COLUMN: Some odds and ends for the dog days of summer

Published 1:20 pm Saturday, August 5, 2023

In the dog days of summer, which for me means that time between the dead period for high school sports summer workouts and the official start to practices for the 2023 season, there is not a lot to write about.

So, I like to take times like this to just do a column filled with random thoughts about local, state and national sports.

We will start with some local sports because I can now announce the official name of the all-sports award that will go to the high school that has the most success during the 2023-24 year.

We have decided to call it the Champions Cup. I feel like that best describes what we are trying to accomplish with the award, which will be presented in late May. Coaches and athletic directors will be receiving shortly a full breakdown of how we will award points. I am also sending requests to the commissioners of each sport in the Lakeland and Wolverine Conference to assist in helping keep me caught up with the standings, which play a key part in deciding the Champions Cup winner.


World Cup

While I would not bet my house on the United States not winning another title, it is not looking good right now.

Although the women’s team advanced to the next round, they did it with a 1-1-1 record to finish second in the grouping. It is the first time they have had just one win in advancing to the next round.

This team looks inconsistent, especially offensively. They seem out of sync, which could be partly because there are many new faces on the pitch. I am hoping that they will improve with each game, but there is no room for error in the World Cup, and they are one more bad performance from having their three consecutive wins come to an end.


Preseason Practice

The National Football League teams are all in fall camps preparing for the upcoming season.

I cannot recall being this excited for the NFL season to get under way. That is because, as a Detroit Lions fan, I have become used to watching the first game or two of the regular season and then turning my attention to other fall sports. After all, they are usually out of the running by then.

But coupled with last year’s finish and the acquisitions they have made through trades, free agent signings, and the draft, the future has never looked brighter for the Lions. Many preseason analysts have Detroit winning the NFC North Division. The Lions are also one of the betting favorites to win the Super Bowl.

I do not think I will go that far, but I can definitely see them winning the division and making the playoffs. If they do that and perhaps win a game or two in the postseason, I think they could be one of the favorites in 2024 to win the Super Bowl.

Another reason I am excited about the upcoming NFL season is because Dowagiac’s Caleb Murphy is in training camp trying to earn a spot with the Tennessee Titans.

Murphy has already been through the Titans’ rookie camp and OTAs, but now is the time for him to really shine. I read some nice comments about him through the first two camps, including being named Tennessee’s “Most Exciting Undrafted Free Agent.”

I saw a nice comment about him this week on Twitter.

Hopefully, Murphy will make the squad, probably as a special teams player to start, and then begin to work his way up the chart on defense to a point where he gets some snaps during regular season games through the hard work and dedication he showed at Ferris State University that got him into this position.


College Football

Teams are also in camp preparing for their seasons.

It has been a weird offseason for college football. There continues to be talk of conference shifts, with the latest being that Washington, Oregon, Cal and Stanford could join the Big Ten.

It would make sense, sort of, since USC and UCLA will join the league in 2024. The Big Ten could have a Western Division with those four teams, plus Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin, and an Eastern Division with Michigan State, Michigan, Indiana, Purdue, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Maryland and Rutgers.

Eventually there will only be a handful of conferences that have anywhere from 10 to 20-plus teams. There will be the haves and the have nots. Whether or not that is good for college football is yet to be determined.

In the meantime, it makes for some great watercooler talk.


Scott Novak is sports editor for Leader Publications. He can be reached at