Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ghosts resurface in Gainesville and Tampa

The "24 arrests at UF" mantra continues on as one of the official summer talking points of college football. In the latest version, Mike Bianchi gets Ron Zook to react to the school pointing out a number of the arrested guys weren't recruited by the present regime. Bianchi acts like it's out of bounds for UF to mention Zook in relation to anything that happened after he left. Sorry, no. Zook's approach to discipline was simple - he didn't believe in doing anything which would inconvenience his chances of winning. His guys pretty much could do whatever the hell they wanted and know there'd be no loss of playing time. Remember what Jarvis Herring told the New York Times before Meyer's first season about how the players summer workouts consisted of drinking all afternoon? Meyer had to change that culture, and it was a shocker to him just how ingrained it was. Is it fair to hold the former coach accountable for arrests three years later? Of course not. But the stuff that happened in year one and even into year two absolutely has some Zook DNA as well.

I was glad to see Keenan McCardell was in Tampa this week. It was a shame that his career with the Bucs ended on such a bad note. McCardell is a prideful guy, and he was another in the long list of players who felt Jon Gruden lied to his face. I disagreed with his holdout, but when a guy feels he's been treated dishonestly sometimes principle tops good judgement. Having covered Keenan in both Jacksonville and Tampa, I do think he's the kind of guy who could make a good coach. Hopefully Raheem Morris can find a way to get him involved.

Two stories that aren't directly connected got my attention yesterday. Michelle Wie failed to qualify for the Women's US Open. She's 19 - it's the first time she's failed to make the tourney since she was 13. Meanwhile the Danica Patrick to NASCAR stuff continues to bubble up. The most common criticism of Wie, who did show great talent at an early age, was that she needed to prove she was a winner at her level before she worried about the next one. Instead, her handlers trotted her out to lose to men over and over while a whole crop of other young women blew right past her on the LPGA tour. Patrick has one win ever, and has been far from dominant in open wheel racing. Look at the struggles of vastly more established talents like Dario Franchitti when they tried NASCAR, and then tell me she's ready. It's a simple question for Patrick - does she want to make her money as a popular novelty act for a couple of years, or does she really want to be a successful driver? If it's the second option, she should stick with Indy Car.

I love the idea Mark Schlabach discusses in this piece - what would it be like if college football had its equivalent to the ACC-Big Ten challenge in basketball. As the stories of million dollar demands for teams to come play one game without a return trip pile up, I wonder if one day conferences will look at doing something like this as a way to save money. I am puzzled by the record Schlabach coes up with in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge he creates - he predicts a 6-6 split. Considering the SEC's bowl performance against out of conference teams compared to the Big 12's, I'm not sold on that. I'd put it at SEC 6, Big 12 2, and four tossups.

Artie Lange will never be allowed on HBO Sports again after he took over Joe Buck Live Monday night. I'm sure he's broken hearted. HBO had Lange on their network last year for a program they refused to run before 10 PM because of the nature of the content, yet they're "shocked" he would behave like this. Sure they are. It's all an effort to get publicity for the show while taking away from the fact Buck was horrible as a host.

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