College football is off and running—well, some of college football—and there are already plenty of storylines.

It seems like an optimal time to offer some Two Cent 🔥 thoughts from the college gridiron. I’m sick of calling them hot takes, so I’m going with 🔥 thoughts. Has a ring doesn’t it? Amirite? Hello??

Let’s start with the elephant in the room.

No, no, not that elephant. Although the mask is where I was going.

Covid and College Football

The coronavirus is still running rampant around the country. Notre Dame is in the midst of another outbreak. They cancelled their game with Wake Forest a week ago, had a bye this week, and hope to be in a position to play their October 10 game versus Florida State. Adding insult to injury, school President John Jenkins tested positive after not wearing a mask at a White House event last week. How Notre Dame of him to not follow safety rules while his school has had one outbreak after another.

Virginia—already with their hands full against Clemson—had to go in to battle missing seven players. Those seven players plus an assistant coach tested positive. It was their first positive cases since testing began. An outbreak can happen at any time, and the games will go on if they can. Therefore some teams—maybe many—will play parts of their schedule at a real disadvantage.

I can think of two reasons why some states and local municipalities are not allowing fans in to stadiums for games. First, as the picture above indicates, fans can’t be trusted to follow the rules. I see very few masks in the picture and even less distancing. Second, many schools can’t be trusted to enforce the rules.

SMU was not one of those schools.

Let’s be honest, it wasn’t about getting the kids back on the field. People aren’t going to be happy until they can do what they want. Some seem to not be able to comprehend making a sacrifice. Wearing a mask and distancing are those sacrifices. Until everyone gets that, expect more COVID related issues for college football.

Are we seeing COVID-19 parity?

ACC

  • This is still Clemson and all their little brothers.
  • Miami has a competent quarterback, but they haven’t played anyone yet.
  • COVID Dame is still lurking, but how good are the Irish? That is the great unknown right now.
  • North Carolina has a quarterback that can play a little, and they have a coach that knows how to win. This could be fun in Chapel Hill when more of Mack Brown’s recruits arrive. I don’t think they are ready to challenge Clemson, but the gap is closing.
  • Pitt remains on an elevator. It’s just that their elevator never reaches the top floor. It perpetually breaks down right in those middle floors. Hey, someone has to work on the 7th, 8th, and 9th floors, and Pat Narduzzi is never going to fix that elevator. Enjoy mediocrity, Pitt.
  • Florida State came from behind for a big win…over Jacksonville State. How did those dadgum Seminoles get this bad?

SEC

  • Welcome to Mike Leach’s world. He giveth and he taketh away. Good Mike Leach springs upsets, makes his quarterbacks look like Heisman candidates, and gives hilarious sound bites. Bad Mike Leach loses games he shouldn’t, turns his quarterback carriage back into a pumpkin, and makes ill advised comments. This week he lost to Arkansas—who hadn’t won a conference game since 2017–KJ Costello looked horrible, and he made silly comments about not being able to keep his mask on in week one. If this Hoss can do it, so can you Mikey.

  • Florida is back. Dan Mullen knows what he is doing, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Georgia May have found there quarterback. If they did, look out for the Bulldogs. “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” won’t be that large this year with COVID-19, but the game should be a real dandy. The winner is in the driver’s seat for the SEC Championship and possibly a bid in the CFP.
  • Alabama took a one year hiatus from being the team to beat in the SEC. The Tide appear to be back. I’m amazed at how much they reload and not rebuild. Their depth chart is impressive. I thought Mac Jones would be the guy at quarterback, and so far he is proving me correct.
  • The greatest cartoon character going today is this guy.

He came(in all his splendor)…

He conquered…

He, well just listen…

Honestly, if you don’t love Lane Kiffin, you don’t love life.

Big 12

  • Some things never change. Defense is still optional in this conference.
  • It seems fair to suggest teams like Oregon, USC, Penn State, and all SEC teams not named Alabama are thrilled by the topsy turvy start to the season the Big 12 is having. An extra playoff spot would appear to be available.
  • Oklahoma, with two losses, is out of playoff contention. They actually could be in line for a few more losses.
  • Texas is right on their heels for most disappointing team in the country. I love quarterback Sam Ehlinger and thought this might be the Longhorns year. Instead we are getting another Tom Herman meltdown. The ‘Horns are one onside kick away from 0-2 in conference. Urban Meyer chatter in 3…2…1.
  • It won’t be long before Les Miles is saying, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore”, and no amount of ruby red slippers will save him.

Good morning Pac-12

The Pac-12 released their schedule, which will start earlier than anticipated. Oh, they are still starting November 7, but few could have guessed they would start at 9:00 AM.

Larry Scott continues to amaze in his role as Pac-12 commissioner. It appears a deal was made with FOX to get the Pac-12 into the network’s Big Noon Kickoff window. That will get more eyes on their product. However the product may still be asleep. Players will probably have to get up around 5:00 AM to prep for a game. Utterly ridiculous. Scott continues to think he is the smartest guy in the room.

Scott will soon have to find a new room.

These stripes didn’t look good

Referees had—what is becoming predictably—a bad day.

Texas and TCU had to do the opening kickoff three times due to mystifying penalties being called. The game saw 26 penalties accepted, which slowed the game to a snail’s pace.

That was nothing. Here is the perfect picture of how bad officials were on this day.

Worst part of that scene above is that the ball hit the upright.

All about showmanship

Modern day players love to show off. In many cases all they are showing is their stupidity. This same thing has happened a bunch of times, yet the modern day players don’t seem to get it. Here is this week’s version of “stupid is as stupid does”.

Kentucky lost the game, but hey, my man looked cool flashing the “deuces”.

Saturdays are fun again

Lets hope people follow the rules, the players, coaches, and staffs stay safe, and the season can keep rolling. It’s great having college football back.

A month from now we will have everyone in play. I’d rather have fans, cheerleaders, and bands, but beggars can’t be choosers right now. Boy, I really miss hearing the fight songs. It is such a huge part of the college experience.

For now, I’m just glad I can hear this man’s voice again.

Thank you, Gus, for making autumn seem somewhat normal again.

Two Cent Takes

Baseball

~Matt Klentak is out as GM of the Philadelphia Phillies. He had an owner willing to spend, and they did. Ultimately, however, Klentak did not develop enough draft choices to build a solid major league roster. His best pitching prospect is starting for Miami. In fairness he brought JT Realmuto—the best catcher in baseball— to Philly. Now, the Phillies will have to pay big time to keep Realmuto. Star Bryce Harper says it is mandatory.

~Speaking of Miami, they received motivation from a former Phillies pitcher.

In trying to crucify the local club, Little Ricky managed to provide motivation for Miami.

~The Playoffs are down to the new kids on the block versus the old guard. Tampa and Oakland are up against the Yankees and Astros in the American League, while Miami and San Diego take on Atlanta and Los Angeles in the National League. Oakland vs Miami in the World Series would be very 2020.

NFL

~The Jets stink. They may not win a game. I assume Adam Gase will not make Thanksgiving. The big question is—if they have the number one pick—whether they give up on Sam Darnold and draft Trevor Lawrence. He is thought to be the next generational quarterback. If the Jets trade the pick they could get an unprecedented haul. And boy could they use a lot of help. Darnold may still be really good. GM Joe Douglas will move closer to the spotlight with every passing Jets loss.

~At the quarter pole, Russell Wilson is clearly the MVP. It would be long overdue.

~I’m going to keep asking the question until I get a satisfactory answer? When does Bill O’Brien’s seat get hot? He has yet to win a big game in Houston. This year he has yet to win a game. Period. Someone get the kindling.

~Word is part of the owners discussion at today’s impromptu meeting will be whether to cancel the NFC East. The Giants and Red…er, whatever they are qualify as atrocious. The Cowboys are disgraceful, and the Eagles are abysmal. The truth is we are out of adjectives to describe them. They’ve got to go. Since that won’t happen, I give you the 1-2-1 first place Philadelphia Eagles.

~I assume the Browns are printing Super Bowl tickets.

~Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert is going to be really good. A fumble deep in their own territory at the end of the first half gifted the Buccaneers a touchdown and shifted momentum.

~Tom Brady threw 5 touchdown passes. Cue the legend talk, and someone bring me a bucket.

~The Bills are really good. Hard to see the Patriots beating them this year. Stefon Diggs gives Josh Allen that go to receiver he never had.

~Somehow 143 year old Philip Rivers is 3-1 with 3 very winnable games ahead.

~There are a lot of really shabby teams this year.

~Listening to Al Michaels whine about wearing a mask was a little nauseating. Many are wearing them eight hours a day, with a few breaks, so they can keep people safe. Teachers have to teach with them on all day. Michaels is good buds with the Prez so you would think he may be more understanding after the weekend in Washington.

~The NFL may punish the Titans if they find they broke protocol, and I have to think they had to break protocol. Steelers fans are looking for a forfeit of the game this week. To quote George Bush, or maybe it was the Church Chat lady played by Dana Carvey, or maybe it was both, “Not gonna happen.” That wasn’t an enforcement in place to start the season, and I can’t imagine they would suddenly institute that on the fly. Mike Tomlin had the correct attitude about the whole thing.

~COVID-19 has arrived at the NFL’s doorstep. That is the real reason for the owners’ meeting today. There is likely to be more incidents of positive tests, so a contingency plan better be figured out. Like baseball, it is incumbent on the players being personally responsible. It can be done, but even when following protocol things happen. Even without fans, the season is off to a great start. Interruptions must be kept to a minimum.

A Penny For My Final Thought…

The Colorado Buffaloes are going into business with PoinsBet, a sports gambling outlet. The Buffs will make $1.625 million plus $30 per referral in return for TV and stadium advertising. Here’s the rub. Players are not permitted—even if they win the NIL lawsuit—to promote a gambling site. Once again, the university uses the players to make million dollar deals.

The first thing that comes to mind is this: why would a university get in bed with a gambling site?

I can guarantee more schools will follow suit. Gambling is becoming America’s pastime, and if millions are on the table then universities will jump. Money grabs. Eventually they are going to ruin college athletics.

Gambling is fine. I, myself, like to wager small amounts on games to make them more interesting. But linking those outlets to actual teams is going to lead to all kinds of problems, real and imagined.

Players, coaches, and administrators are prohibited from sports wagering. Perfect. One more thing for an incompetent NCAA to monitor. And how long before point shaving rumors arise? And of course this will be one more battle to add to the NIL fisticuffs. Players will be forbidden to promote a gambling outlet. Undoubtedly the players will fight that restriction.

There are so many businesses in America, and some are even reputable. With all of the options out there, why would schools go down this road? I get that sports—including college—is a big money maker for gambling outlets. I understand why the gambling outlets would want to advertise via college sports arenas and stadiums. From the schools’ perspective, the money grab is worth the risk…at least for now.

The rich get richer, while the players add to their list of grievances. This is a money grab that could get very dirty.

Some cans of worms just aren’t worth opening. But what’s a few squiggly, wiggly worms when you can grab a whole lot of cash. Ah, nothing cleaner than higher education.

Just my two cents…