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In brief


By Times staff
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 5, 2003

Rant ...

Somewhere, Bo Schembechler is laughing. Or perhaps cringing.

The crusty former Michigan football coach and athletic director probably was watching the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day, like many of us, and saw Alabama coach Mike Price on the sideline.

Except Price was coaching Washington State, not Alabama.

Price was hired last month by Alabama but remained at Wazzu to coach in the Rose Bowl. Schembechler once squashed a similar attempt.

Just before the 1989 NCAA basketball tournament, Michigan coach Bill Frieder reached an agreement to coach Arizona State. Frieder expected to remain at Michigan through the tournament. Bo said no. His famous edict: A Michigan man will coach Michigan.

Price was in warm-and-fuzzy mode after the Rose Bowl. He spoke of how well he had been supported at WSU during the past few weeks. That's swell. But he did himself, WSU and Alabama a disservice. You can't coach one team and simultaneously coach another. Both get shortchanged.

Not surprisingly, Oklahoma whipped Washington State in the Rose Bowl 34-14. Michigan, by the way, won the national title in 1989 under interim coach Steve Fisher.

The NCAA needs to stop such shenanigans. No tampering with coaches whose teams have not completed their season. If a desired coach is busy with another team, wait -- or suffer a steep punishment.

And Rave ...

Alabama? Pitt? Mississippi State? Notre Dame? Creighton? What are these guys doing at the top of the college basketball rankings?

It seems like the NCAA Tournament has arrived a few months early. There have been upsets everywhere -- major upsets. Iona beat North Carolina, Toledo stunned Michigan State, Florida Atlantic knocked off Miami.

It came full circle this week. No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Pitt, after surging to the top, were blindsided. The Crimson Tide lost at Utah, Pitt lost at Georgia.

No. 15 Creighton, considered a classic Cinderella when it beat Florida in the opening round of the NCAAs, suddenly is a juggernaut. The Blue Jays are the only team to beat No. 6 Notre Dame, which beat three ranked teams -- Marquette, Maryland and Texas -- in succession in early December.

There are numerous explanations for the topsy-turvy results. The primary one is the ever-growing pool of Division I caliber players, bolstered by a wave of foreigners, that has created more good teams.

The college hoops landscape is deeper and more balanced than ever, creating March Madness-style action in December, January and February.

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