Keeping Score: Nothing to see here, folks

Published: 9/13/2019 10:12:12 PM
Modified: 9/13/2019 10:11:59 PM

Good morning!
It took eight years for UMass football to hit rock bottom, but after blowout losses to Rutgers and FCS Southern Illinois, the Minutemen are ranked No. 130 out 130 FBS teams by USA Today and CBS Sports.

That’s a first, being last.

This afternoon UMass is a 20-point underdog at Charlotte, who covered against Appalachian State last week and play Clemson next week. The 49ers have 5-foot-11, 215-pound Benny LeMay, who’s a candidate for the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back.

Good luck stopping him with their “roller skate defense” as NESN’s Andy Gresh calls it. In two games, UMass defenders have yielded 870 yards. The line can’t pass rush, and the secondary can’t tackle. Against Southern Illinois, they let a player with the size and speed of Hoss Cartwright ramble for an 85-yard touchdown.

Coaching is all about repetition, but trained seals could’ve played better than the offensive line that was flagged six times in the first half for illegal procedure. It was laughable, like F-Troop.

During a taped interview at halftime, first-year coach Walt Bell said, “I’ve got one professional goal. One night, one time, I want to have the chance to be the best in the world.”

Then he added: “Now, how you define ‘world’ is up to you.”

Huh?

With the Tennessee accent and black hair slicked back in a duck tail, Bell comes off as part Bobby Bowden and part Elvis Presley. “There’s Bell, always got the hair looking good,” said Gresh.

Athletic director Ryan Bamford recollected being blown away by Bell’s job interview. “He was as prepared as anybody at any time during my time at UMass,” Bamford marveled. “This guy loves his kids. Love. Love. Love. That kept coming out.”

Love, even tough love, isn’t going to help this program. The talent was wrung dry by the time Mark Whipple left, and Bell is on the precipice of coaching a historically bad team to an 0-12 record.

Some might call it the worst season in the world, depending how you define it.

Deerfield Academy football coach Brian Barbato reached out to Chris Lapointe after low numbers forced Turners Falls High School to drop the sport. Lapointe will be coaching quarterbacks and linebackers. “I’m still trying to get used to wearing green,” he joked. “It’s Deerfield green, not Greenfield green.”

Years ago the Big Red referred to Mount Hermon, but now it’s Lawrenceville. Deerfield bussed to New Jersey last night in preparation for today’s season opener (2:30 p.m.). Lawrenceville is coached by Princeton grad Harry Flaherty.

Lapointe, who coached 10 seasons at TFHS, will return for next month’s Homecoming game at Bourdeau Field. “Doug wants me to be there, so I’ll be there,” he said, referring to Warriors coach Doug McCloud.

The 25th annual Don Maynard Memorial Road Race is next Saturday. The 5-mile race starts at 9:30 a.m. on Nash’s Mill Road near the Greenfield Swimming Pool. It continues through the Greenfield Meadows and loops around to GCC and over to the bike path. Shelburne’s Dan Smith (26:21) and Plainfield’s Meghan Davis (31:58) were the respective winners of last year’s race.

Pre-registration is $25 and $30 the day of the race. The money goes to a scholarship fund, and the running goes to the memory of Don Maynard. An engineer, YMCA member and all-around good guy, Maynard was 54 years old when he was murdered during a home invasion in 1994.

For more race info go to dmmrace.com.

Prosecutor Joe Quinlan died of cancer at age 61 last month in Lowell. A two-time Boston Marathoner and a friend of Bill, Quinlan hailed from a prominent Lowell family, majored in journalism at UMass and worked for the AP.

He decided to become a lawyer, got his Juris Doctor degree from Western New England College and worked for the Hampden County DA’s office. One night in 1989, he went to the Springfield courthouse to prepare for a case and walked in on 47-year-old MSP Lt. John Mace burglarizing the office. A degenerate gambler, Mace was responsible for money seized in Hampden County gambling raids, and was destroying files that could prove he had stolen $116,000.

Mace pulled a knife and slashed the diminutive Quinlan, who triggered a silent alarm and held off his attacker until the police arrived. “I’m the bad guy, he’s the good guy,” Mace reportedly told the cops after they arrived. He did 9½ years in prison and was released in 1999.

Quinlan needed 300 stitches on his face and neck, and he bore the scars the rest of his life. The attack made him work harder in court for the victims of violence, and in 2008 he was named the state’s prosecutor of the year.

At 6 a.m. on Wednesday morning, WFAN’s Gio Giannotti opened the show by observing 9/11. “It is a day that is not easy and is never going to get better,” he said.

“I lost 200 friends that day,” echoed his broadcast partner Boomer Esiason, whose foundation to cure cystic fibrosis was on the 101st floor of the North Tower.

Sports Illustrated has become a parody of itself. The Sept. 8 issue questions Clemson coach Dabo Swinney’s Christian faith, and a headline asks, “Has he gone too far?”

The cover story regards Juju Smith-Schuster’s “stunning popularity” on social media, and a piece about Jonathan Taylor marvels over the Wisconsin running back’s “insatiable curiosity.”

Somewhere up there Frank Deford, Dan Jenkins, Paul Zimmerman and others who staffed America’s third national weekly are laughing at the magazine’s remarkable downturn.

SQUIBBERS: The Mets scored nine runs and had eleven hits on 9/11. … MLB’s Harold Baines on the LA Dodgers’ quest for a World Series title: “They’re the Buffalo Bills if they go back and lose again.” … Sirius-XM’s Jim Bowden says the Red Sox will go after pitchers Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, but would trade Mookie Betts “only if the Dodgers give them their top four prospects.” …  Three-in-the-booth didn’t work for WFAN, which booted the popular Chris Carlin from the early-afternoon show he co-hosted with Bart Scott and Maggie Gray. … Looks like the Rockies won’t be fulfilling my World Series prediction. … The cheapest seat for Steelers-Pats on Sunday was $218 and the best deal for Ravens-Dolphins in Miami was $28. Dolphins management this season is staging a “controlled burn” in the words of the the NFL Channel’s Steve Mariucci. … Jack Whitaker died this week at age 95. A WWII vet and Emmy winning sportscaster, Whitaker got kicked off Masters coverage after he referred to the gallery as a “mob.” …. Next week’s UMass opponent Coastal Carolina has the third-most first downs (63) in the FBS. … BC tickets for last night’s game against Kansas were selling for $8 on StubHub. … Army took the Wolverines to overtime last week in front of 111,474 fans at Michigan Stadium, the team’s 288th consecutive sellout. … UMass football fans were informed by email they could vote for one of seven songs to be included in the halftime show, including “Apes****,” the clean version. … Charles Barkley was spotted inside The Chandler Steak House at MGM after the Hall of Fame ceremonies. The Round Mound of Rebound could choose from a menu that included Maine lobster cake, seared halibut and a 20-ounce bone-in ribeye. … UMass hockey tickets went on sale this week and are priced to sell, starting at $12 apiece and $44 for a “Battle Pack” (Northeastern, BU and two against BC). The puck drops Oct. 11 against RPI. … Michigan freshman Dylan McCaffrey got in one snap against Army on Saturday. McCaffrey is Christian McCaffrey’s younger brother and the son of former Broncos and Giants receiver Ed McCaffrey. … Seven weeks after 9/11, President George W. Bush walked to the mound at Yankee Stadium and threw a strike. He returned to the owner’s box and said, “I gave ’em the heat.”

Chip Ainsworth is an award-winning columnist who has penned his observations about sports for four decades in the Pioneer Valley.




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