By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, completely bowl-ed over and bleary-eyed after a steady diet of football and shrimp cocktail. And I’m not sure which made my cry, Ohio State’s loss or St. Elmo’s cocktail sauce.
—LONG TIME COMING: There is no doubt Georgia’s spine-tingling 42-41 victory over Ohio State was, as they say, one for the ages, even though it aged Buckeye fans about 25 years in one night.
If that one was one for the ages, what was the Cotton Bowl and Tulane’s mind-boggling 46-45 win over Southern California? Tulane’s nickname is the Green Wave, but to USC it is Tidal Wave.
Tulane quarterback Michael Pratt threw only 17 passes, but the last one with nine seconds left from the 6-yard-line to Alex Bauman tied the game. And when Valentino Ambrosio kicked the extra point, it was the only time all afternoon that Tulane led.
USC quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams was 37 for 52 for 459 yards and five touchdowns. Not enough, though. Tulane running back Tyjae Spears carried 18 times for 210 yards and four touchdowns.
Did you know that Tulane was a charter member of the Southeastern Conference and played in the Sugar Bowl in 1940?
Tulane’s president didn’t like the way he thought the SEC was de-emphasizing academics and the school dropped out. And it fell on hard times in the football world.
In 2021, Hurricane Ida wrecked Tulane’s football facilities and the team played every game away from home. Their ‘home’ and practice facility were in Birmingham, 343 miles from their New Orleans Campus and they went 2-and-10, including a 61-21 annihilation by Ole Miss.
A year later, this season, the Green Wave went 12-2, won the American Athletic Conference title, and was in its first major bowl since that 1940 Sugar Bowl appearance. Amazingly, going from 2-and-10 to 12-and-2 is the biggest turnaround in major college football history.
—FOR PETE’S SAKE: Legal sports betting commenced at midnight New Year’s Day and Pete Rose made the first bet. . .of course he did.
It was at the Hard Rock Casino in Cincinnati. Ever loyal, the Hit King wagered $100 on the Cincinnati Reds to win the World Series. So Pete is still betting on the Reds.
He would stand a better chance if he bet that
the Reds would sign him and he would collect another 1,000 hits.
—QUOTE: From famous comedian W.C. Fields: “Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.” (And horses are more reliable than a lot of people.)s—YER OUT: Ten of MLB’s best umpires turned in their retirement papers after last season — Greg Gibson, Ted Barrett, Bill Hallion, Jim Reynolds, Marty Foster, Sam Holbrook, Jerry Meals, Paul Nauert, Tim Timmons and Bill Welke.
One of the best among the best is Ironton native Gibson, who just became a crew chief for the 2022 season.
Gibson helps organize and run one of the best baseball dinners in the world, The Portsmouth Murals Dinner. This year’s event is January 25 on the campus of Shawnee State University.
It is always attended by a bevy of former major leaguers from the Portsmouth area like Don Gullett, Al Oliver, Larry Hisle, Johnny Lemaster and others. And this year’s keynote speaker is former Big Red Machinist Darrel Chaney.
I’ll be there. . .I always am because it is one of the year’s highlights.
—QUOTE: From former manager Leo ‘The Lip’ Durocher, who was suspended a year for associating with gamblers: “I’ve never questioned an umpire’s integrity. His eyesight, yes.”
—PASS THE MAYO: Was watching the Mayonnaise Bowl this week and saw that the Maryland quarterback was Taulia Tagovailoa.
There can’t be two quarterbacks named Tagovailoa who aren’t related, right? Tua Tagovailoa is the concussion-plagued quarterback for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.
Yes, they are brothers.
Tua is a legend at Alabama and Taulia began his collegiate career at Alabama. But to get out from under big brother’s shadow, Taulia transferred to Maryland, with NFL aspirations.
“He’s my older brother and he’s in the league (NFL),” said Taulia, a red-shirt junior. “So it’s more of a thing where I feel like if he’s doing good, I know that I can do it, too. But I gotta take care of my stuff in college first.”
Taulia was just pedestrian in Maryland’s 16-12 win over North Carolina State — 19 for 37, 221 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions.
The highlight every year at the Duke’s Mayo Bowl is when the winning coach gets a large bucket of mayonnaise dumped over his body. Yech. They don’t even protect his head with lettuce leaves.
—WRIGHT ON: The Clemson basketball program has a distinct Wright State University flavor. Both head coach Brad Brownell and associate head coach Billy Donlon are former head coaches at Wright State.
Brownell is in his 13th year as Clemson coach and Donlon is in his first after coaching the University of Missouri-Kansas City for three seasons, his landing spot after Wright State let him go.
Donlon is a huge baseball fan and one of my all-time favorites in the coaching profession.
—SOCCER IT TO ME: So we all think that major league baseball salaries are obscene, right?
Pikers. MLB teams are mere pikers.
Soccer legend Cristiano Ronaldo is about to sign a contract with Al-Nassr of the Saudi Pro League. His salary? $211 million a year. Kick that one around for awhile.
—A STRETCH: Somebody mentioned on ESPN that LeBron James averages 33.7 points a game on his birthday, the most in the history of the NBA.
Now is that fair to guys like Wilt Chamberlain, Pete Maravich, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone and a bunch of other guys whose birthdays were not during the NBA season?
—WHEN THE EAGLES FLY: With apologies to John Mellencamp, when Jalen quarterbacks the Philadelphia Eagles, ‘It Hurts So Good.”
And the Eagles have discovered the last couple of weeks that when he can’t play, it Hurts so bad.
—DIRTY WORD: The one word in the English language I despise like no other: Cancer.