Orioles fans, you have something to celebrate. We are back in the mode of the last 4 or so years, where we are looking for glimmers of future hope in the players working out the rest of the season. It took until June 10 to find that hope, but it would be worth it if Jake Arrieta can become a reliable part of Baltimore’s rotation. Now all they need are a couple of corner infielders, a healthy left fielder, a shortstop, and about three relievers. This week we have seen college football take the center stage in June, the World Cup give hope to the U.S. National Team, and a great college coach considering making the leap to the NBA- so let’s line up for the kick.

USC Gets What it Deserves
After four years of delays, doublespeak, noncooperation, and every attempt to sweep it under the rug, the NCAA’s hand has been forced and they have actually decided to penalize the great and mighty (and rich) USC football program. The program will face 10 fewer scholarships each year for the next three years, in addition to a bowl ban for the next 2 years and 4 years of probation. For arguably the most successful program in the country over the past decade, this is a huge blow. For one, juniors and seniors could transfer from the program, not wanting to spend their last two years at a program with no chance to go to a bowl. Secondly, recruiting will be an uphill climb, unable to necessarily commit to a program that suddenly can’t fill its classes. However, it will provide a great smokescreen for the infamous Lane Kiffin to hide his inability to coach. If the Trojans fail to do well in this first three or even four seasons, he has defections and scholarship reductions to blame and if he is fired will have yet another excuse to use at his next coaching destination. USC will also make the most out of the recruits they do get; as Ed Orgeron and Lane Kiffin are incredible recruiters despite everything that is going on at the program- kids still love Southern Cal, and their reputation for success on the field won’t be washed away after a couple of bowl-less seasons.

But the NCAA finally punished an organization that deserved it, though it is unfortunate that today’s athletes have to suffer for the sins of the ones that came before. The only way around that, as I see it, is to waive the one-year waiting period that transfers typically have to endure in cases like these. The NCAA has been brave and forward-thinking in instituting that rule for current juniors and seniors. College football’s governing body took a hard stance against a major player in its sport- let’s hope it can keep up its bite in the future.

World Cup Begins Today
I am not going to sit here and pretend that I know anything about international soccer that will add to your intellectual understanding of the sport, but I do know the pattern that comes up in the media around World Cup time. First, the U.S. has a few moments where it seems that they won’t qualify, then they get a couple of decent wins that boosts their resume. They also have a few inexplicable losses against terrible competition down the stretch. Then, just before the World Cup is about to start, news outlets start to run stories about how this year’s team is different, and could “make a splash” which can mean whatever you want it to mean. When the World Cup starts, the hype machine is in full roar and the Americans put in a good effort before an early exit. I hope I am wrong, but I just see history repeating right now. Starting out against England probably won’t help much, but perhaps they can catch the Brits off guard. That said, it is worth a watch if for no other reason than to support the U.S. Americans have bought more tickets than any other country aside from South Africa, so hopefully the support they show can push our boys in blue to victory.

Izzo Considering Cavaliers Job
Apparently the Cleveland Cavaliers have taken a creative approach in courting college basketball great Tom Izzo to become their new head coach. They have offered him both a with-Lebron and without-Lebron plan for rebuilding the team into a contender, though I might have gone farther in offering Izzo more money to coach if it turns out that Lebron James does not return to the Cavaliers. Many people will decry college coaches bolting to the pros, citing the recent track record for failure among college coaches making the leap, but I don’t understand that. If you are a successful college coach and you want the challenge of coaching in the pros, why would you be deterred by the failure of others- if I am a professional and I believe in myself, I won’t shy away from taking a better job just because I am afraid of failing. Tom Izzo will be a successful college coach even if he bombs in Cleveland, just like John Calipari at Memphis and Kentucky after his failed stint with the Nets. The undercurrent in this logic is scary, that people believe that a fear of failure should be enough to get people to stay in their current position regardless of whether they want to try greater things. If Tom Izzo wants to coach in the NBA, then he should take the job. If he fails, I am sure he can be added to the list- but I doubt he will regret taking on the challenge in the first place.