Sports Outside the Beltway

Memphis Slammed, Calipari Skates Again

For the second time in his career, John Calipari has taken a former lowly school to the Final Four by cheating and managed to leave it in the rubble while he went on to a bigger and better job.

The NCAA has forced Memphis to give up every victory in its 38-win season under coach John Calipari that ended in the national title game in 2007-08, saying the school used an ineligible player.

The announcement came Thursday, 16 months after the Tigers lost to Kansas in overtime in the championship game.

The NCAA also said the school must return the money it received from the NCAA tournament appearance that season. School officials were expected to discuss the report later Thursday during a conference call.

It is the second time both Memphis and Calipari have had to vacate Final Four seasons. The Tigers were stripped of their 1985 appearance, and Calipari’s Massachusetts team lost its 1996 berth.

Calipari is now the coach at Kentucky, where officials have voiced support for him despite the Memphis scandal.

I’m very seldom in agreement with Skip Bayless on much of anything. But he’s right here:

Punishing the current Memphis players and coaches for something they had no control over, while allowing John Calipari to go unpunished is an absolute travesty.


Are you ready for some bowling?

No I’m not talking about some middle aged man propelling a ball at some objects at the end of a lane, but the games that climax every college football season. Bowl season officially starts this Saturday, here are the matchups for all the college football fanatics out there.

Dec 20
Eaglebank Bowl- Wake Forest vs Navy
New Mexico Bowl- Colorado State vs Fresno St
MAGICJACK ST. PETERSBURG BOWL- Memphis vs. South Florida
PIONEER LAS VEGAS BOWL- Brigham Young vs Arizona
Dec 21
Dec 23
Dec 24
SHERATON HAWAII BOWL- Hawaii vs Notre Dame
Dec 26
MOTOR CITY BOWL- Florida Atlantic vs. Central Michigan
Saturday, December 27
MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL- West Virginia vs. North Carolina
Champs Sports Bowl- Wisconsin vs. Florida State
Emerald Bowl- Miami (FL) vs. California
December 28
Independence Bowl- Northern Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech
PAPAJOHNS.COM BOWL- North Carolina State vs. Rutgers
Valero Alamo Bowl- Missouri vs. No. 23 Northwestern
Tuesday, December 30
PACIFIC LIFE HOLIDAY BOWL- Oklahoma State vs. No. 17 Oregon
Texas Bowl- Western Michigan vs. Rice
Wednesday, December 31
Sun Bowl- Oregon State vs. Pittsburgh
GAYLORD HOTELS MUSIC CITY BOWL- Boston College vs. Vanderbilt
Insight Bowl- Kansas vs. Minnesota
CHICK-FIL-A BOWL- LSU vs. Georgia Tech
Thursday, January 1
OUTBACK BOWL- South Carolina vs. Iowa
CAPITAL ONE BOWL- Georgia vs. Michigan State
Gator Bowl- Nebraska vs. Clemson
Rose Bowl- Penn State vs. USC
Fedex Orange Bowl- Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech
Friday, January 2
Cotton Bowl- Mississippi vs. Texas Tech
AUTOZONE LIBERTY BOWL- Kentucky vs. East Carolina
January 3
INTERNATIONAL BOWL- Buffalo vs. Connecticut
January 5
TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL- Ohio State vs. Texas
January 6
GMAC Bowl- Ball State vs. Tulsa*
January 8

That’s 34 games, 68 schools spread over a period of 20 days for those of you keeping score at home. An ample supply of college football for any fanatics out there.

A few notes

*- There are a few bowl games remaining without corporate names in their title. Gator, Sun, Texas, Independence. Were these games unable to find sponsors?
*- Will Oklahoma St. and Oregon combine for 70 pts or more in the Holiday Bowl? This annually has been of the most high scoring affairs.
*- Oh how has the Orange Bowl dropped. A game that featured early triumphs of Joe Paterno led Penn State, Nebraska and Oklahoma in their glory days, the first major bowl appearance of Florida State, and the all time classic 84 battle between Nebraska and Miami, has Cincinnati and Virginia Tech playing this year. I’m sure they are talented football teams, but how many people are drooling to see them play in a prime-time network slot?
*- Arizona and BYU meet in a bowl 30 years after the former left the WAC conference for the higher profile Pac Eight(Now Ten, Arizona State joined also)
*- Vanderbilt makes a rare bowl appearance. Congratulations to Commodore fans, but this is a sign of how bowls are grown way out of proportion. 6-6 college teams get bids. When I was growing up I could remember Florida State going without a bowl in 1978 even though they finished the season 8-3.

It is my humble opinion that bowl season has gotten out of hand. Someone may say what’s the big deal? If someone wants to start a bowl game and there are two schools willing to play in it, does their records matter. A good football isn’t only a contest between stars at big name schools.

All true, but how much public money is spent on these affairs? Many of the teams are state universities who get funded by taxpayers. Then there is the game itself where police have to be taken from other tasks to work the day or night of the game or paid over-time.

With the economic downturn right now, you have to wonder if there will be less bowls in the near future. That would depend on how long a deal a corporate sponsor signed on for. I wonder how many fans of some schools plan to make a bowl trip. Are there 1,000 or more FAU Owls willing to journey from Florida to Michigan in December to watch the team play? Even if I were a Owl fan and had money, I’d stay home.

Enjoy the games.


Chicago Bulls take Derrick Rose with No. 1 pick in NBA draft

No surprise here.

NEW YORK – The Chicago Bulls selected Derrick Rose with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft Thursday night, choosing the Memphis guard over Kansas State forward Michael Beasley.

Rose, a Chicago native, led the Tigers to the national championship game in his lone college season. The Bulls opted for the point guard’s playmaking ability over the scoring and rebounding of Beasley, who ranked in the top three in the nation in both categories as a freshman.

Rose is the Bulls’ first No. 1 overall selection since they grabbed Elton Brand in 1999. He’s the second straight freshman taken with the top pick, following Portland’s Greg Oden last year.


Rose should be an upgrade over Kirk Hinrich, who now could be traded, and gives the Bulls another option if they don’t re-sign guard Ben Gordon.

I have no idea about how good Rose will be or won’t be.

The Miami Heat(I’m from South Florida) made the next selection.

Miami settled for Beasley at No. 2, a pick the Heat considered trading. Beasley averaged 26.2 points, third in the nation, and topped Division I with 12.4 rebounds per game. But with questions about his size — he may be 2 inches shorter than the 6-foot-10 he’s listed at — the Bulls may not have believed he could play the 4 spot in the NBA.

Who misled(or lied to) people about Beasley’s height? Memphis or Beasley himself? I once remember a ML baseball team getting ready to give a former football player a tryout, thinking he was 25 years old. The tryout was cancelled after it was learned he was in his thirties.


On KU vs. Memphis

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that my bracket was terrible–I had Texas beating Memphis to advance to the Final Four, which just goes to show what I know. But I’m going to throw myself on the mercy of the court because I simply didn’t have much time to follow basketball this year, so my pro-KU, pro-Big 12 prejudices dominated my thinking about the brackets.

I’ve gotten caught up in a hurry so that I can fully savor tonight’s game.

On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, all I heard about in the media was about how there was simply no way that Kansas could beat UNC. After all, they had a high speed offense led by Tyler Hansbrough that had been shutting down defenses all year.

Well, after reading that I did some stats looking, and determined that while it was true that UNC had a high powered offense, it’s also true that KU does too–only one that’s more balanced and doesn’t depend on a single player for execution. So that real battle, I decided was going to be on the defensive end. It didn’t take long to conclude that here KU had a monster advantage–UNC’s defense was, at the time, ranked only 17th in the nation, and its performance tended to be worse against top-25 teams. So I went around obnoxiously telling everyone I talked to the game about on Friday and Saturday (before the game) that KU’s defense was going to be the reason why KU would win it.

And, as it turns out, I was right.

Defense, however, is not Memphis’s weak point. They’ve got some great action and good shot blockers, and have been consistently performing well all year. Indeed, as every sports columnist in the country has noted–KU and Memphis boast similar offensive strategies. I agree–we should be looking at a fast-paced, high scoring game. In all probability. And in a fast-paced, high scoring game, I have to give a slight edge to the Jayhawks. The simple reason?

Depth. KU is balanced enough down the bench that will simply have the ability to out-rotate players over Memphis. In a fast paced game, that can make all the difference. It certainly made a big difference against UNC, who staged a pretty scary comeback but couldn’t make it stick because their players just. got. tired.

There is also, I admit, something nagging me in the back of my mind. As noted above, I do agree with sports pundrity that we’re likely to see a fast-paced, high scoring game–lots of intensity and crowd pleasing steals and alley oops.

But here’s the thing…

Bill Self likes to mix it up. He likes to focus on other team’s weaknesses and stab at them, like he did with weak side defense against UNC. KU and Memphis typically play with similar styles–fast pace, etc. But where KU almost stumbled in the tournament was against Davidson–who managed to slow down the tempo of the game and make it a grinding defensive and outside shooting battle. Seeing as how Memphis plays a similar game to KU, one can’t help but wonder if a slower game might cause them to stumble, too.

So here’s where that might come in–when it comes to the frontcourt and post, KU has an edge over Memphis. I can’t help but wonder if it might not be a bad strategy for KU to simply slow the game down by playing a zone, eschewing their three-guard setup in favor of a big man in the middle and keeping Memphis to the perimeter, creating a lower-scoring, outside shooting battle. That’s the kind of game Self liked to coach when he started at KU, and still does it occasionally. I don’t honestly expect to see that, but I won’t be too surprised if it happens, either.

In either case, I do think that if KU can keep their mistakes to a minimum, they have an edge over Memphis and will take the national title for the first time in 20 years. We’ll know for sure tonight.


Conference USA may not fill all its bowl tie-ins

Not enough teams may get the six wins needed for a bowl game berth. From the Orlando Sentinel-

The Conference USA bowl scenario is going to get interesting over the last three weeks of the regular season.

Entering the week, UCF is one of four C-USA teams now eligible for bowl berths.

While Knights Coach George O’Leary was safe not to say his club was definitely going bowling by just reaching the necessary six victories Saturday with its win over Marshall, there doesn’t appear to be any scenario in which UCF will be left out of the postseason. Especially with UCF’s remaining opponents boasting a combined 7-20 record.

But C-USA is actually in danger of not qualifying enough teams to fill its six tie-ins this season. UCF, East Carolina, Houston and Tulsa all have six wins. But it may come down to the wire to get two more teams there.

The East Division’s bubble teams are Southern Miss (5-4) and Memphis (4-5).

The West’s only remaining candidate is UTEP, which is 4-5.

The Golden Eagles should be safe to get one more win with remaining games against Memphis on Saturday, followed by a trip to UTEP and a finale against Arkansas State (4-5).

UTEP will be favored Saturday at Tulane (2-7) but will have to upset either Southern Miss or win at UCF to get its sixth win of the year.

Memphis has it a little easier, hosting UAB (2-7) and SMU (1-8) after traveling to Hattiesburg.

I think the moral of the story is- There are too many darn bowl games. Outside of Oklahoma and Oregon, Who would watch a Oregon St-Tulsa game?(I’m making up a bowl match up)Does a 6-6 deserve a trip? I can remember Florida State getting no bowl bid after going 8-3 in 1978.


University of Memphis football player shot dead

From AP-

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A University of Memphis football player was fatally shot on campus in a targeted attack and classes were canceled Monday as a precaution, officials said.

“We found him with a bullet wound to the body and the ambulance took him to the hospital where he was pronounced (dead),” said Roger Prewitt, a Memphis Police inspector.

University police declined to release the name of the student, but the incident “may have involved a current or former football player,” said Bob Winn, associate athletic director at University of Memphis.

Taylor Bradford, 21, was taken to Regional Medical Center at 10:15 p.m. Sunday and pronounced dead, hospital spokeswoman Sandy Snell said.

Bradford, a 5-foot-11, 300-pound defensive lineman from Nashville, was a junior who transferred to Memphis after two seasons at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.

University officials closed residence halls on campus for about a half-hour after the shooting before police learned that the shooting was likely personal, spokesman Curt Gunther said.

Tragic. God bless Bradford’s family.

Note how schools are reacting since the Virginia Tech tragedy. A recent incident at Delaware State saw school officials take similar actions. Then why does VT President Charles Steger insist he wouldn’t do anything different? Other Universities have learned a lesson.


NFL Draft 2006 – Round 1 #27 – Carolina Panthers – RB DeAngelo Williams

The Carolina Panthers grabbed Memphis runing back DeAngelo Williams almost immediately when they got on the clock.

Mel Kiper had him as the top RB in the draft. Rick Gosselin had him ranked 25th overall and slightly behind Laurence Maroney (#22), who went to the Pats at #21. I’ll go with Bill Belichick and Goose on that one.


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