Yesterday was some day for Indianapolis sports fans. The Colts made a major statement about the future of the franchise. There was continued fallout from the Pacers-Pistons brawl. The Indy 500 suddenly got a lot more interesting. And Mike Davis was up to his old tricks. Thoughts:
The big thing that jumps out at me from the resigning of Marvin Harrison is that the Colts now have close to $60 million guaranteed to two players, have another major free agent to worry about, and several B+ level free agents they need to resign this off-season. Oh, and they continue to play in the smallest stadium in the NFL, which they had difficulty selling out before this season, and have a stadium plan in front of city and state leaders that has been met luke-warmly by many. Resigning Harrison and publicly stating a desire to keep Edgerrin James tells me if the Colts and city can’t get a new stadium deal wrapped up in the next 12 months, Los Angeles football fans can start looking forward to having a team again relatively soon. Even with a new stadium, I’m not sure this city can support an NFL team to the level the team needs to bring in enough revenue.
I have no problem with any of the charges filed by prosecutors in Detroit against Pacers and fans from the riot last month. Even if found guilty (Why plead the charges down when there are civil suits to be filed?) none of the players risk serving any jail time because of the charges and their lack of prior offenses. I think this is a good way of furthering the messages to all professional athletes to keep their asses out of the stands no matter what.
As for the Indy 500 getting more interesting, the Letterman-Rahal team hired on 22 year old Danica Patrick as a driver for next year. Anytime a major team like this brings in a rookie driver, it’s a big deal. The Patrick addition is doubly interesting because she’s a woman, and triply interesting because she’s, well, quite attractive. I think we can all agree that people in the public eye should not be judged by their physical appearance first. They should be allowed to let their actions as entertainers, athletes, politicians, whatever be the first thing they are judged by. But it sure doesn’t hurt to be a tasty little treat. It’s worth noting that despite never winning the 500, Sarah Fisher has been voted the most popular driver in the Indy series for several years in a row. By all accounts, Patrick is a better driver than Fisher, and she’s attached to one of the most powerful and popular ownership groups in the sport. Throw in the fact she’s a looker and open wheeled racing may finally have found a way to compete with NASCAR! I found it amusing that on the local news I watched last night, the sports anchor didn’t say a word about Patrick’s off-the-track qualities, but left it for the John H’s favorite female news anchor to say, “It’s safe to say she’ll be turning some heads at the track next year.” Who’s in for tickets???
When Mike Davis finally makes good on his annual threat to leave IU or gets fired, I’m really going to miss him. There’s no doubt he’s the most bizarre and entertaining coach in Division 1 basketball. Whether he’s denigrating his players’ talent (the legendary “Help is on the way!” comment), their work ethic (claiming they don’t practice hard enough), or accusing them of mutiny in veiled terms (Saying he doesn’t understand why they don’t run the plays he draws up in the huddle late in games), no coach has a more interesting way of discussing his team with the press. (He reminds me a lot of Elvis Grbac and his “I can’t throw the ball and catch it,” nonsense.) He’s completely lost his mind and charged onto the court. He constantly puts his story ahead of his team’s. He’s just utterly fascinating.
After last night’s loss to Notre Dame, Davis continued to impress. The story of this season for the Hoosiers has been the brutal schedule they face. They’ve lost to North Carolina, UConn, in addition to the Irish. Saturday they play Kentucky. They then travel to Missouri and still face a tough Charlotte team in Bloomington. The new Athletic Director has taken great pains to let everyone know the previous AD is responsible for the schedule. (Last week, he even announced that the previous AD had been attempting to schedule Kansas and Arizona this year.) The schedule is tough enough. Coupled with a team that just wasn’t very good last year and a large number of freshman players, it was difficult to imagine the Hoosiers winning much this year. And Davis has let everyone know about that every chance he gets. His comments last night were especially odd, though. He looked at Saturday’s opponent and said, “You see Kentucky play North Carolina and then come back and play Morehead State. That would have been great for us to do. Now, you win by 25, you win by 30, and you get a chance to let guys play and develop.” Who the hell is he kidding? IU beat Indiana State and Western Illinois by four each. How can he say they would beat Morehead State like a bad high school team. I think the Hoosiers will get much better as the season goes on, because they do have some very good players in the freshmen class, but they’re not beating anyone by 30 points this year. Well, maybe Purdue who are brutal as well. I’m not sure who Davis thinks is going to agree with that statement, since pretty much all IU fans hate him (Except for my wife, who like politicians she doesn’t care for, just says, “It’s a tough job and I wouldn’t want it.”). I’m hoping for another Kentucky whooping Saturday just to see how Davis reacts.
Oh, and the Colts signed Martin Gramatica to be their kick-off specialist. Sadly, he won’t be kicking field goals unless Mike Vanderjagt gets hurt. I wonder if little Martin will celebrate wildly each time he gets a touchback off of his kickoffs?