Amidst all of the fanfare about Northern Illinois barging into one of the big time BCS Bowl Games and the righteousness of their being there – or not – two ancillary matters seem not have gotten sufficient attention.

    1. Northern Illinois coach, Dave Doeren, put the entire Northern Illinois/Mid-American Conference experience into perspective. About 48 hours after he and his team learned that they would play in the Orange Bowl, Doeren bolted from his contract with NIU that ran until 2017 and signed on to coach North Carolina State. The lesson here is that the so-called “mid-major” schools in “mid-major” conferences make for nice underdog stories, but the people working there see those places as stepping-stones.

    2. Northern Illinois is obligated to sell 17,500 tickets to the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day. If they do not, then the Athletic Department has to buy up any remaining balance of the tickets at face value. Why is that a big deal? If my calculations are correct, Northern Illinois played to an average home crowd of less than 15,700 this year. I wonder if they will sell out those tickets.

Greg Cote had this item in the Miami Herald recently regarding the “mid-major” football conferences:

“College football’s conference carousel is dizzying. Everybody is switching leagues. Now FAU is following FIU from the Sun Belt to Conference USA. Did Conference USA lose a bet or something?”

Sports writers and commentators have showered attention on an issue that is only marginally interesting and surely not important. The golf mavens have decided to outlaw the belly putter. I suspect that Western Civilization as we know it will survive but I am not sure how long it will take it to recover from this pronouncement. Given all of the cogitation and all of the consideration that must have gone into taking this bold step, I have a simple question for the golf mavens:

    If belly putters are such a blight on the game that they merit banishment, why is it OK to continue to use them until January 1, 2016?

Speaking of golf, here is an item from Mike Bianchi in the Orlando Sentinel:

“Actual sign posted at golf club in Scotland: “(1) Back straight, knees bent, feet shoulder width apart. (2) Form a loose grip. (3) Keep your head down. (4) Stay out of the water. (5) Try not to hit anyone. (6) If you’re taking too long, let others go ahead of you. (7) Don’t stand directly in front of others. (8) Quiet please while others are preparing. (9) Make sure you’re aligned properly with the target. (10) Well done! Now, flush the urinal, go outside and tee off.”

I cannot think along the lines of futile moves made by sports governing bodies without mentioning the latest news from the International Olympic Committee. [Aside: The acronym, “IOC”, might also stand for “Idiocy Or Corruption”, but that is for another time…] From its headquarters/hideout in Lausanne Switzerland, the IOC announced this week:

    It has revoked the medals won by four athletes – including one gold medal – at the Athens Olympics in 2004.

    An ongoing investigation into a fifth medalist at those same games remains ongoing.

Those competitions happened more than 8 years ago and the IOC sleuths and the phalanx of drug testers that feed off the IOC pronouncements about the purity of The Olympic Movement are just getting around to figuring out that some athletes cheated. I do not know about you, but I had been holding my breath to see if that Ukrainian shot putter had won his gold medal cleanly or not. As silly as this situation is, you do have to acknowledge that they actually detected that these folks were doping; that is more than the IOC and its allied sanctioning bodies can say about Lance Armstrong.

Speaking of Lance Armstrong, the IOC says that they may revoke the bronze medal he won in the 2000 Olympic Games. With regard to that announcement by the IOC, here is a cogent observation from Conan O’Brien:

“A little tip for the IOC, if Lance was on steroids and he came in third, you might want to take a peek at the guys with gold and silver.”

The NY Jets will start Mark Sanchez this weekend against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Given the amount of attention focused on that choice, I fully expected the news to be delivered by a puff of white smoke coming out of the chimney at the Jets Training Center.

If Rex Ryan – and the Jets – had chosen to do that, I wonder if Roger Goodell would assume the role of the commissioner of the No Fun League and drop a humongous fine on the team and/or the coach. It seems to me that if the public took it lightly and seemed to enjoy the stunt, then the Commish would have to channel his inner Darth Vader…

There is a story out there that the New Orleans Hornets will change their name to the New Orleans Pelicans. Other than creating a market for newly designed Pelicans’ jerseys and related paraphernalia and moving the inventory of Hornets gear that does not sell well, the name of the team is hardly important. Do you think the team will play better and win more games if they are called the Hornets, the Pelicans or the Pekingese? If you want a name that is indicative of the local culture, call them the New Orleans Filé Gumbo.

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

“After his loss to Sergio Martinez, boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. tested positive for something banned by boxing. When you look at the state of boxing today, I believe that would be common sense.”

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

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  • Peter  On December 6, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Based on my personal experiences with the local culture, I thought maybe the New Orleans team should be re-named the Benders or the Blackouts.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On December 7, 2012 at 9:34 pm


      If you think that Roger Goodell has no sense of humor and runs the NFL as the No Fun League, I do not think you would want to be in the same room with David Stern when someone told him that the new name of the New Orleans franchise was “The Bender”. He might actually prefer “The Bendover”…

  • Siggurdsson  On December 6, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    If David Stern (a pox upon him!) wants to go out as NBA Commissar on a high note, he should use the gravitas of his office to:

    a) Browbeat the Utah franchise to give its current name (the Jazz) back to the Nawlins franchise, and,
    b) Further browbeat Utah into re-assuming the name of the old ABA franchise (the Stars).

    Now *THAT* would be something to make the sporting public sit up and take notice…

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On December 7, 2012 at 9:32 pm


      I wonder how the folks in Utah would react to losing the “Jazz” name and returning to the “Stars”. I asked Brad Rock of the Deseret News that question and he said he will be writing a column on the subject soon. [To be clear, he was already thinking of writing it when I sent him an e-mail; he is not writing a column based on my input.]

      Since he is “on scene” in Salt Lake City, he has to have a better sense of the feelings of the people there than I do.

  • Peter  On December 10, 2012 at 11:46 am

    If the Orlando franchise were ever to “pull a Modell” and relocate to SLC, they could rename the franchise the Utah Magic Underwear. Just a thought.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On December 11, 2012 at 12:36 am


      Here is another thought… If you are going to try to sell lots of tix in Salt Lake City – and surrounding Utah counties – it might not be a good idea to give your team a name that many residents of the area might find offensive. Even I with my complete lack of knowledge of marketing and promotional techniques can get a grasp on that one.

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