If Hollywood had scripted Super Bowl 50, there would have been a long, time-consuming drive in the fourth quarter culminated on the final play of the game by a Peyton Manning touchdown pass as the last second ticked off the clock. Hollywood endings rarely reflect reality and that was the case Sunday night. Peyton didn’t go out with guns blazing – it was all about the defenses and his performance showed just how much the injuries have eroded his physical skills – but he walked out of Levi’s Stadium with a Super Bowl championship, a fitting way for his career to end.
Although he hasn’t made an official announcement that he is retiring – he said postgame that he doesn’t want to make an emotional announcement so he will reflect awhile – it’s perfectly clear that Peyton isn’t anything close to the quarterback he once was. It’s time to leave the game he loves and there is no better time to leave than with a championship ring. There is nothing to be gained by coming back for another season. There is plenty to lose because injuries to his neck have made him one solid hit away from paralysis and that’s not worth risking. It will be very disappointing if he chooses to come back for one more year. Go out on top Peyton and let people remember you as a guy who won the biggest game the last game of your career.
GATORS NEED TWO WINS THIS WEEK
Florida’s loss to Kentucky at Rupp Arena Saturday isn’t exactly the end of the world. The Gators (15-8, 6-4 SEC) are very much in the SEC championship hunt, just two games behind that same LSU (15-8, 8-2 SEC) team they beat back in early January. If they’re going to stay in the thick of the championship race, the Gators need to go no worse than 7-1 the rest of the way, quite a challenge when you consider there are four home games and four road games remaining in the regular season.
The Gators are 5-0 at the O-Dome in SEC play, 1-4 on the road, so if they are to stay in the SEC race and on the NCAA Tournament radar, they need to hold serve at home and figure out a way to win on the road. This week the Gators are at home Tuesday night against Ole Miss and Saturday afternoon against Alabama. Beating Ole Miss and Alabama won’t do anything for the Gators’ RPI (#22 nationally) but losing either one of these games would take a bite out of their chances to both win the conference and make the big dance in March.
SEC BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS
1. Texas A&M (18-5, 7-3 SEC; #17 RPI): This is a critical week for the Aggies, who find themselves vulnerable after two straight unexpected losses. They hit the road twice this week and need to go 2-0 to regain momentum they’ll need to get a high NCAA seed.
This week’s games: at Alabama; at LSU
2. Kentucky (17-6, 7-3 SEC; #19 RPI): The Wildcats showed how bad they can be when they blew a 21-point on the road at Tennessee last week, then showed how formidable they are at Rupp when the blew the doors off the Gators. The Wildcats have to load up on 3-pointers because they’re not going to beat anyone on the inside.
This week’s games: Georgia; at South Carolina
3. LSU (15-8, 8-2 SEC; #75 RPI): The Tigers’ hold on first place in the SEC standings could be short lived with a road game to South Carolina and a homer with the Aggies this week. When the Tigers get Keith Hornsby and Antonio Blakeney going from the outside, it’s next to impossible to double up on Ben Simmons down low.
This week’s games: at South Carolina; Texas A&M
4. South Carolina (20-3, 7-3 SEC; #26 RPI): Everybody keeps expecting the Gamecocks to go away, but it’s just not happening. They showed what they’re made of when they upset the Aggies in College Station. Is there a more underrated player in the league than Michael Carrera?
This week’s games: LSU; Kentucky
5. FLORIDA (15-8, 6-4 SEC; #22 RPI): The Gators have a chance to get well in a hurry from their blowout loss in Lexington. Home games with Ole Miss and Alabama will do that for you. They still have to figure out how to play as well on the road as they do at home. Nobody in the SEC is playing better basketball right now than Dorian Finney-Smith (15.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists).
This week’s games: Ole Miss; Alabama
6. Vanderbilt (13-10, 5-5 SEC; #58 RPI): The Commodores remain the league’s biggest mystery. How can they blow the doors off the Aggies then lose on the road to an Ole Miss team playing without it’s only decent inside guy? Damian Jones is one of the league’s bigger disappointments this year. There are two get well in a hurry games on the schedule this week.
This week’s games: Missouri; at Auburn
7. Georgia (13-8, 6-4 SEC; #63 RPI): As long as the Bulldogs can avoid foul trouble to Yante Maten, they can play with just about anybody in the league. Point guard J.J. Frazier needs to get the ball in the hands of Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann more often.
This week’s games: at Kentucky; at Mississippi State
8. Ole Miss (15-8, 5-5 SEC; #82 RPI): Without Sebastian Saiz (surgery for a detached retina), there is no inside game but the Rebels still found a way to knock off Vandy with all its size. The Rebels need to get to the 22-23 win level to have a chance at the NCAA Tournament.
This week’s games: at Florida; Arkansas
9. Arkansas (12-11, 5-5 SEC; #88 RPI): The roller coaster continues. The Hogs lost to Florida on the road, then blew out Tennessee at home. This is a team that’s going nowhere in a hurry. Anthlon Bell is the league’s most lethal 3-point shooter (47.3%).
This week’s games: at Mississippi State; at Ole Miss
10. Alabama (13-9, 4-6 SEC; #53 RPI): The Crimson Tide have won two in a row but the euphoria should come to a crashing halt this week with the Aggies and Gators on the schedule. The Tide is playing about as well as could be expected for a team with no inside presence.
This week’s games: Texas A&M; at Florida
11. Tennessee (11-12, 4-6 SEC; #111 RPI): The good news is there is actually a road game the Vols can win this week when they travel to Missouri on Saturday. Ten of the 11 wins have come in Knoxville. The Vols are 1-7 on the road. Kevin Punter (23.2 points 3.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists) is a lock for first team All-SEC.
This week’s games: Auburn; at Missouri
12. Auburn (9-13, 3-7 SEC; #114 RPI): The bad news is the Tigers have lost five in a row. The even worse news is that leading scorer Kareem Canty (18.3 points per game) is suspended until he gets his head right. That could take awhile. Auburn has lost five in a row and should stretch that to seven this week.
This week’s games: at Tennessee; Vanderbilt
13. Mississippi State (9-13, 2-8 SEC; #171 RPI): The Bulldogs are good enough to give everybody in the league a tough game. They aren’t good enough to finish very often as they proved last week against both Alabama and LSU. If Gavin Ware (16.2 points, 7.1 rebounds) has a bad night, the Bulldogs have no chance.
This week’s games: Arkansas; Georgia
14. Missouri (8-15, 1-9 SEC; #197 RPI): The season can’t get over fast enough for the Tigers, who have lost eight in a row. It’s doubtful head ball coach Kim Anderson survives this season.
This week’s games: at Vanderbilt; Tennessee
LOUISVILLE SELF-IMPOSES 1-YEAR POSTSEASON BAN
By self-imposing a one-year postseason ban on its basketball team for 2016, Louisville is hoping the NCAA will take pity, accept this act of contrition and either drop its investigation altogether or go easy when it hands out sanctions for a former director of basketball operations hiring strippers and escorts for recruits on official visits. This isn’t an original idea – just two weeks ago Missouri self-imposed a postseason ban for 2016 – but it has become the trendy thing to do.
I believe the NCAA should only accept self-imposed sanctions in two circumstances: (1) if it’s a rules violation that doesn’t give a competitive advantage or (2) when a school does its own investigation into a situation and then self-reports before the NCAA is aware that there is a problem. If the NCAA suspects something is going wrong and begins an investigation, then there should be no allowance for self-imposed sanctions. At Louisville, a book exposed what was going on with high profile recruits on their official visits and that generated the NCAA investigation. It’s my opinion that the NCAA should refuse Louisville’s self-imposed penalty, complete the investigation and then bring the school before the Committee on Infractions.
So far, nothing would indicate that Rick Pitino approved of or knew anything of what was going on, but that doesn’t exonerate him. If he didn’t know what was going on then he should have known. At the very least, Louisville should be hit with lack of institutional control, which would make even the equivalent of a parking ticket in any of the other sports Louisville sponsors a major violation.
T.O. NOT IN PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS
Obviously missing in the 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame class that was announced Sunday is wide receiver Terrell Owens. Owens put up Hall of Fame stats but in all probability he was left out as a first ballot inductee to Canton because he was an on- and off-the-field problem, a bad teammate and a rotten influence in the locker room. That sounds good, but how does that explain Lawrence Taylor or any number of first ballot guys who weren’t exactly model citizens? I never was a big T.O. fan, but I admire the fact he was incredibly productive as a player – sixth all time in receptions, second all time in receiving yards and third all time in receiving touchdowns.
Named to the Hall of Fame Sunday were players Brett Favre, Kenny Stabler, Kevin Greene, Dick Stanfel, Orlando Pace and Marvin Harrison. Also elected were former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo and coach Tony Dungy. It makes me sad that the Hall waited this long to induct Kenny Stabler, who died recently. He was just as much a Hall of Famer last year and the year before that as he was this year.
Chris Leak is the new HBC at Edgewater High School in Orlando. From what I’ve seen of him coaching quarterbacks at combines and football camps, I think he’ll do quite well.
Ole Miss backup quarterback Ryan Buchanan has elected to give up football, leaving the Rebels with three QBs on scholarship. “I came to the conclusion a few months ago that football would not be my future and it was time to start applying myself 100 percent to my future,” Buchanan told Scout.com’s Ole Miss Spirit site.
Texas A&M is looking for a new offensive line coach. Dave Christenson will not return.
Pat Haden will step down as Southern Cal’s athletic director in June but will stay on one year to oversee the complete renovation of the Los Angeles Coliseum, where Southern Cal plays its home games.
UAB, which will return to college football in 2017, is getting a new $15 million indoor practice facility.
Marvin Terry was unable to sign his letter of intent and fax it in to the University of Missouri back on National Signing Day because he was in jail. A linebacker from Dallas, Terry was the first player to commit to Missouri when Barry Odom was named as the head ball coach to succeed Gary Pinkel.
Derrick Ansley, formerly Kentucky’s co-defensive coordinator, has joined Alabama’s staff as the secondary coach.
Paul Pasqualoni, formerly of the NFL Houston Texans, will coach the defensive line at Boston College for Steve Addazio. Back in the 1990s when he was the head coach at Syracuse, Pasqualoni took a chance on Addazio, who was coaching high school football in Connecticut.
Wide receiver Brian Cole, who announced he’s transferring from Michigan before the Citrus Bowl was played, will make Kentucky his new college football home.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Did you find the Super Bowl (a) exciting; (b) mildly entertaining or (c) boring?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
The Crusaders were first known as The Jazz Crusaders, a band begun in the 1960s by saxophonist Wilton Felder and pianist Joe Sample. Known mostly on the west coast in the 1960s, the band changed the name to The Crusaders and became pioneers of the jazz fusion movement in the 1970s. I never got to see the band in concert but I did see Sample do a solo performance a couple of times and I’ve seen guitarist Larry Carlton both solo and with FourPlay.