Brian Hoffman: A good night for good games

1

Here’s hoping the NCAA powers that be decide to keep the College Football Championship semifinal games on January 1st.

The past several years the games have been held on New Year’s Eve. The initial College Football Playoff semifinals were held on January 1st of 2015. However, the next years someone had the bright idea to hold them on New Year’s Eve, and that’s when they were played the past two years.

This year New Year’s Eve fell on a Sunday, and everyone knows the National Football League owns Sunday from September through January so the games were moved to Monday, New Year’s Day. And what a great move that was.

I watched both games, from start to finish, and thoroughly enjoyed them. I had my favorites but I didn’t have a huge rooting interest in either game, so I could just sit back and relax and watch two entertaining games that meant a whole lot to a whole lot people.

That didn’t happen the past two years, when the games were held on New Year’s Eve. There’s a lot of entertainment competition on New Year’s Eve. People like to go to parties, out to eat, or just sit at home and watch the countdown to midnight on TV. A lot of people aren’t going to understand if you want to sit and watch seven straight hours of college football on New Year’s Eve.

I didn’t say women, but you can insert whatever you want. If I had to guess, by percentages, there are more men who would be interested in those games than there were women. And likewise, more women than men would likely want to watch Ryan Seacrest and Jenny McCarthy freezing their fingers off in Times Square. The poll might be a little closer if you throw in Mariah Carey.

The point is, there’s lots of stuff to do on New Year’s Eve, and by 5 pm on New Year’s Day it’s pretty much done. What a great time that is to kick back, grab a beverage and a sandwich and enjoy some big time college football.

It will be interesting to see what happens next year when New Year’s Eve is on a Monday. Here’s hoping they keep it on New Year’s Day so we can watch Mariah Carey in a skimpy outfit in near zero temperatures, AND seven hours of non-stop football.

 

DIFFERENT TEAMS, DIFFERENT GAMES

 

Was it just me, or was that some of the worst tackling you’ve ever seen in the Oklahoma-Georgia game Monday?

Offensive records for the Rose Bowl were set in Monday’s 54-48 Georgia win and it’s easy to see why if you watched the game. The two teams combined for 559 yards of rushing and I’m wondering if they keep track of “yards after contact” like they do in the NFL? If so, I’ll bet well over half of those yards qualified.

Georgia’s Nick Chubb ran for a 50 yard touchdown in the third quarter and at least four Oklahoma players had a clean shot at him but couldn’t bring him down. No offense to Chubb, who is a talented back, but these defensive players are supposed to be some of the best in the nation as well.

By contrast, the second game was a defensive battle. You didn’t see Clemson or Alabama players slipping off the ballcarrier like he was covered with Crisco shortening. The result was a 24-6 game with two of the touchdowns coming off defensive plays.

Personally, I thought the first game was more fun to watch. With such poor tackling no one was ever out of the game. In the second game, once Alabama got ahead by 18 points in the third quarter you were pretty sure Clemson wasn’t going to score three times.

It will be interesting to see what happens next Monday when the team that scored 54 points, Georgia, goes up against the team that gave up six, Alabama. I guess that’s what makes for a good matchup.

 

ONE GOOD IDEA LAVAR BALL HAS

 

I get sick and tired of seeing LaVar Ball on TV, but I have to give credit where credit is due. His Junior Basketball Association is a good idea.

Ball is planning to launch a basketball league for nationally ranked players who have graduated from high school but don’t want to go to college. His Big Baller Brand company will fund the league, paying players at least $3,000 a month and as much as $10,000 a month for the best players in the league. He’d like to have 10 teams in the league and they would play in NBA arenas.

Of course this was sparked by the fact that his middle son, LiAngelo, was suspended for the season by UCLA after he was caught swiping sunglasses during a school basketball trip to China. In the mean time LiAngelo dropped out of school and signed to play in Lithuania, as did his younger brother LaMelo, who dropped out of high school to do the same.

The gist of the matter is, there are some folks who just don’t belong in college. It’s a joke when these “one and done” players go to college for a year just so they can abide by rules set up for entrance into the NBA. Most of the really good NBA bound players have no intention of staying in school to get their degree. They’re only there because they aren’t eligible to join the pros, and in the meantime they make a mockery of what a college student should be.

This isn’t to belittle college athletes. I’d say there are about 40-50 players each year who would fall into this category, and they’re the ones who would stock Ball’s Junior Basketball Association. These players could prep for the NBA without having to explain why they’re not going to class. And, they’ll get paid for it and you won’t have the situation Chris Weber described when he was at Michigan, when he would hardly have enough money to buy a hamburger and they were selling his jersey in the bookstore for $100.

If Ball can pull this off it will certainly disappoint some college basketball fans, as the elite players might not be spending a season at Kentucky.  However, the college product that remains will still be good basketball, probably better when it comes to a team standpoint because the players will develop more chemistry by playing together for multiple years. That’s why some of these smaller colleges upset the big boys in “March Madness.” A good “team” can sometimes beat a team with better talent but less teamwork. Not always, but sometimes.

And, there’s nothing that says these elite players can’t still get their degrees if they so desire. Personally, I think the reason most people go to college is to get a good job, and if you’re making NBA money that’s a pretty good job, so why bother. But, again, it’s a pride thing to some.

I fondly remember an exchange between Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley on the TNT studio show a few years back. Vince Carter had finished the requirements for his degree at North Carolina and Smith asked Charles if he had gotten his degree at Auburn.

“No I haven’t,” said Barkley. “But I got a bunch of lawyers who work for me who got theirs.”

Enough said.