I Cannot Tell A Lie…

George Washington was born on this date 281 years ago. Although historians agree that the story of his chopping down a cherry tree and confessing to that deed because he could not tell a lie is apocryphal, that mythology provides me with a thread for some of today’s items. Therefore, I prefer to believe for today that George Washington could not tell a lie – despite the fact that he was a politician.

There was a report earlier this week that the NFL Competition Committee will recommend a new point of emphasis for NFL officials next year. The Committee – and the league itself it would appear – has concluded that coaches charging out onto the field to confront referees has gone overboard. There is already a rule in the book restricting coaches and players not actively in the game to a large trapezoidal area on the sidelines. Suffice it to say that in recent years, the enforcement of that rule has been “lax to the max”. On any given Sunday, you can find coaches charging down the sidelines to the 10-yardline to yell at officials and coaches spend more time on the field of play that some of the players dressed out for some games. Now, the Competition Committee wants this behavior flagged and the rule enforced.

I cannot tell a lie … this is waaay overdue. Jim Harbaugh is the most notable of the overly animated and aggressive sideline coaches but he is not alone. I have no problem if a coach throws his challenge flag and then steps onto the field to tell the referee what the challenge is about. It is unnecessary to demand that he stay on his side of the sideline for such a discussion. However, running onto the field to shout obscenities – by the way, HDTV makes lip-reading those obscenities rather unambiguous – is a different story. Flag the coach and walk off 15-yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. If it continues, toss the coach from the sidelines.

Imagine if one of the NFL celebrity head coaches were tossed from a game trailing by 10 points in the 4th quarter and his team rallied to win the game without his genius and his inspirational presence on the sideline. That would make for an interesting discussion the next time that coach needed to negotiate his contract…

Speaking of football coaches, when the University of Tennessee fans/boosters created enough noise to fire head coach Derek Dooley, a lot of folks in Knoxville dismissed Dooley as some boob who could not get the job done. Actually, what that firing did was to put Dooley in the catbird seat [Hat Tip to Red Barber] because Dooley is collecting a check from Tennessee every month for approximately $104K – for doing nothing. Those checks will continue to arrive in his bank account for the next four years. That was his buyout clause.

Forget any arguments about whether a football coach at a university should be paid that kind of money. The US society is completely unprepared to deal with people who are not paid in proportion to the importance of their jobs. Consider:

    The President of the US makes $400K this year to run the country.

    Kobe Bryant makes $27.8M this year to run around in blue and gold underwear.

In any event, what Dooley has done is to take a job as the WR coach for the Dallas Cowboys. Since it is not a head-coaching job nor is it a job at another college, whatever he makes from the Cowboys does not offset any of the payments from UT; he gets to keep both revenue streams.

I cannot tell a lie … the fans/boosters at UT who thought Dooley was a boob got themselves snookered by that “boob”. In fact, the folks who make football decisions at Tennessee have been on a five-year stupid streak. They were convinced that Phil Fulmer (the only UT coach to win a national championship) had lost it so they fired him. Since 2008, the coaches selected by the geniuses at Tennessee have been:

    Lane Kiffin – bolted to go to USC after one year

    Derek Dooley – fired in November of his third season at UT

    Butch Jones – next on the list to try to make Tennessee relevant in football again.

The mayor of Minneapolis says that he would like the city to consider making a bid to host the Olympics in 2024.

I cannot tell a lie … my position on making a bid to host the Olympics is clear and unambiguous; it is a dumb thing to do; the Olympics do not make money for the host city/country; there are more important ways for governments at all levels to spend government revenues.

Moreover, it took Minneapolis and the State of Minnesota at least 5 years to figure out how they would construct new stadiums for the Twins and Vikings. Extrapolating from that to the idea that those same folks would find politically palatable ways to raise at least $20B (and the total would probably be significantly more than that) to build dozens of venues and the like in anything less than a century is problematic.

    Memo to Mayor Rybak: London spent about $15B (some say it was a lot closer to $20B but I will stick with the “official cost” here) to put on the 2012 Games and they already had some of the necessary venues for these games. Where will your city and state find that kind of money lying around?

    Secondary question, what will you use a velodrome for once the Games are over?

Here is the headline on a recent column by Ann Killion in the SF Chronicle:

    “What can’t Brian Boitano do?”

I cannot tell a lie … he cannot make me even remotely interested in figure skating.

Finally, Greg Cote of the Miami Herald puts a couple of recent sports stories into perspective for us here:

“An 18-month investigation found hundreds of international soccer matches including some in the World Cup were fixed or subject to fixing by organized crime gangs. Sort of puts a controversy over deer antler spray in perspective, doesn’t it?”

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

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  • Doug  On February 22, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    I agree about Harbaugh, but I wonder what would happen if that NFL rule were enforced in the other sports where it exists. Neither the NCAA nor the ACC as ever enforced it on Mike Krzyzewski. He has coached over 1000 games at Duke and I would guess he has been on the court shouting obscenities at the refs in at least 900 of those games. Is there any real chance he will ever be sent to the locker room for his antics? Or fined?

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On February 22, 2013 at 1:13 pm


    I have seen Krzyzewski get technical fouls for his sideline antics; I do not recall ever seeing him tossed from a game but I surely have not watched all of his games. It takes a lot to be a college basketball coach who is run out of the gym by an official. Think Bob Knight and a chair sailing onto the court as a “standard”…

    I do not know if there is even a mechanism in college basketball for “fining” a coach. Presumably, he could be suspended for a game or two without pay which is tantamount to a fine, but I don’t know who or how a coach would be fined in college basketball.

    There used to be a rule in high school basketball that the coach had to sit down on the bench during play unless he was up to call a time-out or to send a sub to the scorer’s table or to “spontaneously cheer an outstanding play”. As as official, you had to be careful about how you enforced such a draconian rule. There was a case where an official wanted to toss a head coach out of the gym because he fell onto the court after bending over to tie his shoe and losing his balance. According to the rule, that was OK; according to common sense, that was very stupid.

  • Steve  On February 22, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    I like the Red Barber hat-tip.

    “Are you lifting the oxcart out of the ditch? Are you tearing up the pea patch? Are you hollering down the rain barrel? Are you scraping around the bottom of the pickle barrel? Are you sitting in the catbird seat?

    It was Joey Hart, one of Mr. Martin’s two assistants, who had explained what the gibberish meant. “She must be a Dodger fan,” he had said. “Red Barber announces the Dodger games over the radio and he uses those expressions–picked ‘em up down South.”


    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On February 23, 2013 at 12:31 am


      As a very young kid, I can recall hearing Red Barber call some Dodgers’ games late at night when I could pull in a NY station. Later, I heard him much more frequently do Yankees’ games. He is one of the announcers on the radio that brought baseball to life for me.

  • Rich  On February 25, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    I hope we don’t start a rhubarb over Red Barber’s expressions….

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