Ratto's Top 25: Alabama falls until they challenge the MAC


Ratto's Top 25: Alabama falls until they challenge the MAC

There is nothing better about college football than the Mid-American Conference, because everything else is, well, kind of a series of lies that end up assembling into a truth about who the best team actually is.

More or less. Most of the time.

Anyway, we prefer to reflect that fact in this week’s Top 25. If all other programs disbanded and became gigantic shop classes, leaving only the MAC, this would be a better nation for all of us, and if you think otherwise, you’re a dope, and all the rest of us hate you for it.

There. That seems reasonable. Now, down to cases (as always, the parentheticals indicate actual record, against the line and over/under).

1. LOUISVILLE (3-0, 3-0, 3-0): Okay, now we lied. But say what you want about that lunatic Bobby Petrino, this is a hell of a team. Ask any footprint on any Florida State player, and he’ll tell you as much.

2. THE REBEL YELL (no record): The UNLV student paper is almost certainly composing an editorial asking CENTRAL MICHIGAN (3-0, 3-0, 3-0) to give back its win Saturday out of a sense of integrity. It should be mentioned that TRY is changing its name to something less provocative, so send any ideas you have to the editorial types.

3. WESTERN MICHIGAN (3-0, 3-0, 2-1): Got paid $1.2 million to go to Illinois and kick four touchdowns worth of ass in Champaign. Nice gig if you can get it.

4. EASTERN MICHIGAN (2-1, 2-1, 2-1): Due to penalties in their easy-as-a-monochrome-Rubik’s-cubs win over Charlotte, the Iggs got to try an onside kick from the Charlotte 20. It didn’t work. It doesn’t matter.

5. TOLEDO (3-0, 3-0, 2-1): The fourth piece of the mighty MAC West, which is 13-5, 14-4, 11-7. By comparison, the SEC is a pale imitiation of a mockery of a sham.

6. NORTH DAKOTA STATE (3-0, 1-1, 0-2): They beat Iowa, and they’re the Bison. Take a knee before your buffalonian overlords.

7. ARMY (3-0, 3-0, 1-2): Betting unders is a step above playing Fan Kings or Duel Draft, but Army did throw for 178 yards in a 66-14 win over UTEP, which for a service academy is tantamount to teaching the spread offense to North Korea.

8. NAVY (3-0, 2-0-1, 2-1): In other let’s-play-offense-drunk news, quarterback Will Worth was 5-for-12 for 59 yards, which was two completions and 38 yards better than Tulane’s Johnathan Bradley. Evidently the armed services don’t stand for anything any more.

9. MICHIGAN (3-0, 2-1, 3-0): Jim Harbaugh missed a third consecutive cover by a point, and Bo Schembechler spits on him from Valhalla. Bo always took great care to mind the number in his day.

10. SOUTH FLORIDA (3-0, 3-0, 2-1): Beat Syracuse, if that’s your idea of a good time.

11. OHIO STATE (3-0, 3-0, 2-1): Advancing the likelihood of that national title showdown against either Louisville, Western Michigan or the New York Jets.

12. MIAMI OF OHIO (0-3, 2-1, 1-2): For embracing the new metric world by employing as its starting quarterback (wait for it) someone named Billy Bahl.

13. CLEMSON (3-0, 1-2, 0-3): For shortening the third and fourth quarters of its 59-0 win over South Carolina State to 12 quarters out of respect to the Bulldogs, but with a blatant disregard for the over (63½). That’s not teaching good American values, Dabo. Cover the number, then indulge your humanitarian instincts.

14. THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE (16-0, 14-14-4, 18-14): For allowing fans to buy customized jerseys with “HARAMBE” on the back. At the everyday extortionate rate, of course.

15. FC SCHALKE (3-2): Beat Nice in the Europa League, which is only fair given their basic human decency. This offseason, they hired the coach from Augsburg, who hired the coach from Darmstadt, who hired the coach from Arminia Bielefeld, who hired the coach from Sannehof Grossapach, who hired the coach from Eichede, who hired the coach from Wedelen, who asked Schalke for a make-good on raiding them from six cities away. The payoff? Fifty crates of beer, the best transfer day deal ever.

16. TENNESSEE-MARTIN (1-2, 2-0, 1-1): Beat Bacone, 84-6, in a game shortened to 10-minutes quarters after halftime. Next up in the Coldcut League: Sausage in two weeks.

17. PENN STATE (2-1, 1-2, 3-0): Failed to cover against Temple, and also did some Joe Paterno remembrance stuff.

18. BAYLOR (3-0, 0-3, 0-3): Now that’s hard to do even with the karma the program has coming.

19. NEBRASKA (3-0, 2-0-1, 2-1): Gets a push against Oregon only because Mark Helfrich went for two every time his team scored and converted only one of them. If you had the Huskers, even for sentimental reasons, you don’t deserve to get your money back.

20. LISBURN DISTILLERY (1-3-1): Big win this week over Queen’s University in the Irish Something-Or-Other League, after a 2-2 draw and losses of 6-1, 11-1 and 4-1. Why does this matter? Because it’s a team named after distillery, you cloth-eared nits.

21. STANFORD (2-0, 2-0, 0-2): David Shaw is 29-40 against the total in his career. The physics department is not pleased. I’m just sayin’.

22. CHICAGO CUBS (94-54, 67-73-8): The magic number is still minus-one after their hangover game Saturday.

23. FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (0-3, 0-3, 0-3): If you can’t ABC (Always Be Coverin’), there’s nothing wrong with NBC (Never Be Coverin’). We just need to know ahead of time how this is going to play out.

24. ALABAMA (3-0, 2-1, 2-1): This is the team of the new century? Go play some MAC teams, then come back to us.

25. SANTIAGO CASILLA (record withheld by request of corporate lawyers and current obscenity laws): There are still 14 games to play, so cheer up, suckers.

Happy now? Of course not. Go away.

WNBA All-Star sues Cal over alleged sexual assault


WNBA All-Star sues Cal over alleged sexual assault

BERKELEY — Former California women’s basketball player and current WNBA All-Star guard Layshia Clarendon has filed a lawsuit against Cal claiming she was sexually assaulted by a longtime member of the athletic department.

The school acknowledged the lawsuit Wednesday night and said the staff member, Mohamed Muqtar, had recently been placed on paid leave. The assistant director of student services, Muqtar has been working for the university for just more than 25 years, the school said. An e-mail to Muqtar’s Cal email account was not immediately returned.

Cal said in a statement “the University is aware of the complaint, but has not received a copy of the lawsuit nor had the benefit of reviewing the allegations.”

Clarendon, who plays for the Atlanta Dream and was at Cal from 2009-13, posted on Twitter her thoughts about the lawsuit.

She said in three separate tweets:

— “Regarding the news today: I want the shame to not be my own anymore, because it’s not my shame to carry, but it’s something that I’ve had to carry. It’s a horrible thing to live in silence, to carry that pain and that weight and the guilt.”

— “My biggest hope is that he never does this to anyone else. That no one else has to suffer under his hand, or him violating their bodies again. That this would be the end of him assaulting people. #TimesUp.”

— “It feels there is a big level of responsibility there for me, to make sure this doesn’t continue. And he doesn’t continue to harm other people.”

Cal explained in its statement that this case goes beyond the athletic department for investigation.

The statement reads: “Our department policy states that once anyone in Cal Athletics is made aware of any instance or allegation of a violation of University policy involving a coach, staff member or student-athlete, those matters are referred to the appropriate departments on campus responsible for investigating them. Athletics does not have its own specific conduct process nor does it investigate allegations or cases on its own, but follows the University’s policy and works in concert with campus professionals who are responsible for those areas. All university staff are also required to complete sexual harassment and sexual violence prevention training, and those programs have increased in recent years. Cal Athletics is and will always be committed to fostering a culture where everyone feels safe, welcome and respected. We encourage anyone who is feeling distressed or troubled to contact the PATH to Care Center and other campus resources.

“Layshia holds a special place in our history for her contributions to Cal women’s basketball both on and off the court and we are saddened to hear of the allegations that are coming to light today.”

Alabama wins national title on epic walk-off touchdown in OT


Alabama wins national title on epic walk-off touchdown in OT


ATLANTA -- To add another championship to the greatest dynasty college football has ever seen, Alabama turned to its quarterback of the future, and Tua Tagovailoa proved that his time is now.

The freshman quarterback, who had played mostly mop-up duty this season, came off the bench to spark a comeback and threw a 41-yard touchdown to DeVonta Smith that gave No. 4 Alabama a 26-23 overtime victory against No. 3 Georgia on Monday night for the College Football Playoff national championship.

Tagovailoa entered the game at halftime, replacing a struggling Jalen Hurts, and threw three touchdown passes to give the Crimson Tide its fifth national championship since 2009 under coach Nick Saban.

"He just stepped in and did his thing," Hurts said. "He's built for stuff like this. I'm so happy for him." The Tide might have a quarterback controversy ahead of it but first Alabama will celebrate another national title.

For the third straight season, Alabama played in a classic CFP final. The Tide split two with Clemson, losing last season on touchdown with a second left.

What was Saban thinking as the winning pass soared this time?

"I could not believe it," he said. "There's lots of highs and lows. Last year we lost on the last play of the game and this year we won on the last play of the game. These kids really responded the right way. We said last year, `Don't waste the feeling.' They sure didn't, the way they played tonight."

Smith streaked into the end zone and moments later confetti rained and even Saban seemed almost giddy after watching maybe the most improbably victory of his unmatched career.

After Alabama kicker Andy Pappanastos missed a 36-yard field goal that would have won it for the Tide (13-1) in the final seconds of regulation , Georgia (13-2) took the lead with a 51-yard field goal from Rodrigo Blankenship in overtime.

Tagovailoa took a terrible sack on Alabama's first play of overtime, losing 16 yards. On the next play he found Smith, another freshman, and hit him in stride for the national championship.

Tagovailoa was brilliant at times, though he had a few freshman moments. He threw an interception when he tried to pass on a running play and all his receivers were blocking. He also darted away from the pass rushers and made some impeccable throws, showing the poise of a veteran. Facing fourth-and-goal from 7, down seven, the left-hander moved to his left and zipped a pass through traffic that hit Calvin Ridley in the numbers for the tying score with 3:49 left in the fourth quarter.

He finished 14 for 24 for 166 yards. The winning play was, basically, four receivers going deep.

"After the sack, we just got up and took it to the next play," Tagovailoa said. "I looked back out, and he was wide open. Smitty was wide open." Freshmen were everywhere for the Alabama offense: Najee Harris at running back, Henry Ruggs III at receiver, Alex Leatherwood at left tackle after All-American Jonah Williams was hurt. It's a testament to the relentless machine Saban has built.

But this game will be remembered most for his decision to change quarterbacks trailing 13-0.

"I just thought we had to throw the ball, and I felt he could do it better, and he did," Saban said. "He did a good job, made some plays in the passing game. Just a great win. I'm so happy for Alabama fans. Great for our players. Unbelievable."

Saban now has six major poll national championships, including one at LSU, matching the record set by the man who led Alabama's last dynasty, coach Paul Bear Bryant.

This was nothing like the others.

With President Trump in attendance, the all-Southeastern Conference matchup was all Georgia in the first half before Saban pulled Hurts and the five-star recruit from Hawaii entered. The president watched the second half from Air Force One.

"I don't know how Coach Saban found me all the way in Hawaii from Alabama," Tagovailoa said. "Thank God he found me and we're here right now."

The Tide trailed 20-7 in the third quarter after Georgia's freshman quarterback, Jake Fromm, hit Mecole Hardman for an 80-yard touchdown pass that had the Georgia fans feeling good about ending a national title drought that dates back to 1980.

Fromm threw for 232 yards for a while it looked as if he was going to be the freshman star for the game, the first to true freshman to lead his team to a national title season since Jamelle Holieway for Oklahoma in 1985.

"I mean, if you want to find out about Jake Fromm, go ask those guys on the other side of the ball, and they'll tell you because that's a really good defense he just went against," Smart said.

A little less than a year after the Atlanta Falcons blew a 25-point lead and lost in overtime to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, there was more pain for many of the local fans. Two years ago, Georgia brought in Saban's top lieutenant, Kirby Smart, to coach the Bulldogs and bring to his alma mater a dose of Alabama's Process.

Smart, who spent 11 seasons with Saban - eight as his defensive coordinator in Tuscaloosa - quickly built `Bama East. It was Georgia that won the SEC this season. Alabama had to slip into the playoff without even winning its own division.

With the title game being held 70 miles from Georgia's campus in Athens, Dawg fans packed Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but it turned out to be sweet home for Alabama and now Saban is 12-0 against his former assistants.

But not without angst.

Alabama drove into the red zone in the final minute and Saban started playing for a field goal that would end the game and win it for the Tide. A nervous quiet gripped the crowd of 77,430 as `Bama burned the clock. With the ball centered in the middle of the field, Pappanastos lined up for a kick to win the national championship. The snap and hold looked fine, but the kicked missed badly to the left.

For the second straight week, Georgia was going to overtime. The Bulldogs beat Oklahoma in a wild Rose Bowl in double overtime to get here, and after Jonathan Ledbetter and Davin Bellamy sacked Tagovailoa for a big loss on the first play, Alabama was in trouble - second-and-26.

Not for long. Tagovailoa looked off the safety and threw the biggest touchdown pass in the history of Alabama football.