Thursday, November 21, 2019

I tell ya' Herbie

Our weekly notebook on college football starts with a complaint and an excellent group of five game this week in the AAC.

I tell ya' Herbie:
                          American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco suggests there is a double standard against his league on two levels.
The first is his league is underrated against the power five and the other is that his league is held to a higher standard than the other group of five schools.
Aresco might have a mild case in the former, but still, the AAC's small disrespect isn't enough to make a difference in the big picture as even if they were as respected as possible, it wouldn't make enough of a difference to reach the final four.
Aresco's complaint in the group of five rankings is that his teams sometimes are underrated vs the other four conferences weaker schools as he doesn't feel that his third-place SMU Mustangs with one loss deserve to be behind one-loss teams such as the Mountain West's Boise State and especially the Sun Belt's Appalachian State.
Aresco points to his conference's tougher schedule as why his teams are better and he may have a point, but it's always going to be tough in the G-5 for one conference to have the top three teams.

I tell ya' Herbie:
                          Aresco's other complaint could come with his league with the deepest amount of quality schools out of the group of five, looking out at another conference earning the group of five bid to the New Years Bowls.
How so?
His two division leaders (Cincinnati and Memphis) playing each other this Saturday and could play each other again in the AAC title game.
Cincinnati holds a two-game lead in their division, but Memphis is tied with SMU and Navy in their division (SMU and Navy play each other Saturday) and should Cincinnati win along with the SMU-Navy winner winning their final game, it would be a bit different, but should Memphis win this game and then Cincinnati win the rematch, the AAC champion would have two losses and likely not receive the bid as the rules stipulate the G-5 bid go to a conference champion.
On this, I can understand Aresco's problem.
Cincinnati vs Memphis could be the game of the day on a day that will see Ohio State host Penn State and several rivalry games.

I tell ya' Herbie:
                          I'm torn on Tom Herman's Texas Longhorns.
On one hand, Herman's Horns are just 6-4 after a season with big expectations.
On the other, Texas has three of those losses to ranked teams (LSU, Oklahoma, and Iowa State) by 7,7, and 2 points and a ten-point loss at occasionally explosive TCU.
Junior QB Sam Ehrlinger has thrown for almost three thousand yards, 27 TD"s and only eight interceptions, but his offensive line has already allowed 26 sacks with two games to go.
After a Sugar Bowl year, Texas has to be considered a disappointment, but in 2020 Texas has to be all-in as the team will be completely Herman recruited and if Ehrlinger returns, Texas will not have any excuse for anything less than a double-digit amount of victories.

I tell ya' Herbie:
                          I don't understand how anyone other than the most fervent Alabama homer can boost the Crimson Tide for the playoff after their loss to LSU and the following week's injury to Tua Tagovailoa in their game against Mississippi State.
Bama's best wins would be over Texas A&M (currently 7-3, but the Aggies final games are road games against 4th ranked Georgia and top-ranked LSU, so likely to finish 7-5) and assuming they defeat currently 15th rated Auburn, an 8-4 Tigers team.
Add the weak schedule to the season-ending injury to Heisman contender Tagovailoa and unless several things occur such as Baylor defeating Oklahoma in their Big 12 title game, either Oregon or Utah losing a game before the end of the season and then the other wins their Pac 12 title matchup, Clemson losing a game before the end of the season and perhaps even a non-Ohio State Big Ten champion, Alabama would deserve to be on the outside of the final four.
I give teams breaks on non-conference schedules if they try to play at least one tough team when the contract was signed as often times teams that are strong when you schedule them but aren't but the time in between scheduling and the actual games, but Bama doesn't even have that luxury as no one can defend Duke being the best team on a non-conference schedule.
Had Bama scheduled someone such as Florida State, which would have been a power when scheduled, but aren't currently, I would give them far more leeway than I am willing to do now.

I tell ya' Herbie:
                          Remember last week when I wrote that Minnesota was sitting on a loss against Iowa coming off a program-defining win over Penn State?
Well, now it's the Hawkeyes with the target on them as suddenly surging Illinois arrives on a four-game winning streak that not only has made the Illini bowl-eligible but may have saved Lovie Smith's job.
This has possible upset all over it and the only thing that keeps me from picking Illinois as the winner with certainty is that the Hawkeyes will be at home at Kinnick Stadium.

I tell ya' Herbie:
                          I've been asked two questions about this column, so I'll answer briefly.
One is why I don't mention Ohio State often here.
I figure I write about the Buckeyes enough in other posts, so I try to keep OSU out of "Herbie" unless something is really interesting and yet doesn't fit in game recaps.
The other is why does the top five for the power five, group of five and the Heisman only appear on occasion?
Answer; I'm an idiot and forget them sometimes!
Still, these will change from week to week, such as Tua Tagovailoa rated fourth in the Heisman rating now, but will fall as the season moves on and Alabama rated fourth currently, but will likely be passed as other teams win bigger games and conference championships.

Top Five's

Power Five
1) LSU
2) Ohio State
3) Clemson
4) Alabama
5) Oklahoma

Group of Five
1) Cincinnati
2) Memphis
3) Boise State
4) SMU
5) Appalachian State

1) Joe Burrow QB LSU
2) Chase Young DE Ohio State
3) Jalen Hurts QB Oklahoma
4) Tua Tagovailoa QB Alabama
5) Jonathan Taylor RB Wisconsin

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Cleaning out the inbox

The cleaning of the inbox continues with a few notes from the sports world and outside of it as well.

Voyager 2 has sent its first interstellar space message to Earth after crossing the heliosphere as the second man-made object to do after its twin craft Voyager 1 did so in 2013.
Voyager 2 is sending far more detailed reports than Voyager 1 since some of the instruments used to measure particle charges on Voyager 1 had broken way back in 1980.
The Voyagers are expected to operate until the mid-2020s when they run out of power and will thereafter float through space.

WUSA sends word of the departure of "Bei Bei", a four-year-old panda from the National Zoo and will be returning to China.
Part of the National Zoo's agreement with the Chinese Wildlife Conservation Agency that allows panda bears to stay at the zoo stipulates that any baby pandas born at the zoo (in captivity) will be returned to China at the age of four, which "Bei Bei" has now reached.

The Athletic takes a trip to a small town in Nebraska to check out a college football prospect that is waiting for a potential offer from the Cornhuskers.
Ty Hahn hails from the small town of Johnson with a population of 300 and with a high school so small, Johnson plays eight-man football rather than the conventional eleven.
Hahn currently holds a scholarship offer from neighboring Wyoming but has not been offered by the home state Huskers, although Nebraska has not ruled out offering Hahn before the signing deadline.
The article is just as much about small-town Nebraska life than it is about Hahn, so it's not just a football story.

And from Golf Channel, here is one story that has to make you feel good.
Brandon Matthews is playing in the third hole of extra play for the Argentina Open championship.
Now, that's fine, but the real prize is an automatic entry for the champion into next year's British Open.
Matthews' opponent in the playoff has just drilled a thirty-foot putt for a birdie which forced Matthews to make an eight-footer for a birdie and continue to a fourth playoff hole.
Matthews draws his putter back and as he does, someone screamed in the background, which caused Matthews to clutch a bit and miss the putt.
Matthews loses the tournament and automatic trip to the British Open, but the story doesn't end there as Matthews hits the locker room and is told what happens.
I won't spoil it for you, but if Brandon Matthews ever makes the major tours, he'll be an easy player to root for...

Wrapping up with a passing that is the only thing remaining for now in the inbox, as Bernard Slade passed away at the age of 89.
Slade was a screenwriter and playwright that created television shows The Flying Nun, The Partridge Family, and Bridget Loves Bernie, which to this day is the only program to be rated in the top five in the Nielsen ratings and not be renewed for the following season.
Slade also wrote Same Time Next Year, which won both Tony Awards (for Broadway) and Academy Award (for the film adaptation) for Slade's writing.
The film, which starred Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn (who also starred on the Broadway version) is still occasionally shown on television.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Devils waive Cory Schneider

The New Jersey Devils waived Cory Schneider yesterday in the official changing of the guard as the teams' number one goaltender.

Mackenzie Blackwood has performed so well and Schneider so poorly in the first month and a half of the season that not only is this decision the correct one, the argument can be made that it was a bit over overdue.

Schneider's five starts this season ended without a victory (0-4-1 with a 4.59 GAA and .852 as his save percentage in those starts) and although Blackwood's numbers are a little higher than in his rookie season, Blackwood has rounded into form over his last four starts and the Devils were finally comfortable enough to make this move.
The thirty-three-year-old Schneider is unlikely to be claimed by any team at his salary (six million dollars each for this year and the next two), so he'll be assigned to the Devils AHL affiliate in Binghamton, where the Devils will hope to see his play improve.
In the perfect scenario, Schneider would play well for the B-Devils and some team would be interested in acquiring him and although under those circumstances, New Jersey would still be picking up the lion's share of Schneider's remaining contract, whatever could be saved under the salary cap could be better allocated.

Cory Schneider was often a polarizing figure to many Devils fans.
Schneider was acquired from Vancouver as the future successor to Martin Brodeur for the Devils first-round pick in the 2013 draft, which Vancouver used on their current captain Bo Horvat.
Schneider wasn't interested in being groomed behind the aging Brodeur as he was leaving a situation with the Canucks that had seen him sit behind another veteran in Roberto Luongo.
Because of the cost paid for Schneider and the respective ages of both goalies, Schneider was going to be the player that was staying in the organization and after a tension-filled first season, Brodeur was forced out with Schneider signing the seven-year contract that the Devils are paying for to this day.

In many ways, it was that first year with Brodeur that set the stage for Cory Schneider to never truly be accepted by Devils fans and Schneider played very well in the first two seasons of his extension.
In those first two seasons, Schneider's play ranked with the best in the game and even those frustrated with how Martin Brodeur was treated had to concede that Schneider's play was top-notch.
In 2016-17, Schneider's numbers worsened a bit, but he appeared to be bouncing back early in the Devils playoff season of 2017-18 before a groin injury sidelined for much of the remainder of the season.
A hip surgery before the start of last season appears to be the dividing line for Schneider as his performance after that surgery has never approached his previous level,

I don't see where the Devils had a choice in this situation.
Cory Schneider has never been a player that was able to handle not being the top goaltender whether to an all-time great in Martin Brodeur or to a younger player such as Mackenzie Blackwood and as time moved on, I could foresee a difficult situation for the two netminders and the organization.
If Blackwood is the eventual number one goalie and with Schneider playing so poorly in his starts, the team simply didn't need the tension.

It appears that Cory Schneider might be remembered by Devils fans with mixed memories, but he did perform well for the first two seasons and it may turn out that the hip injury that Schneider has never seemed to have recovered from cost the Devils value on their seven-year contract and Schneider arguably what could have been the best days of his career.

I'm planning on covering tonight's game with Boston as long as I am available to watch.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Cleaning out the inbox: Passings

We have built up quite a few passings in the inbox of late, mainly because the passings haven't arrived in large numbers in a period and that's a good thing!
Still, that means notices will be piling up and the result is a larger post.

Goodbye to Harrison Dillard at the age of 96.
Dillard was the oldest living Olympic gold medalist before his passing with four gold medals in the 1948 (London) and 1952 (Helsinki) games.
Dillard won the 100-meter gold in London and then added the 110-meter hurdles in Helsinki to become the only man to this day to own gold medals in those two events.
Dillard was also part of two relay winning teams to account for his remaining golds.
Dillard worked for the Cleveland Indians in the scouting and public relations departments as well as the business manager for Cleveland city schools after his athletic career ended.

Goodbye to Ron Fairly at the age of 81.
Fairly spent twenty-one years in the majors, the first eleven with the Dodgers. where he was part of three world championship teams.
Fairly might be better remembered as the only player to play on both Canadian expansion teams (Montreal 1969 and Toronto 1977) and would make his only All-Star appearances with those teams, one for each team.
Fairly would also spend fourteen years in the booth as part of the Seattle Mariners broadcasting crew.

Goodbye to Jim Coates at the age of 87.
Coates pitched parts of nine seasons in the majors, mostly with the Yankees with a career year of 13-3 in 1960 for the Yankees.
Coates might be remembered by some as the subject of stories in Ball Four involving Coates and Jim Bouton during their shared time with the Yankees.
Coates was asked by Bouton if he was endorsing iodine "Because his picture was on the bottle".
At the time, skulls were used as the symbol for poisonous material and Coates was a tall, skinny person.
Coates was also mentioned as a pitcher in the book that enjoyed throwing at hitters, starting dust-ups and then "crawling out of the ensuing pile".

Goodbye to Charles Rogers at the age of 38.
Rogers was a star receiver at Michigan State and was selected by Matt Millen as part of the wide receiver three years first-round draft selection run for Rogers' home-state Detroit Lions.
While Rogers was tremendous for Sparty, he disappointed with the Lions and lasted only three seasons as he battled problems with both alcohol and drugs.
Rogers would play only fifteen games for Detroit, catching thirty-six passes on his career, but it was a different story for Rogers at Michigan State as he grabbed twenty-seven touchdown passes in a two-year career in East Lansing as he won the Fred Biletnikoff Award for the best wide receiver in the nation.

Goodbye to Zeke Bratkowski at the age of 88.
Bratkowski played for the Bears and Rams, but was best known as the caddy of Bart Starr in the 1960s for the Vince Lombardi Packers teams that dominated the era.
Bratkowski's biggest moment with Green Bay in 1965 was when Bratkowski relieved an injured Bart Starr in the Western Conference championship in the first half and led the Packers to a 13-10 overtime win over Baltimore.
Starr would return the following week in the 1965 league title game against Cleveland as the Packers would defeat the Browns to win the final NFL title before the beginnings of the Super Bowl.
Bratkowski would later become a quarterback guru and offensive coordinator for various teams through the middle of the nineties.

Goodbye to Jim LeClair at the age of 69.
LeClair played twelve years with the Cincinnati Bengals at linebacker, nine of those as a starter, making the Pro Bowl in 1976 and played for the 1981 AFC champion Bengals, which meant he played in the famous "Freezer Bowl" AFC Championship game against the Chargers.
LeClair also played the final two seasons for the New Jersey Generals in the USFL, a team owned by a certain person that you may have heard of.

Goodbye to Charlie Taafe at the age of 69.
Taafe was the head coach at the Citadel for a decade before his biggest success in Montreal with the CFL's Alouettes winning the league's coach of the year award in 1999 and 2000.
Taafe left Montreal to become the offensive coordinator for Ralph Friedgen at Maryland, where he was the OC for Maryland's miracle run to the Orange Bowl.
Taafe would only be a head coach for one more year, as he went 3-15 for Hamilton in 2007, but he was the offensive coordinator for Central Florida after that, where he developed Blake Bortles into a first-round draft pick by Jacksonville.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Buckeyes roll over Rutgers

The game on the scoreboard was closer than expected, but it still was completely uncompetitive as Ohio State crushed Rutgers 56-21 in Piscataway.

Almost all of the starters were pulled before the second half and Justin Fields was finished after leading the Buckeyes to a touchdown on their first possession of the second half.
Fields threw for 305 yards in his half plus one possession of work and threw four touchdowns in that time with two of those going to Binjimin Victor.
Chris Olave led the air attack with 139 yards and J.K. Dobbins scored two touchdowns to go with his one-half total of 89 yards to pace the Ohio State offense.
Ohio State improves to 10-0 overall and 7-0 in the Big Ten and will face Penn State in their final home game this Saturday at noon.
A Buckeye victory would clinch the Big Ten East and guarantee a trip to the championship game in Indianapolis.

I've written in the past that the hardest posts to write are these blowouts and to be honest, I watched very little of the second half as I watched the much closer game in Iowa City, as the Hawkeyes poked a hole in the boat and ended Minnesota's undefeated season.
It appears now that as long as Wisconsin doesn't lose to 4-6 Purdue in Madison next Saturday, the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe will determine the winner of the Big Ten West.

Since I didn't watch much of the second half and I've been feeling a bit run down this week, I'm going to stop here and leave the box score for posterity,
I have a work thing tomorrow, BUT when I have time, I think I have a pretty good post on tap.
I hope you'll enjoy it..

Saturday, November 16, 2019

NFL Hammer Falls; Garrett finished for the season

The NFL didn't waste time announcing their decisions on punishment for the late game brawl in Cleveland Thursday night.
Three players were given suspensions that will cause players to miss time, and both the Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers were given $250,000 fines as an organization for the incident.

The Browns will lose Myles Garrett for the remainder of the regular season and possibly a few in the 2020 season as his suspension will not officially end until Garrett meets with the commissioner during the off-season.
Garrett will be suspended without pay and will pay an undisclosed fine.
Larry Ogunjobi will be suspended without pay for next Sunday's game against Miami for pushing down Mason Rudolph from behind and will also pay an undisclosed fine.
Both players are expected to appeal their suspensions, but I'm not sure much will change.
I think that Ogunjobi may have a chance to have his penalty reduced to a fine, but I don't think Garrett will receive a reduction, although the league may quietly tell Garrett off the record that if he says the right things about the incident and keeps his record in order that he might not miss a game in 2020, although I'd doubt that they would announce that publically now.

The loss of both players will be a hit to the defensive line that has been without starting defensive end Olivier Vernon of late and should Vernon be unable to return for the Dolphins game, the Browns would be without three of their four starters on the defensive line.
I would bet that the main beneficiary in playing time in the position vacated by Garrett will be Chad Thomas, who has been a rotational player and will likely move into a starting role, while Chris Smith should see more snaps as I would guess that Smith would move into the rotational slot of Thomas.
Devaroe Lawrence will replace Ogunjobi at defensive tackle, should his suspension hold up.

Pittsburgh's Maurkice Pouncey was suspended for three games and also fined an undisclosed amount for the Steelers for his role in the fight where the Pittsburgh center threw multiple punches and kicked Myles Garrett, while Garrett was down on the turf.
The loss of Pouncey, who is Pittsburgh's best offensive lineman, from the Steelers offensive line for games against the Bengals, Browns, and Cardinals will hurt Pittsburgh's late-season run at a playoff berth.

I didn't have a lot of issues with the suspensions.
I thought Myles Garrett's six games is fair, although should it stretch into the 2020 season, I'd consider it a little excessive.
I believe that Maurkice Pouncey's three games out of the lineup are reasonable because I think that Pouncey's penalty should be half of what Garrett received.
Larry Ogunjobi's one game term might have been fair, but a fine would be better-suited, since apparently Mason Rudolph, who started the incident and then inflamed it, has received no punishment.
I write apparently because Rudolph has said he expects to be fined, but yet in the suspension announcement, Rudolph was not mentioned, although it was noted that others could still be punished  and I expect with many in the media along with fans stating their problems with Rudolph receiving nothing for his actions that Rudolph will get a fine.
If Rudolph would have gotten a game, I wouldn't have quibbled with one game for Ogunjobi, but if a fine is acceptable for Rudolph, I would say the fine would be acceptable for Ogunjobi for his pushing of Rudolph to the ground.

I'd also say that Pouncey missing the game against the Browns in Pittsburgh might be a good thing because I'm willing to bet that it is going to be a crazy game that could be extremely dirty and anything that diffuses that is a good idea.
I'm not sure when the appeal process will be held, but Ogunjobi and the Browns might decide to drop the appeal if they sense that they will not win it as the Browns will need him more for a road game against Pittsburgh than for a home game against the Dolphins, should they need to make that decision.

All and all, I only have one complaint- the lack of a penalty to Mason Rudolph and I'm willing to bet that Rudolph will be given one, although it will likely be a financial one rather than one that sees a missed game.

Back later with the Buckeyes visit to Rutgers.

I tell ya' Herbie

I tell ya' Herbie returns with our weekly look at the college football world starts with a win that I didn't see coming and a look back with what proved to be a prescient thought.

I tell ya' Herbie:
                           I'll admit to being very surprised with Minnesota's victory over Penn State last week and I'll be even more surprised if P.J. Fleck's Gophers can survive Saturday's trip to Kinnick Stadium in what looks to be a trap game immediately after what could eventually be looked at as a program-defining win over the Nittany Lions.
However, you have to give P.J. Fleck credit for what he has been able to build at Minnesota.
How many times in the past under Glen Mason would Minnesota start 5-0 after rolling over three non-conference weak sisters and then eat a few bottom-dwellers before melting like a Kit Kat left in the car in their first test against a conference heavyweight?
Answer: Every Time.

I tell ya' Herbie:
                          I saw this coming with P.J. Fleck dating all the way back to 2015 and I'm not talking about the ability to turn programs around.
In 2015, Fleck brought the Western Michigan Broncos to the Horseshoe in Columbus and I didn't know much about him as a coach, although I did remember that he had spent one season with Ohio State under Jim Tressel as a graduate assistant.
Fleck spent the game running up and down the sideline like a nut, screaming non-stop and I remember telling Ryan- "if this guy ever gets a Big Ten job, he's going to be very annoying'.

I tell ya' Herbie:
                          I know Iowa State's two-point attempt was stopped by Oklahoma with 24 seconds to go as the Cyclones played for the win on the road rather than kick an extra point to go to overtime, but I still love the mentality in going for the win by Matt Campbell's Cyclones.
In my mind, if you have a lesser team and especially if you are on the road, you go for the win in these situations.
The longer the game goes, the more likely that the more talented team will be able to win.
Unless the coach in question really blows the actual play call, I wouldn't criticize the coach that goes for the win,
Campbell's name continues to be a name in play after the job that he is doing in Ames with Iowa State with his name mentioned as a candidate at the two jobs already open for 2020 (Florida State and Arkansas) and as a dark horse at the biggest of them all at USC, should that position come open.

I tell ya' Herbie:
                          I wrote a post on the mess at Arkansas with their firing of Chad Morris and the corner that the Razorbacks have put themselves in with their run of recent bad hires over the last ten years.
I intended to write a small blurb for " I tell ya' Herbie", but there were so many things to discuss on the Hogs that as I was writing the post that it easily grew into its own post.
I haven't heard anything about a leading candidate other than the possibility of Auburn's Gus Malzahn, but the surprising news that I have read is that so many fans want Bobby Petrino to return.
Petrino did lead the Razorbacks to their last strong seasons but considering Petrino's exit from Arkansas (fired for deceiving the school on finances that involved paying a far younger mistress in the athletic department) and Petrino's final year at Louisville (2-8 last season), I'd be surprised if Petrino would actually be given consideration.

I tell ya' Herbie:
                          The Pac 12 is getting their fair share of publicity for potentially grabbing a playoff spot for their champion (assuming that it's the one-loss survivor of an Oregon-Utah title game) and that's a fair point, but what I find odd is the conference as a whole.
Entering today, other than Oregon and Utah, the remaining ten teams in the league have records no better than 6-4 (Washington and USC), no worse than 4-6 (Colorado) and the remaining seven teams are either 5-4 or 4-5.
On one hand, that is a remarkably balanced league that can arguably see any team beat any other, including Utah, who lost to USC in their only loss, but on the other hand, it could be looked at as a league filled with a bunch of mediocre teams that can play a large number of competitive games, but with few standouts.
For the Pac 12 to thrive and begin to attract more notice for their quality of play, one or two more schools are going to have to jump up to a higher level,