It is what it is …………

It is what it is …………

Well the sports’ environment at present has taken a back seat to the NCAA Tournament , with the event itself , having provided the fans with a number of stunning upsets , while there have been some that were not totally unexpected . With the number one ranked Florida Gators having now made their way to the ‘Sweet Sixteen ‘ , the road in some respects does now seem all but clear , for Billy Donovan and his team to capture the program’s third national title in the past eight seasons . Were the Gators’ head coach able to manage that feat , it would certainly make him the school’s most successful coach in terms of national titles won , beating out the likes of Urban Meyer and Steve Spurrier .

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From my own perspective , I believe Donovan the equal of both of the aforementioned coaches , albeit that, Meyer and Spurrier left Florida to further their careers , elsewhere . In the case of Urban Meyer, his departure and subsequent criticism of his former employers and the program he coached to two BCS titles , may well have more to do with his egotistical character and the level of criticism aimed at him , with the failure of Tim Tebow to become a resounding success in the NFL . A great deal of that criticism is more than justified , when you simply bear in mind that Tebow’s collegiate career while stellar , at the next level of his evolution , his game simply did not materialize into anything more than that of a moderately average quarterback , who could barely read defensive tendencies , much less make a pass attempt in excess of fifteen yards or more , without their being a tendency of an interception or the pass simply falling short of its target , but there were , the vast majority of less than intelligent Gators’ fans, still singing Tim Tebow’s praises as a player. With his career now coming to an abrupt end , he has now been hired by cable sports’ programming network ESPN to provide fans with his insight into the Collegiate Football and the games , where he will be covering . One can only wish Tebow, all the success possible in his new endeavor , in the hope that he is likely to be more successful in his new vocation.

With a number of programs now having fallen by the wayside, in this particular NCAA Tournament, by contrast , at this point last season , things in some respects were somewhat similar. Florida for its part, have more than justified that national number one ranking , and proof of that , come by way of their regular season schedule and their run through the SEC (Southeast Conference) ,where the team went undefeated , a first for conference play, within the Southeastern Conference. Leading the way for Florida, in terms of the team’s play , have been Casey Prather , Patric Young , Michael Frazier and Scottie Wilbekin , but it has truly been a collective team effort , along with that of Billy Donovan and the coaching acumen shown by his coaching staff , which has taken them this far and proven their season-long dominance this year.

Through their first two games of this tournament, Florida has not truly been tested , with their first round contest against Albany NY being nothing more than a cakewalk , with their 67-55 defeat of that team , before facing an even less sterner test in taking down the Pittsburgh (Panthers) with another somewhat lopsided victory 61-45 . The Gators’ path to the ‘Elite Eight’ in the NCAA Tournament, will see them having to overcome the UCLA Bruins , in what is likely to be the best game scheduled during the ‘Sweet Sixteen’ .

Of the games , still to be played in the round of the Sweet Sixteen , beyond the featured contest, which I believe to be the best at this stage of the tournament. There are games between Iowa State versus Connecticut , Tennessee and Michigan , Louisville (Cardinals) and Kentucky , Baylor and Wisconsin , Arizona and San Diego State , finally Dayton versus Stanford . All great match-ups befitting a tournament, that now lures shall we say, degenerate gamblers into wagering billions of dollars, into the most lucrative sports’ event, for the gaming industry in North America .

Rick Pitino , as the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals, when he faces off against an old foe and nemesis in John Calipari , in a contest , of well-versed coaches , that will be a match of wits . What might also make this match-up also intriguing, with both coaches, having reached the pinnacle of collegiate coaching in winning a national title. Pitino, will now seek to take down a program , where, he was once a head coach and a well-respected one at that.

There are few coaches as well-respected as Tom Izzo within Collegiate Basketball and while one can be critical of the game at this level . It has to be said, that with the continued controversy of tainted programs , abuses of privileges and the ongoing issues of recruitment violations . Rarely, has Izzo’s tenure at Michigan St (Spartans) raised any suspicion of the program being mired, in any major impropriety. However, that is not to suggest, that Spartans athletics’ program has been pristine and above-board. Collegiate Athletics has become embroiled and awash, with far too much money , that the temptation to do something amiss, has become even more tempting than ever before. At the same time, the continued incompetency of the NCAA does not cover the distrust that the public has not only the entire landscape of college sports but also the hierarchical structure of the that particular body , under its current President , Mark Emmert , who came to the position, carrying a great deal of baggage of his own, concerning a number of improprieties and a lack communicative and administrative skills .

Izzo and the Spartans, while seeking to make their way to the Elite Eight, are not likely to have an easy time when they face the Virginia (Cavaliers) . Cavaliers’ head coach, Tony Bennett will undoubtedly want to pull off the upset , in taking the program this deep into the quarter-finals of the tournament for the very first time ever. The outcome of this contest, between Michigan and Tennessee , will definitely be predicated upon the offensive prowess shown by both teams and the coaching acumen of the respective staffs.

This NCAA Tournament has certainly lived up to expectations so far and the contests have provided the fans with a great deal more than most would have expected .

The big news within the NBA over the past eight days , has been the New York Knicks’ acquisition of Phil Jackson to head up the franchise’s Basketball Operations and being entirely responsible for all player personnel decisions. Jackson , himself, has been quick to point out, that the level of the play by the current roster has bordered on being inadequate and lacking the basic fundamentals , that the team itself , simply looks like a group of individuals at play on a high school playground. Subsequent to that statement by the Knicks’ front office executive , the players have responded in kind rolling off eight victories in their last ten games , perhaps reminding Jackson that they are capable of playing as a cohesive unit. As to what this might suggest as to the coaching strategies of Mike Woodson and his coaching staff , may well spell doom and his departure from the franchise at the end of this season. Woodson, might not be a proponent of the “Triangle Offense” and Phil Jackson has suggested that the scheme need not be adhered to, by the team, but , what he would like to see, is a great deal more resilience and tenacity from the players.

The New York Knicks’ continued malaise over the past seven seasons at least , has been brought on by the negligence of team owner , James Dolan and the litany of general managers heading up the front office during that time-span. Anyone who would try to suggest that under Isiah Thomas’ tenure , or that of Dave Checketts , Ernie Grunfeld , Scott Layden and in some respects Donnie Walsh , have in some way brought about some semblance of competitiveness to the franchise, need only look at the Knicks’ overall record from 1999 to 2013 and the number of playoff appearances made . In large part, the organization has spent more time acquiring nondescript talent and simply overpaying for the players assembled to represent the team during that time. It is certainly something, that will clearly have to be addressed by Phil Jackson and the staff that he will likely assemble to assist him in that stead, as he seeks to build a roster that will be viewed as a perennial contender, rather than being seen as an also-ran.

A playoff berth is now beyond the New York Knicks’ reach for this season, but in large part several players on the roster will be playing for their long-term future and livelihood with the franchise , in light of Jackson’s wish to revamp this roster. The team (29-41) at present , is lying in ninth place , within the Eastern Conference and three games out from that final berth , which is currently held by the Atlanta Hawks(31-37) as of 23rd March , 2014.

As if to further emphasize the numerous reasons why the Knicks have been woefully inept , consider the fact that at home, they are amongst the worst teams in the entire NBA , never mind the fact that they are simply unable to close out games, but yet the asinine analysis provided by on air commentators would have you believe to the contrary. Sunday’s six-point loss (106-100) at home at Madison Square Gardens in New York City, New York, to the Cleveland Cavaliers , is a damning indictment of not only the poor play of the New York Knicks , but also how damn awful , the Eastern Conference just happens to be overall , in terms of the poor play.

Inconsistency has now become the norm for the New York Knicks , while the air-headed print and television media within the New York market tend to be enraptured by Phil Jackson’s arrival , what they seem to be forgetting is actually how bad this team just happens to be and that is even with Carmelo Anthony having to carry his teammates on his shoulders for the majority of the season. One can choose to spin the tale of the New York Knicks for this season and then suggest that next year all of the events of 2013 , will be forgotten, because Phil Jackson , by then, will have begun to work miracles. Let’s get something clear, Phil can only work with the tools given him and what he has been provided with at this juncture , are a bag of nuts , bolts, and rusty tools, in seeking to get the job done . As to what transpires, in the coming months of this off-season, remains to be seen. It will be interesting to see whether or not, Jackson can indeed revamp an impoverished franchise, with them regaining some semblance of respectability.

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Picture gallery .

The events of the NCAA Tournament, as they have unfolded, which result has been of the greatest surprise to you ? Which program do you now believe to be in the driver’s seat, with the easiest task of making it to the Final Four and then going on to win the Men’s NCAA title outright ? With Phil Jackson’s introduction as the new Head of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks , do you believe his task will be an easy one to turn things around for the franchise and how much time in your estimation, will it take for him to make the Knicks relevant and competitive ? Simply take time to leave a comment, as you see fit and thank you for the ongoing support of this site, as it is greatly appreciated !

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin, bottom, gets past Pittsburgh forward Lamar Patterson for a shot during the second half in a third-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, March 22, 2014. Florida won 61-45 . AP Photo/John Raoux ….

(2) Florida coach Billy Donovan gestures during the second half in a third-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament against Pittsburgh, Saturday, March 22, 2014, in Orlando, Fla. AP Photo/John Raoux…

(3) Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin (5) and center Patric Young (4) talk on the court during the second half in a second-round game against Albany in the NCAA college basketball tournament against Albany, Thursday, March 20, 2014, in Orlando, Fla. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack ….

(4) Louisville coach Rick Pitino , right, yells at guard Russ Smith (2) during the second half in a third-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament against Saint Louis , Saturday, March 22, 2014, in Orlando, Fla. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack ….

(5) Kentucky head coach John Calipari works from the sideline against Wichita State during the first half of a third-round game of the NCAA college basketball tournament Sunday, March 23, 2014, in St. Louis. A highly rated Wichita State team that seemingly could not match the intensity shown by the Wildcats during this contest, which ended in disappointment for the Shockers. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel ……..

(6) Kentucky guard Aaron Harrison (2) passes the ball as Wichita State guard Fred VanVleet (23) defends during the first half of a third-round game of the NCAA college basketball tournament Sunday, March 23, 2014, in St. Louis. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson …..

(7) Tony Bennett head coach of the Virginia Cavaliers . Bennett’s team face the MSU Spartans on Friday , with the victor guaranteed a berth in the Elite Eight as the prize . AP Photo / Rafael Gomez …..

(8) Michigan State’s Tom Izzo whose long and proud coaching resume’ indicates an impressive track record . Getty Images / Keith Turner …..

(9) NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 23: Jarrett Jack (1) of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots against the New York Knicks during a game at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images …
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(10) New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony talks with New York Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson during the second half of the NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden, Sunday, March 23, 2014, in New York. The Cavaliers defeated the Knicks 106-100 . .AP Photo /Adrian Miller …..

(11) New York Knicks’ executive Phil Jackson is seen here, inlaid, team head coach Mike Woodson’s ,whose tenure with the Knicks’ franchise now seems more perilous than ever , with the team not completely responding to his coach style, in spite of a recent impressive run of eight consecutive victories . Yet, the team’s home record remains one of the worst in the entire NBA and one of the numerous reasons why they have fallen out of contention within the Eastern Conference this season. It seems highly unlikely that Woodson will be returning to coach the team next season , with their being no guarantee whatsoever, from the front office , even if there have been some reassuring words coming from unconfirmed sources within the hierarchical structure of the franchise. AP Photo / Lou Mason …..

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College Basketball & NBA related pieces :

The running of the Bulls

It’s that time of the year again , and things are said be right with the world ….

You can talk a good game but can you play one ?

Stick to what you know and not what you’re told is the truth

Full steam ahead

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tophatal ….

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NCAA Men’s Basketball & news

NCAA Men’s Basketball (bracket)

NCAA Men’s Basketball schedule

NCAA Men’s Basketball champions

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NBA news

NBA results 23rd March 2014

NBA standings (division) and by conference

NBA playoff picture (indicates game remaining)

This month in NBA history

The Madness of King George …………..

The Madness of King George …………….

Contrary to popular belief baseball’s hierarchy does not possess all of the answers to what ails the game . If anything Bud Selig , the league hierarchy , teams owners and the union have found a way to make the game itself somewhat of a laughing stock amongst the vast majority of the fans . Those who take the opposite view , simply see the game as being under the premise of the glass being half full .

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If ever there was a cause for concern then it would have to be ongoing continued meltdown of the Boston Red Sox within the AL East as their wildcard lead over the Tampa Bay Rays seems to be melting like butter having touched a hot knife . Red Sox fans are either holding their breath with deep concern or they’re contemplating suicide . This team having lost three straight , including a rather haphazard and totally inexplicable 7-5 defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park is now beginning to look like a rudderless vessel at sea. If this were the Titanic then all of the hands on deck would have bailed on this bitch long ago ! At this juncture I don’t know which is more painful to endure , having to watch the Boston Red Sox at play or listen to their fans now bitch and whine on the flagship radio station WEEI . Anyone who knows how passionate the Red Sox fans are will also know that when things are getting tough they can also be some of the most obnoxious fans within the game of baseball , not unlike the fans of their bitter rivals the New York Yankees .

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Baseball fans stand to leave Fenway Park as Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Alfredo Aceves , left, and designated hitter David Ortiz react as they linger in the dugout after they were defeated 6-4 by the Baltimore Orioles in a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011. AP Photo/Elise Amendola ….

Though the front office doesn’t appear to be panicked into making any foolhardy moves , I can only surmise that team President Larry Lucchino , general manager Theo Epstein will for the moment continue to allow Terry Francona and his assistants to do what they believe to best to get this team back on track . The real struggles for the team does appear to the the inconsistency of their pitching in particular with back end of the rotation and that of the bullpen . But it would be remiss not to suggest that the team’s offense isn’t without its own challenges .

Now in terms of leadership on this team one would expect the likes of seasoned veterans Jason Varitek , Tim Wakefield , David Ortiz , Josh Beckett , Dustin Pedroia and Carl Crawford to be amongst the players seemingly having the wherewithal to step up to the plate as and when needed . But such has been the inconsistency of the team that it is hard to see how they can now fend off the Tampa Bay Rays without the aid of others within the AL East as that team embarks upon its own schedule down the stretch .

As the season moves into its final weeks this AL wildcard race is now heating up into a suspenseful thriller that now has all the makings of quite possibly becoming an epic battle. It would come as a complete surprise to me were the Tampa Bay Rays able to erase the two game deficit and somehow gain that wildcard berth spot ! I felt that earlier in the month the deficit would be too great a burden to overcome but little had I foreseen that the Boston Red Sox would be able to make such a damn mess of things . So much so , that should they actually derail the ambitions Terry Francona’s team , then I would be the first to offer a profound apology to one patron (SportsChump) who I doubted , when he stated ……. ” that the Rays weren’t about to go away at all ” . And that has clearly been the case here as the Tampa Bay Rays have hung around and caused mayhem amongst the Red Sox organization with their apparent will win to win and stubbornness in refusing to go away quietly .

Well with all of historical feats that tend to take place within the game one can’t deny that Mariano Rivera’s achievement in surpassing the time saves’ record (601) was something special . Indeed in passing Trevor Hoffman’s mark Rivera now adds one more indelible reason why he ought to be enshrined as a first time ballot Hall of Famer . Only a complete idiot would dare to suggest otherwise at this juncture !

As the postseason beckons I would like to think that the individual races amongst the players now becomes a major draw for our attention even more . Would it be intrusive to suggest that Justin Verlander has all but nailed the Cy Young award within the AL ? His closest challenger may well be CC Sabathia but unless the New York Yankees’ ace can do something spectacular then I seriously doubt that he will be able outshine Verlander’s sensational season ! As to the other individual awards those most certainly will play themselves out as the season winds down .

What can actually be said about the College Football Season that hasn’t already been said ? The polls have the usual suspects one might deem fit sitting atop of the tables in question . If anything however, it has been the ongoing divergence of communiques and views as to where certain football programs will end up with regard to a major football conference . So asinine has been the assertion of many of the conference commissioners to suggest that the invites for teams join them is purely being done to create a competitive balance ! The bottom line to this all is the simple one sheer avarice and greed . Never mind the fact that we have the rather gross litany of bowl games that clog up the college football postseason much like traffic simply congests the 405 within the state of California . What is ultimately gained from this all , is simply mutli million dollar payouts that in large part does nothing for the real benefit of the student athlete in spite of the public statements forthcoming from the NCAA and a number of college football coaches alike . When one considers how well these commissioners are compensated it begs the question who’s kidding whom here ?

Courtesy of ESPN & Associated Press

Four BCS commissioners made $1M

WASHINGTON — Four of college football’s six powerhouse conferences paid their top executives $1 million or more, an Associated Press analysis of tax records shows, far eclipsing the compensation of most university presidents.

A review of 2009 IRS returns, the most recent available, shows that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany was the highest paid, receiving total compensation valued at $1.6 million, followed by Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford ($1.1 million), Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive ($1 million) and Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe ($997,000). The other two commissioners each started in July 2009, so their compensation figures are only for the last six months of the year: PAC-10’s Larry Scott ($735,000), and Big East’s John Marinatto ($366,000).

Those figures include base salary and benefits such as health insurance, as well as other forms of pay such as retirement and deferred compensation. On an annual or prorated basis, only Marinatto made less than the median pay of presidents of the nation’s large research universities, which was $760,774 in 2008, according to a Chronicle of Higher Education survey published last fall.

The new data about commissioner salaries comes at a time when, driven by a series of controversies at major programs, there’s a growing chorus about the problems of enforcing amateurism in college football, saying it may be time to rethink the system as everyone but the athletes are making big money.

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Conference commissioners such as Mike Slive , John Swofford , John Maranatto , Larry Scott and James Delaney have all tried to suggest that these maneuvers in engineering these moves are in the best interests of the collegiate sporting landscape .

With both Pitt (Panthers) and Syracuse now seeking to make the leap from the Big East to the ACC we are seeing seismic shifts in the collegiate athletics landscape . And with each college program’s intent to move there’s no denying that the statements being made by these commissioners has no veracity at all to it . There are moves adrift to lure the Texas Longhorns , Texas A & M , Oklahoma and Oklahoma State but the likelihood of that happening could very well be countered by moves made by a number of tv broadcast networks with a vested interest in seeing thing remain as they are .

From my own perspective it is my belief that things started to go downhill when ESPN sought to align itself with the Texas Longhorns their co creation of a sports network that will provide the sports programmer with exclusive content . The deal between the broadcaster and the Longhorns will net the university $300 million over the next two decades . but that by comparison is a meager sum for a athletics program that derives approximately $70 to $75 million annually in revenues . Mack Brown and the school’s AD Deloss Dodds had no hesitation in negotiating this deal to the benefit of the University of Texas . This is a harbinger of things to come within the environment of collegiate athletics but at the same time this certainly will not abate the express intent of these schools to make the leap from one college conference to another .

If the NCAA under its president Mark Emmert seems to be at a loss to show some sort resonance on this issue albeit that it is the BCS conference commissioners and university presidents who are now dictating what takes place within the NCAA’s midst. Emmert for his part has addressed one sensitive issue that deals with the payment for the student athlete while their collegiate career is in place . The push back began immediately with a number of coaches opposing the president’s initiative for no other reason than they would prefer the status quo remain in tact . As crazy as it might seem if coaches such as Jim Calhoun , Lane Kiffin , Chip Kelly and the potential allegations now surrounding Steve Spurrier of South Carolina can somehow choose to circumvent rules and not be punished directly for those violations then what does that suggest to you about the charade that is now being created as these schools see fit to act in the way that they are doing ? Not all programs are said to be malevolent but then again not all of these programs are always willing to abide by the rules . Now within the world of collegiate sports , if you’re not making money and not winning , then you’re not trying .

Courtesy of WTLX.com

I Hope We’re Not In Serious Trouble !

Columbia, SC (WLTX) – USC Coach Steve Spurrier briefly commented Tuesday on the allegations made by the NCAA against USC athletics.

He made his remarks during his weekly address to the media Tuesday afternoon at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Monday, USC President Harris Pastides received a letter outlining possible violations the NCAA believes the school made have made between 2009 and 2010. The allegations involved players staying at the Whitney Hotel in Columbia for reduced rent and the actions of the co-founders of a group called Student-Athlete Mentoring FoundationPrevious Coverage: USC Receives “Notice of Allegations” from the NCAA” .

“I hope we’re not in serious trouble,” Spurrier said. “I don’t think that we’re going to be.”

On the Whitney Hotel allegations, Spurrier said he had no knowledge this was occuring.

“Obviously, we wish we’d have known what was happening, but we didn’t,” Spurrier said.

The coach said the situation would have to play itself out over the next several months.

In 1990, when he was at Florida, Spurrier was called before the NCAA’s Infractions Committee because of the alleged actions of his predecessor, so he has been through this process before.

“I don’t think it’s embarrassing to get a letter,” Spurrier said. “I realize these kind of things can happen.”

When asked if the allegations would taint his reputation, Spurrier quickly pointed out that none of the allegations involve him.

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Spurrier is now trying to distance himself from this latest faux-pas but here’s the thing the players in question were being housed in this hotel at a reduced rate and in some cases per gratis , which contravenes NCAA rules . Something of which I know the coach and his coaching staff must have been aware of and knew that this broke the rules but somehow the blame will be apportioned elsewhere by the coach and no doubt the faculty headed by university president Harris Pastides and school AD Eric Hyman . Somehow this atypical hypocrisy and idiocy will never cease to amaze me under any circumstance ! We have come to expect this as being part and parcel of everything that is contemptible within collegiate athletics , as no one is willing to be held accountable for their actions .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have concerning what appears to disconcerting as to the Red Sox’s misfortunes ? Do you believe that they will be triumphant in obtaining the AL wildcard berth ? Also with the apparent intent of a number of collegiate programs seeking to move to another conference do you believe that the landscape of college basketball and football will be severely disrupted ? Also in light of the proposed moves do you believe that it will be of benefit to those respective sports ? Simply proffer up your thoughts on the topics raised within this article as you deem fit .

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

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Vladimir Guerrero (27) of the Baltimore Orioles knocks in Nick Markakis (21) of the Baltimore Orioles against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park September 21, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. Getty Images / Jim Rogash …….

(2) Baseball fans stand to leave Fenway Park as Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Alfredo Aceves , left, and designated hitter David Ortiz react as they linger in the dugout after they were defeated 6-4 by the Baltimore Orioles in a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011. AP Photo/Elise Amendola ….

(3) Josh Beckett (19) of the Boston Red Sox regroups as Mark Reynolds (12) of the Baltimore Orioles rounds the bases after hitting a home run at Fenway Park September 21, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images …….

(4) Nick Swisher (33) of the New York Yankees is safe at second base for an eighth inning pinch hit double ahead of the tag from Ben Zobrist (18) of the Tampa Bay Rays on September 21, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images …..

(5) Manager Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays walks to the mound to make a pitching change against the New York Yankees on September 21, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images …….

(6) Jorge Posada (20) and hitting coach Kevin Long of the New York Yankees celebrate after clinching the American League East division against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 21, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images …….

(7) The big screen at Yankee Stadium congratulates New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera after he recorded his 602nd career save as the Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins 6-4 in a baseball game on Monday, Sept. 19, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek ……

(8) New York Yankees catcher Russell Martin (55) congratulates New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera after the Yankees defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 in the first baseball game of a double header on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek ………

(9) Jorge Posada (20) of the New York Yankees pushes his teammate Mariano Rivera (42) back towards the mound after Rivera broke the career saves record in a game against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium on September 19, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Rivera recorded his 602 save . Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images …….

(10) University of Texas at Austin President William Powers Jr. , center, Women’s Athletics Director Chris Plonsky , left, and Men’s Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds, right, announce the athletics programs will continue competing in the Big 12 Conference June 15, 2010 in Austin, Texas. Getty Images North America / Eric Schlegel …..

(11) From left to right, Mack Brown, Lynn Swann , Joe Paterno and President William Powers Jr. at the May 16 dinner benefiting The Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs. @ copyrighted material all rights reserved UT Photo / Matt Hempel ……

(12) FILE – In this Sept. 10, 2011, file photo South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier talks his players during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game against Georgia in Athens, Ga. Spurrier says he follows the rules and doesn’t believe South Carolina will face serious punishment as a result of the NCAA’s allegations regarding his program. The NCAA outlined three potentially major violations in its letter of allegations sent to South Carolina on Monday, Sept. 19, 2011. AP Photo/John Amis ……..

(13) : Running back Marcus Lattimore (21) of the South Carolina Gamecocks celebrates a touchdown run against the Navy Midshipmen September 17, 2011 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. The Gamecocks defeated the Midshipmen 24-21 . Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images …..

(14) Coach Steve Spurrier of the South Carolina Gamecocks talks with coach Ken Niumatalolo of the Navy Midshipmen after play September 17, 2011 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images ……..

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MLB news

MLB Standings @ 09/20/2011

MLB wildcard standings @ 09/20/2011

MLB results 21st September 2011

Boston Red Sox news

NCAA Football

NCAA Football news

South Carolina (Gamecocks’) football

South Carolina football news

The Weekend In Sports And Other Select Observations …………

The Weekend In Sports ……… And Others Select Observations ………

Well the NBA season is all but over with merely two games left to played on the schedule for most teams . The Los Angeles Lakers are limping into the postseason as reigning champions having lost 5 straight and in reality this is a team that is in complete disarray . Anyone who believes different simply ought to look at the box-score in their lopsided ( 120-106 ) loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder .

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Slide show for your perusal .

If the Lakers are to fare well in the postseason then the team will have to be on the same page of their coach Phil Jackson and his coaching staff led by Jim Cleamons and Brian Shaw . I know that the team’s perennial All Star Kobe Bryant has come out openly and stated that he’d like to see Shaw succeed Jackson as coach of the team should he indeed retire at the culmination of the postseason. But I’m not so sure that that’d still be the case should the Lakers bow out early in the postseason , which given their performance against the Thunder is a distinct possibility . But then again it’s remiss to merely to take one game as a gauge for a team’s overall strengths and weakness. But as I mentioned earlier the Lakers have lost straight games and at no time were you under the impression that they were ever in with a chance of winning anyone of those games. But for the play of Kobe Bryant , Paul Gasol and Lamar Odom coming off the bench I’d say that one could describe the Lakers season as something of a failure when adjudged by their own lofty standards.

With that being said I’m not yet prepared to count the Los Angeles Lakers as being down and out , not while they’ve still Phil Jackson in their corner as coach ! Should he and the Lakers make a successful defense of their title then to my mind this would be his most impressive victory over the course of his storied career. I mean who else within the annals of the game has achieved his success while at the same having been denigrated by many because he was only able to coach superstars as we’ve so often been told ? These last two Finals triumphs are a testament that he can not only coach a team that plays a team but and are also willing to defer as and when needed . If the Lakers can regain their resolve then I would still favor them to come out of the Western Conference and that is with due respect to my beloved San Antonio Spurs the team with the best record in the conference and the NBA as a whole .

Sunday’s results if anything painted a clear picture as to where a number of teams now stand . Suffice to say teams seated on the bottom rung of the conference ladders , such as the Cleveland Cavaliers , Minnesota Timberwolves , Sacramento Kings , Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors can now begin to mull over their draft decision as to whether or not they ought to take Kemba Walker as the consensus overall number one pick in the upcoming NBA Draft . But oh wait we have to wait for Commissioner David Stern pick that little ball out of that revolving drum to assure us who’ll have the privilege of having that first pick.

I’ve got to admit I’ve read some idiocy in my time going around this medium but never have I read something without so much insight than a contributor’s claim that Rory McIlroy is a wasted talent merely because his final round in The Masters imploded . I suppose when you’re still young naive and have about insight on the world of golf and you do little research before writing a piece you’re entitled to come up with such absurd notions ? But then again I for one simply don’t succumb to such a notion because I feel if you’re going to make any sort of a claim then you ought to have the disposition to show both sides of the argument . If that’s the case then this particular observer has about knowledge of the game as Hall of Famer Johnny Miller whose own absurd notion that the Europeans simply aren’t capable of winning a Grand Slam title . Has Miller not simply noticed the most recent results in the Grand Slam Majors over the course of the last eighteen months , much less the fact that the US had its ass handed it by the Europeans in the Ryder Cup in 2010 ?

This tournament was as such merely heightened by the fact there was a Tiger Woods’ sighting and that he made a spirited attempt at winning the tournament which in the end would be in vain. However, the former world number one ranked golfer would end up tying for third in the first Major of the season . The eventual winner would Charl Schwartzel a staple on the European Tour and who after this win will rise up the world rankings from his present position of #11 to inside the top ten perhaps as high as number 5 . As to the contributor who should remain nameless I can only hope that he aspires to be productive in his chosen career because with regard to even have minuscule knowledge of the sport of golf even with the amount of information that there is to be gleaned this individual has merely shown that he’s completely out of his depth .

OK so what else can be said after the abrupt retirement of Manny Ramirez from the Tampa Rays’ organization ? Having tested positive for a second consecutive time for a banned substance and knowing that he’d have to face a mandatory 100 game suspension the slugger chose to retire instead. What to my mind is even more asinine is the very fact that a spokesman for the Rays’ front office states that they were completely taken aback by this and the fact that the player tested positive for a banned substance, albeit that this took place during the Rays’ Spring Training Schedule . Am I missing something here but is the coaching staff as well as the Rays’ ownership group led by senior managing partner Stuart Sternberg and GM Andrew Friedman that dumb , stupid and naive ? Never mind the fact that the league hierarchy had to have made the Rays’ front office fully aware of the test results prior to it being made public .

In the wake of this all Ramirez says he’s happy with his legacy . I’d say he’s happy alright because he’ll simply be looked at as a cheat , albeit , that his career as such would suggest otherwise having won two World Series titles with the Boston Red Sox . In the aftermath of this all the Tampa Bay Rays are left to pick up the pieces as one part of their experiment has come to a quick and unsatisfactory end . I’ve got to feel sorry for some of those Rays’ fans who’d hoped that the Rays would prove to be competitive and wherein Tropicana Field would be an enjoyable place to be. There’s now more of a chance to see a UFO sighting at the Rays’ home venue than this team seeking to be competitive at this juncture .

Unfortunately for the Rays their season started off inauspiciously having lost their first two series before eking out a much needed win (9-7) against the Chicago White Sox . The team however finds itself languishing at the bottom of the always ultra competitive AL East
and that 1-8 record simply doesn’t look at all look that enviable even if we’ve yet to exit the first month of the regular season . And the team’s efforts won’t at all be now helped with their best player Evan Longoria now being on the disabled list (DL) for what we’re told could be as long as three weeks with a strained right oblique muscle .

Can things now get much worse for the Rays ? Yes it can as they now have to face the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in a three game series where I fully expect the Red Sox’s offense will be looking to tee off on the Rays’ somewhat average pitching rotation . At the same time the Red Sox’s own pitching staff has been very susceptible this season . So it could be that the fans in attendance over the course of the next three days are liable to be thoroughly entertained .

So Football Spring Football has started and teams at the D1 level will be looking to get themselves ready for the upcoming season. From my own perspective given what took place over last season and the never ending controversy of teams , players and coaches contravening rules , I merely look at this upcoming season of one that’s about to be littered with controversy once again. I mean it’s not as if the NCAA in its sanctified much less than exalted position can do a damn thing to begin with ! I mean where have they been in the aftermath of the latest allegations concerning Auburn and the fact that several players on their teams from 2004-07 were recruited , induced through monetary gain, through having sex on campus with female co-eds as well as strippers ? And who can forget the debacle of Ohio State and in particular the actions of Buckeys’ football coach Jim Tressel ? Needless to say that Buckeye and Tigers’ fans will try and reassure us that this is merely regrettable and that they’re not the only ones doing this . And while I’m inclined to agree at the same time I’ll state this ………… it’s against the fu_king rules so why go down that route to begin with ?

In the SEC (Southeastern Conference) where they can boast national champions consecutively for the last six years . One can simply understand the reason why the SEC is deemed to be the powerhouse it is at the collegiate level in terms of BCS national title aspirations.

I read with a great deal of interest where South Carolina Gamecocks’ quarterback Stephen Garcia has one again ran afoul of his coaching staff as well as the school as a whole . To understand the problems of Garcia you simply have to know this , he simply attracts trouble like flies tend to hover around fecal matter because of the aroma and because they can feast off whatever there tends to be in the vicinity. With Garcia it’s no different !

The fact that he’s merely been suspended indefinitely , at first that wasn’t the case , though it has to be said at it still creates the impression that Steve Spurrier still believes that the player has something to offer the team . Whatever it is , I wouldn’t consider it to be his football talent or acumen in spite of how impressive his stats may well be. Why have a malcontent and disruptive influence on the team which usually in the long run leads to even more problems ? As has been the case here with Stephen Garcia , his never ending transgression of team rules and having ran afoul of the law enforcement on repeated occasions .

Courtesy of USA Today

Another suspension for South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia

By Erick Smith , USA Today

The future of South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia is in doubt after the rising senior was suspended from the team indefinitely.

It’s the fifth time in Garcia’s career he has been suspended and the second time this spring. The school did not specify the reason for the decision. The Gamecocks play their annual spring game on Saturday.

“We have expectations for our student-athletes and we make them aware that there are consequences for their actions,” athletic director Eric Hyman said in a statement released by the school. “Stephen has exhibited behavior that is unacceptable for one of our student-athletes.”

The loss of Garcia, who threw for 3,059 yards and 20 touchdowns in 14 starts, would be a blow to South Carolina, which won the SEC East for the first time in 2010. He was expected to lead an offense that also features running back Marcus Lattimore and wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey.

That responsibility would likely fall to rising sophomore Connor Shaw, who was Garcia’s backup last fall.

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Click on link shown to read this article in its entirety .

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And with regard to the Gamecocks competing this upcoming season within the SEC I’m liable to think that they’ll struggle but at the same time eke out the wins they’re expected over the course of their regular season schedule . In place of Garcia , Spurrier will have at his disposal qb’s Dylan Thompson , Andrew Clifford , Connor Shaw and Seth Strickland . I’ve no doubt that the coach and his coaching staff will assess the strengths and weaknesses of each of the likely candidates before coming to a decision as to who’ll be the like starter in the Gamecocks’ first game of the season against East Carolina on the 3rd September , 2011. Garcia on the other hand will now have time reassess his future and determine whether or not it lies within being a student athlete or simply a thug , because of now he’s simply been a disappointment to those around him who expected a great deal more of him as a player as well a leader and human being .

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Picture galley for your perusal .

What sporting events or news if any over the past weekend piqued your interest and what if anything are you hoping to see during the NBA playoffs and the month of April as it relates to the baseball season ? Simply chime in with your thoughts on the matter .

Alan aka tophatal ……………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com/

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Andrew Bynum (17) of the Los Angeles Lakers defends James Harden (13)3 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first half at Staples Center on April 10, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Thunder defeated the Lakers 120-106 Getty Images / Jeff Gross …….

(2) Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks draws up a play for his team during a timeout in the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on April 10, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Thunder defeated the Lakers 120-106 . Getty Images/ Jeff Gross ……

(3) Kobe Bryant (24) of the Los Angeles Lakers argues a foul call in the second half against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center on April 10, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Thunder defeated the Lakers 120-106. Jeff Gross / Getty Images …..

(4) Kevin Durant (35) of the Oklahoma City Thunder rebounds a ball over Kobe Bryant(24) of the Los Angeles Lakers in the first half at Staples Center on April 10, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Thunder defeated the Lakers 120-106. Jeff Gross / Getty Images ………

(5) Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jeff Niemann , right, adjusts his cap as he listens to catcher Kelly Shoppach during the third inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox in Chicago, Sunday, April 10, 2011. AP Photo /Nam Y Yuh ……

(6) Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) tags out Chicago White Sox’s Juan Pierre during the second inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Sunday, April 10, 2011. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh ……

(7) The Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon shakes hands with Manny Ramirez (24) of the Tampa Bay Rays as Johnny Damon (22) of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on during a press conference at Tropicana Field on February 1, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Ramirez announced his retirement over the weekend rather than face a league mandated 100 game suspension having tested positive for a illicit banned substance for the second consecutive time over the course of his career. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……….

(8) Charl Schwartzel of South Africa celebrates his two-stroke victory with his wife Rosalind behind the 18th green during the final round of the 2011 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia. AFP Photo/Getty Images/ Robyn Beck …..

(9) Last year’s champion Phil Mickelson (left) puts the Green Jacket on Charl Schwartzel from South Africa after Schwartzel wins the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia.
AFP Photo/ Getty Images /Robyn Beck …….

(10) Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks off the 18th hole green after finishing the final round with a final score of four under par at the 2011 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club April 10, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK

(11) South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw (14) looks for receivers during South Carolina’s Garnet and Black spring NCAA college football game Saturday, April 9, 2011, in Columbia, S.C. AP Photo/The State, Tracy Glantz ………..

(12) In this Dec. 29, 2010, file photo, South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia throws a pass during practice for the Chick-fil-A Bowl NCAA college football game against Florida State in Atlanta. Garcia has been indefinitely suspended from the football program. Athletic Director Eric Hyman announced the suspension Wednesday, (6th April) but did not give a reason. AP Photo/David Goldman …….

(13) Head coach Steve Spurrier of the South Carolina Gamecocks walks to congratulate quarterback Stephen Garcia (5) for his passing touchdown against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama. Getty Images North America / Kevin Cox …….

(14) Coach Steve Spurrier of the South Carolina Gamecocks lines up with players after play against the Alabama Crimson Tide October 9, 2010 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. Getty Images/ Al Messerschmidt …….

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R Kelly ………………… “Ignition”

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Kirk Ferentz Come On Down The Price Is Right ……………….

Kirk Ferentz Come On Down The Price Is Right ……….

Should the Washington Redskins come to a decision as to the fate of Jim Zorn . Then it’s my belief that owner Daniel Snyder and Executive VP Vinny Cerrato might make the decision to hire a college coach . OK, so there are those amongst us who are of the opinion that the Redskins should go with a proven NFL coach with credentials that can back up the aspirations of both Snyder and the Redskins’ organization.

Iowa (Hawkeyes)  coach  Kirk  Ferentz,  left, stands  alongside   Michigan  State  coach  Mark  D'Antonio  prior  to  the   game  between their  two   teams   played   in   East Lansing,  Michigan.     The   Hawkeyes   would  go  on  to defeat  the  Spartans  15-13  to   remain   unbeaten  in  the   Big  Ten  as  they   sit  atop  of  the  standings  within  the  conference.   The  Hawkeyes   are  also    ranked  #4  in  the BCS Poll  standings.  And  they  are   one   of the   seven   ubeaten  teams  within  the   top   ten  of the  BCS   rankings  at  present.   picture  appears  courtesy  of   ap/photo/  Al  Goldis   .........................
Iowa (Hawkeyes) coach Kirk Ferentz, left, stands alongside Michigan State coach Mark D'Antonio prior to the game between their two teams played in East Lansing, Michigan. The Hawkeyes would go on to defeat the Spartans 15-13 to remain unbeaten in the Big Ten as they sit atop of the standings within the conference. The Hawkeyes are also ranked #4 in the BCS Poll standings. And they are one of the seven ubeaten teams within the top ten of the BCS rankings at present. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Al Goldis .........................

The candidates out there that comes to mind are Jon Gruden , Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy, Mike Shanahan and Herm Edwards. OK, so the last candidate was just meant to pull your leg. In all honesty hiring Herm Edwards is akin to having a fetish for seeing your mother-in-law naked or perhaps your grandmother ? But that’s a story for another day. I do believe however , that of the four primary candidates named , none would prove willing to coach the Redskins under the presence of an owner such as Daniel Snyder. Cerrato, would have you believe that neither he , or Snyder, tend to interfere in the day to day operations of the organization as it concerns the team’s on the field performance. Well, if the recent actions that we’ve seen within the organization is anything to go by. Then there’s no way, one can take them at their word.

Beleaguered   Redskins'   coach  Jim  Zorn    on the  sidelines   against the Kansas  City  Chiefs   in  an  NFL  game   played  at   Fedex  Field  in  Landover  , Maryland.    The  Chiefs  would   go  on  to  defeat  the  Redskins  in  an  utterly   deplorable   NFL  game.  It   has  only  ratcheted    up  the  anger   for  Zorn  to be   dismissed  as  the  team's  coach.   Zorn   has  been   relieved   as  the  play  caller   for  the  team's   onfield    strategic   play.   Those  duties  are   now   in the  hands  of   special   consultant   Sherm  Lewis.     An  indictment    of  the  deplorable  season  thus   far  for   the  team  and   its   fans.     ap/photo/  Nick  Wass   ...........................
Beleaguered Redskins' coach Jim Zorn on the sidelines against the Kansas City Chiefs in an NFL game played at Fedex Field in Landover , Maryland. The Chiefs would go on to defeat the Redskins in an utterly deplorable NFL game. It has only ratcheted up the anger for Zorn to be dismissed as the team's coach. Zorn has been relieved as the play caller for the team's onfield strategic play. Those duties are now in the hands of special consultant Sherm Lewis. An indictment of the deplorable season thus far for the team and its fans. ap/photo/ Nick Wass ...........................

The candidate I’d like to see take over the soon to be vacant position would be Iowa‘s, Kirk Ferentz . A college coach you say ? Well , if there are no worthwhile candidates within the NFL ranks . Then why not revert to the college ranks and pick a coach with a proven resume’ of success ? Other than Pete Carroll , Urban Meyer , Bob Stoops , Jim Tressel , Mike Leach and Les Miles . There might not be a better coach in all of collegiate football. As to whether or not, Ferentz would be amenable to taking the next step to the professional ranks. Well, that remains to be seen but it’s the logical step for a coach whose proven to be a very good one at the college level. My only reservation however , would be his willingness to have Cerrato and Snyder hovering over him. Much like a flock of vultures hovers over the carcass of a dying animal. And as we know Snyder, is known for making somewhat of a big splash, both on and off the field. Other than the Dallas Cowboys Jerry Jones , perhaps no other owner in the NFL epitomizes greed and excess as much !

The return of Joe Gibbs was greeted with a great roar of approval and the hope was that Gibbs would be able to revive the era of successes past, for the franchise. Alas , it was not to be. Gibbs’ predecessor , Steve Spurrier proved to be a complete bust and to further point out the fact that he was best served by remaining within the college ranks as a coach. The ol’ ball coach’s style didn’t acclimatize well in the NFL. Much like his narcissism and attitude ,when it came to communicating with the players in the NFL. If ever there’s been a low point of Spurrier’s coaching career, then his stay with the Redskins proved that the NFL wasn’t the place for him to be .

Team  Exec VP Vinny  Cerrato  (left)  seen  here  alongside  coach,  Jim  Zorn  (center)  and    the  Redskins'   owner    Daniel  Snyder   (right).     The  formal  introduction  was   being   made    as  to the  announcement   that  Zorn  was  to become  the  team's   new  head  coach   at  the   team's   training   facility  in   Ashburn  ,  Va.    That   formal   announcement   was   made   10th February  2008.     picture  appears   courtesy  of    united press  international (upi)/  Kevin  Dietsch   .............................
Team Exec VP Vinny Cerrato (left) seen here alongside coach, Jim Zorn (center) and the Redskins' owner Daniel Snyder (right). The formal introduction was being made as to the announcement that Zorn was to become the team's new head coach at the team's training facility in Ashburn , Va. That formal announcement was made 10th February 2008. picture appears courtesy of united press international (upi)/ Kevin Dietsch .............................

One can only surmise now what awaits Zorn and the Redskins as the remainder of the season plays itself out. Of this we’re certain, we know that something is already
stirring within the organization. The death knell as to the hierarchy’s vocal backing of the coach with the usual perfunctory statement…..’Zorn remains our coach for the moment until the end of the season.’ Et tu Brutus ? Now we know why Caesar couldn’t trust anyone. And that’s simply the same reason that an NFL GM can’t be trusted when they make such a statement to begin with ! We all know the fate that awaits a coach , when such a statement is made. Just like a death row inmate knows his fate when he’s being led to the death chamber , it’s the same for Jim Zorn at this present moment in time. Cerrato , and the organization are saying the right things in order to create the impression that there’s unity within the Redskins’ organization. Unfortunately nothing could be further from the truth. The players on this Redskins’ team just doesn’t know what’s happening from one day to the next. Too many chefs in the kitchen ,not enough help and common sense at all.

Ferentz , I do believe might be reluctant to leave the program. But if the right set of circumstances are in motion , then there’s the possibility that he’d make the decision to make that jump to the next level. But this is merely just speculation on my part and nothing more than that. So, for now we can only take the attitude of ‘wait and see ‘ as to how the situation plays itself out.

Which candidates could you see taking the soon to be vacant position with the Washington Redskins ?