Redskins

Column: Are you ready for some bowls?! We aren't

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Column: Are you ready for some bowls?! We aren't

This college football bowl season is like a brand of Chex Mix that comes with a bunch of nuts you don't really care to eat.

Sure, there's a handful of enticing matchups that are worthy of your time for three or so hours. But by the time you're done picking through to the good ones, you realize there's not much left.

Well, there are other things to do this holiday season.

Like, go ice skating.

Or, check out all the pretty lights.

Whatever it is, there's never been a better reason to spend some time - some real quality time - with your friends and family.

Believe us, you won't be missing a thing if you tune out what will soon be running virtually nonstop on your plasma screen, in all its high-def ugliness. This is nothing more than a bunch of meaningless contests between mediocre teams, a lineup that that makes ``Honey Boo Boo'' look like ``Downton Abbey.''

Call it Must-Miss TV.

The guys who run the system clearly take us as nothing but a bunch of suckers, willing to watch whatever drivel they put before us as long they attach the word ``bowl'' to some product they're pushing.

When the complete list of bowls was finally unveiled in all its glory Sunday night, most of the attention turned to Northern Illinois, a team that somehow made the Orange Bowl after losing to Iowa (which won 33 percent of its games) and barely beating Army and Kansas (who combined for a grand total of three victories).

But let's not take out our wrath on the ... uh, hmmm ... whatever their nickname is. We should actually be saluting the MAC champs, because they're like a single minnow swimming ahead bravely to take on the BCS sharks, all while making an already ludicrous system look even sillier.

Besides, there's plenty of bowl games that are far more objectionable than the one in Miami between the Seminoles of Florida State and the ... uh, hmm ... oh yeah, the Huskies, that's it, of Northern Illinois.

The good folks of El Paso will be subjected to a Sun Bowl featuring a team with a losing record (Georgia Tech) and perhaps the most underachieving squad in all the land (USC).

The Yellow Jackets (6-7) needed a waiver from the NCAA before they could accept their invitation. The Trojans lost five times after starting the season at No. 1.

``We're excited about a very good bowl and a great matchup,'' said USC coach Lane Kiffin, who we can only assume awoke the next morning to find his nose had grown by a foot or two.

But, who knows, maybe one of Kiffin's minions will go all rogue again and deflate the tires on the team buses. That way, they can't leave their hotels and no one would have to be subjected to such a marquee matchup.

Though, we must say, this game might have some car-crash appeal if held in conjunction with a Kiffin family reunion. The bratty coach already dumped his 72-year-old dad because of the team's defensive woes, and he surely would be willing to jettison a few more relatives if the Trojans lost again.

Georgia Tech, meanwhile, was blown out at home by Middle Tennessee, lost its final regular-season game by 32 points and wound up with a losing record after getting into the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game by default, the next team in line after Miami decided to spend another postseason in self-imposed lockdown.

Even after losing the ACC game, the Yellow Jackets still got the call that extended their bowl streak to 16 years in a row.

Talk about an achievement worthy of an asterisk.

But, this isn't about one particular school. There's plenty of averageness to go around.

A dozen teams received bowl bids with records of 6-6, which is often the sort of mark that gets a coach fired, not earns his team a trip at the holidays. (Or, in the case of Purdue, was bowl-worthy AND got the coach fired).

In fact, there are two games matching a pair of 6-6 teams - Rice vs Air Force in the Armed Services Bowl at Fort Worth (sorry, our men and women in uniform) and Pittsburgh vs. Ole Miss in the BBVA Compass Bowl at Birmingham.

When those kind of teams get together, they're hoping you throw out the record book.

Instead, you should change the channel.

Yet, none of the 35 bowls could find a spot for Louisiana Tech, the highest-scoring team in the country, a squad that won nine times and barely lost to Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M in one of the most entertaining games of the season.

The Bulldogs apparently weren't too thrilled about the idea of going to the nearby Independence Bowl to dance with another team from their own state (Louisiana-Monroe). They thought they had might get a call from someone more handsome. The Independence was all, like, why you disrespectin' us, girlfriend? So they called up Ohio (University, not State), which said ``yes.''

``Under no circumstances did I ever think there was any possibility at all that we would not play in a bowl game,'' Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes said. ``It is a shame that our nationally recognized team and its 31 seniors have to end the season this way.''

No, the real shame is that college football ends its season this way.

We're promised a playoff in 2014, but we should see through that four-team ruse. It's a way to silence everyone who wants a legitimate playoff (16 teams, minimum) and keep alive the bowl system, nothing more than a nonprofit scam lining the pockets of its operators with exorbitant salaries for the taxing job of putting on one game a year.

Maybe if the fans stop watching, there will be a true playoff.

Maybe if the fans stop buying tickets, all these meaningless games will wither up and die.

There's no better time to start than now.

Happy Bowl Season!

Now, go do something else.

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Paul Newberry is a national writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at)ap.or or www.twitter.com

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Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

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Associated Press

Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

Even though it was a bright, warm Wednesday in Ashburn the Redskins held their OTA session in the practice bubble because recent rains have left their outdoor fields to soggy to use. Here are my observations from the practice:

—A few Redskins were not present and a few who were there were not participating in the drills. Jay Gruden said that OT Trent Williams is rehabbing in Texas and that LB Zach Brown is in the process of relocating to the Washington area. RB Chris Thompson and OT Morgan Moses were present, but both were spectators. 

— It should be noted that even though Moses didn’t practice and is still rehabbing after ankle surgery, he still participated in the sideline-to-sideline running the team does at the end of practice.

—At rookie camp, RB Derrius Guice was first in line to do every drill. Today, he gave way to the veterans to all take their reps and then he went first among the rookies. 

— “Fat Rob” Kelley never really was fat but he is now lean and mean. He also seems to be a half step quicker than he was in the past. Added competition in the form of second- and fourth-round picks being added at your position will do that to a player. 

—The “starting” offensive line from left to right was Geron Christian, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, and John Kling. The interior could well start the season; the tackle position awaits the returns of Williams, Scherff, and Ty Nsekhe. 

—RB Byron Marshall, who was on the team briefly last year before getting injured, looked very quick with good acceleration.

—CB Josh Norman was back with the group fielding punts. I seriously doubt that he will handle any kicks in games, even preseason games, but perhaps with DeAngelo Hall being gone he wants to be available as an emergency option. Also back with the punt returners were CB Danny Johnson, CB Greg Stroman, WR Maurice Harris, WR De’Mornay Pierson-El, and, of course, WR Jamison Crowder.

—S D.J. Swearinger spent most of the special teams practice on the sideline working on catching passes with his hands extended away from his body. A little while later, he had a chance to make an interception with his arms extended. Of course, he dropped it. 

—It seems like QB Alex Smith and Crowder have some good rapport built already. Once on the right sideline and a few minutes later on the left, Smith threw a well-placed ball into Crowder, who was well covered on both occasions. 

—Eventually, CB Orlando Scandrick caught on and he swatted down a quick out to Crowder. 

—With Brown out, Josh Harvey-Clemons was with the first unit at inside linebacker. He’s still skinny but less so than he was last year. The second-year player was impressive in coverage, staying with Crowder step for step on a deep pass down the middle.

—The play of the day was a deep pass down the right side from Smith to WR Paul Richardson. Stroman was with the receiver step for step on the 9 route but Smith laid the ball out perfectly and Richardson made a lunging catch. Even though it doesn’t have to under the new rule, the catch did survive the ground. 

—WR Cam Sims had a few impressive plays. On one, QB Colt McCoy lofted one high in the air down the right side. Sims kept his focus on the ball while two defenders lost it and made the catch. 

—WR Trey Quinn had his moments. He made a good grab while being bumped by Scandrick. But a while later he dropped a fairly easy one. 

—The running backs all looked good but Guice looked the best of all of them. He had an ability to cut and maintain his speed that not many have. With the warning that they were playing with no pads with no contact and not at full speed, Guice’s vision appeared to be outstanding. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- The draft: Redskins should get 4 additional picks in 2019 draft
- Schedule series: Gotta beat the Cowboys

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

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USA TODAY Sports

NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that allows players to remain in the locker room if they prefer but requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance.

This new policy subjects teams, but not players, to fines if any team personnel do not show appropriate respect for the anthem. 

Teams will also have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction separately though. 

The NFL Players Association released it's own statement after the news was made official.