From Saban to Lavar Ball- This week's Sidelines.


By Mike Ashley

GLAD TIDE-INGS: Nick Saban’s Christmas wish came true – Alabama is a postseason underdog.

DOPES: Russians are truly disappointed about their ban from the Winter Olympic Games. Heckski! It was only 63 days until chemists and lab assistants report.

DIDN’T PASS THE (BUCK)EYE TEST:  Hard to justify playing for the national championship after a 31-point loss, Ohio State. 

ALL-Y’ALL TEAM: For high school athletes from smaller areas that never get to be All-Metro, I propose the rural equivalent – All-Jethro.

WALTER CAMP CLAIMS NO RESPONSIBILITY: I do admit to being a little skeptical about accommodations at the Camping World Bowl.

SAY WHAT? I have never understood the ‘OVER-RATED’ cheer at the end of basketball games. If they’re overrated, what’s the big deal in beating them?

TIMEOUT FOR TRIVIA: My go-to-sitting-at-the-bar sports trivia question for years was name the starting five for college basketball’s last undefeated national champion, the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers.

BLOW IT UP REAL GOOD: The recent inability to completely collapse the Silverdome belies the Detroit Lions’ tenure in the facility.

THIS JUST IN: At UCLA, LaVar took his Ball and went home. (Thanks to alert Salem reader Bill Thorne for pointing this one out.)

ROTTEN IN THE BIG APPLE: Coach Ben McAdoo opted to end Eli Manning’s 210-game streak of consecutive starts. The New York Giants then rapidly ended McAdoo’s string of 28 games coached.

HANDS DOWN: I think my favorite image from this college football season so far is Penn State coach James Franklin running down one of his players to make him go shake hands after the tough loss to Michigan State.

CHRISTMAS SHORT LIST: Babe Ruthesque, 23-year-old Shohei Ohtani has narrowed his list of teams to the Mariners, Angels, Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Cubs and Rangers. Ohtani had a 42-15 record and 2.52 ERA, and also hit .283 with 48 homers and 166 RBI in five years with the Nippon Ham-Fighters, The Japanese star has to decide by Dec. 22. Ohtani is headed to U.S., because he reportedly grew tired of fighting about ham.

VANDY DANDY: Perry Wallace, the first African American basketball player in the SEC, passed away last week. He was 69, and broke the color barrier, playing for Vanderbilt in 1967. An All-SEC performer, a Wallace dunk in a freshman game against Kentucky – witnessed by Adolph Rupp – maybe have played a role in the NCAA’s no-dunking rule always credited solely to UCLA’s Lew Alcinder. Rupp was a strong voice on the rules committee and still smarting from the 1966 loss to Texas Western.

TRIVIA ANSWER: First round NBA draft picks Scott May, Kent Benson, Quinn Buckner and Bobby Wilkerson. And the one no one ever gets – forward Tom Abernethy, a third round pick by the Lakers who played five years in the league.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mike Ashley has covered college athletics for over 30 years. He has worked in the athletic departments at Virginia Tech, Radford University and Marshall University, in addition to freelance work from his Northern Virginia home. Ashley has also worked as a stand-up comic, and has been a regular on many radio stations throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region. His work appears in Terrapin Times (covering the University of Maryland), NCAA programs, Blue Ribbon YearbooksAthlonLindy’s, and on bathroom stalls in major sporting venues. He has also co-authored a book on the golden age of Virginia Military Institute football, “Best Regrets: VMI’s John McKenna and The Lost Age of College Football.” Previously, the Salem, Va., native has helped author books on the New York Yankees, Emmitt Smith, Maryland’s 2002 NCAA basketball championship, and published a book on the history of Radford University.

William Roth