Archive for July, 2007

L.A. Writer Hard on Husker Fans
Tuesday, July 31, 2007

It was a slow day at the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday, as columnist T.J. Simers put a call-out to Husker fans for a few days of hospitality during USC week. Apparently he wants to get the full experience of “The Good Life” during game-week. Here’s his column, as it appeared on Monday:

I am writing this now to give the overland stage time to get it there.USC will be playing in Nebraska on Sept. 15, and I will be joining the greatest football team ever assembled as they strike out into the wilderness.

If possible, I’d like to spend time boarding with some corn cobs, maybe getting a smell of what it’s like to be around livestock — then leaving Lincoln to move around the state and spend a few days here and there.

A stop in Wahoo at the Wigwam Café is probably a good start, but I was thinking it’d be interesting to stay with a real-live-boring Cornhuskers family somewhere out on the prairie so I can feel what it’s like to have nothing to look forward to in my life other than a Saturday afternoon football game.

I’ll be going to Nebraska early in the football week, and while I’m not sure what corn cob hospitality is like, I’d like to remind folks that when they came to L.A., I tried to help.

Remember when the Cornhuskers came to the big city to lose in the Rose Bowl? Everyone here knows there are no individual seats — just long benches for the skinny people who live here.

I was looking out for the corn-fed porkers, of course, including all their big-butted women, when I told them that if everyone sat down after the anthem, there were going to be people falling atop each other at the end of each row.

A number of corn cobs e-mailed to say they were unhappy with Page 2 but thrilled now to have their very own Internet machines.

They also wanted to tell me about their wonderful lives, kids and the modern facilities being built right down there by the creek. Well, there’s nothing like a Wal-Mart coming to town to excite the locals, so I was thrilled for them. But for some reason that didn’t come across in our correspondence, and there might still be some hard feelings.

I got to thinking last summer, though, as I drove the family-that-I-used-to-love across Nebraska in a RV what it must be like to actually live there most every day of your life.

I can’t remember for sure if it was Nebraska or Kansas where I saw a tree, but it just seemed as if there wasn’t much there.

That’s why the corn cobs love their football. It’s all they have, everyone wearing red, and sitting there like plump, ripe tomatoes with corncobs stuck to their heads, singing, “There is no place like Nebraska.”

Hard to argue. There’s not a 7-Eleven in the entire state, thousands of people never once tasting a Slurpee, which got me wondering whether I could live that way for a whole week.

I know there aren’t a whole lot of cities in Nebraska, but I’m willing to spend a few days out yonder with a family if someone would like to show me what it’s like to live without DirecTV and not ask me to kill a chicken for dinner.

I can play checkers if forced, though, or make a run to the Feed Store. Right now I’m willing to go wherever the corn cobs tell me to go, and while several have already done that, I’d like to see for myself they’re not talking about some place in Nebraska.


Understand this: T.J. Simers loves to get people’s goats. Actually, since this is Nebraska, maybe that’s literally what he’s trying to do. He’s the same man, who, after last year’s game at the Rose Bowl, asked Bill Callahan why his offense went “into a shell.” (it was a good question, though).

He also appears every so often on ESPN’s “Around the Horn”, where people who were born without one comedic gene are paid to be wittily funny.

It’s a fairly tongue-in-cheek column, though, so I wouldn’t get too bent out of shape.

Not that we’re in shape to begin with.

Off the Top of My Head
Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I would say “From the Laptop”… but I don’t have one.

  • It was sad to hear of Bill Walsh’s passing. Walsh was the trunk of a coaching tree with countless branches; his legacy will live on in the NFL and the college game for years to come.
  • Speaking of which, let me make this statement: without Bill Walsh, Zac Taylor never wins Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.
  • Without Bill Walsh, maybe they’re still running the option in Lincoln.
  • Michigan and Notre Dame will be playing each other for a long time. The head-to-head contract was set to expire in 2011. The two teams have extended the deal through 2031. Couple of thoughts come to mind:
  • If the Second Coming happens before then, will they meet on a neutral field?


  • I would expect Notre Dame to announce an 80-year deal with Navy, Air Force and Citadel any day now.
  • It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and Michael Vick is the kitten.
  • Did that make any sense? It sounded hip.
  • Barry Bonds is about to tie/break Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record. We haven’t heard word one from Aaron, as the man of class his doing his best to bite his tongue. On Monday he told the associated press that his silence speaks for itself, saying: “I am making a comment by not making a comment.”
  • He later added, ” .”
  • Athletes of today like Terrell Owens should take a lesson from Hammerin’ Hank.
  • Cleveland Browns quarterback Brady Quinn missed his 4th day of training camp Monday, as his NFL holdout continues. He’s probably waiting for his contract in a green room.
  • Alberto Contador won the Tour de Farce on Sunday. From now on they should just give the title to the rider who finishes last. If they all cheat, that person must’ve cheated the least.

A Classic Finish
Monday, July 30, 2007

Roland Thatcher took home the dust-collector on Sunday with a six-under 65, capturing his second Nationwide Tour win of the year.

This Day Can Play

It was a classic two-man battle down the stretch, with 19-year-old Jason Day matching the 30-year-old journeyman (can you say “journeyman” at 30?) shot for shot.

Day is an incredible golfer. When I was 19, I was a clueless collegian (obviously… I went to Colorado). This guy is crushing balls and taking names on the Nationwide Tour, now with around $270,000 in earnings this year. Somebody check the birth certificate of that Aussie.

Day fired a 9-under 62 on Saturday, and chased that with a 8-under 62 on Sunday. The 17-under 125 total in the final two rounds equals the lowest 36-hole score in Nationwide Tour history. He played the front nine at 13-under on Saturday and Sunday. It takes me about three months to accrue those red numbers.

Roland led after 36 holes, he led after 54, and he led after 72. After Day made that birdie on 18, and Thatcher hit his drive on 18 into the rough, you had to wonder if he would wilt under the pressure. Not this guy. He two-putted from 40-feet for the $170,000 first-place prize.

Not a Bad Pay Day

Sure, it may not be like the hefty PGA paychecks, but $170,000 isn’t a bad weekend of golf. Especially when you consider that when most of us play a round of golf, we are usually out $40 and a few sleeves of balls.

Time For a Change?

I’m all for the low scores, but when is it too low? Since 1999, no winner has been worse than 20-under par. The par fives are played like par fours, and the par fours are played like par threes. On par-fours like 9 and par-fives like 17, if you don’t walk out of there with birdies, your chances of winning greatly diminish.

As an Omahan, do you enjoy watching great golfers come to town and torch your course? Or would you rather see them struggle, with, I don’t know… a bogey every now and then?

There were eight bogey-free rounds on Sunday. Eight! (in a Sunday field of 66 players). That brought the total for the week to 46 bogey-free rounds.

After setting a new Nationwide Tour record during the third round with a 67.758 scoring average, the final-round average came in at 68.485. For the week, the par-71 Champions Run played at 68.980 — the lowest four-day average in Tour history.

Is there a course you’d rather see them play? Indian Creek? Deer Creek? Or would you rather they keep it where it is? Let’s face it, Champions Run is a great location with all the amenities.

Maybe it’s just me, but when when there are more red numbers on the winner’s scorecard than there are on the entire Nebraska football team, it might be time to look into a change.

Or is that just what makes the tournament so great?

Deion Off the Deep End
Friday, July 27, 2007

Mike Vick was federally indicted for his alleged role in an illegal dog fighting ring. The Atlanta Falcons quarterback entered a “not guilty” plea on Thursday, with hundreds of protesters outside the Richmond, Virginia courthouse.

On Monday, former NFL star Deion Sanders offered his opinion in his weekly column for The News-Press in Southwest Florida. Since I was in San Antonio without a computer (and without much television time) I wasn’t able to read it. Until now.

Deion, a dog-owner himself, calls Vick’s actions wrong, stupid and immature. However, he tries to give us a window into Vick’s mind:

What a dog means to Vick might be a lot different than what he means to you or I. Hold on, don’t start shaking your head just yet.

(too late, Deion… the shaking has begun)

Some people kiss their dogs on the mouth. Some people let their dogs eat from their plate. Some people dress their dogs in suits more expensive than mine, if you can believe that. And some people enjoy proving they have the biggest, toughest dog on the street. You’re probably not going to believe this, but I bet Vick loves the dogs that were the biggest and the baddest. Maybe, he identified with them in some way. You can still choose to condemn him, but I’m trying to take you inside his mind so you can understand where he might be coming from.

I don’t need to go inside Pacman Jones’ mind to know he’s an idiot. I don’t need to know where Barry Bonds is coming from to know he’s a jerk. And in the same way, I don’t need to know what Mike Vick was thinking when he “allegedly” got involved in dog fighting. It’s a black and white issue. He’s either a criminal or he’s not. He’s either guilty or he’s not.

This is not a scenario you will find in a courtroom:

Judge: “Mr. Vick, your actions are reprehensible, unconscionable, and disgusting. However, I didn’t know that you were such a dog lover! Sure, your love may be a little misguided, but I know you just love the biggest and baddest dogs. You’re free to go. Oh, but could you sign my gavel before you leave?”

Come on, Deion. You’re better than that.

It gets better.

Who shot Darrant Williams? Remember the Denver Bronco cornerback? I’m just more concerned about bringing to justice someone who killed a human. Or finding out who broke into Miami Heat forward Antoine Walker’s home, tied him up and robbed him at gunpoint. We’re attacking this dogfighting ring the same way a teenager attacks his MySpace page after school (by the way parents, make sure you monitor your kids). We should have the same passion for man that we have for man’s best friend.

First of all, thank you for your guidance on the Internet superhighway. Secondly, you can’t play the “there are worse things going on in the world” card with this issue. Plus, dog fighting is often linked with other crimes. Peripheral criminal activities include organized crime, racketeering, drug distribution, or gangs. Dog fighting events often facilitate gambling and drug trafficking. I’m not sure Deion would want that in his neighborhood. I think Deion needs to be sat in front of a television and forced to watch videos of dog fighting. Then his opinion might change. Whether it’s dog fighting or Hog Dog Fighting, it’s brutal stuff.

KETV ran a story by Brandi Petersen Thursday night which showed clips of an illegal dog fight in Nebraska. It was terrible to watch, but it’s must-see tv. You don’t understand the significance of the problem until you actually watch it happen. It’s a disgusting epidemic, and Brandi did a good job of conveying that in the story.

Finally, Deion concludes:

The reason this is turning into a three-ring circus is that baseball is boring, basketball is months away, football is around the corner and we in the media don’t have a thing interesting to write about.

First of all, didn’t Deion play baseball? Hmmm…

Secondly, while I do agree that the federal probe was partially due to the fact that Vick is a star athlete, sometimes it takes a big name to make a point. I always say, to much is given, much is expected. Being a star athlete worth more than 100 million dollars, Vick has an added responsibility as a public figure. It’s not even something that takes a lot of work… just don’t screw up! Unfortunately, Vick has.

We won’t know the full extent of his involvement until the judicial system runs its course, but it doesn’t look good.

And neither do the people defending him.

A Great Time for Sports

The NFL has Mike Vick and other jailbirds.
The MLB has Barry Bonds and steroids.
The NBA has Tim Donaghy and a gambling scandal.
The NHL has no viewers and is still recovering from a lockout.
Cycling has a dark drug doping cloud hovering over the Tour de France.

That means the cleanest sport right now is…… (drumroll)…….


Big 12 Media Days Recap
Thursday, July 26, 2007

It was a pleasant few days in San Antonio, as the Big 12 teams and their respective media members converged on the Riverwalk to talk about the upcoming football season. The event was decent, as were the nachos.

Nebraska Talks Mo

Bill Callahan and company addressed the media on Monday. It was probably the best media day the Huskers have had since I’ve covered the team (dating back to 2002). Coach and his boys were well-spoken, and fairly open and honest. Callahan was more than willing to talk about Maurice Purify’s situation, and didn’t shy away from any talk about some of the specifics.

I spoke with receiver Terrence Nunn, who told me he had just spoken to Purify earlier in the day, and said Maurice is excited to get going again. I also asked Nunn if he took flack for crying during the movie “Titanic” in the story we ran last year. He said, “Nah, not too much. They know I’m a man.”

Before the interviews began, we stuck a microphone in Callahan’s face in the hallway. I asked him about Purify, and he cut me off, saying, “Hey, have we started yet? We’re just shooting the breeze here…” I apologized, saying, “If you want me to wait, I’ll wait…” He said, “You’re just doing your job… that’s okay.” I then paused two seconds, stuck the microphone back in his face and asked, “How was your summer?” He laughed, saying, “Summer was great… no question.”

Now that’s a soundbite.

Missouri the Media’s Pick in the North — Really?

Two words: Gary Pinkel
Two more words: Fade Fast

Check out these hot Tiger starts followed by their respective cold finishes in recent years under Pinkel:

Year/Start/Final Record

2006 /6-0 /8-5
2005 /5-2 /7-5
2004 /4-1 /5-6

Sure, the offense has virtually no questions this season. Chase Daniel, Tony Temple, Will Franklin, Chase Coffman and Martin Rucker will make this offense tough to contain. Only seven teams averaged more than Missouri’s 425.6 total yards per game last season.

On the other side of the ball there are unknown answers, having to replace six starters from a defense that allowed seven 100-yard rushers in the final six regular season games. Who knows how well the hole-pluggers will play. The fact is, the Tigers gave up 20 points/game last season.

On Tuesday the Tigers talked about how they weren’t mentally strong enough last season to finish what they started. That, unfortunately, is a reflection of the coach. If Pinkel can get his guys to put the pedal to the metal for 12 games, it could be a special season. But I just don’t see it.

The advantage they have is hosting the Nebraska game. If they drop that one, they’ll lose at Oklahoma the following week, and they’ll start the Big 12 campaign 0-2. That will spell disaster. They may say the game against Nebraska isn’t the North championship game, but it might as well be. The Huskers won’t lose the North if they lose that game… but I think the Tigers will if they come up on the short end.

Baylor: Tough Ending for a Good Guy

Every coach at media days has a different style, demeanor, and flair. That being said, there was no more defeated coach than Baylor’s Guy Morriss. He sounded like someone had already taken the wind out of his sails… like a Woody Woodpecker balloon being popped before it even gets to Central Park West in the Macy’s Day Parade.

A fellow reporter asked him if he believed the administration would be patient. He began with the phrase, “I don’t know…”. If the team plays with the same fire that Morriss had at media days, the Bears will begin hibernating September 1st.

Mike Leach: Free-Associative Mind

I liken Texas Tech coach Mike Leach to Robin Williams, with ten fewer cups of coffee. Leach is always the media days wild card. On Tuesday, I asked receiver Danny Amendola for a good Leach story. He then went on to talk about how he and a teammate made a late-night run to a gas station. There, they saw someone filling up a nice Cadillac SUV. Upon closer inspection, they saw it was their head coach. Upon even closer inspection, they saw him using Diesel to fill up his vehicle. After informing Leach of his mistake, the coach said, “Ah, it all looks the same to me.”

I asked Leach to verify the story. He claimed it never happened, but then went on to expound on cars for the next six minutes. He talked about how every button in the car should have a toggle switch, and how he once asked for a Ford Taurus instead of an expensive fancy car for a recruiting trip, and said, “I didn’t get one. I guess they don’t make Ford Taurus any more.”

Hawk Love: Nothing Like it

I’ll admit it, I have a soft spot for Colorado. I went to school there, I covered the football team, had a sports radio talk show on campus… even my skin bruises turn black and gold. Having lived in Nebraska for five and a half years (and being six years removed from my college graduation) the Buff in me has faded somewhat, in that the losses don’t ruin my day or make me go into a shell like they used to.

That being said, I like Dan Hawkins. He might be the most honest coach in the Big 12 when it comes to saying exactly what he’s thinking and how he’s feeling. He’s a lot like Gary Barnett in that way. I asked him about the “worst days as a Buff is better than the best days as a Husker” comment from 2006.

Me: Coach, last year I asked you if you were going to make Nebraska a rival, and you said ‘Why isn’t Iowa State a rival?’ Then you made that comment at that pep rally

Hawkins (paraphrasing) : You’ve gotta have fun! I was at a pep rally, we were oh-for at that point, and we had a lot of boosters there. Would you rather I was the kind of coach that said ‘yes… no… no comment’? I’m sure Bill Callahan has said some things about me at a pep rally… do you think I take it personally? Of course not. You gotta have some fun.

Josh Freeman Excited about Nebraska… Not Really

The Kansas State quarterback was once a prized Husker recruit, before reneging on his commitment a month before signing day. I asked him about his return to Lincoln this season. “Oh, I’m sure it’ll be a warm reception… they’ll welcome me with open arms…” He later laughed and said he was kidding, but added it shouldn’t be a big deal. All kidding aside, Freeman is going to get verbally assaulted. (Until, of course, the end of the game, when he and the Wildcats get a standing ovation while walking off the field after a 27-17 loss).

Celebrity Sighting

In San Antonio, we had a chance to hang out at a few places along the Riverwalk, including “Howl at the Moon”, a fun place with two pianomen singing tunes to the masses. Two nights before, King of Queens star Kevin James was there… I was a little late on that one.

Actually, the biggest star I saw was in Omaha on Wednesday night, at baggage carousel #1 at Eppley. When we were fishing for our bags, I looked up and saw Tracy Morgan from “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock”. I asked him, “What brings you to Omaha?” Apparently he’s performing at the Funny Bone. I won’t be there… but there you have it.

Purify Gets a Game
Saturday, July 21, 2007

Maurice Purify was in a bar fight, was charged with two counts of assault (including allegedly hitting a woman), resisting arrest, and a month later was cited for driving while intoxicated. Now he will miss one football game. Bill Callahan met with Purify on Friday, reinstated his best receiver, and released the following statement to the media:

“I met with Maurice Purify this afternoon and I believe that he has made a sincere effort to redeem himself and move forward in a positive direction. During his suspension from our program these past six weeks he has complied with all of the requirements imposed upon him by the legal system, the general expectations of a student-athlete in our program, and the specific additional conditions demanded of him as a result of his actions. Our primary concern for Maurice continues to be his personal well-being and we will continue to be pro-active in that regard.

Maurice has been re-instated to our football program and will participate in the final week of summer workouts beginning on Monday, and will report to training camp as part of our 105-man roster on August 5th. Maurice will be suspended for the season opener against Nevada, and will face continued additional discipline within our football program, including extensive community service starting immediately and continuing throughout the entire season. Provided Maurice continues to meet the guidelines of his legal probation (prohibits any appearance in a drinking establishment that primarily serves alcohol, and submission of random testing for use of drugs and alcohol) as well as the stipulations for his behavior set forth by our staff, he will be allowed to resume participation as a member of our team. Maurice will still be subject to any additional possible University Judicial actions, but those actions remain a private matter.”


When the incidents first occurred (within the span of one month) I felt a three-to-four game suspension was in order. However, the further away I got from it (time-wise) the less passionately I felt about it. Earlier this week I made the comment to someone that he should be suspended for no more than two games. While I do believe this one-game punishment is pretty tame, I also know that Maurice will pay a severe price in the court of public opinion.

Did Callahan go easy on him? Perhaps. Especially when you consider that earlier this week Purify released a statement wondering if he would ever be allowed to play for Nebraska again. Had Callahan gone with a three or four game suspension, people would’ve had a hard time being tough on the coach. Fans are more apt to side with too stiff of a punishment than one that is too light. But let’s be honest, Callahan also would’ve been chewed out whether it was a two game suspension, with some saying, “Oh sure, coach knows he needs Mo for USC.” Now Callahan has opened up the door for criticism.

This is a tough spot for a coach to be in. What this punishment says to me is this: Mo needs to be held accountable, but Nebraska also needs to win. It’s a tough spot for a football coach to be in… especially for a coach that is expected to win this year.

Of course, all punishments are arbitrary, but in my book the Husker scale of “crime and punishment” has now been set.

Two arrests, including two counts of assault, resisting arrest, trespassing, and driving under the influence = a one game suspension.

And the next time a Husker football player gets into trouble with the law (perhaps one that is of lesser caliber) it’ll be interesting to see how it’s handled.

Maurice admitted his wrong-doing, which is the first step in regaining his integrity. With the help of the coaching staff, he’ll get there. I understand the one game suspension, and hope that it’s the last suspension of Purify’s Husker career.

What do you think? Was it too tough? Too light? Just right?

Monday Morning Thoughts
Monday, July 16, 2007

Random thoughts on sports.
(translation: Too tired to put together meaningful paragraphs)

  • The United States beat Japan 23-20 in the championship game of the American football World Cup. Nebraska-Omaha’s Kyle Kasperbauer was named MVP of the game with two touchdowns. After beating South Korea 77-0, and Germany 33-3, it feels like we’re really losing a foothold in this game of ours. These games just keep getting closer and closer
  • Germany defeated Sweden 7-0 to win the bronze medal. Boy, I would’ve loved to have seen that game.
  • The Philadelphia Phillies lost their 10,000th game on Sunday. Man, that’s a lot of losses for one day. Their bullpen must be pretty deep.
  • I watched the ESPY’s on Sunday night. There’s a reason athletes aren’t supposed to host award shows. It’s the same reason that talk-show hosts don’t play professional sports. They can’t. Lebron James tried, and seemed to be doing okay… right up until he dunked that baby through the hoop. ESPN couldn’t dub in enough canned laughter to hide the mortified reaction from the crowd.
  • Rumors are flying about Trevor Robinson possibly decommitting from Nebraska after he made it known last week that he wants to visit Notre Dame and Michigan. He said he wants to make sure he made the right decision. Why are people still shocked when this happens? Heck, we’re seven months away from signing day. Not only that, but Robinson is 17 years old. High school kids change their minds every five minutes. Until there’s an early signing period, it will continue to happen. Blame the internet recruiting services and college coaches for hounding these athletes and putting all of that pressure on these kids… but don’t blame the kids.
  • We received an email from an agitated viewer Sunday night, who was none too pleased with my description of a Tour de France rider who was seen walking through trees up to the road after having tumbled down the embankment. I said, “No, he wasn’t busy relieving himself… he actually took a tumble down there.” To the viewer, I apologize. I should’ve used the phrase “potty break.”
  • Barry Bonds showed a rare side of emotion on Sunday, calling himself “an embarrassment.” Maybe he’s starting to believe what he reads.
  • The Giants slugger is hitless in his last 20 at-bats, and after Sunday’s loss to the Dodgers, he took it out on himself. “It’s an embarrassment for me to be wearing this (expletive) uniform ’cause of the way I’m playing. There, that’s it. Now go away.” He then flipped a laundry cart to the ground and walked away. It should be noted that there were 2,000 pounds of clothes in the laundry cart.
  • Congrats to Jeff Bryan of Fort Calhoun, Nebraska, who finished in 27th place at the World Series of Poker’s Main Event. He takes home $333,490. Good luck to his wife in trying to convince him to stop gambling now.

Mike Minter Stands and Delivers
Thursday, July 12, 2007

I had a chance to attend the Luis Palau sports luncheon Thursday afternoon at Qwest Center. Tom Osborne gave a nice opening, talking about his relationship with God and how it has impacted his life and the way he conducts himself. Former Husker and current Carolina Panther Mike Minter (who is entering his final year as a pro) gave a powerful testimony about how “God’s grace, goodness, and glory” made him the man he is today. He spoke from the heart, and I can’t imagine he lost anyone’s attention during his 25-minute talk. The man from Lawton, Oklahoma spoke of his recruitment to Nebraska, his trials as a Husker, and his journey to the professional ranks. He spoke of his deep relationship with Christ, and I’m sure his message had a profound impact on many in attendance, including me.

Former receivers coach Ron Brown was also there… I had a chance to chat with him for a couple of minutes following the event. He’s always an impressive person to talk to. A handful of former Husker players were also on hand. Everytime there’s an event like that with former players in attendance, I’m always left with the same thought: Tom Osborne has left footprints on countless players’ lives, and his legacy will be felt for generations to come.

As Mike Minter said, “We all wanted to be like him.”

OU Serious?
Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The NCAA forcing Oklahoma to “vacate” all of their wins is big news. This stems from last summer’s news that former quarterback Rhett Bomar and offensive lineman J.D. Quinn accepted money from a Norman car dealership for work they hadn’t done.

While OU attempts to appeal the “failure to monitor” charge, I have to wonder if the NCAA is still actively pursuing the Reggie Bush scandal at USC, where the running back allegedly accepted a house for his family. Why have we not heard two words about that story this year? Is the NCAA quelling the talk by not digging up the dirt? Would the NCAA rather not have a Heisman Trophy winner exposed? I wonder: if Oklahoma had won a national championship in 2005 and Adrian Peterson had won the Heisman Trophy, would the NCAA still force them to “vacate” all of their wins?

I love how the NCAA will retroactively punish a program, while the players responsible get a free pass. Yeah, let’s pretend those games didn’t happen, maybe take a couple of scholarships away from the future, and move on. The NCAA does as poor a job as any self-governing body at policing itself, and I’m sure there’s plenty of misdeeds that we don’t know about. It seems to be a selective process of handing out slaps on the wrist, along with the illusion of being a zero-tolerance institution.

How about Colorado back in 1997: Colorado was forced to forfeit all of its victories (yes, all five of them) from the ’97 season after acknowledging that an ineligible player had in fact played that season. Darren Fisk (fullback and linebacker) was in his fourth year of competition, but in his sixth year of college enrollment, which violated NCAA rules. So instead of being 5-6, the Buffs are officially 0-11 in 1997. Do you think that if Colorado had finished that year undefeated that they would’ve forfeited those wins? Come on. It’s a pick-and-choose punishment system, and it’s entirely arbitrary. There needs to be set ground rules on which punishments fit which crimes. If Oklahoma is forfeiting its wins in 2005, then I want to see USC forfeit all of its wins from 2005. After all, didn’t the USC staff “fail to monitor” Reggie Bush’s finances?

Although, I must say there is a delicious irony in all of this: Oklahoma president David Boren is the one who asked the Pac-10 that OU be allowed to vacate its loss to Oregon last season in that controversial finish in Eugene.

The officials in that game simply made bone-headed calls. Oklahoma’s staff, on the other hand, knew that players were working for “Big Red Sports and Imports”, but failed to make sure everything was kosher.

Sometimes incompetence is tolerated.

But not ignorance.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Graduation: It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over

Yogi Berra recently delivered the commencement address for St. Louis University, from which he received an honorary degree. There were nearly 2,000 graduates and 10,000 in attendance at Scottrade Center. I wish I had been one of the 10,000.

Here it is, word-for word.

And I must say, if it were any more Yogi-like, it would sound a lot more like Yogi.


Thank you all for being here tonight. I know this is a busy time of year, and if you weren’t here, you could probably be somewhere else. I especially want to thank the administration at
St. Louis University for making this day necessary. It is an honor to receive this honorary degree.

It is wonderful to be here in St. Louis and to visit the old neighborhood. I haven’t been back since the last time I was here. Everything looks the same, only different. Of course, things in
the past are never as they used to be.

Before I speak, I have something I’d like to say. As you may know, I never went to college, or high school for that matter. To be honest, I’m not much of a public speaker, so I will try to keep this short as long as I can.

As I look out upon all of the young people here tonight, there are a number of words of wisdom I might depart. But I think the most irrelevant piece of advice I can pass along is this: “The most important things in life are the things that are least important.”

I could have gone a number of directions in my life. Growing up on the Hill, I could have opened a restaurant or a bakery. But the more time I spent in places like that, the less time I wanted to spend there. I knew that if I wanted to play baseball, I was going to have to play baseball. My childhood friend, Joe Garagiola, also became a big-league ballpayer, as did my son, Dale. I think you’ll find the similarities in our careers are quite different.

You’re probably wondering, how does a kid from the Hill become a New York Yankee and get in the Hall of Fame? Well, let me tell you something, if it was easy nobody would do it. Nothing is impossible until you make it possible.

Of course, times were different. To be honest, I was born at an early age. Things are much more confiscated now. It seems like a nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore. But let me tell you, if the world was perfect, it wouldn’t be. Even Napoleon had his Watergate.

You’ll make some wrong mistakes along the way, but only the wrong survive. Never put off until tomorrow what you can’t do today. Denial isn’t just a river in Europe. Strive for success and remember you won’t get what you want unless you want what you get.

Some will choose a different path. If they don’t want to come along, you can’t stop them. Remember, none are so kind as those who will not see. Keep the faith and follow the Commandments: Do not covet thy neighbor’s wife, unless she has nothing else to wear.

Treatothers before you treat yourself. As Franklin Eleanor Roosevelt once said, ‘The only thing you have to fear is beer itself.’

Hold on to your integrity, ladies and gentlemen. It’s the one thing you really need to have; if you don’t have it, that’s why you need it. Work hard to reach your goals, and if you can’t reach them, use a ladder There may come a day when you get hurt and have to miss work. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt to miss work.

Over the years, I have realized that baseball is really just a menopause for life. We all have limitations, but we also know limitation is the greatest form of flattery. Beauty is in the eyes
of Jim Holder. Half the lies you hear won’t be true, and half the things you say, you won’t ever say.

As parents you’ll want to give your children all the things you didn’t have. But don’t buy them an encyclopedia, make them walk to school like you did. Teach them to have respect for others, especially the police. They are not here to create disorder, they are here to preserve it.
Throughout my career, I found good things always came in pairs of three. There will be times when you are an overwhelming underdog. Give 100 percent to everything you do, and when that’s not enough, give everything you have left. ‘Winning isn’t everything, but it’s better than rheumatism.’ I think Guy Lombardo said that.

Finally, dear graduates and friends, cherish this moment; it is a memory you will never forget. You have your entire future ahead of you.

Good luck and Bob’s speed.