David Brooks of the New York Times writes that the Fannie Mae scandal is the most important political scandal since Watergate. It helped sink the American economy. It has cost taxpayers about $153 billion, so far. It indicts patterns of behavior that are considered normal and respectable in Washington.
Newsweek and the Daily Beast report that the financial disclosure report Rep. Paul Ryan filed with Congress last month and made public this week shows he and his wife, Janna, own stakes in four family companies that lease land in Texas and Oklahoma to the very energy companies that benefit from the tax subsidies in Ryan’s budget plan.
How do you spell panic? F-R-A-N-K H-A-I-T-H. Click here for reaction to the new Mizzou basketball coach.
When it comes to challenging Barack Obama for the presidency, the Party of Lincoln looks increasingly like a party of Mario Cuomos. Its biggest names and brightest lights are mainly competing to offer excuses for why they won’t be running in 2012. Ross Douthat explains in the New York Times.
Sports columnists are lining up to take shots at Mike Anderson for his classless exit from Missouri to return to Arkansas. The focus now, of course, to find a new basketball coach for the Tigers.
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch points out some qualities he thinks MU should be looking for in this column.
Above all else, Alden needs to find a coach who wants to be a Missouri man. A coach who appreciates being here. A coach who won’t feel insecure just because he coaches on a court named for Norm Stewart. And a coach who won’t be slumming for another job, an increased payday, as soon as he wins a few games. Missouri had to put up with this nonsense for three consecutive years.
Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star believes Missouri can upgrade in this column.
Anderson spent five mostly eh seasons in charge of what could be one of the best 20 programs in the country, doing just enough to convince people that better days are always coming. On a scale of one to 10, Anderson performed like a 6 and figured out a way to be paid like a 9.
Most of the focus when the NCAA basketball tournament bracket is revealed on Sunday will be on how teams are seeded and what sort of opponents they’re due to face — and which teams make the field of 68 at all. But Nate Silver of the New York Times says there is another factor that can make just as much difference. Click here for the analysis.
It’s likely that both Missouri and Illinois will get invitations, especially now that the field has been expanded, because they play in power conferences. Yet the Tigers have gone 9-9 to finish the season (with one conference road victory) and the Illini 6-10, and both were bounced in the second round of their respective conference tournaments.
Meanwhile, a team like Missouri State — which would appreciate the opportunity and play hard — will likely get snubbed despite winning the Missouri Valley Conference regular season title, but losing in the MVC tournament title game.
If Illinois decides to eliminate two-thirds of its 868 school districts through consolidation, would that mean the Illinois High School Association would be forced to revert to its two-class state basketball tournament so winning a championship would actually mean something? And maybe fewer that eight classes in football?
Here are some other miscalculations to think about on Thanksgiving Day:
• Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee says Boise State and TCU don’t deserve to play for the college football championship because they play “the little sisters of the poor” compared to the murder’s row (I guess he means Eastern Michigan, Ohio and Marshall) that awaits the Buckeyes every week. Ohio State, by the way, is 0-8 all-time against the SEC in bowl games, so the Buckeyes had better hope the Sugar Bowl likes TCU better against the SEC host school.
• The Yankees have offered Derek Jeter $45 million over three years, or about $4 million less than he earned over the life of his 10-year contract that just expired. Jeter wants more money and more years. The Yankees are telling their superstar to test the mark. Mike Lupica wonders what is going on here.
Although the Red Sox and Yankees played the first game of the season Sunday night (and it was relaxing to watch a meaningful game for the first time since November), most Major League baseball teams begin their seasons today. As a friend once told me in comparing MLB to the National Football League, football is an event, while baseball is a companion.
Butler will try to cap its improbable run tonight when it plays Duke for the NCAA basketball championship. Can’t say it has been the most anticipated Final Four of all time, maybe because there really were no great teams this season, but I suspect most of America will be rooting for a mid-major to walk away from the biggest prize of all. And I say that despite having the utmost respect for Coach K.
Finally, the Masters tees off Thursday. The first major is the best of them all, in part because it is played at the same venue every year. There will be the Tiger Woods sideshow, but this is one tournament that can hold an audience no matter who is atop the leaderboard. There’s just something about Augusta National and the history of the tournament. Some of the best weeks of my professional life were spent there. I think Steve Looten will agree.
Real Clear Sports offers up the top 10 names made famous by the NCAA Tournament. Mizzou fans may want to take a deep breath since that pesky Tyus Edney and his full-court dash in 1995 makes the list. What players not mentioned should be?
* With all due respect to Winthrop and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the NCAA basketball tournament really begins at 11 a.m. Thursday. On the eve of three of the best weeks in sports, Real Clear Sports offers this list of the top 10 storylines for this year’s tournament. And with Tiger Woods announcing he will play in the Masters April 8-11, it will be four great weeks in a row.
• Give my good friend and golf magazine supplier UMR a gold star for suggesting the following annoying phrases be banished from talk about next year’s NCAA basketball tournament:
“body of work”
“peel the onion”
While we’re at it, can we tone down Joe Lunardi? I’m sure he’s a fine fellow, but he’s Mel Kiper on steroids. I’m hearing “first three teams in” and “first three teams out” in my sleep. And Mississippi State seems to be on both lists.
* Columnist Bryan Burwell predicts the NCAA will expand the field to a bloated 96 teams for one reason — money. Basketball pays the freight for the NCAA, and it can opt out of its deal with CBS and go on the open market. More teams could mean more money, but it’s not going to improve the quality. Stat of the day: Since 1985, the 14h, 15th and 16th seeds have won 19 of 300 games played. And the teams that would be added to a larger field would be worse.
The one good result of Missouri’s ignominious flameout against last-place Nebraska in the first round Wednesday is that I won’t have to waste any time this weekend following the Big 12 postseason tournament. Another consolation: Maybe the Tigers will fall to a 10 or 11 seed in the NCAA tournament, which would mean they would avoid the top seed in the second round — should they get that far.
(Mizzou’s last two losses also mean I need to avoid Dr. Jim Nuessen for a while. The football victory over Kansas is a distant memory.)
Oh, well. Baseball’s opening day is around the corner and the Masters tees off in four weeks.