Saturday, June 24, 2006

Saturday Reading List

Things to check out while wondering if you should still care about the World Cup. . . .

  • Beaker over at Heavyweight Football Champs discusses the drawbacks of a playoff system in college football. Basically, a playoff would reduce the importance of the regular season and all but eliminate major non-conference matchups like Ohio State-Texas. He proposes a four-team playoff, determined by BCS rankings. Sounds good to me. There's still going to be a team left out that feels they're deserving, but any argument for the fifth-ranked team as a title contender is probably a weak one. And a four-team playoff doesn't extend the season too much for the players, which I also like.
  • The Sports Economist has a post about how the United States World Cup team didn't have any members of the U-20 team (which had doen pretty well for itself in international competition) on it, and it probably should have. I don't really know that much about the U-20 team, so I suggest you follow the link if you want to know more, but the way I see it, a couple more young guys couldn't have made things worse for the U.S. side.
  • On the topic of soccer, Brian linked to this Fox Sports blog that creates and discusses the rumor of German coach Jurgen Klinsmann leaving their team after this World Cup to take over the U.S. spot, assuming Bruce Arena vacates it (voluntarily or otherwise). It seems like a great move. The Germans weren't real happy with Klinsmann's approach leading up to the Cup, and the guy's pretty Americanized, living in L.A., married to an American, etc. Plus, he seems like a good coach, but that opinion's based on just this World Cup, so it's tough to know for sure. He could end up like the mid-major coach in the NCAA tourney that takes his team on a surprising run or two, gets the job he wants, and doesn't live up to expectations (I'm thinking Dan Monson here). But still, if we're looking for a new coach, the USSF could certainly do worse than hiring Klinsman, if he's available.
  • Oh, and that whole new director of football performance has a criminal record thing. I'm not necessarily too worried about it. Here's his side of the story:
    "I was in school, working two jobs, one as a bouncer and one as a sales representative selling memberships to the gym," Lichter said. "Unbeknownst to me, (Williams) was involved in drug trafficking. One night he came up to me and said, ‘I’ve got a guy coming, can you hand him this envelope?’ and I said, ‘Sure, no problem.’ It turned out to be a locker key (where the drugs had been stashed).

    "My wife was pregnant, I was making pretty decent money and it was a job I really wanted to keep. I was 22 years old and impressionable; I figured I’ll do it (deliver the envelope) to stay in his good graces. That was the extent of it. You live and you learn."

    It seems reasonable to me. The M-Zone doesn't buy it, claiming that if you didn't know you were committing a crime, why would you plead guilty to it, as Lichter did? It's a valid objection, but I imagine he was pretty freaked out, to be implicated in a drug ring for handing over an envelope. And let's say some FBI agents, looking for an easy conviction, came up to him and said "Hey, handing over that envelope means you were involved in the operation. You will get convicted if this goes to trial. Plead guilty, and you'll get probation. Not guilty, and you'll get jail time." If he didn't have a lawyer, or had a pretty bad one, it doesn't seem unreasonable for him to say "I don't know what's going on, but if you say it'll keep me out of jail, I'll do it." I just think the guys over at the M-Zone are drawing conclusions based on Lichter's so-called Buckstache. Stereotyping is wrong, guys.

    That said, his explanation does seem a little fishy. I'm just willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, because his story seems fairly plausible. He should, however, be kept on a pretty short leash. But then, so should everyone else associated with the football and basketball teams for the next few years, so that's nothing unusual.

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