Jim Litke, an AP Sports Columnist, said:

“They don’t mind the comparisons to “Hoosiers” so long as you don’t get carried away. The Butler Bulldogs understand why people just catching up to their story might find the parallels irresistible.
Small school, big underdog, a lineup packed with savvy kids from Indiana who treat each possession as if was their last. The school gym, Hinkle Fieldhouse, is where the real-life version of “Hoosiers” played out in the state high school tournament in 1954. It’s the same place where the climactic scene in the movie version was filmed 32 years later.
“I definitely can remember the last time I watched ’Hoosiers,’” guard Ronald Nored said.
That was last July in the movie room at coach Brad Stevens’ Butler basketball camp, where Nored worked as a counselor. He recalled how every day, for
four weeks straight, the campers insisted on watching the movie over and over.
“It’s the most annoying thing,” Nored said finally, “I’ve ever experienced in my life.”
But it’s not the repetition that rankles Nored and his teammates; it’s the reputation of overwhelming underdog attached to it.
Having earned a spot in the Final Four by virtue of punching out No. 1 seed Syracuse and No. 2 Kansas State, the Bulldogs are dying to be taken seriously. They see themselves as anything but longshots to win the wackiest NCAA tournament in years, especially since it’s being played in Indianapolis, little more than a 10-minute ride from campus.
“Someone’s got to go to the national championship and win,” said Gordon Hayward, Butler’s star and it’s only likely NBA prospect. “So why couldn’t it be us?”
Still, feel free to invest as much romance in the tale as you want. Unlike his players, Stevens, a baby-faced, 33-year-old who looks young enough to be a
camper instead of the guy in charge, believes he can still get some mileage out of the underdog role.
“Why wouldn’t you want to be that?” he said. “Why wouldn’t you want to be an overachiever?”
Well, for one thing, overachieving is a relative term. Butler might be a mid-major — it has only 4,500 students and plays in the Horizon League — but winning basketball games against the big guys is something they’ve been doing consistently for the past decade.
The Bulldogs face Michigan State in their first Final Four, but they made the Sweet 16 twice since 2003. Stevens has won more games (89) than any major
college coach at his age, that after serving as an assistant to coaches Thad Matta — now at Ohio State — and Todd Lickliter, who was recently fired at Iowa.
“For a guy his age to do what he’s doing, as hard as it is to win, with such a young team, that’s big-time stuff,” Kansas State coach Frank Martin said.
Stevens knows which buttons to push, and when, because he’s an Indiana kid himself. He got his start in the game shooting baskets in the driveway and then played his college ball at nearby DePauw. He was carving out a career in the marketing department of Indianapolis pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly when he swapped that job for life as a volunteer assistant.
Stevens hasn’t regretted that decision for even one day since, reminding his players that despite a smaller budget, less TV time and virtually no hype, they can play with anybody when they play as a team.
It’s like that emblematic scene from “Hoosiers,” where the fictional coach from Hickory High — played by actor Gene Hackman — measures the height of rim in practice just ahead of the championship game. The point is to demystify the game, to make sure his charges remember it’s 10 feet, just like everywhere else they’ve played.
“That’s how we look at it. If people want to think that about our team,” Stevens said about being tagged a mid-major program, “then that’s OK.
“I think we respect every opponent we play, and we hope we’ve earned the respect of the opponent that we play, so they feel when they walk in the gym,
they’re going to have to beat us. We’re not going to beat ourselves. We’re going to do tough things,” he added. “We’re going to give for one another”
Stevens doesn’t know how the script will turn out, but he’s already got one scene in mind. It begins on the bus ride back from the win over Murray State at 2:30 a.m, just as the Bulldogs rolled past Lucas Oil Stadium, the site of this weekend’s Final Four.
“That was the first time I even thought about it,” he said. “I don’t remember what I said to my wife, so yeah, write whatever you want.
“Whatever,” Stevens said finally, laughing, “sounds best.”

The conspiracy theorists are active because of that call described by Neil Best in NY Newsday.

“The instantly infamous, game-turning charge call on Baylor’s Quincy Acy in Sunday’s South Regional final gave Duke/NCAA/CBS conspiracy theorists yet
another round of ammunition.
But whether such things happen to the Blue Devils on purpose or by accident, the facts are they were good enough to take advantage, and by doing so, they
saved the 2010 Final Four as a TV attraction.
Sure, Butler is a fantastic story, Michigan State is a Final Four perennial and West Virginia is the Big East champion. Face it, though:
If Baylor had won (and even more so if Tennessee had beaten Michigan State), this column would be about CBS peering over a ratings cliff entering what
could be its final Final Four.
Instead, the national semifinals are a blend of pedigree and pugnacity, of the lordly and lovable, of brand names and no-names.
Duke is the key, of course, thanks to its status as college hoops’ version of the Yankees or Cowboys – a team some love to love and many love to hate.
Hence the years-old drumbeat of suspicion that it gets breaks when it comes to seeding, scheduling and officiating.
The NCAA and CBS deny such things, obviously, but CBS never has denied big-name programs are nice to have around. Especially Duke.
“Duke does manage to generate pretty strong emotions, both positively and negative, and that normally translates into better television ratings,” said CBS Sports present Sean McManus, a 1977 Duke graduate.
But McManus insisted the close games and story lines – including Butler’s – this year trumped the importance of No. 1 seeds at the finish line. As long as the games are good, he said, “We’ll do perfectly fine.” 

Dick Jerardi, of the Philly Daily News, told us that going into the Final Four games this is info that’s good to know:

“One could have made a reasonable case for each of the 2010 Final Four participants. What would have been difficult was to put all four of them on the floor Saturday in front of 71,300 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
So, Duke for the first time since 2004, Michigan State for the sixth time in 12 years, West Virginia for the first time since Jerry West got it there in 1959, and Butler, playing six miles from its beloved Hinkle Fieldhouse, for the first time.
Duke, the lone No. 1 seed to get through, plays West Virginia in Saturday’s second game after Michigan State plays Butler.
Duke (33-5) got sent to the weaker South bracket and really was not tested until Sunday’s regional final against Baylor. The Blue Devils caught undermanned
No. 4 seed Purdue and outlasted them in the Sweet 16. Baylor had every chance for the upset Sunday, but could not finish. Duke got to the foul line and made threes. Which is what it does.
No. 2 seed West Virginia (31-6) upset Kentucky in the East final because of its will and toughness. If there is one team left that looks like it may refuse to
lose, it is the Mountaineers. This group is not pretty, but nobody plays with more effort. And they have Da’Sean Butler, who is starting to look like this year’s Danny Manning.
No. 5 seed Michigan State (28-8) caught the kinds of breaks a team without overwhelming ability and its best player, Kalin Lucas, needed on its way to
consecutive Final Fours. No 1 seed Kansas, No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Georgetown were all gone before the Spartans got to them. After gagging up a
big, late lead against Maryland, they won the second-round game on a buzzer-beater by an erratic shooter. And then beat Tennessee by a point Sunday.
No. 5 seed Butler (32-4) had a brutal road back home. First, the Bulldogs had to fly to San Jose and beat difficult Texas-El Paso and Murray State. Then,
after a brief trip home, they had to fly to Salt Lake and upset No. 1 seed Syracuse and No. 2 seed Kansas State. Butler got breaks when the ’Cuse’s Arinze Onuaku was unable to play and K-State had to go two overtimes to beat Xavier. Still, the Bulldogs made every play down the stretch of their last three wins when a single false step might have sent them home without any more games to play.
The four teams are a combined 124-23. No Kansas, Kentucky or Syracuse, but still some very serious teams, two with a chance to give their schools a first
national championship, one (Duke) a fourth and one (Michigan State) a third.
THE DUKE STORY
This is not Duke circa 1986-1994, when it was in every Final Four but two and won two national titles. Nor is this the Duke of 1998-2002, when it had
overwhelming talent, won a third national title and played for another.
What separates this Duke team from more recent versions, the teams that backed down when it got too tough, is that this team has resilience. That wasn’t as clear during the season when it went 5-5 on the road, but it is clearer now. Duke makes big shots, gets big rebounds and plays much better team defense than recent versions.
BIZARRO NUMBERS
You can watch a lot of halves and never see one like WVU-UK.
WVU was 0-for-16 from two and 8-for-15 from the arc. Because of all the misses, WVU got crushed on the glass, 29-13. Because of all the threes, it led at the half.
Kentucky missed its first 20 three-pointers against WVU and shot 6-for-48 in the two Carrier Dome games. UK was also 16-for-29 from the foul line
against WVU.
When West Virginia took control, UK’s kids looked like teenagers on the court for the first time. They collapsed mentally and, by the time they recovered,
the game, their season and the quick college careers of John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins were over.
INCREDIBLE IZZO
Just like last season, Michigan State was good during the regular season, but far from great. And just like last season, it is going to the Final Four.
Izzo is a ridiculous 33-10 in the tournament since 1999. He is 6-1 in regional finals. The only loss came in 2003 to Texas — in San Antonio.
A lot of smart people just advance Michigan State every year regardless of the draw. It has been a pretty good move half the time over a dozen years.
THE KEY CALLS
You may have heard that there is a school of thought that Duke gets a lot of calls. I generally am not a conspiracy theorist, but I did find Sunday’s second half and endgame interesting.
Duke could not get to the rim against Baylor’s shot-blockers, but, after attempting just two free throws in the first half, shot 27 in the second half. Duke shot just 36 percent, but was great on the offensive glass (22 o-boards) and made 11 threes.
The Bears led by two with 4 ½ minutes left when Quincy Acy had a straight run down the baseline to the rim. Brian Zoubek jumped in his path. The shot was good. Charge. No basket.
A minute later with the score tied, Nolan Smith, who was great with a career-best 29 points, missed a free throw. Lance Thomas reached over a Baylor
player to control the rebound. That is almost always called a foul, even when it isn’t. No foul was called. Smith got open for a three, nailed it and Baylor
melted down from there.
THE KEY BUTLER MOMENTS
Well, there was WVU’s Butler making all those big shots to give his team belief in the first half. Is there anybody in the country you want taking a big shot
more than Butler?
And there was Brad Stevens, the brilliant young Butler coach.
Butler committed 23 turnovers in its first three tournament games. After taking a 10-point lead with 7 ½ minutes left against K-State, the Bulldogs quickly fell apart — missing free throws, losing the ball (on the way to 20 turnovers) and basically looking lost.
In barely 2 ½ minutes, K-State had the lead. So, with one of his players trapped and looking scared in front of his bench, Stevens calmly took two steps toward an official and called timeout.
Butler scored 12 of the next 14 points and won going away. I think calm plays well with most players. Butler is a classic example. Only 33, Stevens is the
calmest coach in America, which has to be one of the reasons his team is so live down the stretch. Butler can win this whole thing.
DID YOU KNOW?
—That Kansas State’s brilliant guards, Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen, combined for 170 points and 30 threes in their four NCAA Tournament games.
—That Tennessee still had a timeout when J.P. Prince caught that pass at midcourt. If the Vols call it, they have the ball at midcourt with one second left and a real chance to score.
—That the last 10 teams that have won NCAA overtime games have lost their next game.
—That Butler will play in front of 20,000 fewer people Saturday than it did during its entire home schedule and that Hinkle Fieldhouse was just two-thirds full for the Horizon League championship game. There may have been more people there Sunday at 3 a.m. when the team returned from Salt Lake.
—That Philly guys Joe Lindsay and Jeff Clark got Sweet 16 ref assignments. Lindsay did the Duke-Purdue game while Clark got Michigan State-Northern
Iowa.
—That the Atlantic 10 has had a pretty good postseason — outside the limelight. Temple and Richmond were gone quickly from the NCAA, but Xavier was thisclose to the Elite Eight. Dayton and Rhode Island are in Tuesday’s NIT semifinals. And Saint Louis will play VCU for the CBI title.”

Bob Ryan wrote in The Boston Globe about the possible successor to the late Miles Brand, to head up the NCAA.

“As a general rule, I regard the people who constitute the NCAA hierarchy as big boys and girls who can take care of themselves. But I fear they are about to make a colossal mistake that I would attribute to not doing their homework.
Former NCAA president Myles Brand lost a battle with pancreatic cancer last September. A search committee is at work to choose his successor, and while
I do not know for sure who should be that person, I have little hesitation in saying that I know who most definitely should not be that individual. That would be Michael Adams, president of the University of Georgia since 1997 and, from all indications, a leading contender for the job.
To say that the Adams reign at Georgia has been controversial is to indulge in vast understatement. Now, the idea of a college president, especially one at a
large state university, butting heads with faculty, clashing with the athletics department, or having policy decisions challenged by everyone from politicians to alumni is not uncommon. Some of that almost inherently comes with the territory.
Complicating matters at Georgia is an arrangement where there is a Board of Regents responsible for the running of the entire network of state colleges, as
well as an entity known as the UGA Foundation, which oversees investment gifts and pledges, manages investments, and distributes endowment gifts and
scholarships, among many functions. Is there inherent office politics? Are there friendships and loyalties? You betcha. Are all the dynamics at the University of Georgia remotely understandable to outsiders such as you and me? Absolutely not.
But here’s something that is easy to comprehend. After being subjected to six years of what its members believed to be serious lapses of judgment and
competence, the UGA Foundation engaged prestigious Atlanta law firm King & Spalding to select an independent firm to conduct what is known in the trade as a forensic audit, not of the entire Adams operation, but of seven specific items it believed called into question Adams’s conduct.
The firm was Deloitte & Touche, whose fraud and forensics unit submitted a finding in October 2003 that was, at the least, eye-opening, and, at worst,
suggestive of a troubling pattern of arbitrary behavior on the part of President Adams that caused him to be labeled by many people in the school community an “Imperial CEO.’’ But the Board of Regents, greatly influenced by Michael Adams, denounced the report as “deeply flawed,’’ and directed its ire at Deloitte & Touche, rather than at Michael Adams.
Financial impropriety was front and center. Deloitte & Touche found that Mr. Adams had been quite cavalier with the use of both university and foundation funds. His abuses ranged from chartering an airplane to get himself and friends to and from one of George W. Bush’s inaugurations, and included, but were not limited to, various uses of foundation credit cards, and assorted examples of billing the university to fund his lavish lifestyle.
Under duress, Mr. Adams did make some belated restitution.
In sum, the Deloitte & Touche report was an astonishing indictment of an operation fundamentally out of control.
“If this report had pertained to a senior executive of a major corporation,’’ said Robert Miller, a former King & Spalding partner and a well-known critic of Michael Adams, “he would have been removed from power in 24 hours and would not have even been given an opportunity to reply.’’
James Ponsoldt is one of Georgia’s most distinguished lawyers and law professors. He is currently teaching a course in business law.
“I have a background in prosecution,’’ he said, “and there is enough in the audit to convene a grand jury.’’
So how is this man still in power?
Start with the idea that he is not really an academic. His doctorate from Ohio State is in political communication. Michael Adams is a spinmeister. He is a
clever and ruthless politician. He was once chief of staff to then-Senate Minority Leader Howard Baker. He knows how to amass allies — a power-seeking liquor magnate named Donald Leebern being the most prominent — and he knows how to wield power. He is not a leader. He is a schemer and an
intimidator.
Ask the faculty of the university’s largest college, the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. When polled in 2004, 70 percent of them gave Adams a vote of
“no confidence,’’ with 15 percent abstaining.
A typical comment: “Michael Adams shows a consistent pattern of failing to offer the kind of leadership example that is critical for this institution. Specifically, he readily compromises both ethical and moral standards . . . He readily blames others for his own misdeeds, and never admits personal error or responsibility.’’
Or this: “It is clear that Adams has put self-interest ahead of the university.’’
Or: “An additional concern is the widespread perception that Adams is vindictive and that faculty who displeases him will suffer the consequences of his displeasure.’’
He pushed out athletic director Vince Dooley, a much-beloved figure in Georgia, a year ahead of schedule and then sold a surprisingly compliant Atlanta Journal-Constitution the entirely misleading premise that it was a matter of Academics vs. Athletics, which was simply not the case. The idea that the newspaper of Ralph McGill would buy into such a phony act is truly sad.
What’s really scary is that the same search firm that delivered him to the University of Georgia is handling the NCAA matter as well. As one Georgia source said, “Don’t ever underestimate Michael Adams.’’
But if the NCAA people want to investigate Adams for themselves, all they need do is pick up a book written by the late Rich Whitt titled, “Behind the
Hedges: Big Money and Power Politics at the University of Georgia.’’ (NewSouth Books, Montgomery, Ala.) It’s all there, in exquisite detail.
“If one-tenth of what’s in that book is true,’’ said an industry insider who is trying to spread the anti-Adams gospel, “the man must be stopped. You read that book and you say, ‘You’re [bleeping] me.’ ’’
Both Miller and Ponsoldt are mystified that the NCAA would even consider Adams as a candidate for its most important job.
“The charges against him all come back to integrity,’’ said Miller.
C’mon, NCAA. Wake up. You can do better than Michael Adams.”

Bill Plaschke talked in The LA Times about a Dodger screwball, Ronald Belisario.

“He strutted through the Dodgers’ clubhouse early Sunday morning as if he were a hero returning from war.

Ronald Belisario wrapped Jeff Weaver in a giddy bear hug. He grabbed Rafael Furcal’s shoulders and shook them with a laugh. He tapped Russell Martin’s
arms and grabbed his hand and only then was the obvious question fearlessly posed.

“Where have you been?” a dumbstruck Martin said.

The only possible answer being, out to lunch.

Belisario’s body has finally shown up for spring training, yet the Dodgers still have no idea about the location of his head.

He was 34 days late from Venezuela, perhaps setting a baseball record for players with visa problems, arriving Saturday night at Camelback Ranch just as his teammates were packing for Los Angeles.

He was not only late, he was loopy, smiling and claiming he did not miss repeated meetings with the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, contradicting information given by Dodgers officials and even his own agent.

He even laughed at the “wanted” poster featuring his picture that had been plastered on a beam in the middle of the Dodgers’ clubhouse.

And, oh yeah, and he said he will be ready for opening day.

Said Belisario: “A week, I’m ready to go.”

Said Manager Joe Torre: “He thinks so? He also thought he was going to be here before now.”

It would be funny if it weren’t so frustrating. On a Dodgers team that seems as sleek, steady and focused as any in recent memory, Belisario is that weird
thump in the dashboard. In a clubhouse that is stoic about its business and serious about moving past consecutive National League Championship Series stumbles, Belisario is that awkward laugh in the corner.

“He has so much talent,” General Manager Ned Colletti said. “But some of the stuff he does, it certainly makes you wonder.”

This much is certain. One of the most important members of the Dodgers’ league-best bullpen is beginning spring training about a week before opening day. A hard-throwing right-hander who held right-handed hitters to a .157 average last year will almost certainly sit out at least two weeks of the regular season, if not more.

All because of an ailment for which there is no disabled list: brain cramps.

“I don’t know what to say anymore,” said Mariano Duncan, Dodgers first base coach and one of Belisario’s mentors. “I keep telling him, ‘This is not just your
job, this is your life, you can’t keep messing up.'”

The Dodgers could cut him, but they know that somebody else would sign him within hours. His two-seam fastball is tremendous. His composure is strong.
Teaming with George Sherrill, he’s an invaluable setup weapon for Jonathan Broxton, a central figure in their delicate bullpen dance.

“He’s easy to talk to, easy to like, he takes the ball and never has an excuse,” Torre said, shaking his head.

He also never seems to have a clue, which is particularly worrisome considering he is 27 years old and playing in his eighth professional season.

“This is not some kid, this is a grown man,” Duncan said. “At some point, he has to learn this stuff on his own.”

He was one of baseball’s biggest surprises last year after being plucked off a deep scrap heap to record a 2.04 earned-run average in his first major league
season. But, in addition to being fined for several team violations, he was also fined by the city of Pasadena, being charged with DUI and resolving the issue
by paying a $1,000 fine for reckless driving.

One might have thought he learned this stuff on his own. But meeting reporters Sunday, he appeared to have learned nothing.

He acknowledged that his visa was delayed because of U.S. concerns over the DUI incident. But instead of taking responsibility for not keeping appointments
to fix the problem, as confirmed by the Dodgers and his agent, he basically seemed to blame the U.S. government.”

“They [U.S. Embassy] made me do a lot of things and they held it,” he said of his visa, but then denied that he did not keep appointments.

“No, never,” he said, adding, “I never missed appointments. Maybe they think I missed it, but no.”

Upon hearing this claim, his agent Paul Kinzer sighed into the phone.

“It’s been so tough just getting him up there, I’m just glad he’s there,” Kinzer said. “Maybe it’s taken a while for everything to soak in.”

Belisario also said he has been working out, throwing twice a week off a mound, noting, “I took it easy, kept practicing.”

To this claim, Torre responded by shaking his head and saying, “Given everything that’s happened, we’re treating him like this is the first day of spring training.”

The future of the Dodgers bullpen depends on what happens now. With Belisario having been granted entrance to the United States, the Dodgers now hope he can acquire a visa to the real world.”

Sam Farmer gave us this interview with John Madden that was in The LA Times:

“John Madden isn’t in the broadcast booth anymore, but he still has a booming voice with the NFL.

Madden, 73, is an advisor to Commissioner Roger Goodell on football matters and chairs a coaches’ subcommittee to the competition committee. He watches every game from his viewing complex in Pleasanton, Calif., reviews video during the week, and keeps close tabs on players and trends of the game.

This week, from his home in Carmel, he spoke to Times NFL writer Sam Farmer about overtime, the draft, technology, and a certain quarterback who’s on the fence about returning to the Minnesota Vikings.

What are your thoughts on the changes to overtime?

What they really did is change sudden death. That’s been with us forever. You think back to that 1958 Baltimore- Giants game, that was sudden death. The
question now is, if this is really the right way to go and it’s so important in the playoffs, shouldn’t it be the same in the regular season?

Would you have voted for it?

Probably not. But once they change it, it’s over. I’m one of those guys where once it’s a rule, that’s the way it is, you figure it out and go play.

Do you think Brett Favre should come back? Will he?

I think he should do what ever he wants to. It’s funny, people have taken ownership of his life. “You should come back. You shouldn’t come back. You ought to stay on a tractor.” Hell, it’s his decision and how he feels. I remember John Elway told me this years ago, he said, “It’s not your head that tells you when to retire or that you can’t play anymore. It’s your body.” I think that’s kind of Brett’s deal too. It’s what his body tells him in June or July.

Philadelphia is open to trading Donovan McNabb. Can you see him having success with another team?

Oh, yeah. I can see him having success this year at this stage, whether it’s in Philadelphia or some other town. This is a quarterback league. It’s a passing
league and all the rules and everything are put in for those guys. It’s turning into a shotgun league. That’s who he is, that’s what he does, and he is going to do it well.

We’re heading into another draft in which the top pick is going to make more than $30 million guaranteed before he’s played a down. Is that out of whack?

Everyone feels that needs to be corrected. It just got kind of slanted the wrong way, and I think they’ve got to bring it back. This is the bigger question: If you take it away for the rookies, then who do you give it to? Do you give it to the owners where they make more money? Do you give it to the veteran players who are deep in their career? Do you give it to the retired players? Maybe you give it to the fans — think they’ll get any?

It’s more comfortable to watch games at home than at a stadium. Is that problem for the NFL?

Yes. There was a time when we kind of forced young people out anyway because of the ticket prices. Going to events is getting to be an older-person-type thing. It’s easier to stay home and watch it on TV. And now with all the other technology now, hell, you could watch it on a telephone. So I think the stadium –and [ Dallas Cowboys owner] Jerry Jones has got this right — the stadium really has to take the technology into account. People aren’t going to leave their technology at home.

With all the player-safety rules being put in place, does it ever go too far where you’re getting away from football?

We can never let that happen. In all these safety rules, you have to admit that this is a very physical game that’s a tough game, and it’s a violent game. But
we’re working to make it safer.

Part of it is rules, and a big part of it is equipment, and not only helmets. As the guys have gotten bigger, stronger and faster, the pads have gotten smaller and lighter. A lot of guys don’t even wear hip pads or thigh pads. The only pad that they have that’s really of substance is a helmet. I think everything is going in the right direction, I really do. But it has to keep going, it has to get better.

Does the league need to do more for retired players?

I think so. I don’t think that we do in the NFL a great job with our history. I don’t think we do a great job of our tradition and that includes the players before us who made the game what it is today. Some of it is about money, and healthcare and pension. But some of it is just honoring of our history, honoring the players that made our history.

In order to ensure teams play hard at the end of the season, the NFL has talked about making all Week 17 games division matchups. Is that the solution?

Anything we can do to get rid of having meaningless regular-season games. I hate that. I know that you can’t tell guys that they have to play their players and stuff. It’s just not healthy. I think that would be a step in the right direction. Also, if teams know they are not going to play a guy, they ought to report it like you do an injured player.

Would you ever come back to broadcasting, even for a game?

No, there is no way I would ever come back. I will never come back in any capacity. I hung up my shoes and walked away and that was it.

Do you think owners and players will get a labor deal done before the clock strikes midnight?

I sure hope so. Usually these things, they drag-race to the cliff. The game is so good right now, and any place where it’s not real good we are working to
make it better. I just hope they don’t screw it up.”

Frank Fitzpatrick, of The Philly Daily News, had this in his paper:

“We don’t care where it’s headed. We are part of the herd, willing to do whatever our equally transfixed brethren do, willing to respond to the faintest Pavlovian signal.
So if one grown man dons a replica team jersey, we all must have them, even if at some level we have to know we look silly and that, alas, Charlie Manuel is
never going to summon us from the bullpen or call on us to pinch-hit.
If drinking in the tailgate lots before games and roaming Ashburn Alley during them is all the rage, then, darn it, even if we don’t particularly like or understand baseball, we must be there.
Coming, Master!
And if the Phillies are selling hunks of sod from Citizens Bank Park, then I must have one.
Yes, 21st-century man has evolved to the point where he’s willing to pay $79.99 for dirt, thereby making official what many have long suspected: We worship the ground athletes walk on.
I wonder if there’s a premium for the pieces on which Pat Burrell’s dog, Elvis, relieved himself?
How easy it is to be a Phillies marketer in Philadelphia these days?
“You’re going to do what? Sell dead grass? I like it. Most of these saps already have all the hats and jerseys and merchandise they’ll ever need. And we’ve
already sold three million tickets. It’s time to start thinking outside the box. (Note to self: See if we can sell batter’s box dirt, too.) Where are our new revenue streams, people?”
“I’ve done a little research, Boss. We could sell used Kleenex. Or soiled socks. We could replace the wooden planks on the dugout floor and sell off the
tobacco-drenched splinters. We could start selling Phillies team pants to match the jerseys they’ve already bought. We could rip up the team parking lot and auction off hunks of asphalt.”
“How about bobbleheads? Have we exhausted that fad yet?”
“Yeah, we were going to do a Dave Hollins throwback model this season, but the factory told us they couldn’t make a body strong enough to support that size head.”
“Anything new on Charlie’s children’s book? What’s that called again?”
“It’s A Manager’s Book of A-B- er, I Forget What They Call That There Next One. No, it’s still in the editing process.”
“OK, that’s enough for today. Let’s agree to meet again after we launch ‘Roy Halladay’s Holiday Hot Dogs.’ “

Chris Erskine, of The LA Times, gave a suggestion for a less expensive therapy session.

“One day, I will do for batting cages what Starbucks did for hot water. These new cages would feel like Fenway but be high-tech to the gills. Laser sensors
will separate hits from sure outs. Video replays would break down your broken-down swing. Women with cocktail trays will stop by, mostly hoping you’ll discuss your glory days or the Dodgers’ bullpen — your pick.

In Cage 1, you could face Bob Gibson, an avatar of the guy going through that violent windup. In Cage 2, Don Drysdale would melt your fillings. Cage 3,
Steve Carlton. Arrrrgh, Carlton!

Cage 4 would be devoted to the great Chicago Cubs pitchers of the past, so if you needed a boost to your ego, you would spend quality time there . . . holy
cow.

Till then, we have pretty much the standard-issued cages. In Monrovia, there is Grand Slam, which I like because you can use the indoor facility on a rainy
day. In Burbank, I’ve spent a small fortune over the years at a place called the Batcade (on Victory Boulevard, no less).

Glendale used to have the ultimate no-frills cage, down the block from where the Hillside Strangler used to upholster cars. I liked the history of that, though it could creep you out a little, especially in the evenings. Did the Hillside Strangler ever come here? Or maybe he didn’t come here often enough.

For there is nothing better for the soul than 15 minutes in a batting cage (going rate 12 bucks). A driving range is good therapy too — anything to get you off the couch — but at the driving range you hit shots that arc like the long neck of a swan. At the batting cage, you are swatting at the devil’s fingers.

I call it swing fever, though you’re more likely to call it delusional psychosis. I did grow up a Cubs fan, after all, so my judgment is never to be trusted. I pick good stocks and good friends, and beyond that I am fairly hopeless in my life choices. I have a very spotty record in real estate, for example. And I drive a car without a single cup holder. Can you imagine? Not a single one.

So perhaps the sole thing separating me from all you other losers is a deep abiding appreciation for baseball. It has the best sounds of any sport, and its lazy rhythms allow the most time to eat.

It is also, on occasion, pleasant to watch.

They may as well play baseball with BBs, it is that difficult a game. Most of us can fake a layup or crush the occasional tee shot, but we’d be hopeless in the
box against Cliff Lee. Such an encounter with Mr. Lee would leave most of us like pretzels. When you were done, you’d have to call for a chiropractor and a
shrink. The shrink would be there just to keep the chiropractor calm after he saw the gold mine that had become of your thoracic vertebrae.

It’s a psychologically brutal sport, as well. We’ll get to the Dodgers one day soon, but in the meantime, look what this evil game has done to poor Blake
DeWitt. He’s up, he’s down, he’s in, he’s out. It’s like baseball waterboarding. Finally, this year, he seems to be getting his star turn.

Which is another reason to love the cage. It reduces baseball to its soft, chewy center. In the batting cage, you can always catch up to that 50-mph screamer down the middle. You can crush it to Kalamazoo. You can mentally Photoshop it with your boss’s face. Smaaaaack.

There is so much therapy to be had at a batting cage. I’ve always thought that with friends and laughter you can get through anything, but I just added a good batting cage to your prescription. I once hit so many balls in a batting cage that the shank of my hand, the part I’d use for karate if I knew karate, turned black as scorched firewood. But my brain felt all kinds of better.

By the way, have you noticed lately how dangerously dull Sunday evenings have become since football ended? In a few weeks, we’l-l have announcer Jon
Miller back to work his magic in stadiums where the shadows fall across the field like old soldiers. You’ll hear the organ music and the muffled groans of the public announcer. All will be right with the world. In that moment, summer will light its first candle.

Few folks understand the magic in the game like Miller does. I’d like to nominate Miller now to replace that kid Scully, in about 2025, maybe later, should the kid in fact ever retire.

Honestly, though, I can’t escape the feeling that when Vinny goes, so will I. The game may never, ever fully recover.

I’ll go to the batting cage that day, to be sure. And I will swing like a madman for the sky.”

Tom Robinson, of HamptonRoads.com, weighed in with his thoughts about the “new” OT rules in the NFL.

“NFL news item: Owners approve change to overtime process.
I’m OK with it, though I don’t think it had to be changed. Sudden death worked for me as an analogy for our cold, cruel existence; a random act of chance works against you – i.e. you lose the coin flip? Fine, suck it up, stop your opponent, get the ball for yourself and go kick your own field goal.
Under the new, life-should-be-more-fair rule – because 60 percent of coin-flip victors were winning games out of the gate, usually with field goals – only
first-possession touchdowns (or safeties) win the game. First-possession field goals now are followed by letting the other team get the ball, too. Sudden death comes back into play only after traded field goals.
But now that it’s been approved – assuming the players association doesn’t get it rescinded for not being collectively bargained – the rule has to be in play for the regular season, too.
It’s only been adopted for the playoffs, and that’s just silly. Any game any week can impact who makes the playoffs in the first place. One rule needs to
blanket both “seasons.”
Owners who oppose it for the regular season on grounds that it adds plays and increases possible player injury are hypocrites if they’re also pushing, as
owners collectively are, to add two games to the schedule. That, I fear, is going to happen, which I know is unnecessary, and which I feel will be a mistake.
The intriguing thing to me is Minnesota Vikings owner Zigi Wilf was among the four to say “nay” to the OT tweak, though his quarterback, Brett Favre, never touched the ball when the New Orleans Saints beat his Vikings and won the NFC title in overtime with a field goal.
NFL coaches are supposedly strongly against the change – more potential job-losing decisions to make, you understand. But Wilf told reporters, “We’re big boys; we make decisions, too.” He doesn’t get to keep his status quo, but I like Wilf’s style.”

Dan Shaughnessy ignited a firestorm of “Wildcat Ire” with a recent column in The Boston Globe and responded to it by saying:

“Every now and then, we get a glimpse into a world we can’t possibly fathom. We experience a slice of sports life that is impossible to comprehend for those of us living in a traditional professional sports town here in the stodgy Northeast.
Yesterday was one of those days.
I wrote what I thought was a harmless column in support of the Cornell basketball team. The Big Red are a No. 12 seed from the Ivy League, and tonight they play Kentucky in a Sweet 16 game at Syracuse (ed. Kentucky won). An Ivy League team gets this far about as often as Larry Bird picks up a check, so it seemed like interesting fodder in an otherwise slow sports week.
It was, of course, impossible to make the point without a couple of perfunctory jabs at coach John Calipari (two Final Four appearances, two vacancies) and the bags of cash involved in the UK program. There were a couple of references to the academic strengths of some of the Cornell players.
The folks in Kentucky took offense with a vengeance. A local radio guy named Matt Jones, writing on a website, charged me with racism and elitism, and
rallied Lexington.
Wildcat Nation swung into action. E-mails popped onto my BlackBerry just about every minute for a couple of hours. The themes were repetitive and highly unoriginal. Most of them used the words “racist’’ and “elitist’’ — usually framed as “Your a racist’’ or “Your an elitist.’’
People. It’s “you’re’’ a racist. Not “your.’’
Whoops. There I go, being elitist again.
For the record, there are four black players on the Cornell roster. And there are three white players on the Kentucky roster. So can we extract the racism
from the argument? I don’t think Cornell guard Louis Dale would appreciate the notion that anyone who roots for Cornell doesn’t like black people.
Jones knows better. He labeled Boston “the most racist major sports town in America.’’ I assume he has data to support this, since he also claims to have
gone to Duke Law School (no elitism there).
It’s just too easy to tease these guys. It’s like calling Carolina Hurricanes fans “goobers’’ or tweaking Patriots fans by saying Peyton Manning is better than
Tom Brady.
How big are the Wildcats in Kentucky? Ask Boston College athletic director Gene DeFilippo, who was an assistant athletic director at Kentucky for six years.
“The fanaticism that New England shows for the Red Sox is the same fanaticism that is shown from the entire state for the Kentucky basketball team,’’ said DeFilippo. “When I first got there, we went to Freedom Hall for a game against Notre Dame and we had 19,000 show up to watch the shootaround the day before the game.
“On days of Kentucky basketball games, there are fewer operations in the local hospitals because people are afraid they might still be under anesthesia and miss the game.’’
Gene knows. In 2007, he was AD at BC when the football team was ranked second in America for two weeks and nobody even noticed. We were too busy with the Red Sox in the World Series and the 18-0 Patriots. We can’t relate to rampant yahooism for the local college team. Must be elitism. Or racism,
maybe.
Coach Cal didn’t get much attention when he took UMass to the Final Four in 1996. Now he’s the god of Kentucky, with more than a million Twitter
followers and 138,000 Facebook friends. A fawning piece in the New York Times yesterday lauded Calipari’s social networking while simultaneously
acknowledging, “Calipari does not use a computer and struggles to type on his BlackBerry.’’ According to the story, Coach Cal’s networking is facilitated by David Scott, who “often spends 18 hours a day on Calipari’s website and overseeing his Facebook page.’’
Wow. Where can I sign up for that duty?
Here are some of the nuggets Cal’s Army sent my way yesterday:
■“You can have Boston, the Northeast, Ted Kennedy, and the Red Sox.’’
■“I’d be hard-pressed to think of a more inane, pointless profession than a sports writer — Wait, I got it . . . how about signholder — you know the guy who holds a small placard and stands right outside of the business he’s promoting. That guy . . . that’s who you are Dan.’’
■“You and many others, especially the eastern and northeastern press, love to hammer lowly ‘hillbilly’ Kentucky for no reason while lettin the same stuff we are accused of go unreported with northeastern teams.’’
■“You should be ashamed of your elitist self. Tough job market? For the Ivy League Cornell players, that’s laughable. Try the job market for Kentucky
seniors. The Cornell players have been handed everything their entire lives.’’
■ “While many people in my state can only laugh at your intolerable lack of sports knowledge and your ‘please pick me’ infatuation with appealing to people’s underdog bones, I actually feel pity for you.’’
■“Your [sic, told you] a disgrace to your paper and your readers. Know your facts a little better before you go and play the ‘world against Cornell’ role up
next time. Also, what exactly are you implying by using the words ‘bags of cash’ to run a Kentucky program?
■ “Boston makes Mississippi and Alabama look progressive on race relations — proud of that, are ya?’’
■“I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky from the year of our Lord 2008, and I take superlative umbrage to your comments regarding the Cornell/UK basketball game.’’
The “superlative umbrage’’ is hereby acknowledged.
Go Cornell.”

John Feinstein, of The DC Post, talked about West Virginia’s success in the NCAA tournament by saying:
“Bob Huggins is 56 now, a lot of years and lot of miles removed from the hot young coach who took Cincinnati to the Final Four in 1992. He’s a few pounds
heavier, his face has a few more lines on it and he has definitely been down the road less traveled.
The glory years at Cincinnati turned sour and he went through a very public bout with a drinking problem before winding his way through a quick stop at
Kansas State and coming home to West Virginia three years ago to coach his alma mater. Thursday night at the Carrier Dome, he moved to within one step of finally returning to the Final Four when his team pulled away from Washington for a 69-56 victory in the first East Region semifinal. The Mountaineers will meet top-seeded Kentucky on Saturday.
Predictably, the first question Huggins was asked after his team’s victory had to do with how he felt about being one step from the Final Four so many years after his first — and only — trip to college basketball’s promised land.
“I never look back,” he said, deadpan as always. “I’ve just never been that way.”
Then he told a story. “When I was a kid growing up in West Virginia, I went to play one day,” he said. “I got in a pickup truck in Midvale with a guy and I
noticed that he didn’t have a rearview mirror. I said to the guy, ‘Hey, there’s no rearview mirror.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Boy, we ain’t goin’ backwards.’
That’s the way I’ve lived my life.”
The emotion Huggins shows most often is anger — anger at a missed box-out; at a missed defensive assignment; at what he perceives as a bad call by an
official. His players joke about how often he gets on them, but wherever he has been — from Walsh College to Akron to Cincinnati to West Virginia — his
teams have always played as consistently hard as anyone in the country.
“I’ve never seen anyone who can get on his players and they absolutely love him,” said Billy Hahn, Huggins’s top assistant. Hahn knows a little bit about
hard-nosed coaches having worked for Gary Williams for 12 years at Maryland “I’ve seen practices where he is just all over a kid for two straight hours — just killing him. Practice is over and he and the kid will walk off the court arm-in-arm. He’s great at getting them to understand why he’s on them.”
Huggins doesn’t think there’s any secret to that. “They know I love them,” he said. “Which I do. I’m on them because I want them to get better not because
I’m angry with them or I don’t like them anymore because they miss a box-out. They all know that.”
Thursday, the Mountaineers were outplayed most of the first half by Washington, which took advantage of the absence of point guard Darryl “Truck” Bryant to force West Virginia into a spate of turnovers. His team trailing 29-27 at the break, Huggins said he was relatively calm in the locker room.
“I told them I wasn’t that worried,” he said. “I knew we couldn’t possibly play worse.”
They played considerably better in the last 20 minutes, taking control of the game with a 16-4 burst midway through the half after Huggins switched to a
matchup zone and then a 1-3-1 zone because of some foul trouble. Mostly though, the Mountaineers did what Huggins teams always do: They rebounded.
The final margin was 49-29 and they outscored the Huskies 17-0 on second chance points.
“Sometimes I think our best chance to make a shot is to miss a shot,” Da’Sean Butler, the heart and soul of this team, said afterwards. “Coach works on that
all the time. Rebound, rebound, rebound.”
Of course when the statistics were handed to Huggins during his team’s postgame press conference he smiled and leaned over to Devin Ebanks, pointing to a number he had spotted.
“Twenty-three turnovers,” he said later. “We aren’t going to get where we want to with 23 turnovers.”
Where Huggins wants to go is Indianapolis next weekend. With Syracuse losing Thursday night — a score that cast a pall over much of the Carrier Dome when it was announced — West Virginia is now the last Big East team standing after there were eight teams in the field of 65.
“We don’t want to be the last Big East team standing,” Huggins said. “We want to be the last team standing–period.
Even though he insists he doesn’t look in the rear view mirror, Huggins is keenly aware of how close he’s come to returning to the Final Four since the 1992 run that ended with a loss to Michigan and the Fab Five in the national semifinals. “In ’93 we lost a key guy and ended up losing to [North] Carolina in overtime in the [elite] eight or we go back again,” he said. “In ’96 we had another injury and lost to Mississippi State in the eight again. In 2000 I think we had the best team and then Kenyon Martin broke his leg. There’s no doubt in my mind we got that year if Kenyon is healthy.
“A couple of years ago I did a speaking engagement with Denny Crum. Someone asked him what the secret was to winning the national championship. He said you have to be lucky and you have to not be unlucky. Then he pointed at me and said, ‘This guy is the unluckiest guy I know.’ ”
Apparently there is a rearview mirror somewhere in Huggins’s brain because he does admit remembering those unlucky moments. But that is in the past now.
He’s back in the elite eight for the first time in 14 years and he admits it means a lot to him–and to others. Two weeks ago when West Virginia beat
Georgetown in the Big East championship game, he showed an emotion–not anger but joy–that people rarely see.
“I grew up a coach’s son in West Virginia,” he said. “I got a chance to play in Madison Square Garden in college and it’s a very special place. To go back in
there and win that tournament there and hear them playing ‘Country Roads’ on the PA, that was a big deal.
“Plus, I know what our team means to the people in the state. Before the game tonight I was talking to the governor [West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin] and he told me that they’d made arrangement to pipe the play-by-play in to all the factories and the mines because so many guys were trying to get off their shifts to watch the game or listen to it. I understand what it means when we do well. That makes it a big deal.”
A few weeks ago, Huggins told his players that they were the worst defensive team he had coached in 10 years. Thursday night he spoke glowingly about his team’s defense.
“They listened,” he said. “They get it. They’ve been a fun group to coach because they’re great kids and they want to get better.”
Bob Huggins is a long way from being the hot young coach he was at the Final Four in Minneapolis 18 years ago. He’s been called a lot of things by a lot of
people on the way to 670 wins. He’s gone from dapper to doughty, wearing a sweat suit top on the bench.
He’s one game from the Final Four again. And while he may not admit to looking in the rear view mirror, he knows what’s back there. Which makes where is right now that much more satisfying.”
For more from the author, visit his blog at www.feinsteinonthebrink.com.

John Feinstein, of The DC Post, talked about the rumored Tournament expansion.
“Let us begin today, after one of the great weekends in the history of college basketball, with this question: Why would anyone want to change this
tournament? It is about as close to perfect as a sporting event can get — if you forget the endless timeouts, the 20-minute halftimes and the absolutely
ridiculous late-night tip-offs. And still the NCAA and the WCA (Whining Coaches of America) want to change it?
To quote the great basketball maven John Patrick McEnroe Junior: You can not be serious!
If the tournament was expanded, teams such as Northern Iowa, Saint Mary’s and Cornell would have fewer opportunities to create memories against
Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 5 seeds. Please, for the love of basketball, let someone with a grain of sanity intervene before it’s too late.
Then again, it may already be too late. For college presidents, conference commissioners and NCAA administrators, nothing starts the morning like the smell of money. Ask the ACC power brokers, who thought conference expansion was such a swell idea. That’s worked out so well that over the past five seasons, the ACC has sent one fewer school to the round of 16 (Duke, North Carolina and Boston College) than the Missouri Valley (Wichita State, Bradley, Southern Illinois and now Northern Iowa.)
Anyway, back to the tournament. What the heck happened to Georgetown?  good enough to beat Syracuse, Duke, Butler, Temple, Washington, Villanova and Pittsburgh but careless enough to lose at home to South Florida, Old Dominion and Notre Dame (without Luke Harangody), not to mention an awful road loss to Rutgers.
Hot and cold basketball will get you burned at some point in March, and it happened very early for Georgetown. There’s just no reason to lose in the first round as a No. 3 seed, especially to a team that finished ninth in the Mid-American Conference. Now John Thompson III has to sweat out the next few
weeks wondering if Greg Monroe will return.
There will be no sweating — figuratively, at least — for Gary Williams There was a lot of good in Maryland’s season: a tie for first place in the ACC;
conference coach of the year for Williams and player of the year for Vasquez. But no matter how thrilling the comeback was on Sunday against Michigan
State, no one at Maryland can walk away satisfied with this postseason.
Both losses, the one to Georgia Tech in the ACC tournament and the one Sunday to Michigan State, were similar: The Terrapins dug themselves a deep hole and almost escaped it thanks to their press. They pulled many similar escape acts in the regular season. Sooner or later, though, that style catches up with you Sunday, they fell behind by 16, even though the Spartans’ Kalin Lucas got hurt in the first half, before rallying to take the lead late.
Three seniors ended their careers Sunday: Landon Milbourne, Eric Hayes and Greivis Vasquez. Hayes and Milbourne were underrated by most; Vasquez
was overrated by many.
That’s not to say Vasquez wasn’t a wonderful player. He had a fabulous senior season, deserved to be ACC player of the year and hit a lot of big shots,
including the one that gave Maryland the lead with six seconds left Sunday. But Vasquez missed a lot of big shots too — see Georgia Tech, final minute — and maybe should have found Hayes or Milbourne or the wonderfully talented freshman big man Jordan Williams, on a few more occasions.
Was Vasquez an outstanding college player? Absolutely. But top five in Maryland history? In the same sentence with John Lucas, Len Elmore, Tom
McMillen, Buck Williams, Albert King or Len Bias? No. What about Juan Dixon, Lonny Baxter and Steve Blake? The last three led Maryland to 13 NCAA tournament wins during their careers, including a national title and two Final Fours. Vasquez led Maryland to three NCAA tournament wins. This isn’t meant to denigrate Vasquez; it’s meant to be realistic. He deserves lots of applause going out the door but not the statue some people seem to want to build.
So the local hoops season is over. Sixteen teams are left to decide the national championship. The three best stories remaining are, without question, Cornell, Northern Iowa and Saint Mary’s.
What was the selection committee watching when it made Cornell a No. 12 seed? The Big Red’s two victories in Jacksonville weren’t flukes at all winning by 13 and 18 while trailing for a total of about one minute all weekend. Now it faces Kentucky, and the contrasts are inescapable.
Kentucky point guard John Wall is the prototype one-and-done player, headed for the top five (at least) in the NBA draft in June. He had to sit out his first two college games because he had $800 in travel expenses taken care of when he made “unofficial” visits to several campuses as a junior. His counterpart is Louis Dale, who begged Cornell Coach Steve Donahue to look at him on tape and brought a $400 deposit check with him on his official visit to Cornell. A player giving money to a coach. Talk about role reversal. 
Is in the South Region, facing a very solid Baylor team in one game while Duke plays Purdue in the other game. Purdue may be the first No. 4 seed in history to make the Sweet 16 by pulling two “upsets.” Few people — including this one — expected the Boilermakers to advance this far without Robbie Hummel. Now, it would be foolish to count them out. The same is true of Saint Mary’s.
Northern Iowa is in the Midwest and will play Michigan State. With Lucas out, the Spartans are certainly beatable if on Saturday. Ohio State, which plays
Tennessee in the other game in St. Louis, has to be considered the favorite in the Midwest, but at this point being the favorite in any region doesn’t count for much.
The one region that doesn’t have a true Cinderella is the West, if only because Butler is too consistently good to qualify for the role. Should the Bulldogs beat top-seeded Syracuse (they didn’t), they might have a claim on the title. And speaking of teams that are too good to be Cinderella, consider Xavier. The Musketeers, who will play a very good Kansas State (and lost to them) team in the other West Region semifinal, are in their third straight Sweet 16.
Let’s count all the other teams in the country that have been to three consecutive Sweet 16s: Michigan State. That’s the list. That’s how tough it is make it to the second week of this tournament year in and year out.
Yet another reason not to change a thing.”
For more from the author, visit his blog at http://www.feinsteinonthebrink.

Then John Jeansonne, of  NY Newsday, wanted a greater focus to be paid to class work, capitalizing STUDENT in student-athlete.

“If you take the student out of the student-athlete for college basketball’s delightful Spring Psychosis, there need not be any player (or team) left behind. But if the NCAA were to adopt a proposal by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan – that “teams failing to graduate 40 percent of their players should be ineligible for post-season play,” virtually every bracket already would be busted.
Applying Duncan’s rubric, championship co-favorite Kentucky never would have made it to tip-off for Thursday night’s easy victory over East Tennessee
State. Three other first-round winners – Baylor, Tennessee and Washington – also would have been eliminated even before the hoo-hah of Selection Sunday.
Plus, eight others (in order of worst to nearly-as-bad graduation rates) would not have met the Duncan requirement, based on statistics compiled by the
Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, or TIDES, at the University of Central Florida: Maryland, Cal, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, New Mexico State, Missouri, Clemson, Louisville, Georgia Tech. (Yet eight other teams had graduation percentages only in the 40s, meaning that 20 of the tournament’s 64 teams don’t graduate even half of their players.)
“When one in five men’s teams graduate less than 40 percent of their players,” Duncan said in his tournament-eve conference call, “how serious is the
institution and coach about academic success?”
These are, after all, “college” teams. Duncan acknowledged reforms by the late NCAA president, Myles Brand, that have caused the graduation rates of
college football and basketball teams to rise during the past decade. Under Brand, the NCAA created the APR – Academic Progress Rate – in 2004 to track classroom progress of each team’s players.
But the annual exercise by TIDES and its director, Richard Lapchick, has found a widening gap between graduation rates of black and white athletes.
Lapchick, Duncan and NAACP director Benjamin Jealous all expressed a “growing concern” that schools and coaches too often find talented players from poor, urban areas merely to serve as stars on the basketball court, with no emphasis on educating them.
Of the 12 NCAA tournament teams that failed to reach a 40-percent graduation rate, six of them nevertheless graduated 100 percent of their white players, the TIDES report found. Jealous, in enthusiastically backing the Duncan idea, contended, “Student-athletes rise to the expectations of the coach. What you see [with low graduation rates] is where the coach doesn’t set the bar high enough.”
Duncan said, “We’re trying to prepare students for life, not for W’s on the court. Myles Brand was a hero of mine in leading the NCAA.
But [previous reforms] don’t go far enough. The issue is that some institutions are committed to graduate their athletes; others are not.”
A player who transfers or leaves school early in search of a pro career does not count against the graduation rate in the TIDES report – as long as he departs in good academic standing. And, to any defender of the status quo, tempted to cast Duncan as a pointed-headed intellectual antagonistic toward big-time sports, Duncan reminded that “both my sister and I were lucky enough to play college basketball” and his father served as faculty representative to the NCAA at the University of Chicago.
On his way to graduating magna cum laude with a sociology degree in 1987, Duncan was Harvard’s basketball co-captain, an Academic All-American who
outscored Duke star Danny Ferry, 20-15, when their teams met. Duncan raved about the “discipline, selflessness and courage that all will be on display” during March Madness, but argued that “intercollegiate athletics and education have to go hand in hand.”
He made it clear that the 40-percent proposal simply is that – “a proposal to the NCAA. This is not a federal mandate. I grew up with players who struggled because they never got an education. The question I have is, ‘Why do we tolerate those situations?’ This is all about integrity. When you raise expectations, people will respond to that. I’m convinced, if you set a clear bar, the graduation rate will rise [and lead to] closing the gap between racial outcomes.”
There is, not surprisingly, a claim among some bracketologists out there that cracking down on graduation rates would rob the tournament of its top basketball talent, downgrading the Big Dance to some badly choreographed, two-left-feet stumble. But the daily on-line publication, Inside Higher Ed, contradicts that reasoning with its current Academic Performance Tournament, which advances teams through its unique NCAA bracket based solely on classroom performance.
This year’s championship final, Inside Higher Ed figures, will match Kansas against Duke, two No. 1 seeds with team graduation rates of 73 and 92 percent.
No educational malpractice in that.”

Frank Deford, of SI.com, remembers the time when NY basketball filled the papers- now not so much.
“As the NCAA tournament heads toward the regionals, as the NBA bides its time until the playoff push begins — that is, as basketball rules the day — it’s
ironic that New York, the city where the game really gained popularity at Madison Square Garden, has never been more of a basketball laughingstock.
Why, if Damon Runyon was eating cheesecake at Lindy’s today, this is what he’d be saying: “It is a pretty pass indeed when, as it is indisputably known to all guys and not a few dames, that it is here that the hardwood game first flowered, but we have now not one team of quality, and I give you six-to-five that our fabled Garden is itself full of weeds.”
Ah, the Garden — the place where college basketball first gained an urban foothold, starting in 1934 when a promoter named Ned Irish began scheduling college doubleheaders. Later, he invented the National Invitational Tournament, which was a bigger salami than the NCAA for many years. New York teams like NYU, St. John’s, Long Island University, CCNY packed the joint and were the powers in the sport. Every team in the country wanted to play there, as sure as every chantoosie wanted to sing at the Copa.
Then, when the NBA got going, sure, the Knickerbockers may have often been bums, but now there were pro doubleheaders — meaning that, for many
years, half the league’s eight teams were sometimes all there together in the same smokey barn. For the guys wearing satin shorts, it was their Broadway, and, in fact, the Garden was invariably referred to as the “Mecca of basketball.”
Today, deferentially, the teams that come into the Garden still profess to swoon at working the Mecca, but it’s merely being polite — like asking for an
autograph from some faded old movie star — because the fact is now that every city of any size and most big-time colleges possess basketball cathedrals every bit as impressive. After all, arenas and stadiums are what passes nowadays for American infrastructure. The Garden and New York live off basketball memories. Not a single New York area team even got a whiff of the NCAAs.
Not only that, but the Knicks have been toxic waste for years, and across the river, the Nets are striving, manfully, to put up the worst record in NBA history.
New York high schools still produce lots of terrific players, but as soon as they pass their SATs they get the first jet out to some bucolic campus in the sticks.
Not only that, but to add to the Big Apple’s basketball disgrace, the upstate of New York — which, for the city’s sporting types, has historically only consisted of the Saratoga race track — not only produced a number-one seed in Syracuse, but also in the regionals it has . . . Cornell.
Cornell! From the Ivy League. Cornell, from far above Cayuga’s waters. Wherever. Syracuse and Cornell. And there in New York City, a basketball vacuum.
It’s like they took the kangaroos out of Australia.”

Carolyn Jones, of The SF Chronicle, brought us STILL another story about a serious injury that could have been avoided.
“A day after he was hit in the head with a baseball, Gunnar Sandberg was in the hospital, shaking hands with nurses, visiting with friends and joyfully cracking his knuckles.
But Monday, the gregarious 16-year-old high school baseball player from Kentfield was clinging to life, and his school, Marin Catholic, was rethinking the use of metal baseball bats.
The school’s baseball team switched from metal bats to wooden bats as a safety measure in Gunnar’s honor after the March 11 practice game against
De La Salle when a batter slammed a line drive into Gunnar’s left temple. Gunnar, who usually plays second base, was on a temporary stint at pitcher when he was struck.
Players tend to hit harder with metal bats, which are lighter, and some coaches and parents argue that they’ve led to an increase in injuries. North Dakota and New York City have banned metal bats in youth baseball.
Gunnar was struck by a ball that was traveling at least 100 mph. He immediately collapsed on the pitching mound, tried to stand up, then fell again. He was transported to nearby Marin General Hospital, where he remained conscious for the next day or so, as he underwent brain scans and talked to family and friends, according to his sister, Kalli Sandberg.
Late March 12 his conditioned worsened, however, as his head began to swell and his movements slowed.
“He looked like a baby in a teenager’s body,” his sister wrote on a Web site. “His pupils were huge and unresponsive. … It was so hard to see my little brother like this.”
Doctors operated on his brain that night to alleviate the pressure and placed him in a chemical-induced coma.
On Thursday doctors stopped the chemicals, began another round of scans and are now awaiting his response.
His condition was described by his uncle, Chip Block, as “day to day, minute by minute.”
Although family and friends are optimistic, the outlook is precarious, those familiar with the case said.
“They haven’t gotten the signals from him they were hoping for,” said Marin Catholic spokeswoman Becket Colombo. “But everyone’s hopeful. Miracles
happen.”
More than 500 people attended a candlelight vigil for Gunnar on Sunday night at Creekside Park across from the hospital and adjacent to the high school.
Marin Catholic hosted a Mass in Gunnar’s honor Monday, and students are wearing school colors, blue and white, today as a tribute.
“The mood here is hopeful, but very somber,” Colombo said.
At a game last week, both Marin Catholic and Drake High School used wooden bats, and Marin Catholic plans to address the wooden-versus-metal bat
issue on a game-by-game basis.
Opposed to bat ban Little League, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the American Baseball Coaches Association are opposed to banning metal bats, saying the injury rate is not discernibly different than from wooden bats.
Metal bats have been in use since the 1920s, as a cost-effective solution to wooden bats occasionally snapping during games. By the 1970s they were in
widespread use in high schools, and today they’re used in nearly all youth baseball.
The North Coast Section, the umbrella group overseeing high school sports in much of the Bay Area, including Marin Catholic, follows national high school
guidelines regulating bat safety, said commissioner Gil Lemmon.
Two studies have shown that balls hit by metal bats travel 4 mph faster than those hit by wooden bats, he said.
As far as he knows, Marin Catholic was in compliance with all safety regulations the day of the game, he said. Gunnar was not wearing a helmet, but pitchers are not required to do so, he said.
Playing since age 5 Gunnar has been playing baseball since he was 5, and is devoted to the sport, his uncle, Chip Block, said Monday.
Gunnar coaches youth baseball at St. Patrick’s School in Larkspur and mentors dozens of kids on an informal basis, he said.
“He’s a very giving, very funny, extremely sensitive, nice young man,” Block said. “He’s never said a bad word about anyone.”
His family is enduring a roller coaster of tears, anger and hope, Block said.
“I tell Gunnar every day, my son wants to be just like him, so he can’t go anywhere,” Block said. “We need him to stick around. My kids love him too much.”

Here are Norman Chad’s thoughts on the almost- MLS strike.

“”Where have you gone, Landon Donovan?/
A nation turns its lonely eyes to you/
(woo, woo, woo)”
In a world gone mad, on a planet spinning violently out of control, the country woke up the other morning to face the unthinkable:
No Major League Soccer.
MLS players voted to strike if a new collective bargaining agreement was not reached by this week, with the league’s season opener scheduled for Thursday.
Meaning that, for the first time since its inception in 1996, we would be MLS-less and hopeless.
No MLS? Why don’t you just take away 7-Elevens, sunsets and our most basic freedoms?
Just a year ago, 6,524 fans in Dallas gathered for the Chivas USA-FC Dallas match; what would they do now? Just a year ago, 6,922 congregated in Kansas City for the Earthquakes-Wizards match; what would they do now? Just last November, 7,416 souls poured into New England for a Fire-Revolution playoff game; what would they do now?
Sure, U.S. sports fans faced a truncated NFL season in 1982 and 1987, a canceled World Series in 1994, even an entire NHL season wiped out in 2004-05.
But this was different. This is Major League Soccer, a way of life in dozens of homes in dozens of communities from Poughkeepsie to Pasadena.
Thankfully, an agreement was reached Saturday, with talks supervised by George H. Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service After helping avert an MLS strike, Cohen then went home and replaced the filter in his furnace.
I’m happy for the people of Philadelphia. The city that gave birth to the American Revolution had been without Major League Soccer for more than three centuries; it finally landed an MLS franchise in 2010 only to see a work stoppage threaten its good fortune.
(Column Intermission: Bryan Kelly of Spokane, Wash., e-mails, “Your article last week was pure crap.” Perhaps. But let me explain how the creative process works. Some days you’re “feeling it,” some days you’re not. Even if I’m not feeling it, I’ve got to write it. I simply did the best I could in the time I was given, and no animals were harmed in the making of that column.)
(Column Intermission P.S.: Even pitching greats like Sandy Koufax or Roger Clemens would have off days, no? I mean, every once in a while Koufax might
be roughed up for three runs in the second inning and get pulled in the fifth. If column writing worked the same way, I would’ve been yanked out at the
350-word mark last week and replaced by Mike Lupica or Bill Simmons.)
The MLS players’ union had voted, 383-2, to authorize a strike; this was the highest MLS score in history, eclipsing the Los Angeles Galaxy’s 7-4 win over
the Colorado Rapids in 1998.
The strike would’ve had no direct effect on injured Galaxy midfielder David Beckham, whose MLS contract does not require him to play in any league games.
According to the union, player income averaged $147,945 at the start of last season; however, if you remove Beckham’s salary from the equation, that
number dips to $6.50 an hour, plus meals.
Indeed, the union had legitimate issues, regarding guaranteed contracts and free agency. But I have always felt that those that provide an essential service to the community — police, teachers, MLS players — should not be allowed to strike.
Heck, a shootout would’ve made more sense than a strike.
Anyway, for those of you itching for MLS to start, I have devised a multiple-choice pop quiz to keep your head in the game. The exam serves two purposes:
It will separate the Peles from the pretenders, and it will allow me to end this column!
1. Which team won the 2009 MLS Cup? (a) Real Salt Lake; (b) D.C. United; (c) Columbus Crew; (d) Hounslow Harriers.
2. Who is the MLS commissioner? (a) Gary Bettman; (b) Gary Oldman; (c) Don Garber; (d) Don Corleone.
3. Who is the leading scorer in MLS history? (a) Cobi Jones; (b) Jaime Moreno; (c) Sidney Crosby; (d) Jess Bhamra.
Note: Correct answers will appear after the flopping competition during this year’s MLS all-star weekend.

Ask The Slouch
Q. Every year the Cleveland Indians trade all their good players at midseason and then play better. Do you think they will get rid of their good players in
spring training one year and make a run at the World Series? (Tom Finan; Tallmadge, Ohio)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
Q. Would ESPN have a daily curling show if the best teams were from New York and Boston? (Bill Kauzlarich; Farmington, Ill.)
A. Keep the cash drawer open, sugar.
Q. Do you think Bud Selig will require the Pirates to win a play-in game this spring to qualify for the National League season? (George L.W. Werner;
Sewickley, Pa.)
A. That’s another front-line winner!
Q. Will the judge consider Gilbert Arenas’s shooting percentage at sentencing this week? (J. Seidel; Huntingtown, Md.)
A. We’re going to have to dip into petty cash, Shirley.
You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just e-mail asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash! “

Frank Deford gave reasons why the NCAA shouldn’t change their format on SI.com.

“There are things in sport that every wise, clear-thinking, informed person — like me — wants changed. These include:
• The NFL overtime rule.
• The idiotic way the college football championship is determined.
• That pretentious saccharine ceremony after the Masters when they put the tacky green jacket on the new champion. (Didn’t we use to say “gag me with a
spoon” for icky things like that?)
How much a finer, lovelier world it would be if wiser heads prevailed and all those terrible things could be fixed.
Rather, the reverse. Yes, now some numbskulls are suggesting a way to screw up the one best things in sports. They actually want to add teams to the men’s
NCAA basketball tournament. Sixty-five isn’t enough. Let’s have 96. Let’s have 128. This would mean that something like the eighth-best team in the Atlantic Southwestern Conference would be playing the sixth-best team in the Big Whatever in the national championship tournament. Any bar that watered the drinks down that much would be out of business before Happy Hour.
Mostly, it seems, the geniuses who want to dilute March Madness are basketball coaches. Hey, let’s be honest: These guys don’t want more teams in the NCAAs. They just want more fellow coaches in the NCAAs. It’s bad enough we have grade inflation for students. Now we’ll have iinflation for coaches.
Can’t we just keep letting Dick Vitale do that all by himself?
The other reason to expand the field is that there must be a conspiracy to finally find a way to get Northwestern into the tournament.
The way it is now, March Madness has it just right. Nobody gets any byes. Nobody gets any home-court advantage. They played one game Tuesday night and everybody else starts Thursday and Friday. Then the regionals. Then the Final Four. Very neat — the most symmetrical championship around.
And it attracts all that extra interest because all those citizens who don’t know basketball from badminton fill out brackets down at the office and hope for a little jackpot. Listen, you take the NCAAs up to 96 or 128 and all of a sudden the fun of brackets is going to feel more like a chore. It’ll be like having to do your taxes.
Look, I understand: College basketball does feel a little slighted. As the Super Bowl carries football into February, the window when college hoops reign
supreme diminishes. Since March Madness is its moment in the sun, it naturally want to make more of that, but too much of a bad thing is not the answer.
The charm of the NCAA basketball tournament is that it’s like American Idol, Dancing With The Stars and all those other reality shows. Every game is an
elimination. We may love to say that second chances are sooo very American, but in playoffs, the vicarious thrill is knowing that the loser is finished, gone, kaput, extinguished. It’s mean, but that’s why we watch. But also, like those reality shows, you must have some appreciation of who’s competing, or you just can’t raise enough bile to care who loses.
Add more teams, more games, more weeks, and you’ll turn March Madness into March Monotony.”
 
 

Scott Ostler wrote about, the transplanted Brooklyn native, Al Davis who seems to enjoy all the controversy and intrigue he creates (maybe that’s just the Brooklyn in him coming out).
“Al Davis was inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame on Monday night and it was perfect, because Davis didn’t show.
That’s not to say the other inductees and guests wouldn’t have enjoyed Davis’ presence.
But his absence left a whiff of controversy and intrigue, and nobody does controversy and intrigue better than Davis, so he was there in spirit.
John Madden was Davis’ presenter, and also his stunt double when it came to accepting the award.
“He’s really misunderstood,” said Madden, Davis’ close friend, before the banquet. “He’s really a good guy. He likes the other image, the tough guy, but that’s not really what he is.”
BASHOF officials said Davis couldn’t break away from pressing duties as Raiders owner. The draft is looming. NFL team owners are meeting in Florida, and Davis, if he’s not there, is monitoring the action.
So it’s entirely possible Davis bowed out gracefully and with sincere regrets. It’s also possible Davis holds a grudge against BASHOF, and a Davis grudge is a powerful thing.
Some say Davis feels he should have been enshrined long ago. Two years ago BASHOF inducted former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo. BASHOF
President Thomas Martz said Monday that DeBartolo and Davis were to be co-inducted that year but Davis couldn’t make it to the ceremony, so his honor
was postponed until this year.
What’s Davis’ version? Maybe he’ll tell us one day. Whatever, his semi-explained absence gave exercise to the imaginations of those who enjoy Davis’ image as a rebel who takes no guff and brooks no slight.
Davis’ BASHOF credentials are impeccable. He forced the NFL-AFL merger that helped make pro football what it is today. He created the Raiders and
made Oakland a football town. He busted down the league’s disgraceful head-coach color barrier by hiring Art Shell in 1989.
Though Davis wasn’t at the ceremony Monday, don’t think he doesn’t care. Displayed with each inductee’s plaque is a brief biography written by a
sportswriter. When BASHOF sent Davis his bio for inspection, a courtesy aimed at correcting errors, Davis rejected it and asked that it be completely
rewritten by a different writer.
The Raiders’ boss is a tough guy to figure, a tough guy to honor and a tough guy. But Madden is dead right when he says BASHOF isn’t complete without
Davis.”

Bob Molinaro, of HamptonRoads.com, is right to be impressed by the UConn women’s basketball team.

“Connecticut is as big as it is good.
UConn is very, very long on talent, obviously.
But it’s the size and ranginess of Geno Auriemma’s team that impresses someone not accustomed to watching UConn in person.
Same goes, apparently, for somebody not used to sharing a court with the nation’s No. 1-ranked women’s team.
“We subbed a 5-foot-5 player,” Southern coach Sandy Pugh said Sunday, “and they substituted another 6-footer. They’re huge. We got overmatched.”
The starting lineup for UConn in its 95-39 first-round NCAA tournament victory included three players – all identified as guards – listed at 5-feet-10.
That doesn’t include Maya Moore, the 6-foot junior, who is introduced as a forward, but plays inside or outside on any given possession. She pretty much does whatever she wants, when she wants.
Underneath, UConn is anchored by 6- 4 Tina Charles, who led all scorers with 22 points.
En route to its 73rd consecutive victory, UConn hit 62 percent of its shots, but the Huskies will tell you that they win with defense. Sunday wasn’t the time to argue with that. Not after a second half in which Southern missed 26 of its 30 shots and scored only 10 points.
Facing so many tall, rangy defenders in the paint and along the perimeter, Southern couldn’t find a way over or around the collective wingspan of UConn.
To the overwhelmed visitors from Baton Rouge, La., it must have seemed as if the thicket of UConn limbs spread from sideline to sideline.
“We couldn’t see much of the time,” said Southern forward Freda Allen.
Meanwhile, nobody in Old Dominion’s Ted Constant Convocation Center could miss Moore, the best and rangiest of UConn’s players.
Viewed in person, her wide shoulders and long, powerful legs set the junior apart even on a team loaded with impressive athletes.
Asked what was behind Connecticut’s 21-2 second-half opening run that turned a rout into a full-blown laugher, Moore offered a good, honest analysis.
The dam broke for Southern, she said, because of UConn’s “continual pounding and attack mentality,” not any halftime adjustments Auriemma may have made.
Auriemma maintained that the first five minutes of the second half was the best stretch of basketball his team has played this season.
Considering that UConn’s average winning margin this season is about 35 points, you have to wonder how many times he’s said that.
What was left to say after UConn eased into championship form?
Pugh wouldn’t admit that her team was overawed by the competition. What coach would?
“We really got away from our offense,” she said of the second-half debacle.”
Got away from the offense? Got taken away, she meant, by UConn’s better, bigger athletes.
UConn’s reputation intimidates opponents. But so do all those long arms.”

Bob Molinaro submits a “Notes Column,” to HamptonRoads.com, just about every week. Here is a fine example:
Hidden gem: One of the pleasures of watching the NCAA tournament is discovering unheralded talent from unexpected places. Prime example: Omar Samhan, who led 10th-seed Saint Mary’s over No. 2 Villanova on Saturday. He’s a big man with moves and touch who scores with his back to the basket.
That’s almost a lost art.
Jail break Growing up in Glens Falls, N.Y., shimmering BYU guard Jimmer Fredette worked on his game by visiting nearby penitentiaries with his brother and playing against inmates. Maybe that’s where he learned to run and gun.
Annoying Like everybody else, I’d rather not pay for my bags to fly. I wouldn’t mind, though, shelling out a few bucks to get those body-painted Southwest
baggage handlers off my TV.
Rim shot North Carolina played an NIT game last week in old Carmichael Arena because the Dean Dome was undergoing repairs. Evidently, they were removing the lids from the baskets.
Underexposed ESPN shows his highlights, but if anyone in the NBA should be on TV more it’s Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Much ado Don’t see how signing a declining LaDainian Tomlinson is going to make a big difference for the Jets. It’s Tomlinson’s deterioration, as much as anything, that has marked the end of an era when running backs spearheaded NFL offenses.
In passing Don’t look at me. I don’t understand why the Redskins signed Rex Grossman either.
Priorities An athlete turning down easy money in order to further his education? You heard right. Instead of collecting his $250,000 off-season workout bonus, New England Patriots defensive end Ty Warren is staying home and continuing his studies toward a degree at Texas A&M. He’s doing it, in part, to set a good example for his children. “I can sacrifice that bonus for that,” he said. Best football story I’ve come across in a while.
Time line The Cleveland Cavaliers want their season ticket holders to renew this month. Problem is, LeBron James won’t decide where he’s playing next season until summer. LeBron’s got the entire city over a barrel, doesn’t he?
Pending The family of Sylven Landesberg, who was Virginia’s best basketball player before he was suspended for not attending one of his classes, is supposed to announce early next week what the sophomore will be doing next. Cavs fans are waiting for the other sneaker to drop.
Under the radar The women’s basketball team from Tidewater Community College recently won the state community college conference championship, while the men’s team lost in the finals. March is big enough to accommodate champions of all sizes.”

Bob Glauber, of NY Newsday, reported that Giants’ co-owner John Mara was hopeful that the Competition Committee will pass a modified overtime rule.

“Giants president and co-owner John Mara, a member of the NFL’s influential Competition Committee, is hopeful that his fellow owners will pass a modified
overtime rule at this week’s annual spring meetings in Orlando.
Realistically, however, he doesn’t expect it to happen.
“I still think it’s an uphill battle because you have to get 24 votes to change it,” Mara told Newsday in an interview. “I don’t know if there are enough people
around the league willing to change the current system.”
Overtime has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, with a greater number of teams winning overtime games after winning the coin toss. Between 1974 and 1993, it was a 50-50 split of teams winning the games after winning or losing the coin toss. But after kickoffs were moved back to the 30-yard line starting with the 1994 season, nearly 60 percent of games have been won by the team winning the coin toss (not necessarily scoring on the opening drive of the overtime).
Under the proposal, the modified overtime system would be limited only to playoff games:
Both teams would be guaranteed at least one possession, unless the team receiving the ball to start the overtime scores a touchdown, or if the kicking team records a safety.
If the receiving team does not score on its first possession, the kicking team would then get a possession. If it scored a field goal or a touchdown, it would win.
If the receiving team scores a field goal, then the kicking team would get a possession. If the kicking team then scores a touchdown, it would win. If the
kicking team scores a field goal, the game would proceed as sudden death until one team scores.
“I do think the numbers are skewed enough where there’s a lot of merit to us doing it in the postseason,” Mara said. “The rules are different in overtime in the playoffs anyway [regular-season overtime can result in a tie], so I don’t think that part of it is a big deal.”
The Competition Committee voted 6-2 to recommend passage of the overtime change. If the ownership at large reflected those numbers, the measure would pass 24-8.”

Bruce Jenkins, of the SF Chronicle, likes Ron Washington but still has a problem with Washington guiding the Rangers.

“It was early September 2005, about a week after Hurricane Katrina laid waste to Louisiana, and as the New York Yankees took batting practice in
Oakland, Jason Giambi went looking for Ron Washington. Then an A’s coach, and a native of New Orleans, Washington had been wiped out by the disaster.
His property was in ruins.
So there was Giambi, walking across the field during batting practice with a check for $25,000 in his hands. That’s how much he thought of Washington, a friend for so long in the A’s organization. Giambi felt it was the least he could do for one of the most respected people in the game.
In these times of bitterness and confusion in Texas, where Washington’s positive test for cocaine has gone public, it’s important to remember that scene. It’s important to know that Eric Chavez felt so strongly about Washington a few years back, he gave the man one of his Gold Glove trophies.
And it’s crucial to remember that as Washington stood before his players in private this week, Michael Young stood up and announced, “I’ve got his back.”
On a young and inexperienced team, Young’s voice is the only one that counts in the Texas clubhouse. He told his teammates that if they don’t stand behind Washington right now, “you’re not a Texas Ranger.”
Not that they needed much prodding. Ballplayers understand weakness, and human frailty, and the qualities that make a good man rise above adversity. When Washington stood at a podium to answer questions from the media, the players gathered en masse behind him.
Such matters are relevant because in the firestorm surrounding Washington in Texas right now, some pitiful opinions have come forth. There are calls for
Washington’s immediate dismissal, the rationale being that if he can’t manage himself, outside the game, how can he manage his players? It’s funny, too,
because you can be certain that some of those critics have done their share of drugs, cheated on their wives or fallen off some other plateau of integrity.
It’s all about perception now, and believe this: The players are fine with Washington. They’re not going to quit on him. The organization just might.
Incoming co-owner Nolan Ryan isn’t a Washington guy, never really was, and surely wants his own choice in the dugout. Perhaps an untimely losing streak
will make it all too easy for Ryan to pull the trigger.
Washington knows, too, that a quick start is the key to his survival in baseball. Billy Martin made a habit of drinking himself into a blind rage, but he persevered. Tony La Russa had an ugly DUI incident, complete with unflattering video, and he hardly broke stride. Washington doesn’t have that luxury. As far as the general public is concerned, Washington’s first link with anything is cocaine. That doesn’t bode well for a black man from New Orleans – “a cat,” as one of his best friends in baseball said so fondly this week. “A New Orleans cat. He’s Miles Davis.”
Washington has admitted using marijuana and amphetamines during the crazy baseball days of the ’80s, calling such activity “mistakes,” and he misspoke.
Those were choices, to have a little fun and get a little more ready for a ballgame. At the time he played, that lifestyle landed him squarely among the majority.
But for a 57-year-old man to use cocaine, that’s a mistake. For a manager to do so, that’s a huge mistake. Now he has to win, right out of the gate, or he’ll
find that “second chance” applies only to some.”