Sunday, January 23, 2011

Coe backs Hammers' stadium bid

Lord Coe has thrown his support behind West Ham's bid to take over the Olympic Stadium.

In line with the successful bid's legacy pledge, the Hammers intend to keep the athletics track inside the stadium, while their rival bidders Tottenham want to create a football-only stadium and instead plan to redevelop the current athletics venue at Crystal Palace.

And Coe, chairman of the London organising committee, believes West Ham's bid best fulfils the legacy promise, which he feels a "moral obligation" to implement. "This is about our ability to be taken seriously again in the corridors of world sport," Coe told BBC Radio 5Live. "There is a bid that delivers against the vision that we took to Singapore and we have a moral obligation to make it work.

"It's not beyond the wit of all of us to make this work and we have an obligation to make it work. The West Ham bid meets those commitments. I would have to vote West Ham."

Spurs boss Harry Redknapp claimed West Ham risked turning their home ground into a "desolate graveyard" if they were to keep the running track, but Coe believes it would be far worse to demolish the track, and with it, Olympic memories.

"I find it inconceivable that grandparents will take children back to a Premier League football ground, stand among the tiers of sponsorship boxes and say actually somewhere among this lies dormant the memories of Jessica Ennis or Usain Bolt reaching the heights of sport. It just does not smell right to me."

Lamine Diack, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations warned that Britain would lose all international credibility if they failed to live up to their legacy promise of keeping a world-class athletics stadium in the capital.

And Coe echoed Diack's comments, admitting Britain's chances of winning the right to host future sporting events would be severely compromised.

"It's really serious that we deliver on what we said we were going to deliver, unless we are prepared to trash our international reputation," he said. "If we don't, it would be very difficult for us to be taken seriously again for the foreseeable future in the corridors of world sport."

The buzz: Two Oklahoma football players arrested

Oklahoma players arrested

Two University of Oklahoma football players were arrested Saturday in Norman, Okla., one on a complaint of driving under the influence and another on a municipal violation.

Police Lt. Lance Arnold said Kenneth Stills was arrested at 2:10 a.m. on a DUI complaint near campus and Tony Jefferson was taken into custody on a complaint of interfering with official process at the same location about 2:30 a.m.

Both were taken to the Cleveland County jail and had posted bond by Saturday evening.

Jefferson is a freshman defensive back, and Stills is a freshman wide receiver.

East dominates in Shrine Game

After sitting out this past season following his involvement in the agent scandal that rocked North Carolina’s football program, Marvin Austin had a lot to prove in Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game.

So grabbing a late-game fumble recovery for a touchdown to punctuate a 25-8 victory for the East over the West more than made his week in Orlando, Fla., worthwhile.

“I sat the whole season out. Everybody knows it,” Austin said. “They (the NFL) say they just want me to be confident and keep playing hard.”

Syracuse running back Delone Carter ran for a touchdown and was selected the offensive MVP for the East squad, which included Missouri State lineman David Arkin.

Ex-major leaguer Zernial dies

Former major-league outfielder Gus Zernial, who played for three teams over 11 seasons, died in Fresno, Calif. He was 87.

Lisa Pearlstein, Zernial’s daughter, said he died Thursday from complications related to congestive heart failure. Services will be Wednesday.

Zernial finished his career with a .265 batting average, 237 homers and 776 RBIs.

Bunbury scores for U.S.

Sporting Kansas City’s Teal Bunbury converted a penalty kick in the second half as the U.S. national team rallied for a 1-1 tie with Chile in an exhibition game in Carson, Calif. It was Bunbury’s first goal for the United States and it came in his second game with the national team.

Helmet safety grants

The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment awarded nearly $610,000 in concussion research funding at winter board meetings Saturday in Phoenix. The organization, which sets safety standards for athletic equipment, also created a scientific advisory committee to direct concussions research efforts.

Missouri track teams do well

Both Missouri men’s and women’s track teams placed fourth overall in the Adidas Classic on Saturday in Lincoln, Neb. The Tigers’ Bailey Belvis won the women’s mile in 4 minutes, 56.95 seconds. MU’s Brian Hancock won the men’s pole vault by clearing 17 feet, 2 3/4 inches, and the Tigers’ Chris Holly won the weight throw at 61-4.

Michigan director of football operations steps down

In addition to the news that Michigan has officially lost star running back recruit Dee Hart to Alabama, the U-M program has also lost a long-time staff member in Scott Draper, director of football operations for the university. And while the loss of Hart may conjure some deep intestinal pain among Michigan fans, the same probably can’t be said for Draper.

Draper, who had worked in Ann Arbor for 19 years, resigned to accept another job “outside the athletic department”.

Draper was one of seven U-M staff members said to be at fault for the actions leading to five major NCAA violations with the football program. Michigan is currently on a three-year probation period with the NCAA and has already fired the man responsible for what can only be described as “The Dark Ages” of Michigan football, Rich Rodriguez.

It is, indeed, a time of transition and turnover for college football’s winningest program.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Bob Lopez, formerly the director of football operations at San Diego State, will take over at Michigan in the same position. Lopez was at SDSU one year longer than current U-M coach Brady Hoke, who was with SDSU for two years. Prior to SDSU, Lopez was the director of football operations at UCLA for five years.