Coaches, Hearts, Numbers, and a Little Chicago

Shots in the Darke


There’s a lot to cover in this edition of SHOTS, from high school sports through the professional ranks with a detour along the way to throw in a little Valentine’s Day trivia and the Billboard Hot 100 of music. Sit back with your favorite beverage or snack, get a pencil to take notes, and question why you have nothing better to do!!

Evidently the annual bloodletting of fired NFL head coaches has ended with the naming of the new (8 out of 32 teams this year) franchise “saviors”, ranging from relative unknowns to former head honchos getting a second chance at the helm. The lure of being one of only a chosen few to lead at the ultimate level of the sport is a powerful aphrodisiac. Everyone knows that you only have to please the organization’s owner, which translates into “win now or pack your bags!” “Hired to be fired” is the working motto of professional and big-time college coaches!

Jim Harbaugh managed to stay a step ahead of any NCAA investigations into his shenanigans at Michigan by signing on with the Los Angeles (I still want to say San Diego) Chargers while his former 2021 Wolverine defensive coordinator Mike McDonald inked to assume the head role with the Seattle Seahawks. Success has its rewards as a National Championship provides—fans of THE have to be feeling better as Harbaugh heads out west. Meanwhile, where forth art thou Bill Belichick?

Time to make that Super Bowl selection (that’s the game played between the commercials and half-time extravaganza coming up next Sunday). I like the 49ers over the Chiefs; I think the 49er defense does a better job of stopping Patrick Mahomes and company than KC does of thwarting Purdy, McCaffrey, Samuel, Kittle, and friends. What’s your pick?

Without looking, and perhaps a little thought, can you name the Top Five men’s and women’s D-I college basketball teams this weekend? Answers to follow!

Here’s a two-part Valentine’s Day question—more Valentine’s cards are sold in the US than any other occasion except one; secondly, how many Valentine’s cards are typically sold yearly here in the States? How many of you are like me with a spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, significant other, etc. whose birthday is the day after Valentine’s Day?

With high school basketball tournaments just around the corner (Indiana’s already started down the tourney trail, congratulations to Union City’s girls for winning a sectional championship a few days ago!) it’s time to look at the numbers that determine in which of four divisions your favorite prep team will be a participant. As I’ve tried to explain in the past, a school’s enrollment in the fall of the previous year in the freshmen, sophomore, and junior classes is used to place a team in a division for tournament play. The past few years have also included a “competitive balance” figure based on “out-of district” student-athletes.

For Ohio high school basketball, there are four divisions of equal size from the bigger schools in D-I down through the smaller schools in D-IV. For the 2024 tournament here are how the divisions breakdown:

Boys D-I— Mason with 1,300 boys down to Bedford with 346.

Boys D-II— Bowling Green with 344 down to Meigs with 193.

Boys D-III — Fairless at 192 with Hicksville at 121.

Boys D-IV— Columbia with 120 through St. Joseph Central at 16 (yes, only 16 boys!).

Girls D-I — Mason (largest public school in the state) with 1,251 girls to Monroe with 320.

Girls D-II — Greenville (yes, the Lady Wave) with 318 through Wellston at 191.

Girls D-III — Villa Angela St. Joseph at 190 to Mechanicsburg’s 113.

Girls D-IV — St. Henry and Tri-County North at 112 to St. Joseph Central at 13!!

St. Joseph Central is located in the Ironton area and is a private, Catholic high school with the athletic teams known as the Flyers—you can only hope that there are a few athletes enrolled at the school!!

Because of the huge size discrepancy in D-I, the Ohio High School Athletic Association is exploring going to seven divisions next year in multiple sports other than just football as is presently used. Those sports would include baseball, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, softball, and girls volleyball. Approval would require a majority of the member school principals as well as the OHSAA Board of Directors.

Some trivia answers—the Top Five mens programs in order for this week are UConn, Purdue, North Carolina, Houston, and Tennessee while for the ladies it’s South Carolina, Kansas State, Iowa, Stanford, and North Carolina State.

Only the Christmas season sees more greeting cards sold than Valentine’s Day. Approximately 145 Million cards are sold for the upcoming celebration, don’t forget yours!!  By the way, Mother’s Day sees sales of 113 Million, the Christmas holiday an incredible 1.3 BILLION!

Finally, from the Washington Post newspaper comes this bit of information. Since 1990, the average length of a song on the Billboard Hot 100 list has dropped from over four minutes to about three. Listeners on streaming platforms “are interested for two minutes and then they want to switch to the next thing” say analysts. As the iconic band “Chicago” sang in one of their many hit songs “Does anybody really know what time it is?, Does anybody really care?” Maybe the younger generations think its “25 or 6 to 4”!! Have a great week, stock up on food for the Super Bowl!!