Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Syracuse will pin hopes on Paulus

No one can be surprised that Syracuse football coach Doug Marrone named former Duke point guard Greg Paulus his starting quarterback after just one week of practice. This was a foregone conclusion the minute Paulus announced he had chosen SU over a dozen other schools, including Nebraska and Michigan, this spring.

As I've written a few times in this cyberspace, this is a risk worth taking. So what if Paulus, a former national scholastic football player of the year, hasn't played the sport in four years? His leadership skills can't be questioned, and during these recent practices he's shown Marrone he has the arm to make all the required throws.

The two-time academic All-America is bright enough to assimilate the SU offense on the fly, and he learned all about dealing with pressure during those games in Chapel Hill - where Duke point guards are about as popular as Bernie Madoff.

I know this is a long-shot, but Paulus is a special talent. I really believe that, barring injury, he is going to be the difference in two or three more wins for SU, which would be a healthy improvement over last year's 3-9 Sour Orange. And even if he bombs, it'll still have been worth it because he'll have sold a bunch of tickets and created interest in a program that's been a bottom feeder for several years.


I pray that sprinter Usain Bolt is clean because he's such a joy to watch run. Sadly, this is where we are in the world of sports in 21st century - wondering if athletes are breaking records naturally or artificially. I find myself reluctant to gush over such achievements, because I've been burned by so many fraudulent sluggers and sprinters over the past decade.


I've researched and written quite a bit about Rochester Red Wings history through the years, but I'm hardpressed to come up with many finishes as bizarre as yesterday's. The Wings head into the ninth up by a run, then proceed to give up 12 runs in a 16-5 loss. That's the stuff of the Bad News Bears.


It seems like it was a decade ago, but it was just last year that I was covering Michael Phelps winning his record 8th Olympic gold medal in Beijing. About an hour before Phelps raced, I was in a bathroom in the Ice Cube swimming arena throwing up. That prompted friends and relatives to wonder if I deserved a gold medal in "hurling.''


There are reports out of Oakland that Raiders head coach Tom Cable punched defensive assistant Randy Hanson in the jaw. That, of course, reminds me of the "Bickering Bills'' days in 1989 when Buffalo assistants Nick Nicolau and Tom Bresnahan got into a fight. Despite giving away about five inches and 80 pounds, Nicolau got the better of Bresnahan, who wound up wearing a turban-like bandage around his head to meetings after having his head driven through a plaster wall. In the book I calloborated on with Steve Tasker, the Bills special team's star told me that Nicolau and Bresnahan had gone back to being friends before the plaster had dried on that repaired wall in the coaches' meeting room.

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