I Guess Tim Floyd Was Pretty ‘Hands On’ with O.J. Mayo

Between the investigation of all the Reggie Bush stuff with the crooked Michael Michaels and the leaked O.J. Mayo information, it’s no wonder that USC decided not to bring Renardo Sidney aboard. Why would they want another problem on top of current problems being investigated? Well with rumors swirling that the NCAA was going to hand down penalties on the SC programs, information got picked up by Yahoo! that basketball coach Tim Floyd was involved in some pretty shady stuff when he recruited O.J. Mayo. As Yahoo! tells it:

[Louis] Johnson, a one-time Mayo confidant, has told both NCAA investigators and federal authorities – including the FBI, IRS and U.S. Attorney’s Office – that [Tim] Floyd gave at least $1,000 in cash to Rodney Guillory, a man who allegedly lavished Mayo with improper benefits while the guard starred for the Trojans.

Johnson also said Mayo received approximately $30,000 in extra benefits from Guillory while playing for the Trojans. He first made those allegations to ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” in May 2008, producing a litany of receipts to back up his claims, including purchases of food, clothing and a 42-inch flat screen TV for Mayo.

When the ESPN report came out my first reaction was to say that Mayo made the error of having the wrong people around him — ones that would rat him out. Never did I realize that Floyd would be dumb enough to make this big of a mistake. Moreover, the story that Mayo “picked” USC on his own and that Floyd just fell into O.J. seems now like a semi-truth; it was much easier for Mayo to tell USC that he wanted to go there so long as they met his monetary needs.

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John Calipari Hiring Tony Delk, Scott Padgett to Coach at Kentucky

And that’s why Kentucky brought John Calipari in to coach them. That, and because he’s taken UMass and Memphis to the Final Four. While Billy Gillispie would have been fine job-wise if he had won a few more games and probably would have had great success at UK, I never saw him hiring the former stars of the program. That’s something Calipari’s already doing:

Saying he wanted to help them launch coaching careers, new UK coach John Calipari on Thursday said he would hire former Wildcat players Tony Delk and Scott Padgett.

“I’ve done this many times. What happens is with guys like that, they’re in positions of assistant strength coach or assistant equipment manager,” Calipari said.

“This is not a money thing,” Calipari said. “If you want to get started in this profession, I will help you.”

The new coach also said he will have 4-5 guys around every year who want to get into the coaching profession.

I’m not exactly sure how they can afford to just hire anyone and dole out all kinds of funds but this is a great way of stepping up fan relations. This guy is really smooth. I said you better have a great replacement in mind if you’re going to fire someone who’s good and Kentucky had that. Imagine how much easier it will be to recruit when all the Kentucky legends are on your side making phone calls. Coaches should take notes from Calipari on how to work alumni-relations. Are you listening, Sean Miller?

Isiah Introduced as ‘Isiah Thompson’ for Florida International Press Conference

I already talked about Florida International’s interesting choice of hiring Isiah Thomas as their new basketball coach. I guess when you’re FIU and your only claim to fame is Carlos Arroyo, you might be inclined to bring in a big name to help put you on the map. Problem is, as you’ll see in this video of Jim Rome giving his hilarious take on the matter, Zeke was introduced as “Isiah Thompson” for his introductory press conference Wednesday. Skip ahead to around the 2:10 mark if you want to laugh your ass off.

Think that’s a bad omen? I’d say so. Isiah also got grilled by Chris McKendry in an interview on ESPN. She played hard ball asking him what he’ll say to recruit’s families when they ask about the sexual harassment case, and what really happened with the suicide attempt. Zeke’s classic response was that many of these parents name their children after him and then he passed the suicide thing on to his daughter again, of course. At least some smart person gave him the great idea to donate his first year’s salary back to the school. That’s some genius P.R.

Greg Paulus to Disappoint College Football Fans Now, Too

The whole year of backing up Nolan Smith at point guard in his senior year at Duke must have been the lowest of the low points for Greg Paulus. Paulus came into Duke with super-high expectations — the guy was the Gatorade National Player of the Year in football coming out of high school in Syracuse. But when Coach K comes calling, sometimes you have to go try and live that dream. Things however ended more as a nightmare as Paulus got demoted from his starting gig in his senior year. Once Duke made its swift exit from the tournament, the Green Bay Packers apparently came calling for a workout. As if that wasn’t enough, Michigan football apparently is hot on the trail for Paulus’ services:

According to sources close to the situation, the former Duke point guard was in Ann Arbor on Tuesday meeting with Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez about the possibility of playing this season for the Wolverines.

He watched Michigan practice Tuesday afternoon and could fit in with Rodriguez’s spread offense. The Wolverines don’t have a clear-cut starting quarterback, and Paulus could come in and play immediately.

I understand that Paulus was all-everything come out of New York, but it’s been four years since the guy played competitively. They really think he’s going to be worth much? I sure don’t think so. Who was the last transition guy to make it, Chris Weinke? I guess if you’re Michigan and you were 3-9 and facing somber days hitting the Makers Mark bottle, you’re open to anything. I can’t imagine a transition would work well but I could be wrong. Also, can someone please explain to me how he has the eligibility to play football after burning four years at Duke??

(via Ballhype)

Florida International Committing Basketball Suicide, Hiring Isiah Thomas

After reading that the Clippers were discussing the possibility of hiring Isiah Thomas, there was no doubt Zeke was close to finding a new job. It’s been just over a year since Isiah was canned by the Knicks after costing them years of potential success and over $10 million in a lawsuit. I never thought Isiah would actually get a head coaching job in his first gig back but it appears as if that’s the case. Florida International would rather see their program commit suicide by hiring Thomas than continue to post a sub-.500 record under Sergio Rouco. The hiring is expected to be announced on Wednesday:

”Isiah really wanted to get back into coaching, and wanted to do it at the college level,” said the source. “He was offered some jobs within the NBA, but he feels FIU suits him better right now. He wants to make a clean start, loves Miami, and thinks FIU has a lot of potential because of where it is and because it’s a big school with 38,000 students and a strong alumni base.”

The source said Thomas has always enjoyed eyeing and developing young talent, and the Golden Panthers job is perfect.

Pardon me if I can’t help but laugh after reading the “Enjoyed eyeing and developing young talent” part. In the case of A-mooch-a Brown Sanders, middle-aged talent might be more appropriate. Though the hiring of Isiah could bring the program a ton of publicity and make it easier to recruit, I’m pretty shocked they would turn the reigns over to him. Thomas was a complete screw-up with the Knicks and has proven he can’t run a team or organization. And clearly he’s pretty unstable mentally. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t go with a safer pick — there’s no way this ends well for them.

DeMar DeRozan’s Situation Makes the One-and-Done Rule Look Good

Ordinarily I’d prefer to see athletes who enroll in college stay more than just one year. As Bob Knight said, the one-and-done makes a mockery of the system because it’s a joke for the student-athlete. All these athletes need to do is make grades for one semester, play ball, and then they get to drop out after that to prepare for draft camps. When you look at it that way, you realize the system winds up making the university look even worse for accepting the player. Normally that’s how I feel about players leaving early, but there are rare exceptions. USC freshman forward DeMar DeRozan falls under that category. While it looks like he’ll be joining teammates Daniel Hackett and Taj Gibson by leaving early for the draft, DeRozan has the best reason of all for his choice:

DeRozan’s decision was hardly a surprise because of his family’s health issues. His mother, Diane DeRozan, suffers from lupus.

“Overall, I think I’m in a great position for the draft,” DeRozan said. “I’m also in a great position to do something for my family.”

The decision was a difficult one, said his father, Frank DeRozan: “DeMar was torn between going into the draft and staying at USC. He wants to stay, but his mom is real sick.”

Now it can be said that DeRozan’s decision also coincides with his explosion towards the end of the season including being the star of the Pac-10 tournament. Even if that is the case, I actually am happy for a guy who will be able to leave for the professional ranks in an effort to make some money to take care of his family. Depending on how ill his mother is, a year could make a big difference. I hope he’ll find a team that can pay him some decent money and that he can reciprocate with good play on the court. Oh, and Draft Express has him as a top-10 pick, not too shabby.

North Carolina Was Worth All the Hype

I resented North Carolina somewhat this season because they were so hyped up entering the year. Actually, starting off with last year’s Final Four, as soon as Kansas won it all, ESPN was already releasing it’s top five for the next season and they had UNC at the top spot. Then before this season began, everyone was talking about how good Carolina was. All I heard was that they could be one of the best teams ever, that they could go undefeated, and that they could score 100 points at will. Couple that with the endless praise for Tyler Hansbrough who returned for his senior season despite being the player of the year the previous season and it was easy to grow tired of the charade. Then when the Heels started off the ACC season 0-2, it was hard not to think that we were watching another underachieving team full of superstars. Turns out they may have taken their few lumps at the right time.

North Carolina was easily the best team in the country from start to finish. They beat Michigan State at Ford Field in Detroit back in December by 35 and then concluded the season with a 17-point win over Michigan State at Ford Field for the national title. They really played to their full potential during the tournament, showing how good of a team they were. The only time I really saw them struggle was in the second half against LSU. Even though the Tigers had them on the ropes, UNC still rallied for a 14-point win. The Tarheels proceeded to mow through the rest of the tournament field, crushing Gonzaga, Oklahoma, Villanova, and Michigan State in order. North Carolina was so brilliant they made it seem like none of those really good teams deserved to be on the same floor.

As I said before the game, I am quite satisfied with the outcome of the season because North Carolina more than earned the title, as did Roy Williams. They were worthy and deserving champions. One question though, why wasn’t Ty Lawson named Most Oustanding Player at the Final Four? 22, 7, and 8 against Villanova. 21 points and a tournament record 8 steals against Michigan State. Am I missing something? Anyway, congrats to North Carolina for the excellent season and extremely impressive tournament.