Welcome to the first installment of what will be a recurring column featuring your canny questions and cogent observations and my all-too-brief, occasionally incisive replies.
It’s Your Turn. This time, we’ll start with a taste of the reaction that came my way after I dared to suggest that UCF, the pride of the American Athletic Conference, embarrassed itself by proclaiming its 13-0 football team the national champion:
No Steve. What is silly is UCF not even having a chance. If Bama or Georgia wants to be National Champions, then need to go through undefeated UCF to get there. Otherwise, they just get an asterix. Nobody is better than UNDEFEATED.— UCF Hype (@UCF_Hype) January 3, 2018
Here’s who’s better than undefeated: Alabama and Georgia. And probably a half-dozen other teams. The Knights, who beat Auburn in a game that was meaningless to the Tigers, needed two overtimes at home in the AAC title game to eke past Memphis and into the Peach Bowl. In a playoff game, the Tide or the Dogs would’ve been favored by at least two touchdowns, and even Earl in Orlando knows in his heart how that would’ve played out. UCF anointing itself the champ is so off the rails, it’s like a child star going straight from an Emmys win to rehab.
That’s your argument? Alabama did it, too? Go on and raise that pretend championship banner, then. Whatever blows your hair back.
Can they? Of course. But will they? As things stand today, I’d bet on it. The Cardinals’ addition of Marcell Ozuna hardly tips the best-lineup-in-the-Central scales in their favor. And nobody in the division clearly beats — or even clearly matches — Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana as a rotation top three. So let’s put it this way: If the Cubs don’t repeat in 2018, it’ll be a major letdown.
First name: Jake. Last name: Arrieta. That would be the most exciting thing the Cubs could do, and at least they haven’t heaved their old pal’s stuff onto the sidewalk and changed the locks. Alas, after many months of hearing there was little to no chance the Cubs would spend big to keep Arrieta, I struggle to believe in the possibility. Yu Darvish? Alex Cobb? Lance Lynn? Look, it had better be somebody. And if it’s not Arrieta, let it be a starting pitcher who — crazy-talk alert — is familiar with the concept of throwing six or more innings.
Define ‘‘good.’’ By conventional standards, the Bulls are pretty bad. But young and high-scoring is good. Competitive on a regular basis is good. Tuned in to their coach is good. Tanking is bad; tanking is for losers. You’re not going to convince me that there’s anyone in the upcoming draft who’s so great, so transformative, that it’s worth poisoning a healthier-all-the-time culture. If you’re not fired up about the potential of Lauri Markkanen and jazzed to see him play with Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine, then you’re just not paying attention.
Probably nowhere near as long as the seeming lifetime appointees in the Bulls’ front office will have their jobs, but Hoiberg ought to be on solid footing right now. But what do I know? Asking a journalist in 2018 about someone else’s job security is kind of like asking a starving dog about someone else’s tri-tip sandwich.
Love the imagery. Sorry I missed you at Wintrust Arena in October. This is Bob Dylan, isn’t it?
The Big Ten went 7-1 in bowl games (while the SEC was 3-5) and didn’t even have a representative in the playoff. Who’s to say that Ohio State, Penn State or Wisconsin couldn’t beat Georgia and Alabama? —Tom, via email
Am I the only one whose hand shot right up into the air as he read that question? Ohio State, Penn State or Wisconsin would’ve gotten smoked by the Dogs or the Tide. Sorry, it’s just the truth.
Ceiling, meet you. Ten wins is as good as it gets. Enjoy it. If it ever gets better than that, I just hope to be there to see it.
A suggestion: Stop trying to be too cute in your articles at times and tell it like it is. —Thomas, via email
Too cute? Have you looked at my picture? Some things just can’t be contained.
Follow me on Twitter @SLGreenberg.