AN IRREVERENT LOOK AT ALL THINGS SAID, CONSIDERED, TWEETED, POSTED, PHOTOGRAPHED, PLAYED AND OTHERWISE GONE AMUCK IN COLLEGE SPORTS
This just in from the Broken Coverage news desk: Three UCLA basketball players, pinched for shoplifting in China, have been suspended indefinitely.
First reaction: Wrong! Whiff!
Second reaction: If the Pac 12 was trying to hide this news by putting it on the the seldom-seen Pac 12 Network, well, it didn't work. The "news" conference featuring UCLA Coach Steve Alford and the players hit Twitter like a new Miley Cyrus dance move.
Second reaction to first reaction: Until last week, I thought the low point in recent UCLA basketball history was the Bruins losing to Princeton in the NCAA Tournament. This tops that. The Chinese escapades may mark the low point in the history of UCLA athletics. Or at least since Billy Don Jackson. Or the handicap parking spot fiasco. So, of course, the university (for now) chickened out. "Suspended indefinitely" is the biggest cop-out in the front-office arsenal. It suggests there is a path to redemption once all the facts have been gathered and analyzed. "Suspend indefinitely" is what Nebraska coach Tom Osborne did to Lawrence Phillips during the 1995 football campaign. Phillips, the team's star tailback, had dragged his girlfriend down a stair case by her hair. Phillips learned the hard lessons you learn from that and was reinstated just in time to lead Nebraska to a national title win over Florida in the Fiesta Bowl. Phillips never had another issue with a team or the law. Wait, that's not right...
Look, I'm not for casting these UCLA players--LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, Jalen Hill--to the outer ring of hell. But I don't think they should ever play basketball again at UCLA. They should have been kicked off the team but allowed to transfer to any school (that would take them) outside the Pac 12 conference.
Alford, instead, left open the possibility of the players returning before the start of Pac 12 play. "That timeline is yet to be determined," he said.
UCLA basketball created an international incident and now is an international laughing stock. It took a government intervention to get the players freed from harsher treatment in China.
Hold your horses there, Mr. Prez.
The player needed to first land back on U.S. soil and fight off the paparazzi that greeted their plane when it landed Tuesday night at LAX. All three players DID thank the President from sparing them the agony of breaking rocks in the hot sun for....10 years? Wow. UCLA should give Trump front-row seats at Pauley Pavilion.
The players also needed a little time to have scripts written for them by UCLA front-office honchos.
"I would also also like to thank President Trump and the United States Government for the help that they provided," LiAngelo Ball, one of the Shanghai Three, said at Wednesday's press conference.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
Ball, Ball, the name rings a bell. You think he's related to that family in Chino Hills?
UCLA missed a chance Wednesday to make a bold, firm statement. There was precedent for expulsion from inside the school's own athletic department.
Foster was UCLA's excellent beat writer, working for the L.A. Times, before he took the buyout to spend more time with San Clemente High School.
In the summer of 2010, three UCLA football players--Paul Richardson, Shaquille Richardson, Josh Shirley--were charged with felony theft after being caught stealing a back pack. They were good players but never played again at UCLA. Paul Richardson ended up having an excellent career at Colorado and now plays for the Seattle Seahawks.
"There was some surprise that I was that harsh," Neuheisel told Bill Plaschke of the L.A. Times, "And seeing all that happened later, I could have been sitting there thinking, 'How smart was I'?
The "happened later" was Neuheisel getting fired for maybe being three good players short of winning the Pac 12 title.
But look, if Neuheisel can do the right thing, anyone can.
But "anyone" has not, so far, at UCLA. And that's an early-call shame on Steve Alford, AD Dan Guerrero and UCLA Chancellor Gene Block.
If UCLA switches course and eventually expels the players, I promise to apologize on Twitter, Facebook but NOT Instagram.
College Football no-Pac 12 Playoff
I predicted "two" as the Over\Under for Pac 12 mentions this week by the College Football Playoff committee.
"Under" won. Committee spokesman Kirby Hocutt did not mention the conference, by name, in his post-show press conference as provided by ASAP transcription services.
There are no Pac 12 schools ranked in the top 10 in this week's CFP ranking. USC, at 11, is the league's top representative although the Trojans did not budge off the No. 11 spot despite a double-digit win at Colorado on a day three top 10 teams lost. Bottom line: the Pac 12 champion will likely be sitting home for this year's college football playoff.
If you're looking for some Lloyd Christmas optimism--"So you're saying there's a chance?!--Hocum did mention USC in the LAST paragraph of Tuesday night's ASAP transcript. A writer was mad USC was ahead of two-loss Texas Christian.
Late, late, Tate show
Sophomore quarterback Khalil Tate had another fantastic night Saturday in leading Arizona to a wipe-out win over Oregon State.
Here is how the L.A. Times handled it.
And you wonder why the Pac 12 has a problem winning the Heisman Trophy? Late night games ARE killing the conference. The L.A. Times has an early deadline on Saturdays and has to scramble to get any late-night news into Sunday's paper.
Mike Leach was busy and asked me to hand this week's "Tweet of the Week" over to Lane Kiffin.