Just as the college basketball season gets to the stage where teams are jockeying for seeding in conference tournaments or trying to repair their
records in order to be strong candidates for selection into March Madness, the stories related to college basketball all seem to focus on coaches.
Why? At this point of the season, is there a real need for a 'coaching story' to pop its head above the threshold of recognition? I don't think
Quin Snyder resigned at Missouri. He had done well in previous seasons but the wheels came off this year and he didn't seem to have any solution to
that problem. It was pretty clear that the odds were against him coming back next year. Then he resigned. I would certainly have been satisfied
with that knowledge until after the NCAA tournament but the story grew. Snyder says that the AD at Missouri, Mike Alden, sent a university official
as an emissary to him with the message that the administration had already decided to fire Snyder at the end of the season. OK, I don't find that to
be so horrendous a situation that it needs the full 'Woodward and Bernstein treatment'. Then the university president said that he - as the head of
'the administration' had never been consulted about this matter prior to the purported conversation. The president said he would launch an internal
investigation. And that story is off and running; but in the end, Quin Snyder has still resigned and the Missouri basketball team isn't playing
In Indiana, Mike Davis is not a hugely popular coach. He is the guy who replaced Bob Knight several years ago when Dr. Myles Brand - then president
of IU - forced Knight out of the job. Succeeding Knight at Indiana was almost as difficult as succeeding John Wooden at UCLA. The Hoosiers went to
the Final Four in Davis' first season but have declined since then. And in a conference call last week, Davis said that Indiana needs a coach who
also played at IU so that the fans can embrace that coach. He should have added, 'Release the hounds!' Then Davis came down with the flu and missed
a game; that put everyone on full alert. It has gotten so bad that reporters in Columbus Ohio asked Ohio State coach Thad Matta if Matta would be
interested in the IU job since it seems clear that Davis will not be there next year. Matta declined to answer saying that IU has a coach and he
thinks Davis is a good coach. What else would you expect him to say? And this became a story.
A third coaching story is also tangentially related to Mike Davis. Bob Knight was on Cold Pizza for an interview to hype his ESPN 'reality show' this
weekend. After a congenial interview, the interviewer asked him a question about Indiana and Mike Price. Knight said he did not want to talk about
Indiana and would not. The interviewer pressed on to rephrase the question and Knight removed the earpiece and refused to continue playing the
'I-don't-want-to-talk-about-that' game. The only real story here is that he left the set without any expletives and didn't require ESPN to hit the
Then there is the story of Eddie Sutton who was in a car accident last week and was cited for DUI. Sutton has had alcohol problems in the past and he
has been taking pain medication for a back problem. It was not immediately clear what the problem was at the time of the accident. Now, the story is
that Sutton will take a medical leave of absence because he had consumed alcohol before the crash and that he will enter rehab for alcohol abuse.
He's been there before - about 20 years ago. If he comes back to coach next year, I hope there are not a tsunami of stories about his condition. We
know it's there; we know it's a problem he will deal with for the rest of his life; we know it can kill him - or it could kill others if he drives
under the influence again. Unless someone comes up with really new info here, can we please let this go?
The last of the college coaching stories is actually news. So, in this goofy time warp, it seems to be getting the least coverage. Jim O'Brien was
the coach at Ohio State and was fired a couple of years ago when the school learned that he had loaned $6000 to a recruit - who never came to Ohio
State. A judge in Ohio ruled that the school did not have sufficient grounds to fire him; at the moment, the school owes O'Brien something near $10M.
A significant part of the Ohio State defense in the case was that O'Brien had violated the NCAA rules - still to be determined as to how severely
since the NCAA has not issued a final ruling in this two-year old case yet - and that violation justified his termination. Once again, the judicial
system needed to intervene and to explain to folks that the rules of a sport or the rules set down by a sport's governing body do not - repeat NOT -
supersede state or Federal laws. Was O'Brien wrong? Of course he was. Should he have been fired for this? That's something the school needs to
decide. Is there a process by which firing decisions on the basis of 'NCAA violations' should be handled? I guess Ohio State found out that there
There is a rumored NBA trade that would put Steve Francis on the Knicks. However, there is no concurrent rumor that Stephon Marbury will be part of
that trade or that Marbury is about to go elsewhere. So that trade makes no sense at all to me. The Knicks are dysfunctional because they have too
many players that play the same position. That's true of Francis and Marbury too. Both of these guys are small 'shoot-first-point-guards' who have
to have the ball in their hands most of the time and who will sulk if that isn't the case. Oh, and neither one plays a whole lot of tough defense. I
have no idea whose brainchild this is, but that is not a paring that will work on a team for very long.
Even though sports coverage is focused on the Winter Olympics at the moment, it is appropriate to focus on the fact that this is the time of year when
the canines have a moment in the sun. The Westminster Dog Show is over and a rather ugly dog named Rufus was the winner. Meanwhile, in Alaska, dogs
are going through final preparation for the start of the Iditarod. If you haven't already done so, mark your calendars. The Iditarod begins on March
4th at 10:00AM local time in Anchorage. Be there or be square.
From the Olympics, the news was that a Brazilian bobsledder was thrown out for failing a drug test or a blood doping test or maybe a spelling test.
Whatever. Who knew that bobsledding was a sport in Brazil?
Finally, here is a comment on the Olympics from Bernie Lincicome who is in Turin covering the games for the Rocky Mountain News:
'From bribes to dope to gender masking to crooked judging to pushing politics, the Olympics are a model of deceit.'
But don't get me wrong, I love sports... ... ...