A former colleague and reader of these rants often chastises me for my lack of commentary on tennis. Well, today tennis is at the top of the list for comment because of an incredible report by the Associated Press in Paris. Police in Europe have arrested several players and are investigating others related to match fixing on a grand scale. The players involved are not ones that casual fans would ever hear of and the tournaments where matches were allegedly fixed were not ones that would ever make the sports pages here in the US. Nonetheless, the AP report says there is a syndicate in Europe which is “suspected of fixing hundreds of matches and paying off more than 100 players from around Europe”.
Some of the minor tournaments offered prize money of $15,000; some of the players received payoffs as low as 500 euros from the gambling syndicate. None of the activities described by the AP report involved tennis players I have ever heard of. Of the players identified in the report, the highest world ranking achieved was 354th. Here is a link to the AP report for all the details.
I am surprised by two things in this story:
- I am surprised that there is a marketplace for betting on tennis tournaments where the total prize money is $15,000. The story says that the syndicate would place lots of small wagers all around Europe on these matches. I take that to mean that an oddsmaker in Slovenia would take bets on a minor tennis tournament in France. Really?
- I am surprised by the economics here. The story said that some players got as much as 3000 euros to fix a match. Assuming a “small wager” that would not draw any attention would net 100 euros, that means there would have to be 30 such bets placed in a variety of venues just to break even. And there must be some cost involved to pay the folks who place those bets in all those scattered locales.
John Engler is the former Governor of Michigan and he has been serving for the past year or so as the Interim President of Michigan State University. He came to hold that position after the Larry Nassar scandal roiled the university community and resulted in the ouster of the University President at that time. Given the repugnance everyone felt about what Dr. Nassar did to those young women athletes and the cover/protection he was provided over the years, Engler’s time at the university was guaranteed to be tumultuous under the best of circumstances. Without going into a chronology here, let me just say that his tenure there did not come close to enjoying “the best of circumstances”.
John Engler is a former politician. While that label carries with it more than a few pejorative characteristics, it also would indicate to me that he is sensitive to words and phrases that might be inflammatory. My guess would have been that he would pick and choose his public comments carefully in order to bring some sense of healing and normalcy back to the university community. Well, that hypothesis went off the rails…
John Engler chose to sit down and talk with the editorial board of the Detroit News. Politicians do this all the time; normally, the most scathing criticism they would face after such a meeting is that the politician and the editorial board have polar opposite opinions on how to resolve some public issue. Not this time… Engler told the editorial board that some of Dr. Nassar’s victims were “enjoying the spotlight” and that it was his job to have the university “get back to work”.
- Igor Stravinsky was not that tone deaf!
John Engler has resigned as the Interim President of Michigan State University. And that act has opened the door for hyperbole and silly statements from Engler’s critics/opponents. Here is one of those comments:
“John Engler’s reign of terror is over. Michigan State University will be returned to its people.”
Really? Reign of terror?
Here is a link to a story in the Detroit Free Press that summarizes the current situation and presents some of the highlights/lowlights of the past year or so that John Engler has been the Interim President at Michigan State. I believe it was during the latter days of the Nixon Administration that the phrase “mistakes were made” entered the colloquial language. To say that “mistakes were made” by Engler and by others at Michigan State would be about as polite a description as I would be willing to offer.
Danny Boy Snyder and Team President and plenipotentiary, Bruce Allen, have unloaded a narrative on Skins’ fans this morning. Over the past several weeks, there have been reports by several outlets that the team had interviewed the likes of
- Gregg Williams
- Steve Wilks
- Todd Bowles
- Joe Woods
All four of these men are out of work and all of them are seeking defensive coordinator positions. The Skins had a defensive coordinator, Greg Manusky, under contract and on the staff while all of that was going on and all four of those guys left the interview here and kept on looking for jobs elsewhere. Here is the narrative that Danny Boy and A-hole Allen are trying to perpetrate today:
- Greg Manusky was their guy all along. They were only talking with these other 4 potential defensive coordinators as “consultants”; they were interviewed to give the Skins an outside perspective on their defensive personnel and their defensive strategies.
Recall that the Skins released DJ Swearinger after Swearinger called out Manusky by name for what Swearinger called kindergarten mistakes in defensive play calling. [Aside: I have no idea if Swearinger is right or not but that it what he said.] Add to that incident that the Skins’ defense started the season strong and ended the year in tatters – – but not from any injuries to any of the key players.
Now, it is obvious to me that if the narrative were even remotely true, there would be evidence that Greg Manusky sat in on all those interviews/consultant meetings because if he is the strategist for the defense, it would be helpful for him to hear from some of his peers in such a setting. There is exactly no reporting that Manusky did anything like that.
Here is what probably happened:
- Allen and Snyder wanted to make a change so that they could appear to be doing something positive to improve the on-field product.
- The head coach is the de facto offensive coordinator and he is staying on; the special teams coordinator is already gone, and the team has not milked that situation for any positive spin. So, the next thing to look at is a change in defensive coordinator.
- Four guys came in; they looked at the situation; they asked around the league among their networks to find out what the management deal in Washington is all about. Then, all four of them said the equivalent of “I’ll be right back,” and scurried off to find positions elsewhere.
- And now we learn that Greg Manusky was “the Skins’ guy” all along.
- I suspect that Greg Manusky was as surprised to hear that this morning as anyone else.
Finally, since I mentioned John Engler and his life as a politician above, consider this comment from Brad Dickson related to politicians:
“Being a mall Santa is very similar to being a politician. You get to make a lot of hollow promises that never happen and nobody holds you accountable.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………