Scandal in College Basketball

Earlier this week some news came across the wire concerning men’s college basketball.  At this time, the scandal includes 4 assistant coaches and a couple of other programs.  This scandal will continue to grow and include many more programs down the line.  I wanted to write about exactly what the scandal is and who it includes.  As mentioned earlier, will it include more coaches and programs?  Will it reach further into other corporations?  Will it bring down the system or will college basketball come out somewhat unscathed?

So far, it seems that the University of Louisville has been the hardest hit.  As the news comes out, it claims that their head coach, Rick Pitino, helped an agent/shoe company funnel money to a recruit.  Clearly, that is against NCAA regulations.  The University of Louisville happens to have a contract with Adidas for shoes and apparel.  Records show that Coach Pitino and an executive made contact right before their prize recruit signed with them.  Of course Pitino claims that he knows nothing of the payment, “These allegations come as a complete shock to me”.  That is pretty funny, of course he knew.   The recruit that is being discussed is Brian Bowen.  He has since been suspended by Louisville.  They are doing this to save face and they do not want to let him play and then have to forfeit any games down the line.  So at Louisville, they have suspended their prize recruit and the A.D. and head coach have been placed on leave.  That is a huge deal and the possibility of more happening to them is probable.

Other assistant coaches included in the scandal are from Arizona, Oklahoma St, USC , and Auburn.  All of those coaches have been fired or placed on leave.  It is yet to be determined if the head coaches know what was happening.  These coaches are being blamed for taking bribes from agents and financial advisors.  They were being tasked with funneling players in their control to certain agents.  Clearly, that is against the law, but it is also bad for the players.  They trust their coaches and may not necessarily be getting the best advice from them because of the bribes.

This article title pretty much hits it on the head. Follow the shoes!  The shoe companies have deals with major programs for a few reasons.  They get great exposure and they also are able to influence the young players and possibly be able to sign them to deals when they are in the pros.  The schools do it because they are getting free revenue.  The relationship then would be natural to push the players their way.  This all started years ago when Sonny Vaccaro was able to come up with the ideas around this premise. He is claiming these schemes have always existed and I tend to believe it.  Even Lavar Ball has chimed in claiming that he has been approached about his sons taking money.

I am not surprised that there is a scandal in college basketball.  It has been discussed for years yet it really has never been proven.  Or has it ever really been investigated strongly?  So far there are four assistant coaches involved.  Will there be more?  I would imagine that plenty more programs are dirty, it is just a matter of finding them.  Will these coaches go to prison for their crimes?  I think they might, but I also think they will talk and it will implicate more coaches.  Will any of those coaches be big time names from big time programs?  I would bet there is.  I know there will be more to come in the future.

—Victor Mandalawi

 

The Week in News

Over the last few weeks a few news stories have dominated the landscape.  All of these stories are scary in their own right.  One story that can be or could be avoided is the state of relations in North Korea.  The other three stories are all in the category of natural disasters.  There was a major earthquake in Mexico just a couple of days ago.  Hurricane Irma which has since passed and Hurricane Maria which is still raging in the Caribbean.  As I get older, I tend to follow these stories more closely.  I am sure there are a few reasons for that but I would like to think technology and access is mostly the cause.

Clearly, North Korea has an issue with the United States.  What that hatred stems from is probably enough to fill an entire semester of learning.  The bottom line is the current leader of North Korea, Kim Jung Un, has major issues with the U.S. at this current moment.  He has made numerous threats over the last few years with many of them being ignored for the most part.  He has also started to test his missile capabilities and that is starting to gain some serious attention.  They are now discussing testing another bomb over the Pacific. At some point he will go away or this will escalate into something that nobody wants to happen, war of some sort.

The earthquake in Mexico on Tuesday registered as a 7.1.  There is a lot of footage starting to emerge from the region.  Some of the videos show people in their homes while items are rattling around. There are also videos that can be quite staggering to watch.  Those videos show buildings crumbling and falling.  While watching you have to think of not just the devastation but the loss of life that is occurring.  The death count is sitting at 286 with surely more to come.  As sad as that number is, moments like this bring hope that finding survivors is still possible.

Hurricane Irma made landfall in the U.S. on September 10th with sustained winds of 130mph.  It then made its way up through Florida wreaking havoc throughout the state.  The hurricane also made its way through the Caribbean tearing up many islands along its path.  It caused tons of destruction and at least 102 deaths.  The hurricane has passed, yet it is still causing issues in Florida like this.  There are countless many more issues that will take a long time to rebuild.  Currently, the Caribbean is again facing a hurricane as Hurricane Maria is terrorizing the islands throughout the Caribbean.  Puerto Rico had not recovered from Irma when Maria landed with category 4 force.  The hurricane is still churning but it is being projected to not make landfall in the U.S.  I hope that happens as it is being mentioned that the entire Island of Puerto Rico is without electricity and it could be months before that changes.

Clearly, all of these items are newsworthy.  All of these items can cause loss of life and destruction of property.  All of these items should not be taken lightly.  I just wonder how the coverage of these stories has changed over the years.  I know that technology has changed and it helps us better prepare for hurricanes.  It also helps live coverage of the storms.  We can now see these storms with live coverage and that has to change the way we view them.  I would also think it changes the way they are broadcast. In the end, I am just grateful to not be directly effected and my heart goes out to anyone that has been effected.

 

—Victor Mandalawi

 

 

Week 1 in the Books!

The NFL has completed their first week of football.  The second weekend is upon us.  Let’s take a look at some of the happenings and possible trends that occurred.  I know, one week of football is not enough to rush to judgment.  However, you can certainly talk about the results and any early opinions you may have.

The first game of the regular season was a game that featured the defending champion Patriots vs. the Chiefs.  The game was fun to watch considering it was the first game of the year, it was on prime-time, and it featured the champs and Tom Brady. It was also a tight contest in the first half.  That changed in the second and the Chiefs routed the Patriots.  When is the last time you can remember the Patriots giving up that many points?  It is hard to remember because it is the most in the Belichick era. Should Patriot fans hit the panic button?  In my opinion, it is only one week and you can not count out Brady and Belichick, ever.  They had a poor start in 2012 and many people would have thought that was it, they ended up 12-4, as usual, by the end of the season.

One thing I did notice from week one was the poor quarterback play.  I am not an expert, but it sure seemed to be lacking in many of the games I watched.  Clearly, I am not the only person that felt that way.  You can find plenty of articles like this one that highlighted the poor play.  Some teams like the Cardinals, Bengals, and Redskins have their eyes on the playoffs.  However, if their qb’s do not get it turned around soon, they will be on the outside looking in. Teams like the Texans and Browns are relying on rookies.  Teams like the Jets, 49ers, and Jaguars are relying on qb’s that many feel can not take them to the playoffs, so they are just a stop gap.  You also have the Colts, they have their franchise quarterback, but Luck is hurt.  If he misses many more games their season will be over before it even started.  They will not be able to dig out of huge hole.

In recent years, the game has changed. Some of those changes have caused the value of a running back to fall.  Many teams will not spend a top pick on a running back now.  I am hoping that changes.  I have always preferred the running game over the passing game for some reason.  According to this article, it might be changing.  There are so many quality running backs in the league right now and they are all very, very young. The article mentioned that the average age of running backs is a full year younger than all other positions.

Clearly one week of football is to early for any type of real judgment.  Should we think the Patriots are done?  Better not, they proved everyone wrong last year in the Super Bowl.  Is the NFL going to return  to a running league?  Probably not, the runners are just younger than ever before.  Can a team that starts 0-1 win the Super Bowl?  Of course they can.  Lets check back in at the mid point of the season and the picture will be much clearer!

—Victor Mandalawi

 

 

 

The Aftermath of Harvey!

Last week I wrote about Hurricane Harvey. The storm was just about to make landfall as I wrote the article.  Here we are a week later and the news is not good.  The storm ended up being catastrophic! The damage left behind is staggering.  The storm has passed through Texas, but the damage is not done.  There will be issues in Texas for months to come.  The storm is moving north and it is still wreaking havoc on our country.  There will no doubt be a lot of lives that end up being lost as a result of this storm, but you will also see many tremendous stories of bravery and generosity.

As the Governor of Texas states when discussing the recovery efforts, “This will be a multi-year effort”.  That seems to be a honest but very depressing statement.  Many folks are heading back to their homes, some will be worse than others.  Other cities are still in big trouble, as Beaumont is now without running water. The death toll is sitting at roughly 46.  That number will certainly change as time passes and the water recedes.  There have been many stories of heartbreaking loss. This article covers many of the tragic stories of death. Very, very, sad stuff to read.

Even though Harvey is no longer a hurricane, it is still causing issues throughout the country. It is heading north and causing plenty of issues.  As you can see here, plenty of major cities like Nashville, TN are dealing with Harvey now.  Of course the scale is much smaller than the damage down south, it just shows how one storm can effect more than just a coastal region.

Houston claims to be open for business!  I am glad they feel like they are getting back on their feet, however, plenty of other towns are still facing devastation.  As mentioned earlier, Beaumont is out of running water.  Another town, Crosby, is facing a major dilemma as a chemical plant was flooded. There have been a few explosions at the plant so far with more to come.  Can you imagine Alligators in your front yard?  That is another hurdle the citizens will have to face as many have access to a much broader territory because of the flooding. Scary stuff!

The thing I would like to focus on is the countless acts of heroism that emerge.  Here is a nice story about a furniture store owner.  He is losing money by doing these things, but as he mentioned “to hell with profits, lets take care of people”.  How about JJ Watt? He cant physically help save someone, but he is using his celebrity status to raise money for relief aid.  He is at a staggering 13 million with more to come!

Of course the devastation of losing property, loved ones, and your way of life are something I can not relate to at the moment.  I know there will be many more stories of tragedy and heroism to arise.  This is a story that will eventually fade from the mainstream news.  However, this will not fade from the minds and hearts of those effected by this storm.  It is a very sad story and I am grateful that my family is safe and sound.

—Victor Mandalawi