Monday, March 28, 2011

Good Monday Morning!

Chris Mack said ‘no’ this week. It was the right answer. You know Mack, young, local guy makes good head coach at Xavier. Maybe not the greatest player in his high school and college days, but played the game hard. A much better coach than he ever was a player.

Mack has it good right now. A traditionally strong program, great arena to play in and a big time recruiting class just about every year. There’s nothing that Butler is doing right now that Xavier can’t do. Similar stories, in a lot of ways.

Mack watched Skip Prosser take Xavier basketball to a whole new level. He followed Prosser to Wake Forest and got all the clippings, saw all the highlights about ‘X’ was doing under Thad Matta and Sean Miller. Came home to help Miller as an assistant.

Every one of those coaches, Miller, Matta, Prosser all left Xavier for better money in bigger conferences. He probably heard Prosser lament, once or twice, about leaving Xavier, a good deal with a nurturing community. He watched Miller leave for a school that never misses an NCAA Tournament. He knew all about Matta going to Columbus and the opportunity to excel at a school where basketball was an after thought to spring football.

He’s smart, Chris Mack. You don’t have to around him for five minutes to get that. He knew this week that Ohio State, Wake Forest and Arizona were all better situations than the one that was wide open to him at Tennessee.

Tennessee is a cess pool right now. Toxic by collegiate sports standards. Bruce Pearl thought so highly of his boss that, at the first sign of trouble, he lied to the man. The man Pearl lied to about the recruiting violations that ultimately got him fired, is the same man who’s responsible for the Lane Kiffin fiasco. It’s better than even money that the Tennessee athletic director, Mike Hamilton, is gone before the next basketball game. So why listen for a moment to any offer he, or his school had on the table.

Eight years, $16 million dollars, according to CBS Sports. That was the offer that Tennessee was dangling in front of Mack. Heady stuff for a guy who’s been a head coach just two seasons. Big time money, the kind that would take care of his family for life, even if he never earned another dollar after that deal.

Mack had the brains to say no. Or knowing Mack, the brains and the politeness to say “no thank you”

We’re all tempted by the greener grass on the other side of the fence. Sometimes, we jump over the fence to get to it. I did. Maybe you’ve done it once or twice yourself. I know when I got there, the grass I left behind looked pretty good. Maybe Mack had that figured out all along.

I asked a coach once, not long ago, when none of them seem to honor contracts anymore. Why a guy signs a five year deal at one school, and two years into it is moving on to someplace else. I told him it seemed sleazy to me. His answer startled me a little bit. He said coaches do that, because school presidents and athletic directors have no commitment to a coach beyond the piece of paper that both parties sign. One or two bad seasons, and all of a sudden the school starts looking for a new coach, because the boosters, the money guys who keep an athletic department afloat get antsy. If the school will do it, the coach reasoned, than he had to play the same game too.

Maybe that’s why Matta, Prosser and Miller took off. Probably not, Xavier doesn’t strike me as that kind of place. Maybe they didn’t think they could ever get to a final four with Xavier, let alone win a national title. Matta and Miller are still searching for that. Prosser, of course, is no longer with us.

Maybe Mack sees something at Xavier that they didn’t. Maybe that’s why he said ‘no’ this week. Other schools will come after him, maybe not this year, but soon. The right offer may bring a different answer next time.

But this time, Mack gave the right answer. This time, it wasn’t about the money. It was about the ‘fit’. If you’re a Xavier fan, your coach just turned down more money than you’d make in ten lifetimes. You oughta feel good about that.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Random Toughts On A Random Thursday...

Scott Rolen made back to back errors in this exhibition game today vs the Rangers? Will never happen in 162 games this coming season...

Now Jonny Gomes.....

Actually, look it up. Gomes only committed four errors last season. As a team, the Reds only committed 72. Brandon Phillips won a Gold Glove, largely because he booted the ball only three times in 702 chances.

For the record, Rolen had eight E's in 2010.

Decent outing for Bronson Arroyo today, which is good considering he's been sick for about two weeks. Today in a minor league game vs the Dodgers, Arroyo went 5.2, allowed 6 hits and three runs. He whiffed six and walked only one. I believe Arroyo has walked just two batters all spring.

I also believe aliens are programming several of my DirecTv channels. But that's a story for another day....

NFL owners are now saying that Mike Brown was a visionary back in 2006, when only he and Bills owner, Ralph Wilson voted against the CBA that just ended. The Giants John Mara said "We should have listened to him", back in 2006. Jim Irsay chirps in as well, in an article written by Geoff Hobson on the Bengals official web site.

Brown is one of the smartest people I've met on this earth. But he places no value on what his image is. Or offensive linemen, again a story for another day.....

I still think the NFL labor situation spills into the season. Both sides have to hurt for this to be settled. And the only way hurt enters into the equation is for players to miss game checks and owners to miss revenue stream. We're a long way from that. I'm sure the judge in Minnesota who'll hear the suit filed by several players to end the lockout will rule shortly after the April 6th hearing. And I'm equally sure the NFL or the players will appeal whatever decision she makes. But I laugh when I hear that one side or the other will 'cave' after a non-favorable ruling. The owners have a 'war chest' to operate from. The players are out nothing until September. Why would they want to settle now? To get ready for mini-camps? Really?....

Elizabeth Taylor's best movie was Who's Afraid Of Virginia Wolfe. But I'll watch Butterfield 8 anytime, anywhere. Who's left from the Golden Age of Hollywood? Can't think of any....

Zsa Zsa Gabor was rushed to the hospital upon hearing the news of Taylor's death. Her publicist says Zsa Zsa's blood pressure went sky high. She feared she'd be the next to go. True story.....

Eva Gabor, totally unappreciated, particularly in her finest role as Lisa Douglas on "Green Acres"....

Is Merv Griffin still with us?.....

Does any college basketball coach tell the truth when he talks about an opponent before an NCAA Tournament game? Today, John Calipari was gushing over the Ohio State Buckeyes, making it sound as though if he team beats OSU Friday night, it'd be the biggest upset since the election of '48. Just once, I'd love to hear a coach say "Well, they're lucky to be here. We're so much better than this team, I hope we don't die of boredom before the final horn". I'd be the mother of all sound bites...

Of course, the coach who says that gets villified, then fired, win or lose...

And OSU is 5-0 all time against Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament.


It's gotta be me, but all of the network TV shows I like have been or are about to be canned. Loved "Flash Forward" last year in ABC. Gone. They even left a cliff hanger for a season that would never be. This year, it's "The Event" (on life support) and Detroit 1-8-7 (Lt. Louis Fitch, my kinda cop) who both figured to get whacked. I would rather watch a yak fall asleep than watch Kirstie Alley prance around a stage. But 50 million people can't be wrong, right?

See you tonight at 6p & 11p on WLWT, News 5 in Cincinnati.

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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

I'm Done With It

So today's news is that the Bengals will now entertain offers for Carson Palmer (after a new collective bargaining agreement is reached between the NFL owners and the players union. That should be the spring of 2013, right?).


Palmer is done with us. I'm done with him.

I’ve thought a lot about this lately: Palmer wants exactly what we’ve been doing lately.

He wants a public debate of his trade request, his alleged threat of retirement. He wants it, without being directly involved in it. In short, Palmer wants the publicity, but doesn’t want to work for it. And for the last six weeks or so, we’ve been playing into his hands. You, me and everyone else who’s been debating this issue.

If he’s dumb enough to turn his back on 50-million dollars, if he’s that non competitive that he doesn’t want to play anymore, that’s his life, let him live it. If Mike Brown doesn’t get that he should he solicitous of the most identifiable player on his team, rather than engaging him in some sort of wild west, dirt street stare down, then have at it.

Me, I’m done with it. Bored. They were 4-12 with Carson Palmer last season. They can easily be 4-12 this season without him. Call me when you’ve got your act together.

I’m moving onto the Reds.

Speaking of the Reds, how is it that Edinson Volquez can get into this country with a visa that’s only good for sight seeing, rather than one that helps his team win another division title. Have you heard about this? He was supposed to be the starting pitcher in Sunday’s exhibition opener against the Cleveland Indians. But late last week, the Reds discovered because he’s in the country with a visa that’s good only for a tourist, rather than a wage earner, he can’t pitch. Not in front of a paying crowd. And worse, he now has to go back to the Dominican Republic to apply for a visa that will let him work for the Cincinnati Reds.

Now how did that happen?

Two words: substance abuse. Volquez was suspended for 50 games last season when it was discovered that he was using a substance banned by major league baseball. It was a fertility drug. He says he was taking it, so he and his wife could produce a little Edinson. But Major League Baseball says that drug is really used as a mask, to avoid detection for steroid use.

Because of that, Volquez could only get a visa for sight seeing in our country, not working. Now, it could be a while before he gets the visa he needs to strike opposing batters out, or walk them, depending on how things go.

Do you mean to tell me one of the smart guys in that Reds front office, Walt Jocketty, one of his minions or even Big Bob couldn’t figure this out before now? You actually go ahead and announce Volquez as, not only your exhibition season opening pitcher but your pitching on Opening Day and you don’t know you have this problem? Really?

Here’s a bat signal out to Jean Schmidt, Steve Chabot and Rob Portman: while you’re busy solving the debt crisis that’s consuming all of us, can you pick up the phone and grease the skids so the Reds can get their ‘ace’ back in the country for Opening Day? Somebody in some government office surely could use a couple of diamond club seats for the opener on March 31st.

It’s called taking one for the team.

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