Loren Tate: Riddle me this
Somebody called me a “know-it-all.” Actually, the opposite is true.
I don’t know enough. Doubts and unanswered questions carom through my brain like an off-track locomotive. Mostly without resolution.
What are your questions? Ask 'em for today's chat here
Here are a few.
Q — Did sexual assault charges filed by a Vernon Hills masseuse stymie Rick Brunson’s quest for an assistant coaching position at Temple (his alma mater), thereby bringing Midwest schools back into the stampede for son Jalen Brunson? And if the Stevenson High guard favors Illinois at this time, might this change if a mid-September visit here by Texas point guard Jawun Evans leads to his early commitment? This won’t be a Dee-Deron situation in which the Illini land both. Each wants to run the show.
Q — If Mike Thomas said “money was not a factor” in the departure of line coach A.J. Ricker to Missouri, does that mean the Illini offered him something in the neighborhood of $280,000, the reported salary of Ricker’s predecessor at Mizzou? At $180,000 last year, UI line coaches Ricker and Greg Colby were among the 10 lowest-paid Big Ten assistant football coaches.
On the subject of salaries, UI assistant baseball coach Eric Snider made a sideways move to Louisville for a reported $200,000. The Cardinals want more World Series visits (two in the last three years), and they now have a high-powered recruiter in Illini territory. Should Thomas have made a Ricker-type offer to Snider?
Q — Am I wasting too much time being a can’t-help-it St. Louis Cardinals fan? After all these years, I found justification in Hall of Famer Roger Angell’s brilliant response, called brilliant because (read on, Cubs and Cards fans) it offers justification for our lives.
Angell: “It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team. And the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look, I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable.
“Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring — caring deep and passionately, really care — which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naivete — the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball — seems a small price to pay for such a gift.”
Q — Will Tim Beckman’s team win enough football games to extend his contract and would five or six victories be sufficient?
These are questions on everyone’s mind — one that I will address Friday — and there’s no July answer unless you can tell me (1) how the Illini will do in the last five minutes of tossup games, (2) whether Wes Lunt and Josh Ferguson are healthy after midseason and (3) what kind of shape Iowa, Penn State and Northwestern will find themselves in chilly November. My crystal ball is faulty. It foretold the Cardinals beating Clayton Kershaw on Sunday night. What does that tell you?
Q — If a second chance paid positive dividends for Luther Head — the athlete and Illini basketball profited from that forgiveness — is it any less appropriate to pardon Darius Paul if, of course, IF the Illini basketball forward has walked a straightened path in Texas?
Or in the words of pretend Gov. Charles Durning in favor of “O Brother’s” Soggy Bottom Boys: “If their rambunctiousness and misdemeanorin’ is behind them — it is, ain’t it, boys (‘Yes, it is,’ replied a somber George Clooney), then I say with the power vested in me, these boys is hereby pardoned (wild cheering). Not only that, these boys is my brain trust.”
Makes you feel good all over, doesn’t it? Does me. Where would any of us be without a second chance?
Q — Legal minds may disagree, but why must Matt Sinclair face such heavy penalties for 10 seconds of stupidity (waving a gun out a car window in celebration of beating Purdue after 20 consecutive Big Ten losses) when the gun wasn’t discharged and he didn’t hurt anybody? Isn’t public ridicule, losing an $80,000 job on Beckman’s staff and heavy attorney fees enough? Reminder: Don’t let yourself get caught up in the wheels of justice!
Q — Do you ever ponder an amount that is appropriate for a really outstanding fundraiser? Would you rather pay $70,000 to someone who raised $100,000 or give $250,000 to someone who raised a million?
On a similar front, you never actually see the Illini golf team play, and it doesn’t produce gate revenue, but how much is too much for Mike Small, whose Illini teams have reached the NCAA quarterfinals (one runner-up) in three of the last four years, who spends double his annual budget by personally raising the difference, and who is point man for the spectacular 24-acre practice facility ($3.5 million endowed) being constructed east of the indoor facility?
Small declined overtures from the University of Florida earlier. Look for the Board of Trustees to soon boost Small’s salary and his budget.
Q — No case ever rattled my brain like the extent of guilt Joe Paterno deserved in the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse case. And these uncertain feelings were multiplied by the NCAA’s heavy-handed sanctions against Penn State. In my confusion, I could never find enough hard evidence to justify Paterno being treated like the 9/11 mastermind. Frankly, I couldn’t escape the feeling that he simply lost contact in his later years.
Loren Tate writes for The News-Gazette. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.