Tiger Woods wins Masters

Rob Schumacher/USA Today Sports

Thinking out loud: What a win for Tiger Woods

John Rooke
April 19, 2019 - 3:49 pm

Thinking out loud…while wondering whatever happened to commitment in college athletics, from college athletes?

  • Tweet of the Week I, from @MattVautour: “A 43-year old won the Masters. A 41-year old won the Super Bowl.  Take that, millennials.”


  • Tiger Woods’ win at The Masters was certainly one for the books.  I have never rooted against “greatness” on an athletic field of endeavor, and never really understood why some do that.  Perhaps because they can’t achieve greatness (or at least success) in their own lives?


  • But Tigers’ athletic success comes with a caveat in my way of thinking.  I’ll be the skunk at the party here.  Sports is an outstanding avenue to travel when story-telling, true.  But when we tell stories, don’t we need to tell the entire story for it to have real meaning?  Otherwise, it’s just propaganda.


  • And the story of redemption sells better than most – which is exactly what made Tiger’s win at Augusta special for so many fans last week, golf fans and non-golf fans alike.  I would simply ask the question, however – is he truly redeemed yet? 


  • His triumph is a great step forward considering his physical troubles, but his actions over the past few years require more than a perfunctory ‘victory’ in a golf tournament, don’t they, before we wipe his slate clean? 


  • Or are we as fans and human beings willing to look the other way from his previously boorish-to-bad behavior just because he won a golf tournament? 


  • Show me, Tiger, that you’re a better person than you were before the injuries hit, before you hit low tide and let all the glory go to your head.  Forget the golf.  Love to see you win at the Game of Life, too.  Just sayin’.


  • But he was still fun to watch down the stretch last week, wasn’t he?


  • Tweet of the Week II, from @mooretosay: “Part of what makes the majors so compelling for those that like golf is the fact that there are no bad calls. Players earn it or they don’t. Very real.”


  • Count me among the stunned while watching the Notre Dame Cathedral burn in Paris this week. You don’t have to be Catholic to feel the angst, the sorrow or the hurt while watching centuries of history go up in flames. 


  • Fortunately, many of the artifacts were saved.  I last visited the magnificent Cathedral in 1993, lit a candle and said a prayer for friends and family.  Repeated that prayer for all this week, too.


  • Don’t fret, Friar fans. Alpha Diallo knows exactly what he’s doing by declaring eligibility for the NBA Draft – even if you believe he’s not ready for it.  The rules have changed.  He can learn what he needs to work on over the next month from the pros, then make his decision before May 29.


  • Which should be to return to school, shouldn’t it?  He’s good, but he’s no Ben Bentil.  Shooting accuracy, free throw accuracy, and taking better care of the ball should be on his learning-curve and agenda.


  • Ed Cooley told the media at PC’s basketball banquet that he expects Emmitt Holt to return to active duty next season, with a 6th year of eligibility.  Tremendous news for the team, and especially for Emmitt. 


  • If Holt can contribute even near the level he played at two seasons ago (12 points, 5 rebounds per game) before his illness, the Friars could have that ‘stretch 4’ they sorely missed this past year.  Go ahead, admit it to yourselves.  They missed Rodney Bullock.  They missed his shot.


  • An effective Holt will make Nate Watson better at center, and Luwane Pipkins better at the point. 


  • It will also allow Alpha Diallo, pending his return, to become a real mismatch for other teams at small forward.  Too big for the quicks, too quick for the bigs.  The game is about matchups.  Team success depends on winning your share of those.


  • What is going on at Marquette?  Markus Howard last week announces his return, and this week the team loses BOTH Sam and Joey Hauser to transfer.  Makes you think the two items are related somehow, doesn’t it?


  • In Sam’s case – he must sit out a year before playing his final season.  Joey has already had a redshirt year, so he actually LOSES a season of eligibility.  Was it that bad in Milwaukee?


  • The roster editing takes the Golden Eagles out of the national Top 5 for next season, right out of the Top 5 in the Big East.  Without playing a game.  And it puts a huge burden on Howard’s shoulders for next year…not to mention Coach Wojo’s, too.


  • St. John’s had a hard time getting out of its’ own way in the aftermath of Chris Mullin’s departure.  Turned down by Bobby Hurley and spurned by a mid-major coach with a career record not much above .500 (Loyola’s Porter Moser), the Red Storm apparently had little desire to hire Iona’s Tim Cluess thanks to his contract buyout.


  • They’ve turned out to be the UCLA of the east coast, without the pedigree.  Both schools suffer from an over-inflated view of what they’re probably worth.  Still, the hiring of now-former Arkansas/Missouri/UAB head coach Mike Anderson is rebounding about as well as you can from a tough situation.


  • Hey, he has a win over the Friars this past season – which is something Mullin couldn’t get.  Anderson hasn’t had a losing season in 17 years as a college head coach, with 12 trips to the postseason.  He lost six seniors on Arkansas’ NCAA team from 2017-18, and still made the NIT this year with freshmen, Juco’s and Daniel Gafford. 


  • But there will need to be plenty of patience with the Johnnies in New York next season, even though I’m fairly certain that will be hard to come by.  Anderson has quite a challenge ahead.  St. John’s will have no Shamorie Ponds, no Justin Simon, both Bryan Trimble and L.J. Figueroa set to transfer, and recruits Cam Mack and Valdir Manuel re-starting their recruitment.


  • Updated ‘way too early’ Big East look:  1) Seton Hall (provided Myles Powell returns) 2) Georgetown 3) Creighton 4) Villanova (3rd ranked recruiting class nationally, but still freshmen) 5) Providence (if Diallo returns) 6) Marquette (provided no one else leaves) 7) Xavier (a lot of questions) 8) Butler (not much depth) 9) DePaul (good freshman class) 10) St. John’s. 


  • Was sorry to learn of the passing of former Notre Dame head coach John MacLeod this week.  MacLeod was truly one of the nicest head coaches that I’ve come across in my 40 years covering pro and college basketball, and he had an amazing memory. 


  • He coached the Irish from 1991-99 (which included their entry into the Big East) and was also the winningest coach in Phoenix Suns’ history, taking them to the NBA Finals in 1976.  MacLeod also coached in Dallas and New York, and won more than 700 games in the pros.


  • One media session prior to the Big East Tournament back in ’99, I believe, I asked MacLeod a question about the Irish and he looked at me…then said, “you worked for the (San Antonio) Spurs, didn’t you?”  “Good Lord.  Yes coach, I did – 12 years ago (from that time),” was my response.  He just smiled.  I’ve never forgotten that exchange. 


  • What a run for PC hockey.  The Frozen Four ended with a loss in the semifinals to defending (and eventual) national champ Minnesota-Duluth, but now the stakes are high.  Higher perhaps than they’ve ever been in program history. 


  • Why?  Expectations.  They come with the territory of having been there. 


  • Friar defenseman Jacob Bryson signed with the Buffalo Sabres this week, a three-year, entry-level contract.  A 4th round pick by Buffalo in 2017, he has reported for duty to Rochester in the AHL – already in their own postseason.


  • Forward Josh Wilkins was named as one of the 25-best players in America, chosen 2nd team all-American by the AHCA.  His 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) were the most by a Friar in 16 years.  That’s now five straight seasons for a Friar to be named an all-American.


  • Wilkins also this week signed an entry-level contract with the Nashville Predators.  Three Friar juniors are moving on to the professional ranks, including Brandon Duhaime signing with Minnesota.


  • Like I said.  Expectations.  Time to embrace them on the ice, too…just like we do on the hardwood.


  • UMass also has them on the ice, even though they lost that national title match. Cale Makar was not only the Hobey Baker winner (hockey’s version of the Heisman), the 20-year-old UMass sophomore signed a three-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche and then made NHL history – scoring in his pro debut in a 6-2 win over Calgary in the Stanley Cup playoffs.


  • Makar is the first defenseman in league history to make his debut in the playoffs and score a goal.  Whoa.


  • Happy birthday, Coach Bill.  67 this week and showing no signs of slowing down as the Patriots approach the 2019 NFL Draft.  Belichick once said he didn’t want to be Marv Levy at Buffalo, who coached to age 70.  So we’ve still got a few years to go, amiright?


  • The Patriots schedule makes sense, opening with the Steelers.  Traditional rivals, and people will watch anything on Kickoff Weekend, so why waste a real marquee matchup – like Cleveland vs. New England.  Did I really just write that?


  • Tell you what, the first reaction to the schedule rundown is…they got off kinda easy.  Again, it’s all due to the NFL’s rotation on scheduling…but not playing a 2018 playoff team until halfway through the season?  Can’t say there are any conspiracy theorists working against the Patriots in the scheduling department.


  • Not surprised in the least by the Patriots’ Hall of Fame finalists.  All deserving, of course.  Of the three, Richard Seymour is probably next in line – but don’t underestimate fandom’s infatuation with Rodney Harrison.  Especially now that he’s a network TV star.


  • Draft needs for next week?  Everywhere?  Let’s just say tight end, defensive line and offensive line would be a proper assumption.


  • With 12 selections, I’d be stunned if the Patriots kept them all.  More likely, dealing a few away for future picks, unless they pull a fast one to move up for one of the Iowa tight ends.  Alabama’s Irv Smith and Texas A&M’s Jace Sternberger are also two to watch for.


  • On the defensive side of the ball, if Clemson’s Christian Wilkins is available for the Patriots, he might be too good not to take.  High character guy, could fit into a rotational situation the team likes to employ on the line.


  • Demaryius Thomas.  Michael Bennett.  Why do I feel that five years ago, I would have been VERY excited to have them join the Patriots?  Now?  I’ll be from Missouri – ‘show me.’


  • Russell Wilson’s new status as highest paid in the NFL is pretty shocking, for a 5-11 quarterback.  Just shows you – a player is worth what the market will bear. And what someone wants to pay him. 


  • Ridiculous?  Maybe.  But also fact.


  • Tweet of the Week III, from @bradfo: “This is downright embarrassing – Jerry Remy.”


  • The Red Sox have major, major problems.  I said here earlier I was willing to wait this out until Memorial Day before getting all hot-and-bothered.  At the very least, consider me bothered right now.  The hot part is on its’ way.


  • Someone needs to be held accountable for the entire pitching staff’s performance-to-date.  They clearly were not ready out of Spring Training.  The nice-guy gloves need to come off. 


  • And I love what Dustin Pedroia has meant to this team, on and off the field, for several seasons.  But Pedey, either come down to the farm to figure this out and get completely healthy, or hang ‘em up, my friend. 


  • The Bruins have just had the NHL’s Eastern Conference handed to them on a silver platter.  Thanks, Columbus.  But don’t mess this up by losing to Toronto.


  • If Playoff Kyrie can carry this Celtics’ team past Round Two in the NBA’s Eastern Conference derby, can the team ever sell another regular season ticket in good conscience, with him still on the team? 


  • Of course, they can.  And will.  But you should think twice about what you’re buying.  If he can’t get them past Round Two, then this team is flawed and it’s time to break it up anyway.  But I’m not so sure he won’t.


  • My buddy “Big E” sez he was trying to buy a Barbie doll for his granddaughter, when the salesperson explained there were several from which he could choose. “Barbie Goes to the Gym is 19.95,” she said. “Barbie Goes Shopping is 19.95. Barbie Goes Clubbing is 19.95.  Divorced Barbie is 195.95.”


  • Naturally, “Big E” asks ”Ok, so why is Divorced Barbie so much more expensive?”  The salesperson replied, “Isn’t that obvious? Divorced Barbie already comes with Ken’s house, Ken’s car, Ken’s boat and Ken’s furniture.”


  • Here’s the thing about commitment in sports, particularly within college athletics – we don’t have any.  We don’t show it.  We don’t teach it.  Therefore, why should students have it?  The current rules allow for athletes (and coaches, too) to change their surroundings when things don’t go their way. 


  • There have been eight transfers over the past five seasons at Marquette, for example.  Is this a coach running kids off, or a program and coach not living up to promises made?  What about unchecked abuses like those that have happened recently at Houston (in soccer) or North Carolina (women’s basketball)?  Should there be an ‘out’ for athletes under extenuating circumstances?


  • Coaches can leave, too, for mo’ money – so why shouldn’t students be allowed to leave for mo’ opportunity?  It’s crazy.


  • I realize in this day and age of immediate satisfaction and self-gratifying behavior, results are what matters.  But we’re not teaching the “life” lessons we should be teaching anymore.  We’re not setting the examples we should be setting. 


  • And that is – decision-making is hard.  Do-overs in life are rare.  Instead, we’re teaching “look out for yourself.”  Those are the results we’re getting today.


  • Student-athletes in some specific situations can now transfer and compete immediately without a waiver, the Division I Council decided this week.  The NCAA also this week defeated a proposal to curb the enthusiasm of graduate transfers – by having them count against a program’s scholarship limit for two years, instead of one.  Providence has one of those coming in for next season in former UMass guard Luwane Pipkins.


  • Not sure limiting anyone’s opportunity is the right way to go – even if it would slow the number of transfers to a crawl.  But what we don’t need is the virtual “free agency” in college athletics we have today.  Otherwise, it’s not college at all.  It’s strictly professional. 


  • And we’re not currently preparing student-athletes for the real-life, professional world.


  • @thorsenchair in Providence tweeted at me this week, on Tiger Woods’ comeback win: “I’m not holding a man hostage for what he was twenty years ago any more than I would want to be held hostage for the person I was twenty years ago. Growth happens. Change happens. It’s part of the human experience. And of course, he might end up being the greatest golfer ever.”


  • Vance – You’re right on all accounts. But what we don’t really know is how Tiger has changed THIS year. We assume he’s changed from twenty years ago, but is it for the better?  Or because he’s been caught and humbled?  Just throwing it out there.  I prefer to let a person’s actions speak for their words.  Let’s see if Tiger can stay in the spotlight for his golf – and not for his off-course behavior. 


  • And he has three more majors to win to tie Jack Nicklaus. If he gets to #18, I’ll allow myself to consider Tiger as ‘best ever.’  Until then, I’ve got Jack.


  • Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to jrooke@weei.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke ...


Don’t forget to tune into Providence’s 103.7 FM, every Saturday from 7:00-9:00 am for Cordischi and Coit!  Call in at 401-737-1287 or text at 37937.

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