Tag Archives: ESPN

THE MYRON ROLLE STORY: CAN FSU, ESPN AND THE NCAA DO THE RIGHT THING NOW AND HELP MYRON BECOME BILL BRADLEY-LIKE LATER?

                               Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

 You’ve probably heard about the Myron Rolle story by now.  Originally discussed (twice) by Stewart Mandel of SI.com and recently followed by an excellent article at MajorLeagueJerk.com, Rolle is an off-the-charts pre-med student at Florida State University where he also just happens to be a superb defensive back for Bobby Bowden’s Seminoles.  He’s a guy with an NFL future.

But Rolle has a conflict coming up on November 22.  He’s scheduled to be in Birmingham, Alabama for his interview to become a Rhodes Scholar, an amazing opportunity granted to only 32 Americans every year.  The list includes such notables as former President Bill Clinton and former Senator Bill Bradley (more on Bradley later).  The conflict arises because, on that same afternoon, Florida State has an away football game against Maryland.

 

THE SHORT TERM ISSUES

 

The problems arise as follows: 

 

  1. Would Florida State, a perennial football power, support Myron Rolle’s candidacy to become a Rhodes Scholar by allowing him to miss the game to go to his interview in Birmingham?  The answer is a resounding (surprising?) “Yes” from coach Bobby Bowden and FSU’s athletic director, Randy Spetman.
  2.  Will ESPN, the World Wide Leader in Sports, help out Rolle’s cause by moving the game from an afternoon start to a night-time ESPN game?  No word yet, but think of the good will the often-attacked network could receive by doing the right thing here.  While FSU-Maryland isn’t the greatest college football game this year, it would be one of the most interesting side stories of the year.  Most importantly (for ESPN), don’t you think plenty of people (including non-football fans) would tune in to this game on a Saturday night in November?  Yeah, so do I.
  3. In what could be the biggest hurdle of all, will the NCAA grant a waiver to allow Rolle to be flown via charter or private plane from Alabama to Maryland (the only way he can possibly make any part of the game)?  Once again, it’s a do-the-right-thing analysis.  In the world of NCAA rules (this would presumably be a violation), where up is often down and down is often up, can the NCAA see the obvious and allow this to happen?  That remains to be seen.

For better or worse, we’ve seen a lot of rules bent (or disappear or get added) in and out of sports in the last few years.  The World Series included an announcement from Bud Selig that a World Series game could never end in less than nine innings due to a rainout (who knew?).  In the NHL playoffs, when Sean Avery of the Rangers face-guarded Martin Brodeur of the Devils with his stick, the next day the NHL announced that that would, going forward, be a penalty (who knew?).  Even in the 2007 Little League World Series, overworked pitchers who were required to have at least one game played between their starts simply had that rule (poof!) disappear when rain caused a few games to be cancelled (again, who knew?).

    

While we can argue whether the above three examples are good or bad (as well as New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg leading the charge so he can avoid term limits and run again for Mayor after, just a few short years ago, he was opposed to Rudy Giuliani doing exactly what Bloomberg is doing now), the Myron Rolle issue isn’t even a close call.  The NCAA could actually (gasp!) make a few friends if they will only show a heart and allow a potential Rhodes Scholar to interview and play (don’t forget his teammates, NCAA).  Rolle originally stated he couldn’t go to the interview because he would hurt the team, but thankfully reconsidered and will go.  Hopefully, now, he can play in the game as well.

 

[Editor’s Note:  As of this morning (according to thebiglead.com), Myron Rolle will be allowed to play in the game thanks to ESPN moving it to prime time and the NCAA allowing him to be flown from Birmingham to Maryland.  Score one for the good guys.]

 

THE LONG-TERM ISSUES

 

Far more interesting, frankly, are the long-term issues for potential NFL player Myron Rolle.  It’s interesting to note that Rolle can speak with his friend, former FSU track star Garrett Johnson, who went to Oxford in 2006.  He could probably also speak with 2008 Rhodes Scholar Joseph O’Shea, who was student-body president of Florida State (who knew FSU had so many Rhodes Scholars?).

    

But the best man on the planet to speak with may well be “Dollar” Bill Bradley who, after being the 1965 National Basketball Player of the Year at Princeton (that would be one year after he was the Captain of the 1964 gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic Basketball Team), put off his NBA career to go to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.  If you’re an old-time New York Knick fan, you know that Bradley was one of those magical players who would go on to win two championships with (still) the most intelligent NBA basketball team ever.

    

But many don’t remember that Bradley tried to stay sharp in England by playing in dank gyms and, briefly, in the European League.  His stories are legendary about how he tried to stay in shape and play with some (any?) competition.  And real Knick fans will remember that, when he did come to the Knicks in 1967, he actually had a lot of trouble (at first) getting back into “game” shape and fitting into the NBA game.  Of course, it all worked out, but “Dollar” Bill was a derisive term (due to his big, for the times, Joe Namath-like contract) early on in his pro career.

    

If Rolle makes the grade (and it certainly sounds like he has a great chance), he’d do well to speak with Bradley about the ups and downs he faced back in the 1960s.  Not that Rolle is as great a college football player as Bradley was a college basketball player, but you’d have to think that this kind of opportunity on the academic side leads to amazing challenges on the athletic side.  Bill Bradley could certainly help him with the mental side of both of those challenges.

    

So here’s hoping that everybody does the right thing and that Myron Rolle at least gets to play on November 22 (you old Bradley fans will also get the irony of the Kennedy assassination date) and, more importantly, gets a chance to become a Rhodes Scholar/professional athlete, a rare daily double if there ever was one.

© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.

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CLUELESS JOE MORGAN

                                                                            Kallas Remarks By Steve Kallas   

It’s hard to believe that ESPN’s Joe Morgan, who you always think should know better but often doesn’t, could be so clueless about the New York managerial situation.  But when Morgan and Jon Miller parachute into town to do a Mets-Yankees game, you just know something stupid will be said about the Mets and/or the Yankees.  This past Sunday night (May 17), it was the managerial status of Willie Randolph and Joe Girardi.

    

It started off innocently enough, when Miller started talking about the notion, talked about for weeks (months?) in New York, that Willie Randolph is in danger of losing his job.  Miller also pointed out that, even though the Yankees were doing poorly, nobody was talking about Joe Girardi losing his job.

    

Here’s what Joe Morgan had to say about that:

 “I would question that, Jon.  If it’s Willie’s fault on the other side of  town, why is it not Girardi’s fault on this side of town?  I think you have to look at both of them in the same, you know, way.  I mean,  the Mets are 1 1/2 games out of first place.  The Yankees are in last  place.  So, I would say you have to look at both of them and use the same microscope.”

Yikes!  There’s a lot to say about the above, but the notion that you can look at any two managers exactly the same is absurd.  Look at Joe Torre.  Because he got his four titles in his first five years as Yankees manager (after what could best be described as a mediocre managerial career before that), he was able to withstand presiding over the greatest collapse in post-season baseball history (2004, up 3-0 v. Boston, lose the series in seven games) and losing in the first round of the playoffs in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and STILL received an offer for 2008 (we can argue all day about whether it was “insulting” or not but that’s irrelevant).  Had Torre not had those World Series rings on his fingers, he probably wouldn’t have survived 2004.  In fact, it’s safe to say that if 2004-2007 had happened BEFORE his titles, he would never have managed for a long period of time in New York.  That’s just the nature of the managerial beast, especially in New York in either league.

    

But, according to many knowledgeable Met fans, Willie Randolph’s success rate (even with a 2006 playoff appearance) has been rather low.  The Mets organization has stepped up big-time and signed players and spent a ton of money and given Willie and the fans a great opportunity for huge success.  In 2006, it’s hard to believe that the Mets didn’t make it to the World Series.  In 2007, Willie presided over arguably the greatest collapse in the history of the regular season (up seven games with 17 to play) and failed to make the playoffs.  This year, before the two-game sweep of the Yankees, the Mets were piddling along at around .500, something nobody expected.

    

Nobody’s going to accuse Willie of being a brilliant tactician.  And he’s been hammered left and right for his perceived lack of outward emotion.  He’s starting to lose the media fight (when he tells Mike Francesa and Chris Russo on WFAN that they’re “clueless,” Willie, better than anyone, should know that’s a fight that’s almost impossible to win (although Michael Strahan has won it, certainly against Russo, see HBO’s Costas Now where Strahan embarrassed Russo)).  And, for better or worse (probably worse in the eyes of Met fans), Willie was (is?) a Yankee.  This part of it is similar to Islander legend Bryan Trottier when he became coach of the New York Rangers.  Had Trottier won, everything would have been wonderful.  When Trottier lost, he was just another miscast Islander in the eyes of Ranger fans.

    

What about Joe Girardi, though?  Well, Girardi’s very brief managerial resume includes the 2006 NL Manager of the Year.  He also has played on Yankee World Series winners, he was Joe Torre’s bench coach and he even announced Yankee games.  Even though he’s a Chicago guy, Girardi is, unlike Willie as a “Met guy,” viewed to be a “Yankee guy.”  Like it or not, that’s a huge difference. 

   

Other factors in Girardi’s favor for not getting heat yet (although the drums are starting to beat in New York) include the fact that A-Rod and Jorge Posada are on the DL.  While A-Rod won the MVP last year (remember the year before when ESPN’s Steve Phillips told us that the Yankees should trade A-Rod?), some knowledgeable Yankee fans thought that Posada was the MVP of the Yankees.  Throw in a couple of young Yankee starters who can’t get out of their own way (and that interesting stat that no team has won the pennant in about forever with two rookies in their rotation) and you can see that Girardi has been granted a brief honeymoon period.  But that, of course, could come to an end sooner rather than later. 

   

Girardi also has his own managerial issues (hard to believe he would let Mike Mussina pitch to Manny Ramirez with first base open earlier this year) and, again, the honeymoon will be brief in New York for him.  But the pressure on Willie is as much (or more) a result of last year’s collapse as it is due to this year’s inconsistent play.  This is Willie’s fourth year as manager of the Mets.  Met fans think they’re seeing a broken record now.  Girardi is only in his first year, but there’s already trouble brewing in the Bronx.  For him, we’ll have to wait for the return of A-Rod and Posada and for Brian Cashman to do something about the pitching.  But it’s already starting to look like Joe Torre got out in the nick of time.  We’ll see.

        

And as for “Clueless Joe” (Morgan, not Torre), he’ll just have to do a little more research to understand what’s going on before he shows up at a game.

       

© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.