by John Walters

Shell Game

This, reported earlier today in The New York Times: “

London-based Shell reported adjusted earnings of $9.45 billion for the third quarter, its second-highest profit on record. On the same day, Paris-based TotalEnergies reported a profit of $9.9 billion.

For both companies, the profits were more than double what they earned in the same period a year ago.”

A few things to remember:

• One, we are talking profits, not revenue. This doubling of an already uber-wealthy corporation’s quarterly profit from one year to the next has nothing to do with how much more it may cost to do business, or the pandemic. This is straight-up profit. It’s all about price gouging.

The spelling of the middle “to” should have been a dead giveaway

• Shell would never disclose this information if it was not compelled, as a publicly traded company to do so.

• A certain portion of the population, roughly half, will blame this on the current administration. These same people also advocate all the time about how the government needs to stay out of the affairs of private enterprise. So that’s an example of hypocrisy. But this same portion of the population is immune to being troubled by its hypocrisy. To reiterate, the government or its policies has no impact on a company’s profits. Perhaps it might on its operating costs, but even here that’s not the case.

• The people who need to hear the truth likely do not have the patience to read the explanation or, perhaps even more likely, would never read this blog (though, who would?). The oil companies, whose product is made out of dinosaurs, realized that they have become dinosaurs themselves. At least in a world that cherishes a livable climate. In 1997, five of the world’s largest 19 companies were oil companies—and three others were traditional auto makers. Times have changed and oil companies see that the current administration (as well as many other western governments) are moving to phase out fossil-fuel burning autos in favor of electric types.

So, the oil companies have a few moves they might be making: 1) A final “F You” to all of us consumers off whom they’ve profited so greatly over the decades or, more likely 2) a narrative that the higher gas prices, which concomitantly translate to higher prices on all goods that need to be moved by trucks (or, almost all goods), is not their fault but rather the fault of Let’sGoBrandon. So then Americans will blame him and vote him out. And guess who is voted in? A president and Congress who have been lapping up oil money for campaign contributions and will be oil-friendly as soon as they regain control of the White House. Crafty SOBs, those oil companies. And too much of America is just dumb enough to fall for it.

While we’re at it, watch Syriana some day. Great film.

• Also today, Shell announced that it will buy back more than half a billion shares of its stock by Feb. 2, 2023. Thus creating a scarcity of stock that will cause prices of its shares to go higher (now where did an oil company ever get the idea to create a scarcity out of thin air to cause the price of something to go higher?). That’s good news if you own Shell; bad news for most Americans who don’t own any stock outside of their 401-K.

This, Justin

The Houston Astros should be overwhelming favorites in the World Series that starts tomorrow at Minute Maid Park, no? Houston finished with the best record in the American League. The Philadelphia Phillies were the last of six National League teams to advance to the playoffs, are only in because of the new format, and finished in third place in their own division. Houston won the World Series in 2017 (
“They cheated!” “SHADDUP!“) and this will be their fourth appearance in the Fall Classic in the past six years. Philly has not appeared in a World Series since 2009, and last won in 2008.

Something to keep in mind, though: Houston’s Game 1 starter and ace, the presumptive A.L. Cy Young Award winner this season at age 38 and a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer (ta dah!), Justin Verlander, has a very uncharacteristic World Series resume. In seven starts, with Detroit and Houston, Verlander is 0-6 with a 5.68 ERA. Verlander looked vulnerable versus the Mariners in the ALDS though he looked light out versus the Yankees (what pitcher not name Civale didn’t?).

Just something to keep in mind.

Foxy Lady

Caught the second half of Foxy Brown, which we had never seen before, on America’s greatest network (TCM) last night. The year is 1974 and Pam Grier (above) plays the girlfriend of an undercover narc while her own brother, played by Antonio Vargas, is working with a gang of drug dealers who are white and whose front business is a modeling agency.

Too much to go into here, but if you’ve never seen it, Holy Chocolate Sex Bomb, Batman. I mean, I don’t recall this movie coming out in my neighborhood when I was eight years old, but if it had and if I’d seen it, we could have skipped ahead at least a decade. There is nothing in six seasons of Breaking Bad that’s as cold and ruthless (not to mention sexy) as this. Spoiler Alerts: Foxy poses undercover as a model/prostitute, but is then found out and sent off as a sex slave to drug rednecks who control her by keeping her hooked on heroin. Later, Foxy exacts revenge by cutting off the private parts of the boyfriend of the female modeling agency owner/drug lord and delivering the contents to her in a pickle jar. Also, the N-word is used at least ten times. All the while Grier is outfitted in about seventeen dozen costumes designed to highlight a figure that has more curves than the plot of The Big Sleep.

Foxy Brown feels like one of those films most of us have heard of but few of us have seen. If you haven’t seen it, MH recommends. And after you do see it, ask yourself what studio would greenlight this film today.

Champaign Supernova

MH’s sleeper college football team of 2022, at least until they play someone good, is the University of Illinois. The Illini are 6-1 but more than that, they lead the nation in both Total Defense (221.1 ypg) and in Scoring Defense (8.9 ppg). Those two stats used to be the best indicators of who would play for the national championship, at least until Air Raid offenses and dual threat quarterbacks were invented (now it’s Total Offense and Scoring Offense).

Also, Illinois boasts the nation’s No. 2 overall rusher (Chase Brown, 151.3 ypg) and number one among Power 5 schools. Brown, who is Canadian, has a twin brother, Sydney, who starts at defensive back for the Illini (“Paging Tom Rinaldi: We have a feature for you!“).

Okay, Bret Bielema’s downstate squad has yet to face a murderer’s row in terms of it schedule, but here’s why the rest of the autumn sets up nice: as temps in the Midwest dip below the 40s and weather impacts games more (cold, rain, wind, maybe even sleet or snow), what better to have than a bone-rattling defense and a money running back (from the Great White North, no less)? This is how you win games around the Great Lakes after Halloween.

The schedule is doable. After a visit to 3-4 Nebraska this Saturday, Illinois hosts Michigan State (3-4) and then Purdue (5-3). Win all three and the Champaign Supernova squad heads to likely unbeaten Michigan on Nov. 19 with a 9-1 record. The best record Illinois has ever finished with in more than 100 years of football is 10-2. They’ve never won 11 games in a season. After UM, they still play Northwestern and then likely a bowl. It’s all possible for the school that gave us Red Grange, Dick Butkus and Roger Ebert.


by John Walters

From Truss To Russ

Yesterday’s big news: the resignation, after six weeks in office, of British prime minister Liz Truss. Today we focus on Russ, as in Los Angeles Laker Russell Westbrook, who shot 0-for-11 in his 2022 Staples Center debut last night, a 103-97 loss to the co-tenant L.A. Clippers.

Two nights earlier, at halftime of the Lakers’ season-opening defeat at Golden State, TNT’s Charles Barkley had put it bluntly. First, he called the Lakers “a bad team.” Again, halftime of the season opener. Then Chuck said, “You know how I feel about Russell Westbrook. I love the guy. The Lakers need to move him.”

Westbrook, a former league MVP, two-time scoring champ and nine-time All-Star and at one time the most dynamic player in the NBA, no longer starts. No idea where you move a guard who cannot shoot threes (or anything much from beyond 10 feet), who’ll turn 34 next month, but his L.A. homecoming has been a dismal exercise. He would tear up the G-League, though. Is there still a G-League?


The New York Yankees exit Minute Maid Park down 0-2 in the A.L. Championship Series. The Pinstriper pitching has been better than average, their defense superb. So what’s wrong? Well, for a team whose three most probable outcomes are strikeout, walk, home run, they’ve struck out 30 times, walked four times and hit one home run. That is not a recipe for success.

Last night, in a 4-2 defeat, the Yanks failed to hit a home run for the first time in 24 postseason games, snapping their record streak. If you’re a Houston fan, the good news is that you’re up 2-0 without Jose Altuve having gotten a hit yet in either series (they’re 5-0 this postseason and he’s 0-23) and Yordan Alvarez has also been fairly quiet. Those bats will wake up—especially after that fan ran onto the field before the top of the 9th last night to give Altuve batting advice.

Meanwhile, the Yankees, who now have three games in the Bronx, have lost six in a row at Minute Maid Park dating back to 2021.

A teachable moment for the Yanks occurred in the top of the fifth inning. With runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out, both Anthony Rizzo and Gleyber Torres, in successive at-bats, hit run-scoring ground balls. In other words, both batters made contact. Torres is normally one of the worst Yankee offenders in terms of swinging out of his shoes and failing to make contact. The announcers noted this fact and emphasized that Torres had been “rewarded” with an infield single for his more circumspect swing with two strikes. Both grounders resulted in an RBI, the Yankees’ only two runs of the night.

The Yankees led the majors in home runs (254) this season and led the AL in overall runs (807), but in the postseason they’re averaging 12 strikeouts per game. No other team is averaging more than nine. Just about anything is preferable to a strikeout. The Yankees’ best hit last night was a one-hopper back to the mound by Giancarlo Stanton that Astro starter Flamber Valdez misplayed for a two-base error.

Put the ball in play. Give your team a shot. It’s just that simple.

Like A Scene Out Of Signs

From last night’s NFL game. This is the first of consecutive pick-sixes the Arizona Cardinals scored off Andy Dalton just before halftime.

Manchester Divided

If you thought sports diva-dom was limited to NFL wideouts and some NBA All-Stars, let us reintroduce you to Cristiano Ronaldo. Arguably the greatest striker of this (or any) generation of footballers (Messi fans will understandably disagree), Ronaldo is now a dyspeptic thirtysomething playing for the Premier League where his career began, Manchester United. On Wednesday the five-time Ballon d’Or winner refused to enter the game as a sub in a match versus Tottenham Hotspur, then walked off the pitch before the final whistle in Man U’s 2-0 win.

Ronaldo is 37. Manchester United, which is not involved in Champions League play this season, is not where he wants to be. He will play for Portugal in next month’s World Cup, but beyond that he seems an unhappy camper. Wealth, looks and a supermodel wife are not the only keys to happiness. Ask Tom Brady.

Man U. opened the season 0-2 under new manager Ten Hag (yes, that’s his name), with losses to second-tier clubs, but have since gone 6-1-1 with wins versus premier Premier League squads such as Arsenal (first place), Liverpool and Tottenham (3rd place). It may be time for a little attitude adjustment from the petulant performer from Portugal.


by John Walters

Ripe For Removal

After a term that spanned two monarchs…” Wait, let’s try that again… “After a tenure that lasted 43 times longer than George O’Leary’s in South Bend…” How about, “After six weeks in No. 10 Downing Street…?” Yes, that’ll work. After six weeks in No. 10 Downing Street, Conservative Liz Truss has resigned as Prime Minister of Great Britain.

Will this even merit an entire episode of The Crown?

Rule No. 7 Two’fer

This is an outstanding photo, by the way, by K.C. Alfred of the San Diego Union-Tribune, and will likely hang in Austin’s den after the season ends. It captures both brothers reacting to Austin’s RBI single.

Two first in postseason MLB history yesterday during the LCS round. First, siblings Aaron (Phillies pitcher) and Austin Nola (Padres catcher) faced one another. That had never before happened. Aaron induced a groundout in big brother’s first at-bat but then let him off the hook with an 0-2 middle-of-the-plate pitch that San Diego’s No. 9 hitter rapped into right center for a run-scoring single (the man on first, Ha-seong Kim, was off on the pitch). That hit incited the decisive five-run inning that put the Padres ahead for good to even the series (San Diego’s second five-run inning during its rare four-game postseason homestand). You kind of have to love that the Nola bros are from Baton Rouge, which is not quite New Orleans (NoLa), but close.

Second, the Yankees struck out 17 times to Houston’s two, the largest strikeout differential (15) between two teams in postseason history. At one point six consecutive Yankees whiffed. This is who they’ve been all season, only more so last night. The letdown is that New York still had a chance to steal Game 1 last night at Minute Maid, but lost 4-2. A letdown if you’re a Yankee fan. Meanwhile, Jose Altuve is now 0-19 during this postseason.

Now This Was The Game 7 We Needed

Phoenix Suns basketball fans are still not over the Game 7 beatdown that Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks unleashed last May when, early in the third quarter, they led by 39 points (70-31). Only a 40-point fourth quarter by the Suns reserves that Sunday made the final score (123-90) look somewhat less abominable (PHX trailed by 42 points, 92-50, after three).

The NBA, in its infinite wisdom, chose to have the two clubs square off in the same venue last night to begin their respective seasons. And when Dallas raced to a 22-point first-half lead, it looked like more of the same. Then Phoenix miraculously pulled to within one point in the third quarter—only to have the Mavs go up by 15 again.

But something happened in the fourth quarter as, with both Chris Paul (old) and Cam Johnson (injury) on the bench, the Suns staged a comeback. Newcomer Damion Lee, who unlike his teammates owns an NBA championship ring… as a member of last year’s Golden State Warriors, whose best player is Lee’s brother-in-law, Stephen Curry, nailed a couple of big threes late and then, with the score tied at 105, a very difficult off-balance shot from the right baseline (sure, he walked to create space but why should Luka be the only one to get all the calls?) for the game winner.

It was a fitting Game 7 comeback… five months later.

A Deleted Scene From Superman II?

An undergarment check on the crew and passengers on this boat will be warranted when and if they reach safety.


by John Walters

Stars And Pinstripes

Quick thoughts on the Yankees outlasting the Indians Guardians, three games to two:

•If it seemed as if Aaron Judge had a subpar series, he really did not. Judge homered once every 2.5 games this season, which is exactly what he did in this series. Sure, he struck out a lot, but as a team the Yankees whiffed 53 times. That’s an average of 10.6 strikeouts per contest. The entire lineup struck out too often.

• The Guardians had more hits (44 to 28), while the Yankees had nearly twice as many walks (17 to 9). Add them together and the Guardians got on base 53 times to the Yankees 45. That’s, oddly enough, the exact number the opposing team struck out: the Guardians whiffed 45 times to the Yankees 53. So the Yanks struck out more and reached base less often but they won. Why? The long ball. The Yankees hit nine home runs to the Indians three, and thusly scored 20 runs (4 per game) to the Indians’ 14 (less than 3 per game).

• The epitome of Yankee offense this series? Giancarlo Stanton, who went 2 for 16 and struck out six times, more than one in every three at-bats. But Stanton’s two hits were home runs and his six RBI led all players. Stanton’s three-run bomb in the first inning of Game 5 proved the series’ knockout blow.

• Don’t know why Terry Francona started Aaron Civale. It was a calculated risk: stay close through five innings and then let your far superior bullpen take over. The problem was, the Yankees were aware of the strategy and so came out extra fired up to take an early lead. After four batters and a 3-0 lead, the game was basically over. As Bob Costas intoned over the TBS broadcast, decades from now Civale will be able to say he struck out the single-season home run king in a big playoff game (which he did), but then he’ll want to quickly change the subject. In our minds, the fault here lies with Francona: Civale had not pitched in 13 days and never in the postseason. We’d have taken a shot with our top relievers early and hope to grab a lead. Then the pressure flips over to the heavily favored Yanks. Moreover, we still don’t understand how Nestor Cortes was able to pitch on three days’ rest while Shane Bieber was not.

The Bubba Screen

by John Walters

Mostly Stanford-Notre Dame Edition

Observations from Stanford 16, Notre Dame 14….

1. Give the Cardinal credit. Every once in awhile Stanford enters Notre Dame Stadium (1990, 1992, 2022) and, despite inferior talent, clearly plays with more focus and more resolve and earns the “W.” David Shaw’s 1-4 squad (its only win versus Colgate) stopped the Irish cold on its first offensive series, then marched down field for its only touchdown of the game and this seemed to all happen before the crowd had stopped singing along to “Here Come The Irish.” Notre Dame, which entered on a three-game win streak and should have been playing downhill from the opening kickoff, entered flat-footed. That’s on the coaching staff and the senior leadership.

2. Notre Dame targeted 6’4″ true freshman wide receiver Tobias Merriweather in the end zone twice, batting .500 on the effort. Merriweather’s 41-yard TD catch was the longest touchdown scoring play of the season for the Irish by a full 11 yards and also his first career catch. In the sixth game of the season. NBC’s Jason Garrett noted afterwards that when the Peacock crew visited campus in August that Merriweather’s physical prowess and talent “jumped off the page” at him. So how come he’d never really mentioned this before as the Irish offense struggled to stretch the field? Even if Merriweather only comprehends 33% of the playbook (and I have no idea how much he comprehends) and needs work in run blocking, you need to put him on the field to keep the safeties honest. Before Merriweather’s score, 11 of Notre Dame’s 17 touchdowns had come from 10 yards in or closer. And the Irish still do not have a defensive score or a special teams score this year. Marcus Freeman and Tommy Rees need to put Merriweather on the field more if for no other reason, during a 3-3 season, than to keep the Seattle native happy and stem any thoughts of the transfer portal.

3. The Irish are last, 131st among 131 teams, in interceptions this season, with one. That pick belongs, I believe, to Tariq Bracy on the opening play of the BYU game. The pick did not result in an Irish score. I don’t have a good explanation for this. Transfer safety Brandon Joseph has been an All-American candidate in the past and Bracy has experience. Benjamin Morrison is starting at corner as a true frosh, but he has played competently. Still, last is last.

4. The absence of an effective run game is an enigma. As Garrett noted, the Irish O-line outweighed Stanford’s defensive front by at least 50 pounds per man. Starters Jarrett Patterson, Blake Fisher and Joe Alt all have “NFL” stamped on their futures. While no one in the three-headed backfield (Audric Estime, Logan Diggs, Chris Tyree) is anywhere near Kyren Williams in talent, they each should be able to outgain Casey Filkins. ND retrieved its guru offensive line coach, Harry Hiestand, from the Chicago Bears, and it has talent up front. Why it cannot rely on its rushing attack remains a mystery.

5. On its first fourth down play of the night, Tommy Rees used a play that he’d seen BYU execute to perfection the previous Saturday. You take a wide receiver and put him in motion toward the center of the field, then synchronize the snap and the wideout’s reversal of motion so that he is headed back to the sideline as the defensive back in man coverage struggles to recover. BYU scored its first TD on this play in Las Vegas. The Irish merely converted a first down. The Irish would try the play again later in the game but wideout Lorenzo Styles dropped the pass. It was a little odd that neither Garrett nor Jac Collinsworth acknowledged that this was the same exact play the Cougars had run one week earlier. I’d never seen the Irish use it before then.

6. The called-back touchdown in the first quarter was due to a flag on tight end Mitchell Evans for being an “ineligible receiver downfield,” but the penalty was not his fault. It was the fault of running back Chris Tyree, who was split out wide left but failed to line up a full one yard off the ball. While Garrett acknowledged this, NBC’s cameras twice cut away to Evans, No. 88, on the sidelines after the play. The flag was not his fault. Garrett and Collinsworth knew this, which is probably why neither picked up on the visual cue.

7. The fourth-and-goal inside handoff to sophomore wide receiver Jayden Thomas was a curious call. To our memory, that’s Thomas’ first career rushing attempt. Sure, if it works, the element of surprise is in your favor. But when it doesn’t, and this is at least the second time in as many games the Irish have come up short on 4th-and-goal, the call invites questions. The fact that the Irish felt they needed to get cute versus the Cardinal is disturbing.

8. Let’s not blame Drew Pyne. Or at least not all that much. He was thrust into a job that literally is over his head (probably why most of his passes are directed outside the hash marks) but he has performed ably the past three games. On Saturday Pyne had three good rushes that won’t make anyone forget Ian Book, but they kept the defense honest and one worked on a third-and-long. It would be nice if Pyne did not lock on to Michael Mayer so often and for so long before he passes, but he’s been, at the very least, adequate. The 3-3 record is not his fault.

9. The Irish attempted another end around to Braden Lenzy and again it went for lost yardage. When will they learn?

10. At this stage in their respective careers, we shouldn’t be hearing “Prince Kollie” more than we do “Isaiah Foskey.” But that’s been the case the past two weeks. Foskey has all the physical gifts of a first-day NFL draft pick and he’s played well this season. But he has not been as disruptive as a Thursday night selection should be.

11. Notre Dame’s top three efforts (of six) thus far have been on the road and against superior competition than the teams they faced in South Bend: Ohio State, North Carolina and BYU, all of whom are or have been ranked. The Irish are 2-1 against that trio and the Buckeyes, whom the Irish led in Columbus for long stretches, are No. 2 in the nation. Clearly something is amiss in terms of the preparation for home games versus road games (and I know BYU was not a true road game, but you get it). If Notre Dame plays in the shadow of Touchdown Jesus as it has away from South Bend, the Irish are 5-1 right now. Their absence of energy for all three home games is a concern, but as I’ve written before, I think the 30 or so hours leading up to kickoff for a Notre Dame player are an unnecessary slog through pomp and tradition, a vestigial Hail Mary (pun intended) pass to the past. I’d curtail most of it if I were the athletic director, from the mandatory pep rally on Friday afternoons to the mandatory mass on Saturdays (How many of these players are even Catholic?).

12. In terms of Marcus Freeman, patience. Lou Holtz was 5-6 his first season (albeit playing well versus a murderous schedule) and Brian Kelly was 4-5 after two months. Ty Willingham started out 8-0 and Charlie Weis was signing a bazillion dollar extension after a home loss to a Pac-12 school on October 15th (all the same elements as last Saturday). As a longtime CFB observer, Freeman’s preternatural calm, almost zen-like demeanor, is almost worrisome. Sure, Twitter can’t mock him for having a purple face, but there’s also the wonder as to whether he instills enough healthy fear in his own players. Who knows? And does it matter? I’m not sure. What is known is that the Irish have far more talent than all three teams they’ve hosted this season, and they’re 1-2 in those games. They get UNLV this week and the spread is 24.5 points. Not sure if they cover, but if for any reason they lose, or if they are trailing for a significant portion, then the Freemans would do well to not plant any saplings in their yard. Though I doubt much planting is done in late October in South Bend.

The B.S. Wonders…

… After the first half Alabama played, only down four points, did anyone really believe Tennessee would hold them off? I did not. Props to the Vols, who could disrupt all of college football’s hierarchy if they finish 13-0. That would mean Georgia did not advance to the SEC Championship Game and that Alabama had at least two losses. Would open the door for a fresh face (UCLA? Mississippi? TCU?) in the college football playoff. It’s probably too much to hope that another orange team, Syracuse, upsets Clemson (yes, also orange)… Still, if Jahmyr Gibbs catches that flare out pass on third down, Bama probably wins. As outstanding as Tennessee played (Jaylen Hyatt, have yourself a day with five TD receptions), it still came down to a Bama miscue… The fate of Oklahoma State’s and USC’s undefeated seasons came down to either overtime or a last-second two-point conversion. Much like how Alabama let one late play (and that’s before we talk about Tennessee’s two completions in the final :25) upend their season… Michigan and Ohio State have yet to play a nervous game yet. And they most likely will not before November… perhaps against one another… Is 6-1 Illinois the most unlikely pleasant surprise in the Power 5 this season?… How good was Peyton Manning on College GameDay? The world needs more Mannings, and the good news is that we appear to be getting them… Did you see Please Don’t Destroy’s “Wellness” video on SNL? Good stuff…

… The second-year trio, all NYU alums, do have a little bit of nepotism working in their favor. Martin Herlihy (the bespectacled one, I believe) is the son of former SNL head writer Tim Herlihy. John Higgins is the son of former SNL writer and Jimmy Fallon announcer Steve Higgins.


by John Walters

A note, nay, a confession: we don’t watch anywhere near as much college football this offseason. It’s… refreshing. So these reports are in no way intended to be comprehensive. Our completion percentage hovers around 50%, making us the Braxton Burmeister of college football re-cappers. Of course, this column remains pro bono (but also, as you’ll see, pro Bobo). If you care to donate, though, you may do so via PayPal and hit up

Addison is a key addition for the Fight On crew

Own The Portal, Be Immortal

College football has morphed into the sports version of that classic SNL sketch, “Meet Your Second Wife.”
Watching a pair of college football games from Los Angeles this weekend instilled in us the primacy of owning the college football portal in this brave new world of CFB. On Friday night undefeated Washington and UCLA clashed (and not just fashion-wise) in the Rose Bowl. The Huskies were led by quarterback Michael Penix, Jr., an Indiana transfer who just happened to be leading the nation in passing (and still is, despite the 40-32 defeat). Two-thirds of the Bruins’ offensive skill-position triad are also transfers: matchup nightmare Mike Bobo (6’5″), late of Duke, who runs like a deer but looks like a tight end; and running back Zach Charbonnet, who returned home to Los Angeles after a season at Michigan. All three players shined in a game that kicked off at 10:30 p.m. on the East coast.

On Saturday night, same kickoff time (maybe this is a Pac-12 After Dark item disguised as a transfer item?), USC defeated team-without-hap Arizona State, 42-25. USC’s top three offensive weapons are all transfers, as you probably know: quarterback Caleb Williams (Oklahoma), wide receiver and reigning Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison (Pitt) and running back Travis Dye (Oregon). Dye, like Charbonnet, played his high school football in the Los Angeles area. Also worth noting that the Sun Devils had lost to the portal two key offensive weapons: quarterback Jaylen Daniels is slinging for LSU, who—don’t look now—is 4-1 with an only loss being a product of a blocked PAT at the end of regulation in the season opener versus Florida State; and 6’7″ wideout Johnny Wilson, now a Seminole, whom the ESPN guys splooge over every time his name is mentioned. Wilson, who’s actually on his third school, had hands of stone in Tempe. He has markedly improved.

There are so many more: quarterback Adrian Martinez (Nebraska to Kansas State) has the Wildcats ranked 20th (an inexplicable home loss to Tulane preventing K-State from being 5-0); Alabama, of all schools, is relying on a running back from Georgia Tech, Jahmyr Gibbs, to be its RB1. Not coincidentally, the coaches at Nebraska and Georgia Tech were fired before the calendar struck October.

Gibbs’ move about 2 1/2 hours west from Atlanta to Tuscaloosa is paying dividends for him and Bama; not so much for Geoff Collins and Ga. Tech

Sure, plenty of 2022 studs are still with the girl they brought to the prom (Bryce Young, Spencer Sanders, Bijan Robinson, to name just a few), but it’s more and more apparent that, as a coaching staff, your transfer portal “recruiters” need to be even more skilled and comprehensive than your high school recruiters. First, for a coach whose bath temperature is rapidly rising, transfers represent a much quicker fix. Second, they’re already established and you don’t have to shepherd them through the freshmen transition. And not only must schools begin to better appreciate the importance of the transfer portal. So must broadcasters. The portal, and not recruiting classes, has now become the largest indicator of a program’s offseason development—or depletion. And that’s also what makes it different. The portal, unlike recruiting prep stars, is a zero sum game. Look at Ga. Tech and Alabama. The Tide’s gain of Gibbs is just as much a story as the Yellow Jackets’ loss of him. Unlike pro sports, Ga Tech received no compensation.

Meanwhile, the portal will probably only widen the chasm between haves and have-nots. The only reason that you’re transferring, say, to a Purdue is because you’re stuck on the second or third team or you grew up in the area. But if you’re someone who’s established himself at a perennial sub-.500 or thereabouts school, such as Bobo or Gibbs, you transfer to a Bucket List School.

Final thought: the transfer portal being fluid as it is, the ultimate power move would be for Nick Saban to announce that he’s retiring, then persuade his top 40 players to join him as he returns to his alma mater, Kent State. Watch the Golden Flashes go 12-0 and earn a berth in the expanded 12-team playoff. Okay, maybe not Kent State, but what if Nick did this at Hawaii (maholo, bitches!) or even SEC doormat Vandebilt? We’d be rooting for them.

Jenny, Jenny*

*If you are a certain age, the words “Ooh, can I call you” just popped into your head

That, above, is Jenny Dell, CBS’s new sideline reporter for its marquee SEC game each Saturday. So it occurred to us that now both CBS and Fox (Jenny Taft) are leading with women named Jenny who have a four-letter surname that goes consonant-vowel-consonant-consonant. But the similarities only begin there. Both ladies attended college in Massachusetts (Dell attended UMass-Amherst; Taft, Boston University… SEC sororities should be mildly ashamed that a pair of Massachusetts schools-without-Division-I-football grads are taking these gigs) and both married professional athletes. Dell wed former Boston Red Sox infielder Will Middlebrooks (she covered the Red Sox for NESN), while Taft married Matt Gilroy, a former NHL skater and winner of the hockey Heisman, the Hobey Baker Award. Further, Dell’s cameraman is named Taft and Taft’s cameraman is named Dell (okay, that’s not true, but if Steve Rushin is reading this—and why would he be?—he’ll appreciate the line).

The Picture Of Dorian’s Play

We remember seeing this in real time and thinking, that’s just filthy by Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The ESPN announcers didn’t see to notice the U-Dub tacklers pulling a Florida offensive linemen-in-Musgrave-era Keystone Cops move in real time or even on the replay. Not until ESPN returned from commercial did they point it out. Someone on Twitter wondered aloud, “Can a play win the Heisman?” Outstanding point, sir. By the way, we believe this was at the end of the same drive in which DTR hurdled a Husky tackler (and on that play as well, two Husky defenders collided). This is a here’s-my-reel drive for the veteran Bruin QB.

Aaron Judge Not, Lest You Be Aaron Judged

How meta is it to be interrupting your own college football recap column with an item on the Aaron Judge nontroversy? Full disclosure, I’m a lifelong Yankee fan and so in terms of my interest in Judge’s home run chase, it would be foolhardy for me to claim I’m 100% objective. However, I am sincere in this task so allow me to pontificate for a moment or two. To me, it’s all a matter of maintaining perspective. Like, sure, if you’re watching Houston play Tulane on TV on a Friday evening (and did not attend either school), you may have bigger problems. And yes, I can understand how a live look-in to an Aaron Judge at-bat might seem annoying (it’s a split-screen; it’s not as if they dropped the football game entirely).

But isn’t this where it’s time to be an adult and say to yourself, “Personally, I don’t love it, but I can at least understand why the suits at ESPN are doing it?” I don’t know where the majority falls on this, because in the world of social media, it’s always the unhappy noisy few whose voices are the loudest (cutaway thought: almost no one goes on to say, “I thought the prof was at the very least above average”). We live, sadly, in a post-Yelp! world where the loudest whiners can make it seem as if they are in the majority. I imagine most people are like myself: we just don’t have the energy to say that we like something or, if we’re not a huge fan, can roll with it. Again, perspective. How big of a deal is this really?

Fox’s Tim Brando, whom we adore in most situations, tweeted out about this radical injustice and used the word “terrorizing” to describe what ESPN is doing here. And then he called out “media critics” for giving ESPN a free pass here. I’m no longer a paid media critic, but I am currently reading Max Hastings “Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945.” Now as you read about the countless millions who died the most horrible of death due to the true terror perpetrated by the Nazis, and Josef Stalin, and the Japanese, it’s hard to get too riled up about a split-screen viewing of Aaron Judge’s home run chase.

And yes, I realize I just went full Sinead O’Connor on a sports argument and that’s not really fair. Everyone, I would hope, would appreciate that when we are arguing sports that we still appreciate sports’ true role in relation to the actual important issues in the world. Then again, as a lifelong human being in these United States, I wonder if we Americans are so often so out of touch with reality (i.e., the “first-world problems’ issue) that we actually have lost perspective. I’d argue that using the word “terrorizing” in relation to a live look-in to an Aaron Judge at bat gives me sufficient reason to muse on that.

Can A Play Win The Heisman, Part 2

Notable That He Tosses Helmet With Non-Throwing Arm

The B.S. Wonders

… If you realize that both Alabama and now Georgia found themselves trailing in the fourth quarter to an unranked team on the road this season. Clemson found itself trailing in the fourth quarter at Wake Forest, which was ranked 21st at the time. Playing in your opponent’s on-campus venue ain’t so easy, is it? Ohio State, 5-0, has yet to venture beyond the Horseshoe… WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG POST TO TAKE YOU TO YANKEE STADIUM, WHERE AARON JUDGE IS WALKING TO HOME PLATE… How genius and aware of your fan base for the University of Wisconsin to announce the dismissal of head coach Paul Chryst during the fourth quarter of a tight Packers home game versus the Patriots? Chryst’s offense was criminally obsolete, but he is a Badger alum who led them to a Rose Bowl. Still, this may be what I remember most about his tenure. How on-the-nose Wisconsin his firing was… Should’t MacKenzie Scott be the next Bachelorette (if you need help, that’s Jeff Bezos’ ex who then married a high school chemistry teacher and has pledged to give away most of her wealth during her lifetime)?… Isn’t it too bad that UCLA quarterback Steve Bono preceded current UCLA wideout Jake Bobo (probably by about 40 years)? A “Bono to Bobo” connection would have been fun for broadcasters…Wouldn’t you laugh if, just once, you saw a rosary beads-clutching priest anxiously rushing into the medical tent? Or a Native American medicine man waving sage? I know I would… Did you also notice that Bryce Young addresses the not-his-equal college kids “C.J.” in that Fansville ad? Nice touch… After that shot to the head, if Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel is cleared to play this weekend versus Texas, should Miami fire its team doctor all over again?… If we’d all be discussing that astounding TD catch by Kentucky, the game-winner in Oxford, if they hadn’t flagged the Wildcats for holding?… By the way, Ole Miss QB Jaxson Dart is now officially a misnomer, as he has the worst completion percentage in the SEC…How many of us had, for the Texas A&M at Alabama Saturday, what with all the off-season sniping between Nick and Jimbo, College GameDay setting up camp in Lawrence, Kansas, on October 8th?


If for no other reason than that this college kicker moment needed to be validated, we found ourselves rooting for Missouri on Saturday evening.

Alas, two untimely errors from the right side of Mizzou’s O-line undid the Tigers’ upset bid of No. 1 Georgia. First, a right guard flinched on first-and-inches on the goal line and Mizzou would ultimately settle for a field goal. Later, Mizzou converted a key third-and-nine on a dynamite pitch-and-catch late, but it was nullified by a hands to the face flag (a good call, too). Alas, after that moment Mizzou still led but you could see the heart go out of them. It’s as if they knew what was preordained needed to come true. Kind of like the Mets in Atlanta.

Finally, think about how much more this game would have meant in the BCS era. The No. 1 team likely knocked out of its title quest with loss at unranked Mizzou. Now, it’s almost meaningless. In two years, it’ll be even less so. They’ll tell you that the expanded playoff gives more schools a chance but what it actually does is act as a safety net against blue bloods being undone by an upset loss.

Dye Job

This photo does not begin to do justice to ESPN’s “glamor shot” photo of USC running back Travis Dye, but at least it shows the mustache. Props to ESPN’s Dave Flemming for going there, noting that it “may be my favorite glamor shot” he’s seen this season. No doubt. If you’ve seen it, Dye seems to be going either for an Oates of Hall and Oates look, or ’70s TV cop sidekick look, or supplanting Billy Dee Williams for his own Colt .45 malt liquor ad campaign. Any way you choose to see it, Travis needs himself a guest spot in Fansville and pronto.

When You Realize The Manning Cast Is Just An Update On Statler & Waldorf

Kudos to SNL‘s writers for being this self-aware for the cold open of the show’s 48th season. And also props to host Miles Teller for, as everyone has noted, nailing the Peyton Manning impression. This reminded us of September 1993, we believe, when Conan O’Brien cold-opened the maiden broadcast of his late-night show in similar self-deprecating fashion. Conan, as you know, had previously been an SNL writer.

While we’re at it, rookie Michael Longfellow was solid in this sketch and in his “Weekend Update” appearance, basically transferring some of his stand-up material to the desk. We invite you to check out his stand up material on YouTube, especially the routine about him having three dads. Longfellow, like alums David Spade and Aidy Bryant, is from the Phoenix area. Both of his parents are attorneys out here.

The Perfect Metaphor

We know. It’s baseball. But a more apt metaphor you will not find.