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Stocking Stuffers: NCAA Blows It Again; Daniels on the Move (Again); Too Much Kimmel; The Play II

A few days ago the NCAA hired outgoing Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker as its new president. He shouldn't have any trouble doing a better job than his predecessor, the incredibly arrogant, incompetent and overpaid Mark Emmert, but his appointment was not a great move in my humble opinion.

First off, he's another old, rich white guy. Baker is 66 years old, made a fortune in health care, and is as vanilla as they come.

The official line is that he's a consensus builder, a popular Republican in a Democratic state, and a moderate who can bring opposite factions together.

So it seems the NCAA was looking for a politician. Unable to control the new era of NIL/transfer portal free agency they fought for so long then grudgingly had to swallow, the NCAA wants Congress to step in and provide some national legislation. They'd like the suits in Washington to restrict the earning power and movement of "student-athletes" and avoid any nasty lawsuits while they're at it.

Problem is, governors actually have little influence in DC, so Baker's not going to push legislation through. If they were looking to hire a politician, a former Senator who had some legislative experience would've made much more sense than the chief executive of a state.

It's all moot anyway, because the power in college sports now rests with the five (soon to be four maybe) power conferences and their commissioners. And legislation on NIL won't be the answer, because courts are going to decide players are employees, perhaps very soon. So we may not be far away from things like players' unions, collective bargaining agreements, employment contracts, salaries, bonuses and, sooner or later, walkouts and strikes.

The Four School Quarterback: West Virginia quarterback JT Daniels has entered the transfer portal. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed his career. Daniels has started, and then been benched or sidelined by injury, at USC, Georgia, and West Virginia. Daniels started as a freshman at USC in 2018, then tore his ACL in the opening game of 2019 and was replaced by Kedon Slovis, who had a great year, leading Daniels to transfer to Georgia. He got a waiver to play immediately at Georgia because of the injury and began the 2020 season as the third-stringer. He moved up the depth chart, started the last four games, posting a 4-0 record and throwing for 10 TDs with two interceptions. Daniels began the '21 season as the Georgia starter, but suffered two injuries and ultimately was benched in favor of Stetson Bennett, who led the Bulldogs to the national championship. When Bennett announced his intention to return for '22, Daniels transferred to West Virginia. Daniels started the first 10 games for WVU this season before, once again, getting benched. He's now back in the portal in search of a fourth team where he can play his final year as a grad transfer. But Daniels won't come cheap. According to sources in Corvallis, when Daniels talked to Oregon State about possibly transferring there, his father laid out his asking price, which included a personal chef, a four-bedroom rental house and a six-figure NIL endorsement deal. Welcome to the new normal, folks.

Kimmel Ad Nauseam: I like Jimmy Kimmel. But after watching Saturday's Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl, I may have to reconsider. The ABC telecast featured a split screen of on-the-field action and Kimmel in his suite for much of the game, including touchdown plays and other important moments.

I guess we should be happy it wasn't the Elon Musk Bowl. My Old School: New Stanford football coach Troy Taylor will be facing his old team, Sacramento State, next season. Taylor served as head coach at Sac State for three years, leading his team to three straight Big Sky Conference championships and a perfect 12-0 regular season this year, before being named Stanford's head coach last week. In an ironic twist of fate, Taylor's first home game as Stanford's head coach on Sept. 16 will be a matchup against his former school, Sac State. Later in the season, Stanford will travel to Boulder to face another high-profile first year head coach, "Coach Prime," Deion Sanders. Should be an interesting year on a lot of different levels. Viva Argentina! Congrats to Argentina and superstar Lionel Messi for winning the World Cup final over defending champion France. I didn't watch it live, but checked out the highlights later, and the matchup between Messi and France's Kylian Mbappe was one for the ages. Have to admit, though, that I still find it unsatisfying to have a great game decided by penalty kicks. The Play II: The wild ending to yesterday's Raiders-Patriot game evoked memories of The Play at the Stanford-Cal Big Game 40 years ago. On the final play of a 24-24 tie game, Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson ran for 20 yards, then pitched the ball back to teammate Jakobi Meyers, who inexplicably tried to pass it back to quarterback Mac Jones. Jakobi's pass/lateral was intercepted by the Raiders' Chandler Jones, who ran it in from 40 yards out for the winning score as time expired.

If you haven't seen the video, take a moment to find it and watch it. It's amazing.

Both radio and TV calls were outstanding, with the best line coming from Fox play-by-play man Kenny Albert: "The Stanford Band is nowhere in sight."

Merry Christmas: I hope you all have a great Christmas and a healthy and prosperous 2023. The Inside Track willl take next week off for the holiday and return Jan. 2 or 3.


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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