Speed Read: Will H1N1 Affect NCAA FB Season?

Yesterday, Adam J mentioned that Vegas is bracing for the effect swine flu could have on college football betting lines this year, with casinos planning to hold out on releasing lines for as long as possible to make sure teams aren’t affected. Adam also rightly points out that a swine flu outbreak in and of itself isn’t any different than a bout with food poisoning or any other bug that might be going around on a team. But those types of ailments are usually few and far between. The difference with the swine flu is that it’s not really a matter of “if” it’s going to happen to your team, but “when.” And that should be unsettling to any fan whose team is a national title contender this year.

Swine flu

(Anyone picking Arkansas in the SEC West this year?)

TCU is the latest team to be struck by the virus, with at least five players reporting symptoms a little more than a week in advance of the new season. And, although it isn’t yet confirmed, it’s suspected that members of Alabama’s team have come down with it as well.

In an odd way, you might say that these two teams are among those with an advantage over their competition this year. Teams that get it out of the way now aren’t going to have to deal with it later in the season, when the stakes are higher and tired, weary bodies may react more negatively to the virus itself.  With the amount of, um, interpersonal contact involved in a college football game, it seems likely that H1N1 will make the rounds throughout the sport this year. And a poorly-timed outbreak could leave a team significantly weakened on a game day.

Swine flu girl

(Good luck getting girls to make out with you at parties this year, college dudes)

Plus, schools and the NCAA I assume will have to work together to come up with some sort of protocol for using players who are suspected or confirmed to have the virus. If they feel up to it, will they be allowed to play, knowing that they could spread it to their teammates and opponents?

Let’s put it this way: Troy travels to Gainesville to play Florida a week before the Gators host Tennessee. What if half of Troy’s team comes down with the virus (that isn’t so far-fetched: see Duke) in the days before that game. Do the Gators want anything to do with that team, knowing that they have Lane Kiffin coming to town the following week? Would non-infected teams have grounds for refusing to play an infected team? (I understand that’s unlikely, but it’s at least a thought, right?)

Tim Tebow Heisman baby pose

(It’s all fun and games now, Tebow, until those Crocs and that baby give you debilitating diarrhea)

I’m not trying to overstate the effects of H1N1. I understand that in most healthy people, like college athletes, the symptoms are relatively mild. But if 50 or more guys on a football team are going through it at roughly the same time, there will certainly be a difference in how they play on game day. In college football, one bad week can ruin a national title run. You figure that some highly-ranked team is going to get unlucky enough to have this get to them at precisely the wrong time.

Which team would you most like to see get swine flu right before their biggest game of the year?

View Results

Man, has it been a good couple of weeks to be covering college sports in Kentucky. Even the guy who doesn’t even coach there anymore is getting in on the act. Of course, I’m talking about Billy Gillispie’s DUI, which we did mention yesterday.

Billy Gillispie

But I revisit it today because of the hilarity contained in the police report about the incident (of course, other than the fact that DUIs aren’t particularly hilarious). Quoted text courtesy of the LOUISVILLE COURIER-JOURNAL and LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER:

The officers asked Gillispie for his proof of insurance, and he said it was in his golf bag in the trunk.

Well, sure. I mean, who doesn’t keep their car insurance card in their golf bag?

“During the exit, he used the door for balance and was confused on how to open the trunk”

He’s driving a Mercedes, so there’s like a 100% chance that opening the trunk involves pushing the button on the car key that looks like a trunk.

“I asked Billy if he had had anything to drink tonight. He stated no he had been golfing all day.”

He was arrested at 2:47 a.m. Now, unless he has some of those special golf balls that light up, he had most certainly been done golfing for, oh, somewhere in the neighborhood of seven hours. Not only is that enough time to get hammered, but he could’ve slept with some random lady at a restaurant and paid for her abortion and still had an hour left over.

The report said Gillispie, who was driving, had red eyes, slurred speech and a “strong fruity smell coming from his person (possibly wine).”

What, Billy couldn’t have been slamming appletinis?

Billy Gillispie

(”I’m more of a Midori sour guy”)

Michael Vick made his preseason debut last night. Here’s a story about it. If you want to know anything more about it, just tune into the 24/7 coverage on ESPN today. Hey, at least they stopped talking about Favre for a day.

• Speaking of Brett Favre, instead of the inevitable “retirement” press conference that’s coming at the end of the season, ESPN should just air this clip of Pat Cashman from the late, great sketch comedy show “Almost Live”:

• Yes, there is a Hall of Fame that believes Chuck Finley and Brian Downing are worthy of induction.

• God is about to fire Donald Trump’s golf course near L.A.

• Red Sox shortstop Nick Green pitched two scoreless innings in last night’s 9-5 loss to the White Sox. Still looking for a closer, Phillies?

• Italian national soccer coach Marcello Lippi says he won’t choose any gay players for his World Cup squad. Aside from this being an asinine thing to say, how would he know? How’s he going decide which of these guys is gay?

Italian soccer players

• Ahhhhh! Let’s get this back on track. Save us, Anna Rawson!

Anna Rawson

• Arizona is going to be devastated if the pro sports team that’s threatening to leave actually goes through with it. We’re talking about the Cubs, of course.

• I don’t normally agree with CBS SPORTS’ Gregg Doyel, but he makes some good points about the whole Caster Semanya story, like this one (in context, the “ugly” comment makes sense):

If there were questions about Semenya’s gender, they should have been asked and answered before she raced. If she was female enough to enter the race, she should be female enough to win it. She didn’t get any less feminine in the 1:55.45 it took her to win. Her gender never would have been questioned had she finished seventh, because she wasn’t too ugly to enter the race. She was just too ugly to win it. 

Dan Duquette used to run the Red Sox. Now, the military-themed semi-pro baseball team he owns in Nashua, NH, has been locked out of their own stadium because they owe about $45,000 in back rent and other services.

• Former NHL coach Jacques Demers, who was illiterate for most of his adult life, has been appointed to the Canadian Senate. He’ll be traveling the country hosting town hall meetings about tuque reform.

• The WIZ OF ODDS says 51% of the games involving Division 1-A (or FBS, whatever) teams in week 1 of the college football season also involve a 1-AA team, the highest such percentage ever.

Kendra Wilkinson & Hank Baskett Expecting Baby

• Not only are Kendra Wilkinson & Hank Baskett getting hitched, but they’ll soon hear the pitter-patter of little feet around the Playboy Grotto.

Kendra Wilkinson Hank Baskett

• The Orlando Magic finally make the NBA Finals interesting.

• An RV crash kills the girlfriend, brother & dog of pro golfer Ken Green.

• Ex-Bear Roland Harper gets snared in a Chicago school landscaping scandal.

• West Virginia coach Bob Huggins battles his bathroom door - and loses.

Read more…

Now A Few Thoughtful Words From James Toney

Performance enhancing drugs and cigar connoisseur James Toney, who also is the current NABO and IBA Heavyweight champion, is none too happy with Wladimir Klitschko right now. Klitschko was supposed to defend his IBF and WBO titles against David Haye on June 20, but Haye had to cancel due to a back injury. So Toney figured, hey, shouldn’t I be next in line?

Don King, James Toney

Well, no. Instead, Klitschko will take on Ruslan Chagaev, who just recently had a fight canceled against Nikolai Valuev this past Friday in Finland because of Chagaev’s high levels of the hepatitis B virus. What’s not to love about professional boxing, eh? Anyway, Toney has plenty to say about that. Highlight: When he calls Chagaev’s illness “hepatitis B, or C or whatever.” Read more…

A 2-on-1 Boxing Match Would Actually Be Great TV

Two brothers fighting a 7-foot Yeti? Sounds like a circus sideshow, but it’s actually the future of boxing’s heavyweight division. Which is kind of a circus sideshow, so that brings us full circle.

Klitschko Brothers

Get your pens and paper ready, because it’s acronym time. Vitali Klitschko has the WBC belt. Younger brother Wladimir Klitschko is the IBF, IBO and WBO titleholder. Together, they challenged WBA champion Nikolai Valuev to what promises to look an awful lot like the banned bloodsport of bear-baiting.

Read more…

FINALLY Tables Turned On Borat’s Sacha Cohen

I enjoyed Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat, and thank the deity of your choice that there will be no tired, unoriginal money grab masquerading as a sequel.

Wladimir Klitschko Sacha Baron Cohen

Yes, we all know about all the failed lawsuits from the unsuspecting players in the Borat film, but it seems that someone finally got over on Cohen himself - thanks to a nice find by DEADSPIN’s Will Leitch. Read more…