College football: 5 takeaways after Alabama gets last playoff spot

Published: Sunday, December 03, 2017 @ 3:30 PM

Clemson and Alabama met for the national title last season. Who will be the champion after the Jan. 8 championship game in Atlanta?
Brian Blanco/Getty Images
Clemson and Alabama met for the national title last season. Who will be the champion after the Jan. 8 championship game in Atlanta?(Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

First off, let’s be clear: I don’t really think Ohio State got a raw deal being left out of this year’s College Football Playoff. 

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Neither the Buckeyes nor Alabama had much to complain about, given what they did and did not do on the field in 2017. 

Both teams were absolutely at the mercy of the committee going into Sunday, and the committee showed favor to the Crimson Tide despite a lack of compelling evidence to do so. 

>> Four teams chosen by playoff committee

The Buckeyes had more positive marks on their resume, but there were also more negatives. 

Here are five takeaways from Sunday: 

1. The announcement sounds like an early death knell for the four-team playoff. 

I don’t know how long it’s going to take for an expansion to eight teams, but I’m pretty certain it’s going to happen for the same reason Alabama making the BCS championship in 2011 killed the two-team system.

This proves again every game doesn’t matter, which was the mantra the BCS reps leaned on and the one used by defenders of the four-team playoff against expansion. 

If we’re still just guessing who are the best four teams, we might as well just go back to voting on the winner on Jan. 2. 

2. The four-team playoff’s biggest issue: Five power conferences.

The conferences are very hard to compare in any given year, and we start necessarily having to leave out one based on some assumptions that may or may not be correct. 

That’s not ideal, and it’s often going to be unsatisfying. 

But leaving out two leagues even when none were dominant (or blatantly down) is even worse. 

Ironically, if this were 2011 it would have made a lot more sense, because LSU and Alabama reasonably were considered to be a lot better than everyone else.

Now that the conference of Jim Delany, one of college football’s ultimate power brokers, has been spurned, I would expect change to happen sooner or later. 

3. The committee simply believed Alabama was better than Ohio State. 

Therefore, they used whatever justification they wanted to explain the decision to pick the Crimson Tide. That was the Buckeyes’ blowout loss at Iowa. 

I want the the four best teams to make it, but only when it’s unequivocal who those are. 

That was not this year. 

Neither team really passed the eye test, so claiming one did rang really hollow. 

That is why I still would have gone back to the resumes, and I have always felt comparing wins was better than comparing losses because if nothing else it is a larger sample size. 

I’m also more interested in what a team is like on its best days than its worst, but if the committee disagrees that’s how it’s going to be I guess. 

And yet CFP chairman Kirby Hocutt’s statement, “Alabama was clearly the No. 4 ranked team in the country as a non-champion,” just doesn’t hold water to me. 

4. Four-team idea came too late for Ohio State.

In 2015, Ohio State was probably one of the top two let alone four, but the Buckeyes were not afforded the same treatment as Alabama this year. 

That year, too, the Buckeyes could have made the argument moot by taking care of business against Michigan State, but that’s beside the point. At least they finished the season by crushing Michigan in Ann Arbor, leaving a positive last impression rather than a loss like the 2017 Crimson Tide. 

It was generally agreed upon that was a special Ohio State team even with its flaws. 

Can we say that about this Alabama squad? 

5. What would prevent expanding the playoff? 

The conferences -- which made up the BCS and comprise the group that oversees the playoff -- might still draw the line in the sand at four teams in the playoff so they can protect their garbage championship game cash cows that often don’t mean anything in the playoff discussion. 

Lots of people say every year the first weekend of December works as the round of eight, but that’s obviously not true, since 50 percent of the time a playoff participant has not even taken part. 

A move to eight teams could guarantee the importance of a conference championship by granting the Power 5 winners a spot and leave room for someone who might have had a fluke loss. Also, someone like this season’s undefeated Central Florida could get a shot to be a college football Cinderella. 

That could be fun, right? 

They left room in the calendar to do this already, and expanding just this once wouldn’t upend the bowl system as a 16-team playoff would, which is why the latter will never happen. 

It’s all fantasy for now, but I have a feeling we’re closer to it becoming reality than we have ever been. 

USA Gymnastics says it will not fine McKayla Maroney if she speaks out against team doctor

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 7:00 AM

Olympic Gold Medal Gymnast ‘I Was Molested By Team Usa Doctor For 7 Years’

USA Gymnastics said Tuesday evening it will not fine gymnast McKayla Maroney if she speaks publicly about the alleged abuse by former team doctor Larry Nassar.

Maroney, who signed a nondisclosure agreement for $1.25 million with USA Gymnastics in in December 2016 in exchange for her silence, is currently suing USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Michigan State University with the claim that the nondisclosure agreement she signed after claiming Nassar molested her was illegal. 

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USA Gymnastics said in a statement it has not and will not seek retribution if Maroney speaks about alleged abuse by Nassar during his four-day sentencing.

As of Wednesday morning, Maroney was not expected to speak at Nassar’s sentencing.

"USA Gymnastics has not sought and will not seek any money from McKayla Maroney for her brave statements made in describing her victimization and abuse by Larry Nassar, nor for any victim impact statements she wants to make to Larry Nassar at this hearing or at any subsequent hearings related to his sentencing,” the statement to USA TODAY read. “This has been her right and USA Gymnastics encourages McKayla and anyone who has been abused to speak out. USA Gymnastics remains focused on our highest priority — the safety, health and well-being of our athletes and creating a culture that empowers and supports them."

In response to reports Tuesday that USA Gymnastics could fine Maroney up to $100,000 if she spoke out against Nassar at his sentencing like nearly 100 other alleged victims, model Chrissy Teigen offered to pay the fine.

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“The entire principle of this should be fought – an NDA to stay quiet about this serial monster with over 140 accusers, but I would be absolutely honored to pay this fine for you, McKayla,” Teigen wrote.

After Nassar pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct in November, his sentencing on seven sexual assault charges began Tuesday. 

The former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor is currently serving a 60-year sentence in federal prison on child pornography charges.

Chrissy Teigen offers to pay McKayla Maroney's possible $100K fine to speak out about team doctor

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 5:45 AM

Olympic Gold Medal Gymnast ‘I Was Molested By Team Usa Doctor For 7 Years’

One after one, gymnasts and other victims of former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, 54, stepped forward in a Michigan courtroom Tuesday to recount the sexual abuse and emotional trauma they say he inflicted on them as children.

U.S. Olympians Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas are among the many women to accuse Nassar of abuse.

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Nearly 100 victims are expected to address the court during the four-day sentencing hearing. 

However, former gold medalist McKayla Maroney may not speak out.

In December 2016, Maroney signed a confidential settlement with the group that trains U.S. Olympic gymnasts to keep allegations that she was sexually abused by Nassar a secret.

The settlement included nondisclosure and non-disparagement clauses and Maroney or her parents could be sued for more than $100,000 for violating the agreement. The suit seeks to invalidate those provisions under a California law that prohibits settlements in civil cases that could result in criminal sex offense charges.

Chrissy Teigen, who is from Snohomish, Washington, is offering to pay Maroney's possible fine so Maroney can speak out against Nassar. 

On Tuesday, Teigen tweeted the following about the fine:

"The entire principle of this should be fought – an NDA to stay quiet about this serial monster with over 140 accusers, but I would be absolutely honored to pay this fine for you, McKayla."

Maroney said Nassar's abuse started in her early teens and continued for the rest of her competitive career.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Chrissy Teigen Fast Facts

Celtics great Jo Jo White dead at 71

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 9:32 PM

Jo Jo White was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.
Boston25News.com
Jo Jo White was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.(Boston25News.com)

JoJo White, who played with the Celtics from 1969 to 1979 and was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015, passed away at the age of 71. 

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News of White's passing was first reported by the Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett, who received word from one of White's former teammates. 

The news was confirmed by the Celtics shortly before the team's game against New Orleans Tuesday night. 

White joined the Celtics after a successful college career at Kansas. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie team in 1970, was named an All-Star seven times and had his No. 10 retired by the Celtics in 1982.

White averaged 21 points per game in the Celtics six-game win over the Phoenix Suns in the 1976 NBA Finals. He was named Finals MVP. 

He played for six Celtics teams that reached the playoffs. He had a 13-year career in the NBA, playing two years with the Golden State Warriors and one with the Kansas City Kings after leaving the Celtics. He averaged 20.2 points per game during his career.

At least 4 Olympians won’t accept invitation to White House

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 5:20 PM

Figure skater Ashley Wagner, skier Gus Kenworthy and skier Lindsey Vonn took a selfie during the 100 Days Out 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics Celebration in November.
Mike Stobe
Figure skater Ashley Wagner, skier Gus Kenworthy and skier Lindsey Vonn took a selfie during the 100 Days Out 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics Celebration in November.(Mike Stobe)

Controversy has hit the Winter Olympics before the torch has been lit in South Korea, as four U.S. Olympians — plus one “furious” ice skater who didn’t end up making the cut — preempted a White House invite from President Donald Trump by turning it down.

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Skiers Gus Kenworthy and Lindsey Vonn, and figure skaters Nathan Chen and Adam Rippon have all said publicly that they will not accept a White House invite from the president in the event that they receive one.

Figure skater Ashley Wagner said the same, but she didn’t make Team USA.

Kenworthy and Rippon, who are both openly gay, said that they do not support Trump’s policies and do not want to appear that they do by visiting the White House.

“I am very proud to represent the U.S. but I don’t stand by Trump and his cabinet and their policies,” Kenworthy said. ”I do not want to feign approval for policies that are in place and things that are being pushed at the moment, by going. If I was invited I would decline my spot.”

Rippon said that he felt it is his “duty” not to go.

“Athletes are given a really special platform. It’s our duty, as athletes, to be role models. I won’t go to the White House,” Rippon told the BBC. “I won’t go because I don’t think somebody like me would be welcome there. I know what it’s like to go into a room and feel like you’re not wanted there.”

USA Today reported that Nathan Chen and Ashley Wagner would also decline an invite. In Wagner’s case, it is moot since she did not qualify for Team USA.

Wagner notably missed out on an Olympic appearance, said that she was “furious” about the decision-making by the judges and that she believed that she wasn’t treated fairly.

“I’m furious. I am absolutely furious. I know when I go and I lay it down, and I absolutely left one jump on the table. But for me to put out two programs that I did at this competition, as solid as I skated, and to get those scores, I am furious, and I think deservedly so,” she said. “I am absolutely OK with [judges] being strict on my [jump] rotations […] but you know it needs to be across the board. I don’t necessarily feel like it’s been that way at this event, so we’ll see how things pan out.”

The U.S. Figure Skating selection committee responded that the judges “absolutely made the right call.”

Wagner later changed her tune.

Lindsey Vonn said as early as the beginning of December that she hoped to “represent the people of the United States, not the president.”

When asked if she would accept an invite she replied “Absolutely not.”