Speed Read: Hero Vandy Coach Turns Down Raise

It’s hard to get too misty-eyed about the integrity of college sports when coaches are dealing with sex scandals, players are getting arrested on a daily basis and Yahoo! Sports is ready to let loose with the blockbuster news that a USC football player might have received an extra large slice of apple pie at the cafeteria because he’s on the team. But then you hear about things like the following story and you remember why you cry like a girl every time “Rudy” is on.

Kevin Stallings, hero

Vanderbilt head basketball coach Kevin Stallings had been planning a 10-day trip for his basketball team to Australia for well over a year when he learned that school wide budget cuts threatened to nix the trip. So what did Stallings do? He decided to decline the $100,000 raise he was owed by the school in order to pay for the journey. The team played OK - going 3-2 in five games - but I would imagine that the benefits go much further than that. Plus, how do you not play hard for a guy who gave up $100,000 so you could go to Australia?

“Jermaine, remember when you got to feed that kangaroo straight from your hand? Then how about screening out your man?”

Jarvis Varnado

This comes on the heels of Mississippi State’s star basketball player Jarvis Varnado giving up his scholarship so the team could sign more players. That’s two totally selfless acts involving SEC basketball in the space of less than a week, which is probably more than we saw all of last season. Sometimes its good to be reminded that sports are supposed to be, you know, uplifting.

West Ham hooligan

Meanwhile, just to cut the legs out from under you as you’re actually starting to feel good about sports again: look, British football hooligans are back! I guess if The Specials are touring again, then it really is like 1982 in London, which apparently means it’s time for pitch invasions, fights in the stands and undoing 25 years of progress toward making soccer in England respectable again.

The trouble came in a Carling Cup match between rivals West Ham and Millwall. West Ham won the game in extra time, 3-1, but the story was the “fans” of the two teams. One man was stabbed and at least 10 people were arrested in what appeared to be planned brawls outside of the stadium before and after the game. Plus, West Ham fans staged a “pitch invasion,” storming the field after West Ham scored the go-ahead goal early in extra time, forcing the match to be delayed for several minutes and riot squads to escort the visiting Millwall players off the field for their own safety.

I’m guessing this isn’t exactly what ESPN was hoping for when they paid for the partial rights to cover EPL games this season. Although I’d like to see the “ESPN Axis” technology be used to highlight some hooligan taking a dart to the eye - let’s see Tommy Smyth put that one in the old onion bag. (Also, it should be noted that the Carling Cup is about as important as winning the Cactus League title - I shudder to think what things will be like by the end of the season.)

Floyd Landis

Speaking of awful people, we have a Floyd Landis sighting. Even though he’s was stripped of his Tour de France title for doping offenses, he’s got at least one cycling team who would consider hiring him. And of course it’s with Lance Armstrong’s new team. Really, were you expecting anything else? Armstrong had been out of the headlines for a whole three or four weeks, and we can’t have that. P.S.: Have fun with that sponsorship, Radio Shack.

Sen. Ted Kennedy will be remembered for…

View Results

Harvard Coach Tried To Run Over Pregnant Ex?

One of the most effective ways to find blog posts is to go a Google News search on “football” and “arrested.” It never fails. But it’s usually pretty pedestrian stuff. But throw in an Ivy League school, and attempted feticide, and I’ve stuck gold.

Joe Villapiano

A Harvard assistant coach has been charged with trying to run over his pregnant ex-girlfriend with his car, a culmination of months of alleged stalking. She’s also claiming his Harvard connections are protecting him. It’s the most obvious soap opera plot ever.
Read more…

Kiffin: Become a Gamecock, End Up Pumping Gas

• Vols coach Lane Kiffin warns recruit: If you choose South Carolina over Tennessee, prepare for a career pumping gas.

Lane Kiffin old gas pump

• Beauty pageant competitors Christiann & Arielle Unger have an axe to grind with you.

• Could Franco Harris’ son become the next mayor of Pittsburgh?

• If you’re going to be sitting around watching March Madness anyway, why not use that time recovering from a vasectomy?

• If you want a high-five from Paul Pierce, better leave the LeBron jersey at home.

Read more…

Movie Review: “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29″ Scores

Legendary Michigan State football coach Duffy Daugherty was once quoted as saying, “A tie is like kissing your sister.” If Duffy was talking about the 1968 Harvard-Yale game, then your sister just might be Marisa Miller or Bar Refaeli.

Harvard Beats Yale 29-29

OK, maybe that’s a bit overboard, but the ‘68 clash between the Crimson & the Bulldogs was an exciting one - or so I’ve heard over the years. To the best of my knowledge, ESPN Classic hasn’t shown a replay of the game, so I could never judge for myself. Thanks to director Kevin Rafferty, now I can - and the game truly lived up to the now well-known if slightly absurd headline, “Harvard Beats Yale, 29-29″.

Read more…

Speed Read: Lying Memoirs Come To Pro Baseball

The NEW YORK TIMES is known for strong investigative reporting, and up until now, Yale and Harvard Medical Schools both had relatively spotless reputations with the press as well. That may have all changed because of what seems to be a falsified memoir by a minor league baseball player turned doctor.

Odd Man Out

According to investigative reporters Alan Schwarz and Benjamin Hill, a book called “Odd Man Out”, allegedly a memoir about medical resident Matthew McCarthy’s one season — 2002 — with the Provo (Utah) Angels of the rookie-level Pioneer League, is fraught with errors, as identified by McCarthy’s own subjects in subsequent interviews. While the concerns haven’t reached critical mass yet, the book is already teetering on the edge of becoming a sports version of James Frey’s infamous “A Million Little Pieces”.

matt mccarthy baseball book

Need proof? Check out the disparity between what McCarthy writes about these players, and what they say about their time with the team.

Pitcher Blake Allen repeatedly talks about missing his wife and child back in Alabama; Allen, in a telephone interview last week, said his first son was born Sept. 28, two months after he had permanently left the team. Allen later is quoted saying he met his wife in Oxford, Ala., but they actually met in high school in Alexander City.

Out of baseball since that year and now living in Alexander City, Allen said last week that the more disparaging but less disprovable stories about him — crassly disparaging (Manager Tom) Kotchman, Dominican players and the Mormon citizens of Provo — were just as false. Allen added that a portion where he admitted to faking his injury so he could “just sit back and cash the checks,” which appeared in the Sports Illustrated excerpt, could seriously affect his life.

That, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg. Neither Viking Publishing’s Carolyn Coleburn, who is in charge of publicity for the publishing house that put out “Odd Man Out”, nor Chris Stone, Sports Illustrated’s baseball editor who green-lighted the excerpting of the memoir, could claim that they aggressively verified facts in the book.

It’s uncertain whether much will come of the new questions being raised about McCarthy’s tome, and the pitcher is already fudging some of the details about his story to make his book more defensible. Regardless, he’s bound to make serious bank on it, which goes to prove what the banking scandal should have taught us already: If someone has two Ivy League degrees, be awful careful before investing in any product they’re selling you.

matt mccarthy  baseball book

As soon as India was attacked by terrorists earlier this year, concerns were raised about international cricket and the subsequent tours to be made by European and Caribbean teams to the Indian subcontinent. Well, those fears have come to terrifying realization after five policemen were killed and several Sri Lankan cricketers were injured in a terrorist attack in Pakistan early Tuesday morning. The Associated Press puts the number of injured athletes at eight, though that number has yet to be confirmed.

“Police resisted when 12 terrorists attacked the bus in which Sri Lankan cricket players were traveling,” Lahore police chief Habib-ur- Rahman told reporters. The Sri Lankan team “was the target,” he said.

Needless to say, knowing that the Sri Lankan team was the primary target of the attack is no comfort to Sri Lanka, or to cricketers across the globe. Perhaps more than any other sport, cricket athletes travel to areas of questionable security, putting themselves in front of more loosely screened fans and groups with a motive for terror. If existing concerns over India weren’t already enough, this is exactly the kind of event that could push England’s cricket team to cancel all touring outside of Europe or the West Indies altogether.

sri lankan gunman cricket

That says nothing of Sri Lanka, which is still trying to get a grasp on this latest brutal attack.

“We take these attacks very seriously,” Gamini Lokuge, sports minister of Sri Lanka, said in a phone interview from capital, Colombo.

Yes, we’d imagine they would take the attacks seriously. Now we’ll see how serious the rest of the world takes them.

Not even McCarthy could spin his way into convincing anyone that LeBron James isn’t morphing into outright greatness before our eyes. In his latest act of late-game escape, King James helped the Cavs’ rally from an 11-point fourth quarter deficit in Miami against the league’s second-highest scoring player — behind himself — Dwayne Wade.

LeBron James chalk cloud

In the end, both James and Wade were pretty spectacular. For the second straight game since being called out by the NBA for his fashion-aids, Wade went off, scoring 41 points. The only problem was that James was even better, scoring 42 in Cleveland’s 107-100 win.

If you thought that James and Wade like playing each other because it pushes them both to put up big numbers, well, you’re right. Just how close those statistics are, however, is frightening. Through 18 games between the Cavaliers and Heat, both Wade and James’s teams have won nine times. James has averaged 2.1 more points-per-game, with 0.1 more rebounds-per-game and one more assist-per-game, though both have four 40-point games against the other’s team. Spooky, huh?

Now the question is whether they’ll face off in the playoffs. If you don’t think that would make a must-watch series, well, we’re calling you crazy right now.

Which athlete is most likely to pull the crap “The Bachelor” did last night?

View Results

NY Mets’, Scott Linehan’s Seasons End Too Soon

• The New York Mets are out of the playoff picture, thanks to a late-season swoon. This is not a repeat.

Scott Linehan Mets fans

• Not Ram tough: Scott Linehan is given the St. Louis toodle-oo.

• Don’t call it a comeback: Shawn Kemp goes AWOL from his Italian b-ball club, blames it on Hurricane Ike.

• Hard to tell which was more painful to watch - Anquan Boldin taking a hit to the helmet, or the Jets’ Titan-ically terrible throwback duds.

• The Brewers’ season-ending run was exciting enough to make you tinkle in your trousers. But make sure you don’t sing “Go Cubs Go!” at Miller Park.

Read more…

Is Tommy Amaker Killing Ivy League Basketball?

To say that Tommy Amaker is bringing a different approach to Ivy League basketball as head coach at Harvard is a bit of an understatement. You could either look at his recent actions on the recruiting and player development front as an aggressive, experienced coach bringing big-time basketball to a school, or a blood-thirsty coach destroying the Ivy League experience by instituting a reckless, “win at all costs” mentality.

Tommy Amaker

Case in point: The NEW YORK TIMES reports that Amaker has dismissed five players from the team - including three sophomores who had started last season - and told them they wouldn’t be on the varsity team this season. They could play on the JV team if they wanted, though (and isn’t is quaint that Harvard still has a JV team).

Read more…

Exiled Amaker Breaks NCAA Rules At … Harvard?!

The NEW YORK TIMES has a piece today on Tommy Amaker as he plumbs the depths of the bowels of college basketball at Harvard. Amaker is in his first year coaching the astonishingly, historically-inept Crimson (they’ve never won an Ivy League title?) .

Tommy Amaker Kelvin Sampson

Now, we know what a wonderfully mediocre head coach T.A. was in his previous stops at Michigan and Seton Hall. But Pete Thamel of the NEW YORK TIMES reports that he may have somehow eclipsed that futility at Harvard, by committing NCAA recruiting violations at the scholarship-free institution. Read more…