Charlie Strong may have had the shortest honeymoon in the history of modern relationships. On Monday, Strong was announced as the new head football coach at the University of Texas, a job that’s been portrayed as ever so slightly more important and prestigious than that of the Pope. By all accounts, it is the premier college football coaching post in the country, although several top candidates from other schools, including Alabama’s Nick Saban and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, politely declined an interview. But Strong, straight off a successful run at the helm at Louisville, took the job and its $5 million annual salary. With that, he also gets the potential headache of managing the university’s own sports network and an alumni base as rich as it is powerful. It’s by no means a cakewalk, which is why, as they say, he’ll get paid the big bucks.
In a New Year’s announcement, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach declared that “terrorism must never triumph” and that Russia would host a “safe and secure” Winter Olympic Games next month. Like most New Year’s resolutions, we can only hope this rings true. For the current time, it seems a lofty goal. Just Monday, the Russian city of Volgograd suffered its second suicide bombing in 24 hours, this one on a passenger bus killing at least 16 people. The previous day’s attack killed at least 18 at a rail station. Both appear linked to Chechen rebels and a movement to attack civilians in route to disrupting next month’s Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. While these attacks happened hundreds of miles away from the Olympic site, if the radical rhetoric is to be believed, these are just part of a larger process of eventually infiltrating the Olympic sites and venues themselves, something that hasn’t happened in any wide scale in the history of the Modern Olympic Games.
The New Year—in addition to a monster snow storm—is bringing with it some exciting sports news. Notably, the BCS championship between Auburn and Florida State kicking off Monday night, and the rapid approach of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. We’re talking sports today with our WAMC Sports Commentator Keith Strudler.
Over the years, we’ve heard a fair amount of comparisons between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Who’s the greatest ever, how do Kobe’s titles hold up to MJ’s, who’s more historic. That aside, here’s one striking similarity between the pair of two-guards. At this particular time, neither of them are playing NBA basketball.
It you watched the closing moments of last week’s football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers, you may have felt like you had seen it before, like it was a scene out of Groundhog Day. For those who missed it, the plotline went something like this. Dallas quarterback Tony Romo led his team to the brink of victory, only to gamble it away with a series of ill-conceived, unnecessarily risky passes that resulted in game altering interceptions. Specifically here, all Dallas really had to do in the closing minutes of the game was simply run the ball and run the clock. But Romo, forever the gunslinger, threw wildly into defensive traffic. Green Bay picked it off, scored the go-ahead touchdown, and revived a narrative that’s older than the Cowboys’ stadium itself.
Congratulations New York sports fans. You now know what the rest of the world feels like. Both your basketball teams are awful and retreating towards the NBA lottery. The Jets and the Giants have less offensive production than the Swiss military. And even New York baseball teams, where the Yankees and sometimes the Mets can buy themselves a playoff spot, watched the postseason on their home televisions. In fact, there’s not a single pro team in the New York area with a winning record, even if you include hockey.
Last weekend, the mighty Florida Gators football team lost, at home, to Georgia Southern. This is notable for several reasons. First, and foremost, Georgia Southern plays in the lower tier FCS Division I subdivision, not the FBS top category like the Gators. This is the first time since the creation of these divisions that Florida has lost to an FCS, or I-AA squad. It also sealed Florida’s first losing record since 1979 and the first season since 1990 without a bowl game. It could inevitably cost Florida coach Will Muschamp his job, and it’s led to considerable unrest amongst the legions of Florida fans, including the big donors that help fund the program.
This story should sound familiar. A 17-year old high school senior is a dominant athlete, so good they could play pro right now. Only there’s this college thing that’s looming next fall. And everyone’s talking about which university you’ll compete for to help win a national championship, playing for a scholarship instead of the actual cash a free market might command.
I went to the Summer Olympics in 1996 in Atlanta, as well as the track and field Olympic trials in the same venue. I watched Michael Johnson run, which at that point I assumed was the fastest man there ever could be, and I spent the better part of a week surviving the summer heat of Hotlanta. And I remember thinking, as a track and field fan, that wow, that’s one nice track stadium in the middle of a big city.