VETTEL: If This Isn't The Lamest Excuse Ever

I've heard a lot of lame excuses in my life. That comes from having student employees for 17 years and children for almost 20. From the simple "I didn't do it" and "It was there when I left" to the classic "my alarm didn't go off" or "the computer must have deleted it," I've pretty much heard a wide variety of explanations that defy common sense.

But Minnesota Vikings running back Onterrio Smith has gone to a place so bold, so bizarre, so far from our current concepts of reality that even Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise would be intimidated.

If you haven't read the story, you'll love it. If you have, hopefully I will add a level of amusement. Smith was caught at the Minneapolis airport boarding a flight while carrying an elaborate kit designed to beat drug tests. The kit, dubbed the impossibly hilarious "The Original Whizzinator" includes what Smith says was dried urine and a bottle of pills labeled "cleansing formula". That Smith would have these products cannot be a big surprise. In college he was tossed by Tennessee (no easy feat in itself) for using drugs and has twice violated the NFL substance rules, resulting in a four-game suspension last season.

But Onterrio Smith had a logical explanation.

It was for his cousin. Are you kidding me?!

Nice family. Nice story. Nice try. Frankly I don't know which is funnier, the lame excuse or the name of the product. It also makes me wonder what other names they might have had in mind for this product.

" Pee-Clean 2000 "

" The UN-Juicer " (Ronco could sell thousands of them)

" 'Roids Be Gone "

" Andro-a-go-go "

One beneficiary from all this is former Gator Ciatrick Fason. The Vikings fourth-round pick may have one less guy in the way as he begins competing for playing time. Meanwhile Mr. Smith might want to contact Ricky Williams for some advice on how to spend leisure time.

Baseball Slide Continues

At 30-and-10 Pat McMahon's Gator baseball team was a solid lock for to be an NCAA Regional host and likely for Super Regional play as well, assuming the squad advanced. Now the Gators have put both in serious jeopardy after dropping two midweek games to South Florida, making it seven losses in nine outings for the Orange and Blue.

Freshman pitcher Tommy Wynn had a disastrous outing, retiring only one of eight batters he faced while the other seven all scored. The Gator defense did its part as well, committing four errors to allow three unearned runs in the late innings, thwarting any possible comeback.

Florida's recent failures add a major level of importance to this weekend's series with Mississippi State. A good weekend could leave Florida alone in first in the SEC heading into the final weekend of the season. Continued difficulties, however could potentially call into question whether or not this team even warrants an NCAA bid.

Florida's top three starters have not been a problem during this slump although Tommy Boss lost it in the sixth inning at Arkansas Sunday. No, the two bigger issues are offense and defense. The Gators' bats have been oddly inconsistent. Against Tennessee Florida scored 5, 18, and 2 runs in the series. The total of 25 isn't bad, but the game-to-game balance is. At Arkansas it was more of the same as Florida managed 1, 2 and 11 runs in the three-game set. Add to that 13 errors in the last five games and you have a team with problems to fix… and in a hurry.

Mark Richt Takes a Big Chance

Darius Swain is such a chronic screw-up that a judge sent him away for 45 days in jail after the Georgia defensive lineman was arrested for driving with a suspended license for a third time. It takes quite a bit of screwing up to get your license suspended in the first place. For someone to be so indifferent to the law as to repeatedly violate that suspension is disgraceful and I applaud the judge for taking such strong action.

It's a shame we cannot say the same for the Georgia coach. Mark Richt says he will not suspend Swain for any games next fall despite him having to spend a month-and-a-half behind bars. I agree with his claim that the jail term is an incredibly high price that Swain is paying for his crime but that's not the point. Coaches more effectively control their players when their punishment exceeds that of the "authorities." Richt and the 'Dawgs better hope Swain doesn't decide to again hit the road with his suspended license. Because if he does, and Swain does someone harm, they will be poster children for aiding and abetting criminal behavior.

Richt has done a fine job at Georgia and has a pretty sound track record where discipline is concerned, although not great. But to not take any action against this kid is unconscionable. And very risky.

NFL Won't Let Mike Nolan "Suit" Up

The NFL is by far the best run, most successful of all pro sports leagues and part of that is its discipline in delivering for its corporate sponsors. We've seen the NFL take stands against athletes who wanted to pay tribute to fallen hero Pat Tillman; and we saw it last year when the league ordered Ben Roethlisberger to remove his "live strong" wristband.

Now the NFL won't let 49ers Coach Mike Nolan wear a suit on the sidelines as a tribute to his dad. Dick Nolan wore a suit on game day in an era when it was fairly common (Lombardi, Landry, etc). However, now the NFL assures a corporate sponsor that the coaches will wear their apparel on the field.

I feel stupid writing this, but the NFL is right. Once you make a commitment you have to live up to it. But, you know, it wouldn't hurt them to call up Reebok and say," hey guys, we're going to let Mike Nolan dress up in tribute to his dad for the first game of the season." It's a sensible compromise and serves all concerned. The company would be getting more positive publicity for its sensitivity in this unique situation than the value of the logo for that one game many times over. The NFL would show a little heart and Nolan gets to salute his dad.

See, wasn't that easy?

One-on-One With Foley Coming

I had a lengthy conversation with Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley the other day and covered a wide variety of subjects. So wide, in fact that it will be written up in this space in three parts beginning Monday. Part one will cover the issues surrounding the new 12th game on the football schedule and the opportunities it presents. Part Two will be on the state of the Gators, increasing all-sports competition from Georgia and Tennessee, plans to add another sport, facilities updates and more. And in Part 3 we talk about the impact Urban Meyer has already had on Gator Nation, the uniqueness of some of the approached that Meyer has taken and the impact on ticket sales as well.

Hope you'll enjoy it… I look forward to the feedback.

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Have a great week.

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