Thursdays With Raider: Shooting The Messenger

RAIDER THOUGHTS

From my estimation, no single thing is more indicative of just how moribund the basketball program is than the fact that a rogue swimming coach is getting more attention.

Think about this for a moment.  In any normal circumstance, we ought to be discussing the pairings and match ups in the PAC-12 (or, MWC in simpler times) tournament and how well we would do when we used to play in the UNLV Invitational.  But when news breaks, we fix it, so lets get to fixing it I guess.

(Still one of my favorite jokes to this day to get a chuckle out of news producers is to mess with them when they call and say we have breaking news: “would you guys quit breaking the news, do you know how much it costs to fix it?  Do you see why we can’t have nice things?”)

Now, based on what I have read about this story, and from what you have written about it, you just about read my mind when you wrote a few days ago on this very Internet space you wrote the dreaded phrase no one wants to hear from the NCAA: Lack of Institutional Control.  Bear in mind here I am basing this solely off of the Yahoo story, so at this point I am going to go with that piece of information.  If that bothers you, so be it.  But if all of that is true, and it is occurring within the bowels of Utah athletics, what other way is there to spin this?  Haven’t we been under the mindset that the Compliance Office and in turn the Athletic Department as a whole had things like this buttoned down?

I also know what some of you might be thinking and that we now have a legitimate reason to get rid of Chris Hill.  Or at the very least, it could potentially vindicate critics of his like myself who became so after we were invited to the PAC.  Knowing full well that Dr. Hill still has people in this fan and alumni base who genuflect before him, I simply ask you this merely as something to ponder: do you really want an AD that presides over a lack of institutional control?  Yes, it’s just the swim team, I get that.  But we are in a conference now that takes a little bit of pride in all of its sports, not just the ones that bring in money.  And lest we forget, “lack of institutional control” is the NCAA equivalent of the scarlet letter.  I’m not saying you have to be a bitter critic like me, but just keep all of this in mind.

Now, for other topics:

–I haven’t discussed the Sharks much this year, because quite frankly, this team still has the exact same problems its kind of always had.  The bottom 6 forwards are mere warm bodies outside of Scott Gomez, the defensive pairings aren’t that great, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau aren’t getting any younger, and the kids in the AHL right now outside of goaltending wunderkind Alex Stalock don’t look all that promising.  Besides, penciling in the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final seems like the smart money at this point.

–Remember the Boise State game after Rick died where they’d played their 3rd game in roughly a week?  Well, that team ended the regular year 21-9 and there is a chance that BSU gets an at-large bid to the NCAAs.  My brother, who has followed BSU basketball in much the same way you and I follow Ute basketball, is beside himself.  And bear in mind that this was the same school that looked the other way with Larry available to replace Greg Graham.

–That reminds me, how the hell did Steve Alford end up at New Mexico?  The fact that with at least some coaxing he could have coached here just baffles me.

–My future spouse wants to buy this when our first child is born.  Jeez, even as an adult, I have to be reminded I am not one of the cool kids.

 

MAC THOUGHTS

‘LACK OF INSTITUTIONAL CONTROL’

Ute fans often like to laugh off the Utah probation under Rick Majerus as the “milk and cookie” probation.  But one of the reasons the probation seemed so hard, loss of scholly, loss of in home visits, was because we got a ‘lack of institutional control.’  And while we all enjoyed all the winning under Majerus, he was over the top abusive to his players on more than a few occasions, occasions we all laughed about.  Hell some of our fans give him Sainthood over being so brutal.

I’m just saying we have a perfect storm for this.  There is a cult of Chris Hill that he can do no wrong, especially after the Pac-12 thing.  I think Hill was once a very good Athletic Director but at some point decided he was the genius that I and others had called him.  He thought it would be worse to deal with the PR of firing this coach so in his arrogance he figures it’s just swimming, we’ll ride it out to the end of Winslow’s contract, let him go for not winning enough and no one ever knows.

And Hill was probably going to get away with it, if not for the 15 year old Winslow had sex with coming forward.  (And I realize there is a meddling kids Scooby Doo joke that would be both very tasteless and funny, insert it in your mind if that’s your idea of funny).

As for Boise and MWC hoops.  We played Boise in their 3rd game in 8 days and we shot over 70% for most of the game, to call that game a fluke is an understatement.  As good as the MWC is, the tragedy is Wyoming, who is also likely dancing, but for the suspension of Luke Martinez for stomping on someone and breaking his hand in a fight at the Buckhorn.  And yes Boise dancing when they wouldn’t even look at Larry, that is humorous to say the least.  It’s how we roll at Utah

Alford wasn’t winning at Iowa and New Mexico paid him a lot of money, more than we’re paying Larry or any basketball coach we’ve ever had.  That’s right, we pay our hoops coach less than New Mexico.  Let that sink in.

As you know I have my second child on the way, and my favorite onesie of his, was the one that looked like a Spock uniform from the original Star Trek.  If either of us was cool, we wouldn’t be writing in a sports blog.

 

Raider Thoughts

You make a very valid point when it comes to our sports blogging making us some kind of uncool.  For example, I ran across this link a few weeks ago and it is still bothering me ().

Look, by our recent standards, Carson Palmer isn’t too bad.  Sure, he throws a lot of interceptions, but so did Brett Favre.  And I also think that among Raider fans, Palmer gets a lot of flack because of how Hue Jackson ended up I acquiring him.  But there are two things that still get to me about the Raiders Top 10 single season passing yardage list.

1. Jeff George is on this list and it was for the 1997 season when we went 4-12.  What I remember most about that team was the fact that our offense was amazing, but the defense couldn’t stop a snail.  This also lead to Al drafting Charles Woodson the very next draft.

2. When I look back on this past season, it still doesn’t add up that Palmer threw for that many yards.  Get this: when we went into Baltimore to play the eventual Super Bowl Champion Ravens, Palmer threw for 368 yards, 2 TDs and an INT.  Granted, our running game was just about non-existent so we were very one dimensional, but what a dimension it was.

But more than anything, the fact that two of our three best single season passing performances were lost in the muck of a couple of 4-12 seasons annoys me more than anything.  This is why we can’t have nice things.

I mentioned in my last entry that I would discuss the Alex Smith trade so why don’t I take care of that old piece of business.  Taking the “we are Ute fans and think Alex is the most bestest QB ever” hat off for a moment, KC got fleeced.  Giving up the type of draft picks that were similar to what we gave up to get the aforementioned Carson Palmer, I can’t help but think to myself that this will work out just like every other Chiefs attempt to build a Super Bowl champion.  Do you remember their longtime former GM Carl Peterson and his Mao-like five year plan to win a championship?  Every time I think of that guy I think that if he and Marty could hang a bunch of “we beat the Raiders” banners at Arrowhead, they probably could.

And not to sound like a bitter man or anything, but I just get the impression that something isn’t quite right to me about the Niners collecting more than a dozen draft picks, and now they just traded for Anquan Boldin.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that the sting of the Carmen Policy era Niners basically ignoring the salary cap to win Super Bowl XXIX still tastes foul to me?

At what point in Hill’s career here did he think he was the genius we all thought him to be?  Was it when he hired McBride & Majerus early in his tenure?  That he plucked a previously unknown Urban Meyer from the hinterlands of the MAC?  Or was it due to the fact that since he got those three diamonds in the rough that he thought he could do the same thing with other hires (Giacoletti, Boylen, Larry, etc?). Or it could be he has always been like this and our outlook on him has changed?

You will have written your theory on how this scandal all went down but looking forward, I will hand this back to you by asking what happens to Hill and what exactly can (U of U) President Pershing do?  Does he have to fire him, or at least force his resignation?

 

MAC THOUGHTS

When the 30 for 30 films and other ESPN film documentaries came out, I didn’t have cable so forgive me for being a bit behind the curve here.  But on back to back nights I watched the Bo Jackson story and the Todd Marinovich story.  Not that I need to tell you this but in January 1991, Bo Jackson injures his hip.  And then in April y’all select Todd ahead of Brett Farve.  Sometimes I forget the pain you’ve had to feel as a Raider fan, where your QB’s included Jay Schrader, Jeff George, Todd Marinovich, and Jamarcus Russell and you had to watch Bo Jackson’s career end.  Wow man I’m sorry.

The Chefs did get fleeced.  But maybe it’s one of those things where they didn’t have a choice but to get fleeced.  There they are, desperate for a real QB.  As pointed out, the Niners could have exercised Smith’s option and he and Kapernick combined were only costing them 1/2 of of a Joe Flacco.  So it left the Niners in a strong position.  Plus with the way the league is now, you gotta have a big boy QB.  Trent Dilfer isn’t winning a Super Bowl.  Now the Chefs have 99 problems and a QB was only one.  But ya gotta start somewhere I suppose.  At the end of the day, my belief is, they’re the Chefs and they’ll likely eff it up.  And for you youngins I’m purposely writing Chefs because the following commercial

 

Great Googly Moogily

As for when Hill went from being a genius to thinking he was a genius.  I can pinpoint almost the exact date.  December 31st 2003.  The day we humiliated Southern Miss in the Liberty Bowl meaning Urban Meyer was the real deal.  And giving Hill the cover he needed/wanted to fire Rick Majerus.  Hill comes back from the Liberty Bowl, informs Majerus we won’t be renewing his contract.  Majerus fakes a heart attack, gets on a plane and leaves us forever.  I’ve been told 2nd hand that Hill was telling people coming home from Memphis that he could finally dump Majerus.

Hill then decides that we don’t need to overpay for a solid coach to come and follow a legend or give a longer contract to someone like Dana Altman who truly wanted the job.  He hires Ray Giacolletti and the rest as they say is history.

If this University has any pride in itself, if we’re better than Penn St., Chris Hill must step down.  Because lets face facts, the Yahoo article is true and all that stuff happened.  Hill has created an atmosphere where he’d rather let that go on than deal with the bad PR from firing the coach.  I mean lets thank God that Greg Winslow wasn’t doing worse with the female swimmers, because we’d have covered that up too.  It’s what happens when you get a culture like this.  People will try and defend us and say we’re not Penn St. because there wasn’t child rape.  But when you have a climate like this that will let that go to try to avoid bad PR, the culture is exactly the same.  Our friend Pat put it best…

WE ARE PENN STATE.

 

RAIDER THOUGHTS

As I look back on that era of Raider football–or at least try my best to forget it–doesn’t Favre strike you as a guy Al would have gone after later in his career?  Deep down I sort of expected him to do it just like he did with Jim Plunkett, Jeff Hostetler, Rich Gannon and just about everyone else that wasn’t Ken Stabler.  Many of you self-actualized folks out there might say that Marinovich was a bust before he set foot on the field, but I think the game that truly did him in was the 1991 AFC Wild Card playoff game against the Chiefs.  He ended up throwing 4 INTs in one of the more forgettable moments of Raider playoff history and we lose that game 10-6.  Granted, we went 9-7 that year, lost our last 3 games, lost at home to KC the week before and the greatness of the Raiders sure wasn’t going to be found in the brain trust of Art Shell and then OC Terry Robiskie, but maybe Todd’s life if not his career would have unfolded differently if he gets so little as a playoff win against a guy like Marty?  Am I crazy for thinking this?

(Wait, don’t answer that.)

Hey, why don’t I dive into your recent post on the PAC-12 basketball awards.  I didn’t have much of an issue with it either with the possible exception of making a case for Jordan Loveridge for various sorts of Freshman team considerations.  And not because I agreed with you, but rather because I’m not sure if I can justify making a case for any player on this team getting that kind of accolade, no thanks to my own jaded outlook on the basketball program.  I’m also sort of hoping that Shabazz Muhammad will head to the NBA sooner rather than later, because that is the last thing we need to deal with going forward.

Now, whenever I lack Ute wisdom, I call upon some of you well connected old people out there to set me straight on whatever it is I don’t quite get, but I brought up President Pershing’s name in all of this because if this scandal gets out of hand, it would be his move as to a) what he wants to do with Dr. Hill, b) how he handles the athletic department from here on out, am I right?  Bear in mind I am a mere crazy person with high speed Internet access, but what may fascinate me more  is how Ute fans will react if he either resigns or is forced to resign.

I’ve often joked that the Chiefs, just like the Chargers, would rather beat us twice a year than win a Super Bowl.  So naturally it’s just hysterical to me when we go into Arrowhead and beat those knuckleheads and do it for five years in a row.  But as a fan, I am often left wanting more.  As a Giants fan, I felt great joy in watching the black and orange beat the Dodgers, but I got to the point that I said, “whatever, I want to see this team win a World Series”.  As you know from 2002 and I now know from 2010 and 2012, that trumps just about everything as a fan.

For now, I leave you with the thought that if I had things like money, I would just have someone else plan my wedding instead of watching my poor future wife along with myself spin ourselves into a new dimension of heartburn.  Luckily I am not marrying a dreaded Bridezilla.  That always helps.

 

MAC THOUGHTS

Of all the crazy things the Raiders have done, I’m not sure the Marinovich thing was all that crazy.  I mean the kid had all the tools.  If his dad just hadn’t made him so crazy that he turned to the drugs.  Plus if you watched the 30 for 30, Larry Smith was just an idiot of a coach and maybe the Raiders thought they could deal better with him.  I did get to see Todd play for the LA Avengers.  FWIW.

As for Dr. Hill.  He shouldn’t survive this.  But we are Utah and unless this stays a national issue somehow, I’m starting to feel like they’ll get to sweep this away, which was the whole goal anyway.

I think Muhammad is gone, but I’m not sure that makes UCLA worse.  The kid’s kind of a chucker and a dick.  You know Marshall Henderson without the weed and purple drank issues.  So UCLA gets some more UCLA-y recruits, gets rid of a guy and they become an even better team.  Well that just sounds emotionally unsatisfying.  In fact how we replace what we have to replace and improve beyond that to try and make contact with the rest of the conference, well I’m just not sure how that happens.

But we’ve got an entire offseason to think about that.

BTW did you see the Broncos just bought Peyton Manning a new toy in Wes Welker.  I do enjoy the Super Bowl or Bust mentality.  Considering the Angels are thinking the same way.  I’m enjoying things.  Now we need to close the deal.

Finally, having been thru the wedding thing and well man, let me just say I feel your pain.

Until next week mi amigo.

 

Topics: Dr. Chris Hill, Pac 12, Swimming, Todd Marinovich, Utah Utes

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