“Helping Joe get a Job”

April 30, 2009

elliott There have been a few times in my life where I’ve done something relatively nice and it later somehow came around back to me like a karma-tic boomerang. 

When I was in 4th grade for example, I was the only person in the 4th grade class that would talk to the “new red headed kid”.  I tried to console him but he was miserable and cried constantly.  I told him it would be alright but he just couldn’t handle the new environment.  He eventually transferred back to his original school. 

6 years later, I was entering high school (it was a public school, which was vastly different from the private academy that I’d been at for two years prior) and I was meeting new kids and talking to this one guy and he said, “I remember you.  You were the only kid that talked to me back in elementary.  Thanks for that by the way.”  And he proceeded to introduce me to the other kids in the high school.  If he hadn’t, I wouldn’t have known anyone on day one of school.

A few months back, I went to Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Expo.  While there, I realized I was sporting the ol’ Billy Ray Cyrus mullet hairdo, and that just won’t do.  So I started to scout out professional barber shops in the city and I stumbled upon a remarkable store called Truefitt & Hill which was a really nice experience.

So I wrote them up in Yelp.  And as my friends know, I can write one helluva review in Yelp:

For those without the patience to read the review, basically, my barber was a fella named “Joe” who was a 67 year old master barber from Sicily, Italy.  And he gave me truly the best haircut I’ve ever had in my life.  It’s hard to describe because it was unlike anything I’d done in Vegas before.  It was just a very serene, masculine, quiet, sort of… ‘time’.  It was sort of a guys spa, I guess:  No frilly stuff.  Just a clean, well done haircut that ended up being a very worthwhile experience.

Well, fast forward to today.  I took a look at my message box at Yelp (I haven’t written much in the past couple months for a number of reasons) and I read the following:


imageMy name is Elliott and I am the owner of Elliott and Co. for men in Las Vegas. I wanted to thank you for the really nice review that you wrote witch featured Joe La Spisa. A couple days after I read your review about Truefitt and Hill and Joe, I received a phone call from a soft spoken barber with an Italian accent telling me that Truefitt had closed and that he was looking for a nice shop to work in that was close to his home. A day later I met with Joe and while I was talking with him all I could think of was your review, which was spot on I might add. Joe has since come to work in my place and he is a great barber and a real pleasure to work with. Your kind words about Joe were one of the biggest factors in bringing him on. Thank you! I hope the next time you are in Vegas you make the trip to Elliott & Co. and pay Joe a visit. I know you both will enjoy it.

Warm regards,

Now how cool is that?

(And yes, I’m going to Vegas sometime before the kid is born and I’m going to try to get over the Elliott & Company.  It’s quite a ways from the strip near as I can tell but if I want a good haircut, it’ll be worth it.)

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NBC Sports Photo Collage: “NFL Cheer”

April 27, 2009

imageThis just made my day. This is, like, 119 of some of the best photos ever taken by mankind.

Y’know, no matter how lousy you feel (and after a day of volunteering at a pet adoption fair, I ache all over and feel generally pretty awful) I challenge any guy to flip through these slides and not have a smile on their face by the end of all 119 photos.  I don’t even care how much I hate Tom Brokaw and the insanely biased NBC newsroom:  After this photo spread, I say, “All hail NBC Sports!”  These are the kind of things that make the Sport Illustrated issues irrelevant.  Cripes – this actually makes me wanna go to see an NFL game.  At least for a moment.  Then I wake up and decide the Internet is cheaper than paying $120/ticket.

BTW:  The photographer must have something going on with the girl named “Ryann Murray” because her photo shows up an interesting number of times, with a citation of her identity and everything.

Me?  Based on the photos, I think this is gonna be a great year for Houston Texans & Tampa Bay Buccs fans.  You lucky dogs, you.

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“FixNation” – a FREE non-profit animal clinic in Los Angeles

April 24, 2009

This is amazing.  I don’t know how these folks do this, considering the expense involved.  They must have some serious benefactors behind them or a major Federal Grant.

UPDATE:  Aha.  I found it on their web site:

In January of 2007 the Catnippers team secured grant funding from PetSmart Charities, the Found Animals Foundation, Best Friends Animal Society and several private donors to launch the very first full-time spay-neuter clinic in Los Angeles dedicated primarily to serving feral cat caregivers and implementing TNR county-wide. Our new program is a separate 501(c)(3) organization, FixNation, Inc., which has been in operation since July 16, 2007.

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Richard Jeni gets a new web site

April 22, 2009

image One of my favorite comedians of all time, Richard Jeni, passed away a while back.  The fact was that he was apparently very depressed and committed suicide… a decidedly unfunny thing from a notoriously funny guy.

I’ve written about my opportunity to sit down with him and talk with him in an airport back in 2000.  We sat down with drinks and laughed about… among other things… airports. And we chatted for over an hour. Yeah, he was a great comedian then and he still is now.

And now, I guess his estate has figured out that there are people like me who are still interested in seeing the bits he used to do.  Stuff that isn’t available on his CDs or videos.  Things he did on TV, like Platypus-man, and other bits.

So they redid his web site and lo and behold, there’s some great stuff there.  Check it out if you’re a fan of comedy.


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HOLY CRAP. FDA confirmed that they’re investigating NUTRO pet food for deaths & illnesses

April 22, 2009

image OMG.  How many people feed their dogs Nutro these days?  This is a REALLY popular food billed in national chains as one of the healthier foods.

FDA Confirms Probe of NUTRO Pet Food Deaths, Illnesses

"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has confirmed that the agency is investigating NUTRO pet food, following a series of unexplained illnesses and deaths."

"Today, the FDA’s Division of Freedom of Information confirmed the agency has an ongoing investigation into NUTRO — and said that investigation could be criminal or civil in nature."

"The investigation came to light when the FDA denied a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by ConsumerAffairs.com seeking a list of complaints and lab results the agency has collected regarding NUTRO pet food. The agency denied the request and said that releasing the information could hamper “prospective or ongoing” action by law enforcement."

More on this announcement here:

For information on unhealthy ingredients for your dog, visit the Dogfood Project at:

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Jim Goldman… Valleywag reports that he’s an Apple shill… now he’s allegedly an IP thief

April 22, 2009

imageMan, this guy annoys me.

Valleywag reports that CNBC’s Jim Goldman is a shill for Apple.  I flat out think he’s a media mouthpiece for Apple’s Public Relations group based on his reporting.  Not convinced?  Check out Valleywag’s research:

Well, normally his bluster is just that:  Bluster.  However this time, he’s really gone way overboard.  We’re talking transparent-Jack-Thompson-nutjob overboard.

He’s flat out making up stuff to defend Apple.

Goldman’s Ludicrous Apple Hype… Gizmodo weighs in
After Jim Goldman “reported” on the supposed cost/value differences between a PC versus a Mac, and publicly made the claims that:

  • Macintoshes come with Photoshop; PC’s don’t.
  • Macintoshes come with iTunes; PC’s don’t.
  • Macintoshes come with iPhoto; PC’s don’t.
  • Macintoshes “don’t need” antivirus software; PC’s need to buy some.
  • Macintoshes have 4x the battery life compared to PC’s, have faster processors & better screen resolution

…the technology folks a Gizmodo cried out, SAY WHAT? and called CNBC flat out “ridiculous”.  (http://i.gizmodo.com/5220277/cnbc-is-ridiculous-macs-come-with-photoshop-pcs-need-600-extra-to-perform-as-well-as-a-mac)  Gizmodo gets VERY specific about how ludicrously wrong Jim Goldman’s slanted Apple view was, citing such examples as:

…and BTW:  Macintoshes do NOT have “4x the battery life”, “faster processors”, or “better screen resolution”.

Goldman can’t even COPY other people’s work correctly
The crux of Goldman’s incorrect comparison apparently originates with his source material:  It looks like Goldman ripped off someone else’s article, which compared a MacBook Pro to a specific HP laptop model… then he extrapolated the facts to encompass ALL Windows laptops versus ALL Mac laptops.

Yep – in a hilarious case of ‘cribbing’, Jim Goldman, apparently not satisfied with just shilling for Apple, allegedly copied his information directly from a BusinessWeek article written by Arik Hesseldahl who has since publicly accused Goldman of ‘borrowing’ his article.   Valleywag/Gawker highlights the “cribbing” activities of Goldman:

“The duplication of six data points between the BusinessWeek story and Goldman’s CNBC segment would be enough, on its own, to give away Goldman’s cribbing. But the real tell that Goldman didn’t do his own work was his sloppy copying of BusinessWeek’s comparison: Hesseldahl wrote that a PC buyer would need Adobe’s low-end Photoshop Elements to match the Mac’s built-in iPhoto. In the CNBC graphic, Goldman rendered this as "Photoshop" — a much more expensive program that doesn’t come with a PC or a Mac. (Hesseldahl has now accused Goldman of "borrowing" his column, and pointed out other errors.)”

For an interesting bit of investigative journalism, read the complete article.

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China absorbed 15% of the world’s web server market share in just 3 months

April 21, 2009

For more than 12 years, the ‘war’ for web server market share has been between Apache & Microsoft IIS, with the gap being as little as 9% between the two in 2007.

But, if you had any doubt about the strength of the number of people in China:

  • In just a 3 months, QQ.com, a Chinese owned ISP that no one seems to know anything about, (they don’t even know what technology these folks are using) has burst onto the Web Server scene and taken 12% of the world’s web server marketshare.


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AB351: Save High School Marching Band, Color Guard, Dance/Drill Team Programs

April 21, 2009

image Currently, The California Legislature will be voting on a bill that will decide if Marching Band, Color Guard, and several other activities will count for high school P.E. credit. This bill passing is very important to college band directors who want high school students who want to participate in marching band to be able to do so, which also increases the number of students who want to join college bands.

Please help us in supporting the Bill so that we can give these kids the ability to participate in a high school band program. If possible, please write a letter to your local representatives to show them your support for Bill AB351. On the website www.ab351.org, you can find not only who is your local representative but there are template letters that you can print out, or edit and personalize to send to our representatives.

For those former band members on Facebook, you can join the group, Support AB351: Save high school marching band programs, at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=589067541&ref=profile#/group.php?gid=67977274373&ref=ts

Above all help increase awareness of this bill in your community; we would hate to see band programs at local high schools being cut. Imagine how different life would have been if high school marching band didn’t exist for those of you who have participated in it.


Okay – so that’s the letter I received on this topic – “Bill AB351”. 

To be clear, since 2006, because of California Dept of Education rule changes, Cheerleading, Color Guard, JROTC, Marching Band no longer qualify as Physical Education credit.

The result has been the utter decimation of student groups like band, cheerleading, drill teams, etc.  Enrollment in such activities has dropped by 90% at many schools.  Hollywood High in 2007 had 114 students – in 2009 they had 14

The first question that hit my mind was, “Why in God’s name would they cut Cheerleading, Color Guard, JROTC, & Marching Band’s credit toward Physical Education?  Anyone that’s been in parades knows the physical demands of practices and performances & the discipline and skill required to participate – not to mention the social and educational benefits of such music programs.

My first reaction was, “These California State Legislature morons must be completely disconnected with the millions of kids participating in these activities.”  Then once I cooled down, I realized:  It’s got to be something deeper than this. 

Follow the money, I say.  Lo-and-behold, guess who are the big opponents of AB351:

…The California Teachers Association

That’s right.  As disgusting as it might be, the TEACHERS UNION is against providing PE credit for activities like Band, Drill team, Rifles/Color Guard, JROTC, etc.  The question is why?  Why would they be against an activity that promotes music education, while encouraging physical participation in a school course that involves them in strenuous physical work during both the school year as well as after hours during practices and on weekends during football/basketball games?

I say it’s money and I’d challenge someone to say other wise.  The CTA is facing budget cuts and those cuts are resulting in job losses throughout California.  With funding earmarked for certain areas of education, it sure must be frustrating to see money go to something silly that students might like to participate in like MUSIC or DRILL TEAM when it could otherwise go to some other teacher’s salary and save a job here and there.

But hey – with a little politicking, anything is possible right?  One really has to wonder how it is that the California state guidelines for PE Standards suddenly after decades of agreement are now under scrutiny and Band & Drill team are being “re-evalatued” for application for PE credit?  There was never a question of these activities legitimacy as being applicable to PE credit until… oh… CA state’s education budgets got cut.

I’m sure there are legion of folks that will attempt to point to the AHA’s backing or some makeshift discussion about how “band participation” isn’t the same as running laps around the field.

And to those people I say, “You never participated in any of these activities did they?  You never sweat through the fall heat while marching laps and playing an instrument or swung a baton, did you?”

“You’d know better if you had.”

VISIT:  http://www.ab351.org/

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Is Facebook generally more ‘positive’ & Twitter generally more ‘negative’?

April 21, 2009

imageA very interesting article appeared on the VisitMix web site the other day that I thought was quite insightful.

imageThe quote that got me was this:

Facebook had much more positive items like “I love…” and “I like x too…” vs. Twitter’s “They left the pickles off the sandwich, EPIC FAIL!”

I’ve noticed this same phenomenon:  Twitter is… cathartic.  It seems to give people an outlet to bitch to millions of people – people you might not even care about, whereas Facebook seems to be the place where people share things they think are awesome and want to connect with others that also think it’s awesome – people that are likely closer friends than those they might be twittering to.

There’s simply nothing better than finding that CollegeHumor video and posting it to Facebook where everyone else can revel in the same sophomoric humor that I enjoy.  In that same vein, when I’m pissed, I want an outlet to vent to and the Internet is the greatest way to not only express one’s anger but also attack the reason you’re angry at the same time through negative advertising if it’s a store that’s done you wrong.

Incidentally, there’s another perspective on all of this and that’s how marketers loooooooove Twitter.  It gives marketing types the ability to listen to the pulse of trendiness.  Knowing the sum total of people getting excited over a single event or activity or person can be more valuable to trend sales than understanding the customer themselves.  It’s a very good metric of “whats hot”, which is how folks determine what the next “sales boom” is going to be.

Meanwhile Facebook has immense stickiness.  If someone has joined a group or participated in a Facebook activity, it’s a darned good metric of loyalty.  Once someone has linked into Facebook for a particular activity or topic, you can really see what the strength of a brand is or the staying power of a product.  It might not mean massive immediate sales but it does mean a good platform to sell to.

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NEWS: ExtremeTech on “Playstation 3’s Death Spiral”

April 18, 2009

image Hey – they said it, not me.

Is the Playstation 3 doomed? Given the continuing spiral of reduced sales of the console, and of games that ship for the PS3, the situation has never been more dire for Sony‘s premiere gaming console.

Every month, market research firm NPD releases the sales figures for the US for the top selling consoles and video games.

Let’s look at the numbers for console games for March, 2009:

  • Nintendo Wii  601K
  • Nintendo DS  563K
  • Xbox 360  330K
  • Playstation 3  218K
  • Playstation Portable (PSP)  168K
  • Playstation 2  112K

To put this into some context, let’s take a look at numbers from March, 2008:

      • Nintendo Wii  721K
      • Nintendo DS  698K
      • PSP  297K
      • Xbox 360  262K
      • Playstation 3  257K
      • Playstation 2  216K

More at:

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CollegeHumor.com… yet another site I use to escape the horror of this year

April 14, 2009

I keep forgetting how awesome this site is.  I have a dream that we one day acquire these guys just to feed them with the unlimited funds they need to produce this stuff.  Collegehumor.com FTW!


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USC Athletics Program’s Long Road to an Aggregated, Unified NCAA Investigation

April 14, 2009

fear Both the Los Angeles Times and Yahoo Sports have commented on the critical importance and relevance of the combining of the NCAA’s investigations into USC for the alleged O.J. Mayo scandal as well as for the alleged Reggie Bush scandal.  Apparently, the combining of both cases is a extremely relevant as described by one criminal defense attorney who analyzed the NCAA investigator’s actions on Rivals.com:

“In law enforcement investigations, separate cases are combined when there appears to be a substantive link between the two investigations. In other words, the NCAA in this matter found a substantive commonality between the two. Otherwise, the NCAA risks appearing as though they are painting both situations with a broad brush, rather than doing a careful investigation of each. Furthermore, these investigations are incredibly voluminous and complicated. The last thing an investigative body wants to do is combine complicated investigations and make them more complicated, unless there is a clear and important connection that requires bringing the two investigations together. Also, it clearly means that the NCAA found a SUBSTANTIVE connection between the two investigations and they intend to do something about it.”

What’s been implied as a ‘connection’ according to discussions on Rivals.com, is a systemic issue further alluding to a potential “lack of institutional control” on USC’s part.  Now for those who may have forgotten the many ‘concerns’ that have transpired over the past 8 years at USC Athletics, in 2006, Menelaus from BruinsNation cataloged some of the many embarrassing incidents, rule transgressions, and investigations that had since transpired within USC Athletics – complete with references of published articles backing up each incident. (Note the hyperlinks in each bulleted item.)  This is my favorite line:

“I should also say that, since I first posted on this subject, I’ve given these issues a fair amount of thought, and have shared my view that everyone doesn’t really do it, and talked about those rationalizing mischief at USC.  Sure, some apologists will continue to try to explain away the behavior detailed below by claiming that it "happens everywhere."  That’s fine.  And, if you can show me a similar list for every other Division I football program out there for the same five year period, I’ll consider revisiting my opinion.”

Anyway, someone from the Utah Utes web site on Scout.com updated the list to 2008. Here’s the content, reprinted for folks that don’t have Premier Subscription Access. (http://mbd.scout.com/mb.aspx?s=365&f=1272&t=3423759)

  1. Pete Carroll was hired as head football coach by USC in 2001.
  2. On August 23, 2001, the NCAA placed USC’s athletic department on probation for two years and cut scholarships because tutors wrote papers for three athletes in the late 1990s.  The events leading to the probation were before Carroll’s time, but I include this for completeness sake.
  3. In 2002, the father of USC tailback Justin Fargas invited former USC Heisman Trophy winner, and alleged double-murderer, O. J. Simpson to a team practice (he was found not guilty in his criminal trial but was later found liable in a civil trial).  After the practice, Carroll allowed Simpson to come onto the field and meet the players and pose for pictures.  Carroll defends himself from criticism by claiming that Simpson wasn’t invited.  In May 2008, Simpson’s ex manager alleged that Simpson admitted to killing Nicole Brown Simpson.
  4. On July 19, 2003, USC Sophomore OT Winston Justice pleaded no contest to solicitation of a prostitute in Long Beach on June 24.  Winston was put on 3 years probation and fined $300 for the offense.
  5. On March 3, 2004, Winston Justice was arrested on suspicion of felony assault with a deadly weapon.  On June 15, 2004, Justice pleaded no contest to exhibition of a replica firearm.  Justice was sentenced to 60 days of electronic monitoring and three years’ probation.  Justice was also suspended for two semesters by USC’s student affairs committee after his arrest.
  6. In August 2004, USC starting tailback Hershel Dennis was at the center of a police investigation of an alleged sexual assault.  According to sources, the incident took place at a party on August 16, and involved a female friend of Dennis.  On August 17, Dennis was removed from practice and suspended by Carroll for "disciplinary reasons," including breaking curfew.  On December 13, 2004, the LAPD announced it would not press charges.
  7. On January 14, 2005, Tim Floyd was hired as head basketball coach by USC.
  8. In late March 2005, USC starting cornerback Eric Wright was arrested for investigation of sexual assault.  Wright was booked on rape charges and bail was set at $100,000 according to the Sheriff’s Department.  Wright was held out of spring practice, and, in April 2005, the district attorney declined to press charged because of insufficient evidence.  Nevertheless, on June 2, 2005, Wright left USC amid possible disciplinary action.  On August 25, Wright was suspended by three semesters by USC’s student affairs committee, based upon the district attorney’s office having found 136 pills of the drug Ecstasy in Wright’s room at an apartment he shared with another player.  
  9. In early April 2005, USC tight end Dominique Bird fractured his jaw during an alleged altercation with receiver Steve Smith.  Bird, Smith and Carroll reportedly refused to comment on the incident, and no disciplinary action was taken.
  10. In August 2005, USC defensive end Frostee Rucker allegedly got into a fight with his girlfriend at a party he was hosting in Los Angeles.  In June 2006, Rucker was charged with two misdemeanor counts of spousal battery and two counts of vandalism and was scheduled to be arraigned on August 11, 2006.  Despite the incident, Rucker did not face any discipline from USC, and didn’t miss a game.  In May 2007, Rucker pleaded guilty to false imprisonment and vandalism charges stemming from the 2005 incident.  As part of a plea agreement, the prosecutors dropped a charge of spousal battery and Rucker was sentenced to three years of probation.  Prior to transferring to USC, in April of 2002, Rucker was charged in Colorado with sexual assault and indecent exposure.  Rucker reportedly eventually accepted a one-year deferred sentence on a misdemeanor harassment charge.
  11. On August 13, 2005, 10 veteran USC players were involved in a hazing incident where they shaved the head of freshman quarterback Mark Sanchez.  Also, what started out as a water fight between USC players, escalated into an all-out brawl as it spiraled out of control.  Reportedly, there was significant damage to the players dorms as players were thrown through walls.
  12. On October 31, 2005, USC tailback LenDale White played a macabre prank by pretending to quit the team and throwing a dummy off a building on Child’s Way.  Separately, Pete Carroll apologized to Washington State coach Bill Doba for USC players pushing and bumping Doba while trying to get to the locker room during halftime of their game.
  13. On November 2, 2005, USC linebacker Rey Maualuga was arrested for investigation of misdemeanor battery after punching a man at an off-campus Halloween party (twice, without provocation).  A witness at the scene reportedly quoted Maualuga as stating "I own the police."  Carroll took no disciplinary action, and Maualuga played the following weekend against Stanford.  One USC pundit observed at the time that "discipline is Coach Carroll’s number one weakness."  On November 22, 2005, the city attorney’s office declined to file charges.  Maualuga was defended at the court hearing by controversial and well-connected USC alumni attorney Carmen "Nooch" Trutanich, who has a long history with USC and previously represented both Wright and Dennis.
  14. On December 21, 2005, USC starting quarterback Matt Leinart had his eligibility temporarily revoked after appearing in a promotional segment on ESPN earlier that month, a violation of an NCAA rule.  Leinart was reinstated shortly thereafter.  One observer claims the NCAA was just concerned about money.
  15. On January 1, 2006, reporters from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and CBS Sportline reportedly told the USC football team about potential recruiting violations stemming from visits by USC recruits to Papadakis Taverna, a Greek restaurant owned by former USC linebacker John Papadakis.  As of July 2007, the investigation by USC compliance officials continued.
  16. On January 21, 2006, USC quarterback Matt Leinart was cited by the Pac-10 for working out with his own coach using school facilities.  According to the NCAA, a student athlete cannot utilize the school’s facilities to work out with a coach, unless the coach is affiliated with the university.
  17. On April 21, 2006, the family of USC running back Reggie Bush was implicated by numerous separate media reports as having lived in a house purchased by a San Diego-area man with ties to a sports agent and a tribal casino.  Both the Pac-10 and the NCAA have launched an investigation into potential NCAA violations in connnection with this matter, which is pending.  More recent reports in this fast evolving story are here, here, and here.   Yahoo Sports, which is responsible for much of the investigative reporting on this issue, has set up a page dedicated to its eight-month probe here.
  18. On April 26, 2006, USC quarterback Mark Sanchez was arrested for investigation of sexually assaulting a female student earlier that same day.  Sanchez was released upon posting $200,000 bail, and was ordered to appear in court on May 17, 2006.  Sanchez was also placed on "interim suspension" by USC while the case was pending.  On June 2, 2006, the LA District Attorney announced that it would not be bring charges against Sanchez due to insufficient evidence.
  19. On April 30, 2006, it was reported that USC compliance officials were investigating whether an NCAA rule was violated because receiver Dwayne Jarrett failed to pay approximately $10,000 for his half of the rent for an upscale apartment he shared with former quarterback Matt Leinart.  USC claims that no rules were violated, though it was initially reported that Jarret may have to sit out a portion of the 2006-07 season.  Jarrett ultimately avoided punishment and was the 45th pick in the 2007 NFL draft.  After a disappointing season, Jarrett was arrested on March 11, 2008 and charged with driving under the influence.
  20. In August of 2006, USC defensive back Brandon Ting quit the football team after reportedly testing postive for steroid use.  His twin brother, Ryan, also a defensive back on the USC football team, quit the team just days later, claiming that he wanted to concentrate on preparing for medical school, and was never tested.  Interestingly, Arthur Ting, father of the twins, is a Bay Area orthopedic surgeon who has reportedly appeared as a witness before a grand jury considering possible perjury charges against baseball’s Barry Bonds, one of Arthur’s clients.  This incident finally triggered some real interest by the LA Times.
  21. On August 29, 2006, it was announced that former USC quarterback Matt Leinart would be having a child out of wedlock with USC basketball player Brynn Cameron.  While not improper in any meaningful way outside of his personal life, this event begins a long list of embarrassing incidents involving the former USC star (not to mention other USC quarterbacks).
  22. On October 16, 2006, it was announced that then 14-year-old high school freshman Dwayne Polee Jr., who had yet to even play a game at Westchester high, had verbally committed to USC’s basketball team.  Though not improper, the early commitment was unconventional, and was repeated in June 2007 when USC announced the verbal commitment of 14-year-old middle school player Ryan Boatright, who, at the time, had not yet even decided upon where he was going to high school.  Further eyebrows were raised in June 2007, when USC hired Dwayne Polee Sr., father of Dwayne Polee Jr., as Director of Basketball Operations, amid charges of nepotism.
  23. On December 4, 2006, former USC stand-out, and former Rams rookie, tight end Dominique Byrd was arrested for allegedly hitting a bar patron in the face with a drinking glass.  Byrd was charged with second- and third-degree assault and armed criminal action.  He was released shortly after posting a $25,000 bond.  In early May, 2008, Byrd was scheduled to go to trial in St. Louis Circuit Court on felony charges of assault and armed criminal action stemming from the nightclub scuffle in December 2006.  In March 2007, he was charged with DUI in California.  In October 2007, he pleaded no contest to the DUI charge and received three years’ probation.  In May 2008, Byrd was released by the Rams.
  24. In January 2007, a federal investigation into extortion claims by former USC running back Reggie Bush and his family revealed the existence of taped converstations that could confirm Bush took cash and gifts while he was playing football for USC.   It was also reported that nearly $280,000 in cash, rent and gifts were allegedly given to Bush and his family.  The information came to light following the issuance of grand jury subpoenas to multiple witness by the U.S. District Attorney’s office in San Diego. Both the NCAA and Pac-10 continue to investigate.  Also, more recent articles suggest that Reggie Bush was involved earlier and more deeply than previously reported in efforts to create the sports marketing agency at the center of the continuing controversy.  The investigation has, to date, yielded no definitive proof that USC officials had knowledge of Bush’s misconduct, though Bush was nevertheless asked not to attend the Trojans’ Rose Bowl matchup against Michigan on New Year’s Day.
  25. On February 2, 2007, it was reported that a "stampede of student athletes," including three USC linemen, ex-USC receiver Keary Colbert, and members of the USC women’s basketball, volleyball and water polo teams, had improperly attempted to take an academic shortcut around the university’s foreign language requirement by signing up for a course at Los Angeles Trade Tech College taught by USC graduate Senora Ross, who promised to give the athletes no lower than a "B."  Upon discovering the situation, USC officials disallowed the transfer of credits from Trade Tech.
  26. On February 8, 2007, it was reported that USC football players had created and joined a racist Facebook group as a "joke."  The racist Facebook group was called "White Nation," showed a graphic of a swastika and black baby in handcuffs with the caption "arrest black babies before they become criminals."  The group was created by USC linebacker Clay Matthews and was joined by teammates David Buehler, Brian Cushing, Dan Deckas and Dallas Sartz.  Coach Pete Carroll responded to reports of the incident by saying he had no plans to discipline the players, and USC later announced that none of the players would be punished.  According to Carroll, "[i]t’s not a controversy, it’s a mistake."
  27. On February 9, 2007, USC compliance officials announced they were investigating whether an NCAA violation occurred during the Trojans’ pursuit of Louisiana prep star running back Joe McKnight.  The investigation followed reports that McKnight had told reporters that USC coach Pete Carroll had set up a conference call so he and high school coach J.T. Curtis could be assured by ex-Trojan running back Reggie Bush that USC would not be punished for a separate NCAA investigation into improper benefits allegedly taken by Bush.  Carroll later denied that any call took place, and Curtis said that McKnight misspoke.   According to NCAA officials, if USC got Bush’s help in recruiting McKnight, it would be considered a "secondary violation" of recruiting rules.
  28. On March 9, 2007, USC basketball recruit O.J. Mayo was arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession in Huntington, West Virginia.   Mayo was one of four young males found in a suspicious vehicle by a Cabell County Sheriff’s drug task force unit assigned to serve a search warrant at a house nearby.  The charges against Mayo were later dismissed by a magistrate judge, after the driver of the vehicle pleaded guilty to the charge (though Mayo’s father subsequently had his own difficulties).  The incident followed a controversy in January following Mayo’s two (some sources say three) game suspension after receiving two technical fouls in a high school game and coming into contact with an official, as well as prior reports of three suspensions by his high school, the last one following an altercation with a female student.
  29. On April 14, 2007, it was announced that Percy Romeo Miller, also known as Romeo (and formerly Lil’ Romeo) had been offered a basketball scholarship to USC.  The scholarship offer, to a 5-foot-10 point guard with a bad knee who had never played a full season of high-school basketball, was roundly criticized by national commentators as a thinly veiled attempt by USC to obtain the commitment of Miller’s friend, prep star and NBA prospect Demar DeRozan, while ignoring Miller’s mediocre at best talent.
  30. In the first week of August, 2007, there were new developments in the NCAA investigation of former USC running back Reggie Bush, when it was reported that audio recordings that allegedly establish an improper financial relationship between Bush and a would-be sports marketing agent were played for NCAA investigators.  The tapes were revealed after Lloyd Lake, a partner in failed sports marketing agency New Era Sports enterprise, filed a lawsuit against Bush and his family, seeking to recoup nearly $300,000 in benefits Lake claims he helped provide.   Lake’s allegations were further detailed in January 2008, with the publication of Don Yaeger’s book Tarnished Heisman, which chronicled various allegations swirling around Bush’s USC tenure, including claims that Bush received $47,000 out of an overall $291,000 that went to his family from sports marketer Lake.  That same month, published reports contained Lake’s (unsubstantiated) allegation that USC coaches knew Bush was taking money in violation of NCAA rules.
  31. On August 28, 2007, a contributor to Bruinsnation.com unearthed a report from April 1996 that USC running backs coach Todd McNair was arrested and charged with 81 offenses involving the mistreatment of 22 pit bulls being trained on his property for dogfights while a running back for the Houston Oilers.  In light of recent press relating to NFL quarterback Michael Vick, the report unleashed a firestorm, with numerous acts of alleged animal cruelty being uncovered in McNair’s past, including multiple misdemeanors convictions (via plea bargain) regarding animal cruelty and failure to license, and "all indications" that McNair was involved in dog flighting.  McNair, who was previously implicated in Reggie Bush scandal, having allegedly known about Bush’s involvement with the New Era venture before USC national championship game against Texas, faced no discipline from USC.
  32. On September 27, 2007, it was reported that USC sophomore point guard Daniel Hackett would be sidelined at least six weeks after suffering multiple fractures of his jaw when he was struck by the "elbow" of teammate O.J. Mayo during a pickup game.  Shortly thereafter, it was reported, based upon several sources, including a member of the basketball team, that Mayo punched Hackett during the game.  The player was quoted as saying "Yeah, he punched him," "They changed the story for the media."  Despite later denials by Floyd and others, this version of the events was confirmed on multiple occasions.
  33. On November 3, 2007, convicted felon Suge Knight was given a sideline pass to a USC game.  Knight joins O.J. Simpson and Snoop Dogg as USC’s esteemed guests.
  34. In early November 2007, USC forward Davon Jefferson was suspended for the team’s embarrassing season-opening loss to Mercer.  Jefferson, who required two years to meet the NCAA’s minimum academic requirements and was kicked out of prep school before he joined USC, was also later benched for much of a narrow loss at Stanford and also suspended for a loss to Washington State.  After clashing with Floyd, Jefferson did not even inform the school of his decision to turn pro.
  35. On January 21, 2008, USC freshman guard O.J. Mayo was alleged to have violated NCAA rules by accepting complimentary tickets from Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony to a Lakers-Nuggets game at Staples Center.  Coach Floyd subsequently took the blame, and Mayo was ultimately required to donate the value of the tickets to charity.
  36. On March 2, 2008, USC defensive tackle Fili Moala was arrested for resisting and obstructing an officer after a melee at a Newport Beach bar was broken up by police.  Moala was released after posting $500 bail, and on March 13, the Orange County district attorney’s office declined to press charges.
  37. On March 5, 2008, USC recruit Maurice Simmons was arrested for robbery in Compton, after he allegedly pointed a handgun at a man and demanded his belongings.  Simmons, a linebacker from Dominguez High School, was initially held at the Los Angeles County jail on $50,000 bail, and then released after posting bail of $85,000.  Simmons was arraigned on March 7, and his preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 15, 2008.  To date, USC has not indicated whether or not it intends to honor its commitment to Simmons.  Developing.
  38. On April 1, 2008, USC head coach Pete Carroll, in an attempt to make light of the Trojan’s extensive past history of criminality, invited members of the LAPD to play a prank on defensive end Everson Griffen, who was said to have "physically abused a freshman" and was threatened with arrest during a team meeting.
  39. On April 6, 2008, USC sophomore tailback Joe McKnight was held out of the team’s scrimmage and it was announced that he would miss the final week of spring workouts because he was academically ineligible to participate.  McKnight had dropped a class, leaving him without the 12 units required for eligibility.
  40. On April 27, 2008, the NFL draft ended with USC guard Drew Radovich remaining unselected.  Expected by some to be a mid-to-late round pick, Radovich’s stock allegedly dropped based upon character concerns.
  41. In late April or early May, 2008, a video was posted on Pete Carroll’s website starring his son, Brennan.  The video, replete with profanity and questionable behavior, was widely ridiculed, and was allegedly used against USC in recruiting.  In mid-May, the video was removed from youtube.com, with Carroll explaining that it was just a "spoof."
  42. On May 2, 2008, the judge in the civil litigation between former USC running back Reggie Bush and Lloyd Lake ordered the parties to appear in June 2008 for their depositions, and denied Bush’s attempts to impose a "gag order" to prevent the deposition transcripts from being shared with the NCAA.  The judge also set a trial date of March 13, 2009.
  43. On May 4, 2008, former USC tight end Fred Davis failed to attend the final practice of the The Washington Redskins minicamp because he overslept after a late night out.  Besides giving a poor first impression, Davis confirmed concerns about his commitment to football dating back to his time at USC.  Davis was suspended for two games his freshman year at USC for coming back late from his home in Ohio, and missed the 2005 Orange Bowl.
  44. On May 6, 2008, it was announced that USC’s men’s basketball team was the only major athletic program in the Southland penalized with scholarship losses as the result of a poor performance in the NCAA’s academic progress rate.  The Trojans were penalized in part because Lodrick Stewart, Nick Young and Gabe Pruitt stopped attending class after the 2007 season, and because three players transferred within the same season.  USC’s APR score of 804 was 121 points below the minimum-acceptable mark, and stemmed from various academic problems, including Gabe Pruitt’s academic ineligibility for the fall 2006 semester, and his ineligibility again following the spring 2007 semester.  USC served the penalty during the 2007-08 season.
  45. On May 13, 2008, ESPN aired an episode of Outside the Lines that contained extensive, well-documented allegations that USC guard O.J. Mayo received improper benefits from a sports agent (BDA Sports) and that agent’s runner (Rodney Guillory) both before and during his one season at USC.  It was alleged that Guillory received benefits in excess of $200,000, while Mayo received $30,000 in benefits, including cash, clothes, cell phone service, and a flat screen television for his dorm room.  USC immediately faced a storm of criticism, with several prominent commentator calling for sanctions, including the so-called "death penalty."   The criticism of USC intensified as it was reported that Guillory was given largely unfettered access to Mayo and the athletic department, after a highly unusual recruitment process, despite USC knowing of his involvement with agents, including a prior scandal with USC’s Jeff Trepagnier, for many years.  The Pac-10 and the NCAA have launched investigations.  Developing.
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Nunchuck fail… care of the FailBlog

April 13, 2009

Snicker… this is just so immature, but I just never get tired of laughing at this.

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Barack Obama Breaks his Commitment to Adopt a Dog.

April 12, 2009

Yesterday, it was announced that Barack Obama and his family would be getting a pure bred Portuguese Water Dog.

This of course was after the Obama camp had repeatedly declared to the media that they would adopt a dog, and received the adulation of hundreds of thousands of pro-adoption Americans:

But heck, who cares when apparently, this isn’t new for the Obama administration.  Joe Biden went out and bought a pure bred German Shepherd during the national discussion of adoption.

Hey – while we’re on the topic of aristocrats buying dogs instead of adopting, here’s a little reminder for the uninitiated as to why animal adoption is so important:

Oh – but Obama apologists go over the old PR point… that “their daughter is allergic” and that "it was gift from Senator Edward Kennedy”… despite the fact that there are dozens of dogs that are hypoallergenic and that everyone including Senator Kennedy, who is a Water Dog aficionado, knew about the Obama’s commitment to adopt. 

The fact was the neither ultimately cared about the matter – and I hope that’s not something that’s lost on citizens reading about this.

The fact is, absolutely no evidence has surfaced that Barack Obama even attempted to adopt a dog, despite the NUMEROUS offers of assistance from Best Friends, PETA, the ASPCA, and dozens of other homeless animal welfare organizations – including those from Portuguese Water Dog adoption groups who could have easily provided dogs that were pure bred and simply needed a home.

But it gets better, so buckle your safety belts if you work for an Animal Shelter or Rescue: 
One of the reasons adoption organizations were so desperate to have Barack Obama adopt a dog was because as history has shown, when Presidents “buy a dog breed”, it becomes “fashionable” to Americans to go out and do the same.

Concerned that the rest of the nation is now going to go out and buy Portuguese Water Dogs despite not knowing a thing about them and eventually abandoning them, animal activists are mobilizing to prevent a Portuguese Water Dog purchase glut – a phenomenon that as history has shown us, repeats itself every time a President purchases a dog.

What I find hilarious is the complete and utter silence from the spineless PR folks at all the major pro-adoption organizations throughout the nation.  They all provided incredibly positive publicity and air cover to this guy and find themselves effectively deceived after the election. 

Now it’s like nuclear waste:  No one wants to touch the issue.  There’s not a single post in reaction to all of this on any of the major sites.

But seriously:  Is it really that surprising that a politician would stand up and announce a populist stance (adoption) then turn around after being elected and take the elitist position? (acquiring a pure bred)

[shakes head]

That’s one shoe dropped.  Now if Obama manages to eliminate tax deductions for households that contribute to charitable/non-profit communities that make more than $250,000 annually, you can bet these assaults on animal welfare in America won’t go unnoticed in this blog.

Oh – you hadn’t heard about that?  Here’s a little blurb on his proposal.

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Leonard Nimoy premieres J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek”

April 7, 2009

image Star Trek fans were lured to a location in Texas to see a 10-minute sneak preview of J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” to be followed by a re-mastered pristine version of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”.

Instead, after what looked to be a major malfunction in the screening of Wrath of Khan, Leonard Nimoy appeared on stage to raucous applause.  Feigning ignorance, he asked coordinators on stage ‘what this whole shindig was about’?  After explaining that the event was an opportunity to show 10 minutes of J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek”, he said, "Only 10 minutes?  Why not show the ENTIRE FILM?" 

The crowd went wild, and sure enough, they showed the entire movie to the very surprised crowd.  Dammit!  Where the hell was I?!? 


LINK:  http://www.aintitcool.com/node/40675

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NEWS: “Gadgets that make you look like a jerk”

April 6, 2009

image This could possibly be one of the funniest tech articles I’ve read this year so far.

Gadgets that make you look like a jerk
Seven fairly common gizmos you might just look cooler without

Just like Hot Chicks with Douchebags, I could create an entire site of photos of stereotypical people with these gadgets. 

They’re as common as the club-hopping Hollywood douchebag that wears Affliction / Ed Hardy fashion wear, Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses, and lots and lots of Axe Bodyspray.

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Tax Break Proposed for California Animal Adopters

April 5, 2009

image Timely new bill would allow adoption fee deduction
March 19, 2009 : 7:12 PM

Another addition to the arsenal of animal-friendly legislation in California this year comes from Assembly member Cameron Smyth (R-Santa Clarita) in the form of a personal income tax deduction proposal known as AB 233. With rampant foreclosures and an unemployment rate reaching double digits, it couldn’t have come at a better time for people or pets.

Co-sponsored by the ASPCA and The Humane Society of the United States, this piece of legislation would institute a new law which would encourage pet adoptions through government shelters and non-profit organizations by allowing state taxpayers to deduct up to $300.00 in adoption fees annually.

AB 233 offers relief to California taxpayers on multiple levels. In addition to the obvious personal tax incentive, the bill would help chip away at the $250 million spent annually to shelter the estimated 800,000 dogs and cats abandoned each year to government-operated shelters. Encouraging families and individuals to adopt these homeless pets eases the burden on overcrowded shelters. To be eligible for deduction, adoption fees must be incurred at a "qualified animal rescue organization" such as any city, state, or county shelter or animal control agency, as well as 501(c)(3) animal adoption organizations.

As of 3/04/09, this bill has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Revenue & Taxation. AB 233 will go before the Committee on April 20 at 1:30 PM at the State Capitol. Your help is vital to keep this piece of legislation moving forward towards becoming law.

Make a call and send an email to your elected Assembly Member to urge him/her to support AB 233. To find your legislators, click here.

As of 3/04/09, this bill has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Revenue & Taxation. Contact each member of the Committee on Revenue & Taxation to voice your support for AB 233.

Veterinarians, animal welfare organizations and individual taxpayers should fax letters of support on your organizational/corporate letterhead to Assemblymember Smyth’s attention at (916) 319-2138. Please be sure to include your mailing address so your support can be shared with your representatives.

Posted by Carrie Jones, Best Friends Volunteer
**Best Friends Animal Society has not taken a position of support or opposition to this piece of legislation. For more information on how animal legislation is reported on the Best Friends Network, click here.

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Best Friends Spring Pet Adoption Festival Set – Los Angeles, April 26th 11AM-4PM

April 4, 2009

imageFun for the whole Family! Featuring Dancing with the Dogs!

  • Date: Sunday, April 26, 2009
  • Time: 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
  • Place: Westchester Park
    7000 W. Manchester Ave.
    Los Angeles, CA

    (Map to location)

Best Friends Pet Adoption Festivals are unique in both scope and scale. Its focus: finding homes for hundreds of homeless animals. The Pet Adoption Festivals consists of rescue groups, shelters, retailers, demonstrations in grooming and training, and pet health care experts to provide information and assistance to the public who have adopted new pets.

The event has made its mark as the largest pet adoption festival in the nation, with an average of 8,000 attendees and 400 adoptions per event. The event creates a festive atmosphere while adopting hundreds of homeless animals. With the help of our sponsor partners, we are well on our way to creating a time when there are No More Homeless Pets, and every cat or dog who is ever born can be guaranteed a good home with a loving family

Best Friends is proud to feature Dancing with the Dogs!
At Dancing with the Dogs – the only STARS you’ll see are furry ones performing in front of celebrity judges. Handlers perform routines with their dog to music created to best fit their dog’s personality. Dancing with the Dogs is a fun competition, showcasing the value a dog can bring to a family. To compete at the April Best Friends Pet Adoption Festival, sign up for the March 14th workshops at Four Legged Friends Foundation or email info@flff.org for more information.

image The Spring Pet Adoption Festival is presented by PETCO Foundation, Chrissie’s Fund, and Wells Fargo.

Food Drive!
Bring cans of pet food to benefit Los Angeles area shelters and rescues. Rachel Ray’s Nutrish is doing their part, too. Visit www.dogvice.com and www.dogfessions.com and earn food for homeless dogs!

Sponsor and vendor opportunities available! Please contact Lisa Dulyea at lisad@bestfriends.org and visit www.bestfriendsevents.net for more information.

Posted by Sandi Cain, Best Friends Network Volunteer
Logos courtesy of PETCO Foundation, Chrissie’s Fund, and Wells Fargo

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The folly of playing poker in a casinos

April 4, 2009

image Recently I got the chance to read a interesting and thoughtful explanation of why playing poker in casinos are for chumps.

Essentially, the way it goes is:

  1. PLAYER COUNT:  You sit at a table with 10 other people.
  2. PLAYER STACK:  It’s usually typical to see a player come in with $300 in chips for a total of $2700 winnable at the table.
  3. HOUSE RAKE:  Every hand, the casino takes $4 in the house rake.
  4. HANDS/HOUR:  You play approximately 30 hands per hour.

Poker isn’t called “a grind” for nothing:  It’s a game of patience and waiting for the right moment to make one’s move is very important.  However in just 2 hours of play, at $4/hand, one player gets literally eaten alive by the house.  In just 8 hours, 4 out of the 10 players would be GONE, the equivalent of ~$1000 worth of cash, and that money isn’t winnable by you as a player any more.

Wow.  Not my kind of game.  Even with a nasty variance, I can do better at blackjack table.  Even with a crummy mathematical house edge of .4% and no advantage play at all, I can sit and play for hours with $300 at $3-$5 table with relatively minimal ‘risk of ruin’.

Besides.  I’ve got no poker face.  Makes me glad I chose not to play poker much a long time ago.  I don’t have the sophistication to watch my stack, their stack, the pot odds, my position, the play history of my opponents, how much they’ve bet, etc. 

I like my basic strategy card.  It’s important to know one’s limits.  [smile]

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Tick tock… tick tock… the clock on USC Football/Basketball

April 4, 2009

UPDATE: 4/9/2009

Whoops… looks like an update has hit ESPN today!
The NCAA has combined its investigations of two former USC star athletes into a single probe of the Trojans’ athletic program, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In separate investigations, the NCAA has been looking into allegations that Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush and NBA lottery pick O.J. Mayo both received improper benefits while at USC.


image Given USC Football’s dramatic success in the 2000 decade:

  • University of Southern California’s Football program is arguably the most successful this decade
  • USC’s Head Football Coach Pete Carroll, hired in 2000, is the “winningest” coach in College Football
  • USC’s Football program won National Championships in 2003, 2004 along with Heisman Trophies for both Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush
  • USC Football in Coach Pete Carroll’s first year as head coach, finally beats UCLA 27-0 in 2001-02 ending an 8 year losing streak to the Bruins beginning a 7 year streak of wins in the new millenium.

And USC’s upstart success in basketball starting with the 2005 season:

  • USC constructs the new Galen Center, home of USC basketball
  • USC signs nationally-acclaimed recruit O.J. Mayo in 2007
  • USC signs nationally-acclaimed recruit Demar DeRozan in 2008
  • USC signs nationally-acclaimed recruit Renardo Sidney in 2009
  • USC Head Basketball Coach Tim Floyd, hired in 2005 after a many years of losing seasons, suddenly puts together 3 straight winning seasons and 3 straight NCAA Tournament appearances

Also seeing that recent news has been bubbling to the surface about the NCAA’s multi-year activities:

April 3rd, 2009:
The following suddenly came down the wire yesterday from Scout.com inside reporter, Tracy Pierson, who over the past 2 years has been very quiet on this topic:

Wow.  Film at 11.

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