Sports Beat “Adios Pete, Hello Rex?”

Columbia University dismissed Lions football head coach Peter Mangurian this past Friday. Ironically the fact that the Lions are in the midst of a 21-game losing streak had little to do with the dismissal; rather it were reports that Mangurian was verbally abusive to players, and even worse, ignored their concerns about having incurred concussions, that spurred Columbia president Lee Bollinger to act.

Not to belittle the Columbia players’ concerns but not firing this guy just based on is win-loss record reminds me of how the feds could only put Al Capone away for income tax evasion instead of for any of his hardcore gangster activities. Be that as it may, the important thing is that Columbia finally got rid of “the Vince Lombardi of losing.”

Columbia obviously has to look for a successor to Pathetic Pete and my suggestion is that they should wait until early next month and contact Jets head coach Rex Ryan who will surely get his walking papers the day after the season comes to a merciful end.

I can understand if your eyes are rolling at the notion of Rex Ryan coaching the Columbia Lions. It’s clearly a longshot but it’s not as pie-in-the-sky as you would think. Rex enjoys being a teacher and he likes living in the New York area. Columbia University has a fairly sizable endowment and given the historic ineptitude of Columbia football few would complain if the school were to make an extremely lucrative offer to him.

Columbia is located in New York City which is where both CBS and NBC Sports (technically Greenwich, CT) have their Sunday pre-game, halftime, and post-game shows (ESPN is not far away either in Bristol, CT), Rex, who is natural for television, could have a media presence here. I don’t think that the Columbia administration would begrudge him the opportunity to promote the school on national television.

Former New York Times sports columnist and Rego Park native Robert Lipsyte has just completed his stint as ombudsman at ESPN. Ombudsman is akin to being an internal auditor with respect to journalism standards. ESPN is both the largest sports television rights holder and a news gathering organization and there are inevitable conflicts of interest. Lipsyte did a good job making sure that the network did not embarrass itself during his tenure.

Matt Harvey must have wanted to see his name in the newspapers last week. The Mets’ public relations department gathered beat writers from the dailies and select TV reporters last Wednesday to hear their self-absorbed pitcher say that he is in complete agreement with how the organization is handling his recovery from Tommy John surgery and that his mind is now strictly on baseball. We can all breathe a sigh of relief. Thank you Mets PR department for not contacting me to cover this nonsense.

My colleague Derrel Johnson and I chatted with former Atlanta Hawks star and now a broadcaster for the team, Dominique Wilkins, during halftime of Friday’s Hawks-Nets game. Wilkins was candid as ever as he scolded the Nets for their lethargic effort. He also criticized the selfishness in today’s NBA as exemplified by 2 on 1 fast breaks where the player dribbling and who is guarded refuses to pass the ball to his open teammate for an easy basket.

The biggest addition to the Nets’ roster this season was supposed to be the arrival of Croatian forward Bogan Bogdanovic who has averaged slightly less than ten points per game. That paltry production would be tolerable if he could play defense but opposing players have run around him as if he’s a lamppost.

It’s no secret that Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment has been in a serious economic slump. Its digital subscription WWE Network has been a flop and viewership is down on all of its cable telecasts that are shown on Comcast’s USA and Syfy networks.

A key reason for the doldrums is that in recent years the WWE has not created any breakout stars who possess both great oratory and grappling skills. The last success story for the WWE was Philip Jack Brooks better known to wrestling fans as CM Punk. Brooks’ Punk was an anti-authoritarian character similar to that of Steve Austin but with a bit more urbane sophistication.

Last year Brooks quit the WWE after a dispute with McMahon. Nearly every pro wrestler has had his ups and downs with the WWE boss so the general thinking was that Brooks would return to the fold. In a surprising move, Brooks announced that he would be leaving wrestling to take part in the largest mixed martial arts league, Ultimate Fighting Championship, beginning in 2015.

This was a big week for Ultimate Fighting Championship. Reebok, which lost the right to the National Football League to Nike a few years ago, signed a multi-million dollar deal to become the exclusive UFC apparel supplier.

Professional sports league licenses are crucial to the profit margins of athletic apparel manufacturers. Adidas, which has an exclusive license with the National Basketball Association, is producing a ton of merchandise for the 2015 NBA All-Star Game Weekend that will take place in New York City.

National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts was profiled by noted sports scribe Will Leitch in last week’s issue of New York Magazine. I met Roberts at a Sports Business Journal conference in September and I was very impressed with both her determination and candor. She freely admitted that the NBA owners have long won the negotiating battles with the players union over the years but that was going to change. She made this statement before the league announced its new $24 billion, eight-year contract with ESPN and Turner Entertainment.

It will be interesting to see the dynamics between her and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Silver is a lot more cordial and less confrontational than his predecessor, the enormously successful but equally obnoxious David Stern. Roberts appears to be a lot tougher foe than former union head Billy Hunter ever was for the NBA team owners.

Yankee Stadium should be packed for the 2014 New Era Pinstripe Bowl as Boston College will be meeting Penn State on Saturday, December 27 at 4:30 PM. This game marks the fifth anniversary of the Pinstripe Bowl. The last college bowl game that took place here prior to the Pinstripe Bowl was the short-lived Gotham Bowl which was discontinued after 1962.

Samsung’s Gear 2 “smart watch” is further proof that we are living in the Buck Rogers era. You can check out sports scores on it as well as access other parts of the Internet. Baby boomers who grew up watching those early 1960s cheesy Dick Tracy cartoons will get a kick out of making a phone call from it. You talk into your wrist just the way Tracy did.

Popcorn has long been a favorite snack of moviegoers and sports fans. It is also a fairly healthy one. Pop Secret, which used to produce only boxes of microwave popcorn, is now making ready-to-eat gourmet popcorn in bags.

Warding off winter colds and more serious illnesses require extra care to little details such as constantly washing one’s hands. Many believe that the vitamins from fresh vegetables and fruits also enhances health and that’s why juice blenders became very popular. The problem is that a lot of them were very bulky and required counter space that many of us simply don’t have in our kitchens. A company called Nutri Ninja has created a compact juicer that is economical when it comes to space. It also has a number of buttons that make it easy to control blade speed and cutting motions. You no longer have to shake or stir.

Extracting juices from fruits and vegetables is the tastiest and healthiest way to enjoy them but if you are tight on time, Red Jacket Orchards’ cold-pressed unfiltered apple, strawberry and grape juices are the next best thing. They are sold at various farmers’ markets around the New York area.

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