Rebel Black Bear Is New Ole Miss Mascot

Much like the Confederate flag hanging atop the South Carolina statehouse, moving on from Colonel Reb was long over due for Ole Miss. After being without a mascot for the past seven or so years, Ole Miss finally decided on a new mascot to represent the Rebels. Based on a student vote, the Rebel Black Bear was selected. The Rebel Land Shark unfortunately came in second, while “Hoddy Toddy,” a saying exchanged between Ole Miss fans, came in third. Here are pics of the Rebel Black Bear thanks to the Clarion-Ledger:

If you ask me, Ole Miss is just biting off other schools. Cal, Baylor, Missouri State, Maine, Brown, Montana, and Northern Colorado all already have Bear mascots. In contrast, how many sharks do you know of? And no, the team from Any Given Sunday doesn’t count. They really blew it if you ask me, but anything is better than Colonel Reb. The next step is eliminating the whole “Rebels” nickname altogether.

Baylor Coach Mark Morefield Investigated Over Recruitment of Hanner Perea

When it’s not agents paying college players, it’s coaches illegally recruiting them. And if there’s anything we’ve learned over the past year, it’s that when programs suddenly and improbably become successful (e.g. Tennessee basketball, North Carolina football), something fishy indeed is going on. Baylor went from being a disastrous program to reaching the Elite Eight in March. It should not surprise anyone that they’re now being investigated for improper recruitment, according to Jeff Goodman of FOXSports.com.

The player at the center of the investigation is Hanner Perea, a junior from Colombia who transferred to LaLumiere High School in Indiana. Goodman says Baylor assistant coach Mark Morefield “sent dozens of texts to Perea’s AAU and high school coaches in July while they were coaching events, which is against NCAA rules.”

Now here’s the sweet part. Goodman got a hold of a text from Morefield to Perea’s high school coach essentially threatening deportation: “I guarantee u if he does [commit to another school] he will be in Colombia for the spring and summer and next year. Don’t forget it.”

That is one heck of a money shot right there. Baylor apparently is trying to take matters into its hands with a self-investigation, but I’m not sure that will take care of everything since most schools penalize themselves more lightly than the NCAA. That deportation text alone is worth a scholarship, I’m guessing. It will be interesting to see what plays out.

Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky Off the Hook After Grade Change Review

The University of Kentucky dodged a bullet when a review of former guard Eric Bledsoe’s transcripts upheld his grades. Bledsoe was one of the five Kentucky players selected in the first round of the NBA draft in 2010, getting drafted by the Thunder and immediately traded to the Clippers. In question were his high school grades that got changed to make him eligible for the NCAA and Kentucky.

The real matter at hand involved an Algebra III class in which Bledsoe received a “C.” Bledsoe apparently did makeup work and was able to get the grade changed to an “A.” While getting a grade changed based on makeup work is a standard practice, Bledsoe conspicuously had 17 of 24 marks in the books changed to result in the A. I could understand having a test or two or a few assignments changed, but having 17 of 24 marks changed means the teacher was extremely flexible or extremely accommodating (or on the take).

There’s one part of the entire investigation that doesn’t make sense to me. Based on some excellent legwork by Al.com (make sure to check out their story), Bledsoe’s first and second term grades were changed in November and December of 2008. That does not make sense to me because the second term likely hadn’t even begun in December of 2008 (Bledsoe graduated from high school June 2009). How can you possibly have a grade changed for a course that hadn’t even started? Someone has to ‘splain me that one.

I completely understand teachers being flexible and willing to allow students a chance to make up their work. I also understand a student busting his butt to get his grades changed to become eligible. Going to night school to work things out is commendable. But there was a little too much fishiness going on for my taste and it sure seems like a few strings were pulled. Of course, with Bledsoe being associated with John Calipari and Kentucky, there’s no way it would have happened differently.

Bob Knight Roasted by Colleagues

The last time a roast involved ESPN personalities, Dana Jacobson wound up being suspended for dropping Jesus f-bombs. Good thing Bob Knight’s roast went a lot smoother, at least from what we can tell.

Knight was roasted on Saturday evening at The Venue. Apparently 2,500 people were in attendance for the roast which was done by people in-person and over video. Al Hamnik of NWI Times has some of the best lines of the night for us.

From Cardinals manager Tony La Russa: “We went from about 30 player ejections a year up to 70 using Bob’s technique.”

My two favorites came from former Michigan State head coach Jud Heathcote: “Bob and I would meet for a beer after the game — and then the bartender would ask him to leave so they could start happy hour. If I had a terminal illness and just two weeks to live, I would like to spend that two weeks with Bob because two weeks with Bob would seem like a lifetime.”

I’m sure there’s video of the event somewhere and I’m guessing it was pretty strong. The good thing about Knight is that he’s mellowed over the years. I mean who would have ever pictured him appearing in a Guitar Hero commercial 20 years ago?

Will Brandon Knight be Latest in Line of Dominant Calipari Point Guards?

Pictured left to right: Kevin Love, Brandon Knight, Wes Welker

The Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year Awards were handed out last week in Los Angeles. Both winners were basketball players — Chiney Ogwumike from Cypress, Texas was the female winner, and the male winner was Brandon Knight of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Knight actually is in some elite company because he’s one of only three two-time Gatorade National Boys Basketball Players of the Year (LeBron James and Greg Oden are the others). Only time will tell how Knight is able to develop, but if history tells us anything he has an extremely bright future.

Examining some of the recent Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year winners, the basketball players who have taken that award have gone on to great things. The recent list includes LeBron (’03), Dwight Howard (’04), Greg Oden (’06), and Kevin Love (’07). Love was actually on hand last week in LA for the presentation and his future success path seems to have been opened by Minnesota’s trade of Al Jefferson to the Jazz. Being included in that group, Knight seems almost destined for success.

Not only is Brandon Knight in good company as a Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year, he also seems to be headed for a promising future at Kentucky. The last three point guards for John Calipari have all been one-and-done freshmen who ended up as top four picks in the NBA draft. Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans (both were coached by Calipari at Memphis) ended up winning the NBA Rookie of the Year award, and there’s a strong chance John Wall will claim the honor this year. From Rose to Evans to Wall and now Knight, Calipari sure knows how to recruit top flight point guards. Looks like Knight is next on the list of future number one picks pumped out by Coach Cal.

Jeopardy Contestants Don’t Know John Wooden

Category: College Baskeball Coaches. Answer: John Wooden (1949-1975).

Question: Who are a bunch of dummies that haven’t picked up a Los Angeles Times within the last month? The clowns below:

Even if you’re not a sports fan I figure you heard about John Wooden dying earlier this month. These people don’t even belong on Jeopardy. At least Wooden got more respect from the game show than Bill Belichick. Thanks to Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger for the video.

Jeopardy-fail: John Wooden question stumps contestants [The Dagger]
Video Credit: YouTube user mdwivedi

Izzo Goes At it With a Reporter

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo managed to do a fairly good job of remaining quiet throughout the days when he considered moving on to the NBA to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers.  With all the speculation that surrounded the Spartans coach, I’m sure some frustration built up over the nine days in which he was undecided about his future.  Amongst all that was written about Izzo, one article seems to have really struck a nerve.  That article — titled “It’s Too Late For Tom Izzo To Return To Michigan State” — was written by Detroit News columnist Lynn Henning.  Henning was present for the Tom Izzo press conference on Tuesday night, and the coach let him know how he felt about his reporting.  Check out the audio of Tom Izzo and reporter Lynn Henning arguing for ten minutes during the coach’s press conference to announce he’s staying:

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