Good morning and happy New Year! Not sure if the year is 2022 or 2012 as I turned on the TV to see Mario Chalmers playing for the Miami Heat and Lance Stephenson on the Indiana Pacers.
At least Lance wasn’t blowing into LeBron’s ear this time. Let’s get to it.
– Nathan & Blake
In today's Sprint:
🏈 AB quits mid game.
🏈 Lopsided Playoffs.
🏀 DeMar's record nights.
Trivia: From 2010 to 2019, which conference won the most college football bowl games?
*Answer at the bottom
WATER COOLER TALK
🏈 Midway through the third quarter of yesterday’s game against the Jets, Bucs receiver Antonio Brown stripped off his jersey and ran off the field before being kicked off the team.
Get this – AB needed eight more catches for a $333k bonus, 55 receiving yards for another $333k bonus, and just 1 more receiving touchdown for another $333k bonus. Costly outburst.
Mike Tomlin continues to look like a player mastermind after getting nine incredible seasons out of AB in Pittsburgh while nobody else has gotten one.
🏈 Matt Corral, Ole Miss’ quarterback and a likely 1st round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, injured his leg in the team’s Bowl game against Baylor.
The injury looked bad, but initial reports are promising – x-rays show a sprained ankle (not a ruptured Achilles, as was feared). If it’s a sprain, it won’t hurt his draft stock.
Corral was one of the few top prospects to not opt out of Bowl games outside of the Playoff teams.
🏀 Becky Hammon, WNBA legend and the first woman to be an assistant coach in the NBA, became the new head coach of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces.
Hammon signed a 5-year deal with the team for a reportedly record sum after eight years with the San Antonio Spurs.
The Aces have made either the semifinals or Finals each of the past three seasons and are seen as an early favorite for the 2022 title.
⚽️ Chelsea dropped star Romelu Lukaku from its team sheet after the striker discussed his displeasure with the team in an exclusive interview.
After the incident, the $90 million summer signing changed his Twitter bio to list Inter Milan, his former club, instead of Chelsea.
Stop The Count
37 games into bowl season, fans have seen five cancellations, two team substitutions, and a partridge in a pear tree.
It's a lot to unpack.
A league of their own: The College Football Playoffs, meant to bring together the four best teams in the country, have become incredibly lopsided. Since they started in 2014:
The average margin of victory is 19 points across 23 Playoff games played.
12 games have been decided by more than 20 points.
Only six games have been decided by single-digits.
The trend continued with Alabama smacking Cincinnati and Georgia reminding Michigan they still have a long way to go. The 2018 national championship rematch will be fun:
#1 Alabama vs. #3 Georgia – January 10th at 8:00 EST on ESPN
Outside of the Playoffs
Despite ESPN's debacle of a pregame show blaming top prospects for ruining bowls by opting out, there were some great storylines around the country:
Baylor completed the quietest 12 win season in the country one year after winning just two games. An incredible turn around for new head coach Dave Aranda.
Ohio State corner Marcus Williamson announced his retirement on Twitter at halftime of the Rose Bowl, before bashing Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes. Not quite Antonio Brown level, but pretty good.
Also for Ohio State, receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba broke the all-time record for receiving yards in any bowl with 347 yards and 3 touchdowns. It was one of eight Rose Bowl records broken or tied by the Buckeyes.
Mike Leach’s vendetta against Texas Tech came up short in the Liberty Bowl. He’s had an ongoing suit with the school for the $2.4 million remaining on his contract at the time of firing in 2009.
A tale of two coasts: The SEC still reigns supreme, at least at the top. With a flawless record in Playoff play, the conference’s top dogs helped offset the 1-5 it brought into New Year’s Eve. Meanwhile, the Pac-12 hasn’t won a bowl game since 2019.
Big Ten: 6-4
Big 12: 4-2
Big Ten: 6-4 (.600)
Giphy / Ja'Marr Chase
(10-6) Cincinnati Bengals34vs. (11-5) Kansas City Chiefs 31
Joe Burrow (446 yards, 4 TD) and Ja’Marr Chase (11 rec, 266 yds, 3 TD) looked like they were running around the Bayou, dominating the Chiefs defense as Chase set a rookie receiving record.
The Bengals clinched their first postseason berth since 2015.