Look into the Cristo-ball
Here are some local sports items from Thursday, Dec. 21 … written while brainstorming how the University of Oregon can capitalize ASAP on new coach Mario Cristobal the way Nebraska has Scott Frost ….
Because merchandise sales are hot, hotter and hottest this holiday season in chilly NU Nation, with Frost shirts reportedly flying off the shelves.
I'm picturing a line of "Mario Cristo-ball" shirts (Nike brand, of course).
The successor to Willie Taggart will be depicted gazing into a crystal ball and forecasting big success for the Ducks.
Ideally, the new boss will be clad in a green-and-yellow turban and cape a la Carnac the Magnificent as played by the late, great Johnny Carson. Possibly co-starring Jerry Allen as Ed McMahon.
And now … on to some real news …
• What to make of NCAA rules violations — admitted and alleged — by the U of O?
Any penalites — and it can safely be assumed there will be some — are likely to be announced in a few months. Oregon has 90 days to responded to a Monday notice of infractions from the NCAA Committee on Infractions.
Oregon reported three violations in men's, two in women's basketball and one each in football and track and field, and the NCAA has rated those sevel at Level II on a scale of one to four, with one the most severe.
Oregon no doubt will dispute the severity of the infractions, which led the NCAA to say that basketball coaches Dana Altman and Kelly Graves do not "promote an atmosphere for compliance." The men's and women's coaches, according to the NCAA, had staff members at different jobs and levels participate in activities that did not comply with the rules.
The football violation involved displays on a video board in the "football performance center," and the track and field violation apparently involved former UO sprinter/jumper Jasmine Todd, who was first declared academically ineligible during the 2016 season and then had a grade changed by an adjunct professor.
Are the violations as serious as some reported recently in college basketball via FBI investigation? Hard to go there.
But they appear to be more than minor, especially given the disturbing report that some went on for months, unchecked, especially in the case of Altman's program, according to the allegations.
• Back to Cristobal: The coach signed a 14th member of the 2018 recruiting class on Thursday — defensive back Verone McKinley of Carrollton, Texas.
• Speaking of violations and noncompliance … the NFL and NFL Players Association completed an investigation of Seattle Seahawks concussion protocol practices, and the team was fined $100,000 for not properly following them in regard to quarterback Russell Wilson when he was allowed back into a November game without an evaluation.
• The Nike Hoop Summit's 11th consecutive year in Portland is set, with a team of U.S. high school seniors playing top international players age 19 and younger at Moda Center.
Tip-off is 4 p.m. Friday, April 13.
The U.S. leads the series, 14-6. Its roster is likely to be announced in Janugary, with the World Select team to be revealed in March.
• The U.S. women's soccer team will play in three March World Cup tuneup doubleheaders for North and Central American and Carribean World Cup qualifying (Oct. 4-17). The doubleheaders are being called the SheBelieves Cup.
The U.S. will meet Germany on March 1 at Columbus, Ohio, in the nightcap of a doubleheader also featuring England versus France. The U.S. will play France on March 4 at Harrison, New Jersey, as a prelude to a game between Germany and England.
On March 7, the U.S. and England will meet in the second game at Orlando, Florida, after France plays Germany.
• The Blazers will try to snap a five-game home losing streak — yes, home — when they meet Denver at 7 p.m. Both teams are 16-15, but the Nuggets have lost two in a row and are 5-12 on the road. Portland, however, will be without point guard Damian Lillard, who plans to sit out with a strained right hamstring, missing a game for the first time this season. Lillard was hurt in the third quarter of Wednesday's San Antonio game.
• Girls basketball continues with tournament play at Franklin High.
• The Oregon Ducks women play their second and final game of the Duel in the Desert (at Las Vegas, Nevada), facing Hawaii at noon PT.
It's UO's final game before its Dec. 29 Pac-12 opener against Washington State at Matthew Knight Arena.