The wrong team is going to the Super Bowl. It’s that simple. No matter who you root for or root against, the New Orleans Saints should be in the Super Bowl.
A missed call, the worst in NFL playoff history, kept the Saints from winning the game and gave the Los Angeles Rams a chance they wouldn’t have received had the proper call been made.
One sportsbook _ PointsBet in New Jersey _ refunded the money to everyone who bet on the Saints. When a bookie appears to have more integrity than the NFL, the league has a big problem.
I’m normally not one to get in the weekly debate of fans who feel a bad call kept their team from winning. Too bad. Every game has calls that could have gone the other way. Teams have to overcome it.
But this one was so egregious, the clear pass interference on Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman (even he admitted it afterward) that something has to change in the name of fairness.
No matter what happens in the Super Bowl between the Rams and the New England Patriots, this season will be remembered as the year the Saints were robbed.
This can’t happen. The league cannot maintain its respect when such an obvious mistake kept a team from reaching the Super Bowl.
Yes, many other calls were missed in the two championship games, including a ridiculous roughing the passer call on Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Chris Jones (waving his arm by Tom Brady’s face) that kept a New England drive alive.
It was a bad decision by the official, but nothing compared to the Robey-Coleman play where he ran over Tommylee Lewis on the sideline (along with initiating a helmet-to-helmet hit) long before the pass arrived.
The correct call would have resulted in the Saints running most of the remaining time off the clock and kicking a chip-shot field goal to win. Sure, they could have missed the kick, but that’s beside the point.
In all likelihood, the game was decided on a call that seemed impossible to miss.
So how do they fix it moving forward? Easy. Make all plays reviewable. Critics of that idea say that’s not practical because it would add more time to games that already are too long.
I say baloney, and even if it does occasionally add time, it’s better to correct an obvious error than have fans question the outcome.
On plays that are not available for coaches to challenge, a replay-booth official must have final say about reviewing a play. Not every play needs to be reviewed. In fact, few plays need review that are not challenged.
The NFL never has reviewed plays that weren’t flagged. That also must change in rare situations like the one Sunday.
And no call in the game decides more games than pass interference. PI calls have an impact in almost every game. The Washington Post reported that the NFL will consider making PI reviewable.
However, I’m not talking about a review of every PI call. Most of those involve a receiver and defensive back grabbing each other in some fashion. Those calls often can go either way.
There was no debate on the play Sunday. Robey-Coleman deserved two penalties on one play. Someone in a replay booth back should have said, “We have to look at that play again. It’s just too egregious to ignore.”
Maybe there is one of those a game. Maybe two. Maybe none.
But something has to change. The Super Bowl was on the line and the wrong team won. That can’t happen again.
The college football playoff format has one giant flaw. It’s 100 percent subjective.
It’s strictly a guess by a panel of voters on which four teams deserve the honor.
And that’s wrong, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the schools selected.
There is an easy solution… an eight-team playoff where the majority of teams earn their spot based on winning a conference title.
It would have worked almost to perfection this season. Take the Power-5 conference champs _ Alabama, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Clemson and Washington.
That leaves three other spots as so-called wildcards. In this case, one would be Central Florida for going undefeated. An unbeaten team should get an automatic bid despite being a Group-of-5 conference school, especially one that hasn’t lost a game in two years and beat Auburn in a bowl game one year ago.
If you really want to put a qualifier on it, say the unbeaten team has to have at least one victory over a Power-5 team. UCF doesn’t have that this season, but I think the team hasn’t proven its worth.
That leaves two other spots. One would go to Notre Dame, the other unbeaten team. Obviously, the Fighting Irish going undefeated is an automatic qualifier. The other spot this year is subjective. I can live with some subjectivity as long as most the spots are earned. Georgia likely would get the other playoff berth this year.
There you have it. Seed them however you want. Yes, that’s subjective, but you still have to beat the best to be the best at some point.
If I were doing the seeding, it would go like this:
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 8 UCF
No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 7 Washington
No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 6 Georgia
No. 4 Ohio State vs. No. 5 Oklahoma
That also would increase interest in four more bowl games that become part of the playoff. I would have five bowls – Rose, Orange, Cotton, Sugar and Fiesta – be part of the playoff every year. Three others would rotate in. Some to consider might be Peach, Gator (Taxslayer), Citrus, Outback, Holiday, Liberty and or Sun Bowl.
Is it perfect? Of course not. Arguments will continue over the wildcard entries. That’s fine, and sometimes fun. At least most of the teams in the playoff make it by on-the-field play, not by people around a big table decided they are worthy.
This week’s Walk of Shame goes to the NFL for its not-so-random drug testing harassment of Carolina safety Eric Reid.
When Reid returned to his locker after the loss to New Orleans Monday night, he found the above notice to get tested again, his seventh time in the 11 weeks since being signed by the Panthers.
Reid knelt during the anthem, with Colin Kaepernick, while they both played for the 49ers. Kaepernick, as I’m sure everyone reading this knows, still doesn’t have a job in the NFL. And he probably isn’t getting one, despite being better than most of the backup quarterbacks in the league, along with some of the starters.
The purpose here isn’t to rehash all those arguments of the protests by the players. It is to show how disingenuous the NFL drug-testing policy is when it wants to make a point.
Reid wore shoes Monday with drawings that honored civil activism and the right to protest. Reid also is standing with Kaepernick in a photo on his Twitter page. They are wearing T-shirts that read: I Know My Rights.
So now the NFL is performing its own little protest, leaving a note for Reid to take another pee test, No. 7 in 11 weeks.
“That has to be statistically impossible,’’ Reid said after the game. “I’m no mathematician, but there’s no way that’s random.”
USA Today did the math using the Cumulative Binomial Probability Calculator. The odds for Reid being randomly selected for seven drug tests in 11 weeks is 0.138 percent. Reid might have a better chance of winning the lottery.
It’s obvious at this point Reid doesn’t have a substance-abuse problem of any kind. This is strictly the NFL being the big-bad bully because they don’t like him.
It probably has less to do with protests during the anthem and more to do with Reid’s ongoing lawsuit against the league for collusion and questionable on-field fines.
It would seem the NFL is adding to Reid’s case by forcing him to take endless drug tests. Frankly, it looks petty and laughable at this point.
Asked if the “random tests’’ would become part of his case, Reid simply smiled and said, “Duly noted.”
Gardner Minshew was on his way to Alabama to hold a clipboard for a year before beginning his coaching career. It seemed like the right path for Minshew, who had a year of eligibility left after graduating from East Carolina as a part-time starter at quarterback.
He knew he wouldn’t play at Alabama, but he wanted to go into coaching and hoped to learn everything he could from Nick Saban and his staff. Saban told Minshew he would hire him as a graduate assistant in 2019.
Then Washington State coach Mike Leach made the call that changed Minshew’s life: “How would you like to lead the nation in passing?” Leach asked him.
Minshew took the bait and has guided the Cougars to unimaginable heights. He now is a serious Heisman candidate and a legitimate NFL prospect. Minshew has throw for 4,325 yards and 36 touchdowns in leading Wazzu to 10-1 record. He set a school record with seven TD passes Saturday in a 69-28 victory over Arizona.
He also is cult hero to Wazzu fans, thanks to his mustache that’s the new symbol of greatness for the school. He is a guy having fun and it shows, even placing one of the famous fake mustaches on Leach during a live postgame interview.
It couldn’t have come at a better time for a school that was mourning the January suicide of WSU quarterback Tyler Hilinski. The term “godsend” is used far too often. In this case, what better way to describe what Minshew has done for Wazzu.
Now the season of his life comes down to the game of his life. It’s rivalry week in college football. No matter what has gone wrong in the season, it’s a chance for your favorite team to win against the team you hate.
The biggest game in the Pac-12 this year is the Apple Cup, Washington-Washington State on Friday in Pullman. The Huskies are a disappointing 8-3 after being mentioned as possible national championship contenders when the season started.
As it turns out, the Cougars are the national title contenders, something no one would have dreamed possible in September. However, it all can end with a loss to the Huskies, who have won the last five Apple Cup games. The winner Friday is the Pac-12 North champion.
UW fans don’t want to hear it and don’t care, of course, but it’s much better for the image and the reputation of the conference if WSU wins. The Pac-12 has taken quite a beating nationally and often is viewed as the weak link of the Power-5 conferences.
The Pac-12 was 1-8 last year in bowl games, the worst record for any conference ever in the playoff era. WSU can bring some much needed respect to the Pac-12 by winning Friday and going on to win the Pac-12 title game to stay in the playoff picture.
And Minshew likely would remain in the Heisman talk. Not bad for a guy who thought his playing days were over.
Minshew probably will lose the Heisman battle to Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, the guy Minshew would have watched from the sidelines. Now he may sit with Tua in New York as a Heisman finalist.
A lesson to us all of how life can change for the better.
It’s time to end the tradition of the Lions and the Cowboys always hosting Thanksgiving games. Why should we have to watch two teams that haven’t won anything in a million years stink up our holiday?
I posted this on Twitter and Facebook, which riled up all the fans of both team, but especially Cowboys nation. I do like it when fans defend their teams and stick with them whether they are good or bad.
For me growing up in Houston, the Cowboys usually were much better than the Oilers. And I hated all the bandwagon jumpers in Houston who rooted for the Cowboys and the expense of their home team. Still do.
I’m all for tradition when it makes sense. This doesn’t. Two Thanksgiving games indoors for so-so teams is a bigger yawn that turkey tryptophan.
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