Dick Vitale Curbstomps NCAA Prez Into Response

In an interview with SPORTS ILLUSTRATED’s Seth Davis this week, new NCAA President Mark Emmert couldn’t have been more forceful in supporting his organization’s decision to rule Kentucky basketball recruit Enes Kanter permanently ineligible to play basketball at UK.

Dick Vitale curbstomps NCAA president into response

Emmert to Davis:

“The vast majority of people in collegiate basketball knew that this was an issue with Enes Kanter. Kentucky knew it. Everybody who talked with him knew it. So I’m amazed that people are shocked by the fact that he is ineligible.”

If you have followed the NCAA over the years, you recognize the stunning, nearly unprecedented candor being displayed by a sitting NCAA President over a particular enforcement ruling.  So with that in mind, it’s no surprise that Emmert’s candor was most likely far from a coincidence.

On November 23, 2009, Todd Dybas of the SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER reported that Kanter had verbally committed to the University of Washington. In a long post extolling the virtues of Kanter’s on-court game by Dybas, there was no mention of the possibility that Kanter may have been facing NCAA eligibility questions. And if there were, obviously Washington, UCLA and USC were not overly concerned, as all three schools were in the running for Kanter’s basketball services at the time. (Kentucky later entered the picture, obviously.)

Kanter eventually de-committed from Washington a year later, which led Huskies Coach Lorenzo Romar to say at the time:

“You develop relationship with kids, and in your mind you have a vision with how it’s going to work with them in this program and how you’re going to help this kid develop and how they’re going to help you. Then, when that changes, it’s disappointing.

“When you’re recruiting someone and they’ve never committed to you and they go elsewhere, then that’s a part of what we do. But if someone does say, ‘I’m picking you, I’m coming with you and we’re getting ready to do this together from here on out,’ and then if they were to change their mind, it’s very disappointing.”

So Romar was indisputably still on Kanter’s trail up until the Turkish recruit’s decision to de-commit from Washington.

Now back to Mark Emmert’s statement about Kanter to Seth Davis this week:

“The vast majority of people in collegiate basketball knew that this was an issue with Enes Kanter. Kentucky knew it. Everybody who talked with him knew it. So I’m amazed that people are shocked by the fact that he is ineligible.”

Who exactly was the President of the University of Washington when the Huskies received their verbal commitment from Kanter? (And subsequently Kanter’s “very disappointing” de-commit?)

Mark Emmert.

But even with that intersection of what some may view as mere coincidence, why was Emmert so heated in defending his NCAA’s decision to render Kanter’s ineligible?

Enter Dick Vitale. Read more…

BW-Fee: ESPN’s Wingo, Tressel Are (Bar) Foodies

ESPN’s Trey Wingo and Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel spoke to the BW3 franchisee convention in Orlando today.

Jim Tressel Trey Wingo Speak At BW-3 Convention In Orlando

Wingo and Tressel are contracted endorsers of the bar food chain, which probably saved the company $75,000 in appearances fees. (Wingo: $25,000, Tressel $50,000+)

Trey Wingo Official Twitter Account Buffalo Wild Wings

No problem with guys makin’ that paper, but I’m still a little miffed at not getting an invite from Wingo’s official Twitter account. Not to mention ESPN not clearing the reporter’s on-air name change - Trey BuffaloWildWingo - despite the NFL anchor having satisfied state and federal legal requirements.*

Dick Vitale Hooters Commercial Banned By NCAA Tournament

With a handle like ‘Wild Wingo,’ have we finally found the man who will some day ascend to the throne of banned NCAA College Basketball Tournament commercials?

Read more…

Week In Review: Shawne & Tila Get All Choked Up

Shawne Merriman & Tila Tequila have had quite the memorable week, haven’t they?

Shawne Merriman Tila Tequila

• Bengals QB Carson Palmer is worried that someone’s going to die in the NFL. Meanwhile, other Bengals QB Jordan Palmer has no worries about big brother’s USC squad beating the Buckeyes.

• Sounds like Danica Patrick will be racing over to NASCAR next year.

Melanie Oudin had a great run at the US Open, although she could have done without the hotel eviction & her parents’ impending divorce.

• In the meantime, Novak Djokovic entertains the Flushing Meadows fans with his impression of John McEnroe - only to have the real deal come down & serve the Serb a lesson in an impromptu match.

Read more…

Dick Vitale: Good Samaritan For Slain Teenagers

Dick Vitale, it’s quite safe to say, has never had a problem with wearing his heart on his sleeve. Usually, this kind-hearted boisterousness comes through in his college basketball analysis; even if it’s “Dickie V’ed” up a bit (a lot), there’s always the understanding that he actually believes the words coming out of his mouth.

Dick Vitale Jazmine Thompson

But this is a new one, as near as we can tell. There was a sad story out of Bradenton, Florida, where Bayshore High School student and cheerleader Jazmine Thompson was shot and killed. The shooting took place after a young man opened fire on a car Thompson was riding in; Thompson, 18, had planned to attend college and become an attorney.

Vitale, a resident of nearby Lakewood Ranch, heard about the story and, despite having no personal connection to the family, has made arrangements to help pay for Thompson’s funeral.

Read more…

ESPN To Unveil Its Own Walk Of Fame In Bristol

Big news today, as ESPN announces that as part of its 30th anniversary, it will honor long-time employees with a Walk of Fame at their Bristol campus. Just slightly less prestigious than the one in Hollywood, this Walk of Fame will feature a freshman class of 43 staffers, all of whom have been with the network since its first year. Except for that poor guy who Berman screamed at that time; he’s living in the jungle in the Philippines.

We wonder, will new ESPN employees be hazed for stepping on Bob Ley’s star? Who will clean the spit and vegetable matter from Dick Vitale’s? And what other commemorative attraction ideas were considered before the Walk of Fame was approved? Top rejected ESPN 30th anniversary ideas: Read more…

Speed Read: Hansbrough, UNC Handle Duke Again

You have to hand it to the Cameron Crazies. Not so much for dressing a student as Beaker from “The Muppet Show” to point out the resemblance with North Carolina star Tyler Hansbrough. Frankly, this is old news. But having said Duke student/Muppet wear a T-shirt that says “D League,” as the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER noted. That’s classic - even North Carolina players were laughing over that one.

Tyler Hansbrough and Beaker

But then again, it was the Tar Heels and Hansbrough who had the last laugh again, as North Carolina pulled away in the second half to take down the Blue Devils 101-87 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Which made Hansbrough and senior teammate Danny Green the only two players to play in four straight victories at Duke since Mike Krzyzewski took over as the Blue Devils’ coach.

Mike Krzyzewski reacts to UNC loss

The spark for North Carolina was Ty Lawson, who scored 21 points in the second half to help the Tar Heels rally from an eight-point halftime deficit. (Good thing there is nothing the Duke fans could have given him grief about.) But as usual, the story was Hansbrough, whether he was hitting key three-pointers, getting compared to a Muppet, or getting cracked in the jaw by a Kyle Singler elbow:

You have to love the crackerjack ESPN crew of Mike Patrick and Dick Vitale totally missing the elbow. But at least Vitale - once he noticed what was happening - actually admitted that a Duke player did a bad, bad thing. Unlike Billy Packer, who probably would have chided Hansbrough for ramming into Singler’s elbow with his face.

And what’s the best way to celebrate a big win if you’re a North Carolina student? Why, burning a Christmas tree, of course. Take that, Christmas! (Why they still had a tree in February is another question.):

Speaking of Christmas…it’s time to give you the gift that keeps on giving: Brett Favre is finally gone. After the Jets’ meltdown to end the season, it was obvious what was going to happen, but it’s official: he’s filed his retirement paperwork with the league and is apparently done. No teary press conferences, no 24/7 ESPN media watch, just an old man making sure, as the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS reports, he gets his severance pay like an auto worker reaching retirement age.

Brett Favre

So our national nightmare is over. Unless Favre goes online and reads stories like those from Dan Pompei of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE, who immediately wrote a column that suggested Favre could still “lead certain teams to the Super Bowl. Certain teams meaning “Minnesota Vikings.” For God’s sake, Pompei, let’s not give him any ideas - this is like Edward R. Murrow going on the radio and suggesting that Joseph McCarthy should try exposing gay in the military instead of Communists.

Other sports stories that happened last night as you regretted eating peanut butter and peanut sandwiches for dinner (with peanut brittle for dessert):

  • CNBC says that jewelry maker Robindira Unsworth received a surprise when one of her creations wound up dangling from the neck of Bar Refaeli on the cover of the SI Swimsuit Issue. Which makes me wonder: has anyone even noticed her necklace while looking at the cover? Perhaps boyfriend Leonard DiCaprio bought it for her, a nice gift - as the LA TIMES says some people think the SI cover was.
  • Bar Refaeli SI swimsuit cover

  • GOAL.COM says Mexico soccer captain Rafael Marquez is really sorry that he drove his spikes into US goalkeeper Tim Howard’s thigh, earning him a red card in his team’s 2-0 loss in a World Cup qualifying match in Columbus last night.  He might want to apologize to Mexico coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, who is now in danger of losing his job after El Tri have only won one of their last seven games.
  • Remember the testing program Lance Armstrong was going to undertake during his comeback to prove that he was free of performing-enhancing drugs? What a shock - it’s been scrapped, as KCRA-TV reports that he now claims that it’s too expensive and complex to pull off this year. I guess getting rid of Favre is all we could ask for.
  • Just what the already-volatile Dallas Cowboys’ locker room needs: Ray Lewis. The DALLAS MORNING NEWS reports that Terrell Owens has been making phone calls trying to recruit the Ravens’ linebacker/non-murder to play for Dallas this season.
  • Despite claims in a lawsuit filed by his ex-girlfriend, Roberto Alomar tells ESPN that he’s perfectly healthy and does not have AIDS. And he’s willing to spit anywhere needed to prove it.
  • Former Congressman Tom Davis tells NBCSPORTS.COM that it’s time to “cut your losses,” and that you can expect charges against Roger Clemens for lying under oath soon.
  • A woman in Fresno put up her old baseball card on eBay for $10, but decided to pull the item after receiving way too many e-mails asking if it was real. It turns out that the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings card was real, and worth a lot more than she thought: the AP says she sold it yesterday for almost $65,000.
  • Speaking of eBay, IDIOTS ON SPORTS found this beauty up for sale on the auction site, although I doubt it’s worth $65,000:
  • Bobby Labonte limo thing

  • The WACO TRIBUNE reports that Baylor football recruit Willie Jefferson was arrested 10 days before signing his letter of intent and charged with marijuana possession after cops found a “small bag of marijuana, a marijuana cigarette and several cigars in a cavity on the floorboard of the vehicle” Jefferson was driving. This is why you don’t by a used car from Tommy Chong.
  • See, Sirius XM isn’t going bankrupt. If it was, why would they be flying Chris Russo out first-class to spring training- twice! - as he told Howard Stern yesterday. Just like there’s no way the banks could be going under if they can still afford to fly their executives out to expensive resorts for annual meetings.

Which rivalry are you most sick of hearing about?

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Pacman Thinks That Everything Is ESPN’s Fault

As The Duke was so kind to inform us all of this morning in the Speed Read, Adam “Pacman” Jones was cut by the Dallas Cowboys yesterday after a story on ESPN talked about his supposed involvement in a shooting outside an suburban Atlanta strip club back in June 2007.

According to the story, while no charges were ever filed against Pacman or anybody else for the shooting, an informant told police that it had been ordered by Jones. Apparently he’d been in some kind of altercation with one of the men that was shot at. Well, as you can easily figure out, Pacman isn’t exactly thrilled with ESPN right now for running the story that cost him his job. So now he needs to find a new way to make money to pay for all these lawyers to keep him out of prison, and the only way to do that would be to sue ESPN.

Read more…

ESPN To Get Vitale Far Far Away From Duke Game

ESPN is being forced to resort to desperate measures and ridiculous publicity stunts to keep Dick Vitale from calling Duke games. For the Jan. 7 Duke-Davidson game, ESPN will bring in its NBA announcers, while moving Vitale and co. to the Heat-Nuggets game later that day.

Dick Vitale

So that means Mike Tirico, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy are going to have to do some cramming to figure out what the hell a one-and-one is, while Vitale and Dan Shulman are going to need to get used to the 24-second shot clock. But obviously, the real benefit to viewers everywhere, other than not being forced to hear Elliot Williams called a diaper dandy ever 2 minutes, is not having to deal with Vitale having an orgasm on-air anytime Duke does anything competently.

Read more…

Vitale Was Right: Olson Officially Out As UA Coach

Earlier today I speculated that Dick Vitale’s report this morning that Lute Olson was stepping down as Arizona baskebtall coach might not turn out to be accurate - because Olson would stay on just to spite the ESPNer’s scoop. Well, Vitale was indeed correct, as the ARIZONA DAILY STAR has just confirmed Lute Olson is out as Univ. of Arizona basketball coach.

Lute Olson Arizona Wildcat statue

Excerpt:

Lute Olson will step down as head basketball coach of the Arizona Wildcats, according to the fathers of two top UA recruits who said they were informed by the assistant coaches this morning. Read more…

Will Olson Stay On Just To Spite Vitale’s Report?

I’m sure Mike Stoops is really excited about this one. As Stoops gets his Arizona football team ready for the biggest game of his coaching career, vs. USC on Saturday, ESPN’s Dick Vitale reported earlier today that Arizona Basketball Coach Lute Olsonis stepping down as the school’s men’s basketball coach.

Dick Vitale

(Bald story-breakers keeping things interesting for ESPN this week)

In other words, no one in Tucson now cares about Saturday’s football game.

But while Vitale has staked his reputation on the story - culled from a “source,” the UA athletic department is wholly denying it. Though curiously, Olson has not made a public statement since Vitale’s report.

So what’s really going on? Read more…