Season on the Brink; Sark Attack; Great Scott, Giant Embarrassment; Duck Monstrosity
The 2020 college football season is on life support. Cancellation of the season, according to several Power Five Athletic Directors, is beginning to look "inevitable."
Over the weekend, the Mid-American Conference (MAC) abruptly pulled the plug, becoming the first FBS conference to cancel its season (while noting that it hopes to play in the spring).
Other, much bigger, dominoes are starting to fall.
Multiple sources this morning have reported that the Big Ten has voted to do the same. Apparently, the conference’s schools voted 12-2 to cancel last night (with Nebraska and Iowa voting against). Earlier, the BIG suspended contact practices and Commissioner Kevin Warren hinted strongly that he wanted to postpone the season until spring.
The Pac-12 will probably be next, as it tends to march in lockstep with the BIG. Last week Pac-12 players issued a threat to opt out unless several demands are met, and Commissioner Larry Scott (see below) has given no indication he plans to address them.
The SEC and ACC are apparently discussing whether to try to play alone (or with the Big 12), but that idea doesn’t pass the smell test.
"It's not fair what we're doing to our coaches and student-athletes," one long-time Power 5 AD said Saturday. "The sooner we can come to a finality, the better."
“They’re pulling the plug sooner rather than later,” another Power 5 AD told ESPN. “Just get it over with and let us figure out how to survive.”
The fat lady is singing.
MAC Leads the Way: The driving force in the MAC decision apparently was Northern Illinois President Lisa Freeman, a former research scientist at the University of Rochester School of Medicine. The league’s presidents were meeting to finalize a schedule when Freeman announced that her school wouldn’t play this fall because of health and safety issues.
Good for her.
Sark Attack: Alabama Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian—yes, the same Steve Sarkisian who was fired from USC for showing up drunk at practice and giving a drunken profanity-laden speech at a booster event—just got a nice raise to $2.5M annually. (He’s now tied with Auburn DC Kevin Steele as the highest paid assistant in college football).
After getting axed at SC in 2015, Sark was hired by Alabama head coach Nick Saban as an "offensive analyst" to help re-charge a stagnant offense while he pursued an unsuccessful wrongful termination suit against SC. He then spent two years with the Atlanta Falcons before returning to Alabama as offensive coordinator and now appears to be Saban's heir apparent.
Apparently, winning cures a lot of ills. At least in Alabama.
“Not So” Great Scott: Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott—he of the $5.3 million salary and failing TV network—met with a group of players who are threatening to opt out of the 2020 season unless the conference institutes better health and safety precautions and guarantees that players who sit out will keep their eligibility.
According to those in the Zoom meeting, Scott was his usual arrogant, condescending self, even dismissing the players’ letter in the Players’ Tribune as a “PR stunt.”
Scott’s contract runs through 2022, but the conference would be well advised to make a change now, rather than suffering through two more years of egotism and incompetence.
Giant Embarrassment: The lads at 24 Willie Mays Plaza continue to stink up the joint. Fortunately, there are no fans present to witness the ongoing atrocity.
The Giants used to be one of the top defenses in baseball. No more. One of the big reasons is their new analytics-driven emphasis on signing players who are versatile and can play multiple positions.
Unfortunately, that often results in a “jack of all trades, master of none” scenario. The team was much better off when it trotted out players who were excellent fielders at one position, rather than guys who are barely serviceable at many.
New manager Gabe Kaplan has made a number of head-scratching decisions, but it’s not for lack of assistance. Kapler apparently comes from the Bernard Muir school of management with 13, count em’, 13 assistant coaches…for 30 players. You’ll recall that Muir, the Stanford Athletic Director, has 37 lieutenants with the titles of deputy athletic director, senior associate athletic director, executive associate athletic director, associate athletic director or assistant athletic director.
Tone Deaf Ducks: Over 160,000 Americans have died from COVID and millions are out of work and facing eviction from their homes.
Yet a $12 million monstrosity that’s being billed as college football's largest scoreboard is under construction at the University of Oregon’s Autzen Stadium.
As an old friend of mine, an Oregon alum, observed: “Obscenely over the top, actually. Paid for by UO donors who’d rather boost funding for the Ducks' ravenous athletics department than for their hungry and increasingly unhoused/unemployed/uninsured fellow Americans.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Go Bears: Congrats to 23 year old Cal grad Collin Morikawa for winning the PGA Championship at Harding Park. Morikawa's 65-64 finish is the lowest score over the final 36 holes by a player in major championship history.