Sports Outside the Beltway

Don Imus on NCAA Womens Basketball

It is sad when the biggest news story that came out of the Tennessee-Rutgers National Championship Game is another bonehead comment by Don Imus.

Imus started out talking about the Rutgers team as, “some rough girls from Rutgers. They got tattoos,” and then went on to call them “some nappy-headed hos.”

He compared them to the Tennessee team, saying “The girls from Tennessee — they all looked cute.”

The conversation then went on to compare the game to “the jigaboos versus the wannabes.”


SEC Too Good For Ohio State?

AP sportswriter Ben Walker penned this lede to his piece on last night’s BCS Championship game in which the Florida Gators whooped the Ohio State Buckeyes:

Turns out Florida was too good to be on the same field as Ohio State, and that Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith and the Buckeyes were the ones who weren’t worthy after all.

Coach Urban Meyer’s once-beaten Gators dominated the undefeated No. 1 Buckeyes and streaked to college football’s national championship, 41-14 on Monday night.

“Honestly, we’ve played a lot better teams than them,” Florida defensive end Jarvis Moss said. “I could name four or five teams in the SEC that could probably compete with them and play the same type of game we did against them.”

Honestly, I think that’s right. That’s why the simple counting of wins and losses is a silly way to pick national title contenders in Division I. The idea that Boise State, which played a schedule filled with teams that probably couldn’t beat Florida’s high school championship team, is better than teams with even three or four losses in the SEC or ACC, is a joke. LSU, Auburn, Georgia, Arkansas, and Tennessee probably all could have beaten Ohio State last night.

Of course, that’s why we need a playoff system rather than a beauty contest.


Tennessee Stuns #9 Cal

The California Golden Bears took their #9 preseason rankings to Knoxville yesterday, hoping to roll over the pitiful Volunteers of last year. Instead, they got taken to the woodshed.

Relief replaced misery on Rocky Top. Nine months ago, Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer was grim as he answered questions about a 5-6 finish, his first losing season and a bowl-less holiday for his Volunteers. He may have been one of the most relieved — but least surprised — among the 106,009 people in Neyland Stadium who watched the 23rd-ranked Vols’ 35-18 win over No. 9 California on Saturday. “We expected to win this ball game and be Tennessee,” Fulmer said.


Tennessee Whups #9 Cal Photo Tennessee wide receiver Robert Meachem (3) beats California's Thomas DeCoud (4), Worrell Williams (1) and Desmond Bishop (10) to the end zone as he scores a touchdown in the second quarter of their college football game on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2006, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) For at least a week, Fulmer will be spared from speculation about how many games he needs to win to keep his job. Fulmer described last year as an aberration, and the Vols might have proved him right.

Tennessee had been 0-6 against top 10 teams in Neyland Stadium since 2000, and many fans stayed to the end. After all, their last glimpse of the 2005 Vols was in an embarrassing loss to Vanderbilt.


For the Golden Bears, it was a shocking blow at the beginning of a greatly anticipated season. Cal’s ranking was its highest since 1952. Many believe this could be the Bears’ year to challenge Southern California for the Pac-10 title, and they still could with this loss outside conference play. But any run at a national championship was likely dashed.

Tennessee has long been a top program in what has traditionally been the most powerful conference in college football. They weren’t going to stay down for long.


Former QB Heath Shuler wins Congressional Primary

Former Heisman trophy candidate Heath Shuler won the Democratic primary in his old home town and will now face a twenty year incumber for Congress in November.

Former University of Tennessee and NFL quarterback Heath Shuler won a congressional Democratic primary Tuesday in North Carolina. Shuler notched 77 percent to beat Michael Morgan, with 62 percent of votes tallied. He’ll face Republican incumbent Charles Taylor, representing the 11th District, who handled opponent John Armor by taking 81 percent of the votes tallied.

Shuler is expected to give Taylor, a veteran representative criticized for his ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a strong run on the general ballot. Taylor, however, has survived a number of Democratic challenges during his 16-year tenure.
“This is the year,” Shuler said Tuesday night. “We continue to see the trend that he has in his votes. He doesn’t reflect our family values, the people in our district or the direction our country should be going.”

Shuler was highly touted for the Heisman as a senior, under the slogan “You must be 21 to win the Heisman.” The number refering to the one Shuler wore on that ugly orange jersey at Tennessee. He did not win the award and was a flop as a pro, however.


NFL Draft 2006 – Round 1 #16 – Miami Dolphins – S Jason Allen

The Dolphins are on the clock with several very good players available. FSU CB Antonio Cromartie is the best player left on Goose’s board at #14 but North Carolina State DE Manny Lawson, ranked #16, is the first player at a position of need. Given this close an alignment between “best available” and filling needs, the latter is the smart choice.

Pick: Tennessee safety Jason Allen

So, they took neither the best available nor the biggest need. I would scoff but have quite a bit of confidence in Miami head coach Nick Saban. And, as the ESPN gang notes, he scouted this guy while coaching at LSU, so he may have special fondness.

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Candace Parker First Woman to Dunk in NCAA Tourney

AP reports on some history being made Sunday in the NCAA women’s tournament.

Candace Parker is a redshirt freshman for Tennessee who can play every position and distribute the ball as easily as she scores. Oh yeah, she dunks, too.

The 6-foot-4 Parker became the first woman to dunk in an NCAA Tournament game Sunday, jamming one-handed on a breakaway just 6:12 into the second-seeded Lady Vols’ 102-54 victory against an Army team that was making its NCAA Tournament debut. Then, for good measure, Parker ensured her place in basketball lore by becoming the first to do it twice in a college game with another one-hander on the baseline. She finished with 26 points in 26 minutes, and added five rebounds, a career-high seven assists, four blocks, two steals — and the feeling of an obstacle cleared.

“It’s a relief to finally do it and get it over with and be done with it,” said Parker, who’s been peppered with questions from fans and even her teammates about when she would finally throw one down in a game.

Parker also made history two years ago as the first woman to win the McDonald’s Slam Dunk contest.

Photo: Candace Parker wins McDonald's Slam Dunk contest There are moments, stunning indelible moments, that transcend sport, crumble barriers and create icons. There’s Billie Jean King beating Bobby Riggs at the Astrodome in 1973. Brandi Chastain clinching the Women’s World Cup in 1999. Annika Sorenstam teeing off at the Colonial last May.

On Monday night, in a cozy high school gymnasium southeast of Oklahoma City, a 17-year-old high school senior named Candace Parker turned in the latest moment. Parker beat out five male competitors to win the Slam Dunk contest of the McDonald’s High School All-American Game. She won with aplomb, too, darting down the left side of the lane, covering her eyes with her left arm and flushing home a right-handed dunk. At 9:06 p.m. CT, Parker sparked a raucous ovation, chest bumps from her teammates and officially launched herself as the female answer to LeBron James.

Parker, who will play for Tennessee next season, stands just a shade under 6-feet-4 and can play all five positions on the floor. The first two-time winner of the Naismith National Player of the Year award, Parker already was billed as the most ballyhooed women’s high school athlete ever. That’s before she joined James, Carmelo Anthony and Vince Carter on the list of McDonald’s Dunk Contest winners. “I’m not surprised, she really plays at the rim,” Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt said Tuesday afternoon after learning of Parker’s winning performance. “Obviously, Candace is a very special player. She’s going to be good for the women’s game. She’s the kind of individual who has a lot of charisma and personality.”

Yes, Parker’s performance suggests she could usher women’s college basketball further into the mainstream with the sport’s sexiest play — the dunk. Only five dunks have been recorded during a women’s college game, three by Tennessee’s Michelle Snow. There has been only one in the WNBA, a Lisa Leslie flush in 2002. “That would be my dream,” Parker said. “For 10 years from now for three or four girls entering the dunk contest and it’s not a big deal.”

We might get there. Whether we’ll get to the point where the woman won’t have a huge edge just because of the novelty factor is another question.


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