It’s Not What You Know But It’s Also Who You Know ….

It’s Not What You Know But It’s Also Who You Know ….

I must admit that few things to my mind have really changed since I lived in South Florida and was a frequent attendee to football games played by the Miami Hurricanes . Having moved from South Florida up to the central part of the state, I try when I can to attend a few scheduled games of the program. Not since the heydays of Howard Schnellenberger , Dennis Erickson , Jimmy Johnson and Larry Coker when the football program was winning national titles and lauded as being one the premiere college teams in the nation ___ has there really been much to laud concerning the the Miami Hurricanes . However in the last few years the program has seen a decline in its attendance , the loss of Randy Shannon because it was deemed he wasn’t high profiled enough to lead the team.

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With that fall from grace has come criticism from former players who are now lauded within the NFL or who have entered into the Hall of Fame but who still see the school as their fraternity of brothers . Players such as Michael Irvin , Ray Lewis and Clinton Portis have all been pretty vocal as to what they see as the way that things have been done wrong by the school. What no one can deny is the mere fact that the Miami Hurricanes has always been the center of controversy and some might say the school simply courted incidents merely to gain even more notoriety . Now comes word that the NCAA is conducting an investigation into the school and the fact that a now indicted felon Nevin Shapiro , who conducted a multi-million dollar Ponzi Scheme , is said to have lavished members of the football team with monetary gifts , invites to numerous sporting events whereby they attended per-gratis. It is also being alleged that Shapiro for his part made sure that students were aided in aided obtaining none specific off campus work for which it is unclear how the players were being compensated .

Courtesy of The Boston Herald

NCAA visiting University of Miami regarding allegations

By Barry Jackson and Susan Miller Degnan / McClatchy Newspapers

MIAMI — The NCAA is investigating claims that convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro gave gifts and services — such as use of a yacht — to Hurricane football players while they were attending the University of Miami, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation and Shapiro’s attorney, Maria Elena Perez.

Perez said Monday she has been in contact with the NCAA, on Shapiro’s behalf, for several months and has conveyed Shapiro’s claims that more than a dozen former or current Hurricanes players have received gifts and other benefits that would constitute a violation of NCAA rules. Shapiro also has spoken to the NCAA directly, she said.

Perez said the NCAA informed her that it would visit the Coral Gables, Fla., university on Monday. When reached by phone Monday night, University spokeswoman Margot Winick said, “My understanding is the NCAA was on site, but we’re not prepared to comment now until we know what they’re looking into.”

Though there is a four-year statute of limitations on NCAA violations, Perez said some of the incidents occurred within the past four years, while others occurred before that.

“It’s not about giving money — it’s about giving favors,” Perez said of Shapiro’s allegations. “It’s giving suits, giving jewelry, paying for entertainment, letting them use his boat twice a week.”

Perez said she has not tabulated the monetary value of gifts and benefits that Shapiro said he gave players, but “it’s well over thousands of dollars. It took $2,000 just to fuel up the gas tank of the yacht at Riviera Club.”

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Somehow in the midst of this latest mea culpa that has embroiled the University of Miami , the school’s president former cabinet member Donna Shalala , now has to try allay the fears of the fans and public in general that the school isn’t once again embroiled in a mess of its own making . What I would like to know in all of this , is how is it that a school can allow either boosters or for that matter any individual full access to the campus merely to heighten their presence amongst the student athletes ? It is clear that problems will always continue to arise when such an incident as is now being reported concerning the actions of Nevin Shapiro ___ his interaction with the school. There is a great deal that we have yet to be made aware of concerning the ongoing investigation by the NCAA but it is now becoming clear that there were errors in judgment not simply by school but also the lack of accountability from within the school’s own system.

And this upcoming season coach Al Golden not only has to deal with these allegations now surfacing but he and his coaching staff will now have to how to get the very best out of a football team that very much underperformed (7-6) last year within the ACC .

If there’s one thing that has become abundantly clear with the college coaches be it within basketball or football it is that they are self serving and think of themselves above the law. In a recent symposium that was hosted by ESPN to which they had a number of well known coaches , college sport’s analysts participate in this panel. It became clear that Nick Saban , Mike Bellotti , Bob Stoops feel that they are not answerable for the actions of their respective coaching staffs or even where they may well have stepped into a gray area as it relates to the NCAA regulations .

Stoops, Saban and Bellotti stated that nothing gives them greater pleasure than meeting a potential athlete in the parents’ home and discussing their future . And as altruistic as that may well seem we all know what lies beneath the maneuvering that is made by these coaches. It certainly has nothing to do with the players actually gaining an education but more to do with how the school can gain financially from acquiring that athlete if they are especially talented in their chosen sport. I am not about to suggest that the antics of Nick Saban , Mike Bellotti or Bob Stoops are untoward , but it does beg the question when Nick Saban begins to state that the real issues facing the underlying collegiate athletics , is the mere fact that agents are ruining college sports through their illicit acts . I might hasten to add nowhere has Saban sought to question the actions of one of his former peers in Jim Tressel and his culture of deceit and likes while coach of Ohio State and the school’s football program. If nothing else Treseel’s actions were culpable and the inaction by university president E Gordon Gee and school AD Gene Smith left a great deal to be desired . And in the midst of this all has been the inaction of the NCAA and their complete lack of action when necessary .

At some point I would like to know when it is that coaches such as Stoops , Saban and Bellotti will choose to question either their own inaction or for that matter the lack of action by a compliance officer or an athletics director when they choose not to act appropriately in the case of their lack of not wanting to do the right thing ? If cases such of Ohio State and the ongoing investigation of Auburn as it relates to the Cam Newton’s eligibility status while attending the school . Gene Chizik the school’s football coach has denied culpability in any action that might have violated any NCAA rules. Chizik in a recent confrontation with a senior official of the NCAA had been quite vocal in asking why the body was still investigating the school , in the aftermath of Auburn’s own internal investigation. That official stated the NCAA wasn’t of the belief that the school’s own investigation was as thorough as they were led to believe and that was in light of further allegations that have since arised .

So the Bernie Machen the president of the university of Florida has let it be known that the SEC for the time being will remain a conference of twelve schools . As we know this is simply a university president posturing for the public at large . Machen knows that sooner or later the conference will have to be enlarged if it is to compete with the other major conferences bowl or otherwise as they seek to a greater source of the monetary pie courtesy of the nation’s sports broadcasters. The Texas A&M Aggies are being courted and a move into the ACC or but moreover the SEC would be highly profitable for the school. With the school’s highly publicized and successful athletics program it would prove to be a great coup for any conference acquiring the school. And it has to be said that the SEC would deem it more of a triumph than perhaps the ACC.

The SEC already boasting a plethora of top notch schools that have made the BCS national championship its own fiefdom over the past few years , they would welcome Texas A&M with open arms. But such a maneuver has to be achieved in a way that it doesn’t create a backlash against either the school or conference itself. Inasmuch as we have seen recent realignments of number of conferences , anyone who believes that it is being done for altruistic motives clearly can’t see the overall big picture. These moves aren’t being done to create a more competitive balance within collegiate athletics but merely to create an even bigger cash windfall for the schools and conferences in question. Collegiate athletics is simply no longer about the apparent education or producing more productive citizens but a way and means of garnering talent as production for the schools themselves and then on to the professional level for the students in their chosen sporting endeavors.

There’s a great deal of money to be made but on the face of it one at times has to question the motives of the schools when one tends to see little if anything that is tangible coming out as a bye product of the activities in question. So much so that now instead of the landscape being about competitive athletic prowess much of the dialogue surrounds alleged acts of malfeasance not only the part of the student athletes but in some cases the AD’s , coaches and compliance officers of the very schools themselves. And in the midst of this cesspool of deceit and corrupt action stands the NCAA at times playing Pontius Pilate one minute and then meting out punishment like Judge Roy Bean the next.

Mark Emmert as president of the NCAA, either has to act swiftly and corral the activities of the schools or he can simply keep the status quo as is , by looking the other way and then choosing to punish with impunity as he sees fit merely to create the perception that he and his esteemed body are not without power . But in reality we know that the NCAA has already aligned itself with the Devil , in this case their paymasters , the broadcast and cable networks who pay out hundreds of millions of dollars each year for the broadcast rights for collegiate sports. As to the money trail and where much of those funds actually ends up, is anyone’s guess at this juncture , even if we are being assured that is to benefit the schools and student athletes as a whole . We can only those establishments at their word but in reality in this day and age what can we actually believe ? It is not as if a university president or athletic director isn’t above being culpable in an act of stupidity or simply being naive to begin with ! Simply look at the actions of E Gordon Gee , Gene Smith, Jim Tressel , Butch Davis and Dick Baddour of the former athletics director of UNC and ask yourself who can you really trust to tell the truth ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Are you at all surprised by the alleged improprieties that has now further tarnished the image of the University of Miami ? And what actions if any do you believe appropriate for the school if the allegations are found to be true ? Also in light of the statements of Nick Saban and some of his peers who were participants in that recently sponsored ESPN symposium do you feel that the NCAA really should have the power as to how a school goes about recruiting a potential college athlete beyond the measures already in place ? Leave a comment as to your thoughts on this topic and anything else you believe to be salient as to the points raised within this piece.

Alan aka tophatal ………… https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details .

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(1) FILE – This Feb. 2, 2011 , file photo shows Miami head coach Al Golden during an interview in Coral Gables, Fla. Golden says some of his player may have made mistakes that prompted an NCAA investigation into convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro’s role with the program. AP Photo/Alan Diaz ……

(2) Ex President Bill Clinton is greeted by university President Donna Shalala of the University of Miami . The former cabinet minister has held the post as president of the college since 2001. She now has to deal with the current controversy concerning members of the football team receiving gratuities from now indicted felon Nevin Shapiro . The school itself is also expected to conduct its own internal investigations as what improprieties took place in lieu of the NCAA’s own inquiry into the matter . Courtesy of AP Photo / Miami Herald / Hector Guttierrez …………

(3) In picture Paul Fishman the US attorney in the state of New Jersey whose indictment of Nevin Shapiro the former co founder of Capitol Investments USA Inc . who was indicted on grand larceny and creating a Ponzi Scheme said to have defrauded clients out of $ 800 million . Shapiro is also embroiled in the latest controversy surrounding the University of Miami and the fact that he’s said to have lavished gifts upon current and former players of the Canes’ football team. The NCAA as well as the school are now conducting separate investigations concerning the matter . The Star Ledger (N.J) / Mitsu Yasukawa …………

(4) Nick Saban standing addresses Jay Bilas (right), and ESPN College Football analyst Robert Smith during a symposium conducted by the broadcast outlet on the state of college sports and in particular on College Football . Courtesy of ESPN Jay Faraoni ……

(5) Bernie Machen president of the University of Florida has been somewhat adamant that the SEC will not be seeking to increase the number of schools within the conference in spite there being rumors that Texas A&M was said to being courted by the SEC and ACC to make the jump from the Big 12 . Sooner rather than later the the Aggies may well make the jump if it proves to be financially advantageous for the school. Getty Images / Michael Sprouse ……

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Miami Hurricanes Official website

Link provided here to the Miami Herald’s own coverage of this ongoing story . NCAA visiting University of Miami regarding allegations

Cry Me A River …….. Does Anyone Now Really Care ?

Cry Me A River …….. Does Anyone Now Really Care ?

I found it rather asinine that former (UNC) Tar Heels football coach Butch Davis prior to his firing by the university’s athletics’ director Dick Baddour . The coach saw fit to accept responsibility for the numerous violations that took place under his tenure as the head coach . In his four hectic year with the program Davis recorded a 30-21 mark but little to . show for the program’s development for the now tainted football program .

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Baddour by his own admission did not use due and proper oversight of monitoring the actions of the Davis and his coaching staff . The school no doubt acted appropriately in the firing of the coach and Dick Baddour has done the honorable thing in seeking to resign his position but he will now remain as the interim AD while the university starts the hiring process in seeking his successor . Once done , then new hire’s first course of action will be to undertake the search for a new head football coach. Many of the violations stem from the team’s association with an agent Gary Wichard which was in fact suborned by one of Davis’ own assistants John Blake who is now no longer with the program. Now much has been made about what was known or not known by the coach as to the actions of Blake , his interaction with the players and agent. What are now finding out is that there was a great deal of money changing hands as well as gifts but what might be even deplorable was the evidence of academic fraud on proportions unimaginable . It’s hard to understand how such a well established place of higher learning can now find itself embroiled in such a situation. But herein lies the caveat in such instances where a coach chooses to do whatever possible in order to achieve success.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the NCAA is a toothless governing body of collegiate athletics that simply metes out punishment but in doing so it chooses to show little common sense as to the penalties levied. While we all know what has become of former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel and his abrupt resignation the fact that Gene Smith retains his position as the school’s AD is almost beyond belief. Never mind the fact that university President Dr E Gordon Gee with his rather inane and mindless buffoonery acting as if the Buckeyes having turned the corner with the departure of Tressel after the litany of transgressions under his watch much of which came about the coach’s inaction in not reporting the violations in question.

In spite of the Jim Tresel’s departure even more stories are surfacing as to the egregious violations that took place with the coach himself actually suborning many of the actions that are said to have taken place . Now with the NCAA sanctions in place it remains to be seen how the program resurrects itself.

Oregon Ducks’ football coach Chip Kelly in a recent interview had stated that he was not prepared to discuss any further the problems of the school and what might appear to several NCAA violations by the program . Having lost the BCS national title game to Gene Chizik’s Auburn Tigers many felt that the Oregon Ducks moving forward would be in a welcoming position to defend their PAC 10 title .

Chip Kelly for his part is now reluctant to talk about anything concerning the allegations but has stated that the school has sought outside legal counsel to conduct an investigation on the school’s behalf into the numerous allegations . In this day and age it seems rather asinine to suggest or even make the assumption that a coach is now above reproach especially when many of them are hard pressed to show a modicum of honesty much less integrity. None more so than perhaps Kelly and his national championship adversary Gene Chizik. The Tigers’ football coach in a recent meeting with an NCAA committee official verbally attacked the individual in question when he had been advised by a reporter at a SEC function that the NCAA were still conducting their very own investigation into the school and their Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton .

Gene Chizik while under a great deal of pressure to prove that there has been no wrongdoing on the part of the school ____ the allegations are there as well as the actions purported to be of Cam Newton’s father Cecil Newton who sought offer his son to the highest bidder . The school having conducted its own investigation suspended the player only to have that decision overturned by the NCAA who in this instance failed in using due diligence . But that in of-itself would suggest that esteemed body actually has its faculty’s about it , which if anything would be a naive thought. The NCAA can barely be trusted to act appropriately much less any degree of integrity or moralistic virtue. With so much power within its grasp and very little self regulatory action one wonders how the NCAA under their president Mark Emmmert can hold its head high with any degree of dignity.

Money has been the driving force and the underlying factor that has led to the mess that so many schools seem to repeatedly embroiled in year after year . It now seems crazy that each season we tend to hear of so many schools being caught in the midst of some underhanded seedy action that in some cases has been suborned by the actions of a coach his staff and the athletics director of the school involved . Rather than the schools themselves looking to augment a program of self awareness and in-house accountability so often all we tend to hear from the schools are numerous excuses and the odious commentary being put forth by analysts that it ought to be the student athlete who ought to be punished . It’d be remiss to think that college football where such a problem lies but nothing could be further from the truth . One only has to look at the actions of U Conn Huskies’ basketball coach Jim Calhoun and the quick jump to his aid and defense by none other than Dick Vitale of his colleague . Calhoun suborned numerous rule violations while taking little action if any to curtail the behavior of his players coaching staff . And when questioned on the matter by the school’s athletics director the coach offered little by way of an apology but somehow remained terse and and angry with reporters when asked about those allegations . Once again it seems that like many of his peers Jim Calhoun sees himself above that of the law and how one ought to conduct themselves while an employee of a renowned educational establishment .

When actions such as Calhoun’s are less than honest with allegations of lying to faculty members of the association of his players with agents as well as unsolicited contacts with known felons and the acceptance of monetary gifts , it begs the question what is it that Vitale still thinks is so honorable in the conduct Jim Calhoun ? Once again it is idiots such as Vitale that gives collegiate sport very little credibility apart from the inaction of the NCAA when it is actually called for !

So on Saturday the New York Yankees had the privilege of hosting the Baltimore Orioles and Buck Showalter a former Yankees’ manager . And inasmuch that team owner Peter Angelos can be considered an owner who seeks success for the organization, very little that he has sought to achieve has come to fruition . Andy MacPhail the team’s general manager has simply done little to suggest the fans are deserving of more when in attendance at Camden Yards / Orioles Ballpark . I simply don’t care what anyone says but ambition is not a top priority for this organization and it’s extremely sad to see this team flounder the way that it has !

Saturday’s events were typical of what the Baltimore Orioles have been going through for much of the season . The New York Yankees had a field day in this double header teeing of an woefully inept pitching performances from the Orioles’ Chris Tillman and Zach Britton pitchers that the coaches saw to field against the Yankees . If game one of this double header was anything to go by but the next second game was astounding to say the very least . Game one ended with 8-3 thrashing of the Orioles . However game two if anything left the fans in a disbelieving bewilderment as they were thoroughly entertained as the bats not only came alive but actually ignited an offensive onslaught.

The New York Yankees pounded out a season high 35 hits in the two games but in the night session of the double header was in essence where the fireworks really began. With Zach Britton on the mound the Yankees’ offense went to work pounding out 12 runs in the first inning and going on to win 17-3 and notching up their 63rd win of the season and closing the gap between themselves and the Boston Red Sox who sit atop of the AL East .

I’m not so sure that after these series of events the Baltimore Orioles can hold their heads high proudly and that is in spite of the statements made by Buck Showalter about the character of his team . Britton now has an of ERA 117.00 after his last two professional starts and one has to ask whether or not a stint in rehab within the Orioles’ minor league system will be enough for Zach Britton to actually regain his confidence .

The problems of the Baltimore Orioles have been well chronicled and it is difficult to say where the organization now goes from here . Certainly their farm system has talent and the prospects said to be on tap are the future of this organization . But herein lies the caveat for the Orioles with a dwindling attendance there’s little to suggest that the fans are feeling emotionally attached to this organization and its players . I know that the saying that one builds for the future but the foundations for the Baltimore Orioles may well have been laid well before Noah built the ark but over the last decade there has been little to suggest they are actually heading in the right direction. The Baltimore Orioles haven’t been relevant as an organization since the fans were raging on about Cal Ripken and his consecutive games playing streak but even then if that’s all that the fans can feel proud about then it clearly shows how far this organization has fallen off the map.

I am not about to suggest that the Baltimore Orioles won’t be able to turn things around but are the fans still prepared to endure the mediocrity from a team that now barely plays .500 ball while struggling to be competitive within baseball altogether . Over the ensuing months we will get to learn a great deal about the Baltimore Orioles and the direction that they may well be heading in . If they can acquit themselves with any degree of certainty then it bodes well for this team , if not then one can expect another season of discontent and simple mediocrity once again.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this piece ? And how if anything do you see the season panning out for Baltimore Orioles ? And as such how what feelings do you have on how the NCAA deals with the gross negligence and behavior of the coaches within collegiate sports ? Do you as such feel that they act appropriately or do you simply believe that for the most part they tend to punish a school with impunity rather than also dealing with the behavior of the coaches in question ?

Alan aka tophatal ………. https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details .

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(1) North Carolina coach Everett Withers , left, speaks to the media in Chapel Hill, N.C., Friday, July 29, 2011. Withers, formally the defensive coordinator, is now the interim football coach after the firing of Butch Davis. AP Photo/Gerry Broome ….

(2) University of North Carolina Athletic Director Dick Baddour, left, introduces North Carolina coach Everett Withers to the media in Chapel Hill, N.C., Friday, July 29, 2011. Withers, formally the defensive coordinator, is now the interim football coach after the firing of Butch Davis. AP Photo/Gerry Broome …..

(3) In this photo taken Monday, July 25, 2011, North Carolina coach Butch Davis pauses during interviews at the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff in Pinehurst, N.C. University of North Carolina Chancellor Holden Thorp announced Wednesday, July 27, 2011, that Davis has been dismissed as head coach of the football program. AP Photo/Gerry Broome ……

(4) HOUSTON, TX – APRIL 04: Head coach Jim Calhoun of the Connecticut Huskies cuts down the net after defeating the Butler Bulldogs to win the National Championship Game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament by a score of 53-41 at Reliant Stadium on April 4, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images ….

(5) New York Yankees’ Curtis Granderson hits a single off of Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Zach Britton in the first inning of the second baseball game of a doubleheader on Saturday, July 30, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in New York. Granderson had four hits during the Yankees 17-3 win . AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek ….

(6) Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter, second from right, confers at the mound with players from left, J.J. Hardy (2), Josh Bell, Robert Andino and catcher Matt Wieters after Showalter removed starting pitcher Zach Britton from the game after the New York Yankees scored seven runs in the first inning of the second baseball game of a doubleheader on Saturday, July 30, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in New York. AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek …..

(7) Zach Britton (53) of the Baltimore Orioles reacts after giving up a run in the first inning against the New York Yankees on July 30, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images …..

(8) President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail (left) talks with manager Buck Showalter while looking at the team during batting practice . Baltimore Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron ….

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Stupid Is , Can’t Be As Stupid Does , Can It …. ?

Stupid Is , Can’t Be As Stupid Does , Can It …. ?

So just when you thought that all that would appear just when we had seen it all concerning the rabid stupidity that exists within collegiate athletics. It would appear that Auburn Tigers’ football coach Gene Chizik is extremely unhappy that the NCAA is still continuing its investigation of the school. Chizik had an impromptu conversation with the NCAA’s vice president for enforcement Judie Loah Roach during which the officer informed the coach that the school and its recruitment of Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton was still under investigation. As we all know there said to be a number of improprieties concerning the player’s recruitment . The player’s father Cecil Newton is said to still be a person of interest in this ongoing investigation . It’s plain to see that there is a great deal at stake should the school be found to be in violation of any type of NCCA rules . The jury is out and the blow-back from this all could very well be another nail in the coffin of another very prestigious collegiate athletics’ program.

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So the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive player James Harrison is simply proving once again why players from the NFL are better to be seen on the field of play rather than being heard . The player fresh off last season’s numerous fines has become a bona-fide asshole of the highest order ! . In criticizing the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell calling him “a crook” , “a devil “ , “a tyrant” and an ” autocratic despot “ whose power simply knows no bounds . At the same time the player was also critical of his teammate Ben Roethlisberger and the very fact that the player at times was simply not playing to the best of his abilities and was being reliant on the defense to bail out the team far too often over the course of last season . Pardon me for saying this , but shouldn’t Harrison be the one to voice these opinions behind closed doors amongst his teammates and the coaching staff as it relates to the team’s play ? As to his criticism of the commissioner , once it’s out there it becomes too late to take it all back . And that is now what the player now seems to be doing by stating that his statements were completely taken out of context. I certainly believe that when it’s all said and done if it is not Mike Tomlin who ends up speaking to James Harrison about his comments then quite possibly look a senior official from the front office to hold a private conversation with the player .

The Pittsburgh Steelers has always been an organization that chooses to conduct their problems behind closed doors and to try and make sure that the players as such are of the highest order in terms of their character. It is easy to undersstand why the are considered one of the most respected teams within the NFL and the success achieved in large part has come down to the fact here has been very little volatility within the organization and turnover in terms of the coaching staff. Unfortunately , with the antics of Santonio Holmes , Plaxico Burress and in particular Roethlisberger , his infantile and rather asinine antics over the last few years has led the Rooney family to once again scrutinize the players on the roster. Recently we had the team’s veteran wide receiver Hines Ward busted for DUI and with the player initially stating that wasn’t intoxicated, only for the police to later inform us that Ward was indeed driving over the legal limit . He would later offer an apology to his teammates and the organization for his behavior .

Shit we know rolls downhill but boy , oh boy the NBA and in particular the league hierarchy now looks as if they will try and do anything to shovel it uphill. The hierarchy feels aggrieved that the NBPA (union ) will be allowed to retain the larger part of $160 million from an escrow account that they funded based on the terms that should their cumulative salary exceed 57% of the basketball related income . Now with the teams owners and hierarchy now under siege with their position now looking all the more perilous David Stern seeks into increase their profile and take the upper hand in the ongoing lockout . It would appear that management would seek to impune the integrity of the union. The league feels that the funds in question should be placed back into a general fund rather than be at the players’ disposal . Somehow you simply knew that the league could not be trusted to show any type of integrity at all.

The NBA is still at odds with the players and the fact that they are still asserting that they are losing money. But many of the league’s problems can be traced back to the fact that Stern allowed the teams and in particular the general managers run amok with in terms of the team salaries as they seek success with apparent abandonment . David Stern has long maintained that the teams are on track to lose hundreds of millions of dollars for the fiscal year. Last season’s losses were in excess $300 million and this year it is projected to be considerably higher . It seems rather ridiculous to think that the league having set a soft salary cap in place would then seek to allow those very same teams to far exceed the figure of $57 million and then expect there not to be any serious ramifications for the league’s excessive spending .

It seems rather strange that many of the league’s high profiled owners such as Mikhail Prokhorov , Jerry Buss , Michael Jordan , James Dolan , Peter Holt and Michael Heisley have all remained steadfast behind the commissioner . However , the longer this situation goes on there is the likelihood that we may well begin to see some dissent amongst the owners who may challenge the stance the league hierarchy is taking . From my own perspective , the lockout has become simply an issue of egos and which party feels that their stance appears to be the best option available. At some point this impasse has to be resolved because before we actually know it the preseason training schedule will be upon us. It’s pretty much safe to say that neither side wants to be in this for the long haul and now with a number of players envisioning that this dispute may well be for a prolonged period we are seeing a number of them considering the lucrative option of playing abroad. It certainly will be advantageous for New Jersey Nets’ point guard Deron Williams who has signed a one year $ 5 million contract with the Turkish side Beseitkas.

Unless I missed something which I am glad that I did but the MLB All Star Game had to be one of the most boring in recent memory. Never mind the 5-1 lopsided result and win for the National League but the game had one of the lowest ratings in almost a decade and this can’t have been what Fox actually wanted from the game’s midseason show case event. At the same time the question now being asked is how best the whole format of the All Star Game can be changed where it is more of an exhilarating event not only for the participants but also for the fans in attendance and those watching the broadcast. Given the actual idiocy of the whole damn format with the fans picking the actual players they want to see on the respective rosters makes this whole event all the more asinine to begin with.

Baseball is a sport that in large part looks to its past in terms of its legitimacy and legacy as the nation’s pass-time . But once Bud Selig assumed control as commissioner of the league his reign and the fact that the league hierarchy has essentially become clueless as the most acute needs of the game , it should not have surprised anyone at all as to the outcome of the spectacle. One listless team simply didn’t turn up at all but somehow they were assured of their respective team incentives. The NL simply dished out an ass whupping of the highest order leaving the AL with their tails hanging between their legs . At this point will there anyone at all interested in the fact that next season’s game will be held at the home of the Kansas City Royals ? Well , I guess not ! The league hierarchy much like the team owners have become totally bereft any ideas and creativity when it now comes to the marketing of the game , its brand in general and likewise as it relates to the All Star Game . Tuesday night was very much a clear indication of that and it was there for all to bear witness to !

Well at last someone had the foresight to hire Brian Shaw with the former Los Angeles Lakers’ assistant coach being overlooked for several of the offseason vacancies that came about . Indiana Pacers’ general manager Larry Bird having interviewed Shaw , hired the former player to be the assistant to Frank Vogel and his staff. Bird has made it clear the new assistant’s role will to teach the players on the Pacers’ roster how best to improve their all-round game . I’ve no doubt that Shaw will prove to be a valuable asset to the team and with being able to provide to a great deal of insight as to what it takes to be successful from a player’s standpoint . If anything this steadies a listless ship and all but assures the team of retaining their best player Danny Granger who could opt to become free agent after the upcoming season.

The Pacers’ organization is flushed with youthful talent but Vogel’s biggest problem has been to harness it all into one cohesive and effective unit. With the addition of Brian Shaw and the existing members of coaching staff we could very well see something of a resurgence from this team. Not since the days of Reggie Miller and Rik Smits have the Pacers been deemed worthy to be considered a legitimate force within the NBA . And granted over the years the organization has had its problems stemming from neglect and the fact that the team was seen as one of the back-water stop offs in players’ career when they’re said to be on the decline. If things are to change with the thought of a turnaround in mind then perhaps with Brian Shaw and Frank Vogel working in tandem there could very well be something beginning to foment within the organization.

On the outside looking in I am not so sure to make of the situation now encapsulating the furor of the US women’s soccer team having made it to the finals of the World Cup . As great an accomplishment as this has been and the fact that the country will be chasing its first Cup win since 1999 the game barely registers a blip on the consciousness of the masses domestically here at home . Granted , all of the patriotism comes to the foreground in the times of triumph but what one sees as a triumph then is simply eroded when you considers that attendances for games at the club level within the WPSL ( Womens Premier Soccer League) averages no more than 2,500 per game . Salaries for players at the club level where the median is approximately $25,000 per year offers the players little by way of comfort with many of them choosing to hold down a civilian position beyond playing or for many of the top stars , some choose to split their time playing overseas.

The 2011 World Cup has to be considered a success for FIFA and in particular for the entrants to this year’s competition. Some of the matches have been competitive while others have been what one might consider to be extremely boring. But the back-drop to this all has been the very fact that the US team has sought redemption and they now have a chance at that by defeating their upcoming opponent Japan in the final game of the tournament .

Both sides have reached this stage of the competition having defeated two teams in semi-finals thought to be their equal at the international level. Japan defeated Sweden in a thoroughly convincing fashion 3-1 and the US had their problems with Brazil having to overcome a deficit before defeating the team in a penalty shootout (5-3) after a 2-2 tie in regulation .

In the final itself , we should expect a highly competitive game between two evenly matched teams . Team USA brings along the experience and a more physical style of play but Japan has speed , exuberance and a technical aspect that one would not normally associate with a team from the Far East. But much of that may well come down to the fact that there are a number high quality European coaches at the club level within the country where fan support for the game reaches rabid proportions. Obviously something that the WPSL yearns for here in the US but it still lacks support of the fans in general and the willingness of the networks to give the game much or airtime than it is now obtaining . Coverage of the game has been primarily with ESPN where basically much of women’s sports now finds its support from a viewing standpoint not only at the professional level but also at the collegiate level. Somehow one can only imagine that Title IX (Title IX) was meant to create something of a level playing field but in reality the success attained by the enactment by this legislation has not really done enough to put women’s sport on the map in the true sense of the word.

Should the USA win Sunday’s final match then we may well see something of an advancement in the game here domestically but considering the missteps along the way previously in trying to create a professional league at the club level , I firmly believe that soccer at the women’s level here much like their male counterpart still has a long way to go before it gets any real level of respect that they feel they rightly deserve . The nation has yet to take the game into its heart , feel as if it is something it can truly appreciate and that is in spite of the fact that now the game is now being played by more children at the middle , high school level and by collegiate players than baseball and basketball combined . Something to think about don’t you think ? And while the game of soccer resonate around the globe with its throng of fans it remains a bewildering back-drop for most here simply because the NBA , NFL , MLB , NASCAR and NHL rule the roost when it comes fans wanting to see something a great deal more exhilarating than 22 players chasing a round ball up down a field .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

In light of the points raised within this piece what thoughts if any do you have ? Do leave a comment as to your thoughts and thanks as always for the continued support !

Alan aka tophatal ……. https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Auburn coach Gene Chizik watches the first day of spring football practice for the national champion Auburn Tigers in Auburn, Ala., Wednesday, March 23, 2011. AP Photo / Garry Finkel …..

(2) FILE – In this Nov. 13, 2010 file photo, Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton (2) dunks coach Gene Chizik following a 49-31 win over Georgia in an NCAA college football game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala. Chizik wants Auburn fans to remember Newton “as a great individual,” not just a Heisman Trophy-winning player. The Tigers coach defends the No. 1 NFL draft pick in the upcoming book “All In” but says it is “really a story about football, family and faith.” Chizik discussed the book Wednesday, June 29, 2011, ahead of its July 5 release that will have him hit the road for a promotional tour with nine stops in four states. AP Photo/Dave Martin ….

(3) FILE – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell listens to questions during a news conference at the NFL football owners meetings in Rosemont, Ill., in this June 21, 2011 file photo. Heavily fined Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison calls NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a “crook” and a “devil,” among other insults, in a magazine article in the August issue of Men’s Journal. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh ….

(4) FILE – Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison (92) warms up before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Pittsburgh, in this Dec. 23, 2010 file photo. Heavily fined Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison calls NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a “crook” and a “devil,” among other insults, in a magazine article in the August issue of Men’s Journal. AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar ……

(5) NBA union chief Billy Hunter speaks to reporters after a meeting with the NBA, Thursday, June 30, 2011 in New York. The NBA is headed to deadline day, with perhaps one last chance to avoid a lockout. Negotiators for owners and players will meet Thursday, about 12 hours before the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement and seemingly nowhere close to a deal. That meeting however would lead to the league mandated shutdown of the NBA . AP Photo/Mary Altaffer ……

(6) National League All-Star Prince Fielder (28) of the Milwaukee Brewers and his sons Jaden (R) and Haven pose with the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award after the National League defeated the American League 5-1 in the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Getty Images North America / Jeff Gross ……

(7) National League All-Star Lance Berkman (12) of the St. Louis Cardinals is tagged out at second base by American League All-Star Robinson Cano (24) of the New York Yankees in the bottom of the second inning of the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix,Az . Getty Images North America/ Jeff Gross ….

(8) Indiana Pacers new assistant head coach Brian Shaw responds to a question during a news conference in Indianapolis, .Wednesday, July 13, 2011. AP Photo/Darron Cummings ….

(9) Pia Sundhage (2nd L) coach of the U.S. laughs as she listens to striker Abby Wambach (2ndR) during a practice session for the upcoming final of the women’s soccer World Cup in Frankfurt July 15, 2011. The U.S. will play Japan in the World Cup final on Sunday in Frankfurt. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach ….

(10) USA’s goalkeeper Hope Solo is stretched during a training session on July 15, 2011 in Frankfurt/Main, two days before the final football match of the FIFA women’s football World Cup Japan vs USA at the FIFA Frauen-WM-Stadion in Frankfurt/Main, central Germany, on July 17, 2011. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE …..

(11) Members of Japan’s women’s soccer team pose with placards from Japanese children from Frankfurt’s International School prior to a practice session in Frankfurt July 15, 2011. Japan will play the U.S. in the World Cup final on Sunday, July 17, in Frankfurt. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach …….

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The BCS Stands For What ……….. ? ? ?

The BCS Stands For What ………… ? ? ?

It’s here, it’s now for all the marbles and I though I must say it I’ve not been overly enamored with what I’ve seen throughout the Bowl Series within collegiate football. Perhaps from a standpoint that I’m amongst a growing group I believe who would desire to see a playoff system within college football. Having the coaches , the press and a back room filled with computer geeks summarily in part make the decision as to who may end up playing in the national championship game does smack of idiocy to begin with. Never mind that the lesser games with their rather superfluous names make about as much sense as having the choice being made by a group of blind people simply using a pin and having the teams’ names being listed on a piece of paper. The whole BCS Championship series is simply nothing more than a money making exercise and that’s simply it. The six major conferences ( ACC , Big 10 , Big 12 , Big East , Pac 10 and SEC) that in essence oversees this rather corrupt system if anything ought to be thankful that they’re allowed to keep up this charade.

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Slide show .

While there’s been repeated criticism by members of Congress as to the way that teams are determined and the template put in motion is something of a joke. Any member of Congress wishing to address this situation given the fact that the BCS system has its supporters and detractors within that body smacks of idiocy to begin . Were you aware that the BCS Championship series has its own body of lobbyists up on Capitol Hill in Washington DC in order to safeguard its very existence ? The tax advantages to be attained by the NCAA as well as the BCS as a body and one can see why there’s billions of dollars to be made by both of these bodies who as such state that the interests of the student athletes at heart. Yeah I’ve heard it said also that’s the same belief held by the Medellin drug cartel in Colombia as they simply flood this country with their drugs. So what’s the difference between the BCS , NCAA and the drug cartels of Colombia ? Oh so it’s illegal to smuggle narcotics into this country for ill gotten gains while supplying that ever increasing band of drug users dependent on these narcotics. It’s not exactly stopped the big pharmaceutical companies in acting the way that they’ve been allowed even with the FDA as a conduit . Merely look at the billions made by these companies and the financial windfall it creates for the federal government by way of the taxes ? That’s simply the only difference between the two entities in question and the way that the government views their activities by way of its legality.

The championship game sponsored by Tostitos and to be played between the SEC’s —– Auburn (Tigers) led by Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and coached by Gene Chizik hope to convey why it is that they’re favored to win this matchup against the Oregon (Ducks). Both teams will have their slew of vociferous supporters up and down the country. And I’ve no doubt that there’ll be a certain East Coast – West Coast bias to this matchup and the feelings to be had between the fans and perhaps the nation at large. If anything these matchups are essentially driven by the appeal of the what the nation’s programmers’ wish to see , in order that they can attain the best returns possible by way of a televised audience.

Oregon for its part coached by Chip Kelly and led by Darron Thomas at quarterback with running back LaMichael James are sure to make this game a competitive one. We may well have been spoiled in recent years by the exploits of the Florida Gators , Texas Longhorns and that of USC but this game could very well match that classic of between the Trojans and Longhorns when they were led by Matt Leinart and Vince Young respectively . Both players in question were able to parlay those feats into careers within the NFL . Young for his part may not be long with the Tennessee Titans where his career has plummeted as fast as a meteorite falling from the sky. Leinart has yet to show his true guile for the NFL and if anything his being coddled while at USC may well have something to do with the fact that he’s yet to meet the expectations that many felt he was capable of.

This game will come down to one of two things how capable both defenses are at stopping the potent offensive threats that either side can display in terms of their respective pass and running attacks. If neither can actually stymie the other in that respect then we could end up with a high scoring game and one wherein yardage could be off the charts. Will it be what the fans want to see at the end of the day ………..who can say ? The national championship games haven’t always been entertaining but they seem to fill that void in airtime that the programmer has no other product at their disposal to display , so make of it what you will.

The Tigers’ Cam Newton despite his off the field issues will be looking to put an emphatic stamp on this season having led his team to the SEC championship game (56-17) and winning the Heisman Trophy with ease. It’d be indicative of the player at this juncture of the season to simply stamp his authority on it by showing why he’s the best college player in the game. Given the recent exploits of Stanford’s Andrew Luck there may well be a great deal more on the line with the perception that Newton could enter the NFL Draft for the untold riches that can be garnered there. Whether or Newton can and will be allowed exploit the weaknesses of the Oregon Ducks will be largely dependent upon the skill-set of that Ducks’ defense.

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Picture gallery for your perusal.

Oregon I’ve no doubt will come into this game being viewed as the underdogs by the press , public and no doubt the oddsmakers in Vegas. But I’d dare say that they’re keen to pull off the upset and show the nation what they’re truly capable of. Throughout much of the season Oregon has systematically played uptempo and they’ve literally destroyed some of their opponents almost at will. When tested at times they’ve risen to the occasion in more ways than one, showing their deftness in all phases of the game. This game will be a battle of wills and the coaching staff of both teams had better have their battle plans drawn and ready . If not, then one of these teams will find itself in the midst of an incessant onslaught and the ensuing battle could very well be viewed as being one sided and something of bore for the fans watching.

With the $17,500,000 at stake for the winner apart from the privilege of raising the the crystal trophy to signify that they’ve been crowned national champions. Along with it all comes the bragging rights and a great deal of prestige for the winning team and its program. Recruits will no doubt be watching with a great deal of interest and given the exposure that such a game brings they can’t help but feel that’s where they’re going to want to be ……….. on collegiate football’s grandest stage playing for a national title. The end goal being to showcase their talents for the watchful eyes for the NFL general managers and scouts also who are watching. It’s every young kids’ dream as well as that of the players who will be on display this upcoming Monday were the game is scheduled to be played at the University of Phoenix Stadium , Glendale , Arizona ,.

How have you viewed the games that have taken place during this Bowl season and what if anything to your mind has been the bright spot so far ? And are you as such entirely interested in the outcome of the national championship game ? Furthermore , what are your feelings on how the BCS system works and why they’re unwilling to adopt a playoff system ? Simply chime in with a comment as to your thoughts on the matter .

NB: Auburn Tigers’ roster

Head coach Gene Chizik

Tigers’ coaching staff

Oregon Ducks’ roster

Head coach Chip Kelly

Oregon Ducks’ coaching staff

BCS National rankings as of 12/05/10

Click here to get the latest college football news.

Alan aka tophatal …………………………………………

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Leonie Nicole

Eye candy for you all . Leoni Nicole and a small montage of this beauty.

Hello and good morning ! It’s a hell of a day don’t you think ?

Leonie Nicole 2

Naughty but simply nice !

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John Legend feat’g Common & The Roots ……..”Wake Up Everybody”

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