Ratto's Top 25: Purple-faced Harbaugh, headhunters climb ranks


Ratto's Top 25: Purple-faced Harbaugh, headhunters climb ranks

Most of the college football season ended Saturday, with only a few conference championships, a bit of extraneous flotsam and jetsam and the Army-Navy game, 97 bowl games of indifferent vintage, and the national championship. The season ended in the way you thought it would, with coaches on hot seats, athletic directors making themselves scarce, and with Jim Harbaugh turning purple because he didn’t get what he wanted at the moment he wanted it.

Then again, since one of the things he always wants, I suspect, is to make Jed York eat his own liver, well, he got that much done by being part of a great football game. He should consider it a good day even in defeat.

In any event, the real purpose of college sports is to please the people who invest in them, as in the bettors who keep this from being just some pointless anthropology class. And your champion is, as you knew it would be, the Temple Owls, who covered every time but once (the now infamous Week 1 loss to Army) whose reward is to be ignored by the misguided whelps who think this sport is all about who wins the playoffs.

The dullards.

(As always, the parentheticals mean overall record, record against the line and record against the total. Why I have to explain this to you, I do not know. You should have figured it out by now).

1. TEMPLE (9-3, 11-1, 5-7): Dawdled before covering the 23 against the largely ineffectual East Carolinas, and as a result are the greatest college team since Northwestern went 12-1 against the line in 2012. The irony here, of course, being that Northwestern was ensnared a football point-shaving scandal a decade and a half earlier, while Temple is purer than newly driven Tibetan snow. Yay covering.

2. COLORADO (10-2, 10-2, 5-7): Took the pipe to Utah (winning, but not covering) on the final day of the regular season, which is the kind of slovenly effort that gets you taken off hot-name coaching lists, Mike MacIntyre.

3. COLORADO STATE (7-5, 10-2, 6-6): Got routed by Colorado early, then failed against Wyoming, but Wyoming gets dinged for getting routed by New Mexico Saturday (the reasons why this might have happened don’t matter, because nobody pays on good intentions). In any event, a big year for the Rockies – and Broad Street, too.

4. WISCONSIN (10-2, 9-2-1, 5-7): Pushed at home against Minnesota, thereby ruining brachos (yep, like it sounds) and cheese curds for everyone as well as costing the Badgers the No. 2 spot. I’m sure Paul Chryst is devastated.

5. PENN STATE (10-2, 8-3-1, 9-3): Either ruined the college playoff by locking Ohio State and Michigan out, in which case we thank them, or made college football fans and media bitch ceaselessly about how they ruined the college football playoffs by locking Ohio State and Michigan out, in which case we hate them.

6. HEADHUNTERS (six coaches fired in-season, more blood starting Sunday): Charlie Strong (16-21, 18-19, 13-24) of Texas received his head in a satchel Saturday and after an exhaustive 47-minute search by Houston’s Tom Herman (22-4, 14-12, 11-13-1). Another 20 or so will get it in the next few days, because college football has always been about two things – winning your bet, and gauging the mood of the crankiest donor.

7. WESTERN MICHIGAN (12-0, 9-3, 7-5): Proud winners of the What About Us Trophy as the unbeaten team who was never going to get a sniff at a playoff spot by savaging Toledo (7-3, 7-5, 5-6-1).

8. P.J. Fleck (29-21, 31-19, 26-23-1): One of those coaching “hot names,” which means he gets rich and Western starts all over again, because that’s the way college football goes – the small get eaten, again and again.

9. EASTERN MICHIGAN (7-5, 9-3, 4-8): Covered just as much as Western Michigan, but they get to keep head coach Chris Creighton because America refuses to understand the true psychic value of covering.

10. OTTAWA REDBLACKS (9-9-1, 8-11, 9-9-1): Playing in the Grey Cup Sunday against Calgary (15-2-1, 13-5, 7-9-2), and are getting 9½. A third-year expansion team has now been to successive Grey Cups, which either means that they are geniuses whose concepts the NFL should steal, or the CFL’s Eastern Conference is made up entirely of “-stan” countries.

11. RUTGERS (2-10, 4-8, 6-6): Endured two triple-digit scoring droughts (160 unanswered opposition points, then 102 later), making their four covers almost unthinkably impressive. Then again, so much of the Rutgers football experience this year has been unthinkable.

12. MICHIGAN (10-2, 6-6, 8-4): In case you forgot, Ohio State was giving four, meaning this is a solid cover in a big game at the other guy’s stadium. The overall numbers aren’t as impressive, but Harbaugh also won points for whining about the officiating after the game while wearing his father’s reading glasses.

13. COLIN KAEPERNICK (31-26-1, 24-30-4, 28-28-2): Picked a tough week to have a Fidel Castro argument.

14. OREGON STATE (4-8, 9-3, 5-7): Came from behind to kneecap Oregon (4-8, 2-9-1, 7-5) and dominate the state for the first time in nearly 50 years – unless you have proof that Portland State went 11-1 against the line, which you clearly don’t.

15. ALABAMA (12-0, 8-4, 5-7): You want to be taken seriously? You cover in the Iron Bowl. Your own constituents demand this of you.

16. NAVY (9-2, 7-3-1, 8-3): Beat SMU, 75-31, the third zaniest game of the day, and they did with a high-powered passing performance from Will Worth – 5-of-7, 104 yards, one touchdown. With that kind of line, he could be a 49er.

17. MIDDLE TENNESSEE-FLORIDA ATLANTIC (Middle Tennessee covers the 16½ ): The silver medal, as MTSU (8-4, 6-5-1, 8-4) hammered FAU (3-9, 2-9-1, 8-4), 77-56. The game had three 200-yard rushers, 1,346 total yards, 63 first downs, and would have been the drunken sailor special of the week if not for . . .

18. SYRACUSE-PITT (Syracuse covers as a 26-point dog, and as though you needed to know this, the over is obliterated): The best game of all. If you think about it for a moment, as much as you might have enjoyed Ohio State-Michigan, the final score of this game was 76-61, and Pitt only had the ball for 24:18. That’s a point every 19 seconds,

19. WASHINGTON INDIGENOUS AMERICAN CITIZENS (6-4-1, 8-3, 9-2): The most consistent bet in the NFL when you consider both line and total. Points off for the owner – though in fairness, you can say that for pretty much any professional sports team on earth.

20. ARIZONA (3-9, 2-10, 7-5): Because it is never, ever, ever, ever, EVER too late to cover. And credit to Arizona State (5-7, 6-6, 7-5) for getting routed by a seemingly inferior team in a game it needed to be bad-bowl eligible.

21. WASHINGTON (11-1, 6-6, 8-3-1): Ruined a potentially great Apple Cup by dope-slapping Washington State (8-4, 6-6, 7-4-1).

22. OHIO (8-4, 6-6, 1-10-1): Proudly finished a season of never hitting the over by beating Akron, 9-3, missing the total by a mere 41½ points. Next year, Frank Solich will coach a 2-0 win and push on the total.

23. BOISE STATE (10-2, 3-9, 5-7): On the one hand, they won a lot, except for Friday against Air Force (9-3, 5-7, 7-5). On the other, they rarely covered. And on the other other, head coach Brian Harsin is probably on big school coaching hire short lists. So yes, there is such a thing as losing by winning.

24. BAYLOR (6-5, 2-9.4-7): The Bears still have one game after getting kneecapped by Texas Tech (5-7,8-4, 7-5), and at this point, given how the entire operation has been shamed, they may as well just give it back.

25. JAKE SPISAK (Rice drum major): Was the only member of the school’s band to travel to Stanford to perform with the notorious criminal element that can play its music but only at home where the customers are inoculated from their alleged misdeeds. As a salute to his devotion to duty, Spisak was put on honorary probation by the Stanford administration for knowingly consorting with miscreant oboeists.

And you know how ornery miscreant oboeists can be. I mean, I don’t, but I’ve always hated the oboe anyway. And I’d bet money that you do too, or should.

Now, until next year, and I mean this with all sincerity, 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.