It’s not always the journey , but the first step taken on the road to that destination

It’s not always the journey , but the first step taken on the road to that destination

Six weeks into the NFL season and what we have all witnessed within the league , just happens to be an abundance of bad coaching , with some inexplicable explanations being offered up by the players and coaches alike for their continued mediocrity. Far be it for me to suggest, but I have never impressed by claims that there is said to be parity in the league (NFL) . It is my belief , that there are good teams, moderately good coaches , but an abundance of talent , where in large part , a number of these players are overpaid and not particularly skilled or adept, much less be able to show signs of leadership . Unfortunately, a large part of the fan-base that tend to follow the sports’ scene, they would to rather discuss rather the more mundane topics in the world of sports rather than succinctly debate a topic of discussion .

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A recent visitor to my site made a comment that he could not have foreseen the impact made, where the Kansas City Chiefs would have started off the season at 6-0 , remain unbeaten and would now be challenging the Denver Broncos as the best team in the NFL. From my own perspective , I believe that the groundwork had already been laid , but the only things needed, were the right coaching staff , a good enough quarterback to helm the team , along with a front office , where the executives and coaches were all on the same page . Last season , none of the aforementioned criteria were in place , with Romeo Crennel as the head coach , along with his coaching staff and Matt Cassel as the team’s quarterback . The one saving grace for the franchise, might well have been , general manager John Dorsey , having replaced Scott Piolio , has seen fit to draft players who have been able to contribute immediately to the team , while acquiring players who were ready to play .

After the Chiefs’ clinical annihilation of the Oakland Raiders , the first of their two , now highly anticipated divisional match-ups against the Denver Broncos, are the games in question that the fans and the nation now awaits , with a great deal of excitement over the contests of note. Kansas will play host to the now troubled Houston Texans in week seven at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City , Missouri, a chance to push their record to 7-0 and giving the team their best start in franchise history, now seems all the more possible, given the frailties of the Texans at present on both sides of the ball. It must be said that for a number of teams, they are now simply playing for self-respect or in a number of cases, the livelihood of the respective head coaches in question. The more things are now beginning to unravel for the Oakland Raiders , it is my belief that Dennis Allen’s days with the once venerable are numbered, with GM Reggie McKenzie now seeking to make the head coach , the sixth incumbent to be fired from his position with the organization since 2005 .

College Football heads into its eighth week with the Alabama Crimson Tide (6-0) still riding high atop of the AP Poll , with the BCS rankings due to be announced later this month. Yet for some inexplicable reason , a number of analysts and outside observers or one might describe as antagonists, are now trying to suggest that Nick Saban’s team not deserving of being the top ranked team in the nation. Last I looked , Alabama remained unbeaten , albeit , that they have had a few scares along their schedule . In light of that however, their closest rivals in the rankings, the Oregon Ducks (6-0) in spite of their offensive prowess , have yet to show the nation that they are as equally adept on the defensive side of the ball . Granted, the Pac 12 has never been known as a conference where defense has been taught ,much less played to any degree , with the exception of perhaps one or two programs , most notably the Stanford Cardinals (5-1) . But in light of their recent slip up against the Utah Utes , defense , we can now surmise, is not now a prerequisite within the conference.

Alabama will play host to the Arkansas (Razorbacks) at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa , Alabama , this Saturday , as the Tide seeks to keep their unbeaten record intact , while further strengthening their position atop of the rankings and within the SEC Western Division . A J McCarron and his teammates will seek to use this game as a reminder why this team is still seen as a prohibitive favorite to win their second consecutive national title, Saban’s fifth , and the program’s fourth in the past seven seasons .

Living in the state of Florida where College Football is treated with such reverence , the choices will abundant with regard to the programs , yet the only ones that seemingly matter , are the Florida Gators (4-2) , Florida State Seminoles (5-0) and the Miami Hurricanes (5-0) . Having lived and worked professionally in the southern part of the state before moving northwards on 2003 , the program of choice , merely by way my association with several alumni who were students at the University of Miami . I was able to frequent a number of basketball and football games as their guests and rallying to their support in such instances . Granted, as of late, the Canes’ program has been mired in controversy , while it still awaits some form of punishment for multiple violations of the NCAA rules on recruiting , alleged , academic fraud and what are said to current and former students gaining monetarily from gifts in violation of NCAA edicts . University President Donna Shalala and recently installed AD Blake James are still trying to remove the smear and lingering stains of the school’s association with the incarcerated felon Nevin Shapiro , whose statements led to the NCAA’s investigation of the athletics’ program by the NCAA’s Infraction Committee , as ordered by NCAA President Mark Emmert . That effort and investigation was mired with a great deal of incompetency, and it seems rather impulsive to believe how any reasonable verdict can be seen as just , in light of the ineptitude shown by collegiate athletics governing body .

With both Florida State (Seminoles) and Miami Hurricanes , riding on the crest of a wave, their SEC counterpart, the Florida Gators have found a way to simply throw a wrench into their season , with their recent loss to the LSU (Tigers) . That defeat has now left Wil Muschamp , his staff and the team asking why things have come apart when their intent was to be a major part of the SEC championship scene, if not the national championship landscape, itself ? Two losses , this season , and suddenly we have to question the direction Muschamp has the program heading in , and the quality of his recruits over the past two years . Florida now has the unenviable task of now having to go on the road to take on the Missouri (Tigers) this upcoming Saturday, in what can be best described as a make or break game for the team , this season . Another loss would further impact their year and all that they had hoped to achieve .

Al Golden and the Miami Hurricanes ,with a top twenty-five ranking nationally, are also sitting pretty within the ACC standings , and are seen as one of the like candidates for the conference championship , with an at large bid for a BCS Bowl game, if their schedule pans out, along the lines of an unbeaten season , if nothing else . The team itself has been on a tear and certainly their best result of the season so far , had to have been their dismantling of Florida . It certainly was a telling statement and laid the foundation for what has been an extraordinary year for several players on the team , but most notably for quarterback Stephen Morris , whose growing confidence and maturity process has been highlighted with his play this season . Add in a robust offense and a tenacious defense that appears to be very athletics , and one can understand the reason why Al Golden and his staff have to be pleased by what he has witnessed this season .

From heir-apparent to now head coach , Jimbo Fisher has now been given keys to the vehicle and he is now beginning to steer it on a course of his own design , and not one set out for him by predecessor Bobby Bowden , who over the latter part of his coaching career with the FSU Seminoles , may well have been caught asleep at the wheel. Bowden suggests, that he left the program under his own steam , but in reality , when faced with the option of being unceremoniously being fired , he sought to leave , in what can be best described as a polite dismissal , but accorded , all the trappings of a celebrated head coach leaving of his own free will . The octogenarian may well have built the program into a national powerhouse, but in the final years of his coaching the Seminoles , his teams were lackluster , uncompetitive and simply not winning .

Recruiting and coaching has been one of Fisher’s greatest attributes, and with his coaching staff in tow , he is now proving how good a coach he can really be, when the right talent is in place . An unbeaten start to the season , with their being rave reviews over Jameis Winston , a quarterback , who has not been afforded the same attention given to the likes of Tajh Boyd , Johnny Manziel , Teddy Bridgewater , Aaron Murray , Zach Mettenberger and A J McCarron. Perhaps , that is not such a bad thing after-all , if he remains off the national radar , while racking up the statistics and leading an unbeaten program back to national prominence . Winston , however , has not been able to achieve this all by himself , as it has been a collective team effort along the way. The Seminoles may not be laying waste to their opponents with the mindset of Oregon Ducks’ coach Mark Helfrich . Yet , as a fan of the college game, I would rather see the ‘noles in full flight rather than witnessing Ducks’ program, whose primary forte’ is simply either an aerial or ground assault , without their being a presence of the team actually being able to play any defense . While my thoughts may not be shared by many , we simply do not how good Oregon is meant to be , because they have yet to be tested over the course of their somewhat “soft schedule” . And for this, , they are rewarded with a number two ranking in the nation and in some cases, there are claimants that they should be seated atop of the AP Poll . I guess only time will tell, what is likely to happen !

On Saturday Florida State will have a prime-time nationally broadcast game against Tajh Boyd and the Clemson Tigers at Memorial Stadium , in Clemson , South Carolina , in a contest of two unbeaten teams , top twenty ranked and with likewise BCS national championship aspirations . The winner of this game, is still likely to have inside track of being a top five ranked team, once the dust has settled on the week eight schedule within College Football, while the loser is likely to drop outside the fifteen .

College Football with all of its , niceties , oddities , corruption , the biggest farce remains the naïveté of the BCS Committee and the major conferences that its present format of determining a national champion now requires a little tweaking . Well that is akin to the present administration , House of Representatives and the Senate reaching a bilateral agreement on the debt-ceiling as well as the fiscal waywardness of the Congress altogether . Needless to say, with idiots such as , Ted Cruz , Eric Cantor , Rand Paul , John Boehner , Paul Ryan , Marco Rubio , Harry Reid , Nancy Pelosi , Chaka Fattah , Max Baucus , Bill Nelson , and Charles Schumer as well this weak-willed President, Barack Obama have created such a cluster ##ck , that now the finger-pointing and name calling carries on unabated, without either side having a goddamn clue, as how best to proceed. The same can now be said of the premise, behind the new format to adjudge and determine how a new national champion will be decided along the lines of a playoff format . If the news being released by the BCS is to be believed , a panel of twelve to eighteen individuals will be seated to discuss the issues and then come to an agreement , to have a format in place with a seeding system, all in place for the 2014 season.

Courtesy of USA Today

NEW YORK (AP) — A person with direct knowledge of the process tells The Associated Press that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to be part of the selection committee that will pick the teams for the College Football Playoff next year.

The person also said a former Air Force Academy superintendent and a former NCAA executive who worked with the basketball tournament, are expected to be part of the new 12-to-18 member football panel.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the selection process is still ongoing.

The committee is expected to be comprised of current athletic directors and former college athletic administrators and coaches.

Last year, Rice and business executive Darla Moore became the first two female members of Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters.

GOOD FIT: Rice more than qualified for committee

The makeup of the College Football Playoff selection committee is expected to be set by the end of this season. Potential committee members have been asked to keep their involvement confidential until the announcement is made, but College Football Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock and Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said the names wouldn’t be a surprise to many.

“You’ll know almost all of them,” Hancock said recently.

Although Hancock and several commissioners have taken to referring to the selection committee as “the most prestigious committee in sports,” its business – and its members – will also be the subject of intense scrutiny.

“If they’re gonna be scrutinized the way they’re gonna be scrutinized, we’ve got to be ultimately careful and do every bit of due diligence,” Delany said recently. “You can expect that media – new media, old media – when someone says, ‘Oh, that guy voted that way for that reason,’ they’re gonna be under a fine-tooth comb. We’ve got to make sure, for everybody’s sake, that we’ve done everything we need to do to understand that.”

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Now while on paper, this all seems feasible, the nuances of this all , will be derived upon which individuals, are invited to be part of the process , provide their expertise and the experience that each will bring to the table. In the midst of this all, a public announcement was made that one of the committee members, will be none than former NSC member and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice . Her expertise on Soviet Bloc politics, while unquestioned , her scope on a great deal of international diplomacy, bordered on being inept , but it should be remembered that the Commander-in-Chief at the time her tenure, was none other than George W Bush , whose geographical , political , international diplomatic knowledge and business acumen could be written on the back of a first class stamp and sent to Timbuktu , for all of the use that it would do. Likewise, has to be the case, in naming Condoleezza Rice to be a part of this committee.

The BCS and the major conference commissioners, clearly lack intelligence if they believe that Rice adds legitimacy to the panel. Much like an idiot, once suggested to me that former Vice Admiral James Stockdale should be treated with reverence, because he was a war hero . At the time, our discussion took on the fact that Stockdale, whose war service record was impressive , his inclusion in the political arena was about as welcomed as a sexually transmitted disease . He simply was clueless on wide range of political subjects, including the country’s domestic and foreign policy, as well its economy . This came at a time, when Stockdale was asked to be the Vice Presidential running mate of then Reform Party candidate , Ross Perot , whose own rise to fame, had more to do with his connivance and being able to have the government to subsidize many of the corporate entities he would simply plunder, as a part of an asset stripping exercise. Yet, all of this was somehow overlooked by the individual, whose lips must have been at one time, firmly pressed on James Stockdale’s sphincter. Is this really the stupidity of the US electorate at work, or merely the ongoing apathy that has been the norm over the past three decades ?

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Picture gallery .

The BCS Committee and the major college football conferences had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century , very much in a similar vein as Major League Baseball had to drag its dumb ass along the way and adopt what Bud Selig still believes to this day, baseball has the toughest drug testing policy in all of professional team sports. Unfortunately, baseball’s commissioner , has never been looked upon as being one of the most intelligent individuals , never mind , in all of professional sports . The same can now be said of individuals such as John Swofford and Mike Slive , whose imprints are all over the current and sad state of affairs as it relates to this whole process , never mind the fact that final arbiter here will not be the panelists themselves but the major broadcast outlets , who now more than ever before, will be the ones with the real power , because if any part of this format is not to their liking, does anyone truly believe that this whole premise will ever see the light of day and actually be adopted in whole or in part ? Chime in, with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the topic at hand .

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) Wide receiver Justin Blackmon #14 of the Jacksonville Jaguars makes a reception as cornerback Champ Bailey #24 of the Denver Broncos makes the tackle at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 13, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. Denver would defeat Jacksonville 35-19 , dropping the Jaguars to 0-6 , tying them with the New York Giants (0-6) for the worst record in the league this season . Getty Images North America / Doug Pensinger ….

(2) Jacksonville Jaguars new head football coach Gus Bradley , left, smiles as he answers questions from the media during an NFL football news conference on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, in Jacksonville, Fla. Team owner Shad Kahn looks on. AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Will Dickey ….

(3) Jan 14, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey (left), chairman & team owner Clark Hunt , and coach Andy Reid pose for photos during the press conference at The University of Kansas Hospital Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

(4) DeAndrew White (2) of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs with the ball while defended by Nate Willis (21) of the Kentucky Wildcats during the game at Commonwealth Stadium on October 12, 2013 in Lexington, Kentucky. Getty Images / Andy Lyons ……..

(5) Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators holds up one finger following a touchdown during the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on October 5, 2013 in Gainesville, Florida. Getty Images / Sam Greenwood ……

(6) University of Miami President Donna Shalala is seen with here with the AD Blake James . In the aftermath of the Nevin Shapiro scandal, during which the now incarcerated felon , disclosed payments made to players on the program’s basketball and football teams. A number of coaching staff members were implicated in the allegations , including the current football coach Al Golden and a number of members of his coaching. However , the NCAA’s findings, are tainted , after it had been revealed , that evidence collected by the investigators from the Infractions’ Committee , were in fact of no use and littered with fabricated inaccuracies , after the original documents were either mislaid or inadvertently destroyed . Kyle Perry / Miami Herald …

(7) Head coach, Jimbo Fisher of the Florida State Seminoles talks to head coach Randy Edsall of the Maryland Terrapins pre-game on October 5, 2013 at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida John Gammons / Getty Images …..

(8) Republican legislators , from left to right Mitch McConnell , John Boehner and Eric Cantor are at the forefront of their party’s wish rescind the President’s healthcare initiative as well Barack Obama’s wish to raise the debt-ceiling limit . As contentious as the situation appears to be neither side seems intent in showing any bilateral compromise . AP Photo / Richard Carter

(9) Barack Obama is seen here alongside Harry Reid (center) , Nancy Pelosi and House Representative Jim Clyburn . AP / REUTERS / Tim Heller

(10) Ross Perot who twice sought the US Presidency as a third-party candidate is seen here with Vice Admiral James Stockdale (background) . A Medal of Honor recipient , Stockdale seemed to be out of touch with the political environment and many of the issues adversely affecting the country. Time Archive …

(11) Condoleezza Rice , a former NSC (National Security Council) member , adviser and Secretary of State during the second term of two term President George W Bush . Rice will amongst a group of panelists who will be adjudging the programs eligible for the new BCS playoff format that will be adopted in 2014 . As to whether not Condoleezza Rice’s inclusion adds legitimacy to the panel , can be adjudged in how one views the process in its entirety. AFP/ Photo / Peter Hamilton ……

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Ewa Sonnet

Round up, round up, and then sound off !

Round up, round up, and then sound off !

By Tophatal

Well, with the NBA season, having reached its midway point the divisional and conference pictures provide a stark contrast for the fans and TV pundits alike . The Charlotte Bobcats and Washington Wizards appear to be the two worst teams in the NBA at present, based simply upon their records , beyond the fact of their poor play and the fact that, they are each poorly coached . Add in bye-line of the ongoing woes of the Los Angeles Lakers and the league has itself a storyline that even the most appreciative of Hollywood moguls would be proud of .

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With the pending approval of the Board of Governors , the fans will see the relocation of the Sacramento Kings from the California state capitol , to Seattle , Washington , after the Maloof family agreed in principle, to the sale of the franchise to a consortium of Seattle based investors , led by billionaire venture capitalist , Chris Hansen and Microsoft Chairman , Steve Ballmer . The rumored sale price of the Kings’ franchise is believed to be $535 million. A tidy sum to be gained by Joe and Gavin Maloof , as the principal owners of the impoverished franchise. This whole episode paints a sorry picture of the NBA , and an even more embarrassing picture of the political scene within the state Capitol, especially when one considers the actions of the city’s mayor , Kevin Johnson and his begging for the NBA franchise to remain within his city’s locale. One would have thought that Johnson and the city council would have far more acute issues to deal with , rather than plead and be at the mercy of billionaire professional sports’ franchise owners . who are simply gaining a financial windfall from the municipality without ever really offering anything tangible by way of reciprocity , in return .

So we will have ourselves a “Harbaugh Bowl” , when the final game of the NFL 2012-13 season , gets underway. The AFC representative will be the Baltimore Ravens , coached by John Harbaugh , whose team will play the San Francisco 49ers , coached by Jim Harbaugh , in the NFL’s showcase event , the Superbowl (SB47) , which will be played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome , on Sunday , 3rd February 2013.

The emotional bye-lines here , with regard to the Ravens , beyond the familial rivalry between the Harbaugh brothers , will be the end of a historic career , as win or lose , defensive lineman Ray Lewis will retire from the game as perhaps one of the best defensive players in the NFL history ? Lewis’ dynamics at the position has redefined the game , in many ways just as much as another heralded defensive player stamped his mark on the NFL , as Hall of Fame inductee Lawrence Taylor had done over the course of his famed career .

Now while the main storyline will be that of the John and Jim Harbaugh , with the Lewis subplot , thrown in for good measure . How cans anyone, simply ignore the astonishing success of Colin Kaepernick this season? The attributes shown by the player during the regular season was carried over into the postseason and it was essentially one of the primary reasons why the 49ers’ franchise now finds itself making a sixth Superbowl appearance , with the ball-club having won five , with their last appearance coming in 1994 , when they triumphed (49-26) over the San Diego Chargers in Superbowl XXIX . Superbowl MVP Steve Young would go on to have an historic game passing for a record six touchdowns in the 49ers’ rout of the San Diego Chargers . No one is expecting Kaepernick to emulate those feats , but I would dare say that this game could very well provide us with an aerial display from both quarterbacks , Colin Kaepernick and Joe Flacco.

It is my belief that with both teams being so evenly matched, this game will come down to who makes the most productive use of the ball , with the least amount of errors along the way !

As an Atlanta Braves’ fan Spring Training is just around the corner , but the common feeling is that if this team is to truly compete this upcoming season against their divisional rivals within the NL East . Then it is my belief that the front office will have to bolster their offense , beyond the acquisitions made during the off-season. GM Frank Wren pulled the trigger on the deal that brought B J Upton to the Braves , where it is hoped that the player can replace the productivity provided by Chipper Jones . In what was undoubtedly a Hall of Fame career , Jones left baseball , as one of the best hitters in the game from both sides of the plate. That asides , the real issue for the Braves this season , specifically for manager Fredi Gonzalez and his coaching staff will be to get his players in the right frame of mind , after the disappointment of the playoffs in 2012, when the team fell at the first hurdle in the wildcard round . . The team’s postseason in a lopsided 6-3 loss to the St Louis Cardinals .

The rumors now are circling , that the Braves’ front office are seeking to bring in the Diamondbacks’ Justin Upton , the younger sibling of B J Upton . Should that deal come to fruition , it would certainly bode well for the aspirations of the organization this upcoming season. Another productive bat on the Braves’ offense would certainly add to the team’s potency when measured against their NL rivals . The Atlanta Braves are a fundamentally sound team , and if they are truly to prevail throughout much of this upcoming season , then, the team’s pitching will have to be at its very best . In 2012 with a team ERA of 3.42 , the Braves placed fourth amongst the National League’s sixteen teams . I believe that placement can be improved upon this season with what should be the improved play of Kris Medlen , Tim Hudson , Mark Minor , Paul Maholm , Brandon Beachy , Craig Kimbrell , coming out of the bullpen when the situation arises .

I’ll say it repeatedly , but it is now time for Stuart Sternberg to cut his losses and simply look to relocate the Tampa Bay Rays’ baseball franchise outside the state of Florida . There is no real sustainable fan-base, in the greater Tampa Bay area , and the organization can barely survive on the revenues it generates without the assist of the MLB hierarchy , never mind the repeated goddamn asinine statements forthcoming from the fans media pundits within the local market . Sternberg , the managing general partner in the Rays’ ownership group , today addressed the St Petersburg City Council , reiterating his position that he has no desire to move the baseball franchise from the only real home it has , known , that being, the now archaic Tropicana Field , in downtown St Petersburg. Florida.

Courtesy of Baseballnewssource.com

Rays Stuart Sternberg: MLB Does Not Believe In Tampa Bay Region

The Tampa Bay Rays has made it clear that they don’t expect to be playing at Tropicana Field through 2027 , when their current lease expires with the city of St. Petersburg. Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg took a trip across the bay to Tampa to speak to the Hillsborough County Commission about the future of the team in the Tampa Bay area. The team is bound by an agreement that prohibits the Rays negotiating or even discussing other locations for new stadium.

Sternberg told officials that major league baseball is frustrated with the teams attendance despite producing a winning product on the field. ”Major League Baseball does not believe anymore in the Tampa Bay region,” Sternberg told the county commission during a session that ran beyond its scheduled 30 minutes.

To his credit, Sternberg said that he personally has not lost hope that the franchise could be successful in the Tampa Bay area. ”We do think about the future,” he said. “We have to take some time to plan a stadium. You don’t just snap your fingers.”

Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan simply stated, “it’s not a matter of whether the Rays will relocate but when and where it will happen.” St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster maintains that he plans to hold the Rays to the terms of their lease and the Rays should not discuss building a stadium outside of Pinellas County. Sternberg added, ”I’m not frustrated with Mayor Foster, I’m just frustrated,” Sternberg said afterward.

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One of the things that Stuart Sternberg reflected upon and made it abundantly clear to the city’s council members , was the very fact that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has no implicit faith in either the Rays’ organization or the city of St Petersburg , which has simply fortifies the belief that the commissioner sees no real value in the Tampa Bay Rays as a viable baseball concern, in spite of the franchise’s recent successes during the regular and postseason . Sheer frustration or not ,it is becoming apparently clear with the lease on Tropicana Field not due to expire until 2027 , the baseball franchise has no other option but to meet its contractual obligations with regard to the lease and to continue playing at ballpark for the foreseeable future. Sternberg and his partners clearly do not have the financial resources to break that lease and pay the financial penalties that would be incurred. And that is in spite of the asinine rants from the local media pundits and the anally retentive fans who feel that the organization can simply walk away and break that lease . Clearly , you now see the real reasons why the fans within this locale lack the intelligence to truly appreciate the real issues at hand , that baseball organization faces , when they come out with such ridiculous statements, that the baseball club can simply choose not to honor its lease agreement .

What should be telling but it appears that the ongoing intransigence of the Rays’ fans simply knows no boundaries as to their ongoing stupidity , if they believe that baseball’s hierarchy has any wish to assist the Tampa Bay Rays in their endeavors , in the pursuit of new baseball venue. Neither the city of St Petersburg , the county governments of Hillsborough County , Pinellas County’s neighboring county, and within whose domain the Rays reside , can afford to make the financial undertaking needed , when their own financial state remains somewhat precarious. And it is highly unlikely that the state legislature or Governor Rick Scott would favor any sort of deal using state revenues , even by way of the state’s hotel taxes.

My contention is that if Stuart Sternberg really wants to make the Tampa Bay Rays not only competitive and a financially viable concern , it may well be now time for him to seek either out a silent partner with ” deep pockets” , or sell the franchise to an interested investor.

With the College Football season , finishing with an emphatic thud , after that embarrassment, which had the audacity to be called the BCS National title game . Somehow , you simply knew that as we entered 2013 , the off-season within the game’s landscape had one or two more idiotic episodes to be offered up for the fans’ consumption. Beyond the idiocy of Manti Te`o’s imaginary girlfriend and his continued falsehoods , which now seem to be proving to be as embarrassing for Notre Dame and AD Jack Swarbrick , as it repeatedly has been for the player , himself . Well , now comes word that the NCAA’s investigation of the Miami Hurricanes’ football program has come into question , as there now seems to be a great deal of cause for concern in how the Infractions’ Committee conducted their investigation into the allegations and claims by Canes’ booster , the now incarcerated , Nevin Shapiro. Shapiro’s claims of monetary payments made to current and former players on team’s football roster has taken on more than a life of its own , with the US Justice Department Criminal Division actually conducting their own in-depth investigation, of which details in part were passed on to the NCAA . Collegiate athletics’ governing body, led by its President, Mark Emmert, promised an in-depth investigation which would be fully transparent. Well, those words now feel empty, in light of the latest revelations that the investigation was botched by the investigators of the NCAA.

Courtesy of the Huffington Post

NCAA Miami Investigation Botched by Investigators, Leads to External Review

By Michael Marot,

INDIANAPOLIS — The latest black eye for college sports belongs to the NCAA.

In an embarrassing blow to its watchdog image, the NCAA said Wednesday its enforcement staff had botched the high-profile investigation of the University of Miami by improperly conducting at least two depositions while working with an attorney for disgraced booster Nevin Shapiro. Miami has been under investigation since the convicted Ponzi scheme mastermind said he had provided improper benefits to Hurricanes recruits.

President Mark Emmert said he was disappointed and angry with the misstep, acknowledging he had not seen anything like this since taking the NCAA job 2 1/2 years ago. He said some “people” involved in this case were no longer working for the NCAA, though he declined to say who they were or whether they had been fired.

He said none of the evidence collected improperly would be used against Miami and that the long-awaited notice of allegations would be delayed until after an external review is completed in approximately two weeks.

It was an ugly stumble for the NCAA, coming less than a week after its annual convention resulted in another round of reforms intended to firm up recruiting rules and other guidelines. And it comes as the organization faces more than a half-dozen lawsuits that could reshape how it does business, including one challenging the $60 million in penalties levied against Penn State for the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

“Of course it hurts, any nick to a public perception that’s not favorable to begin with is a problem,” said Jo Potuto, former chairwoman of the NCAA infractions committee and a constitutional law professor at Nebraska. “The public perception has never been really favorable to the process or the infractions committee and so this is another hit.”

Emmert tried to reassure schools that the principle of playing by the rules extends into NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis.

“We can’t just say it, we’ve got to do it,” Emmert said. “While I have great confidence in the vast majority of cases, when you have something as candidly dramatic as this, you can’t just offer words; you have to demonstrate that you’re getting this right. The reason I wanted to get this out is to make sure that this is right. We want to hold ourselves to the same standards we hold others to.”

What happens next is anybody’s guess.

The external review, which will be conducted by former Justice Department official Kenneth L. Wainstein, a Washington attorney perhaps best known in sports for representing Gilbert Arenas after he brought guns to the Wizards locker room and confronted a teammate.

Wainstein will focus on Miami’s case, but he will have the authority to investigate the NCAA’s actions in additional cases, too.

The potential list could include the suit brought by former Southern California assistant football coach Todd McNair, who claims the NCAA was “malicious” in its investigation into his role in the benefits scandal surrounding Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Frederick Shaller has already said he was convinced the actions of NCAA investigators were “over the top.”

Wainstein also could look into the UCLA case involving freshman Shabazz Muhammad. In December, The Los Angeles Times reported that NCAA investigator Abigail Grantstein had been fired after her boyfriend was allegedly overheard discussing the case on an airplane. The NCAA has not confirmed the firing. The outside review could have potential ramifications, too, in a lawsuit brought by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett in the Penn State case.

This is not unfamiliar ground for the NCAA, and it could be that Emmert fears a lawsuit from Miami no matter how the investigation turns out. Former Washington football coach Rick Neuheisel won a $4.5 million settlement from the NCAA and university in 2005, saying he was wrongly fired for gambling in an NCAA basketball pool and failing to be forthright about it with NCAA investigators. Among other accusations, Neuheisel’s attorney said the NCAA failed to provide Neuheisel’s legal team with an updated version of its bylaws during discovery.

In this case, Emmert concluded something was wrong in the Miami case last fall when bills for an outside attorney showed up on an expense list, a hiring normally approved by the NCAA’s general counsel. Emmert said it was not, and that’s what initially caught the attention of those inside the Indy headquarters. He also said the person who had hired the lawyer was no longer working at the NCAA, making it more difficult to get information.

The fallout could lead to additional personnel moves, too, Emmert said.

Miami President Donna Shalala said she was “frustrated, disappointed and concerned” that the NCAA may have compromised the investigation. Potuto said she was surprised, describing the enforcement staff she dealt with as “open-minded” to investigations.

“I don’t know about a rogue one or two people, but it is not at all representative of my experience with the enforcement staff people who I dealt with over the years,” Potuto said. “Generally we found them (the enforcement staff) to be exceedingly fair to the point that we sometimes thought it impeded forceful investigations.”

Just last week, Emmert told The Associated Press he was pleased that the number of salacious and high-profile cases that dominated 2011 — a list that included the football programs at Miami, Ohio State and Penn State — had dissipated, though he was cautious about another big scandal popping. Within days, the hoax about Manti Te’o’s girlfriend broke, and Emmert was briefing two NCAA committees on the Miami case.

“The NCAA Executive Committee expects the enforcement program to operate within approved procedures and with the highest integrity,” said Lou Anna K. Simon, the NCAA’s executive committee chair and Michigan State president. “Although we are deeply disappointed in this turn of events, we strongly support the actions President Emmert is taking to address the problem.”

What Emmert wants now is answers about how this “severe issue of improper conduct.”

“My concern is that the policies and procedures are consistent with our values,” Emmert said. “Whether it produces good information or no information, there’s no way to cut corners on this. It’s a very difficult task, but you don’t do things inappropriately.”

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At some point someone has to ask what the hell is going on , and how incompetent is the NCAA , if as a governing body , it cannot conduct an investigation without showing this sort of incompetency , then how should the public view that collegiate body. I’ve long held the contention , that the organization presided over by Mark Emmert has become cumbersome archaic and all too self-absorbed , with their own importance, that they actually forget why they exist ! University President Donna Shalala, voiced her displeasure at this latest disclosure, that has cast a giant shadow over the university’s already tarnished reputation, which has embroiled the athletics’ program in its entirety , as well its AD Shawn Eichorst and head football coach Al Golden .

It seems completely asinine, with the mountains of evidence already at their disposal , much of it gathered by the Justice Department , it would then somehow, take the goddamn incompetency of the NCAA , to now make a complete ass of themselves , while throwing this whole investigation into a complete tailspin. This whole episode, has been playing itself out, over the past eighteen months, and the tardiness shown by the NCAA , now makes it unlikely that there will be a satisfactory outcome to this matter.

PGA Tour golfer, Phil Mickelson in a recent statement complained that he was entirely unhappy that he would be taxed at the rate of 62% on his 2012 earnings from golf and endorsement deals. The former #2 ranked golfer, on the Tour, earned $57 million last year , surpassing Tiger Woods , in total earnings on and endorsement deals on the PGA Tour . These taxes are not those specifically from federal income tax , that became in part retroactive , but the golfer’s concerns comes from California’s own state income tax , which is exorbitant , and amongst the highest in the nation.

Mickelson has since apologized for his statement , saying that it was somewhat insensitive , citing the plight of the unemployed and hard-working families, struggling to make ends meet . However, Mickelson’s, nonsensical response was asinine , when one considers that he failed to speak of California’s failed economic policies, that has left the state in a financial blight and with a burgeoning deficit and estimated $617 billion debt, and a $28 billion budget deficit. Governor, Gerry Brown , pointed to the fact that his office , and the state legislature are addressing this acute issue, but it is clear that Brown inherited a litany failed policies , and debt from his predecessor , Republican, Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’ve always felt it asinine , when I hear an athlete speak on an economic or social when issue , when it is abundantly clear that they have no fucking idea what they are actually talking about ! Unfortunately, you chalk this one up , to sheer stupidity on the part of the famed golfer.

Tennis tantrums now come, a dime, a dozen, and on the WTA circuit , it would appear to be no different . With the first Grand Slam tournament, underway , with the Australian Open now in full swing in Melbourne , Australia , . The preeminent female player on the women’s circuit over the past decade , Serena Williams , ranked #3 in the WTA rankings and seeking to make a gainful entrance to the semis of the Ladies Singles’ tournament , had an all too uncharacteristic mental breakdown in her match against fellow American , teenager , nineteen year old Sloane Stephens , in their quarter finals’ match. The normally physically imposing Williams, would prove to be, no match for her younger and more aggressive opponent . In a game, that was thrilling from start to finish , Sloane Stephens, simply let her battery of ground strokes and forehand volleys do “ her talking “ on the court , over three arduous and tantalizing sets of women’s tennis . Stephens won the match , coming back from one set down , to defeat Serena Williams, 3-6, 7-5, and 6-4 , in three sets , to earn a place in the semi-finals .

For Serena Williams , this was not so much the shock of defeat, but the way she handled herself during the match , showing a great deal of petulant anger during the match, albeit that she suffered a slight injury to her ankle during the game , but in no way should it excuse her childlike behavior as he violently smashed her racquet, repeatedly on the hard-court, while center stage in-front of an audience thousands watching and millions globally . “ Time they say waits for no one” , and at thirty-one years old , it looks as if, not only has time caught up to Serena Williams , but so too have some of her younger American protégé , in this case , a young teenager by the name of Sloane Stephens , who will move up several places in the rankings after this victory , before celebrating her twentieth birthday , in mid-March.

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(1) Washington Wizards’ A.J. Price (12) defends against Utah Jazz’s Jamaal Tinsley (6) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game , Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, in Salt Lake City. AP Photo/Rick Bowmer …

(2) FILE- In this Sept. 11, 2011 file photo, Jackie and Jack Harbaugh, parents of San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, stand before an NFL football game between the 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks in San Francisco. The entire Harbaugh family already got its Super Bowl victory last Sunday, when each coach did his part to ensure a family reunion in New Orleans next week. The Ravens face off against the 49ers in the first Super Bowl coached by siblings on opposite sidelines. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma ….

(3)FILE – In this Nov. 24, 2011 file photo, Jack Harbaugh, far left, and his wife Jackie, second from left, chat with sons Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, second from right, and San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh before an NFL football game in Baltimore. The entire Harbaugh family already got its Super Bowl victory last Sunday, when each coach did his part to ensure a family reunion in New Orleans next week. The Ravens face off against the 49ers in the first Super Bowl coached by siblings on opposite sidelines. AP Photo/Gail Burton …

(4) FILE – In this Sept. 28, 2012, file photo, Arizona Diamondbacks’ Justin Upton waits on deck during the first inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs in Phoenix. A person familiar with the situation says Arizona has traded Upton to the Atlanta Braves in a deal that sends All-Star third baseman Martin Prado to the Diamondbacks. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, because the trade has not officially been announced. AP Photo/Matt York …..

(5) Sternberg, right, said he does not expect the Rays to be playing at Tropicana Field through 2027, when the team’s contract with St. Petersburg ends. Jay Conner/ 2.tbo.com

(6) Sloane Stephens, foreground, is seen here looking to retrieve a forehand volley, made by her opponent , Serena Williams, background , during their quarter-finals’ match at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia . Stephens won the match 2 sets to 1, 3-6, 7-5,6-4. Getty Images /AFP/Reuters/ Thomas Kenzie ….

(7) Phil Mickelson drives on the fourth hole of the North Course at Torrey Pines during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, in San Diego. The golfer created something of a stir when he suggested that he wasn’t entirely happy to be taxed at the rate of 62% on his 2012 earnings of $57 million , also stating that he would be prepared to relocate to a more tax friendly locale . He would later recant that statement , by claiming his insensitivity in the plight of the unemployed and hard-working families striving to make ends meet. AP Photo/Gregory Bull …

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Were you ever kept in detention by a schoolteacher , who looked liked this , and was offering that type of extra curricular activity ?

Ah Those Lovable Scoundrels …….. !

Ah Those Lovable Scoundrels …….. !

It seems the depths of ineptitude continue for one of baseball’s great franchises in the Chicago Cubs . The ownership group led by Tom Ricketts sought to fire GM Jim Hendry after his seventeen years loyal service with the organization . Given the history of the players associated (Hall of Famers) with this organization many of whom have been enshrined in Cooperstown , at the Hall of Fame it has to be said that their fall from grace has been absolutely horrendous .

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I would hazard a guess that Tom Ricketts and the members of the family could no longer withstand the ridicule and the mere fact that the long faithful and loyal fans in attendance at Wrigley Field essentially had enough of the lackluster displays and the sheer ineptitude of the team and managerial staff . To say that this team has underachieved this season would be to suggest that Peyton Manning had an off-day at the office but that he’d been doing so repeatedly over the last decade. Highs and lows over the course their history , more lows than highs if anything but it has to be said that the Tom Ricketts had high hopes for the organization . And as we know the postseason hasn’t exactly been kind to the Chicago Cubs . There’s a saying …… “always the bridesmaid never the bride ” . In the case of the Cubs that hasn’t happened in over 100 years for this ballclub laying claim to the World Series .

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Chicago Cubs interim general manager Randy Bush talks to the media before a game against the St. Louis Cardinals on August 21, 2011 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by David Banks/Getty Images …….

It’d be remiss to suggest that Jim Hendry might just be the worse front office executive in the game today but given the slim pickings in terms of the sheer ineptitude shown by the now defunct executive one might hazard a guess that Hendry’s name would be considered a worthy nomination. Cubs’ manager Mike Quade now has to endure a season of speculation as to whether not he’ll retain his job until the end of the year . And at this juncture no one can actually be sure of that , with no successor named to succeed Hendry , and no formal statement coming from the owners .

At this point it’s hard to say what the all consuming Chicago Cubs’ fan ought to expect from this organization . Certainly , ever since Tom Ricketts assumed control of this team having purchased the organization that had been placed into bankruptcy proceedings by then multi billionaire mogul Sam Zell . I am not about to suggest that Zell gave up on this organization by jettisoning the ball-club but you simply get the impression that the “curse of the goat” simply remains in tact. No amount of refurbishment to Wrigley Field can offset the ineptitude shown on the diamond by this team . What glimmer of hope there might have been, has been few , if at all ! Certainly from the future standpoint of the club everything points to the future as the moves made by front office and the draft choices made. The bright spots also are the prospects within the organization and its farm system where there appears to a number of players looking to contribute for the Chicago Cubs .

As we have all come to know injuries will play a part in team’s season and how the players they simply chooses to acquit themselves . There seems to be no real leadership coming from the veterans on this team and for the likes of Alfonso Soriano , Carlos Pena , Geovany Soto , Kerry Wood and Starlin Castro have offered little hope if anything to show the fans there’s imminent hope that things are about to make an immediate turnaround .

There are few teams within the game of baseball that in terms of attendance that can consistently draw in excess of 2,500,000 fans each season and the Chicago Cubs just happens to be one of those teams . Considered a big market team with a storied history , loyal supporters and litany of devoted followers nationwide it is extremely hard to see how a ball-club can seemingly remain in such an abyss of mediocrity. But herein , lies the drama and ever evolving cycle that encapsulates what the Chicago Cubs seems to be about.

The now infamous Steve Bartman ‘incident’ and his confrontation with Moises Alou over a fly ball in a postseason game played between the Cubs and Florida Marlins will go down in Chicago Cubs’ folklore. If ever there were a time to sympathize with the ball-club then that might have been it. Bartman was vilified not only by the fans , the city of Chicago but also the team’s broadcasters who covered the game.

Tom Ricketts may seek to promote from within in terms of a successor to Jim Hendry or they may well seek to go outside that comfortability zone and bring in someone with the experience they seek in terms of a front office executive. The opportunity is there for the right candidate but the speculation remains as to when a decision will be forthcoming from the ownership group.

One of the major fallouts from the whole unsavory episode now surrounding the University of Miami and its now soured athletics program could well be the form of punishment imposed on the school by the NCAA . Mark Emmert as president of collegiate athletics’ governing body that upon the finality of its investigations into the claims made by the now disgraced Canes’ booster Nevin Shapiro , who is now serving a multi year sentence in a federal penitentiary will make a decision as to what punishment he feel is appropriate to be levied against the university. Watching all of this closely will be USC Trojans’ athletics director Pat Haden with the school having been severely punished in light of school’s own problematic program _____ in particular the football program and the allegations surrounding former player Reggie Bush .

Donna Shalala , Shawn Eichorst and David Reed in conjunction with Hurricanes’ football coach Al Golden have all tried to suggest that the school still has a great deal of integrity and that the students have been the embodiment of what character is all about. But such has been the systemic violations and the mere fact that the aforementioned quartet closely aligned themselves with one of the school’s major boosters in Nevin Shapiro , that it is hard to believe any statement uttered by Shalala and her subordinates.

Pat Haden having succeeded Mike Garrett will watch with a great deal of interest as to the form of punishment that is meted out to the university of Miami. Clearly with the sanctions placed upon USC , with the school having to vacate a championship season , multiple student athlete scholarships and postseason appearances _____ anything short of that as a form of action levied against the Canes’ program will be viewed as being biased . What might be even more suspect as this situation unfolds is that Paul Dee a former athletics director of the University of Miami now chairs NCAA’s Infractions Committee . My own opinion , is that Dee will have to recuse himself if a decision has to be made over a program that he was once an administrator of , as by perception alone , the appearance of a conflict of interest comes into being. Haden would have a valid point in appealing any ruling that Paul Dee is a part of , in rendering a decision that imposes any sanction that is viewed to be somewhat light in terms of its severity.

I am not about to suggest that the NCAA isn’t above some type surreptitious activity , given the inconsistency shown in the forms of punishment levied against certain programs. But herein lies my biggest concern , if the NCAA shows its unwillingness to punish the school with impunity then what does that say about that institutional body as a whole ? Mark Emmert and the institution he presides over (NCAA) not only has a credibility problem but also an image problem that certainly needs to be addressed. It’s one thing to suggest changes that he would like to see but at this moment in time the NCAA president has done little to suggest that he is indeed a man of action. Instead he seems to be ready foist upon the public meaningless and asinine sound bytes merely to curry favor with the public at large .

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With the firing of Cubs’ general manager Jim Hendry where do you now see the ownership going in terms of a successor and do you view Mike Quade’s job as still being safe at this juncture ? Also how do you team’s season panning out over the remainder of the year ? Do you also feel that any that Pat Haden will be justified in lodging an appeal should Paul Dee preside over any deliberations as it concerns the punishment that may well be levied against the University of Miami ? Simply leave a comment on the points raised as you deem fit .

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

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(1) St. Louis Cardinals’ Yadier Molina, left, and Fernando Salas celebrate the Cardinals 6-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs after a baseball game on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011, in Chicago. AP Photo/Jim Prisching …..

(2) Chicago Cubs’ catcher Geovany Soto, left, looks on as the St. Louis Cardinals’ Albert Pujols celebrates his solo home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011, in Chicago. AP Photo/Jim Prisching ………

(3) Chicago Cubs interim general manager Randy Bush talks to the media before a game against the St. Louis Cardinals on August 21, 2011 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by David Banks/Getty Images …….

(4) Hendry (left) is seen here alongside Tom Ricketts whose family are the primary owners of the Chicago Cubs . Ricketts wealth came from the online stock trading company Ameritrade founded by his father patriarch J. Joseph Ricketts . The company now known as TD Ameritrade Inc. . Ricketts is also the CEO of Chicago financial concern Incapital LLC . He plays an active concern in both companies as well as the day to day operations of the Chicago Cubs of which each of his siblings are also involved with the organization in various capacities . AP Photo/ Matthew Barnhart ……

(5) Hendry ,left is seen here alongside now incumbent manager Mike Quade , center and Tom Ricketts , owner of the Chicago Cubs. There is now mounting speculation as to whether or not Quade will be retained by the club beyond this season . Interim general manager Randy Bush hasn’t indicated what the organization’s plans are other than to suggest the Mike Quade remains the team’s manager for the moment. AP Photo/ Rich Howard ….

(6) Donna Shalala right is seen here alongside former Miami booster and now incarcerated felon Nevin Shapiro (center) . Shalala has tried to distance herself and the school’s athletics department staff from all of the perceived wrongdoings concerning Shapiro and his claims. Courtesy of Miami Herald .

(7) Paul Dee (background-far left) is seen here with Donna Shalala . Dee , now the chairman of the NCAA’s Infractions Committee would have to preside over the hearings concerning the University of Miami’s alleged improprieties . However, in lieu of this Pat Haden the AD of USC is questioning the impartiality that can be shown as Paul Dee once served as the athletics director of the Miami Hurricanes’ program . ……….. AP /Getty Images / Humberto Cruz …..

(8) Pat Haden the current AD of USC having succeeded Mike Garrett . He has been entrusted to clean up the school’s tarnished image in light of the violations and subsequent punishment meted out by the NCAA. The USC Trojans’ AD has made it public that he will be closely scrutinizing actions of the NCAA and how they treat the University of Miami in light of the allegations and any sanctions levied against the school. Also coming into question as broached by Haden will be the fact that Paul Dee as chairman of the Infractions Committee will preside over the hearings concerning the school . One has to bear in mind that Dee served as a former athletics director of the Canes’ program as well as teaching law at the school. AP Photo / Mitch Marshall ……..

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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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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