9 things and 1 crazy prediction
Kirk Bohls, Commentary
Austin American Statesman
1. I agree with Kansas coach Bill Self on the Big 12 Player of the Year. We’d both give the award to Marcus Morris, the scoring half of the Jayhawk twins. Did you catch the 6-9, 240-pound center dribble out of a Missouri double-team, bank a shot over a third Tiger, Laurence Bowers, and get fouled on the play Saturday?
“I think Marcus is the Player of the Year, but I’m speaking selfishly,” Self told me last week. “Jordan Hamilton was a couple of weeks ago and was having the best year, and Jacob Pullen is right there. But Marcus has been a model of consistency.”
2. Have serious reservations about Oregon’s payment of $25,000 to a Texan who runs an apparently legitimate recruiting service, and who had a mentoring relationship with Temple running back Lache Seastrunk — who signed with the Ducks — and Texarkana running back LaMichael James, another Duck.
Oregon coach Chip Kelly said the practice of hiring recruiting services is commonplace, but when even Seastrunk’s mother questions the ethics of the arrangement and wonders if Willie Lyles is a trainer or a scout, the situation sure smells. There is nothing wrong with a school hiring such services, but $25,000 seems excessively high and would suggest to some, including me, that Lyles was working as a street agent. To me, a school needs to show it has hired a particular recruiting service on a regular basis — not isolated on a single recruit in a specific year.
Texas, at one time, was recruiting Seastrunk, but if it backed off because someone connected with him had his hand out, good for Texas. It did the right thing. The NCAA should require all recruiting services to register with it and be susceptible to fines or decertification if they abuse their stated goals.
3. Did you catch Bob Knight’s faux pas during the ESPN “Gameday” show in Waco? Why was it that host Rece Davis apologized after The General blurted out the phrase “chicken-(bleep) defense”? Shouldn’t Knight have been the one to say he was sorry? Knight always, always held his players accountable. Shouldn’t he have the same standard for himself?
Speaking of bad manners, the Baylor student section sitting behind one of the press rows at the Ferrell Center didn’t exactly shower themselves with glory as they verbally abused the refs, Rick Barnes, Alexis Wangmene and generally anybody wearing burnt orange. I know yelling obscenities is hardly limited to Baylor, trust me, but it made me forget for a second they go to a Baptist university.
4. If you’re counting the days until the Rice-Texas baseball series, don’t. Ain’t happening this year. Augie Garrido told me Friday that he just wanted to substitute a series in Hawaii for the Owls series, partly because his ace Taylor Jungmann told him he’d never been to the islands. “I’ll play ‘em again any time,” Garrido said of Rice. “There aren’t any hard feelings.”
Rice coach Wayne Graham, a Texas ex, tells it differently and says the Longhorns backed out of a three-game, home-and-home series, starting with a set in Houston this year. “Augie and I are both getting older, and playing us seems to aggravate him. We want to play ‘em. They canceled. Because of what happened this year (Rice picked up a series with Southern Cal at the last minute to replace Texas on the schedule), they’re coming here first if we agree to play again. But we’re fully scheduled for next year.”
Whatever is the truth — and I do feel there is some bad blood there, although Augie insists there is not — it’s a shame, although I fully respect his right to schedule whomever he wishes. Texas and Rice are two of college baseball’s biggest powers and should play every year. The fans are the ones who lose out.
That said, a series with the Longhorns, I feel, is more important to Rice than to Texas because of its standing in the RPI-challenged Conference USA. But I hate to see this rivalry end. I won’t be surprised if they end up settling this in Omaha this season.
5. Have a ton of respect for Brigham Young living its honor code and suspending its best rebounder and inside scorer for breaking the school’s rules and admitting to premarital sex. Whether you agree or not, BYU can’t be accused of selling out to win. If the other 349 Division I basketball programs suspended players for the same conduct, we wouldn’t be able to field 68 teams for the NCAA postseason. Would we even have enough for a Final Four?
6. While BYU may not be warlock Charlie Sheen’s favorite team, here’s how he can fix his problem. He should agree with CBS to do the final episodes of their hit sitcom “Two and a Half Men,” waive all their profits and donate all the money to victims of alcohol and substance addiction. Can you imagine the Super Bowl-caliber ratings? Heck, write in roles for the goddesses.
7. Hats off to our friend Dick Vitale for his new book “Dickie V’s ABCs and 1-2-3s,” targeted to help kids ages 2 to 6 learn how to read, learn the alphabet and learn how to count. Basketball’s Mr. Sunshine is also writing five other books in the next couple of years as part of his Children’s Literacy Initiative and his desire to raise funds for Pediatric Cancer Research. Vitale is a grandfather five times over, appreciates what he has and has always given back.
8. The Texas Stars are reaching the critical stage of their hockey season with only four points separating third from fifth place in the division. If it’s anything like the Stars’ 6-5 overtime win over San Antonio on Friday night, when the teams combined for nearly 100 penalty minutes, it ought to be a crazy sprint to the finish. The Stars have 16 games remaining — seven at Cedar Park Center, where the team is 18-9-3-3.
9. Wondering if part of Cole Green’s early-season problems can be traced to an inadvertent mental detachment from the season. I’m sure he assumed he’d sign after his junior year and may have emotionally checked out at some point. He’s too good a pitcher to stay down very long, but Garrido’s doing the right thing by making Green accountable and threatening change if he doesn’t carry his load.
10. One crazy prediction: Pat Riley will return to coach the Miami Heat very soon.