Barkley, among others, not in favor of Auburn hire

barkleyxNew Auburn head coach Gene Chizik has had his name mentions in several media outlets this week after being named Tommy Tubberville’s replacement.

One being that many believe Turner Gill, who just accepted an extension at Buffalo, was the man for the job, not Chizik. A major factor in the discussion comes in the fact that Gill is black, and was more qualified than Chizik, whose only previous head coaching experience was with a less than mediocre Iowa State team that he lead to 5-19 in two seasons.

Five wins in two years got Chizik an offer of a two-year contract extension at Iowa State. He reportedly will receive a five-year contract worth about $2 million a year from Auburn, about double his former deal which included a $750,000 buyout, according to ESPN.com.

The general consensus is that Chizik should not have been hired. Another conclusion that many have come to is that Chizik was hired simply because his closest competitor was black. None said this more bluntly than former NBA star and Auburn alum Charles Barkley.

“I think race was the No. 1 factor,” said Barkley, who played basketball for three seasons at Auburn during the early 1980s. “You can say it’s not about race, but you can’t compare the two résumés and say [Chizik] deserved the job. Out of all the coaches they interviewed, Chizik probably had the worst résumé.”

When Gill took over at Buffalo, they sat in the basement of the MAC conference. In three years time, Gill turned Buffalo into an 8-5 team who upset upset previously unbeaten Ball State 42-24 in the Dec. 5 MAC championship. Chizik went 5-19 in two years at Iowa State, with his assistant coaching ties to Auburn, and race believed in some cases, as the only reason he was given the position.

Barkley said he had previously warned Gill about racial barriers he would face on the Auburn campus, in Alabama and anywhere else he chose to coach.

“We talked about the whole race thing in Alabama,” Barkley said. “I told him it’s there and it’s going to be anywhere you go. I told him you can’t not take the job because of racism. He was worried about being nothing more than a token interview. He was concerned about having a white wife. It’s just very disappointing to me.”

This wasn’t the first time Barkley was disappointed with his Alma Mater.

When they were searching for a head coach for the 2003-04 season, Barkley offered his services, adding he would only serve if the committee was ready to hire a black coach. Barkley told ESPN.com that he presented three high-quality candidates: former Indiana coach Mike Davis, then-Virginia Commonwealth coach Jeff Capel and then-UAB coach Mike Anderson.

They went with then-Chattanooga coach Jeff Lebo., who has gone 61-68 in his fifth season. Barkley said he was removed from the committee before the hire.

“Out of all the basketball coaches they interviewed, they picked the only one who hadn’t been to the NCAA tournament,” Barkley said.

While Barkley made a case on the basketball and football front for his former school, the nationwide number of black coaches in college football are far more sparse. There are only four African-American coaches of the 119 Football Bowl Subdivision. The number before this season was seven; that was before the resignation of Sylvester Croom at Mississippi State and firing of coaches Tyrone Willingham at Washington, Ronald Prince at Kansas State.

The players on of the FBS’ 119 teams are overwhelmingly black, on campuses that claim to foster diversity, so what gives? Auburn did interview two black coaches, a degree that many committees don’t reach in their search for a head coach. Only time will tell if the racial disparity among coaches will ever change, but for now there is a dearth of diversity and it shouldn’t take comments from Charles Barkley to spark conversation on racial issues in college football.

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No end to Cheeks’s classiness

71797411JG_D040738006A rash of firings have happened in the NBA season, with eight coaches being shown the door before All-Star Weekend. None have gone before the public to give thanks as Cheeks did in a recent press conference.

Only three days removed from his firing, former Philadelphia 76ers head coach Maurice Cheeks held a press conference to thank the media and fans. He also used to time to absorb the blaim for his team’s slow start, which is unheard of in many coaching, or professional sports, circles, for that matter.

The classiest coach in basketball continued to lay on the charm that marked his all-star career and stellar coaching stay in Philly.

“Sometimes being fired is one of the things that entails being a head coach,” he said. “”In my case, it was the coach.”

Or a team full of millionaires who underachieved — not to mention the acquisition of an all star in Elton Brad who his new team needed time to become accustomed to, and he the team. The potential-filled team got off to a 9-14 start, leading to Cheeks’s firing.

The time spent as head coach weren’t the only years in Philly for Cheeks, he was a player for more 15 years in which he was a four-time all star. His jersey was retired by the 76ers in 1995. Cheeks said there was no way he’d up and leave the city of Philadelphia.

“I think it would have been selfish for me to just pick up and leave and go and not show my appreciation to the people that have supported me,” he said. “I pretty much grew up in this town.”

Cheeks also said he was in favor of staying with the organization, although he has not been approached by the 76ers for any position thus far.

“I’ve been a part of this town a long time and I don’t plan on going anywhere,” he said. “If the opportunity is there for me to be in the organization, I’m more than happy to do that.”

Cheeks is a great man, whom did a great job in his time in Philly. There is no doubt in my mind that he will be sorely missed by the 76ers.

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Week 15: Playoff picture begins to develop

75557833DM011_CHICAGO_BEARSAfter Thursday’s win against the New Orleans Saints, the Chicago Bears kept their playoff hopes alive, while the Saints were sent prepping for palm trees and, finally, the 2009 preseason. The NFC Wildcard race will play out throughout the day, twist and turns surely await.

The Bears won’t be the only team fighting to stay in playoff contention this weekend, and the Saints certainly won’t be the last team to have their playoff hopes deteriote in this Week 15.

Here’s a list of team’s facing their maker in Week 15, and why this week maybe the last meaningful one for some:

  • At 8-5, the Cowboys are facing the even-keeled New York Giants, while they carry around more baggage and dram than a day-time soap opera.

Based on  conventional wisdom, and the Cowboys’ recent history as late-season chokers, they should go to 8-6 after today’s contest,      putting them at a stalemate with the Bears in the Wildcard Race. Dallas’ playoff wouldn’t be completely erased from the playoff picture with a loss in New York, but too many Tony Romo-Jason Witten connections on the day just may.

It’s hard to see Dallas as a playoff team with their owner calling out Marian Barber, who didn’t earn that “Barbarian” tag over night, and many other interior problems. But America’s team is not known for being tame or collective, so they can’t be totally counted out.

  • The Tom Brady-less New England Patriots are also still holding out for a playoff appearance. Facing the Raiders during a must-win week is the probably assurance one could have. But it can also pose as a trap game before the Patriots face the dangerous Arizona Cardinals and underachieving Buffalo Bills to finish the season.

With the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins fighting for the NFC East division title at 9-5, the Patriots have to win out in order to find themselves in the driver seat of the playoff livelihood.

  • The Philadelphia Eagles surely wish they could get that tie-game back. At 7-5-1, they will most likely be sitting on the outside looking in.

A Sunday date with the Bengals for 7-6 Washington posed as an elimination game for them as they lost 20-13. This will not assure anything for the Eagles, as they will still be starring up at three teams sitting ahead of them in playoff contention. Philly faces a potential loss in Week 17 against the Cowboys and Washington faces a sure win in San Francisco, which will mean nothing after today’s loss.

  • Today: So far the Dolphins, Jets and Falcons have pulled out wins today, placing the former at 9-5 and both AFC East contenders at 9-5. These scenarios should make for a great weekend of football, where every game is a must see. While no one is probably coming here for NFL news, I’ll continue to make updates throughout the day.
  • AFC Wildcard: Two teams who faced off today, in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons are currently in, but this is certainly subject to change.
  • NFC Wildcard: Contention is far less tumultuous, and sees the Raves and Colts in as of today.

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The Heisman Hangover

14heismanxlarge4Sam Bradford pulled out the Heisman win in what was one of the closest races in the voting results and minds of college football fans.

While there are plenty arguments that can be made for Tim Tebow or Colt McCoy, gaudy numbers and an offense that set an all-time scoring record won Bradford the award. I mean, come on, how can you argue with 48 touchdowns, a 186.3 passer rating and 4,464 total passing yards, all earned while directing a no-huddle offense.

Bradford gained 1,726 total votes, and was only the third player to win the Heisman without receiving the most first-place votes. That distinction belonged to Florida’s Tebow, who had the opportunity to join Archie Griffin as only the second player to earn back-to-back Heisman awards. He instead finished third in total voting with 1,575. McCoy gained 1,640 votes, and is the only player of the three to be left out of the national championship. The highly-publicized snubbing of Texas in the Big 12 South three-way tie between Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech was to blame for that.

Although Bradford came out the victor on Saturday night, he has a Jan. 8 date with Tebow, where they will face off for the most coveted award of the year — a national championship.

Winning the Heisman has been an indication of a national-title or bowl-game loss in past years, as shown by Troy Smith in the BCS Championship, Jason White in the Sugar Bowl and Eric Crouch in the Rose Bowl. Each was blown out in their final game of the season, which may not be a great precedence for Bradford to follow.

When asked in weeks leading up to the Heisman presentation, both Tebow and Bradford exclaimed that a national title was atop their list of desirable awards. Come January, we’ll see if Tebow will live up to that riveting speech following the Gators’ loss at Ole Miss, or if Bradford will break a time-honored tradition of being trounced in a bowl game following a Heisman win.

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Another coach bites the dust

mauricecheeks_ncOnly a week removed from Randy Wittman’s firing in Minnesota, another NBA coach has been sent packing.

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Maurice Cheeks, by far one of the classiest coaches in the NBA, was  fired today– from a team seemingly on the rise. Assistant general manager Tony DiLeo will be interim head coach for the rest of the season.

Is it just me, or is it becoming extremely difficuilt to keep up with all the coach firings in recent weeks? Along with college football, the NHL and the NBA there is enough material for this blog to simply be a clipboard of which poor coach will be axed next. And the common argument made in most cases is that coaches increased salary upped expectations on the playing field, but I happen to think many coaches aren’t receiving a fair shot.

Cheeks, on the other hand, was given ample time. I still don’t believe his firing was warranted at this juncture, as I feel about many of the coaches recently let go. Cheeks is, hands down, the classiest coach in the league, his team made a trade for Elton Brand, have Andre Iguodala, Andre Miller and Louis Williams, and are only a couple of moves away from major contention in the Eastern Conference of the NBA. Lets not forget, the Philadelphia 76ers made the playoffs last year without Elton Brand, however brief their stint in postseason play was.

Sure, 9-14 isn’t exactly what was expected from a team that showed glimpses of potential late last season. But the NBA season is a marathon, and I believe the 76ers pulled the cord at the wrong time.

Over the past couple of years, Cheeks’ job security has been the subject of many stories. His teams were struggling, inexperienced and far younger than most of their opponents. To pull the plug, maybe two, three years ago would have been fine. But why now, when his team seems to be turning a corner in a conference that isn’t obviously weaker than its western counterpart.

Cheeks will get back on his feet and find another coaching job in no time. Too bad he’ll be moving into the spot of another coach, who will probably experience an unwarranted firing himself.

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Failing economy doesn’t affect the Yankees

Royals Indians BaseballApparently an economy that has sent even the most ruthless spenders into fiscal conservatism, hasn’t affected the MLB or its flagship franchise in the Yankees.

While car companies and bankers are asking for billion-dollar bailouts, the Yankees tolled out 161 million dollars for C.C. Sabathia to throw a ball. I am not the only to have a problem with this, Marlins President David Samson, whose team happened to have the lowest payroll last season at $22 million, assessed the Yankees’ spending.

“The Yankees can do they want to, but I would caution the public to draw any relationship between how the Yankees operate and how other teams operate,” he said. “I very much feel like the producer of an independent film trying to compete with a big-budget studio blockbuster. That’s hard.

“The only way to do it is to have a low-budget film that is actually good that people will watch,Samson said. “We are very much like Juno going up against The Dark Knight.”

And no deed can go down without Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen’s expert opinion. He, just like Samson was shocked by the amount of money thrown at Sabathia.

“Wow!” gushed Guillen. “For $161 million I could put two teams on the field. I just want to be his agent. Heck, I just want to be his wife.”

Truth is, the Yankees crosstown rival Mets signed closer Francisco Rodriguez to a three-year deal worth $37 million, and Manny Ramirez and Mark Teixeira are still search of big paydays, leaving the door open for many more dollars to be thrown at players who simply throw a ball.

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McNamee says Clemens shouldn’t make the hall

13clem4-533Brian McNamee says there is no way Roger Clemens will be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in2013, when his name is placed on the ballet.

McNamee, Clemens’ former trainer whom is suing “The Rocket” for defamation of character because of comments he made Mitchell Report, had some harsh words when predicting the Hall of Fame prospects of his former employer.

“He’s done. He’s not going to the Hall of Fame,” McNamee said in a video interview with Web site sportsimproper.com. “There’s no chance. Too much damage. Too much trust was broken. Between the people that gave him his career, the people that wrote about his career, and the people that supported his career.”

Clemens’ numbers, 354 wins, seven Cy Young Awards and two World Series rings in a 24-year career, are certainly Hall of Fame worthy, but should they overshadow the documented steroid use and court-room circus that insued because of Clemens’ discretions? Mark McGwire and other players involved with the Mitchell Report were bypassed in recent voting, will Clemens see similar treatment? McNamee believes the trust factor Clemens trampled on will keep him out of Cooperstown.

“You know, it takes a lifetime to build trust. All it takes is one monumental moment to break that trust and you’re done. And that’s what happened,” McNamee said in the interview. “It not only happened, but it happened at monumental lengths. So he’s not deserving of the Hall of Fame.”

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