Coach K Discusses Penn State’s Mishandling of Joe Paterno on ‘Piers Morgan Tonight’

Posted by EJacoby on June 18th, 2012

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski is unquestionably one of the great leaders in sports history, perhaps only matched in modern college sports by former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. ‘Coach K’ and ‘Joe Pa’ taped an ESPN special together last June about ethics and integrity, entitled “Difference Makers: Life Lessons with Paterno and Krzyzewski,” ironically just a few months before the Penn State child molestation scandal broke and resulted in the football coach’s abrupt firing. Paterno then passed away from cancer in January, a mere two months after his dismissal. Krzyzewski appeared Friday night on Piers Morgan’s CNN talk show and discussed in one segment how he felt about the handling of Paterno by his employer. The Duke coach recognized that it was a difficult situation all around, but also said that he was very displeased with how Penn State responded. He thinks that the university should have shown more respect to its head coach of 45 years by discussing a mutual solution rather than throwing him out as the scapegoat. “I thought it was a real mistake by Penn State’s leadership,” he said, intimating that he wished Paterno had gone out on different terms, perhaps stepping down himself. Unlike everyone else in the media who gave an opinion on this issue, Coach K is acutely qualified as one of Paterno’s coaching contemporaries and as someone with just as much power at his university, so his comments speak loudly about how the Penn State crisis was handled.

Coach K (right) wishes that Joe Paterno (left) could have gone out on better terms (AP Photo)

Krzyzewski and Paterno only became close during the last year of Paterno’s life, so his defense of the former Penn State coach isn’t necessarily as simple as one man sticking up for a friend. Coach K has clearly thought long and hard about how he would have handled the situation had an (alleged) criminal emerged on his staff. He discussed the proper solution should something like this have occurred at Duke:

“You should deal with it like any team should deal with it. In other words, I’m on the Duke team. If that happened in my area, then I would look to work with my athletic director and my president to have a solution. And if that solution meant that I would step down, I would do it in a way that would be part of the solution, not like you’re just thrown out.”

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Kentucky State Senator Wants UPS To Pull Its Christian Laettner Ad

Posted by nvr1983 on March 15th, 2012

By now, you have probably already seen the UPS ad featuring Christian Laettner‘s iconic shot in the 1992 Elite Eight to propel Duke to the Final Four (and eventually a repeat championship) over Kentucky. If you have not, you soon will, but the ad throws up a bunch of physics formulas and shows the play from beginning (the Grant Hill pass) to end (Laettner running around like a madman) in slow-motion and excruciating detail as part of their ongoing and irritating “Logistics” campaign. When we first saw it, we figured that Kentucky fans would not be pleased, but that they would get over it.

Don't Base Your Ad Campaign Around Laettner In Kentucky

It turns out we were wrong. At least one Kentucky fan was very unhappy with it. Now, all fan bases have their fans that get a little too emotional about things, but usually those fans do not have a platform to air their grievances. Enter Ernie Harris, a state Senator from Kentucky, a UPS pilot, a Kentucky graduate, and chairman of Kentucky’s Senate Transportation Committee. Harris has already voiced his displeasure to a UPS lobbyist in the state and while he stopped short of saying he would take any action against the company, which is trying to pass two bills in Kentucky, others do not appear to be quite as forgiving.

Gene McLean, a lobbyist, Kentucky fan, and former writer for The Lexington Herald, has already sent out e-mails to many of his friends and others in the legislature urging a boycott of UPS. For their part, UPS is defending the ad in their blog. We imagine in the long run this “controversy” will not have any effect on UPS in the state of Kentucky, but if you read some of the comments and how some readers do not understand that UPS is an international company and not just one that does business in Lexington you might change your mind.

H/T to Dennis Yedwab for pointing this out to us on Twitter.

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An ESPN Host Just Tried To Recruit Nerlens Noel To His Alma Mater

Posted by nvr1983 on March 13th, 2012

ESPN and other media outlets love to report on inappropriate behavior when schools get busted by the NCAA or more commonly by a select group of journalists. How about when one of their own violates ethical standards (and possibly NCAA regulations) by trying to recruit a player, perhaps the top recruit in the country, to come to his alma mater?

Assuming that he cannot claim ignorance with his typo, it is pretty clear that Burr, a 1994 graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse, was trying to recruit Nerlens Noel to play at Syracuse. While it was probably a joke in light of his favorite team having their dreams of a NCAA title likely dashed by Fab Melo being declared ineligible, at the very least it could be interpreted as unethical leading many to call for ESPN to punish, or at least reprimand, Burr for his tweet. The question of how the NCAA will respond to this is a little less clear as it depends on Burr’s affiliation with the school. If the NCAA chooses to come down hard, it could punish the school for Burr’s action particularly if he is a booster or maintains any active affiliation with the school. As for ESPN, which already deals with plenty of criticism regarding its objectivity, this latest incident certainly will not help.

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Calipari Takes Aim At The NCAA

Posted by nvr1983 on March 12th, 2012

For over a decade John Calipari has taken shots from critics who have questioned his recruiting methods and his ethics. They point to the two Final Four appearances — 1996 at Massachusetts and 2008 at Memphis — that were later vacated by the NCAA, and rejoice when his freshmen-laden teams lose in the NCAA Tournament. Most of the time Calipari has politely smiled and brushed aside the questions pointing to the career success of his players, but sometimes he takes veiled shots and sometimes he is more up front with his irritation. His interview with The Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy, released Monday, was the latter. Buried within an excellent discussion about how he runs his program and how he measures success, Calipari offers this quote:

They’re not going to be around long. The NCAA will not. Before I retire from coaching, they will no longer oversee college athletics. They will, but it won’t be the four power conferences—they’ll be on their own. And the main thing is, do you really care about these kids? They’ll get mad that I say it. The NCAA Tournament, for example. It’s more about the selection committee getting on TV, everybody getting their tickets on the aisle, down low, all the parties they go to, the traveling. But we don’t take the parents of the participants. But they take their kids and their families.

The officials will get better hotels than some of their teams. And I know it for a fact. The decisions they make on the $2,000 (expense allowance for student-athletes)—it should have been $4,000. It’s a stipend. It’s not salary. It’s not “pay-for-play.” It’s a stipend. It’s expenses. And then schools vote against it. All this stuff piles up to where people are going to say, “Enough’s enough.”

John Calipari Is Not A Fan Of The NCAA

It is an interesting perspective and most certainly an interesting time to take it. The NCAA has long been criticized by media members, who earn their paychecks covering the sport but are afforded protection by their parent companies. However, very few coaches — particularly active ones — have spoken out against the NCAA. The NCAA cannot come out openly against Calipari here and at most they could hit him with a harsher penalty if either he or the Kentucky program are caught doing something against NCAA regulations, but we imagine they are less than thrilled about Calipari’s comments.

As for the rest of the article, Calipari also discusses other changes he would make to benefit the athletes. In a sense it is somewhat refreshing to see a coach, particularly one as recognizable and controversial as Calipari, come out against what he sees as injustices against athletes. As entertaining as the interview was, we imagine that the school’s administrators and compliance department will also casually mention to him to keep it down a bit, although we cannot imagine Kentucky attracting much more national attention than it is already getting.

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ESPNHS Searches For New Low, Finds It…

Posted by rtmsf on January 6th, 2012

When it comes to the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (key word: Entertainment) and its various offshoots, very little surprises us anymore. The network’s original programming jumped the Fonzie many moons ago, and the self-promotional brand of reporting that it favors does little to hide its mouse-eared shamelessness. Still, a recent article published on ESPNHS, the online arm’s boy’s high school basketball blog, shows that the company will not stop until it reaches the salacious bottom of the content barrel, no doubt populated with the remains of Nancy Grace’s bob haircut and Geraldo Rivera’s bathtub gin. In a piece written by someone they call “Recruit X,” ostensibly an elite recruit coveted by numerous top programs around the country, the player seeks “to keep it 100 percent real” in sharing with us the “truth about what goes on in the life of a heavily-recruited high school basketball player.” If you ever imagined that on-campus visits were like what Jesus Shuttlesworth (played by Ray Allen) experienced in a notorious scene of Spike Lee’s film, He Got Game, well, you aren’t the only one.

Next week on ESPNHS: Young, misunderstood kid is picked up on the side of the road by blonde southern woman who takes him into her home and develops him into an elite ballplayer in a nefarious scheme to get him to play at Ole Miss

When we got back to the dorms, the players had girls set up for us. If you’ve ever seen the movie “He Got Game” then you’ll understand better, but there were three of us and there were three girls there for us. We’d never met these girls before, but they were there for us. I won’t go into all the details, but let’s just say we had a great time with them and they were saying the whole time that we should come to the school and it could be like this all the time. I was loving it, personally. I’m not gonna front. What guy my age and in my position wouldn’t love that?

Real or fake? Who knows, and who cares? The sole reason for this particular endeavor is to get fans of rival schools in the comments to troll back and forth about which school offered Recruit X his companions, and as a result, drive up page views. As of this writing, Baylor, Kentucky, Ohio State, UCLA… even Duke was mentioned. Not that it matters a whit, because ESPN isn’t going to out the player (assuming he even exists at all), and there’s no actual there there anyway. has arguably more resources available to its writers than any other online entity in sports, and instead of taking the Yahoo! Sports tack of actual investigations into the corruption of high school and collegiate sports at all levels, they’d rather come up with gimmicky tell-all diaries from “recruits” who don’t actually tell us anything substantial at all.

Players are introduced to young women? Taken to clubs? Given a beer or two? WHO KNEW?!?! How about asking Recruit X, since he’s completely anonymous, to drop dime on the school that offered these things to him? How about getting another Recruit X, the football version, to give up the name and details of the coach that offered him a car “as a little joke?” Why does he care — he’s anonymous, AND he says he’s wasn’t going to matriculate there anyway? It’s all such garbage, and ESPNHS should be ashamed of itself for rolling this unintelligent tripe out there. In the media environment we live in, it’s much easier to be a hater than to laud someone for their efforts, but hey WWL, we’re just keeping it real.

(h/t @KansasSports for alerting us to this article)

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Michael Jordan’s Son Jeff Tweets His Support Of Joe Paterno

Posted by nvr1983 on November 10th, 2011

Yesterday night, Ashton Kutcher made news with his tweet questioning the decision by Penn State to fire Joe Paterno. Kutcher quickly back-tracked when he was met with a deluge of criticism and has essentially surrendered his account to his publicists at this time. Since that time, very few other well-known individuals (or really any people outside of some rioting Penn State students) have come to Paterno’s defense.

Enter Jeffrey Jordan, the oldest son of Michael Jordan, who goes by the Twitter handle @heirjordan13. Jeffrey currently plays alongside his brother Marcus at Central Florida although both were among a group of five players suspended by the school while the NCAA looks into their eligibility. Around 2:40 PM he sent out this tweet:

We have already gone down the road of athletes and their freedom of speech/expression, but this is an interesting sentiment for Jordan to have especially since his father was famously quoted as saying, “Republicans buy shoes too,” when asked why he did not publicly support an African-American Democratic candidate Harvey Gantt against Republican Jesse Helms, whom many consider one of the most racist politicians in recent memory. Given that it is a rather interesting political/cultural standing, we find it amusing that the first person to retweet it was former Kansas star Sherron Collins, who would appear to be agreeing with Jeff based on his retweet.

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On Kentucky Basketball, Media Credentials, and the First Amendment

Posted by nvr1983 on August 30th, 2011

Late last night an article from The Kentucky Kernel and a series of tweets ignited a media firestorm about how media credentials are handled. The article, which was written by the UK student newspaper’s managing editor Becca Clemons, told the story of how the daily newspaper had its credentials revoked for today’s special media session where each journalist was allowed to speak with every player on the team as part of a series of one-on-one interviews. According to Clemons, the story began when Kentucky‘s star freshman Anthony Davis sent out a pair of tweets welcoming Sam Malone and Brian Long as new members of this year’s basketball team. Prior to these two tweets there was no public knowledge that the two had been invited to be walk-on members of the team.

Kentucky Has Found Itself In Another Controversy

Soon after this, Kernel reporter Aaron Smith contacted Malone and Long by cell phone after obtaining their numbers through Kentucky’s public student directory. When asked whether or not they were on the team, both players acknowledged that they were even though it had not been formally announced by the athletic department, but declined interview requests from Smith. Upon hearing of Smith’s contact with the two players, DeWayne Peevy, Kentucky’s associate athletic director of media relations, revoked the credentials he had granted Smith and the newspaper to the event, which was to be attended by only 14 media outlets including a marketing firm. In her editorial, Clemons asserted that this decision violated Smith’s First Amendment rights and cited a Louisville lawyer who represents the Kentucky Press Association who stated, “the very fact that they don’t like the way you’re exercising your First Amendment rights does not give them the right to deprive you of an opportunity you would otherwise have” and that the decision was “clearly a violation of First Amendment rights.” What followed was a late-night Twitter debate by many prominent college basketball journalists which was joined this morning by a variety of sites with a vast majority of the non-Kentucky sites supporting the newspaper.

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D.J. Gardner Learns the Reality of the Social Media Era the Hard Way

Posted by nvr1983 on August 27th, 2011

Over the past two years few programs have had to deal with as many major issues related to eligibility and suspensions as Mississippi State has had to. From the initial investigation and year-long suspension of Renardo Sidney to the nine-game suspension that Dee Bost had to serve last year and finally the ugly fight between Sidney and teammate Elgin Bailey in the stands at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii last December the program has had a difficult time getting out of its own way and putting its best possible team on the court. This time it involves a player, D.J. Gardner, who was not even going to be on the team this year.

Stansbury appears to be running a three-ring circus in Starkville

On Thursday, Rick Stansbury, announced that Gardner, a highly touted recruit who was considered a top 20 shooting guard in the class of 2011, would be redshirting. According to Gardner’s mother, her son approached the staff about redshirting after finding out that he would be part of a three-man shooting guard rotation rather than receiving the majority of the playing time that he had reportedly been promised during his recruitment to Starkville. In addition, she reports that the decision as to whether or not her son would be redshirting was not supposed to be decided on until November. However, when Stansbury announced that Gardner would be redshirting, D.J. fired off the following tweet (edited for our family audience):

These b***es tried to f**k me over.. That’s y I red shirted .. But I wish my homies a great as* season.. I don’t even know y I’m still here

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Frank Martin Weighs In On Paying Athletes

Posted by nvr1983 on August 24th, 2011

Over the past few months there has been quite a bit of discussion about the possibility that schools might pay their athletes (legally) in the near future based on reports that the Big Ten was looking into the option. The topic has been discussed ad nauseum by administrators, pundits, and fans weighing in on both sides of the debate with the majority apparently favoring a system where players get paid. Interestingly, one group that has been noticeably silent is the coaches. Outside of a small group of football coaches in the SEC who supported paying players very few coaches have gone on the record about the topic. To our knowledge the few college basketball who have spoken out on the issue like Mike Krzyzewski and John Calipari have been supportive of the idea (ok, Calipari’s ideas go a bit beyond supportive). Today, one prominent college basketball coach, Frank Martin, came out against the idea in a pair of tweets (#1 and #2) earlier this afternoon.

Martin, who has long been known for his antics on the court, isn’t as well known for his views on policy issues, but it appears that he feels pretty strongly on the topic of paying players. While his stance may go against popular opinion, he does make a good point that paying athletes creates its own problems notably a more uneven playing field even if the more cynical (or possibly realistic) fans think that the big-money schools are already paying players while the smaller schools are left to work with the players who are happy just to get some money off their college tuition. It also could make the act of paying athletes beyond whatever the set amount is a less significant offense in the eyes of booster and program administrators creating a slippery slope where increasing payments could be seen as insignificant offenses.

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Dick Vitale Goes Off On The Dan LeBatard Show

Posted by nvr1983 on August 19th, 2011

Yesterday, Dick Vitale went on The Dan LeBatard Show to discuss the scandal at Miami and the implications it could have on college sports. After LeBatard started off the interview with a few fairly benign questions about the Miami scandal, to which Vitale gave the expected media-speak answers (other than his assertion that Donna Shalala must step down as president of the University of Miami), LeBatard asked him about John Calipari and the scandals that have followed him at Massachusetts and Memphis. Vitale brushed it aside, saying that the NCAA has never implicated Calipari. LeBatard’s co-host Jon Weiner (aka Stugotz) then chimed in with the statement/question: “Best guess, Dick. Best guess. I know you are friends with him, but best guess. John Calipari has cheated at some point in his life.” Vitale responded first with silence, then said “Alright, let’s go to the next point.” After some discussion where LeBatard cleared up the fact that it was his co-host who had asked the question, Vitale suggests that there should be laws against boosters like Nevin Shapiro.

When Vitale went on to state that none of the major coaches he knows would have tolerated what happened at Miami (citing Roy Williams, Mike Krzyzewski, and Bob Knight as examples), Stugotz suggests that every coach or program has committed at least one NCAA infraction even if only unknowingly. After Vitale got upset at him and brought up the prostitutes, Stugotz clarified by saying that he never implied that other programs were using prostitutes or doing things as big as Miami is accused of doing. Despite this clarification, Vitale becomes increasingly infuriated at the radio hosts and hangs up. Partial clip below:

While Kentucky fans are widely applauding Vitale for defending Calipari, it seems more like Vitale is on a crusade to defend college basketball, or college sports as a whole, instead of a single coach or program. Although Stugotz’s initial question/statement about Calipari was indelicate, his follow-up questions about programs unknowingly violating rules are valid ones. Unfortunately, it seems that Vitale was so incensed by the earlier question or the storm surrounding the NCAA right now that he was unwilling to hear it. Perhaps if Vitale had stayed on the phone long enough to engage in a reasonable conversation, they could have discussed Krzyzewski’s “controversial” phone call to Alex Poythress or Sam Gilbert’s association with John Wooden‘s UCLA dynasty (OK, maybe that would have set him off). In any event, although many college basketball fans (particularly Kentucky fans) will support Vitale in this case, he does come off as petulant and condescending here.

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Piecing Together an ESPN Television Schedule

Posted by rtmsf on August 16th, 2011

On a day when much of the national conversation is on Yahoo Sports’ hard-hitting expose of Miami football (with a touch of basketball thrown in), we here at RTC are really starting to get a jones for hoops again.  Maybe it’s the interminable summer heat of mid-August or the days starting to get noticeably shorter, but even though we’re still a good distance away from practice, much less real games, we’ve been spending more of our free evenings re-watching 2011 NCAA Tournament classics like Kentucky-Ohio State and Butler-Florida.  While Brandon Knight’s and Shelvin Mack’s heroics serve to get us in the mood, we can’t help but look to the future and get excited about the unknown delights that are awaiting us in the 2011-12 season.

We mentioned last week that ESPN had released its 2012 Gameday schedule, and today ESPN gave us the SEC half of the Super Tuesday night games during conference season.  By adding the Big 12 half of Big Monday, which was released a few weeks back as well, we’re already considerably on our way to a January/February schedule to get excited about.  Here’s the so-far list, broken out by week and with a comment associated with each:

Tasty treats, indeed.  Of course, there’s a lot still pending both in terms of the conference and non-conference schedules, but we’ll try to update this in coming weeks as the other halves of Big Monday and Super Tuesday come available, in addition to the full schedules for Wednesday Night Hoops and the Thursday Showcase.  Even though literally hundreds of games can be found on the various tentacles of the WWL’s family of networks, its primary channel (ESPN) is still the flagship and reaches the most homes.  Therefore, these are often the games that they think deserve the most marketing and hype during the season.

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ESPN Announces GameDay Schedule For 2011-12

Posted by jstevrtc on August 11th, 2011

ESPN released their GameDay lineup for the 2011-12 college basketball season earlier today. As Dana O’Neil points out, the list includes five new stops out of eight games. It starts on January 14 and will (for the most part) resume the previous format, meaning an hour broadcast on ESPNU at 10 AM ET followed by a second hour on ESPN at 11 AM ET, then the 8 PM ET show before the feature game tips off at 9. The January 14 visit to Tallahassee is for a 2 PM North Carolina at Florida State game, so obviously there’s no nighttime show for that one.

Prepare Yourselves, GameDay Sites, For the Great Bilas Cometh Soon

Here’s the list in full:

  • January 14, Tallahassee FL — North Carolina at Florida State
  • January 21, Pittsburgh PA — Louisville at Pittsburgh
  • January 28, Tucson AZ — Washington at Arizona
  • February 4, Columbia MO — Kansas at Missouri
  • February 11, Nashville TN — Kentucky at Vanderbilt
  • February 18, Ann Arbor MI — Ohio State at Michigan
  • February 25, Storrs, CT — Syracuse at Connecticut
  • March 3, Durham NC or Lawrence KS — UNC at Duke (7 PM) or Texas at Kansas (9 PM)

A solid list, we think. We respect GameDay’s desire to visit new places. There’s pretty good distribution, as well; you’d get a good scattering of pins on a map of those games. A couple of questions, though:

Why is the last game a “flex” game? If UNC-Duke is listed as an option, there can’t be much of a chance that they’d not go with that game. They’ve had UNC-Duke as the GameDay choice in every even-numbered year they’ve done this. We would have loved to have seen this as a double-header, even if they didn’t designate Texas-Kansas as the feature game. Hey, better yet, go with two (*gasp!*) GameDay crews and have face-offs between the fans at Phog and those at Cameron, i.e. who’s crazier/louder, best signs, and so on.

No surprise here, but there’s not a single mid-major among those squads (either home or away), meaning that in its eight-year existence, Rece Davis and company will have only been to two mid-major spots — Gonzaga in 2006 and 2009, and Southern Illinois in 2008 — and featured just three mid-major teams (SIU played Creighton). Certainly Butler, with its two consecutive appearances in the title game, deserves a visit from Erin and the fellas (except for a certain former Indiana coach, most likely), right? Then again, as cozy as Hinkle Fieldhouse is, we don’t know if it could contain the magnetic field of smoothness that would theoretically be generated by having the hairstyles of Davis, Jay Bilas, and Brad Stevens within 15 feet of each other. Better safe than sorry.

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