Football is back! After three weeks of high school action, the college and pro ranks joined in this weekend to give us another nudge towards a sense of normalcy.
Let’s run through the weekend’s happenings.
CHS played arch rival BCHS on Friday. CHS was ranked #1 in 5A, BCHS #1 in 3A. Despite the difference in size (CHS is a natural 4A school, with about 350 more students and draws from a bigger geographic region), this is a pretty even rivalry. Last year was a delightful game with the eventual 3A state champs in control most of the night until CHS made a few huge defensive plays and had two 60+ yard touchdowns in the second half to get the win.
This year…well, not nearly as exciting. CHS led 25–0 midway through the second quarter and seemed well on their way to another crushing win. They got sloppy, though, committing a ton of drive-killing penalties and allowed BCHS to get comfortable on offense. It was never close, but the final, 39–20, was CHS’ closest game of the year.
Now they move on to the annual Cincinnati part of their schedule, with home games the next three weeks against schools from Ohio.
I listened to the CHS game on the radio, as has become my Friday tradition. After it ended, I flipped over to the student broadcast of The Other CHS’ game, which was headed to overtime. These student announcers weren’t nearly as good as some of the ones I’ve heard in the past. I did enjoy the line by one of the announcers that even though he had to take the ACT Saturday morning, he was fine with the game lasting deep into the night. The Other CHS won by one in double OT.
This weekend of college football felt very strange. Two major conferences not playing. Marquee non-conference games cancelled and replaced by games that only the most devoted fan would be interested in. And then the Big 12 laying a big, fat egg against the Sun Belt.
I don’t care about the Iowa State and Kansas State losses. And, to be honest, I don’t care that much about Kansas losing to Coastal Carolina. I was not sure what Vegas was thinking, making the Jayhawks, who literally may not have a functioning quarterback, a touchdown favorite over a team that beat them last year. A loss was not that much of a surprise. KU getting absolutely housed in the first half? Now that was a surprise. Really glad I didn’t drink a beer until kickoff so I could stay awake for that garbage. As it was I only made it to halftime before bailing. 10:00 pm eastern time starts are bad.
Listen, KU sucks. They will not win a game this year. That’s nothing new. But anyone who thought that this year would bring some dramatic improvement wasn’t looking at the roster. Again, the team does not have a quarterback who is ready to take a D1 snap. The offensive line will yet again be the worst in the Big 12, making things even tougher on the quarterback.
The thing for KU is to get through this year. Because next year is when Les Miles’ careful and disciplined recruiting should begin to bear fruit. I don’t expect Miles to keep the majority of the kids he has commitments from in the current recruiting class, but bringing in a third-straight class that is almost all high schoolers will at least get the program back on firm footing for the first time since Charlie Weis drove off nearly 30 players in his first year. That always had to be the first step to end the cycle of suck. Then you start hoping some of these kids can play.
Welcome to Indy, Philip Rivers! All summer we heard how “playing behind one of the strongest offensive lines in the NFL will allow Rivers to cut down on his interceptions.” So naturally he throws two really bad picks, one early in the game when the Colts could have put the Jaguars away, the other late in the game that killed any chance of the Colts coming back. Oh, and the defense kind of sucked and the offensive line sure looked mediocre in the running game. Plus Marlon Mack may be out for the year. You shouldn’t overreact to one game, but losing to the worst team in the NFL was not a great start for the Rivers era. Oh, turns out he may be cursed, too, which could be a problem.
I casually watched several other games. Which is my favorite way to watch the NFL. I cooked. I read. I surfed the web and the socials. I took a break to coach a basketball practice. I don’t have to be totally invested in an NFL game. It can just be on, the background noise to fall afternoons and evenings. For that reason alone, it was good for the NFL to be back.
My only complaint of the first day of NFL games – well, other than the Colts game – was the crowd noise that Fox added to their games. I’m fine with this, in theory. But it has to be done correctly. Most of the time they had it cranked up at least 20% too loudly. It should not interfere with the broadcasters’ audio. In the Chicago-Detroit game, it was often hard to hear the announcers over the fake crowd noise. Which makes no sense. And the increases/decreases in crowd noise were always super abrupt. Like there was a kid with his hand on the volume knob, and he frantically spun it up or down depending on the play, rather that easing it to a new level.
A friend pointed out the fake noise on the NBC broadcast should have reflected that had a crowd been in the new LA stadium, it would have been at least half Cowboys fans. I liked that thought.
Finally, I realized over the weekend that the NFL playoff format is different than the predictions I offered, with only the top seed getting a bye. I regret the error but will not update the picks to reflect the proper order. They were half-assed to begin with.