It’s Friday! That means Ten Big stories in 10 little bites. We hit LeBron James, George Brett and Gordon “Gee, I probably shouldn’t have said that.” We hit Julie Hermann and Doc Sadler, Mark May and Brian O’Connor, SEC scheduling and a little College Football Playoff talk.
But first, Tim Miles’ new crib.
The media, myself included, put on hardhats and took a tour of Pinnacle Bank Arena this morning. It’s 85 percent finished and will open in mid-August. You can see the photos and video on Omaha.com — I’ll have a story to go with it later today.
The building itself is obviously impressive, but there’s only so much you can do with an arena. What stood out to me is the development around it. R Street in the Haymarket looks like Dubai in the early 2000s. What’s it mean? Lincoln is clearly all-in on this project. And the convenience of the arena to restaurants and residences will be excellent.
It sort of makes me wish Omaha had built its arena farther south, closer to the Old Market. On the other hand, parking at Pinnacle Bank Arena and traffic flow in the Haymarket could be a nightmare.
>> Doc Sadler, like Frank Solich, continues his termination tour. Frank visited coaches all over the country in 2004. Doc started with KU, now moves to Fred Hoiberg’s bench at Iowa State. It’ll be another good experience for Sadler, who surely has dreams of leading his own program again. Will it happen? I’m guessing we’ll see Doc — like Solich — get a low-major/mid-major head coaching job in the next three years. A high-major job? Doubt it.
>> LeBron James outscored the Pacers 16-13 in last night’s critical third quarter. He also had four assists, four rebounds and a block. Rarely do I watch LeBron and feel like he’s “in the zone” like Jordan or Kobe. But his dominance is all-encompassing. Miami suddenly resembles a more traditional championship team — one great player and a nice supporting cast. The Big Three may be gone, but LeBron is so good, I’m not sure it matters.
>> George Brett as hitting coach? Wow, this will be interesting. The young Royals bats could use some tough love. No doubt Brett will provide it. He’s a tough son-of-a-gun with an old-school approach.
However, the Royals’ problems clearly go deeper than the hitting coach. Brett can’t fix the holes in right field and second base. But if he can get Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas back on track, he can ride into the sunset (again). If he can’t, then maybe Hosmer and Moustakas truly are lost for good.
>> Brett’s first win came with nobody watching. It re-started and finished after 3 a.m., following an almost five-hour rain delay. Why didn’t umpires just call it? Because the Cardinals led 2-1 entering the ninth, then Kansas City scored three runs. Under MLB rules, the game would have reverted to a 2-1 St. Louis win had play not resumed. Considering the Royals’ slump, I’m guessing Ned Yost would’ve stayed up all night to record the final three outs.
>> One more thought on the Royals. As Rany on the Royals pointed out early this week, here’s a perfect illustration of the difference between Missouri’s two baseball teams: Michael Wacha, an Iowa City native, was the 19th pick of the 2012 MLB Draft. Last night, he made his major-league debut for the Cardinals. He pitched great, retiring the first 13 Royals and giving up just two hits and one run in seven innings.
Kyle Zimmer was the fifth pick of the ’12 MLB Draft, selected by the Royals. He spent last night in the Carolina League (A Ball). He’s 0-4 this year with a 5.28 ERA.
>> Dan Wetzel says Ohio State president Gordon Gee, who’s gone downhill fast, represents a class of administrators that has shaped the NCAA. “He’s just a self-centered opportunist desperate for glowing smiles and open wallets. In other words, the modern American university president.”
Harsh? Perhaps. But look at the Big Ten presidents/chancellors and their public reputations. Graham Spanier? Ouch. Rutgers’ Robert Barchi? Ugh. Do yourself a favor, Harvey Perlman. Keep a low profile, especially on athletics.
>> Paying a search firm five figures to identify athletic director candidates is a waste of money. But Parker Executive Search, which Nebraska has employed, is partly off the hook in the Rutgers mess, according to the New York Post. Why? Because Hermann wasn’t forthcoming about her past controversies.
>> Steve Politi addresses perhaps the most important question at Rutgers: Can Hermann really lead the athletic department?
>> Can’t go wrong with a mailbag from Outkick The Coverage, which includes the all-important question, “Which SEC coach would win the Bachelorette?” I’d probably go with Kevin Sumlin.
>> One of the dumbest NCAA violations ever. Illegally washing your car with university water.
>> The Paternos’ new lawsuit v. the NCAA reflects a wound in Happy Valley that isn’t likely to heal soon.
>> ESPN profiles Council Bluffs native and Virginia baseball coach Brian O’Connor, who opens regional play today against Army.
>> Aside from the major championships (and maybe Sawgrass), there isn’t a more TV-friendly course on the PGA Tour than Muirfield Village. I’m not sure Rory McIlroy loves it; he shot 78 yesterday.
>> Broadcasting has not been good to Mark May. Lost Letterman examines a man destroying his own legacy.
>> The SEC will have a 6-1-1 scheduling format in 2014-15. That’s six divisional games, one fixed crossover rival and one rotating non-divisional game. If that format continues, Alabama will play Florida (for example) once in six seasons! Ridiculous.
>> Finally, the College Football Playoff selection committee. There’s been a lot of talk lately about how much time and energy it requires. Prepare to watch film and travel to games. Aren’t we making too big a deal here? Obviously you want these guys taking it more seriously than the Harris Poll voters did — some of them didn’t even watch games!
But why does a retired coach like Tom Osborne need to attend the Alabama-LSU game? Why does an A.D. like Trev Alberts (whom I suggested) need to watch 10 hours of film each week? Find a dozen smart people, ask them to watch as much football on TV as possible, put ‘em in a room together in early December and give us the four best teams.
The B.C.S. failed in part because it was way too complicated. Don’t do the same to a playoff.
>> Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend.