The Famous World of the Penn Relays

It’s time for the heavyweight edition of the annual Penn Relays names and numbers release.
In this corner, from North Philadelphia, the heavyweight champion of the world … Smokin’ Joe Frazier!!!
OK, he’s not a world champion, not a heavyweight, and probably doesn’t smoke, but Joe Frazier III is from North Philly and he’ll be on the track at the 120th Penn Relays.
That’s Joe Frazier of Olney Charter High School of Philadelphia.
“He’s not my immediate family, but I think I’m related on my father’s side,” said Joe III, a high school senior, of the former world champ. ”But I don’t put it out there that Joe Frazier’s my family.”
And, no, Joe III is not a boxer, just a sprinter, but with definite plans for the next few years.
“I’m going to IUP (Indiana University Pennsylvania),” he said. “It has a strong English Education program, and I want to be an English teacher.”
And Yank Durham isn’t Joe III’s manager, but he is coached at Olney by another famous mentor: Paul Bryant, who said he hasn’t been called “Bear” since high school (Cardinal Dougherty).
Frazier isn’t the only former heavyweight champ entered at this year’s Relays. There’s a Patterson, a Marciano, a Holmes, a Dempsey, but no Tunney, lots of Jacks and Johnsons but not Jack Johnson, countless Muhammads and Alis, but the Great One himself is not entered. And there are several Walcotts, but not one from Jersey.
Keeping things on the sports side, Moussa Dembele is back with St. Augustine’s strong Division II team, but how Tottenham Hotspur let him come to Penn when he has a game in London with Stoke City on Apr. 27 only he knows. And, of course, Moussa will be in Belgium’s colors during the World Cup in Brazil this summer after he runs at Franklin Field.
Moving to the classical side, Christopher Shakespeare is back running a relay for Morant Bay of Jamaica, and in celebration of the 450th anniversary of the Bard’s birth, we’re loaded with his characters: Romeos and Juliets, a Montague or two, but no Capulet (sorry, Julie); Hamlet and Ophelia; Antony and Cleopatra; Lear, Cordelia and Regan, but someone forget to invite Goneril.  And there’s also a Mozart and a Symphony to serenade them all.
The pickle industry is well-represented this year with a Heinz and a Vlasic both on the entry list, and our annual Sopranos relay award goes to the girls 4×800 team from Staten Island’s Curtis High, whose team has first names of Diondra, Bianca, Giovanella and Anarosa.
We have Gongs and Fings, Tweedles and Dees but no Dums, we have a Lamb and a Fox in the same race (college women’s distance medley relay) and Virginia Union’s 4×100 apostrophe relay of (three legs) C’evon, G’Ana and S’kaylah. But we’re short a couple of Sandras because we have Francesca Dee and Samir Bullock.
And keeping it in the movies, if we can have a former heavyweight champion lead off these notes, why not finish with an Oscar winner: Matthew McConaughey will be throwing the javelin for East Carolina.

Nation Building

I’m not sure when it started, but the first one I heard of was Red Sox Nation, where all the lonely Red Sox fans pretend they have their own spot on a world map.

There’s Nova Nation and Hawk Nation and probably Rainbow Warriors Nation,  Everybody has a Nation now, except for poor old Ukraine.

Like Canadiens Nation, which doesn’t extend beyond the Ontario border in Canada, and I guess Canuck Nation, which no one really wants to admit being a citizen of.

The best part of these Nations is the college nickname countries.  Did you know there’s three Lumberjack Nations (Humboldt State, Northern Arizona, Stephen F. Austin)?  There’s 32 Tiger Nations and 27 Wildcat Nations, 10 Spartans and eight Trojans, although the women at Southern California are known as the Women of Troy for some reason.  Maybe they’re all named Helen.

Delta State has its Fighting Owls Nation, not to be confused with those tamer inhabitants of the 10 Owls Nations, of which I guess I’m one thanks to my alma mater of Temple.  Except for those passport-carrying Hustlin’ Owls Nation folks of Oregon Tech.

How’d you like to live in Banana Slug Nation?  That’s why nobody goes to UC Santa Cruz, except to get one of those shirts John Travolta wore in “Pulp Fiction.”

So why play that “Star Spangled Banner” at games anymore?  Shouldn’t all these Nations have their own anthems?  You can’t be a Nation without a (fight) song.  How about some suggestions for Nation songs.  Maybe I’ll have some suggestions next week, and I’ll run a few others if any good ideas come in.

I can’t wait for those anthems for Nanook Nation (Alaska-Fairbanks) and Mastodon Nation (IUPUFW, which translates to Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne).

Sing it out.

Get His Phone Number

Kelvin Sampson has just been hired as the men’s basketball coach at the University of Houston, a close neighbor of Temple’s in the wide-ranging AAC.

Kel just completed his NCAA “suspension” for all those illegal phone calls he made to recruits while he coached at Indiana.  Actually they were calls to relatives that he made on the school’s dime.

Kel also coached at Montana Tech, Washington State and Oklahoma, getting the NCAA’s infractions attention at Oklahoma before Indiana.  That’s a .500 record for schools he coached with infractions.

Always good to know that there’s room for a coach with a sparkling reputation in college athletics.  Steve Masiello calling.

Getting Dirty

The man who came up with the cartoon character of Mr. Clean died last week.  Services for the late earring-wearing grease fighter were held in Neverland.  Among the pallbearers were the Michelin Man, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Snap, Crackle and Pop, Tony the Tiger and Mister Softee.

Aunt Jemima sung hymns.

I Won’t Say It

Anything about 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie-Dink, that is.

I’ve covered that ground pretty well.  Except to say that the biggest crime on this guy’s sheet is the silence.  He does not face the media, he does not face the fans, does he face the players?  He is faceless.

So congratulations to the players who won in spite of their boss’ best efforts to embarrass them for al time.

Actually can’t wait for the NBA draft night.

Speaking of Silence

I could care less that the Eagles dropped DeSean Jackson.  Who wants a full-time criminal on their team?

And that’s the problem.  The Eagles let Jackson go and let all the rumors stay about his “background” and “gang connections.”  Not a word from the organization about the charges, it just let them stand.

Chipper, it’s your turn to step up and say you just dropped your best and fastest receiver because you want to make a change, I don’t know, you want bigger receivers.  Say that there were some problems in the locker room, there were problems in the huddle.  Say something, not hide behind an organization statement.

If not, you’ve unfairly branded Jackson.

Down to 4, or So

And that’s final…

Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Wisconsin in the Final Four, which will provide a truly uninteresting series.  UConn, yeah, AAC-AAC-AAC (See “Tournament  Stuff” of March 23).

Meanwhile the CIT is down to a Final Four of Murray State, Pacific, VMI and Yale, and the CBI has a it down to Fresno State and Siena.

Now those are teams worth seeing.

NIT? SMU is the the Final Four.  Yeah AAC-AAC-AAC!

By a Degree

Oops, another one of those coaches forgetting to pick up the diploma as he went out the door.

This time it’s Steve Massiello, who was going from Manhatten to South Florida.  But it seems that degree he earned from Kentucky wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on.  If it had been printed at all.

George O’Leary tried to pull that trick off at Notre Dame, thought the Irish stuff was all he needed.  Don’t worry, George is a football coach, and he wound up at Central Florida, arch-rival of South Florida (I think).  Massiello has enough basketball connections that he’ll get a high-paying assistant’s job somewhere, and he can pick up his degree from the U. of Phoenix.

Bigger criminal than DeSean Jackson?  Your call.

It’s That Time

The Phillies open their season tomorrow against their hated rival Texas Rangers.

The good news is that the lonely game, the only one of 162 which wasn’t set to be televised (July 12 at home with Washington, I think) has been picked up by FOX so we can watch every game live and almost in person.

That’s about all for the Phillies right now.  Wonder if they have any criminals…alleged criminals…that need to be cut.  At least we know that their GM and manager will be willing to face the music, no matter how sour.