Starting Five

The Fighting Irish will not have the best player whose name begins with an “O'” on Saturday. That’s Nick O’Leary, who looks like the grandson of The Most Interesting Man in the World, as opposed to Jack Nicklaus’

1. Here It Comes

Considering that top-ranked Florida State is playing a school named in honor of the Virgin Mother (*), Seminole quarterback Jameis Winston’s table-top declaration of a few weeks’ back is even more inflammatory.

Unbeaten (6-0) and fifth-ranked (too high, IMO) Notre Dame visits Tallahassee on Saturday for the first time since 2002, when the Irish entered Doak Campbell Stadium with a 7-0 record and a No. 6 ranking. The Noles came in at No. 11 and the Irish came away with a decisive 34-24 win…before forgetting to show up the next week against Boston College.

Anyway, more people will compare this contest to the one in South Bend in 1993, when FSU was No. 1 and the Irish were No. 2. Notre Dame won that game, too, 31-24, and they also lost at home to Boston College the following week.

Which may be why the Irish wisely scheduled “Bye” for next Saturday.

I should note that of the two programs, it is Florida State and not Notre Dame that can boast the Rhodes Scholar (Myron “Honor” Rolle). I’ll also note, as I did on Twitter this a.m., that a perusal of the 2012 (most recent) grad rates of the Top 5 schools yields the following:
1. Mississippi State, 62% 2. Florida State, 56%, 3. Ole Miss, 54% 4. Baylor, 62% 5. Notre Dame, 97%.

Should that even matter when assessing college football programs? You decide.

* There are many who consider this as factual as Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

2. The Bucks Stop Here

Only once in 61 outs on the PBR circuit has Bushwacker been ridden for a qualified (8 seconds) ride.

That’s Bushwacker, the greatest bucking bull there ever was. He retires soon, in Las Vegas, at the Pro Bull Riders World Finals later this month. I wrote a story on him and the sport in general for this week’s Newsweek.

One item that failed to make the story but that I’d love to note here: In PBR they have a red button –it’s an actual red button, and it never got a dinner– near the exit area for the riders. If anyone –the rider himself or one of the other riders–believes that the four judges erred, for example, they failed to see that the rider did in fact remain aboard the bull for eight seconds, they may press that button. It’s the equivalent to the NFL’s challenge flag.

But here is where it gets interesting. Again, anyone involved with the event (not fans or media, obviously) may press that red button. And if they’re right, yes, the call gets overturned. But if they’re WRONG…they must pay a $500 fine. How awesome is that? Can we get that for the NFL and MLB?

By the way, a shout-out to the PBR P.R. peeps Hillary Herskowitz, who doggedly pursued me to pursue this story, and Jordan Johnson, who is the first P.R. person I’ve ever run across who also sang the National Anthem –and killed it– at the event. Great people, both.

3. You’re Meat

Last night’s Season 5 premiere gave us the boxcar willies.

“You’re either the cattle or you’re the butcher,” was the theme of last night’s Season 5 premiere of The Walking Dead. If, like me, you tried watching this while flipping between Mulaney, where they discussed the episiotomy (“I’ll tear her a new one”), you probably were not in the mood to be carnivorous for awhile.

A few thoughts: 1) How much better a show would TWD be if it had Game of Thrones’ budget? We’re five seasons in and production values/locations suggest the budget is slightly larger than that of Blair Witch Project. Yes, the zombies rock, but basically it’s a bunch of protagonists wandering in the woods trying to avoid danger. Imagine if they could take us other places –Are there zombie cows roaming the Great Plains, for example? 2) Lauren Cohan’s wardrobe suggests she ain’t missing many yoga classes. She keeps getting more toned, and the outfits more skimpy, with each season. 3) At a certain point, Did you not think to yourself, We all better hope cows never develop opposable thumbs, l because they are going to be rightfully pissed. The only non-vegetarian they may spare is Temple Grandin. 4) Mulaney was better this week, but his best work of the weekend was helping out (writing entirely?) the return sketch for Stephon on SNL. The “doorman who high-fives children of divorce” line was classic. 5) I’d argue the funnier former SNL writer on air last night was Conan O’Brien, who killed on Talking Dead. He compared the supervisor at Terminus to an annoying hipster Starbucks manager. 6) The best sketch on SNL last Saturday was this. Find the truth and keep it simple and you have funny.

Remember: Mulaney’s kid sis is now an SNL writer. He’s still intimately involved with the show. Okay, I’ll shut up about Mulaney now.

4. No Limits in Austin

Charlie Strong instantly booted 9 bands from this lineup for violation of unspecified team rules.

The festival, which took place the past two weekends in Texas’ state capital, is called “Austin City Limits” after the greatest show in the history of PBS. But look at all those bands. If you were unable to find a hotel room, I think I know why.

5. Cover Me

Talib, the force behind Denver’s “(Cover the) Spread Defense”

The Denver Broncos’ Aqib Talib is not only good at covering wide receivers; he’s excellent at covering favorites. Denver was a 10-point favorite at the Jets yesterday and had a 7-point lead and the ball with less than :90 to play. The Jets were out of timeouts. Somewhat curiously, Denver passed incomplete on third down from near midfield where a run would’ve meant they’d be punting the ball to Rex Ryan (in his final season as Jet coach) and his team with about :20 to play.

Instead, Denver passes incomplete. The Jets get a well-punted ball at their own 3 with about a minute to play. On first down, Geno Smith is sacked, almost for a safety (9 points), but the refs down the ball at the one-foot line. On the following play Smith tosses a pick to Talib, who falls down near the 30, but is not touched, so he gets up and returns it for a TD. Broncos 31, Jets 17.

Apparently, a certain well-known boxer is an even bigger Aqib Talib fan this morning.

2 thoughts on “IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

  1. I totally accept that the correct spelling of a made-up character whose name never officially appears in print is at best a collective presumption, but the whole rest of the world calls him Stefon. (Hands over face at mere potential for laughing at self).

    Mulaney was better! Kinda has that SNL thing where they don’t know when to walk away from a good joke, as opposed to forcing it for an extra 15 seconds, but we’re giving him time!

  2. LOVED the Bushwacker piece. “The bucks stop there” – PERFECT last sentence. Also love all the folks repeatedly praising Bushwacker with “he’s a professional”. Made me laugh every time. And now, he’s truly being ‘sent out to pasture’.

    Hmmmm, yes, ND to play FSU this Saturday & the latter team’s star QB, the team itself, the university, AND the local town’s police force ALL find themselves sitting in a pile of manure at THIS precise moment. Come on, admit it – this was all maneuvered by Opus Dei. 😉

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