Thursday Morning Sports—August 20 2009
Well, the Thursday sports crew has had a busy week. The Braves have done well, done poorly, and moved hardly a notch in the standings. NFL pre-season games have started, and our beloved Titans won their first game, although Yahoo Sports was misreporting the score the next morning. The scoreboard on my home page showed them losing 24-21, when they had won 21-18. You know what matters? Really, none of it---it's a preseason game! However, there's a real record book, and there's what gets reported in the media. Even if every news agency reports it wrongly, no matter who believes CNN/SI, FOXSports, CBSports, or ESPN, there is an accurate record kept by the NFL, and that's the only one that matters. Hmmm....there might be some thoughts to add to Tuesday Morning Theology. About the idea of objective standards and records compared to what the world thinks or believes. Then, we've got College Football cranking up, and the SEC is sure to be the crazy conference it's always been. Add to that the increased governmental interest in nit-picking the BCS to death, which might blur over on to Monday Morning Politics.
So, what shall we turn our attention to today?
First, a warning to Kentucky fans. Right now, the reports are that Memphis will have to vacate the wins, and the national runner-up status, from the 2007-2008 season. You remember that one? When John Calipari had recruited Derrick Rose to come to college free for a year before going to the NBA? When, since NCAA rules prohibit using the names of incoming freshman to advertise, they just put up billboards around town with a rose on it and talking about the Tigers “Blooming”? Well, guess what? It turns out that, apparently, someone involved with the University of Memphis Basketball program, related to recruiting, qualifying, and bringing in new athletes, was aware or involved with helping falsify an SAT score for qualification of a new freshman player.
No names have been released, but apparently it was a freshman on that team that never played for the Tigers again. And because of this, which is cheating, the team will have to invalidate its wins for that season. This is the second team that Calipari has coached to the Final Four that ended up vacating its wins. It happened at Massachusetts in the 1990s.
So, Kentucky fans, I'd like to pass on a warning for you. If the Wildcats make the Final Four this year, don't celebrate yet. Wait until Calipari has gone on somewhere else, and the NCAA is done investigating before you celebrate. Better a late party than voided party. Now, I'm sure there are some that believe “He didn't have anything to do with it.” Right. After all, as the head coach, he's not responsible for what happens, right? And he's never been tainted by this type of scandal before, right? So, it's just an illogical jump that he'd be involved.
The university athletics system is breaking, folks. It exists to provide educational opportunities to student-athletes and to provide the leadership and life training sports can provide. It is becoming a self-serving beast. Your college doesn't have a team to win championships, but that's what we expect. And coaches should be teaching athletes by word and deed the life skills they need. Instead, they are learning that as long as they win games, any wrongdoing is overlooked. Is it any wonder we have steroid scandals, sexual assault scandals, drug dealing, dogfighting, and all manner of other criminal behavior?
Second observation: stick with what you're good at. Jimmy Johnson knew he needed to pit, but then decided to play fuel-mileage games at Michigan. And lost. Mark Martin knew he probably needed gas. Didn't pit. Lost, and is just a few points from falling out of the Chase. Both of them could have pitted, fueled, and still finished top-10 in that race. Lessons? 1.)Refuel when you need it. 2.)Don't press your luck. It'll get pressed enough. Mark Martin could find himself caught up in a wreck next week and fall completely out of the championship race, while he'd have held on to that spot had he finished top-10. Life will send enough bad your way. Don't add to it.