Friday, February 29, 2008

Jags sign Porter to big deal

The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed WR Jerry Porter, formally of the Oakland Raiders, to a six year, $30 million contract. Porter will play alongside Troy Williamson who was added through a trade with Minnesota. Neither of these players have had significant production over the past two seasons, but that isn't reason enough to discount their potential impact. When you've been catching balls from Jamarcus Russell and Tarvaris Jackson your numbers are bound to be less than stellar. Still, this makes you wonder if Jacksonville has given up on the much rumored notion of handing Randy Moss a gigantic contract. I think we'd all sleep a lot better if Randy Moss stays the heck away from the AFC South.

In other news, the Patriots defensive backfield got much weaker today. The Eagles have signed Asante Samuel to a six year deal which will no doubt be worth an enormous amount of money. I know the media has been ripping this guy for dropping that "sure pick" late in the Super Bowl, but I think it is a huge mistake to downplay Samuel's impact. He has been excellent the past few seasons. He forced your offense to gameplan around him, which is somewhat unusual in this day and age. Will his loss be a death blow to the Pats D? No, but it isn't going to help any. I like their front 3 very much, but that's about it now that Samuel is gone.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Why I love the Colts

Enough said.

Links: Here's yet another story about how Tony Dungy is set to headline EA Sports' NFL Head Coach '09. I hope they've improved this game because I heard the prior version sucked pretty hard.

The Colts gear up for the start of free agency tomorrow.

Bill Simmons and the citizens of Seattle warn sports fans everywhere that It Could Happen to You. I feel for Seattle greatly. Especially after reading these fan letters. I read Howard Schultz's book about how he turned Starbucks into a global phenomenon. Somehow I don't recall "screw over the entire city of Seattle" being one of his steps to success. Let this be a lesson to you: David Stern won't stop until he's turned every last professional basketball fan into a diehard NFL fan. My own moment came in the 2004 Eastern Conference finals against the Pistons when Stern oversaw some of the worst officiating in the history of athletics. No compound fracture, no foul.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Colts cut Morris and McFarland

The Indianapolis Colts have released LB Rob Morris and DT Booger McFarland. Both players suffered serious knee injuries in 2007 and were released today after failing their physicals.

DZ comments: That's too bad, but not unexpected. I figured Morris was done. I sort of hoped against hope that Booger could come back and be productive, but it wasn't meant to be. Now's a good time to go back and remember all that Morris meant to the Colts. As for Booger, just go back and watch the KC playoff game.

Here's a good piece by Mike Sando full of Bill Polian explaining why it's better to pick late in the first round. Yeah, he really has had an unfair advantage drafting after 30 other teams for most of the decade. Lucky bastard.

Gratuitous, but largely funny.

Holy crap. #17 is the worst and best thing I've ever seen. I remember hearing about this, but I don't think I've ever seen the whole thing.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dungy and FO

Due to his new gig as coverboy for Head Coach 09 (09! What three year old is numbering these games?), Tony Dungy gets interviewed by Bill Barnwell of the footballoutsiders in IGN. There's not a whole lot of new info here, but it's a nice piece.

Floyd Reese, yes the same Floyd Reese who said the Colts were taking a risk by cutting Corey Simon, calls Bill Polian one of his favorite talent evaluators.

Baseball season can't get here soon enough.

Demond Sanders: Derek Schultz of XL950 covers the coaches in the hunt for the Indiana basketball job. Good stuff.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday Morning Combine

I hate the combine and Peter King is sort of annoying, but I'll link him up anyway. He said a few things that interested me:
1. He claims the Rams will push to have the outcome of the Super Bowl overturned if Matt Walsh has the goods. Yeah, right, Peter. Cute story. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.
2. He quotes Polian as saying the draft is deep at RB. I could seriously be ok with drafting a RB in the second round. A solid two back system is the way to go. Still, I doubt the pick will come that early unless they are really in love with a guy.
3. He says nice things about downtown Indy, so he gets props for that.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Back to football

With all the depressing crap happening with IU basketball, let's go back to something cheery, huh? Making fun of the Patriots. I got this email from Sam Daughtery of the USAF

Below is a perfect example of why I despise the Pats. It is a response to an e-mail I sent to a friend that had some funny photoshop pictures of why it's great that they lost.

"This sh** might be funny down there in Tennessee, but up here in New England, where our first sexual encounter is with someone other than our sister, this is not funny! Tom Brady already has more Championships that both mongoloid brothers combined. And I would make a bet he finishes with twice as many as the Manning queers! This e-mail has made me so mad I can't even see straight right now. That horse tooth jackas$%#% in Indy has been in the league longer than Brady and he only has one ring even though he's had all world type receivers for years! Talk about being an underachiever who takes up 20% of Indy's cap space.......nothing but a horse tooth jackas#$%# who flaps his wings and lips at the line of scrimmage. That's all I've got to say about that."

Here was my response: "That's exactly the kind of response I expected to get from most of the holier-than-thou types that live north of the Mason-Dixon line. If it wasn't for the constant (let's shove it in everyone face) attitude, they wouldn't have to endure these types of e-mails.

This has been the first true test of New England fans and so far they have failed miserably. They are just as sore losers as they are sore winners. I would have no problem rooting for a team like the Pats if it were not for their horrible fans.

What surprises me about this person is with all that superior vocabulary & northern education, they couldn't do get their point a crossed without name calling & cheap shots. This e-mail makes me glad that I'm a Southern gentleman.

Right on man. Right on. This was nice compared with some of the emails we've gotten. Here's the pics that caused the problem in the first place. . .

That one is my personal favorite:

Friday, February 22, 2008

Sampson out

Kelvin Sampson is out as head coach at Indiana University. Here are my initial thoughts:

1.) How did a 2 pm press conference turn into a 9 pm press conference? This just seemed like a microcosm of the way the entire situation has been handled from the day it was announced that Mike Davis would resign.

2.) I have zero confidence in Rick Greenspan's ability to hire the right coach for Indiana. He picked a winning coach in Kelvin Sampson. But it turns out that winning now isn't as important as building a foundation for a great program.

3.) If he manages keeps his own job, Greenspan needs to hire a brilliant young coach who is looking for a place to spend the next 20 years winning championships. DZ likes Scott Drew because of his connections with Butler and Valpo. He turned around Baylor which is nothing short of amazing. I'm looking for someone a little more proven like Tony Bennett of Washington State or Brad Brownell of Wright State. I don't think they need to try to hit a home run with a big name like Thad Matta or John Calipari or Mark Few. They can't afford those guys anyway. Get a basketball mind who is savvy enough to carve his own legacy at Indiana.

4.) Don't, under any circumstance, hire interim coach Dan Dakich. Interim coaches are a bad idea. They weren't your first choice for a reason. Were talking about a guy who never went to the NCAA tournament in 10 years at Bowling Green. If he wants to be the next coach he better win it all this March.

5.) Indiana doesn't need a Knight protege to succeed. Actually, that's one of the things I think Greenspan got right with Sampson. Just get a great coach. Why limit yourself to a handful guys with spotty coaching records?

6.) I feel bad for DJ White. His career has unluckily coincided with some of the worst moments in IU basketball history. Karma owes this kid a banner.

7.) Was there ever a better time to look at your schedule and see 0-13 Northwestern?

8.) I think it's great that Greenspan went out of his way to not refer to Purdue by name, instead calling it that "other team."

9.) I know kids tend to come to a school for the coach, but these kids would be crazy to transfer. Okay it's hard to say this with a straight face given how well Robert Vaden is playing at UAB. Hoosier fans are in for yet another rough year or two. I hope, as Mike Davis would say, help is on the way.

10.) I thought it was interesting that the lawyer seemed to think that IU's self imposed sanctions would still be sufficient. Sounds like wishful thinking, but I hope she's right.

11.) I really don't feel that bad about this situation. Maybe it's because they just made Purdue look average the other night, but I'm not too broken up. I liked Kelvin Sampson and I wish him the best, but I think Indiana will be fine. If this was another school it might be a death knell, but the fans care too much in Indiana and that's why the program will be back. Just pick the right guy this time. Please.

12.) I'll agree with Bob Kravitz on one point. Indiana University needs to seriously rethink it's leadership hierarchy. Can we get somebody that knows what the hell he is doing down there?

Related Links: Dan Wetzel of Yahoo says the players need to get behind Dakich and fast.

SI has a rumor that Indiana might be interested in Randy Wittman. Blech. Recruiting is such a huge part of the game. I don't think you can take a chance on an NBA guy who has never done a day of recruiting in his life.

Seth Davis thinks Indiana is still a top five job. Would someone please treat it that way?

Greenspan screwed the whole thing up as badly as possible. There is no way to justify leaving him in that job. The best news is that a new AD will likely give Bill Lynch a short rope. Thank God for small favors.

Kelvin-wan Kenobi - Jedi Master

When I floated this theory to Demond yesterday, he made a "wewhoo wehooo" sound and said it was the nerd alert klaxon. I found this troubling since just Tuesday he excitedly called me to let me know that he had purchased Mighty Muggs for both us (no, it's not weird for guys around 30 to play with vinyl dolls. Not weird at all). Still, I'm ignoring his advice because I think this theory is sound:

With Kelvin Sampson slated to hear his fate later today (I'm betting on a suspension until the hearing and then he'll be fired), I wondered what kind of effect his dismissal will have on Hoosiers in terms of basketball for the rest of this year. There are basically three possibilities:

1. Kelvin Sampson is Qui Gon Ginn

This means that when the trusted mentor departs, the protégé goes totally nuts. His presence still lingers, but not in any meaningful way. Faintly, in the distance, we'll swear we hear his voice screaming, "Jordan! JORDAN! NOOOOOO!", as Crawford careens down court at full speed and takes an ill advised jumper in a 1 on 3 situation. This is the most likely scenario. If the Hoosiers let Sampson go, it's likely this team will jump the rails. He has a strong connection to these kids, but they will all be playing out the string before they can graduate, transfer or join the Association. This will lead to disaster.

#2. Kelvin Sampson is Count Dooku

This is a scary scenario. Sampson could try to convince his players that IU is evil and lead them down a dark path. He could try and sink the season out of a need for vengeance against the administration. The players could angrily go about their business and things could get real dark, real fast. I'm going to assume that Kelvin Sampson is an idealist and that this kind of program assassination is not in his nature. I hope I haven't underestimated him.

#3. Kelvin Sampson is Obi-wan Kenobi

Strike him down and he becomes more powerful than you ever imagined. The odds are long, but what a story it would be. If somehow, despite his suspension, Sampson manages to encourage and inspire his young men to rise above the controversy and hit a one in a million run all the way to the NCAA title. It might be his only chance to survive the findings of the NCAA hearing. Just as Eric Gordon rises up to take the game winning three in the tourney, he hears Kelvins voice reminding him to find the open man. He changes his mind, whips the ball to DJ White cutting to the rim for a dunk, and they hang medals around the necks of the Hoosiers.

Remember Kelvin will be with you. . . always.

Demond Sanders: What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent post were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone on this blog is now dumber for having listened to it. May God have mercy on your soul.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ugliest One Year-Old Ever

I've never been fan of first birthday parties, but women really seem to dig them, so in honor of our many female fans (let's see...there's Coltsgirl wife sometimes reads...and, ah...), we are going celebrate our first birthday anyway. One year ago, 18to88 got off to this rather inauspicious start. Since then we've posted 625 more times and our 6 readers proceeded to click on us 65,000 times. Thanks mom, BobM, and JC!

I want to give special thanks to Demond who wrote me one day last year to say, "We're doing a blog. It's called Start posting." And with precisely that level of thought and care we've proceeded ever since.

I'm going to celebrate by smearing cake all over my face.

Robert Vaden needs only to get drafted by the Pacers to become one of my favorite athletes ever. Playing at Pike and hitting a game winning three in the NCAA tournament for IU gets you part of the way there.

I griped most of last year about how I'm not a draft/combine guy. This list from SI is one of the reasons why. You just never know about any of these guys until they put on the pads and start hitting. One quibble...I wouldn't list Vince Young as evidence the Wonderlic is irrelevant just quite yet.

This is a fairly creepy article. I'm dying to hear what Sheffield has to say. I never thought I'd utter those words.
Thanks Coltsgirl.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Colts franchise Clark

Well, we knew it was coming: The Colts slapped the franchise tag on Dallas Clark. The price is totally reasonable <5 Million a year. If anyone wants to sign him, they give up 2 first round picks. I think we'd all do a little dance if that happened.

We've been critical of Dallas, but this is pretty clearly the right move. They can use him for one more year, and then wait until they have a first round pick in 09 to draft his replacement. The team might still negotiate a long term deal to lower the cap number, but it's not mission critical.

UPDATE: Ok, so I'm not sure what I think of this, but the Colts have now reupped Clark for 6 years. For his sake, I hope he doesn't drop the pen as he goes to sign the deal.

And the Two Shall Become One..

Demond Sanders and Deshawn Zombie kill time talking about racing...

DS: they finally reached a deal on the merger

DZ (3:18:37 PM): oh great

DZ (3:18:42 PM): about time

DS (3:18:45 PM): I'm not sure it matters much since it’s basically a bankrupt series

DZ (3:18:54 PM): Champ you mean?

DZ (3:19:15 PM): People can dog Tony George all they want,

DZ (3:19:22 PM): but the CART guys were morons

DZ (3:19:30 PM): who clearly didn't understand the market

DZ (3:19:38 PM): to think they could survive without the 500

DS (3:19:47 PM): yeah i guess that’s true

DZ (3:19:48 PM): they should have done what ever TG wanted

DZ (3:20:10 PM): TG's vision for the sport was better than theirs, he had all the leverage

DZ (3:20:26 PM): and they tried to go it alone

DZ (3:20:31 PM): it was a dumb

DZ (3:20:38 PM): TG's still rich

DZ (3:20:45 PM): so who was smart and who was stupid?

DZ (3:21:02 PM): BTW: I didn't realize that Ryan Newman is a Hoosier

DZ (3:21:06 PM): Hoosiers rule

DS (3:21:07 PM): he's not

DZ (3:21:10 PM): he is

DS (3:21:12 PM): he's a boilermaker - puke

DZ (3:21:16 PM): lol

DS (3:21:19 PM): not

DS (3:21:20 PM): the

DS (3:21:21 PM): same

DS (3:21:22 PM): thing

DZ (3:21:24 PM): he is a native, I mean

DS (3:21:27 PM): south bender i believe

DZ (3:21:30 PM): yeah, his mom still lives there

DZ (3:21:48 PM): my point is for ‘screwing the South purposes’

DZ (3:21:51 PM): he's a Hoosier

DS (3:21:58 PM): he seems like a Purdue grad - bo-ring

DS (3:22:05 PM): yeah he and tony Stewart were dueling

DS (3:22:08 PM): so that was cool

DS (3:23:26 PM): tony should probably have kept some non-ovals to start with

DS (3:23:34 PM): he ended up having to add some anyway

DZ (3:23:45 PM): sure, but in principle he was right

DZ (3:24:00 PM): nascar took over, and I promise you that it wouldn't have if it was mostly road races

DZ (3:24:12 PM): road racing is nice once in awhile

DS (3:24:16 PM): yeah

DZ (3:24:19 PM): but it's mostly boring

DS (3:24:22 PM): right

DS (3:24:33 PM): its appeals to a completely different sensibility

DZ (3:24:45 PM): an effeminate Eurotrash sensibility

DS (3:24:56 PM): people that like to see the cars accelerate and brake a lot

DS (3:24:59 PM): but it is boring

DZ (3:25:09 PM): it's ok, as long as there are places you can pass

DZ (3:25:23 PM): but on most courses in F1 there is NO PASSING

DZ (3:25:30 PM): where you qualify is where you finish

DZ (3:25:33 PM): it's insane

DS (3:25:37 PM): yeah and they didn't like Indy because of the straight away

DZ (3:25:55 PM): right, and you actually could get by somebody

DS (3:26:27 PM): he's getting Paul Tracey and who else?

DZ (3:26:40 PM): clarity in the market place

DS (3:26:44 PM): there's like one other guy cause Bordeiax went to F1

DS (3:26:49 PM): yeah

DS (3:28:04 PM): graham Rahal

DZ (3:28:05 PM): I can hear the Japanese guys now...

DZ (3:28:08 PM): cancel?

DZ (3:28:13 PM): you want to cancel?

DS (3:28:25 PM): although he's destined to for F1 I've heard


DS (3:29:10 PM): and BRUNO JUNQUIERA's coming back!

DZ (3:29:18 PM): nice

DZ (3:29:55 PM): hopefully, they'll start making inroads on Nascar

DZ (3:29:59 PM): they have the better product

DZ (3:30:04 PM): Nascar is unwatchable

DZ (3:30:14 PM): it's slow

DZ (3:30:19 PM): too may cars

DZ (3:30:27 PM): too many races

DS (3:30:38 PM): i know

DS (3:30:48 PM): they'll be like "THEY'RE GOING FOUR WIDE"

DS (3:30:57 PM): and I’ll be like where? I just see a giant mass of cars


DS (3:31:08 PM): right


DZ (3:31:35 PM): You watch Indy cars and you can't help but think...

DZ (3:31:43 PM): somebody is going home in a body bag today

DZ (3:31:52 PM): now that's a thrill you can sell!

DS (3:31:58 PM): totally

DS (3:32:14 PM): yeah how lame much Dario Franchitti feel?

DS (3:32:34 PM): he goes from world class badass to 35th place finisher!

DZ (3:32:53 PM): something tells me he was doing ok by bed time

DS (3:32:58 PM): well sure

DS (3:33:20 PM): but it’s just so anti-climactic, no pun intended

DS (3:33:34 PM): you win the biggest race in the world

DS (3:33:46 PM): and then you are a nobody with a terrible car

DZ (3:33:57 PM): but with a bag of cash

DS (3:34:11 PM): I’m sure he, as a little boy growing up in Glasgow, thought “I'm going to race in the Daytona 500 some day!”

DS (3:34:27 PM): it’s such a marketing ploy, the whole race

DZ (3:34:47 PM): I don't get it entirely, because they run like half a dozen races on that track

DZ (3:34:55 PM): so who cares?

DS (3:34:50 PM): it was never the biggest race until like 10 years ago

DS (3:35:04 PM): now suddenly it’s the great American race

DZ (3:35:49 PM): half the drivers in it would rather win the Brickyard if given the choice

DS (3:35:49 PM): it’s freaking February and they'll be running until September

DZ (3:35:55 PM): We can only hope this merger can do something about it

What is John Clayton talking about?

In his recent article about the best drafters in the NFL, John Clayton swallows the Patriots cool-aid. He lists Bill Polian and the Colts staff as being the second best talent evaluators in the NFL draft. He inexplicably put the Patriots staff as the best. There is simply no justification for the Pats even being in the top five. They are a great organization and a great team. They did not get that way by drafting well. In their last draft, only their first two picks made the team. They have repeatedly made it to the top by signing key free agents. Just two years ago, they whiffed on their first round pick by drafting Marooney over Joe Addai. There is no one in football that would make that mistake today. Clayton admits the Pats have the fewest of their own draft picks on their roster than any of the other listed teams (The Colts on the other hand had just 3 players on their roster last year who had played with other teams). Basically, the usually excellent Clayton is saying, "There's no evidence that they draft all that well...but they went 18-1 so they must be the best". Their DRAFT record simply doesn't match up with the other teams on this list. They may have a great front office, but that isn't what this piece is ranking. You can argue that they have a better strategy for team building or cap managment if you like. You can say they have the best organization in football if that's the way you swing.

You cannot say they are the best drafting team. It isn't true. Not by a long shot.

Also: Jacob sends us this link to describe how we all feel in late February.
Polian says all the big names will be fine for opening day...

Fountain of Youth

The Patriots have responded! Amid growing concerns that their defense was getting old and slow, especially at the linebacker position, the Pats have answered the bell by going after a younger free agent linebacker. The AFC trembles at the thought of the Pats getting younger and faster at the crucial position. What is this looming signing that will reduce the average age of the NE LB corps...?

Zach Thomas

The only thing funnier than the Pats potentially signing Thomas (who Manning calls the smartest defensive player he's played against), is the fact that at 34 he's actually younger than 2 of the 3 LBs the Pats have. This spring chicken is at least older than the baby of the group, Adalius Thomas who is 30. Given the Pats track record for signing guys the Dolphins are done with, this might actually work out for them. That won't stop me from making fun of it anyway.

Zach Thomas will be visiting other teams as well.

Demond Sanders: I'd be laughing and mocking a bit more, but amazingly the Patriots' Defense was its strongest unit in the final two games of the playoffs. Granted, Asante Samuel and the D line mask a lot of their weaknesses. We all really hoped that their ancient LBs would blow it for them two years in a row. But there's always next season. And they'll all be a year older.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Repeating the obvious

Cold Hard Football Facts prints a look at the most oft injured teams in football today. Their methodology in creating the list is fairly poor. For instance, they don't count games missed by backups for injured starters. This knocks the Colts down a peg (they still had the second most injuries on the list), because Indy had scores of games lost to not only first stringers but second stringers as well (Hagler, Moorehead, Dante Hughes just off the top of my head). They tossed in a little crack about the playoffs as well.

The 2007 Colts were a classic example of a year that was just not meant to be. They lost four games in 2007. All were to winning teams with margins of 4, 3, 6, and 3 points. The thing about teams with a great QB and a great coach is that they can fool you by beating lesser teams without all their players. But the margin between winning and losing is minuscule in the NFL. When you come up against elite teams you need players to be healthy and more importantly, the RIGHT players to be healthy (Of course, this didn't stop Billy Volek and his rag-tag band of wannabes from putzing their way down the field for the game winning TD in the playoffs). Ultimately, the 07 Colts weren't deep enough (especially at DE) to win it all. I don't know that that is anyone's fault; few teams are deep enough to endure this level of turnover in the roster AND this quantity of injuries. It's amazing to look at that list and note how horrible most of the teams on it were.

This offseason can't pass fast enough. Next year's team could very well be something truly special.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

What really happened?

Conflicting reports are already mounting around last night's Indiana MSU game. As for the game itself, the Hoosiers, particularly Eric Gordon rallied hard and put together a tremendous performance despite losing DJ White (who was the only one keeping them in it early). I'm happy for these kids, who are a very easy group to root for. Because of them, I'm hoping IU doesn't impose a postseason ban. These kids did nothing wrong and deserve to have their shot at glory. As far as basketball goes, we are all hoping the best for DJ White. Not just for this season, but really for the rest of his career. This kid really deserves a shot at the big time, and it would be sad to see that not happen.

As for circus surrounding the game, I could have done without Dick Vitale three separate times launching into insane rants against IU for how they treated Bob Knight. It's fine to set up the game by talking about the scandal, but he went back to it every 2 minutes, often ignoring the game itself for minutes at a time. It was disgusting. Erin Andrews was classless in asking Sampson scandal related questions at her half-time walk off interview. That's stupid, honey. Go learn some class. She did contribute a GUTLESS quote by AD Greenspan, who tried to buck pass the hiring of Sampson. He needs to go just for that spineless quote. On the plus side, it was awesome to catch a shot of Bill Polian at game.

The media at large doesn't seem to know what to make of the crowd. Bob Kravitz praised them for being hard on Sampson, and ESPN ran an incessant string of video clips showing fan outrage. Then inexplicably, Gary Parrish of KILLED the IU faithful for supporting Sampson. Apparently, at some point the crowd did the Kelvin-Samp-son cheer. This must have been after the game, because I never heard it during. He got no reception whatsoever before the game started. During the final seconds, I heard the crowd chanting DJ White's name. At any rate, I hardly think that one fan cheer after the game (where IU beat a top 10 team by nearly 20), is quite the same thing as the front running support that Parrish accused them of. To hear him tell it, you'd think that IU fans were clamoring to keep Sampson. Quite the opposite is true. Demond's bitterness at the pro-Knight fans that still love that coach first and the University not at all notwithstanding, I still hold to my opinion that I stated yesterday: people are furious and want Sampson gone.

Demond Sanders: I've been thinking hard on this one and reading the message boards over at I think there is definitely a mixed reaction to the scandal. Everyone realizes that Sampson is on his way out for the good of the program. So I don't think anyone is trying to lobby to save his job. It's a matter of whether they choose to support him and his team while he remains the coach or scream expletives at him.

There is a sizeable contingent of (especially younger) Hoosier fans who appreciate that he landed Eric Gordon and got the team back in the running for a title. They feel sorry for him because he's such an idiot and ruined his promising career. This is the group I would have fallen into.

I think that's what you heard from some of the students chanting his name at the end of the game. I don't think they were begging for him to be spared or in any way condoning his actions. They may have been saying thank you, we're sorry you screwed it up, and good luck.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Culture Shock

It's been fascinating to look around at the reactions to the Kelvin Sampson cheating scandal. People are furious. There is blood in the water, and I haven't heard too many voices clamoring to save Kelvin's job. Indiana has a top 15 team and 20 wins, but no one is defending the coach. The outrage over the hint of impropriety is fascinating when contrasted with the bizarre Belichick cool-aid swallowing that has gone on up in New England over the past few months. When their coach was accused of cheating, most of the Pats fans' arguments came down to one of the following:

1. The offense wasn't that serious and didn't affect game outcomes (we could use that one for sure)
2. Everyone does, so it doesn't matter that our coach does it (Check)
3. If you aren't cheating, you aren't trying (certainly as true in college BB as in the NFL)
4. It's all a big conspiracy because you are all jealous (ok, no one in Indiana would use this one right now)

The defense of their coach was nearly unanimous. We here in the heartland were branded as hypocrites. Now, fans in Indiana (many/most of whom are Colts fans too and bitched bitterly about Belichick), are in the same boat, but are in fact reacting differently than our Boston brethren. It's fascinating to me to see how deep the culture gap runs. To be fair there are differences:

1. Kelvin Sampson is still an outsider in Indiana. He's the coach, but none of us were really sold on him, and he hadn't won anything. Belichick is a god in New England for bringing 3 spectacular Super Bowls.
2. Kelvin Sampson was a cheater before he got to Indiana, and his new 'offenses' wouldn't actually even be offenses if he wasn't under probation.
3. Sampson is replacing a petulant legend, whereas Belichick is a petulant legend.
4. Indiana University Basketball IS Indiana. It has our name on it. They are Hoosiers; we are Hoosiers. There is no institution more important to the identity of our state than IU. The Patriots bear the name of a region (so it's already less personal), and let's be honest - the Red Sox and Celtics own the hearts of the people far more deeply than the Pats do. I'm speaking in generalities of course. There are Hoosiers who went to Purdue and Notre Dame, and folks that love the Pats over all other teams. But this is not the normal fan in Indiana nor in the North East.

It's amazing to see Patriots fans argue that their championships aren't tainted even if the cheating happened in the Super Bowl itself, where here in Indiana, I think we all feel the joy has been sucked out of this season. If IU goes on a run and wins a title under Kelvin Sampson's leadership, it will feel empty and fake EVEN THOUGH none of the offenses involved players on this team right now. He's a cheat and whatever glory he brings to the school and to the state feels dirty. Now, if they fire Sampson, and this team wins, it will be amazing. We all feel bad for these kids, who don't deserve to have their season go down the drain. None of them are under suspicion.

I'm not passing moral judgment on you, New England. The situations are not 1:1 analogous, and if a more beloved coach was a cheater (Dungy or Knight or 20 years ago) then maybe we here in the Hoosier state would do the same sort of ridiculous apologizing that you all have engaged in recently. Still, I am saying that there seems to be a very different value placed on honesty and the rules in Indiana than in the North East. You may not like our ethic, but you can't say we aren't consistent. We don't like liars. We hate cheats. We'll tolerate an a-hole forever if he wins, but a cheater. . . I hope we never get used to that.

Demond Sanders: I disagree with you on several points of significance.

1.) The joy hasn't been sucked out of this season for me. I'll be watching tonight hoping for a victory over MSU. I still want wins and more specifically NCAA tournament wins. I didn't stop rooting in 2006 after Mike Davis decided to step down. I took his loss against Gonzaga in the tournament just as hard as any. I root for wins no matter who is coaching. I like Sampson because he has them in a place they haven't been in 15 years. I liked Davis because he had them in the Finals. I liked Knight when he was winning Big Ten Titles every year. I like winning.

2.) And wow. You are very wrong about the notion of winning a title. It will feel empty to you maybe, but not to me. Hanging number 6 in Assembly Hall will rule just as hard.

3.) These situations aren't CLOSE to 1:1 analogous. This current team has in no way benefited from Sampson making too many phone calls. Belichick's teams directly benefited from the cheating.

4.) Maybe you are right. Maybe Hoosiers don't tolerate cheating, but I still feel that most of the outrage is coming from people in one of the following groups:
  • Media blow hards like Kravitz. He makes me sick. Calling the stripe out "insipid." Get a life. The kids at Indiana deserve to have some fun. That's what Indiana basketball is all about. Don't let this drama queen ruin it for you. His radio show sucks and so does his column. To be fair there are a few people at ESPN that are nearly as bad.
  • Knight lovers. They've come out of the wood work to pile on (or out their mom's basements as the case may be).
  • Purdue fans. Most are not classy enough just to be content with their great season. I hate Purdue.

5.) I think Sampson probably needs to go. The NCAA historically goes easier on schools, especially major programs, that get rid of the offender. The idea being that its not fair to harshly punish the next coaching staff and its players. I do not want to see IU banned from any upcoming NCAA tournaments. Beyond that reason, I'm somewhat indifferent. Sampson is doing a great job so far, but of course it bothers me that he is hurting Indiana's reputation.

It also bothers me that people want to get up in arms over a coach placing too many phone calls. As Allen Iverson would say, we're talking about phone calls. It smacks of dramatic people who love drama basking in the drama of a dramatic scandal. The latest allegations don't provide much additional information beyond what we learned in October. I would like to see the process play out rather than burying this guy now like everyone else wants to do. If he lied to the NCAA then he's gone.

Finally, to all you deluded Robert Montgomery Knight fans: HE'S NOT COMING BACK. As your pal John Feinstein pointed out yesterday: Knight wasn't winning in the late nineties. That's the only reason Miles Brand got away with firing him in the first place. He was not winning.

DZ's Rejoinder: What does rooting for IU after Davis stepped down have to do with anything? You really mean to tell me that if Kelvin Sampson coaches this team to a title, that the next 6 weeks of everyone knowing he is a cheater and calling for IU to fire him and then ripping IU for not firing him and caring more about winning than doing the right thing won't cheapen the experience. I'd say it would be a pretty joyless run. Instead, firing Sampson and watching the team pull together would be amazing. I like winning too, but not at the expense of my dignity.

Kravitz's venom has been fascinating. I think he's overstated things about Sampson somewhat. We said he should be fired too, but I wouldn't exactly call him 'slime'. Kravitz is right about Greenspan too. He's been embarrassing (his management of the football program has been a joke with the noted exception of hiring Coach Hep, a move offset by the rehiring of Bill Lynch). But it's like Bob has saved all his bile that he couldn't use on the Colts or Ron Artest (since he was run out of town) and dropped it on IU. Like I've said, I think Sampson needs to go. I think Greenspan was a fool for hiring him in the first place, but I do think some modicum of restraint has to be shown given the fact that the allegations aren't on par with buying cars for kids or arranging for drugs and hookers. He showed a weird arrogant disregard for the rules which is troubling. He probably lied. He should get fired. He has disgraced Indiana University on a national stage. Still, I'm not sure he's 'slime'. That seems a bit over the top.

The latest allegations do up the ante over those in October in one way: the say he intentionally lied to the NCAA. The original complaint was brought by IU (which is cool - the school is taking things seriously), but now the NCAA says Sampson tried to lie and cover up what he did. His real crime is taking the NCAA sanctions against him so lightly. That was just stupid. Sure, what he's mostly being accused of wouldn't be illegal without the probation he received, but still, his lack of respect for authority is more than a little troublesome. He set some horrible precedents that must be reversed for the good of the school and the state.

Demond Sanders: Indiana may not be able to fire Sampson for legal reasons. Instead, they may have to offer him a generous buy out of his contract in exchange for a resignation. Supposedly that's what this 7 day "investigation" is all about. Giving them time to negotiate. If the administration can't get something settled with Sampson then he'll either be suspended or he'll be coaching next month.

Either way, I'm not going to let the media tell me what to think. I would have no problem rooting for Indiana under Sampson in the tournament next month. Although this is a moot point because he's not going to be around. To me, it is about the players. I think most Indiana fans would be right there with me rooting them on. That's the reason I brought up Mike Davis. Real fans rooted for Indiana even if they didn't think he was the right coach. There were plenty of fake fans who rooted against the team because of Davis. Real fans wanted Indiana to win it all even after Davis had resigned.

As I said, if he lied then he's gone. It's one thing for him to ignore the sanctions placed on him; it's another thing for him to cover it up. If there is one lesson common to almost every scandal: It's always the cover up that kills you.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Question Marks

Bill Polian said today he does not expect Marvin Harrison, Bob Sanders, or Dwight Freeney to be healthy in time for training camp in July. The good news is he expects them to be ready for the start of the regular season. He also listed Rob Morris and Booger McFarland as question marks for camp.

None of this really surprises us, but the word on Harrison is disappointing nonetheless. Polian tells us the doctors are "sanguine" about Harrson's progress. According to google this means cheerfully optimistic. Okay, that makes me feel somewhat better. But given the way Polian strung us along last season about Harrison, I would not pencil Harrison in as 16 game starter this year.

Sanders should be fine and the fact they are resting him actually encourages me. The club will want to protect their long term investment as much as possible. I think the club needs to bolster the WR and DE positions even ahead of other need areas like corner. These two positions had the most glaring impact in the Colts' three real losses in 2007.

Did it accomplish anything?

With the shock waves of the Clemens hearings still reverberating through our sports world this morning, many are expressing disgust or disappointment that the hearings didn't 'accomplish' anything.

I'm not one of those people.

I think that by dragging the whole sordid mess out into the light (something that Congress eventually said was not necessary, but that Clemens attorneys bizarrely begged for) was one of the best deterrents to future use by players possible. If a guy is thinking about using roids, he only has to watch the train wreck that Roger Clemens life has become to think twice. Roger still has his money and his records, but he and his family will be eternally mocked for his hubris and duplicity.

I'm more than a little ok with that.

I know we live in a day and age where the idea of shame no longer exists. That's not a good thing. I'm not saying that Clemens should make an appointment for hara kiri or anything, but I do believe it is healthy for people who benefit from the public limelight to have to answer for the things they do while in public. Clemens had no problem with publicity when it meant commercial endorsements. He had no problem using PEDs to become rich and famous. He had no problem engaging in an activity that was illegal, dangerous, and potentially damaging to millions of youth. I have no problem dragging him out into the street for him to get laughed at and mocked now. His humiliation is good for the country. People need to know there is some kind of consequence for this behavior, even if it is just intangible public disdain. Is it as good as rock hard proof and jail time and restitution? No, of course not. But it is something. Kids need to hear that this behavior is not acceptable. It does bring shame and not glory. It is wrong.

That was accomplished. No one using or considering the use of steroids can deceive themselves into thinking that the use of drugs is no big deal or is consequence free. People will still use, but now they've heard and seen loud and clear what that road can lead to.

Oh, and before anyone says, "it wasn't proven!" (though I suspect I'm now creating a straw man - I'm not sure anyone would really employ that particular rejoinder after yesterday), let me just say that I understand how you feel. I spent almost 20 years trying to defend Pete Rose. I'm not arguing that we should put Roger Clemens in jail for steroids. I am saying that I have dealt with liars. I have personally worked with and had to expose people who bought their own lies so completely that even when presented with hard evidence of their misdeeds, they continued to deceive, envagle and obfuscate. A friend was a prosecutor in LA who worked with sex abuse cases. She said that the human capacity for self deception and fraud is amazing. She would present video tape evidence of crimes to defendants who would look at the tape and continue to deny what they did. To believe Roger Clemens, you have to believe:

1. His remarkable change in performance, unparalleled in baseball history, was unaffected by drugs in an era when drug use was rampant
2. That his best friend somehow misunderstood him to say he was on drugs
3. That his wife was using the very same drugs as his best friend, and many other players in his profession without his knowledge. Oh yeah, and his personal trainer who supplied these drugs injected Clemens' wife without his knowledge and without ever having a conversation with Clemens about the particular drug.

4. That after his wife had a reaction to the drug, that Clemens didn't bother researching the drug or taking her to a doctor because he just didn't think it was a big deal.
5. That a man on incredibly thin legal ice would risk certain incarceration by persisting in his insistance that he personally injected Clemens with the drugs when it's unclear what he had to gain either at the time or now in continuing to tell the story.

Maybe you can believe one or two of those things, but I can't believe the chain. I think it is insane to continue to believe Roger Clemens. I can't think of one reason to believe him. He has exhibited classic guilty behavior by consistently blaming everyone else around him for his circumstance. His wife, his best friend, his lawyers, George Mitchell, Brian McNamee. Everyone is guilty...except Roger Clemens.

And don't even get me started on Kelvin Sampson.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Links for Wednesday

If you aren't watching the Clemens hearing, you are missing out. It's crazy theater. I can't look away.

Scouts Inc. picks on 5 things the Colts need do in the offseason.

Maddux might be done soon. All good things, I guess. I'm glad I saw him pitch three times. I saw him last September in Colorado, and he was brilliant. Thanks to Chad for the link. This is precisely why the Clemens things makes me mad. I never saw him pitch, but on several occasions tried to work out my life so I could watch him. I'm glad I didn't waste my efforts. I love baseball. I want my kids to love baseball. I take opening day as a holiday and throw a party every year. I spend more time watching/listening to baseball in a MONTH than I do on most whole NFL seasons. I hate being lied to and played like a fool. I'm not willing to throw a whole generation under the bus, but I will go after those that the evidence points to. Maddux went from dominant with a 95 MPH fastball to wiley and frustrating with a high speed of 87 at the last game I saw him pitch. He had 1 three ball count and no walks in that game. He threw 61 pitches in 6 innings at Coors, giving up 1 run. He got the win. The Rockies would win just about every other game they would play for the next month.

I'm glad I was there. That's how you are supposed to pitch in the twilight.

The Football Scientist agrees with us about Derek Anderson. He also hates on Dallas Clark because of a low YPA (read D.R.O.P.S).

Fox Sports does a fairly useless preview of the Colts offseason. This one is a tad better.

The argument is (poorly) made that Jim Caldwell's impending promotion is BAD for black coaches. A black guy has made it into the 'Old Boys Club' and that's a bad thing? I'm not buying what he's selling.

Kelvin Sampson is in trouble. (duh)

Good for the Gander

If it's true, he's got to go.

For years, IU fans put up with Bob Knight's crazy act, and justified it with no small modicum of pride saying, "At least he runs a clean program". And for all his faults, Bobby is no cheat. Now as the NCAA informs Indiana of potentially major violations by coach Kelvin Sampson, the bloom is off the rose. Listen, I know the NCAA is nuts, and their rules are nuts. Sampson's initial violation was sort of a stupid petty thing, but he he violated it so egregiously, that there can't be any equivocation as to his guilt.

The fan base wasn't real thrilled with hire to start with; honestly, I'm not sure there weren't a lot of people disappointed to see the school hire 'another black man' (yes, I know he's not really black, but I'm not sure everyone in southern Indiana does). Some of us didn't like his tournament record, and all of us were troubled by the baggage he brought with him. When Indiana hired Kelvin Sampson, they KNEW they were hiring a man who was in serious hot water with the NCAA. Integrity matters in life, and Kelvin Sampson has put his into question. He's no victim here. Indiana University is no victim either. Everyone knew about his trouble with the NCAA when he got hired. Where's the zero tolerance now? I guess it died with Miles Brand (what? Miles Brand isn't dead? He's head of the NCAA? Oh, I guess I figured not having a soul was the same thing as bad).

We in Indiana like to rail about the cheating by Bill Belichick. We delighted when Purdue got drilled with sanctions. We know Ohio State has long been one of the dirtiest programs around. We snickered when the axe fell on the formerly fabulous Michigan squad. The Indianapolis Star, which to my knowledge didn't put out a story on this new report (though to be fair, Kravitz was calling for Sampson's head weeks ago), called Illinois fans classless as recently as last week. So this is it folks. We lived in a glass house and delicately tossed around our stones. It's time to break some windows.

Our team is 20-3 and has a chance to play deep into March. It doesn't matter to me nearly as much as maintaining a clean reputation. I think the school has a pretty good idea if these allegations are true. I'm fairly certain they are. If those two assumptions are accurate...

Kelvin Sampson must go.

Demond Sanders: This is unfortunate. I really like Sampson. He can recruit and his teams win. I am tired of all the transition at IU. I wish, as Bobby always brings up, that Knight had retired from Indiana on his own terms in the late nineties. It would have allowed for a proper hiring process to take place when the school still had its pride and tradition intact. I'm satisfied with Sampson for some random program, but this is Indiana. You can't hire a guy under that kind of cloud of doubt. I think if Sampson is fired then the AD needs to resign as well.

I hate the fact that this gives the crazy Knight fans more ammunition. They call themselves Hoosier fans, but they aren't. They're Bob Knight fans. But that's a separate issue for another time.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Okay Edge, play the blues

I was listening to a short commercial for the Jersey Johnny show on 1070 this morning and he brought up the possibility that Edge could be cut by Arizona this off-season. The Cardinals are in a bad cap situation and really don't need an expensive 30 year-old running back. Did that signing ever make sense? The speculation is that since cutting him would save the team five million dollars they would be better off getting a much cheaper and much younger back in the draft.

Where would that put Edge? He'd be a free agent with plenty of money in his pocket. He'd be free to go ring-hunting. A title is the only hole on his superb resume. I'm guessing the market wouldn't be a whole lot bigger for #32 than it was for Dom Rhodes last year. It's sounds like sacrilege, but he is thirty years old.

The Colts could desperately use a bigger, experienced RB. Edge would be a major upgrade over Keith. Duh. He is an excellent receiver, unlike Keith. On the ground he'd be at least as effective as some random guy from Canada. And there's an outside chance they'd be creating an unstoppable tandem with Addai. That would depend on the offensive line, of course.

The Cardinals are saying they expect Edge to be back next year, so this is purely talk. I think I'd have him back for one more year if I was Ken Wisenhunt, but you never know. Just keep your eyes open.

DZ Comments: Let's start baseless rumors like, "I saw Edge at the airport. What could he be doing in town? Is Peyton having a barbecue or something? It's not time for Marvin Harrison's yearly Jarts tournament for charity. . . HE'S GOING TO RE-SIGN!"

While you are floating around the web today, make sure you check out the good folks at INEPT. Thier new shirt, "How does New England spell defeat: MANNING" is sweet. Watch the F***ing Pats video about a quarter of the way down, you won't be disappointed (most of the profanity is bleeped). While we're at it, here's a couple of links I missed last week:

Peyton is glad Dungy is back

Peyton on Eli

Here's a great recap of the mounting evidence against the Rocket.

FO has a great piece on just how crazy it was that the Giants won the Super Bowl. Last year, Demond kept telling me that the Colts' run to the title would be the most unlikely of all time. I thought he was nuts. Apparently, he was right according to this article. Note that 5 of the most unlikely champions ever won in the last 8 years. This tells me that something is afoot in the NFL. This current era is the age of upsets, apparently. In all of NFL history, it has never been less important to be a favorite or even to have a bye week than it is right now.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bowling for losers

I suppose that the Pro Bowl doesn't merit a ton of comment, but hey, it's not like they charge by the word in the wacky world of blogging. Here's my thoughts on a weekend of sports:

1. DJ White is a man. I say that after every IU game, but it's true every time. My all-time favorite IU starting five would be: G Alford and Bailey, F Chaney and DJ White, C Alan Henderson. I know that's some creative positioning, but whatever. That was a big win by IU on the road; their first over a top 50 RPI team.

2. Peyton Manning is a great QB...

3. Derek Anderson is not. He's horrible. He was overrated for the vast majority of this year. I've been saying for weeks that Cleveland is the team most likely to regress in a big way next year, and I'm sticking to it. They have to cross divisions with the AFC South, and won't get the cupcake NFC West. That team will be lucky to win 5 games and will wonder why they reupped Romeo a year early. If you can't hit open men in the Pro Bowl, you don't deserve to start in the NFL. All you have is all world receivers, linemen and running backs facing a defense that can't blitz, stunt, or play a nickel. He's horrible. I hate him.

4. Don't ask me why I care about the Pro Bowl so much. I have no good answer to that question.

5. Heather R sends us this link between coaches present and presidents past.

6. The Colts and Skins are playing the HoF game next year. This means 5 preseason games. Ugh. Maybe 18to88 will road trip it up to Canton. Somehow I doubt it. Why go when you can watch it on TV and listen to Tony Korn...wait a minute! BOOK ME A BUS TICKET!

7. Moss and Brady not showing up was gutless. Don't give me that injury BS. Show up and take your medicine.

8. We are hoping to do a final 2007-8 podcast this week. No promises.

Demond Sanders: Derek Anderson was horrible. I'd blame him, but Norv had a big role in the (meaningless) debacle. How did the AFC blow a 24-7 lead? Settling for 3 field goals in the Pro Bowl is just lame. At least Reggie Wayne (5 for 55) and Antoine Bethea (7 tackles, 2 assists) had productive days. Oh and yes, Peyton rules.

I'm coming around on IU. I was pretty down on them for blowing back to back games, but the truth is their three losses have come to top twenty teams. FYI: Connecticut has come on really strong of late. I think the Hoosiers have a chance to make this a special season. They have the first and second leading scorers in the Big Ten, but the development of Crawford and Ellis will be the difference. They are looking more comfortable as the conference schedule plays out.

The national media complaints about Indiana's weak schedule will die down quickly if they take care of business during this home stand. If they can handle Wisconsin, MSU, and the Boilers back to back to back then the Big Ten title and a one or two seed will be within reach. Big if, I know. Still, it's exciting to know that the Hoosiers are cobbling together their best regular season in 15 years with surprising ease. There are (perhaps rightfully) plenty of doubters out there, but 20-3 is 20-3.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Tough it out

Last night's win by IU was not a thing of beauty by any means, but I suppose that given the conditions, it's important if not impressive. I'm not going to go holier than thou on the Illinois crowd for driving Eric Gordon nuts last night. Apart from one minor 'bead throwing incident' it seems like the crowd was at clean in their viciousness. I once screamed through a megaphone at a kid shooting a pair of game winning free throws, "YOU'LL BE UP ALL NIGHT THINKING ABOUT HOW YOU MISSED THESE! YOU'LL HAVE TO CALL YOUR MOM AND DAD AND EXPLAIN HOW YOU CHOKED!". I realized after I said it, that it was kind of hateful, but I'm from the "anything you yell that isn't profane is fair" school of thought. Gordon was rattled, but came through like a pro (d'oh!-stupid foreshadowing!).

Nothing about that game last night convinced me that Kelvin Sampson knows how to run an offense. This season's IU team is the perfect example of what's wrong with college sports. Recruiting is most of the battle (19-3), but skill as a coach still matters to get you over the top. Look, I know the brilliant intricacies of the motion offense aren't coming back. I know Brian Sloan (anyone remember his awesome screens?) isn't walking through that door. But for crying out loud, let's have something better than DJ White valiantly taking on 3 guys or someone jacking up a contested 3 as the shot clock goes off. I don't know that I've seen IU run a decent set to end a half yet. They all end the same way, with a stupid turnover or a contested off-balance three. This team is talented enough on the floor to make a run. I'm just not convinced they have the coach to do get them as far as they could potentially go.

Links: Dr Z has his broadcaster rankings out.
It's always one of my favorite columns, but I still think he's being too nice. Network TV is ruining the announcing of games. Do they really think people want stupid easy story lines and idiot guests? Has anyone ever said, "oh hey, Russel Crowe is on! I'll watch this football game!"? ARRRRGH.

Bill Simmons deals with his grief. I couldn't be happier.

Brandie sends us these fun photos. I don't know where they came from, so apologies to the author:

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Getting Physical

It sounds like a pair of icons may well be in serious trouble. What previous stood as only a pair of 'he said-he said' cases may well turn out swing on physical evidence. In the Roger Clemens case, Brian McNamee has turned over a bunch of seriously gross stuff. He claims it will prove that the Rocket is dirty. In the Spygate case, Roger Goodell has given Matt Walsh the assurances he said he wanted in order to rat out Bill Belichick.

I think we are all rooting for the same things in these cases-something definitive and damning.

In other news, one of my all time favorite teams made #6 on the list of greatest upsets.

Thanks to Bob M, we now know the Pats season was perfect for everyone else.

Finally, Ryan Parker comes through again.