The Wednesday Show Prep

posted by Steve Bortstein -

Taggart takes head coaching gig at FSU

So, once and for all, let's please do away with the notion that any of this is a surprise.

Willie Taggart, who coached at Oregon for one season before gigs at both Western Kentucky and South Florida, has taken his sleeping bag and other amenities for necessary for a sleepover and taken the head coaching job at Florida State University, where he will replace Jimbo Fisher, who accepted the same gig at Texas A&M.

For anyone who's ever heard the show or know my stance on this, I'm the last person in the world who would tell anyone that it's wrong to want to improve your brand. If that means stepping out from behind the shadows of obscurity, so be it.

Doesn't matter if it's a coach, a player or an employee of any kind. You find the opportunity to move up in the world, take that.

But Taggart has a history of this, as he is technically making his third stop with a team in less than a year. He announced his departure from South Florida prior to their appearance in the Birmingham Bowl in 2016, announced he was leaving Oregon prior to the Las Vegas Bowl later this month and is now going to be hailed as the new conquering hero in Tallahassee. 

Let's call it what it is. He's the newer, shinier version of Lane Kiffin, Nick Saban and Bobby Petrino. Guys who found their calling based more on reputation than actual results. His combined record in eight seasons as a head coach have amounted to 47 wins and 50 losses.

Again, no one should be disparaged for wanting to improve their brand and no one has the right to call into question one's desire to be in the bigger and brighter spotlight.

Mercenary tactics like this one though, have a larger impact than most people realize. Kids made a choice to go to Oregon because of Taggart and his play-calling, his uptempo style of offense and his ability to quickly turn a program around.

Those kids made a bad choice, and some of them can step back and recommit, but the ones who can't are the ones who may have their future more negatively impacted than they could possibly comprehend.

One can easily blame the hierarchy at Oregon for not doing more to nail down Taggart's contract from the beginning, but one can also blame the same hierarchy for not seeing the writing on the wall and (correctly) checking the navigational charts all over Taggart's past and seeing he was always looking to catch a much bigger fish.

Ball family about to go international

If we can read between the tea leaves on this one, LiAngelo Ball might get yet another opportunity to steal a pair of sunglasses in China.

It was announced earlier this week that LaVar Ball, patriarch of the Ball family and business "mogul" of the Big Baller Brand, was pulling his son LiAngelo off the UCLA basketball team and perhaps from the school entirely after his son was suspended indefinitely for a shoplifting incident last month as the Bruins were preparing for a game in Shanghai.

Apparently, the elder statesman felt the term "indefinite" was a bit too vague, considering coach Steve Alford was none too quick to reinstate LiAngelo, nor the other two players involved in the incident, back to the bench or the court.

So LaVar threw a hissy fit (not his first one of those), snatched up his kid (not the first time he's done that) and make a spectacle of himself for the entire sports world to see (again, not the first time).

It's bothered me for months that the masses of sports media (myself included) continue to feed this unending jukebox of verbal vomit and somehow just don't walk away.

He's the impulse buy at the supermarket, the regrettable purchase of the Apple Pie at the drive-thru stop at a fast food joint, he's the third beer when you know two were enough.

So the Triple B is about to go international, according to the press clippings, and if we believe any of the nonsense LaVar spewed yesterday morning in a bizarre interview he did with CNN's Chris Cuomo, the father may not know best, but he'll sure try and spin it that way.

Of course there was also LiAngelo's explanation on the Today Show on NBC.

"China already said, 'alright he made a bad mistake, we're gonna drop the charges'. That's the punishment they gave. Now we're over here, and we gotta serve more punishment?" 

Suspensions (though light) upheld for Schuster, Gronkowski

The one-game suspension of Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has been upheld by appeals officer James Thrash, who was jointly appointed by the NFL and the NFL Players Association.

The appeal was heard Tuesday afternoon.

Smith-Schuster was suspended for Monday night's fourth-quarter block on Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who was in a defenseless posture, according to the NFL's ruling. Smith-Schuster then stood over Burfict as he lay motionless.

The hit was just one of many questionable moments in the latest installment of a rivalry that has grown more intense and violent in recent years.

Schuster will miss this weekend's game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Meantime, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski's one-game suspension for a late hit in Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills also has been upheld after an appeal, the NFL announced Tuesday.

The appeal was heard by Derrick Brooks, the appeals officer assigned to the hearing jointly by the NFL and NFL Players Association.

Gronkowski will miss the Patriots Monday night game against the Miami Dolphins.

The moment all of you have been waiting for

The latest episode of the Bortstein Power Rankings, with Week 14 rapidly approaching.... and yes, we have a dramatic change atop the leaderboard.

Week 14 Power Rankings

Hate, chaos and emotions of discontent and pandemonium may begin at any moment...

1- MINNESOTA VIKINGS (Up 2 spots from last week)
2- PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (Down 1 spot from last week)
3- PITTSBURGH STEELERS (No change)
4- NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (No change)
5- LOS ANGELES RAMS (No change)
6- NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (No change)
7- SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (Up 2 spots from last week)
8- CAROLINA PANTHERS (Down 1 spot from last week)
9- LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (Up 1 spot from last week)
10- JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (Returns to list)

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