Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Unfortunately Dan Snyder can not be ignored

When I opened up The Washington Post this morning and saw that Dan Snyder had ‘written,’ an op-ed defending his ridiculous lawsuit against The Washington City Paper I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I also didn’t know whether to write about it or just ignore it. Perhaps no one on earth has ever deserved to be ignored more than Dan Snyder.

The problem is he can’t be ignored. He is relentlessly annoying and he has access to the media—any and all media in Washington—whenever he wants it. That doesn’t mean that access helps him. In fact, quite the opposite because every time he or one of his flunkies—today his latest overpaid lawyers were writing and talking on his behalf—opens up his or her mouth they just re-prove the point Dave McKenna was making in his now famous City Paper piece of last November.

It is almost pointless to revisit the claims Snyder is making in his bully lawsuit. Here’s what it boils down to: McKenna wrote a lengthy piece making fun of Snyder for being a bad owner and Snyder decided THIS was the guy to pick on. He wasn’t going to pick on The Washington Post because The Post still has plenty of money and lawyers on staff who deal with nuisance libel suits all the time so he decided—as bullies do—to pick on the little guy.

If you go back to the first letter Snyder’s lawyers sent to The City Paper it SAID we have money and you don’t so you better apologize before we spend you into bankruptcy defending yourself against this law suit. That’s the legal version of ‘give me your lunch money or I’ll beat you up.’

After the threats came Snyder’s media tour of radio row at The Super Bowl, complete with claims that he HAD to file the lawsuit because McKenna had attacked his wife, a cancer survivor and he simply couldn’t tolerate that. Of course the story in no way attacks Tanya Snyder, it simply says that she was part of the ‘new Dan Snyder,’ campaign, going on various shows to say he’d learned his lessons and was surrounded now by better people.

Snyder, who is accusing McKenna of making things up, simply made that up. About the only person who interviewed him that day who hadn’t done enough homework to know he had made that up was WFAN’s Mike Francesa, who thought attacking a cancer survivor was simply a terrible thing. He’s right—it is terrible. Except McKenna didn’t come close to doing it.

Then Snyder played the anti-semitic card, claiming the drawing that accompanied the piece depicting him as the devil was anti-semitic. He also said the lawsuit was the idea of his hapless new PR director (of about a year now) Tony Wyllie who took over for the equally hapless Karl Swanson.

Wyllie was responsible for much of the ‘new,’ Dan Snyder campaign: encouraging Snyder to talk to reporters more; doing silly, self-serving TV interviews with clueless interviewers; inviting the media to charity ribbon cuttings to remind people of all the wonderful things Snyder does for charity. He also called reporters who haven’t been nice to Snyder in the past to take them to lunch to convince them of the error of their ways.

My pal Sally Jenkins got a call and lunch. I got a call but no lunch. Damn.

Wyllie’s strategy wasn’t bad—especially after all the years of Swanson and the beyond-hapless Vinny Cerrato playing bad cop to Snyder’s worse cop. Somewhere along the line you need a good cop, especially when your team has been consistently mediocre, except when it has been awful.

A pause here for a quick word on Cerrato, who crawled out from under his rock a few weeks ago to appear on Mike Wise’s radio show. I like Wise, I really do, but why ANYONE would give Cerrato five minutes of airtime (or any space in the newspaper) is seriously beyond me. At one point when Wise, his co-host Holden Kushner and their producer Chris Johnson (a SERIOUSLY aggrieved Redskins fan) were trying to pin Cerrato down on something—anything—one of them asked Cerrato whose decision it was to sign Jeff George.

“I can’t recall,” Cerrato answered.

Jeez, all he had to do was add, “Senator,” to that line.

At one point during his Super Bowl tour Snyder said on one radio station something almost exactly like this: “Tony, who is, as you know, African-American, just felt we couldn’t let the anti-semitism involved here continue without defending ourselves.”

Oh, okay so because Tony is African-American he qualifies as an expert on anti-semitism? Does that mean that I can understand what it is like to be African-American because I’m Jewish? Maybe—MAYBE—one percent because Jews and African-Americans do still face prejudice, even in today’s society. That’s about it.

It is worth noting that the newly re-filed lawsuit makes no references to anti-semitism or McKenna picking on a cancer survivor—the two major reasons Snyder cited in February for filing the lawsuit. It picks on three facts, claiming that what McKenna wrote isn’t true. From what I’m told if McKenna got anything wrong he was technically wrong. For example: Snyder’s company paying a fine for forging documents may not make SNYDER the actual forger.

Here’s LD’s problem: in libel suits technicalities don’t matter. The plaintiff has to prove that the defendant was not only completely wrong but was wrong because of malice. One lawyer I heard on the 106.7 The Fan on Tuesday predicted that Snyder had ‘zero,’ percent chance of winning the suit and, pointing to the original letter, said this is clearly a bully lawsuit.

Then he said something that I thought was very smart: “The right way to do this is to use your access to the media FIRST. Dan Snyder has complete access to anyone and everyone in the Washington media including The Washington Post just by picking up a phone. If all he wants is to make the point that McKenna had it wrong, he can make that point through the media. A lawsuit should be his last resort. In Snyder’s case it was his first resort.”

The lawyer—whose name I can’t remember and can’t find on The 106.7 The Fan website because it is full of headlines about Snyder’s lawyer coming on to try to clear things up (oh please)—is very smart. He knows and everyone knows this has to do with Snyder proving that he’s richer and more powerful than The City Paper and can bully the paper and McKenna into an apology or a retraction and that will somehow prove that he’s RIGHT that the media is out to get him.

Perhaps Snyder should call up his op-ed (written for him apparently by Lanny Davis, who once represented Bill Clinton and has now officially reached the nadir of his career by going to work for Snyder) and read the comments about a piece that carries HIS byline. I only read about the first 100 posts but public opinion, after Davis stated his case for Snyder as eloquently as he could, was running about 100-to-1 against Snyder. My guess is the next 900 didn’t get much better.

So, apparently everyone is out to get Snyder. There’s an old saying: If you think everyone in the world is crazy, maybe you should look in the mirror. Of course there’s another old saying: If no one likes you then at least you know you’re not paranoid.

Congratulations, Dan. You’re not paranoid.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

This week's radio segments (The Sports Reporters, The Gas Man)

Wednesday I joined The Sports Reporters in my normal time slot (5:25 ET on Wednesday's). Click the permalink, then the link below, to listen to the segment from this week.  We started out the segment talking about the breaking news, MLB taking control of the one of the most historical franchises, the Dodgers. Following the baseball talk, we discussed the Bob Knight, Kentucky, and ESPN situation that arose this week before ending with the NFL labor strife.

Click here to listen to the segment: The Sports Reporters

Also Wednesday I joined The Gas Man in my normal weekly spot. This week we spent a lot of time discussing Bob Knight and his comments on Kentucky basketball players this week, including Knight’s history with the program, before moving on to discussing the merits of the best of 5 vs. best of 7 series. That conversation led up to discussing the best playoff scenario around, hockey game 7s.

Click here to listen to the segment: The Gas Man

Monday, April 18, 2011

Barry Bonds and Eldrick T. Woods

There is a scene in the classic 1967 movie, “A Guide For The Married Man,” in which Bobby Morse is explaining to Walter Matthau what one is to do when caught by your wife in bed with another woman.

As Morse describes the scene we see Terry Thomas in bed with Jayne Mansfield. In walks his wife who instantly starts screaming. Without missing a beat, Terry Thomas gets out of bed, gets Ms. Mansfield to help him make it; helps her into her clothes and then puts his own on; walks her to the door, kisses her goodbye, then walks back into the house and sits down in his living room chair and begins reading the newspaper.

His wife, who has been screaming the whole time, finally says, “Well, how do you explain this?”

“Explain what?” he answers very calmly.

She looks around. There’s no sign of another woman. The bed is made. There is absolutely no evidence that he has anything to explain. She finally looks at him and says, “What do you want for dinner?”

Which brings us to Barry Bonds and Eldrick T. Woods.

Apparently they saw the movie. Either that or they (and you can throw Roger Clemens and others in here too) have figured out that if you simply deny everything, SOMEONE will ask you what you want for dinner.

Raise your hand if you are among those who believe for one second that Bonds didn’t know what he was doing when he took steroids. While you are laughing, consider this: a jury of 12 of Bonds’ peers (a misuse of terminology on every level since Bonds would be the first to tell you he has no peers) could not conclude that Bonds perjured himself when he told a grand jury he ‘accidentally,’ took steroids that just about doubled his head-size and turned him from a Hall of Fame player destined to hit about 500 home runs into baseball’s tainted all-time home run king. (lower-case letters intentional).

And yet, after hearing weeks of evidence from, in some cases, first hand witnesses, the jury only convicted Bonds on an obstruction of justice charge for being ‘evasive,’ while answering questions. The vote on one of the perjury counts was 11-1 for conviction. My guess is that the woman who voted not to convict would have voted against conviction if Bonds had walked into the jury room and said, “are you kidding, of course I lied, I was counting on SOMEONE being stupid enough to buy my story.”

She probably wouldn’t have found him to be a credible witness.

Bonds should write her a check for at least $1 million because she single-handedly kept him out of jail. He won’t do jail time on the obstruction charge but if he had been convicted of perjury, there would have been no choice but to give him SOME jail time. That perp walk would have been recorded forever and would have been seen for generations far more often than Bonds’ 756th home run.

But he got off. No, he won’t go to The Hall of Fame but not going to the Hall of Fame as a punishment is a lot better than going to jail and THEN not going to the Hall of Fame. So, Bonds got off the way so many famous people get off. Heck, there were people then and there are people now who think Richard Nixon was railroaded out of office by the media in 1974. I know this for a fact because on the day Nixon resigned there was a New York Times headline that said, “Nixon’s Last Bastion of Support.” The dateline was Shelter Island, New York—where I spent summers as a kid. Many of the people quoted in that story were members of Gardiner’s Bay Country Club, where I worked in the pro shop. Several had complained to my boss about my “Impeach the Cox-Sacker,” bumper sticker.

No doubt there are people who think the media has railroaded Bonds because he’s been a pain-in-the-neck to deal with through the years. Or that the federal government was making some kind of example of him. I would suggest reviewing the testimony. I would also ask how then you explain what is happening to Clemens, who was actually very good with the media—especially later in his career. My sense of the federal government is this: If they think you’re lying, they come after you. Period.

As for my friend Mr. Woods, here is my second question of the day: Those of you who still think he’s ‘changed,’ since November 27, 2009 please raise your hands too. Maybe his golf has changed, but Tiger is still Tiger: dismissive (see Macatee, Bill—attempted post-round interview on Sunday at Augusta) arrogant, unwilling to do even the smallest things to make himself a little more fan friendly (please, go ahead and tell me it would kill him to play the par-three at The Masters. And don’t give me the, ‘he doesn’t want to change his pre-tournament routine,’ line. He changes it every year and, fact is, he hasn’t won there since 2005 so why NOT change?).

And yet, like with Nixon and Bonds and Clemens, there are still people buying Tiger’s lines. His new thing is to say he can’t change his schedule and can’t play more golf because he needs time with his children. It’s a good line—one that’s tough to argue with. Of course it doesn’t explain why he was seen in The Bahamas gambling a few days before going to Augusta; then, after nine days in Augusta, jumped on a plane to go to China to sell Nike product a few minutes after his last blow-off line to Macatee.

Look, you want to go to the Bahamas and have fun—go for it. You want to be a Nike salesman and go halfway around the world—heck, maybe it’s in your contract. But DON’T do those things and then try to tell us how much you miss your kids. In fact, during an infomercial last Thursday on Golf Channel (which posed as an ‘interview,’) during which viewers had to sit and listen to the president of Nike golf pitch the new spring products right there on-camera with Tiger, co-host Erik Kuselias, trying to make the interview at least semi-legitimate, asked Woods about being away from his kids so much.

“That’s why Skype is so great,” Tiger said with a straight face. “It’s almost like being there.”

I am not a crook.

I didn’t know what I was putting in my body.

Skype is just like being there.

What do you want for dinner Mr. President? Barry? Tiger?

Monday, April 11, 2011

On the passing of my longtime mentor and closest of friends, Bill Brill

Sad day...

I understand that today is a day for me to write about The Masters—which certainly was extraordinary. Charl Schwartzel’s finish was historic and so, sadly, was Rory McIlroy’s collapse. Tiger Woods made it clear the question isn’t IF he is going to win another major but WHEN.

As difficult as it is to cover The Masters (it’s certainly fun to be there but there’s less access to the players than at any tournament in the world) and as tired as I get of all the ‘first nine…second nine…patrons,’ blather there is no doubt Sunday at Augusta is almost always about as dramatic a day as there is in sports. That was certainly the case yesterday.

Having said all that I am going to write today about Bill Brill. Unless you live in Roanoke, Virginia or are a fan of Duke or of sportswriters, you probably don’t know the name. So, you are going to have to trust me when I tell you he was a legendary figure. He was also one of my closest friends and a longtime mentor (although he believed he often failed in that area) to me. He died yesterday at the age of 79.

Sports has a lot of first name athletes: Tiger, Michael, Kobe, Venus and Serena et al. Brill was a last name sportswriter. Maybe that’s just our nature—we tend to call one another by last names, often as a term of endearment. Bill was always just ‘Brill.’ His wife Jane often called him Brill and my son Danny called him Uncle Brill.

Brill was truly a Runyonesque character. His personality was probably best summed up by a T-shirt he liked to wear that said: “I’m not opinionated, I’m just right all the time.” He believed that with all his heart yet managed to do it in an endearing way. No one loved Duke more than Brill—and yet he was friends with Dean Smith and Roy Williams and almost everyone at North Carolina. One of the people most concerned when word got out that Brill had cancer was Gary Williams—who isn’t exactly the world’s biggest Duke fan.

Brill never liked anything or disliked anything. He LOVED things or HATED them. No in-between. One of his many classic lines came during a Duke-North Carolina ACC Tournament game in 1984—the game when Mike Krzyzewski began to come of age by upsetting a Dean-Smith Carolina team led by Michael Jordan and Sam Perkins.

With about five minutes left in the game someone came out to press row to report that Florida State had just beaten Virginia Tech in The Metro Tournament. Brill worked in Roanoke from 1959 to 1992 and hated Virginia Tech. He got along fine with most people who worked there but just didn’t like the IDEA of the school. It wasn’t in the ACC and it wanted to be in the ACC. Brill was always against ACC expansion (he boycotted the 2005 ACC Tournament in protest of the football expansion) and said so and the Virginia Tech people couldn’t stand him. Someone once hired a plane to fly over Lane Stadium with a sign trailing behind it that said, “Fire Bill Brill NOW.” A lot of people have disliked me through the years but I never rated an airplane.

And so, when Brill learned that the Hokies had gone down on that Saturday in 1984 he said to me, “That’s great news! That makes my whole day!” (Brill always spoke in exclamation points regardless of the subject).

“How can you say it makes your whole day?” I said. “What if Duke loses this game. You love Duke.”

“I know!” he said. “But hate’s a stronger emotion than love!”

To say that line has been quoted about a billion times in press rooms is a vast understatement.

Brill one-liners (intentional or not) are constantly repeated around the ACC. In 1978, during the ACC championship game between Duke and Wake Forest, Doug Doughty, his long-time colleague and close friend in Roanoke, looked over with a couple of minutes left and noticed that Brill was intently reading a newspaper.

“Brill, what the hell are you doing?” he asked.

“I’m so nervous I can’t look!” Brill answered.

He also insisted one night at dinner that he was, “in the middle of the room,” when Duke hired Lefty Driesell to succeed Vic Bubas as basketball coach in 1969. Of course we all know Lefty never coached at Duke. Brill insisted he was there when the Duke assistants were told by Bubas that Lefty was getting the job.

“So what happened?” all of us listening to the story asked.

“I don’t know, they made me leave the room,” he said.

“Whose room was it?”


“And they made you leave?”


“But Lefty was the coach when you left?”

“Yes. And Bucky Waters was the coach when I came back.”

The problem here is there is no way to convey how funny it was when Brill told the story. In fact, for many years the annual get-together of Brill’s friends at the ACC Tournament became known as, “the middle of the room dinner.”

Brill was far more than just a memorable character. For one thing, he and the great Skeeter Francis were responsible for writing the rules on media access in the ACC that for years gave writers covering the conference better and quicker postgame access than anywhere in the country. Even today, with all the cutbacks in access, the ACC is still better than almost anyplace. Brill was largely responsible for that.

He was also the first bracketologist. In fact, he invented the genre years before all these other guys turned it into an obnoxious cottage industry. Brill understood college basketball better than anyone and he also studied and learned the NCAA tournament committee’s ever-shifting criteria more closely than anyone. At some point in the 1970s, he began putting together his own bracket that was always unveiled late—very late—on Saturday night at the ACC Tournament.

Except for the fact that there were no ‘corporate champions,’ Brill’s bracket was unveiled with at least as much fanfare as the official bracket. We always rolled him in to the hospitality room (which has actually been called the ‘hostility,’ room for years by everyone in the ACC because of an exchange involving Brill late one night when Skeeter Francis ran out of beer) on a luggage cart. It was the best we could do. As he was rolled in the entire crowd would chant, “Oh no, not Brill!” a takeoff on the Duke students chanting that when certain players—usually from Carolina—would get into a game in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

One year Gene Corrigan, who was then the ACC’s commissioner, introduced Brill (as ‘the Mahatma Brill’) and led the ‘oh no, not Brill!’ chant. Somehow I can’t picture John Swofford doing that. Brill would announce each bracket and—I swear I’m not making this up—people listened so carefully that a couple of times young writers started to call their offices to make travel plans before they were informed that even though Brill’s bracket SHOULD be the real one, it wasn’t.

I always said—and I still believe—that Brill in a room with a couple of beers could do a better job than the committee with all its staff and computers and bloated self-importance. Most years Brill would have about 63 teams the committee would pick. When that year’s UAB would go up on the TV screen he’d shrug and say, “well, they always get at least one wrong.”

I first met Brill my sophomore year in college. I couldn’t quite understand why the Roanoke paper covered so many Duke games—especially since Duke was BAD in those days. I figured it out when I got to know Brill: he had two great loves in his life: Jane—who he was married to for 49 years—and Duke. Right from the start, he became a mentor although I know I disappointed him at times by being critical of Duke—especially on the issue of football. Brill died thinking Duke was right on the verge of football greatness—because he believed it for the last 50 years. In fact, when he was first diagnosed with esophageal cancer two months ago I told him he was going to be fine because I just KNEW he was destined to see Duke play in a bowl game again—and that meant he had to live another 50 years.

Sadly, I was wrong.

Brill was unabashedly loyal to all things Duke. Often he would call me after I had said something—anything—bad about Duke and say, “well, you’ve done it again.” Then he would tell me about all the other people who were angry with me. He never said HE was angry, just others. Once, when someone implied that Bobby Hurley wasn’t likely to be mistaken for Brad Pitt, Brill got very upset.

“I think he’s very good looking!” he said. “If I was a girl, I’d certainly date him!”

From that day forward, anyone who was the least bit good-looking was compared to Hurley—and, of course, lost.

I saw him last on the Saturday of this year’s ACC Tournament. We all knew he was really sick when he couldn’t make the tournament so I went to his house to spend some time with him and report back to everyone on how he was doing. Just about everyone—writers, TV-types, coaches, officials—signed a giant card we made for him. Mike Krzyzewski wrote, “Oh no, not Brill!” and Gary Williams asked if he owned any sweaters that weren’t Duke blue.

The good news is he was still Brill that day. He had—of course—figured out the pairings and was obsessing about whether Kyrie Irving would play in the NCAA Tournament. As I was leaving he said to me, “If the captain (Krzyzewski’s nickname in joking homage to his Army rank and Bob Knight’s insistence on being called, ‘the general,’) doesn’t beat the Hokies today he’s going to be in big trouble with me.’

The captain dodged that Brill bullet and put a smile on his face by beating Carolina the next day in the championship game. I’m truly glad—and my Carolina friends will understand this—that Brill’s last memory of Duke-Carolina was a Duke win.

He went downhill fast the last few weeks and we all knew the end was coming this weekend. As he requested, his memorial service will be held in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Brill always insisted that all the truly great Duke players won their last home game in Cameron. He had a list to prove it.

He’s on that list now too.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

This week's radio segments (The Sports Reporters, The Gas Man)

Wednesday I joined The Sports Reporters in my normal time slot (5:25 ET on Wednesday's). Click the permalink, then the link below, to listen to the segment from this week.  This week we covered the multitude of topics of the day, including the Debbie Yow comments on Gary Williams, the Championship Game struggles of Butler and U-Conn and we finished up discussing The Masters, including Tiger Woods' decision not to play in the Par 3 event and who I would like to see win this week.

Click here to listen to the segment: The Sports Reporters

Also Wednesday I joined The Gas Man in my normal weekly spot. This week we spent the time speaking mostly about The Masters, including the necessity of the practice rounds that were a challenge because of early week windy weather, where Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson sit in the ranks of golfers today, the beauty of the unpredictability in who the winner could be, the grand gesture of Ryo Ishikawa, and many other topics pertaining to the tournament. To finish up, we talked about the Final Four and the effect of the court set-up in domes.

Click here to listen to the segment: The Gas Man

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Washington Post column: 'Instead of a coronation, dismal NCAA title game was a culmination of bad habits'

Here is the latest The Washington Post column ----------

This was the message of Monday night’s NCAA national championship game: You reap what you sow.

This is where basketball has come after years of the powers-that-be fiddling while the sport has burned.
It is not news that the level of play — from youth basketball to the NBA — has been dropping like a stone for a good long while now, but Connecticut’s unwatchable 53-41 victory over Butler put that fact into focus on the game’s biggest stage.

There’s no doubt these were the two teams that deserved to play for the championship. Connecticut had won 10 consecutive games to get to the title game; Butler had won 14 in a row. Each had survived scares by making big plays late, and both had that little bit of luck that most national champions need.

And then they both no-showed on Monday night, except that Butler out-no-showed U-Conn. Were the Huskies the best team? Let’s put it this way: They were less bad than everyone else in the (too many) 68-team field.

Please — please — let’s not go down the “that was great defense” road. Let’s agree that the defenses were good while acknowledging that the offenses were god-awful. Butler couldn’t make a layup or an open jump shot. Matt Howard, who is as admirable a player as has ever played in the tournament, had a night that will keep him awake for years to come.

Click here for the rest of the article: Instead of a coronation, dismal NCAA title game was a culmination of bad habits

Friday, April 1, 2011

The new poster boy for college athletics: John Junker; All bowls should be investigated; Answering a few questions

Through the years I have written often about those who SHOULD define what college sports is all about: the kids who play at Army and Navy; stories like those of Butler and VCU; coaches like Dean Smith, Joe Paterno and Mike Krzyzewski.

Of course we all know that, in the end, college athletics isn’t about people like that. It’s really about guys like Jim Tressel and Cecil Newton and the fabulous E. Gordon—“Jim please don’t fire me,”—Gee. It is about new NCAA President Mark Emmert who expresses concern for the ‘student-athletes,’ but won’t talk about how much he’s being paid.

I could go on and on.

But now we have a new poster boy for college athletics, a man who absolutely defines what college athletics is truly all about. His name is John Junker and, for most of 30 years, he ran The Fiesta Bowl. He was the absolute model of a modern bowl-game blowhard, only no one knew that he was also a crook. Now, a detailed report on The Fiesta Bowl’s finances has revealed that Junker used money from the bowl’s budget—much of it ill-gotten to begin with it should be remembered—to make contributions that were almost certainly illegal to politicians who had done him favors; to finance his 50th birthday party (for more than$33,000); to travel far and wide on boondoggles and to pay for his membership in at least four expensive golf clubs.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. After Junker denied all the charges when they were initially made by The Arizona Republic in 2009, he had a buddy of his conduct a fraudulent investigation that apparently lasted about 15 minutes in which the few witnesses spoken to were apparently coached on their answers. Junker’s pal concluded there was no credibility to the charges, accepted a check for about $20,000 and rode off into the sunset. The guy clearly has a future working for the NCAA down the road.

Wait, we’re still not at the punch line. One of the many items Junker charged to the bowl was for a trip to a strip club. Apparently he and his PR guy and his security honcho made a trip to a Phoenix strip club one night, ran up a tab of more than $1,200 and charged it to the bowl. If nothing else this is absolute proof that Junker thought he was completely untouchable, that he could get away with ANYTHING.

Wait, it gets better.

When the real investigation into the bowl’s finances took place, Junker was asked about the strip club tab. This is what he said, according to the report: “We are in the business where big, strong athletes are known to attend these types of establishments. It was important for us to visit, and we certainly conducted business.”

Go back and read that again. Not since former DC-Mayor Marion Barry famously said, “The bitch set me up,” when he got caught in a police cocaine sting operation, have more extraordinary words been uttered.

Junker actually told investigators that as part of his job as a glad-handing phony, he needed to ‘conduct business,’ in a strip club. Jeez, why didn’t I think of that? “You know, as a reporter I have to deal with big strong athletes…”

The old definition of the Hebrew word ‘chutzpah,’ was the guy who kills his parents and then throws himself on the mercy of the court because he’s an orphan. John Junker may have just topped that.

Of course at this point Junker is just the sideshow. He’s been fired—ya think?—and will spend the rest of his life being a punch line. Now the question is this: will ANYONE do anything about this?

Oh, the hand-wringing is already well underway. My friend Bill Hancock, the BCS administrator, is doing his Inspector Renaud imitation: he’s shocked, SHOCKED to learn there were strip clubs in Phoenix. Emmert, who has yet to be caught in an actual truth since becoming NCAA President, thinks it really is bad that all this has gone on.

Okay boys, what next?

It could be that Hancock and The BCS might feel the need to remove The Fiesta Bowl from the BCS rotation for a little while if only to prove that they aren’t actually collecting on their winnings as they leave Rick’s CafĂ©. Jerry Jones is standing by ready to provide his palace and the Cotton Bowl as a BCS venue so there’s an easy fallback. Then, in a couple of years, if The Fiesta Bowl people make nice, they’re put back in the rotation and the BCS generously announces it is adding a bowl so that the third place teams in the Big Ten and The SEC can be added to the gravy train. TCU and Boise State need not apply for either of the extra two bids.

Of course if Emmert actually wanted to something he could: take away The Fiesta Bowl’s sanction for at least two years. Please spare me the speeches about the charities that benefit from the bowl game. It is pretty clear that the only ones really benefiting from this bowl were guys like Junker and his political cronies and guys like the associate commissioner of the SEC who got to play a round of golf with Jack Nicklaus. Spare me the tears about all the volunteers. They’ll find another way—perhaps even a meaningful way—to volunteer their time for a couple of years.

How much you want to bet Emmert uses the, ‘all these other wonderful people shouldn’t suffer because of the mistakes of a handful of people,’ dodge?

Here’s what should really happen: The IRS should immediately begin an investigation of every single bowl game. They’re all 501C3, tax-exempt entities, most with executive directors who make in the same ballpark as the 600K Junker was drawing—that’s not counting the money he was using for strip club expenses et al. I wonder how all those bowls with their various junkets for TV partners and conference commissioners and athletic directors would hold up under such scrutiny. Maybe the IRS will conclude that these bowls should be stripped (no pun intended) of their 501C3 status. Now THAT would change college football and college athletics and bring about a playoff lickety-split because then the self-righteous, pandering presidents would HAVE to find a way to make up for not being able to grab what they’re grabbing from the BCS right now.

I’ve always said that a playoff didn’t have to mean any change at all in the current bowl system. You could play four quarterfinals at bowl sites; two semifinals at bowl sites and the championship game at a bowl site. The remaining 27 bowls would continue as is, inviting all of America’s deserving 6-6 teams.

Now perhaps that position should be reconsidered. We all know the bowls rip off the schools anyway by forcing them to buy thousands of tickets they can’t sell so they (the bowls) can stay healthy and—more important—wealthy. Maybe now is the time to blow the whole thing up and start from scratch.

John Junker’s firing should be the equivalent of The Watergate break-in. It should only be the beginning. Somewhere there is a Deep Throat out there who is going to tell Bob Woodward, “everyone is involved.”

Because everyone is involved.

Oh, and one last word for John Junker: You should have used Marion Barry’s line. It was far more believable.


Some notes to posters: Memphis fan: Your question IS legitimate. To this day I have no idea why Duke wasn’t penalized for the Corey Maggette incident…To the questioner on why TruTV got games but not CBS College, I think it is two reasons: TruTV is available on most basic systems and, yes, Turner wanted them involved as part of the deal—remember, they are paying MORE to the NCAA than CBS.

To you Kentucky fans: First, thank-you for writing. If you didn’t I’d be worried I was losing my touch. Second, to the guy who went on about my ‘not being objective.’ Congratulations—you got one thing right. But please show me where and when I have ever claimed to be objective on any subject. And to the guy who thinks me self-righteous and not funny (come on, not funny?) why the hell are you reading? I’m sure you can find a copy of Cats Pause somewhere that you can curl up with.