Tag Archives: college


The Final Say | August 2017

screen-shot-2017-08-05-at-5-36-06-pmZach’s State Of College Football Address

By Zach McCrite 

Here ye, here ye.

As we embark on another season of college football, in the backyard of the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, it is I, the all-knowing (hardly), almighty (not really) Zach McCrite here, leader of Sports Gasbag Nation, to give you the State of College Football Address.

There will be no predictions, as predictions are doomed to fail (I fail enough on my own, thank you).

There are, however, expectations. Expectations created by fans, media and even the donors and administration at their respective school.

Do the coaches have their own expectations? Of course. And, short of a College Football Playoff berth, those expectations never seem to be met, so I, your fearless (most would disagree, but let’s go with it) leader of Sports Gasbag Nation moves to strike them from public record.

Let us begin nationally, where I can say this once and for all: The Southeastern Conference is not your king.

They’re not good. It’s Alabama and everyone else. Anyone who tells you differently is likely an SEC fan mad that their team isn’t in the same ballpark as Nick Saban’s NFL farm.

You see, the patented SEC “honk” has a patented SEC move: to tell others if teams in their conference are not living up to expectations, it is for no other reason than the league is “just too good” and everyone in the league is “just beating up on each other” because the SEC is just a different animal.

It is I, leader of Sports Gasbag Nation, who will agree that the SEC is, indeed, a different animal. We shall call them a kitten.

Of course, the exception to this is Alabama. Because Saban.

This year, instead of going at these delusional pro-SEC people with your own set of facts and opinions, all you have to do when you hear these nimrods tout their conference as almighty is this: chuckle.

Now, a minute, if you will, on each of the “big three” college football teams in our own backyard.


I hereby declare that the Louisville Cardinals are national championship contenders. Why not? Many publications that deem themselves smarter than I are predicting that Louisville is no better than the third-best team in the Atlantic Coast Conference, behind Clemson and Florida State.

There are simple reasons why that can, and should, be disproven.

First, too much emphasis is being placed on the finish, albeit regurgitation-worthy, of last season. That season-ending three-game spiral began with a blowout loss at Houston. Nevermind that Houston had already beaten perennial power Oklahoma earlier in the year.

The Cardinals laid an egg, plain and simple.

Ging into that game, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee had deemed Louisville just one spot out of the playoff, ranking them fifth in the country.

That Houston loss, combined with the earlier loss at eventual national champion Clemson in one of the best games of the season, took Bobby Petrino’s bunch out of the national title discussion with just one game left in their season.

And that one game left was Kentucky.

Let it be known, Kentucky was the better team on that day against Louisville. But they wouldn’t have been the better team that day, in your leader’s eyes, had Louisville still had a national championship berth for which to play.

By the time Louisville play LSU in the Citrus Bowl, they appeared to be at a football game that they did not want to play in, getting bludgeoned 29-9.

I hereby grant UofL a reprieve from that unbelievably embarrassing season-ending tumble. Too much of the Cardinals’ 2017 public expectations are based on their performance in the final two games of the year, which had far less meaning to the coaches and players than it did to the college football world.

Also, lest we forget, the Cards have the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Clemson lost their all-star quarterback, and Florida State was embarrassed by this same Louisville team just 12 months ago.

I hereby declare the Cardinals title contenders.


Ah, Kentucky. You are quite the lovable football character. You are the program we pat on the head like a good dog who just brought back the ball we launched into the neighbor’s yard.

Sure, you may urinate in a million places that we don’t really appreciate (like vs. Southern Mississippi), but every once in a while, you find a bone (like at Louisville).

And for some reason, the majority of fans seem fine with this. It’s like they said “hey, we’ll take all your 7-5’s and your 6-6’s and your 5-7’s. Just get us to basketball season and try not to embarrass us.”

And this season is no different. Kentucky feels like another mediocre-at-best member of the aforementioned below-average-after-Bama SEC.


Let us start off the field. I, your leader of Sports Gasbag Nation (an admitted IU fan), am still a little salty with how athletic director Fred Glass introduced Tom Allen as the new head coach of Indiana University football.

Glass made Allen, on what quite possibly was the best day of Allen’s professional life, sit mostly idle at the press conference table while Glass announced the very sudden firing of former coach Kevin Wilson. Save for a quick statement from the new head coach on how this was the opportunity of a lifetime, the press only cared about “Where’d the old coach go?” Glass didn’t give his new head coach his own day filled with positivity about the football team. That’s sat with me all offseason.

Now, as far as the actual football is concerned: see Kentucky.

So, let it be written. So, let it be done.

– Your Leader of Sports Gasbag Nation


Money Matters | Episode 5: College Prep 101


Are you (parents) prepared to send your child away to college?  Not so much mentally, but are you fully prepared legally and have you prepared your child financially?
Money Matters: The Podcast is sponsored by Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors.  This monthly podcast is in addition to a monthly article titled, “Money Matters,” that is posted online at www.ExtolMag.com and www.axiomfsg.com.
At Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors we sincerely appreciate our clients making opportunities like this possible. Without their support of our business, we would not be able to support programs like this.
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At Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, our team caters to a select group of family-owned businesses, entrepreneurs, individuals, institutions, and foundations, helping them build, manage, preserve, and transition wealth. We accomplish this while providing top-notch service through a team approach that puts our clients’ needs, goals, and interests first. To learn more visit our website at www.axiomfsg.com. Wells Fargo Advisors. Member SIPC.
The information provided is general in nature and may not apply to your personal investment situation. Individuals should consult with their chosen financial professional before making any decisions.
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Everyone Else Has The Power Except The Student-Athlete In College Sports

By Zach McCrite

It’s a wonderful thing… if used properly. The problem with college athletics is that “power” and “properly” are never used in the same sentence.

We’ve lived in this world for quite some time now where the coach (and by extension, the athletic director who hired the coach) at a big conference school gets a ton of the money. Yet, the both of them are only mildly responsible for the product we pay to watch.

They are only mildly responsible for, let’s say, the $8.8 billion — with a “b” — contract that the NCAA made with CBS and Turner Sports for the rights to broadcast all of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament games. A lion’s share of that revenue trickles back down to the member institutions.

The ones largely responsible for the entertainment that makes March Madness a multi-billion-dollar industry? You guessed it. The student-athletes, most of whom aren’t old enough to legally have an adult libation.

Instead they are paid in education. They get to leave their university without being buried under a mountain of student loan debt. That’s certainly a blessing. And for a lot of you reading this, that’s a fair deal.

Well, not from where I sit.

Imagine Roy Williams, head coach of the national champion North Carolina Tarheels, has a blue-chip recruit in his office, trying to woo him to come continue to championship legacy in Chapel Hill.

I imagine Williams says something to the effect of, “There’s more to this than just winning titles and getting you to the NBA, son. It’s also about setting you up for life. Basketball won’t be around forever. You’ll get an education and be ready for the real world when it’s time.”

But, if you strip away the pomp and circumstance, I envision a truth serum-infused Roy Williams sounding more like this: “Son, if you come to North Carolina, you’ll be under my control for as long as you want to wear the Carolina Blue, and I truly think you’ve got the talent that will help me make millions of dollars and keep my legacy intact.

“Oh, and you’ll get to go to school for free.”

Look, I’m just using the Tarheels’ coach as an example. After all, according to USA Today, Williams just received a total of $925,000 in bonuses from the University of North Carolina during his run to a national title last month. But this happens all over college basketball. Rick Pitino earned an extra $425,000 in bonuses from the University of Louisville when the Cardinals won the 2013 championship (and another $375,000 from team outfitter Adidas). These bonuses may vary in value, depending on what program the coach oversees, but they are commonplace in the sport.

The coaches have the power.

What else is commonplace? The economic lift that Final Four host cities receive. The Arizona Republic reports that the city of Houston, the host of the Final Four in 2016, “benefitted from $300 million in direct economic impact.”

This is all on the backs of the unpaid, barely of-age labor.

Well, let me back up for a second. I guess the players do get a stipend over and above the benefits of a scholarship – as much as $5,000, according to the Kansas City Star. That’s with one comma.

Let’s call it what it is: “shamateurism.” Stay in our minor-league system for the NBA (the league that is in lockstep with college basketball so much so that they make sure no games are being played concurrently with the national championship game) for anywhere from one to four years. By the way, your coach can leave whenever he wants without penalty. If you do it, you’ll have to sit out a season.

The NCAA has the power.

Consider this: When most of these NCAA (sh)amateurism rules were written, television was barely even a part of societal consciousness. “Television deals” weren’t even a thought. “March Madness” was probably something more associated with St. Patrick’s Day.

And when those rules were written, players still received full scholarships while the schools and conferences for which those players played got next to nothing in terms of television revenue. In other words, the value of a scholarship for a student-athlete was a much bigger piece of the overall pie in the 1950s and 1960s. It was far more fair.

These days, the pockets of the university administrators, coaches, athletic directors and many more are overflowing thanks to the players lacing them up in front of a nightly, nationally-televised audience. Everyone is splitting all of this television money that wasn’t around when these rules were made.

Except the players mainly responsible for creating said revenue. They get a couple grand over with their scholarship, maybe.

Could you imagine the profits of a company going up by the billions and the employees of said company making just about the same amount they made a half century ago?

It would never happen.

I’m sure some of you are reading this experiencing a reaction to the effect of, “Back off! These players are getting something you can’t put a price on.” Fair enough. Why shouldn’t we pay them more?

Or, better yet, let’s start paying the millionaire. College basketball coaches in those priceless college credits instead of in dollars. Sound good?

But this is the construct we, the fans, have built for our own entertainment. And this is also the construct we, the media, have let be built for our own financial gain as well.

I am in a moral conundrum every time I watch a basketball game, get paid to talk about it or fill out a bracket. The same moral conundrum should be felt tenfold by the people who make the millions – with two commas – off of this same barely-paid labor.

And it’s why I wrote this.

Power is being abused.


After Shocking the Swimming World, Mallory Comerford Wants More

By Howie Lindsey

Mallory Comerford can go faster – and she knows it.

But we’ll get back to that. First, the race.

University of Louisville sophomore Mallory Comerford brought the swimming world to its feet during the 2017 NCAA Championships when she crashed the podium, turning in a blazing-fast final lap to tie five-time Olympic Gold medalist Katie Ledecky for the NCAA Championship in the 200-yard freestyle.

It was the greatest race of Mallory’s life, the fastest time she had ever swam. After jamming her hand into the wall to finish as quickly as she possibly could, she turned to check the scoreboard and saw her name.

Her mouth dropped open and her hand raised to cover her shocked expression. She just out-swam two Olympic stars, Ledecky and Simone Manuel, two of the best swimmers in the world, in the final lap at the national championships.

“When I saw the one next to my name, it was just unreal,” Comerford said. “I knew I swam a good race, but I didn’t expect to see the one next to my name. I looked over at my teammates and they were all going crazy.”

Her Louisville teammates erupted on the pool deck, screaming with tears in their eyes for their teammate’s breakthrough moment. Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich and his wife, Terrilynn, were in Indianapolis for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and made sure to be there for the finals of the race.

“I’ve been to a lot of athletic events, bowl games, the national championship in basketball … That was one of the best moments of my career,” Jurich said. “The entire team was crying, my wife was crying.”

Swimming insiders all billed the race as a showdown between Ledecky and Manuel, but Comerford would be standing at the top of the podium. She beat Manuel and tied Ledecky down to the one-hundredth of a second, 1:40.36.

“Mallory tied Katie Ledecky in the 200,” those in the swimming community say, with significant reverence, emphasizing Ledecky’s name like the legend she already is.  Ledecky, a Stanford freshman, has already been to two Olympics, has five Gold medals and nine World titles. Just 20 years old, she has broken 13 world records.

“She never loses,” Olympian Maya DiRado said. “Her off days are winning by a lot but not setting the world record. It’s a totally different standard than everybody else is working on.”

Ledecky didn’t lose the 200-free, but Comerford out-raced her on the final lap for the tie.

Louisville coach Arthur Albiero was among those who believed Comerford could win.

“We never put a limit on what Mallory can do,” Albiero said. “Yes, I believed Mallory Comerford could swim a 1:40.3 200-free because I know all the hard work she has put in to get here. There was nothing surprising about her race to be honest with you.”

What made Comerford’s race so incredible was her final lap. She was down nearly a half-second to Manuel and was behind by more than a tenth to Ledecky before her comeback.

“I’m watching the coaches get her splits and hearing, ‘She’s going faster than she ever has before,’ and it’s setting in,” UofL teammate and Olympic gold medalist Kelsi Worrell said. “I can’t control myself. I’m shaking and crying and trying not to pee myself. Just so incredible.”

howie2It was Comerford’s personal best by 1.34 seconds, a massive amount of time for an elite level swimmer in a middle-distance event. Albiero noted that dropping new personal bests is nothing new for Comerford.

Comerford has dropped more than seven seconds from her 200-free and more than four seconds from her 100. She was a high-school phenom in Kalamazoo, Mich., but has become a superstar at Louisville.

“Since I got to college, I have learned so much,” Comerford said. “I got so much stronger. I am still continuing to learn so much. The past two years have been a learning process. Plus, my teammates have pushed me to my limits and our coaches push us so hard. We also have so many incredible resources for us to get better.”

Part of that is the training of Albiero and assistant coach Stephanie Juncker.

“I think Arthur has created the atmosphere of leaders wanting to get better every day, wanting to work hard,” Comerford said. “It gets hard, but the atmosphere we created is that everyone is going to work hard and everyone wants to get better.” On a recent Thursday morning, the Louisville swimmers warmed-up by swimming nearly two miles.

And then they started into their actual workouts.

The sprinters tacked on another four miles worth of grueling sets. The distance swimmers recorded a total of 10,850 meters.

And then they all came back in the afternoon to do it again. Workouts like that are part of the reason Louisville has had a NCAA champion in each of the last six seasons.

But Comerford isn’t satisfied with tying Ledecky for the NCAA title. She wants more.


“Steph (Juncker), she and I have worked on stroke counts, watching and learning from the best,” Comerford said, noting that she has already analyzed her 200-free from the most-recent NCAA meet, trying to get better.

“It wasn’t necessarily perfect, but the way I went out with easy speed helped,” Comerford said.

“I didn’t overdo it in the first 100, so that allowed me to kick it in during the second 100. That was the plan: stay as close as possible and then let it go.”

Comerford can go faster – and she knows it.

“I mean, I was happy with the finish, but we think maybe I took an extra stroke at the end,” Comerford said. “It obviously worked out great, but there are just some little things that I see that can improve.

“I think it was an awesome race, but there are still things that need to be better. There’s always a next race. It wasn’t necessary a perfect race so there are some good things to learn from it. That is exciting.”

It’s clear Comerford believes she can go faster.

“Yeah, I think so,” Comerford said.

How much faster?

“I don’t know,” she said with a smile.

Can she break 1:40?

“That’s definitely the goal,” Comerford said. “I just want to keep working hard and having fun with it. If you aren’t having fun, it doesn’t work.”

The good news for Louisville is Comerford still has two more years of college left. She and fellow sophomore Lamar Jackson were recently honored as the Adidas High Performance Athletes of the Year.

The sophomore pair have a lot of similarities. Most notably, each burst onto the scene in their respective sports this past season, and both haven’t yet peaked with their enormous potential.

“To be honored with that award is very cool and to have Lamar Jackson win it, too? I mean, he just won the Heisman Trophy,” Comerford said.

Yeah, and Mallory Comerford just won an NCAA championship.