By Leo Haggerty



Normally, I don’t agree with Florida State Head Coach Jimbo Fisher on some issues.  On this one, when he said the Atlantic Coast Conference has passed the Southeastern Conference as the premier NCAA Division I football conference in the country, I have to say that he is spot-on in my opinion.

Let’s compare the SEC against the ACC and choose the top five teams, over the past two years, from those two conferences.  I have the ACC putting four teams in that group with the SEC placing only one in that elite group and here’s why.

First of all, you can throw a blanket over the two best teams and that happens to be ACC Champion Clemson along with SEC Champion Alabama.  Both are 28-2 over the past two campaigns, with one of those two losses coming at the expense of the other in the last two National Championship games, as well as being conference champs.

I’m going to put Clemson at the top only because the Tigers beat the Crimson Tide in 2016 and are the reigning National Champions.  That puts Alabama at number two, probably closer to 1A, but that’s another argument for another day.

I have the ACC sweeping the next three spots.  I put Louisville at number three, on the strength of their drubbing of FSU early in the 2016 season, so that puts the Seminoles in the number four slot.  In my thinking, both are still head and shoulders above any other SEC team.

The major debate, in my mind, is who comes in at number five.  You have a group that includes Florida and Mississippi from the SEC along with ACC representatives North Carolina plus Virginia Tech.  I chose the Hokies on the strength of their 2016 10-4 record and their strong showing against Clemson in the ACC Championship game in Orlando along with their mammoth come-from-behind bowl victory against Arkansas from the SEC.

There are two major reasons the ACC has usurped the SEC to be the lead sled dog when it comes to football.  First, the SEC East has become the laughing stock of college football.  That has been magnified the last two years by the beat-down SEC West Champ Alabama has put on SEC East winner Florida.  The Gators, in both contests, were never in the game after the first quarter and were outclassed from the opening kickoff.

The second is that fact that no SEC West team has stepped up to make a significant challenge to the dominance of Alabama.  Mississippi had that chance but let it get away in the second half.  The rest of the SEC West are no match for the Crimson Tide.

For the SEC to return to prominence, these two issues have to improve dramatically.  If not, the gap will continue to get larger and the once-mighty SEC will be looking up at the ACC as it moves farther away.



The Chicago Cubs have decided to give a World Series ring to Steve Bartman.  This move by the no longer “Lovable Losers”, which I applaud as well as being the right thing to do, has not been met with universal acceptance within Cub Nation.

All of you remember Mr. Bartman, right?  He’s the poor soul who Cubs Nation believed changed the outcome of the 2003 National League Championship Series. In the eighth inning of Game 6, with Chicago just five outs away from going to the World Series, he happened to touch, in foul territory, a fly ball that many Cub fans believe could have been easily caught by left fielder Moises Alou.

After that, the Cubbies imploded.  The floodgates opened and Miami turned a 3-0 deficit into a win with an 8-run outburst late in Game 6.  In the deciding Game 7, also at Wrigley Field, Chicago let an early lead evaporate and the Marlins came back to take the NLCS and the Workd Series title.  For the fans of the Northsiders, it was wait until next year but they had a scapegoat.

Just a reminder. Bartman didn’t boot a sure double play grounder. That was Alex Gonzalez.      It wasn’t Bartman that gave up late-inning leads in the last two games.  That was the Cubs pitching staff.

All  Steve Bartman did was what any fan would do if a foul ball was heading in their direction. He stood up and tried to catch it.  For that, he was reviled and vilified by Cubs Nation worldwide.  And that was dead wrong.

Kudos to the Cubbies for taking the high road and righting a terrible wrong.  I my book, better late than never is always good.



Lena Dunham, the creator and writer as well as the star of the HBO series ‘Girls’, is in the news. She allegedly heard two American Airlines flight attendants engaging in what she termed “transphobic talk” and was offended.

Memo to Miss Dunham, and to everyone else.  If someone is talking to you, and you are offended by the gist of the conversation, by all means speak up and voice your disapproval of the topic being discussed.  It’s your right.

If the conversation isn’t meant for you to be a participant, your response should be different.  You have two, and only two, options if this occurs.

First, if the conversation isn’t directed at you, but you can hear it, you can respectfully tell the people talking that you can hear it and can they tone it down.  That’s it.  No other discussion such as I’m offended by what you’re saying.  Just that they’re too loud and you don’t want to be part of the conversation.

Second, and the one that should be used a preponderance of the time, is to ignore it.  Those people aren’t talking to you so tune it out.

We live in a country that has freedom of speech.  That means that someone can be spewing vitriol opinions that are diametrically opposed to yours and that is their right.

The best analogy I’ve heard on this subject was from Mr. Thomas Morrill who just happens to be the principal at Gaither High School in Tampa as well as a huge Bucs fan.  His suggestion was to tell someone very quietly and respectfully that, “This is a conversation between A and B so you need to C your way out of it.”

Great thought, Tommy.  I just wish I could get in touch with Ms. Dunham so you could extol those words of wisdom upon her as well as everyone else who comes across this same situation.



The Crystal Ball is in perfect focus on this issue.  The all-knowing orb sees the former San Francisco quarterback surfacing early in the 2017 regular season.

Now that former Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler has come out of retirement to take over as signal caller for the injured Ryan Tannyhill in Miami, the former 49er quarterback is the next in line to be signed.  Remember, ladies and gentlemen, Kaepernick did take San Fran to the Super Bowl so he does have skills.

The problem is the skill set that #7 brings to the table is so unique, it may not fit into the offensive scheme of some NFL franchises.  And, we haven’t even broached the National Anthem scenario.

The Crystal Ball does see a team taking a leap of faith on Kaepernick.  In professional sports, especially the NFL, talent trumps everything.  For that reason, some team on the cusp of making the playoffs and not trusting the back-up QB to get them there, will sign #7 with one major stipulation.  Leave the Fidel Castro shirts at home.