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Second Thoughts: Catholics vs. Convicts and Kirk Gibson — what a day

I’m getting mentally prepared for my annual stocking-stuffer shopping trip to Walgreens, hoping to score some deals on some of those cool “as seen on TV” items. I know there’s one thing I will not be buying: Hatchimals.

I went to the Country Bands Together concert Saturday night at the Nutter Center so I missed ESPN’s “30 for 30” on the famous “Catholics vs. Convicts” game between Notre Dame and The U. I covered that October 1988 game and was a little groggy after a rough Friday night. But I woke up when Miami started a pregame brawl, a move that proved to be as stupid as the guy riding shotgun in those Sonic commercials.

The Fighting Irish held on for a 31-30 victory. After filing my story (I was just out of college working in La Porte, Ind.) I strolled across the street to grab a burger and beer. I looked up at the TV and Kirk Gibson was hobbling to the plate, pinch-hitting in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. Home run. What a sports day.

The Atlantic 10 basketball season tips off in a few weeks and Dayton looks pretty good. Some early A-10 observations:

I caught some of the Davidson-North Carolina game and was shocked to see that crafty sharpshooter Jack Gibbs is still playing college basketball. The Ohio native kept Davidson in it with a wide array of moves. UD plays at Davidson on Feb. 24. Double-team Gibbs.

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George Mason looks like the team the league thought it was getting when the Patriots joined the fold a few years back. Led by double-double machine Marquise Moore, the Patriots recorded an impressive 85-66 win at Penn State last week.

Other impressive early-season victories for the A-10: Duquesne beat Pitt, Rhode Island beat Cincinnati, and George Washington won at Temple.

I’ve always thought Archie Miller’s next stop would be Ohio State. A few more years at UD, more tourney success and he’s off to Columbus to replace Thad Matta and his ailing back. That timeline could be accelerated if there are more results like the Buckeyes’ loss to Florida Atlantic. The OSU boosters who are treated to awful December home dates year after year have to be grumbling.

Farewell to Verne Lundquist, who signed off on a great career by calling the Army-Navy game on CBS. Love his voice, insight and personality. Verne is normal guy who doesn’t take himself too seriously. I’d love to go to dinner with him sometime and just listen.

The average price of Cubs season tickets will rise by nearly 20 percent next year, because there’s not enough price-gouging in pro sports. All that extra loot should go into a piggy bank so the Cubs can pay Kris Bryant $500 million when he becomes a free agent in 2022.

Trending up: Luke Fickell, Klay Thompson, Kirk Douglas. The University of Cincinnati hired Fickell to coach its football team next year. It’s a nice step up for the Buckeyes’ co-defensive coordinator. He knows the state and has learned from some guys who know what they’re doing.

Trending down: SLU, Cedric Ogbuehi, Judge Reinhold. Saint Louis University opened a new basketball arena in 2008, back when Rick Majerus had the Billikens humming. That arena could be pretty empty this season. The once-feared Billikens are off to a 2-6 start, including three 30-point losses.

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