Welcome to another edition of Wake Up With Whitty. There’s a lot to be excited about this weekend with some big college football matchups, including No. 2 Ohio State against No. 5 Oklahoma, which has huge playoff implications. The NFL season is finally underway as well, and if football isn’t your thing, the MLB playoff races are heating up as that season enters the home stretch. There’s a little something for everyone this weekend, which is why this is hands down the best time of the year for sports fans. So while you’re waiting for that chili to finish cooking before your favorite team kicks off this weekend, check out this week’s Wake Up With Whitty and let me know what you think.
Zeke is Free (For Now)
What a wild story the Ezekiel Elliott saga has turned out to be. At the conclusion of its year-long investigation, the NFL announced in early August that Elliott would be suspended for 6 games for violating the league’s domestic violence policy stemming from a 2016 incident involving his ex-girlfriend. Elliott appealed the suspension, and his appeal was heard by Harold Henderson, who ultimately upheld the suspension in a ruling announced Tuesday, September 5th. Due to the timing of the ruling, Elliott would be eligible for week 1, with the suspension to take effect starting Week 2. Things took another strange turn on Friday as a U.S. District Court judge in Texas granted the NFLPA’s preliminary injunction, which puts the suspension back on hold while the NFLPA’s petition to void the suspension is reviewed by the district court.
What this all means is that, even if the suspension is ultimately upheld, there’s a chance that Elliott could play the entire season as this thing plays out in court. Not to brag, but on Thursday’s episode of the Nati Boys podcast I listed Zeke playing in all 16 games as one of my “things more likely to happen than the Jets winning the Super Bowl”. I’m starting to feel pretty good about that prediction now. It’s important to note that none of this means Zeke has been cleared of any wrongdoing. The District Court judge’s ruling simply means he felt that Elliott did not receive a fair appeal hearing. My guess is that the suspension is ultimately upheld, but similar to Brady’s deflate-gate suspension, it may be more than a year until it takes effect due to legal proceedings. And if any of the allegations against him are true, he deserves every bit of punishment that he receives. The NFL is all over the place with its discipline, and that’s a big part of why this case finds itself in federal court, but just because the league is wildly inconsistent doesn’t mean they’re wrong.
Speaking of inconsistent implementation of the league’s discipline policy, the NFL has come out and added an additional 6-game suspension for former Giants kicker Josh Brown due to “new information” regarding his domestic violence allegations. There’s no way this isn’t related to the Elliott case, and it really feels like the league is just trying to make themselves look more consistent with their punishments, but it actually has the opposite effect. Brown, who currently is not on an NFL roster, may never actually serve this suspension, as it’s unlikely that another NFL team takes a chance on him, so this is more of a formality on the NFL’s part. And if you read the details of Brown’s case, it’s a good thing that he may never play in the NFL again. He’s not a good dude and he has nobody to blame but himself. But just like with the Zeke case, the league really looks bad here, even if they aren’t wrong. It just makes you feel like they have no idea what they’re doing, and this that’s why the NFLPA is able to (somewhat) successfully challenge the NFL’s rulings in court.
Urban Meyer vs Tom Herman
Urban Meyer recently called out some of his fellow head coaches for blaming inherited players for their teams’ struggles. Meyer called it a “new generation” excuse (damn millennials). His comments seemed to be specifically directed at his former offensive coordinator and current Texas head coach Tom Herman. In his post game press conference following Texas’s 51-41 loss to Maryland, Herman stated that they knew they couldn’t just come in after 9 months and “sprinkle fairy dust” on the team and expect them to be a powerhouse. Urban interpreted that as Herman blaming his inherited players for the loss. When asked about Urban’s comments, Herman simply stated that he did not have time to worry about what other coaches had to say, as he was too busy focusing on his own program.
Even as a Buckeyes fan, I have to say Herman probably looks better in this exchange. First, I didn’t take Herman’s “fairy dust” comment to mean that he was blaming his players for the loss. I think Urban may have been reading too much into that one. And second, even if that is what Herman was going, I’m not sure why Meyer cares. Nothing Tom Herman says or does had any impact on Meyer and Ohio State (unless their paths happen to cross on the football field in the future). Meyer just needs to focus on the Buckeyes, especially with a matchup against #5 Oklahoma looming.
Whitty’s NFL Playoff Locks
If you checked out our Milliron Sports NFL Playoff Predictions post earlier this week, consider yourself lucky. Yours truly provided you with the exact playoff participants, plus your Super Bowl matchup and Super Bowl champion. Feel free to use my picks to make yourselves millions at your sports book of choice. For those of you that didn’t view the post, here are my picks for each playoff spot (but be sure to check out the post still to see everyone else’s):
- NFC North: Green Bay Packers
- NFC East: Dallas Cowboys
- NFC South: New Orleans Saints
- NFC West: Seattle Seahawks
- NFC Wildcard: Arizona Cardinals
- NFC Wildcard: Atlanta Falcons
- AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers*
- AFC East: New England Patriots
- AFC South: Houston Texans
- AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs
- AFC Wildcard: Denver Broncos
- AFC Wildcard: Miami Dolphins
- Super Bowl: Green Bay over Kansas City
*Picking the Steelers goes against everything I stand for as a person and as a sports fan, but I just can’t justify picking any other team in the AFC North
So there you have it folks, your 2017 NFL playoff teams. Please don’t use this information for evil. With great power comes great responsibility.
While I’m on the subject of 100% accurate predictions, I’m predicting a 42-38 victory for Ohio State over Oklahoma tonight. The Bucks will be down a couple scores at the half but will come back for an exciting finish and will just squeak by with the victory. Thanks for checking out this edition of Wake Up With Whitty. If you liked what you saw, please leave a comment and let me know. Check out the rest of the site too and be sure to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes as well!