Urban Meyer Puts The Ol’ Clown Suit On Ron Zook

Other than a few folks in downstate Illinois, a washed-up NFL QB, and perhaps a certain native Mattoonian writer, it’s hard to find anyone who would admit to being a big Ron Zook fan. At this point in his career, the book on the Zookster is pretty much written - he’s a great recruiter-slash-snake-oil salesman who, when it comes to actually running a major-college football program, is essentially clueless.

Ron Zook, waterskiing

But it’s one thing for the media and fans to bash the guy; it’s quite another for his successor at the University of Florida, Urban Meyer, to do the same. But that’s exactly what Meyer did today. As Zook himself would say, this is “getting better and better.”

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Speed Read: Is Haley Ready For Chiefs Hot Seat?

It guess it’s not just to the victor that go the spoils: despite his team falling just short in the Super Bowl, Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley was rewarded for the team’s miracle run, as the KANSAS CITY STAR reports that he has reached an agreement with the Kansas City Chiefs to become their new head coach. Now, with the absolutely mess that the Chiefs are right now, it’s debatable how much of a “reward” this job is. But hey: it’s not the Raiders.

New Chiefs coach Todd Haley

Clearly, by resurrecting the career of Kurt Warner and turning the Cardinals into a fearsome offensive machine, Haley’s proven that he can coach an offense. But can he be the leader? After all, this is someone who never played college football (instead playing and later coaching college golf) and only got into football as a scout in 1995. Can he earn the respect of the players with such little experience?

I don’t want to raise any red flags here, but when you think of “head coach with no college playing experience,” who do you think of? Charlie Weis? And if Haley commands the type of respect and admiration from players and fans that Weis does - yikes. It might even have Chiefs fans longing for the halcyon days of Gunther Cunningham. (Note: this will never happen.)

But I had an inkling this was going to happen. A source (a teammate on my kickball team) mentioned earlier this week that his father spotted Chiefs GM Scott Pioli having a lengthy meal with Todd Haley’s representatives at a Ruth’s Chris Steak House in St. Louis, hurriedly shooing away waiters and looking out for spies (apparently not well enough).

Ruths Chris Steak House

Which brings up an interesting point: Ruth’s Chris Steak House? Really? There was no better place in St. Louis to conduct an important, secretive conversation about your next head coach than a chain steak house? Granted, it’s not Sizzler or Golden Corral, but St. Louis has to have dining options with red leather chairs and lots of dark corners - don’t they have Italian restaurants there? And why not have the meeting in Kansas City? Can someone point him to Yelp, please?

In other news: it turns out that corporate sponsors don’t like it when the person they are using to sell breakfast to millions of kids is pictured taking a rip from a bong. Who knew? CNBC details how Kellogg’s has decided not to renew Michael Phelps’ endorsement contract, which is set to expire at the end of the month. Which was probably going to happen anyway - except very quietly versus with a public statement from the company admonishing Phelps for behavior that “is not consistent with the image of Kellogg.”

Michael Phelps bounced by Kelloggs

At least Phelps can always count on USA Swimming to have his back in their usual, clumsy way. The organization decided to crack the whip on their poster child by giving him a three-month ban, during a time when he wasn’t expected to compete in any meets of significance. (He will miss one meet, but let’s be serious here - if it’s not the Olympics or World Championships. does it really matter?) It’s the equivalent of a five-game baseball suspension for a pitcher, which just means that his next start is pushed back a game.

While all this was going on, there were actual games being played last night. And none were more important - or exciting - than the clash between the Lakers and the Celtics in Boston. The last time the Lakers were seen at the Garden, they were dodging green and white confetti as they exited the court to lick their wounds after having the Celtics pound them like a two dollar steak in their Finals-clinching 131-92 victory.

Los Angeles Lakers celebrate win over Boston Celtics

That didn’t happen this time. Despite Kobe Bryant having an off shooting game (10 of 29 from the field), the Lakers found a way to prevail 110-109 in a seesaw overtime thriller. The key for the Lakers was defense - a concept many thought they had abandoned about a month ago - even without injured center Andrew Bynum, and the scoring of Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom (a combined 44 points).

But if you want to talk about winning, you have to start with Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt. After missing at her first attempt earlier in the week against Oklahoma, she notched her 1,000th career win on Thursday, with her Lady Volunteers thumping Georgia, 73-43.

Say what you will about women’s basketball, but that’s an incredible feat. Consider this: in all team sports, only Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan has recorded more wins with one team. The difference, of course, is that Summitt actually knows how to win championships (although to be fair to Sloan, she never had to game plan for Michael Jordan.) In other news:

Based on the last few nights, who do you have winning the NBA Finals?

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Speed Read: No Penalties, No Subs, No Time Limit

Officially, the Steelers-Ravens game had six injury timeouts. Something tells me more than six players got their bodies bruised last night. Fortunately, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t implement the Rollerball championship game rules in this game, because it probably would have ended up with both punters just kicking the ball to each other.

Rollerball-like conditions in Ravens-Steelers MNF

Andre Frazier was stretchered off on the first play. Both teams were down to their third-string running backs by overtime. Willis McGahee was helped off twice. Strangely, QBs Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco, the two guys who got rassled down to the ground all night, didn’t leave the game prematurely with boo-boos.

But are there really any winners, as a society increased its desire for bloodlust on this night? (Sorry, that was mighty post-apocalyptic for a sports blog.) In the post-game conference, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said the injuries did not dampen their hard-fought 23-20 win over B’more. “That’s football.” And thank God almighty for penalties, substitutions and time limits.

Speaking of men with no apparent time limits, let’s bring in our comic relief. Headlining tonight’s gig will be Funny Bone Ticker of the Year, Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders! [applause]

Al Davis

(Wow. He’s never looked better.)

Davis has never been a buy-the-book guy. When the book says “fire your coach, then look for a replacement?” Davis burns the book. (Or feeds it to a lamprey.) No, Davis is hellbent on finding a replacement to Lane Kiffin first, then subsequently firing Kiffin, ESPN is reporting. Perhaps this is all a cunning ruse by Davis, through the wise advise of former literary agent John Hodgman, to convince the world that time is moving backwards. By Week 11, he’ll inexplicably announce Lane Kiffin as the new head coach of the Raiders. By 2010, he’ll hire Art Shell, just to throw the world a curveball. And in 2015, he’ll lose his virginity.

So if you’re curious if Kiffin’s been canned yet, there’s only one definitive place to bookmark and refresh. The official website of the countdown, HASLANEKIFFINBEENFIRED.COM:

Has Kiffin Been Fired?

(Could Abe Froman be interested in the job?)

Kiffin probably doesn’t deserve to be head coach anymore, but man, when did it make sense to can coaches before October? (I think we’ve all had ex-girlfriends who we’ve strung along for far less time than Davis has done with Kiffin.) The SANTA ROSA PRESS DEMOCRAT notes that if Kiffin’s job is saved, Kalimba Edwards might have had something to do with it.

Tiger on his knees, not in my tank

The world’s best golfer has a time limit of 24 months before he can play again? So stay strong and resolute in your fantasy golf keeper leagues, because Tiger Woods‘ ACL injury recovery could last as long as two years, sez THE TELEGRAPH. World famous surgeon Lanny L. Johnson said — no kidding! — that the ligament means something different to football players than it does to golfers:

“If you tear your cruciate ligament in American football, you can play within a year – and with full confidence within two years. Based on this, and the recovery period of other athletes, I am guessing that Tiger will need two years.”

Wow. What a world in which we take advice from guys named Lanny.

What about a world in which you take advice from guys named Joey Porter?

Joey Porter, financial advisor

  • The Dolphins linebacker knows how to get us out of this economic recession. ESPN’s NFL NATION gets the financial advice we’ve been waiting to hear: just dig a hole in your backyard and put your money in there. Skeptical? Hey, he was right about Matt Cassel.
  • Then Porter can tell you to go back in time and bet on the Tampa Bay Rays to win the American League who, as VEGAS WATCH points out, were at 75-1 odds to start the year. (Quick story about this. We saw the Vegas Hilton Sportsbook odds a couple weeks ago, and at the top stood the Yankees’ AL hopes at 2500-1. Second from the bottom was Tampa, at 20-1. Oh what a beautiful sight it was.)
  • A somber update to Jaguars offensive lineman Richard Collier, who was shot 14 times last month: His leg was amputated and will be paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of his life.
  • So you just lost your quarterback for the season? No worries. If you’re the Washington Huskies, and your QB is Jake Locker, just move him to safety, COLLEGE FOOTBALL TALK murmurs.
  • Gilbert Arenas‘ life, because it needed to be said, is still better than yours. As he shares on AGENT ZERO, the Wiz’ star is now engaged, and he didn’t even have to pop the question.
  • Ousted Rams coach Scott Linehan can at least take solace that more people approved of this work than they do of still-employed Vikings coach Brad Childress, RANDBALL discovers.
  • Meaningless game for the Tigers on Monday? Tell that to Jim Leyland, who told MLB.COM: “I wanted to win this game today bad … because we wanted to get another win. It’s not like you’re trying to knock the White Sox out as much as you’re trying to get a win and you’re trying to be professional and go about your business. I tried everything I knew how to do.”
  • Encouraging words from the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Ron Wilson to the GLOBE AND MAIL regarding the upcoming NHL season: “We’re not going to win the Stanley Cup this year. There’s a news flash for you.” Honesty. You gotta respect that, at least.
  • Pssh. What the heck does Will Leitch know about New York sports? That didn’t stop him from sharing his ten best Big Apple athletes for NEW YORK MAGAZINE.
  • Oh yeah, and the White Sox play the Twins for the AL Central crown today. It’s Nick Blackburn against John Danks. No, I’m not envious by jamming this nugget at the end of the article. Nuh-uh.

What’s most likely to happen in today’s Sox-Twins playoff game?

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Blog Jam: Church Not So Impressed With Phelps

• Even though Michael Phelps made Olympic history, one church doesn’t think the 8-time gold-winning swimmer is all that high and mighty.

Michael Phelps Jesus church sign

• Aghast by Jeff Kent’s comments on Vin Scully, Brewers broadcaster Jim Powell wonders how the Dodgers’ 2nd baseman will be able to play “with that enormous spiked shoe in his mouth.”

• BOSTON SPORTS MEDIA tunes in to learn that fromer DEADSPIN guru Will Leitch has landed a spot on Beantown’s WEEI radio.

• GIZMODO volleys up the true origin of that weird black stuff seen on Kerri Walsh’s shoulder.

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Brog: Our ‘Deadspin Nation’ Does Stimulus Checks

Mark McGuire of the ALBANY TIMES-UNION has this line today about the curious celebrity of Anna Kournikova: “Kournikova’s career remains a prominent example of how sports, sex and celebrity congeal into the oleo that is entertainment in Deadspin Nation.

Will Leitch, Feerless Leader Of Deadspin Nation

(Forget cheese, in Deadspin Nation, it’s all about free government mustard)

I know, there’s nothing more scintillating than a rehash of Kournikova’s breast size pseudo celebrity (Mark, 2001 called, they want their XM radio back.)

More interesting is that’s the first time I’ve seen or heard a main media member use the phrase “Deadspin Nation.” Actually, that’s the first I’ve heard of it altogether (tho I’m sure Shanoff’s already got it copyrighted and trademarked).

So what does a Deadspin Nation entail? I’m not really sure, besides of course Mattoon adding “The Home Of Will Leitch!” to the city’s interstate welcome sign, Buzz Bissinger being fitted for a monitoring anklet, and Ron Zook manning central command of Operation Iraqi Freedom (”you’re doing a great job, Zookie Zooker!“).

Additionally, you can count on the Executive Branch of Deadspin Nation being quartered here.

Tom Hoffarth of the L.A. DAILY NEWS reports that ESPN Radio in L.A. (KSPN-AM) is already trying to buy out the contract of afternoon host Dave Dameshek. As some of you may know, I appeared often on the show Dameshek replaced eight months ago, which featured longtime SoCal sports radio mainstays Steve Mason and John Ireland. When Dameshek was brought on last year, KSPN let Ireland go and moved Mason to middays.

John Ireland and SbB Girls at ESPN Radio in Los Angeles

(SoCal sports guy John Ireland is back on KSPN-AM with Steve Mason)

Dameshek’s show, according to Hoffarth, lost half of Mason & Ireland’s audience in the Arbitron Ratings in mere months. So KSPN officials have brought Ireland back and reunited him with Mason on a midday show - and are in the process of attempting to part ways with Dameshek, who has $400,000 in ESPN commits left on the final two years of his deal.

World’s most irrelevant jobs:

1) Construction site security guard
2) TSA liquid carry-on enforcement official
3) Budget controller, California State Legislature
4) Baltimore Orioles beat reporter

Orioles Grounds Crew Member running

(Run, Forest, Run!)

You know the latter is bad when the highlight of your 2008 season reporting is a piece about a grounds crew member. Thanks Pete! Read more…

Blog Jam: It’s Never Too Early To Talk Song Girls

  • BUSTED COVERAGE introduces us to Lindsey (on the left), their early favorite for this season’s USC Song Girl of the Year.
  • USC Song Girl Lindsey

  • BUGS AND CRANKS pays a buck for a CD that includes Omar Vizquel’s priceless rendition of the Goo Goo Dolls single, “Broadway”. I don’t know what’s more surprising in that sentence - Vizquel singing the Goo Goo Dolls, or that someone still pays for CDs.
  • The Phillies fought back from a 5-2 deficit in the ninth to beat the Mets 8-6 in the first of a three-game showdown for first place in the NL East. But some writer at NEW YORK MAGAZINE named Will Leitch says this is no rivalry series.
  • NEWS.COM.AU tells us a dozen are injured at a bull fight in Colombia. However, the bull had nothing to do with it. The video evidence to prove it is after the jump. Read more…

ATTN Deadspin: Sean Salisbury Does Not Approve

DEADSPIN made official what we all surmised the minute Editor Will Leitch made it known he was moving to NEW YORK magazine: A.J. Daulerio will take over pointy hat duties at the front of the Gawker-launched vessel beginning Monday.

Daulerio Salisbury

(The “Brand”: Canned by Bristol and now this?’)

Daulerio, an Editor of former Gawker gambling site “Oddjack,” had been a part time contributor to the site until a few months ago, when he was named a Senior Writer for the site. He’d previously been freelancing for Philly publications. (and some of our favorite, orphaned sweat sock-accompanied publications.)

Rick Chandler stays on as Associate Editor and Clay Travis of CBSSports.com has also been added as a fulltimer, with the same title as Chandler. Read more…

Blogz: Scott Van Pelt Wishes Will Leitch The Best

• DEADSPIN rolls tape, as outgoing head honcho Will Leitch gets a very special goodbye message from the one & only Scott Van Pelt.

Will Leitch Scott Van Pelt

• BRAHSOME shows the Knicks fans’ response to their team drafting Danilo Gallinari - laughter, then booing, then chants of “U-S-A!

• Tom Fornelli of AOL FANHOUSE hurls up video of just-ejected White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper throwing something in disgust - and he ends up pulling his hamstring.

• WITH LEATHER huddles up to share news of some English rugby players getting in a scrum with an 18-year-old stripper.

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Brog: Thank Goodness I Looked Above The Urinal

I’d heard from LAT moles that the sports dept. was preparing an upcoming piece on sports blogs for publish, but didn’t know it was out until I visited (and looked above) the trusty, upstairs urinal at Red Rock in WeHo today:

Los Angeles Times SbB Piece

David Wharton (Fight On!) penned the piece, which reports that sports bloggers are now being more responsible in their posting approach.

Truth is, we’ve been that way for as long as I can remember. We’ve a huge audience going back to 2003, and if we posted anything defamatory, we’d have had our a$$ sued off by now. Nothing’s changed here. Business as usual. Read more…

Blog-A-Roni: Bengals LB Talks Go-Karts, Not Chad

• Cincinnati Bengals LB Keith Rivers won’t blog about Chad Johnson, but will blog about his team’s trip to the go kart track.

Chad Johnson Go Karts

• THE SENATOR’S FORUM goes behind the scenes of TV coverage of the College World Series - and get a surprise visit from Erin Andrews.

• GOSSIP ON SPORTS runs down all the athletes that hit, kicked and slammed themselves onto the Forbes Celebrity 100 list.

• DEADSPIN’s Will Leitch sure hopes the Fenway faithful are nice to him.

Read more…