Second Thoughts: Coming to a parking lot in Kentucky: Bucks vs. Tide

I’m guessing JuJu Smith-Schuster has asked the Steelers to trade him to a team in the NFC. Either that or he’ll be coming down with a bad cold when Pittsburgh plays Cincinnati next season. Vontaze Burfict will be crossing off the days on his calendar. It won’t be pretty.

There’s only one way to settle this Ohio State-Alabama debate. A play-in game. Dayton, of course, is famous for play-in games, but Welcome Stadium is too small for such a spectacle and it needs to be on neutral turf. Bowling Green, Kentucky looks like the halfway point between Columbus and Tuscaloosa so maybe that’ll work.

The College Football Playoff selection committee mentioned the Buckeyes’ 31-point loss at Iowa as a factor, and there’s no argument there. I also think the folks who set up the final four don’t trust J.T. Barrett. That makes them just like the Ohio State fan base. The grizzled senior QB gets big points for playing hurt against Wisconsin, but you can’t throw a pick-6 and overthrow wide-open receivers in a championship game. Good player, but not great.

A few more questions: When does Ohio State play Mercer next season? Is it too late for the CFP honchos to swap sites and let Ohio State and USC play in the Rose Bowl? Is Urban Meyer more concerned that he has to face the Trojans or that Michigan might actually have a quarterback next season (Shea Patterson)?

There’s nothing like the MAC. The Midwest Athletic Conference didn’t take long to flex its muscles at the state high school football championships last weekend. I watched Minster take down Cuyahoga Heights 32-7 to win the Division 7 title. Total domination … from a team that lost four games in the regular season.

Quarterback Jared Huelsman (362 total yards) led the way behind an athletic offensive line. And coach Geron Stokes is my new hero. On the last play of the first half, Huelsman scored on a 3-yard run on fourth down. Kick a field goal? Stokes reflected on his strategy before (jokingly, I think) saying, “I hate kickers.” A wise man, that Stokes.

The next day, MAC bully Marion Local finished off a 15-0 season by thumping Kirtland 34-11 in the Division 6 finale. Trotwood gave the Dayton region its third title (out of seven possible) by winning the Division 3 championship.

Steve Alford must be the most relieved man in America now that LeVar Ball has pulled his sticky-fingered son out of UCLA. The other Ball kid, the skinny one who used to be in high school but is now under the tutelage of LeVar, is part of a package deal that Basketball Dad is trying to sell to a (gullible) pro team overseas. Good luck with that.

Trending up: Mike Mitchell, Willie Taggart, Loyola-Chicago. Mitchell’s candid assessment of life as an NFL player was impressive, coming in the aftermath of Ryan Shazier’s scary injury in Cincinnati. The Steelers defensive back said players need to know the risks when they sign up and that pro football is a combat sport. But football “changed my family legacy,” he said, adding that he had $368 in his bank account when he was drafted. “That is far from the case today,” Mitchell added. It’s the ultimate risk-reward for NFL players.

Trending down: Steph Curry, Jahlil Okafor, Russia’s Winter Olympics team. Curry sprained his ankle last week and might miss a couple weeks. I think the only way the Warriors won’t win the NBA title this season is if they are sidetracked by injuries. MVP Kevin Durant has also missed some time this season. Golden State is battling Houston and San Antonio for the top seed in the Western Conference, and Curry’s absence won’t help the Warriors.

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