O'Donnell: Pitchforks and pillories for fans who want a 6-10 finish by the Bears
MANY WOULD CALL IT civic blasphemy.
It is the love that dare not speak its name.
But more history-wearied Bears fans are calling it "intuitively intelligent."
And they're the ones hoping for a crushing defeat when the careening Dallas Cowboys toe it down at Soldier Field Thursday (Fox, 7:20 p.m., Joe Buck, Troy Aikman).
Those orange-out dissonants don't merely want a loss to the Cowboys.
They want the final quarter of the Bears season to hit Smithereens City with an 0-4 close that would include beatdowns by the Packers, the Chiefs and the Vikings.
That would give the harried of Halas Hall a 6-10 closing mark and in a coherent court, leave George McCaskey and his senior council no room for ambiguity or duckin' and dodgin' in critical decisions forward:
• Ryan Pace has to go;
• Matt Nagy has to go; and,
• Some sort of maximum redemptive return on the franchise's huge risk involving Mitch Trubisky has to be imagineered with The Mentor Mysterian also gone.
Da' Bears mainstream, of course, will summon the pitchforks and pillories for such heretical thinking.
Those blind faithful still envision a 10-6 end, a reasonable January run and complete emergence from the nagging nightmare that has been known as the 2019 Bears season.
That same band can probably summon enough odds-against optimism to think Eddie Johnson will wind up as head of the FBI and streamers should be ordered for the Bulls NBA championship parade next June.
The unfortunate reality is that the Bears could beat dippin' Dallas and still finish in that numbing netherland of 7-9 or 8-8.
That would be all the justification that McCaskey and minions would need to keep Pace, keep Nagy and manufacture some sort of "quarterback competition" -- maybe sponsored by Geico or Captain Morgan -- centered around Trubisky and a parade of pass-throughs in Bourbonnais next summer.
And what could all GSH fans unite in calling that new nightmare?
How about "The 2020 Bears season?"
LONG-SUFFERING FANS of DePaul men's basketball -- especially ones with accounting degrees -- already have the path to the NCAA tournament figured out for Dave Leitao and crew.
Following Wednesday night's teaberry shuffle vs. Texas Tech, the Blue Demons must:
• Finish their nonconference schedule no worse than 12-1 (it ends against visiting Northwestern Dec. 21);
• Get through a weak Big East at a minimum 9-9;
• Record at least one quality road win in conference play (with primary targets current No. 16 Seton Hall, No. 23 Villanova and No. 24 Butler); and,
• Win at least a quarterfinal game in the Big East tourney at Madison Square Garden in March.
A Selection Sunday record of 22-11 or better and the program's first NCAA appearance since Leitao, Delonte Holland and Andre Brown led the surge to round two in 2003-04.
Micro: PG Charlie Moore idolized "Bad Boy" Isiah Thomas and plays like it. Paul "The Panther" Reed has the hands of a magician. Jaylen Butz is a Tom Izzo-style rock.
And the telling text of the team is its defense, except when the Steamin' Demons play with their brains on disconnect like they did in the first half vs. Central Michigan.
Next game: Buffalo, Sunday, Wintrust Arena, 4 p.m. (FS1, AM-1160).
STREET-BEATIN': If Wisconsin upsets Ohio State (minus-16½) in the Big Ten championship game Saturday (Fox, 7 p.m., Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt), Milwaukee's Potawatomi should get the Waukegan casino license. (Ryan Day and the Buckeyes reportedly are using their 38-7 romp over the Badgers six weeks ago as an absolute baseline to assure a No. 1 slot in the CFP.) ... OSU's Chase Young gets a lot of headlines, but Iowa DE A.J. Epenesa quite likely may prove to be the more enduring NFLer. The Dan Hampton-like brute has more seasoned corn shuckers recalling Alex Karras and Cal Jones, which is as high as it gets in Coralville and Reid Hanley's Mount Vernon. ... Northwestern's quiet jettisoning of OC Mick McCall comes 10 years after a bearded insouciant first suggested Pat Fitzgerald would have to address the broad gap between McCall and doctorate-level defensive chief Mike Hankwitz sooner or later. (Obviously, the rabidly loyal Ol' Fitz opted for later.) ... For deepest Orange Krush sentimentalists, it was 15 years ago this week that Bruce Weber's Amazin' Illini vaulted to the head of the class with a 91-73 manhandling of Chris Paul and No. 1 Wake Forest in Champaign. The game was the first ESPN main telecast featuring the incredible Illini with Brent Musburger, Steve Lavin and magnetically telegenic 26-year-old Erin Andrews reporting. (As Austin Powers might say, "Oh behave.") ... Far too many pockets of media hypocrisy in the wake of the Cubs nontendering Addison Russell: If the team had made a deep postseason run with the implodable young man as a major contributor, much of his third-rail residuals would still be submerged below press-box self-righteousness. ... CBS continues to lengthen off the tee for its 2020 men's golf coverage: Michelle Wie is joining for select events with Trevor Immelman upscaling and Frank Nobilo extending his presence. (Wie, incidentally, married Jonnie West -- the son of Jerry West and the director of basketball ops for Golden State -- in August.) ... Speaking of the Warriors, ESPN has dropped two prime telecasts involving the injury-riddled team. Maybe they can air on The Tim Floyd Channel. ... Brock Spack and Illinois State continue their habitual dalliance with the FCS tournament at Central Arkansas Saturday (ESPN3, 2 p.m., Shawn Kenney, Forrest Connoly). ... Tiffany Greene, the first black woman to call men's play-by-play for a major broadcast concern, will handle the Southern-Alcorn State SWAC championship Saturday (ESPNU, 3 p.m.). ... And with the holiday weekend media cease-fire over, a New York Post headline pretty much nailed it: "Go ahead and admit it -- 'The Irishman' is terrible." (Blowing the year of the Allen Dorfman hit -- 1983, not "1979"- violates just about every credibility guideline in the canon of "true" mob movies.)
• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.