Archive for July, 2007

Warren County hires Crump

July 25, 2007

From Wednesday’s Dispatch…


There are many young men in school right now who are dreaming of becom­ing lawyers. Then there’s a lawyer who’s always dreamed of becoming a head football coach.
Maurice Crump, a Warren County native and former Eagle player, has assumed the top post at his alma mater, replacing Lamont Robinson after just one season.
Crump, who served as Robinson’s defensive coordinator last season, is excited about getting his first head coaching job in his hometown.
“I feel pretty good about it,” he said. “It’s an honor and a privilege to be the coach at the school I played for.”
After graduating from Warren County in 1988, he went to Howard University in Washington, D.C., and earned a degree in Political Science in 1992 and went on to claim a law degree in 1995.
But he’s always been more interested in tackles than torts. “Football has always been in my heart,” he said. “There were so many influences on me growing up. My father coached me in school, and I just sort of decided to try coaching, chase my dream while I was young.
“Now, my time has come. Here’s my shot.”
That shot is right around the corner as Crump is scrambling to get his Eagles ready for the start of practice on July 30 and the season opener against J.F. Webb at home on Aug. 17.
“I think the first priority is to get the word out that guys need to be coming to workouts and trying to get in shape,” he said. “As far as the defense goes, not much will be different. But we have an new offensive coordinator and the offense always takes a little longer to put in.
“Hopefully, by the time the first game comes up, we’ll have a decent number of plays in. Then, we’ll expand it as the season goes on.”


On Becks and Vick

July 21, 2007

In Sunday’s Dispatch…

I wrote a column a few days ago, but there’s too much going on this weekend for me to pass up the chance to get my opinion out there.
What can I say? It’s a sickness.
So, David Beckham with his former Spice Girl wife in tow, has jumped the Atlantic and started a career with the Los Angeles Galaxy in Major League Soccer.
In true “Pardon the Interruption” style, is it a big deal, little deal or no deal?
A true soccer fan will tell you that, while Beckham is masterful on free kicks and passes with the skill and grace of a ballroom dancer, he’s got no left foot and only uses his head for his fancy hats.
Still, the guy is a star in the “football” world. An art exhibition in Japan a few years ago featured video footage of Becks sleeping. It drew massive crowds and snarled traffic.
The man brings credibility to a league that needs it and adds a little bling to the American soccer culture.
Will he spark the same sort of fervor he experienced at Manchester United or Real Madrid? I doubt it. But this is a big deal.
Need proof?
When’s the last time you saw a MLS game in the middle of the lead sports page with the biggest picture?
Yes, there is a first time for everything. We’ll see if it’s the last.
Speaking of waiting and watching, the word trouble seems woefully inadequate to describe the situation in which Michael Vick has found himself.
The NFL’s highest paid player was indicted by a federal grand jury this week for alleged connections to dog fighting — setting the stage for a court battle that could lighten his wallet by hundreds of thousands of dollars, end his NFL career and land him in prision for several years.
I’ll say this. I have no idea whether he’s guilty or innocent. I think he deserves his day in court.
What’s of more immediate concern to sports fans is his future in Atlanta.
I seriously doubt the man will take a snap this year. Right now, he’s kyrptonite.
If you’re the Falcons, you can’t have him — and the traveling media cirus that will follow — at training camp when it opens Thursday.
You can’t have Bobby Petrino starting every afternoon press conference with the Vick update.
You can’t have the distraction to the team, him darting in and out for court appearances and opposing stadiums playing “Who Let the Dogs Out” on the P.A. system when the Falcons come to town.
I think you’ll see him take a leave of absense to deal with his legal issues where he’ll ultimately be judged in a court of law — rather than by the NFL in the court of public opinion.
The NFL isn’t touching this with a 10-foot pole. Roger Goodell and the league office can’t afford to act now and risk the embarassment of Vick not being convicted.
They’re content to wait and watch it play out.
Just like the rest of us.

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It’s in the game…

July 18, 2007

With my usual excitement – and with a confused five year old in tow – I rolled in to Electronics Boutique to pick up my reserved copy of NCAA Football 08 for the PlayStation 2.

My buddy, Kinston Free Press sports editor Bryan Hanks, would point out that I should be playing on the PS3. And he’s right. But he didn’t have to get a wife to sign off on the $500-plus price tag.

Anyway, I got it home and fired up my PS2 and popped it in. Because there are at least seven people interested in my opinion on this newly-released game, let’s give it the official review:

I like the new “Motivation” feature, where big plays can boost your players’ ratings by position. The recruiting engine is still my favorite part of the game, with preseason and in-season efforts to uncover the next Reggie Bush or Vince Young.

The folks at EA Sports also did a pretty good job – at first glance – of including incoming freshmen in the game. Clemson has Willy Korn, with accurate ratings and the correct jersey number.

The controls are familiar to NCAA Football vets, yet can be watered down for an easier gaming experience.

It’s basically the same game as last year’s version. The gaming engine is almost identical to 07, and aside from a few tweaks, the playbooks are carbon copies from last season.

It’s my only complaint, really, but it’s one that will probably limit my enjoyment of this game to weeks instead of the usual months. I sat down, practiced for about 30 minutes and then won my first game of a new dynasty (multiple seasons where you can build up teams or just bounce around looking for good jobs) by three touchdowns on one of the harder settings.

If you’ve bought every one of these games since the mid 90s, then you’re going to buy and like this one. I can’t help feeling like EA Sports spent all their time and money on the PS3, XBox 360 and Wii versions while just slapping a fresh coat of paint on the PS2 model and then running it out as a new product.

It’s still fun, but if you’re looking for a bunch of new features, they’re not on the PS2 release. Maybe you should check it out on a next-gen system.

Maybe I should too.

Where have you gone, ESPN

July 4, 2007

Mark Packer, a syndicated talk show host, calls ESPN “H-Y-P-E.”
Steve Czaban, a national radio personality on Fox Sports Radio, refers to it as “the four-letter.”
It’s usually good for a laugh, lamenting the fact that ESPN has become more concerned with being edgy than showing sports.
Kind of like the way that MTV used to play music videos before becoming a 24-hour-a-day reality show network.
What am I talking about?
Yesterday, on the most American of holidays, there were four baseball games that started at noon or 1 p.m.
WGN had the Cubs and Nationals, hardly a marquee matchup. What did ESPN, the so-called “Worldwide Leader in Sports,” have to offer?
A hot dog eating contest, followed by a repeat showing of the spelling bee, followed by four — I said four — hours of talk shows and then a SportsCenter.
Finally, at 7 p.m., ESPN, which will pay $273.5 million for the rights to MLB games in 2007, decided it might be cool to show us the Tigers and Indians.
Let’s back up a minute.
I know that there’s some sort of fascination with the whole hot dog eating thing, but hearing some idiot providing commentary proclaim that Joey Chestnut eating a world-record 66 hot dogs is “the greatest moment in the history of American sports” was almost as gross as Takeru Kobayashi’s “reversal” somewhere around hot dog No. 63.
Don’t know what a reversal is? Think it over…
If watching it live wasn’t bad enough, “NFL Live” showed highlights and added analysis during the 4-4:30 p.m. program.
I’d love to hear how those two things go together.
And they had it again on “Rome is Burning,” “Around the Horn” and “Pardon the Interruption.”
Give Michael Smith credit for bashing the fact that the network paying him to sit in for Jim Rome had it on the air instead of “some real sports.”
Amen, Mike.
Is there a more tragic commentary that some people derive patriotic pride from an American guy beating a Japanese guy in an eating contest?
America is great because we’re the land of the free and the home of the brave, not because we know how to eat on the Fourth of July.
As for the spelling bee, I’d complain about it, but it has two things going for it that elevate it above criticism — they’re kids and, ratings-wise, it outdrew the NBA Finals.
Still, not having an endless supply of the national pastime on the so-called premier sports channel on the 4th was just plain wrong.
It almost made me want to have a reversal.

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