Paul Daugherty has been an Enquirer sports columnist since 1994 and has been chronicling Cincinnati sports since 1988. He has covered almost every major sporting event in America, as well as five Summer Olympics. Along the way, he has been named one of the country's top-5 sports columnists four times, and Ohio columnist of the year on seven different occasions. Last year, he was voted 2nd-best sports columnist in the country, by the Associated Press Sports Editors.
It's almost always about Bob... Bob at practice, Bob at senior day, Bob on ESPN, Bob unplugged, Bob at AK's last show. Look, there's Bob at the Shootout... that's fine, but it would have been finer had he used some of his down time around here to say some constructive things about the place that gave him his start in the big time, that paid him untold millions, including 3.1 to go away... Huggins encouraging fans not to abandon the program, that would have been useful... that would have put him head and shoulders above the president... instead, he's omnipresent, representing solely his own interests...
no gatoring allowed
Let's see if we have this straight: The NFL has decreed that Chad Johnson can still celebrate, as long as he's upright. He can still dance, but he can't putt with the pylon. He can't give CPR to the football or propose to a cheerleader, unless he can do it standing up. He can Riverdance, to a point, but if he does it too long, that's a penalty. Will the referees now wear stopwatches? Will they put it to replay? Can the NFL acquire a sense of humor for a commisioner to be named later?
Only the NFL could take something amusing and subject it to so many guidelines it seems like a government regulation. How the competition committee and the owners could look at what Johnson does and see "taunting'' is beyond me. Of course, this is the same league that fined Johnson a total of $70,000 a few years ago, for not pulling up his socks...
I don't mean to sound insensitive, but is it possible, now, to cease with the Huggins farewells? Wasn't he roasted, I don't know, several years and two coaches ago? Please tell me his story won't be like Pete Rose's. Twenty years from now, I don't want to be hearing how he shouldn't have been mutually agreed upon terminated. The rumor is, UC will have basketball again nextb year, and quite possibly for years to come. Live big
I had George Mason
The NFL has hired a headhunter to find a replacement for Paul Tagliabue. Which has to make Mike Thomas smile... To all who have asked me about players Mick Cronin is looking at: Asking me about recruiting is like asking PeeWee Herman about scoring. I keep track of them when they actually get here... NY Times reports 4 people out of 3 million who entered ESPN.com's NCAA pool picked the Final 4 teams; one winner penciled George Mason in by mistake. He meant to write George Washington. Why didn't we think of that? Pete Rose still thinks he's the smartest guy in the room. When someone at the Moeller stag last night mention to the Hit King that his name was no longer on the baseball writers Hall of Fame ballot, Rose said, "How does your eligibility run out if you're never on the ballot?'' C'mon, Pete. A little more humility about 10 years -- and one paid-confession book -- ago, and you'd probably be in by now, or at least be in the discussion. It's not the semantics of an election guideline that has kept your nose against Cooperstown's window. Live big.
I'm taking a little time off to finish writing a book, so the sports posts here will be, as Pete Rose used to say, few and in between... As exciting as the NCAA Tmt has been, it again has showed what has happened to a game lacking great upperclassmen and, maybe more to the point, lacking players with basic skills. The UCLA-Memphis game, featuring lots and lots of freshmen and sophomores, was the biggest train wreck I've ever seen. Don't confuse exciting games with great basketball.
I keep hearing Mick Cronin has some decent kids stashed, who he will sign to play for UC next year. Did I say stashed? I mean, guys who haven't decided where to pursue their degrees.
Sopranos won me back Sunday night. Great episode, lots of Paulie, Tony waking from the coma. It will be interesting to see how quickly T recovers. Right now, he looks like Nicholson, post-lobotomy, in Cuckoo's Nest.
Mike Brown, who doesnt have enough money, is pondering selling naming rights to PBS. Fill in your punchline here.
Why can't the Bengs get a backup QB? Hasnt Marvin made us a desirable destination? Didn't the available QBs understand they'd start here for a month, maybe more, no matter what smoke-spin Marvin has put on Carson's rehab? Or are we still a place of last resort?
BTW, I appreciated all the feedback from the Huggins and Mick posts. Lots of very smart, reasoned diatribes, some of which I wish I'd thought of myself. Keep 'em coming. Live big.
There are places where you live that you would miss forever if you moved. One of those places for me is Everybody's Records, in Pleasant Ridge. I stop there every few months, just to see what's new. It never disappoints.
A bad thing about the wireless age is the easy access to free or cheap downloadable music, if only because it pushes to the brink places like Everybody's. Back when I covered college sports, 15 and 20 years ago, I spent lots of time scouting used record stores on or near campuses. In the wireless age, those places are about as common as 8-track tapes.
Everybody's has survived, thankfully. I stopped in yesterday, on the way to the Mike Thomas mea culpa/spin session and the Mick Cronin coronation complete with cheerleaders and pep band. I picked up 2 cds I'd been looking for for ages: Lou Reed's Rock and Roll Animal and Dickey Betts' 1st solo album, Highway Call. I have both on record. After 20 years, they sound like popcorn popping. Animal has an amazing live version of Sweet Jane; Highway has some vintage Dickey guitar work, and some tasty pickin' and grinnin'... all for 13 bucks, total. Props to Everybody's Records. Live big.
Sorry this is a little tardy. I needed to sleep a few hours. Here's what has to happen for Mick Cronin to succeed: Stay the hell out of his way.
It's time for the athletic director and the president to concern themselves with what they should: Raising confidence, morale and oh, yeah, money. Please allow Mick to run the basketball program. Do not mess with him the way you messed with Huggins and Kennedy. There is so much image repairing to do, letting Mick do his job should not be a problem. I'm all for moving on -- the horse is dead -- but I do understand the way the masses feel about Mike Thomas and Nancy Zimpher. They believe Thomas is duplicitous and underqualified. They think Zimpher is arrogant and condescending. They didn't make that up. It seems to me the president and her athletic department hireling need to busy themselves mending those perceptions, not messing with Mick.
If they do, we'll all be in a better mood. And Cronin will succeed as much as Huggins did, likely without the baggage. Live big.
tony or vic?
OK. I'm bleary-eyed from reading all the BH rhetoric. Man was a good coach, did a good job here and, all things considered will be remembered as being a positive presence in town. That said, 16 years isn't a lifetime in college basketball coaching; it's 2 lifetimes. Can we just get over it and understand there will be life after Huggs? Didn't AK show us that already? If Mick Cronin is the new coach, he'll do the same. Now, more important stuff:
Which is the better show: The Sopranos or The Shield? I just watched the finale of The Shield on the TiVo. Wow. If there is better acting/writing anywhere on TV, I ain't seen it. Anyone else think right up to the last minute that Vic knew beforehand that Shane blew up Lem? (He didn't.)Do we get an encore next season from Forest Whitaker, who was Emmy-great this year?
The Sopranos is getting a little artsy for me. I always thought it was at its best when the wiseguy camaraderie flowed. Instead, what we're getting now is dream sequences and not enough Paulie. Nothing good can come from not enough Paulie.
Anyway, whom do you like? Vic, Shane and that nerd Dutch? Or Tony, Sil, Paulie and Christopher? Right now, my money's with Vic and the boy scouts he runs with. Maybe I'll write more serious stuff tomorrow. Right now, my eyes are glazing. Live big.
He's Bob Huggins and he is moving. All you ever had to do, to determine where the exiled former UC coach would land, was to find an underachieving Division I program in a big conference, that needed a quick-fix turnaround. It wouldn't be an elite place; Huggins' baggage would scare those schools off. It'd be more of an off-the-beaten path wannabe, that was willing to make the Faustian bargain lots of schools cut in the name of winning. A place like Kansas State.
The Wildcats haven't been to the NCAA tournament in 10 years. Under recently fired coach Jim Wooldridge, their best Big 12 finish in the last six years was tied for 7th. Wooldridge's record was 83-90 overall and a horrible 32-64 in the conference.
Huggins will change that, especially if OJ Mayo and Bill Walker land in Manhattan after next season. Plus, he's already gotten a verbal OK from Jason Bennett, a 7-2 kid from Jacksonville, who was headed for UC until Huggins' departure.
The Wildcats will be better immediately, on the floor. Off it, the guess here is they'll be OK. Wisdom acquired through struggle over the last few years has made Huggins a better person. I still think it was time for him to leave UC when he did, and while it wasn't handled in the best manner, there is plenty of blame to be shared for that, on both sides. Regardless, all the best to Huggins, whose achievements here should be applauded and remembered. I wish him well.
wily no mo
As soon as the Reds signed Scott Hatteberg, you figured an outfielder would be traded. You just hoped it was the right one. It was. Personally, I was stunned they could get a 14-game winner for Pena, whose work ethic lacks and at the moment is nothing but potential. I was afraid they'd give up on Kearns, which would have been a mistake. Kearns has subtracted pounds and, with the birth of his first child, added maturity. He's also the only guy between home plate and the centerfield wall w/any range defensively. At 29, Arroyo seems a late bloomer who might just be hitting a groove. Plus, he keeps the ball down... the Reds should never acquire another pitcher who doesn't. Another smart trade (I count the Casey deal as intelligent if unpopular) from the new regime. Adding Arroyo also means adding payroll, another hopeful sign. This team won't do much this year, but at least we can see wise things being done. Live big.
happens every year ... Coaches think they're smarter than their players on the floor... Illinois down 2, 10 seconds or so to go, rebounds a free throw miss... instead of allowing the players to make a play, bruce weber calls time, to set something up... this kills the players' best attribute at that moment: spontaneity... instead of facing a scrambling Washington defense on its heels and backpedaling, the Illini get a set UW D that knows Dee Brown will take the last shot... brilliant... contrast that w/the signature play of this year's Madness: The desperation hurled up from the left baseline by the kid from Northwestern -- or was it Northeastern? -- State, that beat Iowa... no time to think, only to react... boom, game over... genius coaches year after year refuse to trust the players they recruited, wooed and signed to make the plays they were recruited, wooed and signed to make... and this has nothing whatsoever to do w/the fact that I had Iowa in the Elite 8 and Illinois beating Washington... Live big...
short attention span's guide to everything
Today, we who are Irish recognize you who are not... 1 interesting comment to come from Mike Thomas' interview with Enquirer's Bill Koch: All UC basketball candidates, he said, are still coaching. That would eliminate Prosser, Stallings and Hewitt. And, possibly, keep Mick Cronin in the mix. UC could do worse than Mick, a good coach and a very good recruiter, a hometown guy good with the media... I had a coach tell me thursday that he believes Thomas knows more than what people think about getting a good coach in here... and that hiring head-hunters is not only standard practice now, it's practically mandatory... this coach said, "just because the guy hasnt said much doesnt mean he doesnt know what he's doing.'' We'll see... to this point, Thomas' public perception is killing him... and again, the only way anyone other than a starry-eyed young guy will take this job is if it comes with a 5-year deal, minimum... 7 years would be better... and the word also is, UC doesnt have the money ($1 million base) needed to lure a big name... I'll bet jon kitna sure is glad he left the bengals for the lions. How many QBs does Detroit have now? 28? Interesting to hear Bob Huggins on the radio yesterday, suggesting he might take an NBA assistant's job. Not so fascinating hearing Huggs say how in the NBA, players don't gripe about their minutes. Uh-huh... Memo to the night manager at the BW-3 at Harper's Point: When customers ask you to please put the LSU game on one of your 20 or so TVs, don't argue. Get the remote and do it... people don't go to sports bars yesterday and today to watch 1 or 2 games on 20 TVs... they go because they want to watch every game, because they are betting on every game. Is this hard? By the way, I was 12-4 yesterday, nailing Montana and Wisc-Milwaukee, losing Marquette and Syracuse and those dopes from Seton Hall... tell me, please, that Louis Orr will not be the next UC coach...
just in time to ruin your bracket
here's what not to do when you pick your bracket... i think it's sound advice, incredibly intelligent..I follow it every year. And every year my bracket is in the trash after the first weekend...so ignore this advice and you'll do great: (1) don't get caught up in upsets... picking a 12 over a 5 is cool, but it's 1 game, and, in most pools, 1 point... never pick a 12 or lower to win more than once... never pick an 8 or lower to win more than twice... it almost never happens. (2) pick teams with a Man, because at some point, most teams are going to have someone make a big shot, and that's usually the Man... pick teams with at least 2 likely pros, because the Man can't do it alone... pick teams w/great guards, given that coaches become even more control freak-ish in March, if that's possible... experience is nice, but not mandatory...often, teams with seniors are teams whose seniors arent very good... OK, here's who not to pick, because I will: Marquette, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, BC... Teams to pencil in immediately, because I won't: Memphis, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Michigan State... Final 4...Duke, Kansas, UConn, Nova/BC... Live big...
still trying to decipher selex cmte head craig littlepage's logic re UC... he says kirkland's injury was a factor in UC's omission, yet chose to keep villanova a #1 despite allan ray's eye... he says the cmte favored teams from power conferences that played tough non-conference schedules, yet overlooks UC, w/a 22 S.O.S. ranking in non-conference games... he says air force will be "very hard to beat'' but really, how could he tell? They didnt play a ranked team all year... by any measure but head to head, UC had a better year than seton hall, yet SH got a 10 seed... how does utah state get in? for a better defense than i can give, check out the chart in monday's enquirer, right below my column... it would have been better if littlepage had simply stated what seems obvious to everyone but him: 9 big east teams would have been one too many, and somebody had to take the fall for that notion...
how you doin'? not sure what's better hearing today, the cbs madness jingle or the opening of the sopranos new season... the only thing better than having both on the same day would be tony soprano giving us the bracket from the bar at bada-bing... great scene after x's win last night: will caudle's hand on brian thornton's elbow, helping the big man on crutches as he walked out to center court... also very nice that BT was the guy snipping the last 2 strands of net... truly a remarkable winter of hoop for x and uc, marked equally by disappointment, triumph and, ultimately, overcoming... which, w/o sounding overly dramatic, is a lot of what sports should be about... a few truisms to ponder before listening to nantz and packer: (1) it's better to be an 11 or 12 seed than an 8 or 9; (2) teams w/great guards do well, meaning villanova if allan ray is OK; (3) teams w/great guards and 1 terrific scorer do even better... guards get you to the last minute..great scorers win the game... has one four-day stretch ever changed the perception of a coach more than weds-sat. did for sean miller? before weds, miller was seen as a guy who'd lost the ability to motivate his players... now, the bright-young-coach halo fits him again... there is considerable unrest among heavy-hitting uc alums re the way mike thomas is handling the search for a new basketball coach, and it has nothing to do w/lingering anger over the huggins firing... you wonder if nancy zimpher understands that her legacy as UC prez will be established in great measure by who she hires... zim can overhaul academics and install all the new deans she wants, but if she and thomas blow the basketball hire, thats all most will remember...
in over his head?
When you're a university athletic director and you hire a head-hunter this late in the game, to help you find a basketball coach, it suggests a few things: 1, your search isn't exactly going well; 2, you're not sure of yourself 3, you're not well connected...mike thomas says he needs a Dallas firm to conduct "background checks'' on prospective coaches, among other things... what is this, the CIA? Nope, at UC's level, the list of applicants should be fairly small... you shouldnt need any paid outside help... you should rely on your own contacts, your knowledge of your situation and whom you believe fits it best... if you need a stranger to help you w/any of that, something is wrong... even casual UC fans can give you 5 names... it's hard to know what thomas is thinking, given that he has chosen to limit his comments to canned statements released by the school... in the paper, i've given thomas and zim the benefit of the doubt throughout... thomas has the right to hire the new coach; zim had the right to part ways w/the old one... but what has occurred since is a big ol' HUH?... if they don't hire andy kennedy, or someone w/a proven track record as a d-1 head coach -- and give that someone a 7-year deal, minimum, given the situation -- they will have blown a great opportunity and proven the skeptics to be absolutely right... hiring a head-hunter is something you do early on, not now...
lord deliver us
from the tragedy of being mike brown... havent looked into this much yet (it's incredibly boring when sports' silver-spooners rattle their jewelry at each other) but off-the-top take is: Please, Mike, don't speak. No one wants to hear a peep from a man made wealthy at the public trough, who bemoans that he isn't making enough money... as I see it, the extension of the CBA fixes his by-far biggest cost, player salaries, for at least 4 years... the tv revenues cover that expense, and more... so the bengals owner's biggest beef is that, darn it, he just isnt making as many millions as some of the other owners... tell me again how much he owes on PBS... if Mike feels the need to rake in even more cash, he might take the novel approach of actually selling his product a bit more aggressively... while I'm no fan of Dan Snyder, the man bought his stadium... no great buddy of Jerry Jones, either, but he has worked his Texas tail off devising ways to improve the Cowboys' profits... Mike won't even sell naming rights to PBS... look, I've always liked Mike... away from football talk, he's a very good man...I'd be proud to have him for a father... but he really needs to maintain his self-imposed embargo on speaking publicly... rich guys complaining they're not making enough money really is distasteful...
free threes not for me
when two college basketball teams combine to take 52 threes in a game, the line needs to be moved back to, say, hawaii... watch the xu-charlotte game last night? with 15 minutes to play, they'd taken a total of 40 treys... possessions went a lot like this: pass, pass, pass, jack.... i'd have given a lock of vitale's hair for 1 pick and roll... these guys don't even take the college 3 now.. they're a step or 2 behind it... plays aren't run, few screens are set, passes to the post are extinct... it's just jack-o-rama and crash the boards after the inevitable miss... while it's nice that xavier is making a little run, the ball has been ugly...
A TO from TOs
tired of college basketball timeouts... five a team, 10 a half, plus four tv breaks... 14 stops for a game that's best on the go... no more TOs when you're trapped in a double team...no more TOs when you're trying to inbound the ball... no more TOs when you're up in the air with the ball, falling out of bounds... no more TOs when dick vitale says, "they need a TO, baby''... coaches are puppeteers the last 2 minutes, micro-managing, over-managing, managing to suck the life out of what had been a compelling game before the TOs... too many TOs... give each team 3 a half, and lose all the stupid stoppages, when a defense should be getting rewarded for playing its tail off...
It is said that if a man lives long enough, he gets the face he deserves. Barry Bonds got his. It's a damned big face, too, Buddha-esque. Shaped, perhaps, by human growth hormone. Or something pharmaceutical. It seemed only a matter of time before people who knew a lot about BB and didnt especially like him would start talking. Now, they have, and what has emerged in a new book, excerpted this week in sports illustrated, isnt pretty. In short, everything you thought you knew about Bonds was right. The book, apparently, is impeccably researched and documented. The authors say Bonds started juicing in 1999, partly as a reaction to Mark McGwire's andro-enhanced power and notoriety. Here's my take:
Bonds cannot be found guilty for anything he did before baseball outlawed (sort of) steroids. That is, anything he did before the deal the players union struck with Baseball shouldnt be considered tainted. It might have been unethical, scandalous and against the spirit of the rules. It wasnt against the letter of the law, because there was no law. Of course, Bonds broke the law of the land (steroids are illegal w/o a prescription) and you could argue he broke the trust athletes have w/fans, if you believe such a trust exists. But what he did before the agreement was perfectly w/in the rules of the game... Bonds might be a lout and a boor, but he's still a Hall of Famer, same as Mac and Sosa, distasteful as that might seem... as for all the older generation players who will whine, they should ask themselves how their games might have suffered were it not for amphetamines... how many sunday day games might some have missed w/o the little green pill to wake them up after saturday night? Greenies were more prevalent than 'roids... you can boo Bonds, ignore Bonds and call him a cheat... but dont make it retroactive beyond the deal...Live big (naturally)...DOC
welcome to legends field, where the magic of spring training baseball dissolves under a cloud of NYC... $7 to park, $5 to eat, field hard by dale mabry blvd in tampa, home to some of the country's "best'' strip clubs... nothing says "wholesome spring baseball'' like strip clubs... if you want a player to blush and do a 180 away from you, just say "mons venus''... most places down here, media parks and eats for nothing... it's not a big issue, until you jokingly gripe to the parker about paying 7 bucks and he says, in his best brooklyn, "quiet or I'll make it $14''... god bless new york.... as for the good vibes, they fairly burst from new reds ownership...tom williams 1 day, bob castellini the next... they seem truly excited, enthusiastic and committed to winning... these are bright, determined folks w/a passion for what they're doing... if you've read me over the years, you know I'm not prone to gushing, but I've been very impressed w/these people... with any luck, it will be good to be a reds fan again, soon...
The beach just across the bridge that goes over longboat pass was wiped out by the last hurricane, but if you go another block, to broadway, there's public parking at the end of the road...people who have been here understand... for those that havent: this is the most underrated (and blessedly underused) stretch of warm sand I've ever seen... been coming here 20 years, to watch the sun descend over a stretch of fine, white sand beach... went last night, perfect evening, sun fell off the edge of the world while a guy played Amazing Grace on the bagpipes... if you write sports for a living and concern yourself w/only your work, you are making a big mistake... I consider the paid travel to be the greatest fringe benefit of any job, anywhere... i've been to sydney, athens, barcelona and seoul... san fran tens of times... seattle, san diego, and everywhere in between... and now, back here, again, watching the timeless and awe-ful setting of the sun over the gulf of mexico. Live big.
short attention span guide to lakeland
they gloat in florida this time of year.. doesnt matter what little stadium you're in for a spring baseball game, the full-of-himself announcer will tell you what the temp is here, and what it is in that hellhole you're from up north... thursday here it was 81 and sunny... in detroit it was sleeting... they love that news down here... talked to wayne krivsky today, couldnt have been more impressed... a very nice combination of knowledge and no-bull... i do think if they hold onto this guy and let him do his job, things will get better... but maybe not this year... he and castellini came in way too late to make a dent in 06...
now, to more important stuff, Marty Brennaman's 3 favoritre golf courses near the reds home base in sarasota: (1) Stony Brook, in between sarasota and bradenton, which marty calls "a great layout, with not much water, which is good for people like me.'' (2) Gator Creek, in sarasota -- ''private, all-male, not a lot of play... you can breeze through there.'' (3) TPC at Prestancia, Sarasota... ''2 18s, both extremely challenging, and well-maintained.''