Sunday, August 31, 2003

SC 23, Auburn 0: Since I had the Trojans losing by about this margin, it's safe to say I was shocked by the one-sided nature of this game. USC picked off a pass on the second play of the game, and scored shortly thereafter. Matt Leinart looked like he was a fifth year senior, rather than a sophmore making his first start, and the defense took the crowd completely out of the game. Since the Trojans still have road dates with Notre Dame, Washington, Arizona State, and the resurgent CAL Bears, I will withhold any Sugar Bowl predictions for now (which, based on my success over the weekend, is reassuring to any Trojan fan), but I am impressed.

Ohio State 28, Washington 9: I don't know what to make of this result. The Buckeyes played without Maurice Clarett, but they won last year without him, as well. Washington has been an increasingly pathetic team in network games the previous two seasons, and the first game under Keith Gilbertson continued where they left off last year.

Well done, Katie Hnida !!

Friday, August 29, 2003

Tomorrow starts the first full Saturday of college football, with two games that have definite national title implications (SC-Auburn; UDub-Ohio St.). I would be surprised if the Pac-10 schools won either game. The Trojans are coming off a stunning 11-2 season and a blow-out victory over Big 10 champion Iowa, but they lost too much offensively to expect a repeat. Washington was overrated going into last season, and Keith Gilbertson's track record as head coach at CAL does not lend itself to optimism.

Still, don't be surprised if the Buckeyes have a tough time tomorrow night, now that Maurice Clarett is sidelined. Auburn, between 2-3 touchdowns; and Ohio State, by less than six [ed-Oops !!]. And look to see if SC brings the Songgirls, er, I mean, Song Leaders; the game might be worth taping just to see what the humidity does to the white turtlenecks.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Paul Westphal has said that when he was recruited to play at USC back in the late-60's, Bob Boyd showed him the blueprints for a "new campus arena" that would soon be home to the Trojans. Thirty-five years later, SC continues to play its home games at the Sports Arena, which is, truth be told, a nice, comfortable arena, with pleasant sightlines, but is predictably empty during the team's games. In spite of their recent success under Henry Bibby, challenging UCLA for the time in almost a half-century for citywide dominance, USC's attendance was annually the worst in the conference, and one of the worst totals anywhere among big-time college basketball programs.

Finally, though, a private donor has stepped in to contribute $35 million to build the long-dreamt-of arena, and the students and alums will finally be able to see the school play its home games on campus, rather than in an ancient arena situated in the parking lot of the Coliseum, in an area thought, rightly or wrongly, to be a bad part of town. The plan is to begin construction next year, with an opening scheduled for the 2006-7 basketball season.

I would assume that once the new arena opens, the L.A. Sports Arena will no longer have a reason to be. The site of the 1960 Democratic Convention, where JFK withstood the challenge of LBJ (as well as a thrilling demonstration on the floor on behalf of Adlai Stevenson), has no other tenants, and can't really compete with Staples and the Forum for rock concerts. However, it should be seen as an opportunity for the Coliseum Commission, never known for its foresight, to removate the stadium that still dominates the area. Tearing down the Sports Arena will provide for thousands of parking spaces, as well as alleviating worries local fans have had about the neighborhood. All in all, a good day for local sports fans.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Kansas State 42, California 28: Ouch. I only hope that the Wildcats have an overpowering offense, because it will be difficult to find any optimism in the way the Bears' defense seemed completely outmatched. Offensively, the team showed they can put up points; both quarterbacks impressed, a testament to the system put in place by Jeff Tedford. The Bears face Southern Miss next.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Rick strikes back !!!

Thursday, August 21, 2003

So much of investigative reporting on the sports pages seems to consist of little more than "Toy Department" versions of Steno Sue publishing the press releases of investigators. As you might recall, the controversy over Rick Neuheisel's participation in NCAA Tournament pools has stemmed from his claim that he believed that he was not gambling per se, and had a memo from his school's athletic department affirming that position. The school, of course, denied that, and accused their ex-coach of having lied to NCAA investigators, who have taken an absolutist position concerning pools. It remains in dispute whether the regulations in question even prohibit participation in basketball pools.

So how does report the story when the NCAA releases audio tapes and transcripts indicating that Neuheisel had denied betting on the 2002 NCAA Tournament, then later admitted that he had taken part in a pool after a conference with his lawyers? It states categorically that he lied to investigators, ignoring the fact that he has claimed all along that he did not believe pools were in violation !!

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Only four days til the season starts...Go Bears !!! In the meantime, here's a tentative TV schedule for the season.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

It took awhile, but we may finally have a coach who has surpassed Dana Kirk on the all-time bad guy list: Dave Bliss. After all, Kirk was merely a crook; Bliss actively attempted to cover up his own nefarious dealings by implicating a slain player in drug dealing. Too bad the story didn't come out until after Bliss had attended the kid's funeral.

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