Welcome to this week's Dean's List, where Los Angeles is on fire, the stock market is ice cold and Sharon Stone is once again single. Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.
• Go ahead and try to figure out the University of Maryland football team. Like sneezing with your eyes open, it's pretty much impossible. The Terrapins are capable of losing to Middle Tennessee State and, as they proved on Saturday, beating North Carolina. There are two plausible theories to explain the team's erratic nature. Theory One: The better the competition, the better the Terrapins play. After all, this weekend they beat North Carolina, 17-15, knocking the Tar Heels out of the top spot in the ACC Coastal Division. Maryland has also won a school-record six straight games over top 25 competition. Theory Two: Maryland plays really well at Byrd Stadium. The Terrapins are unbeaten at home this year and UNC hasn't won in College Park since 1997.
• Often, it's only after time has passed and events have played out that one can look back and discover a decision's true sagacity. Well, it's now been a year and a half since Tubby Smith left Kentucky to coach Minnesota's hoops team, and it's time to declare the man a genius. When he left for a less prestigious program, a lot of people thought Smith was taking a step backward professionally, but coaching in Lexington, especially for an entire decade, is no picnic. Sure, Kentucky has a rabid fan base, but such loyalty comes with debilitating pressure. Tubby weathered this pressure for 10 seasons, winning one national championship before the finicky fan base dubbed him "Ten-Loss Tubby" and essentially ran him out of town. Now, Tubby is bringing in top-25 recruiting classes at Minnesota while his replacement, Billy Gillespie, falters under the pressure. Kentucky lost to VMI in its season opener on Friday night and Gillespie has gotten so desperate for talented basketball players that he's recruiting eighth-graders.
• Bloomsburg University's train has been stuck in Domination Station for a few years now, and I don't think it's moving any time soon. The Huskies' field hockey team beat UMass-Lowell 6-2 to win the 2008 NCAA Division II field hockey championship. It's Bloomsburg's third straight title and its sixth in the last seven years. Jamie Vanartsdalen, the Huskies' all-time points leader, scored three goals and had one assist, leading former Detroit Pistons coach Chuck Daly's alma mater to its 15th field hockey title.
• It's not easy being the coach's son. Every time you come to the bench, there's dad, ready to tell you what you did wrong. But it doesn't seem to bother Rhode Island's Jimmy Baron. The 6-foot-3 guard is URI coach Jim Baron's elder son, and a ridiculously good shooter. In the second half of the Rams' game against Duke, Baron was unstoppable. Hand in his face, blind fold on, smothered in peanut butter -- it didn't matter, Baron couldn't miss. The coach's son scored 21 of his 24 points in the second half, all of them on long-range threes, a foot behind the line, with a hand in his face. Yet, despite hitting a career-high eight 3-pointers, Baron's shot abandoned him in the final minute and URI lost to Duke 82-79. Oh, Daddy, that hurts.
• It's going to be tough for Syracuse football coach Greg Robinson to put a positive spin on this story. The coach, known for his upbeat attitude, was fired on Sunday after almost four years of unprecedented losing in upstate New York. "As always, I'm optimistic," he said. "I think with more time I could do better." He sure couldn't do worse. Robinson is 9-35 overall as the Orange coach and only 3-23 in the Big East. After losing to Connecticut, 39-14, on Saturday, Syracuse sits at 2-8 and could very easily end up with its third 10-loss season in a row. Before his tenure, the Orange had never lost 10 games in a single season. Robinson will coach the remaining two games of the season for Syracuse so he can finish the demolition job he started four years previously.
• My buddy Bub graduated from Howard University six centuries ago, and I asked him if the Bison had a decent basketball program. He couldn't get out an answer he was laughing so hard, which didn't bode well for Howard hoops. Well, Bub can keep laughing, because his Bison just won their first basketball game against a Pac-10 opponent in program history. Howard beat Oregon State, 47-45, on Friday night, sending the fans in Burr Gym into pandemonium. "I've never seen that," said Howard coach Gil Jackson. "They're swarming the court at Howard, at the Burr." Granted, if the Bison were going to beat a Pac-10 team, it was likely going to be Oregon State, which went winless in the conference last season before Craig Robinson, Obama's brother-in-law, took over. There was even hope that Barack and Michelle would show up for the game, but they didn't ... and neither did the Beavers.
• Here's a postmodern, race-relations fiasco. White students make racist taunts toward three black basketball players and get kicked out of school. Then one of the black victims racially harasses one of the other black victims and gets kicked out of school, too. It makes about as much sense as Roger Federer wearing chaps at a burlesque show, but that's the latest out of Quinnipiac University. Freshman guard Harold Washington, who was one of three victims of a hate crime last month, has been accused by police of breaking into the Facebook account of one of the other victims and posting "threatening and racially motivated comments." He has since been expelled from school. What baffles police is that while Washington, who is cousins with former Georgetown star Jeff Green, had initially been a victim, "his response was not to the person harassing him. His response was to a fellow victim."
• Rick Costa is a criminology and criminal justice major who can't seem to stop hitting cops in the face. The former Maryland linebacker has been indefinitely suspended from the Terrapins after he slugged a police officer in the eye last weekend. It was 2:30 on a rowdy Sunday morning in College Park, and the Cornerstone Grill & Loft was shutting down for the night. Bouncers told Costa he was too late to enter. This upset the six-foot-one, 225 lbs. senior, who had already been over-served, and he proceeded to fight two bouncers and give a policeman a black eye. To make matters worse, this is Costa's second time fighting a cop. Before he transferred to Maryland, Costa lost his scholarship to Temple University after headbutting a policeman during a fight.
Loose nukes with Dick Lugar? Send all comments to Jacob.Osterhout@gmail.com.