Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Who's Cheating Who?

It was such a pleasant weekend. The Big Red showed up yellow at the Coliseum. Charlie Crewcut got dropped a rung or two. And USC’s lagging Pac-10 brethren actually showed some life*. Indeed the winds seemed to be shifting Westward …

Then, come Monday it all got blown up by some fat old white guys in suits. No, I’m not talking about the NCAA or the BCS. Not this time, at least. The suits this week aren’t pinstriped … just striped.

Apparently, Bob Stoops and some Big12 good ole boy with a friend in Walnut Creek cried and whined enough to get the poor Pac-10 officials suspended for a week after the Sooners' loss to the Ducks in Eugene. Of course, the poor guys did blow a very crucial call. But now Stoops is pouting about the prospect of playing Washington … Washington!? … in 2008 if the Pac-10 uses its own officials. Said Stoops:
We can't sit here and say OK. It's unacceptable and inexcusable, to [the players] and to us, because we can't get it back, and they earned it. That's the hard truth of it, and now our situation is severely altered.
As if he thought the Sooners expected to win the national title or something … but I digress. Stoops continued:
I've said all this in this way because I feel the right to stand up for my football players. I'm not sitting up here, me babyin’ or whinin’ about it.
Hmmmm. I think we beg to differ. Oregon coach Mike Bellotti, to his credit, was quoted in a much less hypocritical manner, I think. The idiot who had the nerve, or lack of ambition, to turn down the USC coaching job, said:
I feel very fortunate for us to have won that football game, not for the officials' errors, but for how our team played. We were lucky, we made plays and we never gave up. It's unfortunate that any team had to lose, or the efforts of my players are questioned, because of officials' errors.
Regardless, if Stoops spent more time keeping his QBs on the field, he wouldn’t have to worry so much about close games affected by officiating. I guess this is what happens when the Boomer Sooner takes three recent slaps to the face from Pac-10 schools … from the Ducks 34-33 last Saturday … ugla 41-24 last year … and, as we all know, USC 55-19 in the National Championship 2005 Orange Bowl.

Of course, that’s not all that spoiled the promising weekend. Reading sports headlines this morning, we saw this: “USC furious with ABC's Musburger.”

Nevermind the sensationalism of the headline. But, apparently our favorite SID spent Monday afternoon proving once again that his sphincter is so tight he could move diamonds. Turns out his latest gem came in the form of an official complaint to ESPN demanding that Brent Musburger be reprimanded for giving away USC’s secrets. Said Tim Tessalone:
We're supposed to be partners in this, but this is certainly going to make us think twice about trying to help them have as good a broadcast as possible. What he did was unconscionable. In my 28 years, I've never seen such an egregious breach of trust. Brent is not a rookie at this, and he should know better.
From a pure media relations standpoint, Tessalone has a gripe. The information the TV talent obtains from their pre-game meetings with coaches and key players is supposed to be confidential and for background purposes only. But, really … it’s not a big deal if you're thinking with common sense. Luckily, we have someone with common sense running USC's football program.

"I’m sure [the Nebraska coaching staff] weren't watching the broadcast,” said Pete Carroll with a smirk at press conference today. “I'm not worried about it. There's a million signals, a million ways to do it.”

Exactly. No big deal. But alas, the damage is already done. Thanks to the suits and our own PR guy, the east coast bias was given some mo' it doesn't need.

And things were looking so good last weekend …

*You may need an ESPN Insider subsription to see this clip. Basically, it's a ranking of each major conference by Bruce Feldman. With wins by Oregon, Wazzu, U-Dub, Arizona State, and USC on Saturday, the Pac-10 moved from fifth to third.
east coast bias

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