Tiger Woods has missed most of the season due to his injured left knee. In the past decade, he’s fractured the tibia, torn the ligaments, and had it operated on several times – making it the kind of hamburger more commonly seen on NFL running backs. But he returned this week to play in his first PGA tour event in months. This is big news in the golf world – because without Tiger Woods, there’s barely any golf news at all. Watching golf on TV without Tiger Woods is like…watching golf on TV.
Woods returns ranked 28th in the world – his lowest mark since he was just getting started 14 years ago. So what? The TV ratings will skyrocket. People love him, people hate him – but few are indifferent. His first decade was arguably the greatest any golfer ever had in the history of the game. After winning his 14th major tournament in 2008, the question wasn’t if he would pass Jack Nicklaus’s 18 major titles, but when.
The longest lockout in the history of the National Football League is over. Now, what may be the shortest free agency period in NFL history is about to begin. The Detroit Lions are expected to be busy during the whirlwind of player trades and signings during the next few days.
Lions team president Tom Lewand released this statement yesterday on the deal agreed to by the players and owners.
“First and foremost, we are happy for our fans because all they ever wanted was for us to play football and, thankfully, that’s what we are getting ready to do. This agreement is a big win for NFL football and for all NFL fans because it helps secure the long-term health of our game.
“It is a fair deal for players and teams. We will be able to grow the game and appropriately share that growth with our players as partners. It is a deal that places a high priority on player safety and on the integrity of our game.
The Lions released this timetable detailing the off the field and on the field schedule between now and the kickoff of the fall 2011 season.
Desmond Howard stands about 5-foot-8 – I don’t care what the program said. When Bo Schembechler moved the Cleveland native from tailback to receiver, it virtually eliminated any chance Howard had to win the Heisman Trophy.
In its first 55 years, only one receiver had ever taken it home.
But then, just playing at Michigan practically knocked Howard out of the running in the first place. Only one Wolverine, Tom Harmon, had ever won the award – and that was back in 1940.
Schembechler never promoted any player for any award – Heisman or otherwise. Because, as he often said, “Nothing comes before The Team, The Team, The Team.” When Bo stepped down in 1990, Gary Moeller took over, and followed the exact same policy.
Former University of Michigan wide receiver Desmond Howard will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Howard won the Heisman Trophy in 1991, his last year at Michigan.
Howard says he owes much to then-Wolverine Coach Gary Moeller and his teammates.
"The way I look at this now, is I’m adding another Michigan football player to the College Football Hall of Fame, " says Howard. "And I just hope my teammates, they understand, that this is something we accomplished together."
The university's football team has agreed to "vacate" its wins from the 2010 football season as part of its response to NCAA charges that players received improper gifts and that coach Tressel covered the rules breaches up.
Ohio State announced it will vacate all its football team's wins during 2010 season, including the controversial Sugar Bowl victory when five suspended players participated.
The punishment is part of the school's response to NCAA charges that players received impermissible benefits in exchange for memorabilia and coach Jim Tressel lied about his knowledge of those violations.
Among the other measures taken are tw0 years of probation and increased resources devoted to compliance and educational programs.
"The responsibility is upon Tressel. No other institutional personnel were aware" of the violations, and the former coach failed in his obligation to report them, the response says. "The institution is embarrassed by the actions of Tressel."
Unfortunately for Michigan fans, that doesn't mean that teams who played OSU suddenly receive those wins. Those will remain firmly set in those schools' loss columns.
Canada might be the only nation on earth that invented its favorite sport, has no other sport that’s even half as popular, and remains arguably the best in the world at playing it. How big is hockey in Canada? They put the sport on their five-dollar bill. It has a drawing of kids playing a pick-up game outside, and a quote from a beloved children’s story, “The Hockey Sweater.” It goes like this:
University of Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon spoke to Michigan Today about the possibility of U-M having a mascot, which it has avoided until now.
"I'm struck by the fact that when opposing teams come to our stadium, and they bring a mascot, all of our young fans are lined up to see if they can get a picture taken with it, whether it's the Penn State Nittany Lion or Sparty," Brandon told Michigan Today. "That's a little annoying to me."
My dad grew up in Scarsdale, New York – but, as he’s quick to point out, that was before it became “Scahsdahle.” His dad told him always to root for the underdog, and my dad took that seriously.
All his friends were Yankees fans, but Dad loved the Dodgers. A perfect Friday night for him, when he was a young teen, was to go up to his room with a Faygo Redpop, a Boy’s Life magazine – he was on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout – and listen to Red Barber, who wouldn’t say something so prosaic as, “the bases are loaded,” but “the bases are saturated with humanity.”
Inside today’s New York Times, you’ll find my story on Detroit Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander.
I was on hand Tuesday night when Verlander nearly pitched the third no-hitter of his career.
He wound up with a two-hit game against the Cleveland Indians, in a performance that baseball scribes say was one of the best of the year.
And we discovered, there is an economic impact for Detroit every time he walks on the mound.
Call it the Verlander Effect.
Verlander attracted 28,128 fans to Tuesday night’s game — the latest proof that attendance when Verlander pitches goes up by more than 5,000 (5,137 to be precise). The fan count at a Verlander appearance averages 26,981; the Tigers are averaging 21,844 on nights when he doesn’t.
That extra 5,137 people adds up to a lot of revenue for the Tigers and by extension, the businesses around Comerica Park and in Detroit.
The Jim Tressel era at Ohio State started on January 18, 2001.
It so happened the Buckeyes had a basketball game that night against Michigan, so it was a good time to introduce their new football coach. When Tressel stood up to speak, he knew exactly what they wanted.
He was hired on the heels of John Cooper, whose record at Ohio State was second only to that of Woody Hayes. But Cooper’s teams lost to Michigan an inexcusable ten times. Can’t do that. And you can’t say, “It’s just another game,” either – which might have been his biggest mistake.
Knowing all this, when Tressel told the crowd, "I can assure you that you will be proud of your young people in the classroom, in the community, and most especially in 310 days in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on the football field. The place went nuts. “At last,” they said, “somebody gets it!”
I went to Ann Arbor Huron High School, considered by all objective sources to be the greatest high school in the history of the universe. And one of the things that made it so great was an intramural softball league.
Maybe your clearly inferior high school had one, too. But the IM softball league at Huron was created and run entirely by students – the burnouts, no less. That meant the adults, perhaps wisely, wanted nothing to do with it.
So the burn-outs got the park permits – God bless ‘em -- and every clique had a team, with names like the Junior Junkies, the Extra Burly Studs, and – yes – the ‘Nads. If you pause to think of their cheer, you’ll get the joke.
The University of Michigan is elevating the men’s and women’s lacrosse clubs to varsity status. Dave Brandon is the Athletic Director at U of M. He says the announcement Wednesday is “the worst kept secret in America.”
Brandon says lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the nation. Michigan high school programs have grown from 50 to 180 in the past ten years.
Police in San Juan, Puerto Rico, said in a statement he was found dead Wednesday on the bedroom floor of his oceanfront apartment. Police and Traylor's team, the Vaqueros de Bayamon, said he had been missing for a few days and apparently died from a heart attack.
The Vaqueros said Traylor was rehabbing a heel injury and had not been playing. They suspended their game Wednesday night because of his death.
Traylor played for the University of Michigan from 1995 to 1998. Prior to that he played for Murray-Wright High School in Detroit.
He was selected by the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 1998 NBA Draft and traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. He went on to play for seven years in the NBA for 4 teams (Milwaukee, Cleveland, Charlotte, and New Orleans). After his NBA career, Traylor played for teams in Turkey and Italy before playing in Puerto Rico.
Sometimes the real world is so overwhelming it sneaks into sports. One of those times occurred after 9/11, when the crowd at Yankee Stadium sang “God Bless America.”
I’m not very religious, but it sounded right to me.
It seemed appropriate that that signature moment, when we needed to be together, occurred in our country’s most hallowed arena, the nation’s front porch.
We are probably the most sports-soaked culture in the world. We’re the ones who pay for the Olympics, after all – and I believe our code of conduct when we’re competing often represents our values at their best.
People like to say sports teaches us how to be aggressive.
But you can learn that through alley fighting. Any jerk with no regard for others can be aggressive. Prisons are filled with them. 9/11 was conceived by them.
The sophomore point guard had declared for the draft but could have returned to the Wolverines if he'd withdrawn by May 8. Instead, he'll forgo his remaining eligibility, meaning Michigan will have to replace one of its most important players as it tries to build on last season's impressive finish.
"There have been long discussions with my family, friends and my Michigan coaches," Morris said. "In the end I decided to go with my heart. Playing professional basketball has always been a dream for me. I feel this is the right time for me to pursue that goal. It will be hard to leave the University of Michigan. However, I truly believe the basketball program is moving in a very positive direction."
On Tuesday, the Michigan football family lost another beloved son, Jim Mandich, who died of cancer at age 62.
Regular readers of this space know I’ve had to write a few elegies already this year, and I’m not sure if we can bear another one right now.
I’m not sure Mandich would want any more, either, beyond his funeral.
As he told Angelique Chengalis of The Detroit News last fall, after he was diagnosed with cancer, “I said to myself, ‘No whining, no complaining, no bitching. You've lived a damned good life. You've got lot to be thankful for.’”
Jim Mandich was the captain of Bo Schembechler's 1969 squad that shocked Ohio State. He went on to star on the Miami Dolphins 1972 team that went undefeated. Mandich died last night after a long battle with bile duct cancer. He was 62.
U of M Director of Athletics Dave Brandon says Mandich was a Michigan Man "in every way."
"“Captain Jim Mandich led a team that changed Michigan football for decades to follow...He was a legendary player and an even better person. He will be missed."
The following is from U of M's press release announcing Mandich's death.
The NCAA sent Ohio State University's president a letter citing the "notice of allegations" against the school's football program.
In the letter to Ohio State, NCAA officials say, "Your institution should understand that all of the alleged violations set forth in the document attached to this letter are considered to be potential major violations of NCAA legislation, unless designated as secondary."
Amateur mixed martial arts fights may soon be regulated by the state. A bill introduced to the Michigan House would require both promoters and fighters to be licensed by the state. The bill would also create a commission to enforce the rules and investigate complaints.
Michigan State tight end Brian Linthicum was sentenced Tuesday to one year of probation in connection with a March 10 arrest in Aspen, Colo., according to Pitkin County Court records.
Linthicum, who will be a senior and possible starter in the fall, accepted a plea deal without appearing in court, knocking misdemeanor third-degree assault and eluding-police charges down to misdemeanor harassment.
He must take an anger-management class (at least eight hours), perform 40 hours of community service and pay $100, plus court costs. According to a court clerk, other conditions are that he cannot be arrested nor drink excessive amounts of alcohol. A review hearing for which Linthicum must be present is set for Oct. 11.
Max Bullough, a Michigan State linebacker, was also charged in the incident. His hearing is set for Tuesday.
The Associated Press reports a Los Angeles financier is the new owner of the NBA's Detroit Pistons.
Billionaire investor Tom Gores has agreed to buy the Detroit Pistons and other properties. The tentative deal announced Friday must be approved by the NBA. It includes the team, The Palace of Auburn Hills and DTE Energy Music Theatre. Gores is buying the properties from Karen Davidson, who became the owner after her husband, Bill, died in March 2009. Gores is the chairman and CEO of Platinum Equity.
If you’re not a Michigan football fan, you probably haven’t heard of Vada Murray, but you might have seen his picture.
It’s one of the iconic images of Michigan football, along with Tom Harmon standing in his mud-soaked, torn-apart jersey, Ol’ 98, and Desmond Howard diving to catch a touchdown against Notre Dame -- two Heisman Trophy winners, winning big games.
But the photo I’m talking about depicts Vada Murray and Tripp Welborne soaring skyward to block a field goal.
They were a kicker’s nightmare, but even when they got a hand on the ball, it simply denied their opponent three points -- not the kind of thing that wins you a Heisman Trophy or an NFL contract.
They don’t even keep records of blocked kicks.
But, over two decades later, something about that photo still resonates, perhaps because it captures their effort, their intensity, their passion – all of it spent just to give their teammates a slightly better chance for success.