~~ December 2004 ~~

Secondary, Line Steal Spotlight From Linebackers

The names require no further identification. Last names will suffice.

Russell. Ham. Lambert. Lloyd. Greene. Kirkland. Gildon.

They are some of the players who made linebacker one of the most important positions in Steelers' history through the decades of the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and the start of the new millennium.

Those players went to 36 Pro Bowls, totaled 14 Super Bowl appearances, sacked quarterbacks like kids trampling on ants in a playground, generated fear and earned respect throughout the National Football League. more.....

Up Close with Rick Pitino

In 18 seasons as a collegiate head coach at four different schools, Pitino has compiled a 416-154 record, a .732 winning percentage that ranked him ninth among active coaches and 25th all-time entering the 2004-05 season. Perhaps Pitino's greatest coaching was done at Kentucky between 1989 and 1997, when he led the Wildcats to two Elite Eights, two Final Fours, and a National Championship in 1996. He gained his 400th career coaching victory last season. PSR's George Von Benko recently got up close with Pitino. more.....

Just Like Everywhere Else

This headline says all we need to know about Notre Dame's firing of Tyrone Willingham.

Forget the 'holier than thou' stuff. Forget the 'higher purpose' mantra. Forget the notion that there is a larger mission at work in South Bend. It's all about winning - just like everywhere else.

At least now that's clear.

Take it from Notre Dame Athletic Director Kevin White more.....

Penthouse Survival

I can hear him say it as if it were yesterday. 'We didn't come here to eat.' That was my father at Forbes Field. He wasn't mean, just a guy raising a family on a tight budget. I wonder what he would think today about sitting in a luxury box that costs well into six figures to lease? Where wine is served alongside carving stations for roast beef. Welcome to the amenities available for 21st century sports fans.

The luxury suites incorporated into all modern sports facilities are more than a means more.....

Faces To Watch In 2005

Abraham 'African Assassin' Okine is off to a good start. Okine, 14-0, is currently IBCA America's World Heavy-weight Champion.

The 6-foot-2, 235-pounder from Ghana, Africa is already 32-years-old. Still, trainer Al McCauley says Okine is in great shape and possesses the natural ability so coveted in fighters: speed and power.

'His work ethic is so good; he's a real joy to work with,' said McCauley. more.....

Wish You Were Here

The presence of these four would have

given Pittsburgh more reasons to cheer in 2004.

Donatas Zavackas

The image most of us remember is Zavackas pouting on the bench during the Panthers' three-point loss to Marquette in the 2002-03 season. But the 6-8 forward's shooting ability was a key to the Panthers' first-ever Big East Tournament Championship team. He averaged 10.1 points per game on the season, and more.....

Not Sorry You're Gone

Maybe we overreacted. Pittsburgh didn't miss these guys as much as initially feared.

Brian Giles

Vilified by Pirates' fans because he was mean to Jack Wilson and apparently didn't get along with Kris Benson, Giles' history with the Pirates has been somewhat rewritten by fans and media lately. The guy averaged 37 HR, 109 RBI, 108 runs and a .309 average over his four full seasons as a Pirate - and his effort between the lines was nothing but exemplary. It appeared there was no way the team would be able to replace him in the batting order. And for the first five weeks of the season, that's exactly how it looked. more.....

Salary Cap Or Dunce Cap

If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's this:

Other people make too much money. Just pick your favorite example: Teachers. Elected officials. Port Authority drivers. Turnpike toll-takers. Professional athletes.

You can probably just jump ahead to the last entry because everyone believes athletes make too much. After all, "they play a kid's game." Actually, they're part of a multi-billion entertainment industry and are "playing a kid's game" like Bruce Springsteen is "fooling around with a guitar." But if reason entered into these debates, the Dire Straits hit "Money For Nothing" wouldn't have been so deliciously dead on. more.....

The Economic Gap in Division I Athletics

If the common notion that six wins punches your bowl ticket holds true, then local college football fans should stock up on snacks. Because all three Pittsburgh-area Division I football teams have reached the magic number. We're going Burgh Bowling, everybody!

Not exactly. Although Pitt will be headed to a major bowl, televised and sponsored by a corporation you've probably heard of, Duquesne - with seven wins and a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship - will focus on final exams instead of football this month. more.....

Speech Lessons

My first experience with 'it' happened in Ireland back in 1997. Steelers' linebacker Greg Lloyd - never fond of the media - broke his silence when I approached him and asked a simple question. The Steelers were playing an exhibition game overseas with the Chicago Bears, and I asked Lloyd, 'How's your stay in Ireland going?'

He ripped the Irish people, Irish hospitality, and Irish food. Not the way you treat your hosts, and considering this was Dan Rooney's pet project, his comments didn't play well in the halls of power. The interview soon became front page news - not only in Ireland but here in Pittsburgh. Once we returned to the states - Lloyd confronted me about the interview. more.....

PSR Showdown: Pittsburgh Sports Story Of The Year 2004

Big Ben On The Scene:
For more than two decades, the fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers have searched for that elusive holy grail: a worthy successor to Terry Bradshaw's throne. Cliff Stoudt, Mark Malone, David Woodley, Bubby Brister, Neil O'Donnell, Kordell Stewart, Tommy Maddox - did I forget anybody? Ah yes, Scott Campbell, thanks. . . . more.....

Rookie Of The Year: Jason Bay:
The year was filled with local sports stories involving team excellence. Some obvious, like Pitt's third-straight Sweet 16 appearance. Some less so, such as the Lady Vulcans of California University capturing the Division II National Championship. Individual performances were abundant as well: Olympics hero Lauryn Williams of Rochester, Pirates' lefty Oliver Perez, Pitt's classy Heisman runner-up Larry Fitzgerald, the Steelers' unflappable Ben . . . more.....

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