Sports Goggles

Spotes Notes, 2.25.08: First Your Rights, Then Your Children; Speaking of the NFL Combine; A Clemens “Misremembered” Quickie; IU-Kelvin Sampson Affair – Bob Knight Lurks?; How ‘Bout Those Phoenix Suns?!

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sheed.jpgFirst your rights, then your children

ESPN Radio’s Eric Kuselias says there’s an HGH epidemic. This morning on Mike and Mike in the Morning Kuselias said HGH use has reached epidemic proportions and therefore professional athletes players should give up their rights of privacy and submit to blood tests. Kuselias says he understands the “right to privacy constitutional” side of the argument but when “there’s an epidemic wouldn’t you give up your rights” for a little safety. Further, he said that taking a blood test is a “little thing to ask” for the “privilege to make millions of dollars.”

Co-host Mike Golic indicated that if the owners chose, they could tune the issue into a public relations issue by letting it be known that Gene Upshaw and Donald Fehr, the NFL and MLB union reps “negotiated away” the ability to treat the epidemic.

This hellish conversation is just the sort of talk those who would want to do away with our constitutional rights completely want to hear.

Sports first, next your child will be forced to take a flu shot if they want to attend a public school…. and on and on and on…

addendum: ESPN baseball writer Buster Olney indicated on Mike and Mike that each spring MLB players take blood tests for insurance purposes. Then Golic suddenly remembered that each spring NFL players do the same. But that’s one test, once a year and it protects the team owners against a player having an unforeseen disease or malady, plus informs the players as to the state of their health. That is far different than a test for HGH or some other PED.

Speaking of the NFL Combine

Yesterday was quarterback, wide receiver, and running back day at the NFL Combine. A record seven players ran under a 4.4 40-yard dash; bigger, stronger, faster or ———– HGH anyone?

More importantly, unlike last year on the NFL Network, we did not get to see the quarterbacks work out. This was obviously mandated by the league, but what was the purpose? Probably to keep the average fan from seeing the QB their team might pick and judging the merits of the quarterbacks for themselves…. okay, okay that’s the nice way to say it. The NFL wants to keep the criticism of its management – in this case GMs – to a minimum.

It’s the ultimate control tactic by the ultimate control-freak league.

But. We get to hear plenty of NFL-sanctioned “experts” rave about Boston College QB Matt Ryan and how Delaware’s Joe Flacco’s (QB) stock continues to rise. It is curious how so many people write and talk about Flacco as if he’s some diamond in the rough that escaped the eye of the big, bad NCAA Division I recruiting machine. Flacco was a transfer from the University of Pittsburgh who dropped down a competition level to play quarterback. The story goes Flacco wanted the opportunity to play and be “the man” in a program, so Deleware became the proverbial “perfect fit.”

But that means Flacco, unlike another guy who had to navigate his way through myriad quarterbacks for playing time – Tom Brady, failed to compete at the highest level of college football.

What does that say about Flacco’s ability to deal with pressure and competition? What happens if, in the NFL, he feels he should be playing but isn’t?

Will he run to Canada and play in the CFL?

Backpedalin’ like a corner

So Roger might have misremembered that he was at Jose Canseco’s house, at least that’s what his attorney Rusty Hardin seems to be trying to say:

“We know that baseball announcers broadcasting the games at the time said Roger was not at the party. Jose Canseco has said Roger was not at the party, as has Canseco’s former wife. Roger was playing golf at the time of the party, and has stated that he may have stopped by the Canseco house after playing golf before heading to the ballpark for the game,” the statement said.

There goes the premise that McNamee can’t be trusted, huh?

More Kelvin Sampson: something is very wrong with this picture

One writer is putting his off-the-record conversation with Kelvin Sampson on the street. He says Sampson was contrite but at the same time unrepentant for the happenings with phone calls at the University of Oklahoma. The writer says Sampson intimated that everyone cheats to some degree especially when it comes to making phone calls to recruits.

I gather there it is no problem for a writer to break with ethics and speak openly about off-the-record conversations when a coach accepts a buyout and leaves his or her place of work. Maybe it’s called, “The Dead Man Walkin” rule. Or maybe it’s the, “He screwed the university I write about, so screw him” rule.

Another writer is calling Sampson a serial cheater and implies that he is a snake. This writer tell us Kelvin Sampson doesn’t really give a damn about the players he coached or the relationships he built, just cut Sampson a check and he’s good to go. This writer says Bruce Weber, head coach of the University of Illinois basketball team and coach who was alleged to be the recipient of program-maker guard, Eric Gordon, was probably celebrating because Weber knows what Sampson did:

Coaches know what Sampson did. They always know.”

This writer also implies that Sampson stole Gordon away from Weber and that fine bastion of right-doing athletic program, Illinois:

Electric freshman Eric Gordon (whom Sampson pried away from Weber and Illinois) almost certainly is a one-and-done player.

Wasn’t the Illini’s football coach accused of the same “crime” of recruit stealing Sampson is accused of just a year ago (never mind that Gordon originally wanted to attend Indiana)?

Lo and behold almost a year ago to the day this same writer penned an article about Illinois football coach, Ron Zook, and his being accused of stealing recruits – particularly program-maker, wideout Aurrelious Benn – by “Notre Dame” (notice how no one from that university is named) and John L. Smith, formerly the head coach of the Michigan State Spartans football squad. Notice how the writer dropped Smith’s name like a hot rock; must be the dead man walking thing again.

However, in the case of Zook, the writer went to great lengths to defend Zook. But here’s an interesting quote from that article. It describes in computer-jargon detail, the amount of bytes used by Zook to text message recruits:

At the very least, he out-BlackBerry’d them. ESPN’s Mark Schlabach reported recently that Zook typed 95 million kilobytes’ worth of text messages to recruits since Nov. 26. I’m surprised he has any thumbs left.

But in the case of Zook this same behavior that got Sampson called a money-grubbing snake. On them other hand, Zook is portrayed as some sort of mad and manic Svengali -albeit a benevolent Rasputin for an athletic program:

The man is off-the-charts obsessive when it comes to recruiting, which is exactly why Guenther hired him.

That is exactly the behavior that got Sampson gone from Oklahoma and bought out by Indiana.

Yet, if the writer who divulged the contents of an off-the-record conversation is to be believed, Sampson was telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth when it comes to the phone-calling practices of head coaches.

In addition to praying that the sky falls on Kelvin Sampson, the writer who so adamantly defended Zook advises the administrators at Indiana to toss the players of the basketball program under the bus – and hope that it gets thrown in reverse to double back over them:

Removing Sampson from the sidelines was an appropriate start, but only a start. The truth is, he was a goner — it was only a matter of when he would leave and how much it would cost IU to make him leave.

Indiana shouldn’t stop there. It should self-impose a postseason ban on this year’s team. At the very least, no NCAA Tournament appearance and the money that comes with each game played during March Madness. That should get the attention of the NCAA Committee on Infractions, eh?…

Or Indiana could do the pre-emptive thing. The smart thing. The right thing. It could admit it never should have hired Sampson, take its punishment and start being IU again.

————————

Adding to this already confounding tale is an “anonymous donor” providing IU with $500,000 of the $750,000 buyout money for Sampson that, when coupled with the no future litigation clause in the buyout, make this appear like hush money more than, just get rid of Kelvin Sampson, money.

There is another maddening little piece of timing that has not been reported by any mainstream sports media outlet – on February 5, 2008, Robert Montgomery Knight resigned from his head coach position at Texas Tech University. Knight left the Red Raiders basketball program because he said simply that he was done and he wanted to give his son, Pat, a chance to finish the season to have a head start on next season.

This is the same man who publicly excoriated players for leaving his programs – Indiana or Tech – and transferring to other schools. And ironically, just two weeks before the NCAA levies charges against Kelvin Sampson at his old program, Indiana, Knight leaves his Texas Tech post.

And no one blinks. No one finds the timing the least bit quizzical. Yet the thought of Knight returning to Indiana is met with the sound of college basketball pundits scoffing.

Because the hearing for Sampson’s sins is still pending and there is to be a hearing in June, this incident will not go away. In time the facts behind Sampson’s buyout-removal will be aired.

At that time it will be interesting to find out who has maneuvered themselves into position to keep the fallout from landing on their heads and whether those same people can keep the focus of the NCAA’s ire squarely on Sampson and nowhere else.

———————–

Of the scads of writers who have mosh-pit danced on Sampson’s head I chose to use the words of these two writers because they are especially instructive. One writer writes for the NCAA’s hometown newspaper – god forbid he would ask serious questions about the organization. The second writer has comparative works to be explored.

The NCAA’s charges:

1. That Sampson, Meyer and Senderoff failed to comply with sanctions imposed on Sampson for impermissible recruiting calls he made while he was a coach at Oklahoma. Those sanctions followed Sampson to IU when he came here in May of 2006. Sampson and Senderoff are alleged to have jointly participated in telephone calls at a time when Sampson was prohibited from being present or taking part when staff members made recruiting calls. Senderoff and Meyer are alleged to have made about 100 calls that exceeded the sanction limits. Senderoff resigned his position Oct. 30.

2. That Senderoff and Meyer placed “at least 25 telephone calls” to nine potential recruits that exceeded NCAA limits even if no sanctions had been in place.

3. That Sampson “acted contrary to the NCAA principles of ethical conduct when he knowingly violated recruiting restrictions imposed by the NCAA Committee on Infractions,” and that he “failed to deport himself in accordance with the generally recognized high standard of honesty normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics by providing the institution and the NCAA enforcement staff false or misleading information,” and that he “failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance within the men’s basketball program and failed to monitor the activities regarding compliance of one or more of his assistant coaches.”

4. That Senderoff “acted contrary to the NCAA principles of ethical conduct when he knowingly violated recruiting restrictions imposed by the NCAA Committee on Infractions,” and that he “failed to deport himself in accordance with the generally recognized high standard of honesty normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics by providing the institution false or misleading information.”

5. That Sampson and Meyer engaged in an impermissible recruiting contact during a two-day sports camp held at Assembly Hall on June 30 and July 1, 2007, and that Meyer provided the potential recruit with an impermissible benefit – at least one T-shirt and drawstring backpack.

(In televised reports it was mentioned repeatedly that there about a dozen phone calls that may or may not have been illegal. Perhaps out of all the calls in mentioned in the charges, the NCAA feels there is ironclad evidence for only 12 or so phone calls.)

Oh yeah, and about those new look Suns

Phoenix showed how far it has to go with its new lineup that includes Shaquille O’Neal. The Detroit Pistons absolutel waxed the Suns 116-86 yesterday afternoon. Chauncey Billups shut down Steve Nash on one end of the floor and made him play defense on the other end. Rasheed Wallace abused Amare Stoudemire. The Phoenix forward refused to venture out toward the three-point line leaving Wallace free to shoot long-range jumpers. On the block Wallace simply turned and shot over Stoudemire.

Shaq, aka the Big Statue, looked as old as Dikembe Mutombo. He was constantly late getting down the floor and had no lift on his shots. This does not bode well come playoff time when he might be forced to play three games in a row against the NBA’s best competition with only one day rest between each game.

Meantime, Leandro Barbosa continues to prove that if he plays in an offense that requires any thought, he is as lost as a canary in a coal mine.

The only bright spot for the Suns was Boris Diaw. The out of the closet French misogynist (“I don’t date American women, I have them:” from :07 Or Less) continues to show that he is a matchup nightmare for opposing teams. He can outrun most power forwards, is too big for small forwards, and has the game to take advantage of either in a half court set.

Since Shaq hit the desert the Suns are 1-2 against three of the best teams in the NBA – LA, Boston, and Detroit. LA and Detroit routined the Suns, while Phoenix exposed the Cees’ weaknesses, especially those of point guard Rajon Rondo.

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28 Responses

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  1. Dwil,

    I heard what Kaselius and Golic said this morning as well, and share your concerns.

    Very hellish indeed.

    Marc A.

    February 25, 2008 at 8:45 am

  2. Glad somebody else out there heard that!… let’s hope other people who heard it were as appalled….

    dwil

    February 25, 2008 at 8:48 am

  3. Kaselius is aping Bayless, who said the same thing a few months ago. It isn’t any less appalling.

    Signal to Noise

    February 25, 2008 at 10:02 am

  4. S2N-
    Yes, I’ve heard Bayless say the same thing – many times. I don’t think he’s “aping” Bayless…. When Skip B. says this, there’s an over the top-ness to his statements that makes them sound more the screed of a lunatic. Kaselius is much creepier; he’s firmer and resolute in his feeling.

    dwil

    February 25, 2008 at 10:10 am

  5. dwil,

    You do know that Kaselius is a lawyer? How is that for irony?

    des

    February 25, 2008 at 10:11 am

  6. des-
    That’s right! I totally forgot…and Bayless is at it again, this time, though, with a cosign by Jay Feely!

    These people are crazy – or agenda-pushers, which makes them worse than any drug dealer….

    dwil

    February 25, 2008 at 10:47 am

  7. I swear, I think the Atlanta media (and some of the so-called “experts”) has some sort of personal vendetta against Darren McFadden. We’ve had the honor of being knocked over the head with the horror stories of his menacing character issues all weekend. He brawls in clubs and he’s got baby mama drama that make him completely unfit, especially in the aftermath of the dogfighting czar. I won’t be shocked if a “Draft Matt Ryan” billboard isn’t put up right at the downtown connector in the coming weeks.

    Miranda

    February 25, 2008 at 12:07 pm

  8. Didn’t McFadden run a 4.33 forty?

    All that other shit just became immaterial.

    You run that fast and teams don’t care about anything else.

    Big Man

    February 25, 2008 at 12:21 pm

  9. Oh, and this is the artist formely known as Allen.

    Big Man

    February 25, 2008 at 12:22 pm

  10. Wow, saw the Pistons-Suns game and somebody needs to stick a fork in Shaq because he’s done. Memo to Dwight Howard….please, learn how to shoot a skyhook, a turn around jump shot, anything besides dunking so that when you’re 30+ and your knees are blown out you can still play without getting embarrassed. All the “motivation” in the world might not be able to help Shaq now. Maybe the Suns should give Bob Pettit a call because he might look less geriatric out there.

    motown

    February 25, 2008 at 12:27 pm

  11. You should have heard the NFLN crew run McFadden down. Even to the point of saying that he’s not the best RB in the Draft!… Mendenhall is #1 because he’s taken fewer hits and doesn’t have the “off field baggage.”

    Right.

    dwil

    February 25, 2008 at 3:16 pm

  12. I don’t know why everyone is so surprised that a lawyer would be shitting on athlete’s rights. Kaselius didn’t say anything that Dick Pound (also a lawyer by profession) hasn’t been saying for years.

    I’ll have to look it up, but I believe a cyclist in Europe took the UCI to court over their requirement for cyclists to give blood tests, actually I think he specifically challenged the rule that failure to give blood would automatically result in a positive test. I think there may be a section in the EU constitution that requires subpoenas for blood test. So basically a collective bargaining agreement can’t overturn an individual’s right to privacy. Maybe someone here knows more about that, or what the result of that challenge was.

    Cpt.Sunsine

    February 25, 2008 at 3:43 pm

  13. […] needs to die a very quick death. I’ve written about this before, but it keeps surfacing: Eric Kaselias adopted it while subbing for Mike Greenberg today (thanks, D-Wil), and Skip Bayless, the target when I wrote […]

  14. They are right about McFadden’s potential for injury.

    I’ve watched dude a lot, he’s the truth. But he runs a lot like Eddie George and that used him like a mule in Arkansas. He has a lot of mileage, but I think he could be great for at least his first five years.

    I don’t care about that off the field stuff. That shit is only important for certain players. Commentators ignore stuff like that all the time when it’s guys they like.

    Big Man

    February 25, 2008 at 4:08 pm

  15. McFadden probably has 3-4 seasons of running niggas over in the NFL, then he be in Terrell Davis status.

    DavidMac

    February 25, 2008 at 4:14 pm

  16. If he is anything like Eddie George, they should be happy. He didn’t miss a start for several years.

    awb

    February 25, 2008 at 4:19 pm

  17. BM (Allen)-
    Big Man?… all right.
    He does run like George… 3 years, 4 years, 5 years. I hate to see brothers play RB. That is where I’d like to see more Jacob Hesters…. easiest position to learn, get used up, broke up quick; see ya, bye ———- NEXT!

    More black QBs, more white RBs!

    dwil

    February 25, 2008 at 4:22 pm

  18. TO ALL-
    Hmmm, the “Wink” sign didn’t work…. that last statement on my above comment was “black humor” (all puns intended) white folks who a friendly readers of SOMM….

    The “Edit” function is messed up, too… oh well.

    dwil

    February 25, 2008 at 4:30 pm

  19. Jacob Hester’s response to the doubtful coaches interviewing him at the combine, “YES WE CAN” 😉

    JB

    February 25, 2008 at 5:13 pm

  20. All the haterade being poured on Shaq here (not necessarily by you, Dwil – you can be much too sensitive!) has suddenly made me a huge Suns fan. That’s a big change coming from someone (me) who never believed the Suns had what it takes to win a chip, and never believed that Nash earned his MVPs (although I DO have lots of respect for Nash).

    Now, I happen to agree with GM Kerr’s thinking on the matter: the Suns need to play a more balanced brand of hoop (including defense, rebounding, toughness, and post play) if they want to contend for a title. I happen to think Shaq can and will provide all those qualities, joining Nash as the Suns only real tough guys (although I think GranTamia Hill – yes, the oft-injured Mr. Hill – is underrated in this area). They’ve got some kinks to work out, certainly. But so do the Celts, as these very same Suns showed a few days ago.

    The Pistons, on the other hand, are a smooth running, chip contending machine – just as they should be after having played together for so long. I’d be surprised if they hadn’t won the game yeserday (the absolute blowout WAS a lil surprising, but, hey, er’body’s entitled to their good days/bad days, even in the L).

    The Lakers have to get all their pieces back and healthy. I’d discount their big win over the Suns because it was Shaq’s very first game, like I said before.

    This game with Detroit, of course, was only Shaq’s third, and so I’m not “setting the suns” or putting forks in anything just yet…

    TheLastPoet

    February 25, 2008 at 5:14 pm

  21. I wouldn’t look very deep into all the off the field ish you hear. That’s just agents for other dudes putting that out there in the hope McFadden, etc will drop and their clients will rise in stock. These days there’s a lot of money being invested into dudes before they even play a down and the difference between #1 picks and #5 or whatever is a pretty big one as far as the bank account is concerned, for both players and agents. Smart GMs, commentators, and fans don’t pay any attention to that. Besides, kinda like what someone said, if you put up a good enough 40 time your name could be Osama bin Laden and GMs will be drooling regardless.

    motown

    February 25, 2008 at 5:37 pm

  22. JB-
    That was funny….

    LastP-
    It is only three games and Phoenix will be much, much better down the road. With that said, I fear O’Neal will have problems when they have to play 3 games in six days against the best of the best.

    I’m also not drinking the Lakes Kool-aid. I actually feel they’ll be ready next year because when they taste that bitter taste of defeat to the Spurs, it will push them to greater heights nest season…. things are coming too easily for them right now, and I fear they won’t get smacked until playoff time. Kobe will be cool, of course, Lamar as well, but the rest of the cast including Gasol is not ready for what is to come.

    The Cees will not, I repeat, will not get out of the East this year; it’s not happening. They do not have the “other” parts, yet – and Rondo, like his young counterparts in LA will have to get smacked by playoff ball to understand it fully…. and Chauncey is really wanting to dominate every opposing PG he will face in the playoffs.

    Watch out for S.A. because no one is discussing them… and watch the Finals between the Spurs and De Trois becasue it will be a titanic battle…titanic, I tell ya!

    dwil

    February 25, 2008 at 5:42 pm

  23. I’m sorry but Shaq was thoroughly dominated yesterday by 2 guys that weigh a combined 140 pounds less than the big fella. Shaq has nothing left in the tank. He’s on one night, off the next 2.

    Shaq is great for the game, but his presence on the floor draws flashbulbs from cameras now not because of his abilities, but because of his past success. He’s a shell of what he once was, and I for one am happy Kerr pulled off this deal because if anyone in the league doesn’t deserve a ring it’s Nash.

    Boney

    February 25, 2008 at 5:47 pm

  24. I don’t know about Shaq. It all depends on Dantoni figuring out how to use him. Aside from the Laker game where had some kind of motivation, he looked terrible against the Celtics and the Pistons. If the Cee’s would have been able to hit the side of a barn, they might have won the game. Couple that with Amare’s inability to guard the perimeter, the lack of an additional shooter(Hello Brent Barry!), and their general lack of d, I don’t see how this team is going to get past some of the better teams in the West. Also, what the heck is up with Barbosa? He looks lost out there.
    I will go out on a limb and just take the Lakers out of West contingent on the state of Kobe’s finger. After that it has got to be the Spurs. Manu Ginoboli is a man possessed. I love that guy!

    awb

    February 25, 2008 at 6:04 pm

  25. I’m not buying plane tickets to head down to LA for a parade yet. I think the Spurs are still the team to beat and if it weren’t for the ski mask job Mitch pulled on Memphis, I might just give them the nod for best trade. Bringing in Thomas, along with the Jazz bringing in Korver, were two great moves for those teams. i’m thinking the Spurs get past the Lakers in one of the best 7 game series we have ever seen and I also think the Jazz are going to make a lot noise.

    I’m not big on any of the other trades and it has less to do with problems with the particular players (including Shaq) than it has to do with the teams themselves and styles of play. It is just very difficult to change what you are doing at the middle of a season like this. The Cavs have replaced half of their roster. The Suns have brought in a guy who doesn’t naturally fit in. The Mavs have brought in Kidd who I also don’t think fits in right away (notice him leaving his teammates in the dust on fast breaks).

    The Lakers, Jazz, and Spurs have all brought in guys who were able to suit up and fit in as soon as they got off the plane. Kobe and Gasol just look phenomenal together and Gasol’s presence has made Odom a beast. Korver is the perfect addition to the Jazz system and Thomas is going to help out Duncan on both ends of the floor.

    Problem for the Lakers is that I think we need Bynum to win the title and there is just no way to know how well he will come back from the injury. We will make serious noise without him (as is being shown now), but at the end of the day, I don’t think we get past the Spurs without him.

    With Shaq and the Suns, I just don’t think the big guy can consistently play in that high octane system. I also still have doubts as to how well the other players can adjust to him in such a short period of time. I also have doubts about D’Antoni. There’s just too much uncertainty about that team and too much chemistry and good players on the Lakers, Spurs, and Jazz for me to predict them to get past them. I also think the Mavs can adjust faster to Kidd than the Suns can to Shaq.

    Regardless of if I am right or wrong, the last few weeks of the NBA have been more interesting than anything I have seen in a while. The race has just begun and I’m glad I’ve got League Pass.

    shon

    February 25, 2008 at 7:28 pm

  26. TO ALL-
    ANY LAWYERS OUT THERE? IF SO, SHOOT ME AN EMAIL ASAP…. THANKS.

    dwil

    February 25, 2008 at 7:54 pm

  27. Bill O’Reilly sneaks a lynch remark in under the radar…

    Boney

    February 25, 2008 at 11:44 pm

  28. […] can ESPN radio show host, Eric Kuselias, a lawyer, openly advocate for baseball players to relinquish their rights to privacy for — steroid testing?! And then […]


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