PICK YOUR POISON
Sports' toughest job has to be coaching an NFL team...
Every year around this time, when NFL coaching jobs come open,
the Steve Spurrier rumor mill churns. And every year you know
he'll never go pro. Spurrier, the coach at Florida, topped
Redskins owner Daniel Snyder's wish list to replace the fired
coach Norv Turner (above), but that turned out to be wishful
thinking on Snyder's part. Why? "Are you kidding?" an NFL general
manager says. "Daniel Snyder won't let Spurrier play golf 150
days a year."
An exaggeration? Probably. But then why are guys like Al Groh,
who left the Jets to coach at Virginia, so enamored of college
jobs these days? It's simple: NFL coaches work themselves silly.
A day after the Chiefs' season ended, Gunther Cunningham was in
the office at five in the morning--on Christmas day. (That didn't
prevent him from getting canned last Friday.) Rams coach Mike
Martz will work six-day weeks until his annual month off
beginning early in June.
The minute the season ends, coaches start preparing to scout the
college All-Star games in January. Then there's the NFL scouting
combine in February, free-agency in March, the draft in April and
minicamps that now stretch from April into mid-June. While all
this is going on, the coach supervises the off-season workout
programs of incumbent players and works on staff changes and game
plans. As for pressure from above, NFL owners are far more
impatient than college athletic directors. "I coached the Cowboys
for two years," says Chan Gailey. "We made the playoffs two
years, and I got fired. It's a pretty tough racket."
"Coaching in the NFL," said Bobby Ross a month before quitting as
Lions coach, "can eat you up." Evidence shows it often does,
which makes college coaching awfully enticing. --Peter King
...unless it's running a big-time college football factory
If John Cooper had won 70% of his games over 13 years in the NFL,
as he did at Ohio State, he would get a bust in Canton. Instead,
Cooper was a bust in Columbus.
In firing Cooper (below) on Jan. 2, the day after the Buckeyes
lost to South Carolina 24-7 in the Outback Bowl, Ohio State
athletic director Andy Geiger acknowledged Cooper's 2-10-1 record
against archrival Michigan. Never mind Cooper's record against
the rest of the Big Ten: 68-20-3. Shoot, the NFL's Eagles have
gone 0-5 against their NFC East archrivals, the Giants, in the
past two seasons alone, and still coach Andy Reid is a hero in
Geiger also cited something an NFL coach never has to worry
about: the players' academics. Buckeyes wide receiver Reggie
Germany, for instance, had a 0.0 GPA in the fall quarter,
rendering him ineligible for the Outback. You would think that
this was Germany's fault. It wasn't. In college athletics the
coach is responsible for his players' performance in the
classroom and for their behavior off the field.
If a college player is arrested, the coach takes heat for having
recruited him. If an NFL player is arrested, he qualifies for a
starting job in Oakland. On top of that, the NCAA limits an
athlete's workweek to 20 hours. In other words, a college coach
is accountable for what his players do even when he's not allowed
to supervise them.
There are no waiver pickups in college football, no injured
reserve for stashing players, no midseason free-agent signings. A
coach gets 85 scholarships, period. He looks into a high school
senior's eyes and thinks, If this kid can help me win seven out
of every 10 games, he'll be just good enough...to get me
fired. --Ivan Maisel
MARTY GLICKMAN, 1917-2001
MASTER OF THE MIKE
When former track star and longtime broadcaster Marty Glickman
died last week at age 83 of complications from bypass surgery,
the world lost one of the last great radio men. The onetime voice
of New York's Giants, Jets and Knicks, Glickman influenced
generations of broadcasters through his work behind the mike and
as a consultant for NBC, HBO, MSG Network and SportsChannel. SI
asked colleagues and proteges of Glickman's to describe
techniques they learned from him.
Marv Albert: "There should be a course taught in journalism
schools entitled Marty Glickman, the way you might study Fellini
in film school. He set the terminology for basketball
play-by-play. On radio it was very precise. Right side of the
lane. Left side, top of the key. Right baseline. He would always
drum into me, 'What kind of shot is it? Is it a running
one-hander? Is it a jumper from 15 along the baseline? Does he
drive, stop, jump, shoot? Be precise because you're providing the
eyes for the listener.'"
Bob Costas: "When I started in the early 1980s, I said to him, 'I
look so much younger than I am,' which was a standing joke around
NBC. 'What can I do to counteract that?' He said, 'Have you ever
heard an older person who talks really fast? Hardly ever. Try to
slow down and have a more measured pace.' That was good advice.
It gave me a little more authority."
Gayle Sierens (first female NFL announcer): "He was a great
believer in less is more. He thought that one of the great
mistakes announcers make is talking too much. He always said,
'It's not about you.' He also stressed giving down and distance
and time remaining. Every time they moved the chains he wanted me
talking about down and distance."
Bill Walton: "I was cursed with severe stuttering until I was 28
years old. Marty Glickman taught me how to speak. The tips he
gave me almost 20 years ago I still apply every day: Slow down
your thoughts; think about what you are saying now, not three or
four sentences ahead. Chew sugarless gum to strengthen the
muscles in your jaw and to get your mouth moving. Read out loud;
it doesn't matter what the subject is, just do it a lot. When you
are comfortable doing that, move in front of the mirror and watch
yourself as others will see you speaking. Become a teacher--to
anyone, anywhere, on any subject you know."
Bye Bye Bye
How important is a bye week for an NFL playoff team? Over the
last 11 postseasons, teams that got a week's rest won their first
playoff game 82% of the time. Last weekend three of the four
teams that had first-round byes won, handily: the Giants, Raiders
and Vikings. Since 1990 only one NFC first-round winner has won
its next game: the Packers in January 1996. The average margin of
victory for the home teams in their 36 divisional-round wins has
been 18.0 points. That's blowout territory.
Bye teams are usually a bit better than their opponents, but on
top of that they're more rested and don't have to travel. "That's
a big key," said Dolphins wideout Oronde Gadsen after Miami was
demolished 27-0 in Oakland. "Get home field and get a bye and not
have to travel."
Home field should be reward enough for the top regular-season
clubs. With expansion and realignment into eight four-team
divisions in 2002, the NFL should eliminate the bye week by
adding four teams to the postseason. This year that would have
meant playoff berths for the 9-7 Jets, Lions, Packers and
Steelers--and four more games for fans to bask in over the
Here are the won-lost records of teams the week after they had a
first-round bye, since the NFL went to the 12-team playoff format
NFC teams 21-1 .955
AFC teams 15-7 .682
All teams 36-8 .818
Televised sports are in full swing, which means you're subjecting
yourself to high levels of toxically bad commercials. We've
identified the worst offenders:
Terry Bradshaw and Doug Flutie for 10-10-220. In this phone
service ad, Flutie and Bradshaw--who plies his good ol' boy shtick
to the hilt--peer curiously at a piece of sushi. "Where I'm from,
we call that stuff bait," says Bradshaw. Where would that be,
Terry? The 1950s?
Michael Jordan and his caddie for Gatorade. Let's imagine the
creative meeting for this spot: "So Jordan's on a golf course,
and he's being pestered by this incredibly annoying caddie, who
goes on about how cool it is to drink Gatorade. Did we mention
how incredibly annoying he'll be?"
Howie Long and Teri Hatcher for Radio Shack. The electronics
giant says this aggravatingly cloying duo will be a big presence
during the Super Bowl pregame show. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Jason Sehorn and Shannon Sharpe for Charles Schwab. Granted, some
of the spots in the investment firm's Smarter Investors series
are entertaining: Dikembe Mutombo at a shareholders meeting, for
instance. But watching Sehorn mock-criticize Sharpe for his
trash-talking ways reminds us that Mr. Angie Harmon is only the
second-best actor in his family.
On New Year's weekend Michael Jordan, Alex Rodriguez and Tiger
Woods were all in the same place at the same time (proving that
only one of them can be the real Superman). The place: the
Atlantis resort and casino on Paradise Island in The Bahamas.
Since opening in all its kitschy splendor in December 1994,
Atlantis has become the hot spot for sports stars from John
Elway to the Williams sisters. Jordan bought two undeveloped
lots for roughly $2 million at the adjacent Tom
Weiskopf-designed Ocean Club golf course, where he'll host a
celebrity invitational this weekend. Scheduled to show were
Charles Barkley, Wayne Gretzky and Mia Hamm.
So how did Atlantis become the destination of choice for the jock
set? Start with the way it courts high-profile athletes. "We've
targeted sports relationships because it's a healthy image for
the resort," says Jerry Inzerillo, an exec with hotel chain Sun
International, which runs Atlantis. Combine that with a high
celeb quotient (recent sightings include Gloria Estefan, Angie
Everhart and Whitney Houston) and the pampering the resort offers
A-list guests, and you have a package no sports star can refuse.
"In Las Vegas, L.A. and New York, there's so much going on that a
celebrity isn't looked after from A to Z," says Inzerillo. "If
Tiger's here, we spend as much time with Tiger's friends as we do
with Tiger." Of course, it never hurts when those friends are MJ
Christopher Morris of Hardy, Ark., by Mark McGwire. Big Mac
wants Morris to stop making and distributing bogus $70 bills
featuring McGwire's image and meant to celebrate his 1998 home
run total. McGwire brought suit after Morris failed to fulfill an
earlier agreement to stop producing the bills by Christmas.
For a Grammy Award in the category of Best Latin Pop Album,
former welterweight champion Oscar De La Hoya, for his debut
album, Oscar De La Hoya.
Doug Arnot, 50, managing director of events for the Salt Lake
Organizing Committee (SLOC), which is overseeing the 2002
Olympics. He's serving a 10-day sentence for misdemeanor assault,
to which he had pleaded guilty. In March, Arnot, while driving an
SLOC-owned SUV, nearly struck Richard Van Orden of West Jordan,
Utah, while Van Orden was in a crosswalk in downtown Salt Lake
City. After Van Orden yelled an epithet, Arnot made a U-turn,
reached out the car window, grabbed Van Orden by the tie and
punched him. He then drove through the intersection dragging the
victim by the tie.
By the NFL, a cease and desist letter to the operators of
mikebrownsucks.com, which bashes the Bengals' G.M. The NFL asked
the site to stop posting links to and material from the team's
site, Bengals.com, and to remove a version of the Cincinnati logo
that has been modified to make the tiger look frightened. The
site's operators complied with the first two requests but say
they are within their rights to use a parody of the logo and will
continue to do so.
The snowboarding ban at Aspen's Ajax Mountain, leaving just
four skier-only major resorts in the U.S.: Alta and Deer Valley
in Utah, Taos in New Mexico and Mad River Glen in Vermont.
The NBA season is only two months old, and the league has already
fined Mavs owner Mark Cuban four times. How wacky was this latest
incident? Let's just say that, even on the inflated Cuban scale
of outrageousness, it ranked pretty high. Herewith we rate it and
other select antics this season on our handy Cuban-O-Meter.
Incident: Commenting last week on his ongoing tussles with the
league office, Cuban says of commissioner David Stern, "I won't
get him in a headlock, but maybe I'll get some tweezers and yank
out those nose hairs of his. You know, when you sit next to him,
you definitely know which way the wind is blowing." Cuban-O-Meter
Incident: Upset that refs missed a goaltending call in the waning
moments of a 107-104 loss to the Pistons on Jan. 3, Cuban has a
replay of the transgression frozen on the JumboTron in Reunion
Arena and encourages photographers to take pictures. The league
nails him for $250,000. "I'm glad the fine was that much," says
Cuban. "I'll never shut up as long as I see incompetence that's
in no way trying to get better." Cuban-O-Meter rating: 9
Incident: In a late November attempt to stuff the All-Star ballot
box, Cuban e-mails 1,000 people a ballot with instructions on how
to cast it for Mavs players. Because Cuban fails to list the
message's recipients under a "blind carbon copy" option, every
response to his note--and every irate complaint to Cuban--gets sent
to every addressee, clogging thousands of in-boxes across the
nation for several days. "My screw-up," says technobillionaire
Cuban. "We were just trying to promote our players."
Cuban-O-Meter rating: 6
Incident: After Karl Malone of the Jazz twice elbows Christian
Laettner during a Nov. 20 game, Cuban files a complaint with the
NBA, saying, "Karl Malone is a thug and he ought to be suspended
and he ought to be fined. If this were hockey, they would be
thinking about pressing legal charges against him." Cuban-O-Meter
Incident: In a span of eight days in mid-November, Cuban is fined
three times by the league for "verbally abusing" officials.
Total: $45,000. "Players don't get better unless you scout them
and point out their weaknesses," says Cuban. "How can the refs
get better if we just let them make mistakes and close our eyes
to it?" Cuban-O-Meter rating: 4
Here it is: the first official Anna Watch of the year. Anna
Kournikova had herself quite a holiday season. First came the
announcement of her being dumped by doubles partner Martina
Hingis, reportedly as the result of a catfight between the two
during an exhibition match in Chile in late November. Then just
before Christmas, Kournikova caused a stir on a commercial set
in Key Biscayne, Fla. She was scheduled to shoot a spot for
Lycos Fantasy Sports, but she arrived six hours late, holding up
more than 100 extras and 50 crew members, and then got into a
row with producers over a skimpy outfit she was to wear, before
storming off the set. No word yet if producers will try to
salvage the ad....
The new film Finding Forrester, which opens nationwide on
Friday, features some of the more convincing scenes of high
school basketball action in recent memory, courtesy of
16-year-old star Rob Brown, a Hollywood newcomer who in real
life is a junior wide receiver for Brooklyn's Poly Prep, which
finished 9-0 this season. Director Gus Van Sant cast Brown as a
star hoopster who befriends a reclusive writer, played by Sean
Connery, after spotting Brown at an open audition. "At the time,
I had a cell phone bill of $300 that needed paying, so I figured
I'd be an extra and earn $50," says Brown. At least he didn't
phone it in during the film's hoops scenes: Brown, a forward for
Poly Prep as a freshman, did all his own action sequences.
"There wasn't anything choreographed about it," says Brown. "We
Odd coupling of the week: Gabrielle Reece and Alex Rodriguez
hooked up over the holidays in Las Vegas. Reece, recently
separated from surfer husband Laird Hamilton, says she met the
shortstop by chance in Vegas, and that Rodriguez invited her for
a night of dinner and gambling. A source says the encounter then
turned romantic. Reece insists the two are "just friends."
Legal fees run up by former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Rae
Carruth in his ongoing capital murder case that have been footed
by the taxpayers of North Carolina because Carruth, who earned
$192,000 in the NFL in 1999, has been declared indigent.
Years remaining on Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa's five-year
endorsement deal (the value of which was not disclosed) with
Montgomery Ward, which has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and
will be closing its stores; the two sides reportedly will meet
to resolve the outstanding debt.
Kickoffs of the last 39 by cannon-leg Raiders placekicker
Sebastian Janikowski that have resulted in a touchback.
Active NBA players who have scored 50 or more points in a game in
the regular season; 87 have done so in league history.
This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse
The United Hockey League's Kalamazoo Wings announced that when
they host the New Haven Knights on Valentine's Day, the ice will
be colored pink and the face-off circles will be accented with
University of Washington football coach, explaining why his
players toured the Playboy Mansion while in Southern California
for the Rose Bowl: "We have a lot of architecture majors on our