The Classic 68 Tournament

March 13, 2011

Just in case you need some help getting in the mood for March Madness, is running the “Classic 68” bracket to determine the greatest game in NCAA Tournament history. The bracket matches up memorable games from Tournaments past and lets fans pick the winners until a champion is crowned.

Even if you don’t want to vote, this is definitely worth checking out because the NCAA has posted complete videos of nearly every game in the bracket. So if you’re an N.C. State fan who wants to relive some past glory, you can watch Jimmy V run around the court looking for someone to hug after the 1983 title game upset over Houston. Or if you’d just rather experience a little schadenfreude, there are a couple of gems from 1999 available: Carolina’s first-round loss to Weber State and Harold “The Show” Arceneaux and the Connecticut-Duke title game, which ended with Trajan Langdon dribbling the ball off his foot.

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Sid Sendek? Herb Lowe? A Pro-and-Pro Discussion

March 9, 2011

Here’s the latest in a series of what are turning out to be the editors’ totally agreeable exchanges on the issues of the day. Today, we take you all the way back to March 2001. Crazy Town, Shaggy and a young lady named J-Lo were topping the charts. The Russian space station Mir went kaput.

And in Raleigh, North Carolina, the administration of N.C. State University was in an eerily similar position to the one it now occupies

Jeremy: Jimmy, it seems like an article of faith these days that Sidney Lowe is done as the head basketball coach at our alma mater as soon as the Wolfpack’s increasingly disappointing season is over. The calls for Lowe’s ouster take me back a decade to when we were spending late nights on the third floor of Witherspoon Student Center putting a newspaper together and State fans were calling for another fifth-year head coach to be shown the door.

The comparison between Lowe and Herb Sendek has been done plenty of times before. Still, the parallels between Sendek’s first five years and Lowe’s first five are just begging for the IoT treatment, starting with these little charts that I assembled below: Read the rest of this entry »

Not ‘Very Nice’: Soccer player ejected for tackling streaking Borat impersonator

March 8, 2011

And now for IoT’s weekly report from English soccer’s minor leagues (courtesy of The Associated Press):

LONDON — The streaker wore green. The soccer player saw red.

A man wearing nothing but a bright green thong and a curly black wig dashed onto the field during a low-level game in England on Monday. Dorchester player-manager Ashley Vickers ended the intruder’s 30-second jaunt with a thudding, neck-high tackle during the 70th minute of the game against Havant & Waterlooville.

Vickers was shown a red card for violent conduct with the score 1-1.

“I’m dumbfounded and speechless,” Vickers told local newspaper The Dorset Echo. “My only thought was to get hold of him so we could get on with the game. I managed to grab him and bring him to the ground, and the funny thing was the stewards actually thanked me for it. But the ref decided to send me off and it beggars belief.”

Dorchester lost 3-1, a blow to the team’s hopes of making the playoffs in England’s sixth tier of soccer.

Granted, I’m not all that familiar with the intricacies of English soccer, but I kind of figured a player who tackles a streaker wearing Borat’s swimsuit would automatically earn his team a promotion into the next division, not a red card.

As you can see in the video below, the referee got an earful from both teams for interpreting the rulebook a little too strictly. As you’ll also see, Vickers might have a promising future in the NFL if the soccer thing doesn’t work out.

Jets fan can’t beat Patriots in court

March 7, 2011

Spygate” felt like a federal case when it was uncovered in 2007. Who knew that one litigious Jets fan actually made it one — and nearly took it to the Supreme Court:

Carl Mayer, a lawyer in Princeton, N.J., known for filing legal actions against New Jersey politicians, is a Jets season ticket-holder. He wanted millions of dollars from the Patriots and (Bill) Belichick, claiming they deceived customers by secretly videotaping Jets coaches’ in-game signals. His lawsuit claimed fans spent large sums to see games that were essentially rigged.

The suit alleged that the Patriots taped the Jets’ signals in their twice-yearly contests for seven years, and sought triple damages for Jets fans based on a rough average of $100 a ticket. Mayer sought $185 million in damages for Jets fans alone.

The Patriots were caught taping signals at the Jets’ 2007 home opener in Giants Stadium, a game New England won 38-14.

Rays contraction, ownership rumors about new stadium

March 7, 2011

Tropicana Field

When I moved to South Florida a few years ago, I really had no interest in any of the pro teams down here. Then in 2008, the renamed Tampa Bay Rays won me over by capturing an AL East title with a quirky manager, a young team that played a fun brand of baseball and a fraction of the payroll of the Yankees and Red Sox.

Jimmy has since taken to referring to me as a “bandwagon Rays fan.” I won’t say much in my defense except for this:

a) If there is such a thing as a Rays bandwagon, it’s not all that big.
b) I seem to remember Jimmy wearing a Red Sox hat an awful lot starting somewhere around 2003.

With that bit of disclosure out of the way, a couple of interesting Rays news items have popped up over the last few days.

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Seattle’s floating baseball field and other stadiums that never made it

March 5, 2011

This proposed baseball and football stadium would have floated on Elliott Bay in Seattle. Fly balls would have been a great adventure for outfielders who would have played there. (From the Seattle Municipal Archives)

Thanks to Greg Ponder — my wife’s brother-in-law, my Spring Training ticket supplier and one of the biggest baseball fans I know — for sending me this slideshow of sports stadiums that never got built. The featured designs are testaments to the issues involved with getting stadiums from the conceptual phase to construction, from securing funding and public buy-in to making unusual ideas work.

My absolute favorite design is the floating, retractable-roof stadium that was proposed for Seattle in the early 1960s to attract pro baseball and football teams to the city. According to the Seattle Municipal Archives, the stadium would have floated on Elliott Bay, blocks from the site of the 1962 World’s Fair — “if a way could be found to keep the playing field level.” For some strange reason, a funding referendum got shot down in 1966, partly over “questions about the project’s feasibility.”
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The wonders of the ACC vault

March 2, 2011

Until recently, my favorite vault was the one you’ll see roughly 20 seconds into this immortal video clip:

Life IS like a hurricane in Duckburg!

That all changed when I discovered The ACC Vault. Launched last December, the Vault is a repository for highlights and full-length conference games dating back to the early 1980s. It’s also home to some of my favorite childhood sports memories.

The Vault isn’t perfect. There are some odd gaps in it; for instance, it includes no Duke- Carolina games after 2001, and the spelling in some of the highlight descriptions is pretty poor.

There’s no end to the joys you’ll find in the ACC Vault. Here are five that should bring back some memories. Read the rest of this entry »

The importance of a good application letter

March 1, 2011

Wake Forest defensive coordinator Brad Lambert (center) beat out several other candidates, including former N.C. State head coach Chuck Amato, to become the Charlotte 49ers' first football coach.

The Charlotte 49ers announced today that Wake Forest defensive coordinator Brad Lambert will be the school’s first football coach when the team debuts in 2013.

Charlotte athletics director Judy Rose admitted that she’d never even heard of Lambert before getting his application letter three weeks ago. Rose said:

“I read his letter of application and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, who is this guy?’ It was not your cookie cutter letter. No, it talked about growing up on a farm in Kansas, work ethic and what he would do as coach. So I started making phone calls.”

This is an important lesson for you soon-to-be college graduates out there: A good cover letter is crucial when applying for any job.
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Steve Lavin and N.C. State’s (possible) coaching search

March 1, 2011

Steve Lavin passed on a chance to coach N.C. State after Herb Sendek left in 2006.

With the ACC regular season coming to an end, N.C. State fans — including the IoT crew later this week — are debating the future of the basketball team, specifically whether Sidney Lowe should be fired and who should replace him if he goes. While some Wolfpack fans are already making their wish list of possible Lowe replacements, St. John’s coach Steve Lavin may have set the expectations for a possible coaching search on Monday.

In an interview on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption (start at the 1:59 mark), Lavin, who’s leading maybe the hottest team in the country right now, was asked whether he worried he’d ever get another chance to coach after being fired by UCLA in 2003. During his response, Lavin said this:

“I had an opportunity to go to N.C. State in April of 2006. While I was flattered and came very close to taking the job, at the end, I didn’t feel it was the right fit. And to be totally honest, I was still regenerating, kind of healing so to speak, in terms of having been fired. I think sometimes coaches make mistakes by just coming back too quickly, and you have to make sure it’s the right fit and the right time so, when you do return, you’re at the point where you can really give the energy, the vitality, the commitment it takes to be successful … .”

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