improved this year: Florida, Utah State, North Carolina, Colorado. 

3) Underdogs are 4-0-1 vs spread in last five national championship games (3-2 SU). 

2) Over last four years, underdogs are 4-1 vs spread in these bowls: Orange, Holiday, Pinstripe, New Mexico Bowls. 

1) The current King of Bowls is Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, who is 11-1 as a head coach in bowl games. 

Thursday’s List of 13: Happy Armadillo Day!!!!

13) 17 years ago today, armadillosports.com was born; the world has changed a lot since then, not always for the better, but hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading this space, thru good and bad. 

As year #18 begins here, let’s hope the world becomes a happier, more cohesive place. 

12) June 14 also means it is my friend Big Dawg’s 29th birthday (again); happy birthday!!! 

11) Nationals 5, New York 4— Juan Soto is 19 years old; he is hitting .349 in his first 20 major league games and hit two homers in this game. 

Soto played only eight games in the AA Eastern League, batting 31 times; he skipped over AAA, which is very unusual, but Soto appears to be an unusual talent. 

10) Detroit 1B Miguel Cabrera (biceps) is done for the year, but a doctor posted on Twitter Tuesday night that he should be 100% for 2019. 

Tigers are on the hook for $154M for Cabrera AFTER this year (2019-23). He better be 100%. 

9) Ruben Amaro Jr is first base coach for the Mets this year, which is only newsworthy because from 2009-15, he was general manager of the Phillies. Guys don’t go from being GM’s to base coaches, very unusual. 

Amaro took over the Phillies the year after they won the World Series, let their nucleus get a little too old before he broke it up, then got fired. 

Now he is trying to work his way up into becoming a field manager. Interesting career. 

8) Speaking of the Mets, they hit .147 on their recent 9-game homestand. Thats the worst batting average EVER for any homestand of 7+ games, for any team in baseball history. 

7) In 1970, Bob Gibson went 23-7 pitching and hit .303; he is the only pitcher ever to win the Cy Young Award and hit .300 in the same season. 

6) Someone at the Westgate SuperBook bet $1,200 Tuesday on Eldrick Woods to win the US Open this week at 20-1. 

5) Paid attendance in Miami Tuesday night for Giants-Marlins; 5,928 (announced). As the old saying goes, many of those 5,928 “fans” were disguised as empty seats.

4) Braves 2, Mets 0— Jacob deGrom pitched Wednesday; he has a 1.31 RA in his last eight starts, but won only one of the eight games. Mets haven’t hit for him, and the bullpen has blown leads late in the game for him. 

Braves pitched Mike Soroka had a no-hitter thru six innings, trying to become the third Canadian pitcher to throw a big league no-hitter. 

3) There have been two no-hitters thrown by Canadian pitchers; James Paxton in Toronto earlier this season, and on September 9, 1945, Philadelphia’s Dick Fowler no-hit the St Louis Browns 1-0 in the second game of a doubleheader. 

That was Fowler’s first start in three years; he had served in the Canadian Army during World War II and this was his first start after returning from the war. 

Fowler wound up going 66-79 in 10 years in the major leagues, all with the A’s; he passed away at age 51 in Oneonta, NY.

2) Major league umpire Stu Scheurwater is from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, not a place you’d expect a major league umpire to come from.

1) Seven weeks left until the trade deadline in baseball; media types will keep themselves busy with useless speculation. Wake me up when an actual trade happens.

Why I call it useless speculation; Mets have already said that deGrom isn’t available, but until he’s still a Met on August 1, you’ll see speculation that he’s going to be traded. 

May 17, 1979: Phillies 23, Cubs 22….a recap

On May 17, 1979, Phillies beat the Cubs 23-22 in 10 innings, in one of the strangest games ever:

13) Phillies were 24-10 at the time; Chicago was 16-16. Cubs had 26 hits in the game, Phils had 24. 

12) The game was 7-6 Phillies, after the first inning. Somewhere, someone bet the under in this game. 

11) Phillies starting pitcher Randy Lerch homered in the top of the first inning, never finished the bottom of the first. Both starting pitchers got only one out before being removed. 

10) Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt hit 3rd/4th in Phillies’ order; they combined to score seven runs and knock in eight. Light-hitting Larry Bowa was 5 for 8 in the game. 

9) Bob Boone was 3-4 with five RBI’s; his son Aaron is now the manager in the Bronx. Boone and Schmidt were both walked intentionally twice. 

8) Reliever Tug McGraw faced 10 batters; seven of them scored. McGraw is the father of the great singer Tim McGraw. 

7) 22 of the first 53 Cubs who came to bat scored, but Rawly Eastwick slammed the door shut in the last two innings, retiring all six Cubs he faced. 

6) Donnie Moore faced 14 batters and seven of them scored, but he did hit a triple, one of his two career three-baggers. 

5) Phillies led this game 21-9 in the 5th inning but Cubs tied the game off of Ron Reed in the 8th inning; Reed pitched 19 years in the major leagues and also played 119 games for the NBA’s Detroit Pistons from 1965-67. 

4) Dave Kingman hit three homers for the Cubs; Bill Buckner knocked in seven runs, seven years before his infamous error in the ’86 World Series. 

3) Phillies went home the next day and got swept in a 3-game series by the Expos. Chicago lost its next four games after this one. 

2) 1979 turned out to be the only year in a six-year stretch where the Phillies missed the playoffs; they finished 84-78, the Cubs 80-82. 

Phillies fired manager Danny Ozark late in 1979, hired Dallas Green and won the ’80 World Series. 

1) Naysayers like to criticize baseball now but attendance that day was 14,952; when was last time the Cubs drew less than 15,000 for a home game? 

Thursday’s List of 13: NFC trends for 2018……

Arizona— Cardinals won four of their last five post-bye games. 

Atlanta— Falcons are 12-2 vs spread in last 14 home openers; under is 10-3 in their last 13 road openers. 

Carolina— Panthers open at home for only 2nd time in last seven years; they’re 0-5 last five times they started season at home. Carolina’s last Week 1 home win was in 2003. 

Chicago— Bears open on road for only 2nd time in last nine years; they’re 2-5 in last seven road openers. Under is 12-2 in their last 14 road openers. 

Dallas— Cowboys played Giants in Week 1 five of last six years; they host Big Blue in Week 2 this year. Dallas covered nine of last 11 road openers. Under is 5-2 in their last seven home openers. 

Detroit— Lions won five of their last seven home openers; over is 6-2 in their last eight. Detroit started season 1-0 six of last seven years. 

Green Bay— Packers won 10 of their last 11 home openers. Over is 10-2 in their last 12 road openers. Green Bay is 0-5 vs spread in last five pre-bye games. 

LA Rams— Rams won five of their last six home openers; they’re 2-14 in last 16 road openers, 3-15 vs spread in last 18. LA is 8-2-1 vs spread in last 11 post-bye games. 

Minnesota— Vikings won eight of their last nine pre-bye games (9-0 vs spread); they’re 2-7 vs spread in last nine post-bye road games. Minnesota won/covered its last three home openers. Under is 10-4 in their last 14 road openers. 

NJ Giants— Giants lost five of their last six home openers (0-6 vs spread); five of those six games stayed under. This will be first time in six years Big Blue opens the season at home; they open against Tom Coughlin’s Jaguars. 

New Orleans— Saints lost their last three home openers, six of last seven road openers- they started last four seasons 0-1. Saints are 7-1-1 vs spread in last nine post-bye games. 

Philadelphia— Eagles won eight of their last nine road openers, three of last four home openers. Under is 7-3-1 in their last 11 home openers. Philly is 7-3 vs spread in its last 10 pre-bye games. 

San Francisco— 49ers won six of last nine home openers (7-2 vs spread), last four of which stayed under. Niners are 0-5-1 SU, 0-6 vs spread in last six post-bye games; they won/covered six of last eight pre-bye games. 

Seattle— Seahawks open on road for 6th time in last eight years; they lost their first road game 10 of last 11 years; they’re 1-12 vs spread in last 13 road openers. Seahawks won last nine home openers (7-2 vs spread). Seattle won its last seven pre-bye games (6-1 vs spread). 

Tampa Bay— Bucs lost four of last five home openers; they didn’t play in Week 1 LY because of a hurricane. Over is 7-3 in their last ten home openers. Tampa Bay is 8-4 vs spread in last dozen post-bye games. 

Washington— Redskins lost five of their last six home openers; they’re 2-6 vs spread last eight times they were favored in a home opener. Redskins are 3-6-1 vs spread in last 10 pre-bye games, 2-7 vs spread in last nine post-bye games. 

Tuesday’s Den: AFC teams’ early season trends…..

Baltimore— Ravens won 11 of last 13 home openers; under is 4-1 in last five of those. Baltimore is 13-3 vs spread in last 16 post-bye games. 

Buffalo— Last 18 years, Bills are 2-16 in their pre-bye game. Buffalo is 8-3 vs spread in its last 11 home openers. 

Cincinnati— Bengals open on road for 8th time in last nine years; over is 8-1 in their last nine road openers. Cincy is 4-0-1 in last five pre-bye games. 

Cleveland— Since re-joining the NFL in 1999, Browns started season 0-1 18 out of 19 years; they’re 3-12 vs spread in Week 1 home games. 

Denver— Broncos open at home for 8th year in row; they’re 26-3 SU in last 29 home openers,6-3 vs spread in last nine. Broncos won six of last seven post-bye games. 

Houston— Texans open on road for only 2nd time in last 10 years; they won seven of last nine road openers. Under is 5-2 in their last seven season openers. 

Indianapolis— Colts lost their last four home openers, three by 4 or fewer points. Indy started season 0-1 seven of last eight years- they’re 1-9 vs spread in Week 1 the last ten years. 

Jacksonville— Jaguars lost last six home openers, four of last five road openers. Last time they were favored in a home opener was 2010; their HO this year is against New England, so they probably won’t be favored this year, either. 

Kansas City— Since 2006, Chiefs are 1-8-1 vs spread as favorites in home openers. KC is on road three of first four weeks this season, with a QB who has started one NFL game. 

LA Chargers— Bolts covered five of their last six home openers; over is 12-3 in their last 15. Chargers lost their last four road openers, but covered five of last six. Chargers lost five of their last six pre-bye games (1-5 vs spread). 

Miami— Dolphins won five of last six home openers; eight of their last nine home openers went over the total. Miami also covered four of last five road openers; under is 19-5 in last 24 road openers. 

New England— Patriots won six of last seven road openers (5-2 vs spread); they’re 14-2 SU in last 16 home openers, but just 1-5 vs spread in last six. New England won its last nine pre-bye games (8-1 vs spread). 

NJ Jets— Jets won six of last seven home openers; they’re 15-6 vs spread in last 21 road openers. Gang Green is 3-6 vs spread in last nine post-bye games. 

Oakland— Raiders won their last three road openers, are 4-0-1 vs spread in last five; they lost four of last six home openers, last four of which went over the total. Oakland covered five of its last six post-bye games. 

Pittsburgh— Steelers won 14 of last 15 home openers, are 10-3 vs spread in last 13. Under is 7-2 in their last nine home openers. Pitt lost five of last seven road openers; they’re 2-8-1 vs spread in last 11. Steelers covered only one of last seven post-bye games. 

Tennessee— Titans lost five of last six home openers; they’re 9-2 vs spread in last 11 road openers. Under is 16-5 in their last 21 road openers. Titans are 2-6 vs spread in last eight post-bye games. 

Friday’s List of 13: Questions, questions, always questions……..

13) Why do baseball teams in New York City, Boston, Philly and Washington all have new managers this year, none of whom ever managed in the majors before? 

Its like all of a sudden the over-educated geniuses in the front office decided that a manager is an overrated thing. There is a human element in sports that should never be discounted, even though it can’t really be quantified. 

12) Why does an NFL prospect jump up the draft charts so far, from the time the college season ends to the draft? Games should count more than workouts. 

If the NFL Draft had been held on February 1st, I don’t think Baker Mayfield is the #1 pick. 

11) Why didn’t the Twins put a retractable dome on their ballpark? If you look at attendance in Milwaukee, Twins are losing out on 300-400,000 paid admissions a year by not having a roof. 

10) Shouldn’t high school basketball players be able to go pro right from high school, the way baseball players can? 

9) If baseball expands to 32 teams, would they dare expand to Montreal and Monterrey, MX in the same year. Seems like Portland, OR wants a team; wonder if the A’s would go there? 

8) Why are the NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights so good? They’re the most successful expansion team in the history of the four major sports.

7) Why do some teams bat their pitchers 8th? It makes no sense. No one has done it in a playoff game, which tells me it is a gimmick no one truly believes in. 

6) Should a convicted felon be allowed to hold political office in this country? 

5) Shouldn’t baseball writers be able to come up with more interesting stories on April 30 than their annual speculation on which big-money teams will poach good players from small market teams at the trade deadline, which is July 31? 

4) Shouldn’t the NBA move its draft around the country, like the NHL and NFL do? Seems to generate lot of interest in the host city. 

3) Why does only one league have the DH? Who thought that was a good idea? 

2) Why doesn’t every college student take a money management course? Wouldn’t that be a good thing to be well-versed in when you get out in the real world? Managing your time and your money are very important. 

1) Why did the Red Sox fire Terry Francona as their manager? Guy won them two World Series after a drought of almost 100 years, and they get rid of the guy after 89-73/90-72 seasons.  

Friday’s Den: Running diary of first two hours of NFL Draft

8:16: Cleveland Browns take Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield with the #1 pick in the draft; time will tell on all these picks, but my quick analysis is this— when we last watched actual college football games, no one had Mayfield in the top 10 picks. No one. 

Now all of a sudden, he is the #1 pick. The team that took Johnny Manziel took a guy who has a lot of similarities to Manziel. 

Cleveland is 2-41 in its last 43 games; they traded for Buffalo’s QB Tyrod Taylor this winter. How long before Mayfield gets to play for the Browns? 

8:21: Giants take Sequon Barkley and my godson, a huge Giants fan, isn’t happy— he wanted Big Blue to take Sam Darnold or trade out of the pick. 

Have to think the Giants could’ve gotten a boatload of picks from Buffalo to move out of this spot, but they didn’t. 

Is it possible that Eli Manning is the real GM of the Giants? They fired Ben McAdoo LY when he benched Eli for a game, after Eli had gotten Tom Coughlin fired the year before. Manning is a 37-year old QB who needs a better offensive line than he currently has. 

8:29: Jets and Giants didn’t use up much time; Jets grab QB Sam Darnold from USC. 

NFL Network has Deion Sanders doing player interviews; I can’t stand him, so it is off to ESPN, where they just had a package about how Darnold’s parents, grandfather and sister all played college sports. I’m sure the Jets drafted Darnold because his sister played volleyball at Rhode Island. 

Cleveland has had 28 different starting QB’s since 1999; that not good. 

8:36: With the second pick of the night, Cleveland takes Denzel Ward, a DB from Ohio State which means that QB’s Allen/Rosen are now sliding down the draft board, since Denver and the Colts don’t need a quarterback, and they have the next two picks. 

8:43: Broncos have to be happier than hell to get Bradley Chubb, the DE from NC State. No way did they think he would be available with the 5th pick. 

8:47: Colts take offensive lineman Quentin Nelson from Notre Dame; Andrew Luck will be a happy guy, but not often a guard is the #6 player in the draft. 

8:53: Finally, the Bills make a trade- they move up to the #7 pick. They take Josh Allen; he might be only kid in country where playing for Buffalo is a weather upgrade. 

Tampa Bay got two second round picks to drop down to #12; good haul for them. 

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock thinks Allen is a project; right now, AJ McCarron is the Buffalo QB, so the project will hit the field sooner than later. 

Allen and Carson Wentz had the same college coach; Craig Bohl, who won multiple I-AA national titles at North Dakota State. That had to help Allen here. 

9:01: Chicago Bears take Roquan Smith, a LB from Georgia; Bears’ defensive coordinator Vic Fangio got a hole-in-one playing golf Thursday, so that plus drafting Smith makes it a big day for Fangio.

49ers, Raiders are next on the clock and don’t need a QB; Josh Rosen can’t be having fun right now. 

9:04: 49ers take Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey; Fighting Irish had two offensive linemen taken in top nine picks- their OL coach has bolted and now works for the Bears, who didn’t take an offensive lineman. 

9:09: Arizona trades with Oakland to move up to #10; Carson Palmer retired and Sam Bradford is always hurt, so this has to be a quarterback, doesn’t it? 

Josh Rosen is an Arizona Cardinal, taken 10th; he is the 4th QB taken in the draft. Last time five QB’s were taken in the first round was 1999. It is good to play QB in a dome; eight home games indoors, plus at least two road games in California every year. 

Of course, the term “chip on his shoulder” got tossed around, since Rosen slipped out of the top five. 

9:18: Dolphins take S Minkah Fitzpatrick, as Nick Saban contributes a player to the team he used to coach. 

This is the 10th year in a row Alabama had a player taken in the first round of the draft. 

9:24: Tampa Bay takes Vita Vea, a defensive tackle from Washington. Bucs traded for Jason Pierre-Paul and drafted this guy, so they’re intent on improving their defense. 

Couple of guys on TV said Via has to work to control his weight so he’ll be more durable and have better stamina. 

9:31: Washington Redskins aren’t popular in Dallas, but they took Da’Ron Payne, a DT from Alabama. Having two of the top 13 players selected has to help your recruiting, right? 

Imagine how different college football would’ve been for the last decade if Nick Saban had won while coaching the Dolphins and stayed there? 

9:40: Saints traded next year’s #1 pick to move up from #27 to #14; they took DE Marcus Davenport from UTSA, after guys from NFL Network went on for five minutes about how great Lamar Jackson would be playing for the Saints. Whoops. 

They must really love Davenport, to trade a #1 pick to the Packers to move up. Saints DL coach Ryan Nielsen and UTSA coach Frank Wilson worked together at Ole Miss, so he must know. 

Green Bay now has two #1 picks next season. 

9:45: Oakland takes T Colton Miller, then Bills traded up to #16 to take Tremaine Edmunds a LB from Virginia Tech. 

9:56: Chargers get a steal with S Derwin James from Florida State; he was hurt a couple years ago when Showtime did their reality show on FSU football. Good kid; he’ll help them. 

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

13) Here are record of major league teams with best/worst records in games where winning run scores after the 6th inning: 

Best: Mets 8-2, Phillies 7-2, Blue Jays 6-2, Rockies 4-0
Worst: Bronx 0-5, Indians 1-5, Nationals 1-5, Padres 1-5

12) Mentioned yesterday how 181 college players declared early for an NBA Draft where only 60 players will be taken. Last year, 137 players declared early.

11) Thing is, if he didn’t hire an agent, the player who declares can go thru workouts, get an evaluation, then drop out of the draft if he isn’t  going to be drafted as high as he would like and go back to college— its a no-lose situation for the player, which is why lot of guys do it. 

10) In last five NFL Drafts, only three teams haven’t drafted a player who has made at least one Pro Bowl; Bills, Broncos, Colts. 

9) Braves called up prize prospect Ronald Acuna Tuesday night; he was 11 for his last 33 in AAA ball. 

8) When Marlins’ OF Cameron Maybin was a kid in Asheville, NC, he had an excellent summer job one year. He was batboy for the Asheville Tourists of the South Atlantic League, the same team Crash Davis wound up playing for at the end of the classic movie, Bull Durham.

7) Baltimore Orioles are off to an awful 6-17 start; their starting pitching is suspect, and it could be a long year at Camden Yards. Without starting pitching, you have no chance to compete. 

From 2013-16, Baltimore hurler Chris Tillman was 56-30 with a 3.62 ERA, a good pitcher. Things have changed. 

Since May 24, 2017, in 19 starts, Tillman is 0-11, 9.35. Is he hurt? Is he tipping his pitches? Something is amiss. 

6) Richmond Spiders had a QB named Kyle Lauletta, who may or may not be drafted tonight; watching some clips of him, one thing is very obvious; Richmond’s football team has great helmets- that spider logo looks tremendous on a helmet, either dark blue or white. 

5) Former Vikings’ coach Brad Childress will be head coach, Michael Vick offensive coordinator of the Atlanta team in the new AAF, a spring football league that starts next year. 

4) According to Ian O’Connor of ESPN.com, Josh Rosen went to the Manning Passing Academy in Louisiana in 2016 and did not make a favorable impression while there. 

Manning Passing Academy bills itself as “…..the premier offensive football skills camp in the nation for QBs, RBs, WRs, and TEs.”

Friend of mine’s son went there 15 or so years ago; former LSU/Patriots’ QB Tom Hodson was his camp counselor.

3) I have two friends who know more about football than any of my other friends; one says Josh Rosen is the best QB in the draft, the other says Baker Mayfield, so go figure. 

2) Clemson QB Deshaun Watson was the 12th pick in last year’s NFL Draft; I will predict right here that none of the QB’s in this year’s draft will be as good as Watson. Teams messed up last year when they dismissed Watson. 

1) President Macron of France is 39 years old; his wife just turned 65. 

When Macron was 15, he was a student and Brigitte Trogneux was a 40-year old teacher at La Providence, a private school in Amiens, northern France. At the time, she was married with three kids. 

In this country, the scandalous affair that followed would have been serious trouble for Ms Trogneaux, who is now Mrs Macron. Not so in France. 

In today’s world, it is just another day, another weird day.

Friday’s List of 13: Quick thoughts on the 2018 NFL schedule

Thoughts/comments on the NFL schedule release:
13) Week 1 Monday night doubleheader: Jets @ Lions, then Rams @ Raiders. 

Super Bowl champion Eagles open on Thursday Sept 6 at home against Atlanta. 

12) NFL went traditional rival-heavy for its Thanksgiving Day slate: Chicago-Detroit; Washington-Dallas; Atlanta-New Orleans. Good set of games. 

This is third year in row the Redskins play on Thanksgiving Day.

11) Only four divisional games in Week 1, which is a good idea. Every game in Week 17 is a divisional game. 

10) There is a Week 16 Monday night game on Christmas Eve; Broncos @ Raiders. 

9) A sign the NFL doesn’t think you’re good: Miami Dolphins have a Week 8 Thursday night game in Houston- their other 15 games appear to be 1:00 Sunday games. If you NEVER play a 4:25 Sunday game, the league office isn’t too optimistic about your chances. 

8) Rams-Chiefs in Mexico City on Monday night, November 19. Bye week the next week for both teams, which is weird but good for the team, having a bye week over Thanksgiving. 

7) Chargers visit Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Denver in December, three potential cold weather games. Rams go to Chicago December 9, which will probably be a cruddy weather day. 

6) Three teams have the unenviable “3 road games in 3 weeks” scenario:
— Ravens go to Pittsburgh-Cleveland-Tennessee in weeks 4-6
— Rams go to Seattle-Denver-San Francisco in weeks 5-7
— Saints go to Dallas-Tampa Bay-Carolina in weeks 13-15, but the Week 13 game is a Thursday game so they’ll have extra rest in there before the Bucs’ game.

11 teams have three home games in a row. 

5) For first time since 2009, Bears open the season at Lambeau Field against the Packers, in the Week 1 Sunday night game. 

4) Giants play four road games in domes, which at first glance is most in the league. 

3) Speaking of domes, Lions/Saints both play three road games in domes, giving them only five outdoor games apiece this season. 

2) In next few days, Las Vegas oddsmakers will have spreads for every game thru Week 16. Season over/under win totals don’t come out until after next week’s draft.

1) Here are the Week 1 NFL spreads from the Westgate SuperBook:

Falcons @ Philadelphia (-3.5, 47.5)
Steelers (-7, 48) @ Cleveland
49ers @ Minnesota (-4.5, 47.5)
Bengals @ Indianapolis (-1, 47.5)
Bills @ Ravens (-3.5, 42)
Jaguars (-4, 44.5) @ Giants
Buccaneers @ New Orleans (-7.5, 52.5)
Texans @ New England (-7, 51)
Titans (-2.5, 47) @ Miami
Chiefs @ LA Chargers (-3, 48.5)
Seahawks @ Denver (-2.5, 42)
Cowboys @ Carolina (-2.5, 45)
Redskins @ Arizona (-1, 45)
Bears @ Green Bay (-9, 48.5)
Jets @ Detroit (-6, 44)
Rams (even, 49.5) @ Oakland 

Thursday’s List of 13: 13 of my favorite sports movies…….

I do this list once a year or so; feel free to make your own list.

13) Major League— Still maintain that Bob Uecker should’ve won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Harry Doyle, the Indians’ radio announcer. To this day, when a pitcher throws a really terrible pitch to the backstop, chances are the TV guy will say “….juuuust a biiiit outside…” like Harry Doyle did when Wild Thing Vaughn was on the mound.

12) He Got Game— The only Spike Lee movie I’ve ever seen; its a good one, with Denzel Washington getting released from prison by warden Ned Beatty, on one condition— that he can get his son (Ray Allen) to play basketball at the warden’s alma mater, Big State.

Anyone who was surprised by Louisville’s problems last year didn’t see this movie.

11) Rocky— If only they hadn’t made all those awful sequels. Rocky is a classic; a fighter down on his luck gets a once-in-a-lifetime shot to fight for the heavyweight title back when boxing was a big thing. If you’re at a game in Philly now and they cue up the Rocky music, people still get fired up— its pretty cool.

10) Hoosiers— I’ve had this argument with a friend of mine for years, that Norman Dale was a horrible coach saved only by Jimmy Chitwood not missing a shot in the whole damn movie. Hickory High finished the first game he coached with four guys on the court; even his assistant coach, who wound up in alcohol rehab, knew enough to always give Jimmy the ball when it mattered. They did nail the scene at the end when Hickory wins the state title.

9) Any Given Sunday— Lawrence Taylor and Jim Brown as actors? Yes!!! Al Pacino coaches his Miami Sharks against four teams, all coached by NFL Hall of Famers.

8) Moneyball— The good guys lose in the end, but not before they win 20 games in a row and surprisingly make the playoffs. I won’t embarrass myself by telling you how many times I’ve seen this movie, but if you guess, chances are your guess is too low.

7) Bull Durham— Pitching coach Robert Wuhl delivered this inspirational piece of advice on a visit to the mound:

“……candlesticks always make a nice gift, and uh, maybe you could find out where she’s registered and maybe a place-setting or maybe a silverware pattern. Okay, let’s get two!”

6) Friday Night Lights— Of all the sports movies, Billy Bob Thornton does the best job of portraying a coach, in this case a west Texas high school football coach who gets his best player KO’d for the season by leaving him in a blowout too long. The townspeople aren’t pleased.

5) Blue Chips— Nick Nolte did his research for this by hanging out with Bob Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers for a year, so the thrown chairs and punted balls make more sense. Jerry Tarkanian’s cameo and Bob Cousy’s portrayal of the school’s AD are the underrated parts of this movie.

4) Invincible— True story about Vince Papale, who was a 30-year old bartender that tried out for and wound up playing special teams for the Eagles for three years in the 70’s. Mark Wahlberg plays Papale; Greg Kinnear plays Dick Vermeil.

3) Fast Break— Gabe Kaplan’s character quits his job in a New York City deli to become the basketball coach at a small Nevada college. The team he puts together is interesting- Bernard King and Michael Warren are two of the players.

2) One on One— Robby Benson plays a flashy small school point guard who gets recruited by a big time college program, but once he gets on campus, the coach thinks he made a mistake and tries to run him off the team.

1— For Love of the Game— Kevin Costner pitches for the Tigers, but is at the end of his career. JK Simmons is his manager; John C O’Reilly his catcher, Kelly Preston his girlfriend. Vin Scully is in effect the narrator of the movie.

Saturday’s List of 13: Wrapping up the Sweet 16

13) Here is our Elite 8: Both #1-seeds won Friday, are now 10-1-1 vs spread in this round the last four years. Rest of the Elite 8? Two #9-seeds, an 11-seed, two 3-seeds and 2-seed Duke.

12) Duke 69, Syracuse 65— Duke won first meeting 60-44; teams combined to go 8-43 in that game. This game snuck over total; teams combined to go 9-39 on arc, but Duke was 20-28 on foul line as they held on at the end.

Turns out that Jim Boeheim’s last game as a Syracuse player was a 91-81 loss to Duke in the NCAA tournament back when the game were televised in black-and-white. Boeheim played at Syracuse with the great Dave Bing, who was a really good player with the Detroit Pistons.

11) Villanova 90, West Virginia 78— Mountaineers went 7-28 on the arc; they lost seven of last nine games this season when shooting less than 35% on the arc. Villanova plays better defense than you’d think. And they have multiple guys who make 3-pointers- they were 13-24 here.

10) Kansas 80, Clemson 76— If you had the Jayhawks (-5), this was brutal. Clemson rallied back from a 62-42 deficit with 11:00 left and cut lead to 4 with 0:04.5 left, called timeout, but never fouled after Kansas inbounded the ball. Very bad beat for Kansas backers.

Bill Self is 8-2 in Sweet 16 games at Kansas; he is 2-5 in regional finals.

9) Texas Tech 78, Purdue 65— Teams that make the Final Four sometimes make it because they get lucky; Purdue big man Haas couldn’t play because he broke his elbow last week, which made the Boilermakers a far less formidable opponent.

Purdue made 11-24 on arc when they beat Butler without Haas; they were 7-18 in this game, and took only six foul shots the whole game.

8) How #11-seeds (or lower) have done in regional finals:
2017— Xavier (+8.5) L83-59 vs Gonzaga
2014— Dayton (+10.5) L52-62 vs Florida
2011— VCU (+11.5) W71-61 over Kansas
2006— George Mason (+8) W86-84 over UConn
2002— #12-seed Missouri (+6.5) L75-81 vs Oklahoma
2001— Temple (+6.5) L62-69 vs Michigan State
1990— LMU (+5) L131-101 vs UNLV

4-3 vs spread, all as underdogs, with two SU wins.

7) Random trend; over last 20 years, in the West Region final, underdogs are 16-4 against the spread. Michigan is -4.5 over Florida State in Staples Center tonight.

6) Generally, if an 8 or 9-seed gets this far, they had to beat the #1-seed to get here, but not this year because UMBC pulled their upset. Here is how #8 or #9-seeds have done in the Elite 8:
2014: Kentucky (-2.5) W75-72 vs Michigan
2013: Wichita State (+6) W70-66 vs Ohio State
2011: Butler (+3.5) W74-71 Florida OT
2004: Alabama (+8.5) L87-71 vs UConn
2000: North Carolina (+2.5) W59-55 vs Tulsa
2000: Wisconsin (+1) W64-60 vs Purdue
1998: Rhode Island (+4.5) L79-77 vs Stanford
1994: Boston College (+1.5) L74-66 vs Florida

6-2 vs spread, 5-3 SU

5) Dayton Flyers went 14-17 this season, its first losing season in 12 years; they had only one senior, but since the season ended, five other players have left the program, two to explore pro possibilities, three others to transfer to other schools.

Next season’s Flyers will be very young, and will take time to get to know each other.

4) Took the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins 25 years to get 100 points in a season; Las Vegas Golden Knights have done it in their first year in the NHL, a tremendous accomplishment.

3) As you know if you read this space at all, I watch a ton of sports on TV, but one thing I’ve lost my appetite for is pre and post-game shows and halftime shows. Mostly they just exist to amuse the people who are on the show, and usually, there are too many people on them anyway.

Highlight shows late at night? Still enjoy them.

2) Traded Marcell Ozuna for Madison Bumgarner in my fantasy baseball league this winter; Bumgarner broke his left pinkie Friday when he was hit by a line drive. Bleepin’ awesome.

Of course, guy who hit the ball that broke his finger is on my team, too. No bueno.

1) On a happier note, Sunday night is the last Sunday night in 2018 without football or baseball, so thats a good thing.

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

13) Kansas State 61, Kentucky 58— Kansas State is capitalizing on the first-ever #1-16 upset in the NCAA’s; they get to a regional final in large part because they got to play a 16-seed UMBC in their 2nd round game, instead of #1-seed Virginia.

In this 3-point game, Kentucky’s PJ Washington was 8-20 on the foul line. He also grabbed 15 rebounds and had three steals, but 8-20 on the line in a 61-58 game is no bueno.

12) Loyola 69, Nevada 68— Ramblers made their first 13 shots in the second half, mostly on reverse layups. Nevada led 20-8 early but didn’t score for the last 8:00 of the first half- their lack of depth, foul trouble and refusal to play zone defense doomed them here.

Loyola’s three NCAA tournament wins have come by a combined four points; it is funny that Wichita State, Creighton bolted the MVC for bigger leagues, but Loyola (which took Creighton’s place in the Valley) is in the Elite 8 after winning its first MVC title.

11) Florida State 75, Gonzaga 60— Seminoles tied Louisville for 8th place in the ACC; Cardinals didn’t get in the tournament. FSU played 12 guys in first half of this game— 10 guys played 10+ minutes, which in this day and age of thin rosters, is really unusual.

10) Michigan 99, Texas A&M 72— Complete no-show by the Aggies, who trailed 52-28 at the half. Wolverines made 14-24 on the arc.

A&M’s Robert Williams declared for the NBA about 90 seconds after this game ended; he scored in double figures twice in his last seven games. Good luck in the G-League.

9) Johnny Manziel was at the A&M-Michigan game, after he threw at U of San Diego’s pro day during the afternoon. Johnny Football might play for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the CFL this summer, unless some NFL team gets goofy and offers him a tryout.

8) Reminder to fans drooling over Sam Darnold; no USC QB has ever started in a Super Bowl. Not that he can’t be the first, but I’m just sayin’…….

7) Bidding for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers is up to $2.5B; thats billion, with a B.

6) Minnesota Twins’ #1-4 hitters Thursday were all switch-hitters, which is very unusual.

5) College basketball coaching carousel:
— UConn hired Danny Hurley away from Rhode Island
— Evansville hired Celtics assistant coach Walter McCarty
— Missouri State hires Dana Ford away from Tennessee State

4) There was another coaching move which annoys me a little; Colorado State hired Niko Medved away from Drake. Medved went 62-71 in four years at Furman, going 42-28 his last two years there, then bolted to Drake at this time last year.

Senior-dominated Drake (#7 experience team in country) was only 17-17 this year, 10-8 in the MVC, but with four senior starters graduating, Medved bolt$ for greener pa$ture$ after only one season in Des Moines. Not the classiest thing to do.

3) Sounds like there is some drama in San Antonio, with Spurs players trying to convince star Kawhi Leonard to actually play ball, so the Spurs can make the playoffs. Leonard injured his quad last year, came back and played nine games this season, but has been out since December 12, despite his being cleared by the Spurs doctors.

Leonard will make $60M combined between this year and the next two years; would be nice if he actually tried to earn it.

2) Kansas City Royals’ over/under win total this year is 67.5; that sound you heard was the Royals’ “window of opportunity” to win another championship slamming shut.

1— You don’t have to be Columbo to deduce that the Giants trading Jason Pierre-Paul to the Buccaneers means there is a strong probability Big Blue will draft NC State linebacker Bradley Chubb with the #2 pick in the draft next month.

Tuesday’s List of 13: Some college knowledge…….

13) Over the last 15 years, of the 60 teams who made the Final Four, 26 won their conference tournament. Over last six years, only 7 of 24 Final Four teams won their conference tourney; from 2004-11, 19 of 32 Final Four teams did.

12) 7 of the last 15 national champs won their conference tourney, but only one of the last six.

11) Since 2003, only 8 of 60 Final Four teams lost their first conference tourney game: Here are those teams:
2003— Marquette, Texas
2005— Michigan State
2007— UCLA
2009— UConn
2010— Michigan State (only team to do it twice)
2016— Syracuse
2017— South Carolina

10) Since 2006, two CAA teams have made the Final Four; George Mason in ’06 and VCU five years later. Weird thing is that neither of those teams won the CAA tournament that year. CAA ain’t getting more than one team in NCAA’s anymore, but they did as recently as 2011.

9) In 2011, UConn did something that will never be surpassed; not only did they win the NCAA tournament, winning six games, they had to win another five games to win the Big East tournament— they weren’t getting into the NCAA’s unless they won that tournament.

8) In 2006 and 2007, Florida finished the season by winning both the SEC tournament and the NCAA tournament— thats a very underrated accomplishment- 9-0 finishes both years.

7) In the last 15 years, 2008 was the only Final Four where all four teams won their conference tournament; in 2003 and 2009, none of the Final Four teams won their tournament.

6) Not putting pressure on Montana or anything, but the #1 seed won the last seven Big Sky tournaments. Most of those were at the home court of the #1 seed; they play the tournament on a neutral floor in Reno these days, but still…….

5) Fairfield has basketball players from nine different countries, plus Puerto Rico.

4) Eastern Washington’s Bogdan Bliznyuk has made 74 foul shots in a row, which is an NCAA single-season record.

3) Since the NCAA tournament went to 64, and then 68 teams, #2 seeds are 124-8 in their first round tournament games; here are the eight #2 seeds who lost in the first round:

1990— Richmond (+9) 73, Syracuse 69
1993— Santa Clara (+20) 64, Arizona 61
1997— Coppin State (+17) 78, South Carolina 65
2001— Hampton (+17.5) 58, Iowa State 57
2012— Lehigh (+12) 75, Duke 70
2012— Norfolk State (+21.5) 86, Missouri 84
2013— Florida Gulf Coast (+13.5) 78, Georgetown 68
2016— Middle Tennessee State (+18) 90, Michigan State 81

2) Since 2003, Big Sky teams are 1-14 in first round NCAA tourney games; over the last 11 years, they’re 2-8-1 vs spread in first round games.

1— Big West teams have also had problems in the NCAA’s recently; since 2006, Big West teams are 2-0 in play-in games,  but are 1-11 in first round games, 4-8 vs spread.

Monday’s Den: Conference tournament records, last 10 years

ACC
Duke 19-6 (four titles)
North Carolina 17-8 (two titles)
Louisville 15-5 (four titles, in Big East/AAC)
Notre Dame 13-9 (one title)
Miami 12-9 (one title)
Florida State 11-9 (one title)
Pittsburgh 9-9 (one title)
Virginia 8-9 (one title)
NC State 10-10 Syracuse 8-9
Virginia Tech 8-10 Georgia Tech 7-10
Boston College 5-10, Clemson 5-10, Wake Forest 2-10

Big East (only last 4 years, since they refigured)
Villanova 8-2 (two titles)
Seton Hall 6-3 (one title)
Providence 5-3 (one title)
Xavier 11-10 Creighton 5-4
Marquette 2-4 Georgetown 2-4
St John’s 1-4 DePaul 1-4 Butler 0-4

Big 14
Michigan State 17-7 (three titles)
Ohio State 17-7 (three titles)
Wisconsin 11-7 (two titles)
Michigan 15-9 (one title)
Purdue 8-9 (one title)
Minnesota 10-10 Illinois 9-10
Maryland 8-10 Penn State 8-10
Northwestern 5-10 Indiana 4-10 Nebraska 4-10
Rutgers 4-9 Iowa 2-10

Big X
Kansas 19-5 (five titles)
Iowa State 10-7 (three titles)
West Virginia 11-9 (won a Big East title)
Texas 11-10 Baylor 10-10 Oklahoma State 8-10
Kansas State 6-10 TCU 5-10
Oklahoma 4-10 Texas Tech 3-10

Big West
Cal-Santa Barbara 10-7 (two titles)
Cal-Irvine 13-9 (one title)
Long Beach State 12-9 (one title)
Cal-Davis 6-6 (one title)
Hawai’i 6-8 (one title)
Cal Poly 6-8 (one title)
Cal State-Fullerton 6-8 (one title)
Cal State Northridge 4-5 (one title)
Cal-Riverside 1-8 (only team in Big West without one)

Colonial
NC-Wilmington 9-7 (two titles)
Northeastern 9-9 (one title)
Delaware 8-9 (one title)
James Madison 6-9 (one title)
Charleston 14-10 Wm & Mary 12-10
Elon 9-9 (mostly in SoCon) Hofstra 7-10
Towson State 6-9 Drexel 4-10

Conference USA
Western Kentucky 21-6 (four titles)
Middle Tennessee 16-7 (three titles)
Old Dominion 12-7 (two titles)
North Texas 12-8 (one title)
Tex-San Antonio 8-9 (one title, in Southland)
UAB 7-9 (one title)
Southern Miss 10-8 UTEP 12-10 Marshall 9-10
Louisiana Tech 8-9 FIU 5-8 Charlotte 5-9
Rice 4-10 Florida Atlantic 2-9

MAAC
Iona 16-7 (three titles)
Siena 16-7 (three titles)
Manhattan 11-7 (two titles)
St Peter’s 7-9 (one title)
Monmouth 4-4 (in MAAC) Fairfield 9-10
Rider 8-10 Niagara 7-10 Canisius 6-9
Quinnipiac 6-10 Marist 5-10

MAC
Akron 24-7 (three titles)
Ohio 14-8 (two titles)
Kent State 11-8 (two titles)
Buffalo 11-8 (two titles)
Western Michigan 11-9 (one title)
Eastern Michigan 11-10 Toledo 6-9
Miami 6-10 Bowling Green 5-10
Central Michigan 4-10 Ball State 3-10 Northern Illinois 3-10

Mountain West
New Mexico 11-7 (three titles)
San Diego State 20-7 (two titles)
Utah State 10-8 (two titles)
UNLV 12-9 (one title)
Nevada 10-9 (one title)
Boise State 7-9 (one title)
Wyoming 5-8 (one title)
Colorado St 8-10 San Jose St 3-9 Air Force 3-10

Pac-12
Arizona 15-8 (two titles)
Oregon 14-8 (two titles)
UCLA 13-8 (two titles)
Washington 9-8 (two titles)
Colorado 13-9 (one title)
Utah 10-9 (one title)
USC 8-8 (one title)
Cal 8-10 Stanford 8-10 Arizona St 5-10
Oregon State 4-10 Washington State 2-10

SEC
Kentucky 20-5 (five titles)
Florida 12-9 (one title)
Georgia 12-9 (one title)
Missouri 10-7 (two titles, both in Big X)
Vanderbilt 11-9 (one title)
Mississippi State 10-9 (one title)
Ole Miss 8-9 (one title)
Tennessee 11-10 Alabama 9-10 Texas A&M 8-10
Arkansas 6-10 South Carolina 5-10
LSU 5-10 Auburn 4-10

WCC
Gonzaga 21-3 (seven titles)
St Mary’s 12-8 (two titles)
San Diego 8-9 (one title)
Pacific 6-8 (one title, in Big West)
BYU 13-10 LMU 8-10
San Francisco 6-10 Santa Clara 6-10
Pepperdine 5-10 Portland 5-10