An irreverent look at all things said, considered, tweeted, posted, photographed, played and otherwise gone amuck in college sports
News flash: Rick Pitino "shocked" by Louisville's involvement in FBI investigation.
Rick gets shocked so much he should never, ever change a car battery.
He was shocked last spring when it was discovered, basically, that a brothel was being run down at the basketball dorms, named after his brother-in-law who was killed on Sept. 11.
Pitino was reportedly shocked when informed, recently, that the Earth revolved around the Sun. He told investigators he had no Copernicus clue.
Pitino today is the shiny, slimy, slicked-back face of college basketball. Rich guys in Armani suits who know everything about basketball but nothing about anything going on in their programs.
On the heels of possibly college basketball's biggest, baddest scandal, Pitino tried to get out in front of this tsunami by saying a few "bad actors" should not ruin it for everyone.
Turns out the worst actor is Rick Pitino, whose school was already facing NCAA probation before the FBI ruined his Ruby Tuesday. Pitino is Richard Simmons doing Shakespeare in the Park.
No doubt Pitino had to be shocked Wednesday when he was effectively fired.
Boy do I hate being interrupted in the middle of college football by college basketball. The rule around here is that hoops news is not allowed until after the bowl games. We call it "First Semester" basketball. "Midnight Madnesss" is a communist plot hatched by ESPN.
But this is different. Tuesday was a very, very, very bad day for Dick Vitale.
I know so because I received a tweet from Dicky V as the basketball scandal story was breaking.
Answer: Louisville apparently thought so when it put Pitino and AD Tom Jurich on administrative leave. It's not leave, though, it's get-the-hell-out.
Part of the problem with NCAA basketball is that coaches have become the million-dollar stars. We never get to know the best players because they are one-and-done to the NBA (and what a dumb, ridiculous, treacherous rule that is). The coaches get all the college money, power, press and television adulation.
People are already asking me: could a scandal like this happen in college football? [membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
Of course, and I'm sure there are assistant coaches out there right now bribing high school kids. What makes college basketball the most corruptible sport on the planet, however, is that you only need to bribe one or two players to win the NCAA title.
Football is a much more complicated matrix of offensive and defensive linemen, kickers and special teams "gunners." It takes comprehensive coordination by the coaching staff--not that it can't be done!
Basketball is easy to flip. The most nauseating part of this unfolding story is involvement of shoe companies, because some of our finest universities now have million-dollar endorsement deals with these companies. They take the money, make their athletes wear those shoes and then get filled with righteous indignation when a kid, or his family, tries to cash in.
This is, of course, the central-core crock of "amateur" athleticism.
It looks like basketball is going down hard and our only hope now is that football is too complicated to ever take such a hit.
It's usually never good news when USC basketball makes the front page of the L.A. Times in September. Trojan fans could only be thankful there was no mention of "football" in the FBI scandal story.
Still, this is an embarrassing, "shocking" addendum to an on-going story. USC has just wrapped up an NCAA probation in which the former AD was willing to throw basketball under the bus to save football. It didn't work.
Now, USC is probably going back to the slammer because one of the assistant coaches the FBI wire tapped, Tony Bland, is the right-hand man of Trojan coach Andy Enfield. This is not a good look.
Athletic Director Lynn Swann put out his own "shocked" statement, as did Pac 12 commissioner Larry Scott. USC compliance put out a statement saying it is taking this matter "very seriously." It may be no coincidence the Pac 12, a couple years ago, held its annual football media day on the movie studio set where "Casablanca" was filmed.
USC has even hired former FBI director named Louis (Louis J. Freeh) to handle the internal investigation.
Which reminds me of another line from Casablanca: "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
This relationship may not work out so well.
Get back to where you once belong: Greg Schiano, Ohio State’s defensive coordinator, recently moved from the press box to the field during games.
Only in college football would this move also require a “get back” coach.
That’s right, Ohio State has assigned a special person to make sure Schiano does not draw a penalty for wandering onto the field of play.
The man responsible for holding Schiano back is strength coach Quinn Barham.
Schiano is comfortable with the move.
“He’s doing his job, and I’m trying not to get a penalty,” he told reporters.
It's a perfect assignment at a school where the students sing "Hang on Sloopy, Sloopy hang on."
Here's another suggestion for the sideline cheerleaders: "Pull him back, pull him back, waaaaaay back!"
There may be no holding Schiano back this week as Ohio State travels to Rutgers, the team Schiano once coached. Ohio State won last year's game, 58-0.
Don't believe everything you read: ASAP is a wonderful service that transcribes press conferences from all over the country.
Sportswriters, I can tell you, heavily rely on ASAP to supplement their reporting.
But part of being a reporter is understanding everyone, even ASAP, makes mistakes.
Check out this ASAP quote from Stanford Coach David Shaw about whether running back Bryce Love deserves Heisman Trophy consideration.
We think, for sure, something got lost in translation.
That's right, we're four games in, just starting the second quarter "terrible" of the season. And definitely don't worry about "pose seen" accolades just yet.
Gentlemen's gym: Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh complained about the team's visiting quarters last weekend at Purdue.
"It is unsportsmanlike when you have locker rooms that are too small. They’re not heated or cooled properly. There’s no air conditioning in this case, such a tight, cramped environment. People walking by, they’re watching you dress. A number of urinals or bathrooms for players, I think there were two. There’s not even a private door around it. And then mainly the health and safety of the players. Very small space for a training room that had nothing different. This is no different than the facility I saw in 1986."
Since when are opposing schools supposed to make you comfortable?
The Big Ten, in fact, has a long tradition of unwelcoming its opponents. In 1979, of course, Iowa coach Haden Fry classically had the visiting locker room painted pink to distract opponents.
It's famously called the "Pink Room." and it's supposed to to make opposing players feel warm and cozy and maybe start singing Broadway show tunes.
Of course, Harbaugh answered the pink room last year by having the walls draped with Michigan wall paper and colors. An interior decorator jumped up and
shouted: "You should see what they've done to the place!"
Bottom line is it didn't work. Michigan was 9-0 entering the game but lost at Iowa, 14-13, The Wolverines messed with pink, in fact, and ended up losing three
of their final four games.
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz thinks it is all a bunch of horse puckey.
"That's a great visitor's locker room, I would be thrilled to come here as a visitor," he said. I wouldn't have been so thrilled to come back to the one up above, the old one. But the home room locker room is the exact same."
It's just not pink.
Harbaugh might have a greater case if he wasn't such a fussy Gus. As was pointed out by ESPN's Scott Van Pelt on Monday night, this is the same guy who won't release his roster to opposing schools.
Shave and a haircut: Oklahoma State was one of the hottest teams in the nation entering play last weekend. Coach Mike Gundy was a quirky, well-respected coach who earned national headlines for growing his hair short in the front, but long in the back. Like they do in places like Kentucky, and Canada, and NASCAR.
But then Oklahoma State lost, at home, to Texas Christian, and that turned some fans in Stillwater sour.
Why are we here again? Oh yeah, that. It's amazing that some schools on the quarter system have played four games without attending a class. Washington is one of those schools. The Huskies are 4-0 and start their "book learning" on Wednesday. That's quite a luxury, don't you think, over schools that start school in August?
Washington Coach Chris Petersen said his kids can't wait to pin their names to their shirts and meet their new teachers.
"I think most of them are itching to go to class," Petersen said. "They’ve been doing just football for a long, long time, so now it’s time to go get the most important piece of why they’re here.”
School? Yeah, school.
Meanwhile, a few miles east, we offer you, without comment or context, Washington State Coach Mike Leach's tweet of the week.