This mini-documentary hits a lot of things I like: photography, golf, beautiful eccentrics to name three. It made me both happy and sad as I watched it.
Fair warning: plenty of NSFW language in this piece.
This mini-documentary hits a lot of things I like: photography, golf, beautiful eccentrics to name three. It made me both happy and sad as I watched it.
Fair warning: plenty of NSFW language in this piece.
I’ve dillied and dallied a bit on these, so some quick recaps of my four most recent books.
Beastie Boys Book – Michael Diamond and Adam Horowitz Simply one of the best music memoirs ever published. I’m being 100% honest, not funny at all. This book is equally hilarious, poignant, thoughtful, and moving. Mike D and Ad Rock tell the band’s story from their early days cruising the seedier parts of New York’s hardcore scene, through their transformation into rappers, and then through their massive, international success. They write of the good and the bad. And they give great respect to the one Beastie who isn’t around to tell his story anymore, MCA. A must read for Gen Xers who grew up on the Beasties and that first wave of hip hop.
How It Happened – Michael Koryta Another book by a local author I found on a list late last year, this is a terrific thriller. It is one of those mystery novels where most of the answers are given in the opening pages, but then Koryta jumbles up the parts and has you guessing if what you think happened really happened. Much of it is fairly standard, thriller fare, but done quite well.
Friday Black – Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah Adjei-Brenyah is a young author who is getting tremendous attention for his early works. Notably George Saunders, a giant in American literature, has championed this first collection.
It is difficult to describe or categorize this set of short stories. They are futuristic, but only pushed slightly into the future. Maybe even just months in the future. There are elements of fantasy in many of the stories. Not as in dragon and elves and whatnot, but simply in the broadness of possibility that Adjei-Brenyah introduces into his stories. There is a strong send of fatalism, and an equally healthy dose of farce and humor.
I struggled to connect with a couple of the stories. But most of them moved me. The only problem with the book is that he put what I believe to be the best story first, “The Finklestein 5.” It is a perfect example of the balance he builds into his stories. Parts of it are utterly ridiculous: the entire nation is on edge after a white man was acquitted of killing five black children with a chainsaw because he felt threatened by their presence. Not only was he acquitted, but the verdict came down in less than an hour. Parts of it are chilling, too, though. Based on several recent, notable trials, are we really that far away from something like this happening?
What sticks with you about the story, though, is the aftermath of the verdict. Black people are beginning to arm themselves and attack random white people, shouting out the names of the Finklestein 5 as they do so. Something about that feels very third world and primitive. But, given that there are many, many people in the highest seats of power in this country who seem intent on fanning the flames of racial hatred, I wonder how far are we from the point where personal violence moves from random to organized?
He resolves the story in a way that confirms our humanity. I hope that humanity is there in all of us if our country ever spirals too far down the path of madness.
Dream On – John Richardson I’m sick of winter. I want to be outside enjoying some good weather. I’d like to pick up that late summer/early fall re-ignition of my interest in golf. So I figured this book would be a good way to satisfy some of that.
Richardson grew up playing solid golf in Northern Ireland, getting to a 15 handicap as a teenager before school, career, and family turned his game to crap. For ten years he kicked around the idea that any golfer could spend a year practicing and playing hard and get to the point where they could shoot a single round under par. Single round is the key. This isn’t about getting your handicap to scratch. One round, one day, you break par.
He gives it a shot. He makes it, by the barest of margins: a one-under round in the final week of his year-long challenge. Along the way he nearly drove his wife insane, neglected his career and forced himself to step aside from the company he helped to build, and hit a shit-load of golf balls.
I have pretty reasonable goals if I begin to play regularly: get my game to the point where any of my friends who belong to a golf club would not be embarrassed to invite me along for a round. But Richardson’s process and progress still provided some guideposts to whatever plan I come up with for the spring and summer.
Reservoir 13 – John McGregor.
Just six weeks in and already an abandoned book. You may recall that I read the companion piece to this, The Reservoir Tapes, late last year and really enjoyed it. So I was really looking forward to this.
But, whoa, it was a total miss.
Both books relate to the disappearance of a teenage girl in a rural English town. Where Tapes were small sketches of the various characters from the original story, Reservoir 13 was all about the community in which the disappearance took place. Each chapter lays out dozens of small details in the life of the village over the course of a year. Everything from the search for the girl, to her family’s reactions, to how the town church vicar brings people together, to a crumbling marriage, to a lonely teacher, to the elements of nature, like foxes, badgers, and birds and how their lives adjust to the seasons. No facet of the story gets more than a couple paragraphs, and each chapter begins with the fireworks of New Year’s Eve.
It was strange. And then off-putting. And then I just had to quit. I stuck with it for four or five chapters, but when I got to another chapter and read about someone else’s NYE fireworks, I gave up.
Have I mentioned my issues with our gas, water, and sewer utility before? Well, I’m about to!
These people suck. Seriously.
Here’s a list of the issues we’ve gone through with them over the past eight months.
First, our builder did not drop any grass seed until the week that the water line was supposed to be connected. They had a firm date from the utility – this was the week we reached a deal to buy the house – and leveled the torn up ground and then covered it with seed. They also planted some small bushes and ornamentals. And then the water line did not get put in. For 10 days. When it was crazy hot and dry.
Thus, our yard looked like shit all summer, more weeds than grass because all that seed had died. Which, you know, whatever: unless you’re laying sod you figure it’s going to take a couple seasons to get the yard in good shape. But, still, would have been nice for the first summer not to be a total waste. The bushes held on, only because our builder came over every night and watered them until we closed.
Next, when we opened our account with them we signed up for all the easiest stuff: budget pay so our bill only changes once per year, auto pay so we don’t have to think about the payment going through, and paperless billing so we don’t get a bill we won’t really look at. Each month I got an email with the amount due and confirmation that that amount would be paid on date X.
Well, we never went online to look at our bill until deep into August. When we did, we found that A) they hadn’t been checking our water meter and B) they hadn’t switched the sewer service to our name with the gas and water. We actually discovered B because we got a message from the accounting department at our builder that said, “Hey, dumbass, get this fixed.”
So I call and talk to a few people, several of whom seem befuddled that our gas meter would get read but not our water meter. Finally I reached someone in the meter reading department and he knew what was up. “I bet,” he said with a hint of ‘Ah-ha!’ to his voice, “that your meter got covered up when the landscaping was done. I’ll send someone out to locate it, uncover it, and you should be good.”
In October we got a bill that, sure enough, appeared to be for about three months of water. All fixed, right?
Well, no. See, the thing is, our water line comes in from under the main street our house sits off of. And they put the water meter way out by that street, roughly 200 feet from our house. I don’t think it was ever buried; the meter reader just looked around our house, couldn’t find it, and gave up. In fact, when I first called they said he had marked it as “Behind fence.” We have no fence. Anyway, I found it by following a straight line from where the line comes into our house to where they tore up the street last June. There it was, painted blue by whoever had come out to locate it.
In November our gas meter was read, but not our water meter. Now, sometimes a meter won’t get read because of the weather. So, dumbly, I gave them the benefit of the doubt and another month. Oh, and our November bill was estimated based on our previous month’s bill. Which, you may recall, covered three months of service. So we were billed for three months of water/sewer in November.
December was going to be correct, right?
Once again, no water meter read, we were billed for another three months of service.
So I hop on the phone and work my way to the right people again. The guy I spoke with in the meter reading department couldn’t have been nicer. When I told him how high our bill was because we had been billed for, basically, six months of water in two months, he promised to send someone out that week to take a new reading and said to call back in a week to get an updated bill. He also, allegedly, put notes into “the system” that would let the readers know exactly where our meter was located.
You will no doubt be shocked to learn that when I called the next week to get an updated bill, no new reading had taken place! In fact, the lady I spoke with said the man who informed me there would be a new reading and a new bill “never should have said that.” Oh, goodie. She reviewed our account and said we should have gotten some kind of notice from them that the meter was not readable, but since that letter was never sent, she gave us a credit of $150. She was very nice, and I hoped this would be my final call.
Just to be safe, when meter read day rolled around in January, I took no chances. I cleared the snow off of our meter. I put a big, bright orange, yard stake next to it. And I put a poster board sign next to our gas meter that said the water meter was located behind the big tree, marked by a stake. And then I hoped for the best.
Miracle of miracles, they actually read our damn water meter in January! All that estimated use got backed out and we went from a $550 balance to a credit balance of nearly $200. I sent thoughts of thanks out to the folks that had helped us.
Last week was meter read day. I put the sign out again. I made sure the yard stake was still by the meter. Saturday I got the email saying our bill was ready. You probably never would have guessed this, but they didn’t read the water meter! And in order to do the estimated read, they had to go back to our last read. Which, if you’ve been following closely, you will remember covered three months of use. So we’re back to up a $500-some balance.
I was not getting back on the phone and sitting through hold music, then bouncing around until I was connected with the “right” person again. I went to the website and looked for some other way to send in feedback. I found a page that you can add comments and submit them. I carefully typed out the whole history of this disaster and pasted it into the text box. When I tried to hit Submit, I got an error message that said “Comments may only contain letters and numbers.”
WHAT. THE. FUCK.
My message didn’t have any weird symbols or ancient ruins in it. I took out the dollar signs where I noted what we had been charged and tried again. Nothing. I Find/Replaced every punctuation mark with empty spaces. Goodbye periods, question marks, and commas. And good grammar, for crying out loud. But, again, no luck.
Over in the corner of the screen there was one of those annoying “Need Help? Let’s Chat!” buttons. I clicked on it. “Sheryl” said she’d be glad to help me. Since I knew she was just the front door, there was no way I was going to lay out the whole story. So I just told her about the issue I was having with the website. After a pause her response was, “I’ll let IT know. Try again in 30 minutes.”
OHHHHHHH, FUCK YOU “SHERYL”!
I was literally banging my desk as hard as I could with the palm of my hand. All we want to do is pay the appropriate amount for the water we use. Should it really be this hard?
I guess I’ll try again in 30 minutes. And next month, on meter read day, I might set up a chair next to our gas meter and wait for that motherfucker to come and force his lazy ass to walk out and check the water meter too. I have a baseball bat. I’m tall. I can be intimidating.
BTW, the house next to us remains for sale. There was an open house yesterday and we strolled over to take a peek, since we knew they had staged it for this one. As we walked up the driveway, I saw their water meter, also 200 feet from their house. If anyone ever buys that house my head will literally explode if they have a perfect water bill their first month there, and each one after.
It’s been a rough few musical days, another time when we have been reminded that painful music is sometimes a product of truly painful lives.
On Wednesday The New York Times ran a story in which several women accused Ryan Adams of abusive behavior. Phoebe Bridgers and Adams’ ex-wife Mandy Moore both went on record about their relationships with Adams and the pain he inflicted upon them. Worst, the article suggested than he engaged in a highly inappropriate, on-line relationship with a musician that began when the girl was only 14.
That was bad. Real bad. Then Thursday came. Natalie Prass, Courtney Jaye, and Liz Phair all confirmed they had been the subject of Adams’ abuse. The FBI opened an investigation into the relationship with the minor. And his record company postponed indefinitely the release of his album Big Colors, which was to be the first of three albums Adams released this year.
These revelations were disgusting and disappointing. I’ve grown to love Adams’ music over the past four or five years. He’s one of the three artists I’ve listened to most over that span. What struck me most about his music was his emotional honesty: the way he laid out his pain so boldly and clearly on his songs. He wasn’t quite as frank as Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison, but the effect was often similar.
But now we’ve learned that “emotional honesty” was the product of a diseased mind. That pain he was laying out on his songs was often used to guilt women into bending to his will. He forced them into relationships they did not want. He torpedoed their own careers because of his insecurities. There’s no justification for his behavior. It makes me feel sad, and honestly pretty dirty, for liking his music so much.
But mostly I feel for the women who have been the subject of his abuse. And I wonder how many more there are. I’ve played songs by several artists over the years that have worked with him and have not come forward. I don’t want to include them in this playlist, hoping that they avoided his advances. But let this group of songs stand for all the women who had their lives messed up by Adams.
Peace to them all.
“Scott Street” – Phoebe Bridgers
“Short Court Style” – Natalie Prass
“Can’t Behave” – Courtney Jaye
“Distant Shore” – Karen Elson
“Never Said” – Liz Phair
“Invisible Ink (Rebecca’s Demo)” – Mandy Moore
A couple smaller things smashed into one post today.
First, there’s just too much information out there. I know this is, like, a devastatingly deep and original opinion, but that’s why I have a blog, people.
Wait, I’m not talking about the general flood of information we swim through each day. I’m talking about the maddening process of trying to buy pretty much anything.
Example: our printer is dying. So I go on the webzzz to do some research on what garbage printer we should buy for the next 18–24 months. I find a couple articles, on reputable sites, that lay out various options. I hone in on a couple and head over to Amazon to check the user reviews. And here’s where we run into issues.
Try to buy anything, especially an electronic device, and you have to wade through a sea of terrible reviews. You think you’ve found a winning printer, camera, whatever, and then you see five people give it one-star reviews based on some terrible flaw. “Printer literally ate my child. WOULD NOT BUY AGAIN!!!111!!!” Are these five people out of a million, or five out of 200? What is worth the gamble?
This problem really came to a head this week as the first new printer we ordered did not work. I unpacked it, plugged it in, followed the instructions, and it got stuck in an error code loop I could not get out of. I tried everything I could find online, but nothing fixed the issue. And this error kept me from doing anything. I couldn’t connect to a computer to try to override it. I couldn’t just cancel out and try to make it work around it. Nuthin’.
Luckily since it was an Amazon purchase, I flagged it as defective, sent it back, and began the process again. We have a new printer coming tomorrow. It was highly recommended by several websites. It also got slammed in the Amazon reviews. So we’ll see…
Next, a follow-up note to yesterday’s Reaching for the Stars post. My Top 40 listening habits have changed a little and, thus, I’m adjusting my writing related to those shows.
You may recall on New Years Eve day I rediscovered the iHeart Radio station that plays old AT40’s continuously. I really enjoyed hearing their replays of the Top 100s of each year in the 80s that week. And I’ve continued to listen to that station. It’s kind of become my default background music. In the morning I have our Sonos speaker in the kitchen tune to that station and keep it on until the girls get home. When I pass through the kitchen throughout the day, it’s fun to hear a few minutes of whatever countdown is on. I swear the station is trolling me though, as they are constantly playing shows from 1984. I’m almost disappointed when I hear an ‘84 show I’ve heard so many lately.
As you would expect, my brain is always spinning and highlighting little Casey tidbits in these countdowns. Since these countdowns are random, they don’t always match up with the calendar week the way the ones on my local FM station or SiriusXM do. But, since I’m listening to them, it seems like I should go ahead and write about them.
So, going forward, there will likely be some Reaching for the Stars posts that are from the iHeart Radio station and from different parts of the year. The bonus is I might get more sweet, 1970s action going on in those posts!
Chart Week: February 12, 1983
Song: “Down Under” – Men at Work
Chart Position: #1, 15th week on the chart. Spent four non-consecutive weeks at #1 in January and February.
If you’ve paid very close attention to my music posts over the years, you may recall that I kicked around a project in which I would find the best single weekly top 10 of the 1980s. A couple summers back I spent a few nights scrolling through top 10s and marking down my favorites as I watched Royals games. I still have that list but have never gotten around to diving into it.
This week would likely be on that list. It’s a monster, with some very 1980s outliers that bring it down.
At #10 was Phil Collins’ cover of “You Can’t Hurry Love,” which I have always loved, even when I grew to really dislike much of his music.
Number 9 was “Stray Cat Strut,” by The Stray Cats. A song I liked a lot back in the day, would be fine skipping over today, but can still acknowledge its place in 80s music history.
Number 8, “Rock the Casbah.” The peak of The Only Band That Matters’ biggest US hit.
Number 7, the first outlier: “You And I” by Eddie Rabbit and Crystal Gayle. Blech.
Number 6, “Maneater” by Hall and Oates. One of their biggest and best songs and a former #1.
At #5, Toto’s “Africa,” which slipped after spending one week at #1. Still a great song, even if you’re sick of Weezer’s version.
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band’s “Shame on the Moon” was at #4. Not his best, nor one I’m thrilled to hear.
Number 3, Marvin Gaye’s last hit, the legendary “Sexual Healing.”
At #2 was, RIP, James Ingram and Patti Austin’s lovely “Baby, Come To Me.” In a decade full of cheesy, duet ballads, this was one of the few truly great ones. It reached #1 a week later.
And then at #1 this week was “Down Under,” which spent three weeks at #1 the previous month, dropped behind “Africa” for a week, then reclaimed the top spot for one more week. Men at Work, and this song, seemed kitschy and silly at the time. But this song became one of the iconic songs of the decade.
So that’s a pretty good top 10, right? But it has me thinking I need to dive back into that list I made two summers ago. Because I know there are weeks better than this. In fact, many of those weeks came later in 1983, when Michael Jackson took over the charts.
One more thing…this is one of those shows I remember hearing back in 1983. How do I remember this one? Well, before playing “Down Under,” Casey shared a story of how their manager got CBS Australia to sign them. He put signs all over the CBS offices that said “Men At Work.” Fake constructions signs. Signs in hallways. He would glue phone receivers to their bases and slap a “Men at Work” sticker on them. That’s one of those details I’ve never forgotten, and I vividly remember sitting at our kitchen table on a (likely) cold early afternoon back in ’83 and hearing that anecdote for the first time.
A pretty solid Monday evening of hoops.
It began with S and I trekking down to Banker’s Life Fieldhouse to watch the Pacers take on the Charlotte Hornets. We were lucky enough to be invited by the CEO of her hospital, and were sitting in the company suite. We took along one of S’s med school pals and his wife, who are great company but who we sadly do not see often enough. There were only a handful of other people in the suite, so it was kind of like having it to ourselves.
(A quick aside, this game was a makeup for the game we were supposed to go to: the Colts-Cowboys game back in November. We were offered and accepted tickets to that, but then were told the hospital “Forgot” they owed some kids charity the seats. I think it’s more likely some other exec wanted to come to that game and we got bounced. Oh well…)
Anyway, the game was good. The Pacers came in having won five in a row and had new signing Wesley Matthews in uniform for the first time. While we were doing the obligatory conversation with the CEO, they ran up a 20-point lead and all looked good. We had chicken fingers, some tasty mac and cheese, and free beer. And then the Pacers proceeded to play like garbage. Charlotte got the lead down to one before a final Pacers run put the game away.
Our suite was right behind the Charlotte bench. We walked in just as the players were lining up for the national anthem. I scanned their team, looking for distinctive hair, but could not find the one I was searching for. When the anthem ended, I checked my phone and saw that Devonté Graham was out for the night with an illness. Bummer! Later in the evening I saw a couple wearing KU gear sitting right behind the Hornets’ bench. They were no doubt more disappointed than I was since they were within shouting distance of DTae.
The beauty of NBA games is they generally move quickly. When we walked out of the suite, I glanced at the TV and saw that KU was up on TCU 14–12. By the time we got home, the game was three minutes into the second half. I was able to sit down and enjoy KU looking really good…until they didn’t. Hey, a theme for the night!
When KU pissed away a late, 11-point lead and trailed by four with about 90 seconds to play, I muted the TV. I was going to watch one more possession then kill it so the sight of TCU fans rushing the court didn’t lead to me tossing and turning for hours. Only KU scored, got a stop, and scored again to send it to overtime.
If you’ve read any of my sports posts over the years, you know what happened next: I kept the TV muted until there were 10 seconds left in overtime and KU was assured of the win. I know, I know… But it worked!
A very large road win in very difficult circumstances for a team that has looked like garbage on the road this year and has also had trouble closing out any tight game. I think they should take some heat for blowing that lead, and playing so, so poorly for about three minutes. But they also get credit for getting the game to OT and then putting it away. All while losing three players to DQs. Seriously, the guys sitting at the end of the KU bench last night would be a top 10 team. KJ Lawson hit two massive shots. KJ Lawson! David McCormack hit a couple shots, a couple free throws, grabbed some huge boards, and played solid D. Hell, Charlie Moore played the back half of OT and Bill Self generally keeps him as far away from crunch time as he can. And Devon Dotson and Ochai Agbaji both had massive games.
Somehow they pulled that win out and kept their Big 12 title hopes alive.
I still don’t think it’s going to happen. The Streak is over. Seriously.
But I like seeing them going down swinging instead of giving in and meandering to a 10–8 finish.
This time of year I enjoy rolling through the sports channels and stopping at NBCSN or one of the Fox channels to watch some winter sport for 15–20 minutes. If I find downhill skiing, I’ll watch for an hour. It’s such a badass sport and I’m thrilled I get a chance to see it more than just during the Olympics.
Saturday I caught the men’s World Cup race. Sunday I caught the women’s, which just happened to by Lindsey Vonn’s last race before she retires.
I read the piece linked below this morning and loved how it summed up and put into perspective both Vonn’s career and the sport itself. It’s seriously crazy how fast these athletes go, how literally on the edge they are, and the ridiculous angle of some of these mountains. At yesterday’s race there was actually a great camera angle that showed the 65-degree decent out of the starter’s gate. That looked stupid. As this article points out, there is a race that begins with an 85-percent grade. For those of you who have forgotten your middle school geometry, that’s basically skiing straight down the side of a building.
Anyway, if you’ve enjoyed Vonn’s career, or even just like to watch Olympic skiing every four years, I think this is a good read. The comparison of her 2010 Olympic downhill run to silver medalist Julia Mancuso’s is great. Mancuso skied a technically perfect race, but went home with silver because Vonn was/is insane.
Our era of good music continues.
“Cosmic Cave” – Ex Hex. This is a hell of a fun rave-up that really should make everyone who hears it jump around like a maniac.
“Harmony Hall” – Vampire Weekend. Everything has a backlash, especially in music. If you’re too smart, too clever, or too-anything, there will be a backlash. VW’s last two albums have been two of the best reviewed disks of their respective years. But there was something about their aesthetic that turned people off. I’ll admit, that got to me. I really enjoyed those albums, but barely listen to them or their songs anymore. So I thoroughly expected to not like VW’s new music. Surprise, this song is really, really excellent.
“We Are in the Wild and We Are Home” – John Davis and Matthew Caws. Two alt-rock geezers – relatively speaking – came together to give us this lovely, late-stage Beatles-esque, jam. Davis was in the classic band Superdrag. Caws remains a member of Nada Surf.
“A Little More Love” – Juliana Hatfield. Ms. Hatfield returns with an album that is all covers of one of her musical heroes: Olivia Newton John. I’ve listened to most of the album, and while most of the songs are ok, many don’t quite work. Hatfield’s voice just doesn’t match Newton John’s, and the songs thus come off as lightweight imitations rather than loving homages. But this one, she gets just right. Which is kind of perfect, as it is not one of the ONJ songs that most of us would probably think of first.
“I Hate Alternative Rock” – Beach Slang. The new Bob Mould album is out today. I’ve only heard a few songs so far, but I am digging it. So appropriate to share this brand-new cover of this 1996 Mould classic.
“Trailer Park” – Matthew Logan Vasquez. An ode to the part of Texas MLV grew up in, where there is a mix of people that contains a little of everything, and those folks learn how to come together and form a community.
It is the first kid sick day of the calendar year; C is home with a stomach issue.
Adding to the fun is my back continues to trouble me. It’s not all the way out the way it was on New Year’s Day, but something I’ve done to it has got me on a heavy regimen of ibuprofen and heating pads. Getting old sucks.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the Jayhawks…
I’ve been on record all season that Silvio De Sousa would not play for KU again. By that I meant the NCAA would never clear him for this season, he would leave to go pro, end of college career.
Still, a part of me wanted to buy into these rumors that he was on the verge of gaining eligibility over the past few weeks. I mean, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. But with KU in desperate need of another big man, you might as well put some hope into the long shot bet.
That said, I was shocked that the NCAA decided to declare him ineligible for the rest of this season and all of next. Well, kind of shocked. I figured Silvio would be the fall guy for the entire FBI investigation. He was the most high-profile player that still had eligibility at the most high-profile program that has gotten sucked into this mess. And with the coaches affiliated with Nike slowly pleading guilty and avoiding trial, and thus more on-the-record proof of cheating, Silvio was the NCAA’s one shot to take a stand.
But, Good Lord, basically ending the college career of someone who never saw a penny of the money that was allegedly provided by Adidas to get him to Kansas? That seems a little harsh.
Truth: I would 100% support the NCAA saying, “You can never play at Kansas, or any other Adidas school. But you can have full, immediate eligibility at any other D1 school.” This is an Adidas and Kansas problem, not a Silvio De Sousa problem.
But, as always, the NCAA, despite all its talk about protecting “student athletes,” finds a way to punish the kid more than anyone else. KU could eventually go on probation, vacate wins from last year, and lose scholarships. But KU will be fine in the long run. Jesus, Louisville was where this all started and they have one of the top three recruiting classes for next fall. Kansas will bounce back if they get hammered.
De Sousa, though? The NCAA is ruining his college career because a guardian he trusted, but had no relation to, got greedy and Adidas got sloppy.
So things got weird Saturday. There was athletic director Jeff Long’s angry press conference just before the KU – Texas Tech game Saturday, where he accused the NCAA of bad faith negotiating, meddling with the relationship between KU’s administrators and coaches, and straight up lying, among other things.
I have no idea what the truth is and how to process this. Did the NCAA really go back on a promise and hammer KU for something they viewed as a “hypothetical”? Did KU totally fuck this up, through misunderstanding or incompetence, and are trying to cover that up? Is something else going on? I have zero idea.
At the core of this the NCAA insisting they would not consider De Sousa’s eligibility until KU declared Adidas rep TJ Gassnola as a booster of the program. Forget about the KU angle for a second. If the NCAA is going to begin considering employees of shoe companies as “boosters” of programs, that is a game changer for every program that has a shoe contract. I.E. every program in the country. That definition opens about a million cans of worms, and seems like a flurry of lawsuits waiting to happen.
Another angle: the University of Missouri got slapped with probation last Friday for the actions of, I believe, one academic advisor or tutor or something like that. Mizzou cooperated with the NCAA: they self-reported the issue, took actions to eliminate the issue, prevent it from happening again, etc. And they got hammered pretty good. KU cooperated with the NCAA in trying to get De Sousa eligible. They proactively took him off the court and kept him off, waited for the NCAA to give them guidance, and then worked the process to restore his eligibility. Their reward was losing De Sousa and potentially giving the NCAA a big, fat hole to drive their investigatory truck into the program.
Now think back a few years, to the biggest academic scandal in college sports history, which took place at North Carolina. UNC lawyered up, delayed and delayed and delayed some more, and generally did as little as they could to assist the NCAA. The NCAA eventually threw their hands up, said it was out of their jurisdiction, and UNC got away without losing a game, a scholarship, a recruiting visit. Well, their football and men’s basketball programs did; somehow their women’s basketball program was the only one to get punished.
So we’re back to the mid–1980s, where it’s clear that if you work with the NCAA to resolve eligibility, academic, or other potential violations, you’re going to get punished, but if you stonewall and drag things out long enough, nothing is going to happen.
Gosh, I wonder how schools will behave going forward?
Anyways, I was hopeful that KU would somehow manage to dodge any serious repercussions from the FBI trial. Based on what we know from Gassnola’s trial – he stated although De Sousa’s guardian asked for money, he never paid it; Billy Preston never played at KU; etc – I think KU can probably spend a fortune and manage to avoid any major penalties going forward. Last year’s Final Four will, officially, disappear at some point.We’ll see if the Big 12 decides to take away last year’s regular and postseason titles, too.
But I admit I’m more worried than I was before. You never know what the FBI found out that did not get submitted into the trial, or was slatted to be shared in the other trials that have been avoided by guilty pleas. I’m hopeful that word I got from someone who has worked with the FBI in the past will be true. H said, “Fuck that, there is no way the FBI is sharing anything with the NCAA.”
Some week for the actual KU basketball team. Lose to Kentucky on Saturday. Lose to Texas on Tuesday. Lose De Sousa for two years on Friday. And about 15 minutes after the De Sousa news broke we learned that Marcus Garrett hurt his ankle in practice and is out indefinitely. Oh, and Texas Tech was coming to town the next day.
Naturally KU played their best game of the year and the result was never in doubt over the last 35 minutes.
Sports are weird, my friends.
Which sets up a huge game tonight at K-State. Nothing about this K-State excites me. But, you know what, this year that might be the perfect way to win the Big 12. Just steadily win out. Protect your home court, steal a few on the road, and watch everyone else beat each other up.
But there is a loooot of basketball to be played. I still think Iowa State is the best team in the conference. But they lost at home to K-State by one, which right now is the best, and biggest, win in the conference this season. I really don’t understand how Baylor is playing so well. You figure Texas Tech is going to be a factor. And if KU can even play at 75% of the level they played at last Saturday they will be in it until the end.