What a roller coaster the last 72 hours have been for college football. We touched on a bunch of those topics/issues yesterday, but much more came later Monday.
We stuck to strictly college football on Monday, but we’re going to hit on a bunch of sports today. I’ll keep the quotes, tweets and facts for each sport separated…
Again, however, we’ll start with pigskin of the college variety.
–We linked to Outkick’s story from Clay Travis on Saturday in Monday’s rant. In that column, Travis stated that politicians — even President Donald Trump — were probably going to need to get involved to save the season. Right on cue, Trump sent three tweets Monday strongly supporting that a season be played. In fact, one of those three tweets remains the “pinned tweet’ on his Twitter page as of this morning:
Then this morning at 8:00 a.m. Eastern, Trump joined Travis live on his Fox Sports morning radio show for more than 20 minutes. I just missed it, but will check it out later today. Here are a few tweets about the interview, including a link to it:
–I mentioned that there were a lot of developments Monday that came after I filed my column. We’ll touch on some of those now with some opinions, tweets and links. The biggest thing that stood out to me was Nebraska’s Scott Frost and Ohio State’s Ryan Day coming out and saying that their programs will pursue playing elsewhere (like the SEC, which might invite more schools to join it for this upcoming season that’ll always have an asterisk next to it) if the Big Ten nixes the season.
–As loyal readers and listeners know, I’ve been a weekly guest on 1620 The Zone in Omaha for more than a decade. Most of that time has been spent on Sharp & Benning and now Severe and Benning over the last year and change. (Gary Sharp now has his own show in the afternoon, while Damon Benning is still in the morning with Mike’l Severe. The initial show I was on with the station was Schick and Nick. Matt Schick joined ESPN a long time ago, while Nick Bahe recently left 1620 The Zone to put all his focus into his duties as a Fox Sports college basketball analyst.) Anyway, I’m pasting one of Damon’s tweets below, but you can check out his entire timeline for coverage of Frost’s presser on Monday. And, of course, you can hear me talk to Damon and Mike’l on 1620 at 9:40 a.m. Central on Wednesday.
–Another wild development Monday was Jim Harbaugh and Ryan Day seemingly serving as tag team partners. Less than a week after barking at each other on a zoom call with other Big Ten coaches, the coaches at institutions that hate each other and won’t even mention the name of the schools they represent were figuratively holding hands fighting the powers that be in the Big Ten to play football in 2020.
–The Mountain West joined the MAC, which folded its tents for a 2020 campaign on Saturday, in cancelling its football season Monday. There are conflicting reports on whether the MWC will try to play in the spring. I’m of the belief that the MWC’s decision won’t impact the decisions of Power Five conferences.
–As SI’s Ross Dellenger reported last night, the AAC is planning on moving forward with its plans of playing.
–Florida scored its second commitment from a member of the Miami Palmetto High School secondary in the span of 24 hours Monday, when four-star safety Corey Collier pledged to the Gators. UF is now ranked sixth nationally in the 247Sports 2021 Team Rankings.
—ESPN’s Rich Cimini on the New York Jets’ locker room scrap between then-starting QB Geno Smith and IK Enemkpali from five years ago that forever altered the careers of both men (and a had a positive impact on the career of Ryan Fitzpatrick). Enemkpali is out of the NFL, Smith is Russell Wilson’s backup in Seattle and Fitzpatrick is the likely Week 1 starter for the Dolphins unless rookie Tua Tagovailoa beats him out.
–New England signed RB Lamar Miller to a one-year deal after he missed last season injured. Miller has rushed for 32 career TDs and has two seasons of more than 1,000 rushing yards.
–My Falcons are one of only three NFL teams that haven’t had any players opt out due to COVID-19 concerns.
–After trailing OKC by 14 at the end of the first quarter in Monday’s key afternoon affair, Phoenix rallied and then coasted to a 128-101 win over the Thunder. The Suns improved to 6-0 both straight up and against the spread in the Orlando bubble, cashing tickets as 7.5-point favorites. DeAndre Ayton missed his scheduled COVID-19 test Sunday, so he had to get another one and then wait for the negative result before being cleared to play. The result finally came back as the game was about to start, so he missed the first quarter. Billy Donovan rested Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Steven Adams, Nerlens Noel and Dino Gallanari. Plus, Dennis Schroder is still ‘out’ since leaving the bubble to attend the birth of his child.
–Here’s what the fascinating race for the 8/9 seeding situation in the West looks like going into Tuesday’s action: Memphis, which is 1-5 in the bubble and without Jaren Jackson Jr., is still in the No. 8 slot with a one-half game lead over Portland. The Grizzlies lead both the Suns and Spurs by one game, so there’s only a one-game separation between four teams. All four clubs have two games remaining, and they’re all in action today. I just went on a Twitter rant revealing most of the lines and injury info for those games. Here is one below and you can check out my timeline for others.
–Eric Gordon will return for the Rockets on Wednesday vs. Indiana. Russell Westbrook is playing today while James Harden rests, but Harden is expected to play against the Pacers while Westbrook sits.
–Boston, a 3.5-point favorite today vs. Memphis, is locked into the No. 3 seed. Therefore, you would expect Brad Stevens to rest starters or at least limit their minutes. Granted, it’s not even noon Eastern, but there are no reports or names on the injury report (yet), and the spread (at least for now) suggests the Celtics aren’t mailing it in against Memphis. If that remains the case, that’s great news for the Spurs, Suns and Trail Blazers.
–With the Pelicans eliminated, there’s this:
–The Kings, who are 2.5-point favorites, won’t have star guard De’Aaron Fox or Kent Bazemore.
–Orlando is a 4.5-point favorite vs. Brooklyn with a total of 223 points. The Magic will be without Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon. The Nets have the No. 8 seed in the East locked up, so they’re resting Caris LeVert, Garrett Temple, Joe Harris and Jarrett Allen. The ‘over’ is 16-2 for the Magic in its past 18 outings. Brooklyn’s six combined scores from the bubble have been 246, 228, 235, 264, 225 and 249 points.
–Washington is winless with a 1-5 spread record in Orlando. The Wizards, who have seen the ‘under’ go 4-2 in the bubble, are nine-point underdogs tonight vs. Milwaukee.
–Although minutes could be limited, it appears the Mavericks are going to play Seth Curry, Luka Doncic, Dorian Finney-Smith and Kristaps Porzingis vs. Portland today. Hassan Whiteside will be back from a hip injury for the Trail Blazers, who are 4-2 SU and 4-1-1 ATS in the bubble.
–The biggest stories of players who have played incredible basketball in the bubble are about T.J. Warren, Gary Trent Jr., Damian Lillard, Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton. However, I want to offer props to a dude I never been a fan of (nor will I ever be a fan of), but one who has shined for the struggling Grizzlies. Grayson Allen has played the best basketball of his life. I’ve been extremely impressed.
–We have four more sleeps left until the trilogy bout between the two greatest heavyweights in MMA history, Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier, goes down Saturday in the UFC 252 headliner in Las Vegas. The rubber match is basically a pick ’em at most spots. Most spots have the total at 2.5 rounds (‘over’ -150, ‘under’ +130).
–Contracts aren’t signed yet, but it’s starting to sound like bitter rivals Tyron Woodley and Colby Covington are finally going to collide in the Octagon. Reports surfaced Monday that both fighters have verbally agree to face each other, with the Sept. 19 card being targeted. BetOnline has Covington installed as a -275 favorite, with Woodley as the +235 underdog. Woodley, the former welterweight champion, has been destroyed in back-to-back fights by current 170-pound king Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns. Covington is off a fifth-round KO loss to Usman this past Dec. 14.
–Flyweight champ Deiveston Figueiredo will make his first title defense against former bantamweight kingpin, Cody ‘No Love’ Garbrandt, in the UFC 255 headline on Nov. 21. 5Dimes has Figueiredo installed as a -265 ‘chalk,’ with Garbrandt as a +205 underdog. Garbrandt is dropping down to 125 pounds for the first time in his career. In the UFC 255 co-main event, women’s flyweight champ Valentina ‘The Bullet’ Shevchenko will take on Jennifer Maia as a -1200 favorite (5Dimes). Maia, who is off a first-round submission win over Joanne Calderwood two weekends ago, is a +660 ‘dog.
–Geoff Neal recently revealed that he spent more than a week hospitalized with some sort of infection. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto has more details here, but we’re glad to say that Neal is at home in Dallas resting comfortably. However, he’s out of his Aug. 29 welterweight clash against Neil Magny. ‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler, the former UFC welterweight champ, will face Magny on short notice.