Author: Chris Dufresne

Read all about it (if you can): For some of us, UCLA basketball remains Pac 12’s best-kept secret

Jan. 20, 2017 Chino Hills, Ca. (Monsoon Season) Dear Diary: The guy who said it never rains in Southern California delivered my L.A. Times this morning because it was dripping wet as I fetched it from the driveway–next time I’ll bring a pasta strainer–for almost the sole purpose of reading about UCLA’s big Thursday-night win over Arizona State at Pauley Pavilion. This would have NEVER happened when I was a paper boy! Quick side trip: This reminds of the time, when I was covering the Los Angeles Rams in the 1980s, when legendary assistant coach Marv Goux screamed at me from across Rams Park before practice one day. I figured he was peeved about something I had written about the defensive line he coached for John Robinson. “Chris,” he said quite sternly, “I got a problem.” Me: “Uh-oh.” Him (me paraphrasing now): “I’m not getting my paper delivered on time in the morning. I leave at 6 a.m. and I need it before I leave.” Marv thought, as the Times’ beat writer for the Rams, I should call circulation and get it straightened out. Marv was a chain-of-command guy. Anyway, back to UCLA, we still don’t get much news about “the conference of champions” out here because the Pac 12 doesn’t televise games to many of its fans who subscribe to DirecTV, which is A Lot Of Us. The...

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Oregon football is now officially on my off-season conditioning watch list

(UPDATE: Oregon on Wednesday suspended  strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde for one month pay and coach Willie Taggart issued an apology to the families of three players hospitalized for overexertion caused by “military training like” off-season work outs.  “I hold myself responsible for all football-related activities,” Taggart said as part of a university-released statement, “and the safety of our students must come first.” )   My first impulse was to scream “Fire Everybody!” Rankman, though, is older now, so he calmly invoked his “10-second rule” and poured a hot cup of green tea. No need to jump to a radical conclusion, yet, on the news emanating from the University of Oregon’s football program. There is already enough knee-jerk reaction in this world–don’t be one of them. Contrary to popular tweet, not every story is black or white.  Let me say this, though, regarding three Oregon players hospitalized after undergoing “military training” like off-season workouts in January: I am officially conducting my own “Sting” operation in the form of one of the singer’s most famous lyrics: Every move you make, every chance you take, I’ll be watching you. I was supportive of Willie Taggart’s hiring in December and generally agree that the Ducks need to get tougher on the field. The one subject that will set me off, more than any other, is any conflating of military training to football...

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All of those in favor of the Chargers bolting to L.A. stand up and say: “Hail Yes!”

What’s all this naysayer talk, in my beloved parking lot of human sprawl, about the Chargers coming BACK to Los Angeles? This is terrific news and I only hope it was in exchange for a Kardashian.  I say to the Chargers: “Welcome home.” Someone hail Joshua, or maybe Herb Albert, to blow his horn.  I do regret that one more team in town will further tax the already overstretched sports staff of my hometown L.A. Times. Sorry about that and if that’s where this negativity is coming from, well, I get where it’s coming from. Bill Plaschke, my former colleague and the paper’s prize-winning (but sometimes a bit reactionary) columnist, sounded like he wanted to build his own wall near Mexico to keep the Chargers out. “We. Don’t. Want. You.” Plaschke wrote in the rarely-executed four word, four period, sentence. What kind of Welcome Wagon is this? My four-period rebuttal: That. Ain’t. Necessarily. So. (Plaschke, it should be stated,  started in the San Diego Bureau of the Times and few objected when he moved up to L.A.) Los Angeles went 20 years without an NFL team and now we have two teams.  That’s fan-tastic. We should embrace this, notwithstanding the politics and the harboring of yet another wing-nut owner in Dean Spanos. Look, we survived Dan Reeves, Jack Kent Cooke, Donald Sterling, Disney owning the Angels, FOX AND Frank McCourt...

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Clemson cleanses 35 years of misery (and jokes) to score epic win over Alabama

TAMPA, Fla.—Clemson waited 35 years to celebrate a national title, so what was one more clock tick at the end of a game that wasn’t put to bed until half past midnight? This wasn’t like 2002, when Miami rushed the field in Tempe thinking (knowing) it had defeated Ohio State, only be told by a ref located in another county it was being called for a pass interference penalty that would prematurely blow $50,000 of fireworks into the Arizona sky. This wasn’t like that because Miami ended up losing that championship, in overtime, and has lived with that awful outcome for 14 years. Clemson’s joy was only deferred so that bookkeepers could settle the final accounting for the bureau of NCAA statistics. It was like waiting on the final paperwork to receive the keys to your new Mercedes. The ACTUAL national title was claimed with one second left, when Deshaun Watson hit Hunter Renfrow on a two-yard scoring pass in the right corner of the end zone. The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here....

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Rankman’s Pick: Clemson the only team that can almost beat Alabama

TAMPA, Fla.–Clemson is the only team on the intercollegiate Google map that could, theoretically, end Alabama’s dynasty in the end-zone of Raymond James Stadium. The world is ready for a college football headline that doesn’t start with “King Saban” or “Roll Tide Roll.” Clemson’s Deshaun Watson is the ONLY quarterback in America with the tool kit to off set the greatest defense in a generation. Watson certainly does not fear Alabama, having taken last year’s game down to a 45-40 wire. Last night, thanks to ESPN replay,  I watched the fourth quarter of the 2016 game in Arizona and came away impressed with Watson’s utter disregard for Nick Saban’s defense. Watson is a throw-run threat who had the Tide defense on roller-skates in the fourth quarter. Even after Alabama scored to put the game away at 45-33, Watson raced his team down the field for another touchdown, with 12 seconds left, to at least give Clemson a shot at an on-side kick. That said, picking against Alabama is a fool’s game. Only guys from Jersey, maybe, would think of it.  I do like Clemson covering the 7-point line and the schools topping the over-under at 51. But Alabama’s defense, at this point, is the most suffocating I’ve seen since the 1985 Chicago Bears. You can’t run or pass against it, which leaves few options. The Tide can get pressure...

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