TMG Newsmaker of the Week: Barack Obama

Whether you liked him, supported him, voted for him or agreed with him, there is little question that President Barack Obama has brought a style and civility to his public appearances in the  White House for the past 8 years. Therefore it is not surprising, now that we are in the final  days of No. 44’s term in Washington, that President Obama concluded the public portion of his job with a trifecta of appearances in which he topped the charts, including his farewell speech as President in his home town in Chicago, an emotional ceremony honoring his friend Vice President Joe Biden last week and on Monday, a ceremony at the White House honoring the World Champion Chicago Cubs, a tough task for a life-time White Sox fan. But the President, like he has done so often–our favorites were his White House Correspondents Dinner appearances and his yearly selection of his NCAA basketball tournament brackets on ESPN–pulled it off with style, grace, and humor. For these efforts and perhaps a possible new job as President of the NCAA if  he wants to really get invested in college athletics,  President Obama is this week’s TMG’s Newsmaker of the...

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TMG Newsmaker of The Week: Deshaun Watson

Good quarterbacks win big games, great quarterbacks win championships.  Until early Tuesday morning, Clemson QB Deshaun Watson was in the good category.  Then, with two remarkable and mistake free touchdown drives in the final four minutes of the Tigers’ national championship rematch with Alabama, Watson moved up in class. All it took was a 1-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow with one second on the clock to give Clemson a 35-31 come-from behind victory and its first national championship in 35 seasons. “”He’s the best player in the country,” said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, taking a swipe at the Heisman voters who had Watson No. 2 on their Heisman ballot behind Louisville QB Lamar Jackson, “”It anybody doubts that, it’s just ridiculous.”” In two national championship games against Alabama–one Clemson lost, one Clemson won–Watson produced 941 yards and 8 TDS. On Monday night, Deshaun Watson also helped Clemson produce a national championship, which earned him this week’s TMG Newsmaker of the Week...

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TMG NEWSMAKER OF WEEK: Sam Darnold

His football season is over, but the hype has just begun and dealing with that may be more difficult for Sam Darnold than figuring out Penn State’s secondary. In case  you missed it, Darnold, USC’s freshman QB, had a game for the ages on Monday night–5  touchdowns for 473 yards–in the Trojans pulsating 52-49 come-from behind Rose Bowl victory over Penn State. We won’t dwell on the past–TMG’s Rankman did his usual superb job in setting up the Rose Bowl scene with Darnold and then  recreating it again in his game story. What lies ahead is the good stuff, which certainly should include a Pre-season Top 10 ranking for Darnold and the Trojans and a favorite’s role for the 2017 Heisman. What struck everyone who was watching Darnold for the first time was his poise under pressure–he calmly took the Trojans 80 yards in the final 1:59, ending with a game-tying TD pass in a scoring drive which took just 32 seconds. There is more, much more, which will be told and retold over the next several months, but for now, Sam Darnold has done more than enough to make him TMG’s Newsmaker of the...

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TMG NEWSMAKER OF THE WEEK: Scandal

Did you notice? Wake Forest, Minnesota and Baylor all won their Tuesday bowl games. As Dana Carvey’s “Church Lady” might say, “Isn’t that special?” Because that’s just how the big, bad world works sometimes, we tip our dip sticks this week to the engine sludge of college football. Scandal, we begrudgingly salute thee. A lot of us Schadenfreuders were openly rooting against Wake, Minny and Waco for the bad news these programs have created in recent weeks and months. Too bad…for us. Wake Forest outlasted Temple in the Military Bowl, Minnesota out-defensed Washington State in the Holiday and Baylor blasted Boise in the Cactus. Save us your sanctimonious outrage tweets. We know the players involved in these games had little or nothing to with nefarious events. We are simply acknowledging the coincidence of these programs all hauling down bowl trophies on the same day. Oh, include to that mix Army, which is still investigating its possible role in the Wake Forest “Wakeyleak” scandal” that has polluted our seasonal holy waters. Army defeated North Texas on Tuesday in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl. Wake Forest, the institution, is only guilty of recruiting and hiring Tommy Elrod, the former Wake Forest player-turned-radio analyst who leaked game plans to the school’s opponents. As espionage cases go, this isn’t Edward Snowden or even the Rosenbergs, but Elrod offers a sinister face to...

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TMG Newsmaker of Week: Christian McCaffrey

The irony of it, of course, is that Christian McCaffrey has received more attention and publicity in the past five days for NOT playing football than for anything he has done on the field for the past three years. McCaffrey, the multi-talented running back from Stanford, made headline news in the world of college football over the weekend by announcing that he would not participate in his team’s bowl appearance in the Sun Bowl against North Carolina McCaffrey did not use injuries as an excuse–although he has had an injury plagued season. But he simply said that he wanted to prepare for the next phase of his career, which is the NFL draft. Honest and understandable from an athlete who gave Stanford three seasons of good and at times great performances. Why take the risk of getting hurt in what is basically a meaningless game? The critics and purists howled about team loyalty and all for one and one for all.  The topic went viral in the social media world. The only question in which there is a gray area is this: If Stanford were playing in the Rose Bowl or in a Final Four playoff bowl with a national championship at stake would he have taken the same stance? The consensus opinion seems to be that under those conditions, McCaffrey would have played. But that begs another question....

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TMG Newsmaker of Week: Nick Saban

Alabama didn’t play a game this week, but such is the power of The Tide that it makes headlines even when nothing appears to be  happening. That again came into focus on Monday when offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin left Alabama to become the head coach at Florida Atlantic University. Kiffin’s departure was not a surprise. Kiffin, who was fired by USC in the middle of the 2013 season, had spent three years reconstructing his image and his pride by running Alabama’s offense, which produced at least one national championship. Although Kiffin’s coaching ability has never been in doubt, his personal life raised more than a few questions. Saban hired him,  providing a halfway house for a coach who needed an image rehab. Last year, St. Nick did it again, and reached out to  another former USC head coach Steve Sarkasian, who had been fired because of  off the field issues. Kiffin will remain with Alabama until its post season is completed. And while Sarkasian has not been named as Kiffin’s replacement as the Tide’s OC, he is in the mix and could very well take the next step to career-reputation recovery in Tuscaloosa. For these acts, Saban is TMG Collegesports.com’s Newsmaker of the Week....

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TMG Newsmaker of The Week: CFB Playoff Selection Committee

Here’s the college football question of the week: Did the College Football Playoff Selection Committee get it right? The answer: Sort of. They set up the rankings to produce six fairly entertaining “New Year’s Six” bowl games. But the Final Four? They couldn’t miss on putting Alabama, Clemson and Washington into the Final Four as deserving and talented conference champions. The fourth spot, between Ohio State and Penn State is open to debate. The Committee chose the “best overall team” defense in choosing Ohio State over a team that finished above them in their own conference, won the conference title and won the head to head match up. Penn State won the championship of the best conference in college football this season, but because Penn State lost a non conference game to Pittsburgh, the committee felt that Ohio State was the better team despite what happened on the field when the two teams met. So be it. What the committee did wrong happened a week earlier when it put Washington into the No. 4 slot and Michigan into the No. 5 slot. That took away an option for the committee, which was then locked into the Huskies if they beat No. 8 Colorado in the Pac-12 championship game. The Committee made a head scratcher move when it listed Florida State above Louisville in the rankings, which sent FSU to...

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TMG Newsmaker of The Week: Liberty University

Some things we can’t make up. Consider some items from an Associated Press story  this week. “” Ian McCaw, former athletic director at scandal-plagued Baylor is the new athletic director at Liberty University He (McCaw) resigned in May after being sanctioned and placed on probation when the university’s athletic teams became embroiled in a sexual assault scandal that led to the dismissal of football coach Art Briles and others. In Liberty’s announcement, President Jerry Falwell said, “”Ian’s success–(Baylor won four national championships and 56 Big 12 championships on his watch)– really speaks for itself. You look at what Baylor was able to do during his tenure, it fits perfectly with where we see our sports programs going.” For this broad view of the importance of everything, TMGcollegesports.com has chosen Liberty University as our Newsmaker of the...

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TMG Newsmaker of The Week: The NCAA Infractions Committee

Maybe it’s part of an alphabetical progression the NCAA uses when it comes to dealing with infraction cases. Maybe what happened to Notre Dame on Tuesday is a sign that the NCAA, which runs big time college athletics with a sometimes uneven hand, has reached the N schools. Whatever the reason, the Infractions Committee–which deals with member violations–seemed to move at warp speed (only 2 years) when it dealt a blow to Notre Dame’s reputation by wrapping up an academic misconduct case against the Irish. Notre Dame’s penalties:  The Irish were stripped of 21 victories the football team posted in the 2012-2013 seasons. Included in that time span was Notre Dame’s 12-0 run that sent the Irish to the BCS title game, where they were swept away by The Crimson Tide of Alabama.  Wonder if the BCS folks, who are now running the CFB Playoff system, will vacate Notre Dame’s runner up spot in the Orange Bowl that year. The charges against Notre Dame were that a former student trainer completed academic courses for two football players and provided academic help for six other football players in 18 courses over a three year period. Notre Dame said it conducted its own internal investigation and handed out its own internal penalties. The school, which prides itself on what it feels is a pristine academic reputation, said it will appeal the...

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TMG Newsmaker of the Week: Clay Helton

He was the interim coach last season and did such a good job  that former USC athletic director Pat Haden signed him to a long-term contract. For Clay Helton, it was a dream come true in his dream job.  USC began this season with great expectations despite a schedule that had “Danger” all over it during the first month, which included an opening game against defending national champion Alabama, and games against defending Pac-12 champion Stanford and rising Pac-12 contender Utah. When the Trojans stumbled out of the gate with a 52-6 loss to Alabama and a 1-3 start, the words of praise for Helton turned to questions of doubt. Helton did what most coaches do in such situations. He went into the bunker, made some changes, including a switch at quarterback to a freshman named Sam Darnold who didn’t look quite ready for prime time in early September. No one questioned that USC had the talent to win games. But something was missing. Not any more. The Trojans are playing like, well…USC. They are on a 6-game winning streak which has elevated their record to 7-3. Their last win was a solid (non-fluke) 26-13 victory over previously unbeaten and No. 4 ranked Washington–in Seattle. Darnold is playing like a potential Heisman Trophy  contender. If the Trojans could have a do over of their first month of the season,...

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TMG Newsmaker of the Week: Dabo Swinney

It was one of those things that hardly seems worth mentioning, but in the big picture is worth so much. On Saturday, Clemson will play Pittsburgh in its final home game of the 2017 season.   Final home games are also generally called “Senior Day’s’, and feature a halftime ceremony in which a school honors players participating in the final home game of their career. Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney made an adjustment this week, including QB DeShaun Watson, WR Artavis Scott, RB Wayne Gallman and WR Mike Wallace in the ceremony. None are seniors, but all four players have told Swinney that this will be their last home game with the Tigers because they want to pursue NFL careers next season. Swinney never hesitated in agreeing. “”We’ll have the guys (honored) that aren’t going to be back,” said Swinney. It was a small act by a big time coach doing a little thing for his players.  But it was significant, which is why Dabo Swinney is this week’s TMGcollegesports’  Newsmaker of the...

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TMG Newsmaker of the Week: CFP Selection Committee

For almost two months they were in the shadows, a 12 member group assigned to monitor a college football season.  Most fans still don’t know their names–which is the way they want it–but this week they collectively stepped into the spotlight. The College Football Playoff Selection  Committee came out with its first official “rankings’ of the 2017 season, 1-25, with the Top 4 obviously being the most important. Most of the choices fell into “that makes sense” category, although Penn State at No. 12 created a slight ripple reaction. And then there was team No. 4. Unbeaten and Pac-12 leader Washington right? Not so fast. The Committee saw something different and chose a one loss (to Alabama) Texas A&M. Controversy? Nah. Way too early and Washington was sitting right there at No. 5. Selection Committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said it was very close, and it was very early. The message was clear to critics and fans alike: Chill out. Let the season play itself out, like it always does. But one thing was also clear. The CFP Selection Committee was no longer in the shadows. For that act alone and for the power they now have, and will have for the remainder of the season, the Committee is TMG’s Newsmaker of the...

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TMG Newsmakers of Week: Washington QB Jake Browning, Utah RB Joe Williams

They will get all the preferential treatment they deserve this week, including ESPN Game Day Exposure. They may be the best QB and RB duo the nation hasn’t really heard of simply because of lack of television and media coverage (East Coast bias as Rankman puts it). But both Utah running back Joe Williams, who came out of the stands after “retiring” and Washington QB Jake Browning are worthy of attention. Williams, a 5-foot-11 inch, 205 pound senior, had been plagued by injuries which made him decide to become a spectator and fan, rather than a player. But as the Utes’ running game sputtered, Williams had a change of heart and returned. Williams’ last two games included 179 rushing yards against Oregon State and s school record 332 yards and four TDs against UCLA in a pair of Ute victories. While Browning has been enfuego all season with 26 TD passes in seven games this season, including 291 yards and 3 TDS in the Huskies 41-17 win over Oregon State last week. For those efforts, Williams and Browning are TMGcollegesports.com’s Newsmakers of the Week. And in a bonus selection, TMG wants to include the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians, two teams who have a combined waiting list of 177 years since their last World Series win as honorary TMG Newsmakers’ of the...

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TMG Newsmaker of the Week: Alabama

They started their season as defending national champions, and a Pre-season No. 1 pick. They began their season with a 52-6 rout of USC. They are now halfway through their season and have yet to stumble, yet there remain some doubters about the invincibility of Coach Nick Saban’s team, although they are steadily declining in numbers.. Last week the Tide faced what appeared to be a real challenge–unbeaten, but very lucky and No. 9 Tennessee. The game was in Knoxville. Alabama won 49-10, although Tennessee’s roster was depleted by injuries and suspensions. This week the challenge looks just as daunting.  Texas A&M is coming to Tuscaloosa. The Aggies ARE at full strength. They are off to their best start in 22 seasons. Alabama’s toughest test of the season, right? We will see. Vegas doesn’t think so. The Tide is 18.5 point favorites against an UNBEATEN and  a team ranked No. SIX in the country. Indeed, we will see. But for what the Tide has done so far and what it could accomplish on Saturday by overcoming another obstacle, Alabama is TMG’s Newsmaker of The Week.  ...

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TMG Newsmaker of the Week: Navy

Let’s get to the obvious first.  Navy’s 46-40 win over Houston created shock waves through the upper echelon of the FBS rankings. It also had an impact on the American Athletic Conference’s chances of placing a team in college football’s Final Four. And it put Houston, the morning line favorite for being part of the Big 12 expansion (if there is expansion), into the position of not even winning its own division (the AAC West). Then let’s talk about the more subtle things.  Like Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Admiral Ted Carter Jr. cancelling classes for a day after the Midshipmen’s upset of the Cougars. There’s more.  Like in the opening game against Fordham when starting Navy QB Tago Smith was injured, the Middies were a little bit short at QB.  So Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo made the call–to the crowd in the stadium for freshman QB Malcolm Perry.  Perry was listed as Navy’s fourth string QB, but did not dress for the game. He came out of the stands, suited up and went into the game in the second half, carrying the ball 7 times for 30 yards. And finally there is this. The Naval Academy is located in Annapolis, Md. which is one of the great college towns in America. If it were the site of a Power 5 conference school, it would be automatically classified as one...

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