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Jimmy G; Conference Championship Traps; Deion Arrives; Transfer Portal Opens; Stanford Hoops Falter

Sometimes life just isn't fair.

Just ask the 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo.

Jimmy G, the discarded quarterback resurrected when Trey Lance broke his ankle, was playing at a Pro Bowl level before suffering a season-ending broken foot yesterday against Miami.

One has to wonder. Are the 49ers and Garoppolo cursed? I can’t remember another team losing two starting quarterbacks in the same year.

Lance barely saw the field before his season ended in game 2. Garoppolo went down 11 weeks later.

For Garoppolo, unfortunately, it was déjà vu all over again. Jimmy has really only played two full seasons for the 49ers in the last five, leading them to the Super Bowl in 2019 and to the NFC championship game last year. The other three seasons--2018, 2020 and now 2022--he suffered season-ending ACL, ankle and foot injuries.

As readers of this blog know, I've been a Garoppolo fan for some time. And it was good to see him finally getting some positive recognition for rescuing the 49ers when Lance was hurt.

His story of redemption was one any screenwriter would love. The dream was, he’d take the 49ers deep into the playoffs, perhaps back to the Super Bowl. And that would’ve been sweet revenge for the much-maligned, once discarded quarterback.

Now it falls to seventh round draft choice Brock Purdy. The 49ers have the league's best defense and some great offensive weapons in Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and Brandon Aiyuk. It remains to be seen whether Purdy has the chops to lead them past the likes of Philadelphia, Minnesota, and Dallas to win the NFC.

Champ Games: Speaking of curses, one has to ponder whether getting to your conference’s championship game is a blessing or an invitation to disaster.

While Ohio State sat at home, USC had to play Utah in the Pac-12 championship to keep its spot in the College Football Playoff. But a hamstring injury to star quarterback and Heisman favorite Caleb Williams, and the collapse of the Trojans' defense, resulted in a one-sided Utah victory that pushed them out of the CFP.

Instead of competing for the national championship, USC now will face Tulane in the Cotton Bowl. From the penthouse to the gardening shed, one might say.

Bottom line? USC gets penalized for advancing to the Pac-12 title game while Ohio State gets into the playoff after being blown out by Michigan a week earlier. Does that make any sense?

Meanwhile, in a classic game, Kansas State beat TCU in overtime for the Big 12 title. The Horned Frogs managed to keep their spot in the playoff, since they'd beaten K State earlier in the year and had only one loss in comparison to No. 5 Alabama's two.

I have to cite the incredible performance of TCU quarterback Max Duggan on the final game-tying drive of regulation. Gutty. Clutch. Courageous. All of the above.

I also must question Coach Sonny Dykes' play-calling in overtime. After Duggan had made another great run to get the ball inside the one-yard line, TCU ran two slow-developing plays to running back Kendre Miller, rather than having Duggan run a QB sneak or keeper. He was stopped and K State kicked a field goal to win it.

Coach Prime: Colorado took a bold step to revitalize a program that has been in the dumpster by hiring Jackson State coach Deion Sanders, the former All-Pro defensive back and current co-star of Aflac commercials.

The outspoken Sanders made waves in his press conference yesterday by announcing his son Shadeur Sanders would be transferring from Jackson State to become Colorado’s starting quarterback. He also suggested several Buffs players look into the transfer portal because “We’ve got a few positions already taken, because I’m bringing my luggage with me, and it’s Louis (Vuitton).”

It’s going to be interesting.

Transfer Portal Opens: Speaking of the transfer portal, today is the day the newly established portal window officially opens for players seeking greener pastures at a different school.

Nearly 500 FBS scholarship players have already entered the portal or have announced their plans to do so. It’s likely that the number will exceed 1,000 by the end of the month.

Last year the final total was 1,946 scholarship players and nearly 3,000 total FBS players transferring over a 12-month period.

During the 2022 season, transfers earned starting quarterback jobs for 56 FBS teams, including 38 who transferred during the 2021-22 portal cycle. Nearly 50 FBS quarterbacks have already hit the market or are planning to enter the portal.

With players transferring throughout the year, coaches wanted some certainty in their “roster management,” so transfer windows were adopted for 2022-23.

Players now can put their names in the portal is for “only” 60 days of the year. At the FBS level, the first window opens today and closes on Jan. 18. The second window extends from May 1 to 15.

Game on.

Same Ol', Same Ol’: This was supposed to be the year Stanford men's basketball finally reached the NCAA Tournament.

Last year's freshman star Harrison Ingram pulled out of the NBA draft to return to The Farm. Sharpshooter Michael Jones transferred in from Davidson. Regulars Spencer Jones, Michael O'Connell, Brandon Angel, James Keefe, Issa Silva, and Maxime Renaud were all returning.

But nine games into the 2022-23 season, Stanford is 3-6 overall and 0-2 in conference play. The same problems that have dogged Jerod Haase's teams for the past seven years remain.

Haase is an excellent recruiter. His teams play hard, rebound well, and defend aggressively.But they can't score. They turn the ball over incessantly due to bad decisions and sloppy passing. They can't penetrate. And they can't shoot.

The Cardinal scored 46 points in a loss to Memphis. Against UCLA, Stanford turned the ball over six times in its first seven possessions and got up one shot in the first four minutes of the game, falling behind 17-0. Then yesterday against Arizona State, Stanford had more turnovers (9) than made baskets (7) in the first half.

Looks like long-suffering Stanford fans are headed for another disappointing season without an invitation to March Madness.


Gary Cavalli - Bowl and League co-founder, author, speaker 

Gary Cavalli, the former Sports Information Director and Associate Athletic Director at Stanford University, was co-founder and executive director of the college football bowl game played in the Bay Area, and previously was co-founder and President of the American Basketball League.

Get in touch//@cavalli49//

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