Friday, July 31, 2015

Roddy Piper

Wrestling superstar "Rowdy" Roddy Piper has died at age 61. Multiple reports indicate that Piper died in his sleep from a heart attack.

"Rod passed peacefully in his sleep last night," Piper's agent Jay Schacter told Variety. “I am shocked and beyond devastated.”

Upon learning of his death, WWE chairman Vince McMahon tweeted that Piper was "one of the most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever in WWE beloved by millions of fans around the world."

Piper, whose real name was Roddy Toombs, is a member of the WWE Hall of Fame, and was one of the core members of the '80s-era WWE (then known as the WWF). Born in Saskatchewan, Canada, Piper competed in the very first Wrestlemania, working a faux-Scottish angle in a tag-team match (along with Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff) against Hulk Hogan and Mr. T, and quickly became one of the sport's most hated villains.

Piper's rivalries with Hogan, Jimmy Snuka and even Cyndi Lauper set the tone for the WWF, helping the wrestling organization achieve the nationwide prominence that it enjoys to this day.

Piper's key gimmick was "Piper's Pit," a mock talk show in which Piper would sit down with fellow wrestlers to talk out the issues of the day. Naturally, the talk lasted less than a minute before the fists flew. Here's a representative installment from 1984, where Piper interviewed Sgt. Slaughter:

Just last week, Piper was on the Rich Eisen Show, talking of his life and times as well as his old rival Hulk Hogan:

The reactions poured in on Twitter:


Vern Gagne too

Eighth Avenue traffic was disorganized, pedestrian traffic was jammed for blocks north and south, side doors at Madison Square Garden were torn from their hinges as the crowd stormed the entrances. It was the largest crowd at the Garden in 25 years — larger than for championship fights, rodeos, tennis matches or the circus— New York Journal-American, 1957

They had come to see Verne Gagne.

Gagne, who died last Monday at 89, was one of the most celebrated pro wrestlers of his time, known for his quickness and finesse in the ring. “A matador,” the newspapers called him; a “matinee wrestling idol,” “the millionaire wrestler.”

In 2002, Wrestling Digest ranked him No. 5 on its list of the 50 greatest wrestlers of the previous half-century, ahead of titans like Andre the Giant, Gorgeous George and Stone Cold Steve Austin.

But the sport that gave Gagne wealth and renown also exacted a great price. Besides the toll on his body — concussions, broken bones, cauliflower ears, hearing loss and a surgically fused ankle — there was, quite possibly, a toll on his mind: Six years ago, in the grip of the Alzheimer’s disease with which he lived for the last dozen years of his life, Gagne was involved in an altercation that resulted in a man’s death.

Even at midcentury, Gagne was small for a heavyweight: about 6 feet and 225 pounds in his prime. He held 10 world professional titles, was a much-decorated college champion and served as an alternate on the 1948 United States Olympic team. As a pro, he was earning $100,000 a year by 1960, equivalent to almost $800,000 today.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Hulk Hogan

(CNN)Legendary wrestler Hulk Hogan issued an apology Friday after the National Enquirer released a transcript of statements he made that included racial slurs.

The remarks were recorded in an "unauthorized sex tape," according to the Enquirer, and included the n-word in reference to the dating life of his daughter, Brooke. He has since apologized.

"Eight years ago I used offensive language during a conversation," Hogan says in a statement. "It was unacceptable for me to have used that offensive language; there is no excuse for it; and I apologize for having done it."

He goes on to say that "I believe very strongly that every person in the world is important and should not be treated differently based on race, gender, orientation, religious beliefs or otherwise. I am disappointed with myself that I used language that is offensive and inconsistent with my own beliefs.

"It is not who I am. I continue to work every day to improve as a person, and this matter is an important learning experience for me in that regard. As a result I am resigning from my contractual relationship with the WWE."

However, his former employer said it ended its business relationship with Hogan.

"WWE terminated its contract with Terry Bollea (aka Hulk Hogan). WWE is committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of our employees, performers and fans worldwide," the organization said in a statement.

Fans noticed that Hogan has been removed entirely from the WWE's website, including from its Hall of Fame.  (How long will this (WWE Classics - HOF: Hulk Hogan) stay up?)

Dave Meltzer, publisher and editor of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, reported that WWE eliminated all mentions of the wrestler ahead of the transcript's release.


[8/9/15] still a lot of Hogan videos up on youtube (for example)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Cowherd leaves ESPN early

ESPN would rather end its relationship with Colin Cowherd a week early than fight with Major League Baseball, so the network announced Friday afternoon that Cowherd's show would no longer appear on ESPN Radio.

If you've missed the drama the past two days: Cowherd said Thursday on his show that baseball isn't "too complex," then cited the abundance of Dominican Republic-born players in MLB as evidence. He essentially said, if a bunch of Dominicans can play, how complex can it be? As you can imagine, insinuating an entire country is dumb, didn't go over well.

Jose Bautista, one of baseball's biggest stars from the Dominican Republic called out Cowherd on Thursday afternoon. Cowherd tried to clarify his comments on Friday's show, but didn't actually apologize and instead just attempted a do-over, re-explaining why he was right. A couple hours later, MLB condemned Cowherd and the players' union sent a tersely-worded statement about Cowherd's "ignorance." By the end of the day, ESPN announced:

Colin Cowherd’s comments over the past two days do not reflect the values of ESPN or our employees. Colin will no longer appear on ESPN.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

80 yard field goal?

We hope Baylor kicker Spencer Evans enjoyed his brief moment in the spotlight, as Texas kicker Nick Rose is one-upping him with the kick in the video above.

Just a day after Evans posted video of his 75-yard field goal, Rose, of backflip-kick fame, posted footage of his kick from 80 yards out.

Yet, for all these impressive offseason feats, Rose was left off the Groza Award (nation's best kicker) watch list last week. For now, he'll have to settle for being king of summer when it comes to amazing-kick videos ... unless someone is ready to up the ante and show off a boot of 80-plus yards.

Ed O'Bannon's attorneys win

A federal magistrate judge on Monday night ordered the NCAA to pay nearly $46 million in attorneys' fees and costs to lawyers for the plaintiffs in the Ed O'Bannon class-action antitrust lawsuit against the association.

Nathanael Cousins' decision came nearly a year after U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled that the NCAA's limits on what major college football and men's basketball players can receive for playing sports "unreasonably restrain trade" in violation of antitrust laws. Although the case — which began in the summer of 2009 — did not include a financial damages component, Wilken ruled that the plaintiffs "shall recover their costs from the NCAA."

The NCAA has appealed the ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Appeals, and a three-judge panel heard oral arguments in mid-March but has yet to issue an opinion.

The fees-and-costs award could be affected by the appellate panel's decision.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Kenny Stabler

Longtime Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler died Thursday in Gulfport, Miss., according to WPMI. He was 69 years old.

His death was confirmed by Fox WBRC, via a University of Alabama spokesman, and through a statement from Stabler's family that said he died of colon cancer.

"He passed peacefully surrounded by the people he loved most, including his three daughters and longtime partner, as some of his favorite songs played in the background, such as Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Sweet Home Alabama' and Van Morrison's 'Leaves Falling Down.'"

A native of Foley, Ala., Stabler played collegiately under legendary head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant at the University of Alabama. He led the Crimson Tide to an undefeated season in 1966 was an All-American in 1967.

After his time at Alabama ended, the Raiders selected Stabler in the second round of the 1968 draft. He played in Oakland for 10 seasons and led the team to a Super Bowl XI victory against the Minnesota Vikings in 1977.

During his time in Oakland, Stabler, nicknamed “The Snake,” was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1974, when he led the league in touchdown passes with 26.

Prior to the 1980 season, Stabler was traded to the Houston Oilers, where he played for two seasons before finishing his NFL career for three seasons with the New Orleans Saints from 1982-84.

In his professional career, Stabler threw for 27,938 yards, 194 touchdowns and 88 interceptions.

After Stabler retired from the NFL, he worked as a color commentator for CBS’ NFL telecasts and also called Alabama games on the radio until 2009.

Chanelle Molina

Hawaii's Chanelle Molina And Sisters: Three For The Win

Chanelle Molina, right, says she and her sisters Celena Jane, left, and Cherilyn, middle, will be a package deal when it comes time to select a college.

[7/17/15] Chanelle Molina commits to Washington State

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

UH athletics projects record deficit

The University of Hawaii athletic department’s deficit for the just-concluded fiscal year is expected to be the biggest in its history.

By the time the annual audit is concluded this fall, UH said it expects to report a deficit of $4.2 million-$4.4 million for the fiscal year that concluded June 30, athletic director David Matlin said.

That is a $400,000 rise above the preliminary estimate of $3.8 million-$4.0 million officials had forecast in a May appearance before the school’s Board of Regents.

“The difference was some revenues that were anticipated to come in didn’t come in,” Matlin said. “And some expenses ended up being a little higher.”

For example, Matlin said, “less money came in on some of the fundraising arms.” Fundraising and donations were expected to finish more than $1 million below initial projections of $4.1 million.

In addition the department has faced higher personnel costs due to the changes in athletic directors and basketball coaching staffs.

The largest deficit of the past 20 years was $3,379,133 for the 2012-13 school year.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Charlie Sanders

Charlie Sanders, a tight end for the Detroit Lions from 1968 to 1977 whose sticky fingers, fleet feet and shifty elusiveness helped redefine a position that had traditionally been reserved for stolid blockers, died on Thursday in Royal Oak, Mich., near Detroit. He was 68.

The cause was cancer, the Lions said on their website.

Big — he was 6 feet 4 inches and played at 225 pounds and above — fast, strong and sure-handed, he was a potent force in the conventional role of run blocker, but he was as much or more of a pass-catching threat, an unusual enough set of skills at the time that he was sometimes referred to as the Lions’ secret weapon.

A prototype of the 21st-century tight end, a progenitor of the likes of Kellen Winslow and Tony Gonzalez, he led the Lions (or tied for the team lead) in receptions six times, and caught more passes, 336, than any other Lion in history until the record was surpassed in 1996 by Herman Moore, a player Sanders coached.

He scored 31 touchdowns, and for his career, he averaged 14.3 yards per catch, a figure more typical of wide receivers than tight ends. He was selected for the Pro Bowl seven times, and for three consecutive seasons, 1969 through 1971, he was named a first-team All-Pro by The Associated Press.

Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007, he was also one of two tight ends (Dave Casper of the Oakland Raiders was the other) to be named by the Hall of Fame selection committee to the National Football League’s all-decade team for the 1970s.

Chestnut dethroned by Stonie

Joey Chestnut entered the 2015 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island on an eight-year winning streak, but Matt “Megatoad” Stonie downed 62 hot dogs in 10 minutes to win on the Fourth of July.

Stonie, a YouTube phenomenon who is the second-ranked competitive eater in the world, finished second to Chestnut last year. A standard Nathan’s hot dog has 280 calories and 18 grams of fat, meaning Stonie inhaled a total of 17,360 calories and 1,116 grams of fat — and that’s not including the hot dog buns.

"I trained hard for this. This is actually amazing," Stonie told ESPN, which broadcast the competition live like the major sporting event its biggest fans say it has become.

Afterward, Stonie, holding his fist in the air in victory, said he came into the competition confident and prepared in his quest for the $10,000 prize and the coveted mustard yellow winner's championship belt.

"We don't just go up there and eat hot dogs. We practice for this. We prepare our bodies," Stonie said. "It was a tough contest. Joey brings it all. I had to push really hard to beat him. But I feel great."

Stonie had defeated Chestnut in the past year in competitions featuring Twinkies, poutine, pumpkin pie and gyros.

Chestnut, smiling in defeat, said he was slow and couldn't catch Stonie.

"I've been looking for competition for a long time and I finally have it," he said, vowing to return next year. "He made me hungry."

Chestnut, 31, had built himself into a champ with his string of victories, which included setting the record in 2013 by swallowing 69 franks. He twice reached 68 but last year had fallen off to 61.

After his victory last year, he dropped to one knee and proposed to his longtime girlfriend. They have since broken up.

Early in the contest, Chestnut seemed to have a slight edge but Stonie moved ahead by half a hot dog after 3 minutes and never looked back.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Alika Smith resigns as Kalaheo head coach

Alika Smith’s era at Kalaheo has come to an end.

Smith, who guided the Mustangs to two Division I state titles and a D-II state championship in four seasons, has stepped down as the boys basketball head coach.

Smith cited philosophical differences with administration at the school. In a document sent to Smith three weeks ago, principal Susan Hummel and athletic director Mark Brilhante sent a list of bullet-point agreements with stipulations regarding positive coaching methods for Smith and his staff.

Smith rebuffed the list and resigned. He declined to comment on his status twice in the past month, but he spoke on Monday.

The problem, he believes, is rooted in the complaints from parents of Kalaheo players during the season. Hummel’s demand that he change his approach didn’t sit well.

“As demanding as I am with these kids, I’m going to be fired in the first week as soon as one parent complains. I’m not going to do that,” Smith said. “I’m not going to look over my shoulder. The biggest compliment is when (former players and parents) come to you and say, ‘Thank you’ for what you do.’ ”
There were, apparently, complaints about favoritism. Smith had a son and a nephew on the team that won the 2015 state title.

“My son played a great first quarter in the championship game, and then another player came on and I rolled with him,” Smith said. “I’m favoring my son? He gets it from me the most. If that’s the route they want to go, that’s fine, but I’m not going to be a part of it. In the classroom and on the court, if they lose focus I hold these kids accountable.”

Hummel said their differences have to do with personality and management styles. She said she never specified that the problem stemmed from complaints by parents.

“He is stepping down because he didn’t want to renew as head coach. It has to do with moving forward with Positive Coaching Alliance standards,” Hummel said on Monday.

“I respect him very much and I have to respect his decision. At this point, Mark and I are moving on and trying to plan for the coming school year,” she said. “He’s not communicating really well with us. We’re wishing he would communicate more so we could decide on things. As administrators and as a high school these are core values we have to embrace, to put the student-athletes above everything else,” said Hummel, who is entering her eighth year as school principal.

“He is a really good coach in terms of results. I get that and he knows that. The players, I really believe every one of them, they appreciate him for (helping them) become better players on the coaching side. But it comes down to a program that is not just about winning. It has to be about developing skills and a positive basketball program for our high school students. Yeah, they learn to handle the ball and play the game of basketball. But it’s about character development and communicating with people.”
Smith was perhaps not certain about his future as Kalaheo’s coach as long as a month ago.

“I know he thought it through because he kept asking for more time. I said, of course, mull it over and talk to who you need to talk to. I offered him the opportunity for clarification, to come and talk to me,” Hummel said.

Smith’s journey as a coach has been as dramatic as it has been successful. After serving as an assistant coach at the University of Hawaii, where he had been a standout guard, he coached Punahou to a 24-4 mark in the 2009-10 season before leaving after just one season.

He returned to his high school alma mater, where he had played for his father, legendary coach Pete Smith.

Alika Smith guided the Mustangs to the 2012 Division II state championship with a 57-42 win over McKinley in the final.

In ’13, the Mustangs reached the pinnacle, edging Maryknoll 60-54 in overtime in the D-I state championship game.

Last February, Kalaheo returned to the state final and outlasted ‘Iolani 53-45 for the D-I state crown.
Twice, Smith was voted All-State coach of the year by coaches and media.