The Week That Was: College Football Took Center Stage In New York This Past Week

New York has never been a big college sports town because of the number of professional sports teams here as well as so many other entertainment options. Nonetheless, the Big Apple is always the center of the college sports world the first week of December.

      The week began with Monday’s presentation of the Bushnell Cup which is the Ivy League’s Heisman Trophy. Yale linebacker Matthew Oplinger was named the Defense Player of the Year while Princeton QB Chad Kanoff, who resembles JFK Jr. at that age, won the Offensive Player of the Year Award.

       The following day the College Football Hall of Fame announced its class of 2018 and the biggest name was Peyton Manning. Naturally a lot of media attended this event only because they wanted to get his reaction to his brother’s trials and tribulations with the Giants this season.

      Sports Business Journal held its annual Learfield Intercollegiate Athletics Forum midweek in midtown. Val Ackerman, the commissioner of the Big East Conference, of which St. John’s University is a member, did not rule out the possibility of schools giving out scholarships in the near future to video game enthusiasts because of the growing popularity of E-sports on Turner Broadcasting and ESPN. A number of Ackerman’s fellow conference commissioners concurred.

      The commissioners were also concerned about the growth of traveling basketball teams comprised of high school and even younger students that are being sponsored by sneaker manufacturers. They didn’t address the issue of those same companies shelling out big bucks to sponsor their teams however.

     The week culminated with Saturday’s presentation of the Heisman Trophy, the best-known award in amateur sports. The three finalists were Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, Louisville QB Lamar Jackson (who won the Heisman last year), and Stanford running back Bryce Love.

     Jackson wore a stylish winter white tux and I asked him if his school bought it for him or whether the tuxedo company provided it gratis. The NCAA has byzantine regulations about athletes receiving any kind of compensation. “My cousin bought it for me,” Lamar said. He then articulated how ridiculous the NCAA is by not allowing college athletes earn spending money or enjoy a small perk.

      Bryce Love is a pre-med student at Stanford. He said that he has been able to budget his time for both partaking in athletics and for undertaking rigorous classes at one of the world’s most respected universities.

     When I asked Bryce, who is a junior, if he had taken organic chemistry yet, he chuckled. “No, I am waiting until the spring semester when I’ll have more time!” he replied.

      Now that the Yankees have obtained slugger Giancarlo Stanton to a lineup that includes Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Didi Gregorius. It’s a safe bet that new manager Aaron Boone won’t be playing small ball in 2018.

     Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks has done an amazing job even if the Brooklyn Nets are still a longshot to make it to the NBA playoffs.

     Marks has been the team’s GM since March 2016 when he succeeded one of the worst executives in recent New York sports history, Billy King. It was King who saddled the Nets with expensive free agents who failed to deliver and made trades such as the infamous one with the Boston Celtics, in which the Nets gave up first round draft choices until nearly the end of the first Trump administration for over-the-hill veterans Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry.

     When Marks took over the reins, the Nets had no scheduled first-round pick until 2019 and were maxed out in terms of the NBA salary cap, let alone a team that was the dregs of the NBA without a light at the end of the tunnel.

      Over the last two years he was able to move Thaddeus Young and Bogan Bogdanovic , two serviceable players though certainly not difference makers, to playoff-bound teams for their first-round draft choices.

      On Friday Marks showed his magical trade touch again as he dealt forward Trevor Booker, a guy who turns the ball over almost as soon as he touches it, to the Philadelphia 76ers for a pair of recent first round picks, center Jahlil Okafor and guard Nik Stauskas. Marks even got the Sixers to throw in a 2018 second-round draft choice.

     The Nets needed a legitimate center after trading their perennial NBA All-Star, Brook Lopez, to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for guard D’Angelo Russell. Stauskas will get a lot of playing time because Jeremy Lin is out for the year after suffering a leg injury on opening night and the newly acquired D’Angelo Russell is out of action recuperating from arthroscopic knee surgery.

      Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson has also done a fine job given the fact that his team has been decimated by injuries and even when they are healthy they are overmatched by most teams.

      At least Atkinson and Marks can breathe easier now that the team won its tenth game. They no longer have to worry about topping the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers 9-73 record which was the worst in NBA history. It should be noted the Nets did not win their tenth game last season until March.

     Jahlil Okafor will forever be remembered in Philadelphia for driving over the Ben Franklin Bridge one night at a speed that exceeded 100 MPH. Given the traffic patterns and construction in New York there is no way he could even duplicate that dangerous stunt even if he so desired.

     The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown will have two new inductees this coming July as a special veterans committee whose charge was to examine baseball players whose glory days were between 1970 and 1987.

      In order to gain induction, a player’s name had to be checked off on 12 ballots which represented 75% of the 16 members of the committee.

      More often than not, when veterans committees have met to decide who should gain admittance to the Hall of Fame no player from yesteryear has been able to garner the magic 75% mark.

     This year, to my surprise, this veterans committee was able to select two players, both with Detroit Tigers pedigrees, pitcher Jack Morris and shortstop Alan Trammell.

     Both Morris and Trammell should have been elected to the Hall of Fame during the 15-year period when their names were on the ballot and it’s a travesty that they had to wait for this special panel to convene to gain entry.

      I was hoping that Steve Garvey, who was arguably the best-known baseball player of the late ‘70s and early 1980s outside of Reggie Jackson, and Dale Murphy, a great slugger and defensive outfielder who won a pair of MVP Awards in spite of playing for some very bad Atlanta Braves teams, would also have also gotten the nod Sunday night.

     Get your cowboy hats out. The annual Professional Bull Riders’ (PBR) Monster Buck Off will take place the first weekend of 2018 (Jan. 5-7) at Madison Square Garden.

     Bull rider JB Mauney, who is the Tom Brady/LeBron James of his sport, will be trying to get his 500th qualifying ride at the Buck Off. A qualifying ride means that a rider was able to last 8 seconds before getting tossed by an ornery bull. Only two others have been to accomplish that milestone in PBR history.  

     The severe fires in the Los Angeles area forced the closure of schools and it halted the production of a number of popular television show including CBS’s popular procedural, “SWAT,” that stars Shemar Moore.

     If you like apple sauce but are bored with Mott’s, you should try Sanaia Apple Sauce. Sanaia’s apple sauce leaves the skins of the apples intact in its jars and adds fun and healthy ingredients as lychee, ginger, hibiscus, tamarind, sweet ginger, and lavender pears.

     Staying hydrated is just as important in cold weather as it is when it’s warm. If you are looking for an alternative from still or sparkling water but want to avoid putting on the pounds, you might like ROAR Organic Electrolyte Infusions ( which come in four flavors: pineapple mint, mango clementine, strawberry coconut, and cucumber watermelon and contain only 10 calories per bottle.  

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