Sunday, January 2, 2011

This weekend in football

Here’s my weekly sports ticker: It was a horrible sight seeing the Big Ten go down in flames on New Years. Actually, I didn’t mind seeing Michigan State being embarrassed by Alabama; at least we definitely know now that they were not the best team in the Big Ten. But I was extremely disturbed after the Rose Bowl. TCU was very fortunate to win that game. Wisconsin clearly out-manned them on both sides of the ball. Outside of a couple of big plays on three drives, TCU’s offense was completely stifled. Wisconsin proved that they could run the ball against TCU, but at head-scratching times they went away from what worked for them all season and threw the ball. In the first half, they marched down the field with ease until they started passing, and failed to complete drives; the missed field goal turned out to be crucial. In the second half, after TCU scored on the opening drive, Wisconsin played scared, not trusting their run game until it was too late. All the pundits are praising TCU to high heaven, but Wisconsin lost this game; TCU didn't win it.

Brett Favre didn’t play in the final game of season, because he didn’t have time to pass all the conditioning tests after finally passing the concussion test. I’ve already talked about all the “legacy” stuff. I doubt he will come back next year (you think?), but who knows. One thing I do know is that the Brett Favre saga is far from over. He has to reflect on his career and figure out how to repair the damage to his reputation with Green Bay fans. It won’t take much, he just has to make the initial feelers, and maybe make a “surprise” appearance in town, try to explain himself a little better than he has in the past, tell the press that he will always think of himself as a Packer. Something like that.

One other story of interest is the firing of Mike Haywood as coach of the Pitt football team barely two weeks after he was hired, over a domestic battery arrest. The story goes something like this: Haywood and the mother of his child were arguing over visitation when he grabbed her and somehow she ended-up with bruises in various places on her body. The charges against Haywood were upgraded from misdemeanor to felony, which prompted the school to fire him. However, on the ESPN webpage there was comment from a friend of Haywood who provided a more detailed story: Haywood had visitation rights for the child over the New Years weekend, but the mother threatened to take the child away unless Haywood gave her a large amount of money, since she believed that his new job would allow that. Haywood gave her a check for $9,000 but this did not satisfy her. When Haywood refused to give her more, she announced that she was going to leave with the child. When Haywood tried to stop her, she attacked him, which involved trying to poke his eyes out. Haywood then grabbed her arms to stop the aggression; at some point she stood up and tripped over some toys, causing bruises on her back. When the woman said she was calling the police, Haywood contacted his attorney, who was present when the police arrived, but apparently to no avail. It should be noted that Haywood is black and the woman is white. The friend ended his account by warning black men about white women, because they’ll ruin your life. Needless-to-say, it is also indicative of how women use children as pawns in order to get money.

Haywood was an up-and-coming young coach fresh off a successful Miami, Ohio program he guided; with a domestic battery charge, he is ruined, if it sticks. He will never get an opportunity to coach a major college program again--or any college if he is convicted and sent to prison. Note that the school didn’t even bother to wait to hear Haywood’s side of the story before they fired him. Was it just because the school was afraid of the backlash from women’s advocates? Were they convinced that Haywood could not prevail in a trial regardless of his story? Or was it something else? Haywood’s hiring was extremely unpopular with Pitt's Alumni and boosters, most of whom had no idea who he was. His case resembles that of Mike Price, whose hiring at Alabama was also extremely unpopular. When Sports Illustrated reported that Price had a drunken fling with a stripper at some event in Florida, Alabama officials wasted no time in firing him. It turned out that the SI story was mostly fiction, and the magazine was sued by Price and eventually settled for significant damages. But the message from Alumni and boosters was clear: If you make us unhappy, we will threaten to withdraw contributions to your program. That is to say, follow the money.

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