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The perpetually suspended and always controversial Wolverines land the top spot in this year’s College Football Playoff and the College Coaches poll at the conclusion of the conference championship games.

Michigan is in. HYPERLINK ""Washington is in. After that, the choices facing the selection committee Sunday were brutal—and could have been alleviated if the Big Ten, Pac-12, and Atlantic Coast conferences hadn’t spent more than a year roadblocking a 12-team playoff in time for this season.

Alabama, which is the 12–1 champion of the Southeastern Conference—the league that has won the last four playoffs with three different schools, the league that has won six of the nine playoffs, the league that has had at least one member in every playoff. And the Crimson Tide got there by ending No. 1, two-time reigning champion Georgia’s 29-game winning streak. Texas, which is the 12–1 champion of the Big 12, beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa by 10 points in September.

So, while the final four teams are set in the year’s CFB Playoff, the concern is that the top seed arrived without answering allegations of spying, or cheating, on opponents. The college football world knows it. Reporters know it. Heck, even the NCAA knows it. Yet nothing was done.

Consider: Similar to the Patriots Spygate scandal of 2008, half the world now knows the name “Connor Stalions,” who once sold used vacuum cleaners. Stalions became an “analyst” for the mighty Wolverines football program when officially joined UM's staff in 2022, but had been around the program for several years. He would fall under investigation for stealing signs, and not just in a run-of-the-mill way. Stalions would be investigated for buying tickets to games for opponents who were on Michigan’s schedule, giving said tickets to “associates,” as if in some sign-stealing mafia, having those associates film on iPhones and send back clips.

It's a travesty that Michigan is even allowed to participate in the postseason, let alone the CFB Playoff.

Shame on you, NCAA.


Front Office Sports reports that after just one U2 concert at Las Vegas’ new $2.3 billion Sphere, UFC president Dana White described himself as “obsessed” with the venue and the prospect of getting the mixed-martial arts property there as soon as possible.

“The Sphere is a whole other level,” White said. “I don’t run the Sphere, and it’s not my company, but it’s so good that for at least the first year, they should do nothing but incredible experiences. … I will put on the greatest live combat sports event anybody has ever seen at the Sphere. I’m so in on this, it’s not even funny. The first live transmission from there should be us.”

White is far from alone.

Beginning with a highly successful 25-concert run this fall by the Irish rock superstars, the Sphere has ushered in a dramatic new era of live entertainment — one that has put every sports team, league, and venue operator firmly on notice.

Measuring 366 feet high and 516 feet wide — as the world’s largest spherical building — the Sphere also boasts the largest and highest-resolution LED screen on the planet with fully immersive video and audio capabilities, instantly lapping the technical standards of any conventional sports arena or stadium.

The initial shows at the Sphere have drawn numerous sports executives looking to bring key takeaways from the venue back to their own settings, but are genuinely excited at the venue’s potential for live sports.

In addition to the UFC, the NHL has also been linked to the Sphere, as have multiple boxing entities, and F1 will utilize the building as part of next month’s high-profile debut of the Las Vegas Grand Prix. 

The brainchild and passion project of New York Rangers and Knicks owner Jim Dolan, the Sphere has become a key marketing template for other sports entities. The NBA, ESPN, YouTube, and Formula 1 have each prominently promoted themselves – reportedly - at a cost of $450,000 per four hours — on the building’s massive exterior LED, which thanks to its nearly limitless ability to render colors and images has become perfect fodder for social media feeds. 

Peter Stringer, a former digital and social media executive with the Boston Celtics and UFC and now a digital marketing consultant, was more than impressed by the U2 show. “The bar has now been set so high,” he told Front Office Sports. “You can definitely see this opening up a whole new era in immersive video.” 

Unprecedented Scale

In a traditional sports setting, scoreboards and other LED fixtures have always sought to strike a tenuous balance between entertaining and informing fans while still prioritizing the live action. 

The Sphere offers an entirely different proposition: audio and video so consuming, it can completely overwhelm what’s happening among the live performers — and is often specifically designed to do so. In an age where “more” is always a driving mantra for venue technology, the Sphere has delivered in unprecedented fashion.

U2 spent more than a year developing their run of shows, in part commissioning a series of artists to create visuals accompanying the songs. For live sports, the unique challenge remains of how to learn from and use the Sphere, but still keep the focus on the athletes.

“The big question I have for sports is who is going to have the content to really take advantage of this, particularly when sports aren’t choreographed like a concert,” Stringer said.

White intends to stage the UFC event at the Sphere in September 2024. The timing is partly to coincide with Mexican Independence Day, but also aimed to provide a sufficient window to understand the venue’s full capabilities and how best to deploy them.

“It’ll take that long for us to really work this thing out and figure it out,” White said. 

To aid in that process, several sports properties including UFC have also toured a separate production facility in Burbank, California, where Dolan’s Sphere Entertainment Co. develops content for the Sphere.

Despite that needed lead time, there’s still some competitive juice in there as White fervently wants to be the first sports entity in the Sphere, and he took particular aim at boxing entities also interested in the venue.

“You know I will spend the money to make it right,” White said. “Boxing is going to f— around with them on the tickets. They don’t have the money to do it. None of those bums got the money to do it. I’ll do it.”

Crowded Market

For some sports properties, however, working with the Sphere isn’t quite so simple. 

Despite all the excitement the venue has immediately generated, existing contracts with other Las Vegas venues can stand in the way of striking a deal with Dolan.

“There are other long-term relationships to which we need to be sensitive,” a league source told FOS. “But we also want to be at the forefront — innovation and disruption is in our DNA, and the Sphere brings something really exciting and different. So these are things that we will sort through.”

There’s also another potential long-term threat to sports team and venue owners: a siphoning of concerts that are critical revenue drivers on days without games. 

Dolan hasn’t yet announced any other concerts for the Sphere after U2 completes their dates in December. Once he does, though, any musical act playing there might forego other opportunities at a stadium or arena also used for sports.

But even without a single sports event held there yet, the Sphere has created a buzz within the business of sports that has no direct precedent.



No. 1 Georgia faced its first ranked opponent of the season on Saturday when No. 20 Kentucky comes to town — the Bulldogs' biggest test so far as they seek a historic three-peat – and it promptly disposed of the Wildcats.

Only one team has done it: Minnesota is the only team to officially win three straight national championships. The Golden Gophers were recognized as champions in 1934 and 1935 by early selection agencies like the NCF before emerging as the inaugural AP champion in 1936, per Yahoo Sports AM.

Many have failed: Since then, 13 teams have fallen one title short of a three-peat, including two this century during the BCS era.

  • 2013 Alabama: Finished No. 7 with an 11-2 record.

  • 2005 USC: Finished No. 2 with a 12-1 record (lost BCS Championship).

  • 1996 Nebraska: Finished No. 6 with an 11-2 record.

  • 1980 Alabama: Finished No. 6 with a 10-2 record.

  • 1976 Oklahoma: Finished No. 5 with a 9-2-1 record.

  • 1972 Nebraska: Finished No. 4 with a 9-2-1 record.

  • 1971 Texas: Finished No. 18 with an 8-3 record.

  • 1967 Michigan State: Finished unranked with a 3-7 record.

  • 1966 Alabama: Finished No. 3 with an 11-0* record.

  • 1957 Oklahoma: Finished No. 4 with a 10-1 record.

  • 1948 Notre Dame: Finished No. 2 with a 9-0-1 record

  • 1946 Army: Finished No. 2 with a 9-0-1 record.

  • 1942 Minnesota: Finished No. 19 with a 5-4 record.

A tall task: If Kentucky wanted to pull off the upset, it knew it would have to do what no team has done in the CFP era: beat the top-ranked team in their house. The last time a No. 1 team went down at home was in 2012 — when it happened in back-to-back weeks (Johnny Manziel's Texas A&M beat Alabama, then Stanford beat Oregon).

*The Tide's undefeated finish in 1966 wasn't enough to pass undefeated Michigan State and Notre Dame, who were named co-champions after winning every game except their controversial 10-10 tie against each other.


Date: 09/15/23

Don’t look now but much maligned Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa put on a career best performance opening week in the NFL last week.

The first Sunday of the season started slow. Only one team in the 1 p.m. games reached 20 points by halftime. Rain pelted fields. Defenses smothered offenses. But by day’s end, the SoFi Stadium scoreboard had nearly melted from overuse, the Green Bay Packers had seemingly found a successor to 30 years of quarterbacking brilliance, and the Los Angeles Rams had come back from the dead. Here is what to know.

The Dolphins have an outrageously unrelenting offense. Watching them, you get the sense that an earthquake could split the stadium in half, and Tua Tagovailoa would walk into the huddle, Mike McDaniel would send Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle deep, and Tagovailoa would loft one of those lefty moonballs into space. Miami throws deep with more consistency, danger and abandon than any other team in the NFL.

The Dolphins’ delirious brand of football spoiled Kellen Moore’s pyrotechnic debut as the Chargers’ offensive coordinator and made for by far the most entertaining game of Week 1. Tagovailoa fumbled the opening snap, then fumbled and lost another snap inside the Los Angeles 2-yard line. The Dolphins fell behind four times. Tagovailoa threw an interception into the end zone. They just … kept … coming.

The Dolphins won, 36-34, as Tagovailoa passed for a preposterous 466 yards and three touchdowns — 215 of the yards and two of the touchdowns going to Hill.

To confirm these findings, see the chart below, outlining Tua’s career day, as he led NFL QBs in pass completion rate for throw of 15-plus yards.

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When UCLA track and field athlete Shawn Toney found out the Bruins would be joining the Big Ten, he heard the same justifications as everyone else.

“Yeah, travel’s going to be a pain in the ass,” Toney was told. “It’s money. We’re getting money. Obviously, it’s mostly because of the football program. But money for the football program is money for the athletic department — which trickles down to us.”

But many Olympic sports athletes, coaches, and advocates believe the tradeoff between revenue and travel won’t be worth it. 

NIL has been touted as the potential death knell to college sports as we know them, but the conference realignment wave — driven by football television dollars — is a much bigger threat.

In a report filed by Front Office Sports: Since 2021, ESPN and Fox have bankrolled more than a dozen moves to the Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, and ACC. USC and UCLA could make up to $40 million extra in their new conference, while others like Oregon and Washington will make up to $10 million extra. Stanford and Cal are joining the ACC at a discount, but only because TV money killed their previous home of the Pac-12.

The enterprise is fueled by the revenue generated by predominantly Black football and basketball players, who will continue to generate most of the money funding Division I athletic departments’ predominantly white administrators and sports.

“You can’t understate the racial exploitation that’s going on here,” said Ramogi Huma, executive director of the National College Players Association. “I think in every discussion that should be included as a wakeup call and a reminder.”

On the day the Pac-12 disintegrated, athletes from Oregon to Arizona State tweeted their concerns about being ignored in the shakeup. Coaches, like UCLA’s Mick Cronin, whose pocketbooks will benefit from the extra revenue, have also criticized the changes. Two athletes Front Office Sports spoke with confirmed locker rooms are mixed on realignment.

The National College Players Association called for Congress to reverse realignment altogether — suggesting every sport besides football should be in a regionally based conference.


Date: 08/10/23


According to Sports Action's Darren Rovell, Phil Mickelson wagered more than one billion dollars over the last three decades.

So says Billy Walters, widely recognized as the most success gamblers of all-time.

Walters' new tell-all autobiography, "Gambler: Secrets from a Life at Risk," devotes two chapters to detailing Mickelson's gambling addiction.

From 2010 to 2014, Walters said he had a gambling partnership with Lefty. Mickelson benefited from Walters' legendary betting system, which earned him hundreds of millions of dollars over his career. Meanwhile, Walters benefited from the fact that Mickelson — a gambling amateur and a famous name — had far, far higher limits. They split profits 50-50.

For instance, Mickelson asked Walters if he could get $400,000 down on the Ryder Cup, in which he was participating, which was 10 to 20 times what Walters could bet per game, the gambler says in his book.

Walters kept a record on Mickelson's gambling exploits, which he shared in his new book Gambler: Secrets from a Life at Risk.

In September 2012, Mickelson allegedly called Walters to ask if he would place a $400,000 bet because he was tied up at the Ryder Cup, competing for the American team. The wager was on the American team to win the Ryder Cup.

Walters angrily refused. "Have you lost your fucking mind?" Walters allegedly told Mickelson. "Don't you remember what happened to Pete Rose?"

In the end the US team blew a big lead and lost when the Europeans staged what is widely regarded as the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history.

Mickelson bet $110,000 to win $100,000 a total of 1,115 times and $220,000 to win $200,000 on 858 bets. The sum of those wagers alone, Walters wrote, came to $311 million.

In 2011, Walters' data showed that Mickelson averaged nearly nine bets a day, but on one day that year (June 22), he placed 43 bets on Major League Baseball games, ending the night with a $143,500 loss.

"The only person I know who surpassed that type of volume is me," Walters wrote.

Mickelson countered, saying, "I never bet on the Ryder Cup. While it is well known that I always enjoy a friendly wager on the course, I would never undermine the integrity of the game."

Yes, the man has a gambling problem.




Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti received authorization Thursday to explore Oregon and Washington as future Big Ten Conference members.

Per 247 Sports, "There's a political thicket with the potential additions because the moves don't offer the current Big Ten schools any additional money.

USC doesn't have a vote, but they've been vocal in the past about not wanting other West Coast Big Ten teams.

"Oregon and Washington would also have to come to terms with not getting a full share, which isn't a slam dunk for them. There's potential, but significant road blocks remain."

"Obviously it impacts me. It impacts our program," Washington football coach Kalen DeBoer said of the Pac-12 uncertainty beyond 2023. "There's a part where there's really nothing I can do at this point, so I stay in my lane. 

There is a major detachment from the conference's recent disinterest in further expansion. As it stands, the Big Ten will grow to 16 teams in 2024 when it welcomes USC and UCLA, which announced their departures from the Pac-12 last summer.

The league could blow up to 20 teams sooner than later.



NFL-themed slot machines are coming to casino floors this football season, per AXIOS SPORTS.

Driving the news: Aristocrat Gaming, a leading slot machine and casino game manufacturer, unveiled the machines on Thursday after signing a multiyear agreement with the league.

The big picture: It's remarkable how much the NFL's stance on gambling — and Las Vegas — has changed over the past decade. A few notable events:

August 2012: The NFL (and other leagues) sue New Jersey to block the state from offering sports betting, arguing that gambling "threatens the integrity" of sports.

June 2015: The NFL cancels a fantasy football convention in Las Vegas because of the perceived association with gambling.

March 2017: The NFL approves the Raiders' move to Vegas.

May 2018: The Supreme Court strikes down PASPA, giving states the go-ahead to legalize betting on sports.

April 2021: Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel become official sports betting partners of the NFL

February 2022: The NFL approves in-stadium betting lounges, allowing sportsbooks to take bets during games.

July 2023: Aristocrat unveils NFL-themed slot machines.

And Roger Goodell and the NFL wonder why the league has a gambling problem!


The Demise of the NFL Running Back

There's no two ways about it: It's not a good time to be an NFL running back, insists Axios Sports. 

Driving the news: The franchise tag deadline passed on Monday, and all three running backs who were tagged — Saquon Barkley (Giants), Josh Jacobs (Raiders) and Tony Pollard (Cowboys) — failed to agree to long-term contracts with their teams.

If they sign the tag, as Pollard already has, they'll play on a one-year, $10.1 million deal that pales in comparison to their elite counterparts at other positions.

But they could also sit out the season in hopes of securing a better deal and protesting the NFL's evolving economics that have left them behind. Barkley might be ready to do just that.

What they're saying: "My leverage is I could say, 'F--k you' to the Giants," Barkley said in a podcast recorded before the deadline passed. "And be like, 'You want me to show you how valuable I am to the team? I won't show up. I won't play a down.' That's a play I could use."

State of play: That $10.1 million tag - calculated by averaging the top five salaries at the position over the previous five years - is lower than it was in 2015 ($10.9M) even as other positions' tags, and the salary cap, have exploded in that time.

Christian McCaffrey's contract has the highest average annual value among running backs ($16M), but the 86th-highest among all players.

Bijan Robinson - a rookie - will make the most money this season ($13.72M) among all running backs, with McCaffrey's $12 million a fairly distant second.

The backdrop: Those numbers, while alarming, are also nothing new. It's a trend that began when the rookie wage scale came about in the 2011 CBA, delaying the timeline for when players could negotiate their first big deal.

For most players, that's not so bad, given there's a steep learning curve upon entering the league and by the time you've reached your prime you can strike gold.

But running backs' most productive years are often their first few, meaning many have begun declining by the time their rookie deal is up.

The last word: "Guys like Saquon Barkley aren't getting squeezed because teams can grab any bozo out of the draft and turn him into Saquon Barkley, but because teams can find two-thirds of Barkley's production for half of his asking price," writes Defector's Tom Ley.

That strategy, while cold, seems to be working.

No Super Bowl–winning team since 2013 has paid its leading rusher more than $2.5 million, per The Ringer.



Gumbo, Fried Chicken, And Macaroni and Cheese

Ed Oregon is a college football treasure.

The Louisiana native seemed to be in the perfect spot when he coached LSU, leading his home-state program to a national title in 2019. After years of bouncing around, it looked like he came home just to be a local legend. But then he went just 11-11 in the two years following that national title season and stepped down as head coach.

Brian Kelly took over for Coach O in Baton Rouge last season and the feeling was that the 61-year-old head coach was going to ride off into the sunset and retire.

But that may not be the case.

Per, it seems like Orgeron may have that itch to coach yet again and a recent job opening at Northwestern has piqued his interest. This is what America deserves.

Northwestern hasn't reached out to Orgeron yet, but this report may stir up some conversations within the Wildcat athletic department.

Orgeron did deal with an off-field incident involving assistant coach Derrius Guice, but maybe Northwestern gives him a shot with an interview and basically tells him that strike one is strike three. The leash would be short.

The fit would interesting, but fun. Heck, perhaps he could even enroll in a speech annunciation class.

The past couple of seasons have been a nightmare for Northwestern. Ed Orgeron has proven that he can win big games and bring excitement to programs.

This would be the perfect coach to help the Wildcats avoid a complete collapse.

Players love playing for Coach O and he's going to bring a solid staff with him. He's also developed some elite relationships in coaching and on the recruiting trail over the years.

The only question mark would be his ability to recruit with heightened academic standards, and finding enough gumbo, fried chicken and macaroni and cheese to please his palate.

College football fans deserve this move to happen. Northwestern fans deserve this after the past couple of nightmarish seasons under Pat Fitzgerald followed by a disgraceful exit. Make this happen, Northwestern.


SEC 2023 QB Rankings recently published its SEC quarterback rankings for the 2023 football season and it may have surprised some to find Arkansas QB KJ Jefferson atop the rankings.

Especially considering that the Razorbacks will be changing to a new pro-style attack behind new OC Dan Enos. That, coupled with the fact that Arkansas will be operating without its top four wide receivers and top tight end from last season.

Know that defense will likely stack the box against RB Raheim Sanders (1,443 rushing yards as a sophomore), it will put more pressure on Jefferson to stand and deliver.

However, if he were the starting quarterback at Alabama, Georgia or Ohio State he'd be drawing praise rather than skepticism.

Don't downplay Jefferson's ability. The numbers he should compile could put him in the Heisman Trophy race.



Supplemental Income

Per Front Office Sports, after three years off, the NFL Supplemental Draft is back on with two wide receivers in the pool of players for NFL teams to bid on which takes place on Tuesday, July 11.

Jackson State wide receiver Malachi Wideman and Purdue wide receiver Milton Wright have officially been granted eligibility and will be the only two players that teams can consider.

Wideman is 6-foot-5, 190 pounds was a two-sport star in football and basketball in high school and chose to pursue football, picking Tennessee among the many schools offering him scholarships. But after a disappointing career at Tennessee, he transferred to Jackson State. Wideman played very well in his first season at Jackson State, tying for the SWAC lead in touchdown catches with 12 in 2021, but he played only sparingly in 2022, catching just three passes.

The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Wright caught 57 passes for 732 yards and seven touchdowns in 2021 but missed the entire 2022 season after he was ruled academically ineligible.

If a team uses a supplemental draft pick on Wideman or Wright, that team gives up its corresponding pick in the regular 2024 draft. So if a team were to pick a player with a sixth-round supplemental pick, that team would lose its sixth-round pick in 2024.

This will be the NFL's first supplemental draft since 2019. That year, the Cardinals used a fifth-round pick on safety Jalen Thompson, who has developed into a solid starter for them.

Don't be surprised to see the league pass on these two supplemental eligible receivers.



Side Stepping The Crimson Tide reports that Alabama Football has played 1178 games against teams that are classified as FBS teams for the 2023 season. Of those 133 teams, the Crimson Tide has failed to play against only 12 Power Five football programs. The breakdown of the teams from the Power Five conferences from which Alabama has yet to play are four Pac-12 teams, four Big Ten teams, three ACC teams and one Big 12 team.

There are another 33 non-Power Five programs the Crimson Tide has also never played.
Included in the 'dirty dozen' group of current FBS schools who have never faced Alabama on the gridiron are:

Arizona, Arizona State, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Northwestern, Oregon, Oregon State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, USC, and Virginia.



Big Apple Big Revenue

New York continues to dominate the national sports betting landscape, with sportsbook operators earning $152.6 million in revenue last month, mostly via mobile gaming, reports Axios Sports.

Why it matters: Thanks to a sky-high 51% tax rate on mobile revenue (tied with New Hampshire for the highest in the nation), New York pushed past $1 billion in tax revenue since PASPA was repealed in May 2018.

No other state has earned even half that much tax revenue in that time.

Pennsylvania is second ($427.6 million) and New Jersey is third ($368.4 million).

The big picture: New York's sports betting market has exploded since launching mobile 17 months ago. Year-to-date, $7.98 billion has been wagered — more than double the handle of any other state.

Between the lines: A majority of New York's sports betting tax revenue funds education, with the rest going toward sports programs for underserved youth and problem gambling education and treatment.




LIV and PGA Merger Causes Major Uproar


It's what members of the PGA are calling the deal with the bandit LIV after their announced merger on Tuesday.

The pro-golf world was left stunned after the PGA Tour and Saudi-backed LIV Golf announced a merger, also taking in the DP World Tour. The deal aims to "unify the game of golf", with all ongoing litigation dropped.

LIV Golf emerged as a competitor to the traditional PGA Tour last year, teeing off its first tournament in June. Before the first driver was even out of the bag, however, the competition was marred in controversy with accusations of "sportswashing" as high-profile players signed on with the tour for huge fees — bankrolled by the Saudi kingdom's colossal $650 billion sovereign wealth fund. 

The Green 

Per, there are other key differences between the tours too: LIV's inaugural season featured 8 tournaments of 54 rounds (LIV is 54 in Roman numerals), compared to the PGA's standard 72. But it's the immense prize money on offer that's been the biggest game-changer. Each LIV tournament has an eye-popping $25 million purse — $20 million for individual prizes and $5 million for teams — with the top three individual performers over the season sharing an additional $30 million.

Fewer players and larger sums mean substantial earnings regardless of finishing positions, with even those at the bottom of the leaderboard securing hefty $120,000 sums, while the average payout surpassed $500,000.

This has dwarfed the prize money offered by established events such as the Players Championship on the PGA Tour, which averaged just under $300,000 and a minimum payout of $41,000.



SEC Expansion Schedule Issues Settled

Front Office Sports reports The SEC spring meetings have come and gone — and its schools have opted to hold off on expanding its conference football schedule for the time being.

When Texas and Oklahoma enter the SEC next fall, making it a 16-team conference, teams will continue to play eight conference opponents per season — despite a push from some schools to expand that number to nine. 

The Big Ten, Big 12, and Pac-12 play nine conference games, while the ACC plays eight.

The SEC confirmed that there will be no divisions from 2024 on, and the conference championship game will be played between the two teams with the best record.

No scheduling plans have been made beyond 2024, so a bigger conference schedule could still be in the SEC's future. More money will be flowing into the conference next year when ESPN starts paying $710 million annually for SEC rights.

"Over time, we won't be shying away from anything," SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said. "We just didn't add another game during a period of transition. Certainly nobody wants to go through this every year."

The only schools that voted in favor of a nine-game schedule were Florida, Georgia, LSU, Missouri, and Texas A&M, according to the Action Network's Brett McMurphy, while Oklahoma and Texas also support the idea but haven't voted yet.

The SEC also decided to increase fines for fans rushing the field or court after games.

A first offense will now cost a school $100,000, up from $50,000. A second will set it back $250,000 (previously $100,000), while a third and any subsequent offenses will cost $500,000 (previously $250,000).



In A League Of His Own

Per Front Office Sports, Roger Goodell's next contract extension could take him past three-quarters of a billion dollars in career earnings as NFL commissioner.

The league is working to keep Goodell — whose deal expires in 2024 — in place through 2027, when he'll turn 67, in a deal that many believe will be his last. 

Goodell was hired in 2006 for a reported compensation of about $6.5 million. His most recent annual salary is believed to be nearly $64 million — which means Goodell's pay has increased nearly tenfold since taking over the NFL's top job.

This latest deal could push Goodell's personal wealth into the stratosphere.

Using the NFL's tax filings from 2006-15 and various reports since the league gave up its tax-exempt status, a conservative estimate would put Goodell's earnings to date at close to $500 million.

By 2027, he could be expected to easily eclipse $700 million in earnings or even more, given the league's ever-growing revenue — from deals like the current $10 billion bundle of annual media rights through the next decade.

Some owners might even want Goodell to stay beyond 2027 — and it wouldn't be the first time Goodell has backed away from the idea of retirement. In 2017, former NFL communications executive Joe Lockhart said the commissioner viewed his current deal as his last.

Goodell's current salary dwarfs those of his contemporaries.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred appears to be the closest at a reported $17.5 million per year, with the NBA's Adam Silver reportedly at $10 million.



Visions Of Super Bowl LVII

With the NFL Draft in the rearview mirror, and the NFL schedules set to be released on Thursday, May 11, here are the opening season win totals from the Westgate SuperBook as reported in the 2023 PLAYBOOK Football Preview Guide magazine.

Arizona Cardinals 5 • +20000

Atlanta Falcons 8.5 • +8000

Baltimore Ravens 9.5 • +2000

Buffalo Bills 10.5 • +800

Carolina Panthers 7.5 • +6000

Chicago Bears 7.5 • +5000

Cincinnati Bengals 11.5 • +800

Cleveland Browns 9 • +4000

Dallas Cowboys 9.5 • +1600

Denver Broncos 8.5 • +5000

Detroit Lions 9.5 • +2000

Green Bay Packers 7.5 • +6000

Houston Texans 5.5 • +10000

Indianapolis Colts 6.5 • +10000

Jacksonville Jaguars 9.5 • +2500

Kansas City Chiefs 11.5 • +600

Las Vegas Raiders 7.5 • +6000

La Chargers 9.5 • +2000

LA Rams 7.5 • +10000

Miami Dolphins 9.5 • +2500

Minnesota Vikings 8.5 • +5000

New England Patriots 7.5 • +10000

New Orleans Saints 9.5 • +6000

NY Giants 8.5 • +5000

NY Jets 9.5 • +1200

Philadelphia Eagles 10.5 • +700

Pittsburgh Steelers 8.5 • +6000

San Francisco 49ers 11 • +800

Seattle Seahawks 8.5 • +4000

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6 • +30000

Tennessee Titans 7.5 • +6000

Washington Commanders 6.5 • +6000

That makes the Chiefs the favorite to win Super Bowl, followed by Philadelphia, Buffalo, Cincinnati and San Francisco.

The team that has fallen the farthest since making the playoffs last season would be Tampa Bay, with the Buccaneers currently the longest odds of all teams in the league.



Winning Titles Are Not A Given

Winning a title is hard. In fact per Axios Sports, over the last 20 seasons, the total of No. 1 seeds to make the finals, by league reads:

NFL: 21

MLB: 15

NBA: 13

NHL: 6

Digging deeper, the NFL is the only North American sports league whose top-seeded teams have reached the championship round at a better-than-50% clip over the last 20 completed seasons.

  • NFL: 21 of the last 40 No. 1 seeds have played in the Super Bowl.

  • MLB: 15 of the last 40 No. 1 seeds have played in the World Series.

  • NBA: 13 of last 40 No. 1 seeds have played in the NBA Finals.

  • NHL: 6 of the last 40 No. 1 seeds have played in the Stanley Cup.

Between the lines: The Bruins and Bucks weren't just No. 1 seeds - they had their leagues' best regular-season records. But even that, it turns out, isn't exactly a recipe for championships.

Only three of the past 20 Stanley Cup champions had the best regular-season record that year.

The NFL, MLB and NBA have each had six such teams over the past 20 seasons - double the NHL's tally, but still fewer than you might think.

Wild stat: The Bruins' early departure means that the best regular-season team in the history of each Big Four league failed to cap their historic season with a title.

  • NFL: 2007 Patriots (16-0): Lost in the Super Bowl.

  • MLB: 1906 Cubs (116-36-3): Lost in the World Series.

  • NBA: 2015-16 Warriors (73-9): Lost in the NBA Finals.

  • NHL: 2022-23 Bruins (65-12-5): Lost in the first round.

The bottom line: It's really hard to win a championship.



Another Presidents' Trophy Winner Gets Ousted

The NFL record-setting Boston Bruins fell prey to the evil curse and now their season is over after their stunning opening round series loss to the Florida Panthers.

The 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks are the last regular-season champs to win the Stanley Cup.

They are the Presidents' Trophy winner to end all Presidents' Trophy winners until further notice. Yet they couldn't get out of the first round of the postseason, let alone win the Stanley Cup. The biggest regular-season point spread differential in an NHL playoff upset was the 29 points between eighth-seeded Edmonton in beating top seed Detroit in 2006. Boston had 43 more regular-season points than the Panthers, setting an NHL record for regular-season wins and points.

The Bruins are now the seventh Presidents' Trophy winner to lose in the first round of the playoffs since 2000. CBS Sports reports the six others are:

  • 2019 Tampa Bay Lightning

  • 2012 Vancouver Canucks

  • 2010 Washington Capitals

  • 2009 San Jose Sharks

  • 2006 Detroit Red Wings

  • 2000 St. Louis Blues

Florida's win over Boston also marked four of the last 5 years a team in the NHL playoffs has overcome a 3-1 series deficit in the first round.

Ironically, the Panthers were the Presidents' Trophy winners last season. They were bounced in the second round of the playoffs.



Playbook NFL Mock Draft Boasts 75.3% Accuracy Last 7 Years

The Playbook 2023 NFL Mock Draft has been released.

It has named 168 of the 223 (75.3%) players selected in the first round of the NFL Draft the last seven years, including 27 of 32 last year, as well as 38 players assigned to their designated teams.

The biggest coup was selecting 7 of the first 9 players drafted by their eventual teams in the 2020 draft.

At the top of this year's pecking order is Alabama QB Bryce Young, projected to go No. 1 overall to the Carolina Panthers. Legendary NFL Hall of Fame General Manager Bill Polian insists that Young is the most accurate passer to enter the draft since Peyton Manning, who Polian drafted as the top pick of the 1998 draft as the Denver Broncos' GM.

Manning compares Young to Joe Burrow, saying "Recognition, processing, instincts—you see a little bit of Joe Burrow in Bryce Young."

Carolina did not trade up to the top spot in the draft to watch Smith be selected by another team. His instincts (S2 ratings) at reading coverage and delivering the ball are the best in this year's college crop of quarterbacks, the best in fact since Burrow.

Click here to read the complete first round of the 2023 Playbook Mock Draft.





The Colorado Buffaloes: College Football's Reality TV Show

Normally the spring football game at the University of Colorado is a glorified open practice for a team that went 1-11 last year.

But because the game is Deion Sanders' coaching debut, it has generated massive hype, a sellout crowd, and a Saturday afternoon slot on ESPN. It could be the most-watched spring contest of all time.

Since the program began keeping records in 1953, no spring game has drawn more than 17,800 fans.  Last year's event drew just 1,950, and the 2021 game drew only 1,000 to Folsom Field.

This year's spring game drew a sellout crowd of over 45,000 fans – who ponied up $10 each to attend the scrimmage.

Per Front Office Sports, the Coach Prime effect has been in full swing all winter — from national media coverage and NIL deal interest to a season ticket sellout for the first time in 27 years. 

"This is a reset for Colorado football," said Buffs Director of NIL, Sadie Baker. "The environment itself is just crazy. It's so hard to explain, but I tell people I feel like I'm in a reality TV show — and every day you hear something or learn something new, which makes it more and more exciting for Saturday to come. … It's electric."

Get ready. Prime Time is coming to Boulder this college football season. 



Kentucky Quarterback Aces High Level S2 Test

The exam lasts 40 to 45 minutes. It's performed on a specially designed gaming laptop and response pad that can record reactions in two milliseconds. To put that in perspective, an eye blink lasts 100 to 150 milliseconds.

It's the S2 test and Sports Illustrated reports that Kentucky QB Will Levis (and QB Bryce Smith) aced it, which measures mental processing acumen. Teams believe the assessment is a signal for future NFL success, as Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, and Justin Fields scored highly coming out of college.

For decades the NFL used the Wonderlic to measure intelligence. The questions start out easy - What's the eighth month of the year?, for example - and get progressively more difficult. Most people can't finish the 12-minute exam. While a high Wonderlic score suggested a quarterback knows how to study and will remember the playbook, it didn't necessarily mean he'll hold up well against a zero blitz.

Drew Brees is a good example of what an indicator the S2 test is all about. He got a 28 on the Wonderlic, which is very good, but not superior. His S2 score, meanwhile, was exceptional. The cognition test not only can forecast whether a quarterback will be successful in the NFL, it comes close to predicting the quarterback's career passer rating.

If you watched Brock Purdy at last year's NFL Scouting Combine, you would have seen a quarterback with below-average height, a merely adequate arm and foot speed that, while good, didn't separate him from the pack.

The test he absolutely aced — and one that predicted his brilliant rookie season for the 49ers — was administered out of public view. Purdy landed in the mid 90s on the S2 Cognition test, a score you might consider Drew Brees-like.

Which is to say, it's elite.

The S2 isn't an intelligence test like the 50-question Wonderlic exam but rather measures how quickly and accurately athletes process information. It's like the 40-yard dash for the brain.

"The game will never be too fast for Brock, I'll say that," said Brandon Ally, a neuroscientist and cofounder of Nashville-based S2 Cognition. "I don't think he'll ever have trouble adjusting."

As for Levis and Young, their draft stock zoomed immediately after word of his S2 test score was released.





American Gaming Association Bans Sports Betting Partnerships With Athletes

To its credit, the U.S. gambling industry is finally taking a stand. 

The American Gaming Association (AGA) announced a new marketing code intended to establish responsible guidelines against sportsbooks taking advantage of college athletes. 

It also bans any kind of bar/tavern restitutions for all amateur athletes in exchange for using their name, image or likeness (NIL) and ceases the use of "free" or "risk-free" in regard to promoting wagers.

The changes to help keep pace with the national growth of legalized online betting while also protecting the image of the industry.

New York lawmakers are debating legislation to end all digital sports betting advertising.

"It has always been important that we get sports betting right," AGA President and CEO Bill Miller told The AP. "It's always been our No. 1 interest in creating a high bar for responsible advertising and protecting consumers."

Kudos to the AGA on stepping up and forcing much needed changes in the sports wagering market.

Now Major League Sports franchises need to do the same by scaling back on gambling ads from sports books during games. They can still get their a taste of the pie – just not the whole enchilada. There is plenty to go around.





Trading Places

Per Axios Sports, when Carolina traded up to secure Chicago's No. 1 pick in this year's NFL Draft, it was just the seventh time since 1990 — and third time this century — that a team has traded up for the No. 1 overall pick.

2016: Rams acquire No. 1 pick from Titans, draft QB Jared Goff

2001: Falcons acquire No. 1 pick from Chargers, draft QB Michael Vick

1997: Rams acquire No. 1 pick from Jets, draft OT Orlando Pace

1995: Bengals acquire No. 1 pick from Panthers, draft RB Ki-Jana Carter

1991: Cowboys acquire No. 1 pick from Patriots, draft DT Russell Maryland*

1990: Colts acquire No. 1 pick from Falcons, draft QB Jeff George

The Panthers will reportedly use the next seven weeks to decide which of the "Big Four" QBs they want: C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Anthony Richardson or Will Levis?

Stroud (Ohio State) is the favorite at sportsbooks and among NFL insiders, who think he's "bigger than Young, more accurate than Richardson and more of a playmaker than Levis," per The Athletic ($).

Young (Alabama) is No. 1 in the latest consensus big board and widely considered the most NFL-ready QB in this class. But the 5-foot-10 Heisman winner would be one of the shortest passers ever drafted.

Richardson (Florida) blew up the combine and is the type of talent who can convince teams to make a big move. But there are concerns about his inexperience (13 starts) and inaccuracy (53.8% completion percentage).

Levis (Kentucky) is the least likely of the four QBs to go No. 1 overall, but his rocket arm and prototypical size (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) will keep him in the conversation.





Where Have All The No. 1's Gone?

For the first time since 2018, two No 1 seeds will be missing in the Sweet 16 Round of this year's tournament.

That's courtesy of No. 8 Arkansas knocking off top-seed Kansas, on the heels of No. 16 Fairleigh Dickson shell-shocking No.1 seed Purdue over the weekend. This marks the third consecutive Sweet 16 appearance for Arkansas, which took out No. 1 seed Gonzaga in last year's tournament. 

With it, assistant Kansas Coach Norm Roberts took over the reins from head coach Bill Self who remained sidelined with a heart condition. One certainly can't like the chances of Roberts landing a full-time head-coaching gig anytime soon after his troops gagged like a hooker working a double shift.

Not only was the Boilermakers loss astonishing, it occurred at the hands of a team that actually lost the Northeast Conference crown to eventual champion Merrimack, who won the league tourney but FDU was awarded a berth in the Big Dance because the neophyte Warriors were ineligible for the NCAA tourney after they were reclassified when moving up to Division-1 from Division-III four seasons ago.

CBS Sports reports a pair of diminutive guards, 5-foot-8 senior Demetre Roberts and 5-foot-9 senior Grant Singleton, forced Purdue into a pathetic performance. With it, Merrimack head coach Joey Gallo went on to say, "To quote my 6-year-old, 'Dad, we beat them, so we want them to win. People have also been tough on our league all year, so I'm happy for the win."

The bottom line is the fate of No.1 seeds in this year's tourney now resides in the hands of Alabama and Houston.

What we know for sure is this: Since 2000 there have been three instances when just a pair of No. 1 seeds made it to the Sweet 16 Round. Collectively they went 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS in those games.

Forewarned is forearmed.



No Holds Barred

Can sports betting make its way into events where the winner is predetermined?

CNBC reports the WWE has held talks with state regulators on the prospect of legalizing betting on high profile scripted wrestling matches.

WWE is proposing a plan in which wrestlers would not be told who will win the match until a few hours before it happens. The company is initially targeting Michigan, Colorado, and Indiana as initial states to pursue legalization.

Michigan's Gaming Control Board released a statement on Thursday saying that it has not had direct communication with the WWE. It noted that a third-party consultant approached the agency on that prospect more than a year ago, but no formal steps have been taken.

WWE is working with accounting firm EY on methods to seal planned results in an effort to win over state authorities.

The company could cite the precedent of legal betting markets for the Academy Awards and Emmys, in which the results are known ahead of time to a small group of people.

Meanwhile, WWE is fielding bids from potential buyers and will meet with interested parties next month. 

Vince McMahon, who reinstated himself as WWE executive chairman after resigning amid sexual misconduct allegations, is reportedly seeking $9 billion for the wrestling media empire. Front Office Sports previously reported that Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund is a lead contender to buy WWE.

UFC owner Endeavor, NBCUniversal, and Fox are also mulling bids.






What In The Hell Is Going On Here

The Lamar Jackson saga got uglier on Tuesday when Baltimore placed a "non-exclusive" franchise tag on its 26-year old former MVP quarterback.

It's safe to say the Ravens are rolling the dice, betting that Jackson won't find a better deal elsewhere but also opening itself up to the possibility of losing its 26-year-old former MVP.

Per Axios Sports: There are two types of tags: exclusive ($45 million for QBs this season) and nonexclusive ($32.4 million).

The exclusive tag gives teams exclusive negotiating rights. Players can accept the tag, work toward a new long-term deal or simply refuse to play.

The nonexclusive tag is cheaper but comes with risks, allowing the player to negotiate with other teams (though their original team can still match any deal).

Teams can use one franchise tag per year on an impending free agent, locking that player into a one-year deal at a predetermined salary.

If Jackson signs an offer sheet from another team, the Ravens have five days to match it. If they choose not to, they'll receive two first-round picks from Jackson's new team.

So why would the Ravens risk losing a franchise player this young and this talented? They likely believe the chances of that happening are very low.

Numerous teams with holes at QB have publicly said they aren't interested in signing Jackson, leading to speculation that collusion is afoot.

Some believe owners are working together to ensure that Jackson doesn't get the fully guaranteed contract he's seeking.

Why? To ensure the fully guaranteed deal Deshaun Watson controversially received last year remains an outlier, and doesn't become a precedent.

So now, as Paul Harvey would say if he were still alive, "Now you know the rest of the story."




A Master And A Servant

Texas Tech men's basketball coach Mark Adams has been suspended for what the university said was an "inappropriate, unacceptable, and racially insensitive comment" he uttered to a player last week. 

Adams was encouraging the student-athlete to be more receptive to coaching and referenced Bible verses about workers, teachers, parents and slaves serving their masters. He claims he was quoting a Bible verse when he told one of his players that there is "always a master and a servant."

"I was quoting the scripture," he said.

Adams is also being investigated for an incident earlier in the season when he allegedly spat on a player. Adams said he had gone to the doctor, had a bad cough and slobbered on the player during the game.

However, one person close to the situation said Adams responded "I can spit on you whenever I want to," to the player.

"I don't remember saying that," said Adams.





The Carter Getaway

NIL is not only killing college sports, its now killing people.

"The evidence demonstrated that both vehicles switched between lanes, drove in the center turn lane, drove in opposite lanes of travel, overtook other motorists, and drove at high rates of speed, in an apparent attempt to outdistance each other," the ACCPD said in a statement.

"Evidence indicated that shortly before the crash, the Expedition was traveling at about 104 miles per hour." 

Georgia's Jalen Carter was driving a 2021 Jeep Cherokee Trackhawk with a Hellcat V-8 motor during the incident, a vehicle he received as part of an NIL deal with an Ohio luxury car dealership.

If that doesn't say it all then nothing does. It's time to stand up and fix this ugly mess. Are you listening NCAA?

Editor's Note: A special thank to Playbook Coffee Club regular Stormin' Norman for supplying the information above, and his comments.





Club 70

When Damian Lillard erupted for 71 points in the Trail Blazers' 131-114 win over the Rockets on Feb 26, he became just the eighth NBA player to score at least 70 points in a game and tied Donovan Mitchell's mark from less than two months ago, making this the first time in NBA history multiple players have had 70-point games in the same season.

Per AXIOS Sports, here is the list:
100 points: Wilt Chamberlain (March 1962)
81: Kobe Bryant (January 2006)
78: Chamberlain (December 1961)
73: David Thompson (April 1978); Chamberlain (January 1962, November 1962)
72: Chamberlain (November 1962)
71: Lillard (2023); Mitchell (January 2023); David Robinson (April 1994); Elgin Baylor (November 1960)
70: Devin Booker (March 2017); Chamberlain (March 1963)





2023 NBA Stretch Run Preview

NBA guru James Mallin from Canada provides this this NBA Stretch Run Preview...

The Power Rankings, with current win total:
Top Tier:
East: Boston 42, Bucks 41. Bucks 3 games up on Philly
West: Denver 41
Tier 2:
East: Cavs/Philly 38. Cleveland 2.5 games up on Bkn.
West: Memphis 35; 2nd place Grizz are 5 games back, closer to 5th than 1st.

Tier 3:
East: Bkn 34, NYK 33, Miami 32. Heat 3 games up on 8th place Atl.
West: Sac32; Clip 33, Suns 32. Sac 3 games behind Grizz.

Tier 3a/West Only:
Mavs/Minny 31, NWO 30, Dubs 29. 9th place Warriors are .500 and only 1 game back of 6th. 

Below .500
East: Hawks, Wiz/Raps 28.  All three currently in the play-in.
West: OKC28; Jazz 29, Blazers 28, Lakers 27. 10th place OKC a half game up on the Jazz, but only 1.5 behind 6th place Dallas with 3 games in hand. And 13th place Lakers only 6 back of 3rd place.

Bubble/East Only:
Pacers 26, Bulls 26, Pacers 26, Magic 24; Magic 4 games back of 10th, still might make a run at it; Indy/Bulls could resuscitate their chances as well. 
Wemba Derby, fewest wins in 1st place:
Houston 13, SA 14, Pistons 15, Hornets 17. Charlotte a bit too good for their own good.







Sweet 16 And In Love

The NCAA Selection Committee revealed its March Madness bracket preview over the weekend, announcing who the top 16 men's teams would be for next month's tournament if the season ended today. 

The Top 16: 

1 seeds: Alabama (No. 1 overall), Houston, Kansas, Purdue 

2 seeds: Baylor, Texas, Arizona, UCLA 

3 seeds: Virginia, Tennessee, Kansas State, Iowa State 

4 seeds: Indiana, Xavier, Gonzaga, Marquette 

Historically speaking, this preview provides a pretty accurate indicator of how the bracket will actually shake out on Selection Sunday, which is just around the corner.

65 of the 80 teams revealed since the first such preview in 2017 remained in the top 16 of the official bracket, including 15 of 16 last year. 

As for No. 1 seeds, exactly three of four every year held onto the top spot in the actual bracket.





Monster In The Making

Urban Meyer calls him the most underrated college football player ever.

He's also coming off of a season in which he had the fourth-highest QBR in college football and threw for more than 4,000 yards while playing in the vaunted SEC.

He is coming off back-to-back national championships and at 25 years old, he will be entering the NFL older than Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and Justin Herbert.

Listed at 5-foot-11, Stetson Bennett IV knows height is another factor that will affect his draft stock.

"He's a monster," said Meyer. "His leadership, his toughness, it's incredible."

Right now he's projected to be a late-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. Whoever lands him may end up with the steal of the draft.



Quarterback Shortage

Just 10 of 32 teams started the same QB in Week 1 of 2022 as they did in Week 1 of 2019.

Only two QBs have been their team's starter for more than five years - Aaron Rodgers (14) and Dak Prescott (six).
Three teams feature starting QBs who will be free agents this offseason:
Seahawks: Geno Smith
Giants: Daniel Jones
Ravens: Lamar Jackson
Stay tuned.


Double Trouble

The head-coaching carousel has officially closed for the offseason after the Cardinals filled their vacancy with Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. It came on the same day that the Colts made things official with Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Stiechen.

As a result, the reigning NFC champs have two coordinator positions to fill this offseason.

Gannon beat out finalists Mike Kafka (Giants OC) and Lou Anarumo (Bengals DC) for the job.
Axios Sports reports the 2022 Eagles finished with 78 sacks (including playoffs), third-most in a single season. They had four players record double-digit sacks. Philadelphia finished top-10 in almost every major defensive statistic, including first in yards per play.

The key for Gannon in Arizona will be patience. That patience can't just apply to Kyler Murray's eventual return from a torn ACL, but long after that as well. The Cardinals spent the past few seasons acquiring a bevy of veterans to cover up roster holes in a win-now effort that didn't do enough winning:

• DeAndre Hopkins (potential trade upcoming)
• J.J. Watt (retired)
• A.J. Green ( retired)
• Zach Ertz (torn ACL, MCL)

And they also have a new GM (Monti Ossenfort) for the first time in a decade after firing Steve Keim.  Gannon will need time to restore a depleted roster.

As for the Eagles, they become the first Super Bowl participant to have both coordinators hired as head coaches in the same offseason since the 1994 49ers.


Beyond Expansion

The Athletic's Jim Bowden thinks MLBs move to 32 teams is the perfect time to replace the American League and National League with Eastern and Western conferences.

Here's how his plan would work...

Eastern Conference

East: Mets, Phillies, Red Sox, Yankees

North: Blue Jays, Guardians, Reds, Tigers

Mid-Atlantic: Nationals, Orioles, Pirates, Charlotte expansion team

Southeast: Braves, Marlins, Rays, Nashville expansion team

Western Conference

Midwest: Brewers, Cubs, Twins, White Sox

Southwest: Astros, Cardinals, Rangers, Royals

Pacific Coast: Athletics, Giants, Mariners, Rockies

West: Angels, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Padres

While the geography looks right, the switchover does not.


You Can Not Fly Like An Eagle On The Wings Of A Wren

Two quarterbacks went toe-to-toe for 60 minutes in Super Bowl 57.

When Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts traded second-half scoring drives, it seemed the Chiefs and Eagles were set up for a classic Super Bowl finish.

In the end everything turned on Eagles' mistakes − on offense, defense and special teams. That the Chiefs scored on each possession in the second half was indeed deserving of a team destined to win a Super Bowl game.

Hurts lost a fumble in the first half that was returned 36 yards by Nick Bolton for a touchdown. The defense couldn't stop Mahomes on a bum ankle in the second half, and a poor punt and coverage on a 65-yard return by Kansas City's Kadarius Toney got the Chiefs to the Eagles' 5, which they turned into a touchdown and a 35-27 lead. It was the longest punt return in Super Bowl history.

Kansas City was the beneficiary of a critical defensive holding penalty on its final possession of the game, turning what would have been an incomplete pass on third down into a first down on the Philadelphia 11-yard line.

Yes, a ticky-tack call with the game on the line left Eagles fans furious as once again the zebras decided a classic Super Bowl game. As football fans, we deserved better. Yet in the end the better prepared team won the game.




Super Bowl Yin And Yang Stats

According to Next Gen stats:

• You can't blitz Patrick Mahomes. Since 2018 he owns the highest EPA (Expected Points Added) when blitzed at +214.6. His two closest pursuers: Ben Roethlisberger +84.1 and Drew Brees +84.0. However, no team in the league allowed fewer yards per blitz attempt than Philadelphia this season (5.4).

• No quarterback had more yards per intermediate (10-19 yards) pass attempt than Mahomes (12.3), but no defense defended yards per intermediate pass attempt than the Eagles (5.5).

• Kansas City allowed the most rushing yards against teams running out of the spread this season. Philadelphia scored a league-high 11 TDs and rushed for more than 1,000 yards when running out of a spread this season.

• The Eagles will trot out the NFL's top pass rush by team pressure rate - 34.8 percent - highlighted by eight straight games in which the unit exceeded 34 percent, the longest such streak in the Next Gen Stats era (since 2016). In the Chiefs' last Super Bowl appearance, a loss to the Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV, it was an elite pass rush that overwhelmed Mahomes' pass protection. The quarterback ran for his life while under constant duress, compiling nearly 500 scramble yards on his dropbacks.


Super Bowl Fun Stats

Just to show the high stakes involved in a Super Bowl game, consider...

• Of the 32 most-watched broadcasts in U.S. television history, 30 are Super Bowls. The last television show to pull a higher rating than a Super Bowl game was the series final of M.A.S.H. in 1983.

• $587.3 million Aneheuser-Busch has spent on Super Bowl ads since 2006.

• 73% Accuracy rate of the Super Bowl stock market indicator. If the AFC wins the Super Bowl the stocks fall. If the NFC wins the Super Bowl the stocks rise.

• The $7 million cost for a for 30 second Super Bowl ad is about $233,333 per second.

• Finally, if you've got the munchies, then pay attention:

1.45 Billion chicken wings are going down.

10 million ribs will be purchased week of.

11.2 million pounds of potato chips will be munched.

139.4 million avocadoes will be bought for guacamole.

Pizza delivery orders will go up 40% Sunday, beer consumption will go up 90%.





Super Bowl Countdown: Black Is Black

It's been 35 years since Doug Williams became the first Black QB to play in — and win — the Super Bowl.

Black QBs are 1-4 SU and ATS as a favorite in Super Bowls, and 2-2 SU and 3-0-1 ATS as an underdog.

There have been four Black QBs to win NFL MVP award, including Steve McNair, who in 2003 became the first to win the award, along with Cam Newton (2015), Patrick Mahomes (2018) and Lamar Jackson (2019).

Only Newton won the MVP award and played in the Super Bowl the same season when he lost, 24-10 to Denver as a -4.5 favorite. Mahomes becomes the second Black MVP award winner to reach the Super Bowl this year.





Super Bowl Countdown: Not So Dandy, Andy

We all know of Andy Reid's success in games in which his teams enjoy the benefit of a week or more in between games, going 27-5 SU and 22-14 ATS (although 0-5 ATS the last five games).

What you didn't know, though, is Reid's teams have struggled against foes who themselves are playing with added rest as his troops are just 10-14-1 outright and 10-15 ATS in these contests.




Prop Me Up

With assistance from Ralph Micheals @CalSportsLV, the Super Bowl trends that have been trending favorably of late:

25-0: Game decided by 10 points - No

22-0: Game decided by 7 points - No

21-0: Player scores 8 points same drive – No

20-1: Overtime - No

20-1: Shortest TD 3 Yards < - Yes

20-1: Teams' combined yards 1000 - No

15-1: Team to score last wins the game – Yes

19-2: First quarter lead change – No

19-2: Missed Extra Point – No

18-3: Opening Kickoff Touchback – No

18-3: First play 2nd Half Pass – No

17-4: Kickoff or Punt return TD - No

17-4: Either team scored 1-yard TD - No




Incredibly Even

@Field Yates tweeted this out. Talk about two teams being incredibly even. It's called siticking to the script:

The Chiefs this year:
– 16-3 overall record
– 546 points scored
– 6 All Pros, including a Kelce brother and their QB
– AFC's Number 1 seed

The Eagles this year:
– 16-3 overall record
– 546 points scored
– 6 All Pros, including a Kelce brother and their QB
– NFC's Number 1 seed





No.1 Seeds In The Super Bowl

Believe it or not, per, No. 1 seed vs. No. 1 seed has happened only 13 times in the previous 48 Super Bowls since the NFL implemented playoff seeding during the 1975 season. The first time it happened was in Super Bowl 11, which was played after the 1976 season. See the results below:

No. 1 seeds vs. No 1. Seeds before league expansion to 12 teams in 1990:

  • Super Bowl 11: Raiders (-4) 32, Vikings 14

  • Super Bowl 12: Cowboys (-6) 27, Broncos 10

  • Super Bowl 16: 49ers (-1) 26, Bengals 21

  • Super Bowl 18: Raiders (+3) 38, Redskins 9

  • Super Bowl 19: 49ers (-3.5) 38, Dolphins 16

  • Super Bowl 24: 49ers (-12) 55, Broncos 10

No. 1 seeds vs. No 1. Seeds before league expansion to 14 teams in 2021:

  • Super Bowl 26: Redskins (-7) 37, Bills 24

  • Super Bowl 28: Cowboys (-10.5) 30, Bills 13

  • Super Bowl 44: Saints (+5) 31, Colts 17

  • Super Bowl 48: Seahawks (+2.5) 43, Broncos 8

  • Super Bowl 49. Patriots (+1) 28, Seahawks 24

  • Super Bowl 50: Broncos (+5) 24, Panthers 10

  • Super Bowl 52: Eagles (+4) 41, Patriots 33

Going back to 1975, 52 percent of No. 1 seeds (25 of 48) have won the Super Bowl. Of those 25 teams, 16 have represented the NFC and nine have represented the AFC.

In addition, favorites in these games are 7-6 SU and 6-6-1, but 0-5 SUATS the last five games.




Super Bowl MVP Quarterbacks 

When it comes to handicapping the Super Bowl, this much we know for sure: winning the NFL MVP award has been the kiss of death for quarterbacks in Super Bowl games.

Our all-knowing database confirms the fact that MVP winning quarterbacks have struggled in the big game since the inception of the Super Bowl in 1967.

Collectively these NFL MVP Super Bowl quarterbacks are 6-15 SU and 5-14-2 ATS in all games, including 0-8 SU and ATS since 2002.

Here is the league record of NFL QB MVP's playing in Super Bowl games throughout the history of the league's crown jewel:

67 - SB I - Bart Starr - Packers (-14) 35, Chiefs 10

69 - SB LII - Earl Morrall - Colts (-18) 7, Jets 16

79 - SB XIII - Terry Bradshaw - Steelers (-3.5) 35, Cowboys 31

82 - SB XVI - Ken Anderson - Bengals (+1) 21, Forty Niners 26

84 - SB XVIII - Joe Theismann - Redskins (-3) 9, Raiders 38

85 - SB XIX - Dan Marino - Dolphins (+3.5) 16, Forty Niners 38

88 - SB XXII - John Elway - Broncos (-3) 10, Redskins 42

89 - SB XXIII - Boomer Esiason - Bengals (+7) 16, Forty Niners 20

90 - SB XXIV - Joe Montana - Forty Niners (-12) 55, Broncos 10

95 - SB XXIX - Steve Young - Forty Niners (-18.5) 49, Chargers 26

97 - SB XXXI - Brett Favre - Packers (-14) 35, Patriots 21

98 - SB XXXII - Brett Favre - Packers (-11) 24, Broncos 31

00 - SB XXXIV - Kurt Warner - Rams (-7) 23, Titans 16

02 - SB XXXVI - Kurt Warner - Rams (-14) 17, Patriots 20

03 - SB XXXVII - Rich Gannon - Raiders (-4) 21, Buccaneers 48

08 - SB XLII - Tom Brady - Patriots (-12) 14, Giants 17

10 - SB XLIV - Peyton Manning - Colts (-5) 17, Saints 31

14 - SB XLVIII - Peyton Manning - Broncos (-2) 8, Seahawks 43

16 – SB 50 – Cam Newton – Panthers (-4.5) 10, Broncos 24

17 – SB LI – Matt Ryan – Falcons (+3) 28, Patriots 34

18 – SB L!! –Tom Brady – Patriots (-4.5) 33, Eagles 41

19 – SBLVII – Patrick Mahomes – Chiefs (+2) ???

Arguably, the most infamous loser was Baltimore Colts NFL MVP QB Earl Morrall, who lost 16-7 as an 18-point favorite to Joe Namath and the New York Jets in SB III. Last year's record breaking comeback win by the Patriots over Atlanta's MVP award-winning QB Matt Ryan was just the icing on the cake.

With Patrick Mahomes expected to be announced as the NFL MVP for the 2022 season on Feb 9, we'll pay close attention to the Chiefs' fate in Super Bowl LVII.



Get Out Of The Way

When the Carolina Panthers hired Frank Reich as its new head coach, swept under the rug was passing over of interim head coach Steve Wilks.

The last Black interim coach retained full-time with the same team was Romeo Crennel with Kansas City in 2011. Not 2020. Not 2015. But 2011. There have been seven other Black interims, including Wilks, during that time.

Per the USA TODAY, since 2000, there have been 41 interim coaching stints following a firing or resignation. Only 14 times did the interim lead their team to a record of .500 or better and, of those 14 coaches, nine were not retained. 

Of the 41 interim coaching stints, 15 featured Black coaches and 26 featured white coaches. Black coaches went a combined 33-53 (.398). White coaches went a combined 57-119 (.331).

Mike Freeman of the USA TODAY went on to say, "Wilks did everything you'd want an interim to do. The locker room was a mess following Matt Rhule's firing, and Wilks was quickly seen by players as a solid leader. The fact he went 6-6 in the final 12 games is one of the true miracles from the year." That was especially impressive given fact that Carolina had just traded star RB Christian McCaffrey and QB Baker Mayfield, leaving the Panthers essentially barefoot. 


Joe Cool

Perhaps the greatest argument in Joe Montana's favor as the Greatest NFL Quarterback of all-time might be the fact that he won all four Super Bowl games in which he started while tossing ZERO interceptions in those contests.

In those games 'Joe Cool' had a stat line that read:

83-of-122 for 1148 passing yards, with 11 TD passes and 0 interceptions. That calculates to a Passer rating of 128.0.

Here is the stat line in playoff career games on the four starting quarterbacks playing in the Championship Round games this Sunday:

Quarterback Record Comp Att Yards TD INT QB Rating
Quarterback W-L Att Comp Yards TDs Ints QB Rating
Joe Burrow 5-1 240 143 1556 8 2 98.4
Jalen Hurts 1-1 67 39  412 3 2 78.7
Patrick Mahomes 9-3 453 302 3576 30 7 106.2
Brock Purdy 2-0 59 37 546 3 0 109.9



Nothing But NET

From this weeks PLAYBOOK DIVISIONAL ROUND PLAYOFF GUIDE We realize the Chiefs gaudy 0-10 ATS mark in one-score games this season is troubling but we also know that 15 of Andy Reids 19 career postseason wins have been by double-digit margins.

The Big 12 has nearly twice as many teams in the Top 30 of the NCAA NET rankings as any other Power 6 Conference, while all 10 teams in the conference are in the top 72.

See how teams ranked in the Top 30 of the NET Rankings from their respective conference, and the overall conference percentage ranking as of 1/23/23:

  • Big 12: Seven teams (27.8)
  • Big Ten: Four teams (55.4)
  • Big East: Four teams (67.7)
  • SEC: Four teams (72.8)
  • PAC 12: Two Teams (92.8)
  • ACC: Two teams (106.7)


15 of Andy Reid's 19 playoff wins have been by double-digit margins.

From this weeks PLAYBOOK DIVISIONAL ROUND PLAYOFF GUIDE We realize the Chiefs gaudy 0-10 ATS mark in one-score games this season is troubling but we also know that 15 of Andy Reids 19 career postseason wins have been by double-digit margins.


All three of the NFLs foremost Analytical' head coaches were one-and-done.

From Mike Mains, the author of the best-selling WEEK ONE NFL WINNERS and the annual PLAYBOOK Football Preview Guide NFL Division Previews Perhaps you noticed that the three NFL head coaches most married to analytics - Brandon Staley, Mike McDaniel and Kevin O'Connell - all lost last week. That's not a coincidence. Despite all three of them playing in close games, here are their run/pass splits:

Chargers: 23 rush attempts/43 pass attempts
Dolphins: 10 rush attempts/45 pass attempts
Vikings: 16 rush attempts/40 pass attempts