Mike Leach officially ushers in the 2015 college football season

College football returns in less than two weeks, which means it’s time to check in with one of our favorites, Mike Leach. Thankfully, the Washington State head coach dropped by the Jim Rome Show– the place where I first heard him years ago– yesterday for a classic interview. Take a listen:

And for you readers, here‘s the textual recapitulation on Rome’s website.


Cougar dating tips from Mike Leach
Mike Leach Favors Cougars


The selfishness of Colin Cowherd’s critique of Dan Patrick

dan patrick show

For reasons known, if at all, only to him, ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd wrapped up his Super Bowl coverage by taking a shot across the bow of former ESPN personality Dan Patrick:

Dan Patrick doesn’t work as hard as Jim Rome. Not even close. . . . Patrick needs thirty-five producers to fill a segment. Rome doesn’t. Bayless doesn’t. I don’t.

Cowherd is hardly a moral standard-bearer in this space, and his comments, like most of the things he says that garner attention outside his own sphere, are designed only to bolster himself, typically at the expense of others. Taking Patrick to task apparently for the sin of granting his (four) producers a more audible and visible role on his program is both nonsensical and selfish.

DP Show producers Seton O’Connor and Paul Pabst’s responses to Cowherd show the factual absurdity of Cowherd’s remarks:

The people actually hurt by Cowherd’s statements, however, are Cowherd’s own support staff, who probably are wishing they worked for Patrick, or someone like him, rather than Cowherd.

Radio shows are similar to sports team coaching staffs, with the on-air host as the head coach, and the typically off-air producers as coordinators and assistant coaches. Just as few in the coaching business envision themselves as lifelong defensive line coaches, for example, few in the radio business want to spend the entirety of their professional careers screening listener telephone calls. A sports team’s success provides exposure to the coaching staff, allowing the coordinators and assistants to move into head-coaching positions elsewhere. Further, good head coaches are wise to create an environment in which their assistants receive outside attention and have opportunities to move into more senior positions. It isn’t that head coaches want to lose their talented assistants. Given the inevitability of those departures, though, head coaches know they can recruit better assistants, who are destined for greater things, by offering them the opportunity to gain exposure while working under them. The notion is not unlike the one Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari employs with his player recruits.

By allowing his support staff to be heard and seen on his show, Patrick affords them individual opportunities that would be more difficult for them to come by without that exposure. Patrick’s producers might eventually leave to pursue their own interests or stay longer because they’re happier with the more prominent role Patrick provides them. Regardless, Patrick has styled his show to serve as a platform for more people who work on the show than just the on-air host.

Cowherd has taken the opposite approach, and his attack on Patrick bears out Cowherd’s selfishness. He demands all of the attention and credit for his own successes, and the people most hurt by his critical comments likely are those who work on his show, not Patrick’s.


Online sports media critics: When Colin Cowherd starts to make sense, it’s time to reevaluate your approach
A note on rants

Jordan Schafer is Highly Questionable

College football bowl schedule released


The full bowl schedule, including times and broadcast networks, is here. Some highlights, in chronological order:   Continue reading

The DET Offensive: Recipe for a Slumpbuster

When your baseball team is in a bad way like the Tigers have been, what can they do to get out of the collective slump? It’s a question as old as baseball, but if you’re playing in the AL Central anytime between the 1990s and the present day, the return path to winning ways runs through Kansas City. If you can get them to come over to your place, all the better. Mix in young Rick Porcello’s righting ship, add a pinch of Victor Martinez’s happy return to the clubhouse (if not the playing field), and extract Delmon Young’s unproductive toxicity. Score five runs in the first inning. Allow that to rise into a 9-0 lead. Let settle over the remaining five innings into a 9-3 victory.

Keep reading…

Mike Leach Favors Cougars

I was a Mike Leach fan long before Craig James took the helm of the mothership and got Leach fired from the head coaching job at Texas Tech. I think I first learned about Leach through an interview on Jim Rome’s radio show and was hooked by his deadpan demeanor and the facts that he has a law degree from Pepperdine and kept an automatronic pirate-skelleton in his office. I’m not even a pirate guy, but the random, dry sense of humor, and the nonchalance with which he carried on his job as a successful college football coach of one of the highest-flying offenses in the nation all combined to hit me just right.

When Leach finally landed his next coaching job, Washington State plainly had gotten a real steal, and though his tone of voice would never betray it, it appears that Leach has embraced his new home as well. From an interview posted yesterday on SB Nation’s WSU site:

Jim Moore: In a battle to the death among Pac-12 mascots, which animal or person wins?

Mike Leach: The Cougar absolutely. Let’s go through this a little bit. A cougar obviously kills a duck and a beaver. A cougar against a husky … that’s pretty well a massacre. A cardinal or whatever: I don’t know exactly what a cougar would either climb it or I wouldn’t want to think of what else he’d do on it. Now Golden Bears could be kinda tough. I think you’d want to be a little fast and loose with them. You don’t want to get caught by that bear. The Ute … you gotta dodge some arrowheads, but I still like the Cougar. Buffalo … I think the buffalo would be pretty tough to beat. Wildcat: Cougars are bigger than wildcats. Sun Devils, that’s mythical anyway. Trojans, they may be as well. I think you gotta look out for the Bruins and the Buffalo. The Golden Bear, Bruin and Buffalo .. I think those are the tough ones.

Moore: Why the Buffalo?

Leach: Do you want to fight a buffalo? I don’t know, those buffalo are big. You know, buffalo are significantly bigger than elk. I grew up near Yellowstone so I’ve been near buffalo. Buffalo are huge. And then the other thing I’ve always gotten a kick out of: When you play Colorado, there’s those buffalo dragging those six handlers around. Those handlers aren’t dragging the buffalo. The buffalo’s dragging him.

Ralphie’s not even a big buffalo. Ralphie pulls those people wherever he wants to.

More on the interview, including audio, is available here.

At the very least, Leach gives WAZZU fans a reason to believe they can climb out of the Pacific Twelve basement and the rest of us a reason to watch that miserable conference.

Scrutiny of the Bounty: A prequel

We’ve been quiet here lately, though not for a lack of notable sports events, even if they are coming in the one sport that’s currently in it’s offseason. Two big NFL stories have been developing in fits and tumbles over the past week or two: 1) Peyton Manning leaving the Indianapolis Colts, and 2) Gregg Williams and Bountygate. There isn’t much to say about the first story yet, or maybe ever. He’ll go to a team. It won’t be the Titans. And we’ll get some variety of Joe Montana in Kansas City or Brett Favre in New York. He won’t have teammates like Marvin Harrison, Jeff Saturday, and Dallas Clark who are on his level, and we’ll probably see a lot of sad Manningfaces peering out of an unfamiliarly colored helmet.

As for the second story: first, a nod to Deadspin for the title tag to this post, and very quickly second, this:

That out of the way, how much can one really say about the bounties Williams and certainly other coaches paid to players for big hits on important players, and how much does one really want to say given the at least tiresome and likely nauseating cliche-laden moral hand-wringing on the part of the sports media?

Instead, we’ll offer a short, derivative series on the bounty story through the eyes of the evolving media reaction. As usual when I start a series of posts without fully mapping it out, the first post is the best (e.g., here and here), and this is likely to be no exception.

This first item is interesting because it was a profile of the New Orleans Saints’ defense under Williams published just before the bounty story broke. Untainted by the news of the bounties, the NFL’s investigation, or the media reaction to it, The Classical’s Charles Star offers up an innocent (from the writer’s perspective) take that’s telling upon retrospective re-read:

Continue reading

Smackland podcast: The Jalen Rose Show

Growing up in Michigan, I knew of Jalen Rose as a member of the Fab Five, that faceless monolith of basketball greatness operating out of the east side of the state. Who these guys were wasn’t as important as the fact of their youth and the color of their socks. You knew you were supposed to be able to name them, and that was that. We soon learned to distinguish Chris Webber, though, if not for his timeout, then for his draft position. I remember his #4 Warriors jersey exploding all over the local sporting goods store. I remember it being the first time I ever knew that there was an NBA team called “the Warriors,” also learning that they played in some geographically mystical place called “Golden State.” Understanding these things became less important when he left after his first year for the Washington Bullets (whose geography I only thought I understood until reading a Sports Illustrated for Kids reader poll about new mascots for that team, which suggested “the Presidents” as one of the alternatives). I knew a couple of the other members played in the NBA– that’d be Rose and Juan Howard– and I knew the other two, Jimmy King (who did have limited NBA exposure, Wikipedia tells me as I write now) and Ray Jackson, played in the CBA, which remained popular on the west side of the state until east-side star Isiah Thomas drove it into the ground. Given our instruction as to their greatness, I at first didn’t understand why they weren’t all NBA all stars, but my concern diminished as my escalating interest in the rival Spartans grew and my interest in the NBA decreased.

It therefore was with some surprise that I began to hear Rose making post-playing-career appearances in the national sports media, first (to my ears) on Jim Rome’s radio show, where the two considered each other “brothers in smack” (not a drug reference), and then as an NBA analyst on ESPN. Later, Rose rode the social media wave, positioning himself as an independent online presence through his Twitter feed and interactive website.

I haven’t been a podcast person– until recently, my lifestyle lacked one of the two alternatively necessary elements: a long daily commute or the structure of a single, working person– which is why I didn’t mention Grantland’s podcast section in my initial assessment of that site. Since then, though, I have attempted to integrate podcasts into my regular media consumption, and so far, only one has stuck (although I did check in with The Solid Verbal during the college football season).

When I saw the announcement about the firstsecond episode of the Grantland Network’s “Jalen Rose Show” (the first time it was called that), I didn’t realize it was an actual show or series, and I thought the headline was a reference to Rose’s talkative personality, his ability to carry a segment, a show, a full podcast. Fifteen episodes later, I’m glad I was mistaken.

To give you a flavor of the program, here’s the first of two video clips they have released:

There really isn’t anyone like Rose in sports media today. He is candid, thoughtful, and unintentionally funny. Things he avoid include clichés and directly answering the question asked of him. Keep reading for another video clip…

A boy named Suh

“My name is Suh! How do you do (me like that)?”

This morning, the NFL suspended Detroit Lions defender Ndamukong Suh for two games without pay:

NFL Vice President of Football Operations Merton Hanks notified Ndamukong Suh today that he has been suspended without pay for the Lions’ next two games for his unsportsmanlike conduct in the Lions-Packers game on Thanksgiving Day. It was Suh’s fifth violation of on-field rules in the past two seasons that has resulted in league discipline. Suh may not practice or be at the team practice facility for any other activities during the two-game suspension. He will be reinstated on December 12. Under the CBA, the suspension may be appealed within three business days. If appealed, an expedited hearing and decision would take place this week in advance of this weekend’s games.

The suspension will cost Suh $164,000 in lost pay, and the way the official announcement reads, the mere filing of an appeal will not allow him to play in Sunday night’s game against New Orleans, a game in which his teammates will miss him sorely; only a completely successful appeal could do that. In addition to the team and individual character costs of mounting sanctions, some have begun to speculate that Suh’s corporate endorsers may not like his image either, although none have signaled any changes. Keep reading…

Pre-feast, postgame bite

Well that was a bust. I was not feeling great about this game beforehand, especially considering instability in the Lions’ run game, and I think the early injury that knocked Kevin Smith out of the game was more important to the Detroit loss than the Suh ejection, which is what everyone will be talking about. (Stafford’s multiple interceptions sure didn’t help either.) On that point, Jim Rome tweeted during the game that Suh is making it very difficult for him to continue to defend Suh against critics who call Suh a dirty player, and I have to agree.

This game was full of penaties and player injuries, and each side had a player ejected. Not a good showcase for either team. The Packers didn’t look amazing, but they didn’t have to; making zero mistakes and capitalizing on all of the Lions’ many errors was more than enough to carry them to victory and their first 11-0 start. The Lions fall to 7-4 and a tie with the Chicago Bears for the NFC wild card spot. To make the playoffs, Detroit needs at least three more wins. Their remaining schedule includes two difficult road trips: at Oakland, and at Green Bay.

It’s time to eat. Happy Thanksgiving from ALDLAND!

Jim Rome compares, laments league work stoppages


Last night, radio and television host Jim Rome lamented the fact that, following the NFL’s recently resolved labor conflicts, the “NBA is running the same playbook.” I understand that, for people like Rome, whose livelihood depends on there being actual NFL and NBA seasons for them to talk and twit about, even the specter of a season cancelled is a valid reason to fret. But for those of us with a little more distance from the sport, the NFL’s off-season negotiations were just that– off-season negotiations. Sure, Tennessee’s Bud Adams had to formally hang onto Vince Young a few months longer than he wanted, but nobody else was making moves either, and VY landed in what now may be the illest of delphs with no more skin of the Titans’ backs, and the season will start on time, this compressed free-agency period is more exciting than infrequent summer updates (“Sportscenter’s top story for June 21, third-string DT to K.C.”), and most of the players held training camps on their own despite their complaints in the negotiations about having to do off-season training camps (and there’s no need to flood the comments about cancelling the Hall of Fame Game). I’m not saying we ought to do this every year, but I am saying that if you tune back into the NFL when it’s supposed to be getting underway again, things look pretty normal. Keep reading…