Canzano: Burning questions about the Pac-12, Jeopardy and... football-coach bathrooms
Some Friday thoughts..
I woke up with a bunch of questions today. Some of which I don’t have the answers for yet. But I think you might have some of the same questions so I’m going to share.
• In Oregon, Draft Kings runs the state sports-wagering operation. Why does DraftKings not offer gambling on horse racing, specifically the Kentucky Derby?
(I will find out.)
• How many games will Washington win this college football season?
(We will find out.)
• We are wrapping up the final stretch of the Netflix series Ozark in our household. Not sure how it will end. But will the series finale be as unsatisfying as the final episodes of other high profile shows?
(To be determined, but probably and sadly … yes.)
• Golfer Phil Mickelson apparently lost $40 million gambling. Should we be surprised by that?
(Yes. That’s a ton of money. I don’t care if you make $42 million in a single year, as Mickelson did. It’s alarming. Also, it helps explain some of his erratic actions.)
• Is there something wonky going on with the TV show Jeopardy? A friend of mine is suspicious of the television game show. Jeopardy has been on air since 1964. The top two women’s champions in Jeopardy history have both come in the last six months. Further, two of the five biggest all-time winners have come in the last nine months. It’s resulted in some big publicity and ratings boosts.
Nobody thinks Jeopardy players are cheating but are the producers gaming the categories and competition to set up big-dollar winners because it generates publicity? Or is there something else going on?
The late Alex Trebek and his predecessor (Art Fleming) hosted 97 percent of the Jeopardy shows, but only saw 60 percent of the top-five players?
My friend is asking: “Is Jeopardy rigged?”
MOM’S DAY AHEAD: This week, I did something I’ve never done before: I wrote about my mom. If you didn’t read the column, give it a look. I was going to wait until Mother’s Day to post it but figured what’s the point of waiting?
I called my mom last night and could tell how much it meant to her. I’ve written over the last 20-plus years about my dad, wife, grandfather, daughters, neighbors, friends, and lots of strangers. It felt like the right time to mix mom in. My dad told me that my mom started crying when she was reading the column. My mother also reported that my dad disappeared into his office and she could hear him crying as he read it, too.
Anytime you can make both your parents cry — good day?
Debate amongst yourselves.
Seriously, a small but important public service announcement here: Celebrate your mother this weekend. If your mom has passed away, honor her by calling your siblings or someone who knew her and talking about what made your mom special. I think one of the things that struck me in writing about my mother was how young she was when she had us kids. In that, writing about her helped me understand better. My mom had four kids by the time she was 27. At that same age, I was only in charge of myself and was still building a young newspaper career. I never really thought much about her young age when I was growing up, but now, as a parent myself… whew.
Our daughters have big plans for Anna on Sunday. Justifiably, so. She’s the kind of mom who reads books to the kids, takes them on nature hikes, and thinks constantly about their needs. The girls are excited to wake her with breakfast in bed and present her with a variety of home-made Mother’s Day gifts they’ve crafted, stashed away and whispered about for weeks.
Thanks… to all the other great moms out there.
PORTAL MADNESS: Colorado Athletic Director Rick George connected with me this week from the Pac-12 Conference spring meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Like a lot of people in college athletics, George is concerned about the turmoil created with the combination of the transfer portal, name/image/likeness (NIL) and all the unregulated booster collectives popping up.
“I think at one point there were 2,500-plus football student-athletes in the portal, and only 57 percent had matriculated, so what’s happening to the other 43 percent and what are we going to see in five years when we look at graduation rates?” George said “And NIL, there’s a lot of people hiding behind the NIL and doing some things when you’re paying groups of players a certain dollar amount… there’s just a lot going on in our industry. … I will tell you that (NIL) done right is really good for our student-athletes, and I wholeheartedly support it.
“I don’t like the other things that are going on with different payments at dollar levels that just make no sense.”
Listen to my full talk with George here:
PLAYBOOK REVEALED: The Oakland A’s have played 13 home games this baseball season. They’ve had six games where they drew fewer than 5,000 fans and three times they didn’t even reach 3,000.
The attendance low point: 2,488 on Monday vs. the Rays.
I was talking with Ryan Divish, one of my favorite baseball writers, this week. He covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He’s a fantastic reporter and writer who often thinks outside the box.
Our interview is a fun listen if you have the time:
Divish and I talked about a of variety of things — the increased number of fights we’ve seen this season, the baseballs, and poor home-plate umpiring, among them — but we eventually got to the Oakland A’s disappointing attendance.
Said Divish: “They raised season-ticket prices 40 percent going into this year. They don’t market the team. It’s exactly the playbook that Clay Bennett and those guys used in Seattle in 2008 and 2007 trying to get the Sonics out. It’s the exact same playbook: make it look bad, make it look like it’s easier to leave and that’s what the A’s are doing.”
DOWN HOME: My wife was perusing Instagram on Thursday when she noted that Oregon football coach Dan Lanning and his wife, Sauphia, posted some candid backyard photographs after hosting the Ducks’ running backs and safeties at their new home in Eugene.
The team gathering was charming. It appeared to feature food, card games and some backyard corn hole. Lanning’s wife and children were present. The scene was really cool and unifying.
It also sparked a tangential discussion in our home given what we’ve learned about celebrity homes in the last couple of years — how many bathrooms do the Lannings have?
Mario Cristobal and his wife, Jessica, recently closed on a 8,829-square-foot estate in Coral Gables. Purchase price: $7.9 million. The new home of the Miami football coach includes six bedrooms and seven and a half bathrooms.
Russell and Ciara Wilson purchased a home in suburban Denver last month for $25 million. It has 20,060 square feet, four bedrooms and 12 bathrooms. Lincoln Riley’s new $17.2 million home in Palos Verdes sits on 3.17 acres and includes seven bedrooms and also has 12 bathrooms.
I don’t mean to focus so heavily on the number of bathrooms here, but I grew up with three siblings (including two sisters) and we shared a single bathroom. A dozen bathrooms feels like a modern-day homeowner flex.
When former Oregon coach Chip Kelly arrived in Eugene in 2007 as offensive coordinator, he bought a 2,500-square foot home for $525,000. After a promotion to head coach, Kelly sold that house at a $100,000 loss and went bigger — buying and quickly renovating a 6,281-square foot home in Northeast Eugene.
Kelly’s new place in Eugene included six bedrooms, five bathrooms and an indoor meeting space where he could gather as many as 80 players for a sit down. I always thought that meeting-space area was brilliant and the most Chip Kelly-thing ever.
Incidentally, when Kelly took the job as football coach at UCLA, he bought a home in Encino, Calif. that had 10 bathrooms and nine bedrooms. Then, Kelly sold the home to Dodgers’ outfielder Mookie Betts for $7.6 million. Kelly told me last summer that he and his wife, Jill, moved closer to the beach and he pointed out “I’m the least famous person in my neighborhood.”
I reached out to Lanning on Thursday via text message. That backyard BBQ scene from his new home looked like rich and connective team building. It casts the entire Lanning family as approachable and down to earth. Still, I wondered, how many bathrooms does the new estate have? 6? 10? 12?
Lanning humored me.
“LOL… 2.5 bathrooms!!!”
Same as us.
So now you know.
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Not all of us have mothers worth celebrating, John. I try to find the “and,” to my brother’s statement that our mother was the most evil person he ever met. I can find an “and...” but I am still not certain she is worth celebrating. There is a balance on these holidays, isn’t there. I am so grateful when I witness good to great parenting. I go out of my way to thank parents who engage well with their children, and so I find it easier to celebrate your Mom with you than my Mom who sexually abused me, was narcissistic and destructive to her kids while the world considered her a saint. It is good to here others blessings, and be able to point to them with hope which we all need in spades now. So thanks again for doing what you are doing. I love seeing you free from constraint. Your humanity shows and it is glorious.
You think NIL is an issue? This transfer portal nightmare has to be stopped. If your head coach leaves, I’m all about you transferring, but this “I’m gonna take my ball and go home” attitude because you won’t start or become an All American at the institution YOU signed up to attend and play for is ridiculous. Love to see an article on this John. Stop the madness!