1–I forget whether “SMH” means “shaking my head” or scratching it, but I’ve been doing both, along with most of Louisville, since the University re-hired its former football coach Bobby Petrino on Thursday. Petrino will replace Charlie Strong, who departed to coach the University of Texas.
Petrino, a 52-year-old married father of three and a grandfather, spent the last decade sneaking interviews behind schools’ backs (and getting caught), abandoning jobs (his one pro season with the Atlanta Falcons lasted 9 games) and BEST OF ALL, for crashing a motorcycle with his mistress, a 25-year-old former volleyball player and his football staff employee, while he was the Arkansas head coach in 2012. He was subsequently fired. (Her too.)
I mean, Rihanna wouldn’t take this guy back.
Still, Louisville chose Petrino (not to be confused with Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino, but we will get to him in a second…). This may seem to make sense. He did lead the Cardinals to a 41-9 record from 2003-2006 and an Orange Bowl title. Louisville finished 12-1 this year under Strong, so I guess they wanted a sure winner. Now Petrino has a 7-year, $24.5 million contract, alongside Pitino, a married father of five who over the years has been alleged to have several affairs, and in 2009 admitted sexual relations with the wife of the team equipment manager (she was charged with extortion by federal officials).
As a Memphis fan, Louisville has traditionally been our biggest rival, but Cardinals, I feel for you here. And you ladies who were part of this, I’m lookin’ at you too. SMH.
2–Speaking of Charlie Strong, his hiring (the first black coach ever) at perennial powerhouse Texas was overshadowed this week when billionaire booster Red McCombs complained to the university, the media, his dog, anyone who would listen, that Strong was not fit for the job. OK, McCombs has given $100 million to UT and has a statue in the stadium, so sure, he has a right to voice his opinion. Unfortunately, remarks like calling the choice “a kick in the face” came across to some as just a wee bit racist for one of the last schools to integrate its football team.
Actually I think McCombs just felt burned for not being consulted more in the hiring process. The co-founder of Clear Channel Communications and former owner of the San Antonio Spurs, the Denver Nuggets and the Minnesota Vikings, McCombs must have some idea of how to manage sports right. I don’t think he consciously intended to come across as racist, and he did apologize. I mean, come on, surely a grown white man in the South would know better than to do something so stupid.
(Then again, please refer to this column’s item #1.)
3—Champion skier Lindsey Vonn, 29, will not compete in the 2014 Sochi Games due to ongoing complications with her right knee. Vonn won the gold in Olympic downhill four years ago.
“On a positive note, this means there will be an additional spot so that one of my teammates can go for the gold,” Vonn tweeted. More good news: this year’s Games will see the debut of women’s ski jumping, so hopefully athletes like Jessica Jerome and Lindsey Van can make the podium—unless it’s too high, of course! After all, jumping off things “seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view,” said Gian Franco Kasper, president of the International Ski Federation. (Not a doctor. Not even on TV.) In other words, ski jumping can make you infertile.
OK, this isn’t an official reason the International Olympics Committee has overlooked the sport since the men debuted 90 years ago, but it’s been an off-the-record, “If we believe it, it must be true” kind of belief. Kind of like a flat Earth. Or Sasquatch. Or whatever invisible thing on the wall my deaf dog barks at all the time. Yeah, like that.
4—The Baseball Hall of Fame 2014 Class was announced last week: pitcher Greg Maddux, pitcher Tom Glavine, and designated hitter Frank Thomas, who was a five-time all-star and spent most of his career with the Chicago White Sox. Maddux won the Gold Glove so many times his number, 31, was retired at both the Chicago Cubs and the Atlanta Braves. And Glavine was a multiple all-star, Cy Young and Silver Slugger winner. All three were voted in their first year, a total 180 from last year in which no living, modern-era player made the cut, largely due to the shadow of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).
Oh, PEDs you say?
5—New York Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez learned his original suspension for alleged PED use would be shortened by independent arbitrator Fredric Horowitz from 211 games to 162 games. This constitutes one full season of baseball. But Rodriguez, 38, is not satisfied, claiming he did not use any banned substances despite being named as a client of the now-defunct Coral Gables, Fla., anti-aging clinic Biogenesis, and he will take his case to federal court. Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch says he injected Rodriguez with banned substances. Legal experts say arbitration rulings are rarely overturned.