It’s damn near remarkable. After all the drama they went through this season, USC won the Pac 12 South with a blowout win over UCLA on Saturday at the Coliseum. The Bruins may have been beaten up, but this was simply a case of a more experienced Trojan defense that got the best of an inexperienced freshman quarterback in Josh Rosen. Rosen had moments of brilliance throughout the season, and in the game, but in the second half he had more turnovers than Betty Crocker. Clay Helton simplified everything: run the ball, put pressure on Rosen, and win the battle at the line of scrimmage. That’s something the last two Trojan coaches failed to do. The Bruins once again put together a season that makes you think they are “on the verge”, but leaves their fans disappointed. They may have had injuries, but they had every opportunity to win the South. A coach as good as Jim Mora should have won the Pac-12 at least once by now. Rosen is going to get better, but will the team actually win something even more than a rivalry game against the Trojans? I’ll believe it when I see it.
As for the Trojans, leave it to many of their obnoxious fans to pretend like Saturday’s win was the re-incarnation of the Reggie Bush era. Nevertheless, the better team won, and USC stands a decent chance of knocking off Stanford this week and advancing to the Rose Bowl. That’s as long as they execute a similar simplified game plan they did against the Bruins. They should also now be known as the “University of Settling For Clay” since Pat Haden has now named Clay Helton full-time head coach. Helton has shown he has the X’s and O’s, but there is much more than that as the head football coach at SC, like recruiting and developing players. In the long-run, the Trojans could have done better elsewhere. My guess is that Haden probably couldn’t get the big name he wanted after looking around, so this was the sensible choice, especially if it was going to pump up the kids even further for the Pac 12 title game. So much for the so called “Trojan insiders” that pegged USC already having an agreement with a new head coach, which many would consider a big splash.
Elsewhere around college football, we witnessed a spectacular game between Notre Dame and Stanford on Saturday, but as usual for Irish fans, it ended in devastating disappointment. How the hell do the Irish let Stanford go 60 yards in 30 seconds to win the game? That was the worst thing to happen to Notre Dame since the movie Spotlight came out. Look, no team in college football has been hit harder with injuries than the Irish, and to go 10-2 was a freaking miracle they should be proud of. However, the Irish were basically 2 plays away (one at Clemson and the other at Stanford) from being the #1 team in the country. That seems very symbolic of Notre Dame football. That makes the playoff committee’s job pretty easy. Clemson and Alabama are in easily if they win next week, and so is Oklahoma after dominating Oklahoma State. Michigan State should be in as well if they handle business against Iowa. Meanwhile, Ohio State is probably trying to schedule Michigan 5 more times to fill out their 2016 non-conference schedule.
As many of us expected, yesterday Kobe announced that he will retire at the end of the season. Kobe made the announcement by writing a letter to the Players Tribune. He also wrote a letter to the fans. Both nearly made me cry. However, he says “this season is all I have left to give.” This season? Do you even have that??? Ok really Kobe. It’s time to retire. Not in April……right now. Nobody wants to watch this Kobe Bryant. He hasn’t had a single game this season where he has shot 50% or better. Kobe is easily my favorite player of all-time, but it’s just too painful to watch. I get it though…..Kobe has earned the right to say goodbye, and his letter to the fans and the Players Tribune at least dignifies this final season. I haven’t been on the “fire Byron Scott bandwagon” like most of you, but I’m baffled by some of his comments. He basically said that Kobe has earned the right to take whatever bad shot he wants. That’s not exactly the best message to send to his younger players he is trying mature. He also said that under no circumstances would he bench Kobe. However, he also claimed that his first priority is winning and not player development. It shouldn’t be, but whichever it is, Kobe isn’t the teams best player anymore, and his play is actually hurting the team. On the bright side, D’Angelo Russell is steadily improving. Coming into Sunday’s game he was averaging 13.4 points over his last 5 contests, significantly raising his field goal percentage, 3 point percentage, assists, and rebounds from his season average.
As for the Clippers, they are still hovering around .500, but they have now embarked on their annual stretch where they beat up on mediocre teams and make us think they are actually an elite team again. Last year we thought the Clippers had upgraded their bench, and they stunk. This year, we thought once again that they upgraded their bench and they still stink. The bench has been so bad that the Clippers actually thought Wesley Johnson was going to be a good rotation player for them. That guy has underachieved on bad teams his entire career, which is funny because the Clippers have been a bad team for the first month of the season. Other than yesterday against the Raptors, Paul Pierce has been old and useless, Josh Smith has been as bad as he was in Detroit, and Lance Stephenson’s play is more offensive than Donald Trump. When will Steve Ballmer start holding Doc Rivers accountable? Not soon enough. Congratulations to Jahlil Okafor. After his street fight last week, he becomes the first 76er to beat someone this season. Did you know that the 76ers are named after the average number of losses they are projected to have each season? In case you missed footage of the fight here it is…..
UCLA basketball looks exactly like they did a year ago. A team with marginal talent, mediocre coaching, and unable to hang with decent teams. I fully expect the Bruins to collect just enough wins in Pac 12 play to barely squeak into the tournament and keep Steve Alford employed, but watching losses against Kansas and Wake Forest were just a reminder of how far this program has fallen. Do you realize that the Bruins are ranked 282nd in points allowed in the nation? They are also ranked 160th in opponent field goal percentage. If the team were some type of offensive juggernaut I’d say ok fine, but there are 99 teams putting up more points in Division I. As far as I’m concerned, the only redeeming quality for Steve Alford is his 2016 recruiting class. I doubt he can actually do something with it anyway.
Speaking of hoops, it looks like USC is the best basketball team in Los Angeles right now. Most Trojan fans probably didn’t even realize it, but USC is off to a solid 5-2 start, including a win over #20 Wichita State. Freshman Bennie Boatwright can play! USC had not beaten a Top 25 team in two years. Andy Einfield might actually know what he’s doing. There’s no reason why SC can’t put together some halfway decent basketball teams given that they are in basketball hot bed in downtown Los Angeles. Nobody in their right mind would claim that USC is a basketball school, but they should be able to beat teams in the Top 25 more than every couple of years.
To the NFL, where on Thanksgiving Day, the only thing worse than the Eagles play was Big Sean’s halftime performance. The Lions were definitely thankful for the Eagles defense. After Tony Romo re-injured his collar bone, Cowboy fans have switched from drinking liquor to chugging gasoline. I’m shocked Brett Favre didn’t announce another comeback during the Bears win over the Packers. Odell Beckham had another filthy catch yesterday, but you can’t be serious….the Redskins are in 1st place in the NFC East???? The AFC South is so sorry, but the irony of it is the Colts and Texans might both make the playoffs. Johnny Manziel should not be blamed for his actions. If I were the Browns starting quarterback I would be driven to drink as well. Check out Tom Brady’s text inbox after last night’s loss to the Broncos………
Meanwhile, Miami Dolphins football can be summed up on this play….
In San Diego, Blake Bortles didn’t let a little thing like the line of scrimmage prevent him from throwing a touchdown pass….. And all this time I thought it was NBA referees that were the worst in sports…….
What a couple of amazing hockey games over the weekend in SoCal. First the Blackhawks shocked the Ducks on Friday in Anaheim by winning 3-2 in overtime. The Hawks trailed 2-0 with 90 seconds left and in typical Ducks fashion, they choked the lead away. It’s only November and the Ducks are already in playoff form, coming up small in the big moment. This team might need a trade to shake things up because the leadership and has been questionable, and the goal scoring has been few and far between. Then on Saturday, the Kings gave the Hawks a taste of what the Ducks felt like by beating them 3-2 in overtime, after trailing 2-0 heading into the 3rd period. That was another classic Kings vs Hawks game, and here’s to hoping the two teams meet again in the West Finals this spring. Also, if you haven’t watched 3 on 3 overtime in the NHL this season….do it. It might be the most exciting 5 minutes in sports.
Disney just announced that ESPN has lost 7 million subscribers due to cord cutting. No, it’s not because we have to hear Skip Bayless and Stephen A Smith scream at each other for no apparent reason. It’s because the consumer is fed up with cable companies. The mergers with AT&T and DirecTV, along with other potential mergers aren’t going to help. These companies are going to have to completely overhaul their model to survive. Live sports is the only thing preventing most people from cutting the cord, but people are getting around that and will continue to do so.
Finally, that was a very intense mid-season finale of The Walking Dead last night on AMC. Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it. All things considered, I thought we were going to lose a much more significant character than Deanna. She did go out in a great blaze of glory screaming what was basically a war cry. Was I the only one that wanted Tara to shoot the Wolf even if it meant Doctor Denise was going to die? I bet if it were Carol that were holding that gun she would have taken the shot. Carl was actually much less annoying in this episode, and was actually kind of a badass too for not ratting out Ron for nearly getting everybody killed. His comment was pretty legendary too. “I get it, my dad killed your dad,” said Carl. “But you need to know something: your dad was an asshole.” Jessie’s son is a little pansy, and if he makes it out of Alexandria alive, his mother should smack him across the face for his stupidity. Overall it was a good episode, and a solid first half of the season. I’m looking forward to seeing where the group goes now that Alexandria is overrun, what becomes of the relationship between Carol and Morgan, and how the group might get rid of the Wolves.