By Larry Bisagni
Weekly snapshots will consist of quick observations. The only rule is three sentences or less per subject.
Urban Meyer had way too much baggage to stay on at The Ohio State University, but I don’t believe for one second that he’s done. Everyone knows that he has long coveted the Notre Dame job, but with the way Brian Kelly has the Irish playing, it would take a monumental collapse in the next year or two for that whistle to become available. Before you say that you don’t know that the board of trustees would go along with everything that comes along with Meyer, an .853 winning percentage will make a lot of noise disappear; that said, arrests, scandals, assistants like Zach Smith, and repeated allegations don’t fly the way they once did, but at the end of the day, winning cures an awful lot of things.
I think the NCAA committee got it right. Georgia looked good against Alabama, but I can’t justify having a two-loss team in the Final Four. The Tide will smash the Sooners by 20-plus, but Clemson and Notre Dame should be a barn burner.
As of this writing, it all but appears that Mike Locksley will get the Maryland job, and as a District native, I believe he can solve the riddle of how to make it a great job and keep the local talent in College Park. Having a freshly renovated Cole Field House and a program flush with Under Armor cash at his disposal doesn’t hurt. With Meyer’s “retirement,” Locksley would be wise to reach out to Buckeye assistant head coach Larry Johnson, Sr. to gauge interest: nobody knows the lay of the land in the DMV better, and nobody makes a stronger presentation in the living room.
The Packers job is always one of the most prestigious coaching positions in professional sports, but it definitely isn’t the plum that it appears to be on paper, because coaching Aaron Rodgers is going to be a challenge for anyone, and it won’t be for the faint of heart. Josh McDaniels has the resume and the ego for the title; it will be interesting to see whether Mark Murphy will roll the dice with someone who stood up the Colts. The ripple effect of assistants moving to Indianapolis, pulling children out of schools, etc., only to have McDaniels leave the Colts jilted at the altar might make a front office or two gun shy about hitching their wagon to The Hoodie’s right hand man.
Domestic violence is an issue in our society that we can no longer ignore, and I’d like to applaud the Kansas City Chiefs for putting what’s right first, even if it meant jettisoning one of the most talented young running backs in the game in Kareem Hunt. Andy Reid is not only the right guy to keep this team focused down the stretch and into the playoffs, he will keep the locker room from imploding and is creative enough to make chicken salad out of chicken gizzards. That said, their chances to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl became substantially more difficult.
In light of the Hunt saga, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Chargers continue to come high around the corner down the stretch. Anthony Lynn will get serious COY consideration, and Philip Rivers will garner his share of the ballot box for MVP. It’s a shame he just got banged up, because Melvin Gordon may be the most complete running back since the heydays of Marshall Faulk and LaDainian Tomlinson, yet most people wouldn’t know who he is even if he introduced himself.
I don’t know what the probability of both quarterbacks breaking legs is, but the Washington Redskins are done this season, and the long term might be worse than initially thought. My sources tell me that Alex Smith’s recovery isn’t looking good in the initial stages, and he may never play again. Despite having a favorable schedule, they will finish out the final stretch of the season with guys under center that weren’t on NFL rosters two weeks ago.
It’s painfully obvious the lengths that Redskins President Bruce Allen is going to to blackball Colin Kaepernick. Make no mistake: this isn’t Dan Snyder or Jay Gruden’s doing, and I think it’s safe to say that it isn’t Doug Williams, either. Love him or hate him, there’s nobody better that’s available who isn’t already on an NFL roster, and Allen (brother of former GOP politician George Allen) is putting politics in front of winning games, which is what he’s paid handsomely to do.
Last Thursday was Leighton Vander Esch’s coming out party to America. He’s already one of the top linebackers in the NFL, and a very sound tackler who covers a lot of ground. From Jason Witten to Michael Irvin to Tony Romo to Dandy Don Meredith, networks love articulate former Dallas Cowboys, so I’d expect to get used to that name on your watching device for the next 35 years.
Getting back to overlooked teams in LA, with all the buzz over LeBron James, the Clippers are once again relegated to the back seat in Los Angeles, which is really a shame. They’re tied for the best record in the Western Conference, and might be the best story in the NBA this young season. Doc Rivers has this young squad buying in and firing on all cylinders, and they have a legitimate ten-man rotation.
The Boston Celtics appear to be waking up a bit, and I expect it to be sustained. Brad Stevens is too good of a coach, and the roster is simply too talented. Jayson Tatum is growing by the minute.
Speaking of the 2017 NBA Draft, I really hope that Markelle Fultz can fix himself before it’s too late. He has all the talent in the world, but perhaps the lights were a little too bright as the #1 overall pick. Even if he doesn’t live up to the hype of being taken where he was taken, I believe that Fultz can be an excellent sixth man who can spell at either guard position and contribute immensely.
Your most improved player in the NBA this year is Pascal Siakam of the Toronto Raptors. He’s throwing in 15 a night and is emerging as the third option behind all-world Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry. The North has never had that swag that having a top 5 player in the league such as Leonard brings, and as a result, we could very well be looking at the first international NBA Finals this season.
As a lifelong boxing fan and historian, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder 2.0 cant happen fast enough. I’m elated to see and hear the buzz about an upcoming heavyweight championship rematch, and my guess is the sequel happens in London. Both guys will get north of $30 million for this one, and while I’m not ready to proclaim that boxing is back, heavyweights always move the needle more than any other weight division, and this was exactly the shot in the arm that the sport so desperately needed.
Patrick Corbin is going to settle in beautifully as the second or third guy in the Washington Nationals rotation. Get ready, seamheads: the trio of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Corbin will combine for 800 strikeouts. A third arm of Corbin’s caliber should spell the Nats return to the playoffs.
Robinson Canò’s return to the bright lights of New York likely sounds greater than the results may yield. Canò is 36 (there are allegations that he might be older), pricy, and was already suspended 80 games for substance abuse last season. The Mets are on the hook for $24 million a year until he’s 42, which is archaic for a middle infielder.