Archive for February, 2008

27
Feb
08

Access denied!

Sarah PavanThe woman furthest to the right in this photo is Sarah Pavan.

She plays volleyball for the University of Nebraska. Well, she did. And was ridiculously good.

So good in fact, she was is the most decorated female athlete in the school’s history. And she had a 4.0 in biochemistry. In other words, your typical jock.

Long story short, Pavan gave an interview with a local Nebraska magazine in which some revealing personal feelings were brought to light:

They judge only what they see from the stands. They don’t understand I don’t like the phony smiles and the phony hugs and the phony high-fives after every point. Four years now and my teammates, the people I thought knew me, don’t understand that I despise the constant attention. And the coaches – they don’t understand what it takes to nail a 4.0 in biochemistry, let alone how much it means to me. Really, it doesn’t seem to matter what I say or what I do anymore because no one truly understands me.

Wow. That’s a hell of an interview. Kudos to the reporter, right?

The coach – and some of Pavan’s teammates – didn’t think so, and started complaining publicly. Eventually, Pavan was banned from practice (even though her career was already done). After some public outcry, the all-wise coach said Pavan could return to practice if she apologized. No go.

As you can imagine, this issue garnered a lot of press – especially for Husker volleyball. The coach didn’t handle it so well:

If you don’t stop doing it(reporting), Cook said, I’m going to call over to the journalism college and get this straightened out.

Watch out, journalism college, he will call and get this straightened out! Oh no he didunt!

The media relations department had even more threats for college reporters:

Shamus McKnight, NU’s volleyball sports information director, asked to know if there would be another story, what it would be about and who would be contacted.

Usually I know ahead of time who is going to be interviewed, so I can prepare them, McKnight said.

And anyone who’s ever written a college newspaper story about volleyball (check), or softball (check) or lacrosse (thank God no check) knows that college athletes already have so much to say.

This is an awful precedent. Reporting on college athletics is tough enough as it is. Stories are becoming increasingly hard to find because of privacy policies and limited access to the players.

The story about Pavan was well-written, it was insightful, and it uncovered a potential problem in college sports.

And as soon as there is a hint of controversy or negative coverage reflected on the team, the SIDs decide to cut back the already limited access they provide.

You could argue that this is the job of the SIDs, to protect the players. But it’s seriously getting out of control.

If I ran a publication around Lincoln, and the SIDs insisted on “prepping” players before any interviews (especially reviewing the questions), I would simply not have a reporter cover that sport.

One thing is for sure – Nebraska women’s volleyball needs the media a lot more than the media needs them.

Oh, and Pavan? She signed a contract to play professionally in Italy. Looks like someone got the last laugh.

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25
Feb
08

The Big Ten isn’t as bad as you think

Matt PainterThere’s been a lot of talk this season about what a “down” year the Big Ten is having.

Despite not having any idea what criteria possibly come together to form a “down” season, I can assure you the tag is ridiculous.

The first point that should be raised in such an argument is that the Big Ten is rebuilding this year. Although not “powers” in the conference, Michigan, Iowa and Minnesota all have new coaches.

And, all things considered, that trio has been fairly competitive this season. (The Golden Gophers are 7-7 in conference play, Michigan and Iowa each have 5 Big Ten wins)

Secondly, there are four teams from the Big Ten in the top 20. Four locks for the NCAA tournament. None of which will be seeded lower than about a 5-seed.

Name another conference that has four locks. Big XII? Nope. ACC? Nada. SEC? You get the point. Only the 1,403-team Big East will have at least four schools in the Dance.

You may argue that some of the other conferences are tougher top to bottom, but does any conference have as good of a shot at being as well represented in the Sweet Sixteen as the Big Ten?

(No, was the word you were looking for.)

It would seem the main reason the media has been down on the Te(leven)n is that Purdue is having quite the year and Ohio State is mediocre. Besides that, has anything really changed in ’08?

Iowa has always been a semi-serious contender (We still hate you, Luke Recker).

Penn State has always had a couple good conference wins a year.

Northwestern has always sucked (whew, by the way).

So, what is different this year? The way I look at it, the four teams atop the conference standings are each as tough as the other.

It’s true some of the power teams in other conferences have endured tougher non-conference schedules than the top teams in the Big Ten, but that’s what the tournament is for.

All I’m sayin’ is, don’t be surprised if come March, the Big Ten tournament could be a hell of a lot more fun to watch than any of the others.

20
Feb
08

Just like cheatin’ on your wife…

It’s not illegal unless you’re caught on tape.

Or at least, that seems to be the road the whole “Spygate” scandal is headed down. Leave it to the New York Times to put a seemingly unethical situation into perspective with this fantastic article. Most people are very fast to bury Belichick, others are holding out hope that this will all wash over, and an even smaller portion of us are just so enraged that the media resorted to throwing a “gate” suffix at the end of another scandal that we can’t mentally progress any further.

But one option that nobody seems to have considered is that it ends up being the NFL that gets all shook up after this — not the Patriots. I mean, they have a very intense ethical dilemma on their hands here that the likes of Socrates would appreciate. It’s your classic slippery slope argument of asking where to draw the line on a particular issue. I guess the main question here isn’t Is it wrong to steal signals? but rather, Is it wrong to use a camcorder? Because if you think the first question is at the heart of this, well, let me allow the commissioner to field that one…

“I’m not sure that there is a coach in the league that doesn’t expect that their signals are being intercepted by opposing teams.”

We hear of this a lot in baseball. It’s pretty much common knowledge that if a man is on second base, that batter is going to have a clue as to what’s coming. And hell, in that sport we have national television revealing the signals, so tell me that teams don’t watch tape of opposing signs.

All I’m saying is: This isn’t as open and shut a case as it may see. The door will inevitably remain open here. And if the hammer falls on Belichick, don’t think he won’t come right back and hire some savant from Pawtucket that reads lips, hand him a pair of binoculars and a pen, and ring the bell for Round 2.

19
Feb
08

Meet and greet etiquette

Cuban loves him some...

So the other night, while laying in bed half-dying from this lung flu the devil spawned, a friend texted to say Joakim Noah was standing in front of him at the Miami airport, ordering a sandwich.

My first thought, besides “that would make a great t-shirt” was of course, “did you talk to him?”

yeah, actually. he stuffed a bunch of money — like $10 — in a jar for some kids charity. then i said ‘whoa’ he laughed a bit, then he dropped his sunglasses, and i picked them up and he said thanks.

When I (half-jokingly) said, “too bad you didn’t get a picture,” my friend’s response semi surprised me.

“Meh,” he said.

Despite his muppet dialect, the indifference in my pal’s voice font was clear. Meeting an athlete/celebrity ain’t what it used to be.  And unless you’re 8, you probably don’t want to ask for an autograph.

So how should you handle running into someone who could probably pay you to go away? (Other than picking up their sunglasses)

No. 1 – There are only a few reasons you should request (or just take) a photo. One, you witness this married celebrity touching a co-ed inappropriately and/or doing something outrageous/stupid/hilarious (cough, Mark Cuban, cough). EXCEPTION: If this happens more than three times a week, it is not unique, and no one cares (cough, Mark Cuban, cough). Two, you lie constantly, and your friends will never believe that you saw Keith Hernandez at Red Lobster.

No. 2 – Do not, under any circumstances, ask for an autograph UNLESS a.) it will be worth more than $1,000 USD on eBay, b.) the celebrity is your all-time favorite player, or c.) you have your child or a small person you could pretend to care for in your possession at the time.

Continue reading ‘Meet and greet etiquette’

17
Feb
08

Charley Waters would like to buy Andy Katz a beer

Well, while we are just throwing out random guesses, I heard on the street Parcells might be headed up from Miami to take over in Bloomington.

Seriously people, do your papers not care what you write?

14
Feb
08

Extending the olive stick

Bush cheersWell, here at the Cut, we’re about sick of this Kelvin Sampson bullshit.

Paired with that crushing loss to Wisconsin last night, this isn’t the greatest week to be a Hoosier fan.

However, being an investigatory couch-dwelling blogger reporter is a full-time job.
And thanks to that new wire-tapping legislation, we were able to stumble across a secret conversation between George W. Bush and Roger Clemens.
The following is a direct transcript of what we heard:
George W. Bush: Is this thing on? Hello?
Roger Clemens: Hello?
GW: Hey Rog, how you holdin’ up? It’s George.
RC: I’ve earned everything I’ve ever gotten. My stepdad died when…
GW: Bush, Rog, not Mitchell.
RC: Oh, sorry Dub, I’ve got testifying on the brain. Rusty gave me this damn script to drive home how underprivileged I was.
GW: Sounds difficulty. When I want to look like a common man, Snow used to tell me to roll up my sleeves. Sometimes I get stuck on the buttons, but it reminds me how hard those union boys work… Anyway, I’m callin’ to extend an olive stick on behalf of the United States.
RC: An olive…You mean an olive branch? I used to have to hunt for my dinner using only olive branches…
GW: Rog, remember, you don’t need the script. Try and stay with me here. Anyway, yea, an olive branch. I have one. Called a pardon. I’m getting good at usin’ em. Kind like a lifeline on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” and I’m phonin’ a friend. He he. Get it?
RC: Yea, I get it. So what do I have to do?
GW: Well, you already did most of the work by reading off that script during the hearin’. Got the Dems all riled up. Givin’ Dan Burton those Yankees’ season tix probably didn’t help, either. And if you’re worried about your soul, don’t be, Dick (Cheney) told me that witchcraft of swearing on the Bible only works on liberals.
RC: I never took steroids or Human Growth Hormone.
GW: Yea, and I never passed ’em around the Rangers clubhouse. He he.
RC: Well, once you pardon me, do you think I’ll be voted into the Hall of Fame?
GW: Can’t make any promises there Rog. They let me back into office for a second term, so anything’s possible.
RC: I guess so. One more thing George…
GW: Yea, Rog?
RC: Have any tips for a smoothing things over with the better half? Things are kinda bumpy after yesterday.
GW: Well, when Barney’s mad at me, I slip some Jack in his Alpo and massage his parts a little…
RC: Nevermind George, I gotta go.
GW: Alright buddy, well you hang in there. And thanks for that signed poster, bag of baseballs and Yankees jersey, Condi loves all of it.
13
Feb
08

Keep him

[Editor’s note: This is a response to my fellow Cutter. Read below for the first installment] 

Alright folks, time for a more logical response to this whole ordeal… AS difficult as it is to appeal to logic after that IU-Wisconsin game (traveling anybody? please?).

Here’s my returning jab:

I should probably make it clear that I did not grow up in Indiana. So I was not sucking the ol’ Bob Knight Kool-Aid right out of my mama’s teet like most Hoosiers. I acknowledge that this slightly skews my view, though I would claim it gives me more rational logic, not to mention less bruising around my neck.

I guess that’s the crux of my argument: How can Indiana basketball ever move forward if the entire fan base is incapable of turning their eyes from the past. Yes, Bob Knight was a great coach. Maybe the best coach. But look what his legacy did to Mike Davis. He suffered from the proverbial “won with _____’s players” stigma that afflicts so many, and thus, had to march up hill, every season, until things finally got too steep.

So Davis crumbled, the team crumbled, and we brought in a winner. A winner. The Hoosier nation demanded somebody who could recruit well, put us in a position to win a championship, and restore the glory to ol’ IU. Well, in case anybody hadn’t noticed, in just his second year, that’s kind of where we are.

I just think the hypocrisy of demanding top level talent while not expecting him to sidestep these inane phone call rules to, you know, talk to the parent who’s choosing to entrust him with their kid is a little absurd. I don’t condone lying, and he should certainly be punished for that. But c’mon people, this man has been doing whatever it takes to deliver what you, the fan base, have demanded.

Let’s try to focus more on who he is (the best coaching option we’ve got, especially this season), instead of looking solely at who he’s not.