Anything from current events, campaign finance reform, sports (especially baseball), corporate/political/legal ethics, pop culture, confessions of a recovering comic book addict, and probably some overly indulgent discourses about my 3-year old daughter. E-Mail: sardonicviews -at-
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Friday, May 09, 2003

CWRU Stand Down

The Cleveland Police Chief has just announced that they have a man they believe to be "the shooter or one of the shooters" in custody.

There were some 70 people in the building when this happened.

Casualty reports aren't yet being released since families haven't been notified.

CWRU Standoff

Unconfirmed reports on the news say they have the gunman captured.

CWRU Standoff

And then there was one for local coverage. Channel 19, WOIO is the only station still staying with the story at the moment. They even added an unintentionally funny graphic title for this (unfortunately, not on the site) CHAOS at CASE.

They are now reporting that the gunman appears to have full body armor.

Another 20 people or so were just evacuated from the building.

The Peter B. Lewis Building is going to need a lot of spackle after this.

CWRU Standoff, the pace is picking up

Shortly after the Mayor said the people were going to be kept in the building in safe rooms under SWAT protection, they started evacuating at least one of the rooms with some 20-30 people. Looks like they got the gunman to back away after the exchange. He's still loose, but not in a position to take shots at the people they are evacuating out the back.

CWRU Standoff - Mayor Press Conference

The Mayor reports that they are presently exchanging gunfire with the lone gunman. They have about 60 people in a safe room under SWAT protection inside the Peter Lewis Building (it is safer to keep them inside while the shooter is exchanging fire), though 10 other people were safely removed for medical reasons, including a woman who was 7 months pregnant.

She will be speaking again at 11.

CWRU Standoff

In the last 30-45 minutes, several people in the building were rescued by the SWAT teams. Shortly afterwards, gunfire was exchanged between the lone gunman from inside and the police outside.

The Mayor will be speaking again in about 10 minutes.

Eminem vs. "Wierd Al" Yankovic

Apparently Eminem finds "Lose Yourself" too important to be parodied.

Eminem may poke fun at himself in videos, but he doesn't want "Weird Al" Yankovic doing it. Eminem won't give Yankovic permission to shoot a video for his new song, "Couch Potato," a parody of Eminem's Oscar-winning tune "Lose Yourself," Yankovic said.
Eminem parodies himself and other celebrities in some of his most famous videos, including "Without Me," where he depicts himself as a fat Elvis Presley.

But an Eminem spokesman said "Lose Yourself" was special to the rapper, who didn't want the song's serious tone undermined by Yankovic's humor.

"It's an important personal piece of music for him, a piece of art," spokesman Dennis Dennehy said Friday. "He doesn't mind him doing the song, (but) he didn't want to change kids' visual perception on what that image was. He wanted to make sure the image would remain intact."

So, Eminem is an artist who can't risk his vision distorted? He didn't want a video parody made of a movie clip video?

Uh, Yeah.

CWRU Standoff

The police chief just spoke. He said that the SWAT teams are in the building doing a search and rescue of the people inside. He said nothing of the gunman's present status (somewhere in the building, in custody, dead?).

Useless aside. God is that building ugly. I'm sorry, it may have been designed by a "world renowned architect" but it is totally out of place in its surroundings. Amongst the trees and the older buildings, it looks like an alien spore that has overrun the building.

CWRU Standoff

The gunman, apparently, has yet to communicate with the police or media. The description of him is an African-American male, in his mid-fifties, dressed in military fatigues. More reports say he smashed in a side/rear plateglass door with a sledgehammer, and once inside started shooting in every direction. The police have requested the tv stations stop taking close shots of the building from their helicopters and not shoot the activities of the police down the street.

Cynicism alert! County Prosecutor Bill Mason is now on site. Various council members expected shortly.

CWRU Standoff

It looks like the SWAT teams and FBI are getting ready to (or are in the process of) move in.

CWRU Standoff

According to WOIO, channel 19 (CBS), police have slipped in and out of a backdoor just to survey the scene. Not good. FBI is there as are various SWAT teams in the area.

CWRU Update

The Cleveland Symphany Orchestra, scheduled to perform tonight at Serverance Hall in University Circle, has been cancelled.

CWRU Standoff

They now estimate that there are no more than 60 people or so inside the building.

CWRU Standoff

Mayor Campbell is on the scene. She spoke for maybe 2 minutes, basically saying they will offer updates and briefings periodically.

CWRU Standoff

There is not a lot I can report locally on the shooting/standoff/hostages happening at my law school alma mater that isn't already being distributed nationally. Reports are sketchy as to how the man got in. The building in question -- Peter B. Lewis Building for the Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Business -- is not an open access building. You need a keycard to get in to it. The man apparently broke through a plate glass window on the ground floor. Again, reports on the various local news outlets are unclear as to whether he shot it up, or in one report, used a sledgehammer to break through.

One of the local stations has been in phone contact with an unnamed professor who is holed up in his office in the building. He is apparently surfing the net, checking his e-mail and killing time.

This is the last day of finals at CWRU, and it isn't likely that Weatherhead had finals still happening at 4 pm. Estimates are that there would probably be no more than 150 or so people.

Location-wise, it is right next to the law school and the Cleveland Institute of Art. The hospitals are a few blocks away, as is Severence Hall.

It is reported that two people are dead and at least six wounded and taken to the hospital. It is unknown what is happening to the people inside and how many are dead or wounded. Continuing reports say shots have still been heard from inside. Police have had no communication with the man. He is apparently armed with a machine gun or some sort of semi-automatic.

Big East Death/Miami Bolt Watch

As the flurry of news dies down, it looks like the ACC is having troubles. As I mentioned yesterday (last paragraph of the post), the problem in the ACC is getting enough votes to make the offer to the other two Big East schools. Now, it looks like VATech in trying to get itself into the ACC if necessary has helped to cause a major rift in the political manuverings.

While wide-scale speculation had those teams as Boston College and Syracuse, sources within both conferences said BC was nowhere close to being a lock for a bid. Heavy support for Virginia Tech has come from the Virginia Legislature -- which was lobbied by Tech officials, who said if they allowed Miami to go to the ACC without the Hokies it would destroy the Big East -- and other outposts in the ACC.

The article acknowledges, the growing consensus that should Miami not leave the Big East, the Big East will still split.

This weekend will be telling. The ACC has its meetings this weekend, so they'll be able to do direct talking, negotiating and cajoling. This is immediately followed by the Big East meeting. Miami will just sit back and watch. The Big East football schools have to be proactive about putting together their plan.

UPDATE: This article on how schools can bolt conferences is informative. It also makes the VATech hope of getting an SEC invite by way of the Big 11 inviting Missouri to join, causing the Big XII to seek out Arkansas from the SEC to fill the hole. The Big XII prohibits any member from leaving until 2006, then requires a 2 year notice.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Just a Couple More Notes

I know I'm starting to cross the line from obsessive to manic about this. Found a blog run by a Michigan alum, who sees Pitt as being the best and most natural fit to join the Big 11. What caught my attention was his attempts to configure the conference divisions.

Fred Barnes thinks the expansion of the ACC would be good for getting closer to an actual playoff for the national championship. He also puts Pitt in the Big 11, but conveniently ignores Va. Tech and WVU. Fatal flaw, really when you consider that Va. Tech is a legitimate preseason contender for the BCS this year, and played for the national championship a few years ago.

I think the news cycle on this will slow down for the next couple days, barring anything surprising. It seems time for the backroom negotiations to really start in earnest.

Backhanded Compliments

My friend, Lee e-mailed me about the Big East-ACC-Miami thing.

While I still maintain that bloggers are basically a group of people with too much time on their hands helping each other to waste it, I have to admit that you and your buddy Josh Crockett are my only reliable sources of news as to what the fuck is going on. While I think that Crockett's Big-Ten-will-snatch-one-from-the-Big-XII-which-will-snatch-Arkansas-so-that-Virginia-Tech-can-land-in-the-SEC scenario contains a laughable amount of wishful thinking (and you can tell him that if you can get through... his response link wouldn't work for me), and while his understanding of what is really in Penn State's best interest (despite whatever JoePa quickly said to a passing journalist) is a little naive, he's nonetheless mostly on the mark. And he's definitely done a lot of homework.

But your latest post is, as is typical on this particular subject (although on few others), pretty much parallel with my line of thinking. The Boston Globe is naive: Penn State ain't going nowhere. The Big Ten is, despite its many shortcomings, the richest athletic conference in America. Plus, the best thing in the world for Penn State would be for it to just smile and wave goodbye as the Big East falls. Then PSU, Syracuse, and BC will have all the recruiting in the Northeast to themselves.

I'm starting to that there is almost no good way that this could turn out.

Lee, is a little annoyed that he finds himself reading my site, even when I'm not posting on Pitt sports. He's also been invaluable for passing on the latest happenings on the "lesbian sex/murder trial" in Blair County (Altoona), Pennsylvania.

A Boswell woman told a Blair County jury Wednesday that Marie Louise Seilhamer of Ashville RD may not have killed Shari Lee Jackson, even though she confessed to the murder in a statement to police.

The surprise witness was called to the stand by defense attorney Thomas M. Dickey of Altoona, who now maintains that Jackson, 20, was killed with a shovel wielded by Kristin Marie Edmundson, 22, of Duncansville, who had a grudge against Jackson as the result of a love triangle.

Amanda Speicher, 20, who was sentenced to two months in prison after pleading no contest to trying to cover up the crime, testified Wednesday that Edmundson called her the evening of May 6, 2001, upset and considering suicide.

In something out of a bad "Skinemax after dark" movie, you had this group of women that went around Blair County and nearby areas to break into churches and graveyards to have sex with each other. Eventually, jealousies arose, leading to murder.

According to reports from Lee, they took a week to find a jury for this case, partially because of the sensationalized nature of the case, but primarily because

As was explained on WTAJ last night, the main problem seems to be finding jurors who don't "find lesbian relationships to be inappropriate." And we wonder where Rick Santorum's support comes from? Why the fuck didn't somebody ask for an out-of-town jury to begin with?

I really need to find the old e-mail Lee sent retelling the entire tale. Either that or have Lee guest-blog the story.

Big East Death Watch/Miami Bolt Watch (Continued)

The oddsmakers are now issuing odds on the Miami leap to the ACC

A leading offshore gaming company for over 10 years, has created unique odds on the University of Miami formally announcing its departure from The Big East for the ACC by the end of the year. As it stands, believes that there is a Hurricane warning on the horizon for the ACC, listing the odds of Miami becoming a member of the ACC at 2/3 odds (i.e., win $2 for every $3 bet). The chances that Miami would ultimately remain in The Big East Conference are listed at 11/10 odds by

"The potential defection by the University of Miami from The Big East to the ACC would greatly affect the landscape of NCAA sports -- creating a 'super-conference' while leaving another major conference in ruins," said Simon Noble, CEO of "Conventional wisdom would indicate that the ACC will obtain the necessary votes to expand once its members realize the revenue this move would generate, and Miami would in turn accept the offer to join the conference."

It would seem that attention has shifted from what the ACC would be like to what would happen to the Big East (or could simply the writers and reporters have exhausted the one angle so are looking at the other side).

Sports Illustrated recognizes the probable end of the Big East football, and what it means to a lot of teams left behind

In that event, you can count on Pittsburgh shopping its services to the 11-team Big Ten, which hasn't explored expansion since its failed attempt to add Notre Dame in 1999. The Panthers would pitch a drastically improved athletic program that has invested heavily in new facilities for football and basketball and finished in the top 20 in both sports last season.

Pittsburgh also has at least one advocate in Joe Paterno, who wants Penn State to renew the schools' in-state rivalry.

But one Big Ten source said the league's interest in a championship game is "lukewarm at best" -- the financial boost would be minimal. Its sole motivation for expansion would be to enhance the value of its television product, something Pittsburgh doesn't accomplish because Penn State already provides that market.

West Virginia and Virginia Tech would both shop themselves around as well, but despite strong football programs, would have no logical suitor. The closest major conferences geographically are the ACC, which has shown little interest in either, and the SEC, which has even less. Conference USA would be considered a step down.

Imagine the potential plight of Virginia Tech, which could conceivably play in the BCS title game this season, then get kicked out of the BCS the next. In that scenario, the Hokies might become the East Coast equivalent of BYU, nationally respected but essentially ostracized from the national championship picture.

Not surprisingly, the school is lobbying hard to be one of the three included if the ACC expands.
There is, of course, one program besides Miami that could singlehandedly save the Big East's football stature, but it would be the longest of long shots.

Theoretically, commissioner Mike Tranghese could issue an ultimatum to Notre Dame, which already relies on the Big East for basketball and bowl partnerships: get in all the way, or get out.

He could try convincing the Irish their nationally ranked basketball programs would suffer without the league. He could allow them to keep their NBC deal for home games. And in a six- or seven-team league there'd still be plenty of room on the schedule for ND's many traditional rivals (USC, Michigan, Purdue, etc.).

Problem is, the Big East needs the Irish a lot more than the Irish need the Big East.
It's a shame, because Big East football, once considered a laughingstock, has reached a new level the past couple seasons.

Last year, Miami played for the national championship while Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech and West Virginia all finished in the national rankings. Going into this season, the 'Canes, Hokies and Panthers all figure to be in the mix for the preseason top 10.

For the first time, the league could make an argument for being in the same hemisphere as the Big Ten or Pac-10.

If the three schools leave, though, it may more closely resemble Conference USA.

There is nothing I can disagree with in the column.

CBSSportsline looks at the possible reconfigurations (and gets it mostly wrong) and sees the whole thing as being money driven (shocking conclusion).

Syracuse, which knows it's fate is tied to Miami, also appears to recognize that even if they and Miami stay in the Big East change will come quickly.

Virginia Tech does not have support from the ACC to go. Apparently only UVA and Ga. Tech (former VATech AD is now there) want VATech.

WVU has periodically sought and been denied membership to the ACC. That will not be changing.

It looks like Louisville is salivating at the idea of getting into the Big East (or specifically into a BCS conference); while there is nothing from Cincinnati

On the basketball only side, there are other teams looking at the possibility of jumping to a new Big East composed of the basketball only schools. UMass appears to be one of the first to want in on the new version.

Jim Calhoun is feeling bitter.

North Carolinans are decidedly unsure that this is a good thing, given what it does to the "purity" of the basketball side.

What did the Atlantic Coast Conference develop, a 50-year itch?

If so, it’s the itch that’s scratched by the prospect of hauling in a little extra money.

Other than one potential money-making event, what are the advantages of attempting to lure three schools into the Atlantic Coast Conference?

Not many.

Still more rumors and question marks. There are late reports that the ACC may not be able to line up 7 of 9 for all three teams. They seem sure that they can get the 7 needed for Miami, but not as sure about Boston College and Syracuse. In this scenario, they would only invite Miami (for now). This could be the best thing to happen, because then Miami loses a lot of monetary incentive to jump. There would be no football conference championship without 12 teams. Miami would at least delay any decisions to see what the other Big East football teams could offer.

Big East Death Watch/Miami Bolt Watch

One in the same. Surveying the news has been frustrating, because there hasn't been any. Just a slow focusing on the issues and the whys, wherefores, and backroom manuverings. It's even unclear as to how the ACC members are voting. It appears that there UNC and Duke are firmly against it. Clemson, FSU, Ga. Tech and Virginia are for it. In various reports the single undecided has been either Maryland, NC St. or Wake Forest. Gregg Doyel who also does coverage for, looks at the backroom manuvers and money issues, past and present:

Lurking in the background of Miami's decision are a number of influential trustees, including attorney Dean Colson, president of the Orange Bowl Committee. The ACC's initial overture to Miami was made through Colson, according to sources in North Carolina and Florida. Colson said Wednesday he has spoken twice with ACC Commissioner John Swofford, but said he's not a conduit between Swofford and Miami President Donna Shalala.
Outside factors could crop up. When Providence men's basketball coach Dave Gavitt was planning what would become the Big East basketball conference, he was spurred to action by Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who was trying to concoct a similar league for football. Gavitt beat Paterno to the punch, much as the ACC is trying to stay ahead of the Big East and the SEC -- both of which could have designs on Miami-centric overhauls.

Providence is a basketball only school, and the Providence Journal seems to be aware that if Miami and a couple other Big East teams bolt, the present Big East is finished.

Why the spurned football schools -- Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Rutgers and Temple -- likely break away from the remainder of the Big East? Money. Without the millions generated by Miami, Syracuse, and whoever else leaves, the football schools have no use for a PC, Georgetown or Villanova. They'd be better off adding Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida and starting anew.

The ACC needs seven of its nine schools to approve expansion. Duke and North Carolina are reportedly against it, with Wake Forest another school on the fence.

Where all this potential movement leaves a Providence is obviously of great concern to Driscoll. Although he wouldn't address what-ifs, Driscoll must wonder what a 'new' Big East containing PC, St. John's, Seton Hall, Villanova, Georgetown and possibly Xavier, Dayton and DePaul would feel like. While basketball purists might like that option, Driscoll knows PC's athletic department cashes a $1.5-$2 million yearly check from the Big East that helps Welsh compete and also covers costs associated with playing minor sports in outposts like Morgantown, W.V., and Blacksburg, Va. This newer Big East could not command the vital TV revenues the Friars currently enjoy, and a home schedule without visits from the likes of Syracuse and Connecticut could be damaging.

The article says that UConn has been working behind the scenes to try and get the invite to the ACC over Boston College, though the Hartford Courant doesn't see how they could. There is mention of the fact that the Big East athletic directors, basketball and football coaches of every Big East school get together in Ponte Vedra Inn in Jacksonville on May 17. (I wonder who Pitt will be sending to represent the entire athletic department?) That will be a gathering I would love to attend. I expect there to be a lot of hush-hush secret meetings to plan. Sadly the article doesn't seem to acknowledge that even if Miami stays, the Big East is probably finished in its present form, because if not, it is only a matter of time before this will happen again.

The New York Times, even notices and finds that, surprise, money is the main incentive behind Miami's considerations. Of course it is hard to take this article seriously when the writer looks at other concerns and says of the Big East

Miami might be growing tired of a conference that is not only one of the most heterogeneous in the country, but also has long been basketball intensive.

Hello? Basketball intensive? Miami is looking at the frickin' ACC. Is there a more basketball intensive conference?

The Boston Globe has the most clueless, idiotic conceptualization for scenarios if the Big East doesn't lose Miami. The very idea that he thinks they could get Penn State to jump is beyond ridiculous.

Hopefully Miami and the ACC won't have a decision for a while. The football/basketball teams need the meeting to go to Miami with a clear plan for a real Big East conference. No more basketball only. It is the only way the conference can hope to survive.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Obsessed Ramblings

Yes more on the Big East.

It seems, there is one other blogger out there obsessing and speculating on the Big East's future. Say hello to Josh Crockett, a recent Virginia Tech grad. Josh has actually been writing about this for over a week. He has some solid analysis of the various conferences along with threats and impacts (though his knowledge of Paterno(PSU)-Pitt relations was a bit shaky). His posts are required reading for anyone who cares about this. They are here, here, and here.

Josh thinks Pitt's chances of getting into the Big 11 are much better than I do. He doesn't see Va. Tech getting much interest from the Big 11 because the conference would have to waive the geographic contiguity requirement (I forgot about that). He also doubts that WVU could scale the academic standards. The bigger threat would be from Mizzou jumping from the Big XII to the 11. My friends and I have discussed that before. For recruiting and new media markets it makes a lot of sense, but Missouri has not shown much interest in jumping ship. Iowa State is obviously another long rumored possibility for the Big 11, given its natural rivalry with Iowa, but considering the two schools actually play each other annually despite being in different conferences (funny that they can do that but Penn State is unable to do so with Pitt) ISU doesn't offer too much.

For Josh and his Hokie brethren, though, a loss of a team from the Big XII would be a potential benefit as Arkansas would be targeted to jump over, creating an opening in the SEC that VATech would be a leading candidate to fill.

Lots of dominos.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Fantasyland Big East

Since I am waiting for the other shoe to drop on whether the Big East is destroyed as a football conference, I might as well speculate on the possible positive outcome: that Miami rejects the ACC proposal or the ACC falls a vote or two short on expansion.

In such a scenario, the 8 Big East football/basketball schools would have to become proactive, because it would only be a matter of time before the Big 11 came knocking or the ACC tried again. Here is what would have to take place.

* Goodbye basketball only schools. Be it a new conference or still called the Big East, the football/basketball schools would split. Yes, I'd be sorry to no longer have games against Georgetown, Villanova, St. John's, Seton Hall, and even Providence, but not that upset. None of these teams have been particularly exciting in recent years.

* Welcome back Temple. Temple which doesn't want to go independent in football can stay in the Big East, but only if it also joins in basketball. Either you're all the way in or you're out. Time to decide Temple. Is basketball in the Atlantic 10 worth it? Somehow, I doubt it now that Villanova isn't in the b-ball picture.

* Time's up Notre Dame. Notre Dame has to decide if it wants to keep its football separate. If it does, go join Conference USA or the A-10. I'm assuming they won't be in the new Big East.

* The raidees must become the raiders. At this point, the new Big East is only 9 deep. The magic number is 12. At this point, the conference can have the lucrative conference championship in football.

(Now in my idealized world, Marshall is plucked from the MAC. Marshall has dominated the mid-major conference in football and would be a bit of a project in basketball but would be a good pick-up and a solid geographic fit. I suspect, though, that WVU would oppose the move to bring in an in-state rival.) The raided conference would be C-USA, another conference with basketball/football programs and basketball only programs.

* Two targets would be obvious -- Louisville and Cincinnati. Both are basketball powers, and both are capable of being at least mediocre in football. The 12th team to come from C-USA would be a big question mark. None of the rest are geographically/competitively perfect. For travel and distance reasons, I think you would have to exclude Texas Christian and Houston. Army is out because they are horrible for conference strength. Memphis doesn't strike me as a football school, ever, and with Rutgers, Temple and Cinci there are already enough teams gathering near the bottom. Tulane occasionally does okay in football, but I can't remember the last time I even heard their name mentioned in basketball. South Florida would probably be vetoed by Miami. That leaves East Carolina, Southern Miss. or University of Alabama-Birmingham. East Carolina might fit best in the geographic spread since there is a huge gap between Blacksburg, VA and Miami, but they aren't too good in either sport. Flip a coin over Southern Miss or UAB, but I think I favor Southern Miss. slightly.

* The basketball only schools of the Big East to be divided amongst the A-10 and C-USA. Villanova, Seton Hall and Providence could go to the A-10 to make it the A-12, and Georgetown and St. John's could go to C-USA.

On to happier news

Something to look forward to.

Indiana Jones' latest crusade? Raiding the holiday home video campaign. Among the most requested movies to get DVD treatment, the Harrison Ford adventure series may spell doom for other holiday releases.

The Adventures of Indiana Jones — The Complete DVD Movie Collection, out Nov. 4, is a four-disc set (about $50) that contains Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) and an bonus disc loaded with extras. Among the material: new interviews with Ford, producer George Lucas and director Steven Spielberg. Each film was remastered in surround sound and restored digitally. "We're not just putting out a vanilla version (of the film on DVD)," Lucasfilm's Jim Ward says.

When Spielberg edited ET the Extra-Terrestrial last year for the long-awaited DVD release, he digitally removed some guns because of the film's young audience. But no changes were made to the Indy series.

Emphasis added. At least they paid attention to South Park.

NCAA Conference Dominos

Now assuming the Big East lost Miami, Syracuse and BC The make-up of other conferences would change rapidly. The Big 11 would be in a position to likely choose from Va. Tech, West Virginia or Pitt to bring the number of teams to 12. The Big 11 would be in the catbird seat, because these 3 teams would be in no position to demand any breaks, concessions or say in where they end up (other than likely to play Penn State yearly). (The Big 11 leverage and the rapid weakening of the Big East might also be the final blow to the Notre Dame ego to make them reconsider their football independence in the face of what will happen to the rest of their sports programs without a strong conference affiliation. Given the ND alumni ego, however, I doubt it.) Assuming that the Big 11 doesn't try to kick out Northwestern and bring in 2 of the 3 Big East teams, I will assume for argument's sake that it is WVU that gets the invite based on their larger alumni base and travel history, and the potential additional federal money to the school from US Senator Byrd (this also assumes they can meet the academic qualifications).

This leaves the Big East with 4 football/basketball teams -- Pitt, Va. Tech, Rutgers and UConn;
and 6 basketball only teams -- Villanova, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Providence, St. John's and Seton Hall.

Here is where it all becomes incredibly (depressing for me and) speculative and fantasy-based.

The remaining football/basketball schools form a new conference adding Marshall (WV) from the MAC; Temple from the Atlantic 10; and six teams from Conference USA. Since we are in fantasy land, we can assume that they are the best of both football and basketball -- Cincinnati, Louisville, Southern Miss, South Florida, Unversity of Alabama - Brimingham and TCU.

This would be pathetic. A geographically messy conference. A little better than the present Conference USA, but no better than the Mountain West Conference in football. Basketball would actually look good with Louisville, Cinci, UConn, Pitt and Temple.

The other Big East basketball only schools would probably be split between Conference USA and the Atlantic 10.

Oh, god. Pitt had better hope that the basketball powers in the ACC somehow blow this thing up. Then get to work with the football/basketball teams in the Big East to straighten out their conference for present realities. It's either that or try to join the Big 11.

More on Miami and the ACC

You know, I just realized I got so caught up in laying out the money aspect of the ACC targeting Miami to join that I never actually discussed some of the logistics. The ACC, to expand its membership needs 7 of 9 schools to sign off on the decision. Miami is a football first school. It's b-ball program actually improved, lost their coach, regressed and is trying to rebuild again. An important consideration as to whether it would join the ACC would be how the conference would be split into two, 6-team divisions; and the tension between football and basketball. Obviously, Miami would not want to have Florida State in the same division, because it would make it more difficult to win the conference if you can't win the division title easily. I also suspect FSU wouldn't be too thrilled with that idea. Then there is the money that the ACC wants to get from the BCS. To have FSU and Miami in the same division would hurt the chances of getting 2 teams into the BCS mix. Figure, though, that Miami and the ACC would want to keep Boston College and Syracuse (or any other 2 teams it raids from the Big East) in the same side of the division for the minimal tradition that has developed from playing in the Big East together.

Then there is the North Carolina-basketball issue. Four teams in North Carolina. They all want to play the home-and-home series. Their alumni and basketball coaches would insist on it, and I would guess financially they need it. The problem is in football Duke and Wake Forest are jokes., but these two bottom feeders would have to be kept in the same division or you start to kill the whole "tobacco road" traditions in basketball. Plus, it would be the only way to keep 7 of 9 votes to approve the expansion.

So in one division, 5 teams are set -- FSU, UNC, NC St., Wake and Duke. The other division has Miami, Syracuse and BC. This means deciding where to put Maryland, Clemson, Virginia and Georgia Tech. You can bet all 4 want into the one remaining slot with the NC teams. The home-and-home money from Duke and UNC, not to mention the easier football schedule by getting both Wake and Duke every year. All 4 would argue traditions. Likely it would come down to UVA or Maryland since both have both good basketball and football programs at the moment. Maryland probably gets the edge because it has had the most recent successes and leverage.

So, the ACC could work, but in football, the competition would look rather unbalanced on one side over the other. And then in basketball the imbalance would appear to swing the other way.

ACC Div 1 -- FSU, Maryland, UNC, NC St., Duke, Wake
ACC Div 2 -- Miami, Syracuse, BC, Clemson, Ga. Tech, UVA

I suspect they could live with it though. The only issue, would be would they get the necessary expansion votes and what would the ACC have to promise in the trades. I would expect that only Clemson and Ga. Tech wouldn't have much leverage right now.

More on Pitt's AD Fiasco

No one seems to know what the hell Pitt is doing with its athletic department. The interim AD, Marc Boehm, who tried to take all the flack for the screwing around in the search for a new basketball coach has pulled his name from consideration for the full time gig, and the story contains a disturbing additional nugget.

Pitt's failure to appoint Boehm played a small part in Wake Forest Coach Skip Prosser's decision not to replace Ben Howland as the Panthers' basketball coach last month. Pitt and Prosser had agreed to financial terms, but Prosser wanted to know whom the athletic director would be and Boehm could not tell him with any assurance.

Pitt had him. They had their guy for basketball, and let him slip away because the school and the Chancellor could not pull the trigger on naming an AD. A job, that has been vacant since December. A search committee has existed but not done anything beyond saying Boehm wasthe best choice. A committee that is only now going to do a real search. Making everyone ask, what the hell is going on around here? Still some do see the glass as half-full. Right now, though, I'm not one of them.

Monday, May 05, 2003

Not that all things are Perfect at Pitt

Of course, I just got an e-mail from a friend telling me that Pitt's interim AD withdrew his name from the search for a full time AD. A position that has been vacant since December. Pitt just has a way at times of taking one step forward and three steps back.

Big East or ACC

Looks like this is a sportsblog day for me. It's time to consider whether the University of Miami would/should bolt the Big East for the ACC, and the likely reverberations (Syracuse and Boston College would be expected to make the ACC a 12 team conference). Let me make sure all who come across this post and bother to read it are clear on my biases. I am a Big East guy. My alma mater is Pitt. If Miami left the Big East, it would likely start a chain reaction that would cause at least 4-6 schools ultimately to leave or be ousted from the Big East, and put it on the same level in football as Conference USA and in basketball with the Atlantic 10. Ultimately, its effects could impact the Big 11, Big 12, SEC, Conference USA and Atlantic 10. I'm not in favor of this. I'm really only discussing this in terms of college football and basketball. Other sports are irrelevant.

Here's the story so far. The key to all of this is money. Who gets it, and how to get the biggest chunk.

The ACC, with 9 teams, is considered a basketball conference. In fact, you can classify the schools into 4 groupings.

Basketball Schools (and they will never be anything but): Duke and Wake Forest
Football Schools: Florida State and Clemson
Both, but it is still b-ball first: Georgia Tech, Maryland and Virginia
Wants to be both, but let's be real: North Carolina and North Carolina State

The Big East in the early 80s was a b-ball conference, but has become more of an all-around conference that is a little bizarre:

Both: Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse, Miami, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Boston College and Connecticut (in another year, after Temple is fully booted and UConn goes to Div. I-A in football)
Basketball Only: Georgetown, St. Johns, Villanova, Providence, Seton Hall
Bi-Sexual/Undecided: Notre Dame (ND is independent in football, but is a member of the Big East in all other sports, at least as long as it has a solo contract for football with NBC)

If you talk to basketball people, the ACC is still the best conference, because they are the "fairest" and "purest." Because they only have 9 members, their schedule allows them to play a home-and-home, 16 games conference schedule each year. Additionally, they have a relatively fair football schedule since the smaller member group allows them to play all teams in their conference.

Other college conferences have "unbalanced" schedules owing to having more than ten members, resulting in the "unfair" unbalanced schedules. In basketball, this results in either not playing a team in a given year, or only playing a single game (rather than a home-and-home in the same year). For football, this means a team might not get a chance to meet in the year (recent example, co-Big 11 2002 football champs Iowa and Ohio State didn't get to play each other this past year and since there were 11 teams, they don't have a Big 11 championship game to determine the top team).

The Big East is odd, because it has an unbalanced basketball schedule because of 14 members; but a balanced football schedule (8 members), and therefore no championship game is needed.

The ACC has determined that it should expand its conference -- mainly for the benefit of the football programs -- and has targeted the Big East conference, specifically the University of Miami (and to a lesser extent Syracuse and Boston College) as its target. This would take them from a 9 to 12 team conference.

As expected in college athletics, money is the issue here. In college football, with the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) and conference championships, a conference with both can stand to make at least an additional $10 million dollars, annually.

BCS: The ACC is one of six conferences guaranteed a spot in one of the roughly $13 million BCS games, but it is one of only two of those "power" conferences that have never received a second BCS bid in the same season. The other: the Big East. That's a potential annual loss of $4.5 million, the amount the BCS awards a conference that gets a second bid. Adding Miami (not to mention two other schools) obviously would increase the ACC's chances of a second BCS bid.

ACC title game: The SEC generally makes about $12 million off its conference championship game. The Big 12 usually makes between $6 million and $9 million off its title game. The ACC would love to land somewhere in the middle, generating another $10 million or so for its coffers. The NCAA mandates that a league have 12 teams before it can schedule a title game.

[Emphasis added, and note that further down.]

In the college football foodchain, there is the Big 12, Big 11, SEC and Pac 10 (the order varies from year to year); then there is the Big East and ACC; and then Conference USA, Mountain West and WAC fight for scraps.

The ACC may not be able to be a perennial top 4 college football conference, but it would be there at least every other year if it raided the Big East.

The Big East, by the nature of its basketball conference, can't really expand any further. In fact, as I was composing this, it hit me just how vulnerable it was to this sort of cherry picking.

Naturally, Big East teams are not thrilled with this. There is, though, a bit of a crisis in the ACC over what it would do to basketball. Of course this doesn't stop fantasy league creation, without realizing how ridiculous it actually would be:

The Big East could look to football-laden Conference USA schools like Louisville and Cincinnati.

If the remaining football teams in the Big East were ever to break away -- Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Connecticut and West Virginia -- then the other basketball-only Catholic schools could pursue their own league.

An extreme example being tossed around is a Catholic league of Villanova, Georgetown, St. John's, Seton Hall, Providence, Marquette, Dayton, Xavier, DePaul, Saint Louis, and maybe Notre Dame, if it were to remain an independent in football.

Can you say Weak East football? Then there would be the Atlantic East Papal B-ball conference?

"Miami is the domino to everything,'' Krzyzewski said. "When you're in a league and you make a huge decision like that, then you have to be cognizant of the impact of the other aspects. This isn't a single decision, that this will just help football. Does it help football? Is the football championship (with 12 teams) that important that it dilutes something else that you have?"

That something is basketball, and Krzyzewski is concerned about how the league would be divided. Would the four teams in the state of North Carolina -- Duke, North Carolina, N.C. State and Wake Forest -- be kept together? What about Maryland and Virginia?

"All of a sudden, you wouldn't be playing these teams twice," Krzyzewski said. "You start diluting your product at a time when we should be keeping it up. The primary issue was that we did things a certain way with a true round-robin schedule.

"We know in our season-ticket package that we get Maryland and North Carolina every season. What happens if Clemson didn't get Maryland and Carolina? That's not good for the fans."

Krzyzewski said he wouldn't be opposed to adding just a 10th team and playing 18 conference games, but "that doesn't do anything for football. You need 12 to have the two divisions for that championship game. It will hurt basketball, I just don't know how much."

Maryland coach Gary Williams said he wouldn't want to lose the home-and-home rivalries with Duke or North Carolina.

It's obvious, the Big East would be almost dead if it lost Miami. The remaining teams would be like pathetic rats deserting the sinking ship. The sinking ship could lead to what ever life preserver was thrown, like the Big 11. Though, Ron Cook hardly seems to know how to make a real argument.

It's nice that Pitt is such a loyal member of the Big East Conference. It's admirable that it wants to do right by its long-standing football opponents West Virginia, Syracuse and Boston College as well as its long-time basketball friends Georgetown, Connecticut and St. John's. But this is college athletics we are talking about. All's fair in love and war and in winning games and making money. It's time Pitt started looking out only for itself. It's time it looked hard into making the move to the Big Ten.

The Big East as a football league appears headed for extinction. It might not happen this year or next, although that sound you heard in recent days definitely wasn't Miami -- the Big East's lone glamour program -- slamming the door on a possible move to the Atlantic Coast Conference. But it will happen one day because of the ever-changing economics of college sports. It's inevitable that the Big Ten and the ACC will go to 12 schools so they can split into two divisions and play a lucrative conference championship game at the end of each season. That will leave the Big East, with only eight football-playing members, vulnerable.

That's why it's imperative for Pitt to beat Miami or even Syracuse or Boston College to the punch and align with one of the football conference heavyweights.

Pitt and the Big Ten would be a perfect fit.

Actually, the competition that Ron Cook envisions would be between Notre Dame (the 800 pound gorilla of college football) Virginia Tech, West Virginia University and Pitt. In the Big 11, only Northwestern is a private university. Part of the reason for that is that the Big 11 is the only athletic conference that shares research funds (thanks for dropping the knowledge, Lee) in addition to pooling money from athletics. Few private schools can afford to do that, and even fewer public universities wish to lose money to other schools. This means Syracuse and especially BC would be unlikely to get an invite to the Big 11. State schools, however, tend to attract more state and federal money.

For one thing, it would bring Penn State back on the schedule. How could that be bad? It's a crying shame that Joe Paterno allowed the series to die after the 2000 game because of a petty grudge against Pitt, but he couldn't stop its renewal -- and wouldn't want to -- if the two schools were in the same conference. The best thing is it would be on a yearly home-and-home basis, not on the ridiculous six games in Happy Valley, four at Heinz-Field split that Paterno once proposed and Pitt rightfully rejected.

Imagine the competition if Pitt and Penn State were in the same division of the same league. Imagine the fun. Better yet, if the Big Ten would split its divisions based on geography, Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State also would be in that division. Imagine the crowds that would mean at Heinz Field. It would be nothing less than a boon for Pitt football and, consequently, the entire athletic department.

I want the Pitt-Penn State back as much as anyone else, of course, unlike Cook, I never held Paterno up as a "hero", but couldn't admit to the hubris and arrogance of Paterno until he actually engaged in paranoid rantings about officiating, became incredibly thin-skinned to criticisms, and suddenly found academic and legal issues for the players a burden.

As for the "boon"? Imagine, the "Land Grant Trophy" and the meaningful rivalries Penn State has developed in the Big 11 mean more to the alumni than playing Pitt, WVU or Notre Dame? It's funny, my folks are PSU grad, but they haven't cared much about conference games since PSU joined the Big 11 (of course, to be fair, PSU hasn't played for much in most conference games in the last 5 or 6 years).

Big East football clearly isn't working for Pitt. It's never been a legitimate conference in my mind. No Eastern league without Penn State would be.

Yeah, we get that. PSU football rules your world. Of course, flags and anthems at sporting events don't belong in your world, Ron, so I'll pass.

Not even Miami was able to sell out Heinz Field in 2001. Pitt's only home sellout in its two seasons at the new stadium was for West Virginia last year. (It's nice to think that if Pitt were to go to the Big Ten, there wouldn't be any Paterno-like feud between it and West Virginia and the schools could continue to play a non-conference game every season).

Things are so bad that Pitt will virtually give away its product this season in an attempt to attract fans. It is hoping people will take advantage of its cheaper tickets, try a game, like what they see and come back again and again. It's a dangerous gamble. What happens if Pitt loses unexpectedly at home as it did last season to West Virginia and Texas A&M and -- worse -- the year before to South Florida? What do you try after you reduce ticket prices?

Home games against Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan would eliminate those worries.

Then I suppose the latest info on football tickets selling at record pace is just a glitch. I take this to mean that the traveling fan base would buy the other tickets. I realize it's all about money, but then you would write about the embarrassment for Pitt to have half the stadium cheering for the visiting team -- ah, now I understand, you need some new material.

What Pitt would gain in football from the Big Ten easily would make up for what it would lose in basketball. We would miss the great basketball games with Syracuse and Connecticut, but we would learn to like new rivalries with Illinois and Indiana. We would miss going to New York for the Big East tournament, but we soon would realize Chicago and the Big Ten tournament aren't bad alternatives. The Big Ten doesn't have the Big East's sexiness as a basketball league, but it's not the Atlantic 10 or the Northeast Conference, either.

The Big Ten would prefer Notre Dame as a 12th member -- who wouldn't? -- but that's not going to happen as long as Notre Dame has its own television network. Pitt would be a great second choice. For one thing, it would expand the Big Ten's geographical basis. For another, it would bring added prestige to the conference. No school has done more in the past five years to improve its athletic programs and facilities. Any league would be proud to have Pitt. You couldn't have said that back in the days of Pitt Stadium and Fitzgerald Field House.

Wow. "It's better than nothing," argument always motivates me to support the move. Cook's argument is based entirely on pretending Virginia Tech and WVU wouldn't be trying to get over Pitt into the Big 11. And let me get the expanded geographic basis argument straight. Pitt is located between Ohio State and Penn State is an expansion of geography? Again, I'm not trying to pimp WVU or Va. Tech over Pitt, but those schools would actually constitute a geographic expansion. Pitt, arguably, would just be cannibalization.

Here's one final reason why the Big Ten surely would say yes to a marriage proposal from Pitt:

The most powerful and respected figure in college football wants to see it happen and would push for it.

I thought Bear Bryant was dead?
He knows it would be good for the sport in general and the Big Ten in particular. That, in turn, would be good for his university.

That's always been more important to Paterno than any silly grudge.

Ohhh> St. Joe Paterno? You mean your ex-sports hero? The one who blames refs for losses? The one who's coaching lately has been summed up thusly by Sports Illustrated:

As for the Nittany Lions -- at least the ones not getting into fights with wrestlers or getting kicked out of school -- nothing was more telling than the team's record four first-round and two second-round draft picks. You're telling me with that kind of talent the best they could muster was 9-4? And remember, it took two losing seasons just to get to that point. With a lot of rebuilding to do, expect this one to more closely resemble those.

As this demonstrates, it's tough when an iconic legend loses it but...

1. A cheap shot at the Penn State football players, and a sense of the lawlessness at the program, by a national sportswriter for a national sports magazine. This would never have happened when Joe Paterno was alive!

2. PSU has ridiculously underachieved, given all the pro level talent they had. This would never have happened when Joe Paterno was alive!

3. Recognition that PSU is not going to be very good this year, because they are rebuilding, not reloading. This would never have happened when Joe Paterno was alive!

4. Wait a minute. Joe Paterno is still alive! Yet, there was no mention of the iconic coach in discussion of PSU football. Is it because a) no one at the national level is yet willing to publicly say Joe PA no longer has it?; b) An unwillingness to blame Joe PA for the underachieving and now thuggish Lions?; c) the general reluctance of national writers to ever say anything negative about Joe Paterno; or d) all of the above.

Out-Priced for Coaches Gone Wild

The weekend was blog free, to spend time with the family while there was actually some nice weather in Cleveland (its raining today), so I am only now getting to Mike Price being fired from the head football coach job at Alabama. His offense, going to a strip club and dropping a several hundred dollars then some bimbo (not his wife) ordering $1,000 dollars in room service from his room (and then she wanted it "to go").

I view the Mike Price matter differently than I do the Eustachy deal. I didn't find Price's activities fireable, but I did for Eustachy. I suppose some might feel that to be hyporcritical, sexist and/or a double standard, since neither actually did anything illegal.

The first and cynical part of my reasoning is the business of recruiting and coaching. Price's activities took place offseason, during a golf event. He hit a strip club and dropped some cash there, but didn't cause any scene. There is no claim he spent went into a private area for a show. He apparently cheated on his wife back at the hotel, but that is really her call on whether to forgive or not. While embarrassing and could make for some good signs and use of a blow-up doll during away games; it didn't take place during the season. And fair or not, going to a strip club probably won't hurt much (and in some cases it might help) in recruiting football players.

Eustachy, though, did his activities during the season. At visiting campuses (but not back home), he somehow lacked any judgment that led him to crash college parites and drink there. I have yet to hear an explanation as to what led him to have impaired judgment on roadtrips but not at home. This has to hurt in recruiting to go to a kid's house and explain to the parents how he can look after their boy, when he can't look after himself. As has been written,

How could the school keep Eustachy after he turned its program into a national embarrassment? How could he walk into a recruit's home and be taken seriously by the parents? How could he walk into an opposing gym next season without the fans treating him as a one-man sideshow?

Then there is the issue of how long has it been happening.

For one, in Eustachy's case, there was a pattern of questionable, alcohol-related behavior that dated all the way back to his Utah State days, whereas in the week since the Price rumors first surfaced, the only stories dredged up against him have been testimonials to his integrity.

The business aspect is the timing of the change of coaches. for the sports is also a factor. Price has just finished spring practices. By NCAA rules, most of the players won't be doing much "organized" and "planned" practices until about late July to get ready for the season. This is an unwise time to be looking for a new coach. In fact, Alabama seems to be looking for assistants in the NFL, because finding a college coach right now would be a bitch. Regardless, they have to move quickly and likely sloppily.

Men's college basketball, however, is still on the coaching carousel (albeit, late in the carousel) so there is still less rush for Iowa State.

Then there is the hollowness of Eustachy's claim of alcoholism to explain away the actions. I can't buy it. It just strikes me that the guy was using it as an excuse and a way to save his job.

For Eustachy to hide behind alcohol as the source of the problem is a disingenuous, almost despicable maneuver. Alcohol is not remotely the problem here. Stupidity is the problem.

Having covered four different major-conference teams on a daily basis, I know coaches often enjoy the chance to sit with a beer in front of them following a road game and gripe about poor shot selection and dreadful officiating. There are plenty of perfectly respectable places an adult of Eustachy's age and position could partake of adult beverages: restaurants, bars, even his own hotel room. However distasteful it might be, a gentleman's club would be a more appropriate setting for a college coach to swallow a few brews than Eustachy's choice of attending parties at Missouri and Kansas State filled with college-age women.

One other postgame pursuit was available to him, something other coaches regularly do: breaking down the videotapes of his team's increasingly futile performances.

There are those who question whether Eustachy would be run out of Ames if his team won 30 games or landed in the Sweet 16 this past season. He had coached brilliantly in the past, building strong programs at Idaho and Utah State and leading Iowa State to the 2000 Elite Eight.

But this episode reinforced what was learned when Memphis dumped Tic Price in 1999 following the revelation he'd conducted an extended romantic affair with a university sudent. When this sort of nonsense is going on, what's not being transacted is coaching, recruiting and supervising the team. Back then, the Memphis program regressed as its coach became increasingly distracted. Iowa State's decline surely involved more than the departure of star point guard Jamaal Tinsley following his senior season in 2001.

To my knowledge, Price has not claimed any sexual addiction or dysfunction.

Miller Mauls Mailer

Dennis Miller tears Norman Mailer a new one over the Op-ed Mailer wrote last week for London Times

A guy like Mailer hates a guy like Bush because Mailer thinks of himself as infinitely smarter than Bush and yet President Bush is the most powerful man on the planet and old Normy's connecting through Atlanta and flying on prop planes to a community college that's so far out in the sticks the mail rider has yet to arrive with the message that The Great Mailer is currently more out of the loupe than a jeweler with conjunctivitis. All so he can scoop up a submicroscopic honorarium and the accolades of star-struck locals and 18-year-olds who mistakenly think Mr. Mailer wrote "Gravity's Rainbow."

He feels there's no connection between the secular state of Iraq and radical fundamentalist terrorists. Not true. Abu Abbas was recently recaptured there after Europe practiced catch-and-release with him many years back. Abu Nidal was found shot to death last year in his Baghdad apartment. Police suspect fair play.
Mr. Mailer at one time challenged and provoked. Now he just provokes. Norman Mailer has become Norman Maine, a former matinee idol whom loved ones best keep an eye on, because if this is the best he can now muster, he'll no doubt be walking purposely into the surf off Provincetown any day now. And as Mr. Mailer's prostate gradually supplants his ego as the largest gland in his body, he's going to have to realize, as is the case with all young lions who inevitably morph into Bert Lahr, that his alleged profundities are now being perceived as the early predictors of dementia.

Cinco de Mayo


Seeya de Eustachy

In one of those great moments of timing, the fate of Iowa State men's basketball coach and roaving party animal, Larry Eustachy, will likely appeal his firing today. May 5. Cinco de Mayo. It's not clear whether he'll be toasting the event with a Corona or Dos Equis.


(Copyright © 2002-2005 Chas Rich All rights Reserved.);
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