High school fall sports are in the midst of playoff runs. Congratulations to Oak Grove and Blue Springs South for making it to the softball state championship games.
Softball in the Kansas City area has always been one of the most competitive sports at the state level. The girls softball tradition has grown even more over the past few years. The Blue Springs South Jaguars have made three straight trips to the Class 4 state championship game. That in itself is a tremendous accomplishment, but this year topped it off with a state championship 2-0 victory over the powerhouse team of Troy Buchanan.
Many other high school sports are wrapping up their seasons and a lot of local schools have a chance to advance to state play. The fan turnout has been disappointing during the high school football playoffs. It is important for these young people who work very hard throughout the year to be supported and appreciated. Now is a perfect time to get out and support your favorite teams.
At the college level, the NCAA Division I rankings just came out with about five weeks left in the season. It is no surprise that defending national champion Alabama is at the top of the first playoff poll. This Alabama team is just about as good as it gets in college football. They have their usual good defense and huge offensive line. The skill players are some of the best at every position. In addition, this year’s Alabama team also has a quarterback that does not rely on the running game or defense to win games. If Alabama loses to anyone, that team will had to have played a near perfect game with a few mistakes made by the Crimson Tide.
The No. 2 team in the country, Clemson, has the best defensive line of all the other teams and may have enough horses to give Alabama a run for their money. Dabo Swinney has done an excellent job of placing Clemson in the same conversation with Alabama.
Notre Dame is third right now, but the Fighting Irish cannot even think about losing a game and still have a chance to make it to the college playoff. The Notre Dame schedule is not in the same ballpark as SEC teams. They need to win out the remainder of the season. LSU is No. 4 and may possess the best defense. They have multiple defensive players who will be high NFL draft picks this year. LSU still faces a game against Alabama along with other great SEC teams. It has already lost to Florida but beaten Georgia. If LSU can somehow win out they will have played the hardest road to the playoff series compared to all other teams in the country.
The No. 5 team posed to make a run for the playoffs is yet another great defensive team, Michigan. The Wolverines struggle with offense every week. Michigan has a tough schedule ahead of them with games against Penn State and their arch rival Ohio State. Jim Harbaugh needs to win both games in the worst way. If they do win those two and are in the Big Ten championship game, they deserve to be in the playoffs.
The next three teams are Texas, Georgia and Oklahoma. Texas is finally getting closer to becoming a real contender for a playoff spot, but they still look like the program needs another year to get to the highest level. No one school in the country spends more money than Texas. The fans would like a return on their money.
Georgia got their backsides destroyed against LSU at Baton Rouge. Oklahoma has another great offensive team, but they cannot even spell defense. The Sooners fired defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, but the team is still a long way from playing championship defense.
The team you do not want to play is Florida. The Gators have the best defense in the country but are offensively challenged. They will have a hard time scoring enough points to make a run at the college playoffs.
The team never discussed is UCF. The Knights are good offensively and defensively but no gives them any respect because of the schedule they play.
One of the most overrated teams in the country this year is Ohio State. It will be interesting to see how the Buckeyes finish the season. It would not be surprising to see head coach Urban Meyer leave Ohio State after this season because of all the controversy that has surrounded the team throughout the season.
Other teams that have been solid all year are Kentucky, West Virginia, Washington, Washington State, Texas A&M, Penn State, Iowa, Oregon and Wisconsin. None of those teams will have the credentials to make it to the big show.
Media gurus and talking heads will discuss these points over and over for the next five weeks. The reality is you will need to be really good to beat Alabama – a betting man should put his money on the Tide.
• My quote for the week comes from the legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant: “Winning isn’t everything, but it beats anything that comes in second.”
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.