Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Our first Notes on My Napkin for the New Year covers a wide range of topics, including that most controversial monogram, BCS.

I know that many of the faithful are still upset about college football’s BCS, but let me help you with the long awaited announcement of my own BCS, the Barber Championship Series.

This is not that complicated 64 team deal, the intriguing 24 team mess, the plus one set up. Nope, like an aging Las Vegas hotel we just blow up the current BCS and play the existing bowl games. Period. Fini. Let the alums, the media and the web wags duke it out for the mythical National Championship. The current BCS bucks could be used to sweeten the pot for all the present bowl games and add one game for any two winless teams (maybe the Washington Huskies and the Detroit Lions) so that one of them gets to start the New Year with a nice taste in their mouth.

And while we are on the topic of that oblate spheroid, news from San Diego worries many about the major investment that Long Beach State’s big sisters, the SDSU Aztecs, are putting in football. By way of history SDSU President Stephen Weber had a football budget of $4.3 million in 1999, $7.5 million in 2006 and using an imposed raise in student fees this year has added another $4.5 million to fire old Coach Chuck Long and lure Ball State’s winner Brady Hoke to the Mesa. The numbers, well the team went 2-10 this season and next year will depend on a couple of other number Title Nine (the gender equity law in California) and Chapter 11, and you know what that adds up to.

NAME DROP DUSTING—Two of the leading ladies around LBSU aren’t going to be around any more. Veteran Athletics front office smile Pat West has retired as has 49er setting coach and volleyball assistant Debbie Green Vargas. The joint won’t the same without them.

The early college baseball polls are out the Dirtbags are MIA and the only player on the hot prospect list is sophomore outfielder Jonathan Jones. JJ batted .338 in 2008 but despite his youth may have to lead the team after the loss of most of the infield and the top half of the pitching order, 11 in all going in the MLB draft. Three good relievers return, Adam Wilk, Jason Markovitz and Dustin Rasco but some bodies will have to step up as starters.

Maybe this rebuild by the Beach explains why rivals Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine are joining forces with the Niners in The Big 3 of the West High School Showcase January 17-19. The kids (ages 15-19) will work out in front of Head Coaches Mike Weathers from LBSU, Dave Serrano from CSUF, and Mike Gillespie, UCI, rotating from Fullerton's Goodwin Field, to Irvine's Anteater ballpark to Long Beach's Blair Field.

Back to the here and now, the not so friendly circuit called the Big West basketball season gets underway for both the Niner men and women. The opponents this weekend are UCSB and Cal Poly, with the men hosting those squads Friday and Sunday and the women on the road. The ladies (3-7) have taken their lumps in the out of conference sessions but the men (5-7) have given the 49er faithful glimmers of hope with a four game win streak and a victory over traditional national power Temple.

Where Are They Dept. Beach hoop legend Joan Bonvicini, one of only 18 head coaches in Division I women’s basketball history to win 600 games, is still out of coaching but has joined the staff at Sport Tours International setting up basketball tournaments and foreign trips.

Her glory days began in 1979 and before she left for Arizona her teams went 325-71. Bonvicini led the 49’ers to the NCAA Final Four in both 1987 and 1988 to go along with six Elite Eight and nine Sweet 16 appearances. Now there is a chorus of Auld Lang Sine I wouldn’t mind hearing again.

Modest complaint department, the media at the Emerald Bowl wanted an interview with Cal’s impressive little man, Jahvid Best, but he was a no-show. Bear’s coach Jeff Tedford wanted only seniors to attend the ONE AND ONLY mandated media session. As one of my Miami beat writers said, “This is fine ... if you're a high school coach.” (Tedford aside, I still love my Bear guy Steve Holton.)

Continuing on the topic of sports that involve a lot of jumping and passing, the Long Beach State men's volleyball team plays a couple of exhibition matches against the team from the University of Alberta Friday afternoon at 4 in the Gold Mine and Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Walter Pyramid. Pre-season picked as high as Number Three, the 49ers open the regular season during the Jan. 9-10 Elephant Bar Invitational at UC Santa Barbara.

Web wise guys are very excited about the opening weekend since the higher you finish in regular season the fewer games you play in the BWC tourney. With 4 promising freshman and Donavan Morris everything from here on out is winnable, and yes, losable. Dan Monson is a fine coach but “he's a coach, not a Miracle worker.” Yes but he talks to Mother Teresa every Sunday.

Miracles of course cost money which brings me to this note. It was nearly five years ago that the Oregon Ducks broke the bank to bring 25 recruits to Eugene for official visits. The orgy of private jets and lobster feasts the weekend of Jan. 9-11, 2004, cost the program nearly $150,000. Miami’s tab was a little less, they have an airport and the lobsters are caught locally.

The early BWC baseball handicap has Fullerton, Long Beach, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara with Davis lurking. The other guys are people you need to get two of three from on the road and sweep at home.

Trivia time he is not Mickey Mantle but he also once wore No. 7. He now wears No. 33765-183. He is Michael Vick, presently residing in Leavenworth, Kan., with plans to relocate to the National Football League next year when his current lease is up. Hopefully the Juice has TV in his Nevada cell.

Using numbers for a better purpose is West Virginia baseball coach Greg Van Zant. His team has to start the season on the road, unfair, particularly when RPI’s are used to pick post season participants. His solution is to replace winning percentage in the RPI with "adjusted winning percentage." Simply put, a win on a neutral field would still count as 1.0 win, but road wins would count as 1.25 wins, and home wins would count as 0.833 wins. That way, if two equally matched teams played 20 games at one team's home site, and the home team won 12 of the games while the visitor won eight, both teams would wind up with identical adjusted winning percentages. Washington State is the only cold weather team coming to Blair this spring.

One other hot stove league chat is the request that MLB scouting directors' want college players to wear numbers on their jerseys during batting practice and infield drills. Okay with me but I am still waiting for MLB to send some of their TV dollars to the cash-strapped college teams they use as a free farm system.

Last month we broke the good news story of former LB player Kevin Cutler who now is a wildly successful college basketball referee worked a 49er men’s game. I knew it was a good note because shortly after I went with it four or five other local medias picked that idea up. Okay start the clock and see how long it takes to pick up on the ladies division of that note.

This month we reveal that former LB women’s hoop assistant (1997-1999) Brenda Pantoja showed up with whistle at the Nebraska-LBSU women’s game December 12. Pantoja, who played at the U of Arizona was a top-notch guard from Bell Gardens High School who met Joan Bonvicini when JB was the Long Beach State coach. Pantoja knew she wanted to play for her when Bonvicini took the UA job in 1991. She owns the UA assist mark but a knee injury sent her to coaching and then refereeing. Film at 11.

From our friends at the ticket site, the top 5 most expensive high-end tickets are BCS Championship ($4,472), Capital One ($839), Chick-fil-A ($838), Rose ($728) and Sugar ($655), with the Orange sixth at $625. The top 5 cheapest low-end tickets are Music City ($9), Texas ($23), Orange ($23), Independence ($34) and Sun ($35). Give me four on the aisle.

Last add ticketing without the CHP. Lacking our usual dose of controversy let’s talk about the Super Box Shuffle for baseball season ticket holders. As I see it Blair Field has 3,000 seats and these days, except for the every other year CSUF series, actual attendance is between 1,000 and 2,000. There are 25 home games. SAR decided it was time to virtually double the price of these prime seats. They did a similar “seat license-donation” process for men’s basketball.

I am sure that some box holders are already higher level "qualifying" donors so the effect would seem to be to push the more pure baseball-only fan out of the super boxes into the bleachers, etc. This season there is only one home game with USC and none with UCLA. Hardly a time to crank up the pressure on existing customers. By way of comparison, UCLA charges $7. per game and CSUF (chair backs season-) $5.90 per game) versus the proposed $16 plus per seat in this new LBSU plan. (Current price without "donation" would still be $11. per game). Disclaimer, I crash some of those super box seats while gathering the "news". IMHO, this idea needs more thought.

I’ve got to quit now because this is getting so long it will take you until the Fourth of July to finish it. Happy New Year from the Dust staff: Plaxico, Bernie Madoff, and all my other Facebook BFFs.—DR. DAN


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