Chevy is joined by a line-up of Baseline Times finest experts when it comes to all things football. At the top of the episode, John Glowatz aka the “Straight-Up Pick King”, joins Chevy to discuss his overall thoughts on the College Football season, his thoughts on if Ohio State deserves a shot in the CFP, and John gives you his CFP pick for the Championship game. Adam & Mitch of the 1st & 10 Podcast from Baseline Times joins Chevy to discuss the 2020 NFL Season. Adam & Mitch share their thoughts on the success of the season, surprises, and disappointments, and also share their picks for Wild Card Weekend for the opening week of the 2020 NFL Playoffs. Also, find out who they think is the MVP this season!
Talking to you NBA, NFL, and NCAA
Under normal circumstances, this would be my favorite time of the sports calendar. College football is in its bowl season and the CFP is coming shortly. College basketball has started up and made it to league play. The NFL is about to start its own playoffs. The NBA has started its season with key Christmas matchups and has several compelling storylines. (I’m also told the NHL season is starting up though I don’t know much about it as I’m admittedly not a big hockey fan – don’t hold that against me hockey stans).
For obvious reasons, this is not a normal year. To make matters worse, most models predict the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths to increase over the next few months. This from an already astronomical case count occurring right now in the USA!
The Real Toll
Many athletes, coaches and staff have already contracted the virus even with all of the precautions that have been put in place. Fortunately, reactions and long-term effects have not been severe for most athletes as they are largely young and in good physical shape.
Abstractly, it may be easy to put this out of America’s collective conscience with just statistics and a lot of fake news stating that this virus is no big deal. Less so when we’re talking about real people, young men in the prime of their lives who have suffered grave effects.
Jamain Stephens Jr. (Cal U FB) and Michael Ojo (FSU MBB & Serbian Pro) sadly lost their lives due to complications from COVID. Xavier Thomas (Clemson FB) had a severe case and could not breathe fully for months. Keyontae Johnson (Florida MBB) and Tommy Sweeney (BC FB & Buffalo Bills) developed heart inflammation called myocarditis that could kill them if they don’t abstain from strenuous activity for several months. Johnson famously collapsed in game after a dunk against FSU and had to be put into a medically induced coma.
A host of high school coaches and athletes have also met with equally tragic results albeit to less fanfare. This is to say nothing of the perpetuation of the virus via spread to friends and family.
Watching sports has now turned into a moral quandary. Especially with light at the end of the tunnel so close.
The End in Sight
It seems likely that the average American should be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine by April or May 2021. Wild speculation but I’d wager the NFL, NBA, and NCAA could get doses of the vaccine for players, coaches, and key staff by March. (Side note: this would probably require NCAA athletes to be classified as essential workers, which should effectively end their amateur status and usher in at least NIL payments. For a lot of reasons, this is the way but that is another entire separate article). Thus, we are looking at a 3 month risk window. Maybe 4 or 5 months if these leagues are not able to secure vaccines early.
Many players don’t want to participate in this high risk window. Even if they make it through physically unscathed they undergo a tremendous psychological toll as well. Duke WBB; almost all of the FCS, D2, and D3 schools; and the Ivy League decided to cancel their seasons due to COVID. You may be aware that many NFL players and high profile 2021 draft prospects also decided to opt out. Similarly, 11 NCAA bowl games have been cancelled and 17 eligible teams have decided to opt out of bowls entirely due to COVID.
Bubble Up or Shut Down
Let’s make it simple. Leagues for which it still makes financial sense to operate in a bubble and continue their season should do so. Leagues for which it doesn’t make financial sense should not play until after widespread vaccination in 2021. If you can’t afford to protect your players you can’t afford to have a season.
High income leagues like the NFL, NBA, and P5/6 NCAA revenue sports can surely afford bubbles. Some others probably cannot.
The NFL didn’t institute a bubble for their regular season due to the number of people and length of time that would be involved. The playoffs kick off on Jan 9 and the Super Bowl is on Feb 7. So, the longest period of time a team would be in their bubble is roughly a month. With the top seeds from each conference on bye for round 1 it is likely the eventual Super Bowl participants will be in bubble for less time.
Several bowl games have instituted bubbles themselves. Kudos to them, the rest should follow suit. At this point, everyone would be in their respective bubbles for a matter of weeks or even days.
The NBA and TBT proved that a bubble can be a viable thing over a longer time period in 2020. 2021 can be just as successful for them and college basketball as well.
The NCAA already announced that March Madness will take place in a bubble in Indianapolis. However, a lot of damage can be done between now and then. Short term mini-bubbles don’t seem to be the answer either as the biggest risk is not playing against other athletes who have all been frequently tested. Rather the risk that comes along with living and interacting with others in close proximity. There has been talk about each conference doing their own bubble for league play but it doesn’t seem like much traction has been made there.
Legends Coach K and Rick Pitino have publically expressed their reservations at playing a season in the height of a pandemic. The latter called for delaying the season and potentially holding May Madness. You know when Slick Rick Pitino is the voice of reason you are in uncharted territory.
It would behoove the NBA to return to the bubble model that they pioneered on such a grand scale. For 2021, the NBA and the NBAPA have agreed on COVID restrictions such as not participating in social gatherings with more than 15 people and only going to approved restaurants. But that doesn’t do a lot of good when a large portion of the COVID surge is coming from small indoor gatherings. Even if the rules are followed, they are not sufficient. And we all know how good star athletes are at following rules. Especially when women are involved.
COVID-19 has already cost us so much and the end is within our grasp. Lets not put these young men and women at further risk at the peak of this thing for mere entertainment.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of John Glowatz.
Bring the XFL back this fall
With rumors swirling that the FBS college football conferences are planning to cancel their 2020 seasons, the XFL should plan to reboot and play in a bubble this fall. More than that, the XFL should make a list of all rising seniors, juniors, and red-shirt sophomores (i.e. all 2021 NFL Draft-eligible players). They can invite the top-rated among them to play in the league should college football be canceled.
Think about it, the XFL was always best as a supplemental league for the fans and, as we saw this past spring, as a feeder system for the NFL. We are also staring at the possibility of no college football this fall and most high schools are also canceling, as they should. (Btw, we are one or two major outbreaks on any given team away from no NFL football as well). This is the XFL’s opportunity to supplement the college and high school football seasons and grasp a long-sought viewership foothold. Many of the top players want to play (aside from a few projected NFL first-round picks who have already opted out) and would still have a route to the NFL draft without having to wait an extra season to showcase their skills.
The scenarios of returning
I know it seems like a quick turnaround, but imagine this scenario: (1) the various FBS conferences cancel their seasons or postpone them until spring 2021. (2) The XFL springs into action and organizes the league for an Oct start (this would involve signing players/coaches/staff; securing a bubble; securing a TV contract; testing/clearing players; and all the logistics of equipment, accommodations, etc.). (3) The XFL is playing nationally televised games in prime-time on Saturdays and Friday nights Oct-Dec 2020 with some of college football’s biggest stars.
The XFL only entertains this plan only if the point (1) is true so all of this is moot if college football is played in 2020 (which, unfortunately, seems increasingly unlikely). However, the XFL does not have a ton to lose here and can make all these contingency plans without putting out a lot of capital or loss of public goodwill.
Point (2) is the more labor-intensive piece by far, difficult but not impossible. Signing the players in such a short time frame seems doable as there are many who want to play. I don’t imagine that most of the current D1 stars would take the risk of playing for the $60 or $70k that they might get under the XFL’s previous salary structure. However, the XFL might be able to get more funding if they’re going to be the only game in town on Saturdays and Friday nights. In addition, they don’t need all of the college players to sign with them. I think 30-40 would do the trick and even 10-20 would be enough to be of interest to the average college fan.
Players to consider
Stars like Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields would be huge boons for the XFL this year. Although, they would be a super unlikely sign. However, both players have said they want to play football in 2020. If the college season will not be played, maybe there is a chance that they would suit up for the XFL. Even if they didn’t, there are plenty of guys to take their place that both need to put more film up for NFL teams and have big enough profiles to move the needle.
Guys like Sean Clifford (Penn State) Patrick Jones (Pitt), or Andre Cisco (Cuse) are NFL hopefuls who might see their stock jump with a productive XFL season and would help bring in viewers.
The XFL could draw in a ton of new fans who are used to watching these players on Saturdays. Kenny Robinson (former WVU and XFL Safety) has proven that there is a path to the NFL draft through the XFL last season. (IIRC, the XFL even agreed to pay for Kenny’s additional credit hours through graduation; they could work out a similar deal with all of the currently enrolled student-athletes)
Where to play?
Securing a bubble would be another tough aspect of this, but with only eight teams and roughly 416 players. This would be doable. There are many hotel complexes that are sitting idle these days. I am sure that one would jump at the chance of the added revenue.
Vegas was considered for the NBA bubble and Columbus worked for TBT bubble. I would propose Mohegan Sun, CT as the COVID-19 numbers are low in the region.
With a short schedule like the one the XFL already has, the bubble would only need to be intact for 2.5-3 months. This includes a full season, playoffs, and the championship. They could even shorten it to 2 months or so if that was better for the league.
Win-win for everyone:
With the above in place, a lucrative TV contract would practically fall into the XFL’s laps. ESPN is right there in Bristol, CT. Staff would be easy to come by as the country’s unemployment rate is abysmally high. I think they could scrounge up some coaches as they did this past year.
College football cancels their season (which in this scenario they are doing anyway and they miss the liability they are trying to avoid).
For the fans, they will still get football on Saturdays while the XFL gets their foothold. The players get to play, and the NFL still has its feeder system.
Of course, this is an unlikely and downright herculean task. If anyone is up to it, it is the baller himself. The new part-owner of the XFL – Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Come on Dwayne, be the best damn XFL owner there ever was!
Latest from Baseline Times
Featured in the soundtrack for Episode 1, Mac Dre’s ‘Thizzle Dance’ perfectly embodies Laney College Football. [No Spoilers]
Let’s start with Head Coach John Beam. Like Mac Dre, he is a Bay Area icon with roots in the area that go back to the ’80s. Beam is more zen-master Phil Jackson than he is hot-headed Bobby Knight or Rex Ryan – but make no mistake – he is an old-school coach who spits hellfire when a player steps out of line. He provides the theme and tempo of the team, much like the funky, over-the-top, old-school, bouncing bass of ‘Thizzle Dance.’
Laney College departs from the last 2 seasons of Last Chance U in that the majority of the players come from the Bay Area with little national fanfare or major scholarship offers. Much the same, Mac Dre never quite achieved national superstardom but was an absolute legend in the Bay.
The series chiefly follows 4 players: RJ (WR), Dior (QB/WR), Rezjohn (DB), and Nu’u (OL). In watching the series, you’ll find yourself rooting for all of these kids in different ways. They all embody this part of the first verse of the ‘Thizzle Dance’:
… First, I do like this
Put a look on my face like I smelled some piss
Bounce to the beat till it start to hurt
Then I dust all the smirk off me shirt
Dip to the ground as I catch the bass
Then I wipe all the sweat off me face
Hop back up then I start to slide
Popping my collar as I glide…
All have had a hard lot in life, whether it be: abusive homes, violence taking a loved one, a tragic family history, trying to raise children as a teenager, or sometimes a mix of the above. All of these guys have smelled some [proverbial] piss in their lives and bounced to the beat [or the grind] until it hurt.
As you see in the series though, they don’t quit. They dust off their shirt(s), catch the bass (football), wipe the sweat off their faces, and slide and glide on their way out of Oakland. Each of these players grinds and push to try to get a D1 scholarship (and then to the NFL) or any way they can to get a better life for themselves and their families. It looks like Coach Beam and the staff at Laney prepared them pretty well in their attempt to do so, but watch the series to find out.
Last Chance U Season 5 (and Season’s 1-4) are all available streaming on Netflix.
While there is attention in Orlando inside the NBA Campus about 150 miles southwest of Orlando is Brandenton, Florida. The IMG Academy is hosting the WNBA’s version of a campus and successfully has tipped off their 2020 season on Saturday.
Storm too much for Sabrina Ionescu WNBA debut in 87-71 victory
The first game featured the New York Liberty as the home team hosting the Seattle Storm. The game would feature two special scenarios as the Liberty’s number one pick, Sabrina Ionescu made her WNBA debut. The Storm welcomed back Breanna Stewart, who returned from a torn Achilles injury.
The Storm comes out victorious on opening day with an 87-71 victory. Ionescu finished with 12 points on 4-of-17 shooting in her debut game. Stewart finished with 18 points, 8 rebounds, and shot 50-percent from the field. The Storm held the Liberty to 34-percent shooting from the field (and a miserable 21-percent from the three-point line. Layshia Clarendon led the Liberty with 20 points and only one of three Liberty players scoring double figures.
Sparks dominate Mercury 99-76
The Phoenix Mercury welcomed a new familiar face to their roster this season by signing Skylar Diggins-Smith. The well-known guard joins Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner in Phoenix to help the Mercury regain contender status. The Mercury finished 8th last season and easily bounced in the first round of the 2019 playoffs without Taruasi.
A poor second-half from Phoenix caused opening day to spiral out of control. The Mercury were outscored 30-8 in the third quarter and ran out of time to regain any chance at a comeback victory. The Sparks had a good balanced offensive attack with six players scoring in double figures.
Nneka Ogwumike led the way for the Sparks scoring 21 points and perfect from the field connecting on all 10 shots, two of them from three-point range. Diggins-Smith would finish with 14 points and 6 assists on 62-percent shooting in her Mercury debut.
Mystics flex why they are the defending champs with 101-76 win
The Mystics enter the season as the defending champs and playing without Elena Delle Donne. Saturday’s season opener didn’t phase the 2019 champs as they dominated the Indiana Fever.
Washington held the Fever to only nine points in the second and fourth quarter. Myisha Hines-Allen poured in 27 points and 10 rebounds on 65-percent shooting from the field for the Mystics. Four other Mystics were able to score double figures and chip in on the scoring outburst.
Furthermore, Delle Donne’s absence will continue on the season as the league refused to grant her a medical exemption to sit out the 2020 season for her COVID-19 related concerns because of her underlying health condition of Lyme disease.
Additionally, the Mystics will also be without Point guard Natasha Cloud will be sitting out this season to work on social justice reform and Tina Charles is also seeking a medical exemption. LaToya Sanders is also sitting out due to health concerns.
John Glowatz has a special guest in this episode! John interviews the GM of TBT’s Sideline Cancer, Billy Clapper, ahead of their final four matches up with Overseas Elite.
Chevall debuts a special episode by bringing in his significant other, Caroline for a discussion on dating a sports fanatic, being a sports mom, how female athletes inspired her, and what it’s like being a sports fan as a female. Tune in now to listen to this fun episode as the days of sports quarantine hopefully come to an end.
Click to listen on your favorite platform now!
- 0:00 – 33:00: Chevall is joined by the newest member of Baseline Times, Josh. These two chat about Cam Newton’s impact on joining the New England Patriots and what to expect for the NFL’s upcoming 2020 season.
- 33:00 – 55:00: Gabe joins Chevall to discuss the NBA’s return and plan to play in the Orlando bubble. They share their insight on the pros and cons of playing in one location and if an NBA tournament can be drawn out of this for the future.
Chevall is joined by DeMario as the duo discuss the current events in America and the responsibilities of athletes. An open discussion generalizing if an athlete’s voice matter and should they have the same rights to share their opinions as a common person would. The second half of the show they discuss should the NBA and other sports hold out playing. Would any purpose be accomplished by just sitting out? Tune in to this episode to see if the fellas agree with Kyrie Irving and the best alternate option if professional athletes choose activism over their sport.
Chevall is joined by Co-hosts Gabe and T.J. for another week. The trio recaps the UFC 250 card and gives their insight to Conner’s latest retirement announcement. Tune to now to hear some knockout commentary!
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