- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 2, 2006

Keep your heads up, George Mason Patriots. People will be talking about you 50 years from now.

• • •

I’m still trying to figure out how to pronounce the first name of Joakim Noah, Florida’s star forward. There seem to be about four different versions.

• New York Times: “Florida sports information officials say it is pronounced Jo-KEEM.”

• USA Today: “… JO-a-kim …”

• St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “… JO-kim …”

• Lawrenceville School Web site (Noah’s alma mater): “… Jo-a-keem …”

Any other suggestions?

• • •

When I first saw it in print, I thought his name might be pronounced Wah-KEEM. Too bad, because then I could have written:

Officials gave Noah a hard time early in his career. They kept calling him for Joakim violations.

• • •

Congratulations to South Carolina, which won the NIT for the second straight season. The Gamecocks have been voted Team of the Year in college basketball … for 1947.

• • •

As if that isn’t enough, there’s going to be a runoff between South Carolina coach Dave Odom and the last pick in the NFL Draft for the title of “Mr. Irrelevant.”

• • •

On the subject of basketball coaches …

News item: Roy Williams becomes the second North Carolina coach in six years to be selected AP Coach of the Year.

Comment: Isn’t it enough of a reward just being able to coach at a place like Carolina? I mean, what’s next, “Mike Krzyzewski: People’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive’”?

• • •

Granted, Williams and Matt Doherty (the 2001 winner) rebuilt the Tar Heels in short order, but they weren’t exactly working with players picked up at a Railroad Salvage Store.

• • •

Quote of the Week comes from Duke basketballer Monique Curry, who when asked about playing UConn so close to home (Bridgeport, Conn.) in the NCAA tournament said, “We’re excited, especially when the crowd is against you. We’re looking forward to hearing a lot of stunned silence.”

Which raises the question: If stunned silence falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it make a sound?

• • •

This reliever for the Red Sox, Julian Tavarez, is developing quite the rap sheet. In addition to the haymaker he threw at the Devil Rays’ Joey Gathright the other day — one of several altercations in his career — Tavarez has been caught with an illegal substance on his cap (pine tar) and has been ordered to take sensitivity classes not once but twice.

So let me get this straight: Tavarez has a master’s degree in sensitivity, he’s been suspended for doctoring the baseball. … He wouldn’t be a bachelor by any chance, would he?

• • •

Seems the after-dinner mints at the NFL meetings have been replaced by poison pills.

• • •

If the owners know what’s good for them, they’ll put these pills on the List of Banned Substances, right after Sudafed. Contracts should be about dollars and cents, not semantics.

• • •

And to think Vikings owner Zygi Wilf professed concern about his players’ scruples after the infamous Love Boat episode. The way the Vikes pried Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson away from the Seahawks is as underhanded as it gets.

• • •

In fact, it was so underhanded it probably should have been ruled a forward lateral.

• • •

Glad to see Seattle try to get even by signing one of Minnesota’s free agents, wideout Nate Burleson, to a similarly unmatchable deal. But revenge, while sweet, can also be expensive — as Burleson’s bloated seven-year, $49million contract shows.

• • •

In other pro football news, the NFL Draft is moving to Radio City Music Hall this year. Why, I have no clue — except maybe that it’s Paul Tagliabue’s swan song.

• • •

It kind of sends a mixed message, though, don’t you think? I mean, here the league is, cracking down even harder on touchdown dances, and it decides to hold its draft in the home of the Rockettes.

• • •

Speaking of the toughened rules regarding “excessive celebration,” I got a clarification the other day from the supervisor of officials. Apparently, that routine of Terrell Owens’, the one where he acts like a waiter, still will be allowed — as long as he serves beverages that have sponsorship agreements with the NFL.

• • •

There will be a 15-yard walk-off, however, if a player celebrates while lying on the ground. But the referee can pick up the flag, I’m told, if it turns out the player has been knocked unconscious.

• • •

Also verboten: Pulling out an end zone pylon and pretending to hit a golf shot with it — a la the Bengals’ Chad Johnson. Instead of a loss of yardage, though, the guilty party will be assessed a two-stroke penalty.

• • •

The Sunday Column bids a fond farewell to Howard “Red” Hickey, who died last week at 89. Hickey compiled only a .500 record as coach of the 49ers in the ‘60s, but his experimentation with the shotgun offense had a lasting effect on football. Heck, even Joe Gibbs, previously a nonbeliever, uses it now.

As Tom Landry said a while back, “If Red hadn’t run into a string of injuries to his quarterbacks, the shotgun would have been the first major change in football since the T formation. It very nearly succeeded.”

I’m not sure about the “nearly” part. Hickey’s shotgun was probably destined to fail, given how he set it up. He wanted his quarterbacks to function like single-wing tailbacks and run the ball a lot, but they just couldn’t take the pounding. One of them, John Brodie, once told me, “On game days, they used to park the ambulance in the tunnel outside our locker room. Billy Kilmer and I would walk by it on the way to the field and say, ‘Well, which one of us is going to get it today?’”

Used in moderation, though — and as a passing formation, primarily — the shotgun works just fine. Landry, of course, helped make the shotgun famous with the Cowboys, and Hickey later served on his staff after the Niners fired him.

• • •

And finally …

Notre Dame safety Tom Zbikowski will make his pro boxing debut June 10 at Madison Square Garden, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Zbikowski has no doubts, it seems, about making the difficult transition from punt returner to punch returner.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide