Sorry the Nugz are late this morning, but I just woke up from a food coma. Good gracious. Is there a better holiday than Thanksgiving? I always thought it was Christmas, but I may have to change my mind. Tons of food, beverages, and football. And a four day weekend (well for most people. For anyone in retail it's probably the worst weekend of the year). I'm not a huge turkey guy, but once a year, especially drowned in gravy, is fantastic. My buddy Phil made these roasted mashed potatoes with peppers, carmelized onions, and sour cream...excuse me while I wipe the drool off my keyboard... someone else brought home-made Mac & Cheese (with bacon! BACON, PEOPLE! BACON!!!!!), and of course, no Thanksgiving meal would be complete without the green bean casserole. Ahhhhhhhh... yeah it really is the best holiday. Ok then, onto the links!
The Gopher seniors will be trophy hunting this weekend. That's right, our seniors have ZERO trophy game wins, and tomorrow against Iowa will be their last chance to get one. I would love nothing more than to see that happen. E!SPN Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg says the Gophs are "refreshed" heading into the game after a victory and a week off. This will hopefully be the last feature we'll ever have to read about Adam Weber. You know what I'm thankful for at Thanksgiving? That this will be Weber's last ever game at QB for the Gophers. Black Heart Gold Pants has an expectedly snarky Top Ten reasons Iowa will (or won't) lose to Minnesota.
In his Gold in the Barn blog Myron Medcalf asks five questions about Gopher hoops. The PP's Tom Powers puts on his Captain Obvious cap with a column that claims Tubby's Team has the goods to become the talk of the town. Really Tom? You sure about that? You mean to say that in a state where the Vikings are out of the playoff race, Gopher football is as bad as it's ever been, the Wild are the Wild and the Timberwolves are the Timberwolves, that sports fans in Minnesota are going to be fired up for what looks to be one of the best Gopher hoops squads we've seen in over a decade? Really? You think that could happen? For Tom's next column, he'll have the breaking and earth shattering news that lots of food and beverages were consumed on Thanksgiving, and lots of shopping was done today.
Gopher hockey takes on Michigan State tonight and Michigan on Sunday at Mariucci in what is expected to be the last ever College Hockey Showcase. In what has been a Thanksgiving Weekend tradition for 18 years, the event has featured the U, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Michigan State, but with the impending creation of the Big Ten hockey conference (and yes, an invite to the Big Ten hockey conference was extended to Notre Dame for hockey, but unless the conference waives its rule that all members must be full members in any sports, the Irish won't be joining), there won't be a need for the Showcase anymore.
Finally, former Texas Tech coach (and unfortunately NOT the next coach of the Gophers) Mike Leach is suing E!SPN and a public relations firm for libel and slander. Craig James, an E!SPN analyst whose son Adam, a wide receiver for the Red Raiders, is at the center of all of this, is apparently also named in the suit. As you may remember, dad Craig alleged that Leach forced his son Adam to stand in a dark equipment shed on two occasions when he complained of having migraines. That is James' story, and E!SPN made sure we heard it. Over and over and over.
What you didn't see on E!SPN was anyone supporting Leach, like these emails from former Red Raider coaches and players published by CBSSports.com. Leach had a more difficult time getting his side of the story out, and was portrayed in a negative light from the start. Despite such serious allegations, Craig James was still allowed to be the analyst for Texas Tech's bowl game. Conflict of interest? Apparently not for E!SPN, who had decided Leach was guilty because their guy James said so.
Leach was fired because of these accusations before a formal investigation into the matter was ever completed, and conveniently came one day before the university was to pay Leach $1.6 million dollars. According to his agent, the former TTU coach wants to set the record straight:
"Mike Leach is adamant," Liggett said. "Mike Leach wants his name cleared. His reputation has taken a severe hit and been tarnished."
I LOVE Leach as a coach and would have loved to see him bring his swashbuckling ways to Minneapolis. I hope he gets a retraction and an admittal of fault from E!SPN because the reporting in this case was as one-sided and biased as I've ever seen. Unlike Fox News or MSNBC, who as cable news channels get ratings by spinning the truth to make it what their audience wants to hear, E!SPN is supposed to be unbiased and fair in their sports reporting, and they were anything but in this case. They're supposed to report the news, not create it or influence it.
With incidents like this, as well as Lebron James "Decision" (including a less-than-flattering night club story about James that was pulled from the site because he apparently didn't like the way it portrayed him), E!SPN should be losing credibility. It doesn't mean they lack credible journalists or writers, as I visit their site often to read Adam Rittenberg's Big Ten Blog, or to read Bill Simmons the once a month he decides to write something, but for a sports network with as much clout as they have, they need to be leading the way for journalistic integrity, not slipping to sensationalist and entertainment-style journalism that we see running rampant today in the main-stream media.
The Leach lawsuit is an opportunity to hit the sports giant where it hurts, and I hope Leach gets everything he's seeking. Still, as much as I love Leach, if he's doing this because he feels like it'll give him a better chance at another head coaching gig, he's going to be disappointed. Well before any of this happened, despite an impressive coaching record, because of his personality he wasn't considered for the University of Washington opening, and as has been well documented by the Strib's Phil Miller, he supposedly had no chance at becoming Minnesota's head coach because of his actions during the 2006 Insight Bowl. So while E!SPN's coverage of Leach's firing certainly didn't help his public image, it's not the reason he's not in consideration for some job openings.