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Same Sad Story for Stanford (Men's) Basketball; Sark's Rebirth; Swift Ratings; Defending Caitlin

Another year, another failed season for Stanford men's basketball.

For the eighth year in a row under head coach Jerod Haase, and the 15h time in the last 16 years, the Stanford men will not be playing in the NCAA tournament.

That is, unless they win the Pac-12 championship and get an automatic berth.

But with a 12-13 overall record, 7-8 in league play, the Cardinal men are tied for sixth in the Pac-12. They're not going to win the championship tourney.

It's the same old story. Blown leads, scoring droughts in the final minutes, inability to hit clutch free throws, unforced turnovers, and players who come in with big reputations but either don't develop or transfer out.

One of the teams Stanford is tied with, Cal's Golden Bears, are in the midst of a resurgence under new head coach Mark Madsen

The Bears were the worst team in the nation last year, winning three games. They've already won 11 this season. Madsen has his team, the campus, the alums, the fans, and the Berkeley community excited. Huge crowds have returned to Haas Pavilion.  

Stanford's Haase should've been let go last year, after his seventh straight unsuccessful season (if not sooner). His overall record is 124-122, 66-80 in league. Only one of Haase's teams has finished in the top half of the Pac-12. 

That's unacceptable for a program that, under Mike Montgomery, made the NCAAs 10 years in a row from 1995-2004 and was ranked No. 1 in the country during three different seasons--1999-2000 (27-4), 2000-2001 (31-3) and 2003-2004 (30-2). 

"Mad Dog" Madsen was a big part of those halcyon days of yesteryear. One of the greatest players in Stanford history, he led Montgomery's 1998 team to the NCAA Final Four where they lost in overtime to eventual national champion Kentucky. 

He should be the Stanford coach.

Madsen was available, and by all accounts, interested in returning to his alma mater last year.

But Stanford AD Bernard Muir couldn't pull the trigger, and what happened? Just another season of missed opportunities, lost hope, wasted effort, and empty seats.

I'd love to see Madsen at Stanford next year. But unlike some Stanford red hots, I can't support an effort to poach him away from Cal.

Cal took a chance on Madsen when Stanford didn’t. He’s building something in Berkeley, and has everyone justifiably excited. Trying to lure him away now in my mind would be wrong, similar to encouraging a player on another team to transfer by offering big NIL money.  

No, Stanford blew it last year. Now the Cardinal needs to find someone other than the man they should've hired to rebuild a program.

It won't be easy.

Sark Attack: One of the more remarkable comeback stories in college football has been the resurrection of Texas head football coach Steve Sarkisian.

Sarkisian was known as "Seven Win Sark" during his days as head coach at the University of Washington, where he went 34-29 over five years. Despite that rather ordinary record, he was hired at USC in 2014, where he'd previously served with distinction for seven years as quarterback coach and then offensive coordinator. 

But in his second year, as you may recall, he showed up drunk and gave a profanity-laced speech at a major booster event and also missed a couple of practices while inebriated. He was fired five games into the season. When he later filed a $30 million wrongful termination suit, which he lost, many believed he would never coach again. 

Alabama coach Nick Saban rescued Sarkisian from the scrap heap, hiring him as an analyst in 2016 and then, promoting him to offensive coordinator. Sarkisian won the Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach in 2020 when Bama won the national title.

He was hired as head coach at Texas in 2021 and this year, in his third season, led the Longhorns to the College Football Playoff. 

The reason I bring all this up is that last week, Texas signed Sark to a new four-year extension that will pay him a salary of $10.3 million a year, compared to his previously contracted $5.8M.

Quite a turnaround. You might say Sarkisian is a modern day Lazarus, and in many ways, he has Nick Saban to thank.

Super Ratings: Super Bowl LVIII was the most watched television event in history. The overtime thriller between the 49ers and the Chiefs drew an average audience of 123.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen data. That figure sets the record for the largest number of viewers for a single broadcast in TV history.

In addition to the great game, viewership was no doubt boosted by the presence of the world's biggest star, Taylor Swift, to support her boyfriend, Chiefs' tight end Travis Kelce. The addition of millions of Swifties, young and old, brought a whole new audience to the NFL.

Manfred's Exit: Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday he will retire when his current term ends in January 2029.

That's a disappointing timeline for most MLB fans, who'd love to see him retire tomorrow.

Although Manfred has made a couple of changes that have speeded up the game, Bay Area fans will never forget his duplicitous conduct toward the Oakland A's.

In defending the A's exit from Oakland, Manfred made a number of statements that were inaccurate, self-serving, and downright dishonest.

Manfred works for the owners of the 30 major league teams, and he will say whatever he thinks the owners want him to say.

In Oakland's case, he and A's owner John Fisher worked hard to create and sustain the myths that Fisher is a responsible owner, Oakland fans do not support their team, and the city is not trying to build a new stadium.

All blatant lies, unbefitting the commissioner of a major sport.

Defending Caitlin: Over the weekend Iowa's Caitlin Clark became the greatest scorer in the history of women's college basketball, surpassing former Washington star Kelsey Plum.

Clark's ascendency has proven too much for former Texas Tech and WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes to handle.

In a recent interview, Swoopes made several dishonest claims about Clark.

Swoopes claimed Clark is a 25-year old beating up on young kids. She's actually 22.

Swoopes claimed Clark takes "about 40 shots a game." She actually takes about half that--23 this season and 20 for her career. Ironically, Swoopes averaged 25 shots per game at Texas Tech.

Swoopes also said the record Clark broke isn't legitimate because she's using a fifth year of eligibility due to COVID. Actually, Clark broke the record in less than four years.

As a wise man once said, it's better to be silent and seem a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.


Gary Cavalli - Bowl and League co-founder, author, speaker 

Gary Cavalli, the former Sports Information Director and Associate Athletic Director at Stanford University, was co-founder and executive director of the college football bowl game played in the Bay Area, and previously was co-founder and President of the American Basketball League.

Get in touch//@cavalli49//

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