Earlier this week, a former colleague who has been reading these rants from the time before they ever hit the Internet sent me an e-mail “welcoming me home”. He also included a link to an article from Golf Digest which he pointed out confirms my repeated observations that the golf media’s obsession over the years with Tiger Woods continues. He said they are “like crack addicts who just cannot quit their habit.” The theme of this article is that despite Woods’ “year from Hell”, he is still golf’s biggest draw.
As confirmation of that general idea, there was broad coverage and commentary from the golf media when Tiger Woods “announced” that his practice regimen has now been expanded to chipping and putting as opposed to previous times when he could only putt. Slow down and let me catch my breath there, Hoss…
However, it was this comment in my friend’s e-mail that got me thinking:
“Tiger and OJ are the two biggest ‘riches to rags’ stories ever.”
First of all, while both Tiger and OJ indeed fell from celebrity status to anathema status dramatically, that is where the similarity ends. Tiger Woods seeks – and may someday attain – the ability to compete in his sport at a high level; OJ never did that once he retired from football. Secondly, while Tiger Woods’ societal and familial behaviors are not what I tried to point my children toward, his actions are downright angelic as compared to the events related to OJ’s downfall. Moreover, I think there are some other “riches to rags” stories to add to my friend’s list. [To be fair, I have expanded beyond merely sports for some of my examples.]:
- Lance Armstrong: He dominated his sport similarly to the way Tiger Woods and OJ dominated theirs. The major difference here is that cycling is not nearly as popular in the US as is golf or football.
- Bill Cosby: He was once considered a great role model as a father and considered to be an iconic entertainer. Today, not so much …
- John Edwards: He sought the Democratic nomination for President of the US at least twice and was the Democratic nominee for Vice President once. I have no idea what he is doing today – but it is a far cry from running for Vice President.
- Michael Jackson: From the stature of “King of Pop”, he managed to descend to the level of “pervy/creepy guy” at best.
- Joe Paterno: To my mind, this is the saddest case on the list. He never did any of the vile things that brought on his downfall; nonetheless, his reputation was destroyed.
- Michael Vick: His story is interesting because he “rebounded” to some extent from his “fall from grace” to the point where he returned to the NFL and is now a TV analyst for NFL football.
And that list leads me to comment on yesterday’s action by Louisville to put Rick Pitino on “unpaid administrative leave” as the FBI investigation of bribery and fraud related to college basketball continues. This is not the first encounter that Pitino has had with “scandal” but this is the first one that could put his school on the wrong side of an NCAA sanction that might affect the “bottom line” at Louisville. Based on my comments yesterday about this investigation and the arrests that have been made and the following comment, I must confess that I do not understand where all of this is coming from or where it is headed:
- The statement made yesterday by the prosecutor in charge of all this said that some people participated in some illegal/fraudulent activities that delivered highly recruited players to specific schools/teams. It did not say that the schools/teams did any of those things; it was a cabal of agents and shoe company execs and assistant coaches. So, if the prosecutor does not think the head coach(es) who received these top-shelf recruits was/were part of the illegal/fraudulent activities, why put the coach on “unpaid administrative leave” which is tantamount to firing him?
Clearly, I am missing something here that is at the core of this matter. I still do not understand what laws were violated nor do I understand how this whole matter is washing over various folks in the college basketball world. There is a story this morning speculating as to how this might affect Bruce Pearl at Auburn since one of the Auburn assistant coaches was arrested yesterday. Suppose for a moment that Josh McDaniels – offensive coordinator for the Patriots – was convicted of a DUI. Would that endanger Bill Belichick’s driver’s license?
Switching gears, if Highland Park High School (Dallas TX) has a “Hall of Fame”, I think they will soon be inducting two new members.
- Clayton Kershaw (Class of 2006) is – at the moment – the highest paid player in MLB.
- Matthew Stafford (Class of 2006) is – at the moment – the highest paid player in the NFL.
Finally, since shady dealings in college recruiting are front and center in the news these days, consider this comment from Brad Rock in the Deseret News recently:
“An Ohio prep star said on Twitter he’d sign with Ohio State if he got 100,000 retweets.
“Remember football’s simpler days when all it took was a couple of boosters to buy a kid a car?”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………