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#pounditFriday, December 3, 2021

Stories by Grey Papke:

Twitter reacts to Tank Bigsby’s mental mistake in Iron Bowl

Tank Bigsby running

Auburn running back Tank Bigsby made a tough mental mistake late in Saturday’s Iron Bowl that wound up costing his team dearly.

The Tigers were clinging to a 10-3 lead over Alabama with 1:54 remaining in regulation, and were trying to run out the clock. Alabama only had two timeouts remaining, so a first down would have essentially ended the game. That looked out of reach after Auburn lost one yard on first down.

On 2nd and 11, however, Bigsby came up with a pretty big play. He managed to find space and picked up ten yards, setting up a 3rd and 1. There was just one problem — Alabama did a fine job ushering Bigsby out of bounds. That stopped the clock and saved Alabama a timeout, as Bigsby was unable to go down in bounds.

That would not have mattered that much had Auburn converted on 3rd and 1, but Bigsby was stuffed for a four-yard loss. Auburn had to punt, which set up a game-tying touchdown drive for Alabama.

Auburn’s punt came with 1:43 left in regulation. Had Bigsby stayed in bounds, the Tigers could have run roughly 40 more seconds off the clock. That led a lot of people to criticize Bigsby for hurting Auburn’s cause despite the yardage.

Bigsby was in a really tough spot. He was only a yard short of the first down and seemed to want to go down, but simply couldn’t. It would have been moot with a better 3rd and 1 play, too. Fairly or not, Bigsby will have fingers pointed at him for opening the door for the Crimson Tide offense.

Photo: Auburn running back Tank Bigsby (4) runs into the end zone for a touchdown during Auburn football A-Day spring game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Jake Crandall via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Bill Belichick has big complaint about Pro Football Hall of Fame

Bill Belichick

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick only shares his opinions when he feels very strongly about something. You can tell, then, that the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection criteria — or lack thereof — gets on his nerves.

Belichick on Friday reacted to the announcement of the semi-finalists for the Hall of Fame’s 2022 modern-era class. That group includes Vince Wilfork and Richard Seymour, two of Belichick’s former players. Belichick vouched for both of them to be selected, but also took time to criticize the selection process as a whole.

“The Hall of Fame’s out of my control, and since there’s no criteria for the Hall of Fame, it’s really hard to even have a conversation about it because it’s not based on anything,” Belichick said, via Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald. “It’s your opinion on a great player, my opinion on a great player, somebody else’s opinion on a great player. I don’t know what that means.

“When there’s no criteria, you can make a case for everybody.”

The Hall of Fame, like most awards and honors of its nature, prefers to leave things open-ended, trusting voters to make the right decisions. Whether that’s good or bad is subjective. It undoubtedly helps foster debate and discussion, which is something that the Hall of Fame would want. That kind of chatter creates buzz, though it can also lead to bad feelings.

Belichick has been on a run of bold opinions lately. This one is a little bit light-hearted, but you could certainly say he has a point.

Jim Harbaugh takes clear shot at Ryan Day after rivalry win

Jim Harbaugh in sunglasses

Jim Harbaugh on Saturday got his first win in six tries against Ohio State and wasted little time settling scores.

Michigan had beaten the Buckeyes just twice in the last 20 years coming into Saturday, and Harbaugh had a personal record of 0-5 against his rivals. That had become a very popular talking point among Ohio State faithful, and the school has embraced it everywhere you look.

When Harbaugh was asked about that trash talking in recent years after Saturday’s win, he did not hold back. He made a remark about some people being born on third and thinking they’ve hit a triple.

This is widely being viewed as a shot at Buckeyes coach Ryan Day, who inherited the program from Urban Meyer. Day was never previously a head coach but got to take over for Meyer, who had Ohio State running as a national powerhouse and a top destination for recruits. Harbaugh was 0-4 against Meyer but is now 1-1 against Day.

There appears to be a mutual dislike between the two men, as Day and Harbaugh sparred on a head coaches teleconference in 2020. That led Day to make a bold statement to his team. Saturday’s game marked the first meeting of the two schools since then.

The quote is reminiscent of the Harbaugh that first arrived at Michigan back in 2015. That Harbaugh was happy to lob missiles at rivals over anything and everything. Those comments had become less frequent in recent seasons as criticism of his lack of titles mounted. He’s at his best when he’s like this, so Michigan fans should be very encouraged to see these kinds of comments again.

Photo: Nov 16, 2019; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh reacts during the second half against the Michigan State Spartans at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Video: Michigan fans storm the field after beating Ohio State

Michigan fans celebrate

Michigan’s win over Ohio State was a euphoric moment for fans — so much so that they engaged in a rare field-storm.

Wolverines fans spilled onto the field at Michigan Stadium at the end of their team’s 42-27 victory on Saturday. Many Michigan players remained on the field to celebrate with them, prompting quite the scene.

The scene was pretty much bedlam as thousands of Michigan fans streamed onto the field.

Scenes like this are typically reserved for huge upsets or dramatic endings. While Michigan was an eight-point underdog here, it couldn’t be classified as an enormous shock. It was simply the result of a team that has consistently been on the wrong side of one of college football’s biggest rivalries finally getting one for the first time since 2011. It also ensured that the Wolverines will make their first trip to the Big Ten Championship game next Saturday.

The most surprising thing about this? It wasn’t just fans who were on the field here.

Report: Mets targeting 3 big names in free agency

Max Scherzer in a Dodgers uniform

The New York Mets have already been one of the busiest teams in free agency, and if they have their way, their biggest addition is yet to come.

The Mets are eyeing the top starting pitchers on the market, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network. That includes reigning AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray, and it even includes Max Scherzer.

Scherzer is the headliner here, and would be a massive addition. There are clear questions about whether he’d be interested, however. At this stage in his career, he will be prioritizing winning, and the Mets did not make the playoffs last season. Plus, Scherzer’s preference for a West Coast team was a factor at the trade deadline, and the Mets certainly cannot offer that. There are certainly some other clubs that can that might be interested.

The Mets have already significantly bolstered their offense. Maybe that will help them attract top-tier pitching like Scherzer.

Photo: Aug 10, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) walks towards the dugout against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Video: Cameron Brown rips Roman Wilson’s helmet off

cameron brown helmet

Saturday’s Ohio State-Michigan game was one of the most heated the rivalry has seen in years, and things boiled over a bit in the third quarter.

Things really got started with about six minutes left in the third quarter after the Wolverines ran a first and goal play. Ohio State cornerback Cameron Brown and Michigan wide receiver Roman Wilson got into a bit of a scuffle away from the play. Brown totally lost his cool and ripped Wilson’s helmet off, sparking a near-fight on the field between the two teams.

Brown was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for his actions. Michigan had already had the ball at the Ohio State two-yard line, so the actual penalty didn’t matter all that much, and the Wolverines scored a touchdown on the ensuing play.

Brown has to keep his composure here. The Buckeyes were already down 21-13 at the time and were struggling on defense, which undoubtedly fueled the frustration. It didn’t help that tensions were already high based on what happened in the tunnel at halftime.

The Buckeyes are not used to being pushed around. Michigan was doing that on Saturday with the stakes higher than ever, and Ohio State simply was not handling it well.

New favorite reportedly emerges for USC head coach job

Matt Campbell

The USC Trojans have had months to come up with a list of candidates for their vacant head coaching position. It appears that they may be ready to land on a favorite.

Iowa State coach Matt Campbell should be considered the current favorite for the USC job, according to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports. Trojans athletic director Mike Bohm is known to covet Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell, but getting Fickell to leave the Midwest with the Bearcats in the College Football Playoff race may prove impossible.

Campbell appears to be a leading option, particularly with no clear West Coast candidate available. Campbell has been credited for his work with the Cyclones, and has even drawn NFL interest. USC badly needs stability, a culture reset, and recruiting wins. Campbell looks capable of providing all three.

That said, it certainly sounds like Fickell would have been the No. 1 choice. Unfortunately for the Trojans, he’s been pretty steadfast in his lack of interest.

Video: Michigan and Ohio State in tunnel confrontation at halftime

Ohio State Michigan tunnel

The rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State is one of the most heated in all of sports, and that nearly boiled over at halftime of Saturday’s game.

Video from the Michigan Stadium tunnel showed players from both teams getting involved in a halftime confrontation. While nothing serious happened, coaches had to make sure the players remained separated, and the game referees even had to get involved. Some staffers even seemed to be exchanging words.

It wasn’t clear what sparked this, but that’s how it goes sometimes with both teams in close proximity as they head to their locker rooms. It’s also worth noting that tempers were flaring on the field, as Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson and Michigan’s Vincent Gray had an on-field confrontation late in the half.

Add in the fact that both teams count down to this game all year and you have a recipe for heightened emotions.

The Wolverines, who have not beaten Ohio State since 2011, carried a 14-13 lead into halftime.