Good morning, Gator Nation: I put together a lot of this before the FIFA World Cup match between the United States and Ghana, and I was gonna say we’re Ghana win, but …
And if the NCAA has its way, young Pee Wee league football players will be safe from ever having to meet USC coach Lane Kiffin, who admitted he offered quarterback Matt Barkley as a youngster when he was Pete Carroll’s offensive coordinator in Trojanland during the period when USC got caught not watching over Reggie Bush, O.J. Mayo and their relationship with agents.
An NCAA committee has announced that it will back a proposal to prohibit schools from making scholarship offers to recruits before July 1 in the summer between their junior and senior years. Also, coaches would also have to receive transcripts documenting that the recruits have at least five semesters or seven quarters worth of academic work before they can be offered scholarships.
Interestingly, the committee is chaired by Petrina Long, a senior associate athletic director at – get ready, now – the University of California, Los Angeles, USC’s crosstown rival. Apparently, parents have complained to the committee that they and their youngsters are being pressured to make commitments before knowing about a school’s academic programs. Coaches, meanwhile, were concerned that they were forced to make offers to “keep up” with their rival Joneses (yeah, like Texas, which may be putting the finishing touches on its 2015 class as I write this. Sorry, my Longhorn friends, it’s just a joke. Mack Brown, I’m joking, really).
IN A SOMEWHAT RELATED STORY: USC has announced it will appeal the NCAA sanctions, specifically getting the Trojans’ two-year postseason ban cut to one year and the scholarship reductions from 2011 to 2013 to five each season rather than 10. (Yeah, well, I can see that. I’d appeal, too, if I was worried that Ed Orgeron and Lane Kiffin might have too much time on their hands).
Favorite USC excuse/quote on this whole crackdown belongs to Carroll, who is rolling in his millions up in Seattle after skipping LA-LA-land ahead of the posse: “Now the word’s out. You can do this. One person can do this, go after a university and a kid. And nothing has to be true. Northing has be true. They just have to make claims, and then the investigations and all that are under way.”
OK, Pete, but what happens when the investigators come back with evidence that it’s all true?
IN ANOTHER SOMEWHAT RELATED STORY: Bush and Kim Kardashian, whose late father Robert Kardashian attended USC as an undergrad and became friends and later a lawyer for Heisman Trophy winner and convicted Nevada armed robber O.J. Simpson, has broken up with Bush and is reportedly dating Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin. Austin is a 6-3, 214-pound Jersey Shore-schooled (Monmouth University) young man who is one of Tony Romo’s favorite receivers. He wears No. 19 – the same number worn years ago by wide receiver Lance Rentzel, who was married to actress/singer/dancer Joey Heatherton, (a major Giddyup, as Cosmo Kramer might say back in the day just after leather football helmets). Beware, Kim, beware.
THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS: Well, the week was going pretty darn well … Irishman Graeme McDowell won the U.S. Open, France was eliminated from the World Cup, the U.S. won its group with a 1-0 victory on a goal in the 91st minute by Landon Donovan … and then came Friday. The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Edwin Jackson, a talented right-hander who has battled with his control throughout his career, tossed a 1-0 no-hitter against the team which he helped win the 2008 AL Championship, the Tampa Bay Rays. Jackson, who walked the bases loaded in the third with no outs and got out of the jam, threw 149 pitches (79 strikeouts, 70 balls), walked eight, hit one batter and had another reach base on an error. But not one Ray got a hit. Egads! There have been four no-hitters, two of them perfect games, one of those (Oakland’s Dallas Braden on May 9) against the Rays, who became the first club since the 1965 Chicago Cubs to have a perfect game (Sandy Koufax of the Dodgers) and no-hitter (Jim Maloney of the Reds) thrown against them. Right now, the Rays look like they couldn’t get a hit if you took the pitcher and eight fielders off the field and put the baseball on a batting tee.
COLLEGE WORLD SERIES: I have tried to keep up with the games at the last roundup at Rosenblatt since the Gators were eliminated Tuesday by Florida State. The tournament is down to the championship finals in two brackets. In the Alphabet Bracket, TCU beat UCLA, 6-2, to force another game Saturday at 2. Winner of that game will play the Palmetto Bracket winner, either South Carolina and Clemson, its state rival. The Gamecocks won 5-1 to force another game Saturday at 7. The best-of-3 Championship Series begins Monday.
THE COLOR OF BASEBALL: Green, at least that’s the way it is played at the professional, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately? level. At the college level, it certainly isn’t Black. A recent survey of the 269 players on the eight teams that made it to Omaha for the College World Series, only eight of them – 8 – are African-Americans. UCLA has one African-American player on its roster. One. Such a lonely number for a school which plays its campus games at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The band, Three Dog Night, was right – One is a lonely number.
IT’S INTERMISSION: Get yourself a snack, a Yoo-Hoo and let’s listen to the Tony Bennett and Diana Krall (Mrs. Elvis Costello).
AROUND CAMPUS, THIS GATOR NATION AND THIS ORANGE-AND-BLUE WORLD: The Florida track teams, fresh off a pair of top-3 finishes at the NCAA Outdoor Championships earlier this month in Eugene, Ore., have been well-represented on the podium at the USA Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa. Friday, freshman Omar Craddock won the junior men’s triple jump. Craddock had a personal-best leap of 54 feet, 4 inches to win the event and qualify for the World Junior Championships. Senior Calvin Smith qualified for the men’s 400 meters final with his 45.68-seconds effort. Freshman hurdler Ugonna Ndu won her heat of the 400-meter hurdles in 59.50. She’s also qualified for the World Junior Championships. NCAA indoor and outdoor triple jump champion, was second in the event with his leap of 55 feet even. … Tyson Alexander, the son of men’s golf coach Buddy Alexander and a recent UF grad, is playing on Team USA at the Palmer Cup, a Ryder Cup-styled tournament between the best collegiate golfers in America and Europe being held at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland. On Friday, Alexander scored a 2-and-1 victory over Europe’s Patrick Spraggs. The U.S. is up 9-7 heading into Saturday’s final round. … The Gators’ swimming program has a new assistant coach – Steve Jungbluth, a former head coach at Colgate, Navy and Amherst. “We’re excited to have Steve join our staff,” said head coach Gregg Troy, whose women captured the NCAA title and men finished fifth. “His experience as a head coach will be invaluable and he will be a great addition to both programs.” … The NCAA recently announced that Florida will play host to a regional in the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championships in 2013. Florida, which has been host previously in 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2009, will be a host in 2011. In five of those previous 10 regionals, Florida has moved on to the Final Four (1992, 1996, 1998, 2002 and 2003). “We honored to be chosen once again,” volleyball coach Mary Wise said. “We have, in the O’Connell Center, a venue that is one of the best places in the country to watch and play volleyball. Our fan base has created an atmosphere where a home match is an event. It says a lot about the support we receive from our fans and the first-class job the UAA staff provides in putting on championships.” Yes, indeed, Mary, but also remember to take a bow yourself. Florida is fortunate to have you.
IN THE HEADLINES: In Sunday’s New York Post, how do you like this one, “Is U.S. Ghana Do It?” after our soccer boys beat Ghana, 2-1, in the Round of 16.
CORNERING THE GAINESVILLE MARKET? Anybody know where you can get one, two, several? Let’s hope not. But apparently freshman quarterback Trey Burton does, as a recent Facebook message indicated: “Just Got My Vuvuzelas That I Ordered. LOL. No Ones Going To Sleep Anytime Soon In My House.” Hope no one gets the idea of blowing those things at the team hotel in the early-morning hours before away games.
GREAT BALLS OF FIRE! You heard all those whispers (nay, shouts) about the Jabulani World Cup ball being used at this year’s tournament? Well, FIFA apparently believes there might be something wrong with the ball but won’t investigate until the tournament is. I think it’s something simple – you know how water drains differently in toilets in the Southern Hemisphere (clockwise) than it does in the Northern Hemisphere (counter-clockwise)? You know, something like that.
WELCOME TO HURRICANE SEASON: A tropical depression near Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is expected to become Tropical Storm Alex sometime Saturday and will move of the peninsula and back into the Gulf of Mexico. Most models take it into Mexico south of Texas. That one may not have its eye on me, but I betcha the next one will – Bonnie (which happens to be the name of the lovely Mrs. Fineran’s sister).
ON A PERSONAL NOTE: On the eve of our 23rd wedding anniversary, the lovely Mrs. Fineran and I took our second child to college and we officially became empty-nesters, except for Lucille McGillicuddy Ricardo Fineran, our 5-pound Maltese. The silence around here is deafening, Mother.
WHERE HAVE YOU GONE, …? THE GATOR NATION TURNS ITS APPRECIATIVE EYES TO YOU: Ladies and Gentlemen, Mel Tellis, from one of the great Clint Eastwood movies of all-time (why it never won Dirty Harry an Oscar, I’ll never know – but wasn’t it fun?)
Well, have a wonderful June 26. Later, Gators.