Author: Chris Dufresne

Rankman sets out to prove he is not a know-it-all

You really can learn something new every day, even if the humility index varies dramatically. The spectrum ranges from John Wooden’s  “it’s what you learn after you know it all that counts,” to Bob Knight’s “I’ve forgotten more about this F’n game than all you people combined are ever going to know.” The weird thing is Steve Alford, who played for Knight at Indiana and now coaches basketball at UCLA, has never uttered anything so memorable. Yet, to paraphrase,  he “makes more F’n money than most of us people combined are ever going to know.” Anyway, that’s neither here, nor there, nor last year’s NCAA Tournament. Rankman takes tremendous, huge, Trumped-up pride in knowing a lot about college football. It’s basically his job now, 7-24, (seven hours a day, 24 days a year). In an effort to serve TMG more devoutly, yours truly recently tip-toed through college football’s tulips in an effort to seek out things he didn’t know. The final list turned out longer than the 95 theses Martin Luther nailed to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church, but Rankman, naturally, nailed it down to a top-20 list. Tracy Claeys is the head football coach at Minnesota. Really? Actually, vaguely knew it last fall after he replaced Jerry Kill, but forgot it faster than last week’s grocery list. Anyway, good luck to Stacy (sorry, Tracy) and congratulations...

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Rankman shares a secret about Jim Harbaugh

TMG sports has only been in business five days and there’s already a confession to make. With Big Ten football media days starting Monday in Chicago, this seems like a good time to make it.  The story has been tucked away in my mind since 2006, just waiting for the proper outlet to be told. My friends and family know the yarn and so do a couple guys at the gym. There is  no other way to set it up other than to just spit it out: Rankman may be responsible for the rise of Jim Harbaugh. If you love the combative, chest-thumping audaciousness he’s brought to Stanford, the San Francisco 49ers and now, the University of Michigan, you are welcome. If you hate Harbaugh and every khaki, petulant, satellite-camp thing he stands for, well, for that I apologize. Ann Arbor owes me (at least) a framed lithograph of Lloyd Carr, while the Southeastern Conference, if it has a problem, can stick it where the Starkville sun doesn’t shine. This isn’t (just) click-bait hubris coming from an aging sportswriter trying to promote a new college football website, TMGcollegesports, although it is a fantastic bargain at $14.95 per year while the early-bird special still lasts. For the record: I did not invent the protagonist Harbaugh, the way Mary Shelley did Frankenstein, although there are times I see Harbaugh on TV...

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College football: We’ve never needed you more

Retiring from daily print journalism, after 35 years, was surprisingly not difficult. The rub is you never know until you try it. My former colleague, Pulitzer Prize winner, Jim Murray, said writing a column was like riding a tiger–you hold on tight but don’t know how to jump off. Maybe the cut isn’t as cold now because of social media. One doesn’t have to sign off with a gold watch and one-way ticket to Shady Acres. You can resume immediately your banal observations on Twitter, Facebook, or a blog.  Transitioning from a “traditional” career is as simple as changing your bio from “works” at L.A. Times to “worked.” Ok, that was easy, where’s lunch? The first few weeks did produce nervous ticks, like a fireman jumping every time he hears an alarm bell. You hear news on your beat and run to the keyboard, only to realize this was now somebody else’s wrecked Christmas party. The phone still rings, but less often, and it’s never from the boss. The recovering print journalist is prone to deadline nightmares. Thanks to Gutenberg’s invention, sports copy at my shop had to be filed each night by 10:30 p.m., even if the game was in the seventh inning. You could update “re-plate” later, hoping to reach a few paid subscribers with a final score. One recurring nightmare is being stuck in the catacombs...

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