The Pi-Rate Ratings

November 29, 2020

Sunday Morning Musings

Roger Goodell Playing Favorites

Those of you coming to the PiRate Ratings expecting to see the updated college ratings, you will have to wait until Tuesday afternoon before they can be updated, because there is a game scheduled for Tuesday morning between Charlotte and Western Kentucky. We will update the ratings within 90 minutes of the finish of that game. Such is reality on Planet Covid.

The NFL also has a Tuesday game, this one to be played in primetime on NBC between rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson is in the Covid Protocol, as are other players, and the game, originally scheduled for Thanksgiving night, was moved to Sunday and then to Tuesday. The reasoning must have something to do with the fact that both teams are in the playoff hunt and fighting for the AFC North title.

Head West to the Mountain Time Zone, flyover country to the elites in Manhattan, like NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The Denver Broncos have not one quarterback, but all the quarterbacks on their roster unable to play today against New Orleans. Is their game postponed until Tuesday to give at least one of the quarantined players a chance to get enough negative tests to play, or for Denver to sign a free agent QB and attempt to install a couple of series for him? Goodell apparently does not care as much about the Broncos as he does the Ravens. Not only is the game scheduled to be played today, he would not allow the Broncos to activate their one offensive assistant coach young enough to play, Rob Calabrese, and also competent enough to run the offense. Goodell nixed the precedent-setting move that would allow teams to “hide” players as basically extra practice squad members.

Calabrese is not a ringer. He is 30 years old and a one-time part-time starting quarterback at Central Florida. He actually was moved to wide receiver for his final year at UCF. In his college career, he threw a total of 254 passes, completing just 46% of them and averaged a measly five yards per attempt. These are not stats of a “ringer.”

You might say that Denver is headed to the basement of the AFC West this year, so it doesn’t matter that they are forced to play almost a Single Wing offense today without any single wing series to take much advantage of the added running strength. In the NFL, this in essence makes for a walkover game for the New Orleans Saints. And, that is the problem. How fair is this to Tampa Bay? The Bucs did not get a walkover game on their schedule. New Orleans gets a free win.

How can Goodell gift New Orleans a win like this, and then he gives Baltimore five days extra to get ready for their game with Pittsburgh? The two games have comparable issues, but the ruling is 180° different.

What would happen if Denver announced today that they were unable to play and would have to forfeit the game? Goodell would be in hot water, and he’d be forced to take some additional type of action. If he backed down and moved the game to Tuesday, it would usurp his power and establish precedent for future caving in with the Commissioner’s office.

Goodell earns a salary near one million dollars a week! He certainly hasn’t earned that million this week.

Reverse Gold Rush

Santa Clara County, California, has issued a ban on contact sports (and almost everything else) inside the county for the next three weeks, as Covid numbers rise, leading to a potential emergency with unavailable hospital beds in the county. The San Francisco 49ers play their home games in Santa Clara, and they have two games scheduled inside this ban window. Where will the 49ers relocate for two games and three weeks?

Further complicating matters is the fact that one of those two games will be a Monday Night game against Buffalo. What that means is that the substitute stadium must have sufficient stadium lighting to meet the NFL’s and ESPN’s standards for televising a night game. While a day game could be played in any neighboring county, that Monday Night Football game almost has to be played in a professional sports stadium. Then, there is the issue of the substitute venue needing to have the technological advances that allow for instant replay and the keeping of the official book of the game–all those stats that every team needs for their analytics’ departments.

It leaves the team with few options if it wants to stay in the Bay Area and not separate players from their families. However, just because a venue has adequate lighting, there is no guarantee that the venue can be ready to host a football game on such short notice. Let’s look at some of the possibilities.

Oakland Coliseum: The O.Co housed the Oakland Raiders until this season. The Raiders had already declined to play one more season at the mausoleum if their new digs in Las Vegas were not ready on time. It isn’t easy to bring in all the personnel needed to convert a hibernating baseball park into an NFL stadium on short notice. It is possible, but it may be a secondary option at best.

California-Berkeley Memorial Stadium: This venue is also in Alameda County, and it is football ready with adequate lighting. Of course, UC may or may not wish to share their football facilities with additional teams. The locker rooms would have to be shared, meaning next week, there would be a Saturday college game followed by a Monday night (5:20 PM locally) NFL game. What would the labor and materials cost be to thoroughly disinfect two locker rooms on 48 hours notice? The electronics and computer setup would take the better part of a day to ready the stadium for Monday afternoon football. This is probably not possible.

Oracle Park: The home ballpark of the San Francisco Giants baseball team has adequate lighting and technological availability. The NFL approved the site as a potential one year rental for the Raiders, but the 49ers vetoed Oakland playing on their side of the Bay. It is the perfect venue to quickly ready a football game on eight days notice, but it has one major liability: San Francisco is likely to impose the same contact sports ban that Santa Clara County has imposed. There would be no way to play the 49ers-Bills game if it were unable to play in San Francisco about 72-96 hours before scheduled kickoff time. It’s probably too risky.

Redwood Bowl at Humboldt State University: This is almost an impossible probability, as it does not have the electronics needed to house an NFL game without several hours of installation. Additionally, it is likely to be a college football host for either Stanford, San Jose State, or both teams. Those two teams also must relocated.

Aggie Stadium–Davis, CA: This site offers a little better quality than the Redwood Bowl, and it is closer to the San Francisco area than Humboldt. But, it still lacks the electronic needs, and the lighting may have to be amended with temporary wattage for Monday Night Football. It could be the best option if the team wants to stay close to home, but Commissioner Goodell has proven not to always make the best option his priority.

Outside of California: This is the worst option for the players and coaches, but it is the NFL’s best option. All the counties surrounding the Bay are likely to impose the same restrictions by the middle of this week, so the real options are either the smaller college venues far removed from the Bay Area or moving out of state to NFL venues.

There is the option of moving the Monday Night game to Buffalo, but this would be as unfair to teams competing against the Bills as Goodell’s Folly of giving the Saints a free win.

The Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys offer potential Monday Night venues that would satisfy everybody but the 49ers players and coaches. When all is said and done, expect Goodell to put their needs aside when he makes the decision of where to allow the game to be played.

Detroit Lions Have A Candidate In Their Backyard

He’s just about reached his expiration date in Ann Arbor. Jim Harbaugh’s loss to winless Penn State yesterday may have sealed his fate with the Michigan Wolverines. At the same time, the Detroit Lions were issuing walking orders to coach Matt Patricia, yet another Bill Belichick disciple unable to replicate the Master’s success.

Would the Ford Family turn to Harbaugh? Personally, we do not see this being a good fit. Harbaugh’s smash mouth style of play is on the outs in college and pro football, and the Lions do not have the personnel to run that system. The Fords now have first dibs on hiring the best offensive mind available if he wants the job. Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy is the perfect candidate for the job. Harbaugh’s next job should be as a commentator for Fox Sports or CBS. He could be a second Tony Romo type for college or pro football.

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