UCLA-Cal rescheduling a triumph of improvisation – Press Enterprise

The world according to Jim:

• This can only happen in 2020, right? Two major conference football teams agree to play each other on less than 48 hours notice. Just try to imagine what those game plans are going to look like.

Cal and UCLA are scheduled to play on Sunday at 9 a.m. in the Rose Bowl, basically latching onto each other – in a socially distanced way, of course – after their scheduled opponents, Arizona State and Utah, respectively, were forced to back out because of COVID-19 issues.

It’s so fitting. It’s surprising there haven’t been more of these instances, given that as of mid-afternoon Friday the number of game cancellations/postponements in the Football Bowl Subdivision stood at 61, including 14 this weekend alone.

• And maybe this will be a more intriguing game than most just because Chip Kelly and Justin Wilcox and their staffs won’t have the opportunity to game plan this thing to death. Ideally, the players go out and play and improvise and make up plays on the spot. Sandlot football, only on an immaculate patch of grass. Wouldn’t that be fun? …

• Remember when Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said that the conference’s agreement for daily antigen testing, which prompted the conference to reverse itself and allow the football season to begin, would be a “game-changer?” This couldn’t have been what he had in mind. …

• But this is a sports year that has upended many of our long-held assumptions, and the pandemic isn’t letting up. The average of new cases per day over the past two weeks is around 127,000 through Thursday, according to The Associated Press, and the graph keeps going upward. …

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• The Southeastern Conference had four games postponed this week, including Alabama-LSU, and its commissioner, Greg Sankey, told reporters on a conference call at midweek he was “shaken but undeterred.” The late Sean Connery would have approved …

• When the Ivy League canceled its postseason basketball tournaments in March, we all considered it an overreaction. The next night, Rudy Gobert’s positive coronavirus test turned sports in North America upside down, and instead of being an outlier, the Ivy League was ahead of the curve. So when that conference announced Thursday its coming men’s and women’s basketball seasons have been canceled … well, are they still contrarians, or should we be playing closer attention? …

• Item: Kim Ng becomes baseball’s first female general manager, hired by the Miami Marlins.

Comment: It’s about time.

Ng has been toiling in baseball administrative roles for three decades, with the White Sox, Yankees and Dodgers, where she was assistant general manager from 2002-11, and in the American League and MLB offices. She is sharp, she is knowledgeable, and she should have been hired to run a front office years ago. (And if she’d been a young guy with an Ivy League degree or Wall Street background, she probably would have been hired years ago.) …

• I wrote this exactly 15 years ago, Nov. 13, 2005, when the Frank and Jamie McCourt Dodgers were looking for a replacement for General Manager Paul DePodesta:

“Dodgers general manager search update: Kim Ng is a bright, up-and-coming baseball executive, well qualified to break through the glass ceiling and become the game’s first female general manager. But deep in her heart of hearts, after getting a close look at the way Frank and Jamie McCourt do things, does she really want THAT job?”

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She was better off waiting, and while it shouldn’t have taken anywhere near this long, that particular glass ceiling has thankfully shattered. …

• Just when you thought your internal calendar had settled down … the NBA draft is Wednesday, a week and a day before Thanksgiving. And free agency starts two days later.