Saturday, May 17, 2008

Commodore Banter (5/17)

Some links for your reading pleasure...

Brett Hait of the Nashville City Paper reports that cornerback Akeem Cunningham, who made a verbal agreement to play for Vanderbilt earlier in the month, signed with North Carolina State yesterday.

Check out an interview with VandyMania where Cunningham, who played quarterback, running back, cornerback, wide receiver and safety in high school, discussed his excitement at coming to Nashville. I guess not.

Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports,whose own son suffers from Type I Diabetes, has a great, in-depth column about Jay Cutler's adjustment to life with the disease.

The Vanderbilt baseball team dropped its fourth straight, its longest losing streak of the season, in a 5-4 loss to Florida on Friday. Vanderbilt's had leads of at least two runs in three of the last four games but failed to hold on.

This is a few days old, but Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner discussed his rookie draft picks in an interview on

Former Commodore and first overall draft pick David Price will face another first overall pick, Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees, today in an extended spring training game. Price is coming back from a sprained left elbow.

Videos of the Day: Shan Foster highlights

Going hand-in-hand with Foster's interview with the Barca Blog below, courtesy of, here is a compilation of highlights from the last two seasons of the remarkable career of Vanderbilt's Shan Foster.

And, if you haven't checked it out (I don't know how you couldn't have), check out the video of Foster's 42 points against Mississippi State on Senior Night. Not being at that game will always be a regret, but when you schedule Senior Night during Spring Break, a lot of students aren't going to be there.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Video of the Day: The Truth

There may eventually be a better basketball player to put on a Vanderbilt jersey, but I doubt we'll ever see a better person than recent graduate Shan Foster. The school's all-time leading scorer recently sat down with the Barca Blog to talk about a number of topics, including his growth over the past four years and unforgettable performance on Senior Night. Enjoy.

Commodore Banter (5/16)

The Vanderbilt baseball team earned a spot in next week's SEC Tournament last night when Tennessee beat South Carolina, but that didn't mean coach Tim Corbin was happy. Who can blame him?

The Commodores blew a 6-4 lead in the eighth, surrendering a pair of two-out, two-run homers to fall 8-6 to Florida in the first of a three-game series. They are now 37-16 overall and 15-12 in the SEC, which is good for the No. 3 seed in the SEC Tournament.

Still, they'll need a strong finish if they want to host another Regional. In Baseball America's most recent NCAA Tournament projections, Aaron Fitt has the SEC receiving nine bids and Vanderbilt earning a No. 2 seed, while adding that they have the best chance to move up.

Vanderbilt fans know D.J. Moore is good, but did you know that he is the top-ranked junior cornerback and projected second-round pick in next year's draft, according to

In other words, take a good look at Moore this fall because it might be your last chance, writes Brett Hait of The Nashville City Paper. Within this piece, Hait discusses a couple of future Commodores -- John Jenkins (basketball) and Jay Fullam (football).

Hait also a fantastic piece on the fact that the state of Tennessee has become a basketball hotbed.

He points out that 11 of the nation’s top 100 prospects have committed to play at Tennessee, Vanderbilt or Memphis, the most of any state. The main reason? Three great coaches in Kevin Stallings, Bruce Pearl and John Calipari.

There are some great quotes about Stallings:
“There’s not a better salesman in the country than Kevin Stallings as far as the quality of education at Vanderbilt and the city on Nashville,” ESPN college basketball analyst Jimmy Dykes said. “Everything you have to overcome at Vanderbilt, he’s able to do that.”

“At Vandy, they’ve been extremely inventive,” said Mike DeCourcy, college basketball writer for The Sporting News.. “They’ve taken the right transfers. They’ve gone overseas. They’ve evaluated beautifully. I’ve always believed Kevin Stallings to be a terrific strategist. I think he carries that over into his recruiting.”

In this interview, Bruce Pearl says he hates Memorial Gym. Stop whining, Bruce.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Video of the Day: Road to Omaha

With the final regular season baseball series to get underway tonight in Gainesville (5:30 p.m. CT), I figured it'd be appropriate to show this inspirational video put together by one of our readers, Greg. It gives me chills every time. And what an awesome and appropriate song.

Hopefully the Commodores perform well enough down the stretch to be able to host another Regional at Hawkins Field in a couple of weeks. Last year's atmosphere was unlike anything I've ever experienced.

Special prize to anyone who can find me in the video. I'm in there for a second, I promise.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

You know you're bored when...

If you're like me, then whenever you're watching an NBA game, you love being the first one to answer the completely useless, but undeniably amazing question, "Where did Player X go to college?"

I'm not sure what it is about knowing where Rodney Stuckey (Eastern Washington) and Lamar Odom (URI) and Rasual Butler (La Salle, but I'll admit I had to look that one up) went to school. Maybe because it's certain to impress your friends or maybe you just want to feel cool (if it's even possible to feel cool for knowing that). Regardless, I spent the second half of the Lakers-Jazz game to break down the rosters of the eight NBA teams that advanced to the second round of the playoffs and here's what I found:

Boston Celtics
Ray Allen, Connecticut (Big East)
Tony Allen, Oklahoma State (Big 12)
P.J. Brown, Louisiana Tech (WAC)
Sam Cassell, Florida State (ACC)
Glen Davis, Louisiana State (SEC)
Kevin Garnett, Farragut Academy (HS)
Eddie House, Arizona State (Pac-10)
Kendrick Perkins,Clifton J. Ozen (HS)
Paul Pierce, Kansas (Big 12)
Scot Pollard, Kansas (Big 12)
James Posey, Xavier (A-10)
Leon Powe, California (Pac-10)
Gabe Pruitt, USC (Pac-10)
Rajon Rondo, Kentucky (SEC)
Brian Scalabrine, USC (Pac-10)

Cleveland Cavaliers
Lance Allred, Weber State (Big Sky)
Devin Brown, Texas-San Antonio (Southland)
Daniel Gibson, Texas (Big 12)
Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Lithuania
LeBron James, St. Vincent-St. Mary (HS)
Damon Jones, Houston (C-USA)
Dwayne Jones, Saint Joseph's (A-10)
Aleksandar Pavlovic, Serbia
Joe Smith, Maryland (ACC)
Eric Snow, Michigan State (Big 10)
Wally Szczerbiak, Miami (OH)(MAC)
Billy Thomas, Kansas (Big 12)
Anderson Varejao, Brazil
Ben Wallace, Virginia Union (CIAA)
Delonte West, Saint Joseph's (A-10)

Detroit Pistons
Arron Afflalo, UCLA (Pac-10)
Chauncey Billups, Colorado (Big 12)
Juan Dixon, Maryland (ACC)
Richard Hamilton, Connecticut (Big East)
Jarvis Hayes, Georgia (SEC)
Walter Herrmann, Argentina
Lindsey Hunter, Jackson State (SWAC)
Amir Johnson, Westchester, LA (HS)
Jason Maxiell, Cincinnati (Big East)
Antonio McDyess, Alabama (SEC)
Tayshaun Prince, Kentucky (SEC)
Theo Ratliff, Wyoming (MWC)
Cheikh Samb, Senegal
Rodney Stuckey, Eastern Washington (Big Sky)
Rasheed Wallace, North Carolina (ACC)

Orlando Magic
Carlos Arroyo, Florida International (Sun Belt)
James Augustine, Illinois (Big 10)
Tony Battie, Texas Tech (Big 12)
Keith Bogans, Kentucky (SEC)
Brian Cook, Illinois (Big 10)
Keyon Dooling, Missouri (Big 12)
Maurice Evans, Texas (Big 12)
Adonal Foyle, Colgate (Patriot)
Pat Garrity, Notre Dame (Big East)
Marcin Gortat, Poland
Dwight Howard, SW Atlanta Christian Academy (HS)
Rashard Lewis, Alief Elsik (HS)
Jameer Nelson, Saint Joseph's (A-10)
J.J. Redick, Duke (ACC)
Hedo Turkoglu, Turkey

New Orleans Hornets
Chris Andersen, Blinn Coll. TX (JC)
Hilton Armstrong, Connecticut (Big East)
Ryan Bowen, Iowa (Big 10)
Rasual Butler, La Salle (MAAC)
Tyson Chandler, Dominguez (HS)
Melvin Ely, Fresno State (WAC)
Mike James, Duquesne (MAAC)
Jannero Pargo, Arkansas (SEC)
Chris Paul, Wake Forest (ACC)
Morris Peterson, Michigan State (Big 10)
Peja Stojakovic, Serbia
Bonzi Wells, Ball State (MAC)
David West, Xavier (A-10)
Julian Wright, Kansas (Big 12)

San Antonio Spurs
Brent Barry, Oregon State (Pac-10)
Matt Bonner, Florida (SEC)
Bruce Bowen, Cal State Fullerton (Big West)
Tim Duncan, Wake Forest (ACC)
Michael Finley, Wisconsin (Big 10)
Manu Ginobili, Argentina
Robert Horry, Alabama (SEC)
DerMarr Johnson, Cincinnati (Big East)
Ian Mahinmi, France
Fabricio Oberto, Argentina
Tony Parker, France
Damon Stoudamire, Arizona (Pac-10)
Kurt Thomas, Texas Christian (MWC)
Ime Udoka, Portland State (Big Sky)
Jacque Vaughn, Kansas (Big 12)

Los Angeles Lakers
Trevor Ariza, UCLA (Pac-10)
Kobe Bryant, Lower Merion (HS)
Andrew Bynum, St. Joseph (HS)
Jordan Farmar,UCLA (Pac-10)
Derek Fisher, Arkansas-Little Rock (Sun Belt)
Pau Gasol, Spain
Didier Ilunga-Mbenga, Congo
Coby Karl, Boise State (WAC)
Chris Mihm, Texas (Big 12)
Ira Newble, Miami (OH)(MAC)
Lamar Odom, Rhode Island (A-10)
Vladimir Radmanovic, Serbia & Montenegro
Ronny Turiaf, Gonzaga (WCC)
Sasha Vujacic, Slovenia
Luke Walton, Arizona (Pac-10)

Utah Jazz
Morris Almond, Rice (C-USA)
Carlos Boozer, Duke (ACC)
Ronnie Brewer, Arkansas (SEC)
Jarron Collins, Stanford (Pac-10)
Kyrylo Fesenko, Ukraine
Matt Harpring, Georgia Tech (ACC)
Jason Hart, Syracuse (Big East)
Andrei Kirilenko, Russia
Kyle Korver, Creighton (MVC)
C.J. Miles, Skyline (HS)
Paul Millsap, Louisiana Tech (WAC)
Mehmet Okur, Turkey
Ronnie Price, Utah Valley State
Deron Williams, Illinois (Big 10)

Here are the number of players from each conference:

Big 12: 12
Pac-10: 11
SEC: 10
ACC: 7
Big East: 7
Big 10: 7
A-10: 6
High School: 10
Foreign: 19

Well, that was fun. I should have something more substantial to post tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Commodore Banter (5/13)

A few links to pass along on this lovely Tuesday afternoon...

While we've spent a lot of time discussing the hypocrisy of the term "student-athlete," there's at least one school that's doing things right, as VUCommodores' Rod Williamson writes.

Within the piece, Williamson notes that Vanderbilt student-athletes just finished up the most successful academic semester and the finest academic year in school history. This spring, 325 Commodores combined to register a 3.12 cumulative grade point average. Great stuff.

In football news, junior cornerback D.J. Moore was named to the preseason watch list for the Bronco Nagurski Trophy, presented annually by the Football Writers Association of America to the top defensive player in the country.

"While I'm extremely pleased for D.J., I also hope senior safety Reshard Langford, one of team captains, gets some consideration as we get closer to the season," said coach Bobby Johnson.

On the diamond, the Vanderbilt baseball team needs one win (or a number of teams to lose once) at Florida this weekend to secure a spot in the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala. The experienced Commodores are used to the pressure, writes Brett Hait.

For a great piece of sportswriting, check out Joe Posnanski's most recent blog entry. You'll love it.

More than 10,000 Vandy football season tickets sold

Yesterday, Vanderbilt announced that they had already sold 10,238 season tickets for the 2008 football season. This amount is a 17.6% increase on sales from the 8,703 sold at the same time last year. VUCommodores has the full story here.

The Vandy Marketing Department is attributing the increase in sales to the recent improvements of the football program under coach Bobby Johnson. The article mentions last season's Kentucky, Alabama and Georgia games being sold out. While that's true, it's worth pointing out that Alabama fans BOUGHT OUR SEASON TICKETS because they are so cheap, and I am sure that some Georgia/Kentucky fans may have done the same.

Basically, I want to know whether everyone thinks that the increase in ticket sales is due to the recent "success" of the program, or it is just the fact that the home schedule is better this season coupled with other teams' fans, like Auburn and Tennessee, buying our season tickets again.

I think the numbers are inflated if not only by other teams' fans buying tickets but also by the better home schedule featuring Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina and Auburn. Further reasoning behind my theory is the fact that last year's team had a lot more promise with a senior-dominated offensive line and prolific wide receiver Earl Bennett than the 2008 team, so one would think season ticket sales would have been better last season.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Should NBA remove minimum-age rule?

Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn does a great job articulating what we have been discussing here regarding the recent O.J. Mayo investigation. It's a must-read.

Essentially, Winn has two main points:

First, that USC coach Tim Floyd isn't dumb or naive enough to not have connected the dots and known that Guillory-arranged goods would be dirty. He had hoped the situation wouldn't implode and now that it has, Floyd and the rest of the USC athletic department are going to plead ignorance. While Winn says the Trojans deserve major penalties, he wouldn't be surprised if the NCAA and its mostly powerless investigative unit fails to prove any culpability for Floyd or USC.

Second, Winn questions the purpose of the NBA's minimum-age rule, which was adopted two years ago.

Winn lists some of the parties, beyond Guillory and BDA, who benefited by forcing super talents like Mayo and Michael Beasley to come to school for a year.

-USC, from ticket sales, Mayo jerseys ($75 each), increased exposure
-Magazines, from featuring Mayo on their cover
-TV Networks, from televising Mayo's games
-The NCAA, from "getting higher TV ratings due ratings due to the presence of young stars such as Mayo, Beasley, Kevin Love and Derrick Rose."

Which brings us to Winn's conclusion:

"When one takes off the basketball blinders and looks back at the recent Freshman Era, it's hard not to feel guilty about promoting the age limit as a positive thing, about trumpeting these stars as real collegians. Let players on the take jump straight to the NBA, if only so colleges don't have to deal with the Guillorys of the underworld and the rest of us don't have to endure the charade of labeling characters like Mayo 'student-athletes.'"

So that's my question to you guys: Should the NCAA remove its minimum-age ("one-and-done") rule?

I think Sonny Vaccaro makes it pretty clear how he feels about the rule in his interview on the Dan Patrick radio show. You can listen to it here.

A few of the highlights:

SV: "You have to blind-deaf not to understand that these kids are coming for one year and not to understand that there's really no dedication to the school they're going to. There's nothing that ties them to the school forever....When everyone's making money...and the kids are getting dreck, Dan, it's a very easy formula to understand. I'll say this till I die: It's not a fair system. They shouldn't be in school to begin with and there should not be a one-year purgatory. There's no way that should be human. It's not right."

SV: "My point is this: let them go out of high school. If they don't get drafted, let this institution called the NCAA take them back with open arms and then make them sign an agreement: you have to stay for three years. You eliminate the hypocrisy."

DP: It's not a "student-athlete" any more. It's an "athlete-student" and the NCAA should drop this nonsense.
SV: That's the fight I'm fighting and what I'm trying to get the public to understand. Just don't come down and beat on the kids. The most egregious parties are the universities and the NCAA."
DP: I know. The phrase "student-athlete" an oxymoron.

SV: "The kids are not innocent. There's no innocence to this at all. But they're put into a situation by the NCAA and by the NBA that they wouldn't have to be put in. Allow them to go pro. The one-year-and-out thing is the biggest fraud that the NCAA has ever come up with."

I don't know about you, but I'm in full agreement with Sonny. And he's not the only one who thinks that way.

Bobby Knight called it "the worst thing that's happened to college basketball since I've been coaching" and the New York Times' Harvey Araton agreed.

Araton also touched on the underlying racial element to this issue when he said this:

"After all these years, I am happy to agree with Knight on something, especially an issue that has long troubled me: the paternalistic attitudes regarding athletes and college, self-servingly tailored to keep a large base of African-American basketball players from having the same choices as high school graduates in baseball and hockey."

I know people don't usual like to talk about race, but I think Araton makes an interesting point.

Additionally, as CBSSportsline's Gary Parrish points out, "the make-it-to-the-NBA rate for top 10 high school prospects is remarkably high," which means there is no good reason that these highly-skilled players should be forced to spend a year in college pretending to be student-athletes when they're already good enough to play at the highest level.

Video of the Day: O.J. Mayo Investigation

The fact that prized high school and college athletes are receiving improper benefits from runners and agents shouldn't come as a shock to anyone.

Still, ESPN's "Outside the Lines" investigation of USC basketball player O.J. Mayo was too thorough to ignore. Here's a clip of the show in which reporter Kelly Naqi interviews Louis Johnson, a former member of Mayo's inner circle. I think it says a lot about the state of big-time college athletics as a whole.

I'm off to the dentist, but feel free to keep the discussion going on the post below and I'll be back later this afternoon. Hopefully.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mayo allegations speak to state of NCAA

The story isn't surprising, but revealing nonetheless.

Former USC basketball player O.J. Mayo received thousands of dollars in cash, clothes and other benefits while he was still in high school and during his one year in college, a former Mayo associate told ESPN's "Outside the Lines."

ESPN's investigation was thorough as illustrated by Kelly Naqi's well-reported story.

This story is about much more than O.J. Mayo. It speaks to the nature of the NCAA, which has become nothing like the "amateur institution" that it wants us to believe.

"This is way bigger than some 'brand' and money and all of this stuff," said Louis Johnson, a former member of Mayo's inner circle. "He played within the rules of the game, and this is the game. Runners, agents, shoe companies, other elements -- this is the game. … Once you're in the game, you're in the game. There's no turning back."

ESPN's Pat Forde couldn't agree more.

In his latest column, Forde says that USC and coach Tim Floyd have no excuses.

An excerpt from his column:
You have to assume USC simply didn't want to know. Didn't want to know the extent to which runners already had set their hooks into their highest-profile basketball recruit ever. The Trojans knew they were in this deal for one year before Mayo turned pro, and they probably just averted their gaze, hoping nothing blew up and the victories would pile up.

It's a scenario playing out right now on many other campuses nationwide, guaranteed. Agents and their runners are identifying who can play as early as college scouts are, and they're commencing the jockeying for position. And we all know what wins most of those turf wars: money and favors. Most topflight young basketball players have at least been offered plenty before college, even if they haven't accepted it.

It's a problem the NCAA desperately needs to get a grip on if college basketball is going to maintain even a hint of a legitimate relationship to higher education. The sport's repeatedly pilloried reputation took another big hit with this revelation, but perhaps it will spur other Louis Johnsons to tell the truth about what's going on in college hoops and youth basketball.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Happy Mother's Day

With Mother's Day coming to a close, I just wanted to say thanks to all the mothers out there, including my own, for keeping their sports-obsessed sons in line. While we don't always like to tell you, we really do appreciate it.

And on that note, I figured I'd pass along an awesome story about New York Giants linebacker Jonathan Goff, who graduated from Vanderbilt on Friday, and his relationship with his amazing mother Gwendolyn Tyre. It's a great read so make sure to check it out.

Video of the Day: Lance Goulbourne can ball

Enjoy Vanderbilt incoming freshman Lance Goulbourne's most recent highlight tape. The dude can flat-out ball.