Thursday, February 22, 2007

A SLAP ON THE WRIST, A PAT ON THE BACK

You remember Stephen Garcia's punishment for the inebriated, exposed performance in Five Points?
Well, C&F hopes you didn't blink. Because if you did, you missed it.
Got punished worse than Garcia did.
In more pleasant news, Syvelle Newton is getting geared up for the combine. He's shooting for a spot at WR, since he is, after all ((cough cough hack hack)) 6'2" ((cough cough hack hack)).
Also has four hands. Don't you see them?
Best of luck, Syvelle.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

NCAA: LEADING THE WAY IN POINTLESS SYMBOLISM SINCE 2007

In the most important achievement of his tenure as head of the NCAA, Myles Brand has succeeded in eradicating a Native American mascot. And he didn't even need firewater to do it.

CHAMPAIGN -- As cameras flashed and students cried, University of Illinois' controversial mascot Chief Illiniwek burst onto the basketball court Wednesday night for his final, 3-minute dance.
He left, then returned for a solemn curtain call, standing tall as he raised his arms and turned to each section. Then he gave one final kick and left Assembly Hall, the end to an 81-year-old, tradition.
Though the chief has been surrounded by intensifying unhappiness over the last few years, the subject of threats and lawsuits and NCAA sanctions against the university, Wednesday's finale in front of a noisy pro-chief crowd was a nostalgic lovefest.
"To have him gone is like losing a family member," said Jen Suerth, a graduate student, who was crying and shaking as she lined up courtside with other students. "It will never be the same again." ...
Hundreds of students immediately swapped their orange shirts for black ones, a signal of protest and mourning. Another planned protest, a walkout, never materialized.
"I remember watching the chief as a little kid. I used to say I wanted to be the chief," said Dan Shike, a graduate student who changed into black and also put his 9-month-old daughter, Olivia, into a black shirt. ...
"We want to honor the chief for all he's done for 80 years. We stand behind the chief until the end," Brown said. ...
With the end of Wednesday's game, the NCAA was expected to lift sanctions it levied after ruling that the chief's portrayal of Native Americans was "hostile and abusive." That will allow the university to host postseason athletic competition, including next month's NIT basketball event if the team is in that tournament. ...
Scott Christensen, who portrayed the chief from 1981 to 1983, traveled from his home in New Hampshire to see the chief's last dance.
"This is painful. This is very, very difficult for us," he said. "My 12-year-old said this morning, 'I wish I was going.' I said, 'I wish I wasn't.'"


Was infected with smallpox for finale.

Granted, I think the guy who seems to believe it's been the same chief for the last 80 years is kind of creepy. But let's set that aside for a moment to ask a critically important question.

What, exactly, has been accomplished here?

Unless you believe the sight of a student dancing in Native American costumes is going to lead someone to think, "You know, I haven't firebombed an Indian reservation lately," the whole exercise has been, No. 1, a waste of time and, No. 2, a symbolic gesture under duress that does nothing to promote tolerance or understanding.

A brief autobiographical story here.

I used to be a supporter of the Confederate flag that flew over the South Carolina Statehouse. I was young and impressionable and hadn't entirely thought about how other people viewed it. It was through hearing from those people and their supporters that I came to see that the flag had no place flying atop an official state building.

Now, the flag has been moved to what some people say is a more visible place on the Capitol grounds. But, even if it had been taken down and put somewhere else entirely, I doubt it would have changed one person's mind or one person's heart. The debate did that for me -- not the fact that the flag was moved. And, more than anything, it reconciled what I already believed in -- harmony -- with my opinion on that specific issue. It wasn't like I was a Klansman before I changed my mind on the flag.

Now, I personally don't see Chief Illiniwek as any more racist than -- and I hesitate to say this, for fear I might give someone an idea -- the Irish mascot for Notre Dame. "Oh look, he's got a red beard. And he's dancing a jig. How delightfully stereotypical!"

My point, though, is that forcing the university to get rid of Illiniwek, with the "reward" of hosting an NIT game being offered in return, won't change a single person's mind about Native Americans. Not one.

There are so many serious issues to tackle in college athletics, from academics to recruiting issues to which computer geek should get to choose the national champion.

Is this really what we want to be spending our time on?

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FOOTBALL + SOCCER = BAD, BAD THINGS

You know, most people just want some candy for Valentine's Day. Or a card. If you really love your significant other, jewelry or nice cologne or season tickets to their favorite college football team's games might be in order.

Most people aren't looking for a letter accusing their team of serious recruiting violations. Welcome to Cincinnati, Brian Kelly!

Of course, sex-and-liquor-for-commitments accusations don't tend to sit well with university officials. Prudes.


What's his problem?

University of Cincinnati football coach Brian Kelly on Tuesday said allegations that current football players and recruits engaged in sex acts with a former soccer player during a recruiting visit should be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.

Give Cincinnati credit for doing something MLS has been trying to do for years: Making soccer sexy.

"I've been in a college environment long enough to know that any kind of allegations need to be thoroughly looked at," Kelly said. "Everything that I heard should be taken seriously and should be handled by the appropriate people."
The anonymous allegations were brought to the attention of UC President Nancy Zimpher; Daniel Cummins, director of judicial affairs; and Barbara Rinto, director of the UC Women's Center, in a letter that was dated Feb. 14 and signed, "A Concerned Athletic Department Employee."

Who, by the tone of the letter, appears to be a pissed-off volleyball coach.

UC spokesman Greg Hand acknowledged Tuesday that the university is conducting an investigation.
"Daniel did get the letter, and all I can say is that we're looking into it at this point," Hand said. ...
According to the Feb. 14 letter, the sex acts took place during a party at which alcohol was served, the sex acts were videotaped and the tapes have been circulated in UC dormitories.
Rinto said she first saw the letter Monday.


Um, lesson No. 1 of conspiracies to do something illegal and/or immoral: Don't put it on tape. This is, after all, a football program and not a taping session for Girls Gone Wild. At least, one would hope.

Kelly said the UC football program held at least five recruiting weekends leading up to the national signing date, Feb. 7. One occurred the weekend after head coach Mark Dantonio left to accept the Michigan State job Nov. 27 and before Kelly was hired to replace him Dec. 4.
There was one more recruiting weekend in December and three in January. ...
If anything of the nature described in the allegations did occur, Kelly said, "It's absolutely inappropriate behavior, period. End of discussion. ... That is pretty standard relative to student conduct or even appropriate human-being conduct."

Brian Kelly: Moral beacon.

At least he's lucky in one respect: The NCAA has bigger fish to fry right now.

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WAYS SOUTH CAROLINA IS DIFFERENT UNDER SPURRIER, NO. 384

Want to know for a fact that Lou Holtz is gone and Steve Spurrier is the new head coach? Look no further:

Five days after Stephen Garcia's arrest in Five Points, USC coach Steve Spurrier suspended the Gamecocks freshman quarterback from participating in team activities. The suspension will prevent Garcia from participating in team weightlifting and running sessions and will last until further notice, athletics spokesman Steve Fink said Wednesday.

As anyone who has followed USC knows, this is -- ahem -- significantly more severe than the "punishment" Lou would have dealt out. (See: Watson, Derek)


See, I would have made him a team captain.

More important in the present, of course, is what this means for Garcia's future with the team. My guess, and it's really nothing more than a guess, is that he'll be benched long enough to cool off and learn not to be caught zipping up his pants while inebriated. In other words, I think this is a shot across the bow.

Part of that, of course, depends on whether Spurrier thinks he's brought a sense of discipline to the program. If he thinks he's finally gotten the team out of the we-can-each-Church's-chicken-and-steal-athletic-department-equipment-whenever-we-want mindset, Garcia will get a second chance.

If not...

Well, he won't be asking Lou for how to handle the problem.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

XM + SIRIUS = MORE GAMECOCKS?

XM and Sirius have confirmed that they will merge to create a company roughly the size of Phil Fulmer.


Look out! It's going for Clear Channel!

Why bring this up here? Weeeell, for anyone who has XM Radio -- like, say, a certain blogger -- it could mean SEC sports will soon join the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-10 games already on the radio. It could also mean exorbitant fees, fewer choices in other areas and customer service roughly akin to what you get at the post office.


Ain't capitalism grand?

The merger will have to get through the Justice Department -- which, given that the Bush Administration is only slightly harder on anti-trust violators than the McKinley Administration, is not likely to be a problem -- and avoid any lawsuits by people who still believe in that competition gobbledeegook.

Color C&F neutral until he hears more.

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ILLLINIWEK: BELOVED ... AND TASTY, TOO

The fight over Chief Illiniwek rages on.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- As the clock counted down during Illinois win over Northwestern on Sunday, the Assembly Hall fans chanted a simple, one-line wish.
"Save the chief! Save the chief! Save the chief!" ...
Students are circulating e-mails and messages on social-networking Web sites with plans for, among other things, a vigil this week outside university President Joseph B. White's house.
Those at Sunday's game appeared to be unanimously unhappy about the decision but low-key in their dissent. ...
In the arena's concourse before Sunday's game, a 48-37 Illinois win, program vendors reminded prospective buyers the program included a picture of the chief.
"Chief Dogs! Chief Dogs!" Howard Rubin shouted from behind a food stand nearby.
Rubin, who said his daughter and son-in-law are students at Illinois, said the $3 hot dogs were no different than those sold at any other Illini game.
"Adding the chief name makes them a little crunchier, a little juicier," he joked.

It's good to know that, even in our darkest hours, the American spirit of capitalizing on tragedy for a quick buck lives on.

I don't know about the vigil outside the president's house. At USC, that just would have gotten us towed. But more power to students who care about something. Sure, the leader of the free world, guy with his hand on the nuclear trigger ... eh, they'll leave that to other people. But leave the ridiculous-looking mascot in the headress alone.


Ask Sitting Bull. He'll know what to do.

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'A TOUGH SPOT'

Spurrier has now held forth on SAVIOR OF THE PROGRAM Stephen Garcia's run-in with the law.
Spurrier spoke to reporters while attending Sunday's Daytona 500 in Florida.
"It appears Stephen got himself in a bad spot," Spurrier said. "He told me it was the worst day of his life because he was in the tank for about a day, over a day. ... Hopefully he learned his lesson. We'll wait until all the facts come in before we decide what kind of punishment."
Of course, Garcia is hoping to escape Spurrier's most severe punishment.
Not even light escapes. And there's a Division I-AA school on the other side.

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

CAN YOU TAKE ME HIGHER?

The full story on the Garcia arrest is now up at The State, but there's not a whole lot new there. The QB is out on a PR bond. (What I know about criminal law, I learned from Gamecock football.)


Gamecock QB or member of Creed?

Apparently, he was at Knock Knock for the birthday party of a "professional soccer player from England." Whose name the bartender could not recall. Because the bartender is, after all, an American and South Carolinian, which means the odds that he pays attention to soccer are pretty slim.

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