Nick Saban would prefer to focus on just coaching, and there's not a thing you can do about it. In an interview with the Associated Press, Saban saidhe'd much rather be on the field and will limit the number of public appearances he'll be making -- in fact, it's in his contract. Much like Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson -- who were appeased by their teams by getting to forgo some road trips -- Saban gets his way because of his reputation, as the school is allowing him to shave off some appearances.
Alabama trustees finally approved to the eight-year, $32 million deal last Thursday, but perhaps they were a little too generous in caving in to the public appearances demand. Instead, they should have offered an incentive-based scale, whereby the number of appearances fluctuates. For example, if he only matches Mike Shula's 6-6 record in '06 or fares even worse, then the number of public appearances doubles each year up until he reaches 10 wins. So if Saban wants to spend more time making kids give up their dignity, or if he wants to avoid insulting groups of people, the school would motivate him best by making him win games to avoid the appearances.
Since UCLA is on a quarter system, the school was just a little behind in their commencement ceremony, but they made up for their lateness by getting one of the biggest speakers ever. In height, that is. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar delivered the commencement speech last Friday, returning to the school where he won three national championships nearly 40 years ago. The speech was clearly a success, as he did in fact make an Airplane! reference and told the graduating seniors his secret to success ("There's a ball. There's a hoop. You put the ball through the hoop"), but if there's anything that UCLA graduates should take from Kareem -- to go with the usual messages of pursuing a job in a field that is enjoyable and following one's dreams -- is to avoid dressing like this.
Kentucky big man Jared Carter's unlucky number has to be three. Last year, the sophomore played in only three games and averaged 0.33 points, and last week, he separated his right shoulder for the third time in the past seven months. Carter had to miss the rest of last season after separating his shoulder in November, and will have to undergo surgery once again.
If it's any consolation for Carter, even though it must frustrating, three isn't as bad of an unlucky number to have compared to others. Imagine having an unlucky number of 44 like Coppin State, or 99 like the Chicago Cubs. The good news is that Carter's regular season bad luck streak just might be all behind him. Randolph Morris, the starting center who signed with the New York Knicks after the NCAA tournament, wore a certain jersey number that should only take one or two attempts to guess. Yep, No. 33.
Joe Savery, Rice. The Philadelphia Phillies selected Savery with the 19th overall pick in the 2007 MLB Draft, but his contributions to his college team extended beyond the mound this week. Savery was 2 for 5 with a home run in Rice's Game 1 win over Louisville, improved his record to 11-1 by pitching six innings in a 14-4 win over North Carolina, and even went 2 for 4 against the Tar Heels. With the two wins, the Owls get two off-days, and will play the winner of Tuesday's Louisville/UNC game.
Think a team or player is deserving of an award next week? Have a stat of the week? Disagree with the way things stack up? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org