There is so much going on in sports right now. NCAA Basketball madness all day. MLB Spring Training. NFL Labor Negotiations. NBA Basketball. And I could go on. It is time to delve into some of the major headlines today.
Tressels Sweats it Out in the Sweater Vest
It has come out that Ohio State Head Football Coach Jim Tressel was aware of NCAA infractions of star players Terrelle Pryor, Devier Posey, and others 7 months before it became public. 7 months is a long time. Think about it. Had this information came out earlier, the debate would not have been over whether these guys should have missed the Sugar Bowl, but over should they miss the Big Ten Opener. If this had been case, OSU may have blown any shot of winning an unprecedented 6th consecutive Big Ten Title by choking away the opener at Illinois. I am going to be entirely real with you. I would not be surprised at all if Coach Sweater Vest knew about these infractions long before it came out and just kept things under wraps.
Tressel wants to win. What high school, collegiate, or professional coach in America does not want to win. He resides at the helm of the most prestigious athletic team at the University that possesses arguably the best athletic program of them all. If you knew that two of your star players would have to miss significant time if you ratted, would you snitch? I understand this is a matter of integrity and moral fiber. But who in College sports demonstrates unquestioned integrity these days? All of the coaches that have not been caught yet I guess. Now I admit that this is a bold statement, but many coaches are breaking little rules here and there and some of these minor incidents will come out, while others will not. Just ask California Head Basketball Coach Mike Montgomery, a former chair of the NABC Ethics Committee about how many coaches are playing entirely by the rules.
In May of 2009, the Columbus Dispatch reported that since the year 2000, the Buckeyes had reported more than 375 NCAA rule violations. This number was far and away more than any of the other 69 schools that submitted documentation. When did Jim Tressel arrive in Columbus? Try right before the 2001 season. He is obviously no stranger to NCAA violations. But he is also no stranger to winning.
Tressel has now won 6 consecutive Big Ten Championships (7 overall) and a National Title in his decade at the helm of the Buckeyes. I would say that is pretty impressive. So what if he is the most conservative coach in America and generally holds his teams back from hitting that National Championship level due to a lack of offensive creativity/imagination. He wins 10 or more games every year, beats Michigan (9 and 1 overall against the Wolverines), and rakes in the Big Ten Titles. Winning is rule number 1 in College Sports these days no matter how you spin it sadly. Winning at all costs is a key to Collegiate sports these days whether people want to admit it or not. Winning leads to money. Money is what makes the world go round. And though Tressel is old school and conservative, he is not above winning at all costs.
Is Tiki Turning Into #4?
When I heard this earlier today, I initially chuckled. And honestly, I am still laughing a little bit. Tiki Barber was one of those guys who retired at the prime of his career. Now I understood where he was coming from. He had no major injuries. He had all of his bearings. And he had all the money he could ever need (or so it seemed). Why not get out and relax a little?
But now the one who retired too soon is going to try to give it another go at the age of 36. Much of the end of his career was marred by controversy both with his quarterback (Eli Manning) and coach (Tom Coughlin). Well I am honestly not sure who is going to pick him up. Though I have my suspicions that Tampa may try to reunite Tiki with his brother Ronde. But I think coming back to play in the NFL at any position, especially as a running back at the age of 36 is ludicrous. Best of luck to Tiki. I just hope that his return does not turn into another number 4 media sensation.
Duke the Not So Great?
Panic mode is in full flight for College Basketball’s version of the New York Yankees. Though it is unwarranted, the defending NCAA Champions do have some glaring weaknesses that they did not have last year. I told you all on this very blog to pick UNC on Saturday. UNC is young, talented, athletic, and very dangerous. They are a team that I would not want to draw in the first few rounds of the Madness (NCAA Tournament). Duke is a very good team that will get a 1 or 2 seed regardless of how the ACC Tourney plays out come Selection Sunday. They also will likely be given an easier draw than their fellow number 1 or 2 seeds in that they are Duke. Generally, Duke finds themselves with a very favorable draw.
I do think the Blue Devils will roll deep. But sadly, they have a few glaring weaknesses that have been exposed by teams such like UNC as of late. These were weaknesses that they were able to cover up last year, but have been unable to at times this year. They have no interior presence. Sadly the highly touted Plumlee brothers are not cutting the mustard yet. They just do not have much of a presence on either the offensive or defensive end. In addition, the Blue Devil’s overall depth is lacking. A rotation of 6 or 7 like they typically have used in the post Kyrie era could lead to some serious issues with tired legs in March. Do not share this secret with Thad Matta or Ohio State though. Tired legs do not exist in Columbus, or at least not yet. In addition, Duke relies far too heavily on the 3 ball. They throw up over 22 attempts a game. This heavy reliance on perimeter shooting is typical of Coach K teams, but can be real hit or miss. Either you are on or you or not. It is a heavy risk especially if your sharpshooters are not hitting the mark that day. Though I will state, Smith, Curry, and Dawkins all stroke it from downtown pretty darn well. Lastly, Duke is soft. There is no other way to put it. They do not have the overall toughness to win another championship.
I expect them to make it to the Elite 8 at this time (mind you, this is without viewing a draw since they are not set). But I will state that if Kyrie Irving somehow magically returns from his injured foot, they are once again a frontrunner to repeat as champions. This super frosh opens up so many doors just with his presence on the floor. It is hard to pick against Coach K and Duke. But sadly, without Irving, I do not see them making it back to the Final Four at this point.
Just some “Food for Thought.”
Let me hear your thoughts though. Please comment below with any questions or insights that you may have or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.