Draymond's Damage; Giants' Go Korean; Niners' on Top; Pac-12 Bowls in Limbo; Transfer Stats
Lots of hot topics in the sports world, many of them in the Bay Area. Here is my perspective on some of the day's headlines.
- Draymond Green's indefinite suspension was warranted. Dating back to kicking LeBron James in the crotch in 2016, which cost the Warriors the NBA title, to his numerous kerkuffles with Kevin Durant, punching Jordan Poole last year, 20 career ejections and six suspensions, putting Rudy Gobert in a headlock earlier this season, Green's behavior over the past seven years has been, frankly, intolerable.
- The Warriors have enabled him, and coach Steve Kerr, who I admire greatly, has defended Green too far, and too often. His consistent statements that, "we can't win the championship without Draymond," diminished the rest of the team.
That's why Kerr's comments this week ("To me this is about more than basketball. It's about helping Draymond. I think it's an oportunity for Draymond to step away and make a change in his approach and his life, and that's not an easy thing to do") were so telling.
- The Warriors have clearly lost patience with Green, but the four-year contract he recently signed will limit their options to trade or waive him.
- Regardless of when, or whether, Green returns, the Warriors must move away from their aging core surrounding superstar Steph Curry. Although Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins have shown signs of life this week, Kerr should give the bulk of the playing time to youngsters Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and rookies Trace Jackson-Davis and Brandin Podziemski, who has been one of the biggest surprises in the NBA this year.
- Speaking of Curry, his fourth quarter performance Saturday night against Brooklyn was breathtaking. He scored 16 in the quarter, including 12 straight at one point, to will the Warriors to a badly needed win. He even blocked three shots.
- Stanford football recruit Elijah Brown scorched Serra in the state high school championship game last week. Brown, the first in a long line of great quarterbacks at Mater Dei to start all four years, completed 17 of 22 passes for 298 yards and 5 TDs to lead his team to a 35-0 victory.
- Rumor has it that Brown's verbal commitment is solid, despite ongoing recruitment from USC and other suitors.
- As usual, the Giants were bridesmaids in the pursuit of free agent wunderkind Shoehei Ohtani, who signed with the Dodgers for $700 Million. These near misses (Aaron Judge, Bryce Harper, etc) are getting old.
- He won't bring the same crowds of hit many home runs, but the Giants got an excellent player in Korean center fielder Jung Hoo Lee, who they signed for six years at $113M. Lee is an Ichiro-type player, who will lead off, hit .300, and cover the outfield with aplomb. He's only 25, but played seven years in the Korean league, winning two MVP awards and posting a career batting average of .340.
- But the Giants need to do much more to be competitive in the same division with the Dodgers, Padres, and Diamondbacks. Not sure what the holdup is, but they should've signed Blake Snell and Matt Chapman by now.
- The 49ers are the best team in the NFL. We've said it before, but it bears repeating. The best teams don't always win, but if the 49ers stay healthy, they should reach, and win, the Super Bowl.
- They have the best offensive lineman, best running back, fullback, defensive lineman and linebacker in the league, along with one of the best tight ends, one of the best quarterbacks and two of the best receivers. And Chavarius Ward has become one of the top cornerbacks in the league, as evidenced by his league-leading pass breakups and two dazzling interceptions yesterday.
- As for MVP, we've said it before and we'll say it again. Brock Purdy is playing brilliantly. But in my mind there's no doubt that the MVP of the 49ers and the NFL is Christian McCaffrey. All CMC has done this year is rush for 1292 yards, a 5.3 average and 13 touchdowns. No other player in the league has even hit 1,000 yards. He's also caught 57 passes for 509 yards and 7 TDs. Think about that. 20 TDs, 1800 yards from scrimmage.
- Purdy agrees with us. “I think Christian should be MVP,” Purdy said. “I really do believe that. He does everything for us. Runs the ball well, catches the ball. He does everything. So, in my eyes, that’s an MVP.”
- Among the collateral damage from the Pac-12's disintegration is the effect it will have on its affiliated bowl games. They include the Alamo (San Antonio), Las Vegas, Holiday (San Diego), Sun (El Paso), Los Angeles and Independence (Shreveport, LA) bowls. With 10 of 12 of the teams in the conference moving on to the Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC, these bowls will all need to find another partner for next season and beyond.
- The Alamo currently has the top picks of the Pac-12 and Big 12 after the New Year's Six Bowls, paying each conference over $4 million for the privilege. This year Alamo has Oklahoma from the Big 12 and Arizona from the Pac-12. In a few months Oklahoma will be in the SEC and Arizona in the Big 12.
- Nearly every bowl's contract with a conference expires after the 2025 season. Expect some heavy reshuffling of affiliations and the passing of more than one bowl.
- Speaking of conference realignment, 10 of the 12 schools that would have been chosen for a 12-team playoff this season--Michigan, Washington, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Oregon, Missouri, Penn State and Ole Miss--will be members of the Big Ten and SEC next year. The only exceptions are the ACC's Florida State and Liberty from the Group of Five.
- More than 1,000 college football players have entered the transfer portal, including a number of top quarterbacks. The transfer epidemic is reflected in the overall composition of team rosters this season. According to Sports Source Analytics, the number of transfers making up FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) rosters has risen from 6.4% in 2010 to 20.5% in 2023.
- Not surprisingly, Colorado brought in the most first-year transfers and had the most games played by transfers of any program (69.6%). And other than the military academics, Clemson has the fewest games played by transfers at 0.3%.
- The biggest position group impacted by the portal has been quarterback, with 56 teams having a transfer account for 75% or more of their team's passing yards this year. Nationally, the top six quarterbacks in passing yards and the top 10 in passing touchdowns were all transfers.
- Alabama Athletic Director Greg Byrne, one of the top ADs in the country, attended Oregon and Arizona State, worked at Oregon and Oregon State, then served as AD at Arizona when the seeds of the Pac-12's demise were sown under Larry Scott. Byrne recently share some perspective with the Mercury-News' Jon Wilner:
"One of the first surprises was when we found out that the ADs and Presidents/Chancellors would no longer meet together...This change siloed off the ADs, and the perception was that things would be managed at the conference and CEO level without AD input.
"The next thing that got our attention was the spending on the conference office and the move to downtown San Francisco. We were very aware that every dollar spent at the conference level was a dollar that didn't get to our student-athletes. When we asked to review the expenses for the new conference offices, we were not given any pertinent information.
"The other red flag was when we were given high, medium and low financial projections for the Pac-12 Networks--and none of them were ultimately met...We believed that the networks were not actually turning a profit and were never given a clear answer on revenues vs. expenses, no matter how much we pushed."
Note: The Inside Track will be on vacation for the holidays next week, returning on Jan. 1 or 2. Merry Christmas!