The college football bowl season was the equivalent of a 7-10 split.

You know you are going to go for it, but there is a great chance your ball ends up in the gutter.

Many bowl games did the prudent thing and cancelled their games for 2020. There are far too many bowl games with far too many undeserving teams. Some that remained scheduled ended up being cancelled before the game kicked off. From there, not too many of the games were worth three to four hours of your holiday time.

Here are the ten takeaways from this gutter ball of a bowl season.

1. Alabama is the best team in the country. The quarterback, wide receiver, and running back positions are the best skill position combination in the land. Najee Harris, Mac Jones, and Devonta Smith will all most likely be drafted in the top half of the first round of this year’s NFL draft. Love him or hate him, Nick Saban has created an absolute football factory in Tuscaloosa.

2. No matter how many games they played, the Ohio State Buckeyes were always one of the best four teams in the country. This season was crazy, questionable, and messy thanks to COVID-19. The criteria for qualifying for the playoffs was always going to be flexible. Finally having a full roster available showed just how dominant the Buckeyes can be. Ohio State’s talent level is second only to Alabama, and it’s very close. It should make for a good championship game.

3. Dabo Swinney finally had to shut up. Dabo cried and whined for most of the season about one thing or another. He ranked Ohio State number 11 in his final poll because they didn’t play enough games. Not that the Buckeyes needed motivation, but they got it nonetheless. The ACC provides a yearly cupcake walk for Clemson. Over the years they have managed to lose to the likes of Pitt and Syracuse. Dabo should have zero complaints. Oh, and for the record, the number 11 team in the country was far more talented than the Tigers. Maybe Dabo wanted an easier opponent. The numbers would suggest that.

Hey, Dabo, maybe Brent Venebles isn’t a genius after all.

4. Notre Dame proved, once again, it has no business being on the big stage. The Irish were outclassed, yet again, in the national spotlight. The best part of this fiasco was head coach Brian Kelly becoming perturbed with the line of questioning during his postgame press conference.

I’m not sure what questions Kelly would like reporters to ask. It is time the Irish stop getting the Notre Dame treatment. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. This isn’t 1975, and Notre Dame is no longer something special. Knute Rockne, Ara Parsegian, nor Lou Holtz is walking through the door. Join a conference and shut up.

5. Cincinnati continued the trend of “the little guy” playing well against one of the power teams in a bowl game. The Bearcats went toe to toe with Georgia in the Peach Bowl, and should have won the game(more on that in a bit). Cincinnati played smart and tough, and they certainly were not overwhelmed or overpowered by Georgia. It was more proof that, of all years, this crazy messed up season was the one to invite “the little guy” to the party. I’m sure they could have lost by 17 with as much gumption as Notre Dame.

6. Time and game management should be a required class that every coach must take. James Franklin and Penn State butchered the end of the Indiana game to start off this season. Last week I watched Hugh Freeze and Liberty try to give away a win in the Cure Bowl. This weekend it was Luke Fickell and Cincinnati that mangled the end of the game. Check out the horrific attempts to close out a victory.

Georgia should have never had enough time to get into field goal range. Why managing the game is so difficult for million dollar coaches is a true unsolved mystery.

7. Whining is annoying. Whining makes you look foolish. Don’t be a whiner. Dan Mullen has been whining since September. After getting steamrolled by Oklahoma, he whined that the Gators lost too many players to opt outs and the Sugar Bowl was more like a spring scrimmage. Dabo whined. Dabo got humiliated. Indiana cried that the Big Ten screwed them out of going to the Citrus Bowl, which is apparently better than the Outback Bowl. They removed the Big Ten emblem from their helmets and uniforms because that will show them. After all of that, Indiana got run over by the Lane Train and 5-5 Mississippi.

8. The Pac-12 stinks. USC had a killer day in recruiting Saturday. There may be more to come. Unfortunately they still employ a killer coach, as in he kills any chance USC has to win big. USC opted out of a bowl game, as did UCLA, Washington, and Stanford. Two teams did go to bowl games. Colorado did their utmost best to save Texas’ Tom Herman’s job. They failed at that, too. The 55-23 beat down at the hands of the Longhorns was embarrassing. Oregon, who didn’t even win their division but did somehow win the conference, got brutalized in the Fiesta Bowl by Iowa State. Even in a year when they were out of the spotlight, the Pac-12 still managed to humiliate themselves.

9. As mentioned above, Texas destroyed Colorado in the Alamo Bowl. Just a few days later, Tom Herman was out of a job. I am sure routing someone in a bowl game was put in the plus column for Herman. However, the fact that it was in the Alamo Bowl ultimately sealed Herman’s fate. The Texas powerbrokers want conference championships not Alamo Bowl wins. They wasted little time in hiring Steve Sarkisian as the new Longhorns head coach, which totally contradicts wanting conference championships. Put aside Sarkisian’s colorful past that includes showing up to practices and events drunk while head coach at USC. At Texas you fire Tom Herman to hire Urban Meyer or even James Franklin. Meyer has an obviously glowing resume, and Franklin has brought Penn State back to national prominence. At Texas you don’t fire an underachieving Tom Herman to hire a guy like Sarkisian who has a zillion question marks. Not to mention, in these supposed tight financial times due to COVID-19 it is interesting to see a school willing to pay out an entire coaching staff.

In all this offseason a lot of schools are paying a lot of cash for buyouts to failed coaches. So, please spare me the financial stress stories. Spare me how some schools will have to cut small sports. Spare me the complaints about players making a buck or two for use of their image. Even during a pandemic money runs amok in college athletics.

10. Mike Leach has been the star of some of the best press conferences ever. He has come off with some great one liners. Looking past that stuff, you see that Mike Leach is an ass. He will never get a big time job because a big time program wouldn’t tolerate his act. Mississippi State may actually be too big for Leach. After the episode at the end of a bowl game a 3-7 team should never have been in to begin with, maybe he should be fired. Here is the melee.

What a black eye for college football and college sports in general. Here is #4(don’t really care what his name is) for Mississippi State with the all time punk kick and run move.

And where was head coach Mike Leach while his team is acting like animals on the field?

Leach was getting selfies with some other Mississippi mask hating fans. Again, his team was 3-7 this year. So how did Leach react to the brawl?

He should be gone. He never, EVER takes responsibility for anything. He didn’t do it at Texas Tech. He didn’t do it at Washington State. He won’t do it at Mississippi State. While his team was punching, kicking, and assaulting opposing players—and, yes, Tulsa gets equal blame—Leach was posing for selfies. Oh well, I’m sure Leach had control of the locker room where he told his players of his disappointment in their actions.

Maybe he did, and they didn’t understand him. Clearly they don’t speak the same language.

***As an honorable mention, let me add that any player dumping Gatorade or anything else on a coach not involved in a playoff game should have their scholarship revoked. This “tradition” has gotten out of hand. Enough already.

I know it was 2020, and maybe it is just because the events of the year have me a bit testy, but this bowl season was mostly unnecessary, boring, and a real drag.

Forget the 7-10 split. This bowl season, much like the rest of 2020, went right in the gutter.

Two Cent Takes

College Hoops

~COVID-19 is playing Russian Roulette with college basketball. Many games get played, but some get a bullet to the head. Still, enough games have been played to start analyzing teams that are flying high, double dribbling, or ready to move.

  • High Flyers: Texas, Gonzaga, Michigan

Gonzaga was, is, and will be the best team in the nation until they win it all or get upset in the NCAA tourney. Texas annihilated Kansas on Saturday. It took Shaka Smart longer than most were willing to wait, but he has the Longhorns flying high. If this were football, Smart would have been fired long ago. Michigan is one of many great teams in a loaded Big Ten. Right now the Wolverines are playing better than anyone else in the league.

  • Double Dribblers: Texas Tech, Michigan State, Kentucky, USC

Texas Tech has already lost two conference games, including Saturday at underdog Oklahoma State. The Red Raiders are still trying to find that 2018-19 magic. Michigan State finally got back in the win column after three straight losses. Tom Izzo lacks shooters, which is a must this day in age. Kentucky is 2-6, and took double overtime to beat an average Mississippi State team. USC was picked to win the Pac-12, but have yet to find a groove. Stud Eric Mobley has thus far been a one man show.

  • Ready to make a move: Florida State, Minnesota, Oregon

Florida State has quite a few new faces, but once they start to gel and play Leonard Hamilton’s style look out. Richard Pitino learned from the best. The Gophers are shooting well and already have a handful of quality wins. Oregon has the most underrated coach in the country in Dana Altman. Altman has a lot of new faces, also, and already has his Ducks playing at a high level.

~A lot of smaller conferences are playing back to back games with the same opponent. Typically that isn’t ideal, but in this pandemic environment it makes a lot of sense. It is more important to get games in than worry about when you get them in.

MLB

~The Pirates traded Josh Bell for two prospects. Considering Bell has really only performed at the plate off and on and may be the worst defensive first baseman of all time, it is a win that GM Ben Cherington got anything worthwhile. Next out the door in no particular order: Joe Musgrove, Adam Frazier, Jameson Taillon. I would list more, but those players would have to be given away. Good luck and Godspeed Mr. Cherington.

~The Phillies added to their bullpen—maybe—with Jose Alvarado. Acquired from Tampa, when Alvarado is good he’s really good. When he is bad, he is really bad. Look for the Phillies to make a big push to retain JT Realmuto. On the field he is one of the best catchers in baseball. However, off the field he is just as important to the core of that clubhouse. If the Phillies stand a chance in an ultra tough NL East, they need to retain Realmuto.

~The NL Central may be captured with 81 wins. The Cubs may be in the early stages of a rebuild. Nobody else in that division looked like world beaters. This seems like the perfect scenario for the Cardinals, who are rarely great but never terrible.

~Has San Diego acquired anyone in the last day or two? Maybe it is the Dodgers turn. The NL West could be interesting this season.

NFL

~COVID-19 is claiming key players heading into the playoffs. Joe Haden(Steelers), Alvin Kamara(Saints), and Christian Kirk(Cardinals) are just a few. Injuries are piling up as well. The Rams and Cardinals played a virtual play in game with two backup quarterbacks. Green Bay lost David Bakhtiari, their best offensive lineman. An NFL season sometimes becomes a war of attrition, and with COVID-19 that is even more the case.

~Someone had to win the NFC East. The rules say so. Maybe the rules should be changed. The New York Giants had to beat the Dallas Cowboys to stay alive and then wait for the results of the Eagles/WFT game. Needing a first down to ice the game, the Giants Wayne Gallman got it then fumbled the ball. He managed to get the ball back, and reluctantly the Giants won the game.

~In the nightcap of the NFC East horror show, Doug Pederson should have been fired on the spot. Down three in a back and forth battle of errors, Pederson benched quarterback Jalen Hurts at the start of the fourth quarter to get third string quarterback Nate Sudfeld “a look”. The look we all got was ugly. Washington tried as hard as they could to give the game to Philly. Interceptions and even a fumbled snap in the fourth quarter couldn’t help the Eagles enough. Not with the third string quarterback getting “a look”.

The Eagles can do what they want, but there is a thing called integrity. In baseball almost every manager will tell you that when their team is out of the pennant race they still play their best players against contenders for the integrity of the game and the pennant race. And what are you saying to your players when you treat the last quarter like a preseason game? It was ridiculous. I wonder what one of his own players thought about this “strategy”. This was Jason Kelce less than a month ago.

What did the Giants think about this situation? Look no further than Golden Tate’s Twitter feed.

What Pederson did showed a complete lack of integrity. However, if the Giants wanted to win the division then do better than 6-10. 6-10 doesn’t cut it. Win more games. Period.

~Is anyone really surprised that it is Tom Brady that gets to play the 7-9 team in the first round bye, er, game?

~If you are still lukewarm on Tony Romo, listening to Boomer Esiason for one afternoon with Jim Nantz should heat you up a little. Hey, it could have been worse. The return of Phil Simms, anyone?

~I know they were only 6-10, but I would not want to see San Francisco on my schedule next year.

~I am still not sold on Kliff Kingsbury as an NFL coach.

~Urban Meyer to the Jacksonville Jaguars is picking up steam. I don’t see him liking or succeeding in the NFL. Maybe that is because I would like to see him at USC.

~I picked Steelers vs Seahawks in the Super Bowl. So did Bill Cowher, for the record. We both should be nervous. More on the Steelers below. As for the Seahawks, they don’t look so good. Russell Wilson was an early MVP candidate. Now he looks like a guy barely holding on to his job. I always trust Pete Carroll, but he will need some real magic this year. Green Bay in Green Bay is going to be tough. In the AFC, beating Buffalo and Kansas City back to back will be problematic. But first…

A Penny For my Final Thought…

The Cleveland Browns are going to the playoffs. No, really. Look.

That is so Browns of them to have T-shirts made for not winning anything.

Well, that’s not entirely true. They did beat the Pittsburgh Steelers junior varsity squad…by 2.

Here were the quarterback stats:

 17/27  196 yards 1 TD 0 INT

 22/39  315 yards 2 TD 1 INT

Mr. Number One Pick wasn’t any better than the Steelers career backup. A play here or there and Cleveland would be sitting at home…again.

Johnny, tell the pound of dawgs what they’ve won. That’s right a trip to Pittsburgh next week to play the Steelers varsity squad.

If you have been watching the Steelers the past month you know that nothing should be taken for granted. Pittsburgh has won just a single game in their last five. Losses to Washington and Cincinnati emphasize the point that the Steelers are capable of losing to anybody.

Last week, however, the trajectory of the Steelers season seemed to start pointing up again. Ben Roethlisberger started going down field with more of his throws. That trend continued this week with Mason Rudolph at the helm. It has the Steelers looking more like the Steelers again. This week they were also able to run the football at least a little bit. Maybe not coincidentally, Kelvin Dotson was playing left guard in place of Matt Feiler.

The defense got consistent pressure—including 4 sacks—on Baker Mayfield with TJ Watt sitting with his feet up back in Pittsburgh. The Steelers defense got positive contributions from guys like Sean Davis and Jayrone Elliott, who up until Sunday could only be found on milk cartons.

Cleveland does have talent. Nick Chubb is arguably the best running back in the league. The Steelers should hope that the Browns coaching staff continues to limit his touches. It is Cleveland, so that is a reasonable hope. My question is whether Baker Mayfield gets overhyped and tries to do too much. Again, I think that is a reasonable hope.

Since losing the Super Bowl ten years ago, the Steelers are 3-5 in the playoffs. That includes the embarrassing Tim Tebow overtime disaster, the New England dismantling in the AFC Championship game, and the disgraceful loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars three years ago. As you can see, no Steelers player, coach, or fan should count their chickens(insert Mayfield joke here) before they are hatched.

There will be no Terrible Towels waving at Heinz Field in this unprecedented year. But for a team making their first playoff appearance since 2002 it will still be a daunting task. Oh, and for the record, back in 2002 the Browns blew a 33-21 fourth quarter lead to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It will be another interesting chapter in a very one sided rivalry. Cleveland could exercise at least a demon or two with a win. Pittsburgh has bigger goals in mind, and Cleveland just happens to be the first team standing in their way.

I picked the Steelers to win the Super Bowl. The last thing I need is for Cleveland to prove that prediction wrong. The Steelers need to get back to the their past playoff standards. I mean, the standard is the standard, right Coach Tomlin?

I think he is happy to see Cleveland in the first round.

Just my two cents…