Notes on yet another losing U.S. Ryder Cup scorecard while wondering if the Americans will ever win it again …
-- September was a lousy month schedulewise for the Southeastern Conference.
But now it’s October. Fall is really coming this weekend — if only for a brief visit — and so are a flood of games that really mean something.
There are three blockbusters in the SEC Western Division alone, plus the former Biggest Game in the SEC, Florida at Tennessee.
No. 15-ranked LSU at No. 5 Auburn, No. 3 Alabama at No. 11 Ole Miss and No. 6 Texas A&M at No. 12 Mississippi State. Any one of those games on another weekend could have been the top tilt in the SEC, if not the country.
LSU at Auburn may be the lesser of the three since LSU dares to have one loss (the others are unbeaten matchups). But none of the other rivalries has matched the insanity that LSU-Auburn has delivered since these teams started playing annually in 1992.
There have been earthquakes and barn burnings and pick sixes and magic, field goals clanging off goalposts and fields goals be damned when LSU threw for the end zone against Auburn in 2007, a touchdown play that ended with just :01 on the clock.
There haven’t been two bigger invasions of Mississippi since the, ahem, “War of Northern Aggression.” Both Ole Miss and State are straining to gain the national relevance LSU, Bama, Auburn and A&M have known in recent years. Winning Saturday would go a long way to accomplishing that.
-- The rankings say the SEC West is the best division in college football. Heck, if Arkansas hadn’t blown its chances against A&M last week, ALL SEVEN SEC West teams would have been ranked this week.
But not so fast, ballot breath. There’s a downside to all this powerful parity in the West. These teams all have to play each other, and someone’s gotta lose. The West looks like it could easily produce a CFP playoff participant, if its teams don’t beat each other to a pulp first. A 6-2 record may win the West, but two losses may not get you in the CFP.
-- Patrick Reed is making friends — and enemies — on both sides of the Atlantic now.
The frank and emotional ex-University High golfer drew the ire of even non-golf fans in March when he said he thought he was a top-five player after winning the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
Sunday at the Ryder Cup, Reed shushed the heavily pro-Team Europe crowd in Gleneagles, Scotland, then beat 2013 FedEx Cup champion Henrik Stenson 1-up.
There were few bright spots for Team USA in the Ryder Cup other than the play of Reed individually and with fellow rookie Jordan Spieth. All told, Reed was 3-0-1, having a hand in winning nearly a third of all U.S. points in its 16.5-11.5 drubbing.
Love Reed or loathe him, he’s a killer in slacks when it comes to match play. He was 6-0 in that format helping Augusta State win two NCAA titles. He’s the kind of guy you want playing for the U.S. in the 2016 Ryder Cup.
-- Who will captain the Americans at Hazeltine National near Minneapolis?
There’s a lot of sentiment to bring back Paul Azinger, the last winning U.S. captain from 2008. Successful Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples is also a popular choice.
Former LSU All-American and 2001 PGA champion David Toms can’t be discounted. The 47-year-old Toms was expected to be the pick for 2014 until Tom Watson got the job. Will the PGA of America feel it owes its former winner? We should find out by December.
-- LSU took pitcher Mac Marshall at his word.
He took LSU for a ride.
Marshall is the talented lefty who the now hapless Houston Astros let slip through their fingers, failing to sign him in July and seemingly paving his path to LSU for three years.
After the Astros bungled, Marshall tweeted “Omaha 2015 here we go!”
But Marshall’s heart was never really purple and gold, just green. He bolted from LSU last week for Chipola (Florida) College, where after one year of junior-college ball he will be eligible for the major league cash, um, draft.
LSU coaches were dumbfounded, and so, some say, were Marshall’s parents. If he was my son, I would be embarrassed. If Marshall had gone the JUCO route from the start, which was his right, the Tigers might have been able to sign another pitcher.
LSU will have to try to get to Omaha without the hard-throwing lefty, who some say would have been a Friday night starter and some say would have had to fight for a weekend start with the Tigers’ other talented pitchers.
Marshall can go to Omaha and the College World Series — if he buys a ticket. But he will never know what it’s like to be Brandon Finnegan, who pitched for TCU in this year’s CWS and was dealing some key shutout innings Tuesday night in the Kansas City Royals’ American League wild-card win over Oakland.
I hope this kid was just too young to know what commitment really means.
I hope it was worth it, Mac.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv.