Sidelines: Bama’s tough, being an NFL coach is rough and lots of other stuff

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By Mike Ashley

KIRBY SMART? SURE IS: Second year at Georgia and the Bulldogs are in the championship. He has the top recruiting class in the country coming next year, and no matter what happens Monday, Georgia looks like they’ll be a fixture in the championship mix, Nick Saban permitting. He is 11-0 against his former assistants and they’re usually not close games. 

WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR: No surprise Central Florida claimed a national championship. They’re in Orlando. Heck, they have a parade there every day.

DIDN’T DODGE DRAFT: UCLA QB Josh Rosen was talking about staying in school to avoid the draft. He’s in now, but still a conscientious objector to being sent to Cleveland.

NFL INVESTIGATING USE OF GREEN EGGS: I thought Dr. Seuss was reporting when I heard the Bears fired Fox. (They want to be future playoff locks, but they probably need more guys to make tackles and blocks.)

YOU’RE FIRED: Waiting for a Tweet about how the NFL coaching carousel is hurting national employment figures. Speaking of which, Johnny Manziel is going to Canada to find work. It’s tough up there – metric system messes up the whole 4-3 scheme and makes it more confusing.

TIMEOUT FOR TRIVIA: Who were the first two Wild Card teams in the NFL?

ICING ON MY TAKE: The NHL’s Winter Classic looks like a lot of fun. If only it weren’t on opposite football.

SPARTY PARTY: Michigan State plays six of its nine games in January at home, so look for the Spartans – already No. 1 in the nation – to really get rolling.

BAND AID: I really enjoyed seeing some of the marching bands at halftime of the big bowl games – I’m a sucker for color and pageantry – and if for no other reason than it meant less from the talking heads at halftime.

BILLS ARE PAID UP: Contributions to Bengals QB Andy Dalton’s children’s charity have jumped exponentially, many in $17 increments from the Buffalo area, corresponding to the number of years since the Bills made the playoffs.

RAIDERS OF THE LOST (2017) SEASON: Can believe Raiders hiredJon Gruden. He hasn’t lost a game in 10 years. Can’t believe they will give him coaching job and ownership stake.  That sets up an uncomfortable press conference when he has to fire himself. 

THIRD TIME NOT REALLY THE CHARM: NFL teams that went 2-0 versus opponents and met a third time in the playoffs are 13-7. For informational purposes only, no wagering please.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Go buy yourself something nice if you knew the Detroit Lions in the NFC and the Miami Dolphins in the AFC were the NFL’s first wild card teams. It was 1970, just after the full NFL-AFL merger and realignment. Detroit lost to Dallas 5-0 in what is still the lowest scoring playoff game ever. Miami fell 21-14 at Oakland the next day.


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.

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William Roth