Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bam - Week Sixteen's Poll Becomes Irrelevant

No sooner had Week 16's Blogger Poll been posted and it become irrelevant with Tennessee's loss last night to Vanderbilt. That must be the shortest reign at Number 1 in hoops history -- less than 24 hours.

The race to a National Championship remains wide open with at least 8 teams that have a legitimate shot at winning it. I believe those ten are (in my order of probability):

North Carolina
UCLA
Duke
Memphis
Georgetown
Texas
Kansas
Tennessee

Yes you are correct, I do not believe there is a Big Ten team with a legitimate shot of winning it all. And while there are a lot of good teams in the Big East, only Georgetown looks capable of stringing together 6 wins (and that may be a stretch).

Friday, February 22, 2008

So Who is the Anonymous Donor?

In the breaking story on ESPN about the Indiana/Sampson settlement, the story cites an anonymous donor that contributed $550,000 of the $750,000 settlement to induce Sampson to go away quietly and waive any potential litigation.

Could the donor be Mark Cuban, internet billionaire, Dallas Mavericks owner and fanatical IU alum. If you don't know the Cuban story, he and a friend originally started broadcast.com (the source of his billions when sold to Yahoo) to watch IU basketball games through the web.

If indeed it was Cuban, I imagine the conversation went something like this:

MC: Hi Rick (Greenspan, IU AD) Cuban here, so are we going to put this whole nastiness behind us today?

RG: Well not exactly. We plan to suspend Coach Sampson until the end of the season and let the investigation play out so we don't get sued. Remember how much money Ohio State had to pay to Jim O'Brien after they fired him? We can't afford to pay out millions to a former coach.

MC: Well this is embarrassing for IU and all of the alums. We need to put this behind us now! Won't he take a settlement?

RG: Umm I am not sure.

MC: Well did you ask him? Have you tried to get him to resign with a settlement and waiver?

RG: No not yet.

MC: What have you guys been doing for the past week? I mean you already did your investigation months ago, what has been taking so long to make a decision?

RG: We have been trying to figure out ways to avoid litigation. Do you remember how much Ohio state had to pay to O'Brien for wrongful termination.

MC: Okay, then negotiate a settlement with a waiver of litigation.

RG: Yeah but we really can't afford that. Do you know how much it is costing us in legal fees to investigate and defend against the NCAA allegations. We are going to have to shell out millions.

MC: Well we need to get rid of this guy quick or we won't be able to recruit and this will hang over the team during the tournament. Find out how much he wants and I will chip in to get rid of him!

RG: Wow, you truly are the greatest alum.

MC: Thanks Rick. But there is one condition -- I get to approve the next guy you boneheads plan to put in the chair.

RG: Uh I guess we can do that Mark. Thanks.

And the Plot Thickens...

I remember also being an impetuous, headstrong college student and some of the grave errors in judgement that it led to.

CBSSports.com is reporting news out of Indiana this morning that the players, when informed of Sampson's firing, said that "if coach goes they won't play". Talk about stupid immature behavior. I understand loyalty, but he broke the rules. The University feels it needs to make this move to lessen penalties with the NCAA and they players are only penalizing themselves by not playing.

Well now the IU administration should really think about taking their post-season ban this year if the players won't play anyway. Since it is highly likely that there will be at least one year of post-season ban associated with these violations, the administration will have to consider this option closely.

Thank god I have grown up and matured and no longer make stupid, impulsive decisions.

[edit 12:30PM] But theres more...

This morning the IU board at Scout.com (paid link so only subscribers can view) is reporting that what the players actually said was that they would only play if second-year assistant McCallum is made the interim coach over Dan Dakich. Hmmm what does that say about Mr. Dakich and his coaching style. Interesting indeed.

At any rate, we will find out much more later today as the Hoosiers have called a press conference for 2PM central.

[edit 3:45PM] Talk on the HoosierNation.com board is that there are only 7 kids in the practice that Dakich is running today. Some of those absent include DJ White, Armon Bassett, JaMarcus Ellis and Jordan Crawford. Wow this is turning into a train wreck.

I can only imagine how angry the IU alums must be. They have a great tradition that has not needed to rely on cheating, now in addition to the Sampson episode they have a group of belligerent players trying to hold the university hostage. Lets see some people protest the war in Iraq, others protest the brutalities in Dufar, but these children decide to protest the firing of a coach who cheated (for the second time) and lied about it to the NCAA and IU! Just unreal - childish doesn't even do this behavior justice.

I feel bad for the IU alumni -- it is clear from the Boards that the general tone is one of utter embarrassment.

More live coverage of the unfolding drama can be found at the Cobra Brigade.

[edit 5:10] Here are the players that are in practice according to chatters on the Scout.com IU board (keep in mind that posts on chat boards are about as reliable as a Britney Spears clean drug test).

Adam Ahlfeld
Brett Finkelmeier
Eric Gordon
Lance Stemler
Kyle Taber
Mike White
oh and the team managers (supposedly)

If this becomes the lineup for the Northwestern game, I am placing the over/under for Gordon's total point at 50!!

[edit 11:30AM sat. 2-23]
Looks like someone talked sense into the "protesting" players and the entire team got onto the plane to Evanston this morning, see story from Herald Times.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hoosier and Sampson Divorce Likely

The wheels are coming off the bus in Bloomington. The NCAA released its notice of allegations to Indiana University last week and that report was released to the public today.

In the report, it is alleged that IU coaches including Sampson made over 100 telephone violations involving multiple recruits and misled IU about the nature of the calls and violations.

Now IU finds itself in the unenviable task of responding to 14 pages of infractions and information requests. This from a program that prided itself on "being clean" and had not been penalized for a recruiting infraction since 1960.

Sanctions are sure to follow - not this year since the process will play out through June or July, but next year and beyond. It is likely that Sampson's will be fired at the end of the year (if not sooner) and he may never resurface in Division I basketball.

The alums must surely be asking themselves, "what have we done". A fine tradition has been shredded and it will take years to regain it's reputation. In the meantime they have a decent team, but one that has enough holes that it is not likely to make a deep run in the tournament this year. The current team relies far too heavily on two players, senior DJ White and freshman Eric Gordon, and IU has struggled when each or both of these players play poorly.

In addition to Sampson's recruiting issues, his discipline also appears to be lacking. One player, senior AJ Ratliffe, has left the team as a result of personal issues, that may or may not be related to academic or disciplinary matters (he sat out the first semester due to academics). Additionally, several players were disciplined after a trip to Chicago because of undisclosed rules violations.

It all smells of a program that is out of control. Alumni are enraged and one would expect the administration to make a move to oust Sampson, and possible Athletic Director, Rick Greenspan.

I can't help but think back to the irony of a quote by Bob Knight several years ago. Bob Knight was Indiana's legendary coach that won 3 National Championships before he was driven out by the schools Administration and alumni. While Knight had a volatile personality and used poor judgement during several outbursts, Coach Knight was known throughout basketball to run a squeeky clean program with very high graduation rates.

Several years ago after meeting of the Ethics Committee of the National Associaton of Basketball Coaches, chaired by then-Oklahoma University coach Kelvin Sampson, Coach Knight said "I would rather listen to Saddam Hussein speak about human rights, than some of these guys talk about ethics". A couple years later Sampson left the OU program in a shambles, after Sampson's staff was found to "consciously ignore certain recruiting rules" by the NCAA, to take the job at Indiana.

Unfortunately, what goes around comes around Hoosier fans. If you knowingly hire a cheater, please don't insult our intelligence with "fake shock" after it is revealed that he has cheated again.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Favorite Super Bowl Ad - ETrade's Baby with Clown



Congrats E-Trade, you blew away the competition this year. Probably the funniest ad in 10 years!!