Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Randomization - Wednesday, November 2

Jason Whitlock is stupid. Not racist. Not an attention whore. Not crazy. Not "thinking out of the box". Stupid.

What am I talking about? This.

For the record, I didn't have a problem with Notre Dame's firing Willingham. Yes, he deserved five years. But his firing didn't strike me as particularly racist, just shortsighted and unfair.

OK. I can agree with this. Actually, I think this is a pretty reasonable statement. You could argue that Willingham got a raw deal because he was only given three years when even a boob like Bob Davie got five years, but not even Whitlock is stupid enough to say it was racist.

(Personally, I didn't like it at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I saw Notre Dame trying to keep Willingham from turning into Bob Davie and virtually destroying what little prestige the program had left at the time. If Willingham had continued on the downward spiral he was on, Notre Dame would have been in a huge hole for whoever took over.)

Now, Weis' new 10-year contract, reportedly worth between $30 million and $40 million … that strikes me as racist. Because there's just no way Notre Dame, or any school for that matter, would do the same thing for a black coach.
How do I know this?
Because Willingham was far more impressive in the first two months of his initial season than Weis has been in his, and all Tyrone got was a pat on the back.

Huh? This is completely nonsensical. And it's where the column turns from "Maybe he has a point" to "He must be trolling for attention, because no one is this out of touch with reality". Whitlock, a known player of the race card who once accused those booing the embarrassing performance of the 2004 U.S. Olympic basketball team of being racist, goes on from here to talk about Willingham's 8-0 start, completely ignoring the 13-15 record that followed. Certainly, hindsight is 20/20, but it's hard to argue against the decision (if one was actually made) not to give Ty an extension when you look at how he finished in his time at Notre Dame.

Not only that, but the teams are not comparable. At least not fairly. Willingham won games because his offense avoided turnovers, and his defense and special teams made a ton of plays. The offense was recruited to run Davie's option, but Willingham wanted to run the West Coast. And the offense looked like a running team in a passing attack. It was bad. And when the defense stopped forcing turnovers and the special teams stopped making big plays, the offense was exposed. That's why Notre Dame finished 2-3 in 2002, including the first of three straight 31-point losses to USC.

I'm not going to belabor this point. MGoBlog and EDSBS have had discussions about this, and Blue Gray Sky (Notre Dame blog) has some good stuff on it, too. I link all three blogs on my site, so check them out at your leisure, or leave your thoughts here if you'd like. Especially telling is the stuff BGS posted. They have a letter that an African-American Notre Dame alum sent to Whitlock, along with his stunningly stupid response. If Whitlock worked for me, that response would be enough for, at least, a reprimand and a public apology. Go check it out here.

Navy has a ton of class. Read more about it here. Basically, Navy AD Chet Gladchuk used to work at Tulane, and his school is picking up the tab for Tulane's football trip to play Navy this weekend. The cost is expected to run ahead of $200,000. They're taking care of Tulane's flight, hotel rooms, and bus transportation, and they are letting any Tulane students into the game Saturday for free.

I know it's a heckuva gesture, and I'm not going to call Tulane's other road opponents cheap or classless for doing it, but is there another Division I-A school around that would do such a thing for an opponent? Hats off to Navy.

The NBA season is underway. Don't ask me why, but I find myself caring. Last year was an interesting one, as I watched more NBA hoops than I had in recent memory because of the NHL lockout. Phoenix was very entertaining, and I found the overall quality of play in the league to be much better than it had been since the Jordan/Bird/Magic heyday. The league has worked hard to improve its overall image since the Artest fight in Detroit last year, and the recent addition of a dress code for the players is a step in that direction. The NBA realizes that they can't market this league to young people when images like Ron Artest jumping into the stands to slug a fan are all that get on TV.

Not only that, but there are some dynamic players in the league. Obviously, LeBron James is at the top of that list, but guys like Dwyane Wade, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, Dwight Howard, and others represent a new generation of stars, and many of the teams in the NBA are working their way towards being watchable. There are still games on occasion where neither team can shoot straight, and neither team appears too terribly interested in pushing the tempo. But the overall product is improving, and it's bound to get better as young studs like LeBron, Wade, and Stoudemire continue to get better.

It's Gopher week. For many of you, that last sentence means nothing. Around here, though, it's always huge when the Gophers come to town. I speak of hockey, where Minnesota visits UMD this weekend for a non-conference series. Both teams are relatively young, with the Gophers sporting a ton of freshmen and sophomores, and the Bulldogs sporting 11 freshmen who play regularly. The Gophers have stud freshmen like Phil Kessell (likely the top pick in the 2006 NHL Draft), Ryan Stoa, Blake Wheeler(fifth overall pick to Phoenix in 2004), and Jeff Frazee. The Bulldogs have stud freshmen like Matt Niskanen (first-round pick by Dallas this year), Mason Raymond (second rounder in 2005), Michael Gergen (second rounder in 2005), and Andrew Carroll. They're young teams, and both have had some ups and downs so far. It should be a fun series.

Hell, it's always fun in Gopher week. And it's my first chance to call the games on the radio from the home booth at the DECC. Should be a good time. And I finally get to meet Doug Woog. Unfortunately, I can't make fun of him because I think he's doing a pretty good job. Vastly improved from his first year as the Gophers' TV analyst.

[ShamelessPlug]You can listen to our live broadcast of Bulldog hockey here.[/ShamelessPlug]


mayday said...

The NBA is absolutely fascinating to me now in a way it hasn't been since I hit puberty. (The Magic/Bird/Isiah/'Nique days I witnessed, but I've only grown to appreciate how cool that period was in retrospect.) The main contenders are all deep, balanced teams that play together, but there are still loads of charismatic and interesting personalities. I guess this depth is chiefly attributable to the European influx; pre-Euro and post-expansion, the talent pool was so thin, it was just too easy to win with two stars and a bunch of scrubs. (Or one star, in the case of Iverson.) I just really hope Amare can come back by the All-Star break or so; he added so much to the excitement level last year, and I'd like to see Phoenix enter the playoffs as a viable sleeper.

mayday said...

I guess the big contrast is the emergence and shoulda-coulda-woulda threat of the Kings -- freewheeling, anybody might have a play run for them at any time, lots of depth and substitutions -- as opposed to the Lakers (Bob Horry with half-a-dozen big playoff games, Derek Fisher getting burned on defense, otherwise no balance to speak of at all, and the triangle lulling you to sleep). The Spurs continued to lean toward an emphasis on rebounding and a slower tempo in 2003, but they were beginning to take hints from the Kings, and are now in the vanguard of the team-oriented renaissance you see.