Mental Meanderings …

Let me begin with a Public Service Announcement today.  You still have time to get your tickets to Des Moines, IA and hustle on out there for the World Pork Expo.  Preliminary events began yesterday but things will be hopping all week long.  Tomorrow, you can play a round of golf in the World Pork Open; you can pick up clothing accessories at the World Pork Apparel Shop; you can attend a seminar on Social Media in Pork Production.  You can begin Thursday morning with an “Inspirational Service” and then participate in the World Pork Open Clay Target Championship.  Friday will feature the judging of the Junior National Swine Show while Saturday is the piece de resistance – the sale of the livestock from the World Pork Open Swine Show.  A good time will be had by all …

Back to sports…  Albert Pujols joined the rather exclusive club of MLB players who have hit 600 home runs in a career.  I have no interest in debating the cheapening of home run records in MLB over the past 25 years; the fact remains that very few players have ever done it and it may be a while until we see the next player join the club.  Looking at active players who might get to this level, I see only one player over 30 years old who may have a shot and that is:

  • Miguel Cabrera:  He is 34 years old and has been in MLB for 15 seasons.  He has 451 home runs as of this morning; that is an average of 30 per season.  If he can play until he is 40 and can average 25 home runs per season until then, he will join the club.  Only twice in his career has he hit fewer than 25 home runs in a season.  The first time was his rookie year when he only played in 87 games; the other time was in 2015 when he played in only 119 games.  Barring injury, I think he is going to make it.

After Cabrera, I think you have to look all the way down the list of active players to the “young stars” to find someone who might get to the 600 level in home runs.

  • Nolan Arenado:  He is 25 years old; he has 125 HRs in his first 5.4 seasons.
  • Bryce Harper:  He is 24 years old; he has 136 HRs in his first 5.4 seasons.
  • Manny Machado:  He is 24 years old; he has 117 HRs in his first 5.4 seasons.
  • Mike Trout:  He is 25 years old; he has 184 HRs in his first 6.4 seasons.

June is not a month when one should expect an important news item from the world of college basketball.  Nonetheless, just such an item emerged yesterday when Ohio state fired head coach Thad Matta.  This parting of the ways was not sugar-coated; Matta is not leaving his job to spend more time with his family nor is he leaving to pursue some lifelong passion of his that had never been expressed to any human before yesterday.  Ohio State simply fired him and doing that in early June is strange because the coaching carousel for college basketball coaches had pretty much gone to mothballs about a month ago.

Ohio State has had two consecutive difficult seasons; they have not made the NCAA Tournament – or any of the post-season basketball tournaments – in both of those years.  While that may sound like a reason for a big-time athletic program to fire a coach, consider Matta’s coaching career for a moment:

  • He has been a head coach for 17 seasons (13 of them at Ohio State).  He has missed post-season play only 3 times.
  • Overall, he has a winning percentage of .740.
  • At Ohio State in 13 seasons, he has a winning percentage of .733.
  • He has taken Ohio state to the Final Four twice.

Ohio State is a sufficiently attractive job to get the coaching carousel out of mothballs and fired up once again.  It is not likely that Ohio State will hand the job to some high school coach who did a bang-up job somewhere; remember when Notre Dame tried that once in their football program and how swell that worked out.  Ohio State is going to get a good coach and if that person is already employed somewhere else, that will start the domino effect.

The Buckeyes could hire Tom Crean for the job.  He is capable and he is “unencumbered” at the moment having been let go by Indiana earlier this year.  He knows the Big 10 and can likely be successful rather quickly.  The problem with hiring Crean is that there will be no domino effect and that is not interesting.  So, let me allow my mind to wander and present some other college coaches who might “get a call” from Ohio State so that if they take the job, there will be openings elsewhere.

  • Greg Marshall – Wichita State.  He has been a constant presence in the NCAA Tournament in recent years and he always brings a competent and competitive team there.
  • Chris Mack – Xavier.  Like Marshall, his teams are always in the tournament plus he is already a key player in basketball recruiting in the State of Ohio.
  • Shaka Smart – Texas.  Smart is an excellent coach who made a mistake going to Texas where basketball is the poor relative.  If he gets the call, he should take the job in a heartbeat.

Let me throw out one more name here that would probably not start up the college coaching carousel – but might get things moving in the NBA.  Billy Donovan was highly successful in college and has had a nice run in Oklahoma City.  Looking objectively at the Thunder, it is hard for me to see them doing much more than edging into the playoffs occasionally over the next several years in the NBA West.  So … maybe a return to the college game at one of the premier programs would be enticing?  Just saying …

Finally, here is a comment from Brad Dickson in the Omaha World-Herald:

“A Boston Marathon competitor reportedly took the train to get a better time. I’m going out on a limb and guessing that the meet director didn’t have to consult the rule book on this one.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



8 thoughts on “Mental Meanderings …”

  1. I agree with you to the extent that any of the three you mentioned would crank up the coaching carousel. However, I doubt any of them will take the job. Marshall has turned down better jobs than Ohio State, including, if the stories are true, Indiana this year. The same with Chris Mack who seems happily wedded to Cincy. He and his wife have deep roots there. Smart just recruited one the best players in the nation to Texas and has a huge contract. Basketball is certainly #2 at UT, but how would that be different at Ohio State?

    The tank is nearly empty at OSU and the recruiting season is over. That has to be one of the main reasons Matta was fired. All three of these guys have a winning team loaded up for next year and more attractive jobs will certainly be around next April. Maybe including the Ohio State job. If I were one of them I would look at Duke and Syracuse and say, “Those two coaches are about ready to retire and neither has an obvious successor on the bench right now.” Would you prefer OSU over Duke?

    Billy Donovan is making $6 million a year at Oklahoma City. I do not think he wants to court 16 and 17 year old prima donnas for half that amount.

    1. Doug:

      Ohio State can afford to pay a top salary for a coach and that is something that is far more difficult for a school like Wichita St or Xavier or – – you did not hear this from me – – Villanova. They might be able to “money-whip” a coach from one of those sorts of programs to come to Ohio St.

      BTW, Indiana used to be a better job than Ohio State but is it really better now?

      Billy Donovan is indeed making $6M a year in OKC and he does not have to court teenage prima donnas to get that money. However, he is also very unlikely to do any kind of big-time winning in OKC over the next several years…

  2. Ditto on Doug’s observation regarding the relative fawning paid to Fb vs. BB at THE Ohio State University, it’s a second tier job. Since Smart got his prize recruit at Texas he will be loath to leave him for an empty cupboard at OSU unless he gets the kid to transfer.

    As noted by everyone so far, the timing on this is very curious for the reasons stated. I do not see how any splash could be made without a top-level recruit and they are all gone. The alternative might be if the NBA draft goes poorly for a kid and (IIRC he doesn’t hire an agent) said kid rejoins the collegiate ranks and needs a place to play. One wonders how cohesive that kind of OSU locker room will be when adversity strikes.

    While I agree that it would be very doubtful that Donovan would leave on his own, OKC may do it for him if the players want him gone (which I haven’t seen yet), and that would be about the only way. Not only will BD need to address kids growing up for less money, at OKC he can craft a longer-term roster vs. a one-and-done model any hotshot recruit would bring.

    1. rugger9:

      I cannot dispute your points here – as I could not dispute Doug’s. My point is that Ohio State is going to hire a coach and it is going to be someone with name recognition and one of the selling points that Ohio State will use to get their new coach is “coin of the realm”…

  3. OT, but it was a good show by the Cal Bears in Philly last weekend in claiming their fifth straight 7s title at the CRCs (NBC carried it). Sevens is played on the same size field as 15s so there are a lot of holes to exploit and the screaming need for efficiency in ball control and tackling. It is also prone to surprises because a team hot or lucky for 14 minutes will win almost any game. This unified for the second year the Varsity Cup 15s and the CRC sevens titles.

    St Mary’s was victimized by a lapse in the quarters, losing to Life U (who lost in the final 19-0 to Cal), a team they had beaten in the D1A 15s title match a month before by six in a great match. It makes Cal’s current run all the more remarkable, even allowing for the emotionally focused aspect from Paylor’s injury in the Varsity Cup title game.

    Sevens is also less likely to see the injury that happened to Robert (who is busting his butt, there is a GoFundMe set up for him with updates almost daily) because the maul / ruck where he was injured would not have the number of players tied up into it where such bad things can happen. There wouldn’t be coverage or support when the ball came out if the team committed more than 2 – 3 into the breakdown.

    1. rugger9:

      You will have to be the “Voice of Rugby” on the site for one simple reason. I do not know the game well enough to comment on it.

      On our trip to Australia and New Zealand several years ago, I did enjoy watching the Aussies play a game against a team from Africa – – do not recall the specific country; it might have been Nigeria – – and having some of the strategies pointed out to me by our trip leader. I did not retain much of that knowledge – – just as I did not retain much of what he tried to teach me about cricket which was his favorite game.

      1. I have been told that cricket was invented by the British so they would have a sport they could dominate over time. After all, one of the positions is called the “silly mid-off”.

        1. rugger9:

          My Australian tutor referred to one of the fielding positions as “Cow-corner”. I sort of knew who that was back then but have no idea what position it is or how it got that name these days.

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