Posted on: July 25, 2011 4:35 pm
Edited on: July 25, 2011 4:40 pm

Reggie Bush's Heisman: Return it? Or not?

Pretend for a minute that you are Reggie Bush. No, you're not spending that minute with her. Or her. Or them. You're spending that minute in contemplation of the 2005 Heisman Trophy, and you're asking yourself a question:

The Heisman Trust wants me to return it. So do I give it back?

Hey, your call. Me, if I'm Reggie Bush? I'm keeping the SOB, and here's why:

I won it fair and square.

Yes, I did.

I didn't take steroids. Didn't steals signs from the opposing sideline. Didn't do anything but take the football and steal down the sideline for long, explosive runs into the end zone.

Now then, you can say I never should have been on the field in the first place, that my dealings with marketers while in college made me a professional and therefore made me ineligible. That's all true, but that's after the fact. And the fact is, when I was eligible, I was the best player in college football.

It's the NCAA's way, and now the BCS' way and the Heisman Trust's way, to vacate games and honors, as if they never happened. Southern Cal's 2004 BCS national championship? Never happened.

My Heisman Trophy in 2005? That happened. I was on that field. I saw it. I felt it. I won it.

And now I'm supposed to give the trophy back? Nah. The school gave back its copy. The official Heisman website says there was no winner from 2005. The public knows the Bush family had its hand out. We've suffered, all of us. I've suffered personally, and my reputation is in tatters. Returning the trophy won't give me back my reputation, and I'm not buying the idea that keeping the trophy can only make it worse. Not sure that's possible.

So I'm keeping the damn trophy. You want it? Go win one of your own. On the field. Just like I did.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: July 22, 2011 9:59 am

Jim Thome, Hall of Fame? You tell me

Someday soon Jim Thome will hit home run No. 600, and the doors to the Hall of Fame will open wide ... unless they close on his nose, breaking his beak like this poor dude here.

I'm not here to say Jim Thome won't get into the Hall. But I'm not here to say he will, either. I guess I'm here to say that I have no idea, which is fairly damning in and of itself, given that he's about to become just the eighth member of the 600-HR club. That's no-brainer Hall status.

Hell, the 500-HR club is no-brainer Hall status, or it used to be -- when voters were sure the player was clean.

And Thome fits that bill.

While it's true his biggest HR years were in the steroid heyday, it's not his fault that he hit his prime -- ages 26-33 -- in the years 1997-2004. And his career HR totals look totally legitimate, following a normal curve.

There was no magical Mark McGwire peak, is what I'm saying.

Point being, Thome looks clean, has never been linked to steroids, and is about to hit No. 600. Usually, those are first-ballot credentials.

But still I'm not sure on Thome. He has accumulated great statistics from very goodness, if not greatness. He's the offensive version of Bert Blyleven, who is fifth all-time in strikeouts but was so very good -- not great -- that he made the All-Star team just twice in 22 years.


Then again, Blyleven will be inducted in the Hall on Sunday -- after 13 years on the ballot.

Back to Thome, who was never the best player in his league, or even one of the three best players in his league. He finished in the top five in MVP voting just once (fourth in 2003), and in the top 10 just three other times. While it's true he has played premium positions -- mostly first base and DH -- he made the All-Star team just five times.

Hell, Harold Baines went six times. So did Sandy Alomar. You see Cooperstown in their future? Of course not.

Back to Thome ...

Other than his 600 home runs, his most lasting place in baseball lore will be for his strikeouts. He's second all-time, 161 whiffs behind Reggie Jackson.

Along with his home runs, Thome's best argument for the Hall lies in the categories of on-base percentage, slugging and OPS. While he has finished in the top 10 in RBI just three times in his 21-year career, he has been in the top 10 in OBP, slugging and OPS ten times each. His career OPS of .960 is 17th all-time.

So now that I think about it, yes, Jim Thome will make it into the Hall of Fame. Old-school voters will love his home runs. Newer-era guys will love those, plus the OPS. And he's a great guy to boot. So he gets in, says me.

Says you?

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 20, 2011 3:48 pm

Mike Slive has ideas, and they're not stupid

SEC commissioner Mike Slive's ideas for improving college sports are so sensible, they won't possibly work.

For example, Slive's idea of turning a scholarship into a multi-year commitment from the school to the player, which would prevent coaches from correcting their recruiting mistakes by simply running off players ... that idea is so nice, so decent, that it can't be allowed to happen.

And who would ever want to let schools admit partial-qualifiers onto campus, where they can be slowly indoctrinated into a college's academic ways without the burden of competing as true freshmen? Much better to shuffle those at-risk kids to junior college to play football right away while attending inferior classes.

And toughening the academic requirement for a student-athlete from a 2.0 GPA in high school to 2.5. Crazy. We like our student-athletes to have as little "student" as possible, please.

And adjusting the restrictions on technology like cell phones and social media ... nah. The world changes, but not the NCAA rulebook!

And finally, a whole separate category for intentional cheating -- the kind ex-LSU assistant D.J. McCarthy engaged in -- to differentiate it from the inadvertent violations of the mammoth NCAA rulebook? That idea is so perfect, it's cuckoo. Can't happen. Makes too much sense.

But thanks for the laugh, Mike.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: SEC
Posted on: July 18, 2011 3:58 pm

Dwight Howard cries wolf. Townfolk believe him.

Dwight Howard isn't going to China. He isn't going to Europe. Not to play basketball, I mean. The only way he's going overseas is on vacation. Period.

If you believe he's serious about playing over there, well, shame on you. He's posturing, for the union or himself or both. But he's not serious. No way, no how.

Howard is a liar when it comes to his career. A few months ago he caused Orlando's heart to flutter when he vowed to stay in Orlando:

"I'm not trying to run behind nobody like Shaq or be behind somebody else," Howard said in May. "I want to start my own path, and I want people to follow my path and not just follow somebody else's path. I want to have my own path, and I want to start that here in Orlando."

And then this is what he said in June:

I'm going to become a free agent next year.

One thing in May, something else in June. And here we are in July, and Howard is saying a whole 'nother thing. About playing in Europe. Or China. Or Venus. Wherever.

And you believe him?

That's your problem.

Category: NBA
Posted on: July 14, 2011 3:30 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 3:50 pm

Georgia Tech punishment bodes well for (t)OSU

Good Lord, I think Ohio State might just skate after all.

Look what happened to Georgia Tech, for a similar scandal only with a much more nefarious undertone. While OSU coach Jim Tressel himself was the culprit in the ultimately unsuccessful Ohio State cover-up of violations, and that's awful, the Big Ten school as a whole acted in an upright manner afterward:

Tressel was forced out, albeit more slowly than I would have liked. The school vacated every victory from the 2010 season. The best player involved, Terrelle Pryor, is gone even though he has eligibility remaining.

Compare that to Georgia Tech, which -- like Ohio State -- was guilty of using star players even after learning those players could be ineligible. And then, apparently, the Jackets made it worse by failing to cooperate completely with the NCAA's investigation. Check out this ominous sentence from the Georgia Tech report by the NCAA's Committee on Infractions:

"This case provides a cautionary tale of the conduct that member institutions should avoid while under investigation for violations of NCAA rules."

And for all that -- for playing knowingly ineligible players, then for displaying conduct member institutions should avoid -- Georgia Tech had to vacate a bunch of wins (as Ohio State already has done), face some recruiting restrictions and a fine, and deal with four years of probation.

Four years probation, four million years -- that won't stop the Jackets from playing on TV this season. Or from playing in a bowl game, should they win enough games to get there.

Georgia Tech just made like Neo in The Matrix and dodged a bullet.

Ohio State's next.

As usual, BCS cheaters win. They damn sure don't lose -- not postseason eligibility or TV appearances, which is the only punishment that would leave an actual mark.

Way to be firm, NCAA. I've already noted the strongly worded sentence in the statement by the Committee on Infractions, but the follow-through was flaccid. As usual.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: July 13, 2011 2:15 pm

U.S. women making soccer fun (really)

This U.S. women's soccer team is fun to watch, and not just because it wins. Although winning is fun. I've seen comments below similar stories like this one of mine, readers wondering how I could be so blatantly biased.

I'm an American. That's an American team. I tell you my bias up front. Any more questions? Good, we'll continue ...

This team is fun because it plays a different brand of soccer than I'm used to seeing from U.S. teams, male or female. Past American sides have played futbol like Ohio State plays football -- conservatively, smartly, boringly. Keep it close, and then win because you're more disciplined than the other team.

When it works, fine. I guess. But it's not fun.

This U.S. women's team is fun -- and just one victory away from another World Cup title. The Americans beat France 3-1 on Wednesday to advance to the final on Sunday.

And they did it Wednesday as they did it a few days ago against Brazil, with more vision and creativity than outright skill. We're not the most talented side. We're not even the most talented American women's side. The 1991 World Cup team that had Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, Kristine Lilly, Julie Foudy -- and more -- was more talented than this one. Of course, that team was more talented than anyone, bludgeoning its World Cup foes by a combined score of 25-5.

This team isn't winning with superior talent -- Brazil and France both looked better -- but with vision, imagination and uncanny finishing.

The Americans take chances -- we take chances -- and we make them pay off. It's dangerous, but it's working. And win or lose, it's awesome to watch.

Category: Soccer
Tags: World Cup
Posted on: July 13, 2011 9:35 am

Take a seat, James Harrison

So how hard does Roger Goodell hit James Harrison?

It has to be hard, right? In other leagues, players -- star players -- utter gay-bashing slurs and are fined large sums of money. Harrison just uttered one ... and according to this account of a story in Men's Journal, he uttered it about Roger Goodell.

So I'm thinking $250,000 and a game suspension. Maybe more, given that Harrison has been a thorn in the league's side for years -- handing out concussions as if they were lollipops, attacking players in the head in an era when that is strictly forbidden. This is an accumulation of offenses, of various varieties, and Harrison isn't getting the message.

Whatever Goodell does to Harrison, I'll support it.

And I'm thinking Ben Roethlisberger might enjoy it, too. Don't tell me you missed what Harrison told Men's Journal about his quarterback's play in the Super Bowl loss to Green Bay:

"Hey, at least throw a pick on their side of the field instead of asking the D to bail you out again. Or hand the ball off and stop trying to act like Peyton Manning. You ain't that and you know it, man; you just get paid like he does."

Posted on: July 12, 2011 1:56 pm

Don't get mad at Jeter. Get even.

By skipping the All-Star Game, Derek Jeter did what he felt he had to do -- and now it's your turn.

Remember what he did. Don't rip him for it now, just remember it next year. When you're voting for the American League All-Star team. And you're looking at the list of shortstops.

Remember what Derek Jeter did this year to millions of you -- or to hundreds of thousands of you, voting up to 25 times each. He nullified your vote. Said you wasted it. No thanks. He doesn't feel like playing in the game. He's old, and he's tired.

And that's his right.

But it's your right to remember this one year from now, and to vote accordingly.

Category: MLB
Tags: Derek Jeter
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