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Tiger trap

Sports blotter: "Walking in Memphis" edition
By MATT TAIBBI  |  August 20, 2008

Teach me, Tiger
There are a lot of famously troubled college sports programs out there, the majority of them football teams. Most of America knows that the Florida State Seminoles team, in its heyday, was once called the CrimiNoles; there isn’t a shop owner on the panhandle who wouldn’t move his finger toward the alarm button if he saw an FSU player drifting through his aisles. There were the problems with the University of Miami football team, and Maurice Clarett helped shine a light on a similar record of iniquity in the Ohio State Buckeye football program.

There are, however, some college basketball teams that have legacies of their own that are no less striking. Perhaps chief among those is the University of Memphis hoops squad, a group that has always had a reputation for, shall we say, generous academic standards, as well as a touchingly high degree of tolerance for talented ballplayers with checkered pasts. Over the years, the Memphis Tigers have seen quite a bit of trouble with the law, with some of their players continuing their unfortunate records even after leaving school and making it to the NBA.

What makes Memphis striking is that many of their arrested players are also their most prominent performers, even if their offenses are sometimes minor — as in the case of recently drafted Joey Dorsey, who was hauled in for traffic violations in 2006, or onetime Conference USA player of the year Antonio Burks, who was arrested on a failure-to-appear charge that same year. Now, the school has seen trouble hit their current squad. In fact, the team even appears to have a favorite arrest spot in downtown Memphis — the Plush Club on Beale Street. In 2007, Sean Taggert and Jeff Robinson were arrested for “inciting to riot” after a fight at the bar, and earlier this year junior forward Robert Dozier was arrested for hitting his ex-girlfriend there.

There have been numerous others, of course, but the relevant name this week is a Tiger from the past — Vincent Askew, a star for Memphis who went on to play in the NBA. On August 14, the 43-year-old Askew was arrested on felony charges as he was apparently caught soliciting sex from a 16-year-old girl in Florida. Askew, who was interviewing for a coaching job at a high school in the Miami suburb of Pinecrest, had told the girl he was recruiting players for the team. Apparently he did this bit of recruiting in a hotel room, naked.

Askew was part of one of the all-time great Tiger teams, the 1984–’85 Final Four club, now known as “Team Tragedy.” Guard Baskerville Holmes shot his girlfriend to death in 1997, then committed suicide. Backup guard Aaron Price was killed in a carjacking. Seven-foot center William Bedford, once considered a future star, is serving time on a coke rap. Coach Dana Kirk was briefly jailed on tax-evasion charges.
The sad tradition continues. Give Askew 70 points for the sex-assault charge. Stay classy, Memphis.

The QB shuffle
In other news, a pair of highly touted college quarterbacks is in hot water, leaving a couple of prime-time programs with serious question marks at the position.

The biggest name involved is that of Charlie Weis’s boy at Notre Dame, Jimmy Clausen, who is apparently under investigation for underage drinking (which has to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard — investigating a college student for drinking). Clausen’s trouble began when a Web site showed a picture of him competing in a “beer Olympics,” prompting someone with a very tight ass to look into things further. Weis’s response was classic: “Give me a break. Let’s move on.”

Meanwhile, on a more serious note, Kentucky QB Curtis Pulley was bounced from the team after a pair of busts for weed and speeding. Coach Rich Brooks was going to give him a pass on those offenses, but they turned out to be more serious than he thought — although he’s not saying how they were more serious. “There was basically a little more as I delved deeper,” said Brooks. Pulley was going to be the starter, so that sucks for UK fans. Must be karma for the whole Tim Couch thing.

Let’s give Clausen a record low minus-87 points for the idiotic drinking rap. Pulley we’ll give five. Not for smoking the tree, but for doing it so much that he got himself yanked from a starting job in the SEC.

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  Topics: Sports , Baseball, Sports, Brady Smith,  More more >
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