The Saturday Sitdown

College football this year has had a different look than in most recent years. By the end of October, you can usually look at the landscape and pick out the two or three teams that would have a legitimate shot at winning a national championship. Right now it would be tough to do that as you have at least six teams – all with some question marks – that are very much in the national championship picture and at least four more teams that could sneak in. Granted as the calendar flips to November, and conference rivalry games get played (either Georgia or Florida will be eliminated next week), it will most likely sort itself out, but the fact remains there are almost a dozen teams that actually have a legitimate shot at the four-team national invitational (until they quit inviting teams based on polls, it’s an invitational not a true national championship playoff)…

A recently vanquished opposing coach said this about Buckeyes:  “Playing Ohio State is like playing in a pickup game at recess, except when it comes time to select sides, they get the first 75 picks”….

After a 10-year MLB career as a player that ended in 1973, Hal Lanier spent most of the next five decades coaching and managing baseball at the Major League and minor league levels and he offered this prospective on Adonis Chapman giving up the series-ending home run on an 86 mph slider to Jose Altuve in Game 6 of the ALCS: “I will never understand why a guy who can throw 100 would try to get a guy like Altuve out with his second or third best pitch.  If a game is on the line, and if a guy is going to beat you, make him beat you with your best pitch. They have been teaching that in baseball for a century…”

The College Game Day Crew asked Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin if when he arrived at Penn State had he ever experienced anything like the famed “Whiteout,” where more than 106,000 screaming fans dressed in all white clothing greeted the teams. While saluting the Penn State fans, Franklin also gave a shout-out to the small college team he played for with his response…“The Whiteout is unique to college football. Our fans are great, and frankly I have never experienced anything like it before….well except at East Stroudsburg State when West Chester would come to town.” Franklin played at the Division II East Stroudsburg (enrollment about 6,500)…

Selection to any Hall of Fame is often subjective. Yes, there are always going to be the surefire, first-ballot guys like Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Greg Maddux whose greatness on the field made their selection a simple formality. But there is a subclass of Hall of Famers, who eventually find their way into a Hall – sometimes after multiple ballots—whose credentials could be questioned.  These are the ones that promote discussion on talk shows and often drawing comments like “The media (or voters) liked him, that’s the only reason he got in.” It’s a fair question. The point is that if the doors are opened to marginal candidates based on other factors like popularity, should they not also include marginal candidates that do truly great things for society? Specifically, I look at a guy like Warrick Dunn. His rushing yards (10,967) put him in the top 25 on the all-time list. His career all-purpose yards (15,665) are also in the top 25 all-time. He was a three-time Pro-Bowl selection, scored 64 career touchdowns, was a former NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and is a member of the Florida State University, Florida and Atlanta Falcons Halls of Fame. He is also a former NFL Man of the Year Award winner. But more importantly, Warrick Dunn is a great human being. Because of the Warrick Dunn Home of the Holidays Program and Warrick Dunn Charities, nearly 175 single moms have been awarded and able to move into fully furnished new homes. Seems to me if a great player can get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in part because of their popularity with the media, they could make room in Canton for a great player like Dunn, who has made society a better place.   Just saying…

Dear Sports Illustrated, thank you so much for your fourth “URGENT:  Your Subscription is Set to Expire” letter. I checked the cover of my last issue and it is indeed set to expire…In May of 2020.  Guessing your definition of “urgent” is quite a bit different than mine…

Digging through some archives, I stumbled across this little nugget. Back in the last 1970s, and early 1980s, Earl Campbell was one of the best running backs in the NFL and Houston Oiler coach Bum Phillips was certainly one of the most colorful figures in pro football. During training camp before the 1980 season, writers asked Bum if he was concerned that Campbell was out of shape when he could not complete the team’s one-mile conditioning run. “Not really,” Bum replied.  “When it is third and mile we simply won’t give him the ball”…

Useless piece of knowledge unless you become a contestant on Sports Jeopardy…He became the first Hawaiian-born player to hit a home run in a World Series game.  A: Who is Kurt Suzuki?

Finally, a salute to the Clint Eastwood spaghetti western classic: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. The Good belongs to Vanderbilt University’s third string quarterback Mo Hasan. This kid raised some money, bought an old FED EX truck and converted into a mobile food truck. Each week, he collects unused food from the University Food Service, packages meals from them, packs the truck and makes sure it gets to downtown Nashville, where he distributes up to 300 meals to the homeless every Friday afternoon.  Hasan hopes to expand this effort to other college campuses. If you would like to help this guy, visit his website at www:secondspoon.org. The Bad:  Cardinal Ritter High School (St. Louis) running back Bill Jackson was kicked out of last year’s state championship game and was issued a one-game suspension to be served at this year’s season opener. Instead, Jackson played in that game as an imposter – No. 4 Marvin Burks, a supposed first-year freshman who “earned” the running back job in the preseason. He rushed for 109 yards and scored a touchdown in the 32-21 win. To his credit, Cardinal Ritter President Tamiko Armstead caught wind of the ruse, investigated and upon realizing what head coach Brandon Gregory had pulled off – fired him, his entire staff and cancelled the rest of Cardinal Ritter’s season. And finally…let’s get to The Ugly: As head shaking performances mount (let’s face it, 3-4 Florida State could easily be 6-1 right now), pressure continues to mount on FSU administration to get rid of Willie Taggert – sooner – rather than later. There is a real issue and problem with Willie’s buyout (it is massive and FSU is cash strapped right now), not to mention the problem of finding the money to pay a new coach (and I can promise you that number will be equally massive). Rumor floating around earlier this week is that Urban Meyer would be the top target if Willie gets shown the door. While the thought of Meyer coaching the Noles is a ridiculous longshot, it certainly would liven up the FSU – Florida rivalry.

Y’all have a great week.