Published Friday, March 23, 2012 AT 10:21 AM / Updated at 10:28 PM
Dirk’s Brunch Bites, March 23
Dirk Chatelain Omaha World-Herald

It’s Friday! That means 10 big stories in 10 little bites! We hit Dana Altman, John Groce and the Big Ten. We hit Ryan Tannehill, Austin Rivers and Final Four picks. But first …

The curse of the midges.

In 2007, Joba Chamberlain broke onto the MLB scene like few players in recent memory. His fastball was sharp. His slider was untouchable. His control was pinpoint.

And his personal story, which I was the first to detail, was even more impressive.

Chamberlain debuted in August and immediately caught lightning in his glove. He appeared in 19 games, threw 24 innings and allowed a grand total of one run. One. He seized the Yankees’ set-up role. He was the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera.

Then the Yanks went to Cleveland for the ALDS. And Chamberlain’s cape of invincibility was chewed apart in Game 2 by a swarm of midges. Joba could barely see home plate, much less throw over it. He gave up the tying run in the eighth inning and the Yankees eventually lost in extra innings; Cleveland won the series 3-1.

Joba has never been the same.

The Yankees tried to make him a starter, but dramatically limited his innings in an effort to protect his arm. The Joba Rules, the New York media called them.

He lost his confidence, then his control. He was arrested for DUI. He struggled as a starter and moved back to the bullpen. Last summer, after a solid start to the 2011 season, his arm broke down. He had elbow surgery.

And now, this.

Joba is in the hospital with a dislocated ankle after a trampoline accident. He was playing with his son, but that factoid might not matter to the Yankees.

On one hand, it’s incredible — even today — that a kid with Joba’s background wears a World Series ring. On the other hand, he has left so much talent on the table.

I wonder if Joba has pitched his last game in pinstripes. And I wonder if he’ll ever rediscover the magic that made him a phenom.

Damn midges.

* * *

>> Apparently Dana Altman needs a sports information director to help him answer Lee Barfknecht’s questions. What a strange phone call. I still think Altman would be Tom Osborne’s No. 1 choice, if he wanted the job. But based on events of the past few weeks, signs point to someone other than Altman.

>> A New York Times profile of Ohio coach John Groce, the best candidate — in my opinion — to replace Doc Sadler. The man lacks nothing in the energy department.

>> The Onion tackles Kentucky’s strategy for winning the NCAA tournament. The last line is hilarious.

>> Saturday in Phoenix, Rick Pitino and Billy Donovan tangle for a spot in the Final Four. Twenty-five years ago, they made magic happen at Providence.

>> Austin Rivers is reportedly leaving Duke for the NBA. Remember the days when Coach K never lost players early?

>> Thad Matta can barely walk. Seriously. Interesting story.

>> I don’t care how good the Big Ten was during the regular season, if the league doesn’t put a team in the Final Four, this season will be a disappointment. No pressure, Ohio State.

>> The story of sexual harassment allegations against a Wisconsin associate athletic director is bizarre and ugly.

>> An excerpt from Josh Luchs’ new book — this passage focuses on Maurice Clarett’s struggles at the NFL combine.

>> As a Redskins fan, I am so, so glad my franchise isn’t the one picking Ryan Tannehill in the top-10; Russ Lande’s latest mock draft has Tannehill going fourth to the Browns. Forgive my scouting deficiencies, but I don’t understand how Tannehill suddenly became a future Pro Bowler. If he was so good, his college production should’ve showed it. Right?

>> Speaking of the Redskins, it sounds like they (and the Cowboys) got screwed out of a bunch of money.

>> A statistical nugget from the Chatelain School of Geeky Statistics:

Historically, national champions win by wide margins the first week of the NCAA tournament. Since 1990, 19 of 22 national champions skated through the first two rounds without a single-digit margin of victory.

That’s a good stat for Kentucky, North Carolina and Florida. That’s a bad stat for everybody else in the field.

>> My picks for the weekend:

Friday winners: North Carolina, Kansas, Baylor, Kentucky
Final Four: Florida, Ohio State, Kentucky, Kansas

That’s right, both teams that went through Omaha will advance to the Final Four.

>> Have a great weekend. And thanks for reading.

About Dirk Chatelain

Dirk Chatelain is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and covers Nebraska football and general assignments. You can follow Dirk on Twitter (@dirkchatelain) or email him at


  1. TheGov21 says:

    Never trust Russ Lande. He is awful. He had Everette Brown going #1 to the Lions in his final mock a couple of years ago when Stafford was all but signed. Brown went in the 2nd round.

    There is a reason he is a former scout and not a current one.

  2. GabrielNATL says:

    Hell, just go get back Danny Nee and call it a day.

  3. Homer Sampson says:

    Sadly it appears that a mid-major HC, (not a good one mind you, rather somebody who has had moderate success), or someone who has been freshly pink-slipped, is the best the NU men’s hoops search is going to produce. But it makes sense I guess. They have been miserable for decades. And this past season was the worst they had during that stretch. It will dang tough for them to climb out of this hole now.

  4. Gene O says:

    Midges had nothing to do with it. Joba’s career was sidelined by a franchise that put him in a spot to replace someone over five years early. As ironic as it sounds, the trampoline accident may be the best thing that happened to his career. If they send him someplace else, he has a chance to make it on his own terms. Or not. At least it won’t be because of meddling management or owners. He deserves a chance to prove himself. Maybe this way he gets his chance.

  5. macjones says:

    I rest my bloody case. Because I absolutely stated that Groce wouldn’t come near the small town Capital town and now it seems my SAGACIOUS, forcast has come to fruition, in the soon to be press row hiring of Myles. dUh

  6. Brian says:

    best news of the week was hearing Dana wasn’t coming to NU. He wouldn’t know how to coach talent even if he could draw them to Lincoln.

  7. BlueJay says:

    I just read where the Colorado State coach is getting the gig.

    1. CDad63 says:

      Miles from CSU. Did we have to drop this far down the list? Groce said “No way, no how.”? All those assistant coaches that can recruit real talent said “No way, No how.”?

      Why does Mark Boehm still have a job? Most schools have their Tier-1-sport coaches report to the Athletic Director. Assistant ADs are for bowling, rugby, lacrosse, and other non-money generating sports. Wonder if this guy even having a gig was part of the reason quality coaches are passing? “Hmm… Nebraska would have me report to an ‘Assistant’. Must not mean much to them. I think I’ll pass.”

      If this is the next Nebrasketball coach, I will stop buying tickets and watch them (occasionally) on TV.

      1. misha dee says:

        good, then it will free tickets up for people who are actually fans and who actually understand basketball and can have an intelligent conversation.
        honestly, the negative comments about this hire make no sense if you actually understand the landscape. Dirk and others who would like to run off anything good about NU should all just go away and enjoy being little bitter nay-Sayers.

  8. BC says:

    Do I think Miles would be a “Slam Dunk” hire? Not really- but looking at his track record, and if he brings his recruiting coordinator with him- it could turn out great. I gotta stay behind my team no matter what…heck I’m a Colts fan in the NFL and a Jazz fan in NBA. It time to get behind our team!

  9. NUCORNDEVIL says:

    The truth of the matter is, hiring a college basketball coach before the season is over, is ridiculous.
    It’s not like NU needs to implant someone immediately to ease the minds of all the McDonald All-Americans, it makes much more sense to have the opportunity to interview assistant coaches on some of the teams in the final four etc……
    We all know what happened when Osborne rushed to hire the football coach, Erstad was an obvious choice, lets be patient and maximise our options.

  10. OldGold says:

    There are only so many McDonald’s All Americans to go around. Look at the players on Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio State, etc. And you need three or four of them on the team at one time to be competitive in the upper tier of Div 1 basketball. And Nebraska will be playing in a league that will consistently have two super teams and three lesser powerhouses in it. We will never get about the middle of the pack and our only hope is to get a ten seed from early victories and a fair showing in the tournament. Our yearly aims should be to beat Creighton and try to win 20 games and then hope to get into the NCAA’s every five years or so and maybe someday get a win. Those who want more are dreaming.