Friday, November 23, 2012

Ray Tanner Right Man For The Job

When Eric Hyman left South Carolina to take his athletic administrative skills to Texas A&M, he departed with a word of advice or caution to South Carolina officials, as whispers loomed of Ray Tanner succeeding Hyman as the chief athletic administrator.  In the words of Hyman, Tanner was a good coach but it took more than the "black and white" decisions on the field to running a multi-million dollars athletic program.

Hyman was right, just like the USC Board of Trustees, nothing about Tanner is "black and white" and the basic skills of being a successful Athletic Director are definitely in the character, integrity, focus, organization, vision, tenacity and presence of Ray Tanner.  After 16 years at USC Tanner has built a tradition of winning, community service and civic responsibility.  He personally led the charge for facility upgrades for the baseball program that resulted in immediate returns with three consecutive College World Series Championship appearances, winning two of the first three years of the stadium's existence.  He developed a championship staff that is prepared to succeed him as he takes his marquee status on the road to fund raising, staff development, NCAA compliance's and enhanced public relations.  Tanner is no stranger to surrounding himself with superior talent and that is what he will continue to do as he moves to a new chapter in his life and the future of South Carolina Athletics.  Long time Assistant Athletic Director Charles Waddell was immediately elevated to Chief Deputy Athletic Director, as an obvious recognition of the importance of retaining one of the strongest minds in Sport Management Administration.  If that doesn't sound familiar, think of the name Chad Holbrook, one of the great minds in college baseball who chose to remain Tanners chief assistant in the construction of the recent championship program.  Holbrook has always been a major prospect for a Division I head coach post but has chosen to support a great leader while awaiting his opportunity to transition patiently.  Great leaders will first recognize and follow great leaders before separating from the association.  Waddell's elevation is just an early sign of the foundation that will be established for the Tanner era and commencement of a new stage in his successful legacy.

While Hyman can take great pride in leaving a program in tremendous fiscal and athletic condition, Tanner will lose no ground in leading the South Carolina Athletics Department to continued successes.  Tanner's eleemosynary foundation and his commitment to civic support will attract even more private fiscal support, while his recent coaching successes will garner a cohesive relationship with the coaching staffs.  His love for South Carolina and loyalty for the institution will only insure the long term commitment to the school's interest, goals, focus and vision.  Where else in America will you find an Athletic Director with an autograph and picture line during an the renowned ESPN GameDay Production on its' campus.  Did I say, a long line?

The South Carolina Trustees have to be tickled pink, realizing that this successful maneuver was one of the biggest and easiest decisions they have made in decades.  If there was any doubt please don't waste it on this decision, there was no way to go wrong, the timing and conditions were laid out like a road map.  Thank Hyman for a strong fiscal management and facilities development initiative, and thank Tanner for accepting the responsibility to resume the building of an athletics program to national prominence and recognition.  Something Tanner has done for the last 16 years for South Carolina in his professional craft.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Frank Martin Era Begins with Closing Drama

                                                                                                                                                 Game Stats

The Frank Martin era at South Carolina begins with a close call and win over Kentucky Wesleyan 68-67.  The victory was accomplished by a late 3 second layup by Junior Shooting Guard Brenton Williams, who finished the night with a game high 22 points in 38 minutes.  The game was a sloppy poor shooting contest for the host Gamecocks, who shot their way into an early first half 11-point deficit, but were able to grind to a late surge to post a 37-31 halftime lead.  In the second half the visitors came out shooting and secured a second half lead that led to 10 lead changes and an eventual "nail biter" for the favored hometown team.  The  good news for the evening, the Gamecocks won a basketball game wherein they were outplayed in every significant basketball statistical category but final score.  Wesleyan out shot the Cocks 48%-38% from the field, 77%-71% from the free throw line, 22%-20% from beyond the arch, while out rebounding the Gamecocks 35-31, bench scoring 10-1, points in the paint 16-14 and fast break points 6-4 went to the underdog visiting team.  It appears if not for the excessive foul call differences 28-17, favoring South Carolina, leading to 27-38 shooting at the line versus the 13-17 for Wesleyan, Coach Martin may have found the normal opening season "dress rehearsal" a little too dramatic.  When you consider the debut of such a promising and anticipating transition of leadership, along with the most heralded basketball coaching change in modern day school history. Fan expectation can be a well over emphasized characteristic of a program, as it is often nurtured with a tremendous lack of knowledge of the ingredients to building an athletic program at major institutions.  So it is easily understood, when you hear disappointing comments, negative projections and down right defeatist attitudes.  But with the performance of half a team on opening night under new leadership, in a new system with just under 3 weeks of practice, no one should be anything but happy for a win and no injuries.

Exhibition games are analogical to Broadway dress rehearsals.  The reason you provide the low cost to free exhibits of your high cost talent is to assure that the product has every opportunity to work out the kinks, mistakes, misreads, sound checks, miss assignments, missed lines, missed rotations, missed cues, you get my point.      

Coach Martin orchestrated runs, generated stops, maintained team composure and manufactured a win out of losing transitions, possessions, reactions and individual performances.  USC's new basketball coach played only seven players off a 15 player roster, which includes a starting point guard currently starting at wide receiver for the BCS 8th ranked football team,  and obviously made playing decisions based on injuries to at least four contributing players.  With one "Dress Rehearsal" remaining I believe the critics should wait for the real opening act before placing reviews on the performance of the Gamecocks' Men's Basketball Program.  Other reason to wait on the finished product could also be found in the the coach's 117-54 record in five seasons as a Div I coach and 50-32 in conference play.  The 23.4 wins per season average, along with a 10 win conference average, should have all Gamecock nation patient and waiting for the season's official "Opening Act", but much better yet, the eventual results upon "Curtain Call", as the season draws to an end.  Just sit back and enjoy the ride this season with Coach Martin and his basketball staff.                                     Download Basketball Schedule

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Great Players Should Make Great Plays

Tony Romo's Botch Snap
Herman Edwards Recovers Joe
Pisarcik's Fumble
History has given us heroes and goats in the sports world.  But when it comes to playoffs and Super Bowls it's the Kickers that have been the great disappointments in the history of the game.  There is of course the 2006 Tony Romo's botched handling of a snap and there's the 2003 bad snap on a game winning field goal for the Giants against the 49'ers in a Wild Card game by Trey Junkin.  Of course there's Scott Norwood in the Super Bowl that allows us to forget about a great quarterback, Jim Kelly.  Joe Pisarcik's fumble off the snap leading to a game winning defensive touchdown by, then Defensive Back, Herman Ewards of the Philadelphia Eagles.  But there is a bundle of "way right and way left" calls that define the ending of a season by many teams in history.  But where is the criticism of Lee Evans, for not securing a struck in the gut, rather than the casual turn and celebrate move the skill players are so well choreographed to perform at the end of a scoring play.  A chance for a potential player to make a great play and be recognized as a great player. 

Billy Cundiff Misses 32 Yard FG
Wide Left.
Billy Cundiff will have to suffer the feeling of being responsible for not sending the Ravens into OT for a chance to proceed to the much eluded Super Bowl.  But after the Baltimore defense kept an explosive New England Patriots offensive from scoring more than 23 points, Evans was the recipient of a spiral in the front corner of the end zone hitting his gut between two defenders and allows a desperate swipe by the beaten corner to dislodge the ball before he gets his second foot down thus forcing the field goal try versus a 27-23 lead with just over a minute to play.  The result a 23-20 loss for the Ravens and a trip to the Super Bowl derailed.

Don't blame the kicker for a rushed field goal from a distance that was not a chip shot.  Win and lose as a team.  How about a few missed blocks, tackles, assignments and reads throughout the 60 minutes of regulation.  Don't get caught in the "they get paid to make field goals," because big time players get paid to make big time plays.  If this is not true, then check the average salary of a kicker and the average salary of Wide Receivers, Running Backs, D Backs, Linebackers, Defensive Ends, even Linemen and of course Quarterbacks!  Don't let the guy who is the lowest paid, less frequently played be left to burden the responsibility for the Ravens loss to the Patriots.

There is plenty of blame to throw around to Great Players who were expected to make Great Plays.