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Life of Riley a stunner
Happy Birthday, Vin Scully and RIP Lee Elder
Good morning all. I hope your week is off to a great start.
Lincoln Riley was right about one thing; he wasn’t leaving Oklahoma to become the next coach at LSU. The Sooners football coach was adamant about that, after his team lost to rival Oklahoma State on Saturday night. By Sunday, however, when Riley was a no show for the recording of his weekly TV show, the gig was up. He was leaving for USC.
Riley’s players and assistant coaches were as stunned as the rest of the college football universe. There were no warnings. Heck, stories had Iowa State’s Matt Campbell heading to USC. I suspect the media is raking Riley over the coals, because the story never leaked. Tough to go viral, when you don’t have even an inkling of the big story.
Speculation is running rampant over why Riley left OU. Among the thoughts: Riley was worried about his coaching reputation. Chances of making the playoffs for the Sooners will be tougher, when the school joins the SEC. I suspect it probably came down to money. It usually does. Oklahoma has a storied program, but the opportunity to revive another iconic football program may be the driving force.
Could Riley have done a better job at handling his departure from OU? Of course. But these things, it seems, always have an ugly ending. In many respects, Riley’s players may have learned one of life’s ultimate lessons. As much as the boss may preach loyalty for the common good, loyalty in many cases is really a one-way street.
Michigan ends Ohio State jinx
Saturday afternoon was what college football is all about. In a light snow and 27-degree temperatures in Ann Arbor, Michigan hosted Ohio State, and for the first time after six tries, a Jim Harbaugh-coached Wolverines team beat the Buckeyes, 42-27. That they looked convincing doing it, made the win even sweeter.
Here’s the deal. Even at 10-1 going into the game, if Michigan did not win at home on Saturday, Wolverines’ nation would have been calling for Harbaugh’s job. One of the requirements, when you are a Michigan coach, is “beat Ohio State.” The same goes for the other side.
I got a taste of this rivalry in 1997, while in Columbus, OH to broadcast a basketball game the Saturday night of the Ohio State-Michigan game, being played in Ann Arbor. The morning of the game, driving in suburban Columbus to-and-from the arena for the hoop team’s shoot around, it seemed every home had a flag on its front stoop. What surprised me was some of the flags were in support of Michigan. My guess is these were Michigan alums now working in Ohio. Most of the flags, of course, were for Ohio State. By game time, the streets were empty, as a region prepared to watch what was for them the greatest sporting event of the year.
Saturday’s game did nothing to diminish the rivalry. You can bet both schools are already preparing for next year’s clash.
What about the Mets?
Wow! This has been some eight-day stretch for the New York Mets, who could not get out of their own way for nearly two months, as they kept striking out in pursuit of a general manager. In one short stretch, they hired Billy Eppler as GM, signed free agent outfielders Starling Marte and Mark Canha and infielder Eduardo Escobar and on Monday broke open the vault for pitcher Max Scherzer.
It is obvious what multi-billionaire owner Steve Cohen is doing here. But will checkbook baseball buy the Mets that illusive World Series title? We may have to wait to find out. At 11:59 PM Wednesday, the players association’s labor agreement with the owners will expire. Only a miracle will prevent an owners’ lockout. Expect things to turn ugly.
By the way, look for the New York media to roast the Yankees, who have been quiet, while the Mets gorge on this post Thanksgiving signing binge. With the lockout on, the need will exist to stoke the rivalry, even if the stories are imagined. Those website clicks need stoking too, after all.
Lee Elder, the first African American to play in the Masters died on Sunday at the age of 87. Elder was able to share one more memorable moment in April, when he joined Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player as an Honorary Starter at Augusta. Elder won four tournaments on the PGA Tour and eight on the PGA TOUR Champions. Elder had a major impact on many players, including Tiger Woods. May he RIP.
Happy Birthday, Vin Scully
The great Vin Scully turned 94 on Monday. It has been a tough year for this broadcast icon. He lost his wife Sandi to ALS and had some health issues. But Scully continues to persevere and earlier this month, after the Braves won the World Series, he sent out this great tweet:
There are numerous radio and TV broadcasts of Scully on You Tube. Check one out, if you want to relive the work of one of the all-time greats.
Well, that is it for today. I hope you survived Cyber Monday and thank you for your support.