John Clay

The reason NFL television ratings are down, plus more random notes

Sam Bradford led Minnesota to a 24-10 win over the New York Giants on Monday Night Football to improve the Vikings record to 4-0. The numbers say NFL television ratings are down this season, however.
Sam Bradford led Minnesota to a 24-10 win over the New York Giants on Monday Night Football to improve the Vikings record to 4-0. The numbers say NFL television ratings are down this season, however. Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS

Random notes:

▪  NFL television ratings are reportedly down across the board, including the big three of Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football.

The reason? Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated writes that the presidential campaign has something to do with it, and I think he’s on to something. Fans complain the NFL is too predictable. With Trump in the presidential campaign, you never know what’s going to happen.

▪  We’re witnessing the education of a young quarterback in UK’s Stephen Johnson. Making his first road start, at No. 1 Alabama to boot, the junior-college transfer’s first fumble came when he tried to extend a play instead of taking a sack and keeping his team in field-goal position. It’s a tough balancing act for a quarterback who can make plays with his feet as well as his arm.

▪  A bit overlooked Saturday was the way Alabama shut down UK running back Boom Williams, holding him to 22 yards on nine carries. But then that’s what Nick Saban’s teams normally do — take the opponent’s best player out of the game.

▪  Kentucky’s game this Saturday with Vanderbilt reminds us of former Vandy coach James Franklin, who was 3-0 against UK while in Nashville but has struggled at Penn State. Franklin is just 17-14 as the Nittany Lions’ head coach. He was 24-15 in three seasons at Vanderbilt.

.615 to .548James Franklin’s winning percentage at Penn State compared to his record at Vanderbilt

▪  The Reds’ Joey Votto just completed another amazing season. He ended up hitting .326, his highest batting average since .337 in 2012. He led the NL in on-base percentage at .434. His OPS was .985. Votto hit .408 after the All-Star break.

▪  Don’t you wish you already had a Lamar Jackson autograph? On Tuesday, U of L announced it was no longer allowing its football players to sign autographs. The school feared NCAA rules would be broken.

▪  By the way, as an AP college football poll voter, I dropped Louisville from third to fourth in my rankings. Not going to penalize the Cards for a six-point loss at Clemson. I moved Clemson to No. 3 behind No. 2 Ohio State and No. 1 Alabama.

▪  Looking down the road, the Louisville-Houston winner on Nov. 17 has an excellent chance of being in the College Football Playoff.

▪  Still not crazy about those blue checkerboards on the Kentucky basketball uniforms. Just saying.

▪  I’m with Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, whose team plays at Boston College this Friday and who doesn’t like the idea of college football on Fridays. “I don’t like it,” Swinney said. “I want to be watching my son on Fridays. ... I don’t like the fact that it takes away from the high schools on Friday night. I’ve never liked it.”

▪  Georgia was the only team to hold Kentucky under 200 yards of offense last season. The Cats managed just 180 yards against the Bulldogs in Athens. Through five games this year, UK has been held under 200 yards twice — 149 at Florida and 161 at Alabama.

▪  Speaking of Georgia, new head coach Kirby Smart is just the latest example of a coach getting too smart on special teams. After the Bulldogs scored to take a 31-28 lead, and after Georgia was penalized for a 15-yard celebration penalty, the Bulldogs tried a pooch kick that resulted in a Tennessee return that set up the 43-yard Hail Mary completion for the 34-31 win.

▪  Had Georgia not rallied to win 28-27 at Missouri, the Bulldogs would be 2-3 overall and 0-3 in the SEC. And, by the way, Mark Richt is currently undefeated at Miami.

▪  It would not shock me if Ed Orgeron ended up the permanent head coach at LSU. Stranger things have happened, and Baton Rouge is a strange place.

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