Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Return To Glory?

"In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield. But in the evening of my memory I come back to West Point. Always there echoes and re-echoes: Duty, Honor, Country."
-Gen. Douglas MacArthur

I can think of no other finer words that have ever been spoken on the place, and the ideals for what our nation's service academies stand for. Duty, Honor, Country are words and ideals that are often lost in today's technological and greed driven world. Even in the college football world, I often wonder if they can co-exist with the realities of what the sport has become. A decision, by our Military brass may have just done that, to which these ideals and the modern day realities can co-exist.

Recently the military announced the Alternative Service Option program for athletes from the service academies. Under guidelines of the program, Cadets will be allowed to play sports with their respective professional teams while assigned to recruiting stations for two years as long as they remain under contract. Should they retain professional contracts following two years, they will be offered the option of “buying out” the remaining three years of their active-duty commitment in exchange for six years in the Reserves. What their duties would entail would be that they would act as recruiters while working in the NFL, NHL, etc..

The days of Roger Staubach, Pete Dawkins and Doc Blanchard seem like a distant memory. It was a long time ago, when our service academies truly challenged for the top spots nationally. Yes I know, Navy has had some good teams recently, but what I'm talking about is the chance to possibly be thought of as our nation's elite sports program's again. During my lifetime, I have never seen Army, Navy, or Air Force, truly challenge for the mythical national championship. During my parents childhood, they did, year in and year out.

In the last thirty years or so, it has been rare for the service academies to attract the top athletes. The academies were not able to compete for the services of some of these kids, because most did not want to have to honor their service requirements before playing professional ball. This decision will allow them to do both. This in my mind has been long over due.

This decision will have great effects, not only for the service academy sports programs, but the nation's military as a whole. Imagine, you are thinking about the military and your recruiter is the starting running back for your favorite NFL team. That's a major coup for the military in an era of low enlistment numbers.

In this era in college sports, where recruiting means everything, imagine too, if there is a top athlete who has the academics to make it, at an academy. Hypothetically, the local military recruiter could be that same professional athlete whom I mentioned earlier. That is a major pull for the kids. The service academies, may be able to level the playing field a bit.

Will the academies be able to compete year in and year out? That is the major question. I'm not sure, but at least they are giving themselves the tools to make it possible. That's what the service academies are truly about, making us believe that we can truly do the impossible...


Friday, April 25, 2008

Notre F'n Dame...

I am a Notre Dame hater. I have been a Notre Dame hater since the day Lou Holtz said that the best thing to come out of West Virginia was the bus he left on. Yes, I have hated them since the cheap shot on Major Harris in the 1988 Fiesta Bowl. I have hated them since the catholics vs. the convicts series with Miami. This is all coming from a catholic boy with a wee little bit of Irish blood running through his veins. Maybe I am a wee bit jealous but I am convinced of this simple truth. There is a yin and yang for everything and we all need something to hate. Such is life. Some people hate certain foods. Some people hat certain clothes. Some people hate certain shows. I...hate Notre Dame.

One of my fondest Notre Dame memories happened on a cold night in Beaver Stadium in 1991. The Irish came in as one of the top Teams in the land, coming off a shocking defeat a week earlier against Tennessee. I witnessed one of the great Irish drubbings in history. PSU's Tony Sacca and OJ McDuffie absolutely lit the Irish up in a 35-13 romp. That in some ways was the cathartic moment I needed to rid myself of the painful Mountaineer loss to Notre Dame in 1988. Again, it is the yin and the yang. Now I must somehow try to remain somewhat objective when looking at their place in college athletics today.

I recently read that Notre Dame agreed to a long term series with UConn. The problem with it, is that the deal is somewhat one sided. UConn will not have one home game in the series. Their "home" games will take place, not in Conneticut at their brand new stadium, but one state away in Foxboro, Massachusetts. This deal raised more than a few eyebrows around the country.

To understand this, you have to understand Notre Dame's membership with the Big East. They are a member in every other sport except football. The Big East also has a bowl tie-in with football where Notre Dame can replace a Big East rep in certain bowls when they are actually good enough to make a bowl game. Notre Dame has its own special deal with the BCS where it gets an automatic bid when it is ranked 10th or higher. Not bad for a team that hasn't won a bowl game since I was wearing flannel shirts and Doc Martens. Who says the BCS isn't bogus?

Notre Dame, being the generous member that it is, has agreed to play three Big East teams a year, but it looks like only on their terms. They tried to strong arm a deal with Rutgers, to get the same set up like UConn. Much to RU's credit, they told the Irish to essentially, stick it.

"Rutgers entered into discussions about a possible long-term series with Notre Dame, but at the end of the day both schools could not agree about the site of the games," Rutgers athletic director Bob Mulcahy said in a prepared statement issued by the university. "We feel Rutgers' home games should be played on campus at Rutgers Stadium."

The real reason, the Big East had this deal with Notre Dame; it was the only way the BCS would allow them to have a seat at the table after the defections of Miami, BC and Virginia Tech to the ACC. Fast forward a few years, it appears, in my mind, that this deal is no longer needed. The Big East has won their BCS bowls, the last three years straight, while the ACC has not won one. The old yin and yang rears its head. Some of the highest rated games on TV, have been the Thursday night league games on ESPN and I'm not talking about games out of conference or against the Irish.

I think nobody has given Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese enough credit for negotiating these Thursday night games. They have been a such great help for the league. Some fans are against them for travel reasons, but the effects on the programs for exposure and recruiting have been immense. Now it's time for Tranghese to make his next big gamble and tell Notre Dame to get in or get out. I would prefer the latter, but that's just me. Many of the league's coaches have been calling for a ninth member for scheduling. If the Irish say no, there is plethora of teams willing and able to take their place. At this point, the league is strong enough to stand on its own with or without Notre Dame.

So in the end, Lou Holtz is still a slobbering fool. Rudy still sucks and I will still hate Notre Dame...


Monday, April 21, 2008

It's Football Ray..

Spring has sprung friends. Flowers are blooming. The leaves are returning. The bees are buzzing around the yard. The grass is growing again which means I get to drag my mower and beloved Stihl weed trimmer out of storage. Like the spring time returning, I can always count on that weed trimmer to start. (Author's note, stating this now can only mean that the engine will blow by season's end.) I can always count on the fact, that my favorite sport returns. Yes, it's football season.

A not so long time ago, in a galaxy that looked much like ours, baseball was king. Springtime was meant for baseball. The crack of the bat, the dirt in the infield, and the syringes in the lockers were all apart of the game that we all loved. Many of us still love it, but it is no longer our nation's past time. Football is king. I believe this now more than ever.

The last few weeks, around our nation's college campuses, the multi-million dollar practice facilities were alive with the crack of the pads, the crunch of the tackles and the screams of overpaid, yet underachieving coaches. Over-hyped high school recruits were making their initial visits and some are even making their future intentions known. Many of us, including myself are lapping up each piece of it. It is truly the end of the winter blues.

Last weekend, at the University of Nebraska, had more than 80,000 faithful show up to watch nothing more than a scrimmage. Virginia Tech had more than 30,000. Last year Alabama had 92,000 show up for their spring game. If football isn't king, I would like to see 80,000 show up for batting practice at a baseball game. I remember going to the spring game and it would be a good turn out with a few thousand. The times have changed.

The NHL and NBA playoffs are under way. MLB is in its third week of the season. With all that said, at the top of all the sports headlines this week, is the NFL draft. I ask how many of you have ever seen an MLB draft or have read the scouting report on a Canadian Junior League left winger. I can say on good authority that many of us have looked at tons of NFL mock drafts and hold Mel Kiper's word as the gospel. We all will be watching and waiting to see who our teams pick. What other event allows us to talk smack on potential?

A few years ago before I got married, my wife and I had to go through pre-marriage classes in our church before we were to be married. We were in these classes with several other couples. One of our classes happened to fall on the day of the NFL draft. I set my phone on vibrate to notify me of the picks as they came in. I let some of the other husbands know what I was up to. To keep from being discovered, I would share their favorite teams picks. I was like a kid again in school giving secret messages to the others as the picks came in. I still don't remember what any of the speaker's said that day, but I do know that my Steelers picked Ben Roethlisberger. Somehow, my marriage has survived and Ben has guided my beloved Steelers to a Super Bowl title.

Now I will be working on the script for Field of Dreams 2. This time, a long haired hippy in West Virginia builds a football field where his pot plants used to grow. Players from long ago are again playing the game as we knew them. He is drawn to Canton, Ohio by a voice from the heavens. Why? Because It's Football Ray...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Must be an Election Year...

Paraphrasing the late, great Hunter S. Thompson, the weird are turning pro. If Hunter were still alive, he would be reveling in the times we are living. The winds of change are blowing with a somewhat foul stench. It only happens about every four years, kind of like El Nino, only with a lot more hot air. The stock market is down. Unemployment is up. We are on the verge of the greatest credit crisis since the Great Depression. The price of gas has quadrupled since 2000 and oh yeah, we are at war. Congress has decided to take a look at one of the greatest problems that has plagued our society in the last decade, the BCS.

You may be asking why congress is taking on such a daunting task? The answers are simple and it is simply politics 101. First, find an easy target. Next, make sure it stirs up a lot of emotion. Make sure it grabs headlines nationally. Most importantly, make sure it does not effect our everyday lives. Make a grand spectacle of the investigation and in the end, do nothing about it. Those at the BCS Fortress of Ineptitude, do just that. Steroids in baseball are losing their luster in the media. Senator Arlen Specter's crusade against the NFL's handling of the New England Patriots Spygate scandle has garnered little attention. So now comes something that gets myself and many others riled up. That my friends, is the BCS.

Those of you, who have read my rants and writings on the BCS, know that I am no fan of the BCS. I, like most rational thinking college football fans, can never understand why there is not a real all inclusive playoff system in college football. The excuses from the powers that be, have been ground down to us over and over again. My favorite being the effect on the welfare of the student athlete, yet those kids playing in every other division that have playoffs, somehow do not matter. Another favorite of mine, is how they claim to be all inclusive, yet only about half of the schools have a guaranteed chance to play. In the end, we all know it comes down to money and only a few want to control it.

I, being the political junkie that I am, will enjoy this spectacle. Nothing makes for better fodder than watching some of the politicians acting like fans, while others will be acting like the prosecuting DA on Law and Order. This, my friends, is that civics lesson we slept through in school, coming alive before our very eyes. Who wouldn't want to watch Darth Vader, I mean Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney getting grilled in congress? I will admit he is no Fawn Hall, but him trying to grandstand against people who grandstand for a living, makes for great television. This could get bigger ratings than the Iran-Contra hearings.

So sit back. Pop up open a cold one. Bring your tailgate grill to our nation's capital and watch nothing get done. It must be an election year.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hello World...

Just when you think everything is completely out of whack, life throws a hanging curveball that you take out of the yard. Yesterday I became the father to one of the most beautiul little boys to ever grace this earth. As I was sitting at my wife's head, I screamed, "Thank God!" at the top of my lungs, making the whole operating room jump. In retrospect, it was probably not the smartest decision, with my wife's and newborn's life laying in the balance. No matter what, I had a son.

When he goes under center for the first time for the gold and blue, he will know what to do. He'll know if the free safety starts heading to the line of scrimmage, he would know that the wide reciever would have single coverage and throw it deep. One day he'll tee it up at Amen corner and remember the choked up 7 iron chip off the fringe that Dad taught me and I have passed down to him. When he takes the mound for the Yankees, he'll remember the "junk" pitches his grandfather taught him, because he knows that he can't win on his fastball alone. One day he'll plug his gibson into that amp, as he goes onstage, for the first show in a week long run at the garden. He'll remember the first few chords I taught him years before. One day he'll step in front of that podium and remember the virtues his mother and I instilled in him, as he takes the oath of office.

Or just maybe, he ends being the best person he can be, no matter who or what he becomes. Welcome to the world Devon Patrick....

Friday, April 11, 2008

Note to Self..

Just when my faith in college coaches had reached it's breaking point, something funny happened. Bill Self said no to T. Boone and his millions. Maybe they're are some that do it for more than the money. Maybe they are all not looking for the next payday. Maybe the foundation they have laid is stronger than you think. Maybe there are a few left that still hold to the ideals that we were all taught. Then again, he may have received a better deal...

This decision by Bill Self to stay at Kansas was shocking. Not only did he turn down an unbelievable payday, but more importantly he turned down a chance to go back to his alma mater. That is a strong pull. I know if AD Ed Pastilong at WVU ever called me, I would be on the first flight to Mo'town. By the way Eddie, I know you need a new Sports Information Director...cough, cough, wink, wink.

I guess the promises he made to those kids and their families actually mean something. If by chance, my kid was that 1/2% of kids who are gifted enough to earn a scholarship, I would want to know how committed that coach is to the program. How often do we see coaches jumping from school to school or to the pros? When this happens, the people hurt the most are the players. Forget about what the NCAA says. Most kids are committing to a coach. There are some who do it because they are a fan of the program. Some may be legacies, but for the most part, they are committing to a coach.

When that coach leaves, what are the options for the kids? They can stay with someone they don't know. They can leave and in my mind be punished by having to sit out a year. That is not fair, especially for kids going into their senior years. They did not make the decision for the coach to leave, why should they be punished for it? Yet again the NCAA is doing what it does best, nothing...

In the era of the rent-a-coach, it is refreshing to see a man who actually still lives by the ideals most of us hold important. Thanks for giving me a little faith Coach. One question, what the hell does the "Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk!" cheer mean anyway??????


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

For the Glory...

If the truth be told, I have been a life long Penn State fan. Yes I love my Mountaineers, but PSU will always have a special place in my heart. Yes I am a polygamist of college football fandom. I love two teams, well maybe the Gold and Blue a little more, but not by much. My father was a PSU alum and made me what I am today. I still remember going to games at Beaver Stadium with my dad. We would wake up at some ungodly time in the morning and make the five hour trek from our home in West Virginia for games. I dreamed of playing middle linebacker for Joe Pa, but speed, height and general lack of athletic ability quickly dashed this dream. So it was off to WVU for me and as they say, the rest is history.

372–125–3, 4 Undefeated Seasons, 2 National Titles, 2 Big Ten Titles, 1 Heisman Trophy Winner and an ice cream flavor named after him; these are the career records of one, Joseph Vincent Paterno, head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions. The records speak for themselves. His impact on the game is undeniable and the respect Paterno, has earned is unmatched. Now comes the hardest decision in all of Joe's long career. Many are asking, if the time has come, to hang up the black cleats? I decided to take a look at the last ten years of Joe's long career. Here is what I found.

Year Overall Big 10 League Bowl
1997 Penn State 9–3 6–2 T–2nd L 6–21 Citrus
1998 Penn State 9–3 5–3 5th W 26–14 Outback
1999 Penn State 10–3 5–3 T–4th W 24–0 Alamo
2000 Penn State 5–7 4–4 T–6th
2001 Penn State 5–6 4–4 T–4th
2002 Penn State 9–4 5–3 4th L 9–13 Capital One
2003 Penn State 3–9 1–7 T–9th
2004 Penn State 4–7 2–6 9th
2005 Penn State 11–1 7–1 T–1st W 26–23 Orange
2006 Penn State 9–4 5–3 T–4th W 20–10 Outback
2007 Penn State 9–4 4–4 T–5th W 24-17 Alamo

The numbers weren't great, but they weren't as bad as many have stated. The rules have changed. During Penn State's great years of the 1970's and 1980's there were no scholarship limits. In a talent rich state like Pennsylvania, Joe was able to bring in pretty much whomever he wanted. Now a school can only have 85 kids on scholarship. A former Don Nehlen assistant at WVU stated that in the early eighties whenever they went head to head with Penn State on a recruit, they lost. The kid would always pick PSU. The record from 1977 to 1987 bears this out.

1977 Penn State 11–1–0 W 42–30 Fiesta
1978 Penn State 11–1–0 L 7–14 Sugar
1979 Penn State 8–4–0 W 9–6 Liberty
1980 Penn State 10–2–0 W 31–19 Fiesta
1981 Penn State 10–2–0 W 26–10 Fiesta
1982 Penn State 11–1–0 W 27–23 Sugar*
1983 Penn State 8–4–1 W 13–10 Aloha
1984 Penn State 6–5–0
1985 Penn State 11–1–0 L 10–25 Orange
1986 Penn State 12–0–0 W 14–10 Fiesta*
1987 Penn State 8–4–0 L 10–35 Citrus
*Denotes National Title

As well the talent rich area of Western Pennsylvania is not what it once was. Factories have shut down. People have moved to the sunshine states and other places. The talent pool is not what it once was. The demographics have changed, but Paterno has not.

This is my cause for concern, with the change in rules and now technology, the times have changed. I'm fearful that this is Joe's Waterloo. In an article recently, it was stated that Joe only made one recruiting trip last year. I doubt he has spent any time on the recruiting websites that seem to be everywhere. The days of living by your name as a program are numbered. You need to be out there. I'm not sure if Joe can do that anymore. It was also brought up that he works from home more. Have you ever noticed that Joe does not wear a headset on the sidelines? So it seems that Joe may be the figurehead now. That is fine as long as you have competent coaches underneath you. Joe has that.

Where do we go from here? I'm not ready to ask Joe to step aside. He has earned the right to go out how he wants. I think for the good of the program, however, a succession plan needs to be put in place. It has worked at Wisconsin. Purdue and Kentucky just recently did the same. Recruiting is a dirty game and recruiters will use the uncertainty at Penn State to their advantage. All I'm asking is that Joe does the right thing like he always has for the glory of old state...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Phil Knight is Watching You....

As I was saying about the growing influence of donors in Division One...


Monday, April 7, 2008

The Voice

In an era where stadium names change with the stock market, an idea has sprung up on the internet that is long overdue. An online petition has been started to name the press box at Mountaineer Field at West Virginia University after Jack Fleming, former long time announcer for West Virginia and the Pittsburgh Steelers. For those of us that grew up listening to Jack, I could think of no better way to honor "The Voice". Growing up in West Virgnia, there were certain things you could always count on; Friday night high school football, pepperoni rolls, skipping school the first day of deer season and Jack Fleming. This is what we knew. This is how we lived.

In 2001, when I heard that Jack had passed away, I felt I had lost something. I felt that I had lost a part of my childhood. I remember cutting wood with my father somewhere out in the middle of nowhere in the woods. My dad to this day calls it, "firewood aerobics". I, however, knew it at as some form of cruel and unusual punishment. It could be why, he is one of the healthiest people I know. Anyway, we had this big old brown Chevy truck, that had various dents from firewood misthrows and mishaps. Just like Jack, though, the truck was something you could always count on. We would roll down the windows and put Jack and his infamous sidekicks on the radio. There was Woody O'hara for the WVU games and Myron Cope for the Steeler games. Both of their color announcing styles were always in stark contrast to Jack's straight play by play call. Somehow they worked perfectly together. Woody would always be on the guys in the stripes, while Myron couldn't have been a more of a "homer" announcer. In 1997, Jack was asked to cut back on play by play duties and my dad sold the truck.

Now the time has come for us to honor the man that meant so much to so many. Instead of naming the press box after some alumni who can give a large donation, it's time we name it after a man who gave so much. No amount of money could ever amount to what Jack meant to, not only West Virginians, but football fans as a whole.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Don't Trust Anyone over 40

Back in the sixties, they used to say don't trust anyone over thirty. Well since I am now entering my soon to be thirty third year on this planet, I have decided to change the rules a bit. Thirty is the new twenty, right? At least that's what my wife's Glamour magazine in the bathroom reading section is telling me. Before anyone says anything, most of you would read the label on toothpaste, if given the chance while sitting on the throne. Beggars can't be choosers.

I was listening to one of the sports' radio show talking heads yesterday. They were talking about soccer in America, or as the rest of the metric thinking world calls it, football. They were going on and on about how soccer will never take off in this country. They were talking about how it is a boring game where few points are scored. They said that it would never be on par with the big time pro sports over here. These arguments have been rehashed and drowned down to us for years, by those who aren't paying attention and usually by someone over the age of forty. You can guess that this talking head was born before 1968. The same arguments can be made about baseball, hockey, and hell even Nascar.

I grew up in a small town in Appalachia which is about as far removed from the mainstream of soccer fandom as you can get. My love for the game was brought to me by a Colombian exchange student named Dario Delgado who has became one of my dearest friends over the years since. We had no soccer in our town. It was nothing but the traditional American sports we all played, like football, basketball and baseball. Soccer wasn't even a thought in our minds. One day I saw Dario walking down the hallway. He was kicking a soccer ball in the air as he was walking and not letting hit the ground. It was an amazing trick. I walked over towards him. He kicked the ball to me and I sent it right back. He sent it back to me and I to him. It came almost naturally to me. This went on for a few minutes. We didn't notice, that a crowd of my friends had gathered around us watching us do this. A teacher came up and stopped us and said that we needed to take it outside. Something happened. I was hooked. All that year, whether it be at lunch, before school, or after school, we played soccer or some sort of game involving a soccer ball. Dario could barely speak English and I could barely speak Spanish, but we both spoke the game of soccer. By the end of that year, we both could speak each other's language making us both bilingual.

As time went on, more kids joined us. We soon would have enough for pick up games. We used anything we could for goals. It was never really organized. I don't remember who won or lost. I don't remember who had the most goals. All I remember is just playing. It was pure, just kids playing a game. For the next few years, we tried to get a team started. The football coach blocked us because he thought he would lose too many players. He was over forty. We talked to the head of the park system about a rec team. He said they didn't see a need for it. He was over forty too. So it was pickup games for us. When I went to college, I played intramurals both outdoor and indoor. Through it all, I never lost touch with my friend in Colombia.

During this time, a funny thing happened. America had the world cup. Soccer had begun to take hold. My town that had no interest in a rec league, soon had one. The high school had a team. The sport had begun to take off. I talked to a friend of mine a while ago back in my hometown. She said that the soccer program was by far the most popular sport for the kids. They now have as many kids in the soccer program as they do in all the other programs combined. This is just not in Appalachia, this is everywhere. In the US, soccer is by far the number one sport played by our youth.

From that World Cup in 1994, a new sustainable professional soccer league has begun to take hold. The MLS has learned its lessons from the NFL. It is by no coincidence either. One of the founders behind the league was the late great Lamar Hunt. Lamar was the owner of the Kansas City Chiefs. He helped build the AFL that eventually led to the merger of the NFL. There was a salary cap, so they didn't repeat the mistakes of before by having one or two teams with all the talent. They started small and have grown every year since in both ratings and attendance. The latest gigantic leap, being the Beckham Rule, which basically means a team can have one "designated" player who's salary does not count against the cap. This is why David Beckham is now in LA.

Is MLS the best league in the world? No, but it is growing. Proof of this, is that by 2010, almost every team will have it's own soccer specific stadium. Not bad for a league that just started in 1994. The NFL has been around since the 1920's. The MLB has been around since the turn of the century. The NHL has been around since the days of Prohibition and the NBA has been around since World War II. It is very short sighted to bash a league that has been around since the 1990's.

It seems to me, the people who are bashing it, never played the sport and never had the chance to. It shows their age and I dare say ignorance. I ask, how many people remember soccer leagues growing up? I had none. There were few if any and mostly in the big cities. Now it is the number one sport played by our kids today. Our Men's national team is in the top ten in the world. The junior team made it the quarters of the junior world cup. Some of our best players are playing in some of the top professional leagues in the world. It seems the rest of the world seems to think we are a growing power. It's a shame that some of us here can't see it. As the cliche goes, sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees. Don't trust anyone over forty...


P.S. Let's go Chelsea. Go Blues....

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Arms Race Continues...

A few short years ago, I wrote a column on burghsportsguys.com about the increasing arms race in college athletics. Then it was the football facility building boom that is still going on today. Now it has leapfrogged into other sports including men's basketball, women's basketball and some "olympic" sports. Olympic, meaning they bring in no money. It has fueled the hirings and firings of mercenary coaches all across this land. The latest hiring of Tom Crean at Indiana, the firing of Sean Sutton at Oklahoma State and the tumultous coaching changes this off season in football, has me wondering if we have reached the tipping point.

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Indiana for all it's glory has not been the same since one Myles Brand was the president of the school. He's the guy that fired Bobby Knight. He got rewarded for such a move, by than being named the president of the NCAA. Only in America, can you screw up that bad and get rewarded for it. The Hoosiers have never been the same since. Mike Davis was ran out of town, well, because he wasn't Bobby Knight. Calvin Sampson was hired and fired because he just couldn't put down the phone. My wife has the same problem.

Indiana now has turned to Marquette's Tom Crean to lead the Hoosiers back to the promised land. Let me get this out of the way. I think it was a great hire by Indiana. My problem is with this mercenary way that big time college coaches view their jobs. You see, Marquette had rewarded Coach Crean with a new, very large contract just last July. It made him one of the highest paid coaches in all of college basketball at around $ 1.65 Million per year. I understand looking around for a better job, if you're unhappy. Don't sign a contract that you will bail on, only eight months later. These schools make significant investments into the programs. The largest expense is no longer the up keep of facilities, it is quite often the coach's salary, especially at a place like Marquette. There is no more loyalty. I wish Tom and his wife Joani (the sister of one, Jim Harbaugh) all the luck in the world. I just would never trust to send my kid to a guy looking for a bigger and better opportunity. Somewhere up there Coach Al is shaking his head in disbelief.

Yesterday, as well, Sean Sutton was fired...cough, cough, uh..I mean resigned from Oklahoma State. To understand this, you have to meet a man named T. Boone Pickens. Well, he is a very wealthy man who loves his alma mater very much. So much so, that he gave them the single largest donation to any university's athletic program to the tune of something like $ 265 Million. Now that, my friends is a lot of dough. They are building some of the finest facilities in the nation. Yet again the arms race continues.

Unlike most, I too think it was a good move to rid themselves of Sutton, even if it was a little early. I knew it was over for him when he said that he would begin to talk to other coaches about how they run their programs. Maybe you should have done that from the start, Coach. My problem with this, is that it was not done by the AD or the school's president, even if a press release says it was their call. Make no mistake about it, T. Boone made the call. He wants nothing but the best for his school, and will make a run at a big named coach, most notably OSU alumnus and current Kansas Head Coach, Bill Self.

Nothing good happens when the boosters take complete control of an athletic department. It is like we are forgetting the past. I guess nobody learned from what happened at Auburn in the early nineties, Alabama just a few years back, and practically the whole South West Conference in the late seventies and eighties. It is happening because of this arms race, because of the money being thrown around. To keep up with the Jones' the big time schools are letting the boosters have more and more say on how the sports programs are ran. It is not just Oklahoma State, it is everywhere in Division one and most notably, the BCS schools. We have reached a point that there needs to be some reigning in. The problem is nothing will happen, because there is too much money involved. The good thing, it gives me something to rant about on this blog.