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Rant, Rave

PETE YOUNG
Published August 31, 2003

Busch deserves reward from sponsor

Kurt Busch's sponsor is upset. It lectured him. It plans a mentoring program to improve his behavior.

Talk about misplaced anger. Is this any way to treat a rising superstar who has generated immeasurable publicity for his sponsor?

At issue is Busch's role in instigating fellow driver Jimmy Spencer to slug him after a race two weeks ago. Busch and Spencer have an ongoing feud, Busch provoked Spencer during and after a race, Spencer clocked him, both were fined heavily and Spencer was suspended for a race.

Then Busch, amid the swirl of attention, won the next race at Bristol in one of NASCAR's most popular events.

Angry with Busch? The sponsor - who isn't going to get a free plug here - should be looking to secure a long-term relationship. This isn't like the Tony Stewart situation last year. Busch hasn't harmed others, he didn't lose control of himself and he didn't lash out and say embarrassing things.

Busch, 25, is arrogant, defiant and largely unpopular - just like Earnhardt, Wallace and Waltrip in their early years. That trio also was brilliant on the track. It was envy that kept them on the outskirts, until their personality and success forced NASCAR's popularity circles to form around them.

Busch is cut from the same cloth. He should find another sponsor that recognizes and appreciates it.

Give us Saturdays and keep the rest

Give us the games, real games, Saturday-as-autumn-beckons games.

Give us 85,000 packed into Jordan-Hare as USC comes cross country to play national title dreaming Auburn.

Give us the Swamp and a freshman quarterback and boiled peanuts (yuck) and fidgety, imbibing alumni.

Give us ravishing Chapel Hill on a late summer evening when Florida State comes calling, seeking something rare for the Seminoles: atonement.

Give us Georgia between the hedges and Tennessee by the river.

Keep Maurice Clarett, Rick Neuheisel and anyone else sullying our games.

Give us Penn State and Michigan, where 100,000-plus is the norm.

Give us Notre Dame and more African-American coaches; four out of 117 is an embarrassment. San Jose State's coach has a doctorate and is African-American and under 40. Give us more Fitz Hills.

Give us Ralph Friedgen; keep Mike Price.

Give us the games, keep the morass. Give us Tuberville's crazy decisions, JoePa vs. Bobby, Texas vs. Oklahoma, USF in Conference USA.

Thank God for Saturday. Can't wait for next week.

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