So Ohio State coach Jim Tressel resigned just three days after I suggested it (and probably after THE Ohio State University realized that he is the major reason the college will get major sanctions). OSU is trying to enact as much damage control as it can and Tressel’s resignation reeks of the college trying to save face. Now it’s just a matter of time before the Athletic Director “resigns” as well. He publicly supported Tressel after this all went down and now he will go down with the ship. Hey, I predicted Tressel’s resignation (actually I suggested that he be fired, but that’s a minor quibble), maybe I’ll be two for two!
Real sports insight that non-sports fans can understand.
Archive for May, 2011
Ohio State University (or THE Ohio State University if you’re nasty) is in a heap of trouble. Head football coach Jim Tressel revealed back on March 8, that he had withheld information from OSU’s Athletic Department regarding five of his players (including star QB Terrell Pryor) selling their Big Ten Championship rings and other memoribilia to the owner of a tattoo parlor for cash and free tattoos among other things. This scandal, which started off as another story of college athletes doing something stupid and turned into a stunning allegation against a (formerly) well-respected coach, is now making “THE” OSU appear more and more like enablers.
After the story broke about the improper benefits, OSU were just a couple of weeks away from playing in the Rose Bowl. The NCAA should have done the right thing and suspended these players right away. The players blatently broke NCAA rules, plain and simple. What did the NCAA do? Let them play in the Bowl game then suspended them for the first five games of next season. Who do they play in those five games? Akron, Toledo, Miami (FL), Colorado and Michigan State. Only Miami (FL) and Michigan State are relevant games and this is the weakest part of their schedule. If the NCAA wanted to penalize them, they needed to take them out of the Bowl game. Why didn’t they? Money.
After the suspensions were handed down in December, the NCAA decided to investigate the college. OSU held its own investigation as well. When interviewed, Tressel denied any knowledge of any of the violations. That turned out to be an outright lie. He received an email in April of 2010 from lawyer (and former OSU letterman) Chris Cicero that several of his players had sold signed memoribilia. Tressel acknowledged the email with the response, “I’ll get right on it.” His version of getting right on it? Keeping quiet. This was his first opportunity to let the school know what he found out.
Then, in September he signed an NCAA form stating that he had no knowledge of any violations. That was his second chance. Then he lied in December. He had three opportunities to clear the air and make things right. Did he? Nope. Why not? Well, a scandal would be detrimental to the football program especially if he revealed it when he found out in April. A scandal could mean fewer fans go to the games and watch them on TV. That would mean less money for the school. (Seeing a pattern here?)
Tressel finally admits that he lied and covered up what he knew and how long does he get suspended? Two games. Yep, he won’t be albe to coach the Akron or Toledo games. Seriously? I could coach those two games and OSU would win. Those are more like scrimmages. Tressel, however tries to rectify himself by self-imposing a five-game suspension, the same as his players. Well isn’t that nice. Now that you got caught with your hand stuck in the cookie jar, you’re going to try to give back the cookies? It doesn’t work like that. And what is the college doing? Defending him.
Yep, Athletic Director Gene Smith, when asked if he supports Tressel said, “Definitely, no question.” Really? You would defend a coach that withheld information, not once, not twice, but three times? Information that now could place your entire Athletic Department on NCAA probation or worse. You’re defending this? How can you trust him?
Yes, he’s an excellent coach. He’s brought a National Championship to OSU and had numerous players have very successful NFL careers. Players love him and he consistently has top recruiting classes. But at what point does integrity come into the picture? What he did was egregous, blatent and has now placed a bulls-eye squarely on OSU and its football program. The only way OSU can save face is to fire him. He didn’t make a mistake. He lied and withheld information hoping he wouldn’t get caught. As long as OSU keeps him as the head football coach, there will always be a cloud of doubt and distrust hanging over the program.
The best way to get rid of this? Fire Tressel and bring in someone else. Here’s a thought: How about Jon Gruden? He loves the spotlight, would be able to carry on the OSU tradition of dominance, recruit top-notch talent and bring in even more fans. This would be a fantastic fit and would make people forget about all of this very quickly. Even if Gruden doesn’t take the offer, there are several other coaches out there that you could slot in and keep the winning tradition.
Apparently AD Gene Smith doesn’t want this to just go away. He’s rather support a tarnished coach who can win games. Why? Because he wants to make sure the team is winning to keep bringing in the money. Okay, but when the NCAA comes down hard on OSU, Tressel and the football program, its on your head Mr. Smith.
(Editor’s note: This round of NBA musings come courtesy of someone who has so much NBA knowledge, you might as well call him Spalding; my good friend Ryan Wahl. Read and be enlightened.)
This has been an amazing year in the NBA Playoffs. The individual performances, the games, the emergence of new stars, the disappearance of old stars and the hype of the Heat have made these more memorable than any playoffs in a long time. Here are some musings on not only the playoffs, but some NBA chatter over the last month.
– There seems to be an opinion that has popped up comparing Dirk Nowitzki to Larry Bird. To quote the wise philosopher Chad Ochocinco, “Child, please”! Now don’t get me wrong, Dirk is a monster and one of the best in the league. He’s having a legendary playoff run so far…essentially Bird-like. I must say, though, that one or two playoff series does not a career make. Larry Bird is a 3 time NBA champion, 3 time league MVP and 2 time Finals MVP. No disrespect, Dirk, but you are not in the rarified air that is Larry “Legend”.
– While watching the Chicago Bulls, I can’t help but think a solid offensive threat off the bench is needed. Here’s a wild “out of the box” idea…Allen Iverson. At this point of his career, AI would have no problem coming off the bench for a title contender. Why wouldn’t you want a guy who can get you to the free throw line, give you 15-20 points off the bench, keep an up tempo style of offense and has shown toughness few guys have?
– Before the series against Miami, the Chicago depth was the hot topic on every ESPN show I watched. “They have too many pieces.” Now that we are 4 games in to the series, they have all backed off and finally saw what I saw all season. Their depth is not what you may think. Other than Derrick Rose, what do they have? Carlos Boozer – Overpaid underachiever. He will give you two games worth mentioning in a seven game series. Luol Deng – Someone who will consistently disappear, occasionally making an appearance to make you remember he could be good. Kyle Korver – Good outside shooter and…oh yeah, nothing else. Keith Bogans? Joakim Noah – Hustle player but won’t give you anything you can guarantee. I never know if he’ll get a double-double or foul trouble. Taj Gibson? Really?
– Speaking of Taj Gibson: yes, his dunk on Dwyane Wade was impressive. Let’s get real folks. It wasn’t the series-defining play so many media members want you to believe. Why was that dunk any more impressive than Udonis Haslem’s dunk on Derrick Rose? It’s because of the nationwide Heat Hate. Let’s be real. Haslem’s dunk and overall game in game 2 changed the complexion of this entire series. Gibson had one game with 2 good dunks. That’s it. So really, who’s play was more impressive?
– The real key to the Heat-Bulls series is defense, but I ask you, why does this surprise people? It seemed to me that media and fans were shocked the Heat were this good defensively. Did we not watch LeBron James in Cleveland? He’s a 3 time NBA All-Defense First Team player. Dwyane Wade is a 3-time NBA All-Defense Second Team player. These guys play defense! This is why they are a title contender. They know how to contain teams.
– Speaking of the Heat, can we please stop asking “Is it LeBron’s team or Wade’s team?” It is a pointless question. We wonder who will take the shot at the end. You know who? The player who is hot and playing well! LeBron will always make the smart basketball play, whether it is taking the shot or passing it to a teammate. His basketball IQ is higher than any of the talking heads on TV so please, stop asking this foolish question.
– I may be alone, but I have grown to dislike Kevin Durant. I get it. He’s clean cut. There’s no tattoos or controversy around him. Congrats. Just a note for him, if you are going to flex and yell “It’s my team”; take control of your team. He’s a soft outside shooter with minimal post game for a guy almost seven feet tall. Carmelo is a superior offensive player. He can beat you inside and outside. Their defense is similar, as both don’t put forth full effort all the time.
Since I mentioned the Thunder, I’ve got a few more thoughts on them…
– Russell Westbrook…you are not Allen Iverson. You are not Derrick Rose. You are not even Stephon Marbury and he’s awful. (Editor’s thought: Yes, but is he Stevie Franchise?) Know who you are. You are a high volume shooter who should be shifted to the 2 guard spot. If I were the Thunder, I’d call the Hornets and get Chris Paul for him. The Lakers would also be in the market for a “point guard” and you could get something for him. The Durant-Westbrook dynamic will not work. That’s obvious.
– Kendrick Perkins is garbage! Yes, I have said it before and I will say it again. He has no offensive skills. He’s slow which makes him a defensive liability. He can act tough (a performance he learned from Kevin Garnett in Boston) and look mean, but come on. He flexed on Nene of the Nuggets, who got in his face while so tough Perkins backed down. Nene proceeded to abuse him and throw him around like a rag doll. Stop with the Perkins hype, please.
– The Washington Wizards new jerseys are sweet. I can’t lie, if they had a player worth a damn, I would buy one. They are sweet. Can I get a Chris Webber in the new style?
– LeBron James is great. Admit it. Stop the hate. No, he isn’t Michael Jordan but he never claimed to be. The media and fans put labels on him. He didn’t try to be anything he wasn’t. He is what he is, one of the greatest players the league has ever seen. He’s a guy who skipped college and has exceeded expectations. The other guys who skipped college never carried a team to the level he did at such an early age. Not only did he carry the Cavaliers, he carried them to become the top team in the league for a while. No he didn’t win a title but who wins titles with Anthony Parker, Mo Williams and Delonte West (or Anderson Varejo and aging vets Antawn Jamison and Shaq for that matter). Really?
– Dwight Howard will be in Orlando next year. Lakers fans should just stop it. Stop hoping. Quick fact for you; size wasn’t your issue. Poor point guard and aging superstars were. They should be doing whatever they can to get Chris Paul or Derron Williams. A few other issues with the Howard/LA nonsense:
– The collective bargaining agreement will prevent it. There will be a hard cap and they won’t be able to pay him his market value. Will he really take a pay cut to play in LA with a team aging and in flux? Doubtful.
– The alpha dog issue with Kobe Bryant. He’s arrogant enough to think he’s still the best player in the league and will likely always think that, despite physical evidence to the contrary. That dynamic will not work. Howard will not take Bryant’s volatility and it will be ugly.
– Orlando will continue to trade and try to build around Dwight Howard. He is their centerpiece and he knows it. He runs that town and franchise. They’ll do right by him and he knows it.
– The media and fans will turn this into another Carmelo Anthony situation thus causing unneeded public backlash towards him. Let it play itself out. Stop with the internet articles and talk shows beating it to death. We get it. He’s a free agent after next season. He’ll make a decision when he wants to. He has that right. Stop trying to force a decision. Stop with unnecessary distractions.
– Finally, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is asking for a statue. What happened to the days when players were honored to get anything, such as a retired number or something like that? Now we have players begging for statues and saying they feel “disrespected” and “slighted” about not getting a statue? This is ridiculous. Quick note to Kareem; you are not a Greek God. You played basketball with one of the best players ever in Magic Johnson. The 5 titles in LA had more to do with him than you, in my humble opinion. Be proud your number is retired by the Lakers. Maybe your poor attitude towards media and management didn’t exactly endear you to them. Fact is no one is owed a statue. No one. It’s an honor if they decide to, but come on. This is ridiculous. I will thank Kareem for one thing, though. His comments sparked a great discussion amongst friends regarding statues. Let’s have some fun; if you could give just one statue to represent an NBA franchise, who would you give that honor to? Have some fun with that. I’ll post my choices next time.
I’m out but always remember one thing…Wahl knows Ball.
So we are about a third of the way through the 2011 baseball season and there are some definite surprises and things most baseball fans are not used to seeing. All five teams in the AL East are within 3.5 games of first, and there are just three games separating first and last in the AL West. The Chicago White Sox are slumping in the surprisingly weak AL Central and the LA Dodgers are doing even worse. There are a few signs of normalcy, however. Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals are dominating and the Chicago Cubs still suck. Houston Astros and San Diego Padres are once again barely a blip on the radar and the NY Mets are one owner tirade away from becoming the Dodgers. That said; here are the top five surprises so far:
1. Cleveland Indians – Not only do they have the best record in the majors (30-15) but their run differential (the difference between runs scored and runs allowed) is +67, by far the best in the majors. Their bats killing opponents (Third in Batting Average (.265), On Base Percentage (.334) and Slugging Percentage (.425) and fourth in Runs (231)). Their pitching is dynamite as well (Sixth in ERA (3.38) and seventh in Opponents Batting Average (.239)). They have a legit early MVP candidate in shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and they are in a division that, up to this point, has been under-achieving. As of May 23, they are seven games in front of the Detroit Tigers (the only other AL Central team over .500) and if this keeps up, they could be playing a lot of playoff baseball in Cleveland. That’s something the city of Cleveland can celebrate (as opposed to the #1 draft pick…again!)
2. Jose Bautista, OF Toronto Blue Jays – How can a career .250 hitter start out a season like this?! Through 39 games (he missed eight due to an injury), he has 19 home runs, 32 RBIs and an astounding .353 batting average. Usually, if a player is hitting for power, he either homers or strikes out (see: Mark Reynolds, OF Baltimore Orioles). Bautista only has 23 strikeouts in 139 plate appearances. As of May 23, Bautista leads the AL in home runs, runs scored (39), walks (41), On Base Percentage (.503) and Slugging Percentage (.827) and he’s second in Batting Average. If he keeps up this pace, he will have 65 home runs, 110 RBIs and only 79 strikeouts. That is a unanimous MVP right there.
3. Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals – These two perennial cellar-dwellers have posted respectable records so far this season. Both are just two games under .500 (22-24) and appear to be building for the future. In KC, outfielder Alex Gordon was actually starting to live up to his #2 overall draft pick status before the month of May knocked him back to reality. He’s only batting .158 in May as of May 23. OF Jeff Francoeur is enjoying a nice resurgence leading the team in homers (9) and RBIs (28) and On Base Percentage (.860). First baseman and top prospect Eric Hosmer was called up early in the season and has been a pleasant surprise as well. The Pirates have not had a winning season in two decades. So, like a forlorn Cubs fan “Could this be the year?!” Well, with Neil Walker and speedster Andrew McCutchen (who also leads the team with eight homers and is one of my favorite players), it’s a start. As long as the upper management doesn’t clean house like they tend to do every year, the Pirates may just have a winning season yet.
4. Minnesota Twins – The Twins are almost always in the playoff hunt, but at the third-year point this year, they have the worst record in the majors (15-31). Why? Injuries have ravaged them. Mainly franchise catcher Joe Mauer, who has missed 37 games and counting with leg fatigue and there is no end in sight. Designated hitter Jim Thome is just returning from a stint on the Disabled List as well. They are last in runs scored (160) and On Base Percentage (.295), next-to-last in Slugging Percentage (.337) and 28th in Batting Average (.233). The other franchise player, first baseman Justin Morneau is batting just .229 with a measly .288 On Base Percentage. If they are going to get out of the bottom of the AL Central, they have to get a healthy Mauer and Morneau needs to step it up.
5. Albert Pujols, 1B St. Louis Cardinals – The start of the season has not been kind to Pujols. A career .329 hitter, he is batting .268 and he just snapped a 105 at-bat homerless streak May 23, the longest drought of his career. This is a guy who is a free agent at the end of the year and before the season started, experts were throwing around numbers like $300 million. As in, Pujols may be asking for a contract in the vicinity of 10-year $300 million. Is he worth it? Well, he has been so good for so long that if he is even remotely below a .300 average, he’s not playing up to his lofty standards. But he is a former Rookie of the Year and three-time NL MVP, so you know what you are getting with Pujols and this isn’t it. I think he’ll pick it up and lead the Cardinals to another NL Central divisional title, especially with a potentially historic payday on the horizon. It also helps that the Cards are leading the majors in Batting Average (.282), Runs (246) and On Base Percentage (.361) and are second in Slugging Percentage (.425) even with Pujols slumping.
So there are my surprises. What are yours? Leave me a comment and let me know what I hit, missed and fouled off.
So now we are down to the Final Four in the NBA and most players are carving out their roles for their respective teams. Some however, are being paid way more than they should for their roles. Here are the top five players in the NBA that are still in the hunt for a championship, but are being paid a butt-load more than their on-court output.
5. Caron Butler, F Dallas Mavericks (Salary: $10,561,960) – If it wasn’t for a ruptured right patella tendon suffered on New Year’s Day, then Butler does not appear on this list. As it stands, he only played 29 games and is now collecting a paycheck to dress up and get courtside seats to every Mavs game from here on out. There’s an outside shot he plays if they reach the Finals, but that chance is slim.
4. Nick Collison, PF OKC Thunder (Salary: 13,270,000) – Yes, Collison’s defense on Memphis Grizzlies PF Zach Randolph helped the Thunder win Game 7 and advance to this stage of the Playoffs, but let’s put this into perspective. We had barely heard Collison’s name all postseason until he shut down the Grizzlies top player…for one game. Why? Because he’s averaging just under six points and just over five rebounds a game in these playoffs. The worst part? He is the highest paid player on the Thunder, nearly doubling the second highest paid player…
3. Nazr Mohammed, C OKC Thunder (Salary: $6,883,800) – Averaging 2.7 points and 2.4 rebounds a game in just under 12 minutes a game in the Playoffs, Mohammed makes more than every other Thunder player except Collison (who makes more than Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined!) and has virtually nothing to show for it.
2. Mike Miller, G Miami Heat (Salary: $5,000,000) – Congratulations! You are the winner of the “Money for Nothing/Get Your Checks for Free” Award! Miller has had injuries to both thumbs this year which has severely limited his productivity this year, but he was almost non-existant even when healthy. In the playoffs, he has played a total of 38 minutes and has five points, 10 rebounds and five assists. That’s not an average; that’s total. He was supposed to be one of the key role players for the Heat’s run to the championship, but the team brought in Mike Bibby to take over for Miller and he has done just that, relegating Miller to the invisible numbers that he has produced so far. But Miller’s productivity doesn’t compare to his teammate…
1. Chris Bosh, F Miami Heat (Salary: $14,500,000) – Yes, Bosh has been decent, but he has not been spectacular. When you are getting paid exactly the same as LeBron James and more than Dwyane Wade, you need to be spectacular. LBJ is averaging 25 points, nine rebounds and five assists a game. Wade is almost identical at 25.5 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Bosh? 17.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and one assist. This includes his 30 point explosion against the Chicago Bulls in Game 1 of the Conference Finals. Celtics forward Kevin Garnett exposed Bosh in Games 1 and 3 of the Conference Semifinals where Bosh went a combined 4-16 shooting, scoring just 13 points. And let’s not forget about the 1-18 shooting performance (.056 percentage, mostly inside the paint) against none other than the Bulls back on February 24. Bosh has to step it up in order help LBJ and Wade get the Heat to the Promised Land. He has to justify that ridiculous salary and a 1-18 shooting night won’t do it.
That’s my take. What’s yours? Let me know in your comments.
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