Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cal Gone: Take Me Away To UK

((HT: Memphis Commercial Appeal))

Press conferences start at 9:30 AM eastern time in Lexington for Calipari's introduction.

Dan Wolken starts the Memphis side of the Tigers post-mortem saying Calipari will receive an eight-year, $31.65 million deal plus incentives, according to the University of Kentucky. According to sources close to the process, however, Memphis had offered a deal that was just as lucrative.

Kentucky will pay Memphis a $200,000 buyout that was included in Calipari’s U of M contract.

Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson will hold a news conference at noon Wednesday to discuss plans for the future, as the program moves into its first coaching search since 2000. Donors Alan Graf and Mike Rose will play major roles in the search.

One name at the top of Memphis’ list was removed on Tuesday night when Mike Anderson agreed to a new seven-year contract to stay at Missouri.

The next coach on Memphis’ radar could be Southern California’s Tim Floyd, who has big-time recruiting connections, a track record of college success and NBA head coaching experience. Floyd, who reportedly makes $850,000 at USC, might also be intrigued by the opportunity to coach at a school where basketball is the top priority and doesn’t have to share the spotlight with USC football or UCLA basketball.

According to one of Floyd’s close friends in coaching, he would be interested in the job because of his strong roots in the South, despite his recent acclimation to the West Coast. Floyd owns a home just outside of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where he was born. According to the coach, who requested to remain anonymous, the Memphis job would make a lot of sense for Floyd and he’d be as close to Calipari as Memphis could find in terms of his track record and ability to fit in with the program.

Other names that might come into play include Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy, Miami coach Frank Haith, UTEP coach Tony Barbee, current assistant Josh Pastner or former New Mexico State and Sacramento Kings coach Reggie Theus.

ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla said Memphis can stay relevant if it makes the right hire.

“There’s no question. It will be slightly different,” Fraschilla said. “What John did is going to be tough to duplicate, and I’m not sure most coaches would want to try to step in his shoes, but two guys that could get it done are Tim Floyd and Mike Anderson. They both have the experience and the recruiting ties and the substance to be able to weather what is a tough place to please a great fan base.”

Here's Coach Cal's Landing in Lexington...
((HT: WKYT))

And the flip side from our friends at WHBQ-TV/Fox Memphis...

Carousel Tuesday: Anderson Is The #1 Now...

Carousel Tuesday continues with a few revelations...

Georgia has offered and targeted Missouri's Mike Anderson as their Number One to fill the Dennis Felton spot. The offer is in the neighborhood of $2-million per season.

"Georgia hasn't offered him the job," Jimmy Sexton told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I wish they had. They haven't said the job is his."

Anderson, who had a 65-35 record in three seasons at Missouri, has an $850,000 salary this year. Missouri athletic director Mike Alden is scheduled to meet with the coach in Columbia, Mo., on Tuesday and is prepared to offer a five-year contract extension that would pay Anderson about $1.3 million per season, according to sources.

Anderson ((pictured, thanks Ronald Martinez/Getty)) also is believed to be a potential candidate for the Memphis job if John Calipari leaves to become Kentucky's new coach.
Add UTEP's Tony Barbee to that mix as well, and the name that those of us at OSG HQ are holding on to until the presser in Lexington.
"All of these opportunities have their pluses and minuses," Sexton told the Journal-Constitution. "He's got it turned around at Missouri. He's got great players there now. Memphis is a great situation and Mike has connections there. Georgia appears to want to make a commitment to basketball and Damon probably has the most to offer. But Georgia hasn't won consistently over the years and you wonder what the reason is for that.

"He's in a sorting out process right now."
What about other candidates should Anderson not make it to Athens...?
Apparently, Butler's Barry Stevens is out there as is Sean Miller at Xavier and Jeff Capel at Oklahoma. Bobby Knight would give the school the cheap pop it needs, but Michael Adams would have none of Knight's shenanigans.
Choice "C" may be a hard one for Bulldog fans to swallow...

Calipari Decision '09: Tracking Cal

Those of us at OSG HQ are throwing darts at a dartboard at the moment, but we'll guess this is a flight that will carry a coach ((and, possibly, family members)) from Memphis to Lexington/Blue Grass...

This plane is set to land at, about 7:15 weather permitting...

Enjoy staring at a computer screen and losing what's left of your eyesight...
((HT: OSG's Subscription to Flightaware))

More when we know more...

Calipari Decision '09: Plane Heads To Lexington

((HT: Memphis Commercial Appeal))

Geoff Calkins from the MCA actually had a source in a Memphis donut shop earlier Tuesday. His source named "Deep Crueller (sic)" said Coach Cal was in the shop for exactly 8, count 'em, 8 minutes. Calipari gave the following revelations:

** In addition to Kentucky, Arizona came after him over the weekend offering not a salary but a blank check. Calipari said, "No thanks."

** He was in the Memphis Athletic Office Building yesterday but slipped out a side door.

** He loves Memphis but is drawn to the history and prestige of Kentucky. Calipari said it's one of five programs -- along with North Carolina, Duke, UCLA and Kansas -- any coach would have to consider.

If you're into reading tea leaves -- or coffee grounds, if you prefer -- Calipari did say two things that should have Memphis fans worried.

"Things will be OK here," he said.

And also: "Taking the job is the easy part of the decision. Leaving here is the hard part."

Meanwhile, Jerry Tipton's blog in Lexington has Coach Cal talking to some of the predecessors at UK to get the feel for the gig.

He talked to Joe B. Hall, Eddie Sutton, Tubby Smith, and apparently even Rick Pitino.

WKYT-TV, within the last half-hour, has Calipari looking like one of those targets in the shooting gallery game at the county fair.

WREG is now reporting a close source to the Calipari family tell them that John Calipari keeps changing his mind and nothing is definite.

Former Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall told the Memphis station that he did speak with Calipari about the job but that Calipari did NOT say he was accepting the position.

Rob Bromley and Mark Kennedy have the early news out of Lexington:

WREG has confirmed a chartered plane has filed plans from Memphis to Lexington, KY for the purpose of taking John Calipari to the University of Kentucky. News Channel 3 has learned from a source very close to the program that U of M coach John Calipari has met with members of his staff at his home and has announced his decision on the University of Kentucky job.

All indications are that he is moving to Kentucky.

Florida Coaching Pipeline To VCU Continues


Virginia Commonwealth University official says the school has picked Florida assistant coach Shaka Smart to be its new men's basketball coach.
The official familiar with the decision told The Associated Press that Smart has not yet signed a contract, but an announcement is planned for Thursday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement has yet to be made.

The 32-year-old Smart was an assistant to Billy Donovan at Florida last season and will become the second consecutive Donovan assistant to take over the Rams.

Anthony Grant, Donovan's right-hand man for 10 years at Florida, spent the last three seasons as VCU's head coach. He was hired last week to coach at Alabama.
So there you go. If you become an assistant coach for Billy Donovan at Florida eventually you will pack your bags for Richmond, Virginia for your first head coaching gig with the VCU Rams.

Seven Settles With Falcons; Release Imminent

Our favorite quarterback, #7 Michael Vick, has settled his breach-of-contract case with Atlanta Falcons. According to the Four Letter and Chris Mortensen, "Vick has agreed to pay the Falcons $7.5 million if the team wins an appeal in the Eighth Circuit Court and $6.5 million if the court upholds U.S. District Judge David Doty's decision that Vick is only liable for $3.75 million."

Basically, what this means is that the Dirty Birds are one step away from releasing the #4 mobile QB of all-time. Of course, Seven has several hurdles left to jump before any NFL team will touch him.

However, I can picture Seven in a Dallas uniform. Jerry Jones is just crazy enough to go after him. Al Davis, too.

Wouldn't it be fitting if Cleveland signed him? I mean, he'd have the "dawg pound" pulling for him. :)
AJC article here.
USA Today article here.
Four Letter article here.

Calipari Sleeping On UK Offer

((From Andy Katz at the four-letter and WREG-TV3...))

John Calipari decided late Monday night to sleep on Kentucky's offer to become its next basketball coach, a source close to the situation said.
The two sides had inched ever closer to a deal throughout Monday that could make him the highest-paid coach in the country.
While Calipari met with Memphis officials earlier Monday, representatives for both sides were working out details of an agreement. Sources told ESPN.com that the offer is believed to be for eight years and around $35 million.
Florida's Billy Donovan is currently the highest-paid coach in the country, securing a deal for $3.5 million per year after his second national championship.
Calipari had a morning meeting with his players to discuss his interest in the Kentucky opening, and players came away convinced their coach would leave for Lexington, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported, citing a source close to the situation.

"He told us he's going to keep us posted," Memphis freshman forward Wesley Witherspoon told WHBQ-TV in Memphis.

The Wildcats had a short meeting at their practice gym Monday afternoon. Asked afterward if they had a new coach, senior Jared Carter said, "I think so." Asked if it was Calipari, Carter shrugged his shoulders and said, "I don't know."

Several other Kentucky players, including stars Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson, were escorted by university staffers and did not comment after leaving the Joe Craft Center. Calipari met with Kentucky officials on Sunday at an undisclosed location, at which time he was given an outline on the length of a deal and contract dollars to succeed Billy Gillispie, the source said.

According to The Associated Press, Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson said in a statement that the university will do whatever it can to retain Calipari, who has four years left on his contract paying him $2.35 million annually.
But more than money, Calipari has to decide if he wants to leave a program that he has transformed into a national championship contender for Kentucky, one of the most tradition-rich programs in the sport that has recently fallen upon hard times.
Calipari's top recruit, DeMarcus Cousins, has made an oral commitment to Memphis, but because national letters of intent do not have to be signed until next month, Cousins could easily follow Calipari to Kentucky if he were to become the Wildcats' coach.
Calipari has a longstanding rivalry with Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who coached Kentucky to a national championship in 1996, and would have the opportunity to go head-to-head with him within the borders of a state that considers college basketball to be the national pastime.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Best End-Of-The-Month Hockey Brawl


We always like to show you what's the best in the world of the puck...
This qualifies... Canucks vs. Blackhawks...
Dustin Byfuglien hits Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo in the chops with the butt end of the stick.
Pair-offs and dance partners evolve...

Come On And Watch Some Basketball

((HT: Czabe))

The song that we hear for the entire third month of the calendar ((and some of the fourth)) actually has lyrics...

Betcha didn't know that...

Thanks to Steve, Scotty, Galdi, and Lo-Def for discovering the legend...

Calipari To Lexington: Your 8:00 Update

((HT: WREG-TV3))

Of course, Memphis coverage is wall-to-wall...

We check in with Glenn Carver who has some interesting names to take over should ((or "when")) Coach Cal ((pictured, thanks Memphis Commercial Appeal)) leaves for Lexington...

Those of us at OSG HQ have our own name to add, but we'll hold off for a day or so...

Let the presser happen, then we'll let you know...

Jerry Tipton's blog in Lexington has the process wrapping up...

UK president Lee Todd declined to confirm Calipari as the leading candidate. But when asked about the process on Monday, Todd said, “It’s going to move quickly.”

Stumbling blocks include the contract- the length and the compensation- as well as the recruits, both sets of Gillispie's that were headed in and Calipari's that were headed to Memphis.

Does Coach Cal dig any of Gillispie's guys...? Is he bringing all of his kids from Memphis...?
John Clay's blog has word from the MCA that Nolan Dennis' mom has said that there's a "deal" where Dennis would be released from his LOI if Cal leaves Memphis. Dennis, then, could follow in the caravan to Lexington.
Dan Wolken's work in the MCA follows that thought with two important others:
1) Calipari may have been lobbying for current UTEP coach, and former Tiger assistant, Tony Barbee in a meeting with high-falootin' Tiger boosters this afternoon.
2) Wesley Witherspoon, Roburt Sallie and Angel Garcia all may strongly consider transferring from Memphis if Calipari accepts the Kentucky job.
Memphis is expected to make a strong bid to keep Calipari with a financial package that would make him the highest paid coach in basketball, according to another source.
More when we know more...

Tony Bennett To UVA

((HT: KHQ-TV))

Washington State University men's basketball coach Tony Bennett surprised his players, his assistant coaches and the school administration Monday by accepting an offer to become the head coach at the University of Virginia.

Bennett ((pictured, thanks The Statesman-Review)) told returning players and coaches about his plans at a 2 p.m. meeting in Beasley Coliseum.

"I was so shocked," said freshman guard Klay Thompson of Bennett's announcement.

A source close to the situation told The Spokesman-Review the offer came up over the weekend and though the decision was a tough one, Bennett decided this was the right move for his family and future.

Read the rest at Spokesman-Review.

Meanwhile, Washington State University Director of Athletics Jim Sterk confirmed that men's basketball coach Tony Bennett has accepted the head coaching position at the University of Virginia.

"Dick and Tony Bennett have elevated the men's basketball program at Washington State to an unprecedented level of success," Sterk said. "We will begin a national search for a coach immediately with the goal of finding someone with the integrity, experience, and values that Dick and Tony brought to the program."

Sterk said that Virginia asked for permission to speak with Bennett last Friday. Monday afternoon Bennett informed Sterk and WSU President Elson S. Floyd of his decision to accept the position at Virginia.

Following those conversations, Bennett informed his players of his decision.
Here's your coverage from Cindi DeHoog and the home team at KHQ-TV...
And here's early coverage from WCAV-TV and the rest of the Charlottesville Newsplex...

Memphis Grants Kentucky Permission To Talk To John Calipari

It appears Kentucky has John Calipari in their cross heirs as the new head coach. The University of Memphis has given Kentucky permission to speak to coach John Calipari about the Wildcats' head coaching position.

Athletic director R.C. Johnson said in a statement Monday that Calipari could meet with Kentucky representatives, but stressed Memphis will do whatever it can to retain the coach.

The Memphis Commercial-Appeal reported Monday that Calipari met with his Memphis players this morning to discuss his involvement with the University of Kentucky opening.

While Calipari did not say explicitly what he planned to do, players left the meeting convinced that Calipari would take the job. According to a Commercial - Appeal source, Calipari told the team that Kentucky was the Notre Dame of basketball.

Kentucky spokesman DeWayne Peevy would not confirm or deny an ESPN report that Wildcats officials had met with Calipari and were prepared to offer him the job.

OSG contacted sources at Kentucky but they aren't speaking either.

Photo Courtesy: Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire

Kentucky Campaign '09: Pitino Says Go With The Native Sons

While it appears John Calipari is "interested" in the Kentucky job, UK hasn't asked for permission to talk to Coach Cal. Any doubt though that Calipari is openly campaigning for the Kentucky gig through the backchannels?

The interest though could be mutual as sources tell the 4-letter word that Kentucky is in the process of gathering information on Calipari.

Back to the campaign because former Kentucky head coach Rick Pitino is doing just that for a couple of his former players, Travis Ford and John Pelphrey.

"If you said to me right now, in three years, who will be one of the bright young stars in our game, I would say, without reservation at all, that John Pelphrey or Travis Ford would both be young stars in the game." Pitino said.

"On top of that, they are beloved by the Commonwealth of Kentucky and all their fans, what they call Big Blue Nation. I don't care where they're at, they love Oklahoma State, love Arkansas, but those two guys, you cut them open, and it spells UK. That's what I would do. "

There's no doubt Kentucky blue runs through the veins of Travis Ford and John Pelphrey. As native sons they could adjust to the demands of the gig quicker than someone from the outside. The question is are they seasoned enough to win games at the elite level.

Ford and Pelphrey do have their former coach on the stump on their behalf however, Pitino is the Louisville head coach now. How does that sit with the power brokers within the Big Blue Nation? Does Pitino's thoughts move the needle with them?

Let the dance continue.

Bob Knight In His Boxers Playing Guitar Hero

On many levels this Guitar Hero commercial is a bit disturbing. I never thought i would see Roy Williams, Rick Pitino, Mike Krzyzewski & Bob Knight in the boxers in public but hey, anything for a few thousand dollars.

Calipari And UK Interested In Each Other

Thus the courtship begins...

"Hey, do you think he likes me...?"
"Why don't you go ask...?"
"No, why don't you go ask...?"

We've hit that stage where the two parties are in class and one of them is about to pass the note asking to check one box or the other...

From Jerry Tipton's blog in Lexington and the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper are telling us one of the worst-kept secrets on this or any other planet- that Memphis Head Coach John Calipari ((pictured, thanks Sue Ogrocki/AP)) might like to go out on a date soon with someone from the University of Kentucky.

From Tipton:

According to former UK All-American Mike Pratt, who provides commentary on radio broadcasts of games and will assist the search, Kentucky wants a coach who can handle all aspects of a high-profile coaching job: Strategy, recruiting, leadership, role model, motivator, public relations man and, in UK’s case, ambassador for the program, university and Commonwealth.

It also can be noted that friends of Calipari spread the word of his interest in the Kentucky job when it came open two years ago. So it’s easy to presume he’s still interested.

From Dan Wolken in Memphis:

University of Memphis coach John Calipari is open to meeting with officials from the University of Kentucky about its head coaching position and could do so as early as today, according to a source close to the situation.

As of Sunday night, Kentucky officials had not contacted Memphis asking permission to speak to Calipari, according to sports information director Lamar Chance.

ESPN.com reported Sunday night, citing a source close to Kentucky, that the school had gathered information on Calipari over the weekend.

Calipari has four years left on a contract that pays him $2.35 million annually, plus an annuity that averages $1 million over the course of the deal, which runs through 2013. Memphis, according to sources, has also been working on a contract extension that would significantly increase Calipari’s total package.

It’s still unclear whether Kentucky has made Calipari its top choice or whether Calipari would be inclined to take the job if offered.

WREG-TV caught up with Coach Cal when the team landed back in Memphis after their loss and he addressed the whole Kentucky-thing...


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Some Woods Guy Won On Tour Again

((HT: NBC Sports/PGA))

Just like the 2008 Arnold Palmer Invitational, when Tiger Woods sank a putt on the 72nd hole to beat Bart Bryant, he did it again Sunday to beat Sean O'Hair by one stroke. O'Hair started the day with a five-shot lead over Woods, but they were all square by the 14th hole.

Here's the putt that won it...

While the fans are more than happy to have Tiger back on tour- and the tour itself is more than happy to have Tiger back on tour- the rest of the golfers on tour are now playing for second.


ACC Lacrosse Scoffs At Six Overtimes


The most over-used intro by sports anchors around the country who will toss to the highlights of this story will involve the Big East Conference tourney game that went six overtimes between Syracuse and UConn.

We figured we'd already break that news to you...
It's the longest game ever in NCAA history...

Brian Carroll's goal a minute into the seventh overtime Saturday night lifted the top-ranked Cavaliers to a 10-9 victory over the Terrapins in the longest Division I men's lacrosse game in NCAA history.

It won't likely make the highlights like the Orange's dramatic six-overtime win over UConn in the Big East tournament a few weeks ago, but the win capped a rally from three goals down and was Virginia's 11th straight to open the season.

Carroll said he had a feeling the two teams were making history, but it never crossed the mind of Cavaliers coach Dom Starsia.

"I'm probably too tired to consider the historical significance of all of this," he said. "It felt like it was a struggle offensively all day and I wasn't sure that we were going to be able to manufacture the goal we needed to win."

Maryland (6-3) appeared to win the game 9 seconds into the first overtime on a goal by Grant Catalino, but an inadvertent whistle by the officials negated it.

The Terrapins outshot Virginia 14-6 in overtime, but Virginia goalie Adam Ghitelman kept them from scoring. He finished with a career-high 22 saves.
Here is the wrap-up from the Charlottesville Newsplex...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Findlay Runs The Table: 36-0

Here's your Division II finals wrap...
Findlay's Tyler Evans hits a fall-away, three-pointer at the buzzer to win over Cal Poly-Pomona in overtime. They're the first team since 1957 to finish undefeated in Division II
Absolutely ridiculous...Tim Brando and Dan Bonner were there...
((HT: CBS Sports))

Watch CBS Videos Online
And your postgame from Fox Toledo...

Ralph Wilson Is Not Dead

((HT: Buffalo News/WGRZ-TV))

Mark Gaughan of the News reports that a rumor buzzing about the Internet Friday night claimed Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr. had passed away.

That was news to Ralph ((pictured, thanks WGRZ-TV)).

The Buffalo News got calls from people at the Sabres-Maple Leafs game in HSBC Arena, a local bar, a golf dome and from reporters as far away as the West Coast. Even Wilson's Wikipedia page had been changed.

Subsequent calls to people close to the 90-year-old Wilson, who was recently elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, quickly proved the claim was baseless.

Perhaps the fact Wilson had suffered a shoulder injury recently fueled the rumors. He did have to make a trip to the hospital Friday to have the shoulder checked out. But Wilson was fine. No mainstream media ran with the rumor Friday night.

The Bills sent out a Twitter alert this afternoon refuting the claim.

"There is absolutely no truth to the internet rumor referencing Ralph Wilson's health," the Bills' official Twitter page reads.

Wilson, 90, is alive and well.

Those of us at OSG HQ ran through our sources close to the Bills organization Saturday afternoon and evening. The information of the fall- and the fall alone, not anything resembling a death- is correct.

More when we know more...

Alysheba Euthanized At 25

Alysheba, winner of the 1987 Kentucky Derby and Preakness and chosen 1988 Horse of the Year, has died. The champion stallion was 25.

The charismatic star, dubbed "America's Horse" by racing fans, Alysheba ((pictured, thanks Getty Images)) was euthanized Friday night following a fall in his stall at the Kentucky Horse Park's Hall of Champions, where he was buried Saturday.

The son of racing legend Alydar became a sensation for trainer Jack Van Berg and owners Dorothy and Pamela Scharbauer during a brilliant career that included a win in the 1988 Breeders' Cup Classic. He retired as horse racing's all-time money winner with more than $6.6 million in earnings from 11 victories in 26 lifetime starts.

Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron, who piloted Alysheba to victory in the first two legs of the Triple Crown, called him "the most talented horse I ever rode."

The talent became evident during Alysheba's stirring Derby win over Bet Twice. He stumbled in the stretch before catching himself to run down his rival in the final yards.

Only upon replay did McCarron realize how close his trip had come to disaster.

"Falling didn't even go through my mind," McCarron said. "I kept thinking there's only one horse left in front of us that was going to prevent us from getting the roses. He just did an incredible job of righting himself. I was focused on keeping my balance and trying to stay on his back."
Van Berg wasn't surprised. Alysheba had a sense of balance and athleticism rarely found on the track.

"He just had unbelievable ability," Van Berg said. "He got a little gust of wind or whatever and got knocked down and he stepped up before Chris knew what hit him. He was remarkable."
Alysheba backed up the Derby win by taking the Preakness. His bid for a Triple Crown ended with a disappointing fourth-place finish in the Belmont, a rare dull performance from a horse who won fans over with his consistency and durability.

Being a bit of a showoff helped. Van Berg said he would get a kick out of seeing Alysheba hop around the paddock before races, preening for the audience.

"He was hard to handle sometimes, but the adrenaline would get flowing and he knew it was time to go," Van Berg said. "He could do things you wouldn't believe."
Namely, bring it every time.

"He always ran his race," McCarron said. "You could count on him giving his best effort, even if he got in trouble or the track condition wasn't to his liking."
One of his greatest performances may have come in defeat. Alysheba lost to 1986 Derby winner Ferdinand in a photo finish at the 1987 Breeders' Cup Classic, a setback that likely cost him Horse of the Year honors.

McCarron said the loss may have been a blessing. Rather than retire to the breeding shed, Alysheba returned to the track as a 4-year-old in 1988, winning six stakes races and getting a measure of revenge in the '88 Classic, beating Seeking the Gold in the early evening gloaming at Churchill Downs.

McCarron remembers seeing signs in the winner's circle proclaiming: "Alysheba for President." The horse certainly seemed to feel like one, carrying himself with the pride of a winner.

"He looked majestic on the track," McCarron said. "He'd stop and let people take photographs. I believe he loved it."
Alysheba retired to stud in Kentucky in 1989 before being sold and sent to Saudi Arabia. He arrived at the Horse Park last fall, joining Cigar -- who broke Alysheba's career earnings record -- in the Hall of Champions.

"He had an aura about him," park spokeswoman Lisa Jackson said.

McCarron said he saw Alysheba two weeks ago and offered his old friend mints while standing out in his paddock.

"He looked fantastic," McCarron said.

The stallion fell in his stall, injuring his right hind femur, and was euthanized Friday night at a medical center in Lexington.

Kathy Hopkins, director of equine operations at the horse park, said Alysheba fell due to a chronic degenerative spinal condition.

"Complicated by his advanced age, this trauma resulted in severe pain," Hopkins said. "The resulting pain and suffering, and the inability to stand unaided, led to a joint decision for euthanasia."

Alysheba is the second champion horse to be euthanized in the past two weeks. Lil E. Tee, who upset heavily favored Arazi to win the 1992 Kentucky Derby, was put down at Old Frankfort Stud in Lexington on March 18 at age 20.

Here's a story HRTV produced on Alysheba and trainer Jack Van Berg...

Gillispie Speaks...Regrets Only One Thing...

Billy Gillispie doesn't know about chemistry problems or whether he was the right fit at Kentucky. What he does know is that he simply didn't win enough games.

"I wish we would have won more," Gillispie said Saturday, less than 24 hours after the university fired him following two turbulent seasons.

During an amiable 30-minute meeting with reporters, Gillispie hardly sounded like the coach whose prickly act had quickly worn thin during his brief time at the home of college basketball's winningest program.

He cracked jokes, asking if someone wanted to buy his mansion. He smiled, a rarity during his final days with the program. And he said he had no ill feelings toward athletic director Mitch Barnhart, who cited philosophical differences as the reason Gillispie was let go.

"I'm not a woe-is-me kind of person," Gillispie said. "I've always said this, show up every day, try to work hard, try to do your best with the right attitude and everything works out right. I've had a great time here at Kentucky."

One that was cut short after Gillispie went just 40-27 in two seasons. Kentucky stumbled down the stretch this year to miss the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1991. Not exactly the makeover the program anticipated when he was hired to replace Tubby Smith in April 2007.

While Barnhart said the decision was about more than wins or losses, Gillispie argued he never shied away from the public responsibilities that come with being the state's highest-paid and most visible employee.

Ultimately, however, he knew his main job was to restore some of the luster at a school that hasn't been to a Final Four in more than a decade. On that front, he knows he didn't live up to the expectations he embraced during the rowdy pep rally that greeted him two years ago.

"We didn't win the right kind of games," he said. "We just had a couple of bad stretches and an inexperienced team did that. But they kept getting better, they kept on fighting and they finished up really strong and I think it's going to really help them in the future."
A future that will go on without him. He refused to feel sorry for himself and doesn't believe he was forced out by an impatient fan base.

"Tough times don't last but they say tough people do, and I'm pretty tough," he said. "I'm looking forward to moving on."

So are the Wildcats, who are looking for a coach for the second time in three years.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and Memphis coach John Calipari are among Kentucky's top targets, though the divorce from Gillispie could get messy.

Barnhart said Friday he doesn't expect to pay Gillispie a $6 million buyout for dismissing him after two seasons, citing Gillispie's refusal to agree to a formal contract.

The coach worked under a memorandum of understanding signed following his whirlwind courtship by the school. Barnhart said the university would try to negotiate a fair separation agreement but believes it will be well below $6 million.

Gillispie believes he's due the full amount.

"That's what it says in the contract, that's what it looks like to me," he said. "I don't know all the details and all those kind of things. I just know we signed a contract. It was a shorter version than maybe some."

After taking a one-day "vacation," Gillispie said he expects to get back into coaching as soon as possible and doesn't believe his reputation has been damaged by his sudden fall from grace.

"I think my track record proves that we can recruit, we can really coach," he said. "We won't let this bother us. It's a bump in the road. It's not an ending in the road and we'll bounce back very quickly."

Just not at Kentucky, a school Gillispie expects to be back at the top of the Southeastern Conference no matter who takes his place. He has simply one request from the 24,000 fans who pack Rupp Arena every winter if the road back to prominence takes longer than expected.

"If they don't win every game, I think they ought to be on the coach all the time," he said with a laugh. "I think they need to turn the heat up on that a little bit any time they lose a game and they may not lose one."

Here's the Gillispie presser:

Friday, March 27, 2009

UCF Reviews Their Own Training For Football

((HT: CBSSports))

UCF's football program's conditioning activities are rigorous "but within the range normal to other Division I football programs," according to a review ordered after a player died and another collapsed last year.

The review released Friday was done by an attorney hired by the university and recommended better communication between team physicians and the athletics department administration, an extra athletic trainer for football and an increased exposure to a nutritionist for players among other things.

UCF President John Hitt ordered the review after the death of receiver Ereck Plancher last spring and the collapse of running back Brandon Davis in December.

Attorney Mike Glazier, a former NCAA investigator, conducted the inquiry. The review did not investigate Plancher's death nor Davis' collapse, only the current state of the football program.

"I will take the recommendations that Mike did make and speak with the administration and see how we can improve ourselves," UCF coach George O'Leary said, reading from a prepared statement.

Plancher died after taking part in the team's "mat drills" during an offseason conditioning workout last March on the UCF campus. The workout was supervised by O'Leary and his staff.

Hitt said he was pleased with the results of the review and again stood by the practices of the football program.

A report from the Orange County Medical Examiner's Office showed Plancher had a sickle cell trait that caused problems with his red blood cells during physical exertion. The examination showed Plancher's heart began beating abnormally, and blood flow to the wide receiver's muscles and organs slowed or stopped.

Plancher's parents filed a lawsuit earlier this month seeking damages in excess of $15,000, not including interest, costs and attorney's fees. The UCF Board of Trustees and the UCF Athletics Association are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

"We'll answer their lawsuit," Hitt said.

The report compared UCF's football program to other schools, reviewed workout and training activities and had complete access to the university's records, Glazier said. Coaches and football players were interviewed for the report, including Davis, but Glazier declined to disclose what the running back said.

Glazier said he recommended going from three to four athletic trainers dedicated solely to football, which he noted is the national average for a program UCF's size. He also recommended more frequent meetings with local paramedics.

"Our overall findings of the university's football practices and conditioning programs, sports medicine policies, procedures and practices are more than adequate and are within industry standards," Glazier said.

O'Leary has a 26-36 record in five seasons at UCF, including a 4-8 record this past season. He signed a 10-year contract extension in May 2006 that pays him $1 million annually. He also has a buyout clause that would cost UCF $5 million to change coaches unless there was just cause.

UCF athletic director Keith Tribble again stood by the coach.

"This is just a report that confirms what we already knew,"
Tribble said.

Those of us at OSG HQ are wholly unimpressed with the self-survey.
We would much rather see some self-actualization and self-analysis within the UCF adminstration and coaching staff that results in a positive and not just popping your shoulder out-of-joint from patting oneself on the back...

Stalking Gillispie...

This is video from WAVE-TV3 in Louisville and it is a prime example as to why political reporters should NEVER be involved in sports stories...

WHAS-TV political reporter Mark Hebert and WLEX-TV's Alan Cutler pulling a stunt in trying to get "the get."

Bucs Prospect Speaks On Wife's Charges

((HT: WFTS-TV/CBSSports))

Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Jose Tabata said Friday his much-older wife lied to him about being pregnant with his child before she was accused of abducting a 2-month-old baby girl, who has since been returned to her parents.

Tabata, speaking publicly for the first time since his wife's arrest earlier this week, also said 43-year-old Amalia Tabata Pereira ((pictured, booking photo courtesy Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department)) never told him she was incarcerated for more than two years in an arson case years before they met.

According to Pirates general manager Neal Huntington, Tabata's wife showed off pictures of an infant and told the player that the baby was his, only to have Tabata learn hours after seeing the baby that the girl had been taken from her parents in Plant City, about 60 miles from Bradenton, where the Pirates train.

Pereira, arrested after the baby was handed over to authorities in a Bradenton shopping center parking lot on Tuesday, was taken Wednesday to the Hillsborough County Jail and is lodged on $750,000 bond on an abduction charge.

The 20-year-old Tabata, an outfielder and one of the Pirates' top prospects, said he has since learned his wife told him "many lies" -- the worst of which the baby was his own.

"She completely falsified her pregnancy and the eventual birth of a baby girl, which would have made me a father for the first time," said Tabata, who read a prepared statement in Spanish but did not answer questions from the media before an afternoon workout. "Imagine how that made me feel."

The infant, Sandra Cruz-Francisco, was taken from her parents -- Rosa Sirilo-Francisco and Andres Cruz -- on Monday after a woman who identified herself as "Janet" said she was an immigration official and demanded the baby be turned over by the mother, or the parents would face deportation.

After giving Janet her baby, the mother called police later that night to report the infant had been taken. Less than 24 hours later, an anonymous caller told Manatee County officials the baby could be picked up at the shopping center.

"The truth is that my wife told me many lies that, until this whole situation began, I did not know," Tabata said. "One that hurt me a lot was her history as a criminal -- that she had spent years in prison, that she had robbed and committed fraud."
Tabata said he cannot forgive his wife for what happened.

"When this is all over, I will never be able to forgive her for her cruel actions," Tabata said in a statement he directed toward Pirates fans. "You will also understand that I will do everything possible, with the support of God and my family here with the Pirates, to overcome this craziness. The truth is I would never wish this situation on anybody, but I know that life has its good and its bad, and I know that good times are not too far off in the future."
Tabata and Huntington said that, because the case remains under investigation, neither the club nor Tabata can address specifics about the case.

"I, like you, have questions that remain unanswered," Tabata said. "However, the sheriff's deputies have told me not to speak about the details of her criminal case, including the details of our history together, and the lies that she led me to believe about her. Therefore, I will not be able to comment further or answer any of your questions until the investigation is complete. I do give thanks to God that no harm was made to the baby girl and that she is in his safe hands with her parents. My thoughts will always be with them."

Tabata, who grew up in Venezuela, said he has long idolized the late Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente and he hopes he will respond to this situation the way Clemente would.

"I asked myself, 'What would Clemente do in this situation?'" Tabata said. "I know Clemente was a man known for his decency, responsibility, doing what he says, and always doing the correct thing. And I believe the only correct thing in this moment is to tell the truth."

Tabata and his wife met when he played for the Yankees' Class A Tampa farm club and were married in January 2008. Tabata was traded seven months later to the Pirates in a deal that sent outfielder Xavier Nady and left-hander Damaso Marte to the Yankees.

WFTS-TV's James Zambroski has the details from the TV side...