Posted on: February 21, 2008 4:01 pm

Keeping the seat warm for Will Ferrell

LOS ANGELES -- Waiting here in the USC sports info department before going up and see Pete Carroll.

I'm in Heritage Hall, which can be a tourist trap. All those Heismans in the lobby. Superstar coaches ducking in and out. But here I am killing time typing at a desk that used to be occupied by Will Ferrell. Frank the Tank, Ron Burgundy etc. got his start here at a sports info assistant.

Since he became a big-time actor, Pete has brought Ferrell into the program on numerous occasions. Most notably, during Rose Bowl practices one year when Ferrell -- unknown to the players -- suited up and was golf-carted into a drill. Matt Leinart completed a pass to this "walk-on tight end" as Pete described him.

Ferrell took his helmet off and the players went nuts. It was during the "Old School" days and players began chanting "You're my boy, Blue!"
Pete announced on  his website (, believe it or not) that he went to see the premier of  "Semi-Pro" Tuesday in Westwood. Gave it a thumbs up. I'm fired up to see it because of all the old ABA references. I cant remember going to Spirits of St. Louis games as a teenager and seeing a young Moses Malone and a frequently tardy Marvin Barnes. Just saw a thing on HBO last night. George Gervin and Artis Gilmore even have cameos.

Anyway, I don't feel any funnier sitting in Will's old seat, but it is nice to be in the same ass groove as my comedy hero.

Stay classy.
Posted on: February 20, 2008 12:22 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2008 12:29 pm

National college football notes

 The time has come to quit tinkering with our game.

The NCAA rules committee last week issued a series of confusing proposals that have to do with the "pace" and "tempo" of the game. That's code for -- watch out.

Two years ago this same group applied a bunch of misguided timing rules that cut approximately 16 plays out of each game. Coaches howled, fans protested. The college game, in 2006, was bastardized. Thankfully, the rules were tweaked again in 2007 to give us back our familiar game.

Now the rules committee is proposing NFL rules that are sure to make our college game more like, well, the NFL.

 After the game is declared dead (not counting change of possession or injury), the offensive team will have 40 seconds to snap the ball.

 On out of bounds plays, the clock will start on the signal from the referee, not on the snap of the ball (except in the final two minutes).

These are two rules that have helped compartmentalize NFL games into nice, tidy, three-hour windows. Games in which each team basically runs 62-68 plays.

Last season, the average I-A team ran 72 plays per game. At least six ran 78 per game. Tulsa led the nation running an average of 80.4 plays. That offense was the first to produce a 5,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard receiver and a 1,000-yard rusher on the same squad.

Let's see, what was the last NFL team to do that?

The opinions of rules committee folks vary. One source in the room said that teams might lose the equivalent of one series (three or four plays) per game. Some say the 40-second rule could actually add more plays because officials will be more cognizant of getting the ball in play so as not to cheat an offense.

The fact that there is no consensus is scary. We like the game the way it is. What the suits don't realize is that, by and large, fans want to spend as much time as possible on campus on a football Saturday. A lot of them are driving five, six, seven hours to get there. College football is an event, not a commodity.

The average length of a game last season was 3 hours, 23 minutes, 4 seconds. That's up 1:47 from 2006. Anyone complaining?

"I don't know anyone who thinks the game is too long now anyway," said an officiating crew member from a BCS conference. "What do they care if the game is 20 minutes longer, or a half hour?"

We think rules committee member Randy Edsall, the Connecticut coach, has it right.

"We, as coaches, are willing to do some things to speed up the pace of play because we understand the TV games are a little bit longer, " Edsall said. "We also have to have the cooperation of the TV people."

Two changes that were discussed: 1) compel networks to go to a commercial during a replay. That kills two birds. Networks get to sell product, instead of wasting down time with happy chatter.

2) Cut the length of halftime.

"We might have to go to a 15-minute halftime," Edsall added. "Get your (commercials) done before the game. Get them done in your breaks. There has to be some give and take on all three sides. It just can't always be the coaches trying to come up with ways to (speed up) the pace of the game."

All of this year's proposed rules changes are still subject to approval by the NCAA oversight panel. Let's hope the panel takes a long, hard look at the proposals and the rules committee's track record before rubber stamping things. In 2006, that was a disaster.

  Nice job by the Division I-A Athletic Directors Association, which is working on a college version of the Rooney Rule.

The NFL long ago compelled teams to interview at least one minority candidate when filling a head coaching position. The AD's association is doing the same except for one key ingredient.

It has no way of forcing schools to interview minorities. Instead, schools will be "encouraged" to adhere to the standards.

That's a political move without any teeth. Until the NCAA steps in (which it probably can't), expect more of the same. To his credit, president Myles Brand has used his bully pulpit to encourage more minority hiring but more needs to be done.

The college presidents need to agree as a group that their schools will interview at least one minority candidate for every head coaching opening. The ADs have shown they don't have across-the-board support. If they did, they would have agreed to sanctions for schools that don't comply.

 The silly (off)season has kicked off, fittingly, in the SEC. Too much time and not enough to do for our college football stars frequently is a dangerous combination.

 Tennessee kicker Dustin Colquitt, with a history of alcohol-related problems, recently spoke to a group of fifth-graders graduating from a Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) class.

Colquitt was charged Sunday with a DUI and leaving the scene of the accident. The Clinton, Tenn., police chief has apologized for allowing Colquitt to speak.

 Alabama lineman Jeremy Elder admitted to robbing two students on Sunday. One student said Elder got $26 after being confronted at gunpoint. The student also said he was able to identify Elder from video footage taken at Bryant Hall, the athletic dorm.

Elder was spotted walking toward the rear of Bryant Hall after the alleged robbery wearing a checkered black and white (houndstooth?) baseball cap adored with the Alabama "A".

At least the caper was well thought out. Good luck with the rest of your life, Jeremy. You'll need it.


Category: NCAAF
Posted on: February 18, 2008 9:16 pm

End of the line for Ryan Perrilloux?

As a three-time "loser", Ryan Perrilloux is running out of chances at LSU.

The talented LSU quarterback's third career suspension came down Monday from coach Les Miles. The announcement contained no specifics but apparently it is the result of a bunch of little stuff like being late for meetings, classes etc. Except that Perrilloux has exactly no equity built up with Miles. The three suspensions have been for different and troubling reasons

Combine that with the fact that Perrilloux arguably saved LSU's season with effective backup work and his do-or-die start in the SEC championship game. This was going to be his team in 2008. Miles has little behind him on the depth chart but it is clear the coach has little patience. I scraped up this two-day old blog
 if you really want to get into rumor mongering.

Bottom line: Don't be surrpised if Crazy Les boots even crazier Ryan. How do you screw up such a great situation? From quarterback of the defending national champions to looking for a school to transfer to.




Category: NCAAF
Tags: LSU Tigers
Posted on: February 18, 2008 9:49 am
Edited on: February 18, 2008 11:39 am

Why They Had To Go To The Hill

I've stayed silent on this long enough. You want to know why this baseball stuff has to be played out in Washington?

Start with accountability. Baseball enjoys a long-standing anti-trust exemption. It enjoys that exemption at the leisure of the federal government. Baseball operates with impunity enough. When its lords let cheaters take over the game, there has to be some authority to oversee the game.

In other words, baseball can't control baseball. The current drug testing problem still isn't enough. Until it is random and year round for all times, it won't be complete.

Anyone else notice that -- with agonizingly few exceptions -- these drug cheats aren't accountable until the feds intervene. BALCO brought it all out in the open. Now Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are opening themselves up to perjury charges proving once again that it's not the crime, it's the cover up. Can't wait until IRS agents get their hooks into Clemens' tax returns. Think those might be interesting?

It didn't have to be this way. All these guys had to do was admit a weakness. They would have been forgiven by now. Washington might have been a circus, but it certainly isn't a waste of time. I want to know who did what, when and how much. I want to know why the best players in the game, sure Hall of Famers, felt like they had to get an edge.

Hubris? Stupidity? Arrogance? All of them?

I'm still operating on the belief that the heroes were the guys (and girls) that didn't take performance-enhancers. The fools, they wanted to do it the natural way. And for those who equate athletes with Judy Garland on speed for the Beatles on acid (hey, they're all entertainers), go back in your hole. Entertainers are not in competition. They are not duping the public.

That's why the hearings last week were a good thing. I don't care if baseball didn't test for drugs during large parts of Barry Bonds' and Roger Clemens' career. That's a cop out. How about breaking the law? How about being able to look in the mirror? How about being a fraud?

That hypocrite Dan Burton ripped Brian McNamee for lying. How about Burton having a child out of wedlock? Another Republican blowhard accused McNamee of being a drug pusher. What does that make those he was injecting, addicts?

While McNamee is not a saint, a huge point must be made here. Yes, he has lied before but men have gone to the gas chamber on the testimony of convicted felons. Sometimes, dear public, we must rely on the testimony of the flawed to convict the guilty. Let's not wring our hands over a guy who has no motive in ratting out Clemens. McNamee knows he is ruining his own career.

Let's just assume for a second that McNamee is telling the truth in this case (he is backed up by Chuck Knoblauch and Andy Pettitte). This former trainer arguably has revealed the most significant piece of information in baseball history.

One of the best pitchers in history, cheated his ass off (pun intended). Those 354 victories? Transparent. Seven Cy Youngs? Illegitimate. His legend? Dead.

The sad part for baseball is that it has ignored this problem for so long that it had to rely on the testimony of two drug cheats (Knoblauch, Pettitte) and a proven liar (McNamee) to nail the biggest baseball fraud of all time.

Category: MLB
Posted on: February 16, 2008 12:04 pm

Indiana investigation overseen by two-handicapper

When did Indiana hire the starter at the British Open as its president?

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 14, 2008 1:10 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2008 4:53 pm

Mauk denied sixth year at Cincinnati

The NCAA just denied Cincinnati quarterback Ben Mauk a sixth year of eligibility. Typical of the times, though, Mauk is not done pursuing his eligibility for a final year with the Bears.

He intimated that he might be pursuing this from a legal angle. Why not? There's a little thing called a temporary restraining order.

Mauk was the trigger man for the first 10-win at Cincinnati in 50 years. Strangely, Cincinnati based its case on Mauk's 2003 redshirt season at Wake Forest. Mauk missed most of the 2006 season at Wake after injuring his shoulder. He took advantage of a short-lived NCAA rule to transer to Cincinnati without sitting out.

Wake supported Cincinnati's pursuit of a sixth year. This from the Cincinnati press release: "NCAA Bylaw ... states that a redshirt year is considered within the control of the student-athlete and/or institution and does not constitute a missed participation opportunity."

Cincy will be OK. It has Notre Dame transfer Demetrius Jones and a couple of good recruits on the roster.

Why am I writing about Cincinnati? As long as coach Brian Kelly is there, the Bearcats have a chance to go to a BCS bowl in any given year. Forget about Greg Schiano and Tom Bradley, Kelly might be the next coach at Penn State. Which leads me to the next item ...

You've got to read the latest from Happy Valley from one of my favorites, Harrisburg Patriot-News columnist David Jones:

It seems like the winds of change are finally blowing through. It looks like a significant portion of the Penn State trustees would support president if he decided to make a move on Joe Paterno. It seems clear, after reading this, that JoePa is entering his last season. The question is, does Joe go quietly or does he fight it?

It also raises another issue: What is Paterno telling recruits, specifically Terrelle Pryor? The nation's No. 1 player delayed his signing last week, in part, so he could take an official trip to State College. The word is that Paterno told Pryor that his replacement will come from within the staff. That might be news to Spanier and AD Tim Curley who might prefer to go outside for a replacement.

If it's a promotion, expect Tom Bradley to replace Joe (no surprise). Bradley is recruiting his --- off trying ot land Pryor.

Posted on: February 13, 2008 1:29 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2008 1:37 pm

Slimy Sampson

 How do you defend your coach now Indiana Fan?

 Seven years ago, you made asses of yourself staging a rally in support of the classic bully, Bob Knight.

At least Knight had ethics. He never was under NCAA investigation. Then you hired a guy who was in the middle of an NCAA investigation. Now it's gotten worse, much worse. Kelvin Sampson continues to keep his job despite a letter from the NCAA stating he cheated AGAIN. This guy is to cell phones what Pac Man Jones is to strip clubs. He can't stay away from them.

The only thing that links the two coaches is the school and their winnning percentage. Knight kept his job way past its freshness date. Sampson is even worse as a habitual cheater. The Indianapolis Star got hold of the NCAA's notice of allegations stating that Sampson "repeatedly" misled NCAA investigators.

Most of this extends back to October when it was found that 100 impermissible calls were made by Sampson when he was at Oklahoma. But the NCAA found NEW violations, according to the Star, and then dropped a further hammer saying Sampson had been unethical in his dealings with investigators. Basically, they said he lied.

So what do you do now, Indiana Fan? Your program is in shambles. Nothing will happen this season. In fact, Indiana has a chance to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. But now we're beginning to understand how and why Sampson snatched Eric Gordon away from Illinois. He has absolutely no conscience when it comes to recruiting.

Make no mistake, these are major violations, the kind that can lead to postseason sanctions. Knight was a bad person. Sampson has bad ethics. They were able to keep their jobs because they won basketball games.

That's disgusting.

Indiana Fan, you ought to be scared, very scared. This is the end for Sampson. The NCAA doesn't look kindly upon cheaters. It looks worse upon multiple cheaters. It loathes those who lie to its investigators.

Two things: This looks clearly like Indiana is headed for a postseason ban in 2008-09. It also looks like Sampson might not make it that far. There is very clear language in his contract about violating NCAA rules.

He's a goner, Indiana Fan. Your basketball program is headed for the NCAA's Big Haircut. There shouldn't be any sympathy. AD Rick Greenspan knew exactly what he was getting when Sampson was hired.

 Hope he's got his short list ready again. He's going to need it.

 At least there's football. Bill Lynch should have a pretty good team this fall.

 Indiana has to fire Kelvin Sampson. Now. Better yet, why not yesterday?

Posted on: February 10, 2008 9:55 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2008 4:53 pm

Mile High Clubbing

As Hunter S. Thompson once said, when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

Example: Sunday night's flight to Chicago (and points East for a story), was an all-timer. It's a quick hour-and-something flight that turned into one of the wackiest times I've ever had in the air.

First, the chap next to me was bragging about heading to Chicago for the Jerry Springer show. Not to watch it. Turns out he's going to be on the JS Show. How did I verify this information? Certain things you just know. Let's just say I haven't seen too many guys banned from bringing an open beer onto a plane. Then once he gets on, Senor Einstein pulls out his cheap digital camera and begins shooting the Missouri sunset.

Let that sink in: The Missouri sunset.

I wasn't going to talk to the guy because I wanted my IQ intact but the flight attendant got this morsel out of him.

 FA: Why are going on the Jerry Springer Show?

Einsten: Me and my ex-girlfriend, I slept with her sister, and (then) she slept with my brother.

Who, whoa, whoa waaaay too much information.

This guy was actually looking forward to getting into a fight, says they pay $100 per brawl. Nice.

My attention quickly turned further to the flight attendant who was talking about his celebrity encounters in the air. Jerry Seinfeld, he said, was the worst. During a flight from Salt Lake City to Detroit, Jerry apparently was not exactly the master of his domain.

The flight attendant was busy serving other passengers when Jerry demanded service.

"I paid $400 for this upgrade, do you have any idea who I am?" Jerry spewed.

Then it was on. It's always good when some celeb uses the do-you-have-any-idea-who-I-am card.

"Let me check the manifest," the flight attendant said which only made Jerry angrier.

"Does anyone know the person in 2A?" the attendant teased.

When the flight was over,  Jerry apparently complained to the gate agent, filling out a customer service form. As Jerry walked away the agent tore up the card with a flourish.

Other flight attendant nuggets...

Alanis Morrisette, Brennifer (Brad Pitt-Jennifer Anniston when they were together), Muhammad Ali -- all nice.

 Rachel Ray, the f-bomb dropping Frankie Muniz -- both bad.

They do realize they are Rachel Ray and Frankie Muniz don't they?

--This one almost slipped out without much national notice. LSU is going to open the season at home against Appalachian State. The first time, apparently, the defending champions of I-A and I-AA have met in the season opener. If LSU thinks this is going to be an easy opener it is crazy. Did Les Miles talk to Lloyd Carr at all? Oh wait, they don't get along so probably not.

There will be exactly one Heisman candidate on the field that day. App State's Armanti Edwards is the man. Crazy Les has done it again. Instead of getting himself a Nicholls State to pound into submission he scheduled a real, live opponent that could win the game outright and embarrass the Tigers. The only thing LSU has going for it (after losing a lot of talent from '07) is that it has warning flare fired up in Ann Arbor.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or