The Beatle…

VCU Basketball

It’s simple, really.

Shaka Smart won 163 games at VCU in six seasons, shattering the school’s alltime wins mark. It’s the second-most wins for a D1 coach in his first six seasons in the history of college basketball. He never won fewer than 26 games in any single season. He won the only tournament VCU played in that was not an NCAA tournament.

There’s that Final Four business that was, uh, significant. Wins. Hardware. T-shirts. Banners.

There are banners, lots of them, that hang in That Animal.

But here’s the truth: basketball coaches are replaceable. VCU won before Shaka Smart, and it will win long after Shaka Smart is gone.  Smart may have been the figurative can of spinach, but VCUs success on the court is the Popeye. From a basketball perspective there are other cans of spinach.

Here’s the second truth: to appreciate what Shaka Smart accomplished at VCU, you have to…

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NBC SportsWorld

The Stands

BURNLEY, England – Start with the stands. Burnley, the smallest town ever to have its own Premier League team, plays in quaint old grounds near the center of town called Turf Moor. There’s a lot of history at Turf Moor – it’s the third-oldest stadium in all of England – but then there’s a lot of history in Burnley. People here will tell you that the game of soccer, as we know it, was invented somewhere around Burnley. Heck, it might have been invented in the town of Burnley itself. Nobody knows for sure.

At Turf Moor, like at many other historic places, the stands are named for people. The East Stand, for instance, is named for Jimmy McIlroy, the greatest player in Burnley history. They called him Jimmy Mac and the Burnley Brain … he was a slick passer and effective goal scorer and the heart…

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A Baltimore doctor did a three-year study in which he determined that men will put off emergency room visits until the end of a sporting event. At first I scoffed, but then I thought to myself: Suppose the Jayhawks were about to win the NCAA championship? And suppose I had severed my thumb on a beer can pull-tab? I’d probably pack that sucker on ice and watch the last five minutes, is what.

If you look at the pictures below, you’ll see that this has been an issue for longer than we might have guessed:

General: “My lord, you’ve lost a great deal of blood! We must get you to the palace physician!”

Rasputin: “Whoa, whoa, dude. The Bills are in scoring position! I swear, if Norwood misses this kick, I’m going to jump in the damn river, I don’t care how cold it is.”

Arthur: I told you I had no quarrel with you, good Sir Knight! I fear you will die now. Is there anything I can do to make your final moments more comfortable?

Black Knight: Yeah, move ovah and let me watch Game 6, you retahd!
Ah, for tha love of christ, Bucknah! I ain’t got no arms or legs and I still could have made that catch!
Go ahead and lop my head off, ya limey bastid – it can’t hurt any worse!

Cop: I can’t hear very well with all this blood in my ear canal. Why does he keep repeating “The Giants blend the tenant! The Giants blend the tenant!”?

Soldier: Oy, sir! That lig wound looks pyneful! Shall we get you to a midic?

Officer: Yes, Sergeant, let’s. The Shark is up six strokes on Faldo – he’s got it in the bag now! Only the most epic collapse in golf history could stop Grig from winning this one!

Soldier: As if, mate, as if! Haw haw!

On second thought, if I sustain an injury during any KU first-round NCAA game against a lightly-regarded mid-major opponent, perhaps a quick trip to the ER would save me a lot of grief.

I know what you’re thinking… this is news?

As you may know by now, we have a few contacts at ESPN: the Magazine HQ. Heck, one of them even writes a conference report for me at Storming the Floor. Fortunately, that road runs both ways, as they occasionally give us a chance to pursue our unique… idiom for a wider audience.

Today they’re running the first in what hopefully will become a series of articles about sports memorabilia collecting, starting with current eBay auctions.


I don’t know why they do headlines in all-caps. But they do.

More importantly, if you or someone you know collects or sells unusual crap, drop me a line, and you might be in a future edition. I think a post about hilarious minor-league memorabilia would be aces.

Email your tips about odd stuff or people to collectespn@gmail.com. This could be tons of fun.


We have our first appearance of Voodoo Sabermetrics over at Babes Love Baseball. It’s in good hands, let me tell you. Our first victim is Miguel Tejada.

Also going very strong right now is my collaboration with Brian from One More Dying Quail – we talk minor league baseball at Bus Leagues Baseball right here on WordPress.