LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Football, basketball, baseball, marbles, Frisbee gold.
The games are not being played and won’t be for several months because of the novel coronavirus. Read a book. Take a walk. Relax.
But it’s tough to completely disconnect from sports. I tried to touch them all while sifting through the sports news of the day.
College Football Futures
The determined folks in Las Vegas refuse to lose hope that college football will not be played this fall.
We need hope. They need action.
That is a perfect cocktail for 2020 college football conference odds, which provided surprises for the local teams. (Here is the link to all the college football odds.)
You could argue that by the end of last season, the University of Louisville was the third- or fourth-best team in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Jeff Sagarin’s numbers had Louisville the fifth in the league.
With a solid collection of returnees on both sides of the ball, I expected Louisville to be ranked the third- or fourth-best ACC squad for 2020.
The oddsmakers at sportsbetting.Ag disagree. They listed Louisville as the seventh-best team in the ACC, tied with Pitt.
Clemson, of course, is the ACC favorite, followed by Miami, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Florida State and Virginia.
If you believe in the Cards and are willing to bet $1,000, you’d win $2,800 if they won the ACC title.
The only local team considered a league favorite is Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers are the pick in Conference USA. If you bet $1,000, you’d win only $200.
Kentucky is the eighth pick in the Southeastern Conference. Bet $1,000 to win — blink — $10,000.
Indiana is the ninth pick in the Big Ten. Bet $1,000 to win $4,000.
Raising the Bar For Pitino
I’d rank the basketball job at the University of Minnesota no better than the eighth best in the Big Ten.
The facilities are only so-so. The tradition is stained by scandals. The weather is a turn-off to some recruits. The best high school prospects routinely leave for Duke, Arizona, Wisconsin and other programs.
That does not mean the Gophers do not aspire to win. They do.
There was grumbling throughout this season, Richard Pitino’s seventh since he replaced Tubby Smith as Minnesota’s head coach.
Even with a victory over Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, the Gophers finished with a losing record, 15-16.
Pitino earned a two-year extension last season after Minnesota defeated Louisville in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Minnesota Athletic Director Mark Coyle moved quickly after this season to say that Pitino would return for year eight.
But Coyle wants more than Pitino has delivered over the first seven years: two NCAA appearances and an NIT championship.
#Gophers AD Mark Coyle shared this view on men's basketball coach Richard Pitino's resume: "It's clearly time to take the next step," Coyle told @jgkfan in a snippet of the U's podcast, which was shared on @KFAN1003 Tuesday.— Andy Greder (@andygreder) March 31, 2020
When Will This End?
There is no guarantee of a 2020 college football season. ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit and others have admitted they believe the season could be scratched.
No games means a money crunch. And a money crunch means athletic directors will be forced to make difficult choices, like the sensibility of paying multiple assistant coaches more than $1 million.
D.C. Dan Lanning is a rising star in the coaching profession --- Turns out #Georgia had to put up a lot of money to keep him for the upcoming 2020 season (raise negotiated before coronavirus pandemic) https://t.co/L1WnzSGIUO— Mike Griffith (@MikeGriffith32) March 31, 2020
That is what makes this story a conversation starter. Georgia, in its unrelenting push to overtake Alabama atop the SEC, has joined the club of programs that has two assistant coaches scheduled to earn more than $1 million.
Defensive coordinator Dan Lanning had his salary bumped to $1.25 million, which will be slightly more than the $1.1 million that offensive coordinator Todd Monken will earn.
Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarrity conceded the optics were not terrific in an interview with the Athens Banner-Herald. McGarrity said the deal was made before the novel coronavirus pandemic moved sports concerns to page D27.
Farewell to A. J. Reed
Six years ago, A.J. Reed was appointment viewing for college baseball fans and scouts. He pitched. He hit. He did everything the University of Kentucky baseball program needed, powering the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament while earning national multiple national player of the year awards.
Reed was named the male athlete of the year for the SEC.
The Houston Astros drafted Reed in the second round of the 2014 MLB Draft. Within two seasons, Reed made his big-league debut.
On Tuesday, with pro baseball players in limbo after spring training ended, Reed retired.
This was our most-read story in sports yesterday. If you missed it: A.J. Reed's retirement underscores Astros' tepid 2014 draft class https://t.co/lakqesXNC2— Reid Laymance (@ReidLaymance) April 1, 2020
The Astros gave up on him last season. The White Sox took a look. They promoted him for 44 big-league at bats. Nearly half (21) were strikeouts.
He finished his career with 175 at bats, seven extra base hits, 71 strikeouts and a .149 batting average.
Unforgiving game, baseball
Social Distance PSA
There are better people to deliver social distancing public service announcements than Larry David. There are certainly folks with kinder and gentler bedside manners.
But as any fan of Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm will testify, nobody can deliver the Stay In Your Lane speech with more conviction or snark than David, the cranky creator of both iconic television shows.
Sadly, Curb completed its 11th season Sunday. Until David, Jeff, Susie, Leon, Cheryl and the gang return for Season 12, this PSA that California Gov. Gavin Newsom asked David to record will deliver the laugh for today.
Nobody topping this. Nobody. https://t.co/xevAk2SJmq— rickbozich (@rickbozich) March 31, 2020
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