Slant Pattern Mailbag

It's time for another edition of Slant Pattern mailbag. As always, I do not receive any questions myself, so I poach questions form other mailbags. This week, we are going to answer a pair of questions from Stewart Mandel's college football mailbag in The Athletic, and a trio of questions from L.Jon Wertheim's mailbag in Sports Illustrated.

First, the college football ones:

What does the resume for the 10/11/12 seeds in next year's playoff look like? A one-loss Group of 5, a four-loss SEC/Big Ten team, a 2-loss Big 12/ACC? — Todd B.

Love this question. I actually think it has a fairly easy answer, though.

A 1-loss group of 5 team is 100% out of the question. Liberty was undefeated this year and could still only manage a #23 CFP ranking. Even a big scalp in out-of-conference play would not have vaulted them all the way into the top 12. The committee does not respect the G5 and will only put in what they are required to from that group for the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, looking back over the last three years, no 4-loss team has made the top 12 in the CFP's final rankings. None have featured in the top 16, in fact.

I don't think the CFP committee favors the Big Ten and the SEC by two full games over the ACC/Big 12, so the answer is C: a 2-loss ACC/Big 12 team.

Michigan fans love to criticize Ryan Day for "being born on third base." Will Ohio State fans now criticize Sherrone Moore for the same thing? Or are both fanbases stupid considering how much work goes into getting those jobs? — David S., Dayton, OH

Both fanbases are stupid. When I think "being born on third base," I think "did not start at the bottom rung of coaching." In college football, that's being a graduate assistant somewhere.

Ryan Day was a graduate assistant at both Boston College and Florida, after a year as tight ends coach at his alma mater, New Hampshire. The Florida gig was indeed under Urban Meyer, which he was able to parlay into the glitz and glamor of his next stop: wide receivers coach at Temple.

So, Ryan Day is acquitted of being born on third base. And so is Sherrone Moore. He spent three full seasons as a graduate assistant at Louisville. After two more seasons as tight end coach there, he was demoted, so to speak, by then moving on to the same position at Central Michigan before working his way back up again.

You know who does have a bit of a suspect beginning in coaching? Washington Commanders coach Dan Quinn. Immediately after playing for, and graduating from, Salisbury University, he was immediately made the defensive line coach at William and Mary. How was he able to go from a DII player to a DI position coach right out the gate?

On to tennis...

What do we do with Carlos Alcaraz? A U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion cannot be dismissed as a flash in the pan. But thinking of the player who will break through as the next generational champion, his lack of consistency on the big stages has got to be a question. Champions rise to the occasion. Nadal had won how many titles at RG by the same age? What's your view — he's a talented player who just needs to tweak a few things to run the board for years, or he's a talented player who lacks the fortitude to clamp down as number one for the next five years and will win the occasional major? - Mark

Oh my goddddd, he's 20, for crying out loud. TWENTY. No player comes onto the scene as a teenager and just dominates over their career with no hiccups.

How many titles at RG did Nadal have at the same age, you ask? I assume you think the answer must be something like 4 or 5, but it's 2 — the same number of slams that Alcaraz has. More than Federer and Djokovic had at that age, as well.

If I had one wish for the average sports fan, it's that they'd be aware of, and guard against, recency bias. Did I mention that he's 20?

The source of my ire today is Mass General Brigham Hospital in Boston. You see, I had a dermatology appointment downtown at 10 am (don't worry, everything is fine), and was looking forward to watching the match upon my return home, with no knowledge of the score of either semifinal thanks to my aforementioned self-imposed media blackout. What I didn't account for was the small screen installed in the hospital's elevator that showed the weather, an advertisement for an eczema medication, and ... the results of the $%#$@ Australian Open Men's Semifinals!!!! The nurse that I rode the elevator with was startled by my sudden frustrated outburst, but seemed amused by my explanation. And to top it all off, the dermatologist was 45 minutes late for an appointment that lasted less than 5 minutes. - Taylor

I have pretty much given up on "watching the game later" these days, and the impossibility of avoiding spoilers is only half the problem.

The other half is seeing how long a match lasts is a spoiler of its own. Let's say you avoid spoilers and sit down to watch a recorded men's Australian Open match. Every "watch it later" option I'm aware of will inexorably show you the length of the recording. If the recording is five hours, and player A wins the first two sets, well, you damn well player B is going to win the next two with the match that long.

Tennis isn't the only sport spoiled for future viewing by widely varying time lengths. Boxing is impossible in the same regard, where a bout can be over with a knockout in 30 seconds or go 12 rounds.

Football, baseball, and basketball are slightly better, as is soccer, unless it's a match that cannot end in a tie, as a time of more than 2½ hours invariably means the game went into extra time. The juice is just not worth the squeeze anymore.

Serious question ... when did everyone start calling majors ... grand slams? Grand Slam = winning all 4 majors!! Australian, French, Wimbledon and US Open! - @td14 via twitter.

Well, let's see. I've been pretty serious about following tennis for 12 years. In that time, I have only heard them referred to as "majors" exceedingly rarely. So, at least 12 years. Majors now sounds weird and off to me when applied to tennis (even if I suspect I've probably used that term myself in that way in this space). Slams are tennis. Majors are golf. That's the way God intended. Amen.

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