Jets-Giants Woes Recall 1997 Replacement of Coaches

The tailgaters wearing the Mark Bavaro and Curtis Martin jerseys aren’t throwing the football around MetLife Stadium parking lots with the same zip this season.

With the Giants and Jets woeful, they still have something to look forward to, they might see something that has only happened three times before in recorded history: both New York City-area National Football League teams changing coaches in the same offseason.

Yes, the Jets beat the Steelers last weekend to climb to 2-8. Rex Ryan now is 44-46 since he took over as coach for the 2009 season, and this will be the fourth consecutive season without a playoff appearance for them.

The Giants are 3-6, and Tom Coughlin hasn’t had them in the playoffs since they won the Super Bowl after the 2011 season.

The last time both teams replaced coaches simultaneously was before the 1997 season when the Jets ousted Rich Kotite and brought in Bill Parcells. The Giants ditched Dan Reeves for Jim Fassel.

Once again, there is change in those winds off the swamps of Jersey.

Tailgaters, cheer up. The Jets have a bye and can’t lose. The Giants are four-point underdogs at home against the San Francisco 49ers. Brian K. Sullivan, Bloomberg’s weather reporter extraordinaire, informs Sports Line that it’s forecast to be a gray, misty, raw Sunday, much like the Ray Handley era for Giants fans. So put on your thermals under that Bavaro jersey and take solace knowing that the Jets were four-point home dogs against the Steelers last week.

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LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki created a stir last month when they said the National Basketball Association’s 82-game season is too long and puts players at risk of injury.

The two All-Stars -- who led three of the past four NBA championship teams -- understand that the league isn’t going to give up revenue by cutting games, but said they would be in favor of anything to reduce the wear and tear on players.

The NBA experimented with shortening games to 44 minutes from 48 during the exhibition season, but that idea was met with derision by players and coaches.

“It’s not the minutes, it’s the games,” James said. “Once you play, it takes a toll on your body.”

Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers told Sports Line the problem isn’t the number of games, it’s that too many are crammed together -- something English soccer officials gently call “fixture congestion.”

The Clippers are especially congested in December. They play at Denver on Dec. 19, home Dec. 20, then in San Antonio and Atlanta on Dec. 22-23. They are back home for a Christmas night game against Golden State.

Rivers’s solution is to shorten the preseason and build that time into the regular season.

“We can take some preseason games away and use that extra week to stretch the season,” he said before the Clippers played at Golden State last week.

Preseason games make sense from a marketing standpoint when they’re played in non-NBA cities, especially those outside the U.S., but can be meaningless at home arenas.

The Clippers have sold out every regular-season and playoff home game since Feb. 2, 2011, and averaged 19,212 fans per game last season -- 100.8 percent of capacity.

They had fewer than 14,000 fans for three of their exhibition games last month, including a low of 13,477 for an Oct. 22 contest against the Phoenix Suns -- leaving almost 5,600 tickets unsold.

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Wish you had put down a fiver on this?

Three amateur golfers had holes-in-one on the same day on the eighth hole at the Palmetto Hall Plantation Club’s Robert Cupp Course in Hilton Head, South Carolina, in mid-October.

Sports Line asked the people at MyTopSportsBooks.com to figure out the chance of that.

Their answer: 12 million-to-1 for amateurs, based on each having a 12,500-to-1 chance. For pros, who would each have a 2,500-to-1 chance, the odds of three on the same day are a mere 100,500-to-1.

The three golfers from different foursomes hit their aces from the blue tees on Oct. 19 during the Amateur Golf Tour Championship. Daren Green made the first ace on the 130-yard, par-3 hole. Jose Talamantes had his ace in the next foursome, and Andre Scopone made his later in the afternoon.

“We generally have a handful of hole-in-ones annually, but three in one day is unbelievable,” said Dan Moscar, the club’s general manager. “In all my years in the industry, I have never had two aces in one day, let alone three.”

***

Duke University’s football team is better than their basketball teams. Technically. And only if you ignore the four national hoops championships for the men since 1991 and two title game appearances for the women since 1999.

The Blue Devils football team is 8-1 this season, good for 21st in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings. That’s after winning a grand total of 10 games from 2000-2007.

Duke football has gone 16-3 in its past 19 games, and play Virginia Tech (4-5) tomorrow. The men’s basketball team is 14-5 in its past 19. The women are 13-6 in their past 19 games.

The football team is better. Technically.

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- The people who make a living at predicting sports outcomes -- gamblers and bookmakers -- think those college football playoff rankings are full of hooey. To wit: Alabama, which lost to Ole Miss on Oct. 4, is No. 5. They host No. 1 Mississippi State tomorrow and are 8.5-point favorites. In fact, Alabama would be favored against every other college football team on a neutral field, says RJ Bell, president of handicapping information website Pregame.com.

- The Clippers, who were sold in May after owner Donald Sterling made racist remarks, are making headlines again over a diversity issue -- but this time for the right reasons. They hired Gillian Zucker as the team’s new president of business operations. Zucker, 45, joins the Lakers’ Jeanie Buss as the only female chief executive or president of a major U.S. professional sports team. Buss, 53, whose family owns the Lakers, is that team’s president.

- Antonio Gates of the San Diego Chargers has nine touchdown receptions this season, putting him on the verge of becoming the first tight end in NFL history with four 10-touchdown seasons. He might have company quickly. The Chargers host the winless Oakland Raiders in two days. Shortly after that game ends, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will take the field against the Indianapolis Colts needing two TD catches to join Gates with his fourth 10-score season.

(A previous version of this story corrected that Duke women’s basketball program made appearances in the title game.)

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