Notes, quotes and anecdotes on a Monday morning . . .
Is it just me or does it seem like Utah's sports pioneers have decided that the first year of the millennium is a good time to check out together. We've lost five of them in the last six months.
John Mooney, a Salt Lake sports writer/columnist for 51 years, died last week at the age of 84. Stan Watts, the great BYU basketball coach, died in April, at 88. His coaching rival from Utah, Jack Gardner, died a week later, at 90. Floyd Millet, a former three-sport coach at BYU who played a big role in the building of the Marriott Center and the Cougar Club (he also coached BYU's first win over Utah in football), died in June at 88. Bud Jack, a former athletic director at Utah who played a role in planning and raising money for the Huntsman Center, died in February at 81.
Just wondering: Can we bottle whatever it was that kept every one of these guys alive for more than 80 years?
First, it was the NBA and NBC putting microphones on the coaches; now the NFL and ABC is hiring a comedian to give us a few laughs (I thought that's what the Saints were for?). Do you think there's a chance these guys just don't get it? Bag the gimmicks. Here's a novel idea: How about a better game?
Instead of making the Monday Night Football schedule months in advance, leave a few dates flexible so we don't end up with Atlanta and San Francisco squaring off at the end of the season in a battle of have-nots.
Go figure. The IAAF and USA Track and Field are fretting about the demise of track in the United States, but they continue to foster a system that keeps marquee names out of the Olympics (remember Carl Lewis missing in the 100, Dan O'Brien missing in the decathlon?). How smart is it that the defending Olympic champion (Michael Johnson) and the defending world champion (Maurice Greene) won't be in the Olympic 200-meter dash?
What if the PGA didn't allow Tiger Woods to enter the U.S. Open because he had a bad day in a single tournament? Why don't the Olympics adopt the same format as the World Track Championships and extend an automatic invitation to the defending champ?
IOC boss Juan Samaranch has encouraged such a move since Johnson and Greene pulled up lame in the U.S. trials.
"The wild cards are not the responsibility of the International Olympic Committee," says Samaranch. " . . . If the IAAF makes this request, I think the IOC is ready to study (it) in a positive way."
Translation: Just ask. Remember, this is the guy who changed the Olympic track schedule just to accommodate Johnson.
First, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal turned up their noses at an Olympic invitation. Then Pete Sampras and Anna Kournikova did the same. Sampras said he didn't want to make the long trip to Sydney, and Kournikova said she was just too busy.
The Olympics — they're so darned inconvenient!
Now we learn that Jan-Michael Gambill also turned down a chance to play in the Olympics. And Australia's own tennis star, Jelena Dokic, isn't sure she'll bother with the Games. She says she will deign to play in the Olympics only if — IF! — organizers let her stay at home instead of Olympic village, accredit her father as a coach, let her wear her sponsors' clothing.)
My take: When they start making conditions to appear in the Olympics, something's wrong. Let her watch.
One question: Who's Jan-Michael Gambill?!!
Note to Karl Malone: Don't do it. Don't settle out of court with that obnoxious, bleach blonde Seattle fan who's sucking around for a settlement over an incident that occurred during a Jazz-Sonics playoff game.
The woman — I'd rather not give her the pleasure of seeing her name in print — spent most of the night standing in front of her front-row seat, trying to bring attention to herself. After Malone crashed into the stands during the action, Ms. Bleach said he hit her in the head and chest with his fist — a fact disputed by a number of witnesses. However, there is other, more compelling evidence that Malone didn't hit the woman: She is alive.
"All she wanted was an apology, and she never got it," says her lawyer. "Now she wants more than that."
How about a pair of front-row tickets to the WWF?