A true-false test, USC coaching candidates and other items of note

Random thoughts, while trying to figure out the difference between an emoji and an emoticon:

--What's the opposite of a "true freshman"? A false freshman?

--The Angels should pick up Andre Ethier.

--Actually, the Angels need two Andre Ethiers.

--Time magazine reports that this was the first September in six years that an NFL player wasn't arrested. See, I told you the world was becoming a better place.

--Comedy website Funny or Die is now producing video content for Clippers games.

--College football should scrap those Thursday and Friday games. TV might like them, but the paying customers — and teams — sure don't.

--Scheduling note: The college football semifinals will be on New Year's Eve, a Thursday, at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. PST, in Dallas and Miami.

--Looking back, I'm pretty sure I was a false freshman. And a recalcitrant sophomore.

--More signs of an improving world: USC's graduation rate for athletes is 81%, an all-time high. UCLA's was 86%, one percentage point below its record high.

--Does that mean UCLA is easier? That's how Trojans fans will spin it.

--I'll miss Don Mattingly. Even in L.A., that level of emotional detachment doesn't come along every day. But he was always gracious and often the only adult in the room.

--Among names being tossed around for the USC coaching vacancy: Jon Gruden, Kevin Sumlin, Sean Payton, Chip Kelly, Brian Kelly, Emmett Kelly, Leroy Kelly, Kelly Ripa, Kelly Clarkson and rapper R. Kelly.

--You have to admit: R. Kelly would be an excellent motivator. At halftime, he could sing.

--Happy 90th birthday to former Bruin Jim Chadwick, No. 61, who played halfback before faceguards, in 1948-49, and then went on to coach and teach (and raise seven children) at Leuzinger High in Lawndale.

--Notice how announcers now say "tackle in space" as opposed to an "open-field tackle"?

--Yep, it's the same thing.

--I'm ready for a Kings-Ducks outdoor rematch, this time at the Rose Bowl. I'll host the tailgate.

--I'm also ready for Bear-Packers, on Thanksgiving at Lambeau Field, which I think is where the Pilgrims landed. Kickoff is 5:30 on the West Coast. Adjust your turkey times accordingly.

--My own short list of USC candidates: the Raiders' Jack Del Rio and Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald, both with enough moxie to transcend the ghost of Pete Carroll.

--I'm pretty sure quarterback Sam Bradford might be an emoticon, and actor Ryan Reynolds might be an emoji. I can't tell them apart either.

--Next time some restaurant serves you imitation crab, be sure to pay them with imitation money.

--A December to remember: Keith Jackson back at the Rose Bowl on Dec. 9 for the dedication of the broadcast center in his name.

--Zack Greinke's most impressive quality? He makes baseball look easy.

--Though a high proportion of athletes are Republicans, UFC champ Ronda Rousey is backing Bernie Sanders. She cites his stand against corporate donations.

--Rex Ryan will make for must-see TV when he eventually enters the broadcast booth.

--And can you imagine TV's bidding war for Peyton Manning?

--Meanwhile, Dick Enberg says 2016 will be his last in the booth for the Padres.

--Vin Scully and Enberg retiring in the same year? Oh my....

--"If there was a channel where Scully read the text of every bill in Congress, I would drink a dozen Red Bulls and watch it 24/7," says Dodgers fan Leigh Mayo.

--Holiday gift idea for the SoCal sports fan: "Los Angeles Sports Memories," by Doug Krikorian ($21.99 from The History Press).

--Among the biggest blunders in TV history: Disney moving "Monday Night Football" to ESPN in 2005, while letting NBC walk away with the rights to "Sunday Night Football," which will be the No. 1 show in America forever.

--The winning QB that day: Dick Ebersol. The loser: Robert Iger

--Always remember, Bob: Happiness can't buy money.

--Other names on my USC "short list": Mike Gundy, Jeff Van Gundy, Peg Bundy, Elon Musk, Edmund Muskie, Bear Bryant, Bear Grylls, Dobie Gillis, Roger Rabbit and the woman who plays Lily in those annoying AT&T commercials.

chris.erskine@latimes.com

Twitter: @erskinetimes

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