Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's about time

Florida basketball's win over Tennessee was nice, but not shocking. The Gators should have won the first one, and Tennessee has struggled on the road this season. During the broadcast ESPN's Jimmy Dykes says he feels the Gators are now in the tournament. I disagree with that assessment. If the season ended today, Florida would definitely make the field. To me though, the only way you're safely in is if you could lose the rest of your games and still be ensured of a tournament bid. If Florida finishes with losses in their final three SEC games and then in the first round of the SEC tourney, they don't make it in. Georgia beat UF in Athens last year, and they've been very good at home this season with just three losses. It's a game the Gators should win, but it's certainly one they can lose. Failing against the Bulldogs would put them right back in jeopardy.

Michigan football's facing five major NCAA violations, virtually all of which involve direct and obvious misconduct on the part of football staff members. It's not an obscure section of the rulebook that says you can't practice but a certain number of hours at a time, or that only official members of the coaching staff and not "office hires" can be involved in on field coaching activities. The hearing on these allegations will be in August, which means the ruling should come out right around the time the Wolverines start conference play. If the charges are confirmed, this has to cost Rich Rodriguez his job unless Michigan is amazingly improved this year. Beyond that, if the NCAA puts a bowl ban penalty on UM it had better be for the 2011 season. It will be a joke if Michigan's current kids are punished but the school isn't harmed by having to tell prospective recruits they'll have to miss a bowl game.

Ron Zook still has a job as Illinois football coach for one reason and only one: it was too expensive to fire him right now and then hire a new coach. Zook's had four losing seasons in five years, and just went 3-9 with a team most observers expected to be a bowl team when the year began. The Illini just signed what recruiting gurus claim was the worst class in the Big Ten, because even the kids have figured out Zook is not a good head coach. So who's to blame for all this? You guessed it - the noise in the system...

‘‘Sometimes I think as a university and as a group of fans, we shoot ourselves in the foot. The negative recruiting, it all stems from us, from our own people. Rather than getting behind the program, they want to start lambasting it.

‘‘The negative recruiting was the worst I’ve ever seen it this year. But a lot of that is our own people."

Right, Ron. It's not that folks have realized you managed to avoid winning more than seven games in any of your three seasons at a school that otherwise has been a perpetual top program for two decades. It's not that your supposed elite recruits keep failing miserably. It's not that you are constantly outcoached and made scapegoats of both of your coordinators. It's the fans not believing enough - you bet.

ESPN has suspended Tony Kornheiser from PTI for two weeks as a result of comments he made about the appearance of Sportscenter anchor Hannah Storm. Kornheiser went off on her outfit, saying among other things that "she looks like she has sausage casing wrapping around her upper body". Storm's outfit was youthful, but hardly trampy. Women in sports television have an extremely difficult task striking the balance between positively emphasizing their attractiveness but not coming off unprofessionally. Kornheiser, who gets great comedic mileage out of his own lack of looks, isn't particularly well suited to understand that. It was amusing yesterday to watch as this story spread all over the net for eight hours before ESPN finally acknowledged it on their website at 6:15. Think this kind of remark leading to a suspension for anyone else's air personality would have been ignored on the Worldwide Leader's outlets all day?

A great political movement is underway on the Oxford campus of Ole Miss. Students voted yesterday to create a new mascot as the replacement for the deposed Colonel Reb. That in and of itself isn't what's so terrific though - that would be the movement to replace the plantation owner with Admiral Ackbar of Star Wars fame. Before every game, they could play the legendary "It's a trap!" clip. Hopefully next season we will see a seven foot tall squid wearing Colonel Reb's hat on SEC sidelines.

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