Jill reminded me that I need to start thinking about Christmas shopping. She’s hilarious. It’s Dec. 3, not Dec. 23. Plenty of time to load up the sleigh and make my annual run to Walgreen’s.
UD Arena has never looked better, but the product on the court is hurting. This is to be expected because Scoochie and his pals took the program to new heights. They have moved on and the rebuild will take time and many trips to the weight room. But if the Flyers lose tonight at Mississippi State (the Bulldogs are 6-0 with no quality wins), UD will start a season 3-4 for the first time since the dark days of the early 1990s.
Last time that happened? Some quick Googling says 1994, when UD was 3-4 after a 99-73 loss to Xavier. That was Oliver Purnell’s first season, and he turned things around. Anthony Grant will do the same, but he needs healthy players. And I give Grant credit for making the inevitable change at point guard.
It’s no surprise that Chip Kelly chose UCLA over Florida. Nick Saban’s amazing run at Alabama has made any other job in the SEC rat poison. If you can’t beat the Crimson Tide, you get run out of town. Every move an SEC coach makes is highly scrutinized. Oh, you like feta cheese on your pizza? What are you, a communist? In Gainesville, the coach is the No. 1 celebrity, which means no privacy.
At UCLA, it’s hang loose, coach. Might fill half the stadium today, but it’s all good, dude. A coach in the Pac-12 has plenty of rope (and it’s not to hang himself). Kelly will be able to build a solid team and knock off USC every few years. Maybe finish in the top 10 now and then. At UCLA, that’s cool.
The Heisman Trophy should go to Baker Mayfield, unless he mooned the TCU bench in the Big 12 title game. (This column was filed before Championship Saturday.) Mayfield is a great player and makes Oklahoma a threat. His crotch grab against Kansas did not bother me. Football is an emotional sport and nobody is more emotional than Mayfield. His Heisman acceptance speech should be fun.
Another week, another lawsuit filed by Rick Pitino. The disgraced former college basketball coach is going after everyone, so I need to be careful how I say this. Oh, what the heck. Rick: There is nothing graceful about what you’re doing. Go away and preserve what dignity you have left.
Kane Fitzgerald is my Hero of the Week. Fitzgerald is the NBA official who booted LeBron James from a game last week. It was LeBron’s first career ejection, which is amazing because he whines more than Danny Ainge ever did in his heyday with the Celtics. Well, maybe.
Trending up: DeVier Posey, Julio Jones, Jimmy Garoppolo. Jake and I were flipping through the channels the other night and stumbled upon the Grey Cup. Awesome! It was snowing, the game was close, the announcers had Canadian accents. And Posey, a former Buckeye, caught a 100-yard touchdown pass for Toronto. Jake was confused until I explained that CFL football fields feature 110 yards of running room.
Trending down: Miller brothers, Eli Manning, John Currie. Archie and Sean Miller had rough Novembers. Archie’s debut at Indiana was a 90-69 loss to Indiana State. Meanwhile, Sean has an FBI investigation cloud hanging over his head at Arizona. His team tipped off the Battle 4 Atlantis ranked No. 2, but the Wildcats lost three straight and fell out of the rankings.
Knucklehead of the Week
Ben Gordon won a national championship at UConn and was a first-round draft pick of the Chicago Bulls. Ah, the good ol’ days. Gordon, a 34-year-old washed-up hoopster, has been a regular on the police blotter in recent years. His latest run-in with the law landed him in jail. Gordon allegedly punched the manager of a downtown Los Angeles apartment complex where he was renting. He also reportedly pulled a knife on the man and took money he claimed was his security deposit. According to Basketball-Reference.com, Gordon made more than $84 million in his NBA days, so it’s hard to believe he needed that deposit on the spot.