July 20, 1997 in Sports

Bozeman’s Lies Have Coaches Feeling They Won’t Be Believed

Mark Kreidler Sacramento Bee
 

So I guess what we’re saying here is, the Todd Bozeman era wasn’t necessarily what the Cal athletic department and its fans had in mind. Nor, you could argue, was it what Jelani Gardner’s father had in mind.

“What I feel, honestly, is relief,” said Cal athletic director John Kasser, after his basketball program was placed on three years’ probation and received a one-year ban from the NCAA postseason tournament. The penalties were for infractions racked up during Bozeman’s stormy tenure as head coach. And when Kasser cites relief, let’s go to whatever length necessary not to confuse it with (a) elation, (b) success or even (c) closure. The unhappy truth is, it won’t be over for a while.

Brutal kicker to the Bozeman story: Coach gets turned in by a dad to whom he paid $30,000 under the table, because the dad, Tom Gardner, was unhappy with son Jelani’s playing time. And what was your first hint that Tom Gardner might be a problem for your program, coach? Would it have been, oh, I don’t know … the point at which he accepted the $30,000?

All coaches are not crooked; all coaches are not liars. But there remains something absolutely awesome about the specter of a man, in this case Bozeman, just bellowing to the rafters that he never did a thing, that he was completely innocent of the accusations against him - and then, confronted with the evidence, abruptly confessing everything. That shudder you felt was every decent coach in America wondering whether he’ll be believed if he ever has to stand up to deny a genuinely bogus claim.

The Colorado Rockies have a draft pick in their farm system named Doug Million. If his middle name is Ten, then we’ve go a No. 1 here.

“It’s sort of like playing the Chicago Bulls. You know at the end of the game they’re going to be coming back at you, so you’d better get off to a pretty big lead at the beginning of the game.” - Tom Watson, describing the British Open golf course at Troon, Scotland.

Andre Agassi ended a 10-week hiatus from tennis by losing his first match in the Legg Mason Classic in Washington, D.C., to Doug Flach, the 174th-ranked player on the men’s tour. And for those keeping score, that drops one of the most gifted players of the past decade to 6-7 in match play for the year. That’s 13 matches, and we’re in July. Sigh.

Hideki Irabu is 2-0 after two starts, which just might exceed the expectations the New York Yankees had when they signed him to a $13 million contract. The 95-mph throwing right-hander’s career record in Japan, after all, was 59-59. Of course, we could be missing something.

What 11 points and five boards will get you in the NBA: $20 million over five years. Bryon Russell, take a bow. You’ve got Mitch Richmond by more than a million per.

The thing my kid is really missing in his life is some discipline and a sense of order, so I’m sending him to the Dennis Scott basketball camp. Although, for some reason, my entry fee keeps getting refunded.

The A’s, 40 victories. Mark McGwire, 34 home runs.

“The young man needs help. … He has no one around him whom he respects. He has a bunch of young guys wearing pretty suits, but he has no respect for them.” - Grambling football coach Eddie Robinson, offering to counsel heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson “before it’s too late.” Um, coach, a word with you about the too-late part.

The Yankees want Jose Canseco and his low average to bolster their playoff run? OK - but we’ve got to get quality in return.

The weird, improbable but nevertheless true addendum to the planned Wayne Huizenga baseball sellout in South Florida: Marlins manager Jim Leyland has a clause in his contract that says Leyland can leave if Huizenga indeed dumps the team. The former Pirates manager, incidentally, decided not to sell his house in the Pittsburgh area.

Remember when, as a free agent, Roger Clemens said he would either sign with a contending team or return to Texas? Clemens is 15-3 with a 1.62 ERA; the Toronto Blue Jays, the team he chose, are sub-.500 and a dozen games out in the American League East.


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