Monday, June 30, 2008

Pac 10 is not SEC so why the talk of expansion?


The Southeastern conference is the college football trend setter, and it has all reason to be. What better group to command the leadership role than the one having the most financial success? The SEC does, and others will attempt to do, but not all SEC doings are replicable. The structure of a conference may allow one to prosper with change, while another struggles with the same alterations. And here in the age of conference growth, Pac 10 expansion would lead to a road of financial disaster, simply because they are not the SEC.

The SEC is a football conference, just as the Big East and ACC are basketball conferences. The Big 10 and Big 12 represent a combination of both. But when it comes to the Pac 10, we’re really without a label. It’s the conference of champions, winning more NCAA championships than any other. But with the exception of baseball, the league isn’t recognizable as a power in the top selling sports, despite having USC (a traditional football power) and UCLA (a traditional basketball power).

If the Pac 10 is to expand, it would need to search for neighboring programs. And unless they plan on doing some BCS body-snatching (as the rumor of adding Colorado surfaced in past years), our Pacific neighbors are less marketable than the programs already in conference. Boise State and Fresno State have both proven competitive, along with BYU and Utah. But if marketing the Washington and Oregon programs is already met with difficulty, selling those new additions to the general public becomes a nightmare.

The SEC has marketable programs in both the East and West divisions. Pac 10 expansion would most likely leave the top money makers in the South, while the northern programs struggle for air time. To divide the conference, you disrupt profitable meetings between Northern teams with the more marketable powers (USC and UCLA) in the south. Even in the Big 12, where the marketing power is stockpiled in the South with the Texas and Oklahoma schools, Nebraska (good or bad) is a marketing juggernaut in the North.

As it is now, the Pac 10 round robin is financially better. The conference would most likely draw more money with regular season match ups between North and South than it would with a conference Championship game. For example, looking back on 2007, the most marketable games in the conference were:

USC vs. Cal
USC vs. Oregon
USC vs. ASU
USC vs. UCLA
Cal vs. Oregon
Cal vs. ASU
UCLA vs. ASU
UCLA vs. Oregon
ASU vs. Oregon

Of the 9 games, only one was a contest played between two Northern teams (Cal/Oregon). If conference division occurred in 2007, some of those other games would have never been played. If we had division, one of the biggest games of the regular season (USC at Oregon) has the likelihood of not occuring. USC would have drawn an Oregon team (as the Northern Champion) in a conference title game, minus Dennis Dixon. Win that game, and advance to the BCS championship with one loss, and outsiders swearing the Pac 10 needs a conference title game would be crying for the conference to revert to olden ways. Just imagine, if USC managed to dodge Stanford and not meet Oregon until December, the possibility of an undefeated regular season would have been high, with the Trojans running the table in the South. We're talking about media hell breaking loose.

We need to understand our own identity, and not attempt to duplicate another. What works in the SEC is a result of possessive balance, which means it may not work for all. If you don't believe me, just take a look at the ACC. What is best for the Pacific 10 and for college football is to leave the round robin in play. You can continue to lead the conference in what gives it the most stability or become a follower on a road to financial destruction. Choosing the latter makes little sense, unless you're banking on any newcomers morphing into marketing monsters. With that, I wish you the best of luck.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Off Topic: Yankees Arrogance Continues On


There isn’t a more arrogant group in the world of sports than the New York Yankees. I guess when you have more championships than any team (in any sport), you have a right to be. But arrogance often leads to asinine statements, based on opinion and views from the throne. Our team is the greatest, our players are the greatest, and we play for the greatest city in America. Each can be argued, and I’d probably find some legitimacy in them. But when it comes to the granddaughter of Babe Ruth requesting that her grandfather’s number be retired across the baseball board, I’m saying no, and I'll call out her arrogance.

Her claim is that Babe Ruth has done more for baseball than any other player in history. She claims he is the savior of the game. Her exact statement reads as follows, as she spoke about the retirement of Jackie Robinson’s number:

"I know it’s for sociological reasons, but why should that penalize my grandfather? I don’t understand that reasoning. Sociologically? Helping other people? Frankly, if Babe Ruth didn’t save baseball, there wouldn’t be a game for Jackie or anyone else to even play. Remember, after the [1919 Black Sox] scandal, everyone was disillusioned with baseball, and here comes my grandfather with his mighty bat, and he brought thousands of people back to the ballpark."

That's a great point, if you’re sitting on your high horse. But if she looked outside her Yankees box, she’d see others that saved the game. Baseball was up and down throughout its existence. The Black Sox scandal of 1919 may have brought fan skepticism and a plunge in interest, but the world at war nearly wiped out the game. The saviors then were the veterans of the armed forces returning. In 1945, with a slow trickle of stars returning from war and back to the diamond, major league attendance topped 10 million for the first time since 1930, and soared to over 18 million the following year.

Baseball took another hit with the strike of ’94, and even at strike’s end, the fan interest was low and fading. In 1998, 2 juiced sluggers pumped new life into the baseball audience, as fans watched Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in a race to break Roger Marist’s single season homerun record. Even in the midst of the steroids controversy, the fans had returned.

If we're retiring a jersey across the league, we need a sense of uniqueness about the individual. Is Babe Ruth the baseball savior? Does the bible only have one prophet? No. He doesn't stand alone, and certainly didn't play alone. A suffering game, regardless of sport, will bring many saviors. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird saved the NBA in the 80s. Hockey is slowly boosting its image, with an influx of young stars. It's speculation to say the Black Sox incident of 1919 would have eliminated fan interest in baseball forever, without the presence of Babe Ruth. In the 50s, a point shaving scandal was exposed in the NIT, crippling the credibility of the tournament. But here we are in 2008, with college basketball bigger than it was before then. The NFL's savior from "spygate" is named "The New York Giants". Imagine how ugly it would be if the Pats did achieve perfection.

Aside from his greatness on the baseball diamond, Robinson endured the degradation, racism, and death threats from fans not willing to accept change. Today, you look around the league at the number of African American players, Latin American stars, and the new wave of Asian migration, and his impact is loud and strong. Look back on the Black Sox of 1919, and it’s weakened and silenced. There isn't a Babe Ruth record that can't be broken several times, by several different players. Breaking a racial barrier can only be, and only needs to be, broken once.

Jackie Robinson’s Jersey (42) was retired by major league baseball in 1997. Ironically, the last active player to wear that number is current Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera. Robinson opened that door of racial opportunity, so Rivera could wear those pinstripes, that number, and have “New York” sewn across his chest. I can see it, and I’m sure Mariano does, as well. But those living inside that Yankees box of arrogance are still in the dark, and finding Babe Ruth to have a greater contribution to the game.

Besides, good luck on getting the Boston Red Sox to retire anything related to Babe Ruth.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Eyes On A Foe: Scapegoat Wanted Inquire Within


Ever since Kevin White tucked his tail between his legs and fled South Bend for the AD job at Duke, the Irish are still without a person to sign Charlie Weis’ paychecks. It’s a strong indication of how much times have changed. In the past, candidates would have been jumping out of the woodwork for the opportunity to head Notre Dame Athletics. Nowadays, it seems the Domers are waiting for the first person to call back, and the phone isn’t ringing.

It shouldn’t really be a surprise, and maybe they should have viewed their earlier coaching search as a bad omen. They failed to land Steve Spurrier or Urban Meyer, and ended up digging deeper than expected, before Charlie Weis' name was called. Not that I can ridicule them for that, considering that back in 2000, Pete Carroll wasn’t the first choice for USC, but happened to be one of the few willing to accept the position. But the difference between Weis and Carroll has made the Notre Dame AD search a little more difficult.

Pete Carroll came out of the box strong, and continued to roll as the years progressed. Weis had success, with Willingham’s leftovers, before bringing the Irish to one of the lowest points in their proud history. With a positive outlook, an AD search is swift. But as it stands, no one is readily jumping up to be Charlie’s boss. It speaks volumes that White fled one of the most prestigious programs in America to lead the athletics at Duke, of all places. You can have your football team go 3-9 at Duke, without feeling any pressure or having anyone look twice. But 3-9 at Notre Dame, with your signature endorsed on the coach’s paycheck, and you’re the scapegoat.

Anyone can confidently join the Notre Dame staff, knowing they will not be responsible for the hiring of Weis. But as the new sheriff in town, and if failure continues, you bear the burden of firing him and having the University eat his contract. If this occurs, you’re also in charge of a new coaching search, when you already know that no one wants that job. Which money hungry X’s and O’s man still finds the Notre Dame coaching job attractive enough to willfully dive into the pressure cooker? Rich Rodriguez is on a slow boil in Michigan, so he won't be available.

And then there’s the commitment with NBC, who recently extended their contract with the Irish to run through 2015. NBC won’t be willing to tolerate many losing seasons and poor ratings for long. The contract is executed, but if losing becomes the Irish way, the new head man would have to consistently check the caller ID, and treat NBC execs as he would a telemarketer.

The function of the Notre Dame athletic director is to continue the marketing of his product. In a sense, as it stands right now, it would be like trying to sell Atari game systems in this age of PS3. At one time, they owned the market, but now the others have passed them by. And take it from a Trojans fan, who suffered through the misery of the 90s. If you don’t stop the slide now, and manage to fall too deep, the climb back to the top can be very long and painful. Notre Dame is not a place where one would likely choose to accept a new position of darkness, because it's a very tall reach to grasp a glimpse of light. Is an extended AD search surprising? No. Big names have always dreamt of robbing the Irish of their riches, but no one wants to get caught holding the bag.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mayo traded from Minnesota to Memphis

O.J. Mayo traveled from the great North to the Southern part of the country in just 3 hours. After being selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves, ESPN is reporting that Minnesota and Memphis have agreed in principle on a trade that will have a Trojan and Bruin switching places, as well as others.

According to the source, the Wolves will receive Kevin Love's draft rights, Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, and Jason Collins. In return, the Grizzlies get O.J Mayo's draft rights, Marko Jaric, Antoine Walker, and Greg Buckner.

T’Wolves Take Mayo At Three

The Miami heat ended the week long debate over the direction the team would take, when they chose Kansas State’s Michael Beasley with the second overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, after rumors surfaced that they would opt for O.J. Mayo. Minnesota didn’t hesitate, and on cue, they selected the USC guard with the third selection.

Mayo was followed by back to back Bruins. Russell Westbrook, one of the least celebrated UCLA players, surprisingly went fourth to the Seattle Sonics, with their biggest star of 2007, Kevin Love, selected by Memphis at five.

In all, 5 freshmen have been chosen among the first 7 picks, shedding more light on an NBA early entry rule that kept them from jumping into the league last year. Russell Westbrook (sophomore) and Danilo Gallinari (Italy) represent the two selections that were not first year college players. By the way, the Knicks selected Gallinari with the sixth pick, and he was greeted with boos from the New York crowd at the Radio City Music Hall.

1. Chicago Bulls- Derrick Rose, Memphis
2. Miami Heat- Michael Beasley, Kansas State
3. Minnesota T’Wolves- O.J Mayo, USC
4. Seattle Sonics- Russell Westbrook, UCLA
5. Memphis Grizzlies- Kevin Love, UCLA
6. New York Knicks, Danilo Gallinari, Italy
7. L.A Clippers- Eric Gordon, Indiana

Updates coming as the draft moves on.

Greatest Underdog Performance In North American History?


With the popularity of the college world series being far less than other sports, it’s hard for some to grasp the recent accomplishment of the Fresno State Bulldogs. The Dogs achieved the impossible, the unthinkable, and the improbable. They represent the lowest seeded team, defying the greatest odds, to win a championship.

To clarify their run, and enlighten those not understanding, Fresno State, now reigning as the 2008 baseball champion, is by far more shocking than the 42 ½ point underdog Stanford Cardinal and division I-AA Appalachian State upsetting perennial college football powers USC and Michigan in 2007. To even relate to this achievement, you would have to take those Stanford Cardinal and have them fight their way through USC, LSU, West Virginia, Georgia, Ohio State and Oklahoma, eliminating each one. If you say to yourself that they survived mighty USC last year, and you actually like their chances, then consider how the Cardinal would fair in a double elimination tournament against those teams, that would eventually wind down to a 3 game series against one of the best in the land. Everyone can have a bad day, but what are the odds of any of the aforementioned losing to Stanford in a 3 game series? Would you put your money on it?

Fresno State entered the tournament with a season record of 33-27, barely making the field. They finish 47-31, and represent the worst record ever to win the world series, and the lowest seed in any sport to be crowned champion. With 18 games over 35 days, and surviving elimination 6 times, the Bulldogs stand atop the mountain. Is it the greatest underdog performance in North American history? Damn right it is. Will it be celebrated as such and remembered? No, not at all. It's mostly because many still don’t (and never will) understand what it means to make that kind of run in college baseball. The Giants victory over the New England Patriots pales in comparison to this feat, but will be viewed publicly as the greater accomplishment.

To put it another way, this isn’t the heavily favored Mike Tyson getting knocked out by the underdog Buster Douglas. This was Mike Tyson losing to my mom. They call them "Cinderellas", but even she was forced to leave the ball. The Fresno State Bulldogs stayed until the party was over, and were the last guests on the dance floor.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Trojan Trio listed for Heisman in 2009


Where else but Heismanpundit.com would you find a list of potential Heisman candidates for 2009, when a single game of the 2008 season has yet to be played? They’re projecting players based on the assumption that Florida’s Percy Harvin and Tim Tebow, along with Ohio State’s Beanie Wells will be entering the 2009 NFL draft. Some of the names are obvious choices, if you look back on the past season. But other names show the site has high expectations for some players I believe to be extremely overrated.

The obvious Trojan trio is QB Mark Sanchez and Running backs Joe Mcknight and Stafon Johnson. Of the three, Sanchez is a more likely candidate, with Johnson and McKnight, along with the other stable of backs, limiting the amount of playing time and touches. Unless either McKnight or Johnson is utilized in a full time role, neither will be receiving that trophy.

There’s a Georgia duo on their list, and I’m skeptical of whether Knowshon Moreno will even return to college for the 2009 season. Matthew Stafford is a good quarterback, but appears even greater in a conference thin at that position. Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford is another good choice, but I’m not so sure about Demarco Murray. Bradford made people forget Heisman winner Jason White. Can Murray make us forget Heisman runner up Adrian Peterson?

Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen and Texas’ Colt McCoy are head scratchers. McCoy will be operating this season without Jamaal Charles and Limas sweed, which should make for his toughest challenge yet. He is now set up to fail in Austin, but if he finds success, he’s very deserving of the 2009 list. Claussen worked 2007 behind an offensive line that was unable to provide protection. Former Domer Brady Quinn had Heisman consideration, but unfortunately, I don’t see Clausen possessing those same skills. Well, at least, not yet.

Jake Locker, who we’ve come to know as “Tim Tebow West” made their list. He does have the similarities, but the Washington program is far lacking in the talent Tebow has around him. Unless the huskies recruited some immediate impact offensive talent, Locker won’t be getting an invitation to New York.

One name noticeably missing from the Pundit is Lesean McCoy of Pittsburgh. He’s not even listed as heading to the NFL. LeSean is no longer flying under the radar, so how could they miss him? If this Panther chooses to remain in school, he can easily be a front runner in 2009.

DOH-mer Of The Week- Bob and Mary Sh**ting In A Tree


With the Beijing Olympics quickly approaching, the eyes of the world are slowly opening to the human rights violations and atrocities imposed on Tibetans by the Chinese government. It has sparked worldwide protests and threatens to disrupt the Olympic Games. It’s a call for righteousness and a show of support for your fellow man... Meanwhile, in Berkeley California, we have a group of adults living on the branches, in defense of a tree.

In northern California, students are sitting (and sh**ting) in a tree. Their “peaceful” protest has now reached 18 months, and they celebrate every court order that stops construction of UC Berkeley’s $140 million athletic complex that is to sit adjacent to the stadium, though the orders are absent their intentions or agenda. I see a group of attention whores, trying to stake a claim to fame, by extending the life of a tree. I see a group raising painted signs on construction paper, which just happens to be made from trees. I see a woman calling herself “dumpster muffin”, standing atop a self made wooden platform, which in my guess...originated from a tree.

Don’t get me wrong, because I have concerns for the environment, when those concerns are warranted. Some protesters claim the trees are property of the Native Americans indigenous to the area, and part of their heritage. Truth is, the university planted the trees, and will replant a new crop elsewhere. Some claim the construction would force wildlife from their homes and natural habitat. Well, guess who was evicted months ago, when you took up residence in the treetops? Some claim it’s a peaceful protest, though officers attempting to place barriers to surround the tree are being pissed on and splattered by human excrement.

Question: If I’m sitting in a tree, hurling a handful of my own sh*t at the people below, where do I wash my hands?

Despite the arrests and citations for trespassing, the sitters and sh**ters are still there. They celebrate the latest court order, which claims construction cannot continue, because the new facility will sit on an active fault and risk collapse. But if the athletic complex is to be anything like the Cal football program, regardless of where you build it, collapse will occur in as little as two years.

Some people choose their battles wisely, and others choose to battle for media coverage. The neighbors of the proposed facility have a legitimate gripe, because the new structure would increase traffic in an already congested area. The state has a legit gripe, because public safety comes before anything else, and they cannot allow the construction of a facility that won’t meet safety requirements. The indigenous people can gripe, because a burial ground is located in the area. But these tree sitting DOH-mers are mixed about the reasons for a cause that has driven them into a tree house. Depending on who you interview, you’ll get a different answer, and that's because the truthful response to why they continue is "coverage".

They should turn on their televisions and see human sacrifice throughout the world, with hopes of bettering the lives of those left behind. But instead, these birdbrains stay perched, probably hoping to reach another fall and football season, so the cameras can find them again. I believe 18 months of finding areas and planting new trees would have been more beneficial than spending that amount of time sitting in one. After all, it’s not their presence that stopped construction, since the state has given the university all right to remove them from the trees. They could have slept in their own beds every night for the past 18 months, and those trees would still be there in morning. But sleeping in their own bed makes them the nobodies they were before making the climb. Now high above the crowd, they've become that special "somebody". They're my DOH-mers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Selling our souls to the corporate devil


Renaming our stadiums has become the American way. One by one, we’ve become lemmings, following along and taking the plunge from tradition for the sake of a dollar. And though I believed some landmarks to be safe, I was wrong. They are safe for the moment, but will succumb in time. For the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, that time has come. This historical landmark is being offered to the devil, and it disgusts me.

I can’t even count the times I’ve stood outside that entrance, looking up at the torch and Olympic rings, and reading its name in multicolored lettering. The surrounding neighborhood continued to change, but the venue stood tall and constant in tradition. With the City of Los Angeles now selling the naming rights in order to generate funds for renovation, it’s a severe blow to the heart, along with the deprivation of something we’ve always claimed as our own. It was all an illusion, and we were wrong. The Coliseum, in fact, belongs to the highest bidder who is willing to give it a name and not ask for control.

In January, the University of Southern California offered to individually fund the Coliseum renovation project, and the proposal was met with rejection. The commission wanted total control, and would have easily pocketed any donation, but isn’t willing to enter into a partnership. So they instead turn to corporate America, looking to profit as a billboard, while maintaining the decision making powers. It’s cheap, and it’s wrong. And for the commission and city, I am angry and ashamed.

In the typical arrogance of an Angelino, I felt some type of immunity. I felt others could sell out, but we wouldn’t. The Angels play at Edison field, and the Lakers and Clippers in Staples Center, but the Rose Bowl and Coliseum clutched history and tradition. Other BCS bowls danced with the devil, making the corporate name bigger than the bowl itself. But in Pasadena, it was different. They didn’t become the “Citi Rose Bowl”. They are the Pasadena Rose Bowl, presented by Citi. There’s a difference. They didn’t move their traditional game, because FOX bought the BCS package. They walked the traditional path, continuing to air on abc. I guess it was that type of power display that led me to believe that Los Angeles football tradition was invincible. And to now see us on our knees, for the first time, shows that we’re just as weak as everyone else.

Phase one is complete. And after witnessing sports in Europe, the progression is bound to bring us to a point where we’re selling ad spaces on player uniforms. It’s sickening. Goodbye Los Angeles Coliseum. Welcome, Tampax Stadium. In todays world, nothing is sacred.



Monday, June 23, 2008

Eyes On A Foe: A Washington State of Emergency


The preseason focus is always on projecting the upper tier of each conference. Sometimes the lower tier is anyone’s guess, but the Washington State cougars have just made it pretty obvious. The Cougars appear to have waited a couple of years too late before firing Bill Doba, because with every day passing since his termination, the mess left behind continues to be uncovered, and the program looks more like a future bottom feeder.

Since I’ve been eyeing this foe in the offseason, they’ve lost scholarships for not graduating enough players, they’ve lost scholarships for individual academic failures, and now they’re losing players to arrests. The Seattle Times reports,

"In the past 18 months, at least 25 players have been arrested or charged with offenses that carry possible jail time, court records show. Most were charged with misdemeanors such as underage drinking or possession of marijuana. Thirteen had been arrested or charged before."

The key point to that report is thirteen are repeat offenders. And why wouldn’t they be, considering the arrests never led to missed playing time? Doba obviously adopted a “win at all cost” policy, yet his Cougars continued to lose. Washington state gained nothing but a delinquent roster, NCAA penalties, and a new coach faced with ending the downward spiral. In recruiting hotbeds, such a program may be easily repairable. But in Pullman Washington, the more realistic expectations are years of last place finishes in the Pac 10.

The Seattle Times article is recommended reading. It gives full detail of some of these arrests, and player response as to why these things happen.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

'Title Town' search ends in Los Angeles


ESPN is spending its days searching the crevices of American cities for what they call “Title town”. But they can save fuel and travel costs, because the obvious choice sits out West, and I dare anyone to challenge it. The Boston area owns the most recent success, but even with all they’ve achieved over the past 5 years, they lag far behind the City of Angels.

Titletown is to be a gathering place of champions and legends of the game, and I doubt anyone across America has more to offer than this smog filled, star-studded, sports paradise along the Pacific Ocean. The numbers are as staggering as the names, and the venues echo with history and ghosts that romped to fame.

Today, Los Angeles is without an NFL franchise, but both the Los Angeles Coliseum and Pasadena Rose Bowl have hosted the NFL’s biggest game. Bart Starr rang in the Superbowl era with a victory on the Coliseum floor, and After trailing at the half, Terry Bradshaw orchestrated a second half masterpiece on the blades of Rose Bowl grass. The last championship for the Raiders was as a representative of the City of L.A., and the Rams were NFL champions in ’51, before moving on to Saint Louis and Superbowl stardom.

The Lakers arrived in Los Angeles, representing the first NBA dynasty, after winning championships in Minnesota in 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, and 1954. They've added another 9 NBA titles, and the Staples Center rafters hold the jerseys of the NBA’s all time leading scorer (Kareem Abdul Jabbar), all time rebounder (Wilt Chamberlain), and 2nd all time in assists (Magic Johnson). Other legends wearing the purple and gold are Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, and James Worthy. They won 3 titles with future Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neil, and currently boast the league’s best player in Kobe Bryant. Phil Jackson has coached 9 champions, and though 6 were earned in Chicago, the triangle offense has been his greatest weapon against opponents. The architect of that offense, Tex Winter, is a USC graduate.

The Dodgers moved to L.A, after securing one title in Brooklyn. They added 5 more for the city, with their neighboring Angels adding another. Everyone remembers the famed Kirk Gibson homerun that added to the legends of Sandy Koufax, Maury Wills, Don Sutton, Tommy John, Don Drysdale and Fernando Valenzuela. Orel Hersheiser had a scoreless innings streak, and Eric Gagne had a record streak for saves. Nolan Ryan originally wore a halo, before moving on elsewhere in the league to establish records. And though Jackie Robinson is most remembered as a Brooklyn dodger, he was stealing bases for UCLA, before breaking any major league barriers.

When it comes to college sports, it’s a runaway. The USC Trojans are 12 time champions in baseball, and 11 times in football. No basketball program in the country has more titles than the 11 achieved by UCLA. UCLA is the first school to reach 100 combined national titles in sports. No other school has more Men’s team titles than USC. As one ESPN reporter put it, If USC was a country, they would have placed 16th in the medal count of the 2004 Olympic Games. Candace Parker has joined the WNBA’s L.A sparks, looking to build on a legacy that can possibly make her the greatest female basketball player in history. To do so, she needs to surpass 3 local products, Cheryl Miller (USC), Lisa Leslie (USC), and Ann Meyers (UCLA). 8 Heisman trophies have been won in Los Angeles, and the list of high profile athletes and coaches from USC and UCLA alone could easily create an all time greatest team in nearly any sport.

Though the Kings have no titles, the great one, Wayne Gretzky, skated on their ice. In Orange County, the Anaheim Ducks are just one year removed from Hockey superiority. Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins fought their way from the L.A streets and to championship belts. The L.A Galaxy were kicking their way to the top of the soccer world, before adding David Beckham to market it. At UCLA, Arthur Ashe was setting the pace, and erasing color from the game of tennis. Across town, many years later, Venus and Serena Williams went from little girls in a big city to playing temporary roles as Queen of England. A 7 year old named Pete Sampras first picked up a racket in his Los Angeles area home, before he went on to rule the world.

The city has hosted 2 summer Olympiads. A young NBA prospect named Michael Jordan claimed his first Olympic gold in L.A. A young Boxer named Evander Holyfield was disqualified in ’84 for a knockout punch that came after the bell. Carl Lewis equaled the 4 golden moments of Jesse Owens' Berlin brilliance,and Mary Lou Retton became America's sweetheart.

Search no more, because this is "Title town". Is there another City to compare? You tell me, because I'm more than willing to listen and give it thought. As USC alumnus George Lucas would say, “The force has been with us.” And as for this article, as a young UCLA film student named Jim Morrison would put it, “This is the end.”

Off Topic: PSU Co-Ed ending the streak


Elizabeth Burke (not pictured in the above photo), a student at Penn State university has opted to defend charges of lewdness, unlike her 7 male co-defendants who all pleaded guilty to the charges resulting from streaking across the University campus. The “Miffin Streak” is a PSU tradition. And though it’s an unlawful act, it continues on.

According to Burke and her attorney, by the exact wording of the law, a person must be “affronted or alarmed” for a criminal act to occur. And if people gathered awaiting the streakers and tradition, and expecting nudity, then the act wasn’t alarming at all.

Personally, I could sit all day waiting for a nude woman to come running by. I can be expecting it. But guess what, if that female appears and my brain registers with exclamation, “Look at those t*** and that a**”, I’m alarmed and you are now criminal. I’m not sure how the tradition works, but if in past years the streakers were mostly male, and a female gives a sudden appearance, again, the crowd would be alarmed.

And it’s not as if the crowd has minimized vision of her nudity, because there were 8 streakers in all. She’s a female. The good Lord gave her those lumps and curves, so we men can read her in Braille. I’m leaning towards Burke being convicted of the misdemeanor charge, but I would also like photographs of the event, to form a better conclusion from the factual evidence.

This is already my second entry about lewd conduct on the Penn State campus. And it's funny, because I always viewed the Nittany Lions to be more on the conservative side. That's what I get for judging a book by its cover.

Thoughts and prayers for Kenechi Udeze


The Minnesota Star Tribune reports that Vikings defensive end Kenuchi Udeze will be receiving a bone marrow transplant in July. An exact match was found in his brother, Thomas Barnes, who will be the donor. According to Udeze, recovery time is projected anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks, and though he has nothing but love for football, he realizes that life is bigger than the game played between the lines.

“The game is going on without me. Football, I love it to death, but I don’t need football. That’s something I came to realize through the process.”

I have great memories of Udeze along the Trojan defensive front, pushing his way into an Auburn backfield to limit Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown, and providing constant pressure to Michigan’s John Navarre, as USC claimed their first national championship under Pete Carroll. But now I send my thoughts and prayers, hoping to create newer memories of a man that is victorious in a battle with his newest opponent named Leukemia.

Fight On!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Eyes On A Foe: Teddy Bears closing the gap?


I’m completely dumbfounded by how quickly the UCLA Bruins have shaved their odds of winning the 2009 BCS Championship game. At season’s end, the Bruins opened at 70-1. As of yesterday, they are down to 35-1. That’s a 50% improvement in Vegas, without any significant change to the roster.

The Bruins already lost Patrick Cowan to injury, after he was named the starting quarterback by Norm Chow. Even with his loss, the Bruins continued to better their odds. How is that? The UCLA coaching staff may have had confidence in Cowan, but it sure doesn’t seem like the general public did, since sportsbooks have been collecting money from people even more confident in the Bruins using an alternate option at QB.

The Bruins have 2 tough games out of conference, Tennessee and BYU, and then enter conference play, where USC, Arizona State, and Oregon are sure to be ranked. They’re looking at possibly 5 ranked opponents on a 12 game schedule. Lose just one of those games, and the Teddy Bears won’t be playing for any championships in January. Everyone knows the only way a Pac 10 team is going to play in a BCS championship game is to go undefeated and hope to be selected.

The Trojans remain the heavy favorite with most oddsmakers, holding steady at 3-1 to win it all.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Why is Leinart stuck in the hot tub?


Is there a reason why sportswriters across America can’t discuss Matt Leinart and Arizona’s training camp without giving a mention of the hot tub photos? Each article appears to bring us back to the scene of a supposed “hideous crime”, though there is nothing criminal or hideous about sitting in a hot tub with sexy females. What is it that casts this incident in such a negative light that USA Today reporter, Larry Weisman, writes:

“That photo in the hot with the young ladies? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.”

What the hell is so wrong about it? Why is the media so intrigued by this hot tub, and not so critical about photos of a drunk Vince Young dancing shirtless in a room full of guys that are also shirtless? That one raises my eyebrow. With the media reporting, there would be no foul if Leinart was sharing the tub with guys, but it’s become some horrible act to share with girls.

J.J Arrington is arrested for disorderly conduct, and we’re still talking about a hot tub in Arizona? It appears that Leinart’s QB battle with the soon to be 37 year old Kurt Warner will be easier than repairing his image. Though, as a male, I see nothing even close to damaging or needing of repair. Call me immoral or strange, but wet females are something I enjoy very much. And until TUI (Tubbing under the influence) becomes a crime, Leinart has done nothing wrong, wrong, wrong.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Off Topic: For Boston I'm Not Green With Envy


For as long as I’ve been watching sports, I could never make any sense of championship celebrations. Your local team endures a regular season schedule, fights through several playoff series, and stand as the lone victor in the end. In appreciation for all they’ve done, some fans choose to create riot type conditions and trash their own cities. Why is that?

The Boston Celtics are the NBA champions for the first time in 22 years. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce achieved their long awaited goal. They celebrate on the floor of the new Boston Garden. There are smiles, hugs, champagne, music and confetti. Meanwhile, outside of the arena, all hell has broken loose. Windows are being smashed, fights are breaking out, arrests are being made, and properties are being vandalized. This has become America’s method of celebration, and it still leaves me reaching for answers.

If anything, though equally wrong, wouldn’t it be more sensible to see the championship loser trashing their cities? After all, these are the fans with the anger. Are they not? How do you smile on your road to destruction? Obviously it’s artificial, and rooted deeper than any local team accomplishment. Anyone willfully finding enjoyment in the destruction of the property of others isn’t celebrating anything at all. These people are fulfilling something they’ve always wanted to do, but could never find a damn good reason to do it. If you pick up a brick and smash a store window, or light a match to burn a vehicle, this isn’t a celebration of the Celtics. It’s anarchy. When you gather the numbers of individuals similar in deviancy, together you celebrate lawlessness, if even for just a moment.

These people hide behind the conclusion of an event, and they blame it on alcohol. People didn’t get drunk in Boston, until their local teams won? The daily drunk doesn’t terrorize his city, but the camouflaged “championship celebrating” drunk uses it as an excuse for his actions.

After 22 years, you could say it was building, if this was anywhere but Boston. But after watching the Patriots and Red Sox bring home titles, and the city experience the same disturbances, again I’m left without reason. Boston area fans were very critical about a news story telling of a Celtics fan being attacked by Lakers fans at Staples center. They called Lakers fans and citizens of Los Angeles “Savage” and “Barbaric”. But if these are the labels given to your enemies that attack members or your fanbase, what is the label given to those that purposely attack their own for the sake of enjoyment, and all in the name of celebration?

The Celtics and their players, I congratulate for a tremendous season. But for the City of Boston, dealing with the aftermath, I am not green with envy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

GOLDEN SHOWERS


I guess you shouldn’t kick a man when he’s down, especially with the abundance of Trojans making headlines for the wrong reasons. But hell, we’re talking about those “holier than thou” tree hugging activists from the northern part of the state. Yes, it’s the California Golden Bears, the school that gave birth to the UCLA Bruins. That’s reason enough for me to put on my steel toes and wind up for a boot.

Quantity alone would increase the odds of USC Trojans ending up on the bad side of the law. The more you have running around the NFL, the more likely one of them will bring embarrassment to themselves and the university. But the Cal Golden Bears aren’t rich in NFL production, and 2 of their former running backs are now facing legal issues.

Marshawn “road Hazard” Lynch is still part of an ongoing investigation of an alleged hit-and-run. I’ve yet to see him address the media about the allegations against him. Last I heard is that he reported to camp, but sat out, because he’s limited by the effects of recent eye surgery. My belief is that the surgery came a few days, and a couple of stop signs, too late.

Remember J.J Arrington? Yeah, I forgot about him too. Well, in his best “remember me” act, he found himself sitting in a jail cell early Wednesday morning. He’s charged with disorderly conducted, stemming from a fight at a North Carolina night club. He was also ordered to be held for 24 hours for contempt of court. Hopefully that wasn’t for screaming, “Do you know who I am”, because honestly, J. J, they don’t.

Even people in Berkeley know the old saying of “when it rains, it pours”. But when a couple of your guys put me in a position to piss on your program, just consider it your Golden shower.

DOH-mer Of The Week- Nothing But Strikes


Remember a time when men were men and competed like warriors in sport? Remember “no layup” rules in basketball, no face masks on football helmets, and a pitcher regularly tossed nine innings? Rules change with the times, as health becomes a concern, and a player no longer appears as a competitor, but more as a business investment. But in my opinion, it’s a travesty to hear any high ranking “sports” executive whining about his “athlete” injuring himself while attempting to run “180 feet”.

My DOH-mer, Yankees Co-Chairman Hank Steinbrenner, actually had the nerve to criticize the National league for allowing men to be men. He made references to the league rule on pitchers batting as being outdated, and calling for the National league to step into the 21st century. He’s lobbying for a designated hitter for both leagues, so they can be uniformed b*tches.

As a child, baseball is a game that consists of throwing, running, fielding, and batting. Why does Steinbrenner feel adults are incapable of fulfilling two of the tasks that children perform on the diamond? Children bat and run for free, but adult members of the millionaires club can’t. Does that make any sense? If anything, get your money’s worth. So, you lost a starting pitcher for 6-8 weeks, because he didn’t know how to run bases properly. Whose fault is that? The National League? Get the f*ck out of here! Maybe as an “athlete” they should be trained as one in the spring. Maybe he can try that "Viagra" therapy or get one of the shots Roger misrembers getting, and possibly be back on the mound in half the time.

The Yanks have bad luck when it comes to pitching, and Hank’s firing in the wrong direction. Over the years, he couldn’t blame the National league for injuries suffered by Randy Johnson, Andy Pettitte, Kevin Brown, etc. Kevin Brown broke his hand, punching a wall in the Yankee dugout. Let’s blame that on the f*cking Dodgers! Roger Clemens was given a year’s salary for pitching one damn month. Let’s blame that on the Astros! Better yet, Hank, the next time your club is involved in a brawl, instruct your dainty men of the mound not to engage in combat. And not because they may be struck by someone, but because they may break a foot, while running the 180 feet from the dugout to join the melee.

The New York Yankees have more championships than any franchise in sports. To obtain those championships, at some point, their pitchers had to lift bats and run bases. And just think, if this Puss, Steinbrenner, was in charge during the early days of the game, a great pitcher by the name of Babe Ruth may have never swung the bat.

I played baseball at the little league and High school levels. I pitched, which meant I also hit and ran. I think to myself, If I was drafted and played in the American league, I wouldn’t have to hit or run. But I also think the same, if I played women’s softball. And of course, there’s one distinct similarity between the New York Yankees and Women's softball, and that would be the thongs beneath the uniform.

Go do your b*tching and complaining somewhere else. Leave the National League alone, because it’s baseball played in the purest form. Go stroke your Wang’s …ego, and tell him it’s not his fault. According to Hank Steinbrenner, American league pitchers should throw strikes with every toss, because they surely have no balls.

DOH-MER!

74 Diamonds on This Baby!


I was checking out the New Rose Bowl championship rings that were awarded to the Trojans this spring, and they are a thing of beauty. Featuring 74 diamonds and 6 rubies, it also references the record 6 straight Pac 10 championships. The one I have on display belongs to Keith Rivers, and viewing the achievement made me put the streak more in focus.

When the conference title streak began, Keith Rivers was still playing high school ball. He now has 2 Rose Bowl championship rings to sit along side his ring received for the BCS championship. He’s always played in January, and in nothing less than a BCS bowl game. It’s like a defensive passing of the torch. Polamalu passed to Tatupu, who then passed to Rivers, and is now held by Maualuga. The streak extends three quarterbacks (Palmer, Leinart, and Booty), and 3 featured runningbacks (Fargas, Bush, Washington). With programs like Cal and Oregon taking a talent hit, conference championship No. 7 looks very probable, but don’t sleep on the schools in the desert or the one across town.

An NBA champion Trojan: As a member of the Boston Celtics, Brian Scalabrine is now a world champion. He didn’t’ get any playing time, or if he did, I missed it. But nonetheless, he will receive a ring with his other teammates, as Boston celebrates their league leading 17th NBA title. Who would have thought Scalabrine would be a member of a basketball champion, and Sam Clancy would be playing in France? Not I. Would I have Trojan news if the Lakers won the championship? Of course I would, because the Men of Troy are everywhere. The Lakers featured two Bruins on their squad, in Farmar and Ariza, but a Trojan signs their paychecks. Dr. Jerry Buss is USC alum, so it's only fitting that a couple of Bruins are calling a Trojan "boss". It's just a quick reminder of life's pecking order.

Also, and update from an earlier entry. I reported that LaJuan Ramsey was released by the Philadelphia Eagles and would have a difficult time finding a new employer. Well, shows how much I know, because he was picked up today by the San Francisco 49ers. Best of luck to him.

Fight On!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Not Guilty Plea for Lofa Tatupu


Seahawks Linebacker, Lofa Tatupu, formally entered a plea of not guilty to charges stemming from a DUI arrest last month. His legal team is planning a defense, though the evidence and Washington State laws appear stacked against him.

When Tatupu was stopped in Kirkland Washington, he declined to take a breathalyzer test, but later blew marks of 0.155 and 0.158 at the Kirkland Police Department. Washington State laws list 0.08 as the presumption for legal drunkenness.

A league suspension is not likely, but a conviction may land him in the NFL’s substance abuse program.

The Eagle has landed

With the inability to soar to projected heights, former Trojan, LaJuan Ramsey lands with a thud. The Philadelphia Eagles officially released the defensive end last week, and finding another opportunity may weigh difficult.

Monday, June 16, 2008

How accurate are preseason rankings?


It’s that time again, and the preseason rankings are beginning to flood the pages of college news services. But how accurate is a ranking, and which service is most credible? Of course, I wouldn’t ask the questions, if I didn’t have an answer. The first part of the question is fairly easy for anyone to answer. Preseason polls are an educated guess at the finishing order for the nation’s 25 best. Well, at least they’re supposed to be. There’s very little accuracy from beginning to end, as demonstrated by the need to backtrack to 2004 to find a champion going wire to wire in the polls. But finding the most accurate source isn’t as easy, and who it is and what they’ve projected for 2008 may be surprising.

The hypothesis is based on returning talent, recruiting, coaching stability, and an analysis of spring football. Members of the media will them comprise a list and place the teams in order, based on the aforementioned data. Looking at the past 5 years, if your guess for most accurate source is Sports Illustrated or USA Today polls, you’re wrong. CBS Sportline or Fox News? Wrong again. Since 2003, the top 5 media sources, in terms of preseason poll accuracy, are as follows:

1. Phil Steele
2. Athlon Sports
3t.Lindy’s
3t.Sporting News
5. Street and Smith

In 2007, Athlon Sports’ final finish was nearest to the beginning order than any other news source. But the accumulated scores for the past 5 seasons show Phil Steele to be the most accurate. Knowing this, it has to make you curious of Steele’s 2008 projections. And of course, here they are:

Phil Steele’s 2008 Preseason top 25

1. Florida
2. Ohio State
3. Oklahoma
4. USC
5. Clemson
6. West Virginia
7. Missouri
8. South Florida
9. Georgia
10.Penn State
11.Texas Tech
12.Auburn
13.LSU
14.Utah
15.Texas
16.Virginia Tech
17.BYU
18.South Carolina
19.Notre Dame
20.California
21.Wisconsin
22.Oregon
23.Tennessee
24.Florida State
25.Pittsburgh

These rankings definitely are not along the lines of mainstream projections, and certain to spark debate. In trying to figure out why and how this order was determined, I could only think of one thing that would make sense.

To get an order like this one, and also to increase your odds for a more accurate finish, you would have to take team schedules into consideration. If you look at that list, it really isn’t an assessment of the strongest teams to start the year, because I can’t see any realism to Utah having a greater roster and coaching staff than Texas, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, etc. But if you look at the schedules some of these teams play, this could be a realistic look at the end of the season. That would be the difference between Steele and other services. Most rank the beginning order, where Steele includes schedules in the equation to guess the end. There is no certainty to that, but that’s my guess, at least.

Make sense?

The Bear, The Bam, and Southern Integration


Some folks in the Southeastern conference aren’t particularly fond of USC. Those people likely live the present state of college football, without remembering or not knowing its history. To know the history would be to offer cheers of gratitude for a program that assisted in the integration of Southern football and lifted a failing conference to the level of superiority is has become today.

Through history, the University of Southern California and the University of Alabama are forever intertwined. These storied programs played a game that provided a huge stepping stone for change in the South. And not only did it bring about change in Southern football, it created a shift in football power across the nation.

In 1970, Coach John McKay packed up his integrated USC football program and traveled to Alabama to face the legendary Bear Bryant and his all White football team. The kickoff was historic, marking the first integrated game in the State of Alabama. The final score was lopsided, with the Trojans cruising to a 42-21 victory. But the impact was greater and had more lasting effects than any rankings, title hopes, or win-loss records.

Though Governor George Wallace preached his message of “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever,” Bear Bryant had his own agenda, and he was willing to use the USC Trojans to carve the path and deliver a statement. This was more than a game. It was a political gathering organized on Wallace’s home turf. On this day, two coaches, and a running back named Sam Cunningham, delivered a statement louder than Wallace ever imagined.

Sam “The Bam” Cunningham isn’t a glorified name in collegiate history books. Modernly, he’s usually referenced with a notation, as the “older brother of former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham”. But on that day, this African American running back from Southern California ran with ease through the Tide defense, picking up 135 yards and 2 touchdowns, on just 12 carries.

In the games conclusion, Bear Bryant entered the visitor’s locker room to make a request, and it was granted. He brought a visitor back to his home locker room, ready to address his team. He gave a formal introduction of the man that ripped through their defense for 4 quarters. He pointed to Sam Cunningham, and stripping all descriptive words and phrases, he left only one. He looked at his team, and said “This is a football player”. Cunningham represented a future course the Crimson Tide would take, and others in the South would follow.

Integration breathed new life into Southeastern football, as homegrown African American males no longer had to push North and to the West to play for Division I teams. The effects remain visible today, with the SEC currently boasting back to back National Championships, and LSU being the first program to own 2 BCS trophies.

John McKay and Bear Bryant have passed on, and Sam Cunningham has become an afterthought. Nick Saban now owns the current task of restoring the glory of Alabama. And as a supportive friend out West, I find myself reminiscing of historic times, and rooting for the success of an old friend down south. After overcoming segregation, today’s obstacles appear minor, leaving little doubt that the Tide will roll again.




"Sam Cunningham did more to integrate Alabama in 60 minutes than Martin Luther King did in 20 years."~Bryant assistant, Jerry Claiborne

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Declination Of The Song Girl


Believe it or not, a hot fan topic for the offseason is the fall of USC’s adorable song girls. If you’re a member of the squad, you’re asking what “fall” the team supposedly took. But the longtime fan has been complaining that our sideline darlings have dropped in the rankings of attractiveness and are no longer the top eye candy in the country.

I’m in agreement with the fans, but it’s not like our girls suddenly represent the bottom of the cheerleading barrel. I’ll admit that UCLA, Oregon, and Arizona State (until they were dismissed) are well above our offerings, which leaves us 4th in a conference of 10, when we’re used to being 1st in an association of hundreds.

If you’re looking for a culprit, blame the selection committee. After all, stunting isn’t a requirement, so appearance and dance are the only necessities. It was a step in the right direction to eliminate the male yell leaders and replace them with a female spirit squad. But judging by the women walking the USC campus, the most attractive aren’t wearing tight sweaters and showing off their pom poms on game day. I’m sure some of them can dance, and I wonder how many of them auditioned.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are still some gorgeous girls on the current squad. But to compare today to yesterday, the past had no “skip-overs”. By that, I mean you could scan the entire line of girls and each was worthy of a good stare. That is no longer true, though the majority hold my attention. Maybe we should have a photo section of the girls that weren’t selected. But then again, that may create even more of a fan ruckus.

Fight On!

Best And Worst Athletes Turned Actors-II

No need for an intro, so let's jump right to it:


God Awful: Arnold Schwarzenegger, bodybuilding. Some may argue that Arnie's God given talent made him one of the most successful action stars in movie history. But honestly, isn’t that all about effects? If the acting talent was God given, he would actually convince me that he was an American agent (which he often seems to play). But hearing that Austrian accent, I couldn’t buy it. He even played the terminating robot from the future that was advanced in everything. Well, everything but the English language. At least Lou Ferrigno knew that grunting alone would get him by, and left all the speaking parts to Bill Bixby. Arnold was last seen playing the role of a high ranking politician for the State of California, despite alleged Nazi ties. Not bad.



God Given: Ed Marinaro, Minnesota Vikings. Marinaro went from running through NFL holes to patrolling the streets in “Hill Street Blues”. He was the first running back in NCAA history to amass 4000 rushing yards, and is a college football Hall of Fame inductee. Ed twice made Superbowl appearances with the Vikes, but Emmy awards were the trophies he brought home.



God Awful: Alex Karras, Detroit Lions. I won’t give credit to someone for playing a television husband, when his co-star is his “real life” wife. Any married couple will match you in portraying the “non-stop happy couple”, because it’s a role they adopt for public viewing each day. Plus, we all know the majority of acting for married couples comes in the bedroom, and they didn’t have any of those scenes in “Webster”. I’m also not giving credit for a series about a White couple adopting an extremely undersized African American youth, because “Different Strokes” had already beat you to it.



God Given: Dean Cain (Dean George Tanaka), Buffalo Bills. Cain is so much better at acting that most don’t realize that before he was Superman in TV’s “Lois & Clark”, he was a Superman in the Ivy League. As a Princeton Safety, Cain set an Ivy League record, with 12 interceptions in a season. And though he signed with the Buffalo Bills, his career was cut short by a knee injury. Who would have known that our on screen Superman was weak in the knees?



God Awful: Penny Hardaway, Orlando Magic. The doll, “Little Penny”, had more on screen draw than the living version. Hardaway played opposite Shaquille O’Neil and Nick Nolte in “Blue Chips”. He wasn’t very convincing as a High School player that got pimped into selecting a college, and wanted a new job and house for his mom. If there was a modern re-cast, I think Southern Cal’s O.J Mayo would be perfect for the role.



God Given: Carl Weathers, Oakland Raiders. Weathers receives props for his ability to portray several roles. He’s a victim of the “Predator”, but more noted as boxing champ, Apollo Creed, of “Rocky” fame. Though his career with the Raiders was brief, it leaves me wondering which past champion is more likely to win another title first, the Raiders or Creed in Rocky XX. I’ll put my money on Creed.



God Awful: Dennis Rodman, NBA. Now, I don’t know about anyone else, but it was hard for me to take Dennis Rodman seriously in a bad boy role. How can I not take this NBA bad boy seriously? It’s easy. He once paraded around in a wedding dress. If I’m in the movie “Double Team”, and Dennis Rodman is pursuing me, I’m not reaching for a weapon, as much as I’m preparing to throw rice.



God Given: Burt Reynolds, Florida State Seminoles. The name Burt Reynolds is totally Hollywood, but few know that he was a great half back that went to Florida State on a football scholarship. Reynolds possessed great football potential, but torn cartilage in his knee that was worsened by his trying to play with it for several games, made short his career in sports. Another gridiron loss became a Hollywood gain, as Reynolds went on to put together an incredible acting resume.



God Awful: Lester Speight, USFL, Wrestling. Speight had pro football ambitions. But unfortunate for him, the USFL folded, before he could ever establish himself. Rejected by the NFL, he entered the world of wrestling as “Rasta the Voodoo Man”. He broke into Hollywood with sparing roles here and there, and I last remember him from “My wife and kids”. But what he’s most recognized for is a television commercial, which says a lot about his acting. Most may scratch their heads when I say his real name, but if I say Terry Tate the office linebacker, suddenly he’s recognizable.



God Given: Merlin Olsen, Los Angeles Rams. Olson is inducted into both the Pro and college football Halls of Fame. He made up a quarter of the Rams’ touted “fearsome foursome”, and was just a beast on the field. And then, after hanging up his cleats, he played a gentle giant on “Little House on the Prairie”. He also played the role of a priest in “Father Murphy”. Unlike other former football players that may be typecast for their size or reputation, Olsen was able to pick up a script and be a character opposite of the one he brought to his sport. For that, I’ll give him the “God given” label.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Due to excessive choking, Food no longer served at Staples


Midway through the second quarter of tonight’s game 4 of the NBA Finals, a friend of mine calls me to gloat. At the time, the Lakers were up nearly 20 points, and the Celtics looked dead in the water. Along with his gloating, he asked my opinion of the game, and didn’t like what I had to say, but respected it. I told him, having played in those types of games, one of the hardest things for a team to do is hold a big lead early. Eventually, The Boston Celtics overcame a 24 point deficit to win and go up 3-1 in the series. I’m not psychic, but I can fill you in on what I saw coming.

Lamar Odom came out strong, and gave the Lakers a lot of energy. Why wouldn’t he? He and Pau Gasol have been ripped in the local media. If neither of those guys came out with any energy, they shouldn’t even suit up anymore. But, as always, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. When the Lakers needed those players the most, they again didn’t show up. There are 4 quarters to a game, and not just 2.

Towards the tail end of the first half, I could see the Lakers in a comfort zone. As a team, they began to launch low percentage shots from distance, allowing the Celtics the necessary stops needed to claw back into the game. This always happens in a blowout. It gets to a point of arrogance, where you feel no matter what you throw up, and no matter how far from the hole you may be, the shot will go in. At the same time, your opponent is in a desperate mode. After struggling to score single points, they just continued to work small buckets, with a goal of cutting the deficit to 10 by the half.

As the second half began, the crowd's celebration was clearly over, as a comeback had begun. It became a matter of whether or not the Celts would run out of time. Time became the enemy, because the upstart Lakers were no longer posing a threat. Gasol and Odom were no longer the same opening forces. The big bodies for the Celtics got their feet beneath them and went to work. This is all part of being battle tested throughout the Eastern Playoffs, and the Lakers lack of a power opponent out west.

I would say this series is over, with the Lakers needing to win 3 straight, including 2 back in Boston. They started this game knowing they needed this one, but couldn’t finish it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Making a pitch for Alyssa Milano


I remember when Barry Zito, then of the Oakland A’s, paraded the USC football sidelines with Alyssa Milano on his arm. He was bringing his new girl to his old home, and I thought, “Wow! That guy is pretty special.” But just the other day, while scrolling through random news, I came across an article listing celebrities with athletes. When I clicked on the category of “baseball”, Alyssa’s name came up 3 times, for 3 different guys. It turns out that Barry wasn’t so special. He was just a baseball player. And to be more specific, he was a pitcher.

It appears that Alyssa has a fetish for diamond hurlers, and I can only dream of tossing balls her way. Along with Zito, she’s also been linked to Brad Penny and Carl Pavano. That list would make some label her a baseball player groupie. But for Milano, it doesn’t stop with just a love for the players, she has a solid love for the game. She even has her own MLB baseball blog. Well, that’s if it’s really her creating the entries.

Some other names from the article caught my eye. For instance, Tony Romo, don’t feel special. You’re not the first quarterback connected to Jessica Simpson. Saints back up Kliff Kingsbury was linked to Jess, back when she was filming “Dukes of Hazard”. Yes, Kingsbury. This is bad news for Cowboys fans, because it says Tony doesn’t have to motivate himself to be a star QB or starter to keep his girl. A no name back up is suffice. Plus, anyone that ever watched “Newlyweds” is aware that Jessica doesn’t know sh*t about football. But how can Nick Lachey feel? He spent his time trying to teach her the game, and now she owns a piece of it.

The most hilarious thing about the article is that it has the sports categorized, ranging from the major sports to MMA and even surfing. But despite the listing, Derek Jeter has his own category. You have “NFL, MLB, NBA, and Derek Jeter.” The notches in his belt are high quality. And if resurrection follows my death, Hopefully I get to be Derek in my next life.

Manningham challenging Smith in Giants camp


The disgruntled Plaxico Burress may have opted to skip camp, but the Giants still have a host of receivers that will be vying for playing time. In 2007, former Trojan Steve Smith emerged as a trusted performer in the offense, especially in red zone areas. But unlike last season, smith now faces a legitimate challenger for time on the field.

Rookie Mario Manningham is making a push for the Giants rotation, and I’m already expecting to see field time for the former Wolverine. More time for Super Mario won’t likely force Smith out, but it does provide that element of competition that all players need, regardless of position. The odd man out would most likely be Sinorice Moss, who dropped 3 passes at Wednesday’s camp, and hasn’t provided any flashes of brilliance.

Also, according to the Newark Star-Ledger, they like what they’re seeing in rookie cornerback Terrell Thomas. The paper is quoted as saying “Thomas hasn’t been perfect, but the rookie second round pick is, more often than not, close to his receiver.” They also pointed out that Thomas was stride-for-stride with Manningham on a deep route. That should only surprise you, if you didn’t see the 2007 Rose Bowl game.

Trojans Across The NFL:

Both the 49ers and Eagles may be moving former Trojan offensive linemen, Chilo Rachal and Winston Justice out of position.

In Denver, Coach Mike Shanahan says Keary Colbert possesses Rod Smith potential.

Willie McGinest is skipping Browns OTA’s, stating personal reasons.

Troy Polamalu continues to work out privately in Southern California, instead of attending Steelers camp.

In Cincinnati, Carson Palmer looks to develop young receivers, and hopes Chad Johnson won’t be a distraction.

DOH-mer Of The Week- Cedric The Entertainer


Coming into this week, I actually had two prime candidates for the DOH-mer, but I had to tear them down and pick just one. It became a battle of fire and water, when choosing between the now suspended Odell Thurman of the Cincinnati Bengals and the newly released Cedric Benson of the Chicago Bears. I tried to consider which carried more weight, alcohol or marijuana, but I was still unable to separate the two. But finally I found that one thing that separates these two f*ck ups, and that being Thurman was actually pretty good on a football field.

You may think Thurman is more deserving of the award, because he smoked away something he actually excelled in. But when you see it from my view, there’s no doubt that Cedric Benson is the better candidate.

Cedric entered the 2008 postseason already knowing he was on thin ice. He lacked production, suffered an injury that even after healing left him at less than 100%, and the Bears selected an “every down” type back in the draft. With all these factors weighing against him, Benson desperately needed to maintain the “but” factor. You know, the “Cedric isn’t very useful to the team, BUT….” That “but” could have been that “he’s a good guy”, “works hard”, or “he’s focused on this upcoming camp and season.” Well, no more ifs, ands, or “buts” for Benson. His offseason entertainment erased all positive words that may have possibly followed his “but”.

When you’re a bad football player, you can’t be a f*ck up off the field. Good football players may get away with it, because they hold some type of value. But in the case of bad football players, the organization is just waiting for a good reason to clear you from the roster, like that other guy named Cedrick, who not long ago played for the Steelers. My DOH-mer went from “Boating while intoxicated” to “Driving while intoxicated”, in a span of one month. Someone should inform him that the boat wasn’t the evil, and he removed the wrong item from the equation. Boats are only evil if you’re a Viking. Right Daunte?

It’s actually a shame that it all came to this, after Benson once had what looked like a promising future. Selected by the Bears with the 4th overall pick in the draft, the expectations were high for the Texas Longhorn. In fact, the only thing that kept Texas native, Adrian Peterson, from committing to Texas was that he didn’t want to play behind Benson. Now, the only time you would ever see Peterson behind Benson is if you spotted Cedric 40 yards, and the outcome would still be close.

In Benson’s final hoorah, his female acquaintance can now say, “My Black friend was cut from the Bears”. And first of all, that girl isn’t much of a friend. Friends are colorblind, and don’t find any need to be race descriptive. Would she have said her “White" friend? Secondly, if I’m getting my ass beat, and you’re on the damn phone, you’re not much of a friend. From my experiences, if you're a female, wearing shoes, you possess the weapons to come to my aid. And finally,“cops” are stomping me out, so you decide to get on the phone and call “more cops”? Thanks! At least this time there was no scuffle or allegations of police brutality. I guess the authorities figured out that the easiest way to stop the man is to just give him the damn ball.

Thurman, you’re safe, by a hair, because Benson is most deserving of this DOH-mer. I bet if it was an actually trophy cup, he’d be smiling big, as I waited for him to say “when”.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Rowe Booted From Program and School

USC fullback Alfred Rowe now has something else in common with his former Long Beach Poly High school teammate, Vincent Joseph. Both are now former Trojans, after officially being dismissed by the University, for poor academic performances. Rowe still has the opportunity to appeal for possible re-enrollment in 2009, but expect to see him on the sidelines or campus until then.

The recruiting trail: The 10th best linebacker prospect, according to rivals.com, Jelani Jenkins, visited USC on Monday. And although Dominguez Linebacker, Marquis Simmons, has a verbal commitment to USC, he was spotted in attendance at UCLA’s one-day camp. Hmm.

Stepping down: Tom Hansen will be stepping down as the Pac 10 commissioner in 2009. I can’t say I’ll be sorry to see him go, because he did little to promote the conference, in comparison to some of the other commish’s in the Big 6. Ironically, his announcement follows that of the Big East commish. Both the Big East and Pac 10 are conferences shadowed in football by the other BCS partners, but have a stage for basketball.

Eyes On A Foe: Show Us Your Beavers


The Oregon State football program no longer features the names Derek Anderson, Steven Jackson, Chad Johnson or T.J. Houshmandzadeh. But for some odd reason, the networks still think they can be sold nationally. 8 of the Beavers 12 games for the upcoming 2008 season will be on national television.

Maybe the nation has a desire to see “what’s his face” run the offense, and “what’s his name” carrying the ball. Wide Receiver Sammy stroughter is somewhat of a household name, but he made more news for battling depression than battling any gameday cornerbacks. It’s not that the Beavers are a bad team, but my curiosity stems from the program being virtually unknown on the national stage. It’s hard to imagine television execs saying “Here’s some money, now give us Oregon State.”

Versus will carry 4 of those games, and the Beavers should be the greater opponent in at least 3, considering the lineup is Utah, Washington, Arizona, and Oregon. The Oregon game represents the state “Civil War” rivalry, which has local drawing power, but outside of the state of Oregon, most couldn’t give a damn.

ESPN/ABC will carry the Beavers against Penn State, USC, and Stanford, with another game to be determined.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Off Topic: Investigating the mysterious disappearance of Lamar Odom



I’ve spent the past few weeks wondering what would happen when “flash” met “crash”. And now, with 2 games of the 2008 finals complete, the results are pretty much how I figured them to be. Yes, the Lakers have arguably the best player in the NBA with Kobe Bryant, but they also have Lamar Odom. Well, at least they had Odom, until the championship series began.

In typical Odom fashion, he’s disappeared in the biggest games. From the beginning of this Lakers playoff run, I’ve said repeatedly that the Lakers would go as Odom goes, and that’s becoming true to the facts. The West was regarded as the more difficult road to the NBA finals, based on team records, but when you look at the actual match ups, the physical “old school” type of play by the Eastern teams launched the Celtics into the finals as the more battle tested unit.

Outside of Kobe Bryant, the stars of the Lakers' run were Odom and Gasol, along with contributions by other big men on the bench in sparse roles. Those players have become a non factor, and the Lakers find themselves headed back to Los Angeles down 2games. The Lakers cracked the century mark in game 2, against one of the league’s best defenses. But of the 102 points, Odom contributed just 10.

The Celtics front court is dominating both ends. And why shouldn’t they, since they are allowed to take defensive series off? Odom isn’t giving them anyone to guard. Odom isn’t making them work. The Celtics are not being pounded or denied layups. They appear still fresh in the 4th quarter, because Odom, Gasol, and others chose to leave their balls at home. Celtics guards are working hard, chasing the Lakers’ backcourt for 48 minutes. The backcourt alone is not going to get L.A back into the series or win this championship. They need their big men to play just that, BIG.

The Lakers have no answer for Kevin Garnett, but few in the league do. That was an obvious mismatch going in. But, there is no reason for Leon Powe (Who?), a role player, to resemble an NBA MVP on the league’s biggest stage. There’s no reason to not play physical. This is what you’ve worked hard for all season. This is the gut check, the payoff, the entire reason for your basketball existence.

I can search for reasons for the recent Lakers failures. I can jump on the L.A media bandwagon, and point out the free throw disparity, but that isn’t new. Those same types of numbers were posted in the San Antonio series, yet the Lakers prevailed. You don’t get to the free throw line in the playoffs by slicing. You get their by pounding. Flash will not beat crash in that statistic. You want to find the difference between the Lakers cruising through the West and then struggling against this Eastern opponent? Then join me in my search, and maybe together we can find Lamar Odom. We’ll just follow the trail, because we’re likely to find Paul Gasol, Ronnie Turiaf, and Luke Walton along the way.

Note: After 2 games played, my NBA Finals MVP is Paul Pierce. Garnett is having a great series, but as I said, find me someone on that Lakers squad that can guard the man or keep him off the boards. Game 3 has become a must win for Los Angeles. Lose that game, and this series is over.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Less is more in the television ratings world



Tiger Woods has been receiving some criticism for saying “no one watches hockey anymore”, and any backlash he receives would be warranted, considering his sport isn’t generating blockbuster ratings. Why do we even have a golf channel? Even worse, why does my cable company provide the “golf” and “outdoor living” networks, but not the NFL network? For Woods, golf is a personal method of generating substantial amounts of money, and he would even realize that it doesn’t generate television ratings. But when we see that FOX’s “So you think you can dance” scored higher ratings than the deciding match of the Stanley Cup, Tiger has a point.

His mistake was to not group the other sports with poor ratings, including his own, to not show exclusiveness to the game played on ice. After all, in the television ratings world, by the numbers, less equals more. The fewer games played, and the shorter the playoffs, the higher the television ratings.

The NFL is always the sports ratings champ, with the Superbowl pulling the biggest prize. But second on the list of season finales is the NCAA’s BCS championship game. Is this America’s love for football or our love for fewer games played and single game elimination tournaments? Compare America’s sports based on their television appeal:

2008 Superbowl- 43 percent of households
BCS Championship game (NCAA)- 14 percent of households
NCAA Basketball championship -12 percent of households
2007 World Series- 11 percent of households
2007 Daytona 500- 10 percent of households
2007 NBA Finals- 6 percent of households
2008 Stanley Cup- 6 percent (deciding game drew a 7)

Although the numbers reflect a large gap between the first and second positions, keep in mind that the 2007 BCS championship game was down 17% from 2007, and carried a 33% share for the 2006 Rose Bowl thriller between Texas and USC. The top 3 also show America’s love for single elimination tournaments, with College hoops lagging slightly behind because of the amount of games on their schedule.

How would the Giants have faired in a 3 game series against the Patriots or Cowboys? Would they still be wearing shiny new rings? America doesn’t care, and neither do I. It’s the “sudden death” elimination that grabs our attention. Even with college football receiving a media award as the championship trophy, people tune in to watch the mighty go down today, because tomorrow never comes.

A one game elimination really doesn’t prove who the better overall team may be, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. If you work your way through a season, you better show the best preparation and execution on that one day. Baseball and Basketball give us 162 and 82 games, followed by playoff series after series. Viewers aren’t drawn to what you do in the beginning, because it’s all about what you do in the end. Less is more.

Friday, June 6, 2008

TOWER OF BABBLE


After last month's announcement that Big Brown’s stud rights sold for $50 million, the Hooters girls showed up this month to take photographs with the horse. Bad timing?

The eagles plan to experiment with Lito Sheppard at wide receiver. They’re also using Lorenzo Booker as the primary kick return man. Why did they draft Desean Jackson?

Jeff Garcia threatened to walk away from a team carrying more than 5 quarterbacks. Why? Does he not understand the definition of “leverage”?

There’s a lot of buzz around the NBA about rookie prospects with slightly exaggerated measurements. Ladies, if you’ve never met a man that didn’t exaggerate his measurements, then consider yourself one of the lucky ones.

Skip Bayless is a pud.

Do you ever wonder if Bill Belichick gets irritated when the paparazzi are filming him?

Arlen Specter wants to continue the spygate investigation, while I’m paying $4.35 for a gallon of gas. Maybe the Senator walks to the games.

3000 people lost their lives on September 11, 2001, and a nation mourned. 4000 people lose their lives in Iraq, and people tend not to care as much. Location and death attire will adjust the levels of mourning.

2009 NFL mock drafts are already circulating the Internet, and anyone giving your team the first pick, is telling you that all your offseason moves were worthless.

Notre Dame assistant coaches are already guaranteeing a better performance by the football team in 2008. To make good on that guarantee, wouldn’t the Irish only have to win 4 games?

Reggie Bush’s trial is pending, and Kim Kardashian has a big ass. Those are the constants of the universe.

After watching the weeklong footage of classic Lakers/Celtics match ups, did your shorts suddenly appear to be three sizes larger than when you first bought them?

Do you ever find yourself easily irritated by random babble?