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Spar: Stanford football clickbait

I spent some of my Thanksgiving break participating in America’s most disgusting sports habit besides protecting athletes that have been accused of sexual assault: watching weekday morning “hot take” shows. ESPN’s “First Take” and Fox Sports 1’s “Undisputed” (a.k.a. “Second Take”) are built around the same premise, which as told by my observant mother is “a black guy and white guy shout at each other for two hours about sports nonsense.” I no doubt am a less intelligent person because I choose to spend my free time watching Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless clickbait (If you ever want a good laugh, Google “First Take worst arguments”). However, their content is so maddening that it is often entertaining, and they have large hate followings. It seems like they have fun, especially with their multimillion-dollar contracts. They have inspired me to try and turn my feelings as a disillusioned Stanford fan into strong takes that people may get mad at me about.

Bryce Love had an impressive performance on Saturday, especially considering he has had a bad ankle since the end of October. Every time he is hit and gets up a lot slower than he would at the beginning of the year, you can really see that he is playing through pain. How does he manage to do that? Is it just adrenaline? Probably not. I hope that Stanford isn’t giving out serious painkillers to get players back on the field quickly as the teams in the NFL and other college athletic programs do. That would be highly problematic, immoral and illegal. It is easy to tell yourself that it doesn’t happen here, and I haven’t heard any rumors or anything, but it is important to be on the lookout, and Stanford athletics has engaged in inappropriate medical practices — and that was in a case without millions of dollars on the line.

Speaking of Bryce Love, he is very probably not going to win the Heisman (certainly not without an epic Baker Mayfield collapse). And I have some bad news for all the Stanford homers: He doesn’t deserve to win. College football is a pass-first sport, and even on rushing-oriented teams like Stanford, the quarterback is the most important player; against good defenses, Stanford can only effectively run the football when it has a viable passing threat. It is hard to give the award for best player in the country to a player that is not the difference-maker on his own team. Stanford running backs put up great numbers every year and have been busts in the NFL (see Toby Gerhart, Stepfan Taylor, Christian McCaffrey?); we might as well treat them like Texas Tech quarterbacks. Only once in the past seven years was the Heisman winner a running back (Derrick Henry in 2015), and I believe the committee got it wrong that year (it should have been Deshaun Watson, not McCaffrey). This year, I would vote for Mayfield and Lamar Jackson over Bryce Love, and probably Khalil Tate as well.

KJ Costello is clearly the Stanford quarterback of the future, or at least until next year when he has one bad game, and I start calling for Coach Shaw to play Davis Mills. Costello makes throws that Keller Chryst and Ryan Burns just could not. I know it pains Coach Shaw to play an underclassman over an upperclassman, even if the underclassman has way more talent, but maybe he should reconsider? Alabama plays talented true freshman all the time, and it works out well for them. We all saw that Chryst was not a good quarterback last year (yes, he was a better option than Burns), and I would be shocked to find out that Costello was not outperforming Chryst in practice this spring and summer; it is not like he became good at quarterback suddenly. With Costello and Walker Little starting the entire year, I’m pretty sure we would have at least beaten SDSU, which would have put us in borderline playoff position. I’m not upset about it. While we are at it, can we please institute an offense that puts the ball more often in the hands of our four-star recruit skill players in free space? And stop exclusively running goal line fades? Okay, I’m done for now.

 

Contact Ben Spar at bspar ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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