On December 27 I first noted Auburn head football coach Gene Chizik’s refusal to confirm his entire roster of players as academically eligible for the BCS Championship Game against Oregon on Jan. 10 in Arizona.
(Nearly month after AU semester ended, Chizik confirmed all players eligible)
Monday, all Auburn players on the current roster traveled to Arizona to continue prepping for the big game. After the team arrived in Phoenix, Chizik refused to address a reporter’s question about possible academic eligibility issues facing the team.
Tuesday at a press conference Chizik again was mum when asked if he would not have his full complement of players due to academics.
Finally, two weeks after publicly broaching the possibility that Auburn could face academic casualties for the BCS Championship Game, Chizik broke his silence on the subject. Read more…
Pat Forde of ESPN.com today writes this of LeGarrette Blount’s written apology published in the Eugene student newspaper last week:
(LeGarrette Blount and ESPN.com’s Pat Forde)
“While Blount’s letter follows all of the dos and don’ts you can find at www.perfectapology.com, it also carries the unmistakable whiff of a ghostwriter. Call The Dash cynical, but the likelihood that Blount was the solo author of that letter is roughly the same as Rice’s chances of earning a BCS bowl bid. (”Agony of defeat”? Now there’s a phrase on the tongue of every college kid. If this were the 1970s.)
Nobody here is naive enough to think Blount wrote the entire letter on his own.
But if Forde’s so sure Blount didn’t write the letter, why didn’t he contact Blount and ask him? Or Blount’s coach Chip Kelly? Or Blount’s “legal representation”? For Forde’s comment to be as brassy as that, wouldn’t you think he would’ve at least lined up some material evidence to support his aggresively condescending assertion?
If the same apology came from Tim Tebow or Colt McCoy or Todd Reesing or Matt Barkley, do you think Forde would be so patronizing?
Earlier today Rick Pitino gave us another window into his deep-seated psychosis with an emotional, rambling response to the media coverage of his extra-marital affair and the abortion he provided Karen Sypher. Pitino bizarrely lashed out at the Louisville media for having the gall to report on and release tapes of Sypher’s testimony that were PROVIDED THEM BY POLICE. If Pitino was to be upset with an organization, it should’ve been local law enforcement. But lest you forget, every day is opposite day in Rick Pitino’s tornado of self-delusion.
(Last time I post this, PROMISE)
Almost as bizarre as Pitino’s behavior has been ESPN’s coverage of the situation. Like the entire media, Bristol barely covered the case brought by the FBI early this year until the LOUISVILLE COURIER-JOURNAL went public with Pitino’s extra-marital affair and abortion story.
It’s safe to assume that Forde has benefited financially from his relationship with Pitino, so at the very least you would expect ESPN and/or Forde to note the nature of his relationship to the coach before all that reportage, right?
Pat Forde of ESPN just tweeted: “Rick Pitino has called 3 a.m. (sic) press conference. No indication of the subject yet.“
I’ve criticized Forde enough on his non-coverage of Pitino’s extra-marital sex and abortion case, and I hate to be cynical … but if anyone knows the subject of the presser, it’s Forde. (He co-authored a book with Pitino and has a home in Louisville.)
Sypher fired back with a rape charge against Pitino, saying that the liaison that led to her pregnancy was an assault, and not a consensual incident. Pitino was never charged with anything because Sypher’s story is full of holes and she could offer no evidence of such an assault (in fact, she went on to marry Louisville’s equipment manager, Tim Sypher, ensuring that she would be spending more time around Pitino).
So now what for Pitino? His lawyer says he’s not making any public statements until the trial, but this is a pretty large matzo ball just hanging out there now. There’s not much else going in Louisville other than this, so it’s just going to keep building and building. How can the guy be an effective coach at this point?
I won’t try and recount the entire COURIER-JOURNAL story here (however, it’s well worth your time to read it), but I will mention a few things that have stood out for me since taking some time to digest everything:
1A. If Sypher filed a civil suit against Pitino for allegedly raping her, would ESPN find that worthy of coverage?
2. We don’t know for sure that this was Pitino’s kid, right? Pitino says he would request a paternity test if she decided to have the kid, but she opted for an abortion instead. She then accepted $3,000 from him for the procedure. She clearly had the abortion, but isn’t it possible that she went to Pitino for the money because she knew he would pay up? He says she told him that she hadn’t had sex with anyone else in months, but she hasn’t appeared to be entirely trustworthy here.
3. Pitino says that he and Karen Sypher met at Tim Sypher’s condo (she and Tim didn’t know each other at the time) to talk about the pregnancy and figure out what to do. Now, knowing what was going on, what on earth would make Tim go “you know what, I think I need to get aboard the Karen train”? Shockingly, the Syphers are now estranged.
4. UL president Tom Jurich is quoted as saying that Pitino “has been truthful about this matter with us all along.” Does that mean the school has known all of these details for six years? If not, when did they find out? Was there any sort of off-the-record punishment for this? Some coaches have gotten canned for drinking beer at a frat party, so I can’t imagine that UL would’ve taken too kindly to their married coach impregnating a woman at a restaurant.
5. Pitino isn’t in any sort of trouble legally, but as this drags on in court it’s going to be a huge distraction. Was that a consideration in bringing Ralph Willard over from Holy Cross to be his new lead assistant? Willard’s exactly the kind of guy who could step in on an interim basis if Pitino decides to either take time off or step down altogether. Pitino actually had a possible way out of Louisville a few months ago when the Sacramento Kings were looking for a new coach, but he decided to stick around.
(UL’s next coach?)
It may not be the biggest soccer game the U.S. has ever played, but today’s showdown with Mexico in a World Cup qualifier sure seems like a big deal. That’s probably because ESPN has spent an inordinate amount of time hyping the game. Having just acquired English Premier League rights, and coming off a summer of showing a number of games involving European clubs touring the U.S., the network is clearly committed to promoting the sport like never before. And they finally seem to have realized that they way to make the game more popular in this country is to give us less MLS and more actual good soccer.
(USA! USA! USA!)
That recent commitment has resulted in a first — ESPN has sent Bob Ley and Alexi Lalas down to Mexico City to put on a 30-minute pre-game show for today’s match. This despite the fact that the game isn’t being shown on ESPN (it’s on some channel called mun2 if you’re wondering).
Despite all the attention, the game is much less crucial to the U.S. than it may seem. The Americans are comfortable in second place in the qualifying group, and while a loss to Mexico wouldn’t be ideal, the U.S. would still have the edge in the standings. The expectations aren’t exactly high, either — the U.S. is 0-22-1 in Mexico.
That puts all of the pressure squarely on Mexico, which sits in fourth place in the group and needs to get into the top three to automatically qualify for the World Cup. A loss to the U.S. would be a complete disaster and might put them in too deep a hole to dig out of. In other words, the Americans don’t have a whole lot to lose out there, and if they can shock Azteca Stadium with an early goal, watch out. That won’t be easy, though, as this LA TIMES article contends. At 7,400 feet in the middle of a smoggy afternoon in a cavernous stadium that will be shaking with noise, it’s maybe the worst stadium atmosphere for visitors in the entire world.
It was a poor effort by Youk, who had all the upper hand when he tossed his helmet at a stunned Porcello, and still ended up getting spun down to the ground by the 20-year-old. In other words, he only did marginally better than Zimmer.
In Forde’s piece, much like the reportage of the rest of the main media at the time, all of the meaningful details of the case went unmentioned. We were so left in the dark that I asked at the time why Forde even bothered to write the piece.
Of course, we had an inkling of the answer - Forde was going to bat for an old friend, and looking to marginalize Sypher - which is precisely what he did in the story.
So the question remained: why specifically did the Feds think Pitino was the victim of extortion? Thanks to the LOUISVILLE COURIER-JOURNAL - and not ace Louisville-based ESPN columnist and Pitino confidant Forde - we now know.
The basic criticism, first lodged by Mike Florio at the ever-present PRO FOOTBALL TALK, is certainly salient and justified. But over time, the sniping has reached a level of absurdity, revealing just how much disdain ESPN’s competitors have for the WWL.
The great irony though about the feeding frenzy is that these are the same non-ESPNers who bury stories to their liking every single day. With no better example the central detail in the Rick Pitino extortion case. Read more…
The most important thing I’ve learned in spending 16 years in the main media covering celebrity sports figures is that societal rules don’t apply to them.
(ESPN’s Forde’s reportage on Pitino extortion case objective? Puh-leeze)
Take for instance Rick Pitino. The U of L coach recently accused a woman of extortion, which has since been widely reported by the main media. Apparently the case is so serious that the FBI is investigating.
So what’s it all about? Well if you watch ESPN or read ESPN.com, do the same of the Louisville media and/or everyone else in the main media, you have no clue.
But if you’re reading this, you of course understand precisely why blogs are now so popular. Any sports fan with an IQ above an eggplant immediately jumped on the web when they heard Pitino’s abridged accusation - and in about 45 seconds knew the juicy details. Read more…