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NBA to lockout players

National Basketball Association commissioner David Stern answers questions from members of the media regarding failed contract negotiations between the NBA and the players association in New York June 30, 2011. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS BASKETBALL)

ESPN has the details…

Union chief Billy Hunter said Thursday “it’s obvious the lockout will happen tonight” after players and owners failed to reach a new collective bargaining agreement, potentially putting the 2011-12 season in jeopardy.

The main issue for the owners is that the league has lost money in every year of the current CBA. Apparently, 22 of 30 teams would lose money, but the players say that the number is closer to 10.

[The owners] want to make a profit, along with developing a system in which small-market teams could compete with the biggest spenders. The Lakers and Mavericks, who won the last three NBA titles, are annually at the top of the list of highest payrolls.

So they took a hard-line stance from the start, with their initial proposal in 2010 calling for the institution of a hard salary cap system, along with massive reductions in contract lengths and elimination in contract guarantees. Though the proposal was withdrawn after a contentious meeting with players at the 2010 All-Star weekend, the league never moved from its wish list until recently.

The league would be better off if contracts were shorter and not fully guaranteed, but the owners are likely to get one or the other, not both. A hard cap (like the NFL’s) would also help promote parity, something that is very much lacking in today’s NBA.

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Looking forward to new coaches in the upcoming NCAA football season

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This has been a very controversial offseason in college football, with the scandal at Ohio State and potential scandals at Oregon, Auburn and many other schools. At Ohio State, Jim Tressel is gone, so a new era is beginning. There are also new coaches at other big schools, so there will be some interesting storylines in the upcoming season.

1. Luke Fickell – Ohio State

Everyone is predicting that Fickell will be at Ohio State for only one year. Right now they’ve only named him as the “Interim” head coach. But Fickell has deep roots at Ohio State, and despite the Terrelle Pryor fiasco and the early suspensions for some key players, Ohio State is still loaded. Freshman quarterback Braxton Miller is a real talent, with mobility and a very accurate arm. If he takes the job and grows as a quarterback, Ohio State might be at the top of the Big Ten again, and Fickell might be able to lock down this job.

2. Brady Hoke – Michigan

The Wolverines have been taking a beating for years from Ohio State during the Jim Tressel era. It was so bad that they got desperate and hired Rich Rodriguez, who made things even worse. RichRod changed up everything at Michigan, going to lighter lines on both sides of the ball along with him gimmicky offense. The results were disastrous, as Michigan got pushed around by teams like Ohio State and Wisconsin. Brady Hoke was hired to bring back Michigan-style football, and he has started to recruit real lineman. It remains to be seen, however, how quickly he can turn things around, as he’ll have to deal with RichRod’s recruits for a while.

3. Will Muschamp – Florida

This guy has huge shoes to fill with the departure of Urban Meyer. Florida became a football powerhouse under Meyer, though last year everything fell apart, as the new players couldn’t excel with Meyer’s offensive schemes. Muschamp will surely make changes on offense, so we’ll see if he adapts to his players, or tries to install his own system.

4. Al Golden – Miami

Miami used to be a powerhouse, but now they get slapped around by the elite schools. Can Golden change things? He’s supposed to be a great recruiter, so over time he can make a huge impact in South Florida. But, he doesn’t have much experience at elite programs. He’ll need some time to build things, and in the meantime he’ll need to show he can handle the pressure.

I think both Fickell and Hoke will do fine, and we might enter a new phase of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry where it’s more evenly matched after Ohio State dominated for 10 years after Michigan had it’s own run. As for Florida and Miami, they usually get the players down in Florida, so we’ll see if these guys can actually coach.

Tyler Gabbert decides on Louisville

It took him nearly two months to make a decision but Tyler Gabbert finally has a new home.

Gabbert, the younger brother of Jacksonville Jaguars’ rookie Blaine Gabbert, has officially decided to transfer to Louisville. He will be eligible to play in the 2012 season and will have three years of edibility remaining.

The 6-foot, 190-pound Gabbert was a redshirt freshman competing against sophomore James Franklin to exceed Blaine Gabbert, who was the 10th overall pick in April’s NFL draft. Franklin had been elevated to the top of the depth chart after a strong performance in the Tigers’ spring game, but Missouri’s coaching staff said that the competition would re-open in August. That’s why it was a bit of a surprise when Tyler Gabbert announced his intentions to transfer.

Louisville head coach Charlie Strong tweeted that he is “excited to have Tyler Gabbert officially join our football program.”

New CBA not as close as some assume?

DeMaurice Smith, NFL Players Association Executive Director, makes a statement after negotiations collapsed between the National Football League (NFL) and National Football League Players’ Association (NFLPA) in Washington on March 11, 2011. The last real hope for a quick end to the dispute ended when the union representing the players (NFLPA) filed a court application to dissolve itself after failing to reach an agreement with league and owners over a range of issues. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS)

Over the last few weeks, the majority of fans have been under the assumption that the NFL was on the verge of signing a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. That’s because most of the reports on the labor dispute have been positive lately.

Until now, that is.

According to a FOX Sports report, NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith met with a group of players on Tuesday to inform them that the NFL is not nearly as close to signing a new CBA as many say.

Rotoworld.com does a nice job summing up FOX Sports’ findings:

Smith did express optimism in the “under-the-radar” conference call, but told a group of 50 players that recent reports of a close or even done deal are “way off.” According to FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer, problem points include years of service for free agency and money allocated for retirees. “And (those problems are) even before we start talking about splitting the revenue,” one player on the call told Glazer. It sounds like speculation of a CBA just after July 4 has been misinformed. The owners are desperate to get all four preseason games in, however, so we’d still expect a deal before August.

I still think a deal will get done sometime in July. I’m no expert on the situation but it’s my understanding that the framework for a new CBA is already done. Now all the sides have to do is iron out the details (which I understand could take a few more weeks) and put a bow on things.

That said, I don’t blame Smith for managing the players’ expectations. There’s no sense in assuming anything at this point, especially when you consider how fluid these talks have been over the last couple of months. Things could break down rather quickly, so it’s smart of Smith to keep everyone focused until things are official.

At this point, I don’t view FOX’s report as a positive or negative thing. It’s understandable that the two sides still have plenty to work on, but there’s no reason to believe that the situation is as dire as it was a month ago. Again, I’m willing to bet that the CBA will be signed sometime in July and free agency can begin.

Breaking News: Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn admits to using steroids

U.S. actor Charlie Sheen smiles at the panel for CBS television show “Two and A Half Men” at the Television Critic’s Association Summer press tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills in this July 20, 2005 file photo. A judge on June 15, 2011 sent Charlie Sheen’s lawsuit against Warner Bros to arbitration, in a ruling that denies the actor a public court hearing over his firing from hit sitcom “Two and a Half Men.” REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files (UNITED STATES – Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)

In what only can be described as a media bombshell, the New York Daily News is reporting that Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn has admitted to using steroids in the fictional 1989 MLB season.

“Let’s just say that I was enhancing my performance a little bit,” Vaughn said. “It was the only time I ever did steroids. I did them for like six or eight weeks. You can print this, I don’t give a f-. My fastball went from 79 to like 85.”

Pretty despicable stuff right there. If Vaughn (who was only a rookie that year, mind you) was juicing, it makes you wonder who else was using PEDs in ’89. Was Clu Haywood on dope when he won the AL Triple Crown that season? Were his .341 average, 48 home runs and 121 RBI just a performance-enhanced farce? If so, I want an asterisk by everything he accomplished that year, just like I want an asterisk on all of Vaughn’s stats.

You know, Tribe fans always bitch about everything owner Rachel Phelps did that year (including trying to relocate the team to Miami) – and rightfully so. But at least she wasn’t a cheat. The same thing cannot be said for Vaughn.

Lou Brown must be rolling in his grave right now.

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