Hello and welcome to another edition of Wake Up With Whitty. It’s been a long weekend but it’s finally coming to a close. Most of you have probably been off since at least Thursday. I’m sure you ate way too much food over the past 3-5 days too (Side Note: If you’re one of those “Ham is a better Thanksgiving food than turkey” lunatics, please stop reading now. You’re not welcome here). You’ve either spent some quality time with family or spent time doing everything possible trying to avoid family. You spent hours watching football all weekend and maybe even slipped in a basketball game or two (I hear people are still into that these days). Hell, you may have even put up your Christmas decorations already. With all of that going on, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that you have to go back to work tomorrow. The week after Thanksgiving always feels like the longest week of the year, especially on Monday. So as the NFL games wrap up on Sunday, you’ll start to have the very sobering realization that you have to go back to reality tomorrow. And that’s easily one of the most depressing feelings ever. I can’t do anything to fix that, but hopefully I can at least offer you a brief distraction with today’s Wake Up With Whitty.
Sooners Honor Lost Captain
Before Saturday’s regular season finale against West Virginia, the Oklahoma seniors took the field as captains for the coin toss. One Sooner senior, and former captain, was not able to be there in person, so his teammates made sure he was there in spirit. The Oklahoma captains approached midfield for the coin toss carrying a #6 jersey, the number of quarterback Baker Mayfield. Such a touching tribute to their leader, teammate and friend. Why wasn’t Baker on the field as captain with his fellow seniors, you ask? Was he hurt? Sick? Dealing with a family issue? No. He just grabbed his junk, talked some shit to Kansas fans/players and kind of acted like a dick during their game last week, so he was being punished. Head coach Lincoln Riley made Mayfield issue a formal apology for his actions against the Jayhawks and then told him that he would not be a captain or a starter against West Virginia in the final game of the regular season, which also happened to be Oklahoma’s Senior Night. I imagine the conversation with Lincoln Riley looked a little something like this:
Everything about this situation is ridiculous to me. The other Oklahoma seniors carrying his jersey with them like he was lost to some sort of tragedy is absurd. He’s not dead. He didn’t suffer a career ending injury. He’s not battling some terminal disease. He’s just kind of a douche, and that got him into a little trouble last week. But the fact that he lost his spot as a captain and wasn’t allowed to start because of his actions against Kansas was equally ridiculous. Nothing he did was that egregious. He talked some shit and grabbed his crotch. He may have made himself look a bit like an asshole but he didn’t hurt anybody, he didn’t break any laws (this time) and he did do anything that created negative repercussions for his team. In my opinion, Lincoln Riley overreacted here. But honestly, I think Baker overreacted too. The whole thing started because he was pissed that the Kansas captains refused to shake his hand before the coin toss. He may need to lighten up a bit, or guys are going to be getting inside his head every single week at the next level. And while we’re in the topic of ridiculous overreactions, the Kansas players who refused to shake Mayfield’s hand were also stripped of their captaincy for their final game of the year. The whole thing is so stupid, but it’s the epitome of how the world works in 2017. A player does something mildly objectionable, people (Twitter) automatically become offended so the school overreacts and punishes the player to appease the masses. It’s asinine, but it’s the world we live in.
I want to make it clear that I am in no way a Baker Mayfield fan. I don’t like him. I think he’s a very talented quarterback but I don’t like how he carries himself on the field. I think the shit he does is stupid, but I don’t think any of it really warrants punishment, or even a forced apology. You do want certain guys on your team to have a fiery personality, and you want them to play with an edge, but I’m not sure you want that guy to be your quarterback. Baker comes off to me as being thin-skinned, and while he’s a hell of a talent, I’d think the NFL scouts would hope to see a little bit more composure out of the guy. I doubt it’s enough to cost him a draft spot, although some people are speculating that the latest incident may cost him his shot at a Heisman. Again, absurd. If he’s the best player, give him the Heisman. Hell, I’d argue that the crotch grab was his #HeismanMoment. Desmond Howard (also a douche) had his Heisman Pose, maybe someday Baker Mayfield grabbing his junk will be just as iconic.
CFP Picture Unclear Heading Into Conference Championship Week
As a Buckeye fan, this Saturday was a pretty was a pretty good day for me. Urban Meyer improved to 6-0 against the Wolverines, and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh fell to 0-3 against the Buckeyes. All was right in the world, at least for a little while. That all changed when Auburn knocked off Alabama in the Iron Bowl, sending the Tigers to the SEC Championship game instead of the Tide. I’m sure many Buckeyes fans, along with college fans all across the nation, took great joy in seeing Alabama lose. The ironic thing is that Bama’s loss may have hurt Ohio State’s playoff chances more than their own. I’m not sure the committee will favor a 2-loss Buckeye team over a 1-loss Alabama, even if Ohio State wins the Big 10. With a relatively small sample size on how the committee weighs certain criteria, it’s hard to know anything for certain, but here’s how I think things shake out for the College Football Playoff:
- Two spots will go to the SEC Champion (Auburn/Georgia) and the ACC Champion (Miami/Clemson). While nothing is certain, I’m 99% sure the committee will take these two 1-loss conference champions.
- If Wisconsin and Oklahoma each win their conference championship game, they’re both in too. An undefeated Big 10 champ and 1-loss Big 12 champ are hard to say “no” to.
- If only one of Wisconsin/Oklahoma lose, then I think Alabama gets in before Ohio State. The committee set the precedent last year that a team can make the playoff without playing in their conference championship game. Many people would argue that Alabama’s résumé this year isn’t playoff worthy, but I think the fact that they have one loss and that their name is Alabama would be enough for the committee to put them in over OSU. I hope that I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am.
- If both Oklahoma and Wisconsin lose: who the hell knows? Again, I think Alabama gets one of these spots. The other is a lot less certain. I would hope this would open the door for Ohio State, but I could also see the committee having a hard time putting a 2-loss OSU over a 2-loss Oklahoma, even if Oklahoma loses the Big 12 Championship game, because of the head-to-head victory over the Buckeyes. What about TCU, who would have just beaten Oklahoma for the Big 12 title? Does this put them in the top 4? Or could USC jump back into the conversation if they win the PAC 12? This is probably the nightmare scenario for the committee, as it introduces the most potential controversy. Ultimately I think the nod goes to the Buckeyes here, but that could just be the homer in me talking.
- Despite my confidence last week, there’s pretty much no chance that my Bobcats squeak in now after losing their last two games of the season and missing out on the MAC championship game. Sad.
No matter how things shake out, there’s going to be some controversy. If I had to make a prediction, I’d say your four playoff teams end up being Auburn, Miami, Oklahoma and Alabama. There’s a good chance that UCF wins the AAC, which would leave them as an unbeaten conference champ, but they’ll still be on the outside looking in. There will always be at least one or two teams with a legitimate gripe about being left out. Many people say the solution is expanding to an 8-team playoff where the Power 5 conference champs get automatic bids and the next 3 highest ranked teams get “at-large” bids. While I’m not opposed to that idea, I do think the further you expand, the harder it becomes to keep the existing bowl structure in place. Personally, I want to see them do away with the playoffs altogether. Just have one championship game where the teams are chosen by a system of computers. That way you eliminate the human element, which I assume would get rid of the controversy. Problem solved.
Alabama Basketball Proves Less is More
Alabama and Minnesota played a wild game on Saturday night. The chaos started in the second half when a scuffle broke out between the two teams. The entire Alabama bench came onto the court during the incident, which earned each player an automatic ejection. That left Alabama with only 5 players to finish the game. Not long after, one of Alabama’s remaining 5 players fouled out, and then another went down with a sprained ankle. All this forced the Crimson Tide to play 3 on 5 basketball for the final 10+ minutes of the game. Despite the 2-man advantage, the Golden Gophers actually saw their lead decrease during the final 10 minutes, and Alabama actually had the game within 3 points before eventually losing by 6. Definitely a strong performance by the Crimson Tide’s penalty kill team. No word yet on if Alabama starts their next game with only three guys, but after seeing how their teams performance actually improved when forced to play two men down, you’d think the coaching staff at least has to consider it.
Thank you for joining me for another Wake Up With Whitty. Leave me a comment and let me know what you thought, and be sure to check out the rest of the blog as well. Keep up with the latest from Milliron Sports on Facebook and Twitter. And make sure you check out The Nati Boys podcast, now available on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. Best of luck to you all trying to survive the week after Thanksgiving. It’s going to be brutal. If we all survive, I’ll see you next weekend.