IT’S ALL HAPPENING! Friday, November 29


If that is Diet Coke, it will not leave a stain.

1. Beve-Rage!

The Exxon Valdez: $900 million in payments, $100 million in restitution, and a $25 million criminal fine.

British Petroleum: $4.5 billion in fines and an additional $525 million in restorative claims.

Nets coach Jason Kidd? $50,000 for intentionally spilling his carbonated beverage on the court at Staples Center in the waning seconds of a 99-94 loss to the Lakers. In the most viewed November footage since Abraham Zapruder broke out his Bell & Howell Zoomatic, the first-year (last-year) Net coach can be seen ordering rookin Tyshawn Taylor, “Hit me.”

Kidd’s fine only came halfway toward meeting Van Gundy’s NBA-record sanction.

For the record, former coach Jeff Van Gundy received the largest coaching fine in NBA history, $100,000, basically for being candid. He revealed that a referee friend had phoned him to warn him that the refs would be watching his center, Yao Ming, even more closely because the Dallas Mavericks had whined about him.2

The ploy was shrewd. Get a delay of game so that the Nets, down by three at the time, could draw up a final play. Except that the shot missed and YES Network cameras caught Kidd giving the order (Will a YES Network camera man will either be canned or severely disciplined for, you know, doing his job?).

Kidd was an outstanding, Hall-of-Fame caliber player and he might even turn out to be a good coach. But he is in a terrible spot, coaching a team led by veterans Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and coach-killer Deron Williams. The Nets, whose true building blocks are Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson, have too much talent to be 4-11. That’s the real mess here, not the one Kidd left on the court.

2. Ranking Saturday’s 7 Best Games


Auburn alumna Katherine Webb will attend her first Iron Bowl as A.J. McCarron’s squeeze–in this outfit.


1. No. 1 Alabama (11-0) at No. 4Auburn (10-1)

Saturday, 3:30 p.m., CBS

The Iron Bowl. First time both have been ranked in the top 5 for this game since 1971. If you cannot see Auburn winning, I’m sure you foresaw Alabama jumping out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead on the Tigers three years ago. Yeah, of course you did.

The Pick? Alabama.

2. No. 22 UCLA (8-3) at No. 23 USC (9-3)

Saturday, 8 p.m., ABC

There are games between higher-ranked teams, there are fiercer rivalries, but this is the sexiest rivalry in college football. Two years ago the Trojans whisked Rick Neuheisel out of a job with a 50-0 emasculation in the Coliseum. Last year in Pasadena the Bruins knocked Matt Barkley out of the game in a 38-28 win. Earlier this season the Bruins’ Shaq Evans said, “This year, we’re going to try to embarrass them, honestly. They’re struggling, it’s just awesome to see that. I hate them. So I’m just loving it. I’ve always hated them.”

They’re not struggling any more. Myles Jack (UCLA) and Ed Orgeron (USC) are two of the most compelling out-of-nowhere stories of the season. They collide on Saturday night.

The Pick? USC.

Myles Jack: What’s not to love?

3. No. 3 Ohio State (11-0) at Michigan (7-4)

Noon, ABC

Brady Hoke and the Wolverines need a win so bad. Urban Meyer is 23-0 in Columbus. Ohio State’s defense is far from indomitable and QB Devin Gardner, WR Jeremy Gallon and TE Devin Funchess have had their moments. Is this Saturday’s huge upset?

The Pick: Ohio State.

4. No. 21 Texas A&M (8-3) at No. 5 Missouri (10-1)

ESPN 7:45 p.m.

Johnny Football’s final non-bowl game, most likely, while the Tigers remain just a gut-punch overtime loss away from being undefeated. Win at home and Mizzou beats the Aggies to the SEC Championship Game in both schools’ sophomore season in the conference. There’s a reason this game is on ESPN and the one just below, airing simultaneously, is on ESPN2.

The Pick: Missouruh.

5. No. 6 Clemson (10-1) at No. 10 South Carolina (9-2)

7 p.m. ESPN2

I know that this is the only other game involving a pair of Top 10 schools, but the intrigue evaporated after Florida State went into Death Valley and won by five touchdowns.

The Pick: The Visor.

6. No. 2 Florida State (11-0) at Florida (4-7)


Watch to see if the Seminoles are up by 35 at halftime. Other than that there’s no real reason to watch unless you’re the type that replays your favorite moments from the SAW films over and over and over.

The Pick: Pain.

7. No. 25 Notre Dame (8-3) at No. 8 Stanford (9-2)

Fox 7 p.m.

In what has become a biannual tradition in odd-numbered years, the Irish finish up in Palo Alto (in even-numbered years they close at USC). Notre Dame’s last victory on The Farm came when both programs were at an ebb in 2007. Pete Sampson of Irish Illustrated notes that Notre Dame is 20-0 the last 20 times it has run the ball 30 times in a game. But that’s a chicken-egg stat.

The Pick: Cardinal.

3. Plains, Pains and Auto-erotica

Elan Gale will be played in the cinema version of this episode by Ben Stiller in a film titled “Gale Force.”

A reality show producer has a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” misadventure on a holiday flight home and, through the magic of Twitter, we are all invited along for the journey. You go, Elan Gale!

4. The Back-Door Cover

“Ooh, ooh, ooh/Lookin’ out my back door.”

Dallas was a nine-point favorite. The Cowboys trailed 21-7 before scoring 24 unanswered points to take a 10-point lead with 90 seconds to play. A friend of mine, an NBC producer, tweets, “Oakland going for the classic back-door cover.”
Indeed the Raidas, down 10, drove to the 30-yard line and chose to kick a field goal with :39 to play rather than go for the TD first. Sebastian Janikowski nails it. Dallas wins, but by seven. Bill Simmons tweets, “Just got burned by the Madden “down 10, kick FG first” scenario that coaches always mess up (except today). All-time mush season for me.”

Later, after the Steelers came from behind to do similar damage on the Ravens (that is, lose and still cover), The Sports Guy tweets, “Screwed over by 2 backdoor covers today. 0 and 3 for the day. 22 games below for the season. I feel like I’m being coached by Jason Kidd.”

5. The High School Team Without a High School

Findlay Prep is a high school like Henry Hill’s band was a band.

Shameless self-promotion, sure, but…here’s my piece for Newsweek on Findlay Prep, the nation’s best high school basketball team that is not actually affiliated with a high school. MaxPreps and StudentSports ranks the Pilots No. 2 while USA Today has them No. 1.

As I state in the story, Findlay Prep is not actually doing anything corrupt. They simply are not a high school. They’re an AAU team whose players all happen to have the same tutors. There are literally no other students at Findlay Prep outside of the 11 members of the basketball team and there is literally no physical building that is the school. Again, as I say in the story, Oak Hill Academy may be the tail wagging the dog, but Findlay Prep is the tail with no dog.


Christine Brennan of USA Today redefines the term “treacle” with this argument in favor of  A.J. McCarron. The great irony of the Heisman is that no sport involves team work quite like football and yet it has the most-publicized individual award in all of sports.


My two cents on the “College Football Playoff” (Really? You’re going there, now?)

First of all, those of you who’ve been lobbying for this for years, you’ve already won. So no need to further crush those of us who did not. You got your way.

Second, I respect anyone who’d prefer to see a four- or eight-team playoff other than our current system. I don’t happen to prefer it, but I certainly understand why many would. Please understand that I get that.

What I do not get, and never will, is the argument that this is a way to pit the two best teams against one another. In every other sport that features playoffs there are myriad examples of a championship game that does not feature the two best teams based on their seasonal records. I’m not arguing against a playoff, I’m just arguing against that line of reasoning.

Bill Bradley, the former New York Knick and United States senator who is also a Princeton alum and a Rhodes Scholar once stated, in his NBA memoir “Life on the Run”, that if he had his druthers the NBA champion would simply be the team with the best record after the 82-game season. In Bradley’s opinion –and I’d venture that he’s way smarter than I’ll ever be –that was the most objective way to determine who was the best team. Granted, in an NBA season every team plays every other team at least twice. So take that as you might.

I hear a lot from playoff defenders who use last year’s Notre Dame squad as an example of what’s wrong with the system. “No way was Notre Dame one of the two best teams in the country last year, and Alabama exposed that!”

I couldn’t agree more. But here’s the thing. When Notre Dame was 10-0 last season, where were they ranked? First? Second?

No, third. The Fighting Irish were ranked third, behind the only two schools that were also undefeated: Kansas State and Oregon. No one was doing the gang from South Bend any favors. It was only AFTER both the Wildcats and Ducks fell that the Irish ascended to the top of the pecking order.

So the last team that is an AQ-level school that is still undefeated, one that defeated THREE ranked teams on the road, should not be in the national championship game? If that had happened to ANY OTHER school, you’d all be crying foul. Was Notre Dame one of the two best teams in college football last season? Perhaps not.

Was Michigan, which finished fourth –FOURTH–in the Big Ten in basketball last year, one of the two best teams in college basketball? I think not.

You want a playoff? Fine. You want to persuade me that a playoff pits the two top teams in a sport? That’s a fool’s errand.

Remote Patrol

Hitchcock Marathon

AMC 1 p.m.


Kelly, 25, pines for Stewart, 46, in Hitchcock’s classic. Oh, it IS a wonderful life, Jimmy.

“Vertigo” to be followed by “Rear Window” to be followed by “Psycho” to be followed by “The Birds.” If I had to rank them, I’d go Rear Window, Psycho, Vertigo, and then The Birds. Has any actress ever looked more ethereally beautiful than Grace Kelly in “Rear Window”, which is the ultimate film on voyeurism? Decide for yourself.


IT’S ALL HAPPENING! Wednesday, November 27


Sheets, surrounded by Mounties

1. Looney Bin

Regina, Saskatchewan.

It’s no Moose Jaw. It’s no Medicine Hat. It’s not even Saskatoon.

To get there, head west through North Dakota until you arrive at the Montana state line (Have you been there? I have. It makes western Kansas appear bustling), then make a right.

There’s a song by a band called The Weakerthans whose refrain is “I hate Winnipeg” (the title of the song is “One Great City!”) but Winnipeg is London compared to Regina.

And yet Regina can stand tall today because the provincial capital of Saskatchewan is home to this year’s Grey Cup champions. The Roughriders defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (I’m not sure why they employ a hyphen, either) 45-23 last Sunday.

Things to note:

–Former Purdue running back Kory Sheets rushed for 197 yards for the RRs, breaking a 57  year-old Grey Cup record for most rushing yards in a game. Sheets was named the game’s MVP.

–Saskatchewan native Chris Getzlaf, who caught three passes for 78 yards, was named the game’s Most Valuable Canadian. Because that’s a thing.

Heddy (“That’s Hedley!”) provides halftime warmth at the Grey Cup.

–They do a halftime show at the Grey Cup (Canadian native Bieber did NOT perform). The Canadian pop group Hedley performed “Anything” while a snowmobile flew over a ramp at midfield. Seriously.

–Even though the Grey Cup rotates each year to a different venue, the last three host sites have also just happened to be the home stadiums of that year’s Grey Cup champ. Next year’s site: Vancouver, home of the BC Lions (as opposed to Lion-Cats).

–During pre-game introductions, the Roughriders eschewed the Grey Cup (and Super Bowl) tradition of players being announced individually on one side of the ball and instead all stormed the field together.

–I believe it was warmer in Regina’s Mosaic Stadium on Sunday (30 F) than it was in Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium.

Teddy Roosevelt’s face is not on the side of the Rough Riders’ helmet. No one would tell me why not.

2. 321 Blastoff?

Lynch broke his own single-game rushing record for a quarterback, 316 yards, with last night’s 321-yard effort.

Pushing his way into the Heisman invite conversation? Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch, who rushed for 321 manly yards on 27 carries in last night’s 33-14 defeat of hap-challenged Western Michigan. Lynch is second in the nation in rushing with 1,755 yards and only one back in the top ten, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, has a higher yards-per-carry average (8.2 to 7.1) than Lynch. More impressive? The Huskies never lost at home in Lynch’s two seasons as a starter, posting a 12-0 record in DeKalb (they’ve actually won 27 straight at home since a 34-31 defeat to Idaho in 2009).

Will all that glory earn the Chicago native a flight to New York City next month? We’ll see. For every outstanding effort, individual or team, in college football, there is a contrarian group who will point out the flaws in that effort. The Lynch mob in fact became so obstreperous last night that it incited the ever-placid Stewart Mandel of to tweet, “To all the party poopers: If rushing for 321 yards against Western Michigan were so easy, how come everyone doesn’t do it?” which led to ESPN’s Brett McMurphy facetiously noting that this makes his esteemed colleague a “party-pooper pooper.”

3. Wanna Get Away?

Would you rather lose to Dayton in Maui or in Dayton in late November? We thought so.


Cancun. Maui. San Juan. Puerto Vallarta. The Bahamas. Anchorage?

There’s no reason, if you’re a Division I college hoops program, to remain in the Contiguous 48 this week. Thanksgiving week is college basketball’s bowl season, and the itinerant longings, the peregrinations, if you will (I will), have never been more numerous.

C.J. Fair probably loved escaping from Syracuse to Maui this week, but he didn’t enjoy the cut he received on a posterizing dunk.

Is there anything wrong with that? Not necessarily, although if you’ve been watching, as I have, you’ve noticed that some of these arenas have more empty seats than occupied ones. No matter. These are not basketball games so much as they are television programming. ESPN owns many of these “classics” and the TV ad revenue more than compensates for whatever is not earned at the gate. Besides, there’s something about an 11:59 p.m. tip-off (Eastern time) between Dayton and Gonzaga in Maui that we insomniacs love.

Here’s footage of Fair, above, taking one to the cheek versus Minnesota.

4. The Kensington Trio

Swift has now sang backup with a prince, just not THE Prince.

Famous Notre Dame football dad Jon Bon Jovi joined Taylor Swift, whose brother formerly attended Notre Dame, and Prince William, who rightfully so has no affiliation to a school whose teams refer to themselves as the “Fighting Irish”, onstage for a rendition of “Livin’ On A Prayer.” The venue was Kensington Palace outside London and the affair was the Winter White Gala, a charity benefit attended by 200 people which is code for “investment bankers.”

5. The Belcher/Bleacher Report

Belcher. He earned respect for making it to the NFL, and he should earn disdain for ending a woman’s life.

Back in September the web site Gawker decided to fire a cannon volley from its glass-hulled ship at Bleacher Report by leading a story with this sentence: Bryan Goldberg is the 30 year-old founder of Bleacher Report, an enormously popular sports site written by and for idiots.”

I laughed. I saw the hypocrisy of it all, but I laughed.

Then Bleacher Report hired Howard Beck away from the New York Times. And then it reached out to former Sports Illustrated senior writer Jeff Pearlman to pen a long-form piece on former Kansas City linebacker and murderer Jovan Belcher. 

Twitter, as it is wont to do, splooged all over Jeff with praise regarding the profile. Because, unlike me, most people are too nice to publicly offer a criticism of someone they respect in a field in which they also operate (you may construe this as bad manners on my part or a sincere desire to examine journalism, or both). Or maybe because the art of critical thinking has been lost in the age of “How many Likes did this receive?”

There are some valid empathetic notes sounded here: the relentless pressure an NFL player faces to remain on the field no matter the injuries and aches and pains, as we all know that NFL contracts are not guaranteed; the uphill battle a low-profile player from a school such as the University of Maine faces just to make the league; a player raised by a single parent (mom, of course) going all-in to escape his plight; the chance that Belcher’s murderous behavior –he shot his girlfriend and the mother of his infant child nine times before later turning it on himself–was triggered (sorry) by a concussion suffered the week before and by a series of them before that.

Hear, hear, on all of that.

Here’s the other side of the story, though: a young, uneducated woman becomes pregnant. Her wealthy and highly esteemed boyfriend takes care of the financial side of things, but leaves her no leverage in any other way. He goes out when he wants, with whomever he wants, and does whatever he wants. And comes home whenever he wants.

When Belcher finally secures a million-dollar contract, he buys a Bentley and creates a man cave –this was an extremely telling vignette in Jeff’s story — in his home inside of which he has posted five rules:

  1. My cave, my rules.
  2. No sitting in my chair.
  3. Keep your hands off the remote.
  4. Women by invitation only. The best way to be invited—bring alcohol.
  5. Any rejection to the rules—please refer to rule No. 1.

What an asshole.

(I mean, if it’s self-parody then it’s funny; but the events that later transpired suggest that it was not)

There’s another side to this story: the victim’s side. Kasandra Perkins’ side. And it was not incumbent upon Jeff to relate that side of the tale, but it may help when reading a story to take the facts and anecdotes for yourself and then to decide for yourself, independently of the author’s tint, what you think.

I may have told this tale here before, but 18 years ago I spent a day with a Kansas City Chief player. Ostensibly, I had come to do a story about how he and his wife co-owned an Italian restaurant (he was African-American, which made the tale more curious to me). When we arrived at his house, just before he opened the door, he said, “Now, John, you’re not going to get me in trouble, are you?”

A moment later a lovely, shapely blonde greeted us with a pitcher of frozen margaritas (it was about 4 p.m. on a Monday). It wasn’t his wife. It was his girlfriend. With whom he lived.

This was and this is the NFL.

So, yes, Jovan Belcher may have been feeling some pressure. We all do. He also took the life of an innocent woman whose greatest crime, I imagine, was getting up in his face about his carousing and cheating and coming in after dawn. You know, of being a bitch.

That’s the other side of this story.





IT’S ALL HAPPENING! Tuesday, November 26


For the bowl, they’ll reenact Stephon Tuitt’s ejection-worthy (?) hit on Tom Savage.

1. Irish Complete 65-Yard TD Pass– at Halftime

The Band of the Fighting Irish is thought to be the oldest university band in continuous existence (Norwich University also makes the claim, but how many films about walk-ons has it been the backdrop for?) and was even on hand for the school’s first football game, on Thanksgiving Day in 1887 (a home loss to Michigan…after which everyone claimed that Notre Dame was, see, overrated).

Anyway, last Saturday, in snowy and blustery conditions in South Bend, the band reenacted a pass from Gus Dorais to Knute Rockne that took place almost exactly a century ago, on November 1, 1913 (they hooked up for more than one completion that day).  As “the pass” was being thrown, those fans who had not retreated to the shelter of the concourse were heard to shout, “Run the goddamn ball, Kelly!”

(The Irish have won 20 straight in games where they have run the ball 30 or more times, according to Pete Sampson of Irish Illustrated).

I may be wrong, but I don’t think that NBC noticed this moment and aired it. If it had, I would’ve enjoyed listening to Mike Mayock deconstruct the play.

2 . “In Bummin’ham, They Love The Guvnuh”

Meet the one elected official who makes Rob Ford appear tame.

He was Phillip Blake before his encounter with Michonne. Now he’s Brian. As one astute viewer of “The Walking Dead” tweeted, “That’s because Brian has one ‘i’.”

The last two episodes of “The Walking Dead” have been entirely devoted to Phillip/Brian, better-known and feared as The Governor. After a brief bout of stumbling through the wilderness — walkers skulked right past him, thinking he was one of them– he’s back with a new woman, a new daughter, and a new platoon of citizen soldiers.

We’re headed for a showdown in the mid-season finale. The Governor versus Rick. Trailer park versus prison. Might-makes-right versus liberty-and-justice-for-all.

3. Get the Message?

Are any of these men Rick Reilly’s father-in-law?

“A touching scene last night at FedEx Field as the Washington Sambos honored the Tuskegee Airmen, whose daring aviation exploits proved invaluable to the Allied effort in World War II.”

Strike that? Try again? Okay.

“A poignant moment last night at FedEx Field as the Washington Israelites, who after all are named for a tribe of people who were forcibly removed from their land, honored their namesakes by reenacting the Masada siege at halftime…”

It should be noted that “Fighting Irish” wasn’t originally intended as a compliment, either. Also it should be noted that the university in question did not name its teams that; fans and the media foisted it upon them. Then the institution and its denizens decided to rally around the term as a point of pride. Which is why nobody ever seems to take umbrage about it.

4. Not Exactly The Way Pops Did It

Antoine’s older brother, Anthony, played at St. John’s and then spent some time in the D League.

Through 13 bruising NBA seasons, Anthony Mason was renowned for a cartoon-hero physique and an ability to clean up around the paint and finish. The six-foot-seven forward who played for the Knicks primarily (and five other teams) averaged more than 10 points per game over his career, which surprised me.

Burly and Surly: Mason personified the early ’90s Knicks.

His younger son, Antoine Mason, is no facsimile. The six-foot-three guard, who plays at Niagara, is more of a perimeter shooter, but through five games he leads the NCAA in scoring at 31.2 point per game. Antoine is remarkably consistent, scoring between 30 and 35 points in four of those five contests. Quickness may be his greatest asset. The junior from the leafy burbs of Westchester has only hit nine three-pointers, but he gets to the line 12 times per game and shoots 75% from there.

5. All-Blacks, All Wins

Not since the Vikings invaded the Emerald Isle…

I shan’t pretend that I understand how teams score in rugby or that I am familiar with the vernacular.

Here’s what I know: In 1995 international rugby created its first unabashed professional league (I believe this was just after Matt Damon competed for the Springboks of South Africa) and since then no national team had ever gone through a season undefeated (here I should add that Mercury Morris derived an inordinate amount of pleasure from that).

Until last weekend. But it wasn’t easy.

The All-Blacks of New Zealand completed the first perfect season in the 18-year history of professional rugby, winning all 14 Tests. Last Saturday in Dublin, however, they trailed 22-7 at halftime before clawing back for a 24-22 victory, scoring the winning points (that’s probably not the proper way to say it) on the final action of the match. Afterward Ireland quarterback Peyton Manning said that he would not blame the weather conditions for the defeat.


Really, Florida? Really? That’s redshirt freshman Marcus Maye doing the Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka move. Oh, for the innocent days of Gator offensive linemen blocking one another.


Straight Outta Kenya (By Way of Newark)

Cheserek setting the pace in Terre Haute, Ind., last Saturday.

University of Oregon freshman Edward Cheserek became the first true freshman to win the NCAA Division I Cross Country championship since Bob Kennedy of Indiana in 1988. Cheserek was born in Kenya but attended high school in Newark, N.J., which, for those unfamiliar with the city, is not the greatest of running towns –unless the police are chasing you.

Cheserek beat defending champion Kennedy Kithuka of  Texas Tech by 18 seconds over the 10,000-meter course. Other Oregon harriers who have won the X-Country national championship include Steve Prefontaine (three championships, two biopics), Alberto Salazar and Galen Rupp. In other words, prit-tee, prit-tee good company.

They call him King Edward. If you are an Olympics fan, get to know the five-foot-eight, 125-pounder. He won the last two national high school X-country championships and as well as the Pac-12 Championship this autumn. He was raised in the Rift Valley.


Paging Phil Jackson!

Later this month Jim Dolan will sign Methuselah to a 10-day contract.

The New York Knicks and KevinGar Nets are a combined 6-20 and have lost 11 straight combined. New York fell at Portland last night after which I presume they held a Carmelos Only meeting. Here’s one big problem. Whereas the original cast of “Saturday Night Live” used to refer to themselves as “The Not-Ready-For-Primetime Players”, the Knicks and Nets rosters are too heavily manned by “Past-Their-Prime-Time Players“: Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, Amar’e Stoudemire, Kenyon Martin, Metta World Peace. The Knicks even have a 36 year-old rookie point guard, Pablo Priglione.

What it all adds up to is that the Toronto Raptors are not the only dinosaurs in the Eastern Conference.

The Manhattans play the Brooklyns one week after Thanksgiving Day, so someone’s losing streak will end.


Tim Tebow: A Gator, but not an eye-gouger.

I really love the idea of the “SI Longform” and the layout . As I wrote when put out a similar piece last year on the Iditarod, this must be the future of magazinery on the web. My problem with Thomas Lake’s piece on Tim Tebow is that, while it was an exhaustive profile of Tebow’s travails from Gainesville through camp with the Patriots, I didn’t learn much.

That and it felt as if at least 50% of the story could have been compiled from reading game boxscores. Lake introduces the piece by informing us that he is in a conference room with the beatific No. 15 off Santa Monica Blvd, but there are very few Tebow quotes in the piece.

My favorite moment in the entire hour-long read was when a fan in New England during training camp yelled out “Twelve Mississippi!” because Tebow was taking too long to release a pass. Also, that Tebow tucked it and ran during a 7-on-7 drill. Now that’s hilarious.

I’ll always be a fan of The Tebow. And Lake should know that when Tebow first arrived in NYC to sign with the Jets he eschewed all the cool bistros and eateries to dine, daily, at a plain diner on 2nd Ave. and 81st (I believe) that is heavily populated with denizens above the age of 70. That is where he felt most comfortable and that is where he took most every meal.

Read the piece. Enjoy the spectacular layout. Decide what you think of the reporting.


If you know Manhattan Beach, then you know that El Porto is the beach just north of town near the lovely smoke stacks and just south of the LAX runway. If you feel like going surfing or paddle-boarding there, take a look at who has moved in recently.

Remote Patrol

Western Michigan vs. No. 14 Northern Illinois

ESPN 7 p.m.

NIU alum Lacey Underalls

The Broncos are 1-10 and have a one-point victory over one-win UMass to their credit. The Huskies are 11-0, boast quarterback Jordan Lynch, and are making a last stab at securing a BCS bowl berth over similarly undefeated non-AQ Fresno State. The line is 35.5 but it should be at least 10 points north of that. NIU wants to make a statement and it’ll waste no time doing so tonight in DeKalb.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING! Monday, November 25


Rumbin’, bumblin’, stumblin’….

1. Bryce Petty Commits Metaphor of the Year

How does this happen? No. 4 Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty has an unimpeded path into the end zone and what would be a 6-0 first-quarter lead in Stillwater, a touchdown that will quell the frenzy. Instead, after a nifty 27-yard scamper he trips and falls just a foot shy of the goal. Two plays later Shock Linwood fumbles while trying to stretch out the football beyond the goal line.

The next thing you know No. 10 Oklahoma State is up 35-3 on the nation’s most prolific scoring offense en route to a 49-17 win. Undefeated teams, particularly outliers such as the Bears, stumble in November every season. It’s just odd when they paint the picture this clearly for you.

2. Stacy’s Meme Has Got It Going On

Why is she opening the hatchback? Just how large is Stacy’s backpack?

Cadillac has done more to promote Fountains of Wayne than FM radio ever did. The “beautifully practical, and practically beautiful” 2014 Cadillac SRX Crossover is the most ubiquitous ad on sports television, taking advantage of the 2003 pop hit by the New Jersey-bred rock foursome, all alums of prestigious Williams College (you’re welcome, Dick Quinn), and the magnificent mandible of French model Magali Amadei.

Sometimes she rides shotgun

It should be noted that Amadei, who turns 39 later this week, is at least by her Wikipedia page’s information, not a mother. So maybe Stacy’s parents are divorced and she’s dating the dad and picking up Stacy from school? Also, this song has been used to move product before, so the dude at the ad agency who’s accepting all the praise for this concept is likely just a plagiarist.

And yes, the role of “Stacy’s Mom” in the original video was played by model Rachel Hunter, ex-wife of Rod Stewart.

3. Rose Woes

Is it too soon to declare the Curse of the Chicago Bulls point guards? Derrick Rose, the 2011 NBA MVP who missed all of last season while recovering from an ACL tear in his left knee, will now miss the remainder of this season after tearing the medial meniscus on his right knee. You’ll recall that a former high draft pick at point guard for the Bulls, Jason Williams, suffered a career-ending knee injury in a motorcycle accident after his rookie season.

Williams was the No. 2 overall pick in 2002. Rose was the No. 1 overall pick in 2008.

Rose, who played in 10 games this season before suffering the tear, is an incredibly easy dude to root for and you hope that he recovers fully. You also hope that Adidas stops running this ad. We’ll see.

Alas, for Bulls fans, this will probably be the highlight of the 2013-14 season.

In the meantime, the Bulls went out and lost by 39 yesterday in their first game without their leader yesterday versus the Clippers at the Staples Center. They draw the league’s worst team, Utah, in Salt Lake City tonight. Stay tuned.

4. The Will Muschamp Era in One Photo or Less

Two Gators block one another while an apparent sniper victim lies prone at the 2 yard-line

Mark Sanchez had the butt fumble (a year and a day earlier, in fact). Will Muschamp will have this play as all you need to describe his era in Gainesville. Two Gators block one another as a third runs around right end on a sweep. Hey, it worked: He picked up the first down.

Still, Florida lost to FCS Georgia Southern, the ebb for a program that earlier this millennium won two national championships.

And, yes, I don’t know who or what is happening at the 2 yard-line. One player down? Two? I cannot tell.

Finally, the University of Florida has produced no shortage of college football writers and sportswriters in general the past couple of decades: Andy Staples (who actually played on the 1997 national championship squad as a walk-on offensive lineman), Gregg Doyel, Greg Auman and Spencer Hall ( to name just a few. I want to hear what they have to say about this.

The Gators are 22-15 in Muschamp’s three seasons. They’ve been rattled by injuries all season. Still, you don’t lose to an FCS school at home. One way to avoid that? Don’t schedule an FCS school.

5. It’s Justin Timberlake’s World. We Just Groove In It

Justin Timberlake. Ryan Gosling. You’ve gotta hand it to the talent scouts at the Mickey Mouse Club. They have a better track record than, say, the Portland Trail Blazers.

Timberlake won a slew of bling at the American Music Awards (and yes, this is a Miley Cyrus-free zone because we refuse to be manipulated). A highlight was comedian Sarah Silverman announcing that the award for Soul/R&B album and noting that it was between JT, “the son of the dad from ‘Growing Pains’, and Rihanna.”

After claiming the trophy, Timberlake noted that it was, as a son of Memphis, “the first time he’d ever been racially profiled by a white woman.”

Here he is performing “Drink You Away.” Lookee, a highly acclaimed musical performer who can play an instrument.

Also, I have nieces who occasionally read this blog, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t confess that I actually didn’t hate this performance by One Direction. Although, to be honest, it sounds as if they listened to Phillip Phillips’ “Home” once and then just retreated to their bedrooms and rewrote the lyrics.



The most misunderstood Carr since Tesla S? Derek has 32 TD passes, 4 INTs and averages 342.1 yards passing per game.


Kerfuffle Alert: The fearless Andy Staples does not rank 10-0 Fresno State in his latest AP ballot. You certainly can make the argument that 25 teams are better, sure, but could you also not make the argument that 8-3 Notre Dame (not on Andy’s ballot) might defeat, if they were to meet, hypothetically, 8-3 Southern California? I mean, if they were to play? The lesson here is that there are no air-tight defenses in anyone’s ballot (including mine) and that it’s important to remember that the AP poll has no actual effect on who meets in the BCS National Championship Game.

Actually, Jon Wilner ranking the Buckeyes (11-0) sixth should have garnered more Twitter attention.

Fresno State is 16th in the BCS Standings, but NIU is 14th. The higher-ranked non-AQ school will, unless one loses, be headed to a BCS bowl. The other one, not so much.


Andre Williams, Boston College, has 897 yards rushing in his past three games. That’s 299 yards rushing per game. Overall this season Williams has galloped for 2,073 yards, or 188 yards per game, which is 33 yards per game better than Arizona’s Kadeem Carey. Williams, who ran for a pedestrian 584 yards last season as a junior, is having a Heisman-worthy season. If not the man to take home the bust, he should at least be seated in that row when the award is announced. If Williams keeps pace at Syracuse, it’ll be at least the best rushing season since 2007. I’ll have to go further back to see the last time someone eclipsed 188 yards per game in a season.


The Winslow game also opened 24-0 (no photographers scuffled in the securing of this photograph).

New England 34, Denver 31 in overtime. So that was entertaining. Best AFC game that started out 24-0 in one team’s favor that I’ve seen since San Diego at Miami in 1982. The Chargers blew the lead in that one, but won in overtime. I can’t recall now whether or not Don Coryell took the wind.


Howard Stern once again demonstrates why he belongs on the short list of all-time great Letterman guests (alongside Bill Murray, Martin Short and Tom Hanks).


Enjoyed this skit on “Saturday Night Live.” This song will never die, nor should it.


I didn’t make this up. Cannot find the video, but former firestorm epicenter Eddie Vanderdoes, a 5-star defensive tackle prospect who withdrew from Notre Dame last spring, caught a pass on 4th down in the 4th quarter that went  for 18 yards for UCLA on Saturday. Former Irish wideout Shaq Evans caught the next two passes on the TD drive that brought UCLA within 38-33, but there the scoring ended.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING! Friday, November 22


Yes, it is gruesome. Horrible. Jackie remained in that pink dress the entire day, repeating, “I want them to see what they have done.”

1. The Crime of the Century

The original broadcast from Walter Cronkite on CBS News…An interesting footnote-to-history piece by the Fort Worth AP reporter Mike Cochran who, along with other reporters that afternoon, were pressed reluctantly into service as pallbearers at the funeral of Lee Harvey Oswald…. will live-stream the November 22, 1963 coverage provided by Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather and Bob Schieffer at the time beginning at 1:38 p.m. Eastern time today.

Oswald was interrogated for 12 hours by detectives and remarkably, was made available briefly to the media before this moment.

As CNN’s excellent documentary on the Kennedy assassination notes, Jack Ruby dropped off a payment to one of his strippers at Western Union just three minutes before he murdered Oswald. That would seem to suggest that Ruby’s act was impetuous, the act of a man with, excuse the wordplay, a hair-trigger temper. Friends and associates would say that this is exactly the type of man Ruby was.

Staubach, oddly enough, would rise to even greater fame in Dallas.


The cover of SI in the week following President Kennedy’s assassination and this two-page essay on the murdered head of state.

2. Infamous Jameis?

Assuming this is a Winston fan and not just someone who loves The Call.

Three questions-

1) Why does a woman, intoxicated or not, have consensual sex after 1 a.m. and then file a sexual battery police report at 4 a.m. that same morning?

2) Why does a police detective notify the attorney of a 19 year-old man that his client may soon be charged with sexual assault before those charges are ever leveled? And…

3) …How does that detective even know whom to contact related to the question posed in No. 2?

Our old pals Deadspin, not surprisingly, have been kicking ass on this story. Check out this and this.

As for the Tallahassee Democrat, editor-in-chief Bob Gabordi should know by now that thanks to the internet, nothing that is stated in print remains local any more unless it is bland and forgettable. This op-ed is certainly not.

3. Manson: Family?

Oh, those crazy murderously insane kids. She’s a 25 year-old who moved closer to a prison six years ago to be near the man she loved. He’s a 79 year-old lunatic who orchestrated the most grisly murders in the history of southern California. And now they’re engaged. Will the wedding song be “Helter Skelter?”

4. Taking Their Eyes off the Ball

The wind chill made it feel like minus-8 in Colorado Springs last night.

Our friend Tim Ring, the Sports Director at KTVK channel 3 in Phoenix, was watching UNLV at Air Force last night (don’t judge) when he noticed something that the ESPNU play-by-play announcer appeared not to: the Rebels, with a 27-0 lead in the first half, attempted an onside kick. Watch the video. The audio is fairly inaudible, but Ring is a professional and he posted the video onto YouTube, so I’m definitely going to take his word for it. Clearly by the number of views this video has received it seems apparent that the larger sports blog republic — The Big Lead, Awful Announcing, Deadspin, Lost Lettermen, etc. –have yet to discover this flub.

5. Nix’s Season Nixed


Irish Chocolate melts away.


Word out of South Bend late yesterday afternoon that Notre Dame nose guard Louis Nix III, alias “Irish Chocolate”, underwent surgery to correct a tear on his meniscus. Nix will miss the remainder of the season and has most likely played his final game for the Fighting Irish. The Florida native graduates in December, although he does have one year of eligibility remaining.

Nix will be remembered as an affable and outspoken (and outsized at 340-plus pounds) player at a program that has become increasingly guarded, year by year. Our favorite Irish Chocolate moment involves not defense nor even an actual game, but rather his William Perry tribute at last April’s Blue-Gold game. Why Brian Kelly never incorporated this play in the 2013 season, I’ll never know.


Hoping they had homeowner’s insurance.

Toledo’s breast cancer awareness unis.

When did college football uniforms cease being uniform?, one scribe wonders.


That Todd Helton can write. Oh, and pick off Cardinal leadoff hitters at first base with the old hidden-ball trick, too.


Where You Were: The Day JFK Died, Reported by Tom Brokaw

NBC 9 p.m.

The menu is wall-to-wall 50th anniversary memorials, but if I have to pick just one, I’ll listen to what NBC’s Brokaw has to say. If you absolutely must have sports, Navy visits San Jose State in football, which is noteworthy because the Spartans have the nation’s leading tackler, Keith Smith. Check him out.



IT’S ALL HAPPENING! Thursday, November 21


Maximilian Schell won Best Actor for this role in 1961, then was cryogenically frozen and returned as Michael in Thirtysomething.

1. Judgment at Nurembergahassee

Switched over to Turner Classic Movies last night, because there’s only so much MACtion one man can digest. Anyway, just as ESPN’s Mark Schlabach was reporting that Jameis Winston’s DNA was identical to that which was found on the complainant’s undergarment, Herr Rolfe (above) and others were arguing that justice, in this case punishing judges who sentenced innocent people to death in Nazi Germany, needed to take a back seat to an alliance between post-war Germany and the U.S.A. to deter the Communists from running amok in Western Europe.

Timely scene. Is Florida State’s superb quarterback innocent or guilty? Who knows? Are the people who are already taking sides in this case emoting in the name of justice or for the greater glory of the garnet and gold?

By the way, Schell kills it –KILLS IT — in this scene and, immediately preceding that,  in this scene. Master Thespian: “ACTING! Thank you.” (Oh, and yes, that’s Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” in the witness seat).

2. A-Rod Goes All In

Earlier this month at the final table of The World Series of Poker, on the final night, Jay Farber was trailing Ryan Riess and opted for a major bluff. Farber won the hand even though he went nearly all in with a 6-5, while Riess actually had the better hand (paires 7s). I was reminded of that moment yesterday when Alex Rodriguez stormed out of his MLB arbitration hearing and then proceeded directly to Mike Francesa’s radio booth, where he stated unequivocally and for the record that 1) he never used PEDs and 2) he never obstructed MLB’s investigation into Biogenesis.

Wow. Even Rob Ford was like, “Whoa, Alex, really?”

Anyway, we’ll see. Is A-Rod the most misunderstood and unfairly maligned superstar of our era, or did he just push in all his chips because what else does he have to lose? Worth noting: Farber won that hand, but Riess won the WSOP.

3. Camelot is a Long, Long Way from Carmelot

Superstar talent? Yes. Leader and good teammate? No. You’ve heard that before? Yes, because it’s true.

“Okay, Alex, now I’ll take ‘Pampered and Pretentious NYC Superstars for $400.'”

Moving directly from A-Rod to Carmelo Anthony is like going from vanilla to off-white. The New York Knicks lost again last night, at home to the Indiana Pacers. No shame in losing to the Pacers, who are now 10-1, but this is a team that doesn’t like one another and is less deft with chemistry than Todd from “Breaking Bad.”

The Knickerbockers have the league’s highest payroll and its third-worst record (tied with the KevinGar Nets at 3-8, in fact). They’ve lost six in a row at the Garden. Isn’t it unfair to pin it all on Anthony, who after all is NYK’s leading scorer AND rebounder? Isn’t it?


Because Carmelo is and always has been a joy-suck. He’s the dude at your rec league gym who wants his shots and only passes to  you when he’s triple-teamed and even then there’s a snarl on his face when he does so. Sure, he’s the best player on the court most of the time. But you don’t enjoy playing with that guy.

4. Me, My Selfie and I

Just thank me for not re-posting the Geraldo Rivera pic.

Yes, “selfie” has been designate as the “Word of the Year” by the Oxford Dictionary. As long as it isn’t “twerking” or “schmedium”, I’m cool with that.

5. “I Read the News Today, Oh Boy…”

Worth the 66 seconds you’ll give it. A photo essay of people reacting to the news that President Kennedy had been assassinated.


Rutgers at Central Florida

ESPN 8 p.m.

“A pivotal American Athletic Conference blather blather blather…” In honor of the Scarlet Knights versus the Golden Knights –and homonyms –my favorite night songs: “Night Moves”, “Remember the Nights”, “Dance the Night Away”, “Let’s Spend the Night Together”, “Spirit in the Night” and “Knights in White Satin”, which would be a cool uniform move for either of these teams to try in tribute to the Moody Blues.


Quick Thoughts on the Jameis Winston Situation


The story filed by’s Mark Schlabach late Wednesday evening casts the Jameis Winston alleged sexual assault situation in an entirely new light. As Schlabach writes in his report, the chances of the DNA found in the complainants’ underwear belonging to someone other than Jameis Winston are one in 2.2 trillion. Just a reminder that there are approximately 7 billion people on earth, which is about one/270th of 2.2 trillion. In other words, it’s his. So what does that mean?

— It is not at all unreasonable to presume that Winston and the complainant were in sexual contact on the date in question, December 7, 2012. While that may not be a 100% certainty, it is in no way outlandish to presume that. This may seem overtly self-evident, but it’s important to note the wiggle room between beyond a reasonable doubt and 100% sure in terms of this new revelation and the probability of a sexual act.

The past few days have wiped the smile off the heretofore irrepressible FSU quarterback’s face.

— The next step for Winston, if his attorney, Tim Jansen, consents that he speak with investigators is to tell them that this was consensual sex. The next step for investigators is to attempt to speak with Winston and also with his roommate, whom I presume was also a freshman football player. The complainant alleges that he witnessed the attack.

–As state attorney for the 2nd Judicial Court William Meggs told Schlabach, “There are two kinds of evidence,  testimonial and physical.” They’ve got the physical evidence they need to make this a case worth pursuing further. Testimonial evidence, i.e. the interview with Winston’s roommate, will provide the next piece to the puzzle.

–As comedian Louis C.K. would say, “Of course, OF COURSE….” justice is the paramount value here. Justice for both Winston and for the accuser. Of course. What that is, at the moment, is too soon to know. What I do know is that Seminole fans who want to question the timing of newspapers seeking police reports for an “open and inactive” case nearly a year after the alleged crime occurred are now, by dint of that new piece of evidence, missing the point entirely.

–Again, Seminole fans will be quick to point out that the complainant originally identified her alleged assailant as being five-foot-ten or thereabouts. Winston is six-foot-four. And again, the DNA evidence trumps her poor sense of evaluating height. It trumps her eyewitness description. It’s there. On the underwear. That trumps everything.

–Whatever agenda anyone may believe the complainant and her family have, or the Tampa Bay Times has, or even Detective Scott Angulo and the Tallahassee Police Dept. may have, is entirely irrelevant. Entirely. There is DNA matching Winston’s on the woman’s underwear, underwear that was turned over to investigators within 24 hours of the alleged incident. That fact trumps perceived agendas.

–It’s too soon, at least for me, to scapegoat Angulo and the TPD. There’s a very good chance that a compassionate detective might have advised the complainant and her attorney what pursuing such charges going forward might involve. You can portray his words as a threat, as the complainant’s attorney and today’s stories have, or you can portray them as avuncular advice. I don’t know–yet. I’m willing to give Angulo and the TPD the benefit of the doubt for now.

–Winston met with football media on Wednesday who were told that questions about the case were off-limits (if only T.J. Simers attended Florida State pressers). This, of course, was before news of the DNA evidence had leaked. A subdued but sincere Winston told reporters, “I don’t want to lose any (Heisman) voters.”

–But now Winston likely has lost them, at least lost enough of them to lose this race (again, I return to Louis C.K., “Of course, OF COURSE that is not what is paramount here…”). Unless a new piece of information comes out in the coming days -and it certainly could –that leads us to question the character or the emotional stability of the complainant, or if some revelatory information about her or about their relationship comes to light, most Heisman voters will back off. Remember, Manti Te’o finished second in the Heisman voting last December and THEN we all found out about Lennay Kekua and voters expressed remorse about having put the Notre Dame linebacker on their ballots. Te’o’s darkest crime was pulling a “Lars and the Real Girl” on the college football cognoscenti. This would be far worse, if true.

–From reading Schlabach’s piece and from watching SportsCenter, it sounds as if a judgment as to whether to arrest Winston and charge him with a felony or to dismiss the charges would probably happen within a week or two. Before the Florida game on November 30? Perhaps not. Before the ACC Championship Game the following Saturday? Probably.

–I spoke with Brett McMurphy, also of, for my podcast, The Grotto, earlier on Wednesday. Again, before the DNA news. Still, Brett broached a salient point (“Of course, OF COURSE…!”) and that is this: in 2013, the final year of the BCS, the top two teams in the BCS Standings advance to the BCS Championship Game. With or without the redshirt freshman quarterback from Bessemer, Ala. the Seminoles would be headed to Pasadena if they finish No. 1 or No. 2 in the BCS Standings, which they most certainly will if they win out…which they most certainly will do.

HOWEVER, next year a human panel will decide which four teams advance. And this is where a committee could decide, if Winston were to be suspended from the team indefinitely, that a Seminole team without a true quarterback is no longer one of the four best teams in the country. Kind of how Cincinnati went from No. 1 in the nation to an NCAA tourney No. 2 seed once the Bearcats lost their star, Kenyon Martin. Interesting wrinkle, and just something to consider.

–Finally, the Winston story is just one more example of what a long and bizarre journey just a single college football season can be. Back on Labor Day weekend the only two players on everyone’s lips were Johnny Manziel and Jadeveon Clowney. Then Winston, who to be fair was well-known as a prodigy, was brilliant in his college debut in prime-time at Pittsburgh. Not only was he a superior athlete and a precocious quarterback, but his charisma was immediately apparent. And that poise was only magnified after the Clemson beat down. Talking to the ESPN crew afterward, Winston was humble, passionate, engaged and joyful. Impossible not to like.

And he very well may be that same person. Or he may be that same person who committed an ugly crime. Time will tell. But this affair is not about to subside any time soon. This isn’t about signing helmets and footballs in a hotel room in Connecticut. This is a felony. Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.



IT’S ALL HAPPENING! Wednesday, November 20


Ronaldo demands a recount of People magazines’s “Sexiest Man Alive” ballots.

1. Samba! Samba! Samba!

He could be SI‘s “Sportsman of the Year.” He should be People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” (no offense, Adam; I like the “Payphone” song).

Cristiano Ronaldo.

Last night in Stockholm the Portuguese striker scored a hat trick, the 26th of his magnificent career, to advance Portugal into the 2014 World Cup with a victory against Sweden. All three of Ronaldo’s goals came via his feet, which is somewhat unusual since he is renowned for his headers. All three of the goals were also marvelous feats, the type that the ordinary pro is incapable of scoring, at least with any consistency.

In the two-match series, the Real Madrid superstar scored all four of his country’s goals (by contrast, his superstar Real Madrid teammate, Gareth Bale, will not play in the WC since he is a native of Wales, which did not advance.)

Watch the video here and tell me that you don’t want to listen next summer’s World Cup broadcast entirely in Portuguese.

2. Time To Retire?

The Peter Pan of hoops may finally step aside, just as Kobe gets set to return.

Laker point guard Steve Nash, who has battled lower back problems for at least a half-decade, is contemplating a mid-season retirement, according to Peter Vecsey. Here’s hoping he does.

The Santa Clara alum, who turns 40 in February, is the NBA’s oldest active player. The two-time NBA MVP’s skills have markedly diminished since he headed west on Interstate 10 from the Valley of the Sun to the Valley of the Dolls. Last season Nash averaged just 6.7 assist per game, far below his career average of 8.8 He’s currently No. 4 on the all-time list and needs just 56 assists to tie Mark Jackson at No. 3 (John Stockton and Nash’s former teammate, Jason Kidd, if you were wondering).

How many two-time NBA MVPs have fallen short of capturing an NBA championship? Only two, Nash and Karl Malone. Which, of course, makes Nash the only two-time league MVP to never appear in the NBA Finals.

The Mailman also won two league MVPs and also ended his career, ring-less, with the Lakers.

For those who consider the Canadian native (who was born in South Africa) unworthy of two MVP trophies, consider that in league history, only 10 times has a player achieved a season-long 50-40-90. That is, shooting 50% from the field, 40% from beyond the three-point line, and 90% from the free throw line. It has only been done 10 times.

Kevin Durant did it last season.

Larry Bird did it twice.

Steve Nash has done if FOUR times. Four.

Besides, Nash dreamt up and directed this video.

3. On Grinnell

David Arsenault, Sr….

Gregg Doyel of wrote this “takedown”, as the kids call it, of Grinnell coach David Arsenault (and David Arsenault, Sr., I presume). Gregg was unaware that he was speaking to Arsenault’s son –same name, and now he basically coaches the team –and not the architect of the system, as well as the author of “The System”, while he was conducting the interview (hence the Editor’s Note in this later edition).

I’m somewhat amused by the reaction this article has received on Twitter (almost universally in favor of Doyel, and by media members I greatly respect, one of whom is Gregg). Maybe I’m wrong. I’ll be the first to admit that having met and spent 24 hours with both Arsenault men that I came away a huge admirer. Perhaps I am biased. As someone who has coached girls high school hoops, I love that he found an innovative way to legally manipulate the game.

…and David Arsenault, Jr. (It helps to know who you’re talking to before you assassinate their character in print)

Here’s the thing. Go Mad Libs on that story. For every place you see “Grinnell” replace the name with either “Florida State” or “Alabama”. Everywhere you see Arsenault, replace it with “Fisher” or “Saban.” Everywhere you see “Crossroads”, replace that with either “Idaho” or “Chattanooga.”

Same story, no?

Oh, but Grinnell blasphemed the game of basketball by intentionally trying to get one of its players as many points as possible. There are 406 teams in Division III. Most schools outside of Grinnell’s conference refuse to play Grinnell, schools that are competitive with the Pioneers (and even better) because to play Grinnell means that you must prepare your team for an entirely different type of game and who wants that headache? It’s the same reason that most FBS schools are loathe to schedule Navy (and why Notre Dame would probably end the series if it wouldn’t bring so much negative attention; I imagine Gregg would have something to say about that, too).

Grinnell is kind of like a Boise State of D-3 hoops. Definitely not as successful, but take a look at how well Arsenault’s predecessors did at the tiny Iowa school. I’m sure the administration isn’t complaining.

As for the insinuation that Arsenault is using the hype to sell his book…I’m sure that, like any author, Arsenault, Sr., would love for as many people to buy his book as possible. But I’m also sure –and as Gregg NEVER actually talked to the man whom he attacked in print (speaking to his son, instead) — that Arsenault believes in the style of play that he has created and wants to be an evangelist for it. If Gregg were to look more closely he’d see that Grinnell targets different types of records in a game pretty much every year. One year a player (the one Gregg actually spoke to, David Arsneault, Jr.) set a record for most assists in a game. Another year every single player on the roster, somewhere north of 15, hit at least one three-pointer in a game.

Again, I’m amused. In a week when the two most dominant football teams in the nation are playing de-fanged bunnies in their own backyard (because those leviathan powers invited said bunnies in return for a paycheck), the media is going to get righteously indignant about a school of 1,700 in BFE, Iowa, doing the same thing. Except doing it better.

And as for being mercenary about the book, how many times yesterday did Mr. Doyel tweet about this column (at least twice) or about his radio appearance? Those tweets are designed to generate clicks, which go a long way toward Gregg’s job security.

A few of Grinnell’s other records that Gregg neglected to mention:

Highest Points Per Game Average In One Season:

Steve Diekmann, 37.3 PPG  in 1995

Most Three Point Fields Goals in One Season:

Jeff Clement, 186 in 1998

Most Assists in One Game:

David Arsenault, 34 in 2007

Grinnell should be ashamed of itself.

(Oh, and I wrote this commentary pro bono, without anyone lobbying me or paying me to do so, in case any college hoops media out there are wondering. I make my real money on retainer from Dan Snyder, who pays me to convince people that the sky is green)

4. Toughest Mudders

Tough Mudder: Not as fun as it looks.

A Canadian, Ryan Atkins, won last weekend’s 24-hour World’s Toughest Mudder in Englishtown, N.J. You can read his blog entry about his experience here. On the distaff side, 44 year-old HIV-positive Deanna Blegg of Australia was the top female finisher and placed 5th overall. Here’s an interview with Blegg about the many obstacles that she continues to overcome.

5. Elon Musk is NOT Happy

Elon Musk: He’s smarter than we are.

In the past year Elon Musk’s Tesla Model S electric car has received the HIGHEST safety ratings that both Consumer Reports and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have ever bestowed on a vehicle.

The highest. Ev-ah.

And then two Tesla S cars catch fire (one, curiously, with a camera recording the entire incident). Nobody dies. But the stock plunges from $192 per share to its current price of about $125. (Full disclosure: I do NOT own stock in Tesla. I used to, but no longer do. So, yes, I’m part of the problem, Elon.)

According to the NHTSA, there are 152,000 vehicle fires on average involving internal combustion engines. Tesla, so far? Two. Not two thousand. Two.

Just imagine that you are an investor who notices that TSLA stock has shot up nearly 500% this year. Do you know how much money you could make by purchasing a Tesla ($61,000), then shorting TSLA stock, then starting and filming a vehicle fire involving a Tesla, and then tweeting about it? Did that happen? I don’t know. But it’s an easy way to make a lot of money.

You can read Musk’s irritation in this wonderfully sardonic comment about the safety of his vehicle: “”It is literally impossible for another car to have a better safety track record, as it would have to possess mystical powers of healing.”

Kudos to Rocco Pendola of “The Street”, who took both himself and other financial media to task for their about-face on Musk in recent months. The ol’ prop-em-up, tear-em-down two-step.


Interesting story here by Mike Hlas on the Notre Dame-Iowa game that was canceled on November 23, 1963 for obvious reasons. The Irish did meet Syracuse at Yankee Stadium the following weekend and got their tails kicked, the exclamation mark on a woeful 2-8 season (curiously, their only victories came against USC and UCLA on consecutive Saturdays) that augured the era of Ara.

Dallas at Cleveland, November 24, 1963.

The NFL did play that weekend. The Dallas Cowboys, for Chrissake, played that weekend. I imagine Twitter might have had a word or two of opinion about that.


I imagine you’ve seen this, but Zombie is the new Black.


Regarding yesterday’s Twitter feud, I recall my old colleague and good friend at the time, Albert Kim, relating a story about how Richard Marx once defended himself in print to Entertainment Weekly by writing the magazine a letter and correcting them by stating, “I have only written TWO over-the-top power ballads.”

(I may not have the quote verbatim, but I think you get the point).

Which is to say, I won’t bother to defend myself. I’ll let the work I do here, that I do without payment but rather because writers write, be my argument.

Remote Patrol

No. 16 Northern Illinois at Toledo

ESPN2 8 p.m.

Lights. Camera. MACtion! The Huskies are 10-0, Jordan Lynch is a Heisman Trophy outlier, and every one-loss team in an AQ conference is rooting for the Rockets (don’t bother: Fresno State’s not going to lose). I like Toledo in this one. The Rockets’ three losses were at Florida, Missouri and by a TD at Ball State. They’ve taken down Navy and last week, at home, a fantastic Buffalo team.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING! Tuesday, November 19


Winston-Salem QB Rudy Johnson discusses his assault yesterday.

1. Shame

A Friday luncheon on the eve of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) championship game between Virginia State (9-1) and Winston-Salem State (9-1). All that is known for sure is that WSSU quarterback Rudy Johnson went to use the men’s room and emerged later with a black eye and abrasions. Johnson claims that he was sucker-punched as he was washing his hands by a Virginia State player and that after he fell to the floor as many as four or five VSU players kicked him before two teammates emerged from the stalls (I don’t even want to think about that) and chased them off.

One Virginia State player, running back Lamont Daniel Britt, has been charged with misdemeanor assault.

The game was canceled. The CIAA is the nation’s oldest historically African-American conference, having been started in 1912.

We’ve had college football games this season canceled due to flooding and player boycotts, but assault? That’s a first.

Winston-Salem is the alma mater of Screamin’ A. Smith, so of course he weighed in.

More disturbing? The fact that VSU coach Latrell Scott said that “we had one young man who made a bad decision, as young men sometimes do” and that a few parents of VSU players actually appeared more upset that the game was canceled than that a few players committed an assault.

Here’s Johnson’s version of how the incident transpired. Was there more to it? We’ll see. If this was an unprovoked attack, though, Virginia State’s program should be sanctioned severely. Winston Salem will play in the first round of the Division II playoffs this weekend.

2. Ark de Triumph?

You call it “Noah.” I call it the ultimate prequel to “Master and Commander.”

Russell Crowe IS Noah, the titular character in a period film (that link is to the trailer) in which he does not sing. So it has that going for it. The movie also stars Jennifer Connelly as his wife, because whenever you cast Crowe as a batshit-crazy lead whose wack ideas render him a pariah, then Connelly is your go-to spouse. I imagine Paul Bettany plays the voice of God? The movie, directed by Darren Anofsky (who is often harassed by loyal MH reader A.J. when he attempts to take his family out for breakfast in Brooklyn), is set for a March 27, 2014 release. Unless the world ends first.

3. Diver Down

Mevoli surfacing after a dive on Friday, two days before his fatal plunge.

Freediver Nicholas Mevoli of Brooklyn died on Sunday while competing in a tournament off the coast of the Bahamas. Mevoli, 32, from the Williamsburg section, dove to a depth of 71 meters (233 feet) with no fins (and, of course, no oxygen tank) and then returned to the surface, whereupon he collapsed. Mevoli, a national record holder in monofin diving who had only embraced the sport competitively a little over a year ago, had held his breath for 3:38.

Blood was flowing from Mevoli’s mouth –he often spit up blood after competitive dives, a result of tearing in his lungs –soon after he collapsed at Dean’s Blue Hole, an underwater sink hole that measures more than 600 feet in depth and is a mecca for competitive divers. Mevoli had dived to a depth of 68 meters, then stopped as if to begin his ascent, before continuing on for the final three meters that were his quest before beginning his return to the surface. Whether or not that decision cost him his life, heaven knows.

4. “I’ll Have the Iceberg Wedge”

Locals took the news of the iceberg split well. Yes, they are sanguine penguins.

An iceberg that scientists say is the size of Chicago (the city, not the band) has split from the Pine Island Glacier on Antarctica. Scientists cite global warming as the cause, but I am going with “artistic differences.”

To repeat, scientists say that the iceberg is about the size of Chicago or Singapore. You can imagine that scientists first yearned to say that it was the size of Delaware, the universal standard of measurement for objects of this scale, but were disappointed to learn that it was not.

Also on the matter of icebergs, I must give a shout-out to Tina Fey, who notes in her book “Bossypants” that Jack Dawson (Leo) might have survived if Rose (Kate Winslet) had not jumped off the lifeboat. Why? Because he could have rested atop the headboard solo, thereby not freezing to death.

The iceberg was later boarded by Somali pirates, who are now holding it captive.

Finally, there is also a rogue iceberg that scientists describe as being more than twice the size of Manhattan (the island, not the Woody Allen film) is drifting toward the western coast of Australia. It will likely cleave into numerous smaller icebergs, and potential blockbuster films, in the coming months.

5. “You Don’t Exactly Have to Be Scotland Yard…”

Richards, left, stands 7-3. Imagine how long it took to arrange that police lineup.

Yesterday accused serial killer Joanna Dennehy stunned the Old Bailey in London, and her defense attorney, by pleading guilty to the murder of three men in England. Dennehy’s reason for entering the plea? Inconvenience.

“I’m not coming back down here again just to say the same stuff,” Dennehy, 30, interrupted when her counsel tried to intervene. “It’s a long way to come here to say the same thing that I have just said.”

Dennehy’s co-defendant and boyfriend, Gary Richards, 47, pleaded not guilty.

The couple really should have considered another line of work. They don’t exactly blend into the crowd. Dennehy sports a green star tattoo on her right cheek (the right cheek on her face, that is), while Richards, who also goes by the sobriquet Gary Stretch, stands seven-foot-three. The Knicks will read this item and attempt to sign him.


But did you ever ride the No. 22 Camelback Road bus home from school?


ESPN sideline reporter Samantha Steele Ponder, who attended the high school directly across the canal from mine (about a generation later, but who’s counting?) pens a piece that I think was about Twitter-bullying. There are 61 comments on the piece, all of them positive, reacting most viscerally and positively to SSP’s line, “We let broken people tell us how broken we are.”

And so of course if I dare to be contrarian on this then I’m simply the middle-aged curmudgeon who always finds a dark side (“Maybe you are”… “Maybe I am”).

Here’s my problem. Like it or not, Mrs. Ponder, you’re the prom queen who married the starting quarterback. You are 25 years old and you recently scolded a sportswriter (not me) on Twitter for reporting that your $1 million home was on the market by writing, “We haven’t lived in that house since June…”

Oh. Your point is that the home’s availability has nothing to do with your husband’s job stability with the Minnesota Vikings? Got it. But it may behoove you to realize that few people, especially 25 year-olds, reside in $1 million homes. And that even fewer engage in public feuds about it.

In her piece Ponder, who attended college in New York City for a few years before transferring to Liberty University in Virginia, writes, “For reasons I still don’t fully understand, I was able to experience relative career success at a very early age.”

Is that true? You don’t fully understand why you are in the position you are in? My guess is that you are good at your job and that male producers at Fox and later ESPN found you, how to put this diplomatically, extremely telegenic. That’s no sin. That’s the nature of your position.


So while you are correct that the strangers who assess your features on Twitter are creepy and (while you didn’t add this, it’s true) also craven, you have chosen a career in which your physical features play a role in the job that you have. This is the part where I’m a misogynist for even suggesting that anything other than journalistic expertise and good on-air presence had to do with you having this position at this age, followed shortly by half the audience who hears that rebuttal making a wanking gesture.

Let’s be clear: Ponder is a perfect fit for her sideline reporting job. She’s’ terrific in that role.

Did Mrs. Ponder express any thought that is untrue? No, not exactly. I’m just not sure what the larger message for the rest of us who are not young, beautiful, successful and financially stable was supposed to be. Or why someone who is all those things would take to a public forum to ask, “Why do people have to be mean?”

People –okay, men — can be jerks. People –okay, men again — may transfer their own insecurities or frustrations onto someone such as yourself and Twitter is the one forum in which they may actually reach out and touch you in a negative fashion. That sucks, because it’s something the rest of us don’t have to deal with.

On the other hand, you have a far greater number of followers on Twitter who reach out and tell you how much they love you, how wonderful you are at your job, how lovely you are, how much you inspire them or their daughters. That’s something that most people never receive. So maybe, like most professionals in your position –ask the seasoned ones — you recognize how blessed you are and decide that maybe this post comes off more like whining cleverly disguised (perhaps disguised so well that not even you recognize it) as a self-empowerment message for all, particularly women.

Bono, like Ponder, is outspoken in his Christian faith.

In the end I think it was the musician Paul Hewson (you know him as Bono) who 20 years ago said it much more succinctly and made the same point: “Don’t let the bastards get you down.”

Did anything else really need to be said?

IT’S ALL HAPPENING! Monday, November 18


Ricardo Louis snatches victory out of thin air.

1. The Immaculate Deflection

Reasons why Ricardo Louis’ game-winning touchdown catch in the Auburn-Georgia game belongs right up there with Doug Flutie’s miracle in Miami and Kordell Stewart’s heave in Ann Arbor:

–It came on 4th-and-18 from Auburn’s own 27 with just :25 remaining.

–Georgia had scored its own go-ahead touchdown on a gutsy 4th-and-goal-from-the-five-tuck-and-run charge by quarterback Aaron Murray, capping a fourth-quarter comeback in which the Bulldogs had erased a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit.

–The fact that the post route was underthrown by Nick Marshall, a Georgia native and former Dawg, so that not one but two Dawgs had a chance to either bat it down or intercept it. In fact, if that pigskin never touches the hands of Georgia safety Josh Harvey-Clemons, it falls harmlessly to the turf. Instead, Harvey-Clemons inadvertently acted as a libero, setting the ball and sending it on a parabolic arc over Louis’ helmet and onto his fingertips.

–Tradition. Two old rivals (Auburn now leads the series 55-54-8) whose history extends across three centuries who were clad in their classic uniforms.

–Grief. Watch as the Georgia coaches react to Louis’ unlikely catch.

Auburn covered, smothered, scattered, chunked and topped Georgia on Saturday afternoon

Waffle House. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn and his wife have a tradition extending back to his high school days that they visit a Waffle House after a W (which is why he’ll never coach in the Pac-12). After Saturday’s miracle, Malzahn said, “This is definitely a Waffle House night.” (For the record, this couple was not the Malzahns).

–The Iron Bowl. Auburn now has a full fortnight to bask in the victory, roll Toomer’s Corner (oops, sore subject) and prepare for a visit from the No. 1 team in the nation. And at 10-1, the War Damn Eagles could win the SEC West while also spoiling Nick Saban’s plans for global hegemony. Can you think of a better way to spoil Harvey Updyke’s Thanksgiving weekend?

2. Thumbs Up On Your Lawn Ornament

“A bird on your land…

It’s the classic tale of cuckolded husband, except that said husband owns three strip clubs, purchases the lakefront home adjacent to the one in which his ex-wife and her new guy reside, and has a fertile, if crass, imagination when it comes to holding a grudge. This all happened in Orchard Lake, a leafy suburb of Detroit, and leaves me to wonder how come Hung never had plotlines this funny.

…. is worth two in the bush.” Ex-wife Lea (left) and stepdaughter (Lenka).

Alan Markovitz, 59, reportedly spent $7,000 on the 12-foot statue, which is lit by a spotlight in the evenings. He also says of his ex-wife, Lea Tuohy (who did not adopt Michael Oher), “I’m totally over her.”

Well, of course.

3. Death in Mexico

Caselli: Off-road, and possibly off rodent.

The annual Baja 1,000 is a legendary 1,000-mile (as the name suggests) off-road race that snakes through the Mexican peninsula and has a huge underground following (read: my brother…and a few others). All types of vehicles enter. On Friday Kurt Caselli, 30, who was leading the motorcycle division of the trek nearly 800 miles in, crashed and was killed.

Initially it was reported that locals had booby-trapped a spot on the course, instigating the fatal crash, but that report has since been quashed. An updated statement from Caselli’s team suggests that Caselli may have struck a small animal, which led to the fatal crash.

4. USC Puts on Its  “O” Face

Coach O: If he was good enough for Leann Tuohy (no relation to Alan Markovitz)….

Highlights of Southern Cal’s 20-17 upset of No. 4 Stanford at the Coliseum: College Gameday’s Tom Rinaldi, during  a live segment that ran before 8 a.m. local time, inviting Trojan interim coach Ed Orgeron to do an impression of one of his own players doing an impression of him…Lee Corso, who is now 21-0 picking games that involve USC and head gear, absorbing a minor flesh wound after jousting with Herbie…Stanford, on its opening drive, calling two timeouts followed by Ty Montgomery letting a 40-yard completion fall through his hands…Tyler Gaffney’s touchdown run, another lesson in never whistling a Card run play dead too soon…Brent nonchalantly informing us that he was headed to Las Vegas the following day (maybe he had to see a guy about a thing?)…the referees measuring a third-and-short, the cameras clearly illustrating that the Cardinal are an inch short, and the zebras giving the Cardinal the first down anyway. Herbie: “Can we rewind that?” (no, we couldn’t, apparently; the truck never did)…Nelson Agholor’s second-effort drive to move the sticks on third down. Showed more want-to than most Card players did all night…Coach O, who had hand-written each Trojan band member a letter of thanks (See? He can spell) recently (onus now on you, every other FBS coach), leading said band using Tommy Trojan’s sword as his baton after the game. Take that, Mike Leach.

Why would USC want to do anything to replicate a scene such as this?

Should USC keep Orgeron? Why not? The players already believe in him –that’s half the job right there — and the fans love him. The Coliseum welcomed 92,000 on Saturday evening, as opposed to last month when media members were sending TwitPics of a nearly empty Mausoleum 20 minutes before kickoff of the Utah game.

Is Kevin Sumlin that superior? How many games has he won in College Station minus Johnny Football and why isn’t his defense better?

USC athletic director Pat Haden is a smart man, a decent man. But a smart man. My feeling is that if USC runs the table, beats UCLA, that he’ll reward Coach O with at least a short-term (three-year?) contract. What Coach O’s detractors, who point out his Ole Miss record (10-26),undersell is the effort a man gives when life gives him a second chance. Also, Haden may be thinking that his football team may not be best-served by a third father figure in six months.

USC will always have talent, and soon it will also have depth. And it’s built on the Alabama/Stanford model of pro-set offense, power running, and superior defensive specimens. No one is asking Coach O to put an even newer spin on the read option here.

I’d keep Coach O. And bask in the good karma.

5. Jack’s Back

Taylor, at five-foot-ten, should become the first college player to eclipse 100 points in a game who will not be drafted by an NBA team.

Division III Grinnell College, the program that eschews hoops orthodoxy, is back at it. Last  weekend Jack Taylor, whom you may remember scored 138 points in a game last November, went for 109 in a 173-123 win versus Crossroads College. Taylor went 24 for 48 from beyond the arc, and if you think Grinnell unapologetically chased a century club game for Taylor if for no other reasons than 1) to keep the players interested and 2) garner media attention via items such as this, you’d be correct.

Taylor, a five-foot-ten guard from Black River Falls, Wisc., now holds at least two NCAA basketball records: Most Points In One Game (138), and Most Times Scoring More Than 100 points in a game (2).

The six-foot-nine Francis was drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors in 1956, but never played for them. The Warriors would later nurture their own 100-point scorer.

In case you are wondering, Clarence “Bevo” Francis (113, for Rio Grande College) and Frank Selvy (100, Furman College) are the only other two college players in the Century Club.


Boston College running back Andre Williams, the nation’s leading rusher and here’s why, gallops for 339 yards in a win versus N.C. State. The senior is now averaging 181 yards per game after gaining 634 yards in his past two games. You may want to start mentioning Williams along with Johnny Football, Jameis, A.J. and Marcus.

Andre Williams, 181 rushing yards per game. Mark Ingram in his Heisman 2009 season: 118. Reggie Bush in his Heisman season: 133 (although Bush had 222 all-purpose yards per game). Ron Dayne, 169.5 yards per game his ’99 Heisman season. Texas’ Ricky Williams averaged 193.9 when he earned the Heisman in ’98.

The interesting aspect about Williams: He has already rushed for more yards in this, his senior season (1,810), than he did in his previous three years at B.C. combined (1,542).  Which explains why he was on nobody’s Heisman radar.

Cartel does not have the nickname OPEC, though I’m all for it.

Meanwhile in Division III, Cartel Brooks of Heidelberg (John Buccigross’ alma mater) gains an NCAA-record 465 yards on just 38 carries in a 41-14 win versus Baldwin-Wallace. You’ll also enjoy learning that the school, located in Tiffin, Ohio, has as its mascot name The Student Princes. The five-foot-nine Brooks is from Kokomo, Ind., which was ravaged by yesterday’s tornadoes.


Passmore, right, seconds before the wipeout.

Here’s video of Kirk Passmore’s final wave. His father wants as many people as possible to see this ride.


Worth investigating: The Auburn scorekeeper. Just before halftime Georgia attempted a pass into the end zone. The ball hit the turf with :02 remaining. The scorekeeper at Jordan-Hare Stadium allowed the clock to run to :01, stopped it, then after a beat of about two seconds, ticked off the final second: :00. Fortunately for the Dawgs, the zebras on the field overruled him. UGA lined up for and made a field goal.


Sportsmen of the Year?

All-Blacks: My under-the-radar choice for SI’s Sportsman of the Year.

In rugby news –because you asked — the New Zealand All-Blacks won their 13th consecutive match without a defeat this year versus England at Twickenham. The Kiwis take on Ireland this weekend in Dublin, and if they win would become the first national rugby squad to go undefeated since international professional play began in 1995.

Minor victory for the Brits: the fans at Twickenham broke into a roaring version of “Swing Low” during the Kiwis’ pregame Haka dance, rendering it inaudible.


Niagara Fall

Rule No. 1, people. Rule No. 1.

Check out the top left corner of your screen. This Bills fans thought it might be a good idea to slide down the rail. Luckily for him, he survived. Beer + railings + gravity = stadium deaths.

Remote Patrol

Patriots at Panthers

ESPN 8:30 p.m.

GQ looks and a superstar’s resume and talent. Can Cam become the next Tom Brady?

It’s been a few years since Cam Newton won the Heisman Trophy, a national title and we were discussing a “bag man”, but tonight will be his national coming-out party as a pro. Keep an eye on superb Panther second-year linebacker Luke Kuechly as well.