Posted: Thursday March 17, 2005 12:39PM; Updated: Thursday March 17, 2005 12:39PM
Brain Drain: Try not to laugh during those self-serving NCAA promos about its member institutions' commitments to educating their athletes. According to a Central Florida study released Tuesday, just six of the 65 teams in the tournament graduated 70 percent or more of their players who entered school from 1994-97. Forty-three of the schools gave sheepskins to less than 50 percent of their players. Minnesota and Louisiana State did not graduate a single player during that period. In a related story, John Blutarsky was named athletic director at LSU.
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And The Winners Are... First-round upsets include NC State over Charlotte, Wisconsin-Milwaukee over Alabama, Creighton over West Virginia, Old Dominion over Michigan State and St. Mary's over Southern Illinois. If you want to get really crazy, take Penn over Boston College and Winthrop over Gonzaga. Second-round surprises: UW-M over Boston College/Penn, NC State over UConn, Texas Tech over Gonzaga/Winthrop and Utah over Oklahoma. Final Four picks: Illinois, North Carolina, Louisville, Syracuse. And the winner is ... Illinois.
EL HOMBRE SEZ: The scariest words in all of professional football for a prospective first-round draft pick are, "The Cleveland Browns are on the clock." Monday's decision to dump Courtney Brown means three of the past six first-rounders are gone from the Dawg Pound. Might top players actually tank their interviews with the Browns' brass to avoid becoming part of the jinx? ... The Buffalo Sabres are experimenting with the concept of painting their ice "electric powder blue" and introducing orange "blue" lines and face-off circles and a blue "red" line. Talk about the way to bring back interest in hockey. What's next, an edible licorice puck? Or perhaps mirrored glass on the boards? Hey, wasn't that just bass fishing bolting ahead of hockey in U.S. popularity polls?
AND ANOTHER THING: It turns out that the iron-clad steroid policy about which baseball has been crowing these past months has the same pop to it as the French army. Documents turned over to the Congressional committee holding hearings on the sport's drug addiction revealed that the plan remains a draft and doesn't yet have the necessary teeth to be enforced. And the fines and suspensions aren't absolutes, rather maximums. Meanwhile, Bud Selig and his minions tout baseball's commitment to getting clean and ask us to look forward, not back. Once and for all, realize that these hearings, though flawed, are absolutely necessary, if only to put pressure on Selig and the other apologists in the sport to come clean about the whole mess. (Though we could do without 45 minutes of Curt Shilling, er, Schilling.) With less than three weeks to opening day, baseball has an opportunity to make a clean break with its dirty past. If it takes a Congressional push to make that happen, so be it. But fans and media should stop siding with the liars and cover-up artists and demand the truth. Only then can we move on and address the next big scandal: drugs in the music business.