Back And Forth And Back Again…

News reports continue to appear saying that the AAF might cease to exist within days if there is no “agreement” reached between the NFLPA and the AAF.  The majority owner – the guy who bought up most of the league earlier this season – says that the AAF cannot exist unless the NFLPA allows young developmental players to be in the AAF.  Why the NFL teams seemingly have no say in that matter is not clear to me, but so far, the differences of opinion here are attributed to the NFLPA and the AAF.  Is this for real – – or is this some sort of negotiating strategery?  I have no idea.  However, if the AAF folds even before its inaugural season ends, I wonder if that will have some bearing on the launch of XFL 2.0 next year.

Meanwhile, another pro sports league just folded in the last week.  The Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) will discontinue operations as of May 1 making the announcement to the teams and players via conference call over the weekend.  By all reports, everyone other than the Board of Directors for the League were shocked by the announcement.  The CWHL has 6 teams and it has been around for more than a decade.  Suddenly, it has one month left before it fades to black.

I will not pretend to have had any familiarity with the CWHL before last weekend.  But the press release announcing the liquidation of the league says that “… while the on-ice hockey is exceptional, the business model has proven to be economically unsustainable.”

Those 6 teams in the league are far-flung indeed.  There are 4 teams clustered in eastern Canada and New England (Markham, Toronto, Montreal and Worcester); the other two teams are in Calgary and Shenzen, China.  Immediately, I perceive a lot of travel expenses for a league whose regular season extends to 28 games.

For what it is worth, the Calgary Inferno finished first in the league standings in this final season of the CWHL and Calgary also won the Clarkson Cup – the playoff championship.  The other item of marginal interest in this final season is that the Worcester Blades ended the season with a record of 0-28-0.  Ouch!

As the NBA season winds down, there is still a lot of hyperventilation around the Lakers’ season and the future of Luke Walton as their coach.  About 2 weeks ago, there were hints/rumors/unsourced reports that said Doc Rivers (of the Clippers) was being courted by the Lakers and that he “might be interested”.  I like how Doc Rivers handled that situation.  After about 36 hours where this story was percolating in far too many places, Rivers put it to rest.  He said unequivocally that he was not interested in the Lakers’ job and that he intended to stay in LA to coach the Clippers.

Ever since the Clippers moved to LA from San Diego more than 30 years ago, they have been the “Los Angeles junior varsity basketball team”.  This action by Doc Rivers – a well-respected NBA coach – would seem to announce that the “JV status” of the Clippers may be coming to an end.

In another coaching move, St. Joe’s University fired Phil Martelli as its head coach.  He had been an assistant at St. Joe’s for 10 years before taking over as the head coach in 1995.  Martelli’s Hawks had been in the NCAA Tournament 6 times and his teams made it to the Elite 8 once and to the Final Four another time.  The last two seasons have not been banner years for the Hawks, but Martelli’s overall record at this small school that is just down the road from powerhouse Villanova who dominates college basketball in that area was a very respectable 444-328 and he is the winningest coach in school history

Martelli’s replacement is Billy Lange who had been an assistant at Villanova – just down the road – and an assistant with the Sixers in the NBA.  In addition to the impressive record Phil Martelli posted at St. Joe’s there is another coach in school history who draws comparisons.

  • From 1955 to 1966, Dr. Jack Ramsey was the head coach at St. Joe’s.  His record over that span of time was 234-72 (winning percentage .765)

Staying with basketball for another moment, this year’s Final Four will not see participation from Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and UNC.  To give you an idea of how dominant those programs have been in college basketball recently, consider this stat:

  • Since 1985 there have been only 5 Final Fours that did not have at least one of those four schools as a participant.
  • Starting in 1986, there have been 34 tournaments meaning that there have been 136 “slots” in the Final Fours over that time.  These four schools – Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and UNC – account for 39 of those “slots” (29% of the total “slots”).

Evidently, some of the smaller schools that earned a slot in this year’s NCAA Tournament did not – or could not – send their pep band to the venue for the game.  In a couple of cases, they hired band players from other schools and dressed them up to look as if they were from the small school that did not send their band to the game.  Unless you are one of the band members who did not get to go to the game, this is not such a big deal – – but the Internet reports made it a much bigger deal that it needed to be.  Brad Rock of the Deseret News put some perspective on all this:

“Fairleigh Dickinson was a 16 seed in last week’s West Regional in Salt Lake and played its role superbly.

“So did others.

“In the Knights’ 38-point loss to Gonzaga, their pep band performed with gusto. Except that FDU has no pep band. The mystery musicians were actually the University of Utah’s, wearing FDU T-shirts.

“Imagine that — one band posing as another!

“Said Milli Vanilli: ‘Cool! Can we get in on this?’ ”

Finally, let me close today by sharing another observation from Brad Rock:

“A study in the U.K. says people are the happiest at ages 16 and 70.

“That pretty much covers both ends of Vince Carter’s career.”

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