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BTD’s Grab Bag Roundtable

Our team of “experts” break down random sports questions for the upcoming few months...

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NCAA Football: Oregon State at Oregon Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

What could College Football look like in this COVID-19 world we live in?

Ross: So I’m fortunate enough to have spent about the past year working for a Pac-12 school before leaving the team (I can’t say much more since I legally don’t know how much I can actually say about referencing the school or specific plans they may have. Not kidding).

Detroit Tigers Summer Workouts
Empty stadiums may become the standard for some time to come.
Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

While working for this athletics marketing team, we have had to come up with what seems like a million different plans for the college football for this season with how we let fans into the stadium. After listening to some of these conversations, I can tell you that absolutely no one anywhere has any clue how to prep for this season. Some of the plans our school has thrown out sound totally wild, but it is a total crap-shoot for how this season will look with fans coming in or not so schools are resorting to spitballing ideas.

Coming from a behind the scenes perspective, I will say that I am not overly paranoid on teams not playing, in fact I think it’s likely that schools try to play games. But it is more that I seriously don’t expect fans in stadiums this year, safely at least. One last behind the scenes note I have; yes, the Pac-12 is taking precautions far more seriously than the SEC.

The_Coach: I’m going to agree with Ross. Most schools are going to try to play. They’ll do what they can, but in general, everyone is just giving it their best guess. I think there’s way too much money on the line to not have football. The switch to conference-only schedules may become a thing for everyone. Notre Dame won’t be left out. They’ll loop in with the ACC. Football has to happen, doesn’t it?

COVID-19 Testing at Shamrock Rovers
Questions about testing will be sure to remain a hot topic.
Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

John: I think we’ll see week to week chaos. If and when a player contracts COVID, how much does that shut down the rest of the team? The rest of the conference? Do the teams they’ve played in the last couple weeks have to shut down? How much testing needs to be done, Is testing even going to be available? Things are going to be changing so rapidly during the season its going to be hard to plan for all necessary contingencies.

Marcus: I think the Washington National’s pitcher Sean Doolittle had an interesting quote when he said “Sports are like the reward of a functional society”. There’s a lot at stake in terms of jobs and money if college football were to not happen in the fall; but I don’t see how you can have football and not have college students back on campus. We’ll see though, personally I think football will be played this fall with little to no fans in the stands.

Should We Be Concerned About OSU Baseball After A 5-9 Campaign?

Ross: Worry about everything, panic about nothing. We knew this season there would be some growing pains after losing a bunch of talented players and then going through a coaching change. OSU still recruits well and the coaching will be excellent. Canham knows the status quo for running Beaver Baseball after playing for Pat Casey. It may take a season or two to get his feet under him and get some recruits, but the Beavs should be pushing for deep postseason runs again soon.

2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Baseball Championship - Game 3
Kevin Abel is back in Corvallis for another season.
Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

John: Some concern is probably merited, but we’re still in a major transitional period. The big questions are going to be if Canham and crew can recruit as well as the previous regime, and whether they can turn strong recruiting into a championship caliber team. There’s been some recruiting success, though its hard to keep a top player like Mick Abel when the MLB comes calling, but the team is still clearly a work in progress. 5-9 is not where I want to be, but the early schedule was tough, so while I have concerns, its not time to panic.

Marcus: Mitch Canham’s first season was never going to end in a championship or a postseason run to the CWS. I would be zero percent worried about the 5-9 campaign.

The_Coach: I’m a bit more on edge about this baseball program than some of the other guys. I didn’t love what I saw. I’m not panicking yet, but I definitely don’t have a great deal of optimism. I guess it also depends how you gauge success. If the Beavers are an “Omaha or Bust” program yearly, I think expectations might need to fade a bit.

How Good Can The Beavers Women’s Basketball Team Be Next Season?

John: It’s definitely going to be a rebuilding year. With Mikayla Pivec headed to the NBA and Destiny Slocum transferring, the team has lost their two biggest scorers. I think an excellent team can be built around Taylor Jones and Kennedy Brown, but it’s going to take some time to get there, especially with Brown coming off an injury.

There are some excellent players coming in the pipeline. Sasha Goforth should help replenish the backcourt next season, and in 2021 Greta Kampschroeder will add another excellent guard to the team. I think the future of the team is bright, but it’ll take a year or two to get there. Next year’s squad should still be a tournament team, but not a top 4 seed.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Oregon St. at Oregon
Taylor Jones will need to be a star for the Beavers.
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus: I agree with John here. It’s not going to be a dominant, championship contending type team. But it will be super fun to watch with the young talent on the roster and Coach Rueck often gets his team to over-perform expectations.

The_Coach: I’m pretty intrigued by this squad. Sometimes weird off-seasons like the one can help a program rediscover their identity. This won’t be their best season ever, but the Beavers will still be Pac-12 contenders.

Ross: Seems like we’re all in agreement on this bit. Thanks to Coach Rueck, the Beavs will always have a fighting chance in every game. Still, losing Pivec and Slocum is not ideal. This squad will probably need a year to grow before they are among the elite in the conference again.

Do You Care At All About Liverpool Winning The Premier League?

Ross: I mean I care a little. It’s not uncool, if that makes any sense. The last few years when I watched the Premier league, I cheered for Chelsea. But I’ve fallen off with paying attention so I’m just excited for cool new stories in sports. As my mom likes to say, “I just hope both teams have fun”.

Liverpool FC v Watford FC - Premier League
Liverpool ended a thirty-year, top-flight title drought in 2020.
Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

The_Coach: I enjoy European soccer in general so yes, I did care a bit about Liverpool winning the title. Overall though, I’m always much more interested in the relegation battle because there’s nothing better than a team being booted out of a league for poor performances. With a few games left in the season, Watford and West Ham sit just above the relegation line (bottom three teams) with Bournemouth and Aston Villa close on their tails. It should be an intense battle to the finish. Take that, Liverpool.

John: It’s neat. I’m happy for Liverpool fans, because it’s been so long. Still not as cool as when Leicester won a few years back. Like The_Coach, I’m much more interested in the relegation battle. Would be nice to see Watford hang on, and its always neat seeing storied teams like Aston Villa and West Ham with their backs to the wall.

Marcus: No... But every time Christian Pulisic scores a goal for Chelsea I feel hope for the future of men’s soccer in the United States.

Will Next Season Be Wayne Tinkle’s Last as the Beavers’ Head Coach?

Marcus: Not a chance. With budgets being tightened due to Covid Wayne Tinkle would really have to royally screw up to lose his job this year.

NCAA Basketball: Oregon State at Arizona State
Wayne Tinkle was aggressive and innovative this off-season on the recruiting front.
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The_Coach: I actually think this is the most we’ve seen from Wayne Tinkle so far as a Beavers coach. His pursuit of some junior college guys and transfers was exciting to monitor, it really gave the feeling that the staff wanted to change the direction of the program. Maybe they felt some of that stagnant nature of the team too. In all, I think despite not having the best looking squad on paper, as long as it’s not an absolute disaster, we’ll see some great growth from the Beavers on the hardwood and Tinkle will stick around a bit longer.

Ross: I agree with the guys here. Everyone on campus loves Tinkle. I think Tinkle is safe as long as the team stay competitive. Winning that first tournament game against Utah is an example of games that will keep Tinkle around. The Men’s Basketball team won’t ever be a powerhouse, but if we’re making some runs and get a tournament appearance relatively soon I think Tinkle still has a few more years here.

What Has Filled Up the Gap In Your Life Normally Filled By Sports?

John: Marbles. Also baking. Going to start mailing bread to all the other BTD writers.

Marcus: Lots of walks and socially distanced trips to the dog park.

Therapy dog “Al Capone”
Who doesn’t love dogs? Seriously.
Photo by Marijan Murat/picture alliance via Getty Images

The_Coach: Mostly just awaiting the arrival of suspicious packages from John. I mean working on my 1967 Ford Mustang that I have because it makes me feel cool when I drive it. And talking a lot of walks. Not with Marcus. But a lot of them.

Ross: I managed to snag some equipment from my gym so I can do home workouts. Also have been trying out new cocktail concoctions, I like pretending I’m Tom Cruise in Cocktail.

Who Do You Think Will Win The Kentucky Derby?

Ross: I won’t even pretend that I know any of the horses names. I’m just excited for more irresponsible gambling on derby day!

152nd Belmont Stakes
Tiz the Law is searching for a Triple Crown title.
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

The_Coach: Tiz the Law. As a true New Yorker, I have to go with the homegrown favorite who won the Belmont Stakes, but the unique thing about the Kentucky Derby is that the next two horses with the best odds (Honor A.P., Authentic) both skipped that same Belmont. For those who dig the longer shots, check out Cezanne who comes in at 30-1, is trained by five-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffet and is the son of former Preakness Stakes winner Curlin.

John: Probably a horse, but if there’s going to be an upset, this is the year.

Marcus: Max Player (20-to-1 odds). I dare you to beat against a horse named Max Player.

What’s Going to Happen to Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari After the F1 Season?

Ross: I didn’t know there were Ferraris in NASCAR? (My humor is dumb, I know)

John: As a lifelong fan of messy drama and schadenfreude, I have been closely following the most recent Formula One developments. For those unaware, Ferrari, the most storied franchise in the sport, signed Vettel when he was coming off winning four straight Driver’s Championships.

F1 Grand Prix of Styria - Qualifying
Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari are divorcing.
Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Since then, the best they’ve accomplished have been a few disappointing second place finishes. Now that Ferrari has an exciting young driver in Charles Leclerc, the Vettel drama has boiled over, and it was announced he and the team would be parting ways after this season. It is unclear whose decision that ultimately was, but in the first race back after the season was delayed, Vettel spun out after bumping into Carlos Sainz, the man who is going to be getting his job next season.

The_Coach: John summed all this up pretty well. For the folks that don’t follow Formula 1, get into it a bit (it’s usually on early in the morning) because it’s a whole lot of fun to watch. They have super fast cars, even faster pit stops, insanely petty rivalries between drivers and car companies and they travel all over the world racing in weird directions. To add to the chaos, Vettel was involved in this colossal mistake this weekend. What other sports are you going to watch anyway?

Tom Brady to the Bucs and Cam Newton to the Pats; Do Those Moves Make You More or Less Likely to Root for Any of Those Teams or Players?

Ross: As the only Buccaneers fan on the BTD staff, HELL YES IT DOES. Had Tom Brady gone anywhere else, I absolutely would be cheering against him. But he is my QB now and I’m all in. I know we have a lot of Seahawks fans reading this, so let me shed a light on what my NFL seasons are like. Uh, I really haven’t had much hope for any of our seasons in over a decade. Hell, we haven’t made the playoffs since 2007. I will resort to whatever it takes to win, even if it means recruiting Brady and Gronk and joining the Dark Side. And now we’re contenders and I have a chance to know what winning is. However, I will say it would absolutely be my luck as a Bucs fan if this NFL season was cancelled.

New England Patriots v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady is heading South. Cam Newton is headed North. The NFL is getting weird.
Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Marcus: More likely to root for both? With Cam Newton the Patriots immediately become more interesting and aren’t perceived as the favorites who grind all the fun out of football games. And then an almost 43-year old Tom Brady on the Bucs! Sign me up for a disaster or a revenge tour showing New England what they missed out on. Either way I’m in.

The_Coach: As a lifelong Tennessee Titans fan, all I care about is Derrick Henry getting his contract extension and continuing to terrify NFL defenses, all while making quarterback Ryan Tannehill look better in the process. In reality, I like the switch. I think Cam Newton definitely needed a fresh start to either make-or-break his career and if New England can’t get you right, nobody can. Tom Brady going to Tampa Bay is like a real-life Northeastern guy retiring to Florida. It’s sports imitating life people.