I do not intend this to be a maudlin morning, but things happened last weekend that were not uplifting. José Fernandez – the Miami Marlins’ pitching ace – died at age 24 in a boating accident that also claimed the lives of two other people. Fernandez was only 24 and arrived in the US to start a baseball career as a Cuban defector. The accident that took his life involved a boat probably traveling at high speed hitting the rocks of a jetty in waters near Miami. Authorities say there was no evidence of drug or alcohol involvement here.
Rest in peace, José Fernandez.
Arnold Palmer died on Sunday at the age of 87. Everyone who reaps benefits from the PGA Tour should show up at his funeral/celebration of life service. Arnold Palmer made golf a television sport; before him it was a curiosity on TV; his charisma and his daring style of play – feast or famine – drew millions of followers that came to be known as Arnie’s Army. In terms of being the media focus for golf, he was Tiger Woods before anyone even thought of Tiger Woods.
Rest in peace, Arnold Palmer.
I found the following e-mail in my inbox this morning from a former colleague who now lives in southern California and who is an avid LA Dodgers fan.
“It’s been an emotional week here. Vin Scully’s last game at Dodger Stadium just ended, appropriately with the clinching of the NL West. Each player, as he came to bat, took off his cap and waved good-bye at Vin in the broadcast booth. I’ve been listening most of the year, and I can tell you that he has sounded better than ever, but he seems at peace with his decision. Half of southern California is in tears. It’s not a death, but it feels like one.”
Vin Scully started in broadcasting in Brooklyn as part of a radio team for the Brooklyn Dodgers that was led by Red Barber. [Aside: Ernie Harwell was also part of that team. If you compile a list of the “10 best baseball broadcasters”, I assure you that all three of these folks would be on the list.] Scully has been at the microphone for 67 years.
Bonne chance, Vin Scully.
Three coaches in college football lost their jobs last weekend. LSU fired head coach, Les Miles, and offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron, after losing to Auburn 18-13. Miles had been on the hot seat for a while in Baton Rouge; he was almost fired last year after LSU suffered a 3-game losing streak for the first time this century. LSU is 2-2 this year; Miles’ firing demonstrates the “What Have You Done For Me Lately” nature of college football in the SEC. Miles started at LSU in 2005; here is what happened on his watch:
One national championship
Overall record of 114-34 (Winning percentage = 77.2%)
Winning percentage is the highest in school history (higher than either Nick Saban or Bill Arnsparger)
Ed Orgeron – formerly the head coach at USC and at Ole Miss – takes over the team. Orgeron’s overall record as a head coach is 16-27 (winning percentage = 37.2%); obviously, that sort of performance will not satisfy the folks at LSU.
The fact that Cam Cameron was also fired along with Les Miles does not come as a shock. LSU’s offense has been disappointing for the last year or so and if the frustration built to the point that the school – and its boosters – were willing to pony up the money to fire Miles, it is pretty clear that Cameron would also get the ax.
Paying off a fired head coach at a major college football program and then hiring another one is not a cheap proposition. Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald recently had this comment in one of his columns that will give you an idea of the sort or money we are talking about here:
“New University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds is expected to receive a 6.3 percent pay raise to $510,400. No, no, no! It’s just wrong when the president of a major university earns almost one-fifth as much as the head football coach.”
The third college football coach to be shown the door over the weekend was Brian VanGorder – defensive coordinator at Notre Dame. The Irish had CFP aspirations at the beginning of the season; their record now stands at 1-3 and they lost at home last weekend to Duke. That was bad enough but they lost to Duke by giving up 38 points to a team that has struggled to score against opponents of far lower stature than Notre Dame. VanGorder will be replaced by Greg Hudson who has been a defensive coordinator at Minnesota, E. Carolina and Purdue.
Good News: Hudson has been a defensive coordinator before so he knows what the job entails.
Bad news: His defenses in the past have not done very well at all. His best defense was at E. Carolina in 2006 when it ranked 59th in the country. In two years 2009 and 2015, his defense ranked 100th or worse in the country.
Finally, since I mentioned Brad Dickson above, let me close here with another of his observations related to college football:
“Johnny Manziel has reportedly re-enrolled at Texas A&M. I look for him to drop out after Oktoberfest parties are completed.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………