Sports Nut

The Sports Pages: Everybody Beats the Wizards

A weekly look at the sports commentariat.

It was a bad holiday weekend for the big boys in college sports. Should Nebraska football coach Frank Solich be worried about his job, after the Cornhuskers failed to win the Big 12 North for the third time in four years? The Husker faithful aren’t happy. “This was the worst defeat in the history of Big Red football, or, if you will, since 1962, when the Bob Devaney era began,” the Omaha World-Herald’s Tom Shatel writes. “There have been Orange Bowl nights when Miami outclassed the Huskers, but those Hurricane teams had more talent, more speed. Colorado does not have more talent than Nebraska.”

They’re not happy in Norman, Okla., either: “In case you haven’t noticed,” the Daily Oklahoman’sJohn Rohde mourns, “the defending national champs can only defend.” Or in Ann Arbor, Mich., where the Wolverines allowed the Ohio State Buckeyes to win in Ann Arbor for the first time in 14 years. The Detroit NewsJoe Falls writes: “Nothing went right, except the national anthem. That was the last time anyone felt like standing.”

As for college basketball,’s Seth Davis says Kansas and Kentucky needn’t worry about their upset losses. It’s a different story in Chapel Hill, N.C., though: “The Heels have no point guards, can’t make 3-pointers and are horrible on defense. Besides that, they’re in great shape.”

Everybody beats the Wizards: The Washington Post’s Thomas Boswell thinks he’s solved the mystery behind Michael Jordan’s comeback: “When trying to figure out why Jordan returned, factor into the equation that he didn’t want to be responsible for putting one of the worst teams ever on the court,” Boswell writes. “It’s nice to open up salary cap space. The Wizards’ long-term future demanded it. But what top free agent has ever signed with a team that might lose 65 to 70 games? Hence, Air’s dilemma. In part, Jordan returned to give the Wizards just such competitive credibility in the free agent sweeps.” (“Sports Nut” beat Boswell to the punch eight months ago: “Good free agents never sign with bad teams—they have no incentive to do so.”)

Which Elvis has left the building? After Elvis Grbac drove the Baltimore Ravens to a last-minute victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brian Billick lashed out at the media: “Anybody want to ask me who my quarterback is next week?” Billick’s retort was partly in response to this bench-Grbac column by the Baltimore Sun’s Mike Preston. Preston has a simple answer for Billick in his follow-up column: Yes. “Will it be the Grbac who showed up yesterday or the Grbac who played miserably the previous Sunday against the Cleveland Browns? In the past two weeks, Grbac’s pro career played out in microcosm. One week he is Vinny Testaverde, the next week he is running the offense like Johnny U. Question to The Genius: Do you know which quarterback will show up next week?”

Let the Yankees sign Barry: Thirty-seven-year-old Barry Bonds is asking the San Francisco Giants for a five-year contract worth about $18 million per year. Don’t give it to him, the San Jose Mercury News’ Mark Purdy argues. For power hitters, the music stops around age 39. At that point, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Mark McGwire all watched their annual home-run totals dip into the low double digits.

Short cuts: Last week, the NBA fined nine players $5,000 each for donning shorts that sag too far below the knees. The most unlikely culprit? The Clippers’ Eric Piatkowski. The Chicago Tribune’s Rick Morrissey writes that “Piatkowski, who grew up in South Dakota, is about as far away from the hip-hop scene as Robert Goulet is. He is so white he doesn’t even have a shadow.” Turns out Piatkowski didn’t have a choice. The Clippers carry only one style of shorts for players his size.