In classes at Arkansas, highly touted freshman quarterback Mitch Mustain. Razorbacks coach Houston Nutt raised eyebrows when he hired Gus Malzahn, Mustain's coach at Springdale (Ark.) High, as his offensive coordinator before Mustain signed with Arkansas. After a 10--4 season in which Mustain (above, left) lost his starting job, Malzahn (right)—who reportedly was displeased at not being allowed to install the hurry-up offense he wanted—took a job at Tulsa as an assistant head coach. Mustain then announced he was leaving. Last Friday he reenrolled, but he did not rule out transferring in the future. Earlier this month, wide receiver Damian Williams, a freshman All--Southeastern Conference selection last season who also played high school ball for Malzahn, transferred to USC.
By NASCAR, the format for the Chase for the Nextel Cup. The "playoff" system, which takes place over the last 10 races of the season, was introduced three years ago and has been criticized for not rewarding victories. Under the old system, the top 10 drivers after 26 races made the Chase and had their scores adjusted so there was a 10-point interval between positions. In 2007, 12 drivers will make the field and they will all have their point totals reset to the same number (5,000)—but they will receive an additional 10 points for each race they've won.
By birthday boy Alexander Martinez, a police report alleging that Lakers center Kwame Brown stole his cake—and threw it too. According to the report Martinez, who was celebrating his 30th birthday at a restaurant in Hermosa Beach, Calif., was holding a $190 chocolate cake when the 6'11" Brown nabbed the dessert and chucked it, apparently at teammate Ronny Turiaf, who was celebrating his 24th birthday. A portion of the cake caught Martinez in the back. Brown immediately hopped in a limo and left. The city attorney's office chose not to prosecute the case. Brown had no comment.
By Barry Bonds, that he believes Mark McGwire and Pete Rose belong in the Baseball Hall of Fame. "I congratulate Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn," said Bonds of the two players who were elected two weeks ago. "But I also think McGwire and Pete Rose should be in Cooperstown." Rose was banned for life in 1989 for betting on baseball, and McGwire, whose image was tarnished by steroid allegations, received only 23.5% of the Hall of Fame votes this month, well below the 75% needed for induction.
By Bob Bradley, his debut as the head coach of the U.S. national soccer team. The U.S. beat Denmark 3--1 in a friendly last Saturday, its first game since the conclusion of the World Cup. After the Yanks went winless in three games in Germany, coach Bruce Arena's contract was not renewed, and Bradley, the winningest coach in MLS history, was appointed on an interim basis. On Saturday, Denmark took a 1--0 lead, but after Landon Donovan tied the game, newcomers Jonathan Bornstein (above) and Kenny Cooper scored their first international goals. "I was excited for this day," Bradley said. "Regardless of whether I'm an interim coach or not, the cycle is starting for [the World Cup in] 2010. The process has to be smooth."
By a forensic pathologist, that the suicide of former Eagles defensive back Andre Waters was most likely caused by brain damage sustained on the field. Waters was 44 when he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in November. Last week The New York Times reported that Dr. Bennet Omalu, a neuropathologist at the University of Pittsburgh, examined Waters's brain and found that the tissue was consistent with an 85-year-old man in the early stages of Alzheimer's. Omalu said that blows to the head—Waters suffered multiple concussions during his 12-year NFL career—contributed to the brain damage "no matter how you look at it, distort it, bend it." NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said that the NFL is "devoting substantial resources to independent medical research of current and retired players."
Against a House resolution commending Florida for winning the BCS championship game, Jack Kingston, a congressman from Georgia. Such resolutions normally fly through the House; a measure congratulating Boise State for going undefeated and winning the Fiesta Bowl passed unanimously the same day the Florida motion was introduced. Kingston, 51, a Republican who graduated from Georgia, said he voted against the measure "in the spirit of affectionate rivalry." (It passed 414--1.) Said Kingston, "I cheered for Florida. I wanted Florida to win. I am an SEC guy. But there's only so far a Bulldog can go."
Third in a World Cup cross-country skiing race—the 1.2-kilometer freestyle sprint—on Sunday, Kikkan Randall. It was the first podium finish by an American woman in a World Cup cross-country event. Randall, 24, usually trains near her home in Anchorage, which prepared her to compete in Rybinsk, Russia. "Conditions were what you might see on a glacier in Alaska during the summer," said Randall (left). "I've asked myself, When am I ever going to race on this? It was good to have that experience."
By a judge in New Orleans, a defense motion delaying a civil trial from Monday until Wednesday because he didn't think it would be possible to put together a jury the day after the NFC Championship Game. Orleans Parish Civil District Judge Ernest L. Jones delayed an asbestos liability trial "to accommodate all fans, including the great majority of the jury pool, the parties involved in this case and the counsel involved in this case." The Saints lost 39--14 (page 46).
At age 55 of cancer, former pitcher Vern Ruhle. In his 13-year career with four teams, he was 67--88, but in 1980 he played a pivotal role in the Astros' winning their first division title. Ruhle went 12--4 with a 2.37 ERA in 22 starts—many of which came after the team's ace, J.R. Richard, suffered a career-ending stroke that July. After Ruhle retired in 1986, he became a pitching coach for four major league teams. He was going to be the Reds' pitching coach last year, but he was diagnosed with cancer during a routine physical in spring training.
$130 Registration fee to participate in an open tryout for the Los Angeles Galaxy, which is holding auditions on Feb. 10.
75 Times that Jay Stewart, president of the Nebraska Veterinary Medical Association, allegedly calmed jittery racehorses by injecting them with vodka; his trial for race tampering begins this week.
3 Times Devils winger Brian Gionta has tied a game with a goal in the final minute of regulation this season, tying an NHL record held by four other players.
155 Career postseason points for Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, who broke Gary Anderson's NFL record on Sunday.
Postcard from Persia
THERE WAS a small thaw in an otherwise deepening cold war last week when 13 U.S. wrestlers went to Iran to compete in a meet in Bandar Abbas. On Friday, a day after winning the title in the 211.5-pound class, Muhammed (Mo) Lawal, who is from Colorado Springs and describes himself as a nonpracticing Muslim, was lapping an arena packed with appreciative spectators, dancing to the beat of native drums, showing locals how to high-five and briefly carrying a child—whom he called "my little brother"—around the arena. Lawal was the only American wrestler to win his weight class at the Takhti Cup, which showcased wrestlers from Iran, ranked No. 2 in the world, and the U.S., ranked No. 3. "It's a contrast of styles," says U.S. coach Terry Brands. "They wrestle smarter. We attack more and rely on our conditioning."
Girls greeted the U.S. team with flowers at the local airport and roughly 3,000 fans crammed the Fadger Sport Hall—which was built for 2,000—while another 3,000 tried to force their way in. The tournament was televised live and was front-page news. "They're wrestling fanatics, and they made us feel like kings," says Rich Bender, USA Wrestling's executive director. "Never once did we see an anti-American sentiment." Though Iranian bodyguards accompanied the squad, the wrestlers wore USA jackets and mingled at a local marketplace, where they signed autographs and traded pins for pistachios. "They treated us like celebrities," says heavyweight Michael Irving. "We don't get that in the States."