Locker Room: One of those odd weeks

     High schools and colleges are scrambling for what to do in the wake of the coming rains. High schools are actually better off. It’s much easier to move their games up. Colleges for a thousand reasons are pretty much stuck with whatever Saturday brings. 

     Area Athletic Directors have already moved decisively with Friday prep games. Pulaski County will host Carroll County at 6 pm on Thursday, but other schools have already played on Wednesday, particularly those located in the Southside area.

      Even some schools with field turf have moved their games up which is an indication that such a surface does not necessarily fix every situation. In a very highly anticipated game Northside is at Salem Thursday evening. If the Vikings win they will move to an impressive 4-0 on the season. A Salem loss would be two straight and it’s been a long time since the Spartans fell off the horse two straight weeks. I like Northside and in raining conditions I like the Vikings even more.

 No Sunshine Down Yonder:

      I’m not talking about the weather. There has been no sunshine in the state of Florida so far for football this season. It’s early, but with the exception of maybe Miami, it doesn’t look good going forward either. Florida State looks awful. Florida got hammered by Kentucky. Miami’s loss was at least to LSU. What does this tell us? It tells us that “Gator Bites,” juvenile turnover chains, and dancing in the streets and war chants don’t mean all that much. The important stuff is what happens after the ball is snapped. That’s real.

Holding Steady:

     Clemson got a little lucky against Texas A&M last week, and if you run the table and qualify for the four team title playoff, and win it, you might have to get lucky a couple of times. But the Tigers survived, and there has not been any major upheaval so far. The Florida schools have been disappointing, but I didn’t expect that much in the first place. Lots of changes. Sometimes it takes a little time. 

    But it remains Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State (even without Urban Meyer), Wisconsin, Georgia, Oklahoma, and possibly Penn State, Notre Dame, and Auburn. And yes, Virginia Tech and West Virginia would have to be considered darkhorses right now. But both must run the table to be there. Is that fair? No, it’s not. Should Alabama get beat, and Tech and WVU run the table, the Tide would likely still make the field instead of them. And again, no, that’s not fair. That’s just the way it is.

     Big games this weekend are West Virginia at North Carolina State, Auburn at LSU, Alabama at Ole Miss, and Ohio State at TCU. All weather permitting of course.

Tough Times for NASCAR:

     While the economy continues to flourish in many aspects of sport and life in general in our nation, it’s not happening in NASCAR which is continuing a steady drop this season. It was thought the “Brickyard 400” at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway would be a huge deal for the sport. It has not. Attendance has been on a steady decline. They moved the date this year out of the July heat. Then it rains, and the race had to run Monday. It was the worst ever attendance for the “Brickyard,” but likely would have been had it went off on schedule.

     Last week it was announced that Martin Truex Jr. will be losing his ride at the end of the season. This is the car and team that won the NASCAR title just one year ago, but the sponsor says the cost is more than it’s worth, and the Furniture Row team could not find another sponsor. Jamie McMurray does not have a ride for next season. Kurt Busch may also not have a seat. Kasey Kaine retired because he was tired of trying to find a sponsor.

      NASCAR is a “billboard” type of sport. And if the people that buy “billboards” no longer want to sponsor stock cars, it’s a big problem. Brad Keselowski had a great win at Indy Monday, and it was a very exciting race, but the hard line truth is that Keselowski was the only real winner. It’s just the same as corporate America, and it actually should be. When the sport no longer has enough sponsors, the promoters and track owners aren’t making money, you know what comes next. It has been rumored all season that the France family is quietly trying to sell NASCAR. Maybe they are. Maybe it’s a good idea.

By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot