Stuart Stevens was Mitt Romney’s top political strategist during the 2012 campaign. He knows what it feels like to lose, and he can hardly talk about that loss with anyone who hasn't experienced a campaign from the inside:
It was such an intense, pressured, chaotic process that demanded so much it was inevitable that one began and ended a different person.
A year after the election, he writes, "there were still long periods when I'd lie in bed reading and trying, never very successfully, not to relive the campaign." Emotionally adrift, he decided to spend the fall with his 95-year-old father watching the football team they both loved, the University of Mississippi "Ole Miss" Rebels.Read more
In the National Football League, it is the year of the orthopod. Football, the cognoscenti like to say, is a game of injuries, but this year, it sometimes seems as though that's all that it is. That, and the blown call, anyway.
ESPN recently did a little segment on the casualties suffered by one of the teams playing in its Monday night game. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco had torn two tendons in his knee a couple of weeks earlier. But he managed to engineer a game-winning drive before leaving the field and heading to the OR and a long, painful rehab. Earlier in the season, Flacco's favorite pass receiver, Steve Smith Sr., had gone down with a torn Achilles tendon. It was the end of his season and, probably, his career.Read more
The College Football Playoff Selection Committee's 4-team playoff field generated very little controversy this season, but the process—and the rankings that it yielded—raised two concerns for future seasons.
The first is the committee's lack of emphasis on conference championships, exhibited by its ranking of Iowa, which narrowly lost in the Big Ten Championship Game, ahead of Stanford, the Pac-12 champion. The committee ranked Iowa #5 and Stanford #6, thereby suggesting that if North Carolina had upset Clemson late Saturday night, the committee would have picked Iowa—not Stanford—for the last playoff spot.Read more
There are only two weeks remaining in college football’s regular season (three, counting Army-Navy), and it’s becoming pretty clear which teams still have a shot at making the 4-team playoff field. Last week, 16 teams stillRead more
With just three weeks remaining in the best regular season in all of sports—a regular season whose greatness largely results from the smallness of the playoff field to follow—various teams’ prospects for making the 4-team College Football Playoff are starting to take shape. Here’s a rundown of which teams control their own destiny, which need a little bit of help, and which need a lot of help but are still in the running for one of the four coveted slots.Read more
It's a little hard to find underneath the bright banners advertising football conference schedules, field hockey scores, and special video clips from recent games in a half-dozen different sports, but at the bottom of NCAA.com is a small menu entitled “About the NCAA,” which takes you to NCAA.org and answers “Who We Are” with a list of core values.Read more
You quit or we don’t play. That is essentially what dozens of players on the University of Missouri football team told the president of the university. They had lost four straight games, five of their last six, including a 31-13 home loss to Mississippi State on Saturday night.Read more
For 16 years, the Bowl Championship Series focused fans’ and reporters’ attention on teams’ actual success in winning games against strong opponents. Just over a year into the new Selection Committee era (in which 13 people determine which teams will be invited to a 4-team playoff), it’s clear that the sort of maddening and subjective evaluations that held sway during college football’s poll-dominated pre-BCS days are returning with a vengeance. Actual accomplishments are taking a back seat to perceptions about what a team might be able to achieve going forward.Read more
On a crazy college football Saturday that saw Michigan State pull out about the most improbable win since Stanford’s band came onto the field against Cal 33 years ago, the LSU Tigers beat previously undefeated Florida and claimed the top spot in the Anderson & Hester Rankings. In three weeks, the undefeated Tigers and star sophomore running back Leonard Fournette will travel to Tuscaloosa to play the Alabama Crimson Tide.Read more
Pick Eddie Lacy. That was the advice of at least one expert back in the summer. Not a single play of the regular NFL season had been run, but it was already a busy time for those who play fantasy football and the gurus who advise them. “Lacy’s mix of stability and upside over a full season” is unmatched, the expert wrote.Read more
After all the media coverage and the judicial back and forth, the New England Patriots returned to the field Thursday night and won a football game. Tom Brady, who had been banned for throwing softballs, then re-instated by a federal judge (we pay those guys for that?), threw four touchdowns. Final: Pats 28; Steelers 21.Read more
Frank Gifford was the glamor face of professional football before the world learned that there was something glamorous about the sport. Before it became a national obsession. Before there were Monday night games and Super Bowls.Read more
Needless to say, The Scrapbook was horrified last week to learn that Sean (Diddy) Combs had been arrested in Los Angeles and charged with assault with a deadly weapon, making terrorist threats, and battery. All of this took place on the UCLA campus, where Combs’s son Justin is a member of the football team and Diddy is in the habit of watching practice sessions. On this particular afternoon, he seems to have been angered by an assistant coach’s criticism of his son’s performance.Read more
What to do about Tom Brady? The consensus among the sports class seems to be that something must be done. You even hear people saying that he should be suspended for an entire season. Kieth Olbermann of ESPN did a rant recommending just such a punishment. (One day for the crime and 364 for the stupid way he dealt with it.) Of course, the ESPN culture has a weakness for suspensions. The sports network likes “edgy” and considers it part of the brand. Olbermann, himself, being exhibit #1.Read more
So did the New England Patriots actually cheat last Sunday when they beat the Indianapolis Colts in a 45-7 laugher? Well, the game was certainly important. Winning meant another trip to the Super Bowl for the Patriots. And, then, the Patriots have a history.Read more
Football great Mike Ditka says that, if he had an 8-year-old son right now, he wouldn't let him play football. He made the remarks in an episode of HBO's Real Sports, which will air tonight.
The Chicago Tribune has the exchange:
Ditka: “If you had an 8-year-old kid now, would you tell him you want him to play football?”
Gumbel: “I wouldn't. Would you?”Read more
While college football fans were riveted to the two playoff games on New Year’s Day (make that one-and-a-half playoff games, as the second half of the Rose Bowl was hardly must-see T.V.), some commentators could hardly wait to seize the moment to criticize the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), college football’s previous format for determining its national champion.Read more
Not a lot of good news coming out of Michigan these last few years. Detroit went broke, people left the state for Texas and other places where they could find jobs, and the University of Michigan football team could not seem to beat Ohio State.Read more
Growing up in Dallas, there is nothing better than living in Washington, D.C., on “Misery Monday”—the Monday after the Dallas Cowboys have whipped the Washington Redskins. And believe me, yesterday was a whipping with the Cowboys defeating the Redskins 44-17.Read more
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