Dara Torres is Tiger Woods biggest fan these days.
The latest Tiger travail is that he used the services of a Canadian doctor who has been linked to “performance-enhancing” drugs, like HGH (human growth hormone) and others.
One of the other athletes who (allegedly) used this doctor’s services? Yup, none other than Ms. Torres.
While everyone seems to be piling on the Tiger implosion, the five-time Olympic swimmer is cruising comfortably under the radar.
There’s no doubt that Torres is an exceptional athlete. You don’t win 12 Olympic medals — eight of which she won after her 30th birthday — without some natural ability. And her training regimen is amazing. But her performance at the Beijing Olympics should have raised some eyebrows.
After all, she was 42 years old and was coming off two major surgeries in eight months. No other individual women’s swimming medalist in 2008 was older than 25. And amazingly, she was posting better swimming runs than when she was in her twenties.
The international governing bodies have allowed Torres to take banned drugs like Symbicort and Proventil to battle her asthma, a condition that conveniently popped up a couple years ago.
But instead of looking into this possibility, the media fawned over her success story and her regimen. The New York Times mentioned the rumors of performance enhancers, but dismissed it just as fast. Newsweek posted helpful hints for other 40-year olds to imitate her success. She was held up as a role model for women everywhere.
To be sure, she has vehemently denied any allegation of performance-enhancers. And she submits herself to the highest testing standards available. But when you use a doctor who is linked with illegal performance-enhancers, those questions have to be asked. Especially when the cheaters are always a step ahead of the testers.
After all, it was only a few years ago that we were so amazed at Roger Clemens’ success at his age, and marveled over his “training regimen.”
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Never forget what happened on December 7, 1941.
Maybe it’s because I went to a Division III football school. Maybe it’s because I like logic and reason. And maybe it’s because I happen to think sports championships should be decided on the field, not by computers and polls. But the BCS system (while better than what we had before) is all messed up.
To have a true NCAA champion, you need a playoff that involves every conference champion. If the NCAA allows the Sun Belt conference into Division I, then its champ deserves a shot at the title.
Since there are 11 conferences, the simplest plan is to have a 16 team playoff with 5 at-large berths. So, by using the latest BCS standings, you’d have a playoff bracket something like this:
1. Alabama (SEC champ, 13-0, #1 BCS)
16. Troy (Sun Belt champ, 9-3, unranked)
8. Ohio State (Big 10 champ, 10-2, #8 BCS)
9. Georgia Tech (ACC champ, 10-2, #9 BCS)
5. Florida (At-Large #1, 12-1, #5 BCS)
12. LSU (At Large #4, 10-3, #12 BCS)
4. Texas Christian (Mountain West champ, 12-0, #4 BCS)
13. Penn State (At Large #5, 10-2, #13 BCS)
3. Cincinnati (12-0, Big East Champ, #3 BCS)
14. Central Michigan (MAC Champ, 11-2, unranked)
6. Boise State (WAC Champ, 13-0, #6 BCS)
11. Virginia Tech (at large #3, 9-3, #11 BCS)
10. Iowa (at large #2, 10-2, #10 BCS)
7. Oregon (Pac-10 champ, 10-2, #7 BCS)
15. East Carolina (Conference USA champ, 9-4, unranked)
2. Texas (Big 12 champ, 13-0, #2 BCS
First round games will be played at the higher seed. The rest will be played at bowl games. So what do the detractors say?
1. Those small conference schools don’t deserve a shot.
OK, sure. I can buy that. Troy and ECU don’t play at the level of Alabama or Texas. Understandable. Your beef isn’t with me, it’s with the NCAA. If the NCAA deems the Sun Belt conference a Division I-A (or FBS or whatever) conference, then they should be eligible for a championship, just like the SEC or Big 12 champion. I would have no problem with dropping smaller conferences down to I-AA or something else. But until that happens, small conferences deserve the same consideration as the big boys.
Plus, if you open up the millions upon millions of dollars the BCS conferences receive every year, what’s not to say a smaller conference school like Boise State, Fresno State or Bowling Green can’t build a program to compete?
2. Too many games.
The Division III national champion will play 15 games. The Texas high school champion plays 16. If those guys can do it, why not the best college football players in the country?
Oh, and spare me the “they’ll miss too many classes” excuse. Most of the games are during winter break, and they’re on the weekends. I don’t hear that problem with basketball or baseball or hockey players who play numerous games on weekdays. You know, when school is in session.
3. It makes the regular season meaningless.
This is my favorite. Apparently, just because there are 5 extra slots in a playoff, no one will care about what happens in the regular season. First, think logically. Two at large teams are from the Big 10 and SEC, with one from the ACC. You don’t think USC’s loss to Washington mattered? Miami losing in OT to Clemson didn’t matter? BYU dropping an early season game to Florida State? West Virginia losing to South Florida? Pitt’s last-second loss to Cincy? Just one loss here or there meant the difference for several teams between a playoff berth and going to a lesser bowl.
Even for the playoff teams, seeding is huge. You think Florida would rather face Troy or have a rematch with LSU in the first round? Georgia Tech would have a much better seed had they beaten Georgia or Miami. Instead they would face Ohio State.
Now, the emotional. Football is an event in America. Tailgating has become an industry. In case you haven’t noticed, stands are full on Friday nights for high school football. The NFL is the most lucrative sport in the country. Do you really think that NCAA football would be any different? I would say that a playoff would create more excitement.
I caught Mike Huckabee’s interview with Neal Boortz today. If what the former Arkansas governor says is true, then I’m willing to cut him a lot more slack.
Apparently, Huckabee ordered a reduced sentence for alleged cop-killer Maurice Clemmons, not an outright pardon. This allowed Clemmons to go before a parole board, which made the decision to let him out of jail.
At least there were layers that looked at Clemmons case and crimes in Arkansas, and not an outright release by gubernatorial fiat. I can understand that a lot better.
It doesn’t make the 4 police officers Clemmons (allegedly) killed come back, but I think it gives Huckabee plausible deniability in this case.
Regardless, Clemmons is dead. And while I’m no fan of the death penalty, I’m not crying for him. Reports indicate that others, including family members, were helping him avoid capture. Those people should be prosecuted at the strongest possible level.
Well, it’s (unofficially) official: The Charlie Weis era at Notre Dame is over. Hardly shocking, of course. If you’re a college with the history, the alumni and the TV contract that the Irish do, going 16-21 over three years won’t cut it.
Yes, he went to two BCS bowls in his first two seasons with Ty Willingham’s recruits. But despite having so-called top recruiting classes with so-called blue chip players (most notably preseason Heisman contender Jimmy Claussen), Weis couldn’t get it done. And so the faithful at Notre Dame demanded a change, and got it.
What now? In the delusion of thinking their school actually matters on a national stage these days, names like Florida’s Urban Meyer and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops will come up in conversation. Heck, while you’re dreaming, why not go for the Patriots Bill Belichik or USC’s Pete Carroll?
It’s time for Notre Dame fans and administrators to face reality. Yes, your school has an amazing football history. You were the Harvard for working-class Irish Catholic kids across the rust belt. Families listened to the great teams of Rockne, Leahy and Parseghian. Guys like “Rudy” were all over, so before the days of pesky scholarship limitations, you were able to stockpile enough talent that your JV team would have probably been ranked.
Now? Times have changed. TV puts dozens of football games on the air every week. Long gone are the days where teams like Bowling Green, BYU and Boston College wallowed in obscurity, garnering only regional coverage. Teams and athletic programs got more sophisticated. Oregon, Florida, Texas and other big schools have millions of dollars pumped into their athletic departments.
Notre Dame is hurt as an independent. Despite having enormous clout and its own TV contract, the BCS system works against them. They play a weak schedule, but the Irish can’t get to a BCS bowl unless they win out or lose just one game. And with non-BCS schools like Utah, BYU, TCU and Boise State going undefeated, it makes that task harder.
And most importantly — the best players in the nation don’t live in Notre Dame’s recruiting wheelhouse anymore. They now live in California, Texas, Florida, Georgia and Louisiana. It’s no accident the best teams in the country play in those states while teams in the northeast and midwest just can’t match up (sorry Ohio State and Penn State fans).
The Irish may winding up getting one of those top-tier coaches. There are enough rich alumni out there to make it happen. More likely is that Meyer, Stoops, etc. will use Notre Dame’s interest to squeeze more money out of their current employer.
Personally? I think Notre Dame would be best served by going with a young, bright, eager coach lurking under the radar. Cincinnati’s Brian Kelly for example.
But give him a chance. Let him build a winning program over several years. Help him out by officially joining the Big 10. Realize that minor bowl games are still bowl games.
And most importantly — take a look in the mirror and realize that Notre Dame isn’t the mecca you think it is. Or put it another way — if you’re an 18 year old kid and had the choice , would you rather spend 4 of the best years of your life in South Bend….or Austin, Athens, Gainesville, Los Angeles or Tempe?