Sports Outside the Beltway

Legendary UCLA Basketball Coach John Wooden Dies At 99

NCAA FINAL UCLA WOODENJohn Wooden, the UCLA basketball coach who led his teams to twelve NCAA Championships, died overnight at the age of 99:

John Wooden, a staid Midwesterner who migrated to U.C.L.A. and became college basketball’s most successful coach, earning the nickname the Wizard of Westwood and an enduring place in sports history, died Friday at Ronald Reagan U.C.L.A. Medical Center, where he had been hospitalized since May 26. He was 99.

His death was announced by the university.

Wooden created a sports dynasty against which all others are compared, and usually pale. His teams at U.C.L.A. won 10 national championships in a 12-season stretch from 1964 to 1975. From 1971 to 1974, U.C.L.A. won 88 consecutive games, still the N.C.A.A. record.

Four of Wooden’s teams finished with 30-0 records, including his first championship team, which featured no starters taller than 6 feet 5 inches.

Three of his other championship teams were anchored by the 7-foot-2 center Lew Alcindor, who later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Two others were led by center Bill Walton, a three-time national player of the year.

Wooden retired after U.C.L.A.’s 1975 championship victory over Kentucky. A slight man hugely popular for his winning record and his understated approach, he ultimately became viewed as a kind of sage for both basketball and life, a symbol of both excellence and simpler times.

Even in retirement he remained a beloved figure and a constant presence at U.C.L.A., watching most games from a seat behind the home bench at Pauley Pavilion. Lines of well-wishers and autograph-seekers often snaked their way to his seat in Section 103B. Wooden always obliged his fans, until the university and his family requested that he be granted privacy in January 2008, when he was 97.

A dynasty like Wooden’s would be almost impossible now, because the best players seldom spend more than a year or two in college before turning professional. No N.C.A.A. men’s basketball coach has won more than four championships since Wooden retired. Of Wooden’s eight coaching successors at U.C.L.A., only one — Jim Harrick in 1995 — won an N.C.A.A. championship with the Bruins, who have managed to retain an air of the elite among basketball programs largely on Wooden’s legacy.

Wooden’s success fed upon itself. When he won his first two national championships, landed Alcindor and moved home games to the new Pauley Pavilion, high school stars begged to play for him. Besides Abdul-Jabbar and Walton, Wooden turned out celebrated players like Gail Goodrich, Walt Hazzard, Keith Erickson, Henry Bibby, Lucius Allen, Sidney Wicks, Jamaal Wilkes and Marques Johnson.

“He was almost a mystical figure by the time I got to U.C.L.A.,” said Johnson, a starter on Wooden’s final team. “I couldn’t really sit down and have a conversation with him about real things just because I had so much reverence for him — for who he was and what he had accomplished.”

College basketball is a much different game than it was in Wooden’s game, and it’s unlikely we’ll see the likes of him ever again.


Former Olympic Medalist Wayne Collett dead at 60

He also won 3 consecutive NCAA relay championships while attending UCLA. RIP.

Wayne Collett, a silver medalist in the 400-meters at the 1972 Munich Olympics who starred in the hurdles, sprints and relays at UCLA, died Wednesday. He was 60.

He passed away at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles after a long battle with cancer, the university says after being informed of his death by family friends and his former college coach Jim Bush.

At the 1972 U.S. Olympic trials, Collett ran the fastest 400 time in history at sea level before finishing second in Munich.

He competed for UCLA from 1968-71, winning Pac-8 titles in the 440-yard intermediate hurdles and the 440-yard dash. He anchored three consecutive NCAA championship mile relay teams.


2010 NCAA Women’s Tournament Bracket

Here it is-

2010 Women's bracket

Like with the Men’s tournament, I’ll take a shot at making some guesses predictions in the women’s also.


2010 NFL Draft to include record tying 53 non-seniors

The 2008 NFL Draft also saw the same amount of under classmen. In 2009 the total was 46. From AP-

The expected heavy influx of non-seniors applying for this year’s NFL draft did not happen despite looming labor unrest in the league.

Although a record-tying 53 players declared for early entry, that number released Tuesday by the NFL was short of most projections.

“I think that the colleges have really done a good job of telling these young men how it is to their advantage to stay in school,” said NFL draft consultant Gil Brandt, who helped build the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. “I thought there would be more and I was surprised.”

Six All-Americans did apply for the draft: defensive backs Eric Berry of Tennessee and Joe Haden of Florida; defensive end Derrick Morgan of Georgia Tech; tight end Aaron Hernandez of Florida; linebacker Rolando McClain of Alabama; and wide receiver Golden Tate of Notre Dame.

Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner, also declared for April’s draft, along with Mississippi quarterback Jevan Snead; Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen; Southern California running back Joe McKnight; Cal running back Jahvid Best; Florida defensive end Carlos Dunlap; and Penn State linebacker Navorro Bowman.

Fresno State tailback Ryan Mathews, the nation’s leading rusher, applied. So did tackles Bryan Bulaga of Iowa and Anthony Davis of Rutgers, who are projected to go high in the draft.

I remember when Herschel Walker came out of school(U of Georgia) early and all the controversy it caused. A Herschel Walker today wouldn’t risk a potential big payday in the NFL either.

What I don’t get is how some experts expected the total of non-seniors to be around 100 or a 100% increase from last year. Maybe I’ll find an article that list the college players who stuck it out. A free college education should be valued. One day your sports playing days will end and what will you do for money then? Look at Bernie Kosar who left the University of Miami early for the NFL. Right now he is bankruptcy court.

The entire list of college underclassman declaring for this year’s NFL draft is below the fold.


Are you ready for some bowling? II

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 afternoon, here are the matchups for all the college football fanatics out there.

Note- I gave the shortened name version of all the upcoming games. Also I listed what broadcast network would be televising the game and what time they would be coming on the air. All times are Eastern Standard.

Dec 19

New Mexico- Fresno State vs. Wyoming 4:30 p.m. ESPN
St. Petersburg- Central Florida vs. Rutgers 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 20

R+L Carriers New Orleans- Southern Miss vs. Middle Tennessee 8:30 p.m. ESPN

Dec 22

MAACO Las Vegas- Oregon State vs. BYU 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 23

Poinsettia- Utah vs. Cal 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 24

Sheraton Hawaii- Nevada vs. SMU 8 p.m. ESPN
Dec 26

Little Caesars- Marshall vs. Ohio 1 p.m. ESPN
Meineke- Pitt vs. North Carolina 4:30 p.m. ESPN
Emerald- Boston College vs. USC 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 27

Music City- Kentucky vs. Clemson 8:30 p.m. ESPN

Dec 28

Independence- Texas A&M vs. Georgia 5 p.m. ESPN2

Dec 29

EagleBank- UCLA vs. Temple 4:30 p.m. ESPN
Champs Sports- Miami vs. Wisconsin 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 30

Humanitarian- Bowling Green vs. Idaho 4:30 p.m. ESPN
Holiday- Arizona vs. Nebraska 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 31

Armed Forces- Houston vs. Air Force Noon ESPN
Sun- Oklahoma vs. Stanford 2 p.m. CBS
Texas- Navy vs. Missouri 3:30 p.m. ESPN
Minnesota vs. Iowa State 6 p.m. NFL Network
Chick-fil-A- Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee 7:30 p.m. ESPN

Jan 1

Outback- Northwestern vs. Auburn 11 a.m. ESPN
Capital One- Penn State vs. LSU 1 p.m. ABC
Gator- West Virginia vs. Florida State 1 p.m. CBS
Rose Bowl- Ohio State vs. Oregon 4:30 p.m. ABC
Sugar- Cincinnati vs. Florida 8:30 p.m. FOX

Jan 2

International- South Florida vs. Northern Illinois Noon ESPN2 South Carolina vs. UConn 2 p.m. ESPN
Cotton- Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss 2 p.m. FOX
Liberty- Arkansas vs. East Carolina 5:30 p.m. ESPN
Valero Alamo- Michigan State vs. Texas Tech 9 p.m. ESPN

Jan 4

Fiesta- Boise State vs. TCU 8 p.m. FOX

Jan 5

FedEx Orange- Iowa vs. Georgia Tech 8 p.m. FOX

Jan 6th

GMAC- Central Michigan vs. Troy 7 p.m. ESPN

Jan 7th

BCS National Championship Game- Texas vs. Alabama Jan. 7 8 p.m.

Some random notes on the above 34 games

*- 19 of the 34 games are not scheduled till Dec. 31st or later. I guess college football fanatics are expected to flip channels very quickly on those 3 days(Dec 31-Jan 2) when 15 games are being aired.
*- What a downer must it be for Oregon State players and fans. A few weeks ago they were one win from a Rose Bowl trip. Instead they lost to Oregon and are playing in a minor bowl before Christmas.
*- The NFL network televises a college football game. I guess that’s the cable sports equivalent of the Sci-Fi channel showing wrestling….
*- The bowls are now set where now certain conference finishers are locked into the same bowl games every year. I understand why the current system is done, but I prefer the day when bowl games would have greater variance from year to year. The Peach bowl would usually invite a ACC or SEC school but they could be creative, like when they invited Army and Illinois. Wouldn’t a SEC team against BYU or Wyoming be nice for a change?
*- Bobby Bowden’s farewell game is against the same school(West Virginia) that he left before coming to Florida State. I do know FSU and WV have played at least twice previously in bowls during the Bowden-Florida State era.


UCLA cleared to play opener at Rose Bowl

The Rose Bowl is only 10 miles from the site of wildfires. From AP-

UCLA plans to play its scheduled game Saturday against San Diego State at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena despite the giant wildfire burning to the north in the Angeles National Forest.

Athletics director Dan Guerrero said in a statement Thursday that the decision was made based upon information from local air-quality officials and Pasadena city fire and health authorities.

Guerrero says there were also consultations with the university’s own medical staff.

The Rose Bowl is less than 10 miles south of Angeles National Forest.

A university statement also quotes an air pollution official as saying that weather conditions are expected to improve on Saturday. The forecast calls for sunny skies and a high of 90 degrees.

I used to travel to Southern California quite frequently from 1997 to 2001. The air quality isn’t very good when there aren’t any fires in the area.

UCLA also announced that it will offer complimentary tickets to the game for all Southern California firefighters and their immediate families.

That is very thoughtful. It also makes clear that the game isn’t a sellout. If I was a firefighter or a family member, I’d stay home.


UCLA Tennis player Jeffrey Fleming in a coma after being punched

Is being in a hurry a good reason to potentially kill someone? From AP-

Police say a 20-year-old UCLA tennis player was in a coma after somebody punched him following a country music concert in Dallas.

Jeffrey Fleming of Newport Beach, Calif., was in a Dallas hospital Thursday, but his condition was not available.

He was attending a Rascal Flatts concert with friends Saturday night when an unknown man hit him. His family says he was sucker-punched as he was about to catch a taxi after the concert.

The blow knocked Fleming to the ground, where his head hit the parking lot concrete. The attacker and others ran away.

Bunch of cowards. Whoever threw the punch should have the book thrown at him. In the meantime pray for Mr. Fleming. He may have suffered a serious brain injury.


Former UCLA Football Coach Bill Barnes dead at 91

He both played in and coached a Rose Bowl game. One of his star players at UCLA was Billy Kilmer, who would later play Quarterback in the NFL for San Francisco, New Orleans, and Washington. RIP.

Bill Barnes, who coached football at UCLA from 1958-64, played at Tennessee and was a decorated World War II veteran, has died. He was 91.

Barnes died Thursday of complications from pneumonia at Santa Monica Hospital, where he had been for more than two months, the school said Friday.

Barnes had a record of 31-34-3 in seven years as coach, having taken over before the fourth game of the 1958 season when head coach Henry “Red” Sanders died.

In 1960, led by All-America tailback Bill Kilmer, the Bruins went 7-2-1.

The following season, they won the AAWU (now Pac-10 Conference) championship and lost 21-3 to Minnesota in 1962 the Rose Bowl to finish 7-4.

Barnes earned All-America honors at Tennessee, where he played several positions for coach Bob Neyland. He was on the Volunteer teams that appeared in the 1939 Orange Bowl and 1940 Rose Bowl, where they lost 14-0 to Southern California.

Barnes was an assistant at Tennessee in 1941 and Arkansas from 1946-49.

He served as a major in the Army during World War II, earning two Bronze Stars, a Silver Star, Legion of Merit, a Philippine Ribbon and an Alamo Scout Commendation.

Barnes was an original member of the Alamo Scouts, considered by many to be the first U.S. special forces.


Frank Cornish, Cowboys Super Bowl Lineman, Dies at 40

Former Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Frank Cornish died in his sleep Friday night.  He was only 40.

Frank Cornish (left) and teammate Brian Nielsen meet police constable Sue Dawson before training at London\'s Crystal Palace sports ground in August of 1993. The Dallas Cowboys travelled to England to play an exhibition game with the Detroit Lions.Cornish, an offensive lineman, played for five NFL teams during a six-year career that started in 1990 when he was a sixth-round pick out of UCLA by the San Diego Chargers. He played with the Cowboys on Super Bowl-winning teams in 1992 and 1993, starting five games.


“The Bruin family sends our deepest, heartfelt sympathy to the Cornish family,” said UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel, a Bruin assistant for most of Cornish’s college career. “I was a coach when he was a player, and he was just a gifted guy. Frank was a great guy in the locker room and a huge personality and a fun guy to be around.”

Cornish’s father, Frank played in the NFL in the late ’60s and ’70s.

Frank Cornish IV is survived by his wife, Robin, three daughters and two sons.

Truly sad.


Rick Neuheisel UCLA’s New Coach

Rick Neuheisel UCLA’s New Coach Rick Neuheisel has been hired as UCLA’s head football coach.

Rick Neuheisel is coming back to UCLA — this time as head coach. Neuheisel, who quarterbacked the Bruins to victory in the 1984 Rose Bowl and later served as an assistant under Terry Donahue, was hired Saturday as his alma mater’s 16th coach.

The 46-year-old Neuheisel succeeds Karl Dorrell, who was fired Dec. 3 after five seasons on the job.

“Rick has enjoyed great success throughout his career and we believe he is the coach who can take our program to the next level,” athletic director Dan Guerrero said. “His teams at Colorado and Washington continually challenged for conference championships and national rankings, and that is what we are looking to do at UCLA.”

Neuheisel spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, who finish the season Sunday against Pittsburgh. He served as quarterbacks coach in 2005-06, and was promoted to offensive coordinator last January.

He had a 66-30 record as a head coach at Colorado from 1995-98 and Washington from 1999-2002. He hasn’t been in the college game since Washington fired him in 2003 for participating in a betting pool on the NCAA basketball tournament. He sued for wrongful termination from Washington and settled in March 2005 with UW and the NCAA for $4.5 million.

A great hire. He’s had some problems, to be sure, but he’s a superb college coach. And I suspect he’ll be less anxious to leave UCLA, not only his alma mater but a storied program in a great city, than his previous stops.


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