Posts Tagged ‘New Orleans’

Weekly links out of hibernation …


Has it really been 29 years ago since Danny Manning led Kansas to the 1988 national title?

The Jayhawks are usually a high-seeded team that underperforms in March Madness. Think of all that tradition and the high number of great players and then ponder that the school has won just three national championships.

But Kansas was a major overachiever the year “Danny and the Miracles” won the national title. The Jayhawks were a No. 6 seed and weren’t even ranked in the final regular-season Top 25 poll.

The team that was 20-10 entering the NCAA Tournament crashed the Final Four. While everybody else pondered whether Arizona, Duke or Oklahoma would win the title, Manning carried Kansas to the crown. First the Jayhawks beat Duke in the Final Four and then they outlasted Oklahoma in the national championship game.

This famous occurrence is on my mind after writing the Wake Forest-Kansas State preview for Tuesday’s First Four game in Dayton.

Manning is Wake Forest’s coach and he has a long history with Kansas State. And it wasn’t always so memorable. Especially when you close your eyes and imagine this visual:

“One of my first games at K-State, that’s a very heated rivalry, they were throwing live chickens at us,” Manning said on Sunday. “I remember going in there and ducking some live chickens, also some not-so-live ones out of a KFC bucket or whatever.”

Yikes … live chickens landing on the court? … how about people bringing their buckets of chicken and slinging thighs and wings at Manning and his teammates?

That sure doesn’t happen in today’s college basketball world. And you know, I kind of miss the 80s era of college basketball.

Here is the stellar preview —


One thing about March Madness is you learn some things you otherwise wouldn’t.

Like where the heck is Mount St. Mary’s? How would they match up with big-time schools?

Or the Pelicans aren’t the only basketball team from New Orleans? We got some Privateers crashing the big dance.

Mount St. Mary’s and New Orleans play each other in Tuesday’s First Four and there is no other time that any of us would even care if they played one another.

The winner gets to move on to Buffalo, where it gets to be trampled by defending-champion Villanova. But regardless, the winner gets to brag that it won an NCAA Tournament game. It will be the second in school history for the winner.

Mount St. Mary’s is located in Emmittsburg, Md. I’m not saying it is a town in the boonies (well, yeah I am) but it is closer to Gettysburg, Pa., than any town in Maryland you’ve heard of. Surely, they talk Civil War more than hoops.

As for the big boys, Mount St. Mary’s started 1-11 this season against a slate that included NCAA Tournament teams West Virginia, Iowa State, Minnesota, Michigan, Arkansas and Bucknell.

New Orleans recorded a road win at Washington State and the fact that the school is in the NCAA tourney is a stunner to the locals, who barely pay attention to the school’s team.

But that’s OK because both the city and university were devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and both have recovered. There were no expectations of the Privateers being part of the NCAA field because they went 10-20 last season. So nice turnaround indeed.

Here is the stellar preview —


It’s nice that there is a Hall of Fame in this country that recognizes the good in sports.

With all of the modern sports world’s idiotic athletes and classless characters now permeating the professional leagues and college campuses, there certainly is a spot for the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame.

But a spot for Babe Ruth in a Hall of Fame that includes the word “Humanitarian?”

Yikes – the sports world really has been turned upside down by all the chaos and would-be criminals being paid obscene salaries.

Was surfing the Internet on a late Thursday morning and came across an item stating that Babe Ruth will be inducted into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame in June.

Seriously. You couldn’t make up something like this. I’m sure The Bambino, dead since 1948, will be thrilled to receive correspondence about this latest honor.

In case you’ve never heard of the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame, it is in Boise, Idaho. I’ve had ties to the Boise area since the mid-1990s when one of my brothers moved to that fabulous city and I’ve never met a single person in Boise who has been to the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame.

Nobody seems to know where it’s located either.

Perhaps it’s hidden somewhere in the foothills of Boise or buried in the amazing green patch of lawn on the famed Simplot Mansion grounds. Perhaps it is stashed at the Old Penitentiary (I have no idea where that’s located either but Boise folks are fond of the place) or takes up 20 feet of space in the Boise Art Museum in Julia Davis Park.

Wherever this secret Hall of Fame is located, what genius or geniuses came up with inducting Babe Ruth?

The Babe is one of the great characters in this country’s sports history and a prestigious home-run hitter — I’m confident there was no steroid use in baseball when Ruth slammed 714 career homers – but his off-the-field exploits have been well-chronicled.

His drinking, gambling and womanizing are something of legendary stature and it tells you how much the media has changed that the baseball writers who traveled with Ruth and the New York Yankees during the 1920s and 1930s declined to publicize any of the sordid details.

Imagine how jealous today’s athletes are about that? They can’t go out in public these days without a cell-phone camera being pointed at them or someone they encounter e-mailing TMZ to negotiate a price for details of debauchery with photos that back it all up.

Ask Charles Barkley about being arrested for DUI and a Phoenix-area Web site posting the bill of all the alcohol he and his party purchased within hours of his arrest becoming known. (I bet The Babe could have given Charles a run in the most bottles of alcohol consumed in one night competition.)

In today’s era, Ruth wouldn’t be on the way to being a folk hero. He would be viewed as just another superstar feeling entitled to do whatever he wanted. There would be incriminating photos of drunken behavior and who knows what other things would emerge.

Now this isn’t to say Ruth didn’t perform good, humanitarian deeds during his life. He did. But so do thousands of other professional athletes, include many of the ones in the news today for stupid behavior – yeah, even Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers has a foundation in which he donates time and money to help people.

I have nothing against Babe Ruth. I wish he were still second on the all-time home runs list behind Hank Aaron. I absolutely loved reading books about him when I was a kid and love the fact he overcame being placed in an orphanage as a child to become one of the most beloved sports figures ever.

But induction into a Hall of Fame with the word “Humanitarian” attached? Sounds more like a publicity stunt to call attention to a hall of fame few know exist.

When I think of sports humanitarians, I think of late baseball player Roberto Clemente, late tennis player Arthur Ashe and still-alive former basketball player David Robinson. Of current athletes, football players Drew Brees (his help in reviving New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina is already legendary) and LaDainian Tomlinson rank high on the list.

One athlete I don’t think of – and never will – is Babe Ruth.

This is one big swing and a miss by the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame – unless it’s all a big publicity stunt to clue people in that a Hall of Fame honoring the good in sports actually exists.

LaDainian Tomlinson says he won’t be playing another down for the San Diego Chargers. Gee, really? Who knew?

Anybody who had been paying even minor attention this past football season knew that his time in San Diego was done. So there’s nothing shocking or surprising about this development.

I can already see his good friend in New Orleans, a former teammate named Drew Brees, getting ready to pitch his franchise to take a chance on Tomlinson in 2010.

And why not? Reggie Bush has proven he’s not an every-down running back and the Saints used Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell as their main running backs this season. Might as well take the chance that Tomlinson might have a rebound season in him.

Tomlinson rushed for a career-low 730 yards this season with a meager 3.3 rushing average. He’s no longer worth superstar money but if he’s willing to accept a much-lower salary with a few performance bonuses in the contract, then some team will take a chance on him.

Don’t underestimate New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick in terms of Tomlinson’s future employment possibilities. Belichick has given another former Chargers great, Junior Seau, a couple chances to keep his career going and I can see Seau bending Belichick’s ear on Tomlinson’s behalf.

Tomlinson’s production has declined rapidly since his 2006 NFL MVP season when he rushed for 1,815 yards and scored 31 total touchdowns. In 2006, Tomlinson averaged 5.2 yards per carry. It dropped to 4.7 in 2007, then to 3.8 and finally to 3.3. That’s a bad trend.

Also, Tomlinson’s attitude has suffered since Norv Turner replaced Marty Schottenheimer as Chargers’ coach. Tomlinson often looked distant and unhappy during the periods the Chargers’ locker room was open to the media.

So after nine stellar seasons in San Diego, it’s time for Tomlinson to move on. He ranks eighth in NFL history with 12,490 rushing yards, has scored 153 total touchdowns, and will someday be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But with a $5 million salary for 2010 and a $2 million roster bonus due in early March, anyone who didn’t see this coming hasn’t been paying attention. It was clear from the moment Tomlinson was nearly cut last offseason that this would be his last go-around in San Diego.

He has been the city’s football version of baseball great Tony Gwynn and his Chargers’ legacy will be preserved. Think about it — he’s up there with Lance Alworth and Dan Fouts as the greatest players in franchise history and on the popularity scale, only Seau came close to matching Tomlinson.

But this is a business and running backs with a lot of mileage on the treads to go with sagging production have to be cast aside. Philip Rivers has replaced Tomlinson as the face of the franchise and the Chargers have become more of a pass-happy offense as Tomlinson’s skills kept declining.

Tomlinson had a great run in San Diego but his time is done. And there’s nothing surprising about it being time for No. 21 to move on.