Saturday, January 1, 2022

Sports this 'n' that

 With Fox having ended its Thursday Night Football slate last month, it's also the end for the series on broadcast television, as it moves to Amazon Prime as a streaming-only entity, save maybe for simulcasting on NFL Network, come September. Not a fan of the idea, and I think it'll come back to bite the NFL in its collective tuchis.
Until further notice, the College Football Playoff will be referred to as the SEC Invitational. Until the suits in charge change the system, the SEC, the most powerful league in college football, will continue to monopolize the tournament.

To the surprise of, well, no one, Cincinnati, champions of the American Athletic Conference, a "group of 5" league, fell to defending champion Alabama, 26-7. Michigan, the Big 10 champion, having shed one monkey off its collective back in beating Ohio State, still can't win a postseason game under Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines were blown out of Miami by Georgia, 34-11.

Collectively, it was SEC 60, everyone else 18. The tournament committee and ESPN got what they wanted, a rematch of the SEC title game between Georgia & Alabama.

This scene is likely going to be repeated on January 10-11.

There is a solution, if the lords of college football are willing to try it.

You take the champions of the "power 5" leagues (SEC, ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12) and the "group of 5" leagues (i.e. AAC). That's 10 teams. League runners-up, based on records, would be given berths to create a 16 team field. Most of the secondary bowls now were created within the last 20 years just to add programming to ESPN in the first place. A 16 team tournament, much like in the FCS (i.e. Divisions 2 & 3), would lead to the final four, if you will, on New Year's weekend. It makes the tournament more exciting, and less predictable.

Unfortunately, there are certain stubborn types that won't go along with it. You & I both know that.
Meanwhile, ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit & Desmond Howard aren't fans of players opting out of bowl games in order to protect their chances of being drafted into the NFL, a practice that has been in vogue the last couple of years. 

The opt-outs suggest that players are getting advice before declaring for the draft, and not from their coaches, if you catch my drift. In the eyes of Herbstreit, a former Ohio State quarterback, today's generation may be losing their passion for the game. The lure of the almighty dolla dolla bill is getting bigger, and until that also changes, it's going to continue until the NCAA puts its collective foot down.
They say death comes in threes. While the world is mourning actress Betty White, two sports heroes passed on as well.

Dan Reeves participated in 9 Super Bowls as a player or coach, the last with Atlanta vs. one of his former teams, Denver. He played for Dallas in his career, and coached the Broncos, Falcons, & Giants. Reeves died on Friday at 77.

Sam Jones, aka "The Shooter", was an important member of the Boston Celtics' championship teams in the 60's. Jones died earlier this week, but the news was overshadowed on Friday by White's passing.

Add the passing of John Madden on Tuesday, and it was four in as many days.
Viewers tuning in to TNT for the NHL Winter Classic tonight, the first time that event has aired anywhere other than NBC as part of the league's new deal with Turner Sports & ESPN, will include a pre-game intro by Chicago native and AEW wrestler CM Punk. Punk's love of wrestling is superceded by his passionate love of his hometown, as previously illustrated when he wrote a short comic book story for DC/Vertigo's revival of Strange Sports Stories a few years back that referenced the Cubs.

If the Rangers get another crack at the Winter Classic, expect Chris Jericho, son of former Ranger Ted Irvine, to do the honors.

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