Friday, March 27, 2009

What if Stafford said Filet-o-Fish with a Shamrock Shake?

Sometime today, Billy Gillispie will officially be out as the coach at Kentucky. How it's described for public consumption doesn't matter, he's going away. As the Lexington Herald-Leader's Mark Story points out, this is about the personal stuff with Gillispie much more than the record. Gillispie likes basketball, booze, horses and women. He thought UK, which has all of those in abundance, was a great fit. Gillispie apparently didn't grasp that with the UK job comes expectations he couldn't meet for how you live as the state's most important man, and once he found out his reaction was to say he would not change. Now UK needs someone with proven credibility as a coach who also understands what it means to coach in Lexington, and the only guy who fits that bill is Billy Donovan. They're going to try to hire him again, and the more I talk to people close to Billy the less idea I have what he'll say when they do. One thing I do know is it would have been a really good idea for Gator fans to show up to more games the last two seasons. No one likes to feel unappreciated, and Donovan has been disappointed how little consistent support back to back national titles has brought his program. I'm not saying Donovan goes, because there's lots of reasons for him not to, but this is going to be an interesting weekend.

The NFL Draft is roughly a month away, and most teams have now had their pro day workouts for the league so the evaluations are pretty settled now. Matthew Stafford may be number one on Pro Football Weekly's list of the top 150 prospects, but at least one team's front office is indicating they aren't big fans of his. San Francisco didn't like Stafford making a wisecrack after being asked about his supposed "unfinished business" stemming from his parents divorce when he was in high school by their psychologist. I don't blame Stafford a bit - the questions teams ask these kids are ridiculous. Elsewhere in the linked article it notes the Lions psychological profilers were asking players what they would order at McDonald's. If someone says McRib, he's probably stupid enough that the Lions would want him in the first round.

As you watch ESPN's college basketball coverage this weekend, particularly any stories about Connecticut's rule violations, keep in mind that the network itself has some dirty hands in the college basketball business recently. ESPN runs the Big 12's website. Wednesday they and the conference put out a joint statement acknowledging that "Training Day", a supplement that had been promoted as one of the Big 12's corporate partners, had been dropped. Turns out ESPN had set up the Big 12 in a sponsorship deal with a creatine based product, even though schools are prohibited from giving that to athletes. Oops. ESPN also employed Jason Williams as a college basketball analyst last year while he was also the chief recruiter for an NBA agent firm. Somewhat of an ethical problem there, right? They should have at minimum required Williams to regularly disclose his other activity on air, and really should have demanded he stop it altogether or stop being an analyst. Instead, ESPN did nothing while Williams was busy trying to induce kids like Kevin Love to go pro early. But hey, they're all over this UConn thing.

If Isiah Thomas can still get serious interest for NBA jobs, there's apparently no viable options left to choose from. Isiah would reportedly prefer a college head coaching job as his next challenge. Exactly what major school would want to hire a guy linked to business failures, rampant sexual harassment and awful basketball as its leader wasn't made clear. Maybe Isiah can promise them or the Clippers some free popcorn.

The Basketball Hall of Fame has done a deal with the Planet Hollywood Casino in Las Vegas to provide them with a variety of items from Springfield for display over the next six months. Included amongst the loaned stuff is the basketball from Wilt Chamberlain setting what was then the alltime career scoring record. I love Vegas, but this is a bad idea. Once the Final Four weekend is over, there's no way the casino will prominently feature this material and really promote the sport or the Hall. While it's gone, visitors to the real Hall of Fame will miss out on seeing some of what they came there for as well. I know all museum marketing is a tough job in this economy, but especially considering the NBA's public attitude toward gambling the Hall needs to do better than this. Have a good weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.


Anonymous said...

Hey Heath -- You gotta change the color scheme on your blog. There is a reason you don't see a lot of black pages with white text on the internet, at least post-1997. I would have an enormous migraine if I tried to read this for more than two minutes.

$0.02... like your content...

Jeremiah said...

The more I think about this Kentucky/Donovan situation, the more I think he's much more likely to take the job up there. Like you, Heath, I'm not saying he will go, but the circumstances a lot different than two years ago when Billy turned UK down. Frist, Gator fans have been really critical of this team the past two years,and some of it is unfounded. This year's team suffered attrition, injuries, and a lack of height and premium athleticism, and overcame it to almost make the tournament. They are flawed, but how much more could really be expected? They were only blown out twice and really only had one stinker against Georgia. Gator fans shouldn't have done backflips for this team, but a few more fans down at the SEC tournament would've helped. It's a joke that Tenessee fans outnumbered UF fans in Tampa for the games. That, more than the apathetic NIT crowds, probably disappointed Donovan. I know it disappointed me as a fan. Second, Billy wouldn't be replacing Tubby this time. Third, UK is worse off now than two years ago, so there's more room to improve the situation there immediately, thus making Donovan look better.
Hopefully, the thought of uprooting his family, his lifestyle here, and the continuing legacy he's building here will keep Billy in Gainesville, but all you had to do was see the tournament in Tampa to tell which program has the better support, and that has to be a factor.

Heath Cline said...

I'm not much of a web wizard, so I've never really messed with the color scheme on here. I'm certainly willing to look at a change - any suggestions?