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      Smack Zone — Tuesday Takeaways

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      Tuesday Takeaways (10/11)

      Tuesday Takeaways (10/11)


      Two weeks ago (and rightfully so) the talk of the football world was around Tua Tagovailoa and the concussion protocol debacle in Miami. Let's start by stating that there’s no debating if Miami made the wrong decision when it came to letting their franchise quarterback play Thursday night against Cincinnati. Just four days earlier, Tua went down and anyone watching could see that he’d suffered a concussion, or some sort of head trauma. Playing Tua in the Thursday Night Football game was bad for the player, the team and the league.  

      And so, bring on the classic NFL overcorrection in Week Five.

      In light of what happened to Tua and the widespread criticism, the NFL implemented stricter rules to further protect the quarterback. Now, any “excessive slamming” that could cause potential harm to the defenseless player would result in a “roughing the passer” penalty.

      We saw this rule implemented a few times this past week and frankly it was over the top. The clearest example was a roughing the passer penalty called against Atlanta, late in the game against Tampa Bay and the NFL’s Golden Boy, Tom Brady.

      As a Bucs fan, I loved the call because it saved the game. As a football fan, it was laughable.

      The NFL does this all the time. The media uproars, player safety is top priority again, so they implement a rule that changes the way football is played.

      I don’t expect this to last long. Refs will never hear the end of it, players and coaches will speak out, it’ll result in some unlucky ending to a season and so when the season closes, NFL will revert back to the old rule. 

      Lather, Rinse, Repeat


      I mean, how wrong was the media all off-season long about Jimmy Garoppolo? The saga of Jimmy G and his contract situation in San Francisco was a key talking point throughout the summer and after all we’ve seen, I can’t figure out why he was taking so much heat.

      Once the 49ers made the decision  to go with Lance, the market for Jimmy G was ice cold – and the media loved to infer that teams couldn’t win with him. To me, that was a head scratcher.

      When he’s healthy, the quarterback WINS. He’s made a Super Bowl, an NFC title game and is consistent year in and year out. Indiannapolis, Denver, Carolina and other QB hunting programs went a different direction and the results have been pretty abysmal.

      Now that Trey Lance is injured, Jimmy G was forced to restructure his deal in San Francisco to a one year deal and the veteran quarterback is playing lights out. Good for him.

      I hope Jimmy G leads the 49ers to the NFC title game, loses to Tampa Bay and demands an even higher price tag for these teams that didn’t give him the time of day this past offseason.

      3) TEXAS IS BACK

      I know it’s fun to say and laugh at later, but this time it’s for real. Led by a healthy Quinn Ewers, Texas ran over the Oklahoma Sooners this past weekend, and if we remember back to Week Two, they also went toe to toe with Alabama. 

      Would the Longhorns have shocked the world if Quinn Ewers didn’t get hurt in that Bama game? We’ll never know… but my guess would be yes. At 4-2, Texas is a longshot to make the playoffs, but if they can win out and win the Big 12 Title, perhaps we see the Longhorns in the mix at the end of the year.

      Ewers is locked in, and the Manning bloodline is headed to Austin. For the first time in a long time, I feel confident saying that Texas football is well on its way back.

      Shout out that Matthew McConaughey NIL money.


      This year Major League Baseball added two more Wild Card teams in each division, and did away with the Wild Card one game format. Instead of only two Wild Card teams getting their shot, this October we’ll get six.

      As exhilarating as the “winner take all”  format was, it was never fun that fans would experience the emotional toll of a 162 game season, only to see it come crashing down after nine innings.

      With more teams, and the best-of-three format, fans get to watch a few more days of the season, ultimately suffering in a more drawn out process…The way being a baseball fan was meant to be.


      Hand up – I once left one of the best comeback games to ever happen.

      For those that don’t know the legend of Game 162 down in Tampa Bay, I’ll spare you the details, just Youtube it. .

      I left the game when the Rays were at their depths. I was fed up and didn’t want to suffer any longer. As history would have it, the Rays came back to win the game, make the playoffs and experienced one of the most exciting nights in Tampa baseball history.

      This past weekend, Broncos fans left before overtime and St.Louis fans left a playoff game after their team gave up the lead in the ninth. The latter is more offensive, but my point is for all fans: stop leaving early. In the world of sports, you just never know what might happen.

      I live with regret of leaving Game 162 every day of the season, and it’s a regret I wouldn’t wish on any fan out there.

      Tuesday Takeaways (10/4)

      Tuesday Takeaways (10/4)

      1) Maybe Georgia isn’t indestructible…?

      Hand up, I’ll admit that I was POTENTIALLY wrong about Georgia cruising to another National Championship. In the last two weeks, Georgia had a tough time putting away Kent State at home and had to make a fourth quarter comeback against Missouri. Of course a win is a win, but if I’m a Georgia fan, I’m starting to feel a little uneasy.

      Now a few weeks in, their schedule doesn't look as simple as it seemed before the season started. This version of Tennessee is a top 10 team, Mississippi State is starting to show some life, and facing Kentucky on the road will be a tough test. Throw in that Billy Nappier will have his Florida team fired up for the World’s Largest Cocktail Party and I’m starting to see more than one hurdle in their quest to go back to back.

      2) Chip Kelly will have UCLA ready for the Big 10.

      The impact has taken a lot longer than everyone expected, and to be honest I kind of forgot all about good ol’ Chip Kelly. When UCLA announced Kelly as their new head coach a lot of people expected immediate results. Looks like turning around the second best football program in Los Angeles isn’t as easy as one may have thought, but I think we can all now say that Chip is on his way. UCLA got their first big win of the Kelly era this past Friday with the manhandling of top 15 Washington. Yet more importantly than the win, is the fact that you can finally see Kelly’s stamp on this roster.

      Initially it seemed as if UCLA was the Los Angeles afterthought within the Big 10 merger, but they might be clawing their way to primetime.

      3) Stay away from the Dabo coaching tree.

      On paper, hiring a coach away from a perennial National Championship contender makes complete sense… Let’s review though:

      • Longtime Clemson Defensive Coordinator Brent Venebles took his dream job at Oklahoma this offseason. However, bad losses to Kansas St. and TCU, where his defense was gashed for four straight quarters, may have him re-thinking his schemes that previously worked so well in the ACC. 
      • Former Clemson wide receiver coach, Jeff Scott, has been at the helm of the University of South Florida for three years now and managed ONE win against a FBS team. ONE. Not much more to say about.
      • It’s a little too early to get a read on Virginia’s ‘Clemson hire’ Tony Elliot, but sitting in seventh place with a 1-4 record can’t be what the Cavalier Brass had in mind when they plucked Elliot from the Dabo tree.

      4) Some college program is about to hit the Matt Rhule lottery. 

      Matt Rhule in the NFL hasn’t worked out, it just hasn’t. Carolina is going to move on from Rhule at the end of this season, if not sooner. What’s the NFL’s trash will be a college programs treasure.

      Rhule made the jump to the NFL, and who could blame him? Rhule more than proved himself in college, and it seemed like a natural next step. Unfortunately, not all dreams go to plan.

      The Matt Rhule superpower seems to be that he can turn around any college program, no matter how dire the situation. Which college program wins that jackpot?

      At one point in his coaching career, Rhule had Temple in the top 25…TEMPLE. He also took the helm of a heavily sanctioned Baylor football program on the brink of exile, and lead them back to a top 10 program on the path to a Big 12 title. 

      No known suitors yet, but if I’m a program desperate for hope, I’m backing up the Brinks truck for Matt Rhule. 

      5) The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

      Let’s simply soak in that this is the best time of the year for sports fans:

      • the MLB playoffs “pitch off” this weekend with the new Wild Card three game matchups 
      • college football conference games are upon us 
      • one month into the NFL season and the universe is beginning to separate contenders from pretenders 
      • NHL and NBA are right around the corner
      • MLS Playoffs start in two weeks 

      What a time to be alive.

      Tuesday Takeaways 9/20

      Tuesday Takeaways 9/20

      1. Don’t Sleep on the “Basketball Schools”

      Let’s play a game. Headed into Week Four of college football season, what do these seven “basketball schools” have in common?

      • Syracuse
      • Kentucky
      • Indiana
      • Duke
      • UNC
      • Kansas
      • UCLA

      Give Up? How about that they’re all undefeated. That’s right, these perennial powerhouses of basketball and usual doormats of the college football universe are all off to HOT starts this season.

      Some of these of course were to be expected. You have Mack Brown running the show at UNC, and Mark Stoops has been slowly turning around that Kentucky program, so those shouldn’t surprise you. But Duke? Syracuse? Kansas?! These programs are off to hot starts with no signs of slowing down.

      Duke’s schedule hasn’t been anything crazy, but given that they easily beat Temple and handled the Big 10’s Northwestern, they deserve some credit.

      Syracuse knocked off Louisville opening week, and beat Purdue in what might have been the “game of the week” in Week Three.

      The Kansas Jayhawks, whose win total was previously listed at 2.5 for the entire season, has wins against West Virginia, and knocked off preseason top 25 Houston.

      However, all good things must come to an end when Duke and Kansas will go head to head in Week Four, but keep an eye out for these seven programs. If these schools all end up bowl eligible come December, it’ll be time to start putting some respect on the name of these football programs.

      2. ALABAMA... I Mean Georgia

      We’re only three weeks into the season, and I addressed this after Week One, but the time may have come for Alabama to pass the crown.

      Georgia not only beats teams – they embarrass them. Everything that we’ve thought about Alabama for the last decade is now what we should believe about Georgia.

      Stetson Bennett is putting up numbers we haven’t seen since Patrick Mahomes and looking like CFB’s top QB this season. The defense that was due for a drop off after losing players to the NFL somehow improved – they didn’t rebuild, they reloaded.

      Kirby Smart has built something in Athens that people will be talking about for a long time, and we anticipate watching the Dawgs go for several more national titles in the foreseeable future.

      3. Time to give the PAC 12 real respect.

      For the last few months, the PAC 12 has been the laughing stock of college football, and admittedly, I was a critic too. In Week One, Utah and Oregon both lost to SEC schools on national TV, and things were looking rough. BUT you have to give credit where credit’s due.

      Since Week One, the PAC 12 has quietly become a force to be reckoned with. If you note some of the wins they’ve managed, it’s time to consider the PAC 12 may be the second best conference right now. (We know this sentiment won't last once the playoff conversation starts, but at least I can suggest it now.)

      • USC looks like a powerhouse
      • Washington has a legitimate quarterback in Michael Penix Jr, and embarrassed a once-considered Top 10 Michigan State
      • Washington State went on the road to beat Wisconsin
      • Oregon bounced back in a big way and dominated BYU
      • Utah is STILL one of the best teams in the country, despite the loss to Florida
      • Oregon State is no slouch
      • UCLA is undefeated (they don’t look great, but still)

      The PAC 12 is deep and they deserve some national respect for what they’ve done so far.

      4. The future of the NFL is in good hands.

      Look at this list of quarterbacks:

      Lamar Jackson

      Tua Tagovailoa

      Jalen Hurts

      Josh Allen

      Kyler Murray

      Patrick Mahomes

      Justin Herbert

      Joe Burrow

      Buckle up, fam – I think we’ve got some good years of NFL ahead of us.

      5. The Detroit Lions should be everyone’s second favorite team.. (outside of Green Bay, Minnesota and Chicago fans, of course)

      There are very few times in sports that the loveable loser franchises can captivate a country. The Chicago Cubs. The Boston Red Sox. The Buffalo Bills of the 90’s. Similar to those franchises, this Detroit Lions team has the makeup of a team that makes it hard to root against them.

      Head coach Dan Campbell is a man of the people. He’s emotional, he’s down to earth and more than anything, he just seems like a funny human. The Detroit fan base in itself is likable. They understand their franchise has been irrelevant for the better part of their existence, but year after year, they still show up and believe hard. Even quarterback Jarrod Goff is likable. He was shipped out of Los Angeles, only to watch his replacement have instant Super Bowl success after one season. It’s hard not to root for a guy like that.

      I believe Detroit will have captured the hearts of America by the end of season. Good luck to ‘em!

      Tuesday Takeaways 9/14: Forget Everything You Thought You Knew

      Tuesday Takeaways 9/14: Forget Everything You Thought You Knew

      Week Two of college football left us all wondering what the hell just happened, and Week One of the NFL felt a lot like a glorified preseason game. Here are our five takeaways from what we saw:


      There were three massive “upsets” in college football this weekend:

      • Appalachian State beat Texas A&M 17-14 in College Station 
      • Marshall beat Notre Dame 26-21 in South Bend
      • Georgia Southern beat Nebraska 45-42 in Lincoln 

      What do all of these upsets have in common? They all came at the hands of the Sun Belt Conference. What’s important to remember is that these aren’t just one-off upsets either. Hell, just last week Old Dominion (ahem, also Sun Belt) beat Virginia Tech, while two years ago Coastal Carolina (yep, Sun Belt) beat 13th ranked BYU. 

      These teams play a fun brand of football and can clearly go toe to toe with almost anyone in the country. The best part? They’ll take your million-dollar payouts and come beat you in your own house. 

      All I’m saying is that after this weekend, I’d think long and hard about scheduling a team from the Sun Belt if you’re looking for an early season “easy-wins.”

      Sunbelt Conference

      2. You Don’t Want Bama.

      In what I’d consider the best game of the weekend, Texas and Alabama went toe to toe in front of 100k+ in Austin, Texas. The Longhorns looked better for most of the game but ultimately it was Bryce Young making plays, and a late field goal that sealed the win for the Crimson Tide. 

      The big story from this game (outside of the fact that Texas was almost “back”) was that Texas freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers was injured and knocked out of the game in the first half. As Ewers laid on the ground and the camera panned the stadium, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a familiar situation that hit close to home.

      In 2017, #1 Alabama opened the season against #3 Florida State and much like the Texas game, it was a back and forth affair. That was until the play that sent Florida State’s program into a free fall.

      FSU’s highly touted quarterback, Deondre Francois, took a hard (clean) hit from an Alabama defender and was knocked out of the game, and eventually the season with a knee injury…

      That season and injury proved to be the beginning of the end for the Jimbo Fisher era at FSU, and eventually put the program in a hole that they just now appear to be slowly climbing out of.

      Now I’m not saying that level of destruction will happen to Texas, but perhaps teams should think twice before they schedule Alabama. You never know what can happen with that Nick Saban juju…

      3. Contrary to last week’s newsletter, turns out the state of Florida might not be back.

      UCF lost at home to Louisville on Friday night, and the Florida Gators lost to Kentucky in The Swamp. I’ll admit, I may have jumped the gun last week claiming that the once-powerhouse state was back from the dead. Stay tuned. 

      4. The State of Texas could be in for a long year.  

      As if Saturday’s losses weren’t hard enough for the good-football-loving people of Texas (Baylor also lost to BYU), things only got worse on NFL Sunday. 

      To start the day, the Houston Texans blew a 17-point lead to end up playing for a tie in overtime vs the Indianapolis Colts. Meanwhile in Arlington, the beloved Dallas Cowboys lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19-3.

      However, the big story from Sunday was the injury to Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback, Dak Prescott. Midway through the fourth quarter, Dak pulled himself out of the game with a thumb injury to his throwing hands. After the game, Dallas’ worst fears were confirmed, and that thumb injury will require surgery, keeping the QB sidelined for at least two months. 

      5. NFL Week One is a Mirage

      Some results from Week One will leave a lot of people scratching their heads, but I wouldn’t look too much into what happened Sunday (and Monday.)

      Most, if not all, of the starters across the league hadn’t played a full game of football since last year and that “rust” won the day. 

      The NFL is a marathon, not a sprint – and a lot of these Week One losses were just an example of a couple vets being slow out of the gates.