Yesterday, I mentioned 3 football coaches who had been fired recently; and as I posted that rant, I learned that Steve Spurrier had resigned as the head football coach at South Carolina. While this year’s South Carolina team is not doing well, Steve Spurrier leaves college football with a distinguished record of 228-89-2 and a national championship. At the collegiate level, he has been successful in taking downtrodden programs and making them winners. He did that at Duke, Florida and again at South Carolina. He also had a successful run in the USFL with the Tampa Bay Bandits but his venture into the NFL coaching for Danny Boy Snyder was well-short of successful.
I always liked Spurrier for his willingness to throw out zingers with regard to his opponents. He did it with the guise of humor, but inside his comments were barbs. He famously called Florida State University – Free Shoes University; he pointed out that winning in the NFL was more difficult than winning in college because there are no Vanderbilts in the NFL. When a fire in the football dorm at Auburn reportedly destroyed 20 books, he said that the real tragedy here was that 15 of them were not colored yet. However, my favorite of his quips was the reason he gave for wanting to play Georgia early in the season:
“I sort of always liked playing them that second game because you could always count on them having two or three key players suspended.”
Steve Spurrier put winning teams on the field without making college football out to be something equivalent to life and death. If for that reason alone, I will miss him as part of college football. Good luck to the Ol’ Ball Coach.
With Steve Spurrier out of college football, there is a little less “good stuff” around to take the edge off the stupidity injected therein by the NCAA. LSU’s outstanding running back, Leonard Fournette grew up in New Orleans and survived Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath of that disaster. This year, a hurricane delivered serious flooding to South Carolina such that the LSU/South Carolina game that had been scheduled in South Carolina had to be moved to Baton Rouge. Fournette wanted to take his game-worn jersey and auction it off with the proceeds going to the relief efforts in South Carolina. Even before the game happened, Fournette wrote and released a moving letter expressing sympathy and prayers for the folks in South Carolina going through what they were going through.
And so, what did the NCAA do? They told him he could not do that because that violated one of the NCAA’s precious rules about special benefits for a student-athlete and amateurism. Seriously, that is what the grand overseers of collegiate athletics said; these are nominally the adults in charge here. That ruling lasted only a few hours when someone in the NCAA hierarchy came to his/her senses and convinced the nominal adults-in-charge that the NCAA already had enough black-eyes according to the public at large and needed to think about this one just a bit more.
At the end of the day, Fournette was informed that he could indeed auction off his jersey for this charitable purpose. The NCAA did this in a formal statement but that formal statement did not include any of the following as it should have:
1. Start off with the phrase, “After further review…”
2. An admission that its initial reaction was a stupid knee-jerk.
3. An opening bid for the jersey up for auction or – – even better – – an offer to match whatever the final bid was so that the charitable contribution here would be doubled. Sigh…
This next story has been around for a while and I have refrained from comment because it has too many twists and turns that I do not understand. I have been waiting for some clarity here but since it involves FIFA, that is not likely to come about. FIFA announced that Sepp Blatter was going to be “provisionally suspended” for 90 days and then Blatter announced he would appeal that “provisional suspension”. Set aside the fact that I have no idea what distinguishes a “provisional suspension” form an “actual suspension” or a “sky-blue sleeping artisinal suspension”. “Suspension” to me is like a light switch; one is either suspended or not.
Moving on… Joining Blatter in this “provisional suspension status” are UAEFA President Michael Platini and FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke. If you think that makes this matter any clearer, it does not. Let me explain:
Because Blatter is “provisionally suspended”, he “is not allowed to represent FIFA in any capacity, act on the organization’s behalf, or communicate to media or other stakeholders as a FIFA representative.” So, one might think that is what the meat of a “provisional suspension” is.
Well, then the same ought to apply to Messr. Valcke, right? The problem with that logic is that Valcke was fired from his position a month ago. So, if he had already been fired, de facto he would not have been able to do any of the things that Blatter is forbidden to do. So, what does the ‘provisional suspension” add here?
Another interesting twist in the story is that Platini is now implicated in the same scandal/bribery allegations that have resulted in these “provisional suspensions”. Until now, Platini had been one of the folks on the inside track to be elected to replace Blatter as the major domo of FIFA. Oh swell…
The one thing in all of this latest FIFA mess that makes total sense are reports that FIFA took these actions to sever ties with Blatter et al. because several sponsors including big-time sponsors like McDonalds and Coca Cola urged FIFA to do so. The lesson here is the same one that Deep Throat indicated to Woodward and Bernstein in the Watergate scandal:
Follow the money…
Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle summed all of this up succinctly:
“Can’t wait for the Sepp Blatter biopic: ‘The Line on Ethics: Bend It Like Blatter.’”
Finally, a coach in another college sport is under scrutiny today. Rick Pitino has not been fired as the basketball coach at Louisville but he and his program are squirming under the microscopes of multiple investigations stemming from claims that basketball recruits had escorts hired for them as part of the recruiting process. These allegations come from Katina Powell’s book, Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen. I do not want to pile on here based on allegations made in a book I have not read and do not plan to read. I prefer to wait for the stage play based on the work of literature here. May I suggest that the title of the stage play be:
The Best Little Whorehouse in Louisville
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………