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Sports Watching & Wondering

African American news - Sports Watching and WonderingThe best sports fans are the ones who enjoy suffering. They are the ones who are miserable when their favorite player or team is not doing well. They are the ones who enjoy having their hearts broken, and then having to "Wait until next year."

Most basketball fans wanted the Championship Series to be a contest between the Celtics and the Lakers. After all, the Celtics were the champions in 2008, and the Lakers were in 2009. To add fuel to the fire, the Celtics massacred the Lakers in the final game of 2008. So, as far as the Lakers and their fans were concerned, there were some scores to be settled. However, it was unlikely that there would be a rematch this year. The Cleveland Cavaliers had the best record for the NBA season, and LeBron James seemed to be absolutely unstoppable. Therefore, the best that we could hope for would be a contest between the Cavaliers and the Lakers. The fans would just have to live with that, if it came about.

The Celtics did not have a great regular-season, and they were not expected to get by both the Cavaliers and the Magic. Apparently no one explained that they were just supposed to show up, take a beating, and then go home. By the time that the Playoffs began, all of their players had recovered from their injuries. They were not the youngest team around, but they had inspirational coach Doc Rivers, and they believed in the Celtic tradition and destiny. They did not intend go quietly you into that dark night.

The Lakers and Bryant, maybe they are one and the same, had mentally prepared themselves to face James. There were some MVP issues that Bryant wanted to clarify. After all, there can be only one MVP each season, and Bryant had come to behave as if it would be automatically awarded to him. However, the Cavaliers flamed out and plunged to earth. James may or may not have been injured, but it did appear that he lost the will to fight on, and that his team surrendered. So, we have the rematch between the Celtics and the Lakers, and this is what the world had been waiting for. We go to press before Tuesday night's game, and I am picking the Celtics to win the 2011 Championship!

In the year 2000, Mike Garrett hired Pete Carroll to be the head football coach at USC. This was a time when both of their careers were in serious trouble. Garrett had orchestrated a messy firing of John Robinson, who was on his second tour of duty as USC head football coach. He had enjoyed great success the first time around with the Trojans, and he was very popular with the fans and the Alumni. He left the Trojans voluntarily, to accept the head coach position of the Los Angeles Rams, who were then located in Anaheim. Ultimately, things went sour with the Rams, and he was rehired to coach the Trojans. Somewhere along the way, Robinson had lost his magic, and the Trojans did not do well. So, Garrett replaced him with Paul Hackett, a former assistant NFL coach, who was reputed to be an offensive genius. Hackett's teams were an inept embarrassment to the school.

The Trojans had grown accustomed to playing to a sold-out Coliseum, but it was usually less than half full during the Hackett reign. So, he was let go, and it was back to the drawing board. For while, it appeared that no one wanted the job. What an embarrassment! Then, to the absolute astonishment of most of the Trojan Nation, the relatively unknown Pete Carroll was given the job. He arrived without any experience as a collegiate head coach. He had been the head coach in the NFL for the New York Jets, and then the New England Patriots. He was fired from both jobs. He had been unemployed for over a year, as he unsuccessfully tried to get another job as a head coach.

These were not the best of times for him. His hiring outraged most of the Trojan Community, since he appeared to be the second coming of Paul Hackett. No one expected him to survive, and there was a feeling that his hiring would be the last decision that Garrett would make for USC.

After a shaky first year, the Trojans began to roll, and roll they did. For the most part, they smashed everything and everyone and their path. In addition to being a big winner, Carroll had a sparkling personality and a Pepsodent smile. The Trojans gave him all their love, and he seemed happy when he announced that he would never leave USC. However, even after saying that, he would flirt with the NFL owners after every season.

He would assure everyone that he was not really considering leaving, and that he was just being courteous as he listened to various offers. Then he left to take the head coaching job for the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL.

Prior to his leaving, the NCAA had begun to investigate allegations that Reggie Bush was violating their rules by receiving unauthorized compensation. Carroll has always maintained that he knew nothing about this. If he did not, then it is unlikely that Garrett would have known about it, since any information about the allegations would likely have come to him via Carroll. Without the detailed information that the NCAA has, the two-year suspension seems excessively harsh, and will likely be reduced upon appeal.

Successful college coaches are in a unique position. If they are big winners, they can do whatever they choose to do, and they can ignore any input from the Presidents and Athletic Directors of their respective schools. Examples of this are Bobby Knight of Indiana, and Woody Hayes of Ohio State University. They were so popular that it was practically impossible to even consider firing them, no matter what they did. Rather, these officials spent their time offering contract sweeteners to keep them from resigning for a better position. What I am trying to say is that even if Garrett had known what Carroll was doing, assuming that he was not complying with all of the rules, he could not have fired him. It is not something that the Alumni would have accepted without major protests. When Knight was finally fired in Indiana, the President of Indiana University had to have police protection. If Carroll had been fired from USC, that probably would not have happened, but it would not have been a day in the park.

The NCAA is strongly focused on seeing to it that the student athlete does not receive any unauthorized benefits. They are not as concerned about the student athlete, who does not receive an education. An example of this is former University of Texas Quarterback Vince Young. We all remember him because he led the Longhorns to a victory over the Trojans in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. He scored an extremely low score, possibly the lowest, on the test that the NFL gives to its rookies. When you listen to him talk, it appears that he may not have graduated from the third grade. However, he was a student at the prestigious University of Texas. He was arrested last week for being involved in a fight in a Strip Club. He said that he used poor judgment by even visiting such an establishment. You get the same results from many of these athletes that he would get if you gave a nine-year-old $5 million, and allowed him to spend it in whatever manner he chose.

The NCAA makes all kind of sanctimonious speeches about educating their students, but the main thing that they care about is making the cash registers ring and keeping the money for themselves.

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