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Bonds breaks, Beamer barks and Spurrier speaks

Whew! What a week it has been in the world of sports. We've seen records broken on the playing field and above it. And certain college coaches have put a foot in their mouths.

Barry Bonds finally eclipsed Hank Aaron's career homerun record. When Aaron broke Babe Ruth's record, I was young, and Ruth was an unseen legend, so that moment was like a fairy tale. Now that we see both Aaron and Bonds on the tube almost nonstop, and I'm almost old, it has been more like a bad dream.

The most interesting aspect of the Bonds story has been the Hank Aaron angle. I've been hearing Aaron say for at least two years that he was not going to jet around the country when Bonds' time came just so he would be present for the big moment. His decision was not to expose his 73-year-old body to such nonsense. Maybe Aaron had other reasons, but what he said was fine by me.

Aaron was the consummate pro and the antithesis of Bonds. I got a little tired of his once harping on the racial issues that he faced, but that's okay too. He had to live through it, I didn't. I also will suggest that if Aaron had made a supreme effort to follow Bonds around many in the media would have taken potshots at him. They would have said he was just a jealous old man trying to keep his face in the limelight and steal Bonds' thunder.

High school football teams had to get their practices started in triple-digit temperatures and heat indexes twice my IQ. I really felt bad for them. As bad as it had to be on the players, I couldn't help but think of the coaches. Not only did they have to suffer the swelter so to speak, they had to balance preparing their teams with not killing somebody. The choice to scale back practice last week was easy.

I'm sure veteran coaches long for the good old days of two-a-day summer practices. They could practice for two hours at 8 a.m. and again at 7 p.m. It would still be hot, but certainly not as bad as going three-plus hours starting at 4 p.m. Starting school in early August has all but eliminated two-a-days and the old military style camps that gave coaches much more leeway with their schedules.

And then there was a story out of Virginia Tech. Football coach Frank Beamer (multiple choice: choose one verb) accused/insinuated/suggested that his team was spied upon during Peach, uh, I mean Chick-Fill-A Bowl practices in Atlanta last December. He even said that there were times in the game that he felt like the Georgia Bulldogs were actually in the Hokies' huddle. Man, please!

First of all, Virginia Tech practiced at Georgia Tech during that week. Does Beamer believe that anybody associated with the Yellow Jackets would help a Georgia Bulldog spy even on al-Quaida? Does he believe that a Bulldog would even want to set foot on North Avenue unless he was going to the The Varsity?

As I recall, Georgia fell three touchdowns behind Virginia Tech in the first half of that game. I guess they were just setting them up so Beamer would not suspect the espionage. As a fan, I was thinking the spy thing was working the other way around.

And another thing. I was at that game and could have sworn that it was seven months ago.

As it turned out, Beamer said he really didn't think Georgia had spied on him, but it made a darn good excuse for closing his practices from now on. Whatever you say, Mr. Sour Grapes.

South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier announced to the world that he was mad at the school's admissions office for denying two recruits admission at the last hour. Mr. Tact, Spurrier has never been, and he again proved it. He even threatened to leave if things did not get straightened out. I can't help but wonder if the genius is just greasing the skids for his eventual departure if the Gamecocks don't win enough games to suit him. I mean, why even mention leaving on the eve of the football season - at the team's media day, no less.

No doubt many college coaches have crossed swords with their school's administration over admissions and other issues. It would seem to me that if you are working for or with somebody, you would have the class not to air it out in the newspaper. Maybe Spurrier does not work for USC, maybe they work for him. I think Spurrier is either trying to intimidate his president or spill his guts to the masses of Gamecock fans in order to gain more of a toehold on the university. That tactic seldom works in the long run.

Crying over athletes that you don't have also makes for a good excuse if you aren't able to deliver the goods. Spurrier may well have a legitimate beef but he demonstrated a lousy way of handling it in my humble opinion.

In my humble opinion? Can you believe I have one of those?

Web posted on Thursday, August 16, 2007

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