AD’s year in review

Thanks for dropping by this week and checking out our year-in-review posts, interspersed with our usual coverage, and thanks to Brendan for a great idea.

Top Sports Moments of 2011

The scoreboard in left field.

If you’re looking for an official or objective list of the top stories of the year, I suggest you go elsewhere. What I like about our year-in-review features is that we’ve written about the stories, albums, and events that were most interesting or important to us, and, as will be immediately obvious, I’m going to follow suit.

1. Detroit Tigers playoff push

The Tigers obviously didn’t make it as far as they did in 2006, but this year was like that year in that Detroit beat the Yankees along the way. What was different about 2011, for me, was that I was a) living in Michigan, and b) writing and tweeting for a sports blog during much of the season. Both of these things measurably enhanced my experience of and connection to this year’s team, its successes, personalities, and volatility. It also was the first time in a few years that I was able to attend a game. I spilled much digital ink on this team in these virtual pages, and the posts are easy enough to find so I’ll spare you any detailed recap, except to say that, a few months later, I am able to appreciate the way the wheels came off as a suitable ending to a dramatic (by Detroit standards) season.

2. Vanderbilt’s football season

I didn’t put the Lions’ season on my list under the rationale that it still is ongoing, so this selection is cheating a little bit, but the college football regular season is over, so I’m running with it. I’ll hit on some of the high points in my Liberty Bowl preview that will go up later today, but first-year head coach James Franklin appears to have changed the culture at Vandy even faster than Jim Schwartz has in Detroit, tripling the win total with essentially the same players. As successful as he was on the field (I’ll always maintain that they were three plays away from a 9-3 record), Franklin may be even more successful on the recruiting trail. He already nabbed a Virginia quarterback recruit away from Virginia Tech, and he took a five-star QB recruit to the wire against LSU and Notre Dame. Next year looks even more promising, when Warren Norman is scheduled to return to the backfield alongside 2011 success stories Zac Stacy and starting QB Jordan Rodgers. 2012 will look even better if the Commodores can win the Liberty Bowl and finish this year 7-6.

3. Misbehaving College Coaches

This was a great year for teams I like– Spartans, Commodores, Tigers, Lions, and Red Wings– and it was a great year for sports writing, with the launch of Grantland, OutKick the Coverage, and The Classical, but like Magalan felt compelled to remark upon the marathon record-setter, I feel compelled to mention the names Jerry Sandusky, Jim Tressel, and Bruce Pearl. Sandusky is in a terrible league of his own, and I already have written here about Tressel and Pearl. Sparing the hand-wringing, defending, and analyzing, what I’ll say in the context of the posture of this post is that it is a welcome development that the NCAA is punishing coaches individually for the violations they commit or otherwise oversee. I hope the days of slippery escape artists like John Calipari, Pete Carroll, and Lane Kiffin are over.

Top Albums of 2011

Creating this list was a bit more difficult, not because I don’t like or know about music, but because I’m not quite as hip-to-the-modern-scene as many of my co-writers here. (See, for example, my punt on Amy Winehouse earlier.) Resort to a list of 2011 releases from a trusted source, something I suspect a lot of people writing bits like this do, was unavailing. That list jogged my memory on one album, Gregg Allman’s Low Country Blues, that Bdoyk actually tipped me off to initially. It didn’t make my list though, even though I had to cheat a little as you’ll see, because I didn’t think it was anything special. I liked it, but I don’t think it deserves to be one of the three best albums of 2011, even if I can’t come up with three.

1. Revelator – Tedeschi Trucks Band

This was an easy number one choice for me. I wrote a full review of the album back in September, and I don’t feel the need to supplement it now, except to add that it was the first record I played on my turntable after recently setting up my new stereo system.

2. June 3, 2011, Pine Knob – Phish

This is a concert, not an album, but I was in attendance, and it was a perfect concert night. Put attendance together with recording (free sample streaming), and I’m calling it an album. I went with a good friend, with whom I’ve seen the band once before, and everything went as smoothly as could be. The weather was perfect, the band was playing at a level they hadn’t reached in years. and it was my first visit to this historic outdoor Michigan venue. It definitely was the best I had ever seen them, and we had the feeling during the show that something special was going on, which made it all the more neat and enjoyable. Because amateur blogging about a Phish show registers somewhere between talking to another person about your fantasy minor league baseball team and a rambling monologue at a loud bar about that “drug trip” you had “back in high school,” I’ll close this by quoting bona fide Phish blogger Mr. Miner (the second Mr. Miner— I held that username as a prior legal nonconforming use on phishows.com), who wrote shortly afterwards that:

Sometimes a show—just one set—can launch thousands of dreams, taking the audience on a voyage so cosmic and coherent; so spectacular and superb that people will look back on it for years to come. Odysseys like the second set of Detroit’s Friday night exclamation reach the very core essence of Phish—four musicians pushing the boundaries of musical possibilities while taking 15,000 fans with them into the depths of the universe. With playing so together and inspirational, Phish opened yet another door last night, inviting us further into the future. And more than ever, the future is now.

…You get the idea.

3. Fall – Root Glen

As I suggested above, I didn’t hear a lot of 2011’s new releases, but I definitely heard this one. One of two releases by this relatively new band from New Jersey, I also wrote a full review of this EP last month. What I’ll add in this retrospective is that it is cool to listen to something for the first time and immediately recognize that it represents an important step up for a band you already liked. Before Fall, Root Glen had been successful at capturing their live sound in the studio, and this was great. After all, it was their live performances that gave them a following in the first place. But a lot of bands play live and just noodle and jam without much focus or commitment, and Fall is evidence of a group redoubling its effort to put forth an even higher quality of music they always had in them.

Thanks for reading us in 2011, and be sure to stick around for much more in the New Year.

Related
Magalan’s year in review
Bdoyk’s year in review

Exexpatriate’s year in review

Bpbrady’s year in review
ALDLAND’s year in review

Should NCAA sanctions against Jim Tressel affect his ability to work in the NFL?

FOX Sports reports:

The NCAA hit Ohio State with a one-year bowl ban and additional penalties Tuesday for violations that started with eight players taking a total of $14,000 in cash and tattoos in exchange for jerseys, rings and other Buckeyes memorabilia.

Tressel was tipped to the violations in April 2010 but didn’t tell anyone — even after the athletes got caught last December but were allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas if they served suspensions to start the 2011 season. Among those in the group: starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor and leading rusher Daniel ”Boom” Herron.

Tressel, who guided Ohio State to its first national championship in 34 years after the 2002 season, was pressured to resign after 10 years with the Buckeyes. The NCAA hit him with a five-year ”show-cause” order which all but prevents him from being a college coach during that time.

”Of great concern to the committee was the fact that the former head coach became aware of these violations and decided not to report the violations,” the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions wrote in its report.

Under a show-cause order, any school that hired Tressel would have to present its case for why it needed to employ him, and would risk severe penalties if he were to commit any further infractions after that.

The NCAA also issued a public reprimand and censure, put the Buckeyes on probation through Dec. 19, 2014, and reduced football scholarships from 85 to 82 through the 2014-15 academic year.

The full article is here.

This fall, Tressel, recently hired as the Indianapolis Colts’ in-game video replay consultant, delayed his first day on the job, apparently to comport with the suspensions Ohio State players were facing.

A five-year show-cause sanction is a different animal, though, and Tressel’s multi-week, self-imposed suspension of sorts is not as apt a comparison as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s suspension of Terrelle Pryor. Back in August, I wrote about the Goodell Doctrine and the Pryor Precedent (and the potential Benson Exception), which apparently reflect NFL policy in the context of the relationship between the NFL and the NCAA and situations in which those facing NCAA sanctions seek to avoid them by fleeing to the NFL.

At this point, I haven’t formed any opinion on how Tressel’s five-year show-cause sanction compares with Bruce Pearl’s three-year show-cause sanction except that there’s a two-year difference between the two and the men coach different sports. Right now, my only question in the Tressel matter is for Goodell: Will the NFL impose a five-year requirement on the Colts and all other teams that they must meet the show-cause burden before hiring Tressel for any job starting in the 2012-2013 season?

Is Bruce Pearl a Legend?

ESPN Dallas/Fort Worth reports:

The Texas Legends are making a hard push to hire former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl to replace Nancy Lieberman as coach of the D-League franchise, according to NBA coaching sources.

Pearl told ESPN.com’s Andy Katz that he will interview with the team Thursday in Dallas.

“When the world champions call you have to listen,” Pearl said. “Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson have been great and I’m looking forward to talking to them.”

Dallas Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson heads the management team as Legends co-owner.

Sources told ESPN.com that there have been ongoing negotiations between the parties.

Said one source: “The job is [Pearl’s] if he wants it.”

Mark Stein calls it “a logical step for Pearl in his quest to break into the NBA,” while acknowledging Pearl’s viability as a college basketball analyst. Keep reading…