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Auburn head coach on HBO pay-to-play segment: “It’s pure garbage.”

Auburn head coach Gene Chizik walks the sidelines in the second quarter of play against the Oregon Ducks in the NCAA BCS National Championship college football game in Glendale, Arizona, January 10, 2011. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Brooks Melchior of SPORTSbyBROOKs.com has followed up on his report about the pay-to-play scandal involving Auburn University with a couple of scathing quotes by head coach Gene Chizik.

In his remarks to the media on the same day the HBO special premiered, Chizik said he felt the presentation was one-sided:

“What’s disturbing to me is they interviewed other former Auburn football players that had exactly the opposite to say but somehow or another that failed to make the air. Unless I missed that section.”

Today a source familiar with the HBO production told me that the four ex-Auburn players who appeared on the show were the only former Auburn players who were interviewed by HBO on-camera.

When I asked HBO about its efforts to engage Auburn personnel about the show, HBO VP of Public Relations Ray Stallone sent me the following statement:

Our producers did reach out to the Auburn Sports Information Office to get comment from them on the claims made by the former Auburn players interviewed by Real Sports. The Sports Information Office represents the Athletic Department in dealing with the media. We read to them in detail over the phone the statements made by the former players that we were planning to include in our report and the response we received from the school was a “no comment,” which we included in our piece.

Later in the press conference, Chizik said of HBO’s reporting:

“It saddens me that somebody’s going to air a show with basically one side being known. I think that’s pathetic and I think it’s pure garbage.”

When asked whether or not anyone from HBO contacted him directly about the piece, Chizik responded with, “Absolutely not.” But as Brooks points out, it sounds like HBO went through the proper channels at Auburn in terms of requesting comments or interviews about the segment. Not surprisingly, Auburn wanted nothing to do with the show and naturally, now Chizik is offended that he wasn’t asked to give his side.

All of this is textbook. Details emerge about dirty college football program. Dirty college football program denies any wrongdoing and pins blame on the media. Pretty soon, dirty college football program fans will all start to rail on the media for clearly having a personnel vendetta against their team. We’ve seen this all before. Of course, what is Chizik supposed to say at this point? “Spot on, HBO – man, you nailed us! Jesus H., nice reporting. Truly good work here…”

No, he’s going to vehemently deny it all and see if it all goes away. But by the look of things, the sh*t has only started hitting the fan.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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Pennington’s injury should come as a warning to players who don’t have insurance

Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington passes under pressure by San Diego Chargers linebacker Shaun Phillips during the first half of their NFL football game in San Diego, California September 27, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES SPORT FOOTBALL)

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen is reporting that Chad Pennington will need surgery after tearing his ACL in a pickup basketball on Thursday. Pennington, who is now a shoe-in to win the I’m the Unluckiest Bastard in the World award yet again this year, can probably put to rest any thoughts of another NFL comeback.

Now, if this were 2002 or even 2008, Pennington tearing his knee would be big news on its own. But with apologies to the Pennington family, it’s not now. The big news here is that a player just got seriously hurt during the lockout and for those in need of a reminder, the NFL stopped the players’ insurance the moment they locked them out.

Pennington seems like he’s on top of things so I would image he sought the advice of his union when it told him to make sure that he has insurance during the lockout. But there are 1,700-plus players in the NFL – what’s the chances that all 1,700-plus players acted swiftly and made sure they were covered as well? Don’t forget, we’re talking about 23, 24, 25-year-old kids here that think they’re invincible. How many of them are rolling the dice right now thinking they don’t have to have insurance, or who have put the task off hoping the lockout will end soon?

Maybe Pennington’s injury will serve as a wake up call for those that ignored the union’s letters and e-mails about attaining insurance. Freak injuries happen all the time and you know Pennington isn’t the only athlete playing pickup basketball, or hiking, or skiing, or whatever this offseason.

And thinking on an even grander scale, maybe Pennington’s injury will encourage the NFLPA to get back to the bargaining table and put an end to this CBA mess so that the NFL can start providing players with insurance again.

Brandon Marshall chats with The Scores Report

The word “disappointing” was the first thing out of Brandon Marshall’s mouth when I asked him about his first year in Miami. But the fifth-year receiver sees a bright future for him and the Dolphins and he’s not settling for just a playoff appearance in 2011: He’s thinking bigger.

Armed with a new website, Twitter page and a great outlook about his future in Miami, Marshall is hitting the ground running this offseason. The lockout hasn’t stopped him from improving as a player and reaching out to fans that he says have supported him through ups and downs. He even recently called a group of them just to talk and thank them for their ongoing support.

Brandon was also kind enough to talk with us recently about how he’s dealing with the lockout, what it’s like to go through an offseason where he’s actually healthy and what his experience was like in Miami last year. He also named a couple of teammates that are ready for breakout or Pro Bowl seasons and he dropped a big hint about what free agent he’d love to have line opposite him in the Dolphins’ offense next season. (It’s not hard to figure out if you followed Brandon’s career at Central Florida.)

Check out Brandon’s official new website at www.BrandonMarshall19.com and his Twitter page @BMarshall19.

The Scores Report: Hey, how are you, Brandon?

Brandon Marshall: I’m good! How are you doing, Anthony?

TSR: I’m great! I just saw that you had a birthday recently.

BM: Yeah, I did.

TSR: I’m a little late but Happy Birthday!

BM: I appreciate that. We had a good time yesterday.

TSR: So what, cake, balloons, pony ride? Do you have a party?

BM: No, my wife had a surprise dinner for me at Maggiano’s at the Hard Rock.

TSR: Very cool. Well I’m a fellow March man – my birthday is next week.

BM: Aries baby!

TSR: That’s right! We’re hardheaded and don’t like to be told what to do.

BM: That’s right.

TSR: (Laughs) Congratulations on the new web site – I like the beat going on in the background.

BM: Yeah, that’s Lindsey. Lindsey picked that beat out. (Editor’s Note: Lindsey is one of Brandon’s managers at EAG Entertainers and Athletes Group, who was also kind enough to set up the interview.)

TSR: Really? I’ll have to tell her she did a nice job the next time I talk to her. So tell me about the site and what it’s designed for. You noted recently that you wanted to reach out more to fans.

BM: It’s nothing too crazy. First though, I wanted to thank you for allowing me to do this interview with you guys. I know you guys are pretty popular.

TSR: It’s my pleasure Brandon, we really appreciate your joining us today.

BM: The website is simple. I’ve been in the NFL for five years and I haven’t been too happy with my interaction with the fans over the last five years. I’m trying to get my foot in the door and try to establish myself as an elite athlete and a great receiver. It’s now where I feel like I’m entering my prime and I’m comfortable with where I’m at in my career, so I have some room to interact more with the people who put me in this position. You know, just in terms of the support they give me – especially through my ups and downs – and sticking with me. I just want to be able to give back to them. Last night I actually did a UStream where I had them text me their numbers on the computer and I called a bunch of fans just to chat with them.

Read the rest of this entry »

Time is running out: Beat me in fantasy baseball and have the chance to win $200

Baseballs sit on the infield grass during batting practice at the Minnesota Twins baseball spring training facility in Fort Myers February 23, 2011. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Here’s the deal folks, if you haven’t signed up for the ScoresReport.com $500 Contest at FanDuel.com, you’re a fool. I hate to be harsh, but the truth hurts sometimes.

As of this post, we have 13 entries and seven of those contestants are going to at least quadruple their money, just for playing one day of fantasy baseball. Not a season, not a month, not even a week: ONE DAY. This Friday, April 1st. Are you telling me you don’t have the cojones to take me on in fantasy baseball for the chance to win $200? I don’t care if you play fantasy baseball or not; as of right now you have the chance to turn $5 into $200 all for filling out a lineup so what are you waiting for? Sign up today! (Details are below.)

What do I have to do to win $200 and stick it to you, Anthony?
Sign up at FanDuel.com and enter the ScoresReport.com $500 Contest. It’s easy to sign up and the entry fee is only $5. Once you’re signed up, FanDuel will give you the opportunity to select nine players from the following April 1 MLB games (click here for more detailed rules, or see below). If you beat me and fellow TSR members (and longtime fantasy baseball enthusiasts) Jamey Codding and David Medsker, you’ll win $5. If you finish in the top 7, you’ll win even more cash, up to $200.

What are the rules?
- Each player has a salary, and you only have $35k to spend.
- You must pick the following positions: P, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF
- The game starts Fri 1st Apr at 1:05pm EDT so enter before then.
- Again, if you manage to finish above our three experts you win an extra $5

How does the scoring work?
Once you’ve selected your team, they’ll be awarded these points in these categories: Hitters: 1B = 1pt, 2B = 2pts, 3B = pts, HR = 4pts, RBI = 1pt, R = 1pt, BB = 1pt, SB = 2pts, Out = -.25pt Pitchers: W = 7pts, ER = -1pt, SO=1pt, IP = 1pt.

Can I win a cash prize if I come in second?
Yes, $100, as well as for third place ($75), fourth place ($50), fifth place ($30), sixth place ($25) and seventh place ($20). So for signing up for a $5 contest, you could win $20 as long as you come in seventh. You can finish in at least seventh place right? Right? Right?!

What’s the catch?
No catch. Sign up is easy, the entry fee is only $5 and all you have to do is beat me in fantasy baseball for one day…ah, so there’s the catch. There’s no way you’re beating me in fantasy baseball.

Sign up for the ScoresReport.com $500 Contest.

Isiah Thomas believes that inch-for-inch, he was better than Jordan, Magic and Bird

In an interview with FoxSports Bill Reiter, Isiah Thomas spoke about how his game compared to those of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. His comments are surprising, to say the least.

“I have no problem saying this at all,” he says. “[Magic Johnson and Larry Bird are] all 6-(feet)-9 and Jordan was 6-6 and a half. If they were all 6-1, it wouldn’t even be a question. They wouldn’t even f—ing rate. If they were all my size, s—, they wouldn’t even be talked about.

“I beat the s— out of them when they were that big. If we were all the same size, f—.” He stops to laugh good-naturedly. “Make them 6-1 and let’s go on the court.”

In basketball, there’s an obvious advantage to being tall, but if it were the only (or even driving) quality necessary to be great, Gheorghe Mureşan would have been a Hall of Famer.

Little guys have an advantage in quickness and bigger guys are closer to the rim. Isiah used his quickness to get by bigger defenders, while Jordan, Magic and Bird used their size to dominate smaller players.

Had MJ, Magic or Bird been 6-1 or 6-2, they still would have been great players. They wouldn’t have been as big, but that wouldn’t affect their ability to shoot the ball or find the open man. Isiah complaining about their height no different than if they complained about Isiah’s quickness. If you’re in the NBA, you’re gifted one way or another.

Thomas says in the piece that he’s terrible at public relations, and this is another example. But the guy can evaluate talent. The Knicks drafted pretty well under his tenure — David Lee, Wilson Chandler, Trevor Ariza, Channing Frye — and he helped the Raptors settle on Marcus Camby, Damon Stoudemire and Tracy McGrady. I doubt he would accept such a role, but Thomas would make a great VP of player personnel.

The article is really about Isiah’s exile, and Reiter mentions Thomas’ abilities in the area of player evaluation as a possible way back into the league:

In 2009, ESPN used the Estimated Wins Added stat, developed by respected basketball mind John Hollinger, to judge 20 years worth of general managers. Isiah was ranked the second-best evaluator of talent…

It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Isiah, who can’t seem to stay out of his own way, PR-wise. He has talents that could be useful to NBA teams, but there is so much baggage and ego that goes along with him that it just makes it easier for teams to go another direction. However, Knicks owner James Dolan does like him, so there’s always a chance that he could end up in New York again.

Just don’t let him participate in any trade discussions.

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