Austin Carr. The Blade
Talking about football seems to never get old, particularly when a number of former college and professional players are among the crowd.
Such an occasion took place Monday at the sixth annual Austin Carr Celebrity Golf Classic at Highland Meadows Country Club.
Topics discussed included the upcoming first-ever Division I college football playoff format, as well as Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Former University of Toledo great Chuck Ealey was among the participants in the golf scramble. Recently retired from a full-time management position in Canada, Ealey plays golf a few times a week with his wife.
Ealey, who led UT to 35 consecutive victories over from 1969-1971, is cautiously optimistic about seeing a college playoff system.
“I have mixed emotions because we haven’t seen it done yet,” Ealey said. “At some point, someone has to vote who are the top [four] teams. Whatever it is, it’s going to come down to that group.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how all that comes together. In the long run, you’re going to have the top teams in the country there. Either one of those guys, on any given day, will probably be able to call themselves a champion.”
Ealey said the new playoff format might give way to some mid-major programs having a shot at contending for a national championship.
“You would hope that is the case,” he said. “If they come up with a fair way to get them involved, yes it does give them a chance to sort of play through the process.”
Former NFL and Notre Dame lineman Frank Stams played in the golf scramble.
“I’m excited about the playoff system,” Stams said. “I’m an advocate of the playoff system. I think that will take a lot of the uncertainty out of who is No. 1. I think it will work out for everybody. I think the bowls will be happy with what they get and everybody else will be happy with the playoff system.”
Stams also thinks the playoff system could benefit mid-major schools just as well as a school like Notre Dame, which has its own contract with a national network for games.
“Utah and Northern Illinois are perfect examples of teams that could benefit from a playoff system,” Stams said. “It seems like a team comes up every 25 years, just like they do in basketball, and should have a chance to compete for the national championship.”
Not all the talk was about football, though.
Carr, the No. 1 overall pick by the Cavaliers in the 1971 NBA draft and a longtime Cavs announcer, shared a few thoughts on hot topics in Cleveland.
He’s not ruling out witnessing a LeBron James return to Cleveland.
“I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt if he leaves Miami,” Carr said. “Right now, I’d say it’s 50-50 that he’ll come back, but maybe it’s more 60-40 that he won’t come back.”
Part of the equation to a possible return for James may depend on who the Cavaliers draft with the overall No. 1 pick.
Kansas center Joel Embiid and forward Andrew Wiggins, along with Duke forward Jabari Parker figure as the top three prospects.
“If I only got one pick I’d probably go with the big guy [Embiid], but again, it all depends on his health,” Carr said. “If he’s not healthy, then I can’t make that decision. Then, I’d probably go with Parker.”
The fund-raising golf event is for Kids Unlimited, a nonprofit organization with a goal of helping Toledo inner-city youth. About $75,000 will be raised this year, according to Chris Amato, a Kids Unlimited founder.