Greetings from the sports desk located somewhere below decks of the Good Pirate Ship RedState. Sammy the Shark and Karl the Kraken are on assignment or something like that, so as usual, I’m flying solo.
The significant sports story of yesterday, aside from Coco Gauff finally winning something, came out of Tuscaloosa, where the Texas Longhorns upset the Alabama Crimson Tide 34-24. A few observations:
- Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers is legit. Facing a ton of pressure following a subpar 2022, plus knowing Arch Manning is waiting for his turn, Ewers put in a superb effort. Helped by an offensive line that kept him upright all night long, Ewers showed poise, leadership, and a deft touch with the ball on his way to a 349-yard, 3-TD performance that, should Manning replace him down the line, will make him a prime target for other schools looking for a quarterback upgrade.
- One of those schools could well be Alabama. Jalen Milroe made some excellent plays, especially running, but when forced to rely on his arm, was much more hit or miss. Well, he did hit Texas defensive players twice with his throws.
- There’s something about burnt orange that makes the Crimson Tide see yellow. Alabama committed ten penalties for ninety yards. It’s a mite difficult to win that way.
- Fundamentally, Texas outplayed Alabama. As noted, Texas didn’t allow a single sack, while Alabama surrendered five. Couple that with the lack of discipline, and you have the perfect storm.
While this isn’t the end of Alabama’s title hopes, it reveals some deficiencies a championship team cannot afford. Nor does this game cement Texas into the title conversation. That said, they now clearly have the upper hand in the conversation.
In other games, other than noting that Cal needs Ben Finley to get healthy really quickly, what was last week’s feel-good story (Colorado) is rapidly turning into a you’ve-lost-that-loving-feeling story. The “we’re disrespected” shtick is played out, kids. Win and shut up.
Elsewhere in sports, those of us who force ourselves to watch ESPN are all too familiar with its penchant for picking an athlete and hyping them to a level where you almost feel compelled to root against them through no fault of their own. Although this usually rears its ugly head in basketball, the most recent examples being Victor Wembanyana and before him, Zion Williamson, other sports receive the same treatment. In tennis, in ESPN Land, it’s all Coco Gauff all the time. “She’s the next Serena Williams!” Um, sure.
Gauff won her first major tournament on September 9, beating Aryna Sabalenka 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 to win the US Open. She responded with, um, pure class:
“I want to say honestly thank you to the people who didn’t believe in me,” Gauff said. “A month ago, I won a 500 title and people said, I would stop at that. Two weeks ago, I won a 1000 title and people were saying that was the biggest it was going to get. So three weeks later, I’m here with this trophy right now.
“I’ve tried my best to carry this with grace and I’ve been doing my best. So honestly, to those who thought they were putting water on my fire, you were really adding gas to it. And now I’m really burning so bright right now.”
Psst, Coco … if you think people dislike a poor loser, it’s nothing compared to their reaction toward a poor winner. And no, ESPN telling people to love you won’t make people love you. If that was the case, America would be watching the WNBA. They’re not. Keep it up, and they will not be watching you either, except to see you lose.