Friday, June 15, 2007

NCAA, Rams and Buffs talk, trade rumors

The heavy handedness of the self-righteous NCAA looks comical, doesn't it, when they punish all sorts of fringe "violations" that supposedly give schools an unfair advantage in recruiting and competing and then when something serious comes along, say Notre Dame acting as singular corporate entity, it does nothing. The latest -- the SEC exploring its' own TV network. Now, tell me, truly, that's not an unfair @*&%! advantage?

The more recruiting stories I read the more I realize that coaches, grown men, are not just trying to share the merits of their respective schools, not just trying to build relationships with athletes, they are in many cases playing them, as in trying to be one of their running mates, relating to them as their classmates do. Color it distasteful and ugly. While most athletes see right through it, many fall for that dope. In extreme cases, and it happens more often than you might imagine, the coaches' actions surpass salesmanship and cross into the murky water called athletic pedophilia.

Think it's time for CSU to infuse some new blood in the football coaching ranks, under top dog Sonny Lubick. Bring in some irrepressible personalities with bold ideas and pit-bull desires to recruit. Things are growing stale in Fort Collins. Great programs are constantly identifying, nurturing and spitting out hot assistants.

The Rams have to have a healthy Kyle Bell in the backfield in 2007, we know that much but just as important is the offense starting to maximize the large talent of one Kory Sperry, who has the ability to become a high draft pick as a pass catcher. He's not as highly touted but he could be every bit as good as recent NFL draftees Greg Olsen (Bears) and Zach Miller (Oakland).

CU's Dan Hawkins deciding against training for a marathon -- good public relations. Hawkins gets love in this space but if he would have pursued that diversion it would have looked real bad. You don't win two football games then not do all you can to at least give the appearance of doing everything short of selling your soul at the crossroads to improve.

Hearing talk of Hawkins making it sound like Nick Nelson actually has a shot at being the team's starting quarterback this fall. Yeah, I suppose he does in theory and honestly, that materializing might be in the best interest of Cody Hawkins and the team but the word here hasn't changed -- Nelson is a game manager and if he isn't showing enough ability to make plays in practice (and he didn't in the spring) then Hawkins will likely start, if not the opener, then within the first three games. Otherwise, the Buffs will average under 14 points a game and we all saw how well that worked out last season -- little "o," overtaxed "D."

Hey, those of you fanatics committed to CSU and CU, it could be worse -- you could be Duke, losers of 20- straight games.

Former Buff back Chris Brown is expected to choose a new team to run for by the end of the week, according to The favorite, according to the website, are the Bears. If that is the move that CB rolls with, then he will get a chance to play for a potential powerhouse in 2007. His running is also Chicago-style all the way -- no flash, just hard-nosed. They'd love him, if he can keep his body working and on the field.

Word is Broncos left tackle Matt Lepsis, another former Buff, is looking good running around in shorts. If his repaired knee is indeed strong and Lepsis hasn't lost lateral mobility then the Denver offense just got a whole lot better, so much so that quarterback Jay Cutler was just found crying tears of joy. Backfield mate Travis Henry is happy too, flashing a big smile.

Champ Bailey didn't win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year but all off-season he has been lauded by media scrubs as the best defensive back in the game. Losing Clinton Portis, the most electric back (sorry, Terrell Davis) in team history stung but the Bailey trade, despite the up-and-down (short) career of Tatum Bell, a second-round pick in the deal, was a stroke of genius. Bailey's impact on the game is undeniable. Imagine how good he could be if the Broncos thought of actually rushing the passer with bad intent.

Now that Matt Holliday ripped up East coast pitching, look for him to get some national love any day now. Looks like all Garrett Atkins sickly hitting needed was a challenge, as in previously unbeaten Josh Beckett -- a double and a grand slam later, Atkins looks legitimate again. Kaz Matsui, well you know the WSN loves Kaz Matsui. Jeff Francis, since a rocky April, has simply been one of the better left-handers in the game. Rockies management is loving this, wanting to tell the media and fans, "we told you so" while they were preaching patience earlier this season when the team, well, was atrocious.

A look around the country shows that some Chicago fans would like either Marcus Camby or Nene in a Bulls uniform. Guessing those same people don't have any money nor a credit card. Promise the names Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich or Ben Gordon wouldn't be mentioned.

Other stupid talk has them locos in Atlanta talking Shelden Williams (a solid prospect) for Camby. You know, it's nice that the Nuggets players are being desired but disappointing there are so few conversations that make any sense back on this end. Where are the deals that make you want a phone date to discuss intimate details?

Sweeping the Nation

LeBron James = John Elway. The Cavaliers = Broncos. San Antonio's dismantling of Cleveland made James and the Cavs look like the impostors Elway and Denver once were before breaking through with two championships. The Spurs, like the Pistons when they won a title, show what defense and teamwork still can accomplish. Not always pretty, except on the scoreboard. That said, James will have brighter moments, maybe even in a Cleveland uniform.

Alex Rodriguez might seem soft to some, full of his fame too but the accomplishments, the numbers speak SCOREBOARD to all those firing shots his way. The man has lived up to the hype that he had when drafted, is one of the best of all time already and potentially the future home-run king. If he leaves the Yankees, which would be an atypical dumb move on their behalf, Scott Boras or no Scott Boras as his agent, if I were a team with the financial resources, I'd bag A-Rod to play for my franchise in a New York minute. Forget the nonsense that winning doesn't matter to him. If it didn't, he wouldn't prepare as he does, produce as he does. Yes, he's Hollywood all the way but so what -- at least he isn't hurt, drugging, loafing and underachieving. He's no Barry Bonds or Sammy Sosa nor Elijah Dukes.

Maybe it's just me but someone looks bothered by not being the center of attention. What do you think?

I'm a sap. If you read this space, you know it. Love stories like Josh Hamilton of the Reds who beat the odds, even if self imposed, to be successful. Another story that bears watching on the couch with Kleenex that I want to see have a happy ending is the one involving former Cardinals phenom Rick Ankiel, who is now crushing baseballs at Triple-A Memphis instead of throwing them by hitters, behind them, to the backstop or past the heads of vendors in the stands. Here's hoping the lost hurler turned center fielder can make it back to the majors. His resolve is admirable and worth honoring.

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