Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lane Kiffin Deflates Air Out of USC

If the late Al Davis were alive today, he’d feel vindicated and like he’s the world’s smartest person. The more it’s brought to our attention, the more fans learn the truth about Lane Kiffin, the second-year coach at USC, whose bizarre play calling and methods have smudged the Trojans’ national title aspirations.

With five losses this season, it’s hard to trust Kiffin, and his father, Monte, who is USC defensive coordinator. Whether they are athletic director Pat Haden’s guys or not, the Kiffins don’t deserve merit or applause for sabotaging the beauty of a prestigious and distinguished program that a multitude of Southern Californians marvel for its history of triumph, names and Heisman trophy winners. The Kiffins aren’t the centerpieces of the USC culture, just a step backwards, which could very well turn into a dilemma.

It was conceived that Lane and Monte are unfitted for demanding coaching jobs, a more notable and respected athletic program, where expectations are immense. The perception of the Trojans suddenly fading into the background is real, with no standards like before when USC used to be the powerhouses of college football, and weren’t vulnerable or substandard. Fact is, the Trojans are standing by someone who has proven he cannot coach an elite program, which is now on decline. This is something USC fans, students, faculty and alumni are not all too familiar with, but in the post-Carroll era, the Men of Troy are hurting without a first-rate coach who has an acute understanding on how to groom an attractive program inured to triumph and accumulating bowl titles.

Haden is absolutely serious about Kiffin returning next season. But what about your program, Haden? What about protecting the school, and not someone who had familiarity with the university under the tutelage of Pete Carroll from 2001-2006? What about keeping a winning team intact, and not caring so much about Kiffin’s recruiting brilliance, needing Ed Orgeron by his side to lure a top recruiting class?

Through it all, Haden assures Kiffin that he will return regardless of the Trojans (No. 18 BCS, No. 21 AP) finishing 7-5, after entering the season ranked No. 1 in the AP poll. For so long, the Trojans have been on top of the mountain. The tale of this storied program is something many would prefer not to tell when USC lost to Stanford, Arizona, Oregon and UCLA, three of those losses in the past month. Of course, no one ever saw this coming, since the Trojans were projected to contend for a national title, with all their talent, athleticism and depth. Unlike UCLA or Notre Dame, USC was devoid of Rose Bowl consideration, after an embarrassing loss to UCLA, which sent the Bruins to the Pac-12 title game Nov. 30.

The man who was hired to clean up the mess and purge all of the scummy violations is counting on Kiffin to change the culture and guide the Trojans to the promise land, failing to realize that he’s deflating just as fast as a football, quickly exposing himself to unfavorable judgment. The man who was brought on board to clean house is allowing Kiffin to demolish USC, and ride another season of hell and torture. The truth of the matter is, Haden is smarter than that, and should know better, who was once a Rhodes scholar and is a retired NFL quarterback. The bottom line is, Kiffin is a cheater and failure on so many levels.

In all seriousness, Kiffin wasn’t ever coaching material, although he worked in the shadows of one of the greats in NCAA history. And the longer he’s in Los Angeles, the faster the program will submerge under his watch. Bad as his past is, bad as his reputation is, Kiffin cannot be trusted, not anytime soon, not ever. If USC looks to move forward, they’ll have to divorce Kiffin and both parties would have to go their separate ways.

Until then, the Trojans won’t succeed with Kiffin on the sideline calling ill-advised plays and exploiting weird schemes, which gives him and his father bad names, as the vast majority are impatient and outraged hoping to run the Kiffins out of town. The most hated person in college football, undoubtedly, is easily Kiffin. From Knoxville to Los Angeles, Kiffin has encountered a tremendous amount of hatred and seems unwanted at every institution in the US of A. The spotlight placed on Lame Kiffin, the most scorned person at USC, is too much — and not once this season did Kiffin take responsibility for this team’s suffering, long suffering – to be exact.

He is not a hero in the sense of reviving a program, but a saboteur of some sort and a con artist whom we’d like to see disappear into the darkened clouds of his own allegations from the past, and never step foot on campus ever again. It’s utterly repugnant that he ignored NCAA rules at Tennessee, where Kiffin was cited by the NCAA for his involvement in coaches and student hostesses making improper contacts with recruits. For a long time, he was in people’s heads, beating and abusing the system, just what he had in mind. As a scumbag with no morals and no sense of integrity for the game, Kiffin violated the rules as if he was above the law, arrogant and reckless during the NCAA investigations, which led to another boneheaded action.

That was when he forayed into the Tennessee Titans and hired running backs coach Kennedy Pola as his offensive coordinator, without getting permission from Titans then-head coach Jeff Fisher. For much of his coaching career, Kiffin has been a sneaky, untrustworthy person who’s out to create mishap and play loose with the rules that enables him to behave impolitely and wrongly, which usually results in infractions. What we can take away from Kiffin’s arrogance and self-indulgence, along with his lack of awareness and concern about an institution, is the fact that he refuses to consult the rulebook and just go about it his way.

Kiffin, from the first day, was never the guy for USC when, in fact, he was hired by ex-athletic director, Mike Garrett, another former Trojan football legend, leaving USC in an absolute mess and tarnishing his legacy with a reputation as the worst sham in college athletics. The humiliating 22-13 loss to Notre Dame on Saturday night marked the first time since 1995 that the Trojans were swept by their rivals. So now there’s blame on Kiffin, which seems accurate with his play calling in critical situations.

The criticism of Kiffin is understandable, after failing to call timeouts after two runs were stopped in the Notre Dame game and after he didn’t signal for a timeout in a goal-line situation early in the game, which might’ve taken away a touchdown pass. Kiffin, who has more enemies than friends, is blamed for the Trojans disappointing season because of his dumb mistakes and clock management issues. This is something the Trojans don’t need, because the fall from grace has been horrendous, particularly when they could and should have beaten the unbeaten Irish Saturday.

While USC could have smeared No. 1 Notre Dame from playing for its first national championship in 24 years, the Irish celebrated on the field in Los Angeles and finally had bragging rights over USC, with the versatility of Everett Golson, championship-building guru Brian Kelly and senior linebacker Manti Te’o. The Trojans talent was unlimited, with Marqise Lee and Robert Woods of a lethal USC receiving core, along with Matt Barkley, who the Trojans missed on Saturday night. The injured quarterback was replaced by redshirt freshman Max Wittek, who had a solid debut. He completed 14 of 23 passes for 186 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions, but it certainly wasn’t good enough to end the Irish’s hopes.

And so the Trojans lacks leadership and have a lethargic, futile and flawed defense. But the bigger issue here is Kiffin, folks. It won’t get any better for USC, until Haden realizes that he’s essentially not made to be a coach. For his career, he is a staggering 37-32 as a head coach with the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Volunteers and USC. It sounds like Kiffin can only beat unranked opponents, and loses to top-ranked opponents. That’s become his trait, and it’s a bad trait.

As long as Haden calls Kiffin his guy, well, then, expect the worst.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Miami Marlins: Crooked Jeffrey Loria Destroys Another Franchise

Never did I perceive Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria as a crook. But now, today, I have a different outlook on Loria and can't stomach his sins, which are embarrassing and negligent. He drops his head in shame with a sorrowful gaze in his eyes, watching his reputation smear, seeing his image fall from grace these days when he deceived, hoodwinked, misled and lied to millions of people in South Florida.

Loria, a dishonest, immoral, deceitful criminal, stole $509 million of taxpayer dollars to build a colossal palace, Marlins Park, and needs to be arrested, prosecuted and spend time behind bars. Along those lines, Loria’s con artistry and absolute crime is morally wrong, just like years ago when he was an owner in Montreal. The fact he's responsible and forever guilty of destroying the once pride and joy of major league baseball describes Loria's character.

By now, he's not the most likable guy, particularly in South Florida, where the folks can run him out of town for his dirtiness and deceptiveness. It's clear Marlins president, David Samson, and Loria lied about their finances, foolishly stabbed fans and taxpayers in the back to build a $634 million ballpark right across from a Walgreens - a team that was supposed to contend in October and maybe even for the fall classic after a rebuilding project. The Marlins, who were expected to make the postseason with an all-star team, couldn't reach expectations and prematurely exposed themselves to criticism by fading out of contention and underachieving, regardless of having a solid ball club.

Still, while he was committing fraud, and failed to run his business flawlessly, fans should have known something fishy was happening. Years removed from his prior affair in Montreal, Loria wasn't ever to be trusted. When he brought the Expos in 1999, he promised to remodel and turn the franchise into a winner. Perhaps most of all, dating back to those days, he assured that he’d build a new stadium or else move the team elsewhere. As time went on, during his ownership of the Expos, Loria dumped so much talent and fans angrily disconnected from a downcast, broken franchise. So before his arrival to Miami, Loria destroyed the Expos.

People in Montreal were lied to as well, as Loria promised to rebuild the franchise and bring a championship, but it was one of his conniving misdeeds. But winning a championship wasn't ever his priority, either. This isn't to say he wasn't a winner or that he never cared about constructing a triumphant ball club.

But there is a sense that he's only in the business to embezzle millions of dollars while running a scam, and ruin the integrity of a game that is already in shambles because of the performance-enhancing drug crisis and other deficiencies that have materialized under inept MLB commissioner, Bud Selig's watch. Granted, Loria lied to taxpayers of Miami Dade County, who are now irate over a hoax that leaves thousands of South Florida residents pledging to boycott the team. The monstrosity for a sordid owner, when Loria swindled taxpayers out of millions just to buy office furniture, expensive drapes and fabric for pillow covers, has sadly sabotaged his reputation and also placed the Marlins franchise in the middle of turmoil.

There is, no doubt, people hoping to file a lawsuit against Loria at this point, enraged and disgusted over the fact that he swindled fans again. It's almost mind-boggling how Loria hasn't learned the first time, committing similar crimes twice, still set in his narrow-minded, deplorable ways. The most troubling part of all of this, throughout the SEC investigation, is that Miami taxpayers will owe more than $2.4 billion once payments on the stadium balloons. He's more of criminal for pocketing revenue-sharing dollars, for claiming the team couldn't afford to erect the park themselves and for building a stadium on counterfeit money, thanks to baffled, misguided taxpayers who made it possible for the new ballpark, a venue with a bevy of empty seats last season.

This is a public outrage, to say the least, a franchise foundering and deteriorating on its deathbed. Selig couldn't stop Loria and Samson from destroying another baseball market, and a high-market team on the top of it. At least a couple times, perhaps more, Loria has done something to hurt and affect his persona. As he undermines the sport, he is, as usual, brilliant in a sense -- and sadly -- is brilliant enough to influence people to believe he's a shrewd businessman who will follow through on his promises.

The most powerful man in baseball, using his business acumen to become richer and bolder, happens to be a fraud, a phony, and a two-timing swindler. But no matter how one understands it, no matter how much no one wants to think about it, Loria and Samson are partners in crime, and this is a slap in the face to those who actually appreciates the game. After the most bizarre scene in Montreal, after allowing the team to hit rock bottom, Loria sold the Expos for $120 million to a partnership comprising of 29 other major league baseball clubs and he was given a $38.5 million interest-free loan. In return, he brought the Marlins for $158.5 million.

This made it possible for then-Marlins owner John Henry to purchase the Boston Red Sox. Of all things he's done, the Marlins team won the 2003 World Series. Amazingly enough he was the owner, he was the man who celebrated in triumph, but destroyed plenty of lives before and after. But because of an arbitration panel ruled in favor of Loria, Samson and Selig, claiming the plaintiffs' "sense of betrayal, even if justified, doesn't amount to fraud." At the end of the 2004 season, Selig declared the Expos would relocate to Washington, D.C.

All along, Selig know they were lying and refused to confront Loria and Samson. In other words, he condoned this behavior, he allowed them both to get away with these senseless actions. There wasn't a year that Selig didn't see the Marlins finances, but as always he's covering up for Loria and Samson to protect his legacy, the dispirited league and those two frauds' reputations. It's obvious Loria will be allowed a free ride, without serving a suspension or being hit with an expensive fine. In the meantime, though, he broke his promise that he and Samson vowed to competitiveness. Turns out he reneged on his word.

There's a problem in Miami, in the recent fallout of a trade frenzy, dumping $181 million in salary by sending Hanley Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers before the 2012 trade deadline. The next move sending Heath Bell to Arizona shortly after the season ended. But the Marlins weren't done. Bye bye, Jose Reyes. See you later, Mark Buehrle. Farewell, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio. In other news, the Toronto Blue Jays -- just like that -- are AL East contenders, pulling off a 12-player trade, which is deemed as a major overhaul for the Blue Jays. And suddenly, even throughout the offseason, Toronto benefits in the latest fire sale for a Marlins team that's in tremendous disarray.

"Alright, I'm pissed off!!! Plain & Simple," slugger Giancarlo Stanton tweeted.

The Marlins owe $19.6 million to their four players past arbitrations, when they entered last season with a $101.6 million payroll. There's a very slight chance Stanton will re-sign and commit to a long-term deal with the Marlins. With all this lost talent, it only makes the Marlins richer, as the value increases to an estimate of $450 million, according to Forbes.

This is what sports have become in Miami, unfortunately, where a shenanigan is committing fraud and robbing fans of currency.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Andy Reid’s Days Are Numbered In Philly

A long time ago, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie should have parted ways with embattled coach Andy Reid. A long time ago, the Eagles should have moved in another direction for the betterment of their team. The level of tension and criticism, which coaches and pro athletes commonly tolerates on the east coast, is anything but respectful and kind to Mr. Reid.

That might be east coast bias? Um, no east coast bias here.

No one is kidding when they say the Philadelphia Eagles are an absolute mess, amid a publicity outcry as ineptitude and struggles from quarterback Mike Vick creates a ruckus in the City of Brotherly Love. It’s anything but lovely in Philly, and more than ever, it’s becoming hell on earth every week for a team that seems to be in a state of confusion, not sure which direction to take to resolve these repeated letdowns. The endless uproar of a quarterback controversy is taking away from what could and should have been an efficient season, with the entire Eagles’ ingredients, possessing the qualities of presumably a Super Bowl team.

Turns out the Eagles aren’t a legitimate threat as everyone had made them out to be, but an utter disappointment, leaving fans wondering and thinking about what direction this team needs to take to heal the wounds. Reid and Vick’s careers are in absolute uncertainty — a rational sentiment that inevitably comes to one’s mind. The Eagles, who are just 3-4 this season, haven’t stood up to expectations. This team was supposed to be the self-proclaimed “Dream Team,” an overhyped team operated by an inept Reid, whose coaching tenure is numbered.

Fourteen years now, and Reid is finally hit with more scrutiny, clearly ridiculed and loathed for his stubbornness and inflexibly. Philly fans are unhappy – not content with Reid. With time winding down, disgruntled Philly fans had enough of Andy Reid, and people locally have called in to sports talk radio ripping and venting their anger toward him. Early in the season, Lurie addressed the team with his unambiguous statement and said that another 8-8 season would not be tolerated. In clarity, Reid’s coaching job could be on the line, even though Lurie has been loyal and given his coach more elbowroom than most coaches in a risky business.

The final days of a reign looms for Reid and even he knows that himself, but not worried about his job status and is just taking it day by day to avoid unnecessary stress, while dealing with heavy burdens and criticism for sticking with Vick and not giving the starting nod to backup Nick Foles. This would be a good time to experiment and explore other options. This would be a good time, though some fans are satisfied and prefer to see Vick engineer the offense, to bench him in favor of the rookie quarterback and see what he can produce for the second half of the season. Vick, who has nine touchdowns and eight interceptions, lacks a sense of awareness and has been too clumsy.

The struggles that have haunted the Eagles through the first six weeks are Vick’s ball security issues and Reid’s decision to not demote him and not make a drastic change for the sake of the franchise, as Reid desperately should be trying anything to save his job. But it’s a bit too late. Nothing can save Reid’s job, not even Foles, not even a hapless defense, not even team executives. The firing of defensive coordinator Juan Castillo during bye week and awarding Todd Bowles a challenging role, the Eagles’ new defensive coordinator, certainly wasn’t enough.

No matter what Reid does at this point, no matter what direction he takes, he’s on his way out of Philly by the holiday season and should be dismissed. He’s the longest-tenure NFL head coach, and the most polarizing coach ever — it would be the end of his coaching era in Philly. It doesn’t matter what kind of relationship Reid and Lurie built over the years, just doesn’t seem relevant. Lurie is running a business, not having a family reunion. He is trying to put the best product and coaching staff on the field and, at the end of the day, it’s all about winning if nothing else.

It was Reid’s idea to give Vick the starting job and replace the veteran quarterback with a beleaguered Donovan McNabb, who was wrongly blamed and then ran out of town by bitter and ungrateful Philly fans. If nobody else had confidence in Vick, following a dogfighting scandal that killed his credibility and reflected on his image in a negative way as he had fallen from grace, Reid did and gave Vick a second chance after paying his debts to society. When he bankrolled a dogfighting ring, which was perceived as Bad Newz Kennels, he was portrayed as a criminal and now he’s a scapegoat on the field, sputtering badly after three straight losses. For one, Vick’s offensive line is horrendous and cannot protect him from taking a brutal beating that usually results in a fumble or either an interception, as he’s forced to get rid of the ball to avoid a boisterous pass-rush.

It’s becoming a weekly trait, as Eagles defense, under Bowles, continues to struggle collectively. They’ve got a lot of major problems defensively – missing too many tackles, bad penalties and few stops on third downs. So, it’s not only fair to blame Vick, but the quarterbacks do take 90 percent of the blame when something goes wrong during the regular season as it has in Philly. Vick isn’t getting it done, but Reid insists that he’s his guy. That’s where Reid is making his mistake and where he will cost himself a job as Eagles head coach, especially if this team misses the postseason, which they probably will at the rate the Eagles are playing.

Stop being the Eaglets.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize it is time for a new regime in Philly, time to cut ties with Reid and ride the coaching carousel during the offseason. A lot of the blame in recent memory, particularly after a humiliating 30-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday, has been placed on Reid and Vick. Frustrated and disillusioned, fans showed up at Lincoln Financial Field, booing and jeering Reid. They were chanting “Fire Andy,” in a game that the Birds were outplayed and outcoached.

I’ve tried defending Andy for many years. I cannot much longer. It’s time for a change and he won’t be coaching the Eagles much longer. Barring a change of culture, Reid’s theory of doing a better job is getting old and Vick should be benched. If he’s not athletic or accurate, maybe it’s a sign that this team now requires a change … or else no success for a non-talented, broken and underachieving franchise, unable to make strides and dominate the NFC East – with LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Brent Celek. There’s no question, after his gruesome crime off the field and recent struggles, that Vick has turned into the most polarizing figure in the NFL, if not in sports.

Vick is either loved or hated but Reid is scorned completely, with profoundly uncheerful fans that can’t wait to celebrate his demise to erase the long-suffering of losses and endless woes. This gives a person every right to be skeptical and unsure about Vick. But it’s rational to assume that Vick is gone if Reid is fired at the end of this season, when he was the one coach who gambled and recruited the troubled star player, and then made him a starter. This late in Vick’s career, he’s not an elite quarterback, although at one point he was a prodigious athlete before sent to prison for his dogfighting scandal. The more he throws, the more likely he will throw the ball to the opposite team for an interception. The more he holds on to the ball, the more likely he fumbles. By the end of every game this season, when he’s turned over the ball 50,000 times, we think of his poor accuracy, his apathy and his lack of maturity.

Meanwhile, if he can’t win eight games at the most, Reid is definitely hitting the road and won’t ever be appreciated by unsympathetic fans.