SDS Mailbag: Spring game solutions, predicting conference champions and hoops portal talk
Spring football scrimmages, the first couple of weeks of the MLB season, the push toward the NBA playoffs and … The Masters!
It’s a great weekend on the sports calendar, and Augusta National is looking beautiful, as always. However, it’s going to be interesting to see which golfers can thrive in very different weather conditions.
After an 80-degree day on Thursday that was full of sunshine, Saturday and Sunday figure to be much colder and much wetter. Who can continue to shine even when the sun isn’t?
Play Underdog For Heat-Celtics Game 6! Who ya got?
We’ll find out over the next few days!
Now let’s dive into your questions for this week’s Mailbag:
What’s your take on Hugh Freeze’s suggestion of playing lower-level in-state opponents for spring games instead of having in-squad scrimmages?
I believe I’m on the record as a fan of the idea. I would take it even a step further. If Hugh Freeze and Auburn want to play Troy and UAB, play them during the regular season. Put your record on the line.
I think spring games should replace “Cupcake Week” opponents. Play an FCS school in the spring. Pay that school to come visit your stadium and do a scrimmage that way. I don’t want to see those games in late-November, but I’d love to see them in mid-April.
I don’t want a hypothetical Auburn-Troy spring game matchup to turn into something similar to an NFL joint practice, which is my fear. Those are boring and only end up being noteworthy when teams inevitably get into fights.
Give me a Power 5 school against an in-state FCS opponent in the spring and I’ll be a happy guy.
If you had to pick conference champions for football right now, who would you put your money on?
I’m going to keep this just to the Power 5 conferences so I can make it easier on myself. But I’ll go one step further than this question asks and predict who will beat who in each league’s title game.
Here we go:
- SEC: Georgia over Alabama
- Big Ten: Michigan over Illinois
- ACC: Florida State over North Carolina
- Big 12: Oklahoma over Kansas State
- Pac-12: USC over Colorado
Not too many upsets in there. I think probably the biggest surprises are on the losing side, with Illinois in the Big Ten title game and Colorado making it to the Pac-12 Championship Game in Year 1 under new coach Deion Sanders.
Oklahoma struggled in 2022, but I think the Sooners are primed for a bounce-back year. Clemson not making the ACC title game would be a surprise, but I’m buying the hype around Florida State this year (get back to me after Week 1, though).
Of course, keep in mind that it is only April. I want the right to revisit these picks in August!
Which city that’s never hosted an NFL Draft should host one next?
It’s a shame St. Louis doesn’t still have a team, because having a draft stage under the Gateway Arch would be quite a sight!
Unfortunately, the Rams are in Los Angeles now, so that idea is out the door. What a shame.
I’ll go with Miami as my answer here. I’m not sure where exactly in Miami it would take place, but it seems like a cool city with warm weather in April. I don’t want a draft in a freezing cold location if I’m a fan not from that freezing cold city.
The Las Vegas draft had a really great vibe, and that’s what I would try to capture moving forward if I were NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Give me Miami as my top choice, New Orleans as my No. 2 choice.
If you were Dennis Gates at Mizzou, which 3 portal players would you most want?
Well, assuming Kobe Brown doesn’t head to the NBA and returns for another year, that’s a good piece to build around.
But losing D’Moi Hodge will hurt. There’s no getting around that. So the Tigers need a perimeter shooter, a wing scorer and a big man, in my opinion.
One name you’re going to hear connected to the Tigers a lot is North Carolina guard Caleb Love, who is a St. Louis native. He’s a great scorer at times, but at other times, he shoots his team out of games.
Still, under Dennis Gates’ coaching, I’d have confidence Love could have his best season in 2023-24.
Another guy I have high on my list is perhaps the biggest man in the transfer portal – 7-5 center Jamarion Sharp from Western Kentucky. The Tigers have not had a big interior presence in recent years. Well, it doesn’t get much bigger than Sharp.
He’s blocked 279 total shots in 2 years of college basketball. Mizzou was a bad rebounding team in 2022-23 and a bad overall defensive team. Sharp would single-handedly improve the Tigers’ defense significantly.
Finally, how about Myles Stute, a 6-7 transfer forward from fellow SEC school Vanderbilt. He shot 43.2% from 3-point range in 2021-22 and followed it up with a 36.1% success rate in 2022-23. He’d add some wing size and some 3-point shooting ability this coming season.
Will the Tigers get those 3 guys? I doubt they’ll get all of them, but 1 or 2 of them would be a great sign for Gates entering next year!
Have a question for next week’s Mailbag? Tweet at us using #SDSMailbag or email me at Adam.Spencer@XLMedia.com.