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Rant, Rave

By PETE YOUNG, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 9, 2003


RANT: 'Dawgs, you should know what happens when you sleep with dogs

His credibility under scrutiny and his career at stake, Georgia coach Jim Harrick resorted to a familiar technique.

Mangling the truth.

Harrick, accused by former player Tony Cole of numerous improprieties and under investigation by his school, conference (SEC) and the NCAA, sat down Tuesday with Dick Vitale to state his case.

He said many things to make a reasonable person skeptical. Harrick bragged a perfect eight of eight players from his previous school, Rhode Island, had graduated. Shortly thereafter, a school administrator contacted ESPN to say Harrick had recruited nine players to URI and only one had graduated. Oops.

Many other things Harrick said to Vitale have been discredited, including graduation-rate claims at UCLA and Pepperdine, and his knowledge of an investigation into him at Rhode Island.

Harrick's brazen deception has precedent. He was fired at UCLA for fabricating expense reports,then encouraging others to cover for him. Rhode Island gave him a second chance, and the Rams' on-court success enticed Georgia.

Of course, telling Harrick to play by the rules in the probation-happy SEC is like advising Jon Gruden to get more sleep: It's not happening.

Harrick is getting what he has coming, and Georgia should have known better than to hire him.

RAVE: The lazzzzzzzzzy Rays days may be gone and it's about $!*#@ time

This is a rave about a rant, a rant heard from Sarasota to Spring Hill, from Seminole to Seffner.

Lou Piniella officially arrived Thursday. More than three weeks before the start of the season, the new Rays manager unleashed a stinging cussing-out of his team in the dugout during an exhibition game.

The message to Tampa Bay-area sports fans was clear: Things will be different with the woebegone Rays this season. Perhaps a little better, definitely more interesting.

The television cameras picked up the image and every word, too, so thanks to ESPN, Piniella's controlled burn was viewed from coast to coast.

It let the nation know Piniella is here, and the Rays will be reckoned with if he has anything to do with it. His seething rant made the easily forgettable Rays worth thinking about for the moment. It said the Rays care about winning and merit attention, at least for a little while, maybe until Mother's Day.

Of course, any manager can go on an expletive-laced rant. Predecessor Hal McRae judiciously utilized them. But McRae doesn't have Piniella's cachet; his rants couldn't escape the Tropicana Dome.

Which doesn't necessarily mean Piniella will do better than McRae. But it means more folks will take heed of this franchise, which is important.

Just keep the kids out of earshot of the dugout and in bed before the late-night highlight shows.

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