Archive for May, 2010

Georgia Tech, ACC content to watch expansion for now

Dan Radakovich has been a bottom-line guy since taking over as athletic director at Georgia Tech and he isn't oblivous to the conference expansion talk in college sports.

Dan Radakovich has been a bottom-line guy since becoming athletic director at Georgia Tech and he isn't oblivious to the conference expansion talk in college sports. (AJC file photo)

Depending on which rumor you choose to believe, the Big Ten hopes to expand by one school, three, four, five or possibly 17, after which time it would become the first major college football conference to set up an international division based in Lisbon.

As Georgia Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich said, “It’s accurate to say nobody knows where this is going. I told somebody the other day it’s a similar situation to when there’s literally hundreds of scenarios about bowl games until suddenly the whole thing gets settled in a couple of days. There’s no certainty in college athletics right now.”

If you’re Radakovich, you’re watching with more than a casual interest. Tech’s athletic department has had to deal with budget cutbacks and economic issues in the past couple of years, …

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Bud Selig, Phil Jackson get it right on immigration law

This man actually had a clear and rational thought.

This man actually had a clear and rational thought.

Bud Selig is doing absolutely nothing again. Only this time he should be commended for it.

Many are pushing Selig to pull the baseball All-Star Game out of Phoenix next season because of Arizona’s new immigration law. Hey, it was bad enough when Selig mandated that the All-Star winner would get home field advantage in the World Series. But now some want an exhibition with a .190-hitter on the ballot (Ken Griffey Jr.) gets elevated to a major political platform?

Sorry. I understand sports and politics often mix. But if it says Braves-Phillies on the

Phil Jackson's take wasn't popular with protesters.

Phil Jackson's take wasn't popular with protesters.

marquee, I don’t want to walk through the turnstiles and get Red State-Blue State.

Athletics and politics often intersect. It’s unavoidable in the Olympics. It’s inevitable in professional sports when a high-profile athlete who wants to push his or her own agenda. But there’s a big difference between a league or team …

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Lane Kiffin’s contract: $4 million (what’s the punchline?)

Lane Kiffin: "Hello, world: I make 'this' much." (AP photo)

Lane Kiffin: "Hello, world: I make 'this' much." (AP photo)

It wasn’t long in the South before we all came to ask the same question: What’s Lane Kiffin smoking?

Now there’s a better question: What are all the guys who are HIRING Lane Kiffin smoking?

He was a mid-level assistant at USC. Then Oakland’s Al Davis hired him to be the Raiders’ head coach. (It’s possible Davis actually thought he was hiring Kiffin to mow his lawn because he often gets confused. But we’ll never know).

Kiffin went 4-15 with the Raiders. He parlayed that into a $2.375 million contract at Tennessee.

Then he went 7-6 at Tennessee. He parlayed that into (ready for this?) a $4 million per year salary at USC.

For the record, Trojans athletic director Mike Garrett holds an undergrad degree in sociology, not economics.

Word of Kiffin’s $4 million salary apparently is included in an HBO “Real Sports” story on the coach, according to the Orange County (California) Register. That is almost as high the $4.4 …

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POLL: Can Hawks, Thrashers buck area trend of bad hires?

John Anderson was overmatched in the NHL.

John Anderson was overmatched in the NHL.

Mike Woodson trailed only Bobby Cox and Mark Richt in seniority.

Mike Woodson trailed only Bobby Cox and Mark Richt in seniority.

The Hawks are looking for a coach.

The Thrashers are looking for a coach.

The Braves will be looking for a  manager after this season, even if Bobby Cox handcuffs himself to a pipe at Turner Field, in which case Frank Wren will probably just sweep around him.

Did a little research (it happens). Area pro and college teams have made made seven major coaching hires/fires since 2004.

Do you have confidence the Hawks and Thrashers will hire good coaches?

  • Yes — both will.
  • The Hawks will, the Thrashers won’t.
  • The Thrashers will, the Hawks won’t.
  • No — neither will

View Results

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Cox, who returned to the dugout in 1990, has the longest current tenure. He is followed by Georgia’s Mark Richt (coming up on year 10). Mike Woodson was third at six years until his employment ended Friday. As the list below will reaffirm, change hardly guarantees …

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Next coach needs to make Hawks greater than their sum

If the next Hawks' coach is doing his job well, this won't be the scene in next year's playoffs.

If the next Hawks' coach is doing his job well, this won't be the scene in next year's playoffs.

If this works out, we may not know right away. Not in October. Not in December. Not at the All-Star break. Not when Orlando comes to town and suddenly everybody decides to plays hard and together and Josh Smith says, “Hey, watch what I can do 82 games a year if I really, really felt like it! Slam!”

Mike Woodson won more games (53) this season than any Hawks coach in 13 years. Then he was drop-kicked. Why? That’s easy.

You find out about teams in the postseason, not in the Tuesday night game against the Wizards. The Hawks really weren’t any better this season than the one before when they won 47. In some ways, they may have been worse. They were stretched to seven games by a worse first-round opponent (Milwaukee) than in 2009  (Miami). They had the same problems with mental and physical toughness. Their half-court offense still struggled, particularly in tight games and in …

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Mike Woodson is out because Hawks have raised the bar

It had become clear that Hawks players were tuning out Mike Woodson in the playoffs. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

It had become clear that Hawks players were tuning out Mike Woodson in the playoffs. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Firings shouldn’t be celebrated. But the message that a firing sends can be.

Mike Woodson is out as Hawks head coach. Don’t celebrate a man’s unemployment. But celebrate why.

“This wasn’t an easy decision,” general manager Rick Sund said Friday night, his eyes a bit red at the end of a long day of meetings and interviews. “But at the end of the day, I thought it was time for the players to hear another voice. Change in sports is sometimes good, and I felt we needed change.”

Sund didn’t feel a need to get into the specific of the whys and hows. But this was the message: The bar has been raised.

The Hawks are not calling Woodson’s exit a firing. They don’t have to. His contract was about to expire. But this is semantics. They no longer wanted him to coach their team. Regardless of what’s legally correct, it’s a termination.

Why? Because tere’s a mandate to win now and win …

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Ex-Brave Saltalamacchia morphs into ‘Rube Baker’

Rube Baker (Eric Bruskotter) consoles (Charlie Sheen) after he lost his girlfriend.

Rube Baker (Eric Bruskotter) consoles Rick Vaughn (Charlie Sheen) after he lost his girlfriend.

It’s not my desire to start a debate about the Braves trade for Mark Teixeira from a few years back, even if some consider it one of the greatest disasters mankind has ever witnessed while general manager Frank Wren told me, “The Teixeira trade hasn’t impacted us at all. If you look at the players we gave up, I’m not sure it’s had any effect on the major league club.”

But Wren certainly is correct about one guy the Brave gave up: Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

OK, Jarrod. See the pitcher. Be the pitcher. OK, here goes the throw ... doh!

OK, Jarrod. See the pitcher. Be the pitcher. OK, here goes the throw … doh!

The dude is stuck in the minors with the Oklahoma City RedHawks.

Why?

Because he can’t throw.

Back to the pitcher.

Remember the movie, “Major League II”? There was a minor-league catcher in Cleveland Indians spring training named Rube Baker, who couldn’t throw the ball back to the pitcher.  His manager, Jake Taylor, solved the problem by helping Baker …

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Hawks 18-1 to get LeBron (sorta); Georgia in top 25 (hoops)

It's almost certain LeBron James will be somewhere in the U.S. next season, although he is listed at 150-1 to sign with Olympiakos.

It's almost certain LeBron James will be somewhere in the U.S. next season, although he is listed at 150-1 to sign with Olympiakos.

Welcome back to another edition of “Three And Out,” created just for items that probably aren’t worth an entire blog by themselves (as if there’s a standard).

1. LeBron to the Hawks!

Don’t you hate misleading headlines? Well, it’s kinda, sorta true that the Hawks are listed as only 18-1 odds to sign LeBron James, should he decide to bolt Cleveland after the playoffs (which for the Cavaliers could be after a loss to Boston tonight).

The online sports book, Bodog.com, has listed odds on which team James will play for next season. There are nine betting choices. The Hawks technically aren’t one of them. But there is an “Any Other Team” bet at 18-1. So there you go.

Here’s the list.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: 1-2

2. Chicago Bulls: 5-2

3. New York Knicks: 9-2

4. New Jersey Nets: 15-1

5. Any Other Team: 18-1

6. Dallas Mavericks: 30-1

7. Miami Heat: 35-1

8. …

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Phillies’ coach was cheating? Give that man a raise

Phillies bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer: I spy something fast. (Courtesty of FSN Rocky Mountain Sports)

Phillies bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer: I spy something … fast!

So let me see if I’ve got this straight: Baseball teams steal signs?

Yes, those dirty, cheatin’ Philadelphia Phillies have been accused of stealing signs by the Colorado Rockies. This, of course, would explain why the Phillies are on their way to a fourth straight National League East title and probably will go to World Series for the third straight season. And you probably thought it was because they had the best lineup in baseball. (Duh.)

Maybe what the Braves really need is not a .300 hitter but just a good set of binoculars.

Look, I’ve always considered there to be two kinds of cheating in sports:

1.) Cheating that really matters: Examples of this are performance-enhancing drugs, performance enhancing drugs and performance enhancing drugs.

Occasionally, something else cute slips in, like the New England Patriots video taping a St. Louis Rams closed practice before a Super Bowl. This differs from other …

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‘Disappointed’ Sund not rushing into decision on Woodson

Mike Woodson is smiling here (with Jeff Teague) but he's still waiting for Rick Sund to make a decision. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Mike Woodson is smiling here (with Jeff Teague) but he's still waiting for Rick Sund to make a decision. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

There’s a chip on Mike Woodson’s shoulder the size of Mt. Rushmore. That goes to his competitiveness. It goes to studying under Bob Knight. It goes to being thin-skinned when it comes to criticism and seemingly believing that everybody is out to get him.

Well, Woodson should take comfort in this. While many consider his exit from the Hawks a foregone conclusion, Rick Sund is not rushing into any decision on his future. In his first interview since the Hawks were waxed in four straight games by Orlando in the second round of the playoffs, Sund said Wednesday that he was “ecstatic” about the regular season but “disappointed” about the Hawks’ playoff exit and “surprised” at the team’s effort in a 30-point loss at home to the Magic in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

As for insight on Woodson’s future, keep waiting. Sund said …

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