Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Sports this 'n' that

The NCAA sent a pretty loud message to the NFL after their first week. The message? NFL week 1 has a tough act to follow.

ABC/ESPN delivered two thrillers in as many nights to make up for the snooze-inducing Alabama blowout of USC on Saturday night. First, Texas needed double overtime to defeat Notre Dame in a rare Sunday night tilt. More on that shortly. Then, last night, Florida State overcame a 22 point deficit to beat Mississippi. Simply put, the Rebels of Ole Miss took their collective foot off the Seminoles' collective throat, and it cost them. Big time.

Back to Texas-Notre Dame. It comes out in today's papers that Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly had a gripe with the game officials over a non-call in the final minute of the 3rd quarter. The issue? A targeting foul wasn't called on a Texas defensive back after he reportedly led with the helmet with a hit on Notre Dame wide receiver Torii Hunter, Jr., the son of the former baseball player who retired after last season.

The bigger issue that hasn't been addressed is the choice of game officials. Notre Dame, a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference after years of independence, should've requested neutral officials, since they were playing Texas, a Big 12 school. Big 12 officials worked the game, and, less than 48 hours after the game had been played, you wonder if the Big 12 zebras might've been biased toward one of their member schools at the end of the night. Yes, Texas was the home team, the game was in Austin, after all, and wasn't one of these made-for-TV specials that ensures neutral officials as well as a neutral field. A tape of the hit on Hunter has been sent to the ACC offices, in the hopes they'll contact their counterparts in the Big 12.
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NFL rosters were pared down to 53 on Saturday, but the Giants & Jets made some bonehead moves that may just come back to haunt them later.

Both teams gave up on 2014 draft picks. In the Jets' case, tight end Jace Amaro, who was on injured reserve and didn't play last year, was picked up on waivers by Tennessee. Typical Jets. They play eeny-meeny-miney-moe to figure out who has to be the last cut, and they get burned.

The Giants cut running back Andre Williams. I'd not be surprised if another team claims him before the Giants can bring him back. Then again, Big Blue and Gang Green weren't the only ones wasting draft picks from the 2014 class. Tennessee dumped QB Zach Mettenberger, who was picked up by Pittsburgh. Apparently, Johnny Manchild isn't playing this year, as Johnny Manziel has gone back to Texas A & M to get his degree, something he should've done before signing with Cleveland two years ago. His career, then, is on hold. Best thing for him.
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It seems as though the Mets are following a familiar script this September.

Most pundits had already written them off before the weekend series vs. Washington. The first-place Nationals won on Friday, but the Mets, with rookies Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo standing in for Steven Matz and Jacob deGrom (the latter pitched on Thursday), won the next two, then beat Cincinnati on Monday. Entering play tonight, the Mets are 1 game out of the 2nd NL Wild Card, held by St. Louis at present, 8 1/2 games behind Washington in the NL East. As the late Yogi Berra reportedly said, it ain't over 'til it's over.

The Mets have followed this underdog trail before, in 1969 and 1973. It has been 30 years since they steamrolled the NL en route to a World Series win over Boston. I wouldn't write them off until the season's final game.

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