The Fearlessness of Larry Brown; Dressing for the NFL Draft

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Today in sports: Larry Brown wants to give SMU basketball hope, because why not, dressing a defensive lineman for the NFL Draft can be tough, if you forget the "peacockerry," and the Packers would prefer it their shareholders came to Lambeau Field alone in July.

At 71, Larry Brown was willing to do something that terrifies his younger, less financially secure colleagues: accept an offer to coach SMU, a traditionally woeful basketball program that will begin play in the Big East next year. Brown, the only coach to win an NCAA and NBA title, is reportedly making somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.75 million annually and he also secured a whopping $800,000 salary for assistant Tim Jankovich, who gave up the top job at Illinois State to serve as Brown's "coach-in-waiting." Big city, big money, big conference, no expectations: SMU is a coach's dream, assuming the coach dreams big. Brown is a valuable coach, a great, but what's refreshing is that there's no question the game is also worth something to him. Why wouldn't he want to coach in the Big East?   [ESPN]

Today in delightful pre-NFL Draft puffery, The New York Times tagged along with University of Memphis nose tackle Dontari Poe and "draft stylist" Rachel Johnson on a trip to pick out the fancy custom-made duds the 6-foot-3, 346-pound defensive tackle will wear on Friday night to Radio City Music Hall. Johnson, who has served in a similar capacity with LeBron James and Amar'e Stoudemire insists the days of bulky linemen like Poe showing up in tarp-like suits are over. She says over the past four or five years, "men with larger frames began to understand their bodies more." [The New York Times]

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The increasingly stuffy and aristocratic Green Bay Packers have banned shareholders from bringing assorted friends, well-wishers, and people they know just for their Jet Ski to the team's annual shareholder meeting at Lambeau Field in July. The team raised $67 million for stadium improvements earlier this year, bringing in 250,000 new shareholders into an enterprise that already has more than 360,000 part-owners, including the President of the United States, who was given stock against his will. The team is encouraging stockholders to only request tickets if their plans to come up to northeast Wisconsin are firm. It's all kind of complicated, but if too many new investors -- even ones from in-state -- come up, they'll fill the stadium, and then the real Sconnies from Green Bay won't have anywhere to sit. Surely there must be some way to resolve this -- let overflow shareholders sit on the field, stream a live feed to them from the equally historic Lambeau parking lots. Anything to avoid one of Wisconsin's patented, pleasant (but not too pleasant, oh, no) disputes about who has earned the right to sit where and why. This bloghand spent four years in Madison for school and never once felt comfortable on a barstool, stationary bike, or folding plastic chair on the edge of a homecoming float, usually because a person who occupied it some point in the past naturally assumed the only lefty desk in the Humanities Building was his until the end of time. The spike always happens after a Packers stock sale, and the average attendance for the meetings drops down to a much more manageable 5,000 to 10,000. [Green Bay Press-Gazette]

Systems have been in place for years to help MLB umpires be more consistent, or at least less spectacularly terrible on a nightly basis. The Questec Umpire Evaluating System was unloved, because players -- like Curt Schilling -- thought umps were monkeying with their zones to match up with the machine's. That's nothing compared to what the Decision Review System, a highly-advanced piece of review technology has done to cricket in three years. Because DRS contains "predictive balltracking and infra-red imaging, which can be used to review the accuracy of decisions made by on-field umpires" it has referees to completely change the angles from which they watch the game. This year, the ball-tracking function allowed referees to reposition themselves around the field. Since DRS isn't used in India, a schism is emerging between countries where it is used, like England and Pakistan. the majority of whickets are being taken by spinners (cricket talk, but that's unusual). The refs are in new places, the whickets are going to new people: technology hasn't just enhanced and moderated the game. It has changed the way teams go about winning. [The Wall Street Journal]

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