Being that we are at the end of what has proven to be a tumultuous twelve months, why not take a look back at the biggest sports stories of such a year? After all, I’m pretty sure nobody else does these sort of retrospectives…
15) The Los Angeles Kings Win The Stanley Cup
For purposes of full disclosure, I have a bias on this one; I’ve been a Kings’ fan since I had to hold a puck with two hands. But there’s a couple of reasons why this win by the sole surviving original California hockey team (raise your hand if you remember the California Golden Seals) is a big story.
- The Kings are the first native Los Angeles team (not relocated from another city) to win a championship (Anaheim is NOT Los Angeles).
- The Kings became the first NHL team to enter the playoffs as the 8th seed and eliminate the 1st and 2nd seeded teams in their conference.
- The Kings became the first team to win the Stanley Cup entering the playoffs as a #8 seed.
- The Los Angeles Kings ended one of the longest championship droughts (45 years) when they hoisted the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.
The moral of the story: Don’t look now, but the Golden State is slowly becoming hockey territory. In the last twenty years, California has won more Stanley Cups than Canada has.
14) Johnny Football Becomes Johnny Heisman
The rise of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel had all the media hype of other stories you will see on this list, but it had one crucial difference. Johnny Football became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, thus breaking one of the last barriers in the history of the 50-pound trophy awarded by the Downtown Athletic Club. Manziel literally came from nowhere to the pinnacle of college football in a vote that was never really close.
The moral of the story: Until further notice, the Heisman is an award for quarterbacks and running backs only. If I had a vote, by sticking with the strict definition of the “best player in college football,” my ballot would have been as follows:
- Barrett Jones, C, Alabama
- Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
- Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
13) The Indianapolis Colts Cut Peyton Manning
The Peyton Manning era in Indianapolis came to a rather inglorious, if not completely anti-climactic end on March 7, when team owner Jim Irsay announced at a press conference that the team would release the man who had become the face of the Colts’ franchise. A 2-14 season during which Manning never saw the field due to a neck injury illustrated the need for a consideration for the future in Indianapolis. Couple that with the economic reality; cutting Manning meant the Colts would save a $28 million roster bonus due on March 8, plus be free-and-clear of the remainder of his contract. Add it all up, and it means this move surprised nobody, because it allowed the Colts to have money for the next franchise quarterback, #1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck.
The moral of the story: Even 4-time MVPs are no longer immune to the economic realities of sports.
12) Augusta National Adds Its First Female Members
To be honest, I’m an old-school guy who believes that private clubs should be able to pick and choose who they want as members. That’s why when I first found out that Augusta had caved to a bunch of ball-busting feminists with chin-whiskers and married to sociology professors, my neanderthal heart sank a bit. But when I found out that the women Augusta picked would completely piss-off the “drives a Subaru with a rainbow bumper sticker” crowd, I had renewed faith in all that is right. Who better to do that that the hated George Bush’s Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore, a woman who had the audacity to make a bazillion dollars in the world of corporate finance?
The moral of the story: Social activists, you too need to be careful of what you wish for.
11) The Resurgence of Notre Dame Football
Notre Dame last saw the top of the college football mountain in 1988. In the quarter-century since, the Irish have remained a media darling while simultaneously spending more time as a doormat than a contender. Since that last title, Notre Dame has appeared in exactly five BCS bowls, and has lost every single one of them by at least 14 points. They are 6-11 in bowl games overall in that time. There was a fifteen-year span between 1993 and 2008 where the Irish lacked a single post-season win.
But now they’ve managed to finish the regular season undefeated and ranked number #1, thanks largely to a key goal-line stand in overtime against Stanford, Pittsburgh’s inability to make a clutch kick, and a complete meltdown by Oklahoma. After all that, the Irish are set to face defending BCS champ Alabama for the title.
The moral of the story: Despite all the media attention the Irish are gathering, you would be hard-pressed to hear Notre Dame is a ten-point underdog.
10) The Beginning of the End of the National Hockey League
If you needed a perfect model for how not to run a professional sports league, you need look no further than the NHL. The latest example of their stupidity came with the latest failure to come to a collective bargaining agreement after two months of talks between team owners and the NHL Player’s Association broke down and the league entered its fourth work stoppage since 1992. I’ve never been the commissioner of anything bigger than a fantasy sports league, but even I know that in order to keep people interested in your sport, you need actually to play some games. As of now, that hasn’t happened, and with every passing day, it looks more likely that hockey fans will be deprived of an entire season for the third time since 1994.
It’s time to understand that even die-hard hockey fans like myself are ready to wash their hands of this shit. Idiotus Supremus Gary Bettman and the owners don’t get that they are killing a league over their insistence in making the players’ union pay for their complete lack of business sense. Fellow Sports Blog Movement member Ryan Meehan and I hit on this a while ago, but the keys remain in place. The owners locked the doors because the players wouldn’t accept a new collective bargaining agreement that requires players to accept salary cuts and limits on free agency, despite the fact the owners were more than happy to give those provisions without any threat. The union wants a better revenue sharing plan that help the league’s struggling franchises. Face it, the NHL needs to survive in the Winnipegs and the Buffalos of the world, because in North America, hockey is a regional sport with a limited appeal outside of that region.
The moral of the story: If Meehan, the players, and I can figure that out, what does it say for the future of this league that the owners can’t?
For 25 days last winter, an Asian Harvard graduate was the biggest story in all of sports. Think about that for a minute…Jeremy Lin had been sleeping on his brother’s couch, had been cut by two NBA teams, and was put into a game on February 4th by Mike D’Antoni, whose New York Knicks were so injury-depleted Lin was the only alternative left on the bench besides the towel guy. Lin went on to score 25 points and seven assists leading a comeback over the then-New Jersey Nets. Lin then lead the Knicks to seven straight wins, including one in which he hung 38 on Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. What began with a bang (perhaps literally, judging by the photo above) ended with a knee-injury and a quiet relocation to the Houston Rockets.
The moral of the story: All glory is fleeting.
8 ) Michael Phelps Becomes History’s Most Decorated Olympian
As far as I’m concerned, any guy who won 19 gold medals can do all the bong hits he wants. While most stoners can’t get past micro-waving a burrito and watching Scooby-Doo at the same time, this guy joined a frightfully short list of elite athletes while giggling stupidly at his own own reflection in a sheet of aluminum foil.
Phelps made the cover a Wheaties box in 2008 after he won eight Olympic gold medals in Beijing. but then came history’s most publicized bong toke. Phelps received a three-month suspension from USA Swimming and Kellogg’s said they would not renew their endorsement of the Olympian. which goes to show what dumb-asses they both are. USA Swimming finally re-instated Phelps and he went on to win nine more medals in London this past summer, his 19 medals surpassing the 18 won by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina.
The moral of the story: Somebody ought to start a cereal called Weed-ies.
7) The NFL’s Replacement Referee Debacle
We all know what a debacle the NFL’s use of replacement referees was. The biggest indicator of what dipshits sports commissioners in this country are is that they make me sympathetic to scumbag unions.
The moral of the story: This is just one reason people will look back at 2012 as the beginning of the downfall of the Kommissar Goodell regime.
6) Lance Armstrong Stripped of Cycling Titles
While it isn’t an excuse, there is a shitload of truth in that quote in the above graphic. There’s a huge double-standard about cheating in this country; it is OK when your guy does it. And nobody was more of “America’s Guy” then Lance Armstrong was when was routinely humiliating the French in the Tour de France. That’s really the only reason anybody in America gave a damn about cycling; it was an exercise in hating the perfectly hateable French.
Back in August, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced that it was stripping Lance Armstrong of his record-seven Tour de France titles and barred him for life from the sport after concluding he used banned substances. On October 22, the International Cycling Union (UCI), cycling’s governing body, said that it had officially stripped Armstrong of his seven titles and banned him from cycling for life.
But then comes the part where the hypocrisy comes in again.
“He deserves to be forgotten,” UCI President Pat McQuaid said of Armstrong.
Give me a fucking break. Cycling is the dirtiest of the “dirty” sports when it comes to performance enhancing drugs; what’s going on in baseball might as well be the drug problem in pee-wee T-ball compared to cycling. All the UCI and USADA did was to catch the best cheater in sport filled with cheaters whose lifeblood literally is cheating.
The moral of the story: There’s nothing wrong with anything that sticks it to the French.
5) Speaking of Hypocrisy, Let’s Talk About The NCAA
Question: Do you know what the Jerry Sandusky and Sandy Hook Elementary School situations have in common, besides the fact they both involve monsters whose own self-absorbed impulses were brought to bear on many innocent people? They are both examples of how we in America love to pontificate about horrible things, yet do nothing about them.
In the wake of both of these terrible stories, you didn’t hear one credible person come out and say stupid shit like “I’m glad this happened. We need more events like this to learn our lessons.” Anybody who would have said anything like this would have been stamped USDA Prime Whacko and their words would have been filed in the appropriate plastic-bag lined receptacle. But no matter how many times you let a train run over a coin, it still has two sides, and there were far too many people ready to get on the other side of the bombastic coin from the stamped Whackos.
These were the people who took such a brave stand by table-pounding the obvious “we need to protect our children” reaction. There are lessons to be learned, and there are things as a society we need to do; the trouble is that we as society have completely missed the point.
The NCAA serves as the perfect microcosm of American society, and the ridiculous, pointless, and self-serving crap the NCAA does is a perfect reflection of the society in which it exists. It’s numb-handed response to the Sandusky scandal at Penn State proves that.
After former FBI Director Louis Freeh released his report , the NCAA got into the fashionable “shitting on Penn State” and did it in a completely meaningless way. While Penn State may have received some of the harshest penalties in NCAA history, they were ultimately without real teeth. If you doubt that, let’s break them down:
- A 4-year bowl ban: Normally that would hurt, but at the end of the 2011 season, this team could only qualify for a low-rent bowl where they got smoked by a Houston team whose coach was on his way to making Texas A&M the Belle of the SEC Newbies ball. Nobody saw the miracle incoming head coach Bill O’Brien pulled off; he literally made a team intended to be kicked off the B1G island and made it the second-best team in the conference.
- Loss of 20 scholarships: This does kill bench depth, but lets be honest…you can still win with only three punters on the depth chart. 65 scholarships is still plenty to field a winning team; NFL teams only have 53 roster spots. The only part that could sting is that Penn State can only sign 15 recruits per year rather than the usual 25.
- $60 Million Fine: Penn State has an endowment of nearly $2 billion and has an athletic department that generates cash in gorgon-like quantities. $60 million to them is the change you keep in your car’s cup holder for toll booths.
- Loss of shared conference bowl revenue for four years: This is estimated to be around $13 million per year. See above.
- Five years probation: That might as well be Dean Wormer’s “double secret probation” from “Animal House” since the NCAA really has no interest in handing out real punishments.
- Players were allowed to transfer without penalty: The team still won eight games.
- Vacating of all wins from 1998-2011: Record book hocus-pocus. This was only done to screw Joe Paterno, who was already dead by the time this move was made. Utterly pointless.
In other words, the NCAA didn’t do anything substantive after the Sandusky situation just like we won’t solve the problem after Sandy Hook.
The moral of the story: I can’t wait for NCAA President Mark Emmert to weigh in on gun control.
4) The Ongoing Tim Tebow Saga
Where do I start start with this? Here’s a guy who sold more jerseys than anybody before he even took a single NFL snap. Here’s a guy who stays in the headlines despite the fact he’s only taken 50 snaps this season as a New York Jet. Here’s a guy who everybody keeps saying isn’t an NFL quarterback, and yet right now we are talking about where is the next place he “isn’t” going to be an NFL quarterback.
The moral of the story: I’ll buy lunch for the first person who can explain Tebow-mania to me in 50 words or less.
3) The “Bounty-Gate” Debacle
Too bad NFL Commissioner Kommissar Goodell doesn’t have a paper towel good enough to clean up the mess he made.
Think about it for a moment. How many times have you seen a guy over-estimate his power, do something completely stupid because of that over-estimation, then need somebody to come in and clean up the mess. I guess former commissioner Paul Tagliabue is the one who had the big roll of paper towels.
To make a long story short, “Bountygate” blew up in Goodell’s face when he mistakenly assumed the players he suspended would simply roll over and take his brand of “justice.” But when Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Scott Fujita were reinstated by a three-members appeals panel. which included former NFL head Paul Tagliabue. The panel overturned a ruling that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was within his powers to suspend the players for their alleged roles in a pay-to-injure agreement.
What it all boils down to is that in the end, Goodell managed to emasculate himself, and required Tagliabue to get him out of the mess he made for himself. In other words, the commissioner did not have the final say; the former commissioner did. I don’t know of too many executive-level managers who stay employed after they need to be bailed out, especially when Tagliabue was only intended to review Goodell’s decision to impose suspensions on four New Orleans Saints players and instead found the action so flawed he had to vacate those suspensions.
The moral of the story: This is another reason people will look back at 2012 as the beginning of the downfall of the Kommissar Goodell regime.
2) Miguel Cabrera Becomes Baseball’s First Triple Crown Winner in 45 Years
Miguel Cabrera became the first player to win baseball’s Triple Crown since Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, and just the 15th player ever. This puts Cabrera on a list with baseball royalty which includes Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, and Lou Gehrig. Cabrera led the American League with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBIs.
The moral of the story: Dude can hit.
1) The Los Angeles Dodgers Are The First Sports Franchise to Sell For $2 Billion
The Los Angeles Dodgers were sold to a group that includes NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson for a final sale price of just over $2 billion. That represents the highest price any sports team has ever sold for — by a wide margin.
Television money for live sports is skyrocketing, and it’s driving up the values of sports teams not just in the United States, but around the world as well. People keep trying to tell me baseball is dead, and a baseball team just sold for a staggering amount of money. If one were to pay that $2 billion in cash, you would need sixteen standard shipping pallets stacked four feet square with $100 dollar bills. And the prices are only going up.
Want to buy a European soccer team? Soccer is the world’s most popular sport, so you’d better bring your wallet. Manchester United was the first team to break the the billion-dollar barrier, and that was a decade ago. Now, buying a top team in the English Premier League will easily cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.5 billion. If you still want a big-time European soccer club, but want to save your pennies, you might be able to get Real Madrid for just under $2 billion. Even the Jacksonville Jaguars, arguably the least-valuable franchise in the NFL, just sold recently for $770 million.
The moral of the story: Television money is exploding sports as we know it.
If you are a regular reader of Dubsism, you know we’ve covered the Jerry Sandusky case in detail. Back in July, after the release of the Freeh Report, we released an exhaustive review of that report. While there was much blame to go around, one of the key questions we asked at the time was why was former Penn State president Graham Spanier not facing any criminal charges for his conduct in this case? From our findings, we outlined ten reasons why Spanier needed to face some type of sanction, if not outright criminal charges.
- Potential perjury count #1: Testifying to the 2001 grand jury he was unaware of the 1998 investigation against Sandusky, even though emails from 1998 show him discussing the investigation with athletic director Tim Curley and university vice president Gary Schultz.
- Potential perjury count #2: Repeating this claim to the Special Investigative Counsel, and stating he “never heard a report from anyone” that Sandusky was abusing children.
- Ethics Violation #1 and #2: Failing to notify the Board of Trustees that an investigation of a prominent assistant football coach was underway, withholding this information from them even while the board was considering (and approving) a favorable land deal between the university and Sandusky’s Second Mile charity.
- Ethics Violation #3: Approving and pushing for Sandusky’s emeritus rank—and the facility access privileges that came along with it— despite Sandusky not qualifying for it by the established academic rules.
- Ethics Violation #4: Declaring Curley’s plan to suggest Sandusky stop hanging around children, without actual sanctions, to be “a humane approach.”
- Potential perjury count #3: Telling the Special Investigative Counsel his first knowledge of the 1998 incident came at the April 2011 grand jury appearance, when notes from his Attorney General interview a month prior reveal he was questioned about it then.
- Ethics Violation #5 and Potential Misappropriation count #1: Approving an unprecedented $168,000 lump-sum retirement payment to Sandusky in 1999.
- Ethics Violation #6: Showing no interest in identifying the child involved in the 2001 incident or ascertaining whether or not a crime had occurred.
- Ethics Violation #7 and Potential Contributing count #1: Opposing any and all independent investigations into Sandusky’s behavior.
- Potential falsification of records count #1: Modifying the November 2011 Board of Trustees statement without their knowledge or approval, asserting that Curley and Schultz requested administrative leave rather than that the board had decided to place them on leave.
By our count, we have seven ethics violations, and criminal acts of perjury, misappropriation, and falsification of records.
Today, the wait ended. According to CNN, Spanier will face five criminal charges: obstruction of justice, perjury, conspiracy, endangering the welfare of children and failure to report allegations of child abuse. Former Penn State vice-president Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley, who were already indicted and facing trial in January on charges of perjury and failure to report allegations of child abuse. Today’s indictment also charges Schultz and Curley with obstruction of justice, conspiracy, and endangering the welfare of children. Now, Spanier, Schultz and Curley face the same charges related to the Sandusky case.
All are expected to be arraigned on all charges today.
In total, Spanier faces eight criminal counts: one for perjury, two for endangering the welfare of children, one for obstruction of justice, one for failure to report report allegations of child abuse and one count each for conspiracy to commit perjury, obstruction of justice, and endangering the welfare of children. Three of these counts are felonies.
Naturally, Spanier denies the charges:
Attorneys for Spanier blasted the review, calling it a “blundering, indefensible indictment” and “a flat-out distortion of facts” that was “infused with bias and innuendo.” [...]
“I am aware, as I said in my letter to the board of trustees, that I was apparently copied on two e-mails,” Spanier told Toobin. “I didn’t reply to them. The first e-mail that I saw didn’t mention anybody’s name. It simply said something to the effect of ‘The employee will be interviewed tomorrow,’ something like that, no name mentioned. Then, about five weeks later, I think it was, I was copied on another e-mail that said, ‘The interview has been completed, the investigation has been completed, nothing was found, Jerry felt badly that the kid might have felt badly.’ “
Linda Kelly, the Pennsylvania Attorney General, disagrees. From Sara Ganim of the Harrisburg Patriot-News:
“This was not a mistake, oversight or misjudgement. This was a conspiracy by top officials at Penn State.”
The bottom line was that nobody was dirtier in how the whole Sandusky affair was handled than Spanier. The Freeh Report makes it very clear that former Penn State president Graham Spanier is an excellent candidate for a grand jury indictment of his own, and today he finally got it. The cover-up may have started started with Curley, Schultz, and Spanier, but Spanier was clearly the ring-leader.
At the end of the day, it matters little that justice moves slowly; what matters is that justice is done.
This will be the first Penn State post I’ve written in months which is solely about football. I’ve got plenty of other posts in which I discuss the obvious problem we’ve just dealt with. There are a bunch of kids who showed the one thing Paterno always preached: loyalty. Now its time to talk about them and the game they play; there’ s plenty of other places to discuss the ugliness of the past nine months.
I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel a bit strange to be writing about a Nittany Lion football team which now finds itself without the man who built the program. Not only is this team entering the post-Paterno era, but its also one that has some immediate needs on the field.
The dawn of the Bill O’Brien era in State College is going to face some immediate challenges. Contrary to what people may think, this isn’t the year Penn State football is going over the cliff due to the sanctions NCAA imposed. With the exception of the bowl ban, those penalties won’t start to show their effects until 2013.
So, let’s talk about the upcoming season. Don’t let PSU’s nine-win season in 2011 get in the way of the truth. The Nittany Lions have many personnel issues to address, and even without the obvious distractions, they were at best a fringe Top-25 team going into 2012. They can forget about that now. A breakdown of the 2011 season illustrates why.
Penn State’s 2011 wins over Temple, Iowa, Northwestern, Illinois, and Ohio State (by a combined total of 33 points) kept the Big Blue’s faithful hopes alive that the Nittany Lions were a team of destiny in the Big Ten; they had the inside rail to the inaugural Big Ten championship game. But those dreams ended on the turf in Camp Randall Stadium in Madison when Wisconsin used 22 starting Big Blue Nittany Lions jerseys as floor mops. Wisconsin provided a physical mismatch along the lines of what Alabama did to Penn State at Beaver Stadium in early September.
Both were telling losses.
In both the cases of Alabama and Wisconsin, Penn State’s offense went nowhere against a competent defense.
In both cases, the hallmark blue bulldozer offensive line of a Paterno team proved to be only adequate at best.
In both cases, the Nittany Lions proved they lacked a difference-maker at quarterback. Penn State’s sole touchdown against Alabama came in garbage time; it was clear the Big Blue offense had no shot at finding the end zone against the Crimson Tide when it mattered. The drubbing at Wisconsin was even worse. If there was a silver lining in the last few dreadful months, it was that Penn State is finally rid of alleged quarterback Rob Bolden with his transfer to LSU. Now, the team is all Matt McGloin’s; which should be an improvement simply because there will be no more of this two-quarterback nonsense.
Any honest Penn State fan has no choice but to admit the issues along the offensive front and at quarterback. McGloin helps to solve the problem under center, but the front five doesn’t look to be getting better anytime soon. But there’s another big problem nobody is really discussing. A Paterno team with a bad offensive line is shocking enough, but Penn State has a HUGE weakness on defense: they can’t stop the passing game.
Even with All-American Devon Still on the defensive line, Penn State throughout 2011 lacked the ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks. It didn’t get any better going further back; the defensive secondary was the Nittany Lions’ hidden weakness. Paterno’s trademark defensive style depended on a brutal defensive line and linebackers who treated opposing offenses like the Vikings treated the villages they invaded. Without that sort of pillaging power, Penn State’s 2011 defense relied far too much on a second-rate secondary in an era when the Big Tweleveten is no longer a conference based on “three yards and a cloud of dust.” Today, as we speak, you can beat the shit out of Penn State all day long throwing the football because their soft zone defense just doesn’t cut it in a league that transformed with the Joe Tiller/Drew Brees approach.
It didn’t get any better in the low-rent bowl game where Penn State’s defense got humiliated by Case Keenum of Houston and the offense couldn’t muster more than two touchdowns against a glorified FCS team.
Having said all that, Bill O’Brien has three major on-field challenges. By the way, don’t be that guy who is going to comment with the obvious when it comes to sanctions, recruiting issues, and the like. We all already know that…save your breath and try thinking outside of the box. Now, back to the on-field challenges facing Bill O’Brien.
1) The Offensive Line:
Ironically, it will be how O’Brien tackles the blocking issue which will determine how deep the recesses of NCAA sanction-land are going to be. It’s a football fundamental. If you can’t block, you can’t win. If Penn State can’t at least get guys off the line of scrimmage, the ghost of Joe Paterno will go to the undisclosed location where they are hiding his dismounted statue and chop it up himself.
2) The Defensive Line:
As he has said throughout his time at Penn State, O’Brien said on Thursday that the defensive front seven would the strength of the 2012 Nittany Lions. This may very well be an improved unit as Jordan Hill, Da’Quan Jones, Pete Massaro, and Sean Stanley are on track to start up front, but this unit will be deep. The same is true for the linebacker corps with Gerald Hodges, Michael Mauti, and Glenn Carson in starting spots, but there are several players capable of providing significant playing time.
3) The Secondary:
The secondary has a number of good returning players like Stephon Morris, Malcolm Willis, Adrian Amos, and Stephen Obeng; but there are also some youngsters who have a chance to help improve this unit, such as Da’Quan Davis and Jordan Lucas.
The Bottom Line:
There were three times last year when the Nittany Lions were clearly over-matched. They couldn’t handle the speed of Alabama, Wisconsin’ s dual-threat quarterback Russell Wilson gave them fits, and Houston’s pure-passer in Case Keenum did little more than expose the Penn State secondary. Even though this marks the beginning of a new era in Penn State football, the solutions to these problems have roots in the past. For Penn State to have a winning season, they must control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. They also must improve on pass defense; the Big Twelevten is now full of offenses which love to throw the ball.
September 1st – Ohio
Ohio is a good MAC team, but they are still a MAC team traveling to Happy Valley. Three years from now, Penn State may be Purdue’s homecoming bitch, but even Purdue can beat MAC teams.
September 8th – at Virginia
Here’s the first road test, and the first chance to see how brutal road fans are going to be. Both Virginia and Penn State figure to be middle-of-the-pack team in their respective conferences.
September 15th – Navy
See the synopsis of the Ohio game and replace the term “MAC” with “Service Academy.”
September 22nd – Temple
Temple never once beat a Joe Paterno team. This is isn’t a Joe Paterno team anymore, but this also isn’t the year this streak ends.
September 29th – at Illinois
Penn State opens conference play on the road, and Big Blue doesn’t have a very good record in conference openers away from Happy Valley. Both these teams had disastrous ends to their seasons last year, and this will be a question of who made the right moves to right their respective ships.
October 6th – Northwestern
The last time these two teams met in Pennsylvania, Northwestern rocketed out to a three-touchdown lead before Matt McGloin led the Nittany Lions on a 2nd half comeback. Neither team will be as good as they were two years ago.
October 20th – at Iowa
Even good Penn State teams have been snake-bit against the Hawkeyes in the last decade, and that streak doesn’t look likely to end this season, especially not in Kinnick Stadium.
October 27 th – Ohio St.
I really hope this is the beginning of a great rivalry between Bill O’Brien and Pope Urban I. Since both teams are bowl-ineligible, this could prove to be a slug-fest for bragging rights in one of the hotbeds of football in America.
November 3rd – at Purdue
Here’s the bitter rivalry game, not for what happens on the field, but because this represents a division in the Dubsism house. As previously mentioned, J-Dub is a Penn State alum and Mr.s Dubsism graduated from Purdue. Either way, the local police will surely be at the Dubsism house; it’s just a question of who is leaving in handcuffs.
November 10th – at Nebraska
Once again, Penn State has some of its toughest games late in the season. This likely will be a long day for the Nittany Lions.
November 17th – Indiana
Indiana never once beat a Joe Paterno team in conference play. This is isn’t a Joe Paterno team anymore, but this also isn’t the year this streak ends.
November 24th – Wisconsin
I’m not going to be a fan of this game at the end of the schedule, considering for at least the next four years this will mean my last view of Nittany Lion football will be a 30-point drubbing at the hands of the Badgers.
Ohio, at Virginia, Navy, Temple, Northwestern, Purdue, Indiana
at Illinois, at Iowa, Ohio State, Nebraska, Wisconsin.
If it weren’t for the ineligibility, Penn State would likely find itself in another low-rent bowl for the second-division Big Tweleveten. But, since that won’t be the case, the Nittany Lions will have to settle for a seven-win season and continue to focus on the future.
With the release of the report concerning The Pennsylvania State University’s (Penn State) handling of the Jerry Sandusky case written by former FBI Director Louis Freeh and commissioned by the Penn State Board of Trustees, an emotional firestorm has erupted over it’s contents. If you’ve been a reader of this blog, you know this isn’t the first time I’ve addressed this situation, but barring the discovery of new and relevant material germaine to the story, this is going to be the last time. With Joe Paterno in his grave, Sandusky in his cell, and far too many lives and careers destroyed, the first and foremost of those being Sandusky’s victims, it is now time to look back, learn some hard lessons, then move forward while ensuring those lessons learned get applied.
I’ve said it before, and I will say it again…in fact I will keep saying it because at the outset of this situation, I said there were only two points which mattered, and nothing contained in the Freeh Report changes those:
- We as a nation must do whatever we can to protect our children, and we must be sure to do whatever we can to help and support the victims.
- We as a nation must do whatever we can to ensure this does not happen again.
For that matter, the opening paragraphs of my original piece on this matter still hold true:
The whole point of this blog from its inception has been to provide a unique view of the world of sports. More often than not, this has been done with a sense of humor, sometimes a thick sense of satire, and sometimes by being completely absurd. However, there are times where I abandon all pretense and speak in a very blunt and direct manner because of the seriousness of the subject matter.
Obviously, my discussion of what happened at Penn State will be one of those times. Frankly, this has been a time of great personal angst for me; it doesn’t take long reading through the archives of this blog to discover that I have a connection to the university and that Coach Paterno has been a revered figure in my life. Most obviously, this will be one of those times because there is nothing funny about the sexual abuse of children…
…Stopping this from happening again is the only facet of this discussion in which I’m interested, and it renders all the other aspects of the discussion utterly pointless, with the sole exception of examining them in order to understand the pathology of such horrible events…
…That’s really why I didn’t write this piece on Monday as the real ugliness of this story was breaking. But today, I feel compelled. Once I saw the grand jury report come out, I knew my personal feelings about Coach Paterno no longer mattered in this affair. I knew nobody’s personal feelings mattered anymore, but I also knew those feelings were going to drive the debate. This was going to cause a massive outpouring of those emotions, which I knew would need to be avoided because to get to the bottom of why things like this happen, we as a nation have to take a hard look at our methods of organizational management…
Like I said, those points all still hold true. The Freeh Report has in many ways managed to rip those aforementioned wounds open again, but this time it took the arguments whose facts were previously unknown and gave them a framework for which the time is right for the retrospection and soul-searching need to ensure…this does not happen again.
To that end, I gave the Freeh Report – all 267 stomach-churning pages of it – an exhaustive and detailed read, and for purposes of furthering the learning exercise I firmly believe this whole tragedy needs to be, I’ve broken it down to several points which need to be considered fully in order to further the previously-cited and exclusively important matters.
That leads us to the purpose of the Dubsism Report. This is not intended to be a rehash of the Freeh Report, although it will be heavily quoted. This is in no way a defense of Paterno, Penn State, or anybody else related to this situation. Instead, the Dubsism Report is going to amplify some findings in the Freeh Report, clarify some others, disagree with some, and offer material not contained in the Freeh Report to support the assertions of the Dubsism Report.
The over-arching goal of this report is to take an exhaustive investigation like the Freeh Report and allow it to become a learning tool. To accomplish that, the Dubsism Reeport will explore three main questions.
- How this really happened? Lots of material in the Freeh Report is being ignored by the media, and some people who have huge culpability in this matter are are “getting off easy.”
- Who is ultimately responsible? It’s easy to see how this traveled in the Penn State community, but does some blame travel beyond State College?
- What has to happen to ensure this never happens again? Ultimately, nothing else matters beyond this. There are some hard lessons in this situation which need to be learned by every single one of us. If we do not learn from this so we can better protect our children, we become meaningless as a society.
Section I: The Major Findings of the Dubsism Report
1) The Freeh Report Did Not Spare Those Who Commissioned It
2) Penn State Had Organizational Knowledge of the Sandusky Situation As Far Back As 1998
3) No One Person Was Dirtier in the Handling of the Sandusky Situation than Graham Spanier
4) The Citing Of The Clery Act Contained a Misguided Attempt To Blame This All On Joe Paterno
5) The “Moral Compass” of Penn State’s Leadership Was Seriously Mis-Calibrated – That Includes Paterno, But Not to the Degree of Spanier, Schultz, and Curley
6) The “Retirement Deal” Was a Death Warrant for Sandusky and Penn State
Section II: Matters Not Fully Detailed By The Freeh Report
1) The University’s Exposure to Civil Liability via the Actions of Sandusky and Spanier
2) The Misperceptions of Joe Paterno, Both in the Arena of Public Relations and Contained in the Freeh Report
- That For Which Joe Paterno Was Not Guilty
- Paterno’s Failure to Act Pales In Comparison to the Actions of Spanier, Curley, and Schultz
- Paterno Did Not Fail To Show Contrition
- That For Which Joe Paterno Was Guilty
- Paterno Knew More Than He Told The Grand Jury
- Paterno’s Biggest Mistake: Was It A Result of Misplaced Loyalty, Horrible Judgement, Missing His One Real Opportunity To Do The Right Thing, Or All Of The Above?
3) Guilty Parties Not Assigned Their Fair Share of Blame By The Freeh Report
- Dottie Sandusky
- The Second Mile Foundation
- University Police Chief Thomas Harmon
- Current Penn State President Rodney Erickson
4) How Paterno’s Death Changed How This Matter Was Handled
5) The Hypocrisy of the NCAA
6) The Diseased Culture of Penn State Was Mirrored In The Statue Debate
Section III: The Factual Legacy of Joe Paterno
1) Joe Paterno: The Man
4) The Ironic Fall From Grace
Section IV: Conclusions and Summary
1) How This Really Happened?
2) Who Is Ultimately Responsible?
3) What Has To Happen To Ensure This Never Happens Again?
It had to happen, and it only took a week in the wake of the release of the Freeh Report. From Yahoo Sports:
A member and former chairman of the Penn State board of trustees has resigned, saying his presence on the board had become ”a distraction and an impediment” to the university’s efforts to move forward following the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
Steve Garban’s resignation Thursday night made him the first board member to leave since the crisis engulfed Penn State.
Frankly, they all need to go. If you’ve read the Freeh Report, you know there is a detailed chapter on the culture of Penn State which allowed the Jerry Sandusky situation to happen. The only way you change a culture is to changes it’s leadership.
Garban, who had stepped down as board chairman after Sandusky’s November arrest but had remained a board member, was harshly criticized over his handling of the Sandusky case. Fellow board members and alumni had called for him to resign.
I love the calls from the fellow board member. Like I said, they all need to go. Today.
The bottom line of the Freeh Report is as follows:
An internal investigation by former FBI Director Louis Freeh found that Garban was briefed twice about developments in the Sandusky case but didn’t share what he knew with the entire board, depriving trustees of a chance to prepare for the worst crisis in Penn State’s 157-year history.
Freeh’s 267-page report portrayed a disengaged board that handed too much responsibility to the university president and failed to investigate deeply enough once it became aware of a grand jury probe.
After the report’s release, trustees accepted responsibility for a failure of oversight and said they were ”deeply ashamed.” Board Chairwoman Karen Peetz, who announced Garban’s resignation in a letter on the board’s website, said at the time that no trustee would step down, however.
That last paragraph shows the problem. The trustees “accept the responsibility,” yet are not resigning en masse.
Here’s Garban’s role in the scandal.
In April 2011, the report said, Spanier told Garban about a grand jury investigation of Sandusky. Garban, in turn, failed to alert fellow board members. Garban told investigators that Spanier downplayed the Sandusky probe, and he recalled his former boss saying, ”It was the third or fourth grand jury and nothing would come of it,” the report said.
Then, on Oct. 28, Garban learned from Penn State’s chief lawyer that two university administrators were about to be charged with failing to report suspected child abuse. Garban told investigators he was ”astounded” when he saw Sandusky in the Nittany Lion Club at Penn State’s home game against Illinois on Oct. 29. Yet he informed only two other trustees – James Broadhurst and John Surma – that charges against Sandusky, Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz were imminent.
Former general counsel Cynthia Baldwin told Freeh’s investigators that she thought Garban, as ”conduit to the board,” would have alerted his colleagues about the Sandusky investigation. Garban told trustees he kept it from them because he was not sure that criminal charges would come to pass, according to the Freeh report.
That’s pretty damning stuff, but there’s so much blame to go around in this situation it literally boggles the mind. In the next few days, the Dubsism Report on the Freeh Report and The Post-Mortem on the Penn State Scandal will be released. The Dubsism Report will not only put the findings of the Freeh Report in proper perspective, it will offer some information crucial to the situation which was not covered in the Freeh Report. More importantly, the Dubsism Report will cut through the media bluster surrounding this situation to hit three main points.
- How this really happened: Lots of material in the Freeh Report is being ignored by the media, and some people who have huge culpability in this matter are are “getting off easy.”
- Who is ultimately responsible: It’s easy to see how this traveled in the Penn State community, but does some blame travel beyond State College?
- What has to happen to ensure this never happens again: Ultimately, nothing else matters beyond this. There are some hard lessons in this situation which need to be learned by every single one of us. If we do not learn from this so we can better protect our children, we become meaningless as a society.
Before you get wrapped up in pointless debates about statues and legacies, you will want to read the Dubsism Report on the Freeh Report and The Post-Mortem on the Penn State Scandal which will be published early next week. It may very well change your opinion of this entire matter; it will certainly change your perspective.
Stay tuned for further details.
A few minutes ago, the child molestation trial of former Penn State Jerry Sandusky went to the jury. Now that we are on the verge of the end of this chapter of this terrible saga, it is time to look at four things that will be a part of the Penn State future no matter what the jury finds.
1) Jerry Sandusky was convicted in the court of public opinion months ago.
That means there will be big negatives regardless of what the jury does. Since there are only three possible outcomes here, there are also a limited set of responses.
- The jury finds him guilty.
This will result in a never-ending self-congratulatory parade of the self appointed moralists I called out at the beginning of this mess. Don’t get me wrong, I got kicked off the Penn State island for saying Sandusky deserved to go to prison and that Joe Paterno needed to no longer be the head football coach. The problem is as I explained in the linked article that even if Sandusky rots in prison, we still haven’t solved the situation that allows the creation of the next child-raping monster. All the “Sandusky getting raped in the prison shower” jokes you are going to hear won’t change that.
- The jury finds him not guilty.
Get ready for a damning of the jury system as a whole much like we saw after the O.J. Simpson murder trial. You saw this after Barry bonds essentially got off after being flayed in the court of public opinion, and there’s even similar grumblings about Roger Clemens. Imagine what will happen after all the media folks who swore Sandusky was headed to the slammer get a face full of judicial egg.
- The jury doesn’t return a verdict.
A ‘hung jury” is the worst case scenario. Not only would it result in a spate of media debate over guilt or innocence, but I’m fairly certain we will be treated to a never-ending series of civil suits, not the least of which may very well be the Paterno family suing the university for wrongful termination.
2) It’s a blessing Joe Paterno didn’t live to see this.
The bottom line to all of this: The sole reason Paterno had to lose his job was because he was the “face” of a diseased culture; a diseased culture which meant EVERYBODY had to go, form the university president to the lowliest graduate assistant. Everybody needed to go, which is why the “who knew what when” argument was so utterly pointless when it came to Paterno. Again, I covered this argument in the linked article: I won’t rehahs it here.
3) An entire university will suffer due the acts of one person.
Never, ever forget this is all about Jerry Sandusky. The actions of everybody involved in this, with the sole exception of his victims, were reactions based on the actions of Sandusky. But it is hard to not notice that Penn State as an institution has suffered because of Sandusky.
For example, peruse the listings of the Big Ten Network when it comes to the ever-present classic football games they are always showing. I couldn’t tell you the last time I saw a Penn State game. The fact Penn State has suddenly dissappeared from the Big Ten network is odd considering that PSU has figured prominently in the conference since joining it nearly two decades ago. I’ve seen more games with perennial B1G bottom-feeder Purdue than the Nittany Lions. Is this a quiet shunning? Nobody knows but I would love to ask that question to somebody at the Big Ten Network.
4) There’s only two things that really matter in all of this:
Making sure the victims get all the help and support they need, and ensuring this never happens again.
From PennLive, the following is offered completely without comment…
BELLEFONTE — An Internet-born character called “Pedobear,” which mocks pedophiles or is their mascot, depending on which website you believe, is at the Centre County courthouse this morning, outside the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse trial.
The trial is winding down. The defense is expected to finish its case today. Ex-Penn State coach Sandusky denies allegations that he sexually abused 10 boys over 15 years, all of whom he met through his Second Mile children’s charity.
The bear character, meanwhile, was interviewed by some media. Its website is vague about what the bear does exactly, but does point out that it’s not for the easily offended.
Alleged child-raping monster meets internet meme…we are very near the end of civilization.
Let’s be honest, 2011 was a lousy year in sports. Just look at all the stories which happened in that twelve-month span which completely took away the usual uplifting nature of sports. So, as part of moving forward, I thought it was time to take a look back to a year which for me was the opposite of this one most recently and thankfully past.
That year was 1987.
Ironically, as 2011 brought the low point in the history of Penn State football, 1987 brought one of the highs. The Nittany Lions came into the Fiesta Bowl in 1987 as a prohibitive underdog against the brash, trash-talking Miami Hurricanes. Joe Paterno’s traditional style of football served as the classic antithesis to the wide-open style of Jiimmy Johnson, but the Hurricanes flat-out got beat. If you were watching college football in 1987, there is no way you can forget Pete Giftopoulous’ game-sealing interception in the 4th quarter; the one that cemented Penn State’s second National Championship.
Later that year came the culmination of the 1986–87 season in NCAA men’s ice hockey. To most people, that isn’t such a big deal, but when your alma mater prints its diplomas on hockey pucks, North Dakota’s defeat of Michigan State to capture it’s 6th National Championship was a big deal on that campus.
The end of March means spring is most places, but Grand Forks, North Dakota is not one of them. The average temperature in Grand Forks in March is about 20 degrees Fahrenheit; average of course meaning a great deal of the time it is significantly colder than that. In short, living in Grand Forks in March means nearing the end of a winter where you’ve been trapped indoors, left to three main forms of entertainment: eating, drinking, and fornicating. Naturally, after a while, you become a fat, drunken hump-meister that needs no reason to party.
The Fighting Sioux were such fun to watch that winter; their dominance of the indoor ice was an antidote to the ever-present outdoor variety; in January in Grand Forks, even the air freezes. But thanks to a complement of talent such as Ed Belfour, Tony Hrkac, Bob Joyce, and Ian Kidd, the atmosphere around North Dakota Fighting Sioux games on Friday and Saturday nights warmed to a simply sub-arctic Bacchanalian orgy filled with the aforementioned three surrounding activities. That is why to this day, there is a hockey puck on my desk to remind me of the the hockey season in which I drank more beer, ate more pizza and after-bar food (for those of you who know…who else misses The Red Pepper?), and had more sex than in any other six-month period in my life.
As long as we are on the subject of things that forever combined the concepts of ice rinks and sex, when is there a better time to mention East German figure skating gold medalist Katarina Witt?
After all, when’s the last time you remembered a figure skater for her serious upper-body pride rather than her triple axle?
If a figure skater who doesn’t look like a hockey stick wearing toe-pick blades is rare, then the phenomenon known as Mike Tyson must have been the sporting world’s version of Haley’s Comet.
The boxing world hadn’t seen anything quite like Mike Tyson before, and it certainly hasn’t seen anything quite like him since. The year before, Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion at just 19 years old. In March 1987, Tyson nearly (and ironically) crushes several James “Bonecrusher” Smith’s internal organs; a victory which unified the WBA and WBC heavyweight titles. Already the the year before, Tyson became the youngest undisputed heavyweight champion in boxing history.
Over the course of the next year, Tyson left a trail of corpses formerly known as challengers (four in all) to retain his title. Early in 1988, he added the last of the great “old-school” heavyweight champs to his body-count when he separated Larry Holmes from his consciousness; the only time Holmes ended up looking up during a ten-count in 76 career bouts.
1987 marks the apogee in the meteoric orbit of Tyson’s career; this the last year before the tumult takes over. The following years will bring his divorce from actress Robin Givens, after being accused of domestic violence, the firing and subsequent suing of his manager, breaking his hand in an early morning street brawl, two car accidents (one of which was reportedly a suicide attempt), a rape conviction and related prison sentence, a drug conviction with another stint behind bars, and the Evander Holyfield “ear biting” incident.” Somewhere in that freight train of fouls, Tyson lost the title to a club fighter named Buster Douglas, never to regain it.
Now, let’s go from the rare to the unbelievable. Those of you under 30 may never swallow this, but there was a time in this country when people were all jacked up over yachting, specifically the America’s Cup. Remember that in the 1980’s, thanks to the “Miracle On Ice” and two Olympic boycotts in that same decade, international competitions became more of an issue of national pride than they had ever been previously. This was magnified when it came to the America’s Cup, which not only is the pinnacle of the yachting world, but had never been outside the possession of the Americans in it’s entire history, which dates back to just after the Civil War.
That all changed in 1983 when Kookaburra III, a tub from the Royal Perth Yacht Club wrested the Cup from the Newport Yacht Club. Seriously, people went crazy over this loss. Stories came out about how there was talk replacing the Cup’s place in the club’s trophy case with the head of the skipper who lost it. ESPN got the rights to broadcast the races when the American challenger went to Australia. People stopped in their tracks to watch two hours of boats. Water cooler sports-talk included terms like “jibs” and “tacking.” It was like the Olympics with flat-soled shoes, life jackets, and that white sun-block stuff on your nose.
When skipper Dennis Conner led challenger Stars & Stripes ’87 of the San Diego Yacht Club to a four races to none Cup win over the Australian defender, he literally became a national hero.
Believe it or not, for two weeks in 1987, America went boat-shit crazy.
As far as more conventional sports are concerned, 1987 offered two of the great championship series in sports.
First, there was the NBA Finals. It would be easy to simply say the “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers which I grew up on (my dad had season tickets) beat the hated Boston Celtics 4 games to 2. While I loved the outcome, just focusing on that would ignore so many great points of this series.
For example, this series was such a perfect contrast in styles. There is no better word to describe the Lakers than “dominant.” They were a beautiful blend of speed and power, of flash and fundamentals that when they were firing on all cylinders it mattered little who they faced.
Despite that, the Celtics offered the effective foil; not only were they the defending champs, they did it in a way that was a complete opposite of Los Angeles. The Celtics played high-school half-court basketball, but they played it better than anybody ever did.
Even though they were already a championship caliber club, The Lakers were a team on the way up. Michael Cooper emerged as a guard who offered match-up problems of anybody else in the league, A.C. Green, James Worthy, Mychal Thompson, and Kurt Rambis offered a mix-and-match option for a front-court that could beat you ant any game you wanted to play. This was augmented guy named Magic Johnson who was a point guard in a power forward’s body, and was better than anybody at either position. Even the grand old man, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar still brought his unstoppable “Skyhook” to the mix.
Meanwhile, even though they were the defending champions, the Celtics were a ship taking on water. The fact they made it to the finals was a major accomplishment, considering the death of Len Bias, the ongoing infirmity of an aging Bill Walton, and nagging injuries to Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. Boiled down to basics, this meant the Celtics did not the horses to run with the Lakers.
This is why the Lakers were such a prohibitive favorite. It’s also why just zipping ahead to a Laker 4-2 win is a mistake. Had this series gone seven games, it would be regarded as one of the great NBA Finals of all time.
The Celtics were, for all practical purposes, playing with five players. The Celtics had to play perfectly to win; they did it twice and nearly pulled it off a third time, which is really the only reason this series only went six. It all started in Game 1, when at one point Larry Bird hit 11 shots in a row. This showed the younger, faster Lakers that the Celtics were so resilient that if they lapsed even the smallest bit, Boston could capitalize on that slip.
Secondly amongst the “big” sports came the “boys of summer.” In a year packed with basketball, boxing, and bimbos, baseball belted the prize-winning punch.
For openers, there were so many guys who had great “pre-steroid” seasons. A look at the league leaders in the “Triple Crown Categories” will lead you to that conclusion.
- American League: Wade Boggs, Boston, .363
- National League: Tony Gwynn, San Diego, .370
- American League: George Bell, 134
- National League: Andre Dawson, 137
- American League: Mark McGwire, Oakland, 47
- National League: Andre Dawson, Chicago, 49.
1987 also had a story one might think impossible; a player being traded for himself. Granted, it wasn’t the first time it happened. Thanks to he provision in baseball trades known as the “Player to be named later” (PTBNL), there have been two times when a player has been named on both sides of a trade.
In April 1962, the expansion New York Mets traded catcher Harry Chiti to the Cleveland Indians for the aforementioned PTBNL. By June, the Indians discovered why Chiti was on the trading block to begin with; the Indians gave Chiti back to the Mets as the PTBNL.
The same situation arose in 1987 with career bullpen jockey Dickie Noles. Noles had been ping-ponging around the league as a “have fastball, will travel” type, but in 1987 the last place Cubs offered Noles to the first-place Tigers as one of those trade deadline “bolster the playoff run” moves to which we’ve become so accustomed. The trouble is that Noles sucked so bad the Tigers didn’t want him either, so he was shipped back to the Windy City as…you guessed it…the dreaded PTBNL was also traded for himself in 1987, in a deal between the Cubs and Tigers.
But the real story of baseball in 1987 is the Minnesota Twins. The magic started in June, when the Twins went 18-9 to capture first place in the American League West. They would never be worse than tied for the lead again that season. But it was August when the stars really seem to align for the nine of the North Star state
August 3 – In a moment that brings this team to national attention, Twins pitcher Joe Niekro is suspended for 10 days for possessing a nail file on the pitcher’s mound against the defending division champion California Angels. Niekro claimed he had been filing his nails in the dugout and put the file in his back pocket when the inning started. He later makes an appearance on the David Letterman show in which he makes light of the incident by showing Letterman exactly how to “doctor” a ball.
August 6 – Later in the same West Coast road trip comes the moment where the Twins never look back. The Twins are opening a four-game set with another contender, the Oakland A’s. In Bottom of the 4th inning, the Twins have a 3-1 lead and a one-out, bases-loaded chance to blow the game open thanks to an error by A’s shortstop Alfredo Griffin. The Twins do just that when Kirby Puckett ropes a bases-clearing double off 20-game winner Dave Stewart to put Minnesota ahead for good. The Twins win the game 9-4 to capture sole possession of first place, a lead they would retain until Friday, August 28th…or as I will always call it “The Weekend in Milwaukee.”
August 20 – Even though they’ve just been swept by the Tigers, it dawns on me that the Twins can’t win on the road, but can’t lose at home. This becomes CRUCIAL as this is in the days when the home-field advantage for playoff series were scheduled in advance; in 1987 the American League West Champion would have home field in the championship series, and the American League would enjoy that same advantage in the World Series. This is when I become a firm believer that all the Twins needed to do in win the AL West, and a World Series title would be coming to Minnesota for the first time.
August 29 – The Saturday of “The Weekend in Milwaukee. ” The Twins had lost to the Brewers the night before to find themselves again tied for the AL West lead. The Twins have Bert Blyleven pitching, and the feel in the air is this game is a “must-win” for the Twins playoff hopes.
In the top of the first, Gary Gaetti belts a two-run shot to put the Twins ahead early. Puckett adds a solo shot in the top of the third. By the top of the fifth, the Brewers crept back to 3-2, until Puckett added his second home run of the day. Puckett’s bomb opened the flood gates to a Twin 7-2 lead as it was followed by an RBI single by Tom Brunansky and a 2-RBI single my Steve Lombardozzi. Later, Kent Hrbek blasted a three-run dinger to seal the deal. The Twins capture sole possession of first place and never relinquish it.
August 30 – The Sunday of “The Weekend in Milwaukee,” otherwise known as the day I accepted Kirby Puckett as my Lord and personal Savior. Puckett leads the Twins to a 10-6 victory by going 6-for-6, including two more homers, two doubles, and 6 RBIs. This made for a two-day total in a critical series of 10 hits in 11 at-bats, 4 home runs, 8 runs batted in, 7 runs scored, and 24 total bases. Oh, and somewhere amongst that offense-gasm, Puckett also robbed future Hall-of-Famer Robin Yount of a home run.
There were so many more moments along the way to the Twins World Series Title…the game against the Royals when the Twins rode three first-inning home runs to clinch the division title, or Game 4 of the ALCS where the Tigers’ Darrell Evans became the goat to end all goat, or hometown hero Kent Hrbek’s game-sealing grand slam in Game 6 of the World Series.
There were also many firsts. The Twins were the first team with only 85 regular-season wins. Game 1 of the 1987 World Series was the first World Series game played indoors. It was also the first World Series in which the home team won every game. Most importantly, it was the Twins first Championship since the franchise moved to Minnesota.
Every January since this blog was created, we here at Dubsism have given an award for achievements during the previous year in some under-recognized categories in the world of sports. In prior years, the nominations for the awards were done exclusively by an internal committee. This was the first year we allowed nominations from the general public. Between our committee and our valued readers, we had more quality nominations than we could ever possibly use. However, in cases where we received an outstanding nomination, we made sure to recognize those who submitted it.
With that, and after careful consideration, here are the winners for the 2011 Dubsy awards.
The Mickey Klutts Award for Unfortunate Naming
Winner: Chicago Bears fullback Tyler Clutts
We really had no choice but to go with a guy so closely named as the award’s namesake. After all, whether you are an infielder – or in Tyler’s case, a fullback – you still have to handle the ball, and being named for a ten-thumbed oaf just can’t help.
Honorable Mention: St. John’s forward God’sgift Achiuwa
This may be my favorite college basketball name since God Shammgod played for Providence back in the 90’s. Its gets better when you consider Gods’gift has three brothers named Promise, Precious, and God’swill; and two sisters named Grace and Peace.
How is this unfortunate? Because you just know there is some English Lit major working at the St. John’s campus newspaper dying to make all sorts of poet-geeky John Milton/Paradise Lost jokes the minute the Red Storm lose.
We also have to give a shout out to the many of you who nominated both Doug Fister and Charlie Furbush. If only this had been the “Beavis and Butthead” award…
Previous Winner: Gregor Fucka
The Bobby Knight Award for Achievements in Dramatic Public Meltdowns
Winner: UTEP basketball head coach Tim Floyd
Floyd exemplifies the type of rage that was shown by the award’s namesake. The February loss by UTEP to C-USA foe East Carolina would normally have been unremarkable except for Floyd’s award winning performance, in which UTEP racked up five…count ‘em, five… technical fouls.. Two coaches were ejected and Floyd himself had to be escorted off the court by the cops. The video is priceless; things get fun at the 1:23 mark…
Honorable Mention: Coastal Carolina Head Football Coach David Bennett
The ability offer this kind of wisdom explains why Bennett is the reigning Big South Coach of the Year. In an attempt to get his team jacked up for an upcoming game against rival Catawba College, Bennett uncorked a wonderfully deranged theory on the relationship between cats and dogs.
Previous Winner: Former Cubs’ manager Lou Piniella
Winner: Scorch, mascot for the Boston Blazers
I had no idea wearing a big, fuzzy head while cheering on an indoor lacrosse team made one a
chick skank magnet. Apparently, its the prime way to get lap dances during an intermission. Who knew?
By the way, you can’t tell me the expression on the mascot’s face isn’t completely perfect…you can tell inside that suit there’s a Blazer Boner.
Honorable Mention: The University of Minnesota’s Goldy Gopher
Honestly, who amongst us hasn’t wanted to shit-hammer a mascot? Since I can’t really improve on the oddities of this story, I’ll just give you the raw details from from the Minnesota Daily:
An irritated fan punched Goldy Gopher in the face during a men’s gymnastics meet Saturday night at the Sports Pavilion.
During the meet, the University of Minnesota mascot sat behind Douglas Dokken, 60, and started “messing with him,” witness Barry Colthorpe said. Goldy tapped Dokken on the shoulder and ruffled his hair.
First of all, why is a mascot hanging out at a gymnastics event? Secondly, who knew anybody showed up at gymnastic meets? Thirdly, who knew the gymnastics crowd were such ass-kickers?
Colthorpe said Dokken was ignoring Goldy’s antics, but within a couple of minutes, he snapped, turned around and punched Goldy in the face.
Goldy froze, but within moments of the first punch, Dokken wailed another, forcing Goldy to leave the area…Goldy immediately talked to his supervisor and the police officer who was already stationed at the event. He is not reported to have been hurt, but the mask was damaged.
So, it seems somebody did know how dangerous the gymnastics crowd can be since there was already a cop there. But who knew mascots had supervisors? How does one become a mascot supervisor? Don’t you think maybe the mascot supervisor should have stepped in when it became clear his mascot was clearly pissing off somebody’s grandfather?
Security personnel arrested Dokken as soon as the meet finished. Dokken was issued a citation for disorderly conduct and a trespass warning banning him from the Sports Pavilion and Williams Arena for a year, University police Lt. Troy Buhta said.
They should have given him a medal. I hate that freakin’ Gopher.
Previous Winner: Alphie the Wolf (University of Nevada)
The Budd Dwyer Award for Excellence in Career Suicide
Winner: Former Washington Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman
Jim Riggleman felt he deserved better. Perhaps he did; that’s open for debate. But no matter the reason, giving your boss an an ultimatum is never a good idea.
Rigs wanted a contract extension from the Nationals, and general manager Mike Rizzo remained very stand-offish about discussing it, so much so that Riggleman demanded a meeting to finalize such an agreement minutes before they club was leaving for a series in Chicago.
That was bad decision number one.
Riggleman compounded that by forcing Rizzo’s hand – “either schedule a meeting with me or I quit right now.” He may as well just shot himself in the face.
Granted, Rizzo didn’t help matters any, after all Rizzo didn’t even have the stones to tell him “you’re not our guy” to his face. Not to mention, from an organizational leadership perspective, sending a message to your people that you don’t care about them is far worse than anything Riggleman did. Despite that, Riggleman is the one who brought things to a head at an incredibly inappropriate time, did so in a manner that really didn’t allow his boss any choice other than to be extorted, and placed his own concerns above those of a team with which he was engaged in contractual obligation.
That was bad decision number two; the fatal one.
As badly as Mike Rizzo handled the situation, Riggleman committed career suicide inasmuch as it bodes badly for a man in a leadership role to walk away from a commitment to his team over over what is essentially a disagreement with his boss. This is why Riggleman will never manage in the major leagues again.
Honorable Mention: Former Chicago Bears Wide Receiver Sam Hurd
This guy screwed up two careers because one of them happens to be rather illegal.
In mid-December, Chicago Bears wide receiver Sam Hurd was taken into federal custody after he tried to set up a huge drug deal with an undercover agent, buying a pound of cocaine from the agent. The 26-year-old Hurd allegedly was interested in buying 20 pounds of cocaine and 1,000 pounds of marijuana a week to distribute in the Chicago area. Hurd was cut from the Bears after his arrest, and then was released from federal custody after posting a $100,000 bond. Hurd faces up to 40 years years in prison if he is convicted and receives the maximum penalty for the alleged crimes.
Previous Winner: Former Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins
The Ed Hochuli Award for the Best Call
Winner: The Signs of the #OccupyGameDay Movement
ESPN sucks. The Dan Patrick Show rules. The signs are awesome.
Frazier gets this Dubsy simply because he was the first credible guy to confirm what the evil little troll known as Mike Shanahan figured out one trade too late. Donovan McNabb is washed up (Andy Reid doesn’t count because he was too wrapped up in the Kevin Kolb/Michael Vick wet dream).
Previous Winner: A guy holding a sign at a hockey game which said “Are you pregnant, Ref? Because You’ve missed two periods!”
The Jason Sehorn Award for Being Completely Overrated
Winner: Kim Kardashian
If it weren’t for the fact she keeps notching her lipstick case with B-list jocks, we’d have no need to pay attention to her. We’d have no reason to care about those who think she is the hottest thing on two legs.
Forget for a minute that she’s had more athlete meat than every sorority in the SEC combined. If she really were the hottest woman on the planet, what’s she doing marrying some D-list hump like Kris “I Wish I Were The SportsChumphries, Not The HumpDashian” Humphries? Not to mention, if we are to believe the rumor mill, she left that 7-week marriage because she had an itch only Reggie Bush can scratch.
For a C-list guy, Reggie Bush must have some serious trouser magic. After all, so far he’s dicked an entire university, two NFL franchises, and the biggest butt this side of Jennifer Lopez.
But, I digress. Honestly, it’s not like she’s hideous; give Joe Namath a few drinks and he’d probably want to kiss her too. But let’s be even more honest – I could easily name at least 50 women I’d rather know in the biblical sense than anybody named Kardashian.
Honorable Mention: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo
There’s two ways to look at this. You can either believe it took a sham of a marriage to keep a Dubsy out of Romo’s hands, or you can believe this is just another example of Romo not being able to win at ANYTHING. Either way, you can’t be surprised that Romo’s name pops up here, considering he’s “waiting to live up to his potential” for eight years now. Face it, the guy is 31 years old, which statistically places him the back half of his career. It also means we’ve seen his potential. He’s mediocre at best, he’s not going to get any better. Deal with it.
Previous Co-Winners: Tim Tebow and LeBron James
The Clinton-Nixon Award for Cover-Up Futility
Winner: Former Penn State President Graham Spanier
I’ll be honest, there were a ton of nominations for the Penn State and Syracuse sex abuse scandals in some other categories for Dubsy awards. This meant the awards committee had some hard choices to make.
First of all, J-Dub recused himself since he is a Penn State alum. Then it became a question of whose behavior was really award-worthy. Besides, his views on this matter are already on record.
Secondly, the only award child-raping monsters like Jerry Sandusky and Bernie Fine deserve are heavy, blunt ones which are swung into their skulls leaving fatal wounds.
Then it became a question of people who lost their jobs as a result of these situations. The Budd Dwyer Award for Excellence in Career Suicide is really about sticking the gun in your own mouth, not getting fired for the actions of others, even if you covered up those actions. Besides, if you are a dinosaur like Joe Paterno or Jim Boeheim, it doesn’t matter how your job ends; you aren’t getting hired anywhere else because you are OLD.
The Penn State situation unfolded as it did because of two key components. First, there was the prerequisite for this category; the cover-up. Even if you don’t believe the grand jury testimony which led to the filing of the charges, the Sandusky trial eventually will draw out the details of who knew what and when they knew it; a trail which ultimately ends at Spanier.
Moreover, it is the manner in which Spanier handled this situation when the news broke about the charges being filed against former assistant Jerry Sandusky, athletic director Tim Curley, and vice president Gary Schultz. Simply stated, it was the worst handling of a crisis I’ve ever seen.
If you recall, the news broke about the indictments on a Saturday afternoon. At this point, none of the heinous details were readily known and the news cycle wasn’t really going to pick up any traction with this until the following Monday. That’s the key to all of this; the reason why the Penn State story blew out of the sports section and onto the front page and the story at Syracuse didn’t.
Spanier called a press conference on Sunday afternoon. This was stupid move #1, because it sent up a big, red flare there was a panic breaking out amongst the Penn State administration. Stupid move #2 came during that presser; the moment when Spanier offered the table-pounding defense of Sandusky, Curley, and Schultz, going so far as to use the now-fatal phrase “unconditional support.” Those two words allowed every news commentator on the planet to portray everybody at Penn State as having not a single interest in the well-being of the victims. Once that genie was out of the bottle, it was never going back, and an entire university now bears a mark of shame due to the actions of a few stupid self-preservationists.
Honorable Mention: Former Ohio State Head coach Jim Tressel
The whole reason why this award is named for the two most recent presidents who are arguably most remembered for their cover-ups, because nobody seemed to learn the lesson about the cover-up being worse than the crime. To mix metaphors, the bottom line is that the shit always hits the fan when the cat gets out of the bag.
Don’t forget, this whole thing at Ohio State started over some tattoos and memorabilia. If Tressel had come clean at first, he’d still be wearing red sweatervests. After all, the NCAA didn’t even kick him or the players out of the Sugar Bowl last year when this story first broke. In fact, they only imposed a sanction which didn’t kick in until the following season.
That can only mean that the punishment wasn’t going to be that severe, so Tressel might as well have just bitten the bullet. Even after the fact, Ohio State only loses a handful of scholarships and one year of post-season suspension. He would have never…repeat NEVER…been fired if he had just told the truth.
Previous Winner: Former USC athletic director Mike Garrett
The Charles O. Finley Award for Achievements in Cheap
Winner: The Tampa Bay Rays (submitted by Chris “Don’t Call Me Kris” Humphries from SportsChump, one of the best sports blogs out there that isn’t this one. In fact, it just won one of those Salvadoran-style web elections).
This one really doesn’t take long to explain. The Rays have been been a contender for the last four season without spending any money. In fact they were the catalyst for the collapse of the big-money Boston Red Sox despite having the 29th payroll in baseball.
Honorable Mention: Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling
If you ever needed a poster-child for the fact the evidence the NBA Lockout was a screw-job designed to benefit about 10 owners and the top 5% of players in terms of income, Donald Sterling is your poster child.
Sterling bought the Clippers in 1981 for $12.5 million, and today that team is worth somewhere in the $400 million dollar neighborhood. That waaaay outstrips the value indexed against inflation, so Sterling has made a ton of money on a team that has been little more than a league bottom-feeder for three decades.
My favorite example of what a cheap bastard Sterling is: When then-Clippers’ head coach Kim Hughes needed surgery for prostate cancer in 2004, Sterling refused to pay for an out-of-network procedure, leading Yahoo! Sports blogger Kelly Dwyer to brand him the “worst person in the world.” The bill of $70,000 was paid by some current and former Clippers players, including Corey Maggette, Marko Jaric, Chris Kaman, and Elton Brand.
Previous Winner: The Pittsburgh Pirates
The Joe Kapp Award for Being Run Out of Town
Winner: Former Boston Red Sox Manager Terry Francona
Terry Francona is the perfect example of why Boston sucks not only as a sports city, but as a collection of human beings. Instead of running him out of town over some bullshit about guys misbehaving in the clubhouse, they should have built a statue of him. After all, this guy did something twice in a few years that NOBODY had done in 86; bring a championship to one of the most undeserving franchises in all of sports.
Never marry a Bostonian. The minute you do, you open your world to a never-ending litany of excuses, not to mention you can spend years providing a lifestyle better than they had before your arrival, then the minute the ebbs flow, you are yesterday’s newspaper. Every single Boston-born sports fan out there has an “ex” they dumped because they got sick, lost a job, or generally did anything that didn’t work to some Bostonian piece-of-crap’s advantage.
Here’s another case of a guy who inherited a team that was a dog-initiated steaming coil on a winter sidewalk, and with veritably no support from management took that coil into the playoffs. The collapse that followed this year had nothing to do with Haley. How did anybody expect this guy to win with this team living through the “digging out from under Charlie Weis” effect, especially after Matt Cassel got hurt?
Previous Winner: Former Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen
The Bobby Layne Award for Best Performance While Drunk
Winner: Former U.S. Ski Team Member Robert “Sandy” Vietze
“Former” is the key word here. After all, who knew getting drunk on a flight and peeing on somebody’s kid would get you A) punched in the face, B) arrested, and C) kicked off the ski team?
Cue “quote gold” in 3…2…1…
“I was drunk, and I did not realize I was pissing on her leg,” he is quoted as saying.
Time for more honesty…who amongst us hasn’t gotten bombed and peed on somebody?
Honorable Mention: The Unnamed Eustis High School football player
Why do these stories always happen in Florida? From the Orlando Sentinel:
Several Lake County school employees including two coaches are under investigation as to whether or not they allowed a Eustis High School football student to play when he was drunk.
The district would not confirm whether the student was in fact drunk, but said a student was disciplined after a preliminary investigation.
The word is that this unnamed player drank beer before the game, so much so that he was visibly intoxicated, complete with slurred speech and even a barf or two. Despite that, it is alleged that the coaching staff knew he was drunk but put him in the game anyway.
Previous Winner: Indianapolis Colts’ punter Pat McAfee
The Artis Gilmore Award for Achievements in Hair Boldness
Winner: Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasly
Uhh, Mike, I don’t care if you are 6’10” and 240 pounds…headbands and braids are for CHICKS. Now, either go get a MAN’S haircut, or get your kibbles clipped and play for the Minnesota Lynx.
Honorable Mention: Oakland A’s Outfielder Coco Crisp
There’s something special about the power of the afro, but we do have to appreciate the sense of tradition in baseball with Crisp’s straight-up shout out to Oscar Gamble.
Previous Winner: Troy Polamalu
The Kyle Orton Award for Achievements in Partying
Winner: Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki
Forget that Nowitzki is about two dribbles from passing out. Forget that he is wearing a woman’s earring. It’s more important what she’s wearing…his t-shirt. Let’s be honest, women don’t wear the clothes of men from which they haven’t a sampling of his “low post” moves…
Honorable Mention: New England Patriots quarterback Ryan Mallett
It’s called dedication. Forget that you have a reputation for being a party animal. Forget the fact that reputation cost you some serious money when you plummeted in the draft. A man has to stick by his principles, even if that means getting piss-drunk during your rookie orientation. According to Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports, Mallett stayed up “all-night partying” during the NFLPA Rookie Symposium in July.
Previous Winner: San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum
The Vasily Alexseyev Award for Plus-Sized Achievment
Winner: New England Partriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork
This is a new award named for the recently-departed greatest superheavyweight weightlifter the world has ever seen. While many of his records have since been broken, he remains the only competitor to set 80 of them. Despite his 50-inch waistline and proclivity for 36-egg omelettes, Alezseyev is one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen, and this award will be given annually to another big guy whose done big things.
Wilfork not only did a big thing for a big guy to do, he did it twice within two weeks of each other. First, he gets an interception and returns it 30 yards against the Chargers, then two weeks later does literally the same thing, just with a slightly shorter return. It is a feat for a defensive lineman to get one interception in his career, let alone two in two weeks. But the fact that Wilfork actually piled up close to fifty total return yards without consuming the contents of every oxygen tank in the stadium in nothing short of miraculous.
Honorable Mention: Fox Sports’ Tony Siragusa
Let’s be honest, we have to give props to anybody who breaks down the blow-dried, make-up wearing barriers in sports broadcasting, especially when that guy gets close to four full scale spins and looks so much like an extra from The Sopranos he actually was one.
The Vinko Bogotaj Award For Epic Failure
Winner: The NBA Owners and the Player’s Union
Seriously, a pox on both their houses. This became an epic failure the minute the league started canceling games. Make no mistake, both sides were responsible for this train-wreck.
The owners plotted this for two years. Now, you have to give them credit for devising and carrying out an effective strategy, but the fact they were out to recoup the store they so stupidly gave away the last time speaks to their collective idiocy.
Meanwhile, the players spent so much time sitting around with their thumbs up their asses they never bothered to prepare themselves for what was coming. Nobody from the players side seemed to understand they were going to have the weak position in the negotiations, and nobody did anything to fix that. They had more than one opportunity to win the PR war, but they never realized it.
I could go on all day about how both sides acted stupidly on their own, but that takes a lot of delving into details about a war that already over. Instead, lets’ look at how they acted stupidly together.
First of all, there was the Jonestown-like Kool-Aid march into a stand-off. For two sides quibbling about money, don’t you think that strangling the sole revenue source (games people pay to see) is about the dumbest thing they could do?
Then, there’s the complete screw-job both sides laid on the fans. If you got lost in picking sides, you got suckered. Did you ever once hear anybody that mattered in that whole debate say anything about the impact on the fans?
Honorable Mention: The Boston Red Sox (submitted by Lauren from Too Soxy for My Shirt, a wonderful blog for all the angst that comes with being a Red Sox fan)
How can you not mention blowing a nine-game lead in September? This team, which was supposed to be to be-all, end-all for American League baseball, ultimately couldn’t even beat the sorry-ass Orioles with their playoff lives on the line.
Previous Winner: Xavier guard Dee Dee Jernigan
The Gene Mauch Lifetime Achievement Award
Winner: Former Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan
This award is given annually to somebody who has been around forever, but never won anything.
Jerry Sloan resigned as the head coach of the Utah Jazz on February 10, 2011. Before then, he was the longest-tenured head coach in American major league sports with their current franchise once Tom Kelly stepped down as manager of the Minnesota Twins in Major League Baseball in 2001.
Sloan has one of the all-time great resumes for a guy who never won a ring. Sloan is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. NBA commissioner David Stern called him “one of the greatest and most respected coaches in NBA history.” Sloan had a career regular-season win–loss record of 1,221–803, placing him third all-time amongst NBA coaches. He was only the fifth coach in NBA history to reach the 1,000 victory milestone, and he is the only coach in NBA history to record 1,000 wins with one club; the Utah Jazz. He also coached for one team longer than anyone in NBA history, having manned the Jazz bench for 22 seasons.
In all that time, Sloan led the Jazz to 15 consecutive playoff appearances from 1989 to 2003. That makes him one of only three coaches in NBA history with at least 15 consecutive seasons with a winning record; Pat Riley and Phil Jackson being the other two. He led Utah to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998, but lost to the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls both times. After all that, it isn’t as astonishing that he never won an NBA Championship as it is that he never once won a Coach of the Year award.
Previous Winner: Former Minnesota Vikings head coach Bud Grant
A week ago, Tennessee Titans head coach and former Penn State offensive lineman Mike Munchak was slated to be the successor to Joe Paterno. A few days ago, New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien was allegedly getting the job. Now, CBS Pittsburgh is reporting that San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman “is reportedly on a “short list” of candidates to replace Joe Paterno as Penn State’s next head football coach.”
Penn State needs to look down the road to the situation Pittsburgh found itself in last year. The major danger Penn State faces is that they find themselves in a situation where they may be expecting the act of hiring a football coach to be able to solve some problems which it inherently cannot.
I’m going to do a major quoting of a piece posted a year ago, because it outlines perfectly all the pitfalls a Penn State is facing in its search for a head coach. Pittsburgh hired Mike Haywood was hired last year, then was fired less than three weeks later when he was arrested on a felony domestic battery charge.
The following two paragraphs describe the problem:
It is crucial to understand what this situation indicates. This is not about whether it is right to fire a guy on that whole “innocent until proven guilty” argument. This is not about how football coaches jump from job to job. This is about what happens when you hire people into jobs based an anything other than that individual’s ability to do the job.
Coaching in college football is such a wonderful example of this. Coaches so easily become the face of so many other things besides football that it becomes monstrously easy to lose sight of what a football coach is supposed to do. The two core competencies of a college football coach are 1) recruit players and 2) lead those players on Saturday afternoon. The minute you stray away from those two criteria in selecting a coach, you run the risk of disaster. As shown by example below, there are five main fallacies that derail coaching hires.
Obviously, whoever takes the Penn State job is going to face some monstrous challenges. But more importantly, Penn State needs to understand that it can’t afford to get desperate and make a bad hire. Just revisit the “five fallacies:”
Example #1 – Mike Price
The Fallacy: “Let’s not overthink this decision because nobody could be as bad as the guy we just fired.”
The Story: In order to get this one you need to follow a real halibut. Enter Dennis Franchione. Franchione was a terrible hire at Alabama, and when they finally ended the relationship, Mike Price was just coming off taking Washington State to a Rose Bowl. That was all “Roll Tide” Nation needed to hear; Price was named their new head coach. However, Price would coach the same number of games in Tuscaloosa as Haywood will in Pittsburgh; it took no time at all for Price to get caught paying for lap dances with his University credit card.
The Lesson: Just because a guy is a winner doesn’t mean he isn’t either dumb or have character issues.
In Penn State’s case, this should be self-explanatory. Imagine the public relations nightmare they would have on their hands if they hire a guy who immediately creates another scandal.
Example #2 – George O’Leary
The Fallacy: “We don’t need to check anything. This is our guy.”
The Story: This happens when a major power broker in your program gets to make arbitrary decisions. Some guy who wields an inordinate amount of power picks out the coach he wants, and nobody else has the seeds to challenge the power says anything, and worse yet, nobody bothers with doing the due diligence. That’s how Notre Dame hired a coach, THEN discovered his resume belonged in the Saturday Review of Fiction.
The Lesson: There’s no excuse for not doing the required reading; due diligence exists for a reason.
You can totally see this happening in State College, because it is very clear there is a well-defined power structure within the University and the athletic department, and it’s also very clear they are adept at not seeing things they don’t want to see.
Example #3 – Dan Hawkins
The Fallacy: “He won there, he can win here.”
The Story: Here’s another example there’s a big difference between the “Big” conferences and the smaller schools. Hawkins is another example of a guy who won small, but had no idea of the difference. For example, if you going to make your kid the quarterback, you can get away with it if your kid is John Elway.
The Lesson: Winning isn’t universal. Hire a coach who can grow beyond the role of a glorified high-school coach.
It concerns me that none of the three names mentioned at the beginning of this article have any real head-coaching experience at the college level…not so much because of what it says about those coaches, but that the search committee may not be able to get an existing college coach to even return their phone calls.
Example #4 – Rich Rodriguez
The Fallacy: “This is the best guy out there, so we better grab him.”
The Story: This one just ended, and it ended badly. We all saw that, but we may not have seen why it failed so badly. Rodriguez is one of those “gimmick” coaches; the kind that has some quirky offense that allowed him to get some success in a place where he had enough time to recruit a base and institutionalize his gimmickry. Urban Meyer got everybody to buy that “spread option” crap, but then again he had this guy named Tebow. RichRod can’t get a guy like that, so hiring him means losing to MAC teams and Purdue.
The Lesson: The “best guy out there” isn’t the best if he doesn’t fit; you can’t put a Cadillac engine into Ford Taurus.
This is where the Mike Munchak possibility scares me a bit. He is a successful pro coach, but he is also “part of the family; ” being a Penn State alum. Family members don’t do very well when they have to change the family culture, and being part of a major culture change is going to be a major part of this job.
Example #5 – Mike Locksley
The Fallacy: “Our head coach has to be a certain kind of individual.”
The Story: This can be the deadliest of the fallacies listed here, because it can be a three-headed dragon.
1) “We need a guy who excites the fan base.” Please tell me if you have the foggiest notion of what that is supposed to mean.
2) “We need a guy who can move the program in the right direction.” I love it when I hear this one; isn’t it assumed you would want to do that? Does anybody hire the guy who they hope destroys their program?
3) “We need to hire a black guy.”
The Lesson: Let’s cut through the politically-correct crap here. This conversation happens all the time, and terrible coaches get hired all the time because of it. This is because we have a false belief operating in America that any vocation that has a lack of black participation is undoubtedly practicing racism. This is how we get coaches like Mike Locksley.
Last year, it was clear that Pittsburgh fell victim to all five of the above listed fallacies involved in hiring a head coach. That happened because the former head coach had clearly left a bad taste in somebody’s mouth, considering the way he was hastily kicked off the island.
That situation got magnified in the Paterno case, and it also shares the same sense of urgency considering it certainly feels like somebody decided Penn State needed to get a coach in place fast because, amongst other reasons, national signing day was right around the corner.
Like I’ve said before, every hire has at least one of these fallacies. Good ones have only one. Catastrophic hires have three. But when you hit all five, you have clearly hit rock bottom in making hiring decisions, and desperation is the best way to do that.