I couldn’t think of a clever way to introduce this edition of ramblings, so let’s just get right to it.
ESPN asks, "Is the era of CFB free agency upon us?" in an interesting story looking at the ramifications of Justin Fields' being granted immediate eligibility at Ohio State. I tend to think actual free agency (players going to the highest bidder as they do in the pro sports leagues) would be very bad for the popularity of college athletics (not destroying it, but weakening it) because a lot of fans are drawn to the ideal of "amateur athletics," such as it is. (I'm sure some say that is worth it in the name of progress, but if there is less money to go around, is anyone going to be better off?)
That said, we might now be at equilibrium as far as giving players more freedom of movement without making transferring something that can be done at the drop of a hat. Because players are humans and thus prone to emotional swings, there should be some deterrent to transferring, something that makes sure they think it all the way through, but players who really want or need a change of scenery should be allowed to get it. That said (again), it seems like with legal challenges the NCAA is facing, true free agency is coming sooner or later anyway so maybe we won't even remember this period for very long.
Related: NCAA punishment reveal days are some of the worst to be on Twitter, though I assume it is what every day is like for sane politics reporters.
The Ohio State-Indiana game Sunday provided plenty of ammunition for those arguing we need more mid-majors in the NCAA tournament (and we do).
While watching Wisconsin lose at Michigan the day before, I was struck by the feeling this is what the average major-college basketball game will look like when the NBA starts drafting freshmen again, especially if the league changes the G League so that it is less unappealing. Good point guards, big guys with some versatility if not great athletes, interchangeable wings who can play but don't blow you away.
The officiating was surprisingly un-terrible in both games, too.
I was going to call Ohio State-Indiana a game to stay alive in the race for a trip to Dayton next month, but at this point Archie Miller would need a miracle for that type of homecoming. The remaining schedule is brutal. Ohio State's is no picnic, either, but the Buckeyes should still be dancing if they can split their last eight (and maybe if they don't).
With his team at seventh place in the Big Ten standings, Chris Holtmann seems to be at worst meeting expectations this season. The same cannot be said of Miller, whose Hoosiers have had to deal with injuries but still have two All-Big Ten-caliber players and were picked to finish in the top third of the league but appear headed toward the bottom third.
You can count me a skeptic of the Bengals plan to hire a newbie head coach, and hiring an inexperienced offensive coordinator who happens to have family connections to Zac Taylor's mentor doesn't make it sound better. The good news is is nepotism has never hurt the Bengals before, right?
I am still having a hard time not seeing Taylor as the next Dave Shula. Maybe I'm overreacting. I still feel the Sean McVay offense is fairly underwhelming and tapping into the Kansas City innovation train with Eric Bienemy was far more interesting. While Bienemy has been helping Andy Reid literally reinvent NFL offense, McVay is more or less running old concepts more efficiently with a great offensive line, strong-armed QB and uber-talented running back. Calling McVay an offensive genius or an innovator is laughable, which helps explain how he could be completely demolished by Bill Belichick in the Super Bowl two weeks after the Chief overcame early struggles to hang 31 points on them.
McVay may be an exceptional leader and/or organizer, but is that something that rubs off on an assistant? This hire looks like a huge gamble. Public relations demanded parting ways with Marvin Lewis, but I'm in no way convinced Taylor will actually be a better coach. He does have a slightly thicker resume than Shula though... so he's got that going for him.
But maybe Taylor will turn out more like Mike Tomlin?
Here's another fun thought experiment: What if the difference between Jared Goff and Joe Flacco is facing Bill Belichick rather than Jim Harbaugh in the Super Bowl?
A spiked seltzer commercial leading off Super Bowl ads turned out to be a bad omen.
Interesting bit of coach advice from Wright State's Scott Nagy: "If you're going to be a top-notch player, here's the deal. Get used to letting people down 'cause it's gonna happen. I let people down, too."
The Reds reported intention to make Nick Senzel their everyday centerfielder this season if at all possible strikes me as somewhat odd since they already have at least four major league outfielders in Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Jesse Winker and Scott Schebler. Seems like someone must be on the moved because really four was already too many anyway. I've felt all along they would dump Kemp, probably to the American League where he can DH, but obviously that hasn't happened yet.
I tend to think of the other three the odd man out will be Schebler since Winker is the future and they've been marketing Puig and even said he could play CF. (So can Schebler, but not Winker.) I guess they don't have to make a move before they see how Senzel looks in spring training... and they might not break camp with him anyway to save service time…
I like the idea of making a pitcher face three batters, but I'm afraid of unintended consequences.
In a relatively poor argument for the NL to adopt the DH, Jonah Keri notes that it has become a throwaway position AL teams use to rest regulars rather than another spot for a really dangerous hitter. That makes me even less convinced it is time for both leagues to adopt it. Otherwise there's nothing new here, just another new-age baseball nerd who wants everyone to use the DH because, well, he wants it. OK, maybe I'm not warming up to the idea…
“Random Thoughts” is a semi-regular feature here at my blog. While most of our other coverage is concentrated on news and analysis, this is a place to share opinions and have some fun. Have your own thoughts? Send them along to firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on Twitter or Facebook.
About the Author
Marcus Hartman has been a digital sports columnist and reporter at Cox's Ohio newspapers the Dayton Daily News, Springfield News-Sun and Journal-News since 2016.