Friday, May 29, 2009

Joe Barton: the most tone deaf man in politics

The same member of Congress who initiated the dog and pony show hearing to pander to Texas fans upset that they lost out in the BCS is at it again. Now Rep. Joe Barton of Texas is threatening to have the executive director of the Alamo Bowl charged with perjury and contempt of Congress. Derrick Fox, the gentleman in question, testified that bowls provide tens of millions of dollars to charities. Apparently the most recent accurate figure is 3.2 million. Exactly how prosecuting Fox for this supposed perjury would do anything to help the country or even the cause of a playoff system is not clear. The idea that Roger Clemens and the executive director of the Alamo Bowl are the two people most likely to be prosecuted for lying to Congress right now while, say, Alberto Gonzales evidently has nothing to fear speaks volumes about how ridiculous this is.

Billy Gillispie is suing Kentucky, claiming he was fired "without cause" and should get all the money he was scheduled to earn under the terms of his memorandum of understanding with the school. That's hilarious, since the memorandum was supposed to be the prelude to a contract Gillispie refused to sign for his entire two years he worked at the school. As they should have, UK is countersuing. In contract law according to Gillispie, he gets all the protections of a contract without giving the school anything in return. It seems agreeing to a personal conduct code, interacting with boosters and doing PR stuff - things that are standard for any head basketball coach - was a little too much to ask of Billy G. Gillispie's explanation was that he was a coach, and that's all. There's a name for those kind of people: assistant coaches. They make 15-20 times less than a head coach for a reason. If you want the trappings of being a head coach, you have to live up to the responsibilities too.

I was sorry to see the news that Lee Corso recently suffered a stroke. Fortunately indications are it wasn't too severe (I refuse to ever say "mild" about stuff like strokes or heart attacks) and Corso should be recovered by football season. Lee's an unusual guy, but treats people very well. What you see is his own odd persona - all the "not so fast my friend" and "sweetheart" stuff is him, not some guy who decided to start throwing out catchphrases so he could be famous. College Gameday remains a terrific show, despite ESPN's best efforts to find ways to screw it up over the past decade. It would be a shame for Corso not to have been able to continue to be a part of it.

I would not want to try and sing the Star Spangled Banner in public under any circumstances. Even pros acknowledge it's a very difficult song to hit the right notes on, and that's without the added factor of thousands watching you do it. If you do accept the invitation to sing it before a public event, your mission is simple: sing the song. Be respectful and sing it as written as well as you are capable of doing. Do not, as Tyrese Gibson did before Lakers-Nuggets Wednesday night, decide to rewrite the lyrics to say "our Lakers were still there" or "the home of the Indianapolis 500". This is not a hard concept - sing the song, with no shoutouts to anything, or don't sing.

Tongight's Jay Leno's final day as host of the Tonight Show. I almost never tune in, so I watched it for the first time in a while last night. How the hell has this guy been the top rated late night host for years? I've seen Leno in person - he can be very funny as a standup comic. So why is his show so mind-numbingly dull? Reading interviews with him like this one from GQ the past few weeks, I think I understand the problem. David Letterman does the show he wants to do, and assumes the audience can keep up. Unlike when he's performing in person, Jay dumbs everything down to the point where if you have a brain you can say his punchlines with him as he does his monologue. He runs the show like he's running for mayor of Topeka. It's been good business for Leno, but I'm glad he's going away. Unfortunately the odds are that rather than actually challenge people a little bit, he'll do the same thing every night at ten when he debuts this fall.

Sorry we were off the usual routine this week. The trip to Destin was extremely productive, but with so much audio to edit and writing to do for I had to miss yesterday after not having a chance to blog Tuesday either. Things should be back to the five day a week routine now. Have a good weekend, and I'll see you back here Monday.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I can see Brett Favre's house from here

Good morning from the Gulfport Mississippi Airport. I'm about to fly home after covering day one of the SEC Spring meetings in Destin, FL. It was a fascinating day - like SEC media days in July to the power of ten. I've been up all night editing audio and writing for, but I did want to get something fresh posted on the site today. The unquestioned highlight moment was when Steve Spurrier confronted Lane Kiffin about his comment earlier in the day that he was still waiting for an apology from him for publically asking if he had called a recruit prior to taking his NCAA test (the call was made two days before Kiffin was announced as Tennessee's head coach). Only a few of us were there to see it, and tragically there is not video. What's funny is that Spurrier had been avoiding the media all day. I convinced him to stop before getting on the elevator and then Kiffin had the bad fortune to walk up about 90 seconds later just as someone asked Spurrier about the remark. Kiffin appeared absolutely terrified - and justifiably so. That's not a battle of wits he's going to win. More on the meetings tomorrow.

By now Nick Calathes going pro in Greece is old news, but as you know if you've been reading it's what I expected to happen. It's an interesting choice to do it before the draft though. Calathes will make more money in Europe, but now runs the risk of having a Christian Drejer career. Drejer scored a big payday to turn pro but never did make it back across the Atlantic to play in the NBA. His European career proved to be a major disappointment - we'll see how Calathes, who isn't from Europe and has less natural ability than Drejer did, does. Billy Donovan said yesterday that Florida is still recruiting a point guard. Apparently there's a talented kid who qualified late out of a Philadelphia prep school that they've been asking about. If they can land someone with skills, I'm not sure UF will miss Calathes nearly as much as people might think.

Percy Harvin spoke with the St. Paul Pioneer-Press for a profile story. One part of it in particular jumped out at me. When asked who he would be if he could be someone else for a day, Harvin selected Tim Tebow. That in and of itself isn't so shocking, but this passage...

"We saw all kind of actors and news reporters just kind of blatantly say, "Tebow, I want you." And he turned them down."

News reporters? Really? No one I covered UF with did that, which means Harvin's got to be talking about someone on a national level or someone who covered him from outside the Florida media. Interesting.

They're boarding the plane, so I'll have to cut it short. Back to the usual tomorrow.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Oh good, a potential mentor for Talib!

Plaxico Burress is not a terribly hot NFL commodity right now. His pending felony gun charges and potential three and a half year mandatory prison term if convicted might have something to do with that. Another likely factor: Burress was flaky and had been having injury issues even before he accidentally shot himself. Yet according to's Steve Wyche, Tampa Bay has expressed interest in bringing in Burress. A receiving unit that includes chronic screwup Antonio Bryant, "Souldja" Kellen Winslow, and the loathsome Jerramy Stevens needs this addition like they need a return of Leeman Bennett as coach. The team colors may be switching from pewter to brown really soon.

I don't want to write and talk about Lane Kiffin everyday. I really and truly don't. But when a rookie SEC head man cans his strength coach right before summer workouts start, it's impossible to ignore. Mark Smith, the coach who's on his way out, was one of those hires away from another SEC school that Kiffin was bragging about four months ago. I'll be very curious to hear the eventual explanation of why Lane wants him to hit the road.

Let me get this straight. There is no book chronicling Steve Spurrier's career, yet there's going to be one about the job Rich Brooks has done in rebuilding Kentucky? Were their two Music City Bowl wins really that extraordinary? Seems to me like going after a gnat with a shotgun, which is more of a Burress kind of thing to do.

Apparently there are people in America who still read Archie comics. The biggest mystery of the lengthy series is about to be resolved, and it's not what the heck is up with Jughead's hat. According to the comic's publishers, this August the title character will choose between Betty and Veronica and get engaged. If this is exciting news to you, I strongly encourage you to get out of the house more.

I'll be traveling to Destin Monday for the SEC's spring meetings. They begin on Tuesday and I'll return home on Wednesday. Since I'm not sure what my combo of time and internet access will be, assume there won't be a new post earlier than Tuesday and potentially the day after. Have a great weekend and I'll catch you back here then.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wonder what the second choice behind Geoduck was?

I have a new theory about Lane Kiffin. You know how a pressing team in basketball plays so physically that they wind up getting away with fouls because the refs can't call everything? Maybe that's what Lane's trying for - commit enough small violations that eventually people will expect it and no one will care when you do. Or maybe I'm overthinking it and he's just inept. Penn State assistant Jay Paterno appears to believe the latter is correct. Kiffin was busy putting out this fire on ESPN yesterday after finally paying the bill for his Pahokee insults Tuesday. Give Lane credit, though, he is the first coach to pick up a recruiting violation via twitter. The man's an innovator. Tons of people are looking forward to seeing UF kick his teeth in this September, including Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean. Ironically enough, he twittered that out last night.

In yesterday's post I mentioned that I'm highly skeptical of ESPN's Chad Ford's mock draft "insights". He had Nick Calathes as the 23rd pick in the draft. Now Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen has put out his own version of the first round. Calathes is nowhere to be found. For that matter, no one in the entire SEC is projected as a first rounder. Not too hard to figure out why the league was so down this year when you see that.

I hated Tampa Bay's decision to draft Aqib Talib from Kansas in the first round last year. Sure he's talented, but he also tested positive for marijuana three times in college and had other problems as well. Everything about him screamed trouble at a very loud volume, but the Bucs went ahead and selected him anyway. At the NFL rookie symposium, Talib got in a fight with a fellow Bucs draftee. Yesterday it happened again, with Talib injuring a teammate by swinging his helmet as part of a fight. I've said it a number of times - you pan for gold in a river, not a sewer. Too often under Jon Gruden, the Bucs ignored that warning and now they're paying the price.

The NFL has responded to Delaware's recent approval of sports betting on NFL games (through lottery parlay cards) as they always do. They've acted SHOCKED at the notion such a thing could happen. After all, this is a league so committed to opposing gambling that it refused to let NBC promote its own TV show Las Vegas (a drama not set in a real casino) during NFL games. Meanwhile, what did the NFL do Tuesday? It voted to accept lottery sponsorships for the first time and allow their trademarks to be used on scratch off tickets. It's okay to encourage Steeler fans to gamble and even sell them tickets to do so with the team's logo, but to gamble on the outcome of a Steelers game would be wrong. What a bunch of money grubbing hypocrites.

The folks at TIME magazine have compiled a list of the ten worst college team names. Some you have likely heard of, but I assume the Evergreen State College Geoducks and Grays Harbor College Chokers are new to you as well. If the suggestion gets made to name a school's athletic teams for a clam, you'd think someone in power would have enough sense to say no. Since that didn't happen, you get to see the result at the top of this page.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Kentucky will steal ND's idea to deal with the Gillispie era

After last night's NBA lottery, Chad Ford of came out with his official mock draft. He has Nick Calathes as a first round pick at number 23 to Sacramento. I do not believe Ford is correct in that assessment - in fact, based on what I've seen from him over the years the odds are better than average he's not. The reality is that this only further ensures Calathes will not be at UF next season. He's dying for people to tell him what he wants to hear, and Ford just did. If Nick doesn't go first round, don't expect the man who hyped Darko Milicic as the next great big man to acknowledge he blew it again.

John Wall signing with Kentucky wasn't a stunner - the word was that's what his AAU coach wanted him to do - but it was another tough piece of news for UF. Not only could they not get in on him late, but they'll have to face him twice. John Calipari appears to have assembled the most mercenary laden team ever in Lexington before he's ever coached a game. Maybe there's a way to blend all this elite "one and done" talent with an existing roster without creating a chemistry nightmare. Perhaps there's a way to run off three or four kids (depending on what Jodie Meeks decides) from that roster without paying an APR price. We'll all find out together, but Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports already has Kentucky listed as next year's preseason number one. As for Florida, with no Calathes and no apparent candidates to add for the point guard spot next season as of now, they will be incredibly thin in the backcourt. If anything happens to Erving Walker, they'll be dead meat.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated reports that the NFL Network is livid about Jon Gruden taking the Monday Night Football job. It seems they felt they had a deal in place with him to be the analyst for their package of games while working on the network this season. Gee, I am shocked to hear that someone feels Jon Gruden lied to them and just did whatever he felt like doing. Who could have ever guessed such a thing might happen? But hey, he makes faces on the sideline!

Speaking of lying, how pathetic is it that Notre Dame won't acknowledge Charlie Weis's 3-9 2007 season in his bio for their media guide? They call it "accentuating the positive". They only list seasons during his career where the team Weis was coaching for finished with winning records, which means they leave plenty of years out. Anyone reading the guide knows Weis hasn't been very successful lately - why pretend you can hide that?

FSU'S Corey Surrency has officially been turned down by the NCAA in his efforts to appeal for an extra year of eligibility. The fact FSU has been making quick fix signings like him and Joe Tonga just trying to get some talent on offense speaks volumes about how far that program has fallen. They're incredibly thin at receiver, so this news won't go over well. Bobby Bowden will think this is another example of the NCAA having it out for the Seminoles because they won't change their name. Or it could be that they're enforcing the rules. One of the two, for sure.

I haven't been a golfer for two decades, but I wish I could get a chance to do this someday. How cool would it be to hit balls off the 34th floor?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Yanni is stronger than pro wrestlers - who knew?

The Monday Night Football announcer booth revolving door has spun again, with Tony Kornheiser leaving and Jon Gruden stepping in to join Ron Jaworski and Mike Tirico. Kornheiser in the booth never felt right to me. He's excellent on PTI and when he writes, but him trying to be irreverent during an actual game came off as forced more often than not. Whether his leaving is about his fear of playing and the difficulties it presented with the job or something else really doesn't matter. Gruden in the booth will be interesting. The guy can be funny, charming and he certainly knows football. He also pumps out truckloads of BS on a regular basis. If Gruden's candid, he could be really good. If he pulls punches while trying to position himelf for every open coaching job, that'll stink. By doing this for the next two years, Gruden can avoid having to move his family while collecting tons of money from the Bucs owners for doing nothing. Sounds like a good plan to me.

There was more good news yesterday from the broadcast world, as Fox and MLB announced they would begin World Series and ALCS games at 7:57 rather around 8:30. There's no reason for major sporting events to consistently end after midnight. Now the Dodgers and Angels will make it to the World Series and cause MLB to move it back so that their fans have time to get to the games.

As budget issues continue to mount throughout the country, it's interesting to see which places are being affected athletically. FSU has floated the idea of campus wide furloughs of staffers, which would inclde the football coaches. Now LSU could be going down that path as well. The end result of Les Miles and his coaches being furloughed for one week would save the school just over 108 thousand dollars. Maybe the belief by those in power is that the threat of some sort of disruption in Tiger recruiting is the only thing enough to get Louisiana residents to take the financial crisis seriously.

The outstanding Capitals-Penguins NHL playoff series was disrupted early this month by an outside presence: Yanni. Games 4 and 5 were played back to back because the new age musician had a concert scheduled at Pittsburgh's Igloo and Yanni would not be moved. Now it's the WWE's turn to try and hold off intruders, as their Denver show will be dislodged to make room for Game 4 of the Lakers-Nuggets Western Conference finals. Not sure what stunts Vince McMahon has in mind to attract attention to his roided up grapplers, but you can rest assured he'll milk this for all its worth.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Incompetence really bothers me

Normally my blog posts begin with sports, but as someone in the media what I am seeing unfold right now is incredibly irritating to me. It is 12:05 eastern as I type this. There was an earthquake in Los Angeles at 11:40 Sunday night. I know this because I have read about it from multiple people, including Ice-T, on my Twitter feed. Here is what is on the four national "news channels" more than half an hour after the earthquake: Larry King and Elizabeth Edwards on tape on CNN, Jane Velez with more Caylee Anthony talk via tape on HLN, Lockup on MSNBC, and "Red Eye" on Fox. Not one of them even has a bulletin running across the bottom of the screen after an estimated 5.0 earthquake in our second biggest city. Want to know why the traditional broadcast network news model is dying? This is your answer. Both ESPN and Fox Sports Radio are talking about the quake, because they're on top of things. Why should I watch these TV outlets when there's breaking news if this is the crap they're serving up when it happens at an inconvenient time? Ice-T - the most trusted name in news - it really has a ring to it.

A lot of people will assume the TV networks are sad that Boston was throttled by Orlando in game seven last night. Unless you're a Celtics fan, you shouldn't be. The Magic versus Cleveland will be a much more entertaining series than the used up Boston squad would have provided. Once Garnett was lost, any chance of a Celtics repeat was as well. If Orlando doesn't get caught up in their victory and let down mentally, they have a great chance of advancing to the Finals.

My Saturday night was spent in Charlotte at Lowe's Motor Speedway watching Tony Stewart win the NASCAR All-Star Race. NASCAR has always been a sport people have discussed with me the way I do the NHL with someone who's never seen hockey - you've got to see it in person to appreciate it. I came away impressed with what the drivers can do, but it's definitely not my cup of tea. For the first 50 laps, absolutely nothing happened. For the final ten laps, things got pretty wild and it was interesting. Next week's race is 600 miles though, and won't have the million dollar incentive and the lack of point risk that prompted the interesting ending. I can't even remotely imagine sitting through three times as many laps as we saw two nights ago.

I've always been a believer that if you are invited to visit the White House by the president, you should go whether he shares your views or not. Most of the time, that's what happens although there are occasionally folks who just can't cross the political divide. Mark Chmura was far too moral to go there with the Packers when Bill Clinton was in office, for example. Now a member of the Steelers has announced he won't be making the trip, for possibly the weirdest reason ever. Linebacker James Harrison says that since Obama wouldn't have invited Pittsburgh if they lost the Super Bowl, he's not going now that they did. Hey James, if McCain had won would you have wanted to visit Obama at his Senate office? If not, then this reasoning makes you look like a complete idiot.

Periodically a story makes news about someone impersonating a police officer. Sometimes it's for sinister purposes, but often it's just some guy who just wants to indulge his inner Ponch and Jon. Those guys are weird, but this guy takes the cake. How messed up in the head do you have to be to call the real police for backup on your traffic stop when you're a pretend cop?

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's good to be Joakim

Now that the playoffs are over for Chicago, Joakim Noah's got some time on his hands. Unfortunately for him, some paparazzi decided to spy on his vacation in St. Barts and wound up selling the photos of him swimming with a topless girl to TMZ. (Link may not be safe for work, although boobs are semi-censored.) The website makes it seem like Noah's supposed to be in a darkened room crying for a month since his team lost. These guys have a right to a life, and Noah certainly seems to be enjoying his.

The word from ESPN has been that former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville is likely to wind up doing some commentary for them this year while waiting to likely get back into coaching next season. Not sure how the announcement he'll be working for a website called ties in with that. I'm tying to imagine a scenario where someone could have predicted at last year's SEC media days that within nine months Phil Fulmer's main spring activity would be grand marshal of the Mule Day parade, Tuberville would be working for, and Gene Chizik would be an SEC head coach after a two win season. Haven't come up with one yet. What a weird year this has been.

The Wall Street Journal yesterday featured a profile of a Russian who openly admits he's trying to rig professional women's tennis matches so he can win by betting on them. The gist of it for him is that the penalty in Russia for fixing a match is around six grand, so as long as he'll make more than that who cares if he gets caught. It's no shock that guys like this exist, and tennis is the perfect sport for someone to throw a match and not have it be easily provable. It is stunning that he's being so blase about his attempts to rig matches that he's confessing openly to placing bets and approaching players while at the tournament in Charleston this year. If someone doesn't revoke this guy's travel visa and/or arrest him the next time he comes to the USA, something's seriously wrong here.

One day someone's going to explain to me how it helps TV networks to put stars of their shows in the stands at sporting events they clearly have no interest in attending. Check out Craig Sager's insightful conversation with Kyra Sedgwick from TNT's show The Closer during game five of Lakers-Rockets. Did that in any way make you more ikely to want to watch her program? I remember when CBS put Tom Wopat and John Schneider in the stands at the Final Four a decade ago to promote their upcoming Dukes of Hazzard reunion movie. That was a perfect demographic fit - I'll bet it killed in the ratings!

Speaking of movies, the word came down yesterday that Kevin Smith is going to make a new one. The man behind Clerks and Chasing Amy will now team up with Mitch Albom to make a movie based on the Warren Zevon song "Hit Somebody!" Seeing as Zevon is one of my favorite artists ever and I enjoy almost everything Smith's done, I will definitely be checking this out whenever it shows up in theaters. If you've never heard the song, doing so now will be a good way to start your weekend. I will, believe it or not, be covering NASCAR's All-Star race in Charlotte today and tomorrow. See you back here Monday.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Who knew the ACC was run by former AIG executives?

I have no idea why Andrea Adelson of the Orlando Sentinel came out with another article yesterday about Urban Meyer's nearly three week old remarks about former players who criticize the program as media members. I guess she was excited to have talked with noted Florida hater, proven chronic liar and altogether embarassing sports radio host Dan Sileo. I would have suggested trying other Gators turned radio hosts working in the Gainesville market to get their thoughts, but that's just me. For some reason though, this version of the story got huge exposure nationally, including the lead spot on ESPN's College Football Live. It shouldn't have, since it misrepresents the situation while also being ancient "news" at this point. Adelson makes it seem as if any and all issues between Meyer and Shane stem from his post Ole Miss remarks. There's been plenty of other friction there. Matthews was highly critical of Meyer's offense from the time it got to UF, as his repeated "the spread sucks" comments should have made clear to anyone. Shane also was not buddy buddy with Dan Mullen over how to coach QBs. He has a right to both those opinions, and Meyer has a right not to welcome Shane around the program with open arms if he feels doing so will be a detriment to what he wants to accomplish. It was a bad decision by Meyer to comment publically on this when he did so IN APRIL. That doesn't remotely justify how absurdly it was overblown yesterday by ESPN just because Adelson felt like writing a followup piece.

ESPN reports Robert Marve is considering walking on at Tennessee rather than go to Purdue on a scholarship. The former Miami quarterback would have to sit out this year and pay his own way (which his family should be able to afford since his father was an NFL linebacker) before having two years of eligibility beginning in 2010. If you're Florida, I think Marve in Knoxville would be great news for you. Marve's presence would eliminate UT's current best sales pitch to young QBs - come here and you could play right away. It also presumably would end Tennessee's pursuit of former Gator QB and laptop afficianado Cameron Newton. I don't think Newton scares UF, but they'd rather not have him on the sideline helping a division rival. If the transfer happens, Lane Kiffin's future will ride on whether or not Marve (who will have played just one season of football in three years, splitting time as he did so) can effectively execute his offense. Since I don't think Marve's very good, I don't believe he'll be able to do that.

The ACC is deeply concerned about the rising costs of college athletics. They've just wrapped up their three days of spring meetings and plan to take action to reduce spending. For example, they're discontinuing print versions of the ACC media guides - from now on, it'll be on a memory stick instead. Virginia Tech's going to have their players take the bus rather than fly to some games. The place where the ACC was doing all this wringing of hands about costs, by the way? That would be the Amelia Island Ritz-Carlton Hotel. According to their website, the cheapest currently available room for this evening is 329 dollars, but individual non-suite or club level rooms have price levels as high as 449. Gosh, I sure hope that cost cutting thing works out for them.

The folks at Maxim have come out with the latest version of their Hot 100, the supposed one hundred most beautiful women in the world. I would have bet large amounts of money that I would have at least have some idea what number one looked like. I would have lost that bet, as they selected Olivia Wilde from the show House. Since I dont watch House, I had barely even heard of her. After viewing some pictures, this may be the biggest reach since Ron Zook was given the UF job. I shouldn't be too surprised though. A list that asks me to believe Britney Spears is more attractive than Marisa Miller is not a good list. I've noticed that the number of pages in Maxim have shrunk bigtime over the past year - choices like this won't reverse that trend.

Someone should make sure the ACC knows that when you cut costs, you have to be careful in what areas you choose to do so. Otherwise you could wind up like a Pennsylvania school that's being criticized for their prom keepsake item this year. Instead of a picture frame, the high school kids all got shot glasses. While those will likely prove useful for the kids at college, some might say there's a mixed message there.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

You reap what you sow

I have a great idea. Brett Favre and Roger Clemens could team up and schedule surprise news conferences in seperate cities at the same time. Clemens can announce Favre's coming out of retirement to join the Vikings, and Favre admits Roger used steroids. Sure it would be ridiculous, but at least it would blow ESPN's mind. Instead, we got another dose of Clemens ineptly trying to defend himself on Mike and Mike yesterday. As Jeff Pearlman points out, Clemens succeeded in greatly elevating the sales of the book he was hoping to rebut, which was otherwise being ignored since no one likes Clemens and everyone long ago concluded he cheated. As for Favre, there's no way to know just how long poor Rachel Nichols will be stuck hanging out in Hattiesburg waiting for something to happen. the numbers indicate Favre would be better off coming back around week eight. Rachel may have her own private booth at the Hattiesburg Applebee's by then.

Southern Cal courted trouble by bringing in O.J. Mayo, and received almost nothing in return for their investment. They lost in the first round a year after having won a game in the tournament. Now they're reaping the full reward, as Yahoo Sports reveals coach Tim Floyd is alleged to have given more than a thousand dollars in cash personally to the agent's runner who pushed Mayo to USC. The informant has told his story under oath to the US Attorneys office, FBI, IRS as well as the NCAA (and for all we know, the FDA and INXS are next). We learned last month that the Reggie Bush football and Mayo basketball investigations had been combined into one entity. Now we have a head coach apparently paying someone for delivering a player. If this story is legit and the Trojan programs don't go down hard, I don't know how the NCAA can ever have credibility as a governing body again.

Tampa Bay team officials say they knew Kellen Winslow Jr. would be missing the start of Buccaneer offseason workouts. Maybe that's true, although it would have been helpful of them to share that info with the public before Warren Sapp went after him with a verbal flamethrower. I didn't like the move to trade for Winslow, especially considering the price, and him missing time when he could begin blending with his teammates doesn't reassure me much.

Knowing when you're in the right place and should stop looking around might be the toughest thing for anyone to do. Once upon a time, Tyrone Willingham was considered a sharp young coaching mind. After all, the guy had taken Stanford to the Rose Bowl! Willingham's unbelievably dull personality, lackluster recruiting and standoffish attitude with the media wasn't an issue, since expectations weren't super high and only about two reporters actually cover Stanford football. But Willingham moved on to Notre Dame, got canned there and landed in Seattle. After crapping out with an 0-12 season at Washington, Willingham will return to coaching this fall as an assistant. Instead of the NFL or a top college, he's the new special teams coach for San Francisco of the United Football League. From Fighting Irish head coach to minor league special teams coach in five years - should have known Palo Alto was where you belonged, Tyrone.

Some would argue the Yankees should have stayed where they belonged rather than moving to their ultra expensive new stadium. Since they did make the move, the only question now is how much cash the sales of anything that wasn't tied down at the old Yankee Stadium will bring in for the team. The prices have been set for things like seats, but I'll be curious about how much certain items go for at auction. How much would you pay for an official Brian Cashman used filing cabinet?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"It could lodge under the skin and cause a serious infection!"

The single worst thing about MLB's effort to "investigate" the use of performance enhancing drugs in baseball was the person they chose to conduct it. Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell has quite an impressive resume, but one of the items on it said "Director, Boston Red Sox". That should have made it abundantly clear Mitchell was not the right person to select for the job. How many hundreds of former prosecutors or FBI agents with no ties to a team could have been hired to lead that inquiry? Stunningly, Mitchell's "investigation" found zero players who used PEDs while members of the Red Sox. A bunch of Yankee players were users, though. Over the weekend, former Red Sox infielder Lou Merloni described how a doctor came in at a meeting called by the franchise to explain to players how to use steroids effectively but not abuse them. Gee, I wonder how that missed making the report? The "we knew nothing" routine from MLB officials has always been lame, and it gets progressively more so with each little bit of truth like this that leaks out. By the way, the former Sox GM denies Merloni's story. I'm just stunned to hear that.

Sports Illustrated's Peter King has ranked the NFL teams from 1-32 for this season, and he gives the top spot to the New England Patriots. Maybe, but I'd like to see Tom Brady doing something not involving Giselle before I buy in on that. The real stunners for me were him putting the Bears at four - no idea who he thinks Jay Cutler will be throwing the ball to exactly - and Carolina at 18. King criticizes Jake Delhomme for only averaging 206 yards passing per game last season, but ignores that the reason for that is the Panthers have perhaps the best young running back tandem in the league. To me both those teams should be pretty close to each other, likely around 10-12. I wish I could argue Tampa Bay being at 26, but if anything that might be too high.

The Orlando fan whose kid got his hat knocked off by Glen Davis as he ran up the court celebrating his game winning shot Sunday night "demanded" an apology from him and the NBA. Keep in mind that the guy's son wasn't knocked down, as you would anticipate he might if Big Baby made major contact with him. Still, this clown decided to call Davis "a raging animal". How embarassed do the think that kid was to find out his dad had decided to be a jerk about it and make a big public scene? I'm glad neither Davis or the league apologized - no malice was intended and no harm was done.

The Skins Game is going away, officially proclaimed a victim of the economy. When it first started, it was a big deal to see huge names like Jack, Arnie, Lee Trevino and Tom Watson squaring off. The last couple of times I noticed it, the fields weren't even a good leaderboard at the Greater Greensboro Open. If they ever want to bring the Skins Game back and have people care, make the players put up their own money for the event. Then let's see who makes that eight footer with six skins carried over.

It's never a good thing when something in your city makes the Smoking Gun website, but yesterday it was Gainesville's turn. A wannabe rapper decided to pull off a couple of robberies to boost his gangsta image. He even wound up shooting a clerk - with a BB Gun! When your hard core style is modeled on Clark Griswold at Wally World, you know you've got mad street cred. Straight Outta Gainesville, crazy muthafunker named Steven Gilmore!

Monday, May 11, 2009

R.I.P. Chuck Daly

I've always felt sorry for anyone who winds up so hard up for cash that they have to hock their championship ring. While I don't know who, one of the 1996 UF National Champs apparently sold his to Oaks Pawn. Now it's on EBay for over two grand. The thing I've never understood about this process is who exactly purchases them and why. If someone comes over to your house and sees it, do you claim you played? If not then when they ask how you got it, do you really want to say "dude had to pawn it so I swooped in and bought it"? Buying something like a jersey worn in the title game might be cool, but having the ring if you didn't earn it just seems depressing to me.

I think Mark Richt does a pretty solid job of handling discipline when his Georgia players screw up. He generally acts quickly to issue what seem to be appropriate penalties for assorted Bulldog sins. Yet every year, his players fail to learn their lessons well enough to avoid him having to punish them. It's happened again, with UGA losing three players for varying lengths of time as a result. These guys might not be household names, but it's a big deal. UGA will have just six receivers on their depth chart this fall, and will be missing their best DE for half the season. Their schedule is insane, so even the two game suspension means missing a road trip against likely top ten Oklahoma State and a home game with South Carolina. If just a few more of Richt's guys find some trouble, they could be in a world of hurt this year.

We'll see if John Calipari can avoid getting Kentucky entangled in anything seamy while he's in charge of the Wildcat basketball program, but there's no question the guy's a master of persuasion. The latest example is Patrick Patterson's decision to stick around for his junior season. For Patterson to not even bother going to any predraft camps or workouts after having put his name in is remarkable, but he clearly believes what Calipari is selling and (correctly) thinks he'll have just as good a shot at the NBA next year. Meanwhile, Nick Calathes is dying for anyone to tell him he's a first rounder when he's clearly not and will drag out his inevitable exit from UF for several more weeks.

Can someone explain why the BCS needs its own fulltime Congressional lobbyist? The web site Politico revealed Friday that former US Rep. J.C. Watts has made 620 grand over the past five years in that role. There's been the occasional guy making threats, like the recent ridculous House subcommittee hearing with Joe Barton comparing the BCS to communism, but never anything close to a serious bill to overhaul college football's postseason. A fulltime lobbyist was needed to deal with that nonexistent threat? It's unthinkable to even mention paying the players a dime, but perfectly kosher to give Watts around 125 thousand a year? Sorry, that's ridiculous.

I'm a Celtics fan (one of many who's amazed that Big Baby drained that jumper to win last night), so you can imagine what I thought of the Bad Boy era Detroit Pistons. I respected them, but I couldn't stand any of them with two exceptions: Joe Dumars and Chuck Daly. Daly led the Pistons to the top and then coached the one true Olympic Dream Team before a final run in Orlando. It had been known he was seriously ill, but it still made me sad to get the official word of his death over the weekend. Daly was a class guy who did a terrific job of leading the kinds of teams most coaches couldn't handle. I'm glad the NBA paid tribute to him during the playoffs while he was still alive to see it.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Happy anniversary

Manny Ramirez's fifty game suspension for violating MLB's drug policy came as a surprise yesterday, but certainly not a shock. At this point, no one in the sport is above suspicion. Ramirez didn't particularly seem like an obvious steroid user, but his ridiculous explanation for how he wound up taking a female fertility drug makes about as much sense as Rafael Palmeiro's "tainted B-12 shot" or Floyd Landis's "I drank a couple of beers, and I'm just full of testosterone" excuses. The only two players I have any faith in being clean are Ken Griffey Jr. and Chipper Jones. The career arc of their numbers make sense, their physique never changed, and both have never been linked to anything while speaking out against PEDs. Everyone else might be innocent, but there's just no way to know. You might not care - if the guy playing for your team can hit it out of the park, what's the big deal to you if he'll have health problems one day? I can't buy into that way of thinking because no person in America should be forced to endanger their future and possibly break the law to stay employed. That's the position far too many players were put in over the past couple of decades - do you cheat to give yourself the best chance of staying in the game, or do you not and watch your spot get taken by someone who is? When some of this generation's MLB stars start dropping dead in their fifties like pro wrestlers, maybe everyone will understand why this stuff mattered.

How can fans express dismay over the state of MLB? There may be a way that would be satisfying to a lot of people for different reasons. There was already a budding movement to vote Lastings Milledge in as a National League All-Star outfield starter. Sure Milledge is in the minors and has been for several weeks, and he's been an underachieving disappointment throughout his career. That's all the more reason to vote him in! It would make a statement about how awful the Washington franchise is, but also draw extra attention to the fact Ramirez won't be in the outfield because of his transgression. Milledge for All-Star outfield in 09 - vote early and vote often!

I've argued for years that student athletes should have more control of their images than they do. It's ridiculous that Nike can benefit from their logo being prominently plastered on Tim Tebow, but if a sandwich place wants to give him money to say he eats there that would be unacceptable. Having said that, I don't quite understand Sam Keller's suit against the NCAA and EA Sports about the use of player images in the popular NCAA football video game. The former Arizona State and Nebraska QB is clearly right that the players in the game are direct representations of the actual players for their teams even though their names aren't used. My question is how will Keller show damages here? Someone may very well want to play College Football 2010 as Sam Bradford, but no one was saying "I get to be Sam Keller!" when they fired the game up a few years ago. Even if a character on one team out of more than a hundred in the game was modeled on him, what's that worth financially? This would be a much more difficult case for the NCAA to win if Tebow was the one pursuing it.

Tomorrow will be the one year anniversary of this blog. I started it as a way to maintain contact with my Gainesville radio show audience after moving to a new city, but along the way others have begun to read it regularly as well. Deadspin's not in any danger of me passing them in hits anytime soon, but that's not really what I'm trying to achieve here. I'm still hoping to eventually expand to some other things like podcasting and posting photos when I'm on the road, but finding the right combo of available time and resources for that hasn't happened yet. It gives me something to strive for in year two. Thank you for taking a little bit of time out of your day to drop by.

We've seen a little good stuff - mostly Bulls/Celtics - during the NBA playoffs and we've seen some real dreck. The Hawks and Heat played the worst seven game series ever, and if Atlanta versus Cleveland was a fight the Hawks are Ricky Hatton to LeBron's Pacquiao right now. One thing I can promise you that this postseason can not possibly hope to touch is the magic of this Larry Bird/Rick Barry NBA catalog ad from 1987. That is some high caliber acting for your enjoyment - have a great weekend, happy Mother's Day and I'll see you back here Monday.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

For Fletch and Caddyshack alone, you owe it to him to watch

The main topic on my Columbia radio show yesterday was Tennessee signing Daniel Hood to a football scholarship. The young man has a 3.8 high school GPA and a 28 on his ACT. He also was found delinquent as a 13 year old “on the basis that he had committed the adult offenses of kidnapping and aggravated rape”. The 17 year old he aided in the rape of his 14 year old cousin was tried as an adult and received ten years in jail. The full details of the incident in question are online and they're sickening. Yet by all accounts Hood paid the debt society required of him in juvenile facilities over roughly a three year period and then was exemplary in his high school behavior. If our justice system is supposed to rehabilitate people who make mistakes so they can return to society, how would it be fair to refuse Hood the chance to go to college due to a horrible choice he made six years ago? Having said that, I disagree with Tennesee treating him just like any other recruit they signed this year. I think a mandatory redshirt would be appropriate to see how Hood adapts to campus life. Not rewarding him with a scholarship for the first year also would have been a good decision - if he shows he can live up to his responsibilities then he gets that honor. Maybe Hood really has turned his life around. I hope for him that's the case, but this was too egregious an issue not to require some proof he can handle the freedom college offers.

The APR numbers came out yesterday, and for the first time an SEC football program took a hit. Ole Miss loses three scholarships over the next two seasons, which isn't devastating but does reduce their margin for error in recruiting. Here's the full list of programs in trouble. Seems like Auburn might want to reexamine some things in their academic advisement setup for athletes, considering four of their programs face some level of penalty. Your two worst offenders apparently are Centenary basketball and Tennessee-Chattanooga football, neither of which will be eligible for postseason play. Good to know the NCAA's holding the big boys accountable.

Two months ago I noted the governor of Delaware was proposing that his state should offer a form of legal sports betting. Yesterday despite having a 23-15 majority vote yes, the bill failed in the state House. Apparently a three fifths majority was required. Eventually someone besides Nevada is going to have legal sports betting, and as far as I'm concerned every state should. There is no difference between the morality of betting on horses and betting on the NBA. Allowing sports betting on non-parimutuel events to remain illegal helps organized crime and makes gambling profits easy to hide from the IRS. Anyone who want to bet can still do so with a bookie or on the internet pretty easily, so who is this prohibition helping?

With great fanfare yesterday, UF announced that Urban Meyer has joined Twitter. Call me a cynic, but I suspect someone other than Meyer is writing the posts for the account. Very dry "just the facts" twitter postings from coaches almost always fall into that category. The other reason I'm skeptical of Meyer's twitter participation? He's following 20 feeds, one of which is from Fifty Cent. For some reason that doesn't seem like Urban Meyer music to me. At least Meyer has avoided making the mistakes of West Virginia's Bill Stewart. On his twitter feed yesterday, Stewart said...

I will be on ESPN Radio Tampa, Fla., today at 3:10 pm ET. I will be talking WVU Football so all Mountaineer fans in South FL need to tune in.

Yes, all the Mountaineer fans in south Florida probably heard the Tampa ESPN affiliate, AM 1040, really well from 200 plus miles away. Hopefully Stewart knows football better than he does geography.

Joel McHale does a fantastic job of skewering TV programming on E's program The Soup. He's really funny in guest appearances on other programs as well. Chevy Chase was one of the funniest people in movies until roughly the start of the Clinton administration, at which point he apparently was replaced by his evil twin Yugo Chase and his career became painful to watch. It's been announced that the two of them will star in a new show for NBC called Community. I haven't watched a TV comedy with any regularity for at least twenty years, but I'm going to give this one a shot. It almost feels like McHale is Luke Skywalker trying to bring Darth Vader back to the good side of the force. The funny is still within you somewhere, Chevy!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Even Michael Jordan thinks this is ridiculous

Brett Favre continues to embarass himself with his never ending Hamlet routine about playing in the NFL. He's now arranged to meet with Brad Childress to discuss playing for Minnesota this year. Favre's been doing this "will I or won't I play next year" crap for this entire decade. The Packers were silly enough to believe he meant it after 2007 and moved on, and so now Favre is going to try and get revenge on them two years later. His numbers three of the past four years are mediocre at best, including last year's 22 TD, 22 INT performance in New York. Even in 2007,the one year Favre played at a high level, he was the one who cost Green Bay its shot at the Super Bowl with a poorly thrown interception in overtime. This will be unretirement number two for Favre if it happens, and it will give me a team to root against this year if it does. Grow up and go away, Brett.

Georgia is going to pay a school 925 thousand dollars for their football team to come play them in Athens in 2011. It's the highest dollar figure they've ever spent on an opponent. So who merits this kind of largesse - Notre Dame? USC? Ohio State? Try New Mexico State. This kind of craziness is being caused by the NCAA expanding to twelve games even in years where teams have just thirteen weeks to arrange their schedules (unlike 2008, when there were 14). The limited number of teams available to book a nonconference game in any week has caused small programs to begin extorting huge dollars from ADs looking for home games without a return. Indications are the likes of Norfolk State will be getting a million plus for a game in the coming years. The NCAA has to get their act together and either make every year a 14 week schedule to play a dozen games or get rid of the twelfth game altogether. The current setup is just not working.

You may not care much about hockey, but a story from the NHL is worth keeping an eye on in the coming days. The Phoenix Coyotes have apparently filed for bankruptcy. It's part of a larger effort to sell the team to a group wanting to move it to Canada (it had been stolen from Winnipeg in the first place, although it reportedly would go somewhere like Hamilton this time). If the economy continues to struggle with devastating effects on sponsorship dollars as a result, there will be more bankruptcies. Eventually, one will not involve anyone trying to purchase or move the team and the franchise will simply fold. It's been years since that scenario played out for a major sport, but it will almost certainly do so in either the NHL or NBA within the next two to three years.

Not all NHL teams are struggling, and the Boston Bruins have recently unveiled one of the best sports ad campaigns that I've seen in a long time. The theme is "Bruins Hockey Rules", and it illustrates some basic concepts for fans. Why anyone needs it explained to them that you don't tuck in a hockey jersey I have no idea, but I've seen people who actually do it. This one is my personal favorite spot, but they're all good for a chuckle.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Bucs better have had an impressive 7th round pick

If anyone needed a reminder of how quickly player fortunes can turn in the NFL, Pro Football Weekly provides it in reference to Jarvis Moss. According to PFW, Moss was being offered around during last weekend's draft for a seventh round pick but the Broncos found no takers. This is a defensive end Denver liked enough to make the fifteenth pick in the 2007 draft, and no one gave up a seventh rounder?! Moss apparently isn't in the plans of the new Broncos regime, which means he must not have been the kind of DE Josh McDaniels was thinking of when he invented the game of football. As hard up as teams are for pass rushers, someone will give Moss another shot but it's still remarkable to think he could be cut loose just two seasons into his career.

The college basketball recruiting scene went wild yesterday with the word ultra talented point guard John Wall had been arrested for breaking and entering. Wall is looking at UF as well as Kentucky, Duke and a whole bunch of other top programs. I can't imagine any of them will back away from him since this was a non violent offense and is a misdemeanor. It still raises questions about the kid's decision making. How hard is it to stay out of any house you aren't either living in or invited to enter? Maybe Wall's one and done season at the program he chooses will be worth the hassle of recruiting him, but based on O.J. Mayo's USC stay I'm far from sure of that.

The Tennessee football exodus hits double digits, with highly touted wide receiver Ahmad Paige the latest to say so long. He was a kid UF and USC were in on two years ago, and his commitment was supposed to be a huge pickup for the Vols. Paige told a Monroe TV station during his recruitment that a coach had offered him a car, although he never said who it was. His transfer recruiters shouldn't even offer Paige a Hot Wheels car based on what he accomplished in two years in Knoxville. Lane Kiffin and company will have plenty of room for new players, but they might want to start holding onto a few of the old ones at some point. Alabama's Julio Jones, who as a freshman last year was the kind of player Paige was supposed to be, had his third surgery of the offseason last week. Jones will supposedly be ready for fall, but that's a lot of work to have done after just one season of college ball.

Being an unremarkable blend of European ancestry, I have no ethnic holidays for anyone to make a party out of. Today is Cinco de Mayo, the Mexican holiday which has somehow evolved into the May version of "let's all engage in ethnic stereotyping and get hammered!" that St. Patrick's Day has been for quite a while. For some perspective on the holiday, the Los Angeles Times consulted Gustavo Arellano, author of the always interesting Ask A Mexican! syndicated column.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Bring back Joe Robbie

The stadium I grew up going to games in was Tampa Stadium. While that admittedly was not the most creative name in the world, it certainly wasn't embarassing. Unfortunately when the Glazer family bought the Buccaneers, they decided to put their own name on the stadium. And since Malcolm Glazer owned a totally uninspiring restaurant chain, for the last couple of years fans were subjected to the name Houlihan's Stadium. Now Miami fans are apparently about to experience that humiliating feeling for themselves. Say hello to Landshark Stadium! On the other hand, the stadium was named for a bankrupt underwear manufacturer for a number of years, so maybe this won't faze anybody.

As it frequently does, the Kentucky Derby had an amazing outcome. Mine That Bird's final quarter mile looked the way it does in the airport when you're walking on the moving sidewalk and others are walking on the carpet. Fallica's pick to win was second, but that was little solace to him. His thoughts....

"I'm nauseous. Unless you liked the name or play the number 8, the horse was impossible to have. I dont even feel guilty about not backwheeling my top pick, Pioneerof the Nile who was second. Bad day for the sport, another year with a meaningless Belmont and no Triple Crown hopes."

I just thought it was funny the announcer had no idea who the horse was until it basically crossed the finish line. Nice job.

This week the American Football Coaches Association will discuss their "review" of the coaches poll for football. The only discussion should be getting rid of the poll as it exists now altogether. Whether they have a panel of retired coaches vote or just abolish the thing altogether, there is no justifiable reason for having people with financial stakes in the outcome voting in a poll which affects the BCS. If coaches insist on still being involved, they should have to release their ballots publically every week, just like the AP guys do. If coaches don't like that, it only further emphasizes that they have no business voting in the first place.

The day I was at Wrigley Field, the seventh inning stretch singer of "Take Me Out To the Ballgame" was Ron Zook. He was doing it for his third time, and still had to use notecards to remember the words. Not quite the atmosphere Harry Caray singing once created. The train wreck that was the Osbournes singing it had already convinced me it was time to stop the new "tradition" that had replaced the late Caray. The latest person to wreck the song is "actress" Denise Richards, who's every bit as convincing a singer as she was a nuclear weapons expert in one of the Pierce Brosnan James Bond films. Seriously, Cub execs, play a clip of Harry singing from now on and only use a celebrity once in a rare while if they're 1. a true Cub fan and 2. capable of competently singing the song.

One of the things that's always fascinated me about Vegas is that people are considered mega-stars there who the rest of America has never heard of. Perhaps no one more personified what I'm talking about than Danny Gans, who died Friday. He was an impressionist whose name was everywhere in the city. Billboards, the backs of cabs, the airport, the huge marquee at the Mirage, you name it. He was inescapable in Vegas, but if you've never been there this is likely the first you've heard of him. I never saw Gans do his show - George Burns imitiations for 100 bucks just didn't seem all that exciting to me - but the guy was scheduled to earn fifty million over the next three years. Now he's gone, and part of the city's history goes with him. Does anyone grow up wanting to do that kind of act anymore?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Finally, someone takes on the big problems!

With the economy where it is, multiple wars going on, a Supreme Court seat about to open and the great Swine Flu Panic actively being fanned by every TV station in the USA, you'd think Congress has plenty on their plate right now. Apparently not, as the House Committee on Energy and Commerce will be holding a hearing on the BCS today. This is all being initiated by a congressman out of Texas pandering to constituents angered that the Longhorns were left out of the Big 12 and BCS title games last year even though they beat Oklahoma. Many people will talk at the hearing, nothing will change.

Joe Paterno wants another team in the Big Ten. That won't change either this year, but keep an eye on what's going on with the Big East. Sooner or later that league will split up, and Syracuse already tried to jump ship once. I've always believed Missouri would be the best fit for the Big Ten should they expand by adding a team from another conference, but of the Big East schools I could see Rutgers being the desired team. It's the closest thing possible to adding the New York market, a strong academic school, and they're not good enough to radically change the balance of football power in the conference. Notre Dame could change all this by joining the Big Ten, but they've given no indication at all that it's something they're any more willing to look at than they have been.

Mark Titus is an Ohio State walkon basketball player. He writes an amusing blog called Club Trillion, the title referring to all the zeroes next to his name in the box score since he never plays. Recently, Titus decided to end his career with a bang a year early by declaring for the NBA Draft. They said no. That's right, the league that let kids like Taj MacDavid ruin their careers by declaring for the draft straight out of high school when they had zero chance of being selected told Mark Titus he couldn't put his name in. D'Mond Grismore, whoever that is, on the other hand is fine. Apparently they're worried about Titus not taking their draft process seriously and blogging about it, and thank goodness for that because some things like the NBA Draft are simply too important to be trifled with.

One of my regular yearly traditions is having my friend Chris Fallica on to handicap the Triple Crown races. As ESPN's college research guru, he knows more about NCAA football and basketball than any other human on the planet. Fallica loves horse racing, and applies the same research principles to it. Having said that, it's extraordinarily difficult to get a real fix on the Kentucky Derby because there are too many horses out there who have no business being in the race. For whatever it's worth, here are Fallica's picks for those of you who like to have them: #16 Pioneerof the Nile to win, with #6 Friesan Fire and #15 Dunkirk following and #12 General Quarters fourth. Should it be rainy, move Friesan Fire up and look out for # 19 Desert Party. As is my personal tradition, I will pick a horse based on nothing more than liking the name and thus will go with # 5 Hold Me Back. Best of luck to you if you do wind up wagering tomorrow. Have a good weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.