Tag Archives: NCAA

You have perfection … and then this

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Hope Trautwein hails from Pflugerville, Texas and attends the University of North Texas in Denton.

Sounds pretty, um, normal. Yes? Well, this young woman has done something that’s never been done in the history of NCAA Division I athletics.

She threw seven innings of perfect softball against the the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. When I say “perfect,” she struck out every one of the batters she faced. That’s 21 whiffs. No one hit a ball into a UNT player’s glove. No one walked. No one reached base on an error in the field. They strode to the plate, took three strikes and went back to their dugout.

Pitcher Hope Trautwein Throws A Perfect Game Of All Strikeouts | 88.9 KETR

Trautwein told National Public Radio’s Morning Edition: “I guess it’s never been done before so it doesn’t have a name.”

Here’s a name: Fantastic!

Student-athletes don’t need more dough!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Let’s launch a pre-emptive strike against what I am certain will become a talking point as we travel farther down this road called March Madness.

That is this notion of paying student-athletes for doing what they do, which is to excel in athletics while obtaining a higher education.

We must not go down that road. Why? Because these student-athletes — men and women alike — already are getting paid in the form of acquiring essentially a free college education.

If they excel in any of the sports sanctioned by the NCAA, they receive scholarships to attend the school of their choice. They become enrolled in prestigious public and private colleges and universities. Oh, and they also engage in sports activities representing their chosen school.

Granted, a tiny fraction of these student-athletes go on to earn millions of dollars as paid professional athletes, be it basketball, football, baseball/softball. Which makes their education all the more vital to them.

But think of it: They aren’t paying for their tuition, their fees, their books, their lodging, their meal plans. They get it all free because of their athletic prowess!

I agree that there ought to be ways to loosen the rules prohibiting alumni from paying for an athlete’s lunch, things such as that. Most assuredly there needs to be much work done to achieve gender equality between men and women’s sports.

I haven’t heard much discussion about this matter during this March Madness mayhem. I guess everyone’s too caught up in watching their bracket matchups being blown to smithereens by all the Cinderella-story upsets. This issue pops up, though, which is why I wanted to weigh in here.

I was able to attend college without piling up a huge student loan debt. I had the GI Bill to pay for my college education. Perhaps my view of paying student-athletes is jaded, given that I wasn’t a good enough athlete to earn a full-ride college scholarship. I wasn’t a stellar enough high school student to earn an academic scholarship, either.

I just know what I see playing out these days. Which is student-athletes given a chance to perform their athletic skills while at the same time attending college and — hopefully! — being attentive enough in the classroom to work toward their degree.

Do they deserve a salary to play ball? No. They earn enough money as it is.

March Madness is … madness!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

There is no way for me to wrap my arms around this thing we call March Madness.

It occurs every year — pandemic notwithstanding — when men’s basketball teams qualify for the national collegiate tournament to determine the national champion.

They assign dozens of teams to the tournament, selecting them to compete against each other. Then it falls on the fools among us to try to predict which two teams make it all the way through to the championship game, which this year will occur in Indianapolis, Ind.

Here’s what confuses me. I cannot find the appropriate way to measure the magnitude of difficulty in determining how one can guess which teams make it all the way through. You have to pick the winners of every game played. How in the name of metaphysical certitude do you do that?

It looks for all the world to be as likely as being snatched off Earth by ETs who have come here from the great beyond.

I hear that sure-fire brackets have busted already. Well … there’s always next year.

Waiting for the escape hatch to open

I believe I understand why the current worldwide health crisis is so unprecedented and devastating in its scope.

Let me say first that I totally understand the illness and death it has caused, creating untold misery, heartache and mourning. Its victims die alone, as hospitals cannot allow loved ones near them to hold their hands, whisper their love into their ears or just to act as comforters in time of pain and peril.

The unique quality of this coronavirus pandemic rests in the absence of any escape hatch for us to get away from the onslaught of bad news we are being forced to consume from our news networks.

Professional sports? College sports? Any sort of entertainment that allows us to sit among crowds of people who are cheering at the same performance? That’s all been put on ice.

Pro basketball and hockey has been shelved. Major League Baseball’s season has been delayed until only God knows when. The Summer Olympics in Tokyo has been postponed for an entire year … maybe even longer than that. College football is supposed to start later this summer, but they might not kick it off until much later.

New York’s Broadway theaters are closed. Movie theaters everywhere are closed, too.

So, we’re stuck. At home. Our governor asks us to stay put. He’ll get back to us soon to tell us where we might be able to go.

Some of us are going batty looking at the same walls for weeks on end. To be honest, we’re doing OK in our home. My wife and I happen to like each other’s company; at least I can speak for myself anyway on that matter.

This pandemic, though, is unprecedented simply by virtue of all the activities it has been on the back shelf. We are waiting now for an escape hatch to open.

March Madness now becomes March Slumber

You can rest assured that I am not a college basketball fanatic who lives, dies, eats and sleeps according to the bracket I might fill out for the men’s college basketball tournament.

However, the cancellation of March Madness — the men’s and women’s tournaments — is a big, big deal.

The coronavirus pandemic has claimed a gigantic “victim” in the form of these two major sports and entertainment events.

Disneyland has closed its park in Anaheim, Calif., the NBA and the NHL have suspended their seasons until further notice; Major League Baseball has delayed its opening day for two weeks (but I’ll bet real American money it’ll last longer than that); colleges and universities are canceling “face to face” classes; school districts are closing for two weeks.

Major disruption anyone? Hmm?

Meanwhile, the Trump administration seeks to restore some semblance of order to the chaos that has enveloped the nation. Its strategy ain’t working. Donald Trump’s speech last night from the Oval Office was meant to quell the stock market turmoil, but it made matters worse; what’s more, the White House issued a “correction” two minutes after Trump’s speech to “clarify” what he had just said in announcing the travel ban from some or most of Europe … whatever the case may be.

So, lots of public institutions that rely on men’s and women’s basketball teams to make money for them are going to do without. Professional team owners that rake in millions every day when their teams performing against each other are watching the turnstiles remain quiet. Same for the Disney Corp.

Oh, how I wish this wasn’t happening. Wishing it, though, won’t solve this problem or end this crisis. Patience and prudence are the rule of the day … and likely beyond the foreseeable future.

Coaching path from college to pros is strewn with casualties

(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

The fascination in this part of the world with Urban Meyer and the thought that he might become the next Dallas Cowboys head football coach intrigues me terribly.

And not for reasons you might expect.

Jason Garrett is likely coaching his final season for the Cowboys, who have underperformed to the disappointment of the team’s fans. Let me stipulate that I am not one of those fans.

So, what about Meyer? He retired as head coach at Ohio State. Prior to that he coached the University of Florida to greatness. Prior to that he led the University of Utah to the status of being a very good football team. He won three national collegiate championships.

Does that college success translate automatically to the professional ranks? Hmm. Let’s ponder that.

Chip Kelly coached the University of Oregon and for a brief spell led the team to elite status among college football programs. He left Oregon to become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles; he got fired. Then he became head coach of the San Francisco 49ers; he got fired again. He’s now back as a college coach at UCLA.

Bud Wilkinson led the University of Oklahoma to 47 straight wins in the early 1950s. He coached the St. Louis Cardinals of the NFL, where his success was, shall we say, less than sterling.

Dennis Erickson had a stellar college coaching career. His pro coaching career was decidedly less than stellar.

Steve Spurrier, too, had great success as a college coach. Not so much in the pros.

Nick Saban? Same thing.

To be sure, there are reverse examples. The Cowboys hired two successful college coaches, Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer, who managed to win Super Bowls coaching the Cowboys. The owner, Jerry Jones, fired ’em both; Johnson mouthed off to the owner and I can’t remember what got Switzer into trouble.

I would encourage my friends who are Cowboys’ fanatics to take great care in wishing Urban Meyer can be talked into donning the headphones yet again, this time for the Dallas Cowboys.

It’s one thing to throw your weight around with student-athletes. It’s quite another matter when the players you are coaching are multimillionaires who make more money each year than the guy who’s telling ’em to run wind sprints.

He’s got it wrong: student-athletes already ‘get paid’

I believe Kyler Murray is a fine young man, apart from his being a first-class quarterback for the University of Oklahoma who has just been named the latest winner of the Heisman Trophy, signifying that he is the best college football player in America.

However, the young man is mistaken when he says college athletes should be paid.

Murray said this: “I feel like we bring in a lot of money to the universities … we put in a lot of work. Some guys don’t have enough money to bring their families to the games … so I feel like athletes should be compensated for it.”

Murray is far from the first person to make the argument. I just believe he is as mistaken and misguided as all the others who have said the same thing.

Already paid

Where do I begin?

I’ll start here. Student-athletes already are “compensated” for their efforts. Granted, they don’t receive weekly paychecks, but many of them get a free college education in the form of full-ride scholarships.

I consider that a form of payment. Think about the ramifications. Student-athletes are allowed to receive a free education that presumably prepares them for life after their playing days are over. To suggest, therefore, that these athletes should become “professional athletes” defies the very principle of providing scholarships that help them fulfill the “student” portion of the term “student-athlete.”

Whether a student-athlete cracks the books and actually studies when he or she is not blocking/tackling/throwing TDs, or shooting hoops or hitting home runs is up to the student.

If they don’t cut it in the classroom, they ought to become academically ineligible to participate in whatever sport for which they are being “paid.”

How do you ‘prepare’ for NFL draft?

I do not understand this development, so someone might have to explain it to me.

Will Grier, a top flight quarterback for West Virginia University is the latest top-tier athlete to forgo a football bowl game to “prepare for the National Football League draft.”

Let’s ponder that for a moment. The Mountaineers are going to play a game against Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl.

Grier received a scholarship to play football in Morgantown, W.Va. The school paid for his education. The school’s fans packed the stadium to watch Grier play QB. So now he wants to exhibit his loyalty to the school by skipping the team’s final game of the year?

To prepare for the NFL draft? What in the world do these guys do to prep for a draft? Spare me the excuse that they are seeking to prevent career-ending injury; that event could happen at any time of the year.

Royce Freeman, a running back at Oregon, stiffed the Ducks a year ago. So did Christian McCaffrey at Stanford a couple of years before that. These high-profile athletes occasionally bail on their schools to, um, get ready to be drafted.

I keep circling back to a series of questions: What in the world do these fellows do to prepare to have their name called as a member of an NFL franchise? Do they run wind sprints in their front yard? Do they practice blocking and tackling in the garage? Do they, um, memorize play books?

Moreover, is there no more loyalty to the schools that shell out good money to pay for their education?

Portland State vs. Oregon: Oh, the quandary

You might be aware from this blog that occasionally I have written about University of Oregon football. The Ducks ascended to NCAA gridiron elite status, only to fall dramatically two seasons ago.

They went from heroes to zeroes virtually overnight.

I didn’t attend Oregon. I attended Portland State University, in the downtown district of my hometown of Portland, Ore. However, since the Ducks were winning a lot of football games and twice played for the national collegiate championship — losing to Auburn in 2011 and Ohio State in 2015 — I have become a Ducks fan. Hey, I’ll cop to being somewhat of a fair-weather fan.

Now, though, comes the quandary. Portland State’s Vikings — who compete on the Division I-AA level — are traveling 100 miles down Interstate 5 to Eugene next Saturday to play the Ducks.

What do I do? I know. I’ll root for the Vikings, understanding that they likely are going to get clobbered by the Ducks, who are showing some signs of life after a miserable season and then a rebuilding year in 2017. The Ducks have a new coach, Mario Cristobal, who went to Eugene as an assistant to one-and-done head coach Willie Taggart, who left Oregon after a single season to return to his home state of Florida to coach Florida State University.

But dang! I would love to see Portland State score an upset. Is it impossible? I direct you to what Appalachian State did to the University of Michigan, in the Big House in Ann Arbor, just a few years back. ASU on Sept. 1, 2007 handed the Wolverines the upset of the ages before a crowd of 109,000 stunned and shocked Michigan fans.

As the saying goes: That’s why they play the game.

Feeling a friend’s bowl game ‘pain’

A friend of mine, a native Texan, posted this message on Facebook the other day:

If you want to know the extent to which college football has strayed from the primrose path I thought would never end, here’s this year’s Cotton Bowl match up:
1. Neither team from Texas
2. Neither team from the old Southwest Conference.
3. Neither from even the Big 12.
4. Cotton not grown anywhere near these two universities.
5. Game no longer on New Year’s Day.

What’s our sports world coming to?

I feel his pain. The Cotton Bowl matchup this year features the University of Southern California vs. The Ohio State University.

It strikes me that the Cotton Bowl will involve teams that used to play exclusively in the Rose Bowl, which used to invite  the champions from the Big 10 to play the champs of the Pac 12.

And … speaking of the Rose Bowl — the game I watch with great interest, given that I grew up on the Pacific Coast — has an, um, interesting matchup as well.

The University of Georgia will play tackle football against the University of Oklahoma. Georgia comes from the Southeastern Conference; Oklahoma hails from the Big 12.

There’s a glimmer of good news to report. At least the Rose Bowl will be played on New Year’s Day.

But I get my friend’s angst over the jumbling of these bowl dates and the matchups that have not a damn thing to do with intercollegiate football tradition.