Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey is not a communist after all


Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey is not a communist after all

It’s been days now since Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey (since joined by Baylor’s Shock Linwood) declared themselves ineligible for their schools’ respective bowl games due to not wanting to ruin their NFL careers before they start, and a funny thing has happened.

Nothing. Not even a barely-half-sincere, “Is Christian McCaffrey actually a Communist?”

In fact, the biggest name among the people who decried their decisions to skip the Cirtus, Sun and Cactus Bowls was Dallas Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliott, whose disdain actually turned into an argument with himself on Twitter:

“All these young guys deciding to skip their bowl games (needless emoji intrusion).I would do anything to play one more time with my brothers in that scarlet and gray (Ohio State).”

Followed by:

“One last time to honor your university and one last chance to play with your boys who will be your brothers for life.”

Then it took a turn:

“The only one that (matters) is the National Championship.”

Then a qualified turn:

“And there is a difference between not coming back for your last year and not finishing your last season.”

And finally:

“My bad though I didn't realize they were already battling injuries. So I guess it makes sense.”

Before doubling back on itself:

“I just know how much I loved my university and the guys I played with. My last game was the most memorable moment from my college career.”

All from someone who left early for the draft, and whose last game was a four-touchdown beatdown of Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl that was designed for him to drive his own draft stock upward.

In other words, eliminating some old fuds defending the Ottoman Empire nature of the bowl system, the compelling debate about the undermining of the sport’s basic structure was just Sal Tessio telling Tom Hagen in The Godfather II, “Tell Mike it was only business. I always liked him.”

Right before getting clipped for turning on the family.

Only nobody wants to clip Fournette or McCaffrey, or even knows about Linwood. People, well, yawned.

Now maybe this is a condemnation of the current bowl structure, which is 40-games strong (nearly two-thirds of all teams) and was reduced this year to a question about whether Minnesota’s players would go to the Holiday Bowl after 10 of their teammates were suspended for allegedly gang-raping a woman, and whether the Gophers would be replaced by Northern Illinois and its 5-7 record.

Now THAT is communism.

But it does reveal an unpleasant truth about college football, and maybe proves a harbinger for other sports. Namely, that all but three games (the two semifinals and the national championship game) are simply white noise to most people, a gigantic amorphous blob of people in brightly colored costumes running into each other every night for a month under the banner “HAVE ANOTHER HELPING. DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE TASTE, OR EVEN IF YOU’RE HUNGRY.”

And nobody seems terribly concerned about the sanctity of the Cactus Bowl.

Nor should we pity the bowls or the system. They chose to multiply like guinea pigs as part of Mark Cuban’s “Hogs Gets Slaughtered” policy, and most of them leave no impact, or are really designed to do so. They are allegedly rewards for players, when in fact what they are in many cases are rewards for bowl game directors and advertising directors. Yes, non-pro-potential players get some fun out of it (and that alone is worth the bother, since fringe players should at least get a swag bag for their extra month of unpaid work), but if most of them died tomorrow, we’d just fill up our days drinking beer for other reasons and talking about Tony Romo.

But now that we understand that for those with future aspirations (including coaches, it must be remembered) they are mostly pre-job interviews, it must obviously follow that some people already know they have jobs awaiting for them, and for them, pushing for that extra yard in the third quarter of a 27-3 loss to Directional AM & PM before a quarter-filled stadium makes as much sense as studying for a test by hitting yourself in the head with a skillet.

Amazingly, most people see it that way. “Most people,” of course, do not include TV and radio producers who need a contrived argument thrice daily just to stay alive, and there are some old folks who remember their youths and are offended by how little of it resonates for a younger generation. And let’s face it, if you get to your 60s and can’t act like Mister Know-It-All telling the young’uns what’s up and why while they sit slackjawed and amazed by your Gandalf-like wisdom, getting to 60 is just going into the fourth quarter of, well, the Cactus Bowl.

So yeah, Christian McCaffrey is not a communist after all, because you can’t have a revolution when the people watching your revolt tell you, “I totally get it. That’s the smart play.”

And another ginned-up debate dies the horrible death it so richly deserves. Now back to "Why Do NBA Players Get To Sit Out Games?" and the continued deterioration of our culture.

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.