Why watch soccer? T & A!

Have I ever mentioned that Sepp Blatter is a moron?

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said women should consider wearing more revealing uniforms, such as skimpier shorts, to bring more attention to the game. At least one top player called the advice "ridiculous" and "irresponsible."

Blatter said women's soccer needs different sponsors from the men's game and should try to attract fashion and cosmetics companies by featuring "more feminine uniforms."

"Tighter shorts, for example," Blatter told the Swiss newspaper SonntagsBlick. "In volleyball the women also wear other uniforms than the men. Pretty women are playing football today. Excuse me for saying that."

I like soccer. I like women. When I watch soccer, I don't do it for a turn-on. When I see attractive women, I don't fantasize about seeing them in shin guards and soccer jerseys. Maybe Sepp does. Regardless, as FIFA president, his job is to promote football, not marginilize it with stupid comments. Doh!

A few of the ladies had appropriate responses. He's one from Julie Foudy.

Julie Foudy, co-captain of the U.S. national team, suggested other ways Blatter could improve women's soccer. "Instead of talking about tight shorts, FIFA should be focusing on increasing its support for the women's game by instituting another world championship for youth women, pushing federations around the world to support their women's programs, or giving prize money to teams in the Women's World Cup," she said.

And, of course, the brilliant rebuttal from FIFA...

FIFA spokesman Andreas Herren said Friday that Blatter never mentioned the word "hot pants."

This is why women think men are pigs.

posted by uberschuck 1/17/2004 10:35:00 AM


The Nutt and The Goofball.

Oh, boy, oh, boy, what an interesting story!

Arkansas football coach Houston Nutt called an ESPN television analyst a "goofball'' over suggestions that Nutt used Nebraska to win a pay raise from Razorback athletic director Frank Broyles.
Trev Alberts said Wednesday on ESPN's Outside The Lines that Nutt had been dishonest about his dealings with Nebraska. Alberts then said Thursday that Nutt badgered Nebraska from the day Frank Solich was fired, "so he could use them to get a pay raise."
Nutt said Jan. 3 he would stay at Arkansas. He was given a pay raise from about $800,000 a year to $1.2 million.
Nutt said he never called Nebraska and Broyles said he hoped the network would discipline Alberts over his remarks.
"That's as unprofessional as I've ever heard," Broyles told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper of Little Rock. "I don't believe a word of it. It know it's not true."

The entire BCS staff thinks that Trev Alberts is a dork, so we love this story.

Recall that Nebraska had a tough time finding a new coach--and that's sugar-coating it. Coaches avoided that job like the plague. They just fired a guy who won 9 games in the Big XII. They fired a guy who was playing for the national championship two years ago. The next coach (Bill Calahan) will get fired in 3 years unless he gets at least one Big XII title and another championship game.

Houston Nutt was one of the guys they offered the job to, and he'd be great for Nebraska. Nutt coaches ugly, smashmouth football. At times the Arkansas pass game has been non-existant, but they can run the ball and play defense. And that's what Nebraska football is all about.

Houston Nutt is a damn good coach. No one gets as much out of his players as Houston Nutt. This team just doesn't have the talent that the top SEC teams attract, yet they always, always win at least 8 games. One year ago they were SEC West Champs.

Houston Nutt loves Arkansas, and they love him back. He played ball there. He acts like he's still a player--he's the coach who gestured the upside-down horns with his hands to mock Texas after the Razorbacks licked 'em.

Now I don't know if Nutt used the Nebraska thing to get more money. I'm sure it did help him get his new contract regardless of his intentions. Do I care if he used them? Hell no. In case you haven't noticed, college coaching is a wicked, cut-throat business. Going on a job interview to improve your market value isn't some vile practice confined to vampires--it's all over the job market, not just in sports.

So, Trev Alberts is bent out of shape because his alma mater is getting one black eye after another. Maybe Nutt was using Nebraska. I don't know that to be true, and neither does Trev Alberts. Of course, this isn't the first time Alberts ran his mouth on national TV when he didn't know what he was talking about, now is it?

Now, please, God, I'm praying for an Arkansas--Nebraska home & home to show up on the schedule!

posted by uberschuck 1/16/2004 06:23:00 PM

Wilkens to coach the Knicks

"We should look for a coach who understands the game today," Vince Carter said after Wilkens' termination in Toronto. "To heck with the past."

I loved the appointment of Thomas. I loved the appointment of Marbury. I don't love the appointment of a 66-year-old man who is a quarter century removed his last trip to the NBA mount, and who appeared resigned and beaten during his final season with the Raptors, one big 24-58 mess.

OK, somebody finally said it. So I'll pile on. Is there a more overrated coach than Lenny Wilkens? The guy's been coaching since the dawn of time and he has one NBA title. One. And he won it in 1978, back when the league was about as second-rate as pro sports leagues come. Forget Jordan, that's pre- Bird and Magic. He hasn't coached a team to the conference finals since 1991. Heck, in his last six years as a coach, he's made it past the first round one time. Nobody's made more of one good team, the 1970s Sonics in this case, than Wilkens. Imagine hiring Chuck Noll in the NFL, and remember he at least won four Super Bowls.

The guy keeps getting hired, and I can't figure out why.

posted by Poseur 1/16/2004 11:51:00 AM

Playoffs and stuff...

Everyone's writing about how unpredictable these NFL playoffs are, and I will not dispute last weekend's games were incredible. Four games all decided by a touchdown or less? That's never happened before on divisional finals weekend. So, these playoffs are more evenly matched than any in, forget recent memory, forever. That said, I said in this space we're on course for an Eagles-Patriots Super Bowl and despite their close calls, I see no reason to back down from that statement. They are the two best teams in the NFL, and I fully expect them to keep winning. It'll be ugly, but they'll win.

This just in, Peyton Manning is really, really good. Tony Dungy's got the Colts playing respectable defense, a nice change in Indianapolis, but this game will hinge on the Patriots' biggest strength, special teams. I've been trying to figure out the Pats' success this season, and it boils down to an unbelievable kicking game. Not just Vinatieri, but also punter Ken Walters. For those of you who remember the old BartCopSports page, I named Walters the MVP of the Patriots Super Bowl win. And I meant it. New England will win this game on field position. They will continually pin the Colts back, forcing them to limit their playbook. It's how the Patriots stopped the Greatest Show On Turf, and it's how they'll stop the new Triplets. And if the game comes down to a big kick, we know Vinatieri will nail it. People look at Walters low punting average and think he's not that good, but they miss the key stats: 25 punts inside the 20 and only 3 touchbacks. That means 90% of the time, Walters will pin you inside the twenty when he has the chance. The only guys better than Walters (22 of 25) are Stanley of Houston (36 of 39), Bennett of San Diego (28 of 31), and Rouen of Seattle (29 of 32). (In the Colts defense, they have a great kicker and punter as well, but their coverage teams suck). By the way, the worst is Nick Harris of the Bengals and Lions at 8 of 16, meaning 50% of the time, he'll fail to pin a team back. That's just awful.

Am I in some alternate reality in which Jake Delhomme is a great quarterback? When did this guy become Johnny Unitas? He completes one big pass and suddenly people are tripping over themselves to fawn over him. He's decent, but he can't carry the Panthers. The running game can, and the defense is outstanding, but he's this year's Trent Dilfer. A guy who is asked to just not mess things up. Going back to our BCR's (modified yards per attempt), Delhomme scored a 5.89 on the season, which stinks. In the playoffs, however, he's been at 9.19, which is incredible. I'm betting he goes closer to his season average now that he's facing the tough Eagles defense.

posted by Poseur 1/16/2004 11:41:00 AM


Thank you, St. Louis, for compiling the Chicago media ripping the new coach:

Well, meet Mr. Smith, a defensive coordinator with no head-coaching experience, the inevitable booby prize after the Bears targeted Nick Saban and responded like amateurs when he wanted real money and roster control.

That's pompous windbag, Jay Mariotti, who you might recognize from Around the Horn, the worst sports show ever conceived of by man (yes, even worse than Cold Pizza). I was on the fence, but if Mariotti hates the hiring, it must be pretty good.

posted by Poseur 1/15/2004 12:17:00 PM

Aussie Open injuries

Next week's tournament has already lost three top 20 women's players - Serena Williams, Jennifer Capriati and Jelena Dokic - with a fourth, Kim Clijsters, teetering on the edge with a bad ankle.

So seeing Henin-Hardenne, the top seed for the year's opening Grand Slam, call for a medical time out in the third set of her quarter-final against Chanda Rubin would not have been pleasant.

Tennis has fallen on hard times here in the States, mainly because Americans do not like to watch sports in which we do not dominate, and the injury bug won't help the always underrated Aussie Open. It's a major that gets virtually no media coverage, and seeing almost every American woman worth a damn skipping the tourney, plus one of the top players in the world (Clijsters), doesn't help. If Henin-Hardenne pulls out, just cancel the whole thing.

posted by Poseur 1/15/2004 12:14:00 PM

I am on steroids

Seriously, I have this recurring allergy every spring and I need eye drops to deal with the infection. The drops are called Tobradex, and they combine an antibiotic with a steroid. So, yes, in the spring, I write this page while doping. And let's not talk about the times I've been on opiates because of a cold.

We're reaching a point where drug rules are so complex and byzantine that really no one will not be doping. and what is a performance enhancer? Aren't vitamins performance enhancing? Exercise? Protein? Carbs? A healthy diet is performance enhancing, but no one is clammoring to ban that from sports. I don't pretend to have a solution, and drugs are a real problem in all sports, but I think we are reaching a point of over-reaction. Rusedski? Really?

posted by Poseur 1/15/2004 12:07:00 PM


McEnroe took steroids?

John McEnroe confirmed to that he unknowingly took steroids for six years, clarifying that he received the drugs as painkillers, not as performance enhancers.

So, is everyone on steroids? Should I expect to see a story in the news paper tomorrow telling me that my dog, dentist, and priest are all on roids too. Am I the last person in America not taking them?

"I just find myself [at] a bit of a loss for words when it comes to that sort of stuff being expressed," Agassi reportedly said.
Last week, Greg Rusedski said that he tested positive for the banned steroid Nandrolone in July but claimed that many tennis players have shown high levels in their body.
McEnroe's admission, which he said he had discussed before, was meant to highlight the fact that players have to be careful about what goes into their bodies.
Said McEnroe: "I think, in tennis, illegal drugs are much less of a problem than in other sports."

Well, Agassi didn't say much, but I don't know what to say either. Is McEnroe tainted? Did he win because he had an unfair advantage? Should we believe his explanation? Well, if Johnny Mac had cheated--knowingly--wouldn't he just keep quiet? He was a finesse player anyway, why would he take steroids to bulk up? But that doesn't mean he wasn't cheating.

What about the notion of being unwittingly doped. It's plausible. It happens all the time. Half the Dutch national soccer team was being doped and they didn't know it (so we're told). There are plenty of cyclists and wrestlers who have been doped by their trainers without their knowledge, so it could be true.

How about Rusedski? He's got to pay the price for being caught, but is his explanation plausible? Other players could have high levels of banned chemicals--and it might be because they are cheating too. On the other hand, it would not be unprecedented for an innocent athlete to have extraordinary high levels of a particular chemical. Santiago Botero was once suspended by the International Cycling Union for a high testosterone level. They thought he was doping, but as it turns out, that was his baseline (what a stud!). Am I inclined to believe Rusedski? No. Getting back to cycling, their sport was so corrupt with dope a few years ago that it was a farce. Since then, they've gotten serious about it. Mandatory testing, specific limits for specific banned chemicals, automatic suspentions, and it's working. That's what tennis needs. That's what all sports need. As for McEnroe, I just don't know what to make of it.

posted by uberschuck 1/14/2004 11:31:00 PM

Christian Laettner suspended for drug violations

The National Basketball Association announced today that Washington Wizards forward Christian Laettner has been suspended for five games for violating the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug policy. Laettner will begin serving the suspension Tuesday when the Wizards face the Houston Rockets.

Laettner was notified Monday evening of the suspension. The 6-11 forward from Duke University is averaging 6.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in 30 games this season. Laettner is currently playing in his 12th NBA season.

Hmm...the Duke choir boy from Duke has tested positive for a third time? And check out the photo--he looks like a dealer. OK. It's not right to make fun of someone's drug problem, so I'll be quite and yield the floor to Mr. Baker.

posted by uberschuck 1/14/2004 11:20:00 PM

NFL coaching changes

Almost all of the slots have been filled, so let's have a look...

Washington Redskins--Joe Gibbs. We already covered this one. I've got this cozy feeling now that Parcells and Gibbs are coaching in the NFC East again. Happy days are here again for the 'Skins, and Gibbs has the rings to prove it.

Chicago Bears--Lovie Smith. This was the job no one would take. Well, Lovie Smith gets it, and I'm glad. He's done a good job with the Rams' defense and deserves a shot at a head coaching job. The Bears do have the talent to win--two years ago they were division champs, and they started to come together at the end of the 2003 season. Smith may know defense, but what will he do about the Bears offense?

Oakland Raiders--vacant. This is the lone vacant spot. Calahan got fired and took the job coaching the Nebraska Cornhuskers--another job that coaches were avoiding like the plague. The Raiders should hire my grandfather so they can have a coach who's older than their players.

Buffalo Bills--Mike Mularkey. Doh! Mularkey was the offensive coordinator for the Steelers who had that great 22nd ranked offense in 2003. Bills fans should not be enthused. They just replaced below average with below average.

Atlanta Falcons--Jim Mora Jr. The younger Jim Mora has been an assistant for a long time, so he's climbed through the ranks long enough to get consideration for a head coaching job. Much like Mularkey, though, I've got to question his record--it's not as though the 49ers defense made anyone quake. It may satisfy the Falcons though, because they wanted anyone but Dan Reeves.

Arizona Cardinals--Dennis Green. All he did was send the Vikings to the playoffs year after year. Yeah, he couldn't get to the Super Bowl, but it's not like the Cardinals can have that as a legit goal yet. Essentially, this is a great hire. Remember one year ago the 49ers inexplicably hired Dennis Erikson instead of Green. Well, not only did Arizona beat SF last season, they got the better coach too.

NY Giants--Tom Coughlin. The Jaguars got bad in a hurry under Caughlin, but that was just the tail end of his tenure. The first half was great, as he took the expansion Jags and made them into a championship contender. He's worth a second chance. Good pick.

posted by uberschuck 1/14/2004 10:56:00 PM


This is a very bad idea

And though we might not know who is in charge of the Dolphins' front office, we will know who is in charge on the field.

Dan Marino, one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, has been hired to energize a team whose greatest single mediocrity is at quarterback. Whatever Marino's role is in the ill-defined job of senior vice president of football operations, he will have very definite thoughts on who will direct the Dolphins offense. That means the Jay Fiedler era is over.

Marino's greatest immediate input -- after he finishes covering the Super Bowl for CBS -- will be on which QB the Dolphins choose to replace Fiedler.

The biggest problem with the Dolphins ain't talent, it's Dave Wannstedt. He's squandered an immense amount of talent for two straight years, and as long as he's the coach, mediocrity is all the Dolphins can aspire to. Jay Fiedler is not going to win any QB of the Year awards, but he's a pretty good NFL player. He's a deserving starter and doesn't deserve to be scapegoated for all of the shortcomings of this team.

But what the hell does Dan Marino know about evaluating talent? Yes, he was a great QB. Elgin Baylor was a great player, and he's possibly the worst GM in the history of American pro sports. And it's not like Marino was a real cerebral player, he was just insanely gifted. Give a guy a microphone and suddenly he thinks he's Bobby Beatherd. Well, he's not.

This just further muddles and already muddled front-office in Miami. And what the Dolphins need is clarity. A decisive figure sitting in the ig chair to make the big decisions... firing the head coach.

posted by Poseur 1/13/2004 01:02:00 PM

I've decided to turn down the Bears head coaching job as well

Who hasn't turned this job down? Pretty soon there's gonna be a reality show in which football fans compete for the chance to coach the Bears. Why not? When Dave McGinnis says thanks but no thanks, you know you've got problems.

But here comes Russ Grimm and Lovie smith to the rescue! Grimm's a blue-collar guy (READ: white) with limited coaching experience. The people of Chicago seem to want him to be a young Mike Ditka (who wouldn't?), but that's just wishfu thinking. He could be a great coach, but he could just be a tough guy who used to be a great player. Lovie smith is an accomplished defensive co-ordinator. He's known the Angelo family for years. He's at a higher place in the profession, he's got the contacts, and he's demonstrated the bailtiy to coach, turning the Rams defense from cover-your-eyes-awful to pretty good.

I bet the white guy gets the job. African-Americans can't even get nepotism to work in their favor.

posted by Poseur 1/13/2004 12:51:00 PM

Four million reasons to come back

What a shock. Clemens can be lured by money. One of the most mercenary pitchers of recent years, hated in almost every city he has once called home, has returned to the only palce he isn't despised: Texas. Of course, he couldn't really bolt on the Longhorns for more money.

What the hell, he's a great pitcher and if this means we get to keep watching him, I'm pretty happy. Keep pitching to your arm falls off.
posted by Poseur 1/13/2004 12:41:00 PM

Gone to Europe!

Carlos Bocanegra is now the fifth American in the Premier League. However, three are goalies and the other is Reyna, considered by many to be the best American player. Bocanegra is the two-time MLS defender of the year, but this is a huge leap for American soccer. He's really the first field player not considered the best in the nation to go over to play in the Premiership.

This is a great move for American soccer and the MLS. It's how the league continues to exist, selling off its best players to Europe. Transfer fees keep it going. Landon Donovan, there's only so much time you can spend here.
posted by Poseur 1/13/2004 12:38:00 PM


What were the odds? Four great playoff games out of four. That almost never happens, you always get at least one snoozer, usually more on divsional playoff weekend. But not this year. Every single game came down to the final minute, and two of them even needed extra frames. Heck, the worst game of the weekend was a 38-31 track meet which set an NFL record for fewest punts in a playoff game: none. Hopefully, you didn't have anything planned as the games were aweseome.

Mike Martz is taking a ton of heat for letting his foot off the gas towards the end of regulation. It's not hard to see why. His team just recovered a mircale onside kick in which Jeff Wilkins, the kicker, came up with the ball by outjumping several defenders. Down 11 with four minutes to play, now the Rams were down three and treading very close to miracle territory. One huge gain put the Rams in field goal position early on. And then, nothing. A few runs, bring out the kicker, go to OT.

The startegy completely misses the point. You're goal is to win, not to force OT. Getting to OT means putting together another drive in order to win. instead, they squandered terrific field position on the thought that they would get another chance to drive the field. They did. Several times, but they never got in the same position as they were in late in the fourth quarter. Martz was like a deer in headlights.

How does Bennett make two absolutely unbelievable catches, only to drop one that hit him softly in the hands? Just one of those mysteries of football. The Pats deserved to win this one, and watching it, you just knew they would. They always win the close ones. It's actually pretty eerie. It wasn't a thing of beauty. In fact, it was downright ugly. 84 yards rushing to 96. And the passing games weren't much better. Neither team cracked 300 yards, but still managed to hover around 50% on thrid down conversions. It was just a wierd game which defies analysis. The Patriots won because they always win games like this.

No punts. Not one. And Dante Hall still had a return for a touchdown, thanks to all of those kickoffs. Another game which ended with everyone second guessing the head man of the loser's. how could he not onside kick with four-and-a-half to play when his defense hadn't stopped the Colts all day long? This decision, on its surface, is insane. The Chiefs defense couldn't stop most college teams from scoring yesterday, but Vermeil kept all of his faith in the unit. And that's the secret to Vermeil's success, faith in his players. Nobody believes in his players more than Vemreil, and to call an onsides kick would be to admit that he has no faith in his defense. OK, he probably shouldn't have had any, but he was true to his nature. I can't blame a coach for that. He believed in his players, and they let him down. Why? Because they aren't good enough.

Mike Sherman's going to be going over those two fourth down calls over and over again. Both were the wrong call, and no coach did more to lose a game this weekend than Mike Sherman. The Pack outplayed the Eagles, yet they went home losers. And that's a tough pill to take. It's one thing to lose a close one, or lose to a better team, but quite another to lose when it was apparent you had the better team that day. And that points directly to the head coach.

Going for it on fourth and goal after you've already failed to punch it in on three tries isn't the best decision in the world, but it's not a bad one. But Jesus, what kind of play call was that? Why not just run a flea flicker? Was Sherman watching a different game than I? Because in the game I saw, the Eagles could not stop Ahman Green. Just run him up the gut. Third down? Davenport. Fourth down? A trap play. Just indfensible play-calling on the goal line. But even worse because it lead up to the greatest mental freeze up of the weekend.

Play-calling is all about evaluating risk. Is the potential gain worth the risk? So, on fourth and inches with about two and a hlaf minutes to play at the 41 yard line, the Packers stood to gain the win with a mere 1 yard gain. If they failed, they would lose, count it, 21 yards of field position. that's a worthwhile risk. but Sherman, already gun shy from his earlier fourth down follies, calls out the punt team. He gave up the chance to win the game in exchange for 21 yards, which the Eagles got back on the very first play of their drive. Way to go, Mike. His team almost bailed him out, but the prevent defense came to the rescue, allowing the Eagles to convert a fourth and 26. Fourth and 26. Who called the prevent? Um, tht would be Mr. Sherman.

Way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

posted by Poseur 1/12/2004 01:54:00 PM


Observations on the game that would not end...

Our readers from the Carolinas will take umbrage, but I must begin by saying the Panthers remind me a lot of the NY Giants team that lost the Super Bowl a couple years ago. They aren’t very good. The thing is, they keep winning. Despite what I think of them, they are two wins from a league championship. What impressed me most about them is that their best weapon, Stephen Davis, went down with an injury early in the game, but they didn’t flinch. They stuck to the running game. They frustrated the Rams with defense. They got the big play to make the difference.

As for the Rams there are a couple obvious things that need to be shouted out.
Coach Mike Martz is a horrible coach who should be fired immediately if not sooner. He is chronically “too smart for his own good.” It seems he still hasn’t learned that putting the ball in Marshall Faulk’s hands is a good thing–and let’s be honest, Faulk’s play in the 4th quarter kept the Rams alive. Martz has often looked like a buffoon with his silly challenges over a 3 yard spot. Yesterday he cost his team again by playing for OT rather than the win.

Think about it, if you had the Rams’ offence at your disposal and you had first & 10 at about the 20 yard line on your own home field, 30 seconds remaining and one time out...would you take a shot or two at the end zone to win the game? Martz, ever the offensive genius, didn’t even run a play. He wasted the time and kicked the field goal to send the game to overtime. This is the playoffs, pal. Go for the win. Throw to Holt or Bruce to win the game, and then kick the field goal if you fail. What a dolt.

Aside from boneheaded calls, the Rams & Panthers gave us a really exciting game that lasted over 15 minutes of overtime. Each team missed a potential game-winning FG in overtime–the Panthers did so after having a good try called back by penalty. Even the overtime was set up by Rams kicker Jeff Wilkins recovering his own onside kick. The momentum swings were amazing. What a great game.

Pats & Titans

As for the New England/Tennessee game, it was as good as we expected. The Titans were up for the challenge, but, wouldn’t you know it, the Patriots got a late field goal to win it. Imagine that! This game was every bit as exciting as the Rams/Panthers game, only without the moronic coaching decisions.
posted by uberschuck 1/11/2004 01:32:00 PM

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