Monday, May 30, 2011

Ohio State's Tressel Resigns Amid Pool of Lies

After ten seasons coaching the Ohio State Buckeyes Football program Jim Tressel announced this morning that he is stepping down from his post. Below is a short statement from Tressel proclaiming the decision.
After meeting with university officials, we agreed that it is in the best interest of Ohio State that I resign as head football coach
Ironic that he finally chose a course of action that was in his university's best interest after exposing them to a host of decisions that will surely lead to further scrutiny and certain punishment from the NCAA.

If you recall, late in 2010 stories broke about several Ohio State football players, including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, receiving improper benefits. The stink of the matter is not only that Tressel's players had cheated, but moreover he had knowledge of the improprieties more than eight months prior to school officials uncovering the scandal.

Of course, this is not the first time Tressel has been linked to scandals in association with his role in players receiving improper benefits. Former running back star Maurice Clarett accused Tressel and members of his staff and boosters of providing improper benefits, such as loaner cars and 'bogus' landscaping jobs to funnel thousands of dollars into Clarett's pocket. Additionally, Clarett insisted he likely would have been ineligible for the 2002 season, in which he scored the game-winning touchdown in Ohio State's national championship game, if he had not been introduced with an academic advisor who selected classes with teachers who would pass Clarett regardless if he showed up for classes or not.

For the record, Ohio State was never found guilty of any of Clarett's accusations. Perhaps, though, they simply did a better job of covering up that mess than they have with the latest set of wrongdoings.

Another star, former Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, received improper benefits from a local booster and was suspended for the 2004 Alamo Bowl and first game of the 2005 season. Allegations for another former star, wide receiver Santonio Holmes, indicated receipt of money from an agent while he was playing for the Buckeyes.

Most recently, Ohio State is under scrutiny for its connection to a car dealership and owner of a tattoo parlor, who are allegedly responsible for giving players extreme discounts on their services. Former walk-on Ohio State basketball player, Mark Titus, shared his thoughts on the matter and was consequently berated by crazed Buckeyes fans for his strong remarks challenging his university.

The recurring theme throughout all of those transgressions is that Tressel knew of (either allegedly or confirmed) of the situations and apparently did nothing about it. There is yet to be a report that he handled punishment behind closed doors. If anything, he further encouraged the poor behavior by continuing to allow his players to live their lives without consequence.

His unaccountability is no doubt reinforced by his failure to conduct himself with honesty in front of the NCAA. As reported on CBS via an AP story released this April, it was revealed that the NCAA issued an indictment against the now former Ohio State coach.
In a 13-page indictment of Tressel's behavior, the NCAA alleged that Tressel had "permitted football student-athletes to participate in intercollegiate athletics while ineligible." It also said he "failed to deport himself ... (with) honesty and integrity" and said he was lying when he filled out a compliance form in September which said he had no knowledge of any NCAA violations by any of his players.
What is perhaps most shocking about this ordeal is that Tressel's former players are forthright in showing their support despite the dishonest and unlawful nature upheld by their former leader. To me that is a sign of poor leadership, not good leadership.

As a leader, Tressel owed it to himself and his university to set a positive example for his student-athletes. Lying and covering up scandals are not attributes of good leaders, period.

To be fair, it is understandable that his former and current players feel a connection to the man who led them for years on and off the field. What is not understandable is to blindly declare that he was a good leader. He lost that privilege when he lied to the NCAA and failed to reprimand his players.

I suppose it should not come as a surprise. After all, how should one expect an unaccountable man to hold his followers accountable for their actions? Now his university is left to clean up his mess. The end is most likely not in sight for the Buckeyes as investigations are still ongoing. Also, if the NCAA's ruling against USC's appeal on its transgressions is any indication of what the future will bring, the Buckeyes better prepare themselves for seemingly assured loss of scholarships and potential fines.

So, on this Memorial Day, depending on your relationship to Ohio State and it's football program help yourself to a heaping serving of denial, humble pie, shame, indifference or embarrassment. For me, I'll stick to fan favorite schadenfreude. It is most delicious when served with justice, although Ohio State certainly has a long ways to go before ridding itself of the improper behavior exhibited by its so called 'leaders' of the university.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Creedence Clearwater Revival

There is a strangely blurred line in music between fact and opinion. Not all opinions are fact naturally, but there are exceptions to the rule. Here's an example:

OPINION: CCR is one of the greatest bands of all time.

FACT: CCR is one of the greatest bands of all time.

See? Sometimes, there's no question it cuts both ways.

Friend of the blog Loran Bush and I started watching a fairly recent John Fogerty concert last night. At 65 years of age, the man is still rockin' quite hard. His guitar chops are very evident and his voice still has its distinctive flavor despite having aged and mellowed.

Despite only being an active band from 1967 to 1972, Creedence Clearwater Revival produced far too many hits to easily narrow my selections below.

"Have You Ever Seen The Rain?" and "Fortunate Son" are obvious selections. Both are songs you've likely heard either in films or television. That's partly because of an agreement Fogerty made with Fantasy Records during his departure from the label in the early 1970's. As a result, Fantasy retained the licensing rights to all of CCR's music, leading to the songs being put in lot's of random moneymakers over the years.

My last choice included today is, "Heard It Through The Grapevine". The sound quality isn't perfect unfortunately, but I think the video of the band in their heyday makes up for it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New South China Mall: A Case Study In Empty Promise

America has in many ways become synonymous with excess and over-commercialization, but it would appear we're being surpassed by China on these fronts and more.

The New South China Mall (新华南MALL) opened in 2005 in Dongguan, China. It's the largest mall in the world in terms of gross leasable area, ranking second only to the Dubai Mall in total area.

The project was conceived by Hu Guirong (Alex Hu)—a billionaire by way of instant noodles—as a way to bring an enormously grandiose project to his hometown.

All well and good, but since the mall's opening it has remained 99% vacant.

Few merchants have ever signed up, and aside from a smattering of American fast food restaurants, there is very little in the way of shops.

The mall is located in the suburbs of Dongguan, a city of some 10 million residents. There are no major roads going to the location however and there is no airport nearby to ferry in tourists.

Below is a short-film about the place by Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker Sam Green. The piece is called, "Utopia Part 3: the World's Largest Shopping Mall."

The film paints a very strange picture of what's going on over there.

Watch the full episode. See more POV.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I Am Not Alone!

Apparently I'm not the only one questioning the Notre Dame lacrosse team's gender.

Observe the Chicago Tribune...

Link Here

Thanks to Mr. Searson for help with the link.

Death Cab For Cutie: Underneath The Sycamore

Songs continue to filter out from Death Cab For Cutie's new album Codes and Keys due out May 31.

This is my favorite of the tracks I've heard so far. It's a vintage mid-tempo DCFC jam, pleasing melodically, complete with allusions to making love under a tree.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go inspect this thunderstorm outside.

Death Cab for Cutie - Underneath The Sycamore by ATL REC

Monday, May 9, 2011

Brey to Stay at ND

A unique set of events transpired in relative short span this weekend in the world of college basketball.

First, Gary Williams shockingly announced he was retiring as head coach of the Maryland Terrapins after a Hall of Fame worthy career. In his 22-year career at the helm of the 'Terps he helped rebuild a sanction-laden program from nothing to prominence, including a national championship in 2002.

Then, in quick fashion, rumors began circulating about who would ultimately replace Williams. The short list of favorites included Sean Miller (Arizona), Jamie Dixon (Pittsburgh), Brad Stevens (Butler), and Mike Brey (Notre Dame).

Wait a second, Mike Brey you ask? Many people wondered how Brey earned mention in the above list, but those people were not familiar with his history.

You see, Brey is a Maryland guy. He was born in Bethesda, MD and played at perennial national power DeMatha High School. Few would have faulted Brey for at least hearing more information about the Terrapins' job opening. In fact, rumors spread that Brey was set to meet with Maryland officials this Sunday.

In the end, those rumors turned out to be just that: rumors. Today, Coach Brey denied the reports he even entertained meeting with Maryland and confirmed his commitment to Notre Dame.

The announcement comes as no surprise to Irish Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick, who said he was "confident" Brey would stay with Notre Dame amid the rumors of a departure to the land of 'crabcakes and football' (well, at least one part of that tagline is correct).

Brey often takes a lot of heat from Irish faithful because his teams are known to exit the NCAA tournament early, even amid high expectations. But consider the pool of talent Brey is limited to. Notre Dame rarely lands elite level basketball talent. Academic requirements are demanding, and those who qualify are often more interested in elite/power schools such as Duke, North Carolina, Texas, Georgetown, Stanford, and Arizona to name a few. Moreover, the type of player Brey recruits is not built for immediate impact, rather more inclined to need a year or two of development before contributing.

I, for one, am enormously pleased that Brey is staying with the Irish. He has built positive momentum for the program over his 11-year tenure as head coach of the Irish. While we have not seen many post-season results to date I believe that it is only a matter of time before something clicks and the Irish make a deep tournament run.

Yes, this was supposed to be the year that Notre Dame made a late season run. However, that was not the predominant thought leading into the season, which saw the Irish voted to finish barely inside the top half of the Big East conference.

Without a doubt, after a 27-7 record and a No. 5 ranking in the final poll in 2010-201, I feel blessed that Brey is returning to South Bend instead of his roots in Maryland.

But I feel really good about the momentum of our program here at Notre Dame. I mean, we have worked 11 years to get into this position and get some momentum. I really like where our recruiting is and I am honored to have ND next to my name.

Honored indeed. Irish fans are lucky to have a great coach returning to lead their program.

Trailer: Gobstopper

This is a trailer for a fictional movie that takes a scary look at Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

It stars Christopher Lloyd of Back To The Future and Angels In The Outfield Fame (at least for me, one of his best films). It's just a sheer stroke of genius casting him in this role and he pulls it off spectacularly.

Funny or Die misses on a lot of stuff, I can't even watch their HBO show, but they nailed this short for sure.

Carleton Scott Forgoing Final Year of Eligibility at ND for shot at NBA

After nearly exhausting the new deadline for NBA draft declaration - 11:59pm EST deadline this Sunday, May 8 - Carleton Scott announced he will not exhaust his remaining collegiate eligibility and will keep his name in the NBA draft.

Scott, a 6-8 forward from San Antonio, TX, played three seasons for head coach Mike Brey. As a starter in the 2010-2011 season he finished third on the team in scoring with 11.2 points per game, led in rebounds with 7.4 per game and contributed 1.9 blocked shots per game.

In 84 career appearances (38 starts) he recorded 97 blocked shots, good for seventh in Irish history.

Feedback from workouts in New Jersey this weekend helped sway Scott's decision. Though his outing did not garner much negative feedback it was also not full of positive endorsements. According to Mike Brey, both the New Jersey Nets and Miami Heat have shown interest in Scott.

It's not clear whether or not Scott will be drafted or if he'll have to go the harder route through undrafted, team tryouts. My guess is it will be the latter rather than the former, though I would gladly be proven wrong because Scott has tremendous potential. He just needs to grow into his body and become more of a consistent offensive threat.

If professional basketball does not work out for Scott he at least has his education to fall back on. This May he will graduate from Notre Dame's College of Arts and Letters with a degree in History and Computer Applications.

Best of luck to Scott as he pursues his dream of becoming an NBA player.

Notre Dame Women's Golf Squad Makes History, Earns NCAA Finals Berth

South Bend Tribune Photo/Joe Raymond (Kristina Nhim)

In keeping with the weekend golf update there is news to report out of Notre Dame, IN. For the first time in school history, the Notre Dame women's golf team earned a berth to the NCAA Finals. The Lady Irish accomplished this feat while hosting the Central Regional at Warren Golf Course in Notre Dame, IN.

The top eight teams from the regional qualified for the NCAA Finals. Notre Dame finished in fifth place thanks to strong showings by two freshmen, Nicole Zhang (8th overall) and Kristina Nhim (14th overall). Overall, the Lady Irish (901, +37) finished 11 strokes behind winner UCLA (890, +26).

This year's NCAA Finals will be held at the Traditions Club in Bryan, TX from May 18-21.

Congratulations to the women on their momentous achievement for their program and best of luck in the finals!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Golf Legend Seve Ballesteros Dead at 54

Seve Ballesteros will forever be known as one of the greatest shotmakers and personalities in the history of golf. His unique talents made the impossible come true time and time again, leading to five major championships and a legion of passionate fans.

Ballesteros died at his home in Pedrena, Spain Saturday morning of complications from a cancerous brain tumor.

He burst onto the scene as a 19-year old in 1976. That year he won the Dutch Open and finished second at The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale Golf Club.

Seve won his first major in 1979 at The Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St. Anne's Golf Club. In one of his most famous finishes, Ballesteros hit his tee shot on the 16th hole into a grass parking lot. He then took a free drop and smashed his approach onto the green where he made a remarkable birdie.

He went on to win a total of three Open Championship's and two Masters titles en route to a Hall of Fame career (inducted into World Golf Hall of Fame in 1999).

Seve's flair for the dramatic endeared him to an entire generation of golfers, including many professionals. His close friendship and mentorship of two-time Masters Champion and fellow countryman José María Olazábal is the most direct influence.

The two formed the most successful Ryder Cup team of all time. They played pairs 15 times in their careers and won 11 times with just two halves. Seve's wide won the Ryder Cup in 1985, then retained it in 1987 and 1989. He won it again in 1995 but his proudest moment may have come as team captain in 1997 when the European's won in Valderama, Spain. It was the first Ryder Cup held in continental Europe.

Seve will be greatly missed, but thankfully we have highlights. Here's the SportsCenter recap of his 1979 and 1988 Open Championship's including the famous parking lot incident.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bin Laden Dead, American's Overjoyed

As the image of the President announcing the death of America’s top enemy danced across our television screen, emotions were mixed.

There was a sense of relief. Finally, our powerful military aided by a revamped system of intelligence gatherers eliminated with extreme prejudice the most famous terrorist in the world.

For me at least, there’s a strange feeling when American’s join one another in celebration over the death of a human being, no matter how justified that death may be.

I’ve heard people rationalize our exuberance over Bin Laden’s death by pointing out that he isn’t really human because he murdered thousands of people in his lifetime.

True to a point. He most certainly devised methods and ordered others to kills thousands, but in that respect he shares a great deal with a vast majority of United States Presidents, does he not?

Don’t mistake my moral reservations as sympathy for the deceased mind you. While the whole “war on terror” has largely been marred by questionable motives and dangerous passions, it has had two successes; killing Sadaam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden.

There is enough gray area in between to blot out a thousand cloudless skies, but two seriously bad gentlemen no longer inflame an already volatile region, nor do they pose a threat to the already tenuous balance of global politics.

That being said, there should be at least a modicum of respect for the dead. Otherwise, the vengeance we’ve sought and celebrated bears a disturbing resemblance to the rejoicing over dead American soldiers in foreign terrorist camps and the streets of middle-eastern cities most Americans will never know the names of.

The whole idea that Bin Laden’s death can somehow provide a measure of healing to those affected (literally everyone worldwide) by the September 11th, 2011 terrorist attacks strikes me as phony as well.

This doesn’t really change anything. The world isn’t automatically safer.

Al Qaeda, while seriously weakened still exists and is likely in the process of bumping their No. 2 terrorist up a notch and continuing business largely as usual.
Then there’s this feeling of accomplishment American’s are basking in.

The idea of “justice” when dealing with tragedy on such a massive and unprecedented scale is in my opinion a false idol.

The entire “war on terror” like the “war on drugs” or the “war on poverty” all lack a definable enemy, therefore rendering these conflicts unwinnable by their very definition.

Osama Bin Laden is gone, but there will always be terrorists just as there will always be illegal drugs and impoverished citizens in every country of the world.

And so, after the better part of a decade, multiple wars, untold dead and wounded along with loads of controversy, we are once again left with the prospect of a faceless enemy.

Of course, celebrate as you see fit.

As a nation, we hardly need an excuse to indulge the unsavory appetites of the human condition, but dead terrorists are high on the list of justifiable party causes just above “Tuesday” and “new episodes of Jersey Shore”.

Party on Wayne. Party on Garth.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hokies Rashad Carmichael and Tyrod Taylor Drafted on Final Day

Virginia Tech cornerback Rashad Carmichael was the second Hokie selected in the 2011 NFL Draft with the 30th pick of the 4th round (no. 127 overall) by the Houston Texans.

The 5'10" 192 pound corner had 35 tackles and 4 interceptions last season. He joins a defense without any established dominant corners and plenty of opportunity for playing time.

Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor was picked up by the Baltimore Ravens in the 6th round with pick 180.

Obviously they have an entrenched starting QB in Joe Flacco, but it gives Tyrod a chance to learn by watching. Maybe the Ravens will even get ambitious and put in a few plays for him in goal line situations.

Again, best of luck to all the draftees and here's hoping this labor situation resolves itself quickly. Undrafted free agents are in a real bind until things are worked out.


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