A Potentially Sordid Story

A story broke yesterday that the President of Washington State University, Eldon Floyd, asked the Washington State Athletic Department and the PAC-12 Conference to conduct independent investigations of the Washington State football program. That is unusual in and of itself – but the story has added elements that might make this a sordid tale. The reason the President of Washington State has called for these investigations one of the “star players” quit the team on Saturday and said that head coach, Mike Leach and the coaching staff abused the players. Reports said that the player accused coaches of physical, verbal and emotional abuse.

The backstory here which might – I said MIGHT – turn this story in a very sour direction is that Mike Leach was fired from the same position at Texas Tech a couple of years ago subsequent to a charge that he abused Craig James’ son by making the kid stay in an equipment shed during practice when the kid said he had post-concussion symptoms and coaches thought he was faking it. [I admit that is a gross simplification but it is the overarching issue that is more important here.] Those allegations brought about Leach’s firing despite a very successful tenure at Texas Tech and they also spawned civil litigation that may still be active in the court system.

It is the juxtaposition of the name, Mike Leach, with the fact of a player claiming abuse that gives this situation the potential to turn smarmy very quickly.

The player, Marquess Wilson, made these allegations in writing and a copy of his note was faxed to the Seattle Times. Wilson was suspended from the team last week for “team violations”. Obviously, there are multiple sides to this story; and presumably, one or both of the requested investigations will shed light on what happened and why. Here is a link to an article in the Seattle Times that outlines how and why Marquess Wilson chose to quit the team and the way that this information came to the attention of the press.

On a much lighter note related to college football, how silly does all that speculative talk about Alabama being able to beat a couple of NFL teams look this week? If anyone really believed they could, there should be a tsunami of commentary saying that Texas A&M could also beat a couple of NFL teams. How many people truly believe that?

I read a report that the Jacksonville Jaguars have the sixth highest payroll in the NFL this year because of “rollover payments from last year”. I am not a capologist by any stretch of the imagination so I do not pretend to know what that means or what the precise numbers are. I do know that the Jaguars are one of the five worst teams in the NFL this year – and might be the single worst team in the league this year when the final whistle blows. That on-field status should not be associated with a “top-of-the-list payroll”.

The Jaguars have a new owner. Somehow, that gentleman had sufficient business acumen to accumulate sufficient wealth to purchase the team for a reported $660M plus the assumption of $110M of debt incurred by the team under the previous owner. I mention those numbers to make it clear that Shahid Khan knows what it means to run a business and what it means to make investments that “pay off” instead of ones that “go south”. Forbes says his net worth is $2.5B. I have a feeling that he will be asking a lot of “financial questions” about the make-up of his team about a day after their final game.

Herman Edwards was the head coach of the NY Jets for 5 seasons. In his tenure there, his record was 39-41 with three visits to the AFC Playoffs. Rex Ryan is the current coach of the NY Jets and is in his 4th season. His record with the team is 31-26; the team has not performed well this year and it would be reasonable to say that there have been some player/coach locker room issues along the way. I mention this because Herman Edwards took a lot of abuse from Jets’ fans and the NY media toward the end of his run there, yet the criticism of Ryan seems very much tempered by comparison. Edwards was 2 games under .500 for his five-year tenure in NY; Ryan may not be all that much better at the end of his fourth year in NY.

H.L. Mencken wrote:

“No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

Possibly to test that assertion, a new product has hit the market in recent weeks. It is a joint venture between two organizations:

    The Verlo Mattress Factory – already the “Official mattress of the Green Bay Packers”.

    Foamation – the company that makes “Cheesehead hats”.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are a happy marriage of two tasty foods that taste even better together. In a similar spirit, Foamation and the Verlo Mattress Factory have come together to make a foam cheesehead mattress. The Cheesehead Bed has a memory-foam gel like some other mattresses but that “uninteresting mattress” comes encased in a yellow cover that makes it look like a giant block of cheese. Restrain yourselves; I am sure you do not need to dash off to the middle of Wisconsin tomorrow morning to get one of these puppies for your home; I have a feeling they will make as many of them as they have orders for.

Clearly, I think anyone who would buy a Cheesehead Bed has more money than (s)he needs and fewer IQ points than would be ideal. However, I do think that the good folks at Verlo Mattress and Foamation have come up with a good promotional idea to move product:

    A twin-size Cheesehead Bed sells for a retail price of $799.

    However, whenever the Packers win an NFL game, the beds are on sale for $599 for 24 hours after the end of the game.

So, if you really want a Cheesehead Bed, be sure to wait until the Packers win and then order it the next morning and you can save a few hundred dollars.

Finally, here is some wisdom from Greg Cote of the Miami Herald:

“I rechecked the preseason predictions of ESPN’s panel of 50 ‘baseball experts,’ and here is how many of them predicted a Tigers-Giants World Series: Zero. Proving again that TV — neither watching it nor appearing on it — makes you smarter.”

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

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