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…

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Speed Read: Cleveland Is A Hot Mess Right Now

It was an incredibly tumultuous night in Cleveland, and the Cavaliers losing to the Wizards was the least shocking news of the night. (Although as the WASHINGTON POST’s Michael Lee points out, Washington joins the Lakers and Celtics as the only teams to beat Cleveland twice this season.) Yes, it’s not often that the best team in the league loses to the worst team in the league, but the Wizards are a unique case, with Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood finally back playing after missing almost all of the season with injuries.

Jay Cutler Brady Quinn Jason Campbell

No, most of the evening drama in Cleveland involved the Browns. First came some fallout from Jay Cutler’s trade to the Bears, specifically reports that Cleveland had tried to work out a three-way deal with the Broncos and Redskins that would have sent Brady Quinn to Denver and Jason Campbell to Cleveland. Browns coach Eric Mangini spent Thursday night denying these reports; expect Quinn to demand a trade because the Browns tried to trade him sometime within the next week.

Donte Stallworth

And later in the evening, there was news in the DUI manslaughter case against Browns WR Donte Stallworth, and it was more than just his first appearance at a court hearing. It turns out that Stallworth was already in the NFL’s substance abuse program at the time of his arrest, which opens him up to a whole range of punishment from the league. Of course, he’s facing charges that could land him in jail for at least eight years, and having a history of substance abuse issues is not going to help his case, so I’d say that Roger Goodell is the least of Stallworth’s problems right now.

Bernie Williams

Meanwhile, there were no problems at the opening of the Hard Rock Cafe Yankee Stadium yesterday, just a lot of unintentional comedy as reported by MLB.COM. What do I mean? How about Yankees’ Executive Vice President Hal “The Pretty One” Steinbrenner joining rock stars/C-list celebs with nothing better to do Ace Frehley of KISS, Scott Ian and Frank Bello of Anthrax, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Bernie Williams and members of the Seminole Nation to smash guitars instead of cutting a ribbon. And yes, this means rock and roll is officially¬†dead.

(Oh yeah, “Late Show With David Letterman” band drummer Anton Fig was there, which only means one thing: even Paul Shaffer had too much dignity to show up to this thing.)

Other news while you were rioting in the streets of State College to celebrate Penn State’s NIT victory:

  • As PUCK DADDY notes, it must be like getting their hearts ripped out all over again for Hartford Whalers fans to see a Hurricanes jersey with the Whalers’ logo (and a God awful color combination). Although I’d love it if the Ravens wore Browns jerseys for “Turn Back The Clock” day against Cleveland.
  • Whalers jersey

  • While the Jay Cutler trade solved one long-running NFL saga, the Anquan Boldin/Arizona Cardinals mess continues to fester. The latest comes from NFL.COM which reports that Boldin told a Florida radio station that he would “love to” play in his home city of Miami.
  • I had hoped that the America’s Cup had gone the way of 1980s fads like The Lambada, Swatches and The California Raisins. But apparently it’s still happening, and it’s now the focus of lawsuits involving people with more money than they know what to do with. The AP has the latest news, as software tycoon Larry Ellison and his boat “Oracle” have won the right to challenge the current Cup holders, Judge Elihu Smails and his boat “The Flying Wasp” (seen below at its coronation):

  • It looks like things are going anything but “perfect” for former Cincinnati ace Tom Browning: THE NEWS & OBSERVER reports the Reds have dropped him as the pitching coach for the Carolina Mudhens after he was arrested on Friday for failure to pay child support.
  • If you’re a former NFL player who gets arrested on drug charges, you would hope that the headlines wouldn’t call you “forgettable.” But that’s just how NBC DALLAS FORT WORTH described former Cowboy Leonardo Carson, arrested yesterday on intent to sell charges, and I’ll be damned if they aren’t right.
  • Now that Tim Floyd has turned down Arizona, TUCSON CITIZEN columnist Anthony Gimino wants to know if there’s anyone left who wants the Wildcats’ coaching job. May I make a suggestion: Former Baylor coach Dave Bliss is available and ready to talk. Sure, he’s got a checkered past, but the guy knows how to win. Barring that, perhaps Jerry Tarkanian is available.
  • Sports is creeping its way into politics in Los Angeles, as the LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS reports that City Attorney candidate Carmen Trutanich is being ripped by his opponent and NOW for successfully representing former USC defensive back Eric Wright on rape charges in 2005.
  • I can’t imagine why parents in Shenendehowa, NY are upset to find out that a part-time track coach had his teaching license revoked 11 years ago after an alleged sexual abuse case. WTEN-TV says that while Don Paretta was not convicted, he admitted to giving a former student a note at graduation saying he would “miss the student’s face and body.” And this guy coached pole vaulting: let the jokes commence.
  • According to the NEWARK STAR-LEDGER, Boston College DT B.J. Raji - a projected Top 10 pick in the NFL Draft - committed a crime worse than scoring single digits on the Wonderlic test: he reportedly flunked a drug test at the NFL Combine.
  • Finally, HOME RUN DERBY sends a hearty congratulations to Manatee Community College, which defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-4 yesterday. Yes, those Pittsburgh Pirates, as in the “allegedly major league Pirates.” Bill Mazeroski would be rolling in his grave, if he were dead.

Who would you rather have as your franchise QB?

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