Posts Tagged ‘San Diego State’

I have to say it has been one fun month of March Madness.

Ramblers. Sister Jean. Retrievers. Buffalo spanking Sean Miller’s team. Eric Musselman’s daughter.

Yeah, a pretty fun NCAA Tournament, even if I’ve been to the store three times to buy red ink.

There are actually people below me in the bracket pool, which defies all logic. Only thing dumber would be deciding not to call a timeout when there are 11 seconds left in a four-point game with a Final Four berth on the line.

Late for dinner reservations, Leonard Hamilton? And wow, surly and rude when asked a legitimate question in the postgame interview. Just imagine how rude the Florida State coach is to reporters when he isn’t on camera.

Pretty funny the next day to see Coach K call timeout with Duke down five with the same amount of time left.

Earlier in March, Virginia trailed Louisville by four points with 0.9 seconds left and won the game in regulation. There is a reason why you don’t quit in a two-possession game.

Heck, I covered a game where San Diego State led UNLV by 10 points (a four-possession game) with under 20 seconds left and collapsed like a deck of cards in a tornado. Yep, the Aztecs didn’t win. They lost in overtime.

But enough about collapses, how about Loyola-Chicago becoming America’s Team?

Best part of this story is that the NCAA Selection Committee was going to shaft these Ramblers if they didn’t win their conference tourney.

We would have never heard of Sister Jean, the youngest 98-year-old in Chicago history. Heck, she’s more alive than some people half her age.

And how about that Kansas State shot that was 99.9 percent in the hole and somehow came out? You just know Sister Jean was in on that one.

The Ramblers won their first three games by a combined FOUR POINTS. That is pretty amazing clutch play from a bunch of guys none of us ever heard of prior to this month.

Then they whipped Kansas State to get to the Final Four.

Think of this, the Ramblers have defeated teams from the ACC (Miami), SEC (Tennessee) and Big 12 (Kansas State) on neutral courts. You know, the type of programs that would never play a road game at Loyola-Chicago.

The Ramblers won a national title back in 1963. Guess we might hear a little about that this week.

Oh yeah, can’t forget the Retrievers of UMBC.

The first time a 16 seed has defeated a 1 seed finally occurred and it was a major league beat down. UMBC (which stands for University of Maryland Baltimore County) rolled to a 74-54 victory over Virginia, the top-seeded team in the entire tournament.

UMBC went viral in a way like never before. Heck, I tried to order that outstanding piece of Retrievers wall art to hang in the fabulous three-story mansion and the poor UMBC bookstore is drowning under thousands of orders.

It might be next basketball season by the team they fill my order.

But what an amazing accomplishment and you have to admit it is kind of fun to say “Retrievers” instead of Eagles or Wildcats.

Oh yeah, Wildcats. So fun to watch Buffalo — BUFFALO! — totally wallop Miller and his Arizona squad.

Meanwhile, Musselmann is surely cussing somewhere about now, still steaming that his Nevada team went down to the Ramblers.

But after Sister Jean, his cool 8-year-old daughter Mariah is the second-best person we learned about during March Madness.

It is serious time next weekend when Villanova plays Kansas and Michigan plays Loyola-Chicago but you never know what Sister Jean has in store.

Just saying don’t be surprised if Loyola-Chicago is playing for the national title on April 2.

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I wonder how breaking down half the NCAA Tournament teams on Selection Sunday while providing content to millions of people around the country will equate to filling out my bracket.

Guess we will find out later if I win a March Madness bracket for the eighth time in my life but at least I’m off to a good head start.

Heck, I know two of my Final Four teams … know of a 12 seed that will beat a 5 … and know that Loyola-Chicago won at Florida this season.

And can’t forget the best nickname in college basketball — “Dauminator.”

Man, I would like to patent that one in case the guy becomes an NBA player.

Anyway, I am ahead of the curve at FLM and hopefully won’t go down swinging once the games begin.

So who do I have winning the South and West regions? Well, you will have to give some love to one of the clients that doesn’t scrub off my byline.

Hey, these are my first two bylines since making the super smart move to FLM.

Of course, some of you will now use this stellar info to fill out your own bracket. Hmmmmm … OK, I will post since I’m not a selfish kind of guy.

 

Following is my South Region breakdown:

http://www.gwinnettprepsports.com/sportsxchange/ncaa-tournament-south-region-breakdown/article_480d812c-1a80-5b6f-a60a-6c4784b946fc.html

 

Here is my West Region breakdown:

http://www.gwinnettprepsports.com/sportsxchange/ncaa-tournament-west-region-breakdown/article_2eca781e-421d-5f3c-8321-b53ea1b6d218.html

 

A few other comments:

–Kentucky coach John Calipari complained that his team was sent to Boise. Coach Cal said he had to ask his players what state Boise is in.

I don’t know, it seems 59-year-old Calipari should know his state capitals by now.

–Kansas coach Bill Self is willing to play a game in Wichita.

Funny, he has repeatedly turned down opportunities to play Wichita State during his 15-year tenure. Hoping the Shockers’ fans root hard for the Jayhawks’ opponents.

–Who saw San Diego State making the field after the team looked dead in the water in February? The Brian Dutcher-coached Aztecs reeled off nine straight wins and draw a Houston team that last won an NCAA tournament game in 1984.

Pretty sure Hakeem Olajuwon isn’t suiting up for the Cougars on Thursday.

–Wait, USC isn’t part of the NCAA tournament field but Arizona State and Syracuse are? Wow.

Louisville, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Saint Mary’s and Middle Tennessee also were left on the outside and Davidson’s victory in Sunday’s Atlantic 10 final knocked out Notre Dame. Baylor coach Scott Drew says the tourney should be expanded to 96 teams and my first thought is ‘Would Saint Mary’s and Middle Tennessee be the among the last four in?’

–Middle Tennessee athletic director Chris Massaro made the following statement on Twitter: “The deck is stacked. How do we collect Quadrant 1 home wins?”

Easy solution, Chris. Schedule 18 games against the Big 12 next season. Go 8-10 and you’re in.

–Can’t forget this: South Carolina might not be in the field but the Gamecocks are still “America’s Team” until somebody eliminates Duke. Perhaps a second-round game against Rhode Island could be just the tonic.

Let me start with a little perspective — Boise State hasn’t had an NBA draft pick this century and has never won an NCAA tournament game.

Pretty much lets you know how the school rates in the tradition department.

But that draft pick drought is about to end because there is no longer any question that Broncos forward Chandler Hutchison will hear his name called in June’s draft.

The discussion of how high is one for after the season. But just know NBA teams are going to love the tape they view of Hutchison’s school-record 44-point performance against San Diego State on Saturday.

Hutchinson carried the team all night and made 15 of 21 shots, including 7 of 10 from 3-point range. He banked in two 3s, displayed mid-range ability, and repeatedly gained separation while driving to the hoop.

He carried himself like the best player in the building, which was a good thing as Boise State had to survive a last-second 3-point miss to notch an 83-80 victory over the Aztecs.

Making it more impressive is that San Diego State is one of the best teams Boise State will play this season. It also doesn’t hurt that NBA scouts are well aware of the Aztecs’ reputation for playing stellar defense.

This game will be the one where a few NBA teams say “We’ve got to get that kid” and a few others will take him off their bubble and determine he is draft-worthy and a few others will move him higher up their draft boards.

Scoring 44 points on 21 field-goal attempts demands attention from NBA personnel directors.

Look, Hutchison’s performance on Saturday could be tabbed the top moment in Boise State’s basketball history. Did I mention the Broncos have never won an NCAA tournament game? (Oh, I did … 0-7 is the record).

The school’s media guide says the Broncos have had just four NBA players in program history. Also, NBA draft records show just six picks from the school, the last being Roberto Bergersen in 1999.

The most notable NBA player from Boise State is Chris Childs, the point guard who averaged 6.9 points in 541 games over nine seasons from 1994-2003.

The previous school record for points of 42 was set by Ron Austin way back in 1971. The most-recent 40-point outing was in 1979 by Carl Powell and Hutchison’s performance marked only the fourth time a Boise State player reached 40.

It certainly was the best performance I’ve seen live by a Boise State player since I moved from Paradise (San Diego) to Paradise Junior (Boise). The previous best effort was a game I covered in 2013 when Derrick Marks scored 33 second-half points and 38 overall in a victory over Colorado State.

Oh yeah, some Boise media types actually were floating the idea Marks would get drafted and I cringed. As in where is the perspective? But yeah, many of them were also stunned when a Boise State quarterback named Grant Hedrick didn’t get selected in the 2015 NFL draft.

Take it from a guy who spent eight seasons watching NFL practices, Hedrick would’ve needed the NFL draft to go back to 17 rounds to have a chance to be selected.

You know, let’s not even discuss Kellen Moore.

The same media folks were stunned a basketball player named James Webb III didn’t get picked in the 2016 NBA draft. Well, I covered nearly 20 of Webb’s games at Boise State and I never once said the following to myself: “Hey, there’s a future NBA player.”

Webb plays for the Delaware 87ers. And if you have to be a minor league hoops player, at least having your team called the 87ers is pretty cool. Beats playing in Lithuania.

In other words, I’ll tell you the real deal. Saturday night at Taco Bell Arena was the very first time I’ve seen a Boise State player that caused me to say, “Now that’s a future NBA player.”

Chandler Hutchison will without a doubt be selected in the NBA draft. And perhaps he will become the fifth Boise State player to suit up for an NBA game. Maybe he ends up playing a decade in the NBA. Who knows?

What I know is that as of Saturday night, Hutchison is etched in the books as one of the top Boise State players ever. And the night he torched San Diego State for a school-record 44 points will still be talked about in 2071. 

There is no debate that Marshall Faulk is the best running back in San Diego State history. He still will be 100 years from now — well, if football still exists.

But it also should be pretty clear who ranks No. 2 on the top Aztecs’ back list.  

That would be the current star — Walter Camp Player of the Year finalist Rashaad Penny.

Penny leads the nation with 2,027 rushing yards and has a stellar 7.4 average to go with 19 rushing scores. He has topped 200 yards on five occasions this season and had just one poor contest when he gained just 53 yards on 21 carries during a loss to Boise State.

He also matched the all-time record for career kickoff return touchdowns with seven.

When this month began, Deacon Turner was still the second-best running back in San Diego State history. You can still call him BBF – Best Before Faulk.

But it is now clear that Penny is No. 2, which is plenty amazing when you consider he was the backup to NCAA all-time rushing leader Donnel Pumphrey last season. I wondered a few times if Penny was the best back on the San Diego State roster while he was rushing for 1,005 yards.

We got the answer. He was the best this season. He was the best last season. He would be the best in any season in Aztecs’ history other than the Faulk Years (1991-93).

So we need to have a definitive Top 10 list of San Diego State running backs. I saw most everyone on the list play — ummm, not Norm Nygaard (1952-54) of course — so I am the right person to compile it.

Surely don’t want anyone at the school messing up the list. When I was on the beat and Lynell Hamilton was having a big freshman season in 2003, the game notes didn’t have Darrin Wagner listed among the school’s top-ever freshman rushing leaders.

I told the guy of the omission and he just stared at me. He finally said, “Who?”

That’s what happens when universities hire people who don’t know the school history.

Anyway, the next year I turned to the page in the media guide and guess whose rushing yardage from 1989 had been added to the freshman leaders?

Yep, Darrin Wagner.

OK, here are the Top 10 running backs in San Diego State history:

 

1. Marshall Faulk — San Diego State had never landed a talent like this and benefited that major schools wanted him to play cornerback. Well, their loss as Faulk set the then single-game rushing record of 386 yards before he ever started a game and got the Aztecs unprecedented national publicity. He finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting in 1992 as ESPN’s Lee Corso repeatedly belittled the fact Faulk played at San Diego State and single-handedly prevented him from winning the award. Faulk rushed for 4,589 and 57 touchdowns in his three seasons before becoming an NFL Hall of Famer.

2. Rashaad Penny — See above for the superlatives but ranking fourth in school history with 3,435 rushing yards (and likely soon to be third) is pretty impressive when you were just a starter for one season.

3. Deacon Turner — He had a first name of David but nobody ever used it when discussing his exploits. He was the star of back-to-back 10-1 teams – there weren’t 322 bowl games back then — and was part of the biggest victory in school history, the 41-16 slaughter of No. 13 Florida State in 1977. He fell on hard times after his NFL career ended and isn’t in the school’s athletic Hall of Fame, which is a travesty. Claude Gilbert, who coached Turner, was a defensive coordinator at San Diego State in the mid-1990s and told me then that the committee had once decided to induct the Deacon but backed off because it was worried about what kind of shape he was in or if he would even show. Well, the guy is dead now so that’s not an issue. Turner’s absence needs to be rectified because he was one of the biggest difference-makers in school history.

4. Ronnie Hillman — You could go with any order for Hillman and the following two guys but Hillman (3,243 yards, 36 touchdowns) would have shattered Faulk’s then-record if he hadn’t mistakenly left for the NFL after two seasons. He was better than the Mountain West level and repeatedly put up big numbers.

5. Donnel Pumphrey — He’s the all-time NCAA rushing leader (6,405 yards) as long as they don’t reinstate bowl stats from the old days (then it will be Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne) and rushed for 62 touchdowns. The craziest stat is he racked up 33 100-yard outings during his career — heck, the ESPN folks will make a power-conference player a star with three 100-yard games.

6. George Jones — One of the more muscle-toned running backs ever seen and he was the first to break Faulk’s single-season mark when he compiled 1,842 yards in 1995. He had four career 200-yard games while rolling up 2,810 yards and 34 touchdowns over two seasons.

7. Norm Nygaard — I was told by a longtime school expert that this guy was the top running back prior to Deacon Turner’s arrival and that is good enough for me. He rushed for 2,619 yards from 1952-54 and that was well before running backs got 20 to 25 carries per game so perhaps he could have doubled that total with today’s workloads.

8. Chris Hardy — He had a big junior season (1,150 yards in 1985) and then was one of the top players on one of the more beloved teams in school history — the 1986 Holiday Bowl team. He rushed for 2,341 yards and 22 touchdowns.

9. Larry Ned — He ranks third in school history with 3,562 yards and rushed for 36 touchdowns. He once rushed for 285 yards against Eastern Illinois in 2001 — the quarterback of Eastern Illinois was a guy named Tony Romo.

10. Wayne Pittman — Here’s a guy you don’t hear a lot about and that is because he had the unfortunate timing of being Faulk’s backup for three seasons. But he rushed for 1,136 yards in his lone season as a starter (1994) and that is good enough for me.

 

Missing the cut — Lynell Hamilton (2003-07) was a star as a freshman before a badly broken leg and a 22-month absence changed everything. … Adam Muema (2011-13) had rushing seasons of 1,458 and 1,244 yards before mistakenly turning pro and basically disappearing. … Paul Hewitt (28 scores from 1987-88) was a touchdown machine as a junior-college transfer. … Art Preston (34 touchdowns from 1949-51) has his name plate in the football locker room so that tells me all I need to know. … Jonas Lewis (1996-99) was consistently good while racking up 2,843 yards.

Perhaps you remember the Exxon commercial that played over and over again for a month in the middle of the NBA playoffs.

The kinda-nerdy, kinda-cool woman introduces herself as … Kelsey McNeely, energy farmer.

So let’s borrow from that tone to help a Northern Illinois linebacker introduce himself to the sports world.

Antonio Jones-Davis, eye gouger.

Few people had heard of him before Saturday night but nothing like video proof that you are an eye gouger to get your name to go viral.

I was in the middle of my Saturday night work shift and had only looked at the television a couple times. But I happened to look up and a play had just ended in the Northern Illinois versus San Diego State game and all of a sudden I see a white-gloved hand go somewhere it doesn’t belong (yeah, save your Michael Jackson jokes).

I was stunned that Jones-Davis put his right hand inside the facemask of San Diego State star running back Rashaad Penny.

They showed the replay and that made it clear it was an intentional act.

Just like that — Antonio Jones-Davis, eye gouger was the proper label.

See this stellar story for more detail and information — http://www.sportsxchange.com/tsxfiles/?page_id=211&max_colums=20&story_id=177913.

Jones-Davis, eye gouger was suspended for one game by Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey. The coach said Jones-Davis plans to call Penny and Aztecs coach Rocky Long to apologize.

Carey asserted that the conduct of Jones-Davis was “completely unacceptable” and I think that is something we can all agree on.

Bad mistake and caught on tape. Not the way a college football player wants to become known.

But for now, there is only one way to address the young man … “Hey, aren’t you Antonio Jones-Davis, eye gouger?”

Steve Fisher has retired as San Diego State basketball coach and it certainly is the right time for his departure.

His final team wasn’t all that good — 19-14 to snap a streak of 11 straight 20-win campaigns — while playing in a Mountain West that was mediocre at best and now firmly entrenched as a one-bid league when it comes to the NCAA Tournament.

Several times this season, I tossed out social media comments that it would be Fab Five Fish’s final season. It just had that feeling about it.

Longtime assistant coach Brian Dutcher — one of the most genuinely nice people in college basketball — takes over the program.

Fisher, 72, went 386-209 in 18 seasons with the Aztecs and posted 12 20-win seasons and led the program to eight NCAA Tournament appearances, including a string of six straight.

Making six straight NCAA Tournament appearances was surreal for a program which was among the worst in the nation when Fisher was hired.

Remember, I was covering that awful program when Fisher was hired and he was far from the preferred target.

I broke the story that then-Utah coach Rick Majerus interviewed for the job and Majerus was close to taking it a few days later before he said no. Fran Fraschilla also was offered the job (nope, I didn’t break that one) as was then-Gonzaga coach Dan Monson (yep, broke that one and was waiting at the airport for his Sunday night flight to arrive and when he didn’t come out of the jet way, I knew that was a problem for San Diego State).

At that point, then-athletic director Rick Bay turned to Fisher, who was desperate to get back into college coaching. He had been fired at Michigan a few years earlier and I still remember how stunned I was upon meeting him that he had gray hair in 1999, just a few years after having a full head of brown hair while coaching the Wolverines.

The Aztecs were putrid in his first season and went 5-23 and then Fisher booted five inherited players off the team to free up scholarships.

Two seasons later, led by junior-college transfer Randy Holcomb, the Aztecs made the NCAA Tournament. Credibility had arrived for a program that previously had none.

Eventually, the 20-win seasons became an annual thing but there was still the matter of the program having ZERO NCAA Tournament wins. And you really don’t have a program if you’ve never won an NCAA Tournament game.

Finally, the Kawhi Leonard-led Aztecs had the best season in program history in 2010-11 with a 34-3 mark — a season that will still be the best in school history in 2117 if the world exists.

San Diego State finally got that elusive NCAA tourney win by beating Northern Colorado and eventually lost in the Sweet 16 to eventual national champion Connecticut. The Aztecs also topped 30 wins when they went 31-5 in 2013-14 and again reached the Sweet 16 before falling to Arizona.

If you haven’t figured it out, 30-win seasons aren’t supposed to be accomplishments achieved by the San Diego States of the college basketball landscape.

Last season’s final hurrah was not a good one for Fisher but he certainly elevated the program to heights nobody foresaw. Dutcher has been his right-hand man for all of those 18 seasons so the program philosophy won’t change.

The challenge for Dutcher is to have last season’s subpar campaign be an aberration. Once programs like San Diego State fall back into being just another mid-major program in a poor basketball league, it becomes harder to rise back up. Isn’t that right, UNLV?

But know this: Dutcher steps into a far better situation than the one Fisher inherited. The days where nobody cared that San Diego State even had a basketball program seems like centuries ago.

It was a good run for Steve Fisher but good for him to recognize that it was time for him to depart.

San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey plays in the final game of his standout career on Saturday and he should be recognized as the all-time leading rusher in college football history when it ends.

But alas, that won’t be entirely true.

The NCAA is a weirdo organization and it doesn’t recognize bowl statistics if they are from before 2002. But eventually, the NCAA is going to come to its senses and count those games.

Even that group of people won’t be dumb forever, right?

So come Saturday in the Las Vegas Bowl, Pumphrey (6,290) needs 108 rushing yards against a tough Houston Cougars’ defense to surpass Ron Dayne (6,397) as the all-time record holder. But he really needs to gain 836 yards if he wants to keep the record.

Count Dayne’s bowl games and the Wisconsin star — who played from 1996-99 — rushed for 7,125 yards.

Pumphrey may get the record Saturday to cap off a fantastic career but he will only be renting it.

Here is the stellar Las Vegas Bowl preview — http://www.albanyherald.com/sports/las-vegas-bowl-capsule/article_3e2232c7-43c3-5573-a907-b154c71c1d26.html

 

The San Diego Chargers are playing their next-to-last game in San Diego on Sunday as there won’t be a January reprieve this time around.

The team is off to Los Angeles, which means Dean Spanos gets to play second fiddle to Kroenke the Donkey (Rams owner Stan Kroenke) until the end of time. Or a shorter time span if Donald Trump learns where the bomb buttons are hidden.

Regardless, rubbing salt in the wounds of San Diego sports fans is this nugget: The Oakland Raiders can clinch a playoff spot by beating the Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium.

Now that really hurts.

Oakland is on the verge of ending a 14-year playoff drought and has one of the top quarterbacks in the game in Derek Carr and one of the elite pass rushers in defensive end Khalil Mack. The Raiders can make some noise in the postseason too.

But Chargers’ fans don’t want to see this clinching, that’s for sure. There are already enough bad memories with the Raiders — Stabler to Banaszak to Casper rates as the worst and the 1980 AFC title game is right behind — and Oakland celebrating a playoff berth on the field once home to Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow, Junior Seau and LaDainian Tomlinson would be one final act of rubbing it in the faces of San Diegans.

The Chargers may be goners but San Diego’s intense hate of the Raiders will live on.

Here is the stellar Raiders-Chargers preview (back to the New York Times link!) — http://nytimes.stats.com/fb/preview.asp?g=20161218024

A lot of people in the sports world predict which team will win a game.

Not too many try to predict the final score.

It’s not an easy thing to do, especially in a sport like basketball.

This is on my mind because one of those situations came up this week that truly impresses me.

Wait, are you allowed to say you were impressed over something that you yourself did? Is that what the modern folks mean by #humblebrag?

As if that word itself isn’t confusing.

So let me be humble and let me go brag — yeah, that makes sense — about my prediction of Tuesday’s NBA game between the San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves.

I saw this score “Spurs 105, Timberwolves 91” and I thought ‘That sounds kind of familiar.’

I went online and found my preview … scrolled to the bottom and there was my pick:

PREDICTION: Spurs 105, Timberwolves 92 (here’s proof at the bottom of the stellar previewhttp://www.reuters.com/article/bkn-spurs-timberwolves-preview-idUSMTZECC6RIRQ1U

Soooooo close — if Andrew Wiggins could have gone 2-of-3 from the line instead of a porous 1-of-3, I nail that score right on the head.

Just know that close call is way closer than most of the predictions. Could make a good laugh to keep track of all of them and check the scores because most of the time you will be far away from the actual score.

So when you are close, toot your horn … like I’m about to do over last season’s NCAA championship game.

Remember how that powerful North Carolina team was supposed to roll through the Final Four?

Well, I picked Villanova to win the national championship game … and I just missed nailing the final score.

Yes, I almost predicted the correct score for the most important college basketball game of the season.

PREDICTION: Villanova 77, North Carolina 73

Final score of the game: Villanova 77, North Carolina 74

Again, here is the proof at the bottom of the stellar NCAA title game preview — http://www.reuters.com/article/bkc-villanova-northcarolina-preview-idUSMTZEC443VZQAB

OK, done humblebragging (is that a word?). The point has been made. It doesn’t happen often but it feels good to almost hit the score of a basketball game.

I know, I know — now you will be expecting me to tell you the correct score of the 2017 NCAA title game.

Now that you are paying attention, I’ll probably miss by 30.

 

Let’s consider the Spurs-Timberwolves preview as part of the ever-popular Weekly Links.

Here is another one — San Diego State vs. Houston in the Las Vegas Bowl.

I see a lot of whining that Aztecs running back Donnel Pumphrey wasn’t a Heisman Trophy finalist. And then the failure to win the Doak Walker Award is somehow a sign of DISRESPECT.

Really? Pumphrey plays at San Diego State. Just the fact he was getting some Heisman talk was impressive. That he was one of THREE finalists for the Doak Walker Award (top running back) is a true sign of RESPECT.

Texas standout D’Onta Freeman won the Doak Walker Award and I see nothing wrong with that. He played fewer games than Pumphrey and had more yards. And did it against a tougher schedule.

End of conversation.

While we’re talking about Pumphrey, he has 6,290 career rushing yards and is 108 yards away from passing Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne as the all-time leading rusher in college football history. But the real truth is that Pumphrey needs to rush for 836 yards against the Cougars if he wants to keep the record.

The NCAA is a silly entity to begin with but one of the more ridiculous things is that bowl game stats count for the current players but not for the all-time greats from last century.

At some point, this nonsense will be fixed — most Big Ten schools already have added the past bowl game stats to their own record books. When it happens, Dayne’s total will grow from 6,397 to 7,125 and the record will once again be his.

Not Pumphrey’s fault but how awkward will it feel for him two or three years from now when the NCAA catches up to modern times and learns that updating statistics from the past isn’t all that hard.

They will be like, “Mr. Pumphrey, your record just disappeared like all those vinyl ones from the past.”

Here is the stellar bowl preview — http://www.usatoday.com/sports/ncaaf/event/2016/64201/preview/top25/

 

Here is an NFL preview to finish off this edition of Weekly Links.

The Washington Redskins are 6-5-1 and might need to win each of their last four games to reach the playoffs.

So you think a four-game winning streak to end the season sounds preposterous?

That’s exactly what the Redskins did last season to qualify for the playoffs.

It also let us know for sure that Kirk Cousins was a bona fide NFL starting quarterback as he was on fire down the stretch of the season. Cousins is having a solid campaign this season but now gets the chance to step it up again.

Funny how football works.

The Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday and how odd is it that Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson fancies a return to Philadelphia?

He was sent packing by former Eagles coach Chip Kelly three seasons ago. You may have noticed Kelly was booted from Philadelphia and now coaches in San Francisco.

It will be quite a statement if the Eagles take Jackson back … squarely putting the blame on the former control freak coach.

Here is the stellar Redskins-Eagles preview (not using New York Times this week for the link because I’m giving love to one of the entities that leaves my byline on — http://www.upi.com/Sports_News/NFL/2016/12/08/Washington-Redskins-look-for-finishing-kick-similar-to-last-year-vs-Philadelphia-Eagles/1091481221332/

This week marked the second time this season that I handled the national preview for a ranked San Diego State football team.

Repeat — the Aztecs are ranked. Again.

The only thing that would be more surreal would be seeing a guy with no political experience become president.

Oh yeah … that Trump guy was considered to have more integrity than the slimy Hillary woman, huh?

Anyway, I was looking forward to writing the preview of the San Diego State-Wyoming game so I could write about Aztecs running back Donnel Pumphrey.

He now ranks fourth in NCAA history in career rushing yardage and he will soon become the all-time record-holder unless he suffers a major injury.

But I had to go in another direction because San Diego State still ranks poorly in understanding the media and how sportswriters do their jobs.

You would think it would be a no-brainer to have the running back who just went over 6,000 career rushing yards attend your weekly press conference. Especially since the school still carries this notion that he is a bona fide Heisman Trophy winner and there are only a few weeks left before that prestigious ceremony.

There are also quotes from last Saturday’s victory at Nevada on the school website. None from Pumphrey on the night that he became just the fifth player to go over the 6,000-yard mark. Beyond dumb if you want some national pub for your guy’s remarkable achievement.

With the Aztecs back in the national rankings, a savvy intelligent media relations department would make sure their main guy was in circulation. Just imagine the national preview angle pumping up Pumphrey on all the major sports websites in this country.

Repeat, Pumphrey featured on ALL the major sports websites.

Instead, San Diego State dropped the ball … so the replacement angle of the preview tells another fact:

The Aztecs got walloped the first time they were ranked this season.

Here is the stellar San Diego-Wyoming preview — http://www.foxsports.com/san-diego/story/wyoming-faces-tough-matchup-with-no-24-san-diego-state-111616

 

Alabama is on its way to winning another national championship. I personally don’t even think we need a playoff to determine this year’s winner.

Even with star safety Eddie Jackson gone for the season, this team is loaded. Heck, Nick Saban could direct his kicker to play quarterback instead of true freshman star Jalen Hurts and probably would still win the title.

But here we are in Game No. 11 and Alabama is once again playing a lower-level opponent that it could crush 150-0 if it so wanted.

No offense to Chattanooga, but perhaps the Mocs can see if Alabama will just send them the check and not insist on them showing up.

Now that we are in the College Football Playoff era, perhaps the SEC can add another conference game and stop this type of silliness.

There is no reason for this game to be played … well, except to add dollars to my paycheck.

Here is the stellar Chattanooga-Alabama preview — https://www.usatoday.com/sports/ncaaf/event/2016/52858/preview/top25/

 

Carson Wentz has been an immediate hit as the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback and his strong play has prompted comparisons to a guy who care out of nowhere as a rookie in 2012.

A guy named Russell Wilson.

Wilson has guided the Seattle Seahawks to two Super Bowl appearances since bursting on the scene and he will be on the same field as Wentz this Sunday.

Wilson is impressed with Wentz … Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is impressed with Wentz … heck, nearly everybody is impressed with the guy who went No. 2 overall despite playing at FCS power North Dakota State (you know, the program that beats major-college programs every season).

It is one of the few times I will be glad to turn on the television and see the Seahawks play.

And here is something I learned while searching for this preview: My work runs on the NBC Sports website.

And something else I learned: NBC Sports has a website.

Here is the stellar Eagles-Seahawks preview — http://scores.nbcsports.com/fb/preview.asp?g=20161120026&home=26&vis=21

 

Here is something truly remarkable — the Los Angeles Lakers have won seven games entering their Nov. 18 contest against the San Antonio Spurs.

Last season, the Lakers didn’t notch win No. 7 until their 34th game. That win came on Jan. 1.

But Los Angeles is a solid 7-5 under first-year coach Luke Walton and the players are thriving in Walton’s fast-paced system.

Young point guard D’Angelo Russell and young power forward Julius Randle are emerging stars after stagnating under former coach Byron Scott, who never connected with the younger players on the squad.

The Lakers have a couple pillars for their foundation and Walton looks to be a natural as coach. It is still hard to see Los Angeles contending for a playoff spot this season but the future is brighter and the franchise is no longer going to be a laughingstock.

Compiling the worst record in franchise history at 17-65 last season was embarrassing. Walton might double that win total in his first season.

Here is the stellar Spurs-Lakers preview — http://www.kion546.com/sports/preview-spurs-at-lakers/166837913

The links tradition is on a roll now … unlike the San Diego Chargers.

Three fourth-quarter collapses have saddled the Chargers with a 1-3 record and coach Mike McCoy is two losses away from being fired.

McCoy won’t be dismissed if the Chargers lose to the Oakland Raiders this Sunday unless he punches Dean Spanos after the game.

But when the Chargers get smacked around by the Denver Broncos four days later on Thursday Night Football, you can expect McCoy to be informed the following morning that his services are no longer needed.

Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt would certainly be named interim coach and the extra 72 hours would come in handy to help the staff in preparations for the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 24.

Sure hope there aren’t some Chargers’ fans bemoaning that the team isn’t 4-0. Good teams don’t blow three games in the final five minutes in three of the first four weeks.

The Chargers aren’t a good team so the meltdowns aren’t a total surprise — and gosh, how excited was Drew Brees to get to rally the New Orleans Saints from 13 points down for a 35-34 victory over the franchise that discarded him?

The Raiders are 3-1 and quarterback Derek Carr is on the verge of stardom.

OK, on to the link, the stellar preview of the Chargers-Raiders game is here — http://www.foxsports.com/san-diego/story/chargers-hope-to-solve-fourth-quarter-woes-vs-raiders-100616

 

“Mike lives in Boise, might want to handle” came the directive as if it rates as a special occasion to write about two Mountain West programs.

But audiblizing into the plan is an easy thing when you have a great boss. Plus, I knew there was an easy angle to this Boise State at New Mexico preview.

New Mexico was 30.5-point underdogs last season and beat Boise State on the famed blue turf in Boise. Let that sink in, 30.5-point underdogs. A team that heavily favored really has to suffer an extreme drop in its quality of play and its entire coaching staff has to be totally outworked and outsmarted by the opposing staff.

And that is what happened as New Mexico posted a 31-24 victory. Then the Lobos rubbed it in by posing for team pictures on the field with a New Mexico state flag.

Seriously, the Lobos pack a New Mexico state flag when they go on the road?

That is really kind of weird, isn’t it?

So don’t believe Boise State coach Bryan Harsin when he acts like his team isn’t out for revenge. What coaches say for public consumption is seldom the same as they say behind closed doors.

Here is the stellar preview — http://charlotteobserver.stats.com/cfb/preview.asp?g=201610070092

 

Jim Harbaugh sure comes off as a prima donna and/or an egomaniac these days, doesn’t he?

The funny thing is he was outstanding to deal with when he was an NFL player.

I dealt with him when he was on the San Diego Chargers and he was terrific to deal with at all times. One time, the team was doing offseason public caravans and he asked the staffers to bring him by my newspaper. Harbaugh was quite a hit with the circulation ladies, let’s just say that.

The bigger barometer on how good he was to deal with is this: The Chargers cut him (yep, Ryan Leaf era) and he fielded my call on his home phone in Coronado. Spent 15-plus minutes filling up my notebook.

Most NFL players go into hiding in such a situation.

I also can’t help but laugh about the time Harbaugh told me he was interested in the San Diego State football coaching job, a story that I broke. But you see, the Aztecs weren’t all that interested in him.

A couple members of the athletic department were still upset that Harbaugh had publicly intimated his University of San Diego team could beat San Diego State.

One of the assistant athletic directors even chided me for my article and insisted they wouldn’t hire him.

But San Diego State did interview Harbaugh as part of a poorly executed coaching search. The same assistant AD gave me a hard time after I broke the story that Dennis Erickson was interested, giving me the same “we’re not hiring him” lecture.

Oh yeah, the school did interview Erickson too.

Think of this — current Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher was one of the two finalists. So a downtrodden San Diego State program could have hired either Fisher or Harbaugh and they still messed things up.

The Aztecs hired Chuck Long, who lasted three seasons and twice suffered home losses to lower-level Cal Poly.

A big miss for San Diego State. Of course, we also know what would have happened. Harbaugh would have won 18 games over his first two seasons and landed a better job.

That’s what guys who know how to win do.

And here’s the stellar Michigan-Rutgers preview — http://www.espn.com/ncf/preview/_/id/400869636

 

Here’s a little baseball for you to round out his edition of the links.

The Chicago Cubs had the best record in the majors this season but we all know their history — 108 years since they last won a World Series.

The San Francisco Giants have a different type of formula — they have won the World Series (2010, 2012, 2014) in every even-numbered season this decade.

Should be an interesting series and the Cubs already caught their biggest break. The Giants had to play in the National League wild-card contest and ace Madison Bumgarner was needed to pitch a four-hit shutout.

The means he will only pitch once in the series against the Cubs. Chicago went up against Bumgarner twice this season and lost both times.

All the pressure is on the Cubs and players like probable NL MVP Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo need to play much, much better than they did in the 2015 postseason.

Anyway, here is the stellar Game 1 preview — http://www.usatoday.com/sports/mlb/event/2016/410446/preview/