LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — It’s game week. It’s time to transition from basketball chatter to buckling the chinstrap.
The AP college football Top 25 arrived Monday. Florida and Miami play Saturday in Orlando. Arizona visits Hawaii the same night.
I downloaded my GridIron2019 scheduling app. I’ve added all the necessary Twitter feeds. (Who are your favorites in the college football universe?)
More football in the Monday Muse as the Countdown to Kickoff accelerates.
1. Ranking the Local QBs
Quarterback has often been a position of elite production on the local college football scene, especially at the University of Louisville.
Lamar Jackson, Teddy Bridgewater, Brian Brohm, Stefan LeFors, Dave Ragone, Chris Redman. You know the names.
Kentucky fans love to discuss Tim Couch, Jared Lorenzen and Andre Woodson. At Indiana, Trent Green, Antwaan Randle El and Harry Gonso top the list. Western did fun things with Brandon Doughty and Mike White. There were others.
This does not appear to be an elite year for local quarterback play, at least not according to the folks at Athlon Sports. They ranked the likely starters at all 130 FBS programs. Two local guys made the top half of the list.
Here is where the four likely local starters landed:
Steven Duncan, Western Kentucky, No. 111.
Jawon Pass, Louisville, No. 93.
Terry Wilson, Kentucky, No. 64
Peyton Ramsey, Indiana, No. 43.
The best QBs in CFB.1. Tagovailoa, Alabama2. Lawrence, Clemson3. Ehlinger, Texas4. Fromm, Georgia5. Herbert, Oregon6. Hurts, Oklahoma7. Patterson, Michigan8. Fields, Ohio State9. Martinez, Nebraska10. King, Houstonhttps://t.co/KeYGpQSm1g— Athlon Sports (@AthlonSports) August 19, 2019
Who is the best local college football quarterback this season?
Here is the rest of the story: Ramsey is clearly the leader on the list, but there is a significant pack of IU football fans who hope new IU offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer makes a change at QB and gives the job to redshirt freshman Michael Penix Jr. They question Ramsey’s arm strength and ability to make big plays.
Even though Athlon ranked Ramsey the eighth-best QB in the Big Ten.
Ramsey ranked third in the Big Ten in passing yards per game last season. He completed 66 percent of his throws for 2,875 yards with 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
Would U of L, UK or WKU take a guy with those numbers?
I believe they would.
2. It Really Does Mean More
Add Associated Press national college football writer Ralph Russo to the list of folks convinced there is the South and there is the rest of America in the world of college football.
Russo delivered his thoughts in a column included in the AP’s season preview. He outlined data that explains why teams from the South (not just the SEC) have won 13 of the last 14 national titles (with Ohio State the only exception).
Russo credits the regional dominance to three reasons:
Russo does not expect much change, especially after he shared more numbers from recruiting data for upcoming classes.
This is the link to his column — and this is a challenge that has been issued to the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12.
3. Eight is (Not) Enough
The Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 require their members to play nine conference games.
The SEC and ACC do not agree. Eight is enough.
Nick Saban of Alabama as well as a string of coaches from the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 have discussed this topic repeatedly for several years, but the ACC and SEC seem unwilling to budge. (Story link.)
Too many programs like the idea of scheduling four victories and playing eight homes games. Some argue that it gives teams from those two leagues an advantage in making the four-team national playoff.
Who voluntarily gives up an edge like that?
But I agree with the valuable point Saban made in this story in the Los Angeles Times. With the game working overtime to get young fans in the seats so they will become paying customers for the next five decades, you better give the customer what it wants.
What people want are competitive games. Saban argued that players don’t get excited about the one-sided matchups scheduled in September. If players are not excited, why should fans bake in the August or September heat?
4. College Football Hot Seat
You can’t kick off the season without the obligatory Hot Seat list, even if there are not local names on a Hot Seat, regardless of what Pete Thamel thinks about Tom Allen at Indiana.
(Dear Pete: Yes, Allen has won five games in each of his first two seasons at Indiana, but that’s better than Kevin Wilson, Bill Mallory and Lee Corso did in their first two seasons at Indiana. Plus, according to the gurus, Allen and his staff have recruited better than any staff has ever recruited in Bloomington. Tom Allen is not on the Hot Seat.)
Who is on the Los Angeles Times Hot Seat? Here is the link.
Maybe Mark Dantonio of Michigan State, Chris Ash of Rutgers, Lovie Smith of Illinois and Clay Helton of USC.
The only local name of interest shared by J. Brady McCullough was Mark Stoops of Kentucky.
Not that Stoops is on the Hot Seat. That’s crazy. Stoops is mentioned as a coach who could be in demand by bigger-name programs once the coaching carousel starts to roll.
5. Remembering Jack Whitaker
In a media world of shouting, taunting and Tweeting in ALL CAPS, Jack Whitaker proved you could make it with the quality of your words not the volume of your voice.
Long before TV became dominated by former athletes, Whitaker was a thoughtful and provocative presence who enriched broadcasts in football (he worked the first Super Bowl), golf, horse racing and other sports.
Whitaker had been the only living play-by-play announcer from the first 21 Super Bowls https://t.co/izDIzN6Gab— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) August 19, 2019
Whitaker was quick with a quip, sharp in his analysis and interesting with his essays. Some tried to define him by his silly banishment from the Masters because he once described the 18th hole gallery as a mob, but Whitaker was more than that.
At 95, Whitaker passed away in Pennsylvania last weekend. A tip of the keyboard for a guy who showed another generation how to do it.
6. Knox Won’t Knock Knicks
Nobody is expecting much from the New York Knicks this season, especially after the franchise whiffed in the free agent market.
Don’t tell that to former Kentucky forward Kevin Knox. He’s primed to start his second season in Madison Square Garden and excited to be teamed with former Duke star R.J. Barrett, my pick for Rookie of the Year because he’ll average 15-to-20 shots per game.
Don’t put Knox on the list of folks who dislike Knicks owner James Dolan. Knox told TMZ that he plays Fortnite with Dolan’s sons.
Kevin Knox says James Dolan is a great person. https://t.co/GaGjvMf8xP— TMZ Sports (@TMZ_Sports) August 18, 2019
I hope he occasionally lets them win.
7. Stop the Madness
I’ve written about my concerns with crowd control at sports events. When college football season begins Saturday, you can expect a weekly string of cell photo videos capturing drunk fans going at it in the stands or tailgate lots.
What happened in Honduras Saturday reflected the scariest end of the spectrum. According to Sports Illustrated, four fans died after a fight between rival fans at a soccer match.
Be safe out there this season, everybody. And smart.
8. What’s Up With the Yankees?
Apparently, I’m not the only one who has noticed the New York Yankees have had their share of moments with umpires this season.
There was Aaron Boone’s thunderous push to let one crew know that his guys were “savages.”
Savages. Boone loved that word.
The Yankees fussed at the umpires again over the weekend during a competitive series against the Indians. Veteran outfielder Brett Gardner started this annoying move of banging a bat against the roof of the dugout — an intimidation tactic the umpiring crew did not appreciate.
Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News talked to Boone and Yankees’ players about the situation. She wondered if this was a veteran team trying to intimidate younger umpires.
Yes, I believe it is.
9. Baseball Power Rankings
1. Los Angeles Dodgers — Even after a rough weekend in Atlanta, the Dodgers lead the NL West by 18 1/2 games.
2. New York Yankees — I have questions about the starting pitching — and intimidation tactics.
3. Houston Astros — They had to win Sunday to stop A’s from climbing within 5 1/2 games.
4. Oakland A’s — If this team survives a Wildcard game, beware.
5. Atlanta Braves — The Braves have a .587 winning percentage in the only division in baseball that has four teams with winning records.
10. Tweet of the Week
In a weekend where I watched Easy Rider (in a tribute to the passing of Peter Fonda) and Woodstock (50-year anniversary), I had to go Old School here, too.
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