With the first pitches of the college baseball playoffs, Billy Donovan jumping ship at Florida and LeBron James definitively morphing into a bigger, younger Michael Jordan without the surrounding help in front of too few eyes, the college football pickings in the morning headlines are understandably slim, even by mid-offseason standards. So the Hub is light today, and as pittance offers up in place of "news" what must be the most disturbing mug shot found in any of America's sports pages, one that gazes disconcertingly from the screen morning after morning, unchanging, frozen, and horrifying:
This visage belongs to Dwight Jaynes of the Portland Tribune, who rarely weighs in personally on Oregon or Oregon State football, but who holds the mantle of most annoyingly happy, ticklish or medicated person in the cynic-dominated history of athletic journalism. These are two of his colleagues:
There are a lot of fresh faces in columnist roles these days, of many colors, genders and emotional dispositions, but the Tribune seems to be consciously waging war like no other on the classic role of the sports writer as rumpled, barely civilized, cigar-chomping, alcoholic malcontent, press pass in the fedora, tie perpetually askew, bags and creases imprinted on his scowling mug for eternity, cuz who wants to look at some phony shot of a bum like him, anyway, he asks ya?, and the ghosts of Burt Sugar and Oscar Madison must condemn this grinning, sweater-sporting assault on the profession. DiMaggio didn't give quotes to any cuddly, contemplative giggler in a sweater. Williams didn't throw 'em back with some goateed metro afraid to get pinot on his turtleneck. If you have to be a normal, well-adjusted member of society, fine, but at least pull off a mug that looks like you can handle epic swearing, towel snaps, a foul ball into the press box and a few very specific, very foul smells in the process. Just out of respect.
• Our Naked Integrity Scoffs at Your Studies: Diligent readers may recall the zealous and entertainingly cliched activism that won a temporary injunction against the start of construction on Cal's swank $125 million athletic facility on the grounds the building might violate California laws against construction on a fault line. Members of that dedicated group, including its apparent leader, likely Berkeley mayoral candidate Zachary Running Wolf, have remained in oak trees on the proposed site since that injunction.
Thursday, four months later, the university has released a study from the "reputable firm" Geomatrix that concludes the facility - unlike its neighbor, Memorial Stadium, built on top of the Hayward Fault in the 1920s - is in no danger of upsetting fault traces. It shows Cal is "explicitly...not in violation," according to a spokesman.
But like all good activists, including reporters, the "tree-sitters" aren't interested in the word of any spokesmen, or of reputable firms. This is about bureaucracy, dammit:
"They approved the project first and then did the study. That's backward, and the law won't stand for it," he said. "It's irrelevant what the study says because it's not the product of a lawful (California Environmental Quality Act) process."
The tree-sitters, meanwhile, plan to stay in the trees until the case is resolved. One of the protesters, Zachary Running Wolf, faces charges of resisting arrest and threatening a police officer stemming from a Feb. 23 incident at the oak grove.
At least one of these people seems to be rethinking his position. (from an anti-construction escapade in March)
- - -
• Quickly: The prognosis is "excellent" for treating the tumor removed from Vince Dooley's vocal cords last week ... Greg Schiano can feel the pressure mounting on Rutgers. In the meantime, who'd like to purchase a high quality "Pandemonium in Piscataway DVD? ... And should fans be concerned about Washington State's defense, Coach Doba? "Yes." Now watch this drive.
The Rap Sheet
Crimes, misdemeanors and eligibility-crippling issues legal, academic, institutional and otherwise.
- - -
Cited, for behavior that does not meet the high standards Dave Wannstedt has for players at the University of Pittsburgh, tight end Darrell Strong, who was accused of damaging his ex-girlfriend's purse and cell phone in a Memorial Day "altercation" that spanned an entire swatch of the Waterfront apartment complex from a unit there to a fast food restaurant on the grounds. This is how he honors the memory of our fine troops? Misdemeanor criminal mischief, harassment, no arrest, no injuries, "internal disciplinary measures."
The police chief cited in the story does cite the ex as saying "she and Strong pushed each other." I don't know the tale of this young woman's tape, but Mssr. Strong came into this at roughly 6-5, 260, and with a record of temper-losing covering at least an obscene gesture towards fellow Florida natives during Pitt's loss at South Florida last November, which cost him two games. So whether she's initiating or retaliating in a shoving match with this minutely-tuned behemoth, we can assume that girl's got spunk.
Released, ex-West Virginia recruit Raymond Williams, the state's 2003 "Mr. Football," who was arrested in Cleveland last month for drunken driving and pot possession. An earlier ruling that Williams had marijuana in his system - a probation violation - was reversed Wednesday on evidence from an independent, defense-commissioned test that determined he was clean. He still faces trial in July for the DUI charge.
The same judge who reversed her ruling that weed was a probation violation (and drunk driving isn't? -ed.) has been consistently, almost absurdly lenient to Williams over the past three years, if the AP account in the Charleston Daily Mail is to be believed: Williams never wound up at West Virginia because he was involved in a robbery that resulted in the death of a high school teammate in April 2004. For that offense, Shirley Strickland Saffold gave him five years probation in exchange for a guilty plea to involuntary manslaughter, on the provision he remain "drug-free" and maintain a C average in school. She didn't find Williams in violation of that order when he dropped out of Toledo. And now a drunk driving charge and possession of marijuana - whether or not he had anything in his system, police reported finding a joint in his ashtray - still falls short of breaking the manslaughter deal. I'm as lenient on marijuana as the next perfectly upstanding citizen with absolutely nothing to hide from Patriot Act-enabled SWAT team snoops, but I wasn't aware judges were allowed to be so friendly.