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In this Jan. 1, 2018, file photo, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield celebrates after running back Rodney Anderson scored a touchdown against Georgia during the first half of the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game in Pasadena, Calif. Mayfield is expected to be a first round pick in the NFL Draft.(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

On the move

We believe the NCAA needs to be overhauled. And in truth, that may not be strong enough.

The NCAA's antiquated rules have led to a misguided direction that is more concerned with details and preventing loopholes than truly regulating competition and enforcing the rules.

In fact, the NCAA shares arguably the biggest issue with our government these days.

There are far too many people in leadership positions worried about keeping their jobs rather than doing their jobs. And that leads to inconsistencies, biased and hard-to-understand decisions and cover-ups.

And the biggest loser more times than not in the fallout of those situations is the players. Here's TFP college football ace David Paschall's report on the changes. 

Well, the NCAA made a couple of changes that actually help the players. And one of them may be the start of a trend-setting change that could greatly improve college sports as we know it.

First, the NCAA announced a change that football players can play in four games and not lose a year of eligibility.

When debating the merits of a change, explore the pros and cons, and the pros far outweigh the cons on the four-game change. 

It helps teams see what they have with young players without costing them a year. It helps players see if they can compete and get game experience. It gives fans an extra reason to stay during money games and blowouts to see a five-star QB or big-time running back who otherwise would have redshirted. It also helps players like Will McBride, the Tennessee quarterback who had to blow his redshirt season because of injury last fall.

The second change removed the limits schools can place on transfers.

Again, this move makes a lot of sense.

In terms of fairness, the coaches can move everywhere and anywhere they want as long as they pay the buyout, which the hiring school normally handles.

In terms of quid pro quo, until the system gives these players four-year deals and schools and coaches can not "process" these kids, then limiting transfers is terribly one-sided. Transfers who have not graduated still have to sit out a season, but now they do not have to ask permission 

Finally, the extra benefit here is the NCAA is encouraging the conferences to make rules on transferring within leagues. Think about how much better and more competitive the leagues would be if the leagues governed for uniformity, and since the leagues share the coin anyway, it would make a lot of sense in a practical matter. (The NCAA makes all its money from the NCAA hoops tournament, so it understandably does not want bad things to happen to the college basketball powers.)

Take a bow NCAA, you did some good work. (That sentence hurt more than I expected to write.)

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FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, file photo, United States' Phil Mickelson gets his ball back after putting on the third hole during the final round of the Presidents Cup golf tournament at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J. Mickelson hasn’t had his fill when it comes to the cup. He turns 48 next year and desperately wants to be on the Ryder Cup team, most likely his last chance to win one in Europe. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez,File)


Open and closed

The U.S. Open started this morning. Hooray.

Shinnecock Hills is taking no prisoners friends.

One analyst said that if the wind stays in the 10-20 mph range one of the entries is not going to break 90. Think about that.

(Side point: We get up pretty early. Some days before the sun in fact. Can anyone explain why the only TV coverage from the U.S. Open was three twerps from the Golf Channel chatting about dudes on the practice range. Seriously why can we not have wall-to-wall coverage of these majors? Nothing on Fox. Nothing on Fox Sports 1, wherever that channel is — and we actually looked and found some show with Cris Carter and some other talking head. And the Golf Channel showing practice swings and two-day-old interviews. Well, that's a bogey-bogey start.)

We have always preferred the Masters because it's the major championship that players have to go win.

The U.S. Open — the event that the USGA is dead-set to make par a very good score — is about survival and scrambling. The last time the Open was here, Retief Goosen won at -4. He led the field in scrambling, converting par 70 percent of the time from the rough and/or getting up and down. (Side note: Phil Mickelson finished second at that Open and he said this week it was because of a rock behind his ball in a bunker that led to double-bogey. A rule change in effect this weekend would have helped ol' Lefty. Here's more.

The early carnage Thursday morning was staggering. As of 9:45 there were exactly five players under par. There were 78 on the course, inducing Scott Gregory, who was at +13 through 10 holes.

We have some questions on this below, but wow, this will be a golf movie with Daniel Day Lewis.

And there will be blood.

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FILE - In this Oct. 11, 2015 file photo, NBA basketball legend Michael Jordan waves during the match of Charlotte Hornets against the Los Angeles Clippers at the 2015 NBA Global Games in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong province. China's highest court ruled Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, in favor of Jordan at the conclusion of a years-long trademark case. The former NBA star has been in dispute with a sportswear company based in southern China called Qiaodan Sports since 2012. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)


NBA debate

We have suffered through at least a month of MJ or LeBron talk as the GOAT.

MJ is the GOAT. Period. LeBron is the most complete basketball player I have ever seen and if we drafted all the players ever, we'd be hard pressed not to take James 1. (If we didn't we may take Jabbar, but that interferes with the modern narrative.)

What deserves a tip of the hat on this day in terms of the debate of the NBA is this simple fact:

On this day 20 years ago Jordan hit the game-winner over Bryon Russell to beat the Utah Jazz in the NBA Finals. (Speaking of that shot, and because social media, at times, is awesome in its awesomeness, look at this back tattoo of Jordan's jumper. Amazing.) https://twitter.com/Howsito/status/1007230510437826560

It was the end of the Jordan run. It was the end of the high times of the NBA.

More than 72 million Americans, according to Darren Rovell, watched at least some of that Bulls-Jazz game. It still ranks as the biggest audience for an NBA game ever. 

The NBA has enjoyed a strong return with James, who has helped the NBA reach its best days since Jordan.

In fact, the first three Cavs-Warriors Finals were the most-watched since Jordan in 1998.

This year's sweep — and remember sweeps are normally a kick to the ratings' privates — was better than most sweeps. This breakdown of comparison of Finals decided in four games from SportsMedia.com: "This year's series increased 61% in ratings and 90% in viewership from Spurs-Cavaliers in 2007 (6.2, 9.3M). That was the lowest rated and least-watched NBA Finals on record. Compared to Lakers-Nets on NBC in 2002, ratings fell 2% (from 10.0) but viewership increased 13% (from 15.7M)."

But the cautionary tale heading into the offseason that will be dictated by where LeBron and even Kevin Durant may wind up, is that the viewing audience may be growing weary of Cavs-Warriors.

Not a single game of this year's Finals had a rating as high or an audience as large as any of the five games in 2017. Also, these four games range among the eight least-watched of the 22 Cavs-Warriors meetings over the last four years.

As for the comparison for Jordan, well, the drama — the retire, the return, the retire — as well as the rotating opponents and superstars was part of the rise that hit the apex in 1998. A place that will likely never be matched again, and that seems like it's a very one-sided conclusion. 

This and that

— Gang there are no videos better than our military heroes returning home and surprising family members. Here's one from the Brewers game this week, and if that does not make it dusty where you are, well, that's on you. 

— Speaking of the NCAA, here's a great look at the curious case of Kristian Fulton, an LSU player who was suspended for two years by the NCAA for tampering with his drug test. Tough deal for sure, but if the NCAA placed and followed all its rules like this it would not take long to dramatically turn college sports into a much better place.

— The Best of Preps banquet is tonight. Congrats to all those who were picked for various teams and invited tonight. It's a cool event that caps a truly memorable season for those who made it. Well-played indeed.

— The Dodgers won over Texas in extra innings Wednesday. Normally that does make the cut of things of interest around these parts. Now for two items that may qualify. The Dodgers won on a throwing error, giving them their first walk-off win of the season. They were the only team without a walk-off before last night. Also of note: The Dodgers are 19-6 since May 17 and have moved to within two games of first in the NL West.

— Anne Donovan, a basketball Hall of Famer, died Wednesday. She was 56.

Today's questions

It's a Thursday. There's a major golf championship to be won. Times are good.

Some of you guys are excited for the World Cup. You guys and gals go crazy.

(Side question: Why has the FIFA and U.S. soccer folks not tried to come up with some sort of bracket-type contest for this thing. It made the NCAA tournament what it is.)

On this Thursday we will pose this question to the group. Since the U.S. is not invited to this kickball party, who are you cheering for and why? Discuss.

As for the Open, if pros are going to have a tough time breaking 75 today at Shinnecock, what would the average golfer shoot? Here's betting it would be into triple digits.

Also, if the winning score was -4 in '04, will the winning score be lower than that?

June 14 is Donald Trump's birthday. And Boy George's.

It's also Flag Day friends. Colin Kaepernick says hello. Pennsylvania is the lone state that celebrates this as a holiday.

Rushmore of "flags" and be creative. And remember the mailbag.

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