Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Tom Jones: Can't Lance Armstrong just pedal off already?

Oprah Winfrey has been tapped by Lance Armstrong to conduct the first interview since the cyclist was stripped of his Tour de France titles and resigned from his Livestrong cancer charity because of doping allegations. The interview, which will take place Monday at Armstrong's home in Austin, Texas, will appear on Winfrey's OWN network at 9 p.m. Thursday.

It's a smart move by Armstrong to select Winfrey. While Armstrong is an international name and Winfrey is a worldwide celebrity herself, my gut feeling is Armstrong won't be pushed by Winfrey.

The network said Winfrey and Armstrong will talk about the alleged doping scandal and the charges that Armstrong lied about doping throughout his career (the New York Times and USA Today are reporting he will admit to doping, story 10C). However, will Winfrey get tough? Will she allow Armstrong to evade questions? Will she be willing to treat it like a news interview instead of a celebrity interview?

I'd rather see someone such as Bob Costas or Jeremy Schaap interview Armstrong. I want someone who is going to be suspicious and maybe even a little adversarial instead of forgiving and complicit.

Having said all of this, I honestly don't care what Armstrong has to say at this point. I'm all for second chances and forgiveness and, yes, Armstrong has helped raise millions for cancer, and that's great. However, not only did he deny doping for years, he went on a campaign to destroy the lives and assassinate the characters and reputations of those who dared to point out that he was a cheater.

In so many ways, Armstrong is worse than someone such as Pete Rose. At least when Rose lied all those years about gambling on baseball, he wasn't trying to ruin anyone else's life in the process.

All in all, I'd rather Armstrong just go away. His actions have already spoken louder than his words ever could.

The list

On Monday, Alabama demolished Notre Dame to win the BCS title. It was the Crimson Tide's third national title in four seasons, making it not only a modern-day dynasty but one of the greatest dynasties in college football history. Where exactly does this Alabama team rank? Here's my take on the best four-year stretches in college football history over the past 75 years:

1. Nebraska (1994-97)

Hard to beat this Cornhuskers stretch under coach Tom Osborne. This is how Nebraska did over these four seasons: 13-0, 12-0, 11-2, 13-0. It included at least a share of three national titles, including the 1995 team that might have been the best ever. The '95 Huskers won by an average score of 53-14, averaged 562 yards per game and never trailed all season in the second half.

2. Alabama (2009-12)

What coach Nick Saban has been able to do in today's game with so many great teams from year to year is remarkable. Three national titles and only five losses over the past four seasons.

3. Oklahoma (1954-57)

This four-year stretch included a 47-game winning streak, which remains a Division I record. Legendary coach Bud Wilkinson led the Sooners on an incredible 41-1 run during this time, including two national titles.

4. Army (1944-47)

The Black Knights had a 32-game unbeaten streak in the midst of these four seasons and won back-to-back national titles with undefeated seasons in 1944 and 1945. Army also claimed a national title in 1946 when it went 9-0-1, with the tie coming against Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium. This era also produced two Heisman winners: Mr. Inside (Doc Blanchard) and Mr. Outside (Glenn Davis).

5. Miami (1986-89)

The Hurricanes won two national championships during this run, which doesn't even include their best team — the Vinny Testaverde team that was upset by Penn State in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl. And in the other season, they finished second in the country. They lost only three times in four seasons.

6. Florida (2006-09)

Coach Urban Meyer, left, won two national championships and the Gators finished No. 3 in another season. This four-year stretch did have a bit of a down season when the Gators went 9-4, but that also happened to be the season when quarterback Tim Tebow won the Heisman Trophy.

7. Oklahoma (1973-76)

Showboating coach Barry Switzer won two national titles (1974, 1975). The two seasons the Sooners didn't win it, they still finished in the top five. Just three losses and two ties in 46 games.

8. Notre Dame (1946-49)

It's practically impossible to judge teams from this long ago, but just looking at the records, these Irish teams must be noted. They went 36-0-2 and claimed three national championships under coach Frank Leahy.

9. Southern California (2003-06)

The NCAA doesn't count some of these games, but I do. The Trojans went 12-1, 11-0, 12-1 and 11-2 in this span. They won a national championship and they split another. They also lost to Vince Young's Texas team in one of the great college games ever played. In addition, Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush won Heismans.

10. Florida State (1996-99)

Bobby Bowden's Seminoles only won one national title (1999) in this stretch, but they did play in two other games for the national championship. FSU went 45-4 over this stretch and never finished lower than third in the polls.

We are the champions

In doing the research for today's "List" item, I noticed that the University of Alabama now claims to have won 15 national championships. Ridiculous.

In 1941, the Tide lost two games and finished 20th in the Associated Press poll, but Alabama claims a title because one obscure poll based on mathematics listed the Tide as No. 1. Meantime, both the 1964 and 1973 teams — also considered national champions by Alabama — lost their bowl games.

Alabama is hardly alone in making these kind of title claims. Deadspin did a little research, going back to the beginning of college football in the late 19th century. In 142 years of college football, Deadspin determined that if you believe all the schools out there, you would have 242 claims to a national championship.

Say what?

Knicks star Carmelo Anthony suggests the Celtics' Kevin Garnett said something nasty about Anthony's wife during some in-game trash talking last week. That's why he got in Garnett's face and that's why he later waited for him at the Celtics team bus after the game. Celtics coach Doc Rivers, meantime, said he knows "for a fact" that KG did not say what Anthony claims.

I don't see how Rivers would know that "for a fact" since he wasn't next to the two during the verbal exchange. In addition, Garnett has a reputation for being one of the game's biggest trash talkers and others have said he crosses the line of good taste.

Here's the bottom line: KG is a jerk, but Anthony should feel sheepish that Garnett could get under his skin like that. Seriously, he never heard of "sticks and stones?"

Start me up

Former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk was coming off back-to-back 50-goal seasons when the 1994-95 lockout wiped out half the season and delayed the start until late January 1995.

"It was tough to rebound for a guy like myself," said Andreychuk, who was 31 at the time. "It took me a while to get going. I got better as the year went on."

Andreychuk ended up with 22 goals and 16 assists in 48 games with Toronto.

Random thoughts

I still don't get how Jim Rice (.298 average, 382 homers, 1,451 RBIs) is in baseball's Hall of Fame and Fred McGriff (.284, 493, 1,550) is not. … Speaking of Rice, remember that monster season he had in 1978 when he batted .315 with 46 homers and 139 RBIs and won the AL MVP? Know how much money he made that season? $125,000. … Why is it that you see so many college football coaches get shots in the NFL, but not nearly as many college basketball coaches make the jump to the NBA?

tom jones' two cents

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