Thursday, December 31, 2020


 The NFL season hits its final week and the college campaign finishes up with most of its season as well.

Last Week: 8-6
Overall: 106-46


Alabama over Notre Dame 38-10  
Clemson over Ohio State 35-32

Peach Bowl
Cincinnati over Georgia 24-20

Citrus Bowl
Auburn over Northwestern 34-16

Gator Bowl
N.C.State over Kentucky 30-21

Outback Bowl
Indiana over Ole Miss 45-38

Fiesta Bowl
Oregon over Iowa State 34-27

Orange Bowl
Texas A&M over North Carolina 28-23

Browns over Steelers 24-17
Saints over Panthers 31-21

Games of the Week
Bills over Dolphins 26-21
Cardinals over Rams 30-17

Pacers defeat Cavaliers 119-99

 The Cleveland Cavaliers ended 2020 as they did on so many nights during the calendar year- with a loss, this one to the Indiana Pacers in an afternoon game in Indianapolis 119-99.

Collin Sexton led Cleveland with 28 points with Darius Garland adding 21 points in the first game of a six-game road trip.

Cleveland visits the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night in their next game.


1) Cleveland's big men battled foul trouble throughout the game and it showed against Domantis Sabonis, who scored 25 points and finished with 11 rebounds and 7 assists.

2) Sabonis is the son of the great Arvydas Sabonis and just as his father, Sabonis is a well-rounded big man and an excellent passer.
Sabonis can shoot from the outside, yet always seems to be around the ball on the interior.
If Sabonis can avoid the constant injuries that plagued his father, he could be an All-Star for years to come.

3) Indiana entered the game as one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league, yet they hit sixteen of them against Cleveland.
It's tough to stop a team when they shoot forty-five percent from three-point range.

4) Collin Sexton scored 28 points and Darius Garland 21, but the pair struggled on the defensive end against Victor Oladipo, Aaron Holiday and it seemed like every other Pacer short of Billy Keller and Rick Mount was scoring against the Cleveland backcourt.
I'm not as sold on basketball's plus-minus stat compared to hockey, but Garland was an awful minus 21.

5) JaVale McGee fell into foul trouble and played only fourteen minutes, but finished with thirteen rebounds.
I've liked what I've seen from McGee so far, but I do have concerns that he might be thinking he is more potent offensively than he actually is as far as his shot selection.

6) The foul problems allowed former Bucks first-rounder Thon Maker to play for nine minutes and Maker scored six points.
At only 23, Maker still has potential as a role player, and with the injuries to the Cleveland frontcourt it might be the right time to find Maker a little more playing time.

Ioka stops Tanaka in Eight!

     Japanese boxing traditionally places a fight that is an anticipated event on New Year's Eve to end the year in a spectacular manner.

2020 was not an exception as unbeaten three-division champion Kosei Tanaka attempted to add a fourth championship to his resume' in a challenge to WBO junior bantamweight champion Kazuto Ioka.

Kazuto Ioka has fallen to the back burner a bit in a division that offers two tremendous champions (WBA champion Roman Gonzalez and WBC king Juan Francisco Estrada), a former champion who owns wins over both of the above champions (Srisaket Sor Rungvisai), and another underrated champion that has been overshadowed by the others (IBF boss Jerwin Ancajas).

Ioka was certainly the "B-Side" despite carrying the title into the ring and that was because of the talent of opponent Kosei Tanaka, who besides being undefeated, had won titles for the WBO at 105, 108, and 112 pounds.

Tanaka had also been in what some (including TRS) had awarded the fight of the year for 2018 in his flyweight title victory over Sho Kimura and in another great fight over former light flyweight champion Ryo Taguchi, so Tanaka was the featured fighter in this bout.

Tanaka's charisma and exciting style had caused him to be tabbed as the next star from Japan to invade the United States similar to Naoya Inoue and plenty of top opponents waiting for him, all Tanaka had to do was push aside Ioka to begin the process of coming to America.

That would prove a tall task as the slightly larger Tanaka was expected to control the fight from distance, with Ioka's pressure attempting to take the battle to the inside.

For the first four rounds, the fight was evenly fought as I gave each man two of the first four rounds, but it was Tanaka walking forward with Ioka boxing from distance.

Tanaka was doing well in the fifth when the tide turned from an Ioka left hook caught a charging Tanaka and drove him across the ring and down to the canvas with seconds to go in the round.

Tanaka may have been saved by the bell in the fifth, and Ioka dominated the sixth as he sent Tanaka down again with a counter left hook with Tanaka gamely finishing the round.

Tanaka's tactics changed in the seventh and he became very aggressive in his attack and won the stanza clearly on my card.

The eighth seemed to be moving in the same direction as Tanaka was controlling the exchanges by moving to the inside, but as Tanaka pressed forward Ioka blasted him with the counter left hook that knocked Tanaka out on his feet with the referee grabbing Tanaka to hold him up as he immediately ended the fight.  

For Ioka, this win was a career-defining victory that could set him up for eventual fights against the survivor of the WBA/WBC unification fight between Gonzalez and Estrada or Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, who is a mandatory fight for the winner of Gonzalez-Estrada.

For Tanaka, he may have hit that "wall" that all fighters hit where their talents are evened out by fighters that are larger than they can handle at a certain level.

Tanaka could decide to return to the flyweight division, where he could rule the division for quite a while or stay at 115 pounds, where he has the skills to be competitive but may not have the punch resistance against the best that the division has to offer.

It's been an interesting year in boxing and this fight gives 2020 a solid ending to the year.

I'm planning an awards post for the year in boxing sometime in January.

Cleaning out the Inbox- Non-Sports Passings

     As we finish up clearing out the various passings from the inbox as we near 2021, today's sad news adds another sad log on the pile of a year that has been just plain horrid.

Let's all hope together for a better year in 2021...

Goodbye to Dawn Wells at the age of 82.

Wells, who is best remembered as "Mary Ann" from the 60s TV program "Gilligan's Island" and one of the protagonists of the question considered by so many people since the show began- Mary Ann or Ginger?

Wells didn't have another starring vehicle after Gilligan's Island, but always stayed busy in guest roles on television shows, many theatre productions, and stayed very involved with the Gilligan franchise and its various reunion films and specials along with voice work on the cartoon show of the early 80s, Gilligan's Planet where Wells voiced both Mary Ann AND Ginger.

Wells wrote a memoir and Gilligan's themed cookbook and worked in recent years as an ambassador for MeTV, which currently runs Gilligan's Island in syndication.

Wells also was very busy on the convention and paid appearances circuit and was regarded as one of the nicer celebrities to meet in those situations.
Wells also owned and operated "Wishing Wells", a collection that catered to making clothing for those with limited mobility and has difficulty finding things that are easy to put on and take off.

Goodbye to Chad Stuart at the age of 79.

Stuart was one half of the British pop duo "Chad and Jeremy" in the 60s with hits such as "Yesterday's Gone" and "A Summer Song", which is still used on commercials occasionally and as recently as last year by Coors Light.

While "A Summer Song" reached number two in the United States in 1964, Chad and Jeremy are even more remembered for their television appearances as "The Redcoats" on The Dick Van Dyke Show and as themselves on Batman when their voices are stolen by Catwoman as well as an appearance on "The Patty Duke Show" and others.

Chad and Jeremy were the rare act of the British Invasion that was a bigger hit in the United States than in their native Great Britain. notched eleven top 100 hits in the U.S. from 1964-66, while not even "A Summer Song" reached the charts in the U.K.
My best guess is that Chad and Jeremy were bigger in the States than at home because of those television appearances and because of those guest roles, Chad and Jeremy are remembered by generations that may not have noticed them.

Goodbye to David Lander at the age of 73.

Lander was best known for his portrayal of "Squiggy" on the 70s television program "Laverne and Shirley" with Squiggy's constant companion "Lenny" played by Michael Mckean.

The gimmick with Lenny and Squiggy was usually this- Laverne or Shirley would be talking amongst themselves and describing it as disgusting, slimy, or something like that with Lenny and Squiggy then bursting through the door with Squiggy bellowing "hello!".

Lander was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1984 and transitioned to voice work, but also served was connected to baseball in two ways.
It was Lander who played the radio commentator in the baseball film "A League of Their Own" and Lander also worked as a scout for the Angels and Mariners in their personnel departments.

Goodbye to Warren Berlinger at the age of 83.

The character actor worked often in from the 50s-80s and you'll see him in many films and television shows of the age.

Berlinger had a co-starring rule in an Elvis Presley flick "Spinout" and a brief TV series of his own entitled "Warren" that starred Berlinger as an Archie Bunker-type character.
Berlinger also guested on "Happy Days" in an episode where the army attempted to draft Fonzie, a small part in "Cannonball Run", and a cameo in the last role that I remember him "That Thing You Do".

Goodbye to Paul Sarbanes at the age of 87.
Sarbanes served in the House of Representatives for three terms and was part of the judiciary committee to impeach Richard Nixon before winning five terms as Maryland Senator.
Sarbanes was known locally as the "Stealth Senator" because the word in Maryland was that Sarbanes was invisible until it was time to be re-elected and then he re-emerged.
Sarbanes likely would have won re-election in 2006 for another term, but he was frustrated with the "Stealth Senator" term and he wasn't getting to chair committees despite his long-term service.

The inbox still has plenty left and I was busy today, so I didn't have a chance to write about the Cavaliers first loss to the Knicks.

Back soon with more...

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Cleaning out the Inbox: Baseball Passings

  The baseball tributes begin with one that is well overdue...

Goodbye to Joe Morgan at the age of 77.

The Hall of Fame second baseman played for five teams but remembered mainly for his seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, had fallen in the eyes of some in recent years due to his commentating work with ESPN on Sunday Night Baseball and his vocal outbursts against some of the players that have an excellent HOF argument and work on the various committees to keep players out of Cooperstown with cases such as Ron Santo and perhaps soon Dick Allen passing away before their induction.

But Morgan the player was sublime, combining power and speed at a position that hadn't been seen since at least the days of Rogers Hornsby and perhaps ever.

Known for his flapping elbow that every kid in the 1970s imitated, Morgan's first six seasons with the Reds after being acquired with Houston earned him two MVP awards, All-Star appearances in each season, and four Gold Gloves.

When you consider that Morgan was traded to the Reds at the age of 28 and had spent his previous seasons with Houston in the cavernous Astrodome, it makes you think about how his lesser statistics with the Astros could have been affected by playing his first seven seasons in a pitchers ballpark.

After Morgan's numbers began to decline in 1978 and 1979, Morgan was allowed to leave as a free agent and he began to find employment by teams looking for a part-time player, pinch-hitter, and veteran leadership with Morgan playing for the 1980 NL West champion Astros, two seasons with the Giants including the surprise contending 1982 Giants with Morgan slamming a homer to eliminate the Dodgers on the final game of the season on the day after the Dodgers had eliminated the Giants from the divisional race, and for the 1983 NL champion Phillies before one final season with Oakland before retirement.

It's sad that Joe Morgan to some generations will be known as the grumpy guy keeping candidates out of the Hall of Fame and the mediocre announcer instead of the Hall of Fame player that reinvented the second base position.

Goodbye to Phil Niekro at the age of 81.   

Yet another member of the hall to pass in 2020, Niekro won 318 games in a career spent mostly with the Atlanta Braves and along with perhaps, Hoyt Wilhelm ranks as the best knuckleball pitcher in the history of the game.

Niekro combined with his brother Joe to give the Niekro's the record for most games won by a brother combination with 539 victories that nosed out the Perry brothers, Gaylord and Jim's total of 529.

Niekro also won twenty or more games three times and holds a few statistics that are unlikely to be broken for a long time.

121 wins after the age of 40- Highly unlikely to be broken

5,404 Innings pitched- With the manner that pitchers are handled today, that's not going to be surpassed until robots pitch.

The last pitcher to win 20 (21) and lose 20 in the same season (1979), unlikely in the age of relievers getting more and more decisions.

Niekro is also, along with a few others, the player that recommended that the Indians place Chief Wahoo on their caps in 1986.

Goodbye to Lindy McDaniel at the age of 84.

McDaniel pitched for four teams from 1957-75 and notched over twenty saves in a season for the Cardinals, Cubs, and Yankees in the age of closers being known more as "firemen" and would pitch more than one inning in an outing.

McDaniel was also known for his devout religious beliefs, which he wrote about in a monthly pamphlet that he sent to every major league player during his career. 

Jim Bouton mentioned McDaniel and "Pitching for the Master" in Bouton's book "Ball Four".

Goodbye to Phil Linz at the age of 81.

Linz was a light-hitting backup infielder for the Yankees in the 1960s, but became remembered more for an off-field incident than his play.

Linz was on the team bus in 1964 after the Yankees had lost a road game in Chicago to the White Sox and  began to play "Mary had a Little Lamb".

Manager Yogi Berra confronted Linz and after the incident, first baseman Joe Pepitone had a cut knee and the Yankee front office decided that Berra had lost control of the team and would be fired at the end the season.

Jim Bouton also writes of this incident in "Ball Four".

Goodbye to Rogelio Moret at the age of  71.

Moret was known as one of the more enigmatic pitchers in the game for Boston in the 1970s and was thought to have the potential to be far better than he performed despite records of 13-2 in 1973 and 14-3 for the 1975 American League champions.

Moret's value was quite high in 1975's offseason and he was traded to the Braves, where he spent one season before a trade to Texas as one of the five players sent to the Rangers for Jeff Burroughs.

On April 12, 1978, Moret was the Rangers scheduled starter against Detroit, but was seen in a catatonic state with his arm held straight ahead of him with a slipper in his hand.

No one was able to get Moret to respond to anything said or done to him and Moret was taken away to a psychiatric facility for treatment with Moret pitching only a few games later in the season before a promising career was over at only 29.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Cavaliers Crush 76ers 118-94

     The Cleveland Cavaliers continued their surprising start with their third win in as many games as Cleveland cruised past the visiting Philadelphia 76ers 118-94 in Cleveland.

Andre Drummond led the Cavaliers with 24 points and 14 rebounds with Collin Sexton contributing 22 points for the victorious Cavaliers.

Cleveland will attempt to grab another victory on Tuesday at home against the New York Knicks.


1) Andre Drummond is a center that seems to be out of vogue as a post-playing big man, but what places him out of what teams are looking for is what makes him so effective.

Drummond's post moves are antiquated compared to today's centers, but basic can be quite efficient.

2) Philadelphia played without Joel Embiid in the pivot and that aided Drummond in his big game, I'm sure, but this was a blowout from the start.

The aging Dwight Howard was no match for Drummond and I'm not sure that Howard at this stage of his career will be a good replacement for the fragile Embiid on nights that Howard will be needed to replace him.

3) Kevin Love left the game in the second quarter after re-injuring the calf that caused him to miss the opener and much of the preseason.

4) Can the Cavaliers continue their run of fine play with the rash of injuries that have occurred in each of the first three games? 

Take this into consideration, the Cavaliers has lost a player to injury in each of the three victories-Kevin Love against the Sixers, Isaac Okoro to a foot sprain against the Pistons, and Dylan Windler's broken hand in the opening win over the Hornets.
With those three and Kevin Porter Jr. continuing to work his way back into playing shape, the Cleveland lineup is already thin...

5) Cleveland's largest lead was 32 points and it could have been worse had they not emptied the bench in the fourth period.
I'm not sure this is sustainable even without the injuries, but under J.B. Bickerstaff's team basketball concepts, the Cavaliers thus far have been fun to watch.

Browns fumble away opportunity-Upset by Jets 23-16

   The Cleveland Browns could have punched their ticket to the postseason with a win over the hapless New York Jets, and although after the Covid-19 affair that cost the Browns their top four wide receivers along with two starting linebackers, nothing could be taken for granted.

Still, one would think that the Browns would find a way to squeeze this one out and celebrate- even with backup receivers, but what they didn't count on was the player that they relied on most to develop butterfingers as Baker Mayfield fumbled three times, including on the final drive on a fourth and one from the Jets 16-yard line and left the Browns still awaiting a clinching for the postseason after a 23-16 Jets win.

Baker Mayfield threw a career-high 53 passes, completing 28 for 253 yards, but turned the ball over on those awful three fumbles.

Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt each rushed for a touchdown, but rushed a combined total of a mere 39 yards on the afternoon.

Austin Hooper led the receivers with seven catches for seventy-one yards, while recent practice squad promotee JaMarcus Bradley caught six passes for sixty yards in the defeat.

The now 10-5 Browns still can make the playoffs with a win over Pittsburgh next Sunday at home in Cleveland or an Indianapolis loss at home against the one-win Jacksonville Jaguars (Yeah, right).

Brownie Bits

1) Look, there are plenty of factors that contributed to this loss and it is cliche' to use the term a "team loss", but this one truly was. 
There were very few players that had good games and when you have to dig deep to find them,  it has been a bad day.

2) I know the Jets were putting eight or nine men in the box and daring the Browns to try to pass, but the Browns didn't try enough to bust through with the running game-especially in the first half.
The Jets were running the modern version of the Ampipe Bulldogs "6-2 Stack Monster" (All the Right Moves reference) and shutting down the run game, but the Browns only tried eighteen runs against the Jets for the game.

3) And since you only ran the ball eighteen times, not only did you not use your best offensive weapons nearly enough, you also allowed Baker Mayfield to throw 53 times!
The Cleveland Browns are not set up to be the type of team that throws 53 times and wins with their top pass catchers in the lineup, let alone without them!

4) Even more, what has been the number one factor in Baker Mayfield's improved play over the last month?
The ability to run play-action passing plays.
By not running the football, the Jets didn't respect the run, could sell out on the pass rush, and not bite on play-action fakes.
That means that Baker Mayfield became just another undersized quarterback.

5) So who to blame?
Baker Mayfield gets plenty of blame for losing the ball three times and his receivers that he thought that he could count on such as Austin Hooper and Kareem Hunt, dropped the football far too often.
Baker deserves plenty of blame, but he deserves an honorable mention for this loss.

6) Give it up for Kevin Stefanski, who may have lost the coach of the year award on the same field that he won over the Giants one week before.
To be fair, Stefanski would have had significant problems changing an entire gameplan in less than 24 hours for a 1 PM game, but coming a week after watching Ryan Day spend three-quarters of a game against an inferior team refusing to do what it takes to give the best chance for his team to win, Stefanski's stubborn refusal to try to wear down the Jets defense especially in the first half didn't do that.

7) How many times over the last three seasons have I complained about Baker Mayfield's throws hanging his receivers out to dry with passes that are needlessly high?
It bit the Browns on the final drive when on a second and ten Mayfield had a lane to hit JaMarcus Bradley along the sideline inside the Jets five.
If the ball is on the money, the Browns would have had first and goal inside the five with four shots at the tying touchdown, but Mayfield forced Bradley to lay out to catch the ball, and just as Bradley began to haul the ball in, Bradley was hit by Arthur Maulet and couldn't hold on.

8) Kevin Stefanski was so desperate for the running game to do anything in short-yardage that he was running Baker Mayfield on QB sneaks rather than his stud running backs.
Three times on 3rd or 4th down and short, including the final fumble, it was quarterback sneaks and when Mayfield coughed the ball up for the last time, Kareem Hunt recovered the ball but due to the "Holy Roller" rule, could not advance it and the Jets took over on downs.

9) The Browns pass defense let them down on three occasions as the much-maligned Sam Darnold threw two touchdown passes and another on a trick play when Jameson Crowder threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Braxton Berrios, which was very similar to what the Browns ran earlier in the season with Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry.

10 ) On Sam Darnold's pass to Chris Herndon for a touchdown, Herndon was wide open to the point that anyone could have caught the toss.
Yet another breakdown by the safeties and Andrew Sendejo per usual was multiple steps behind the play.

11) You want to see how a young quarterback can be either ruined or at least have his development stunted?
Just take a look at Sam Darnold, where the Jets seemed desperate to replace him in three seasons filled with a bad offensive line (other than this year's top pick Mekhi Becton, who looks like a keeper), aging running backs, and not a lot of targets until the end of this season when his starters began to get healthy.

12) Sam Darnold is barely two years older than Trevor Lawrence and has been given no chance to succeed. 
The Jets had been connected to Lawrence with the first pick in the draft before their back to back wins, and they are still connected to a QB in the very early mock drafts with the Jets being mentioned with Justin Fields of Ohio State, Zach Wilson of BYU, and Trey Lance of North Dakota State.

13) Should the Jets decide to not pick up the option of Darnold and/or trade him before next season, he is a prime candidate to buy low and rehabilitate him with a team that knows how to build around a QB 

Teams to consider?
Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers seem a good fit with the constantly injured Jimmy Garoppolo with two high-priced seasons on his contract, yet cannot be depended on stay healthy.

New England would be an interesting spot, but no way do the Jets trade Darnold inside the division.
Indianapolis makes sense with their need with an aging Phillip Rivers and depending on who the Falcons hire as their head coach, Darnold might make sense to backup Matt Ryan for a year or two of development similar to what New Orleans is doing with Jameis Winston.

Carolina might be a team to watch especially if they still have Joe Brady as their offensive coordinator and the final team? 
Watch out for Pittsburgh with a lack of a young quarterback and an increasingly battered Ben Rothlisberger getting more infirm by the hit.

14) The Browns offensive line misses Wyatt Teller, but they expected not to have Jedrick Wills and then thought they would have him back and then on game day lost him again.
The Jets seemed to be in the backfield constantly with Tarel Basham with a sack and a half and a forced fumble, the big star for New York.
Without both of those two players, a top-notch line becomes a merely average one.

15) Physically whipped on the line- the Browns were pushed around on both sides of the ball and perhaps that's why Stefanski decided to run the ball less and Jets runners finished 131 yards rushing, although the absence of B.J. Goodson and Jacob Phillips may have had something to do with that.
When you build your team around a physical line and you get whipped by a 1 win team, you are always going to have a rough day.

16) Sheldon Richardson is the exception to that rule.
Richardson finished with three solo tackles, seven assisted tackles and blocked a Jets field goal attempt and an extra point.
The effort that Richardson gives every week makes him well worth his expensive salary and I don't say that lightly.

17) More Cody Parkey struggles as he missed an extra point off the upright that would have cut the lead to three points rather than four in the fourth quarter.
It didn't matter as much when the Jets turned a Baker Mayfield fumble into a field goal on the next Browns possession, but the struggles are concerning despite Parkey connecting on his only field goal try from 44 yards away.

18) The Browns playoff scenario is very simple- Beat Pittsburgh and you are in.
Lose that game and you have to hope that 1-14 Jacksonville can beat the Colts in Indianapolis.
Good luck there, but they had a little wiggle room going into the games against the Jets- that is now gone.

19) Is it possible that this game will be looked back at in the same fashion that the 2007 Browns are remembered for an awful loss in Cincinnati in the next to last game of the season when they could have locked up a playoff spot in a win?
Baker Mayfield surely doesn't want to be remembered as Derek Anderson is by Cleveland fans.

20) And finally, a big raspberry to the NFL for making the Browns play this game on Sunday.
They have postponed games for other teams this season, most notably Baltimore, and all of the Browns receivers were not Covid-19 positive, they were caught up in tracing.
It would not have been against precedent to push this game back a day or two considering the importance of the game in the playoff race. 

I wrote so many notes on this, I've run out of time to write about the Cavaliers' win over Philadelphia.
I'll try to get back later for a few Cavalier thoughts.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Browns lose six on eve on Jets visit

  On the evening before a potential playoff-clinching game on the road against the 1-13 New York Jets, an already intriguing game became even more so as the Cleveland Browns lost six players before the plane to New York lifted into the air with the potential to ground a season that has excited Browns fans more than any in years.

The top four wide receivers and two starting linebackers will be staying in Cleveland watching on television as their team attempts to either clinch a playoff spot or at minimum continue to control their own destiny.

Linebacker B.J. Goodson tested positive for Covid-19 and his contact with the remaining five in the team's recovery pool area and resulted in the other five being placed on the contact list.

What that means for beyond next week is this- Goodson will also miss the season finale' against Pittsburgh, while the four WR's and linebacker Jacob Phillips can return for the Steelers game, assuming that they do not test positive in the next five days.

For the game against the Jets, this takes the wide receiver and linebacker depth chart and tosses it into the trash for the week.

The Browns lose their top wide receivers in Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, KhaDarel Hodge, and Donovan Peoples-Jones and two starting linebackers in Goodson and Phillips.

Cleveland will use recent waiver claim Marvin Hall at one receiver and elevated two others from the practice squad in Derrick Willies and JaMarcus Bradley.

The interesting name of the three receivers is Willies, who caught three passes in the Browns' upset overtime win over Baltimore in 2018 before fracturing a collarbone the following week in practice.

Hall caught four passes for over 100 yards for the Lions in week eight this season but was waived a month later and was claimed by Cleveland.

While the losses at the receiver position are major, the Browns have two excellent running backs in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to attempt to grind it out and Hunt is capable of lining up at receiver as well.

Cleveland also stresses the tight end position in the Kevin Stefanski offense and carry four capable pass catchers in Austin Hooper, Harrison Bryant, David Njoku, and Stephen Carlson, so look for action from all four of these players.

The bigger concern may be an already weak linebacker corps losing Goodson and Phillips.

Mack Wilson is likely to return to the lineup after being inactive last week against the Giants and the Browns promoted Montrel Meander from the practice squad.

Malcolm Smith and Tae Davis will also see increased snaps at linebacker and the Jets could see an already vulnerable Browns defense as even more so without Goodson and Phillips and decide to play smashmouth football themselves.

Special teams could also be affected with Kha'Darel Hodge as a key downfield man and Donovan Peoples-Jones returning punts in recent weeks.

Backup running back D'Ernest Johnson should be the replacement on punt returns.

It'll be an interesting Sunday for the Browns on a day they need to win most....

Cavaliers rally twice,Push past Pistons in Double OT!

   The Cleveland Cavaliers twice rallied from deficits that seemed to have them headed for the loss column and rebounded for a 128-119 double-overtime win over the Detroit Pistons in Detroit.

Collin Sexton scored 32 points to lead the Cavaliers in the win with Andre Drummond adding 23 points and 16 rebounds in his return to Detroit for the first time since the trade that sent him to Cleveland.

Cedi Osman scored 22 points off the bench and Darius Garland scored 21 points with 12 assists to help the Cavaliers to their second win in as many games.

Cleveland returns home Sunday night to host the Philadelphia 76ers.


1) The Cavaliers scored the final eight points of regulation to force the game and into overtime and fought back from a nine point deficit in overtime to force a second overtime.
When you are drawing on the "Building a Culture" theme that rebuilding teams invariably do, these are the games that makes teams begin to buy in.

2) Andre Drummond struggled in the first half in his return to Detroit and made only one shot, but Drummond hung around, didn't sulk and finished with the stat line of 23 points, 16 rebounds, five assists, four steals, and three blocks.

3) Drummond's shot selection can be frustrating at times, mainly because he seems to be trying to show that an old school big man can change into a more modern one, but one thing about Drummond's game that is underrated was pointed out by Austin Carr- Drummond is able to contest smaller men defensively outside the paint.
Twice in the final few seconds of the first overtime, Drummond put enough pressure of ballhandler Derrick Rose to cause miscues that resulted in possession changes without the Pistons even attempting a shot.

4) Cedi Osman was tremendous coming off the bench, hitting four of six from three point land.
Osman might be a player that develops into a catalyst as part of a second unit when he can use his specific strengths in shorter minutes.
Think of it as similar to a baseball pitcher that struggles as a starter, but improves as a reliever because he can throw his best pitches all out because he doesn't have to go through the lineup multiple times.

5) It's the little things that can show how highly a player is thought of.
Isaac Okoro didn't score a point, missed all four shots, but still played forty-two minutes and it was Okoro on the court in crunch time as Okoro cut off the baseline and forced the Pistons into a 24 second violation with five seconds to play in regulation.

6) Collin Sexton continues his smoking shooting performance hitting 15 of 23 from the floor.
Sexton hit two of three from three point range as well and in his first two games, Sexton is shooting 79 percent from the distance...

7) Darius Garland hit all three of his three-point attempts and finished nine of fourteen with his thirteen assists.
Garland seems like a different player in these first two games and even though the sample size is small, Garland's chemistry with Collin Sexton is much improved.
Is it sustainable? Let's see what happens when the opponents improve as they will tonight against Philadelphia.

8) Kevin Love and Dante Exum each returned from injury after missing the opener in Cleveland.
Love scored 15 points in 38 minutes as a starter, while Exum scored four in thirteen minutes of play, mostly in the first half.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Cleaning out the Inbox:Basketball Passings Plus One

   The tributes continue with recent passings from the basketball world and a plus one to try to narrow the total number down a bit.

Goodbye to Bird Averitt at the age of 68.

Averitt led college basketball in scoring when he averaged 33.9 points per game in the 1972-73 season for the Pepperdine Waves, but Averitt's best success as a pro came with his second team when he averaged 13 points a game as part of Hubie Brown's guard rotation with the 1974-75 ABA champion Kentucky Colonels.

Averitt would top that the following season when averaging 17 points per game for the Colonels in the final season of the ABA. 
Averitt would be drafted by the Buffalo Braves in the dispersal draft in 1975-76, would spend the season with Buffalo before moving to the New York Nets to start the following year.
Averitt split the season between New York and a return to Buffalo for his final year as a player at only 25.

Goodbye to Tom Heinsohn at the age of 86.

Heinsohn did about all that you could do in a career that saw him reach the Hall of Fame.
Heinsohn made six All-Star teams, won eight NBA championships in nine seasons as a player, won the rookie of the year award, coached the Celtics to two more titles in 1973-74 and 1975-76, and after being fired in 1978 as Boston's coach, Heinsohn would spend over three decades announcing Celtics games becoming a franchise icon as arguably the biggest homer in local basketball!
That's one great resume' and I'm not sure anyone in basketball can match that kind of success at all three levels of hoops with only one franchise.
Heinsohn's playing career ended due to a foot injury and had he not been forced into retirement at age 30, Heinsohn would have likely added the other three Celtic titles to his list, which would have been eleven titles in thirteen seasons.

Goodbye to Billy Tubbs at the age of 85.

The fast-talking and fast-break offense-running Tubbs won 641 games with Lamar (in two stints), Oklahoma, and TCU in a head coaching career that stretched over parts of four decades.
Tubbs coached teams that won more than 20 games on sixteen different occasions and his 1987-88 team with Oklahoma finished 31-4 before losing to underdog and fellow conference rival at the time, Kansas in the national championship in the Danny Manning and "the miracles" season for the Jayhawks.
Tubbs took all four universities that he coached to the NCAA tournament with an elite eight and three sweet sixteen trips besides the title game loss.

Goodbye to Jimmy Collins at the age of 74.

Collins was the captain of the 1970 New Mexico State Aggie team that reached the final four under coach Lou Henson and was then selected in the first round by the Chicago Bulls.
After that season, Collins was selected by the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the 1970 draft.
Collins disappointed in his two seasons as a Bull in averaging less than four points a game.
Collins was selected by the Bulls over two future Hall of Famers that were taken in the second round in Nate Archibald and Calvin Murphy.

Collins returned to the side of Lou Henson, first at New Mexico State and then to Illinois where Collins earned a reputation as one of the nation's top recruiting assistants and it was Collins that was the point man in bringing in the talent that built Henson's 1989 Final Four team.
Collins took over at Illinois-Chicago as head coach and took the Flames to three NCAA appearances in fourteen seasons as head coach.

Goodbye to Rafer Johnson at the age of 88.

Johnson won the 1960 Olympic Gold at the Rome Olympics in the decathlon in the final event of his athletic career.
Johnson also played basketball for UCLA under John Wooden before the Rome games with Wooden stating that the slowdown game that Wooden preferred at that time didn't play to the strengths of Johnson's abilities.
Johnson's brother, Jimmy, spent a long career as a cornerback with the 49ers and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Johnson, along with Rosey Grier, apprehended Sirhan Sirhan in the Ambassador Hotel following Sirhan's assassination of Robert Kennedy in 1968.
In the film/audio that exists of the assassination, a newsman's voice can clearly be heard "Rafer, hold him down"!.
Johnson also acted in several films that included an Elvis Presley film, "Wild in the Country".

And a sad last-minute addition from Ryan.

Goodbye to K.C.Jones at the age of 88.
Jones is one of seven players to have won a Olympic gold medal, NCAA national championship and an NBA title, won eight championships as a player and two more as the head coach of the Celtics.
Jones could have won even more titles as a coach, but lost one NBA final series with Washington and two others with Boston.

Known for his defense as a player, Jones likely owns the lowest career scoring average for a Hall of Fame inductee as Jones averaged only seven points a game in his career.
Along with the Bullets and Celtics, Jones also served as head coach for the ABA San Diego Conquistadors and the Seattle Super Sonics.

Merry Christmas

 Hope that all of you have a great Christmas Day!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Cleaning out the Inbox: Football Passings Plus One

  There have been many passings of late, far too many, and there have been enough that I can do a post for passings for football, baseball, and basketball.

Each will also have a tribute to someone from sports that is not famous for any of the big four team sports as well...

Goodbye to Jim Hanifan at the age of 87.

Hanifan was the head coach of the then-St.Louis Cardinals for six seasons from 1980-85 and caught a few unlucky breaks with a team that was talented enough to perhaps become a perennial contender.
Had a few things bounced Hanifan and his Cardinals way, the Cardinals may be in St.Louis today.
Hanifan led the Cardinals to their only playoff spot in the 1980s 1981 strike-caused Super Bowl Tournament, and in their 1984 season finale' the Cardinals entered Washington with an all or nothing scenario- defeat the Redskins and the Cardinals win the division.
Lose to Washington and the Cardinals don't make the playoffs at all.

The Cardinals and Redskins traded shots all game and with the score 29-27 Washington, the Cardinals drove down the field without any timeouts behind quarterback Neil Lomax.
St.Louis reached the 38 and Lomax threw a pass to Danny Pittman for six yards but Pittman was tackled inbounds.
The Cardinals frantically tried to have kicker Neil O'Donoghue rush onto the field for a game-winning 49 yard field attempt, but a low snap and the rushed kicker resulted in the kick going wide.
The Cardinals finished 5-11 the following year and Hanifan was fired, never to receive another chance as a head coach other than as interim coach in Atlanta.
Hanifan spent the rest of his career as a highly touted offensive line coach including coaching Washington's "Hogs" under Joe Gibbs when Joe Bugel left to be the head coach of, you guessed it, the Cardinals.
Goodbye to Jake Scott at the age of  75.

Scott spent most of his career with the Miami Dolphins before finishing with the George Allen "Over the Hill Gang" in Washington.
Scott won the MVP for Miami in Super Bowl VII as Scott finished with two interceptions against Washington and Scott's interception of Billy Kilmer in the end zone in the fourth quarter snuffed out the best drive of the game for Washington.
Scott finished his career with 49 interceptions, 35 of those with Miami, and Scott is the Dolphins' all-time leader to this day.
Scott made five Pro Bowls and was first or second-team All-Pro on five occasions.

Goodbye to Fred Akers at the age of 82.
Akers, who spent his most successful seasons as the head coach at Texas, had the unenviable task of following Darrell Royal as the head coach of the Longhorns, but twice finished with undefeated regular seasons only to lose in the Cotton Bowl.
Akers spent one year at Wyoming, winning the then-WAC, and was hired at Texas and behind Earl Campbell and his Heisman-winning season in 1977, the Longhorns only had to defeat Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl to win the National Championship, but were thrashed by Notre Dame 38-10.

Akers had another chance to win the national title in 1983 when the undefeated Longhorns were rated second and had they defeated Georgia, they would have won the title when number one Nebraska was upset in the Orange Bowl that night to Miami.
Texas lost 10-9 when a fumbled punt led to Georgia's only touchdown.
Akers was fired after a 5-6 season in 1986 and was immediately hired at Purdue, but lasted only four unsuccessful seasons in West Lafayette.

Goodbye to Jack Scarbath at the age of 90.
The 1952 Heisman Trophy runner-up to Oklahoma's Billy Vessels, Scarbath led Maryland to an upset win over Tennessee in the 1951 Sugar Bowl and was the All-American first team quarterback for 1952.
Scarbath is thought of  by many as the greatest quarterback in the history of the Terrapin program and was drafted third overall in 1953 by the Washington Redskins.
Scarbath would play two seasons for Washington, before one season in Canada with Ottawa and a final pro season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Goodbye to Ray Perkins at the age of 79.
Perkins, who played five seasons in the NFL as a Baltimore Colts wide receiver, is better remembered as a head coach, where he took the New York Giants to the playoffs in 1981 to break a playoff drought of seventeen seasons and drafted Lawrence Taylor before that season.
Perkins left the Giants after the following season and was replaced by a coach that he hired as his defensive coordinator- Bill Parcells.
Perkins left the NFL to replace Bear Bryant at his alma mater Alabama and finished 32-15-1 in a four-year run with the Crimson Tide before leaving again to coach in the NFL with Tampa Bay four losing seasons.
Perkins took the head job at Arkansas State for 1992 before leaving after one year to work as the offensive coordinator under Parcells with the Patriots for four seasons.

Goodbye to Peter Alliss at the age of 89.
Alliss was a longtime announcer for the BBC's golf coverage, Alliss also worked for ABC and ESPN's golf coverage, most notably on coverage of the British Open.
Alliss was also a fine player on the European level, winning twenty tournaments that include three wins in the British PGA championship and played on the winning Ryder Cup team in 1957...

Cavaliers sting Hornets 121-114

 The Cleveland Cavaliers backcourt had been much maligned in the nine months since the Cavaliers played their last contest by basketball analytics and traditional scouting.

Perhaps the second season together for Collin Sexton and Darius Garland will show the chemistry that was missing in their first season as a pairing as Sexton scored 27 points and Garland scored 22 as the Cavaliers won their opener 121-114 over the Charlotte Hornets in Cleveland.

The Cavaliers had seven players in double-figures scoring, including all five starters.

Cleveland will be off until Saturday when they will play at Detroit as the front part of consecutive road games with the latter trip seeing the team travel to Philadelphia.


1)  Darius Garland looked like a different player in the opener as he was passing the ball well (six assists) and shooting well from three-point range as Garland hit four of eight attempts.
Should Garland continue to look like the guy that showed up last night, then Cleveland may be able to 
play Garland at the point, which has been a question in the offseason.

2) Garland also worked harder on the defensive end.
Now, Terry Dozier lit the Cavaliers up for 42 points and hit 10 (TEN!) three-pointers, many of those while being guarded by Garland (and when not Collin Sexton), so the news wasn't all good, but much of defense is having the effort to want to play defense.
Let's see if Garland can put forward that effort every night, but one has to start somewhere.

3) Collin Sexton scored points last season (twenty a night), but he did it in a way that didn't help a team in need in any way other than the stat sheet.
Sexton played better without the ball in his hands and moved without the ball to keep the offense flowing through him, not stopping with him.

4) Sexton hit his first six shots in the game, finished with three from three-point range, and added five assists.
Collin Sexton will score points in this league.
That much is a given, the bigger questions include what else will he bring to your team.
Sexton has time to be more than the top scorer on a bad team, this season is key in seeing his game begin to be more than one-dimensional.

5) J.B. Bickerstaff preaches ball movement in the offense and by keeping the ball moving, there will be more open shots.
It goes to figure that an open shot is easier to hit than a contested version and that helped Cleveland hit 14 three-pointers and shoot 46 percent from behind the arc.
It worked well in the opener and Charlotte was kept off-balance most of the evening defensively.

6) Isaac Okoro's debut showed his potential and it's not all about his 11 pts (4 for 5 with a 3 pointer) ether.
Okoro's defense was what was rated so highly entering the draft and you can see why as at one time during the game when Terry Dozier was ripping the Cavaliers raw, J.B. Bickerstaff called on Okoro to guard Dozier for a while.
Okoro didn't really do any better than anyone else, but to have the rookie in his first game be looked at as the defensive stopper makes me think that the reputation is factually based.

7) The defense still needs lots of work.
It seemed like Charlotte ran about fifty ( more like five) alley-oops to the rim in the second quarter with no one around to contest any of these.
It does seem that often teams don't even try to stop these because the players don't want to be "posterized" when they are actually only trying to make a play.

8) I'll be doing more Cavalier coverage this season.
I sprung (Sprang?) for the NBA on-line league pass since they offered a one team package at a reduced cost.
I realize that I'm likely paying for a lot of losing games, but I have to give myself something to do and for now, we are still playing games.
Let's get through these next few months, the light at the end of the tunnel may be dim but it is there.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020


  Normally I pick all the bowl games, but I've missed a few during this wacky football season.

I'll be picking up where I can and picking the bowls until New Year's Eve and those games!

Last Week: 9-4
Overall: 98-40


New Mexico Bowl
Houston 43 Hawaii 30

Camellia Bowl
Buffalo 30 Marshall 27

Cure Bowl
Coastal Carolina 36 Liberty 34

First Responder Bowl
Louisiana 35 UTSA 20

Lending Tree Bowl
Georgia State 20 Western Kentucky 17

Cheez It Bowl
Miami 34 Oklahoma State 28

Alamo Bowl
Texas 30 Colorado 23

Duke's Mayo Bowl
Wisconsin 27 Wake Forest 14

Cotton Bowl
Oklahoma 45 Florida 43

Armed Forces Bowl
Tulsa 30 Mississippi State 24

Arizona Bowl
San Jose State 29 Ball State 14

Liberty Bowl
Army 26 West Virginia 21

Browns over Jets 31-20
Saints over Vikings 27-21

Game of the Week
Seahawks over Rams 34-27

Cleveland Cavaliers Preview

       It's another rebuilding year in Cleveland for the Cavaliers with not very many fresh faces from last year's 19-46 season.

Other than the arrival of veteran big man JaVale McGee, who played in just one preseason game, former first-rounder Thon Maker as a depth big man, backup guard Dameyon Dotson, and the Cavaliers first-rounder in Isaac Okoro from Auburn, this team looks pretty similar to the one that wasn't very good in 2019-20.

Most of the offseason talk centered around last season's addition Andre Drummond and whether he would even return to the team with a huge contract player option for 2020-21.

Drummond picked up the option, so Cleveland has a year to figure out if they want to trade him and bring in other young talents, attempt to re-sign him to another contract, or allow him to walk away at the end of the season and gain tons of cap space.

Drummond's 28.7 million would provide the team with lots of cap space to absorb a bad contract in order to gain a coveted young player and/or draft picks in trade and because it expires at the season's end, trade partners will not be in short order as the season progresses.

While the NBA seems to have moved past Drummond's type of interior big man, Drummond is still good for 16 points and 15 boards a night and he'll keep the pain clean as a rim protector.

Veteran JaVale McGee was signed from the Lakers as the backup muscle and an interesting signing was 2016 lottery pick Thon Maker, who at 23 is worth a look on a bad team as a development player.

At power forward, Kevin Love will miss the opener with a calf injury and even though his play is in decline and Koby Altman signed him to an awful contract that will pay him over 31 million in each of the next two seasons and 28 million the year after those, Love is still a very reliable option when he is on the floor.

Love averaged seventeen points and just under ten rebounds last season and it's reasonable to expect those numbers again this season. At 32 now, it's not hard to see that contract getting heavier over the next two seasons until the final year when Love might be able to be moved to a contender that will see him as an avenue to clear cap space and help as a role player.

Larry Nance Jr. is the type of player that fans love and contending teams do as well. 
Nance blocks shots, rebounds, is a great character guy and does the little things that help you win.
Nance is from the area and seems to like playing in Cleveland.
The perfect power forward type for anyone's second unit.

Dean Wade rounds out the power forwards after spending 12 games with the Cavaliers and most of last season with the team's G-affiliate in Canton.

Small Forward was the biggest problem last season and the Cavaliers attempted to work on a solution when they selected Isaac Okoro from Auburn with the fifth overall pick in the draft.

Okoro has impressed many in the preseason with some comparing him to Kawhi Leonard.
That's asking a lot and Okoro can even come within shouting distance of Leonard's career then the Cavaliers have done very well.

The most contentious battle in training camp pitted Okoro against Cedi Osman for the starting position.
J.B. Bickerstaff hasn't announced which will be the starter, but both are going to receive plenty of time and both could start depending on the opponent.

Osman averaged eleven points a game last season and is still only 25, so Osman could still be part of the future for Cleveland, although if he is still starting in a year or two the team hasn't seen very much progress.

2019 first rounder pick Dylan Windler missed all of last season due to injury and will see time at small forward and shooting guard.
Windler's top asset is his shooting ability and if he is able to get his shot off, Windler should be able to contribute off the bench.

The guards are talented and unproven.

Collin Sexton enters his third season after stepping his game up in season two, averaging twenty points a game and shooting forty-seven percent.
Sexton can score, but he struggles passing to others, and he's poor defensively, although there was minor improvement last season.
On a good team, Sexton could eventually be one of the best sixth men in the league in a position that would allow Sexton to concentrate on what he does best- create a shot for himself.
For the Cavaliers, Sexton is the top backcourt option and creates a problem playing him at the point because of his lack of involving others in the offense, but starting him at shooting guard is an issue because of his small size (6'1) and poor defense.

Darius Garland was selected in the first round last season and disappointed as he struggled playing with Sexton, barely shot forty percent, didn't guard anyone, and was overmatched at point guard.
Garland was so bad that basketball analytics judged him the worst player in the league last season and his pairing with Sexton was graded the worst backcourt as well.

If Garland develops and at 20, I'm not writing him off,  the key will be is he willing to sacrifice some offense and be more of a pure point guard?
If he is, there is some hope, if not Cleveland will have to do something because a Sexton/Garland backcourt is not long-term sustainable at last year's levels.

The Cavaliers traded for the final pick in the first round in the 2019 draft to add Kevin Porter, who had slid due to various off-court concerns.
Porter had the best rookie season of all three rookies last season and showed the talent to be a potential All-Star, but Porter had a car accident that resulted in a gun charge in November that looked to sideline Porter, but the charge was eventually dropped.
Porter is still working his way into shape and is unlikely to start playing right away, but if he shows progression from last season, Cleveland could have quite a find.

Dante Exum was acquired from Utah in the middle of last season and showed flashes of the talent that once made him a lottery pick.
Exum has struggled staying healthy in his career, but could be a role player that helps off the bench.

Dameyon Dotson was signed as a free agent from the Knicks to play shooting guard with the second unit and the team kept veteran fan favorite Matthew Dellavedova to occasionally run the point.

Honestly, I wish I had a better feeling just what the hell this team is doing.

They have pieces of talent, but they don't seem to compliment each other.
The team is a mix of very young players, aging players, and most of all, a bunch of players that seem to need to have the ball in their hands to create any offense at all.
That's before we even get to the worst defensive team in basketball last season.

Andre Drummond, for as long as he stays, will upgrade around the rim and rookie Isaac Okoro should be a huge help defensively on the wing, but the guards still look like a defensive sieve and they still lack a playmaker unless Darius Garland can revamp his game a bit.

J.B. Bickerstaff is an experienced coach and he'll be able to help with some improvements, but this is a mismatched collections of parts and although some players may have good seasons, Cleveland seems resigned to another year in the lottery with the hope of the balls bouncing their way in what looks like a loaded lottery...

Bryan Harsin leaves Boise State, Hired at Auburn

  The Boise State Broncos are looking for a head coach as Bryan Harsin is headed for the SEC as the new coach of the Auburn Tigers.

Harsin took over at Boise State in 2014 replacing the program's top coach in their history (Chris Petersen) after one season as the head coach at Arkansas State, where he finished 7-5 and won a share of the Sun Belt title for the Red Wolves.

Harsin replaced Gus Malzahn at Arkansas State, who is the same coach that Harsin will be replacing at Auburn.

Harsin's first team at Boise was the only Bronco team to grab the Group of Five slot in the "New Year's Six" bowl games as the 2014 Broncos were selected for the Fiesta Bowl and defeated Arizona in Phoenix 38-30.

Harsin coached teams would win 52 games in the next five years and five more this season in the year of Covid-19, Boise State won three Mountain West championships (2014, 2017, and 2019), and would add two more bowl trophies to the Boise trophy case with wins over Northern Illinois in the 2015 Poinsettia Bowl and Oregon in the 2017 Las Vegas Bowl.

Still, Harsin's teams often disappointed Bronco fans when it meant the most, losing the 2018 Mountain West championship on the Blue Turf at home in overtime to Fresno State, losing the most recent title last week to San Jose State, and while Harsin won less than ten games only one (nine in 2015) time, that means that under his watch, Boise State never lost fewer than two games in a season.

While that may seem to be an insanely unrealistic expectation from a fan base, keep in mind that Boise State is the powerhouse of the Mountain West, and more is expected of the Broncos than almost any other team at the G-5 level.

To me, it feels like this is a move that both parties are likely quietly pleased with.

Recent emails from Harsin to school officials had shown Harsin being very displeased with the Mountain West, their television money, and other grumblings, and with the opportunity to coach in the SEC available, you certainly cannot blame Harsin for moving on.

As for the school, they likely aren't all that disconsolate either. 
Harsin had likely burned some personal bridges, and while Boise State has been known to have made quiet overtures to join the AAC, they still are in the Mountain West, and Harsin's actions of late cannot have made the Broncos tasks inside the MWC very pleasant or made any thoughts of theirs very easy to pass through the league.
Harsin won a lot of games, but you can argue that he may not have won enough to have his behavior be worth the various internal issues.
Harsin's arguments may not have been totally wrong, but the university didn't need the hassle of having to deal with the various public relations problems either.

Chris Vannini of The Athletic covers the G-5 schools and he looks at some possible candidates here.

Kellen Moore would be the popular choice as the program's living legend, but Moore has never coached in college and has been a coach himself for only three seasons.
If you hire Moore, the fan base will be excited, but it's a bit more of a risk, and when the hometown hero fails, it can get very ugly.
Moore might be a better choice next time, but you take the chance that by next time Moore could be too big for a job such as Boise State.

Vannini mentioned Oregon defensive coordinator Andy Avalos, who played for the Broncos and was Harsin's defensive coordinator for three seasons before leaving for Oregon in 2019.
Avalos knows the program as a player and coach, has knowledge of the recruiting base, and might be a very good hire.

A guy that I might ask about is North Dakota State coach Matt Entz, who won a 1-AA national title in his first season with the Bison.

I'd be fine with any of the above three.

I'll be writing about the eventual hire when it is announced.

Back later with the Cavaliers season preview. 


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Paul Hornung

   I started writing a cleaning out the inbox on recent football passings and before I knew it, It was almost an entire post on the career of Paul Hornung. 

I decided to finish it with some small edits as a post devoted entirely to the Golden Boy.

I'll continue to try to catch up over what seems to be an incoming huge snowstorm.

Paul Hornung's recent passing at the age of 84 was more than the loss of yet another legend of days past, it brought memories of what sports used to be, and how sometimes a player is more than just the numbers.

The 1956 Heisman winner from Notre Dame as the only Heisman winner to ever play for a team with a losing record (2-8) is a member of both the College and Pro Football Hall of Fame and was the first overall pick by the Packers in the 1957 draft.

Hornung didn't hit his stride until Vince Lombardi was hired before the 1959 season and was considered a disappointment after two mediocre seasons with bad Green Bay teams.
Hornung's 176 points scored in 1960 with the Packers set a league record that survived until 2006 when LaDanian Tomlinson exceeded that number by ten points.
Hornung's total is still second in that category as of this writing.

When you look at Hornung's numbers through a modern lens, Hornung's numbers aren't Hall-worthy.
He never rushed for more than 681 yards (1959, Pre-Lombardi), caught more than 19 passes only once (28 in 1960), and scored eight or more touchdowns only twice ( thirteen in 1960, eight in 1961).

However, there are more than just numbers involved with players from the pre-merger era.
Hornung played only four seasons with double-digit games played under Vince Lombardi, only once did he play an entire 14 game season, missed the entire 1963 season (for gambling reasons) with his loss likely costing the Packers another title, considering the 1963 Bears were the weakest champions of the decade and he was the definition of the "Swiss Army Knife" player before the Swiss Army Knife became a term for versatility.

What Paul Hornung did for the Packers is to keep every team that played against him prepared for every aspect of the offensive game- run, throw, block. and kick.
Hornung was at his best in big games with the best example being his performance against the Browns in the 1965 NFL championship game, the last one before the Super Bowl started. 
Hornung's all-around game was also on display in the 1961 NFL Championship game as Lombardi's Packers won the first of their five titles with Hornung scoring a record 19 points in the game.
That record wasn't broken until James Wilder's 20 points 56 years later.
Hornung rushed for over one hundred yards against the Browns in the 1965 game compared to a season total of 299 yards in twelve games.

After Hornung was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the 1967 expansion draft, but never played due to injury, Hornung retired and commentated on the NFL for CBS and the WFL in syndication for TVS.
Hornung also didn't mind tweaking his nose at the NFL either as Hornung did commercial work for years for a gambling tip service.
Hornung would deliver his lines and his pager would go off with Hornung turning to the camera saying "Dallas QB injured, excuse me,  I've got to go make a call" with a big smile.
To this day on occasion, I'll contact Ryan (or even vice-versa) and say/type "Dallas QB injured" and the other will respond with the other part of the line.

On occasion, some players are more than the numbers and Paul Hornung was one of those players.
Hornung was glamorous for the time as Namath before Namath image as the "Golden Boy"
Those types of players are more than the statistics that they leave behind in notebooks, files, and websites.
They reside in our memories more than players with superior statistics and arguably at times even superior players- Paul Hornung was that memorable...