Doc's Morning Line: The Cincinnati Bengals are cool. Joe Burrow is the coolest.

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·7 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Everybody wants to be a Cincinnati Bengal. You, me, La’el Collins, the German shepherd next door. (Lean body mass, great speed, seen as a potentially elite outside linebacker.) As with just about everything sports-wise here lately, up is down, left is right and the earth is flat.

The Bengals are cool.

Joe Burrow is the coolest. The Burrow Aura is coast-to-coastal, like a rainbow. He helped snag Collins, the large man who will play right tackle here next fall and the two falls after that. He called himself St. Joe’s “new bodyguard.’’

This stuff is really happening, honest to God. In one week, the Men added 60 percent of an offensive line. Just like that. While none of the three has been a Pro Bowler – Collins got snubbed in 2019 – Collins, Ted Karras and Alex Cappa are all more than solid, and better than who the team ran out there last season.

Only Collins has had durability issues, but even he played all but one game between 2017-19. All are in the middle of their careers.

Collins was the latest to jump on the MenWagon with both feet. He’s not without issues. The league suspended him five games last fall for blowing off drug tests. He was a projected Top 10 pick in 2015, who went undrafted because cops considered him a “person of interest’’ – but not a suspect – in the death of his girlfriend. Collins went undrafted. The Cowboys signed him as an undrafted free agent.

Regardless, the Bengals have done what they needed to do, what they suggested they’d do, after their QB got ravaged last season. They’ve taken a very good team and made it better. At least they’ve given it a very respectable shot.

Now, then. . .

X BRINGS BACK SEAN MILLER. . . The good: Obviously, he’s a very good coach. It’s not a leap to suggest that the Musketeers will return to Big East prominence, probably as early as next year. Fabulous hire, if wins are your only concern.

The bad: The issues, as outlined last week in This Space. Miller says he never paid a player, and there is no evidence to suggest he did. His defenders will say what he was accused of doing – paying 5-star recruit DeAndre Ayton to attend Arizona – is no longer illegal, or at least necessary, given NIL payments.

That’s irrelevant. NIL didn’t exist when the allegations surfaced.

One of Miller’s assistant coaches and recruiter deluxe Book Richardson spent three months in prison on federal bribery charges related to recruiting players. Arizona fired Miller last spring, in the midst of an NCAA investigation spurred by a federal investigation into college basketball. Miller was named in one of five Level 1 (most serious) charges.

Essentially, the NCAA said, you might not be directly involved, but the program is. Do you take responsibility for what goes on in your program?

That probe is ongoing.

Miller said he will address the issues this week, in a news conference announcing his hiring.

As for Travis Steele. . . No one is talking about why X and Steele “parted ways’’ before Xavier’s season was over. “Parting ways’’ with a coach while his team is still playing in a postseason tournament is unusual.

Did Steele quit? Why would he do that?

Did Xavier tell him he would not be returning next year? Couldn’t that wait until after he’d finished coaching his team this season? Seems to me Steele had earned that much.

Was Xavier concerned that South Carolina, which recently fired its coach, Frank Martin, would make a hard run at Miller, and Xavier didn’t want to lose out?

Maybe we’ll never know. But unless Steele quit, this was a disrespectful display. The indignity in letting a coach go in the middle of his team’s NIT run is not becoming of the sort of classy place Xavier intends to be.

We understand how important basketball is to the whole at Xavier. We saw the general dissatisfaction with Steele this winter. It was impossible to miss. It would have been OK to fire him after the season. But “parting ways’’ while his team was still playing was wrong.

Somebody – AD Greg Christopher, perhaps – should offer an honest explanation for all of it.

JEFF RUBY WOULD LIKE A MULLIGAN. In a column for Sunday’s Traditional Media, I wrote of the restaurateur’s connection with pro jocks over the years. He told me a story about trying to swim across the intercoastal waterway in Miami, after he’d had, by his estimation, 16 drinks.

He regrets saying that today.

Ruby has been a big help to lots of kids around here, for four decades. Father figure, support system, whatever you’d like to call it. “Uncle Jeff’’ to more than a few. He wants it known that he’s not a big drinker, not even a small one. He’s sorry if the column gave anyone that impression.

Plus, the incident happened 37 years ago.

THE MADNESS is great, but also annoying, and it’s not just the ads. By the way, what’s with all the jocks whose identities we really don’t know? Tell me all the people in that ad about the color blue, win fabulous prizes chosen just for you.

Snoop, Vince Carter, Sue Bird (who is suddenly everywhere) Christian Laettner and the one that stumped me for a long time.

But we digress.

The last couple minutes of games… they’re not killing the vibe, not exactly. But they’re not helping it.

This isn’t a new complaint, but this year it’s worse than ever. Timeouts, fouls, replays ad nauseam. If you have half an hour to kill, watch the last two minutes of an NCAA tournament game.

Replay is the devil. We can count on at least one several-minute stoppage during the last two minutes of every close game, usually to look at a contested out-of-bounds play. Replay dulls down everything it touches, in every sport. Even Madness isn’t immune.

As for timeouts. . . You get six a game, three per half, they don’t carry over. Plus, there are four TV TOs per half. If each team uses all its timeouts, that’s 20 time stoppages for a 40-minute game. Ridiculous.

What happens is we get to watch coaches control-freak-coach instead of players play. It’s like the National League, pre-DH.

(We also get to see way too much Barkley, Bird and Samuel L.)

Cut back on the timeouts. Two a half.

While you’re at it, eliminate the 1-and-1 free throws. Fouls after six result in two free throws, period. How many great games are slowed to a crawl by the way the game is conducted now?

Answer: Damned near all of ‘em.

THE REDS made a couple interesting acquisitions over the past few days. Colin Moran and Albert Almora are decent depth pieces, but not difference makers. They won’t further Nick Krall’s aim to get the Club in 2022 playoff contention.

Almora is a 28-year-old OF who spent last year in Triple A with the Mets. Moran can hit right-handed pitching. The Reds can pair him at DH with Donovan Solano, who hits left-handers.

On a good team, Almora and Moran would be seen as useful pickups. On this team, they’re not quite what the fan base is looking for.

HUGGS ON TV was OK. A problem is, he’s not loud enough. Way back in the day, I’d occasionally interview him solo in his office. I’d put the tape recorder on his desk. He’d sometimes give me really good quotes, or so I believed as I was listening to him speak.

Then I’d play back what I’d recorded. Half of it was inaudible because he spoke so softly. Pick it up, coach. Pretend the audience is a referee.

TUNE O’ THE DAY. . . My man Felix Cavaliere had one of the best voices in rock. I listen to this tune and instantly my mood improves.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati Bengals: NFL free agent moves show Joe Burrow's aura