Author: Chris Dufresne

The 2017 college football preseason magazines are out…say what!!?

You know what they say: it’s never too early to start talking college football. Yes, it is. May is too early—at least for printed preseason magazines. I was shocked by two things this week strolling through my Barnes & Noble of Chino Hills. Actually, three things. The first was not seeing a display for LaVar Ball’s best-seller on the hard-scrabble raising of a basketball-family dynasty. Shouldn’t he have a book by now? –“The Time I beat Michael Jordan one-on-one (in my mind)” –“How to Succeed in getting a walk-on coach fired after a 30-3 season (without really trying)” –“Talk Radio and Me (How I duped an Industry by simply giving away my cell phone number) –“Steve Alford Owes Me…BIG. (How I saved a UCLA coach’s job and why that means he has to start LiAngelo)” –“One for the money, $495 for the shoe” –“Daddy Dearest” The second shock was a real-live book store being open anywhere in America. Amen to that, for now. The third shock was seeing college football magazines already on the rack. I traditionally wait until mid-July to pick up my college football previews, an annual rite of passage I anticipate like Christmas morning. There is nothing like cracking open the glossy, freshly printed pages of a pigskin periodical. It gets your blood flowing and triggers an endorphin release that foretells the coming of another series...

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Brian Kelly guarantees national title for Notre Dame in 2017–but don’t take his word for it

Brian Kelly said Tuesday he was tired of being misquoted in the public arena so, in a twist, he dropped a bombshell with a simple bob of his head. No actual words were attached to this proclamation yet dozens of attendees, including Rankman, seated at table 11, identified the affirmative nod at the silverware-clanking end of Kelly’s luncheon visit to The Notre Dame Club of Orange County. What Kelly said—I mean indicated–was outrageous. Kelly had flown West to honor the OC club for being the top booster organization in Notre Dame’s massive, nation wide,  God-fearing, armada of football worshipers. The OC club is currently led by president Paul Irving, a fine young leprechaun and the son of lifelong friends on my wife’s side of the family. As a younger man, at holiday events, Paul would sometimes call me out for my pernicious L.A. Times coverage of Notre Dame football. About 1999, for example, I may have written the Irish finished 5-7 under Bob Davie. Also, in 2002, I covered a game during which undefeated Notre Dame, for no reason, coming off a thrilling victory at Florida State, decided to break out the “green” jerseys for a home game against Boston College. The only team in South Bend motivated by that move was Boston College. What Paul didn’t know was that I mainly went harder\overboard on Notre Dame to balance...

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What I missed about missing the NFL draft: very little

I had a good reason for missing Thursday night’s NFL draft: I was inducted. This is different from missing an induction for reasons of being drafted. My induction was into the Cal State Fullerton Communication Department’s  “Wall” of fame. Not “Hall,” but “Wall,” which is still a big deal for someone who left Fullerton in 1981 with a bench warrant for 23-unpaid parking tickets. No, thank you, please, really, sit down. Parking at Cal State Fullerton was a nightmare, even then, and for some 19-year old reason I had a bad habit of crumpling my tickets and throwing them into the back seat of my Mazda. This only became an issue when I was determined to fight a bogus speeding ticket and was told by the judge I could plead my case right after serving a jail term for crimes committed at CS Fullerton. The option was paying my $500 in fines or taking a cell seat next to Charlie Manson. I opted with the former. Lest you think the NFL and the Titan “Wall of Fame” night had no tethers in common, I can tell you that I was incoming sports editor of the Daily Titan during the winter-break January (1980) when the Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers faced off in Super Bowl XIV at the Rose Bowl. The Steelers actually trained for the game on our campus, and...

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Major Masters props to Sergio Garcia: From the “Yips” to “Yippie.”

We were brutal on Sergio Garcia at the 2002 U.S. Open, back when he had the yips at Bethpage Black. You should have seen us New Yorkers work Sergio as he counted sheep to sleep over every shot. It was like bus driver Ralph Kramden watching Ed Norton dawdle over a pool shot. “…Will you hurry up!” Wait…We? Ok, I’m no New Yorker, but I felt like one that long, Long Island week. As a reporter covering the event, I had it even worse than the local yokels who vented their spleens at Sergio. My “inside-the-rope” privileges allowed me up-close access to Garcia’s inner re-grip struggles, with this important caveat. We scribes were forced to squat before every shot so as to not block the site lines of the paying savages, er, customers. Writers who did not bow to the unruly masses would get professionally hectored by the same people who booed Bernie Madoff and Alex Rodriguez. It’s funny what you remember. Tiger Woods won the 2002 U.S. Open to cement his standing as best golfer of his generation, arguably ever. It was his seventh major win out of the last 11 that had been played. Yet, what I remember most are my back and legs aching as I crouched between Sergio’s yippish swing thoughts. “Hit the F-ing ball!” “Hey Waggle Boy, I’ve got a plane to catch on...

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Blue Monday: Calling foul on a miserable NCAA title game

There was but one conclusion to reach after watching Monday’s NCAA title game featuring those rent-a-wreck-refs: Thank the Lord for spring football. And Mike Trout. And The Masters. I enacted the 24-hour rule so as to not hastily overreact in assessing North Carolina’s 71-65, title-game win over Gonzaga, yet woke up Wednesday still thinking there was no worse way to end a college basketball season. It wasn’t just that my pick, Gonzaga, lost in the finals. Or that my favorite player, 7-foot center Przemek Karnowski, couldn’t throw a Polish pea in the Baltic Sea. Or, that the top two finishers in our TMG Bracket Challenge don’t even follow college basketball, yet kicked the tar heel out of all of us who do follow the sport. TmgLIZ, our winner, literally picked North Carolina out of the blue. It was also acknowledged that second-place finisher Taylor Obitz, from El Segundo, had not closely watched a college basketball game all season. Actually, that gave her and Charles Barkley something in common. What made Monday night’s game the most disappointing title-game I’ve ever seen was the combination of rec-league officiating and poor shooting. Consider: Joel Berry II, the game’s MVP, didn’t come close to making half his shots. North Carolina, shot 34.6% from the field, but that was “lights out” compared to Gonzaga’s 33.9%. The Tar Heels made 15 of 26 free-throw attempts—and...

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