Tuesday, May 31, 2011
I'm a fake doctor, not a lawyer, and odds are most readers haven't passed the bar exam, either. Maybe a few of you have served on a jury. But if you've been keeping even one eye on the cover-up scandal slowly engulfing Ohio State coach Jim Tressel over the last two-and-a-months, you don't need a J.D. to put together a straightforward case based on the evidence: No one disputes that Tressel learned about possible NCAA violations involving multiple players from an e-mail tipster last spring, failed to notify anyone in the school's administration or compliance department, signed a form in September affirming he had no knowledge of possible violations, allowed the potentially ineligible players to play the entire 2010 regular season, lobbied to keep them on the field for the Sugar Bowl after news of the violations broke last December and still concealed his prior knowledge until the e-mails were discovered on the coach's computer earlier this year. That's Ohio State's version of events (not to mention the NCAA's), and even OSU didn't see any choice but to levy a fine and suspension against its head coach in response.
Case closed? Maybe. If you're the kind of person who makes judgments solely based on, like, evidence, then yeah. But facts and stuff aren't the only factors the NCAA is interested in, according to Tressel's new attorney, former NCAA Committee on Infractions chair turned NCAA consultant-for-hire Gene Marsh, who's seen these kinds of cases from every angle and told the Columbus Dispatch that the school's all-important appearance in front of the committee on Aug. 12 will more likely come down to Tressel convincing members that his heart was in the right place:
"The exchanges that matter most when it comes to coaches who are the subject of a serious inquiry like this are the ones that come directly between the committee and the coach, not the exchanges from the committee to the coach's lawyer," Marsh said.
Marsh said the real value in such hearings is when committee members look into a coach's eyes when he answers questions that cut to the heart. Tressel, he added, can be expected to expand on his admission that he did not forward information, as is required by NCAA rules, about some of his players possibly receiving improper benefits from a tattoo-parlor owner.
"'What were you thinking? What motivated you to do this?'" Marsh said. "If that didn't matter, you wouldn't have a hearing.�... The body language, and how sincere the individual is, it matters a great deal. It is the show."
If there has ever been a show written specifically for Jim "The Senator" Tressel, it's one that calls on him to look middle-aged bureaucrat types in the eye and convince them that they can still trust Jim Tressel. As Marsh continues, "what really matters to committee members is to try to get an understanding for the coach, their ethic, their lifelong work, their reputation, and whether their institution believes in them."
Clearly, the institution still believes in him —�or, at the very least, is committed to demonstrating to the rest of the world that it still believes in him. If loyalty and remorse qualify as a standard of proof where the NCAA is concerned, the Buckeyes have nothing to worry about.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.
Take one glance at Richmond's current mascot, and it's easy to see why the Spiders decided they needed an upgrade.
The mascot looked more like a deranged red ant than a ferocious spider. He had red fur instead of black, a cartoon grin instead of a feisty growl and worst of all, four legs instead of the requisite eight.
An alumni facebook campaign aptly named "Give Spidey His Legs Back" prompted the Richmond athletic department to commission Rickabaugh Graphics last year to redesign the mascot. Students and alumni voted online in February on two potential designs, with Richmond announcing Friday that the fiercer, eight-legged spider above was the winner.
The new Spider has flashing LED eyes, a scowl instead of a smile and a custom-designed high-powered web shooter than can launch t-shirts and toys to the nose-bleed seats at Robins Stadium or the Robins Center. He'll also don jerseys to match the Richmond football or basketball teams rather than the red cape and tights of his ill-fated predecessor.
In addition to the new look, the mascot will have a new name when he's unveiled in person at a June 4 alumni gathering. Because Richmond learned during the redesign process that the name "Spidey" is trademarked by Marvel Comics, the new mascot will officially be known as "WebstUR."
The name may be a little hokey but the overall design is a big improvement.
Richmond's basketball team inspired arachnophobia this past March when it won the Atlantic 10 tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16. Now maybe the Spiders' mascot can finally cause fear as well.
TMZ loves Chuck Liddell and he seems to like the gossip site. Liddell provided a comedic moment without even realizing he was in on a joke. Watch a TMZ staffer get blasted for not knowing the difference between "fornicating" and "defecating."
If you'd like to ask Liddell about dropping a deuce or anything else, you can find him this weekend at Miracle Mile behind Planet Hollywood.
"The Iceman" has a meet and greet at the Las Vegas Fight Shop inside the Miracle Mile. Just before UFC 130 goes down a few properties to the south on the Las Vegas strip, Liddell will be on the scene from Noon-2. Look for Cagewriter as well. We'll be lurking.
Liddell isn't the only fighter out and about this week. Carlos Condit, Kyle Noke and UFC Octagon girl Chandella will be at the LV Fight Shop's Fashion Show Mall location from Noon-2 on Friday.
On Saturday, Urijah Faber and Joe Benavidez are signing at a Cox Cable office in nearby Henderson.
Like Utley and the Phillies, the Rangers' power duo is heading back to a team that's atop the standings with a half-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels. But they're also heading back to a team that has been struggling to score runs and is more than happy to welcome them back. Over the last 26 games, the Rangers are 10-16 with a .244 batting average and an average of 3.8 runs per game.
Cruz was around for some of that span, last playing on May 3 before bowing out with a strained quad. Hamilton, however, hasn't seen action since April 12, when he broke his humerus (arm)�sliding into home plate after trying to tag up on a foul pop-up (and not while throwing his third base coach under the bus afterward).
Both players finished successful rehab stints at Triple-A Round Rock on Sunday ? save for Hamilton being miffed over an intentional walk on Sunday ? and are said to be in Monday night's lineup. Hamilton will DH until he's fully cleared to play the outfield.
So, considering that the Rangers are a middling 24-23, this would appear to be their big chance to create some separation between themselves and the rest of the AL West. The Rangers got off to a very powerful start to the season, but have been somewhat average ever since with both of their big guns ailing. �Is this their chance? If Cruz and Hamilton can stave off their reputations as being injury prone and start producing like their (sometimes) healthy selves, you'd have to think so.
It's a (gettin' down on) Friday edition of Puck Daddy Radio, and we're chatting about the following and much more:
? Wysh and Pizzo offer key points on Game 7.
? The utter hypocrisy of the Nathan Horton non-suspension.
? The end game for the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg.
? Question of the day: Describe the game-winning goal in Game 7 tonight.
? Puck Previews.
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The veteran Bulldogs will maintain their composure and defensive intensity to claim the NCAA championship.
That's the question that the embarrassed Tampa Bay Rays should have thrown back at Avril Lavigne after the punk rawker let loose some profanities during the team's summer concert series at Tropicana Field on Saturday night.
Instead the red-faced Rays just apologized directly to their fans in a statement on Sunday.
Said spokesman Rick Vaughn (via The Heater):
"The Rays demand profanity-free performances from all of our concert performers and we are extremely disappointed by the language used in last night's show. It is not consistent with the family-friendly atmosphere that Tropicana Field is known for."
So what was Lavigne yelling for? Was it because the native Canadian still has a soft-spot for her Blue Jays and the Rays lead them in the current AL East standings? Was she suffering from withdrawal from her normal mall habitat of Hot Topics and Orange Juliuses? Good guesses, but no.
Between her swear words, Lavigne reportedly noted that live shows ? especially those at a "baseball stadium" ? have a tendency to feature a few glitches. As someone who suffered through bad sounds at George Thorogood's set after a Pittsburgh Pirates game last August, I can attest to that. (I also would have cheered anything that blocked Lavigne's music from being disseminated further, but that's just me.)
Still, Avril should have known better because this was a family atmosphere the Rays were paying her to perform at. And it was filled with the very same families that Lavigne and her marketing companies have targeted over the past decade by being just the right kind of punk rawk dangerous (which is, to say, usually not dangerous at all).
Were the words she uttered probably any worse than the kids in the expensive seats can hear from the ballplayers on the field? Probably not, but she could have dropped a quick "earmuffs!" before her tirade.
USC quarterback Matt Barkley has always had a different way of thinking, a way of seeing the big picture. But no one blamed Barkley for saying that the NCAA ruling, which upheld several NCAA sanctions against his school, including a two-year postseason ban (the team voluntarily took one year last year) and a reduction of 30 scholarships during the next three years, was unfair and unjust.
After all, the NCAA is punishing USC players for something that happened during the 2004-05 season, a time when USC's current roster was either in middle school or just starting high school.
So while it was difficult for Barkley to see the bigger picture after USC's appeal to the NCAA was denied Thursday, Barkley made sure to put his football disappointments in context with what's going on in the rest of the country.
"You look at the news today and see all the tornadoes and stuff that is going on in the Midwest, and you think about those families and how life is unfair for them," Barkley said. "And they have found a way to fight on in a sense. So, we're going to find a way to fight on and make the most of this opportunity. But in reality there's nothing we can do...so why complain about it?"
I don't think Barkley was comparing USC's NCAA sanctions to the tornado devastation felt in Alabama, Missouri and Oklahoma. Rather, he was drawing inspiration from the people who have battled through those tragedies and are making the most of their situation.
Barkley is going to need that glass-half-full attitude throughout the summer to help ensure that USC doesn't lose any seniors, who might want to finish their football careers with a postseason opportunity. USC seniors are allowed to transfer to any Football Bowl Subdivision school without having to sit out a year.
So far, Barkley thinks the team will remain intact.
"I haven't heard anything," Barkley said. "That doesn't mean that guys aren't thinking about it. But given the vibe of the team and having talked to the guys prior to the decision, it doesn't seem like that's going to happen. I could be wrong, but it doesn't look like that.� It looks like guys want to be here. They want to face this challenge and do something special with it."
Monday, May 30, 2011
Sing it with me: The roof! The roof! The roof is on fire!
Thousands might have dusted off that old-school hit at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night as it appeared that the roof literally was on fire in the right-field upper deck. Smoke began billowing into the seating area of the ballpark during the fifth inning of the Los Angeles Dodgers' 6-1 loss to the Florida Marlins.
Thousands of fans were moved from the affected sections and relocated to another part of the stadium. (As L.A. Times reporter Steve Dilbeck pointed out, there were plenty of empty sections to move to, with an announced crowd of 29,971 on hand.)
No one was evacuated from the park, but some reportedly suffered from smoke irritation. The smoke wafted from the upper tiers of the ballpark down to the lower levels, and eventually reached center field. Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlan definitely noticed something wrong in the air.
"I could smell that smoke and I was like, 'That ain't a hot-dog stand.' Then I saw this huge puff and I said, 'Oh, my God, this place is on fire and we're still playing,' " [he] said.
According to the Los Angeles Fire Department, the fire originated from a small warehouse below the reserved level. Officials on the scene said a small fire of paper products was the cause of the smoke, and was put out by firefighters in 20 minutes.
The stadium's public address announcer informed the crowd of the situation during the sixth inning, assuring them that the fire was under control and there was no need to evacuate the ballpark.
Ultimately, it was yet another bizarre incident in a season full of off-the-field embarrassment for the Dodgers.
The NFL Network has announced that it'll have a new Thursday night broadcast crew, with Brad Nessler doing the play-by-play and Mike Mayock handling the analysis.
Bob Papa, who did the play-by-play with Millen and Theismann, is out of the Thursday night mix, too. He and Theismann will remain with the NFL Network, but in different roles.
Mayock has become known as a draft expert; sort of the NFL Network's answer to Mel Kiper Jr. That's selling him way short, though. He played briefly in the league in the early '80s, and has done a boatload of broadcasting work since. He's called college games, CFL games and NFL games.
I don't mean to kick Theismann and Millen when they're down, but I don't think I'm alone in saying that that little broadcast experience needed to end. One of them at a time might not have been so bad, but if we were going to have to endure another half-season of them together, I would have fully supported this lockout lasting until long after I had died.
Last week, Chris Cope and Ramsey Nijem punched their tickets to the semifinals. Two more fights are on the docket for tonight, as well as the semifinals match-ups. Who will win the quarterfinals? What fighter crosses the line? What is Ramsey doing in that picture? Read on for spoilers and a recap.
Nice guy of the week: Chuck O'Neil plans to give half of his win bonus to Charlie Rader, who needs money to deal with legal problems surrounding his kid. He hasn't seen his son in more than a year. Rader said that he isn't going to take the cash, but O'Neil isn't taking no for an answer.
Rematch of the week: Davis beat O'Neil in their first bout, so they are fighting with good knowledge of each other.
Quarterfinal: Zach Davis (Team dos Santos) vs. Chuck O'Neil (Team Lesnar)
Round one: The two started by throwing every strike in the book at each other until Davis dives in for a takedown attempt. O'Neil defends it, while Davis throws knee after knee. Davis tries to drop to a single leg to get O'Neil to the ground, but O'Neil lands strike after strike on Davis' face that opens a cut under Davis' eye. O'Neil takes over in the final minute, aggressively landing punch after punch while Davis showed little defense. As the round ended, Davis' face was swollen and bleeding, and O'Neil looked fresh and ready for more.
Round two: O'Neil knocks Davis to the ground with a quick leg kick, but as soon as he's in Davis' guard, Lesnar order O'Neil to stand up. Back on their feet, Davis still seems desperate to bring the fight to the ground. No matter what he does, he can't get the fight to the ground. After referee Steve Mazzagatti breaks the two apart, O'Neil stays aggressive. Davis tries another takedown attempt that makes Lesnar say, "That's weak!" For once, I agree with Brock.
O'Neil takes the fight in two rounds, and thoroughly impressed Dana White.
More bad news of the day: The loss was only the first blow to Davis. He tore the retinas in both of his eyes, and now is told that he can't ever fight again. He is clearly heartbroken, mentioning that his career has to end just when it was getting good.
Quarterfinal: Ryan McGillivray (Team dos Santos) vs. Tony Ferguson (Team Lesnar)
Round one: Early in the round, Ferguson caught McGillivray with a uppercut and then added a straight right. McGillivray staggered backwards, and then fell to the ground. Ferguson jumped on top quickly, ending the fight and earning himself another $5,000 bonus for a stoppage.
With that, Lesnar has three semifinalists and dos Santos has one. The semifinal match-ups are:
Ramsey Nijem vs. Chris Cope
Chuck O'Neil vs. Tony Ferguson
The fights will air next Wednesday, and decide who will fight in the finale on June 4.
Hijinks of the week: With the quarterfinals finished, the fighters decide to celebrate. That involves tequila, Ramsey stripping on the pool table, and throwing water.� Apparently, throwing water doesn't sit well with Ferguson, because he tackled Charlie Rader into a coffee table after Rader poured water on Ferguson's head. It turned really ugly from there. Ferguson wouldn't shake Rader's hand, then brought Rader's child into the discussion, saying, "Hit me, don't hit your kid!"
Whoa. That's as over-the-line as it gets. Ferguson didn't let up, despite Rader handling himself as well as can be expected. Later, when the rest of the castmates try to get Ferguson to apologize, he again brings Rader's son into the conversation. Rader had to be held back by several fighters, and Ferguson has marked himself as an enemy to the whole house.
[Editor's note: Tony Stewart's Prelude to the Dream is coming your way very soon. In advance of that, we're pleased to present some remembrances from many of the participants. First off, Stewart's SHR teammate Ryan Newman offers up a few recollections.]
My most memorable moment from the Prelude to the Dream at Eldora Speedway is probably a memorable moment for a lot of other people, too. In fact, it's one of the most exciting and heart-pounding things that's happened at the Prelude in the last six years — at least, that's what Tony Stewart has told me, and he ought to know since it's his event and his track.
It was the 2007 Prelude to the Dream, and Bill Elliott and I got together on the frontstretch at the end of our heat race. From what I understand, the drivers who weren't in the race were all watching, and they were pretty sure it was shaping up to be something big. Needless to say, we didn't disappoint.
I caught just a little bit of a rut — just a little — and it straightened me out and shot me up to the wall. I stayed on the gas, but Bill Elliott was rolling on the high side. I didn't know he was coming. I never heard him, and I never saw him. Next thing I know, my car is on its side and Bill has flipped over. It was a rather big moment.
I've watched the race and the accident several different times and, honestly, we both got pretty lucky because that could've been a lot worse than it was, especially for how fast we're going at that racetrack. And I'm not going to point any fingers, because it really wasn't a finger-pointing deal. It was just a racing deal.
I wish that my most memorable moment didn't involve a wreck, but I'm pretty sure the fans enjoyed it. It also made for some good conversation afterward in the pits when everybody was asking, "What happened?"
Hopefully, this is our year to make a different memory at the Prelude to the Dream. It's a fun race, and even if you're not up front, it's just as fun to sling a dirt Late Model sideways for 30 laps. You're still trying to get the best finish you can for your team, so a battle for 12th might be just as important as a battle for the lead.
The cool thing about the Prelude is that as racecar drivers, we're competitive at everything we do. And I mean absolutely everything. So as much fun as we have, it gets super-competitive at Eldora.
Then you throw in the team element and it changes things a little bit. You're there to beat everybody, but then you've got to race with your teammates for the greater good. So you have to take those things into consideration when you're racing somebody. You want to get the most points you can for your team, so even if you don't win, your team does, which for me means I'll be working with Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Ken Schrader, David Gilliland and Ron Capps on Team Atlanta as we represent Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
That's probably the coolest thing about the Prelude to the Dream. We get to race and have fun, but at the end of the night, we're making a real difference. We feel so lucky to be able to do the things that we love to do. So to go run a dirt race on a Wednesday night and then make it to benefit four of the nation's top children's hospitals — that's pretty special.
(The three other hospitals benefitting from the June 8 Prelude to the Dream are Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte, N.C., Children's Medical Center Dallas and St. Louis Children's Hospital. The race will be televised live on HBO Pay-Per-View, and the commercial-free broadcast will begin at 8 p.m. EDT (5 p.m. PDT) on Wednesday, June 8 with an immediate replay. HBO Pay-Per-View's racing telecast has a suggested retail price of $24.95 and is available to more than 92 million pay-per-view homes. HBO Pay-Per-View is the leading supplier of event programming in the pay-per-view industry. Ordering information and up-to-the minute racing information is available at either www.PreludeToTheDream.org or www.HBO.com. Updates can also be found on Twitter at twitter.com/PreludetoDream and follow the hashtag #RideWithUs, or become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PreludeToDream.)
Making the morning rounds.
? At least he didn't sell his jersey. Former Auburn safety Mike McNeil, one of the four Tigers indicted last week on multiple felony counts stemming from an alleged armed robbery in March, had just been evicted from a second apartment and faced a lawsuit for thousands of dollars in unpaid rent when he was arrested. Court documents show that McNeil and former teammate Mike Blanc were served eviction papers in April 2010; both were later evicted along with cornerback Neiko Thorpe from a second apartment on March 4 of this year, a week before the alleged robbery. (Neither Blanc nor Thorpe was involved in the robbery; Blanc is an outgoing fifth-year senior, and Thorpe remains on the team as the only returning starter in the secondary in the wake of McNeil's premature exit.)
A summary judgment in favor of the landlord on March 27 left McNeil and Blanc with a $12,385 bill for the first eviction, including $3,500 in attorney and filing fees. [al.com]
? At least it's not "Legends and Leaders." Rejecting helpful suggestions that it rechristen itself the "Lone Star League," the "Texas Ten" or the "Longhorns' Little Nine" in honor of its benevolent overlord, the Big 12 confirmed Monday that it's sticking with the "Big 12" label despite being officially downsized to ten members next month. Ostensibly, that's because the Big 12 brand has built up so much cachet over the last 15 years that it's not worth it to start over ? it's "the banner under which we have competed, under which we've won national championships," said conference commissioner Dan Beebe ?�but it also points the way toward inevitable expansion plans to fill the vacancies left by Colorado and Nebraska's departures and get back to an even dozen in the very near future. When even the Big East is trying to get to twelve, is there really a choice? [Big12Sports.com]
? Don't drink the water. Arizona defensive lineman Willie Mobley, a junior backup, tore his ACL over the weekend playing pickup basketball, making him the fourth Wildcat to go down with a season-ending ACL injury since the start of spring practice: Before Mobley, backup running back Greg Nwokwo, starting safety Adam Hall and starting linebacker Jake Fischer all suffered the same injury. Across the state, the plague has also stricken two senior starters at Arizona State, all-conference cornerback Omar Bolden and wide receiver T.J. Simpson, whose seasons were likely lost to ACL tears last month. [Arizona Republic]
? Straight from the horse's bench. Former Ohio State basketball player Mark Titus, aka noted benchwarmer blogger "Club Trillion," wrote Monday that he's "almost certain there was something shady going on with the car dealer" now under scrutiny as the go-to salesman for Buckeye athletes over the last five or six years. Although Titus said he has no "inside information" and didn't hang out with football players when he was on campus, he also thinks it "doesn't exactly take top notch detective skills" to figure out some players were driving beyond their means.
"Anyone who spent any time on Ohio State's campus while I was there could tell you that there were an unusually high volume of brand new Dodge Chargers driving around on campus, and just about all of them had tinted windows and rims on the outside with Ohio State football players behind the wheel on the inside," he wrote. "In fact, as the news of the free tattoos and sold merchandise or whatever came out, I kept telling my family how funny it was that they were getting busted for tattoos and gold pants when I was pretty sure they had been getting serious discounts on cars for years." [Club Trillion]
? RIP. Former Army All-American Joe Steffy, a College Football Hall of Famer whose number 61 is retired alongside the Academy's three Heisman Trophy winners, died Saturday after years of reported heart problems. As a player, Steffy was part of a Tennessee team that won the SEC and played in the Rose Bowl in 1944, a two-way starter on the dominant Army squads that went 18-0-1 and hammered opponents by an average score of 36 to 6 in 1945-46 and the second Outland Trophy winner as the nation's best lineman in 1947. As a soldier, he was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for wounds he suffered in action in Korea. He was 85. [Associated Press]
That's Joe Steffy. And as for you…
? You didn't really like your girlfriend or your job, anyway, right? Just in case you were planning to get out of the house this summer, yeah, NCAA Football 12's expanded "Dynasty" mode pretty much guarantees that's not going to happen:
Quickly… The Mountain West gets on the rebranding bandwagon with a super-secret new logo, to be unveiled on June 6. … More "Brady Hoke is tough" rhetoric out of Michigan. … Cal's temporary move to AT&T Park won't leave much room for the visitors. … An awesome interview with Georgia's newest Hall of Famer, Jake Scott. … And Alabama coaches give Demetrius Goode "the highest recommendations" to his new coaches at North Alabama, "in regards to his character, football playing ability and work ethic." So, uh, why isn't he still playing at Alabama?
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.
There are only 24 hours left in the voting for the Sprint All-Star race, so now's the time to make with the clicky and get your favorite driver in. As it stands, the top 5 drivers are, in alphabetical order:
Now, you can probably guess how this competition is going to turn out, and you'd probably be exactly right. Still, this is an intriguing list, if only for who's not on it: Jeff Burton, for one. Not a good sign for fans of The Senator. If you're interested in voting, head right on over here and cast your vote. Remember, if you don't vote, you can't complain. Bear that in mind when they announce the winner.
The tornadoes that have raked the southeastern United States in the last few weeks have left deep scars in NASCAR country, and the horrifying storm that virtually destroyed Joplin, Missouri is no exception.
Joplin is the hometown of Jamie McMurray, and shortly after the storm hit, he issued the following statement: "My heart goes out to all the people that have been affected by the devastating Missouri tornado on May 22nd, especially in my hometown of Joplin.� It is difficult to put into words, the emotions I have when I see the devastation and destruction that was caused by this storm.� My thoughts and prayers are extended to all the people who are dealing with so much loss. I would also like to thank all those that have reached out to me to express their concerns for my family.� Although I don't personally have any family in Joplin any longer, there are still many people there that need our support and prayers."
Expect McMurray to reach out in some form; he, like so many other drivers, is keenly aware of NASCAR's need to offer up charity to those who need it.
And for a little perspective, take a look at the devastation in Joplin. Shocking.
There have been many concerns raised about fan violence in both the Ukraine and Poland as they prepare to co-host Euro 2012, and after watching this clip, you might see why. Fans from FC Obolon Kiev and Metalist poured onto the pitch and had an all-out battle royale following the match on Saturday before the police swooped in and started throwing people on the ground.
As ugly as this was, it isn't necessarily a sign that Ukraine isn't ready to host such a major tournament. Just that they need to stop letting people into matches who aren't wearing shirts.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
And here, because we just couldn't help ourselves, is a video of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton singing along to Justin Bieber's "Baby" at the Panini NFL Rookie Card shoot in Los Angeles over the weekend. Frankly, I'm less appalled about the ad hoc karaoke, and more disturbed by the out-of-the-box freestyle Newton tries at the end.
After all, the whole point of karaoke is to sing horrible music horribly, and Newton obliges on both counts. But the bad freestyle? That should be a matter of concern for Newton's new (well, eventually new) NFL team. Rolling a good freestyle requires the ability to process information, be imaginative, think quickly on your feet, and adjust to changing circumstances ? all primary attributes for optimal quarterback play. Perhaps there should be a freestyle competition at the NFL scouting combine every year. Because between this video and Newton's strange decision to dress like Carlton Banks when he went one-on-one with Jon Gruden in Gruden's QB Camp, we may be looking at a guy who has more issues than the transition from a two-digit offense to NFL verbiage.
In any case, here's what Newton put down. Panthers fans, you may want to avert your eyes and ears (or wait for Jimmy Clausen to start singing "I Will Always Love You…")
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Ronaldinho has been jeered by Flamengo fans and left off the national team in Brazil, but in Argentina, it's just a barrel of laughs for him. He was a guest on the "Bailando por un Sueno" program earlier this week and while he was there, host Marcelo Tinelli had him do what he does best.
First, Ronaldinho lulled Tinelli to sleep with a bit of one-footed juggling that he finished off with a no-look nutmeg on the unsuspecting host. Then, when Tinelli tried to show off his own ball skills, he ended up taking a tumble and landing on his elbow. But, in his defense, those shoes do look like they'd be conducive to slippage.
The best part of this video, however, are the half-naked dancers just standing around in the back like they could break out into a routine at any second.
When the Department of Justice's antitrust chief, Christine Varney, decided to begin her long-awaited inquiry into the Bowl Championship Series last week with a brief questionnaire for NCAA president Mark Emmert, there was one obvious question: Why is she asking him? Today, Emmert drafted a response to Varney's queries that wonders, essentially, why are you asking me?
… Inasmuch as the BCS system does not fall under the purview of the NCAA, it is not appropriate for me to provide views on the system. With regard to the Association's plans for an NCAA [Football Bowl Subdivision] football championship, there are no plans absent direction from our membership to do so.
The selection criteria and bowl match-ups [for the BCS] are managed by the 11 conferences. Other than licensing the postseason FBS bowls, the NCAA has no role to play in the BCS or BCS system. As a result, your request for view on how the BCS system serves "the interest of fans, colleges, universities, and players" is better directed to the BCS itself.
The NCAA conducts 89 championships in 23 sports annually, and each of those championships has been created at the request of the Association's membership. At no time in the history of the FBS or its predecessor, Division I-A, has a formal proposal come before the membership to establish a postseason football championship in that subdivision. Instead, the FBS has elected to conduct its postseason competition outside the NCAA structure. Without membership impetus for a postseason playoff, the NCAA has no mandate to create and conduct an FBS football championship.
And so on, with Emmert answering each of the DOJ's three specific questions ?�succinctly: Why is there no NCAA playoff? What steps has the NCAA taken to create a playoff? Does the NCAA think there's a better alternative to the BCS? ?�with a very brief variation on "Ask the BCS."
Emmert didn't reference the 1984 U.S. Supreme Court decision that permanently tied the NCAA's hands from meddling in the conferences' right to make their own schedules, negotiate their own television contracts and organize their own postseason cabals, but his point that the conference commissioners and university presidents aren't willing to give up control of a steady moneymaker ?�even if it could be replaced by an even greater moneymaker ?�is clear enough. I suspect that it is also not a revelation to the Department of Justice. But for the record going forward: The NCAA has no control over the BCS.
If the DOJ has any intention of following up, it also covers a base for Varney's next inquiry on the subject, which should be addressed to BCS headquarters ?�that is, executive director Bill Hancock's house in Kansas City ? and the 11 FBS commissioners that make up the membership, asking most of the same questions. At least one guy might be willing to give a few honest answers while his counterparts offer up the same old spin.
But again, if the DOJ is really concerned with mapping the genetic sequence of a grotesque, many-tentacled beast that has evolved over a century with effectively no central oversight, it has better be really concerned. Otherwise, there are still more than enough mondo corporate mergers and Wall Street crooks to deal with who'd be worth more politically, and at least with them you know they're always following the money.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.
In one of the more interesting examples of turnabout we've seen in recent years, an animal rights group called "Dogs Deserve Better" from Tipton, Pa. bought the five-bedroom, Surry County Va. home once owned by Michael Vick for approximately $600,000. This was the home where the "Bad Newz Kennels" dogfighting�ring was operated until a drug sting in 2007 brought it down. Vick eventually served 18 months in prison for his part in financing it.
The Dogs Deserve Better group plans to use the property as a home and rehabilitation center for dogs that have suffered through many of things that happened at that same location for years.
"I think by us overtaking this property we are winning for the dogs. We are, in essence, giving this property back to the dogs that were abused there by using it to help other dogs just like them," said Tamira Thayne, the group's founder.
Dogs Deserve Better secured the property, which Vick originally sold to a developer, with a 30-percent down payment acquired by a loan and various donations. According to the Associated Press, the plan for the property is to raise a total of $3 million to make the facility a full-scale animal rehab center. Thayne and another staff member will live on the property.
Thayne's group has had no contact with Vick, though there has apparently been some thought from at least one filmmaker that bringing Vick back to his old home would be a good idea. "I would like to see that he's really remorseful and I personally don't feel that I've seen that because actions speak louder than words,"�Thayne told the AP. "I haven't seen him really put effort into making amends."
Vick, the 2010 NFL Comeback Player of the Year, has made some statements about the perils of dogfighting, and some activist groups have espoused the idea of using his name to forward their causes, but he's persona non grata to just as many organizations. The obvious solution here would be for Vick, who was franchised by the Philadelphia Eagles this year, to put the rest of the money down for the new facility. The franchise tag number for quarterbacks in 2010 was $16.4 million, and whenever the lockout ends, Vick will find himself with a great deal of money on his hands.
Would there be a better way for Vick to bring a bit of closure to the worst part of his life than by paying it forward, and helping to turn what was a place filled with pain into something useful and important for the future?
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We're going to be doing plenty of talking about LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the hours and days and weeks ahead, so if you'll forgive me, I'd like to give a quick shout-out to Luol Deng. He's almost never flashy or exciting, but he's almost always there.
Deng averaged just a tick under 43 minutes, 16.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game for the Chicago Bulls in the playoffs, after averaging 17.4-5.8-2.8 in a team-leading 39 minutes a night during a regular season in which he made all 82 appearances. Consistency's neat. He defended top-flight wings, he provided support in transition, he did as much as anyone in red-and-white to take some offensive pressure off Derrick Rose (which, admittedly, isn't saying a ton) ? he was the metronome-steady backbeat to a 62-win season that we're probably all underselling a little bit right now (understandably so).
He can't be your best player, he probably can't be your second-best player, but he's a guy who can matter, and you know he'll be there. He ain't perfect, but there are an awful lot of teams in this league who'd kill for a guy like that. There aren't enough sure things in the world these days, and there are even fewer in the NBA.
Also, he kind of caught LeBron on Thursday night, although, if we're being honest, LeBron really caught himself by going for the chasedown block; if he just pulls up, Deng gets a not-that-big-a-deal breakaway. Still, it gives us a chance to say, way to be Luol Deng, Luol Deng. It was remarkably fun to watch you work this season.
International readers ("Int'l read'rs"): If the clip above isn't rocking for you, feel free to check out the dunk elsewhere, thanks to The NBA Nation.
LAS VEGAS - The UFC has a new contender to put in line for Georges St-Pierre. There's nothing fancy about Rick Story, but he's tough as nails and throws everything with nasty intent. Story stood toe-to-toe with one of the most feared muay thai practitioners in the division and posted a unanimous decision victory, 29-28 on all three cards, at UFC 130 in the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Alves (23-6, 10-5 UFC) is a massive 170-pounder and anyone who can wrestle generally tries to take him down. Story, a former college wrestler, mixed in a few takedowns, but his gameplan revolved around closing space with the bruiser and slugging it out.
"My goal was to be explosive because I think that's his kryptonite," Story said. "I wanted to stay on him and let him know that I wasn't going anywhere."
Story's gameplan was brilliant. His use of the clinch along the cage forced the heavily-muscled Alves to work hard. And by standing in front of him and taking his best shots, it seemed to frustrate Alves.
"I've had a lot of hard strikes landed on me and it goes back to my conditioning. My coach, Pat White, puts me in situations in training where I have to deal with adversity and have to deal with having my conditioning tested. I was prepared for everything Thiago brought tonight and the end result is a victory for me," said Story, plus-170 underdog.
Story (13-3, 6-1 UFC) is riding a six-fight win streak. His only loss came in his UFC debut against John Hathaway. Story is still behind several fighters in the UFC welterweight division, but his skillset would give him a shot against the GSP, the division's champ.
The division has ridiculous depth. The latest USA Today/Bloody Elbow has Story all the way down at No. 23. He certainly looks like he could compete with some of the top 15 fighters� like Diego Sanchez, Josh Koscheck, Martin Kampmann and Matt Hughes.
Alves appeared shocked in the cage when the decision was read.
"To be honest, I don't think he won the fight," Alves said. "I'm fair. If I thought he won the fight, I'd tell you. But tonight, I spent more time on top and landed the better shots. I'm really surprised the decision didn't go my way."
Making the morning rounds.
? We'll take it in $1 bills. Now that it knows it's still going to be around for awhile, the Fiesta Bowl has formally requested the repayment of $48,225.17 in possibly illegal campaign contributions from U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl and other Arizona politicians. Of the two dozen pols shown in documents obtained by the Associated Press to have accepted money from the scandal-plagued bowl between 2000 and 2009, McCain received by far the most: $19,500 to three separate accounts. Some local politicians who accepted contributions and other gifts and attended Fiesta-sponsored fundraisers have sent their checks already in an effort to distance themselves from ongoing criminal probes into the bowl's excesses, but none have been specifically accused of knowingly accepting illegal funds or any other Fiesta-related infractions. [Associated Press]
? Casting a wide net. Fifteen months after he collapsed and later died following an offseason workout, the family of former Ole Miss player Bennie Abram has filed a wrongful death suit against the university and 26 other defendants, including the NCAA, the Mississippi College Board, head coach Houston Nutt, the university chancellor and athletic director and a local hospital. The suit (which is seeking an undisclosed amount) alleges Ole Miss knew from mandatory blood tests that Abram carried sickle-cell trait, a genetic condition affecting about eight percent of black Americans — including at least eight Division I college football players who have died during workouts since 2000 — but there is no evidence that he had been told; it also describes the workout on Feb. 19, 2010, as "carelessly and recklessly excessive."
Athletic director Pete Boone countered Tuesday that "All of the actions taken by our medical professionals, athletics trainers, and coaches met or exceeded best practices." [Clarion Ledger]
? The Rap Sheet, Yellowhammer review edition. Alleged Alabama tree poisoner Harvey Updyke Jr. was indicted by a grand jury Tuesday on six charges connected to the poisoning of two old-growth oak trees at Auburn's beloved Toomer's Corner, including three felony counts for first-degree criminal mischief and vandalism or theft of property from a farm animal or crop facility. (He faces two counts of the latter.) Initial reports that Updyke was indicted on federal charges appear to be incorrect: All six charges were brought by the State of Alabama. [Opelika-Auburn News]
?�Five counts apiece of first-degree robbery;
?�One count apiece of first-degree burglary;
?�One count apiece of third-degree theft of property
… adding up to 24 felony counts and four misdemeanors in all. One of the players, Dakota Mosley, was also charged with misdemeanor conspiracy to hinder business, the cherry on top of a Fulmer Cup score that will never be surpassed. [Opelika-Auburn News]
? Happy trails. Mid-May means the end of academic calendars across America, and the flood of transfers that accompany it. No less than five D-I players announced pending moves on Tuesday:
? Wisconsin running back Zach Brown, a solid contributor his first two years on campus in 2007-08, plans to transfer after failing to make up ground on returning 1,000-yard rushers James White and Montee Ball in the spring. Because he redshirted last season as a fourth-year senior and is scheduled to earn his degree in August, Brown may be able to use his last year of eligibility at another FBS school without penalty. [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]
? To no one's surprise, Miami running back Storm Johnson has left the team after finishing spring practice third on the depth chart — possibly as a result of multiple incidents that reportedly landed him in new coach Al Golden's doghouse and on a lengthy list of players rumored to be suspended for at least the season opener at Maryland. Predictably, Johnson's father described his son's exit as a "mutual" decision, but maintained "everything was fine with the coaches" and that suspension rumors were unfounded. [South Florida Sun Sentinel]
? Georgia offensive lineman A.J. Harmon, a possible starter this fall as a redshirt junior, is leaving the team for "personal reasons," according to a UGA spokesman. Harmon sat out the Liberty Bowl loss to Central Florida on academic suspension, but the school offered no details on his exit except that he plans to "transfer to another institution." [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
? Penn State defensive tackle Brandon Ware, a 6-foot-3, 337-pound backup, texted his hometown Harrisburg Patriot-News that he also plans to transfer for "personal reasons," though he doesn't have destination. [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Quickly… Coaches are kind of obsessed with turnover margin. … NFL drafnik Gil Brandt counts down the top 100 prospects for 2012, with five Alabama players in the top 40. … Tommie Frazier's not to broken up about his Hall of Fame snub. … Will Muschamp and Jimbo Fisher were never really that friendly. (Well, except for the beach house.) … And somehow it doesn't come as a surprise that Mike Leach is a pretty hardcore Ayn Rand fan.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.
Lionel Messi and Wayne Rooney are getting just about all the attention ahead of the Champions League final, but the guy most likely to score with his liver is, of course, Chicharito. But if you think Chicharito wants to be a superstar like those two, you're wrong. He just wants to run. Forever.
From the Telegraph:
[W]hen he was asked if he aspired to the status of the Argentinian double Ballon d'Or winner, Hernandez was quick to play down his achievements.
"No. I am a player of this great team," he said.
"What obsesses me is sweating this shirt to death, and I will never stop running.
"I don't aspire to be like Messi. I'm just a simple footballer."
"I'm not obsessed with goals. The goals are the result of the work of the whole team. The forwards only have the good fortune to score them. In a team like ours, even Edwin (van der Sar) can claim the goals."
Has there ever been someone so humble and dedicated to murdering shirts with sweat? I don't think so. I also don't think Wayne Rooney will be letting Edwin van der Sar take credit for his goals anytime soon.
Photo: Getty Images
Saturday, May 28, 2011
A look around the league and the web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out.
C: SB Nation. Joakim Noah says the Heat are "Hollywood as hell, but they're a very good team." Love you, Joakim, but you mispronounced "great."
PF: TBJ. Jason Terry can't forget 2006. Neither can we, bub. Neither can we.
SF: At the Hive. Hey, remember when the Hornets upset the Lakers to start the playoffs 42 years ago?
SG: Red 94. Why the Rockets' dismissal of Rick Adelman was the needed move.
PG: SB Nation Chicago. Why the pull up jumper is not Derrick Rose's version of "his shot."
6th: Negative Dunkalectics. A good, nuanced piece on television coverage of the NBA.
7th: Hoopinion. It's a week old, but a fine review of Hawks GM Rick Sund.
8th: The Painted Area. Breaking down Mike Brown's hiring in Los Angeles.
9th: NBA Playbook. What the Bulls should have run, late.
10th: The Point Forward. Hopefully the last word on the LeBron/Jordan mess from Scottie Pippen.
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