Alabama's Disgrace; NFL's Questionable Hiring; MLB Speeds Things Up
Alabama, the No. 2 ranked team in college basketball, is taking some well-deserved heat because the school hasn't suspended star Brandon Miller or another starter, Jaden Bradley, for their involvement and presence at the murder of Jamea Harris, a 23-year old mother.
The details (from a brilliant article by SI's Pat Forde): Miller delivered a gun at 1:40 in the morning to teammate Darius Miles. A short time later that gun was used as the murder weapon in Harris' killing during a bar shootout. Videos confirm Bradley was present at the scene. Miller's lawyer has confirmed that he was outside the bar, sitting in his car, and that his windshield was struck by two bullets.
At this point, neither Bradley nor Miller have been charged with anything. Miles and the alleged trigger man, Michael Davis, have been charged with capital murder.
And Alabama has taken no action toward either player.
Miller (left), Harris (center), Miles (right)
Public comments by Alabama head coach Nate Oats, Miller and his attorney have all been either tone deaf, embarrassing, or just plain pathetic.
Oats said Miller was simply "in the wrong place at the wrong time." Miller admitted he left his friends Miles and Davis when they entered the bar where the shootout occurred because "the line was too long." Miller's lawyer said the player had "no knowledge of intent to use the weapon."
Seriously? When someone calls you at 1:40 a.m. and asks you to bring him a gun, do you think he's going to use it for target practice?
This sad episode isn't going away anytime soon. Bama's program is being deservedly scrutinized, criticized and vilified.
Oats' failure to suspend these players is yet another indication that winning is all that matters and coaches want to win at all costs,
I'm surprised Alabama Athletic Director Greg Byrne, a good guy and one of the most respected ADs in the country, hasn't stepped in.
As for Miller, in the first game after all this became public, with chants of "lock him up" reverberating throughout South Carolina's arena, he scored 41 points, including the tying basket at the end of regulation and the game-winner in overtime.
So this is where we are in college basketball. Last year we had to watch as Kansas coach Bill Self, a man under federal and NCAA investigation who over two years ago was caught on tape offering money to recruits, win the national championship. This year, we may have to stomach Miller and Oats walking away with the title.
It's enough to make you sick.
The Black Hole: How is it that Eric Bienemy, the offensive coordinator who helped lead the Kansas City Chiefs to two Super Bowl wins in four years, gets passed over for head coaching jobs while the coordinators of the team the Chiefs just beat, Eagles' OC Shane Steichen and DC Jonathan Gannon, both get hired?
Simple. Bienemy is black. Steichen and Gannon are white.
The knock on Bienemy is that head coach Andy Reid is the Chiefs' offensive mastermind and Bienemy doesn't call the plays.
That argument goes out the window, though, because the two coordinators who preceded Bienemy--Matt Nagy and Doug Pederson--also didn't call the plays, and yet both landed head jobs. As you probably guessed, Nagy and Pederson are white.
So, BIenemy just left the Chiefs for the Washington Commanders, where he will be assistant head coach and offensive coordinator. This time, he'll get to call the plays.
Only problem is, his quarterback won't be Patrick Mahomes. The Commanders' QB is Sam Howell, a 2022 fifth-round pick out of North Carolina who sat most of last season behind Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke.
One can only hope that Howell develops under Bienemy's tutelage and he finally gets the head job he should've had years ago.
Speed It Up: With interest waning, attendance down, and TV ratings falling, Major League Baseball has wisely decided to take some measures to speed up games and increase the number of balls in play.
Because it gets boring to watch players re-strap their batting gloves after every pitch.
And it gets even more boring when most at bats end in strikeouts, walks or home runs.
So this year, pitch clocks will limit pitchers to 15 seconds between pitches (20 if there is a runner on base). Batters will have to be in the box, ready to hit, after 8 seconds. Otherwise, a ball or strike will be called.
Pickoff attempts, the bane of every fan's existence, will be limited as well. Pitchers will only be allowed to step off the rubber twice per plate appearance. If the third time doesn't result in a successful pickoff, a balk will be called.
Bases have been enlarged from 15"x15" to 18x18. The new larger bases are being referred to as pizza boxes. The hope is that this will result in more steals.
My personal favorite is that the ridiculous shifts we've seen in recent years will be eliminated. Teams must have two infielders on each side of second base, and their feet must be on the dirt.
Maybe now everyone won't feel the need to swing for the fences, because getting the ball through the infield was damn near impossible during the shift pandemic.
If all this results in quicker games, more balls in play, and a few more stolen bases, baseball fans everywhere will rejoice.