BOZICH | Monday Muse: Is the GameDay Jinx real? More Lamar
Is the ESPN College GameDay Jinx real? Is another college football player leading Lamar Jackson in the Heisman Trophy race? Do you know who calls the plays for Florida State?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – When the college football season began, Louisville was not the likely destination for Week Three of ESPN’s College GameDay Show.
Chances are rooms were reserved in Norman, Oklahoma, where the Sooners, ranked third, were booked to play Ohio State, No. 6 pre-season.
For a back-up plan, rooms were also on hold in Oxford, Miss., where Ole Miss (No. 11) will host top-ranked Alabama Saturday.
Then Oklahoma burped against Houston and Ole Miss gave back a lead against Florida State and well, well, well, what do we have here …
… I’ll tell you what we have: Plenty of material for the Monday Muse with the entire college football world training an eye on Florida State’s visit to Louisville Saturday at noon.
1. Beware The GameDay Jinx
This will be GameDay’s first visit to the University of Louisville. Questions abound.
Where will ESPN construct its stage? How will parking and traffic be affected? How much access will the paying customers have? How crazy has the demand for tickets become? Where will Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso get their coffee?
Who will serve as the celebrity guest game-picker? (See Item 10.)
And, is there really a GameDay Jinx?
I can’t answer the first six questions. I’ll tackle the sixth.
Well, probably not.
Prior to the 2015 season, a college football fan ran the won-loss numbers on all the College GameDay results at Reddit.com and calculated that home teams were 134-94 in Game Day appearances. That’s a winning percentage of .596, not great, but not terrible considering most of these games matched quality teams.
In 2015, the story shifted. The home team lost eight of 12 GameDay matchups, including a stumble by Alabama against Ole Miss, a loss by Baylor to Oklahoma and Ohio State’s bobble against Michigan State.
Yep, home teams went 4-8.
This will be the first on-campus GameDay location of the 2016 season. You have been warned.
2. Are You Ready For Showtime?
Remember to wear your best outfits to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Watch your language in the tailgating areas. Be advised that anything you say or do could land you on national television – twice.
I’m not only talking about the remarkable arrival of GameDay. I’m also talking about Showtime – the network.
In an era when most college football coaches treat practice with the secrecy of the nuclear codes, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has followed the lead of Brian Kelly at Notre Dame and welcomed a massive production crew from the Showtime Network behind the scenes with the Seminoles.
Showtime is producing “A Season with Florida State football,” which airs on the network every Tuesday.
I streamed the first episode. Good stuff. The show is only 30 minutes but could have been an hour. You saw Fisher chew on his team, deal with injuries and personnel decisions and retreat home as a single father. The second installment is due Tuesday night. I’m sure the U of L football video folks will break it down from 27 angles.
But look for the Showtime cameras Saturday.
3. Remember This Sanders Guy?
Offense has not been a problem for Florida State in recent seasons. The Seminoles have what any program has to have to score big points – players.
They also have this guy – Randy Sanders, the man who was often talked about as if he was Elmer Fudd when he ran the offense at Kentucky for Joker Phillips.
Fisher does not see Sanders as Elmer Fudd. He sees Sanders as a coach who did great things as a coach at Tennessee as well as at Kentucky when Sanders had Andre Woodson.
Good for Sanders, who was always a stand-up guy and took an unreasonable amount of criticism with his chinstrap buckled tight at Commonwealth Stadium.
4. King of the Carrier Dome
I’ve only watched a handful of football games played in The Carrier Dome. Columnist Bud Poliquin of Syracuse.com has seen many, many, many.
What was his observation after Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson posted those video game statistics during the Cardinals’ 62-28 victory over the Orange Saturday.
Without hyperventilating, Poliquin suggested it was the greatest performance in the 36-year football history of the building.
Take a minute to remember that Donovan McNabb (Syracuse), Doug Flutie (twice), Jameis Winston (2014) and many other talented quarterbacks have performed in that building.
This is how Poliquin described Jackson’s play:
“The kid was a mix and match of Mike Trout, Steph Curry, Simone Biles and Michael Phelps, with a pinch of the back-in-the-day Vince Young tossed in. And the result was that his 13th-ranked club shattered SU 62-28 …”
Well, you get the picture. You can read the entire story by clicking this link.
5. More Lamar
Can’t get enough Lamar Jackson, right?
Impossible to write too much about him, right?
I thought so. Well, as good as Jackson has been (against non-Top 50 competition) for two weeks, Bruce Feldman of FoxSports.com believes there has been somebody better.
In this story, Feldman ranks his top five Heisman candidates. Jackson is not first. Of course, he’s also not fifth. He’s second, behind … Stanford halfback Christian McCaffery.
The choice is mildly strange, considering McCaffery has played one game and that his most spectacular play, a 95-yard punt return, was negated by a penalty. But you can fuss at Feldman, not me.
6. The Florida Follies
It has never been surprising to watch the Florida football team beat Kentucky by 30 or more points.
What happened Saturday in Gainesville (45-7, Gators) was the 10th time that Florida has won by at least 30 in the last 30 years.
The 38-point margin was only surprising because Florida had only beaten UK by a combined margin of 28 points in Mark Stoops’ first three seasons.
Closing the Gator Gap had been one bullet point Stoops could sell as a sign of progress.
What I wondered after that game was simply this: What happened to the Kentucky teams that lost to the Gators by 30 or more?
Did a beatdown suggest a longggg and frrrrustrating season or was there reason to believe the Wildcats could start to generate a turnaround by handling New Mexico State in Commonwealth Stadium this weekend?
The data: Kentucky has lost to Florida by 38 or more five times in the last three decades. This is how those seasons unfolded.
2008 – 7-6 (After a 58-point loss!)
1996 – 4-7
1994 – 1-10
The Wildcats were also beaten by at least 30 five other times. This is how those seasons unfolded:
1990 – 4-7 (32 points)
1995 – 4-7 (35 points)
2001 – 2-9 (34 points)
2009 – 7-6 (34 points)
2010 – 6-7 (34 points)
Bottom line: Losing to Florida by 30 or more does not have to be a season killer. It happened three straight years to Rich Brooks – and the Wildcats still finished their season with a bowl trip.
7. Shaq Attack
Shaquille O’Neal has never been shy. He has fired at Kobe Bryant, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, LeBron James and others.
Including his ex-wife.
This isn’t the usual exchange between former spouses. This is an exchange between two parents about the basketball potential of their sons.
Shaq believes his two sons, Shareef, 16, and Shaqir, 13, will both play in the NBA. Their mother, Shaunie, believes (rightly, in my opinion) that talking about the NBA for two teenagers is unnecessarily putting too much heat on the plate of two adolescents who are already dealing with the jumbo-sized expectations of having a superstar father.
You can follow the exchange by clicking this link. But I’m with Mom.
8. Avery Williamson Makes His Statement
I wanted to make certain this one did not slip between the chains. Former Kentucky linebacker Avery Williamson was always a solid player and citizen during his time in Lexington – and that has not stopped since Williamson played his way on to the Tennessee Titans as a fifth-round draft pick in 2014.
Despite a warning from the NFL, Williamson followed through on his promise to wear his patriotic cleats (blue with stars and stripes) in the Titans’ season-opener Sunday.
Williamson had the cleats custom made in Lexington and plants to donate them to a charity auction that will deliver the money to Operation Warrior Wishes.
“I just felt like I got so much support across the country, and especially when the New York and New Jersey police unions said that they would pay my fine, that really meant a lot," Williamson told the Tennessean after the Titans' 26-15 loss at Nissan Stadium.
“So I felt like if I didn’t wear them, I just wouldn’t have felt good about it. I felt like I had to do that, just for myself and to represent the people that were lost and the people that do their jobs every day to protect us. I feel like it was just a duty.”
9. Clip and Save
Ron Lieber is a wonderful journalist who primarily writes about personal finance for the New York Times. Many of his stories appear in the Saturday edition because he writes longer pieces that readers enjoy analyzing and de-constructing.
Lieber had a piece of interest to sports fans last week: How much would you pay to watch the Chicago Cubs play in the World Series?
Lieber chose that topic with a confession: He is a lifelong Cubs’ fan.
As an editor, I only had two problems with the piece: Better to have sold it as: How much would you pay to watch your favorite team play for a championship?
What would Cubs (or Mariners or Indians) fans play in the World Series? Browns or Texans fan in the Super Bowl? Clippers or Timberwolves fan in the NBA Finals?
You get the picture.
And, as four or five White Sox fans that I know reminded me in an e-mail:
Is Ron Lieber one of those Cubs’ fans who has assumed that Joe Maddon’s team has already won the National League Divisional and Championship series?
Asking for a friend, of course.
10. (My Twitter) Poll Results
Who would you like to see represent Louisville as the school’s Celebrity Game Picker at College Game Day Saturday?
Teddy Bridgewater 49 percent
Jennifer Lawrence 31 percent
Tom Jackson 15 percent
Howard Schnellenberger 6 percent
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