Tag Archives: Dede Westbrook

Who Decides Who Possesses the Moral Character to Work in Sports?

There’s been a considerable amount of rhetoric being flung around lately about who gets to have a job in sports. Damien Bowman recently wrote about the layoffs at ESPN.

[Bowman: On ESPN, Layoffs, and Life’s Lessons…]

That article helped ignite a small fire on Twitter about who should and shouldn’t have been part of the layoffs at ESPN. How could Britt McHenry not lose her job?

Brian in Twinsburg’s wish eventually came true as McHenry was indeed a casualty of the layoffs at ESPN, but McHenry’s poor judgment shouldn’t have been and wasn’t a fireable offense. This isn’t meant to bully Brian in Twinsburg as many share his opinion. That opinion being that only “nice” people should have jobs and, more specifically, jobs in a sports-related profession. I have news for everyone. We all have coworkers that we wouldn’t have a beer with after work. And who knows, maybe some of those coworkers think you are that not-so-nice person.

But the attitudes of some of ESPN’s current and former employees is just the tip of this jump-to-conclusions attitude that so many people have today. The environment that places this attitude on full display is the NFL Draft.

Going into the 2017 draft, Florida’s Caleb Brantley and Ohio State’s Gareon Conley made headlines in a way that they wish they hadn’t. Brantley was accused of assaulting a woman and Conley was accused of rape but neither has been charged. Oklahoma’s DeDe Westbrook and Joe Mixon each have had allegations stick against them and each was still drafted.

[Botica: Innocent Until Proven Guilty? Not for College Athletes Like Caleb Brantley]

Brenda Tracy, one of the leading advocates for victims of domestic violence and rape, believes that there is no room in sports for people like Brantley, Conley, Westbrook or Mixon.

When Tracy speaks about “setting the expectation,” I don’t believe her expectation is a reasonable one. I understand why she is the advocate she is and I don’t doubt her personal experience with rape. But when a person is as emotional about the topic as she is, is she the best person to be setting the expectation? This is an important question because her rhetoric suggests that she is unable to be impartial in matters of domestic violence and rape.

Should an athlete who has been accused of domestic violence or rape such as Brantley or Conley be held to the same standard as an athlete like Westbrook or Mixon? Accusations don’t equate to guilt. But even if an athlete has had charges in their past, should that ban them for life from playing professional sports? I say no.

The reason for my saying “no” is because it’s a slippery slope. Where is the line drawn? What is considered to be nice enough behavior to deserve a roster spot? Is an accusation against a person enough of a moral blemish to ban an athlete from playing? Tracy seems to think so. And if a person must be found guilty of a set of charges, which charges should be considered serious enough to ban an athlete from playing? That depends on the advocate leading the charge or their cause. Remember, everyone believes that their cause is the most important one out there.

How nice a person is should have no bearing on whether or not a person can work for ESPN. And the moral character of an athlete should have no bearing on whether or not an athlete is allowed to play sports. But this is the moral mountain that people are willing to live and die on. These advocates would be wise to be careful because the fall from that mountain is a long way down.

 

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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Allstate Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma’s Offense vs. Auburn’s Defense

The Auburn Tigers and Oklahoma Sooners will do battle in the 83rd annual Allstate Sugar Bowl on Monday, January 2nd, 2017, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. Kickoff is set for 7:30 local time (CT).

The seventh ranked Sooners (10-2, 9-0 Big 12) are Big 12 Champions and winners of nine games in-a-row.

The Tigers (8-4, 5-3 SEC) finished the 2016 campaign ranked 17th in the College Football Playoff Poll. That was good enough for second place in the SEC and a spot in a New Year’s Six  bowl game.

This will be only the second time these two college football powers have met on the gridiron. The first encounter came in the Sugar Bowl, oddly enough, following the 1971 season. In that game, Oklahoma jumped out to a 34-0 lead and never looked back, winning 40-22.

Auburn will be making its sixth (2-2-1) appearance in the Sugar Bowl while the Sooners have played in seven (5-2) of these events.

Oklahoma has a high octane offense which scores at a 44.7 (third in the nation) points per game clip. Its total yardage is 557 yards per game (third in the nation), with 319.8 (12th in the nation) of that coming through the air and 237.5 (21st in the nation) on the ground.

Auburn’s strength is its rushing attack, averaging 278.5 yards per game (sixth in the nation and first in the SEC). The Tigers pass for 170.8 yards per game (112th in the nation) and score an average of 32.3 points per game (47th in the nation).

From these statistics, it is clear that Oklahoma is capable of scoring a lot of points and piling up a great deal of yardage. Auburn has a good offense and can run the ball extremely well.

This is where it gets interesting. Auburn is very stingy in points allowed. It only gives up an average of 15.6 points per game. That is fifth in the nation. And total yardage? The Tigers allow 348 yards per game and that is 20th in the nation.

Oklahoma? It gives up 29.7 points per game and allows 440 yards per game.

Auburn gave up as much as 30 points in only one game this season. That came in a 30-12 loss to SEC Champion and College Football Playoff bound Alabama.

Oklahoma, on the other hand, allowed 59 points to Texas Tech, 46 to TCU, 45 to Ohio State, and 40 to Texas.

It all boils down to Oklahoma’s superb offense vs. Auburn’s stellar defense. And I think the game’s key matchup, within this context, is the Tigers’ defensive line versus the Sooners’ offensive line.

Baker Mayfield is an excellent quarterback and Dede Westbrook is as good as it gets at wide receiver. When you combine those two with the running back tandem of Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine you begin to get an idea of just why the Sooners vaunted offense is, indeed, so lethal.

Mayfield completed 235 out of 330 pass attempts for 3,669 yards (71.2%) and 38 touchdowns with only eight interceptions.

Westbrook caught 74 passes for 1,465 yards. 16 of those receptions went for touchdowns. He averaged 19.8 yards per catch.

Mixon ran for 1,183 yards on 168 tries for 7.0 yards per carry. Perine ran the ball 179 times for 974 yards and 5.4 yards per carry.

But back to the battle of the trenches. I like Auburn’s d-line to handle Oklahoma’s o-line. And I like Auburn’s o-line to fare well against Oklahoma’s d-line.

Auburn should be able to establish the run with Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson each at full speed. Stanton Truitt and Kam Martin should contribute, as well.

Also, Gus Malzahn says Sean White is well and will not be limited in anyway. That is big news for the Tiger faithful.

One more key is motivation. The news from the Plains is that Auburn is fresh, explosive, highly motivated, and are chomping at the bit to pick up a big win versus a high profile opponent, The Big 12 Champion.

I certainly don’t think Oklahoma will come out flat or listless, but I do think it is disappointed in not making the playoff, and I believe that Auburn wants this one more.

The Sooners are a three-point favorite.

I can see a three-point win, but with the victory going to the Tigers of the SEC.

Auburn 31, Oklahoma 28

Here is some more excellent info, with predictions, on this big game:

http://www.espn.com/blog/ncfnation/post/_/id/134103/sugar-bowl-auburn-tigers-vs-oklahoma-sooners

http://collegefootballnews.com/2016/allstate-sugar-bowl-prediction-game-preview-history-scores

 

E-mail Bird at bird [dot] lecroy [at] campuspressbox [dot] com or follow him on Twitter @Autull.

Can the Oklahoma Sooners Crash the College Football Playoff Party?

Once the first 2016 college football playoff ranking was unveiled with all of the pageantry that ESPN could muster, college football fans had one more topic to argue about. Was Texas A&M deserving of its top four ranking or was Washington the more deserving team? It didn’t matter then and it doesn’t matter now. That fanatical argument doesn’t matter because there is still a lot of football left to be played this season and chances are good that one of the teams currently on the outside looking in will sneak into one of the playoff spots.

Oklahoma could be that sneaky team.

With two losses on its resume, Oklahoma may seem like a long shot that only a Big 12 homer such as myself (no, not really) could hold out hope for. But there are a few two-loss teams that are ranked ahead of the Sooners and some of those teams could realistically expect to lose another game or two. So please, hear me out on this.

Oklahoma’s loss to Houston no longer looks like the quality loss that it once did. Losing to Tom Herman is no longer the badge of honor that it once was considered. But how about that loss to Ohio State? I’ll tell you how that loss to Ohio State looks. It looks like a proverbial quality loss. That loss continues to look better and better if Ohio State continues to play like it did against Nebraska.

As for what Oklahoma can control? The Sooners control their own destiny to a large extent and it all starts this Saturday as Stoops and his Sooners end the season against Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma State. All of those teams are ranked so all of those wins would strengthen the resume of the Sooners.

The Big 12 and Oklahoma aren’t known for suffocating defenses, but that’s just fine. The Sooners have the offensive fire power to rip through the remainder of the schedule. Baker Mayfield is torching opposing defenses with the help of Dede Westbrook. If the Sooners hadn’t lost to Ohio State, both of those players would be in the Heisman conversation based on the statistics that each are producing.

If having players the caliber of Mayfield and Westbrook weren’t enough for opposing defenses to deal with, the Sooners will have both Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine available against Baylor. If Perine stays healthy and Mixon stops throwing temper tantrums at campus parking lot attendants, the Sooners should have all of the pieces in place to scare the rest of the conference.

The Big 12 has a bad reputation when it comes to comparing its teams to the upper echelon of teams from other conferences. I’m as guilty of that as everyone else. But if you’re a Big 12 fan and specifically a fan of Oklahoma, none of that should matter. What should matter to you is that the Sooners do have a puncher’s chance to slide into the playoff. Could the team win the championship? Get into the playoff first and then we’ll talk about that.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Wikimedia

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The Sunday Morning Notebook- Meyer, Tide, Utes, and More

Meyer Makes a Mistake

Urban Meyer proved he is a human last night.  His delayed decision to rush his kicking team onto the field late in the game turned a makeable field goal try into six points for Penn State.  Taking three points on a long field goal attempt was uncharacteristic for Meyer in the first place, and the hesitation only made the attempt more difficult.

Those six points gave the Nittany Lions a 24-21 lead with 4:27 left in the game, and the Buckeyes couldn’t answer.

It’s not common for Meyer to make coaching mistakes. That’s an obvious statement if you know anything about his career.  He’s 56-5 as Ohio State’s head coach, and 160-28 all time. When it’s all said and done, this will be an insignificant event in a hall of fame coach’s illustrious career.

For now, though, this loss could be significant.

There are just five weeks left before the Buckeyes host Michigan on November 26, and those five weeks include a meeting with undefeated Nebraska.  A one loss Ohio State squad will likely get into the playoff with a win over Michigan and a Big Ten Championship in the last two weeks of the season.  A two-loss Ohio State team may still get into the playoff with the same resume.

But what if Ohio State beats Michigan and loses in the Big Ten Championship. What if they beat Michigan by a small margin and lose in the Big Ten Championship? Does one loss, conference championship-less Michigan get in over the Bucks?

The “what-ifs” are endless, but if the Buckeyes would have taken care of business last night we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Notes:

  • J.T. Barrett’s Heisman stock took a slight hit.  His numbers were still impressive, but not nearly impressive enough for a player trying to keep pace with Lamar Jackson.  Barrett completed 24 of 43 passes for 245 yards and a touchdown.  His 26 rushing yards were the fewest he’s registered in a game all season, and last night marks just the third time in 2016 that Barrett hasn’t recorded a rushing touchdown.
  • There was absolutely a missed pass interference call on Penn State with a little over a minute left, but there is plenty more for fans to be angry about.  They can start with Ohio State’s offensive line, which gave up six sacks.
  • Penn State Head Coach James Franklin has been on the hot seat all season, but this win likely buys him another year.
  • ESPN’s Mark May never picks Ohio State. If you haven’t heard, he’s been pretty biased against the Buckeyes his whole television career.  However, he picked Ohio State to win last night. Must have been a reverse psychology trick.

Alabama Wins, Then Loses

The most anticipated game of the weekend was a battle of undefeated teams as sixth-ranked Texas A&M traveled to Tuscaloosa to take on number one Alabama.  After falling behind 14-13 early in the second half, Alabama outscored A&M 20-0 in the last 27:54 in the game en route to a 33-14 victory.

A&M went into Saturday’s matchup averaging over 530 yards of total offense per game (1st in SEC), but Alabama, statistically the conference’s second-best defense, held the Aggies to just 278 offensive yards.

‘Bama quarterback Jalen Hurts continued his stellar freshman season by turning in 93 rushing yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. He added two more touchdowns and 164 yards through the air.

Alabama did receive some bad news, however, after senior defensive back Eddie Jackson was diagnosed with a broken leg. He is not expected to return this season.  Jackson averages three tackles per game, but plays a big part in the defensive backfield and on special teams. He has one interception returned for a touchdown this season, and he averages 25.8 yards per punt return with two touchdowns.

Notes:

  • Alabama sacked Trevor Knight five times.  The Tide average 3.86 sacks per game, which is good for third in the nation.
  • This fumble recovery for a touchdown marked Alabama’s 10th game in a row in which they’ve scored a non-offensive touchdown.
  • For weeks I’ve been calling Ohio State the best team in the country. After this weekend’s events, I have to eat my words. I’m not sure Ohio State wasn’t more impressive than the Tide for the first part of the season, but Alabama has earned that title.

 

Utah’s Williams Runs Wild in a Classic Pac-12 Shootout

Just over a month ago, Utah’s Joe Williams decided to quit the football team because he wasn’t passionate about the game anymore.

Yesterday, that same Joe Williams rushed for 332 yards and four touchdowns as the Utes outlasted UCLA 52-45.

That’s right, a guy that quit the team and decided to come back a month later turned in college football’s best rushing performance of the season.

You can read about his story elsewhere.

While we’re on the topic of staggering stats, UCLA backup quarterback Mike Fafaul, who was filling in for the injured Josh Rosen, attempted 70 passes, only 19 shy of Connor Halliday’s NCAA record of 89 attempts in 2013.  Fafaul completed 40 of those attempts for 464 yards, five touchdowns, and four interceptions.

Notes:

  • Utah is 7-1 this season, with a 4-1 mark against Pac-12 opponents.  The Utes are in first place in the Pac-12 South.  Next week they will host the undefeated Washington Huskies, who are ranked number five in the nation.  Don’t miss it.
  • In a preseason media poll, UCLA was picked to finished first in the Pac-12 South Division.  The Bruins are currently 3-5 overall and are fifth out of six teams in the Pac-12 South.

 

Other Notes:

-11th Ranked Houston lost 38-16 to SMU. That’s the Cougars’ second loss of the season. If Tom Herman’s Cougars keep struggling, Herman’s price tag could drop significantly.

-Lamar Jackson was excellent once again. Jackson accounted for 359 yards and four touchdowns in Louisville’s win over North Carolina State — in the first half.  After easing up on the gas in the second half, Jackson finished with 355 yards and three touchdowns through the air, and another 76 yards and a touchdown on the ground.  He is still the clear favorite to win the Heisman trophy.

-Leonard Fournette returned from injury and broke LSU’s single game rushing record after just eight carries.  Fournette finished the night with video game numbers, amassing 284 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries. That’s an average of 17.8 yards per carry.

-Oklahoma’s Dede Westbrook has been on an absolute tear during the last four weeks. After his receiving performance of 202 yards and two touchdowns last night against Texas Tech, Westbrook is averaging 194 yards and 2.5 touchdowns per game over his last four games.

-I’d mention the rest of Oklahoma’s unbelievable offensive performances from last night, but playing against Big 12 defenses isn’t nearly as impressive as it used to be.

-BYU made the gutsiest fake punt call of the season, and perhaps ever.  It didn’t work.

-However, this Virginia fake-ish field goal did work, and it was awesome.

 

E-mail Evan at or follow him on Twitter @skilliter.

Photo: Wikipedia

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