Gifts You Can’t Return

Happy New Year!  Most gifts that we receive, we keep.  Some we return for size , practicality or personal taste.  Some are GIFTS YOU CAN’T RETURN…..so too in the Sports World.
…The Bowl Games provide us with GIFTS THAT WE CAN’T RETURN because it only happens once. I’m talking about the “real” bowl games…not all those games played in mid-December to satisfy TV’s appetite for live action.
….We can’t…and don’t want to… RETURN THE GIFT OF A THRILLING NCAA FOOTBALL semi’s. The incredible game between Ohio State & Georgia was really game that the offensive momentum kept switching back & forth. Georgia was down 38-24 as the 4th quarter began! But Georgia seemed to have more speed in the backfield & in the wideouts positions. The Bulldogs piled up 533 yards of total offense!!! Ohio State had 467 yds….yep…exactly 1000 yards of total offense!!! In an offensive display like that, you’d expect the game to come down to the last play.  And…it did!  Ohio State missed a possible game winning Field goal for 50 yards out as time expired!  WOW! Georgia goes into the Championship Game as the clear overwhelming favorite over TCU.
….The other semifinal saw TCU (Texas Christian U) surprise most everyone by beating Michigan 51-45 at its own game—playing physical on the LOS and running the ball. TCU stunned everyone by jumping out to a 14-0, 1st quarter lead. Right then, Wolverine fans should have been uneasy. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, under HC Jim Harbaugh when Michigan allows 14 pts in the 1st quarter, they have only won that game once (2016 v Colorado). TCU jumped ahead 21-3 in the second quarter and 41-22 late in the third quarter but the Wolverines kept coming back. It did come down right to the wire. Michigan need to go 75 yards in the final 52 seconds of the game. With 35 seconds, left & 4th& 10, Michigan fumbled—recovered the ball… but short of the 1st down!
…A GIFT THAT YOU CAN’T RETURN IS THE RULES OF THE GAME. I’ve been noticing in the past year or 2 that on short yardage situations, offensive teams are literally blocking their own running back in the back to force him forward when he’s being tackled by a group of defensive players. One team (can’t remember which after being bombarded by bowl games, actually lined up a extra guard right behind the QB. On the QB sneak, the Guard sprinted right into the back of the QB—pushing him forward to get a short yardage 1st down. I guess that the officials are being instructed to allow this but the rule states,” The official NCAA rule book in 1950 stated, “The runner shall not grasp, or be pulled by, any teammate, nor shall any teammate push the runner or lift him from the ground while the ball is in play. Penalty for “helping the runner” is 15 yards from the spot of the foul.”
….The Mizzou fans Don’t want to RETURN THE GIFT OF A NEW BASKETBALL COACH! The Tigers just blew out Kentucky 89-75! Yes… Kentucky not Kentucky Wesleyan, NOT Kentucky little sisters of the Poor! This follows another significant 93-71 Win over Illinois. In that game, the Tigers again raced out to an early 15-0 run to grab a 25-12 lead midway in 1st half. Mizzou showed their defense by holding Illinois (8-4) in the 1st half to 1 of 15 from beyond the arc and committed 9 turnovers. Sooo…while they are run & gun, the Tigers are playing hard on the defensive end too.
….However 1st year Head Coach, Dennis Gates is trying to snap the string of 3 straight coaches (combined) who really saw their ships float below the .500 (146-175) mark. He rebuilt this team as only 3 players returned from last year’s teams. His approach was to bring in scorers-many long range “gunners’ and those players believing in the “all out” defensive  approach on both ends of the court. His calm demeanor on the sidelines is very refreshing. For decades, some of the best NCAA Bball Coaches have been “yellers, screamers, stompers…all with the intent of getting the “next call”. Coach Gates takes none of those approaches (that I’ve seen).  Go Tigers—Look for a  jump up in the ratings with these huge wins.
….Historically, Mizzou hasn’t been a national Basketball power. This year that are trying to accept GIFTS THAT THEY CAN’T RETURN by running up a long winning streak. Their last regular season Conference Title was in 1994 in the Big 8. Their last Conference Tournament Championship was in 1993. They have never been to a Final Four. Their deepest penetration into the Tourney has been the Sweet 16(6x) —last done in 2009.  Overall  in the NCAA Tourney, the Tigers are 19-27.
…We MIGHT WANT TO RETURN THE GIFT that Dion Sanders gave to the fans about College Football. While most fans understood that Coaches brought in many players, signed many of them…then found out that they were a step too slow, a bit too weak, a bit too slow in recognition, etc. Coaches often found ways to “move” that player our of his system.  It’s been going on for decades. Sanders just did it more bluntly, openly than we’ve ever seen with his 1st “talk” to his soon-to-be-leaving players.
….While it seemed course to me that  his brash, self-serving  talk to the returning players (now former players), maybe…maybe…it reinforced that the players are under the Coach’s control. The NIL had seemingly given the players complete control of their careers. Leaving for greener pastures seems too easy when things “don’t work out right away” for these athletes who are jumping up..way up.. to the next level. Some can do it…some can’t.
…. Coach Sanders statement may have elevated the Coaches back to being in charge (to a degree). There needs to be a happy medium on both sides. Should the Coach be able to bid “Good-bye) to a player (maybe only after 1st/2nd years) who just don’t possess the talents to compete at the highest D-1 level, especially if he didn’t recruit them? Following that EXACT system, without fanfare, Coach Dennis Gates (MU bball) has cleared out the 21-22 roster and restocked it with his own players-save 3.
….We CAN’T RETURN THE GIFT of a wonderful Baseball Quiz each week 😊 This HOF player elected 1st ballot by 84% of the voters became the 11th player to hit 500 HR. As a Shortstop, he was the 2nd player to hit 40 HR. The next year, he became the 3rd SS to reach 40 HR. The same held true for each of the next 2 years. So he’d become the 5th SS to hit 40 Home runs after doing it 4 straight years! Who am I?
…We CAN’T RETURN THE GIFT OF UNKNOWN EXCELLENCE– of something that no one knows about. The UMSL Women’s Volleyball team reached the National NCAA Semi-finals (The Final Four!!) this year before falling to the ultimate National Champions, W. Texas A&M. It was an challenging journey for the Tritons led by Head Coach, Ryan Young—a CBC grad. Seeded #5 in their regional tournament, The Tritons knocked off #4 Rockhurst, #1 seed-Quincy and #3 seed-Ferris State to qualify for the elite 8 of the National D-2 Tournament. Seeded #7 in the Elite 8, UMSL beat #2 Barry in the 1st round of the National Tourney but fell in the Semifinals to #3 seed-W.Texas A&M (who would go on to become the National Champion). Congratulations are in order for Charlotte Richars (named GLVC Player of the year for the 3rd consecutive year & received 1st Team All-American & National Player of the Year Award. 1st Team Honors also went to Caitlin Bishop & Lexie Rang. Kylie Adams & Hailey Flowers received 2nd team honors. What a year—now…YOU can pass on THIS GIFT about the Tritons 😊
….Star players in all professional sports CAN’T RETURN THE GIFT of age. Watching Tom Brady recently was painful.  Clearly he can’t throw the ball deep any longer. His passing game relies on  short,“option routes” of receivers. Judging from the body language of Brady, he’s dismayed either with their choice of the option chosen by the receiver, the depth of their pattern, or their inability to get open…. Maybe all 3? Despite winning the game in OT, it was painful to watch the greatest QB of our era struggle through the game. Throughout most of the game, his body language sent a clear, loud message of disgust.  Hope he retires this year! It made think of a comparison in MLB, in his last year Babe Ruth retired on May 31, 1935. On that date, Ruth was hitting .181 he had hit 6 HR in 28 g, 72 AB. Yet, if he HAD played the entire season & continued to hit HR at the same rate, he would have still banged out 33 HR for the season! But…that wasn’t the Babe!
…The answer to this week’s Buzz’s MLB quiz….Ernie Banks!
….Thanks for your read! It was a bit longer  than usual…but heck, I had a extra full week w/ all kinds of sports games. I welcome YOUR thoughts/comments. Pass the word along….anyone can find it on www.bobryansportsblog.com.  Bob

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