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.
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?”
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.
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.)
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.
- As you probably know, Senator Ted Kennedy died late last night at the age of 77. Regardless of where you stand in the political spectrum, it’s hard not to think that an era in American politics died along with him. But did you know that he was also a fair football player in his day? In fact, he was good enough to be the starting end on the Harvard Crimson football team and be offered a shot at the NFL by the head coach of the Green Bay Packers.
- The head football coach at Ogden High in Utah has been suspended after allegedly getting into a confrontation with the band director over the use of the field for practice. Sounds like someone wound up getting a piccolo stuck somewhere it shouldn’t be.
- Apparently in Canada, stomping on a goalie and breaking his neck during a soccer match can get you arrested, but only earn you a yellow card on the field. I think that using hockey refs as soccer officials might not be working out.
- Jerry Stone, one of California’s top high school running backs, has been arrested and charged with attempted murder for his alleged role in a drive-by shooting on Friday in Compton.
- The half-brother of former Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Leonardo Carson rolls on him during a federal drug trafficking trial, saying that Carson supplied him with cocaine and other drugs to sell.
- A drunk city official in Snohomish, WA offers to show a female employee of the group sponsoring a golf tournament “the size of his tee” and whips off his…ahem…head cover. That’s one way to lose your job.
- The woman who was accused by Michael Vick of ripping him off of more than $2 million has been charged in a Ponzi scheme involving an investment firm co-founded by NFL players Demorrio Williams and brothers Josh and Daniel Bullocks.
- The attorney for Mark Becker, the former Aplington-Parkersburg High School player accused of shooting and killing legendary coach Ed Thomas, claims that his client “has difficulty distinguishing reality from fantasy” and is therefore not competent to stand trial.
- Martina Hingis has been named to the cast of the British version of “Dancing with the Stars.” No word on if she’ll be allowed to perform an intricate dance routine while Hoovering a suspicious white powder up her nose.
- Finally, to repeat our top story for the deaf and hard of hearing: Brad Lidge is still bad at saving games.