Remember about the Friday mailbag, and there are still a couple of openings. Anything is fair game: Crying in sports, brave Braves predictions and more. Side note: The 5-at-10 tossed out a possible appearance of Charlie Sheen and even longtime friend of the show pretend Al Davis, but there's too much going on. Sheen and Al will have to take a raincheck, and judging by the conditions, that's apropos - or as the 5-at-10's Nanny used to say, "that's apricots."
Here we go...
You can't handle the truth
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel sat on information that some of his players were violating NCAA rules by selling gear and memorabilia. Five players - including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor - were suspended in December for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling everything from OSU-issued gear and championship rings to a tattoo-shop owner that was involved in a drug investigation. Tressel was suspended for the first two games of 2011 and fined $250,000. (Somewhere Navin R. Johnson just said, "250 big ones. Give me 50 big ones and let's deposit the other 200 big ones. Alas.)
Anyhoo, Tressel apparently was informed of this in an e-mail in April, and despite his contract stating clearly that he must immediately report any NCAA violations - for the love of Archie Griffith it's underlined in the contract - Tressel decided not to report it.
Why? Because he said he did not want to "interfere with a federal investigation." Seriously? Somewhere Bruce Pearl is saying, "Man, I wish I had thought of that one. That's awesome in its awesomeness."
By all accounts, Tressel is a respected man, and there is always a bunch of hand-wringing and stone throwing when one of college football's power players comes into the NCAA spotlight.
The school has pledged its support for its coach and secret-agent 00-Tressel "plans to grow from this." Really? Tressel has buried a history of rogue habits by staying low-profile and proudly wearing his glasses, a stylish, ho-hum sweatervest and the eternal smugness of THE Ohio State University.
Let's go to the film (or the AP story):
Ray Isaac, a star quarterback at Youngstown State [where Tressel was the coach], accepted improper inducements including cars. Tressel was found to have done an incomplete investigation of those allegations, with Youngstown State later serving penalties. In addition, Maurice Clarett, who led the Buckeyes to the 2002 national championship, and Troy Smith, winner of the 2006 Heisman Trophy, were suspended by the NCAA for receiving money and other benefits from boosters.
In May of 2009, The Columbus Dispatch reported that since 2000, Ohio State had reported to the NCAA more than 375 violations - the most of any of the 69 Football Bowl Subdivision schools that provided documents to the newspaper through public-records requests. Most of the infractions were minor and resulted in little or no punishment.
It will be really interesting to see how the NCAA, which appears set to hammer Pearl for lying to investigators, handles the matter with Tressel. We know the NCAA hates lying, now we'll get to see how they feel about simply covering up the truth. Even if it was a federal investigation and apparently a matter of national tattoo security.
In Shulman they trust
UTC athletic boss Rick Hart, who has done a whale of a job in overhauling the sporting Mocs in general, feels the program is "absolutely" on an "uptick." Head coach John Shulman gave his team a "B" for its 16-16 showing this past season that included a 12-6 Southern Conference record and a North Division regular-season title.
Something tells me the fan base does not uniformly support those theories, at least judging by the phone calls to the 5-at-10's office and the chatter on message boards and even somewhat indirectly by the sagging attendance numbers at Mocs home games.
The 5-at-10 enjoyed Uch's story in that it was straight down the middle with the opinions from ultimately the two guys that matter. Weeds' opinion piece is just that, his opinion.
The 5-at-10 does know this: The UTC basketball fan base expects more out of the Mocs men's basketball team than this; they expect more than 16-16, a regular-season division title and a one-and-done in the SoCon tournament, especially when it's in your own arena. It's obvious that UTC feels that this just-finished season was an improvement (as bad as 2009-10 was, that's understandable), but it certainly appears the fans expect more than those running the program.
Which leads us here: Either the fan base overestimates what UTC basketball should be or the powers that be seem to be settling for less than those expectations. Johnny Mocs Fan expects 20-win seasons and SoCon tournament final trips; in seven seasons Shulman is 105-106 against Division I teams, 66-58 in SoCon games and is 2-1 in conference title games.
There seems to be some disconnect, no?
Now it's your turn, MocNation. Send us your thoughts - good or bad - about the state of UTC basketball to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll run some of the better ones in Sunday's newspaper and some of the others may see the light of day in Friday's 5-at-10.
And remember gang, keep 'em clean.
College hoops update, Volume 7, Chapter 3
- Remember how the 5-at-10 said teams on the bubble are wise to watch scoreboards during tournament time? Well, the Vols' resume was damaged late last night when South Florida stunned Villanova in the Big East tournament. One of the hat-hanging wins on UT's resume was an early-season victory over Villanova, which is now 21-11 overall.
- If you're scoring at home, here are the teams that have punched their NCAA Dance cards:
Arkansas-Little Rock (Sun Belt)
Belmont (Atlantic Sun)
Gonzaga (West Coast)
Indiana State (Missouri Valley)
Morehead State (Ohio Valley)
Old Dominion (Colonial Athletic Association)
Saint Peter's (Metro Atlantic Athletic)
UNC Asheville (Big South Conference)
Wofford (Southern Conference)
- We talked about some of the worst former-athlete commentators a little bit yesterday. Today, we'll quickly cover the best. Runner-up is Jay Bilas, the former Duke player who is the best thing about ESPN's college hoops coverage. And the runaway winner is Charles Barkley. The fact that Barkley and his TNT buddies are going to have some face time covering the NCAA tournament greatly pleases the 5-at-10. It is the ultimate opposite of Barkley's catchphrase of "Tuurrrr-bull."
Braves report, Part II
This will normally be its own entry and have a little more to it than this through the rest of spring training, but we're tight on space today. Sue us, and if you want a refund on your free family-oriented, sports-based Intertube web rambling, then you can see our claims department.
The Braves lost 5-4 to the Yankees on Tuesday. Jair Jurrjens was roughed up, but the bullpen accounting firm of Sherrill, Linebrink, Moylan, Proctor and Kimbrel, esq. were pretty nasty - a combined five innings, four hits, one run and seven strikeouts. Sidewinder Peter Moylan K'ed the side in the seventh.
As we discussed yesterday, L-Dub (Larry Wayne "Chipper" Jones) is the biggest question mark of the spring. If the former NL MVP is healthy and can get 400 ABs, the Braves are solid top-to-bottom and have a lineup to contend. If not, well, it's anyone's guess.
L-Dub went 0-for-3 against the Yankees, but his numbers are not bad. He's 6-for-23 (.261) with a homer and three RBIs in eight games.
This and That
- The Miami Heat lost to Portland on Tuesday night. They better shape up or there's going to be a Kleenex shortage in South Beach. Plus, Chris Bosh - kind of the Ned Nederlander (Martin Short's character) of Miami's Three Amigos - is hungry for a bigger part of the offense. "Would you say they have a plethora of problems in Miami?" Oh yes.
- Shoutout to Kobe Bryant, who had 26 points in the Lakers' whipping of the Hawks last night. Bryant is now sixth all-time in the NBA scoring. Yeah, stunning right?
- We talked about it yesterday in the 5-at-10 comment section, but it appears to be true that Tiki Barber is planning on returning to the NFL. Something's up with this, right?. Is he bored? Is he broke? Know this, though, he better be in shape or he'll be broken. Mr. Barber, meet Mr. James Harrison. Mr. Harrison, this is Mr. Barber. Good night. Here's a bet that Barber did not contact Brett Favre about how these "comeback" things can turn out.
- Apparently quarterback Cam Newton was on target before a litany of NFL scouts at a pro day workout at Auburn University. Nick Fairley was also impressive, moving quickly and weighing in at 297 pounds. The 5-at-10 still sides with friend of the show Quake, that there's no way Newton is not a first-round pick. In fact, it's hard to see Newton not going in the top 10.
- The Georgia Bulldogs are about to start spring practice, and the TFP is aware that spring drills are starting all across the SEC. Look for some breakdowns this weekend in the Sports section.