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  • Jake’s and David’s Arguments – The Alford-Tavernari Incident, Part 3

    Wed, March 3, 2010 by admin with 4 comments

    This is Part 3 of an exchange between Jake Schaller and columnist David Ramsey. For Part 1, check the post below. Parts 2 and 4 are in Ramsey’s blog: http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com.

    Ramsey, I can only imagine the language you heard when you were covering the Big East. But I also seem to remember some fairly colorful expressions being directed at you and Denver Post writer Irv Moss near the end of an Air Force practice in 2007 when Jeff Bzdelik morphed into Jeff Bleep-delik.

    Anyhow, this is a classic example of someone getting caught (on tape) for something that probably happens multiple times during a season and goes unreported.

    Alford and Tavernari reportedly made up (when Tavernari went to the New Mexico locker room to apologize), and that was the right thing for them to do.

    But at the same time, as a fan, how much better would it be if they hadn’t? My interest in a potential New Mexico-BYU conference tournament final would have jumped about 1,000 percent.

    This is why I always say my favorite sport to cover was boxing. Nearly all the pro boxers I covered had zero filter when it came to talking to the media about their opponents. They would tell you if they didn’t like who they were going to fight. They would tell you if they thought their opponent was a punk. They would tell you (sometimes in graphic detail) about the beat-down they had planned.

    Here’s an excerpt from a story I wrote about Ricardo Mayorga – one of boxing’s bad boys (which, granted, is like saying someone is one of a beauty contest’s pretty people). It appeared in the Sept. 29, 2004 issue of The Washington Post, shortly before Mayorga’s bout with Felix “Tito” Trinidad.

    Mayorga arrived at New York’s LaGuardia Airport last weekend with his hair dyed bright red and a shirt that had the date of Saturday’s fight with the message, “Tito’s Retirement Celebration. Time to hang them up.” And he bragged about a reported $100,000 bet he made with the 31-year-old Trinidad on their fight.

    “It’s a real bet,” Mayorga said. “It’s not putting any sort of pressure on me. In fact, I’m going to make sure he pays me after the fight. With that money I’m going to buy myself a limousine, maybe two, in Nicaragua and name it Tito, so that everyone remembers when I knocked out Tito.”

    Later, Mayorga predicted a knockout between rounds three and five. “I really don’t want to cause the Trinidad family any more grief,” he said.

    (By the way, Trinidad dominated the fight, which was stopped in the eighth round).

    Anyhow, what I’m saying is that Mountain West basketball could use a dash of boxing. Or at least some of the genuine dislike that permeated the Celtics-Pistons games of the late 1980s.

    No, I’m not advocating players (or coaches) throwing punches or violence of any kind. And you don’t want people calling each other out and talking trash non-stop. But it’s OK for teams not to like each other. That makes everything more fun.

  • Jake’s and David’s Arguments – The Alford-Tavernari Incident, Part 1

    Wed, March 3, 2010 by admin with no comments

    Following New Mexico’s down-to-the-wire victory over BYU on Saturday, Lobos coach Steve Alford was caught on tape calling BYU forward Jonathan Tavernari a bad word (see the dust-up here, but be warned you’ll hear a seven-letter expletive from Alford).

    Alford’s actions earned a reprimand from the Mountain West Conference but also opened the door for another installment of “Jake’s and David’s Arguments,” where Gazette columnist David Ramsey and I go back and forth about an event or issue.

    My first take on this incident: No matter what Tavernari (who specializes in getting under the skin of his opponents) did to provoke Alford, the New Mexico coach should have known not to react like he did – at least in today’s everyone-has-a-camera-and-everything-goes-on-YouTube-immediately society.

    He was wrong, and the MWC was right in reprimanding him.

    And one other thing about the incident: I loved it.

    If you want to roll your eyes, just listen to one of the MWC teleconferences with the coaches and ask them about another team or player. Every coach will tell you that every other coach does a “great job” and that every other team is “a really tough matchup.” It’s a gooey PC-fest.

    Case in point: BYU coach Dave Rose said the following: “I thought that Air Force was really good, and we were a little bit better.” … When talking about the Cougars’ 43-point victory over the Falcons.

    Sports are more fun when you have bad blood and rivalries and villains.

    So while you can’t condone what happened between Tavernari and Alford … it makes things a lot more interesting for the fans.

    What do you think, Ramsey? (Ramsey’s response will be on his blog: http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com).

  • Jake’s and David’s Arguments: Topic 2, Part 2

    Tue, December 8, 2009 by admin with 3 comments

    (This is Jake’s response to Gazette columnist David Ramsey’s blog about why the BCS actually did TCU a favor by putting it in the Fiesta Bowl rather than the national title game. You can see Ramsey’s entry here).

    You’re right, Ramsey. You’re absolutely right.

    TCU would have had no chance in the national title game against top-ranked Alabama – the team that needed a late touchdown drive to topple mighty Auburn two weeks ago and earlier in the season escaped Tennessee, 12-10, only after blocking a pair of field goals.

    It’s too bad we can’t go back in time and save the New York Giants the embarrassment against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl two years ago. Or keep James Buster Douglas protected from a vicious first-round knockout by Mike Tyson. Or, more recently, relieve last year’s Utah squad of its death sentence against the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl.

    The greatest thing about sports is there isn’t any such thing as a sure thing.

    Would Alabama be an overwhelming favorite to beat TCU? Sure. But ‘Bama’s going to be an overwhelming favorite to beat Texas. And what how much more has Texas done to deserve a national title shot than TCU? I look at both teams’ schedules and I can’t tell you.

    TCU deserves the chance to pull an upset – at least as much as Texas. Or Cincinnati. Or Boise State.

    And, sure, there’s a great chance that the Tide would roll. I wouldn’t bet against it. But then at least the Horned Frogs would know where they stood. Instead of always wondering.

    (Thanks for the condolences about the Skins. I knew they’d blow it. Maybe there are some sure things in sports!)

  • Jake’s and David’s Arguments (Issue I, Part 5)

    Tue, December 1, 2009 by admin with no comments

    This is the fifth segment of the premier edition of “Jake’s and David’s Arguments,” in which Air Force beat writer Jake Schaller and columnist David Ramsey discuss an issue on their blogs. The issue in this installment – football coach Troy Calhoun’s viability as a candidate for a head coaching slot at a BCS school. Check Ramsey’s blog (http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com)and earlier posts in this blog for previous parts of the argument.

    My last thoughts on the subject:

    The 0-3 mark against Navy clearly is a blemish on Calhoun’s resume at the academy. But I guarantee you it bothers him more than it does other athletic departments. In other words, it will make him shy away from other jobs more than it will make other jobs shy away from him.

    Yes, it’s the rivalry game that means everything to Air Force and Navy. But outside the service academy world it’s more of a footnote. What athletic directors will care more about is his overall record – 24-14 with three bowl appearances with a program that went 13-21 in the three years before his arrival.

    And if ADs want to look at individual games, the close losses to the MWC’s best (by seven to Utah last season, by three to TCU this season) will stand out as much as the losses to Navy. While those in and around the Air Force program (coaches, administrators and players) and those who watch it closely (fans and lowly sports writers) expect Air Force to compete (and beat) the top teams in the conference, outsiders don’t. There’s a reason the Falcons play the underdog and “nobody respects us” cards week in and week out.

    Factor in the increased clout the Mountain West Conference has nationally, and the reaction from those outside the program isn’t going to be “he didn’t pull off enough major or minor upsets” but “Wow, he’s been in the top half of a good league three straight years. With a service academy.”

    For Ramsey’s last post in this discussion, visit his blog. And please let us know what you thought about the points raised in this discussion and what issues you might want us to argue in the future.

  • Jake’s and David’s Arguments (Issue I, Part 3)

    Mon, November 30, 2009 by admin with 1 comment

    This is the third segment of the premier edition of “Jake’s and David’s Arguments,” in which Air Force beat writer Jake Schaller and columnist David Ramsey discuss an issue on their blogs. The issue in this installment – football coach Troy Calhoun’s viability as a candidate for a head coaching slot at a BCS school. Check Ramsey’s blog and earlier posts in this blog for previous parts of the argument.

    You’re right, Ramsey, that this season’s offensive performance takes some of the shine off Calhoun.

    But that can be spun easily by an AD (they’re pretty good at spinning, as you know), who could say that Air Force’s inexperience at the skill positions and injuries at quarterback necessitated a conservative approach.

    Besides, there are plenty of other reasons for a BCS conference school to push for Calhoun.

    Chief among them is one name: Paul Johnson.

    The former Navy coach has led Georgia Tech to the ACC title game and into the Top 20 with the triple-option.

    UVA’s athletic director also can point to another Navy coach: George Welsh. Virginia plucked him from Navy and all Welsh did was become the winningest coach in school and ACC history, with a record of 134-86-3. He won two conference titles and took the Cavaliers to 12 bowls.

    Those two names should assuage any booster fears about a conservative offense or taking a coach from a service academy.

  • Dave and Jake’s Arguments (Issue I, Part 1)

    Mon, November 30, 2009 by admin with 4 comments

    This is the first segment of the premier edition of “Dave and Jake’s Arguments,” in which Air Force beat writer Jake Schaller and columnist David Ramsey discuss an Air Force sports issue on their blogs. The issue in this installment – football coach Troy Calhoun’s viability as a candidate for a head coaching slot at a school in a BCS conference.

    Virginia’s 2009 season ended on Saturday. And Sunday, the nine-year tenure of head coach Al Groh came to a close.

    One of the possible candidates to replace Groh, according to various news outlets, is Air Force coach Troy Calhoun.

    Let’s shelve, for a moment, whether Calhoun would accept an offer from UVA and concentrate on whether he’s ready.

    I say he is, Ramsey.

    Calhoun might not yet have the name recognition for a perennial Top 25 program, but he clearly would be a good pick for a school like Virginia. He’s led the Falcons to three straight bowl games and has a 24-14 record at the academy.

    Plus, he has the cache of the NFL, having worked for the Broncos for three years and served as the Texans’ offensive coordinator for one.

    Check Ramsey’s blog for his response.