Cleveland Wrecks

The Sports Economist often posts interesting articles on the economic impact of sports stadiums on the surrounding communities. This is one of those topics that’s difficult to really follow closely because for one thing it’s kinda boring and another, it’s an emotional thing so it can be hard to get unbiased facts.
This post shows two different opinions (one informed, one not so much) on the impact of Cleveland’s new downtown stadiums. Remember this next time your city asks you to vote to raise taxes for a new stadium.

ACC Considering Instant Replay

The ACC is considering experimenting with instant replay for football next year. They aren’t yet sure what form the experiment would take. One obvious issue is that not all ACC games are televised. How would they ensure complete camera coverage in those games?
Even if the ACC decides to go forward, they’d need to wait until the NCAA votes on whether they’ll approve such experiments again next year. The Big Ten gave instant replay a try this past season.

TA Takes Off

NC State running back TA McClendon has decided to leave school one year early and enter the NFL draft.
It’s an interesting decision for TA. When he’s healthy, he’s as good as any back in the country (except maybe for Adrian Peterson or Reggie Bush). He’s a big, powerful runner who is hard to bring down and has enough speed that if he gets in the backfield, he can go all the way.
The problem is that he’s seemingly never healthy. I can’t remember any player in any sport who had so many different injuries in such a brief period. It’s not like he had a nagging knee or ankle injury, it was everything – knees, ankles, wrists, toes, pinkies, earlobes, you name it.
Maybe he figured that he better get a paycheck before he knocks himself out for good.
The other knock on TA, and one that might concern NFL reps the most, is that TA had a disturbing tendency to fumble. He fumbled 13 times in only three abreviated years. Many of those fumbles, like the big one at the end of the Carolina game this year, came at critical times.
Caulton Tudor has a pretty good article today touching on many of these same points. Like many of us Tudor, just doesn’t know exactly what to make of TA. Was he a great bad player or a bad great player? (Coincidently, I’ve heard the exact same sentiment about State basketball player Julius Hodge.)

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

Ken Pomeroy is on the warpath again. He loves correcting incorrect but popular notions. One of his favorite targets is the myth that free throw shooting is a lost art.
The latest article that Ken attacks is by Rice head coach Willis Wilson.
Wilson claims that “percentages from the charity stripe have declined in recent years,” but Ken points out that that’s just not true and all it would take is a minute to look it up.

Collins Banned

Former world and US track champion Michelle Collins was suspended for eight years by the US Anti Doping Agency for taking various illegal subtances.
What’s particularly interesting about this is that Collins never failed any tests. She was convicted solely based on documents that detailed her relationship with BALCO. The documents specified what she was taking and when and included emails to and from Collins and BALCO sleaze Victor Conte.
This is significant because it shows that Marion Jones could have the same thing happen to her. Jones, as her attorney has pointed out, hasn’t failed any tests either, but then that was the whole point of BALCO. You could get steroids and stimulants anywhere, but BALCO specialized in avoiding detection. We now know that BALCO supplied illegal drugs to Collins, Kelli White, Tim Montgomery, Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Bill Romanowski and others. Are we to believe that he didn’t give Marion Jones the same stuff he gave everyone else?
I’m not buying it. I don’t think the USADA or IOC will buy it either. Look for them to ban her eventually and probably revoke her gold medals from the 2000 Olympics.
For more talk about Marion Jones and her troubles, there was a pretty good discussion in the Sports Shack a while back.

The 700 Club

700 ClubYeah, it was an easy and obvious title, but sometimes you have to pluck the low-lying fruit.
Anyway, congratulations to Coach K for reaching yet another milestone, win number 700. Krzyzewski is still going strong, so expect these sorts of career achievement celebrations to continue off and on for the next ten years or so. At the end, he’ll be the winningest college coach of all time. Mark it down.

Remembering Whittenburg’s Foot

In their Return to Reynolds series, GoPack.com put up an article about the game in 1983 when Derrick Whittenburg broke his foot. I’m really glad they picked this one, because it’s one of those significant details of history that is often forgotten.
That ’83 State team is of course famous for running the table in the ACC and then NCAA tournament, one of the great Cinderella stories of college hoops. The thing is, they weren’t really a Cinderella at all. That was a very, very good team. In that game, State was stomping a very good (and #2 ranked) Virginia team. If I remember correctly, the Wolfpack was up by around 20 when Whittenburg came down on Othell Wilson’s foot and broke his foot.
With Whittenburg out, the Cavs stormed back and won the game. State went on to lose several more games in a strong ACC before Whittenburg came back just before the ACC tournament. With him in the lineup, State was easily a top ten team, and without him, other players were able to step up and develop their game so that when he returned, they were even better.
The ACC Hoops Blog wrote a bit about this (and one other game) as well.

Banana Nana, Hassan Fofana, Hey Hey Goodbye

There are certain rules that fans have about players on opposing hoops teams. You always hate the good white players, you might like the really good dunkers (depends on how good an overall player they are and if they dunked on your team) and you always like the really, REALLY big guys. I don’t know why these things are true, but they are. Don’t question.
Case in point, I loved Big Jelly at Florida State a few years ago. The guy was rarely effective, but you just have to love a player that has his own moons.
The closest recent player was the gargantuan and beautifully named Hassan Fofana at Maryland. Unfortunately, Mr. Fofana (true story, his middle name is Banana Nana) is transfering. When he leaves Maryland, he’s sure to leave a series of lakes and giant boulders as he scars the land.

Miller Wins Mackey

Heath Miller won the prestigious John Mackey award yesterday. The what, you ask? You know, the Mackey award, given out to the nation’s top tight end. Oh, that one.
Anyway, while it’s not really a household name award, it is a good one and it’s the only national award an ACC player is going to win.
Miller, a junior, actually didn’t have as a good a year statistically as he did last year. In many ways this award, like a lot of them, was a bit of a career achievement award. When the Cavs did throw the ball his way, he made some great plays, but they didn’t feature him as much as in his previous two years.
Still, Miller’s a good guy and a great tight end, so congratulations Heath!

All-ACC Football Teams

The ACC released 2004 All-ACC Football teams the other day.
One of the things that struck me was that despite adding two very good teams to the conference, this is one of the weakest sets of offensive skill position players that I can remember. No offense to the players selected, who all had good years, but it’s hard to find a real superstar among their ranks. I guess Bryan Randall is the closest, but he didn’t really even wrap up his position until the last game or two of the season.
On the flip side, check out those linebackers! You know it’s impressive when guys like Darryl Blackstock and Ernie Sims have to settle for second team honors.
Judging by the voting, Virginia’s huge lineman Elton “Big E” Brown had the best season relative to his peers. From what I saw, he was pretty deserving of that honor. It’s hard to really follow offensive line play, especially on TV, but big Elton managed to make an impression anyway. When someone that big can move that well, well you know he’s gonna make some money next year.