OBSERVATIONS: Why college football is so great (again)

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, wondering if we’ll ever see Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields throw an off-target pass. In three games, he has thrown 11 touchdown passes and only 11 incompletions. One incompletion was a spike to stop the clock and at least four others were dropped passes. Fields could throw a kernel of corn through a 5/8th wrench from 50 yards.

—Why I love College Football (Re-visited):

*Maryland was a 27 1/2 underdog at Penn State. Maryland 35, Penn Sate 19. Time to present 0-and-3 Penn State with the Most Overrated Team trophy.

°Liberty was a 15 1/2-point underdog at Virginia Tech. Liberty 38. Virginia Tech 35. Give me Liberty or give me the points.

*Michigan was 3 1/2-point favorites at Indiana. Indiana 38, Michigan 21. Does U-M coach Jim Harbaugh know that song by Steam, ‘Na Na Na Na, Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey, Goodbye?’

*University of Cincinnati was 12 1/2-point favorites over Houston and easily covered. UC 38, Houston 10. The Bearcats are 6-and-0 and play defense like a kennel full of pit bulls.

*Georgia was a 3 1/2-point favorites at home against Florida. Florida 44, Georgia 21. Gator quarterback Kyle Trask threw four touchdown passes for the fifth straight game. Hey, he is almost as good as Justin Fields. Almost.

*Unbeaten Marshall was 44 1/2-point favorites over UMass. But if you wagered on Marshall you lost, even though the Thundering Herd won, 51-10. They only won by 41. I thought UMass gave up football. . .and it looks as if they have.

—When did it become so easy for receivers to catch passes with one hand? It was just a few years ago when everybody gasped at a one-handed catch by Odell Beckham Jr.

On Saturday, while watching football all day, I saw at least five one-handed grabs, two on back-to-back plays by the same guy.

If I had tried that in high school, coach Dom Patella would have made me play a set of downs with no helmet. But I wouldn’t worry. Coach Patella came from the Woody Hayes infantry school and called for a pass every third equinox.

—What was Dabo Swinney thinking? Before his Clemson team played Notre Dame, he showed them the movie ‘Rudy,’ the true story movie about a walk-on player at Notre Dame.

Talk about implanting negative thoughts in your team’s craniums. Notre Dame 47, Clemson 40 in double overtime. Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!

—Military football ground to a halt this week due to the pandemic. The Army-Air Force game at West Point was called off, as was the Navy-Tulane game.

The other academies shut it down before the season even began. Virginia Military was supposed to play West Carolina, Coast Guard Academy was scheduled to meet Worcester Poly and the U.S. Merchant Marine was supposed to play Catholic U., all last weekend.

—QUOTE: From President/General Dwight D. Eisenhower: “One of the things that I noticed in war was how difficult it was for our soldiers, at first, to realize that there are no rules to war. Our men were raised in sports, where a referee runs a football game, or an umpire a baseball game.” (Ike didn’t need a referee to throw a flag or an umpire to call a balk when he led the Normandy invasion.)

—On to baseball:

This actually happened to minor league pitcher Josh Goar in 1890. And as Casey Stengel liked to say, “You could look it up.”

Goar pitched one inning and gave up three triples, a double and two singles. And no runs. NO RUNS.

How? Well, like this.

*The first batter tripled. Goar threw a pitch in the dirt and the runner tried to score and was thrown out.

*The second batter tripled and was thrown out at home trying to stretch it into a home run.

*The third batter tripled.

*The fourth batter bunted up the third base line and they let it roll, hoping it would go foul. It didn’t and the batter reached second for a double while the runner on third held.

*The fifth batter also bunted and beat it for a single while the runners held.

*The sixth batter hit a line drive between first and second that hit the baserunner. The runner was out, but the batter was credited with a single.

***The line: No runs, six hits, no errors.

There has never been a magician in the world that could perform that trick. Eight years later, Goar pitched for the Cincinnati Reds. . .two innings. And he didn’t give up six hits in one inning.

—QUOTE: From former Pittsburgh Pirates/Chicago White Sox/Oakland A’s/Atlanta Braves manager Chuck Tanner: “The greatest feeling in the world is to win a major league game. The second greatest feeling is to lose a major league game.” (Wonder if ol’ Josh Goar’s manager felt that way?)

—During the 1970s (1970-79), the Cincinnati Reds faced 11 future Hall of Fame starting pitchers and Van Wilhoite spent some time (he obviously had a lot of it on his hands) to check out how the Reds did against each one.

Combined, the Reds — mostly The Big Red Machine — was 85-71 against these legends.

The guy with the best record against the Reds was 9-an-2, fully-equipped with K-Y jelly and Vaseline. It was Gaylord Perry. The ‘70s Reds only faced Nolan Ryan in 1970-71 when he was sharpening his craft with the New York Mets and he was 0-and-3, then departed for the American League until 1980 when he joined the Houston Astros.

The records: Steve Carlton (7-12, 4.04), Tom Seaver (6-14, 3.01), Phil Niekro (17-23, 3.77), Ferguson Jenkins (6-4, 2.97), Gaylord Perry (9-2, 2.83), Bob Gibson (5-3, 2.54), Nolan Ryan (0-3, 5.40), Bert Blyleven (2-0, 2.27), Juan Marichal (5-7, 3.93), Jim Bunning (1-4, 5.48), Don Sutton (13-16, 3.78).

—QUOTE: From much-feared pitcher Don Drysdale: “If they knocked two of your guys down, I’d get four. You have to protect your hitters. I hate all hitters. I start a game mad and I stay that way until it’s over.”

—As some wise person once said, “Cheating is a choice, not a mistake.” Former Houston manager A.J. Hinch and his bench coach, Alex Cora, chose to cheat by illegally stealing signs when both were in Houston.

Both were suspended and fired, Hinch as manager of the Astros and Cora as manager of the Boston Red Sox. Lo and don’t-behold, the Detroit Tigers hired Hinch as manager and the Red Sox rehired Cora as manager.

It isn’t a good look for MLB, which already has more tarnish than a cheap door-knocker.

Say what you want about suspended-for-life Pete Rose, he would knock over his grandmother to win. . .or at least Ray Fosse, but he didn’t cheat on the field.

—QUOTE: From Hall of Famer Bob Feller on cheating: “You figure if they cheat at the ballpark, they’ll cheat on the golf course, they’ll cheat in business and anything else in life. Players may laugh about it and say it’s funny, but right down in their heart, they don’t think it’s funny at all and they have no respect for a person who cheats.”

—From good friend Tom Melzoni: “With all the stress eating, I reached 270 before both the presidential candidates.” (I’ve actually lost 30 pounds. Thank you very much.)

One thought on “OBSERVATIONS: Why college football is so great (again)”

  1. Even though Georgia was considered to be the home team in their game with Florida, the game was actually played in Jacksonville, Florida.

    Love your column!

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