August 04, 2008

Welcome to the latest installment of the Dean's List, where we'd like to remind you to always use discretion when choosing your seat mate on a Greyhound bus in Canada.

• The greatest skill necessary to coach in college athletics these days is knowing when to bend the rules and when to admit you bent the rules and claim it wasn't your fault. Kelvin Sampson is not very good at this. John Calipari is. Despite his greased-back hair and slick-talking ways -- Sports Illustrated once called him "the apotheosis of the ambitious, Armani-wrapped basketball coach" -- Calipari has managed to never really land on the NCAA's bad side. When Marcus Camby admitted he'd accepted gifts from agents while still a student at UMass, Calipari pleaded ignorance. No doubt he'll do the same now that Memphis has reported a possible violation to the NCAA after it was revealed that school booster and FedEx president Dave Bronczek called the mother of highly-coveted recruit Abdul Gaddy. Bronczek apologized and said Calipari had nothing to do with the phone call, which nobody believes but the NCAA. Most likely, this will end up being a secondary violation and result in nothing more than a slap on the wrist for the Tigers. Here's what the Dean's List doesn't understand: If Calipari is such a magician why can't his teams shoot free throws?

• If you're in the market for a top-of-the-line basketball recruit these days, there's really only one sure way to snag him -- hire his AAU coach. Baylor coach Scott Drew understands the strategy. After an encouraging season that ended in a disappointing loss to Purdue, Drew has decided to take his program to the next level and to do that, he'll need a ridiculously good player, a player like John Wall. At 6-foot-4 with lightening quickness and superhuman handle, Wall is the top player in the class of 2009. So how is Drew going to get Wall to choose Baylor, a low- to mid-level Big 12 program still rebuilding after an epic scandal, over the likes of Kentucky, N.C. State, and Oklahoma State? No problem. He's hired Dwon Clifton, Wall's AAU coach, as Baylor's director of player development. I wonder which player Clifton will be developing...

• If we're going to call the amateur athletes who compete in college sports "student athletes," then let's treat them like both students and athletes. Let's allow them to do what we encourage other intelligent students around the country to do -- question the norm, speak out and take a stand. Last week at Big East football media day, West Virginia quarterback Pat White expressed his opinion. He noticed that the Mountaineer baseball team didn't have many black players and accused baseball coach Greg Van Zant of not pursuing more black athletes. It seems a quarterback is an athlete first and a student second, because one day later, after what we assume was a fair amount of pressure from the athletic department, White released a canned statement apologizing for overstating his feelings. Don't apologize, Pat. A quarterback is a terrible thing to waste.

• Arkansas coach John Pelphrey knows a thing or two about loyalty. He grew up in Kentucky, was named Kentucky's "Mr. Basketball" and matriculated to the University of Kentucky. In his first season as a Wildcat, the NCAA hit the program with major sanctions and coach Eddie Sutton was forced to resign. Despite the sanctions, Pelphrey wouldn't abandon his school and, by the end of his senior season, he'd led an underdog Kentucky squad to the Elite Eight where "The Unforgettables" lost a heartbreaker to Christian Laettner's Blue Devils. Now that Pelphrey is the coach in Fayetteville, Arkansas is trying to show some loyalty of its own. As a reward for leading the Razorbacks to their first NCAA tournament victory since 1999, the university has given Pelphrey a $45,000 raise and extended his contract by a year. The next pay bump will come when he figures out how to get within 30 points of UNC.

• For Georgia safety Donavon Baldwin, the good times didn't last long. The night after his Bulldogs were voted the best team in the nation in the USA Today Coaches' Poll, the six-foot-two, 204 lb. junior was out celebrating at The Library, a crowded bar in downtown Athens. Someone called Baldwin's momma an astronaut and before you could say "Garrison Hearst" a fight broke out. Baldwin, reaction time hampered by a full night of partying, took a beer bottle straight to the head and went to the hospital for neck and facial lacerations. But the news only got worse upon his release from the ER. Due to a previous DUI arrest, Baldwin was indefinitely suspended from the football team by Coach Mark Richt. What hurts more -- a beer bottle to the noggin or adjusting to your new role as towel boy on the No. 1 college football team in the nation?

• I bet you didn't know this -- you can get kicked off your college football team for rapping. No joke. Just have a buddy film as you freestyle, then post the clip, all 1:14 of it, onto YouTube and you too can get the boot. That's what Oklahoma freshman Josh Jarboe did and coach Bob Stoops didn't waste any time dismissing the wide receiver from the team. OK, so Jarboe had been arrested last year for bringing a gun to his high school and that probably lent some credence to his lyrics when he rapped about using guns to kill people. But still, does freedom of speech not apply to student-athletes? I mean, the kid never specifically said he was going to shoot anyone. It was all bravado. C'mon, it rhymed, for God's sake. And besides,you don't rap about rainbows and butterflies. Even Will Smith doesn't do that. Someone get Bob Stoops a Lil Wayne album.

• Some people go looking for trouble, but for others, trouble finds them. Illinois guard Jamar Smith was expected to return to the basketball court this season after pleading guilty to a felony DUI charge. Under the terms of his probation, Smith couldn't touch alcohol. (When you get drunk and wrap your car around a tree that stipulation makes a lot of sense.) But Smith couldn't live up to his end of the bargain. Champaign police showed up at a campus bar on Friday night to break up an unrelated argument and who do they see hanging out? That's right, Smith, who, oddly enough, smelled like he'd been drinking. An Illinois prosecutor now wants a judge to revoke Smith's probation. Regardless, Illinois Coach Bruce Weber has already made up his mind. Smith has been dismissed from the basketball team. And all because he happened to be standing outside a bar when the police rolled up and he wasn't wearing cologne.

Regena Jackson has not had a good summer. The University of Louisiana at Monroe women's basketball player had trouble in school. She lost her academic eligibility to play next season. One of her friends died from a drug overdose. And then, the final straw, she got in a fight with her girlfriend. It was all too much. After the argument with her girlfriend, which escalated into a shoving contest, Jackson snapped. She pulled out a 9 mm handgun with a filed off serial number and fired one shot into the air. It didn't take long for the police to arrive and disarm the junior shooter, who was one of ULM's top players last season, averaging 8.7 ppg. Jackson is now facing a slew of gun charges and has been kicked out of school. Amazing how you can shoot hoops all your life and get a scholarship, but shoot one little bullet and suddenly you're not even fit for an education.

Got issues? Contact the Dean's List at

You May Like