Sports Outside the Beltway

No return- Georgia Tech beats North Carolina 62-58

Just two more days before the brackets come out. From Media General-

Start fast, stumble to the finish. The preceding sentence perfectly summed up both North Carolina’s basketball season and its 62-58 first-round ACC tournament loss to Georgia Tech on Thursday evening.NC-GA Tech

The Tar Heels led by 10 at halftime. (The Tar Heels started the season 8-2 and were ranked as high as No. 6 in the Associated Press poll.) Carolina couldn’t handle that success, and hit an early-second half swoon, allowing Georgia Tech to score the first seven points after halftime. (Just past the midway point of the season, Carolina lost eight of 10 games, sending the Heels’ season into a spiral.)

See the trend here?

Down the stretch Thursday, just as it has been all season, Carolina was plagued with ball handling issues and poor shooting, and the Yellow Jackets took advantage. They outscored the Heels 38-24 after halftime. In the last 5:13, Carolina missed all eight of its field-goal attempts and turned it over twice, and Georgia Tech pulled away for a win that likely seals an NCAA tournament berth for the Yellow Jackets (20-11).

“It’s extremely disappointing, to say the least,” UNC coach Roy Williams said.

Disappointing don’t do justice to North Carolina’s 2009-10 basketball season. Only a year ago they were National Champions, now they are hoping the NIT throws them a scrap bone tournament invitation. Should a team that finished 16-16 be playing in the post season?


Bobby Bowden’s Swan Song- Florida State may get Gator Bowl invite

This may not go over well with other ACC schools. From ESPN-

Although ACC officials have conceded that it is possible for Florida State to be chosen for the more prestigious Gator Bowl despite its 4-4 record in conference play, it’s not a done deal yet, as Saturday’s ACC championship game could throw a wrinkle into the Gator Bowl’s plans to matchup Florida State with West Virginia in Bobby Bowden’s final game.

4ACC and Gator Bowl officials are involved in discussions about how to interpret the ACC’s one-loss rule, and should Clemson lose the ACC championship game to Georgia Tech on Saturday, it could turn into a heated debate.

“If Georgia Tech wins this game,” ACC associate commissioner Michael Kelly said, “we don’t necessarily think they can take Florida State.”

One sure way that Florida State could sneak into the Gator Bowl ahead of teams with better records is if Clemson wins the ACC championship game and Virginia Tech is chosen by the Chick-fil-A Bowl. In that particular scenario, the Gator Bowl would be under no contractual obligation to select Georgia Tech, the ACC’s runner-up, and the remaining teams in the conference with the best records — Clemson and Virginia Tech at 6-2 — would both already have been chosen.

The Gator Bowl is required to select the runner-up at least once during the four-year contract cycle, and it fulfilled that obligation in 2006, when it chose Georgia Tech. The one-loss rule would mean that the Gator Bowl could select from the remaining 5-3 and 4-4 teams, therefore making Florida State a viable option.

Notwithstanding that this will be Bowden’s last game, FSU has no business being either in top or mid level bowl. The Seminoles went 6-6 this year. Of their wins, 4 were only by a field goal. Jacksonville State gave the Seminoles a fight more the final score of 19-9 indicates.


Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden to announce his retirement

The Tallahassee Democrat has the scoop-

Bobby Bowden’s legendary coaching career at Florida State University is expected to end Tuesday, the Tallahassee Democrat has learned.

Bowden is expected to announce his resignation by way of a statement to be released Tuesday, sources told the Democrat.

As part of his retirement, Bowden is expected to be offered a non-coaching position at FSU for an unspecified amount of time. In addition to any settlement compensation that may be negotiated as part of his retirement, Bowden is also entitled to $1 million upon his retirement as part of a clause in his coaching contract that was agreed upon at least 10 years ago.

It is unclear if Bowden will coach the bowl game or not, but sources have said if he does coach one last game then the Gator Bowl may try to select FSU for its Jan. 1 game.

I’d be surprised if Bowden isn’t allowed to coach the Seminoles one last time. He has been the only football head coach the school has known for 34 years. When Bowden took over FSU was a wreck. A independent that schools big and small were beating up on. It was either 1972 or 1973 that the Seminoles went without a win for the year(The Florida Gators had a similar year in 1979 but had one tie). Bowden quickly reversed the school’s football fortunes. In his second year FSU went 10-2, in his 4th year the Seminoles went 11-0 and received an invitation to the Orange Bowl to play Oklahoma. Florida State got its ass kicked 24-7 on Jan. 1st 1980, but the next year pulled stunning road upsets at Nebraska and Ohio on the way to a second straight OB engagement with Oklahoma. The second time around was a great battle that only saw the Sooners win 18-17. Bowden had established the Seminoles as a Division One football in five years.

FSU football fans won’t soon forget Bowden and his legacy. Assistant Coach Jimbo Fisher is expected to be named Bowden’s replacement.


Virginia Cavaliers fire Coach Al Groh

The 2009 season was Virginia’s worst in 27 years. From AP-

Virginia has fired Al Groh after nine seasons as football coach at his alma mater.

Groh’s dismissal Sunday comes less than 24 hours after the Cavaliers (3-9, 2-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) finished their worst season since going 2-9 in 1982 with a 42-13 loss to rival Virginia Tech.

Virginia lost its final six games and finished with a losing record for the third time in four years. Groh beat Virginia Tech just once in nine games during his tenure.

It seems clear Virginia had regressed the last few seasons. The need for a new coach in Charlottesville looks justified IMHO.


Boston College LB Mark Herzlich diagnosed with cancer

He was ACC Defensive player of the year last year. From AP-

Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich, the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year, revealed Thursday that he is battling cancer.

Herzlich, a senior, was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a cancer most often found in bone or soft tissue.

“Obviously, I was shocked. I had been extremely focused on preparing for my senior season at Boston College and for life beyond that. Now, I must channel all that energy into facing my toughest opponent yet, and that is exactly what I will do,” Herzlich said in a statement released by the school.

Herzlich has returned to his native Pennsylvania to be near his family and undergo tests to determine a course of treatment.

Herzlich was a finalist for the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s top linebacker, last season. He led the Eagles with 110 tackles, six interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

I’m a cancer survivor myself. As one I wish Herzlich the best and hope he beats the dragon.


Navy’s Paul Johnson Takes Georgia Tech Job

Paul Johnson, who turned Georgia Southern and then Navy into respectable football teams, has been hired to restore Georgia Tech to prominence.

Navy’s Paul Johnson Takes Georgia Tech Job James Lang/US Presswire After turning Navy into a regular bowl contender, Paul Johnson is leaving for ACC country. Navy coach Paul Johnson, who turned one of the country’s worst teams into an annual bowl participant, has agreed to become Georgia Tech’s next football coach, Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk confirmed Friday morning. Johnson, who had a 45-39 record in six seasons at Navy, replaces Chan Gailey, who was fired as Georgia Tech’s coach Nov. 26.

After turning Navy into a regular bowl contender, Paul Johnson is leaving for ACC country.

“Paul is fixated on what Paul wants to do and that’s the next step and new challenges at Georgia Tech,” Gladchuck said. “We appreciate what Paul has done and we’ll always remember him as one of the great coaches in Navy history. But we’re very respectful of his wishes for new challenges at Georgia Tech.”

Johnson informed the team at an 11:45 a.m. meeting at the Navy’s Ricketts Hall, where the football offices are located, said Scott Strasemeier, Navy’s associate athletic director for sports information.

Georgia Tech has scheduled a 5:30 p.m. ET news conference to announce the hiring of Johnson.

Johnson, who is perhaps best known for his potent triple-option spread offense, led the Midshipmen to unprecedented success during his tenure at the academy. Under his watch, Navy was 11-1 against Army and Air Force and won the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy five consecutive seasons. Navy went 8-4 this season and beat Notre Dame 46-44 in triple overtime, ending an NCAA-record 43-game losing streak to the Fighting Irish.

Navy plays Utah in the Dec. 20 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. Gladchuk said Johnson will not coach in the bowl game.

Johnson previously worked at Division I-AA Georgia Southern, where he led the Eagles to a 62-10 record and two consecutive I-AA national championships.

Johnson was also considered a candidate for vacancies at Duke and SMU but informed both of those schools Friday morning that he wasn’t taking either job.

Georgia Tech also considered former Washington coach Rick Neuheisel, former Auburn coach Terry Bowden, Georgia Southern coach Chris Hatcher and Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong. Connecticut coach Randy Edsall also interviewed for the job but quickly removed himself from consideration.

A great hire by Tech. I’m surprised Johnson lasted as long as he did at Navy, honestly. Indeed, he was reportedly on Alabama’s short list last year before they ultimately lured Nick Saban away from the Miami Dolphins.

Photo credit: James Lang/US Presswire


Duke fires Football coach Ted Roof

The Blue Devils went 1-11 last season. From AP-

DURHAM, N.C. – Duke fired Ted Roof on Monday, two days after the Blue Devils concluded a 1-11 season with their ninth straight loss.

A news conference was scheduled for Monday afternoon to discuss the program. A person close to the Duke program, speaking on condition of anonymity because an announcement had not been made, said athletic director Joe Alleva would announce Roof’s dismissal.

The coach’s career record dipped to 6-45 after a 20-14 overtime loss to North Carolina, the Blue Devils’ fourth straight to their main rival. Duke has lost at least 10 games in three straight seasons, including a winless 2006.

After snapping a 22-game losing streak with a victory at Northwestern, the Blue Devils lost nine straight to end this season.

Duke has had exactly one coach with a winning record while at the school since 1966. That was Steve Spurrier, who coached the Blue Devils from 1987-89. Coaching Duke Football is a thankless job. You would think someone would have to be a masochist to take a job in Durham.(No I’m not applying.)


Georgia Tech fires coach Chan Gailey

Another Division I coach is looking for new employment.

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech fired coach Chan Gailey on Monday, two days after a sixth straight loss to rival Georgia ended a disappointing season.

Athletic director Dan Radakovich called an afternoon news conference to discuss the football program. A person familiar with the situation, speaking on condition of anonymity because an official announcement had not been made, said Radakovich would announce Gailey has been dismissed after six seasons as the Yellow Jackets coach.

The move was widely expected after Georgia Tech (7-5) came up far short of another run at the Atlantic Coast Conference championship one year after winning its division. Also, Gailey never beat the school’s biggest rival, losing 31-17 to the Bulldogs on Saturday.

Gailey was both head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphin Offensive Coordinator before taking his gig at Georgia Tech. Make a bet he is back coaching in the NFL in 2008.


Duke University’s Michael Schachner shoots 60 at NCAA Tournament

It breaks a 13-year-old NCAA record.

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Duke’s Michael Schachner broke the NCAA tournament record with a 10-under 60 on Friday, and Stanford took a two-stroke lead over Coastal Carolina with one round left.

Schachner, 120th after opening rounds of 79 and 69, matched the NCAA tournament record for lowest score in relation to par, former Stanford star Notah Begay’s 10-under 62 in 1994. Schachner jumped to 14th, four strokes behind the third-round leaders.

Schachner was 11 under after 14 holes, bogeyed No. 15 and closed with three pars. He missed a 15-foot birdie putt on 18 that would have given him a 59.

“I was excited and I really thought I was going to make it,” Schachner said. “I’d been putting really well obviously. I had the line and just gave it a little too much speed. It hit the top edge and went by a little farther than I wanted. I think if I hit it a little softer it goes in. It would have been fun. I’m not complaining.”

The professional US record(let’s not get started on Kim-Il Jong) is 59, first set by Al Geiberger in 1977. David Duval, Chip Beck and I believe one other equaled that score(on one of the mini-tours) but I’m not certain. I’m sure Michael Schachner would like to have a Geiberger like career.


Duke Lacrosse Case Charges to Be Dropped

ABC News is reporting that, thirteen months into one of the most notorious criminal prosecutions in memory, all charges will be dropped against three players from the Duke Lacrosse team.

Duke Lacrosse Players Charges Dropped The three Duke lacrosse players originally charged with raping a dancer at a private party soon will not be charged, ABC News has learned. The state attorney general took over the case in January, after Durham County prosecutor Mike Nifong recused himself under pressure, claiming a conflict of interest because the North Carolina State Bar Association charged him with misconduct in the Duke case. (AP Photo )The office of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper will announce that he is dismissing all charges against three Duke Lacrosse players, ABC News has learned from sources close to the case. The three players, Reade Seligmann, David Evans and Collin Finnerty, were facing charges of first degree kidnapping and first degree forcible sexual offense. The charges stem from an off-campus party on the night of March 13, 2006.

In the hours after the party, one of two dancers hired to perform for the players claimed she had been violently raped in a bathroom by members of the lacrosse team. The players had also been indicted for first degree rape, but that charge was dismissed on Dec. 22, 2006.

Special prosecutors from the Attorney General’s office took over the case after Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong recused himself in January, citing charges of unethical conduct filed against him by the North Carolina Bar. Since then, Jim Coman and Mary Winstead have examined the case from scratch, interviewing key witnesses and working through reams of evidence.

The reasons that will be cited for the dismissal are not yet known, though the case has been riddled with criticism and colored by controversy since its early months. Defense attorneys released documents showing the accuser changed key details of her story in the weeks and months after the alleged assault.

Legal analysts and forensic experts have criticized what they call a critically flawed photo identification lineup — a lineup that led to the identification and indictment of Evans, Finnerty, Seligmann. No DNA evidence was found matching any lacrosse players with samples from the rape kit, while DNA from unidentified men was found on the accuser’s body and clothing.

The complete lack of evidence, prosecutorial misconduct, and lack of witness credibility might have has something to do with this. One hopes Nifong and the accusers wind up in prison.

It seems clear from this an a few other high profile cases involving athletes and other celebrities that the penalties for bringing fraudulent criminal charges are far, far too low. Were the penalties commensurate with those the falsely accused party would face, these incidents would drop precipitously.


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