NCAA Conference Championship Weekend Trash Talk

In the Pros and Joes discussion, this weekend features the Joes. It is the conference championship weekend, and the final action before the Final Football Four are selected. So, let’s start there.

Utah was well on its way to a potential Championship final four appearance for the Pac-12. Nope. The Oregon Quackers made the Utes Duck. Bigly. Oregon undoubtedly goes to the Rose Bowl, and who knows about Utah. Their extremely good defense was shredded by the Ducks. Ouch. There are five more critical games on the schedule today, and Cincinnati and Memphis for the AAC is the lesser of them, though it may well be a fantastic game. It is in Memphis at Liberty Bowl stadium, so I will roll with the Tigers at their home.

With the Utah fail, that means Baylor versus Oklahoma (shoutout to our departed friend Freepatriot, who loved the Sooners), may well mean a final four berth. It is a neutral site. Something smells of a Baylor upset, but the Sooners are now coached by Line Riley as opposed to Bob Stoops, so I don’t think so. Sooners. The B1G Championship is played in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Would be a fantastic story if Wisconsin could beat the Bucks, but that is a bad bet. Virginia may get Cavalier and upset Trevor Lawrence and Clemson, but it would be shocking. Clemson and Lawrence started a little slow this year, but are undefeated and are averaging 50 points a game since mid-October.

That leaves the big one, i.e. the SEC championship, played in HotLanta. Georgia, the current numbers 4, versus the Tigers of LSU, the current number 2. Without much question the most anticipated game of the day. Frankly, it is hard to see how Ohio State ever jumped above LSU, in fact by the record as of now, it is a joke. LSU has the likely Heisman winner, Joe Burrow, at QB, and he has been lighting people up. Georgia is really good. The defenses are both great, but the offenses, and specifically the QB’s will likely determine this. Burrow just looks a lot better than Jake Fromm, I’ll take the Bayou Tigers.

So that leaves the Pros. Da Bears already beat the Cowboys, which likely makes Scribe smile wildly. Dallas just does not look good, and Garrett has to be gone at the end of the season. Baltimore is at Buffalo, and the Ravens seem a good bet. But every time people write the Wagon Circlers off this year, they surprise. I’ll take Jackson and the Ravens, but don’t sleep on the Buffalo defense, they might contain him. Would not be surprised if the Broncos upset the Texans in Houston, but that is also not a good bet. The Steelers are here at the Cardinals. The Cards are improving, but still not that good. Duck Duck should go go against them, even in the Bird’s Nest. The Rams are resurgent, and are hosting the Squawks, and that could be a great game.

There are two truly great games. The first is the Chefs of KC visiting Foxborough to see Bill Bel and the boys. Frankly, the Pats offense has looked old and bad lately, and are putting so much pressure on their excellent defense that the D is starting to falter. My bet is that Pat Mahomes engineers more points than Brady, and that is that. The second is Niners at Saints. Both teams are 10-2, and this game is almost certainly for home field in the NFC. Wow, this should be a game! Stars everywhere. Jimmy G is not up to Drew Brees’ level yet, but he has established himself as a frontline QB in the NFL, and his tight end, George Kittle is the new Gronk. On offense, the nod has to go to Brees with Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. The SF defense, with rookie stud Nick Bosa and veteran Arik Armstead up front, is really good though. The Saints are hosting in the Superdome, and for that reason only, they get the call. Who dat?

Our colleague Peter has suggested this article on ESPN be discussed. It involves traumatic brain injury, more commonly known as CTE, but this time in hockey players.

A Minnesota judge on Wednesday ordered that a former member of the “Miracle on Ice” U.S. Olympic team should be committed to a secure treatment facility, saying the hockey star is mentally ill and dangerous.

Mark Pavelich, 61, of Lutsen, was charged with felony assault in August for allegedly beating a friend with a metal pole, breaking several bones.

According to Cuzzo’s order, one psychologist found Pavelich had delusions and paranoia, including a delusion that those closest to him were trying to poison him. Another psychologist found he suffered from a mild neurocognitive disorder due to traumatic brain injury, likely related to repeated head injuries.

Pavelich’s family members have said they believe he suffers from CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, after repeated concussions from his time in the NHL. They said they started seeing changes in him a few years ago and he has refused help.

As sad as this is, it is really important. It is also something that is starting to be covered. One of the ones who has been on this story from the start is Sheila Dingus, who runs a great spot known as Advocacy For Fairness In Sports. Here is some of her writings on the NHL concussion litigation.

Music today by Pink Floyd. Enjoy the weekend folks.

68 replies
  1. Cathy says:

    The Broncos are invited to take their best shot but either way the experience won’t top your music selection this week. Many thx for the smiles.

  2. Pete T says:

    Begful reminder to also start covering the NFL Run for One. That’s pick one in the draft. The Fins have totally upended their chances with 3 wins and the Bengals have 2 thus messing up my week 16 (I think) Ofer Bowl. But maybe it could still get exciting with several at 3 wins and the Bengals with just 1.

    Go BADgers.

  3. Scorpio Jones, III says:

    “Their extremely good defense was shredded by the Ducks.” I assume this is a coastal observation.

  4. Jim White says:

    Joining in the shoutout to Freep. I was happy to put up with his Sooner fandom because he was among the best in torching trolls.

    With my Gators not in the playoff picture, my strategy is to root for maximum chaos in the conference championships. The Ducks came through big-time. The end of that game was such a joy to watch while trying to recover from two holiday parties in one night.

    For further chaos, my dream outcome would be for both Virginia and Wisconsin to pull off the upsets. I go back and forth on which of those I want more. I’ll just have to settle on rooting for both upsets.

    Lane Kiffin returning to the SEC means lots more fun on the horizon. Just for old times’ sake, here is the most wonderful football fan prank ever. It was pulled off by a really fun guy (he’s on Twitter as @banditref and is a joy to follow despite being a Bama fan) who set up a fake voicemail box that he convinced Tennessee fans was Lane Kiffin’s voicemail. He did this just as Kiffin left for USC. Lisa and I still randomly yell “Go Balls” as a result of this prank. Link:

    • Peterr says:

      I’ll second the shoutout to Freep, especially with his troll-torching, but it’s really hard for me to root for a winner in that game. Mrs Dr Peterr’s second favorite team is “whoever is playing Oklahoma”, which makes supporting Baylor the better choice for domestic harmony. On the other hand, rooting for the school that trumpets its moral superiority yet let its football team run rampant on the female population of the school, then hid it, then exonerated themselves under the fine moral leadership of Ken “the Great Penis Hunter” Starr . . . yeah, that’s not happening.

      Maybe lightning will strike and the game will be cancelled.

    • Valley girl says:

      and, you got me thinking about this oldie– which a friend and I would sing to each other on the phone at certain times in our lives. I was bailing early on the Hallowed Halls; a few years later he left a U, not early, but happily. The Animals, introduced by David McCallum
      https ://

  5. Peterr says:

    Here in KC, folks have been marveling at the performance of the KC defense (see here for an example). Week after week, they have slowly improved, and the defensive players have been saying that things really have started to click. Four INTs vs Philip Rivers and the Bolts, then a couple more vs Derick Carr and da Rayduhs . . . My favorite defensive moment in that game wasn’t the rookie getting a pick six, nor the multitude of sacks, but the end of the game. The Rayduhs desperately wanted a final TD to salvage a little self-respect, and they finally got it. “Now just kick this extra point and we got double digits on the scoreboard.”

    The kick was blocked and run back for 2 by the Chef’s D.

    • mospeck says:

      goodluck with that, man. 220 on your run D.
      up here in the NE we got picture postcards of the beautiful fir trees in the sunlit snow.
      I can send you one

      • Peterr says:

        Not sure where you get that 220, man. has it at 143 (still third worst in the NFL, but well better that what you say). OTOH, the Patsies rushing offense is not exactly a huge threat to anyone at 96 yds per game.

        It will be a good game.

  6. Peterr says:

    Re the CTE story in the post . . .

    The NFL has gotten the lion’s share of the attention with this, but it’s clearly a problem in other sports. Soccer has exposure from both heading the ball and from head-to-head collisions (usually when two folks try to head the same ball). To deal with this, coaches have been stressing the need to properly head the ball, both to better control it and to limit concussions from poor technique. Likewise, referees have been quicker to pull out the red card when dangerous play involves someone’s head.

    Hockey, though, has been slow to admit they have CTE problems. I’m old enough to remember not just the wind-swept hair days of the NHL, but also Hall of Fame goalie Glenn Hall playing without a goalie mask. Those days are gone now, with both helmets and masks required equipment. Professional hockey basically outlawed fights at the minor league level, and has gotten better at limiting them in the NHL itself. But there’s still a mentality of personal invincibility around (especially among old-school owners and coaches) that makes owning up to CTE dangers difficult. Commissioner Gary Bettman in particular does not want to even admit the possibility, perhaps out of fear of the league being hit with big financial claims.

    Just as the autopsies of various NFL players showed the damage caused by CTE, which changed the league’s approach to dealing with it, the same is coming in hockey. You can bet your last Loonie that when Pavelich dies, his family will get an autopsy, and the results will not be pretty — not for him, and certainly not for the NHL.

    • BobCon says:

      I don’t know about other sports, but youth soccer is getting a little better on the issue of concussions. They’ve banned headers for younger players in the US, which is a good step — training kids to control balls in the air in other ways is a win-win for the sport.

      There is a lot more to do, though — coaches and refs rarely get much if any training, and there is a lot of pressure on young kids to play through head injuries. Unfortunately, US youth soccer is still crazily focused on winning regardless of long term costs, and I don’t think that will change any time soon.

    • Valley girl says:

      Peterr- It’s criminal (best word I could find) that “The NHL has long denied there is a conclusive link between repeated blows to the head and CTE.” wtf do they need- a carefully controlled double-blind study? Like that’s possible!

    • scribe says:

      A few years back when the NHL lost a season to a strike/lockout, the then-local-to-me sports cable station, deprived of live games, went to the videotape to fill vacant hours with old games, from the 80s mostly. What was surprising to this avid viewer of hockey was the considerable difference between the game in the 70s and 80s and in the oughts. It was not the change from helmetless to helmeted. That was completed in the final game of the 94 Stanley Cup when Vancouver’s MacTavish, the last player grandfathered to play bareheaded, finished his career. Rather, it was in how much more horizontal today’s game is compared to in earlier days. Players today are far, far more likely to lay themselves out horizontally, to block a shot or pass, to reach a puck, or otherwise, than they were in earlier days. Back then, they played the game upright and on two feet, laying out only in the most extreme cases.
      And that, I attribute to their having played from little on up inside helmets which are far superior to those of the 70s and 80s and having grown to feel they can rely on the helmets’ protection to shield them while they cavort like acrobats. Another thing which has changed is the stick finesse which simply did not exist previously. Flicking a puck between one’s legs to score, which would have drawn a fight for humiliating the goalie, is now commonplace. Swatting a flying puck out of midair and into the goal, likewise.
      I believe there are people more susceptible to CTE and those who are less. Unfortunately, we cannot predict that at all. And I have to wonder how many athletes, given a prediction their susceptibility to CTE would render them drooling idiots or worse by late middle age, would blow off the prediction in favor of competing and chasing the championships. Some years ago there were surveys done along the lines of that question, addressing PEDs instead of CTE. The results were fairly one-sided, that the athletes would choose competition and the chance at championships now over health later. I suspect we’d see the same if the question were about the risk of CTE.
      That said, it is nonetheless tragic a fine player like Pavelich is winding up this way. He, and the rest of that 1980 team, were inspiring in a way we rarely see and turned the course of history ever so slightly yet ever so definitively. Every U-S-A chant you hear, stems from their exploits at Lake Placid.

    • Eureka says:

      Thanks, Peterr, for introducing the topic, and to everyone who added to the CTE discussion. I’d been wanting to read more about it in other sports, and was going to ask if anyone had any good reviews in females (probably not enough people-years there given other factors; I wonder if there are more data there, sadly, for victims of chronic DV).

      The Miracle on Ice remains our eternal flame — agree, scribe. Somewhere round here I’ve still got a shirt from those Games.

  7. Peterr says:

    The Steelers are here at the Cardinals. The Cards are improving, but still not that good.


    Paging scribe . . .

    • scribe says:

      Here’s hoping the Duck can pull it out again. He’s a baller. As ESPN noted earlier this morning, it’s #1 over all pick vs. UDFA from Podunk Tech (actually, Samford is a fine school) and all that goes with that. Here’s hoping my Stillers do well and, more importantly, win.
      For those who need a new ringtone, I found a very appropriate one to play every time the Owboys fail:
      I’ve been hitting F5 on that all week, since they lost to the Bearss and Jerry got himself tossed off radio for cursing when describing his team’s performance.
      More later.

      Now, if the Iggles could just pick up the gifts the Owboys have left at their feet.

  8. LaNita Jones says:

    When the Saints came marching in
    When the Saints came marching in
    Oh I am I am in that number when the Saints came marching in

  9. Peterr says:

    The drama around the NFL-Kaep workout continues, with a new twist:

    While Colin Kaepernick’s NFL workout in November has since been proven to be nothing more than a farce, it has been fruitful for one of the players hand-picked to participate.

    Though Kap remains unsigned, the Washington Post reports the Washington Redskins have scooped up wide receiver Jordan Veasy.

    • P J Evans says:

      It’s seriously looking like the NFL really does have a boycott-Kap movement going on with their front office and the owners. That should be illegal.

    • Trent says:

      LSU offense is legit but D can be had.

      Badgers look the part. I liked both faves before kickoff and now I’m glad I don’t have a financial interest in either one.

      Dawgs need new OC and I think Fromm is irreparably scarred from this season.

      • bmaz says:

        Fromm seems like a decent QB, but maybe that defenses have figured out to sit on him because he really is not worth much over 15 yards downfield.

        • Jim White says:

          Fromm was also without his favorite target (who ripped us to shreds in Jax) and I think the Dawgs didn’t rely enough on their good running game, so I wouldn’t put the whole thing on Fromm.

          In other news, can we just double the halftime score in this Wisconsin-OSU game and call it a night?

          • bmaz says:

            Please, let’s do. I guess the Buckeyes will come back in the second half, but there is always hope. For Phred, I say….Go Badgers!

            Also, that Dr. Pepper halftime thing blows.

            Also, Clemson is really fucking good.

  10. scribe says:

    An hour or so ahead of the Selection Show, my picks for the college football playoff:
    1. LSU
    2. Ohio State
    3: Clemson
    4. Oklahoma

    • bmaz says:

      Clemson is defending national champion, is undefeated, and seriously blew out their opponent yesterday. Ohio State barely won yesterday. There is no way an undefeated defending champion should be seeded below the jerks at Ohio State.

    • scribe says:

      So, correct me if I’m wrong, but me, sitting in my living room throwing darts at the wall came up with the same seeding as did the Solons of College Football sitting in a conference room backed by banks of computers, stats, commentators and hot and cold running coeds. Right?

      • scribe says:

        For a couple hundred bucks I’ll do it again next year. Be as good as the committee and the NCAA can line their pockets with the remaining funds they would have otherwise spent like they did this year.

        • bmaz says:

          I still firmly maintain that OSU being slotted above Clemson is a sick joke. But either way, they will be playing each other, so whoever wins will carry that point.

  11. Bay State Librul says:

    TB, born Thomas Brady, is an American quarterback associated with the fine art of passing, and performance dynamics, where “age is just a number”
    We have played Kansas City at least 35 times.
    Our Don Miguel Ruiz schooled boy has the Chief’s number today.
    Final score, Pats 28, Chiefs 25 in a see-saw game.

  12. bmaz says:

    Sigh, was a fair no call. Pittsburgh did nothing whatsoever inappropriate to Murray, and the interception was legit. Give Murray credit for hanging in, but there was no defensive violation there at all.

  13. scribe says:

    Well, so far, so good.

    I was tied up through most of the afternoon’s games, and would have had to watch games that didn’t particularly interest me (i.e., not my Stillers) so I didn’t feel slighted by being away from the tube for most of the afternoon.

    Everyone got their money’s worth and more out of the Niners-Saints. Hard to believe Drew Fookin’ Brees threw for 5 TDs and lost but, from what I hear, the officials jobbed him and the Saints once again.

    Bills are for Real. Even though they lost to the Baltimores, it was close. As noted by the announcing crew Cheatin’ Bill and the Cheating Cheaters cannot count on winning the AFC East. It would indeed be interesting if Biebs had to travel to some foreign town to play in a … Wild Card game. How spoiled are Patsies fans? They booed their team off the field at the half and at the end of the game even though part of that loss was the result of another example of officials jobbing the home team. Even Ray Charles could have seen that was a TD, there was that much room between his foot and the sideline.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I note my Stillers continued to cement their hold on the #6 seed. It ain’t glorious and it means lots of travel and more wear on the white unis, but it is the post-season. Duck Duck Go! Or something. Just win, baybee.

    Now if the Iggles could just somehow pick up all the gifts the Owboys are giving them. It will be interesting to see tomorrow night whether it’s Good Eli or Bad Eli showing up. I’m thinking Rusty Eli will have no timing and less accuracy.

    Meanwhile, the most ardent Owboys fan in my meatworld has devolved to something akin to an armadillo, curled into a ball in his recliner rocking gently and whimpering.

    I’m liking this.

    And in a sudden fit of sensibility Odell Beckham Jr. has announced he wants out of Cleveland. Yes, the Giants traded you there to punish you for being an asshole, just like the Cheaters sent Jamie Collins there a couple years ago to let him ponder how unacceptable was his penchant for freestyling as opposed to playing as a part of the team. You deserved it, Odell. Collins learned from his experience, but it looks like you haven’t.

    The Criminal Element, having moved up the interstate from Cincy to the Mistake by the Lake and wagging its headlights at Franchise-wide Ineptitude rolling southbound to take Criminal Element’s place on the Ohio managed to win today. Barely, over one of the worst teams in recent League history. And the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS eked out a one-point win over the Miami tankers. Ugh. Glad I don’t have to watch their games….

  14. Bay State Librul says:

    Two dillies:

    “Scoop and Score” Gilmore and Harry the “Pylon Man”
    Final Score Pats 17 + 14 = 31, Chiefs 24

  15. Eureka says:

    Eagles’ Fan’s Choice: redistribute your fat by growing a stress belly, or via gameday alcohol.

    I watched because I had to.

    Eli got his glamour shots for his likely-last MNF and his HOF probably-first ballot and all of the Mannings were in attendance — been some years since I’ve seen that.

    Eagles won in OT, got jobbed out of another TD earlier on and they DO NOT need any help losing from the refs, they can job themselves just fine as needed. If they could please consistently rock-and-roll that would spare me some fried telomeres.

    Early Eagles-side energy started down — esp. relative to all of the Eli momentum — because of the yinny damp pouring rain for hours, the level of betrayal and attendant expressions of same from local sportscasters and fans alike over their recent history (they were broadcasting live Debbie Downer pregame from the Linc what we all feel: we don’t trust this team). By the second half they adjusted to the bad ambience, shut down Eli, and next-man-upped (finally!) with more injured leaving the field.

    There were enough runs of better coaching/calling/playing to suck a person back in; lots of coaching staff are working for their jobs, as the local press had already tipped to overwhelming coverage of those problem areas.

    New signature line for any pertinent comment I send to Trash:
    Better us than the Owboys, folks.

      • Eureka says:

        lol bmaz, you don’t even know. I was ready to go down and play in Nola last post season, before it all got *this* bad.

        I love how Josh McCown was about to switch helmets and get out there. (Well it’s funny now, but it might have canceled out da beerz if I heard it during the game.)

        They better sign WR Marken Michel off the practice squad (yes, brother to Sony of Pats). He did well pre-season, good enough for me!

        Great things can happen when Wentz is forced to be unfussy!

        “Eagles skill players on the field for GW Play in overtime:
        Zach Ertz
        Boston Scott
        Scott Baio
        Greg Ward
        Greg from Accounting
        Josh Perkins
        A Waitress from Perkins #BirdsOutsiders”

  16. scribe says:

    Fly, Iggles, fly. It might be ugly, but it’s still a win.

    And, from the Department of Reverting To Form, this morning we learn the Patsies have been busted for videoing the sideline of next week’s opponent, the hapless Cincinnati Bungles. All the times I’ve been excoriated for properly calling the New Englands the Cheating Cheaters of Cheatertown are now shown to have been one long false-acc. All you who harangued me over calling the Patises the Cheating Cheaters of Cheatertown: Own up. I was right all along.

    Cheatin’ Bill – who so far seems to have managed to finesse things by blaming it on “contractors” about whom he goes all Sergeant Schulz and knows nothing – is revealed as never having learnt his lesson from the last taping scandal.

    We will have to see whether and to what extent King Roger the Clown covers for Kraft and the Cheaters and, especially, whether he’ll have the tapes trashed this time.

    Ahem. [ polishes nails on lapel, admires work] I Was Right All Along.

  17. scribe says:

    Nice line to conclude this week’s episode of Pittsburgh Dad, recapping the Cardinals game:
    “This week, we beat the 2019 number 1 draft pick.
    “Last week, we beat the 2018 number 1 draft pick.
    “Who was the 2017 number 1 draft pick? Myles Garrett? We beat him. With his own helmet.”

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