Morning Five: 05.02.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 2nd, 2012

  1. The biggest non-Amare Stoudemire basketball news on Tuesday was that the Atlantic 10′s courtship of Butler appears to have finally resulted in a match. ESPN.com reported last night that Butler will formally accept an offer today to join the league in 2013-14, replacing Temple in all sports. As one of the few truly elite mid-major basketball programs unaffiliated with a top 10 conference, this represents a major coup for the A-10 going forward regardless of whether the league is also able to also poach VCU and George Mason from the CAA. Butler’s admission helps to bolster the midwestern footprint of the conference, along with existing members Xavier, St. Louis and Dayton, and it will allow Brad Stevens an entree into the fertile recruiting grounds of the mid-Atlantic with multiple trips to the East Coast cities of New York, Philadelphia, Washington each year.
  2. The other conference realignment news that shook out on Tuesday related to another Atlantic 10 school, Charlotte, and whether that school will be on the move in coming days or weeks as well. The school rejected an offer to join the Sun Belt on Tuesday and reportedly did so because it anticipates an opportunity to join Conference USA after it adds a football program next year. Where this would leave C-USA is really anybody’s guess, as the conference is slowly but surely maneuvering toward an incomprehensible 30+ team behemoth (with the eventual pairing of the Mountain West). Whoever wrote the law of unintended consequences when all of this conference realignment stuff (re)started a couple of years ago could not have predicted this morass.
  3. In the 2008 presidential election, the citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky voted for Republican candidate John McCain over Democrat Barack Obama by a 58% to 41% margin. That 17% victory margin will be put to the test on Friday when the thing that Kentuckians love more than anything else in the world — their national champion Wildcats — will visit the Obama White House to honor and celebrate the school’s eighth NCAA trophy. Of course, these events are rarely political in tenor (apologies to the Boston Bruins’ Tim Thomas), but that hasn’t stopped full-time politicos from speculating that both Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), who refused an invitation, and the White House, are playing partisan games in scheduling the event on Kentucky Derby week (which occurs Saturday). Is this an election year?
  4. Tuesday was a busy day in the world of comings and goings, but the most disheartening news is that college basketball will not get another year of Tim Abromaitis at Notre Dame. Abromaitis had petitioned for a sixth year of eligibility because he tore his ACL in November after playing only two games last season — he also had taken a redshirt year in 2008-09, meaning that he ultimately only suited up in South Bend for three full seasons. In other news, Tennessee’s Renaldo Woolridge (aka SwiperBoy) will spend his last year of eligibility at USC, no doubt spending his free time outside the gym over on the Sunset Strip pitching his audio wares.
  5. It was 10 months ago when Michigan recruit Austin Hatch lost his family, his dog and very nearly his own life in a horrific plane crash that left him with a severe brain injury and the possibility of a very restricted way of life. The Detroit Free-Press revisited his story on Tuesday and found that although there are still many steps to go, Hatch’s doctors say that his rehabilitation has been “as successful as anyone they have seen.” Hatch still plans on attending Michigan in a little over a year, and says that he keeps in touch with head coach John Beilein a couple of times a month. He hasn’t yet been cleared to play basketball, but he has the spirit and will to believe that he’ll get back on the court eventually. Considering how far he’s already come and with 17 months before his first collegiate practice in Ann Arbor, it’s hard to believe that he won’t get there and become one of the best stories in all of amateur athletics.
Share this story

Paging Ken Krayeske, You’re Needed in Austin…

Posted by rtmsf on May 12th, 2011

As the nation’s states, municipalities and university systems continue struggling to shake off the after-effects of a crippling recession that dried up government coffers and has resulted in huge cuts to education and other core social services, well-paid coaches at big-name schools are progressively becoming targets for political posturing and faux-outrage.  The latest coach to take heat for merely doing his job well is Texas’ Rick Barnes, who recently received a $200,000 raise from the university broken into two parts — $75,000 as a standard annual increase written into his contract, and $125,000 to keep his compensation among the top ten highest paid coaches in the country (a provision of his deal with UT).  His total compensation of $2.4M was approved on Wednesday by the UT Board of Regents.

Barnes is Taking Flak That We Feel is Undeserved

While we completely sympathize with higher education systems nearly everywhere in America that are buckling under the dual stresses of spiraling costs and a public generally uninterested in subsidizing those dollars, to place blame on a guy wholly funded by money from non-taxpayer sources is pandering in its worst form.  Check out these quotes from Texas lawmakers on the matter:

  • “I’m a big fan of UT basketball and coach Barnes.  But at a time when everyone up here is fighting to come up with money to pay for education, it was disappointing.” — Sen. Kirk Watson (D)
  • “I think it’s nuts.”  — Sen. Steve Ogden (R)
  • “It’s not appropriate, not at a time when we’re scraping for money for education.”  — Sen. Jeff Wentworth (R)
  • “It is bad timing.  They didn’t ask for my advice.”  — Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D)

We all remember how Connecticut gadfly Ken Krayeske caused a stink a few years ago in querying UConn head coach Jim Calhoun about the particulars of his then-$1.6M salary, causing the crotchety coach to fire back with several increasingly snide remarks.  That was bad enough, but this is different.  Not a dime of Barnes’ salary comes from the Texas general fund, which means the taxpayers of the Longhorn State no more pay his salary than they do that of the Prince of Wales.  Notwithstanding the deep coffers that the Texas athletic department has at its disposal, we’re also quite certain that the university reaps untold more millions as a result of Barnes’ salary (the Calhoun argument).

If Texas legislators are disposed to pick a fight over Barnes’ salary, they might want to consider his overall performance rather than fixating on the raise itself – when you consider that Barnes is a top ten coach in terms of annual salary, you would hope that UT would avoid the late season meltdowns of the last two years and he’d have more than a single Final Four appearance under his belt.  Frankly, at a football school like Texas, he’s done enough to enable job security for as long as he wants to coach there, but it seems as if the lawmakers completely missed the boat in their efforts to tilt at windmills today.

Share this story

Morning Five: 10.19.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 19th, 2010

  1. Binghamton University announced that the NCAA found no major and only two secondary violations as a result of its investigation into the basketball program.   The two minor violations related to an assistant coach providing impermissible travel to members of the team.  How the school got around a purported email uncovered by the NYT discussing “cash payments and academic fraud,” we’re not sure; but apparently the NCAA was satisfied with what it found (or didn’t find).  Former head coach Kevin Broadus has been on administrative leave for a year as all this played out — Mark Macon took the reins in 2009-10 and led the team to a 13-18 (8-8 Am East) season — but we’d be highly, highly shocked and awed if he got his old job back.
  2. Former Michigan team captain CJ Lee (2007-09) might be taking after former Dookie Reggie Love by finding a role in politics after graduation.  The guard who topped out at 16.5 minutes per game during his senior season when Michigan went to the second round of the NCAA Tournament is highlighted in a television spot supporting Michigan gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder (R) that debuted last week (see ad here).  According to Nate Silver’s aggregate model, Snyder has a 95% chance of winning the position, which means we’ll probably see Lee moving to Lansing sometime this winter.
  3. Former Wake Forest center Tony Woods appears to be set for a transfer to Louisville.  He would begin taking classes there in January and would expect to become eligible to play at the semester break of the 2011-12 season.  Woods of course has to first complete 100 hours of community service in Winston-Salem as a result of a guilty plea to assault for pushing his girlfriend and seriously injuring her during a dispute last month.  All we can say is that we hope Woods has learned his lesson here, and we’ll never feel the need to speak of him again except for his performance on the court.
  4. Virginia’s Sammy Zeglinski, one of the best three-point shooters in the ACC last season, has injured his knee and will be out for an undetermined amount of time.  He’s set to have surgery to deal with what is being characterized as “cartilage work” today and the school won’t know the length of his rehabilitation until after the procedure is completed.  Here’s wishing the guard and Virginia fans good fortune on that surgery.
  5. The SEC media picked Florida to win the conference yesterday, garnering eight of the 16 first-place votes cast.  We’re not so sure.  Sure, the Gators return all five starters and bring in a nice recruiting class, but lest we forget that those same five players lost thirteen games in 2009-10 including five of six down the stretch.  KenPom rated UF as the #45 team in America last year mostly due to a suspect defense, and we’re not convinced that another year in Gainesville automatically means that the Gators are ready to crash the top ten (as many publications and pundits are picking).  Granted, the rest of the SEC East also has question marks.  Kentucky and Tennessee took significant personnel losses, and the up-and-coming Georgia Bulldogs are in the same spot as Florida, just worse (Georgia won five SEC games last year).  Vandy is picked fifth and we can’t figure out how a team that won 24 games (including 12 SEC wins) and brings back a  talented duo like Jeffery Taylor and John Jenkins is getting no love whatsoever.  As for the SEC West, we agree with the media that Mississippi State with Dee Bost and Renardo Sidney eligible should run away with that division.  Of course, this is the same media who last year picked Kevin Stallings over John Calipari  for SEC Coach of the Year — all due respect to the season Vandy put together, but give us a break. As for this year’s individual awards, Georgia’s Trey Thompkins received 18 of the 20 first-place votes for preseason SEC POY.  Vanderbilt’s Taylor, Kentucky’s Brandon Knight, Georgia’s Travis Leslie and Ole Miss’ Chris Warren rounded out the first team.
Share this story

Yet Another Reason to Love Political Season: Ken Krayeske

Posted by rtmsf on October 14th, 2010

Remember UConn gadfly and thorn in Jim Calhoun’s rear Ken Krayeske?

Too Bad Krayeske Isn't Running For Governor

Of course you do — he’s the rabble-rouser who two seasons ago had the temerity to question Calhoun about his salary while the country was still in the throes of a once-in-a-generation recession.  Whether you believe he brought up a fair point or was an obnoxious twit, he’s now running for the US House of Representatives as the Green Party candidate for the First District of Connecticut (north central CT including Hartford). Unfortunately, his campaign doesn’t appear to be gaining much traction even in light of the brief brush with national fame he experienced eighteen months ago (perhaps claiming he was never actually a member of a coven or a practitioner of witchcraft may have helped?).  Fivethirtyeight.com’s Nate Silver gives incumbent congressman John Larson (D) a 100% chance of winning back his seat in this district, showing a commanding lead of  23% over his Republican competitor in his aggregation of poll data.  Needless to say, Krayeske does not even merit inclusion in the data, presumably because the good people of Connecticut saw his latest internet ad where he fixates on Jim Calhoun (a Larson supporter) as a manifestation of the evils of capitalism…  enjoy.

Share this story

Rod Blagojevich Was On to Something…

Posted by rtmsf on February 6th, 2009

Ed. Update (02.08.09 @ 9:30pm EST) – the Ebay listing has been removed.  The below screen grab is the only evidence remaining.

ebay-unavailable

We all know that securing tickets to one of the annual Duke-Carolina matchups is a difficult task (particularly in the 9,000 seat Cameron Indoor Stadium), but sensing that change is indeed in the air, North Carolina state senator Eddie Goodall (R-Mecklenberg) has decided to offer his senate seat for a pair of tickets to next Wednesday’s game.  Channelling ousted Illinois Governor Rob Blagojevich, Goodall didn’t choose to reach out to Jesse Jackson, Jr.; rather, his choice of a targeted customer base was… Ebay?

john-goodall-state-senate-seat

See, Goodall has for some cockamamie reason put his actual senate seat, as in his chair, on Ebay.  We know the economy’s bad and all, but you’d think that the NC Senator’s salary of $13,951 per annum would leave him in much better shape than that.  Ok, probably not, but his tax and financial consulting business probably enabled him to buy the monogrammed $787.95 chair in the first place.  A CBS Sportsline report that broke the story today suggests that Goodall cannot legally sell either one of his seats – physical or political – which begs the question as to what his orginal motive was here.  He claims that the whole thing is an “elaborate goof,” but that rings about as hollow as the assertion of yellowcake in Niger.

We’ll have to wait to see what happens with the chair, but we can rest assured of one thing – Goodall may have played ball at UNC-Charlotte instead of Chapel Hill, but he’s clearly no Dook fan.

john-goodall-ebay-ad

Share this story

Sir Charles Not High on the SEC West

Posted by rtmsf on October 28th, 2008

This is not really college basketball-related, but the Round Mound once played at Auburn (fringe benefits included), so we’ll give ourselves a pass here.  This is from Sir Charles’ recent conversation with CNN’s Campbell Brown about the political climate in this country.  In this clip, Brown asks Barkley about his future political aspirations relating to a run for governor in the state of Alabama.  His response is simply phenomenal. 

Brown: So, you gonna run for governor?

Barkley:  I’m planning on it in 2014.

Brown:  You are?

Barkley:  I am.  I can’t screw up Alabama. 

Brown:  There’s no place to go but up…

Barkley:  We’re number 48 in everything, and Arkansas and Mississippi aren’t going anywhere. 

The Chuck Wagon, always cringe-worthy, and always making friends

Share this story