Grant Gibbs, please save one Christmas card for Mark Few.
The Creighton forward was given an early present last week when the NCAA granted him a sixth year of eligibility. It was a mild upset. The NCAA is as unpredictable as ever these days and hasn't had a history of handing out sixth seasons.
According to Creighton Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen, the key to making it happen was Few, the Gonzaga coach.
Gibbs spent the first two years of his NCAA clock at Gonzaga, but sat out the first year with a shoulder injury. Then a knee injury the second year kept him mostly on the sidelines. He then transferred to Creighton, and had surgery that took him out of year three, when he would have had to sit out as a transfer, anyway.
In applying for the sixth year, CU hired former NCAA staffer Rick Evrard, from an Overland Park, Kan., law firm, as a consultant. Evrard told Creighton officials they had to show the NCAA that Gibbs would have had to sit out the third year even if he had stayed at Gonzaga.
“Evrard told us that unless Few would also say that Grant would have missed his third year at Gonzaga with the injuries, that we had no chance,” Rasmussen said.
After being asked by Creighton coach Greg McDermott for his help, Few told the NCAA exactly that. As Rasmussen said, “(Few) didn't want Grant to leave Gonzaga. But he was willing to do this in the name of helping the student-athlete.”
That says a lot about Few. Now, maybe Creighton should hit him up for a future series.
Then again, that could be pushing its luck.
>> Because Gibbs came back, Doug McDermott is now the most celebrated walk-on in the country. His father needed his scholarship and was willing to pay for Doug's senior year.
But it's not free. Creighton does allow for free tuition for employees' children, but only if that employee has worked at CU for five years. Mac's entering his fourth season up on the hill, so he's got a bill for what Rasmussen says is “over $40,000.”
Rasmussen has a good point, though. Because of Doug's potential, “It may just be a loan.”
>> A lot of people in Nebraska predicted Alex Gordon would wear an All-Star uniform. Nobody predicted it would happen the way it did. But it has to be more satisfying for Gordon that he's done it the hard way, in a new position in the field and in the lineup, knocking down fences and critics. This is the player he and his fans always knew was there. Gotta be pretty darn satisfying.
>> OK, so I went to the Home Run Derby last week at TD Ameritrade. And let me tell you: It's not the fences. Not the park. Not the direction of home plate. Not the baseball seams. It's those ever-loving, ever-radioactive, wired-for-distance bats.
The college kids in that derby faced batting practice pitches. But when they connected, they were launching July 3 rockets into the bleachers and on occasion over the bleachers and into the concession stands. You want our old CWS back? Get the NCAA and Division I baseball coaches to turn back the dial on the aluminum bottle rockets.
>> I've covered more than a dozen major golf tournaments. And the scene at Omaha Country Club this week looks and feels like a major. Men my age aren't supposed to use the word “awesome,” but it's, well, awesome.
>> Here's a little Senior Open advice. Wear white. Drink water. Be patient getting there; this is a shuttle event.
And be on the alert during practice rounds Tuesday and Wednesday for senior golfers with big hearts. Most of the players won't sign things while they're practicing but usually oblige afterwards.
However, there was a cool scene on Monday. After Hale Irwin hit his tee shot on the first hole, he was looking around the gallery around the tee box. He spotted a little girl with a camera. Irwin walked straight across the tee box toward her, handed the camera to her dad and posed for a photo with the girl.
A lot of these guys are grandpas. Which means they're suckers for kids.
>> I've been a Wimbledon watcher since Arthur Ashe beat Jimmy Connors in 1975. There were some duds along the way, but this year wasn't one of them. Andy Murray's historic win was as great a theater as you'll see in sports.
>> When did the summer become college football's silly season? I used to feel fresh in August, chomping at the bit for the season. This year, I may be worn out. We'll have already played the season.
Lists of the top stadiums. Rankings of the top defensive players. Best games, worst games. Week-by-week predictions. Recruiting stories. Recruiting rankings. Rankings of recruiting stories. Predictions of recruiting rankings.
The Birmingham News came out with a list of the top 10 “Twitter states” in college football. Two professors at Emory University did a study on which state had the most tweets about college football. Alabama was No. 1. Nebraska was No. 8, behind Idaho.
There are some people who need a vacation, starting with two professors at Emory.
Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated came out with a list of the top 10 coaches and the worst five coaches in college football. Will we get an updated version in October?
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini didn't make either list. He's lumped in with SI's “others.”
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz was listed as one of the five worst. I don't think I agree. I know Coach Kirk is in a slump, but I could probably find many more than five coaches not as competent as Ferentz.
Then again, it's July. Right now, I'm more interested in who's going to finish top 10 at the Senior Open.
>> One more and I'm outta here: Troy Martin's Caddie Am on Sunday raised more than $20,000 for two amazing young women. It was a terrific day at the Players Club. There are some caddies who can play some golf. And there are some who are scratch players at the 19th hole. I wish them luck negotiating the hills of Nebraska this week.