Happy Bastille Day

On this date, 232 years ago, French peasants stormed the Bastille in Paris marking the start of the French Revolution that overthrew the monarchy there.  On this date, 5 years ago, a guy drove a truck through a crowd of people in Nice who were celebrating Bastille Day.  It is OK to celebrate historical events that are violent, but it is not OK to inflict violence.  I shall try to offer my remarks for the day in the spirit of peace and harmony.

MLB put on its All-Star Game last night.  It was a happenstance instead of a happening.  A quick summary here:

  1. The AL won the game.
  2. The teams wore uniforms made specifically for the All-Star Game.
  3. The uniforms were genuinely ugly.

Moving on …  Back in 2008, the decision makers at the University of Tennessee reacted to a losing record in football by firing head coach, Phillip Fulmer who had been on the job since 1992.  His record at Tennessee was 152-52-1 including an undefeated season in 1998.  That firing began a sequence of coaching hires where the expectations of fans and boosters were never even approximated.  Since 2009, the Vols have gone through 4 head coaches – not counting guys who took over for a fired coach in mid-season – and have a combined record of 73-75.  Phillip Fulmer came back as the AD at Tennessee and hired the last of the procession of coaches that came after he was fired but his time as the AD was less than wonderful.

I mention all that because there is a report from the NBC affiliate in Knoxville that Tennessee has spent more than $650K since last November on a law firm that specializes in “NCAA compliance reviews”.  Tennessee fired its last coach, Jeremy Pruitt, along with two assistants after internal investigations disclosed significant violations of NCAA rules.  [Aside:  If a coach is going to violate NCAA rules to the point that he is fired for cause by a school, he should do better on-field than a 16-19 record.  Just my opinion…]

The $650K billed to the university by the law firm came during the time of the internal investigation and then subsequent to the firing of the coaches by the school.  This matter is probably nowhere near the end because coach Pruitt is contesting his “firing for cause”.  In so doing, Tennessee would not pay Pruitt approximately $12M for the balance of his contract there.  Stay tuned…

If you read a headline somewhere that indicates that a boxer “took a dive” in a fight, you would not be shocked.  If you read a headline somewhere that indicates some “point-shaving” by some college basketball players, you might be mildly surprised.  Those sorts of things have been known to happen in those sports.  However, I was a bit surprised to read a headline at CBSSports.com that read:

Wimbledon 2021: Multiple matches being investigated for fixing, per report

According to this report at least two matches in the tournament are under scrutiny for “several very specific and suspicious bets” that took place on the matches and during the matches.  Here are the descriptions of the matches and the bets from that report:

“… suspicions were raised over a first-round men’s doubles match. There were large bets placed against a favored duo at “irregular times.” The pair ended up winning the first set and that increased the odds that they would be defeated. However, the tandem ended up losing the next three sets.

“The second match allegedly is focused on the opponents of a German player in a singles match. After the second set, there were extremely high bets that were placed on the exact score of the third bets and prop bets surrounding the number of service games. Those bets ended up coming to fruition.”

The report goes on to say that the International Tennis Integrity Agency was doing the investigating here but that it had not released any details of any findings to date.  The most important thing I learned from that portion of the report is that there is something called the International Tennis Integrity Agency.  A quick glance at Wikipedia let me know that these folks appear to be busy indeed.  There are significant numbers of players, officials, coaches and chair umpires who are currently suspended or banned or banned for life.

Speaking of headlines that caught my attention recently, here is another one from CBSSports.com:

Jerry Rice hypes ‘explosive’ 49ers receiver heading into his second season with San Francisco

Naturally, I wanted to know who this “49ers receiver” might be if for no other reason than Jerry Rice thought highly of him.  The player who has impressed Rice is Branden Aiyuk and here is what Rice had to say about him:

“I think he’s going to come in and, you know, with a year under his belt he is going to be a better football player.  His commitment, his route-running; he is very explosive downfield, he can catch the ball underneath, he can do it all.”

Those are nice words to hear from the best WR I ever saw, and I am sure Aiyuk’s agent will be citing those remarks when it comes time for Aiyuk to negotiate his next contract.  At the same time, those words can become a real burden for Branden Aiyuk.  Niners’ fans who experienced the greatness of Jerry Rice close up may take those comments and put similar expectations on Aiyuk.  Even if he is all that Jerry Rice says he is, that is a difficult standard to be measured by.

Finally, having mentioned Jerry Rice and the San Francisco 49ers, let me close with this comment about San Francisco by Ambrose Bierce who was the author of The Devil’s Dictionary:

“I’d never set foot in San Francisco.  Of all the Sodoms and Gomorrahs in our modern world, it is the worst.  It needs another quake, another whiff of fire – and- more than all else, a steady trade wind of grapeshot.  That moral penal colony of the world.”

[Statement not endorsed by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.]

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



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