Broken Coverage



People ask me, "Rankman, is there anything worse than early-season college football polls?"

And I respond, "Yes, early-season college football statistics."

Because of the wide disparity of competition (Texas Tech 77, Lamar 0), college football statistics over the course of a season are highly suspect. In the first few weeks, though, they are downright fraudulent.

Any SID who uses NCAA stats to bolster a cause before Oct. 1 is a shameless homer...simply doing his job.

My favorite stat this week is Arizona State being ranked No.1 on rush defense, allowing only 32.5 yards per game.

Ok, that's kind of cool considering ASU finished No. 78 nationally last year at 174.8 yards per game. Seriously, though, call me in two months, or even after Saturday's game at San Diego State.

You CAN NOT get me exited about early-season stats in the same world where Boston College has already played UMass and Holy Cross while Colorado State has already played Hawaii, Colorado and Arkansas.

Yet, BC ranks No. 6 in scoring offense this week, averaging 604 yards per game. That's way better than Stanford (93), Notre Dame (94) and LSU (110), even though those teams are all ranked in the top 10 of most meaningless preseason polls.

My favorite early stat is Stanford's Bryce Love ranking No. 109 nationally in yards per carry (4.13). I hope he doesn't lose his scholarship.

One more: Washington State ranks No. 2 nationally in total defense while Alabama is No. 49 and Clemson is No. 50.


The answer my friend is...

Hate all these games being cancelled due to:


--Pearl Harbor

--Battle of 1066

--Noah's Ark




They called it "The Streak." 

There must have been a UCLA basketball beat writer, back in the day, who covered every game of the Bruins’ amazing 88-game winning streak.

What a thrill that must have been.

Mal Florence, the late, great L.A. Times writer, was on the beat during the Lakers’ 33-game win streak back in 1971-72.

True story: The Lakers streak ended on a Sunday, against Milwaukee. Bill Shirley, the Times’ nasty, penny-pinching sports editor, called Florence and told him to come home.

“What?” an incredulous Florence said. The Lakers, after all, were in the midst of the greatest NBA season ever played.

Bill Shirley would have none of it, so Florence headed to the check-out counter at the Pfister Hotel.


Writers stayed at the team hotel so Mal, suitcase in hand, ran into Lakers coach Bill Sharman.

“Mal!” Sharman said, “where are you going?”

Without missing a beat, Mal looked at Sharman and said, “I don’t cover losers,” and walked out the door.

Well, this week, John Clay has an opposite story to tell. He finally covered a winner.

As a writer and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader, Clay had covered 31 straight Kentucky football losses to the University of Florida.

Clay’s streak ended Saturday when Kentucky won in Gainesville.

“I thought it would come eventually,” Clay told Pat Forde of Yahoo! “I didn’t know if I’d be around to see it.”


The Beat Goes On:

Circle your calendar for Nov. 16, 2019, Ohio State at Rutgers in Piscataway.

If Ohio State wins that game, 56-0, the Buckeyes will have defeated the Scarlet Knights in their last four meetings by the combined score of 222-3.

Mind you, in 2017, Ohio State won at Rutgers by the score of, drum roll please, 56-0.

A 222-3 scoring margin would almost replicate, over four tortuous seasons, the biggest single-game massacre in the history of college football.

On Oct. 7, 1916, at Grant Field in Atlanta, the Georgia Tech team coached by John Heisman, defeated Cumberland College by the preposterous score of 222-0.

If you think Heisman was trying to run it up on Cumberland, you would be correct. According to the book, “Heisman, The Man Behind the Trophy,” Georgia Tech’s coach was miffed over a 22-0 loss to Cumberland’s baseball team the previous spring. Heisman was convinced Cumberland was using ringers and wanted revenge.


Cumberland decided to eliminate varsity football funding for 1916 but Heisman threatened a $3,000 penalty if the school backed out of the contract.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

Cumberland was forced to scour the campus for student volunteers and the team arrived by train in Atlanta with 15 players—13 of them law students.

The result was predictable. Cumberland finished with 15 turnovers and minus-28 yards of offense.

Late in the game, Heisman spotted a player on his bench he did not recognize. It turned out to be a Cumberland lad trying to hide so he didn’t have to enter the slaughter.

And who says Heisman didn't have a heart? He agreed to shorten the second half by 15 minutes.[/membership]