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Illinois Could Target Bama’s Grant After Smart Says No

“Thanks, but no thanks.”  That’s what Shaka Smart told Illinois officials who offered him their head coaching job and a salary that was reported to be north of two-and-a-half million bucks per year.  (Anyone else think this guy will someday be stuck at VCU wondering why he didn’t get onboard when his ship came in?)

With Smart turning down the Illini, his old boss Anthony Grant could be next on AD Mike Thomas’ wish list.  It’s no secret that Illinois wants to hire an African-American coach to tap into the inner-city recruiting zones of Chicago and East St. Louis.  Grant is black.  He built VCU’s program before Smart took it over.  And he’s had some early successes at Alabama.

Still, some writers in the Land of Lincoln aren’t wowed by Grant’s resume or personality.  “The names that are mentioned as Plan B, Alabama’s Anthony Grant among them, wouldn’t even enthuse the Anthony Grant Fan Club,” writes Rick Morrisey of The Chicago Sun-Times.  Ouch.

Grant is also just one of a dozen names that have been kicked around when it comes to speculating about Bruce Weber’s successor.  And we at have been told by multiple sources in Tuscaloosa that Bama’s coach is not interested in the Illinois job.

But until he officially shoots down the rumor or the Illini hire a new coach, expect Grant’s name to continue to mentioned in connection to that job.

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Newton Criticized, Moon Cries Racism

Earlier this week, NFL draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki went a tad over the line — in our opinion — in his review of former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton.  His comments read as if they came from an opposing fan and not a professional analyst:

“Very disingenuous — has a fake smile, comes off as very scripted and has a selfish, me-first makeup.  Always knows where the cameras are and plays to them.  Has an enormous ego with a sense of entitlement that continually invites trouble and makes him believe he is above the law — does not command respect from teammates and will always struggle to win a locker room.”

Oh, and that fake smile…

Fake smile?  That’s kind of “in the eye of the beholder” isn’t it?  Who can really say if someone has a fake smile or not? 

But according to, Nawrocki is “one of the most respected draft analysts in the business.”  And according to Nawrocki he’s “received calls and messages from NFL teams suggesting that he ‘hit it on the head’ in his evaluation.”

Well, former NFL (and CFL) great Warren Moon isn’t pleased with Nawrocki’s criticism of Newton.  And unfortunately, he blames the criticism on racism.

“A lot of the criticism he’s receiving is unfortunate and racially based,” Moon told  “I thought we were all past this.  I don’t see any other quarterbacks in the draft being criticized by the media or fans about their smile or called a phony. … He’s being held to different standards from white quarterbacks.  I thought we were past all this stuff about African-American quarterbacks, but I guess we’re not.”

Note to Moon: Do a quick Google search on “Ryan Mallett” and “character issues” and then kindly shut the hell up.

Racism is a very real issue in our world and it’s not going away.  As long as they under-educated in our society continue to pass their imbecilic beliefs from one generation to the next, racism will continue.

But it doesn’t help matters when someone like Moon blames something he doesn’t like on racism.  It trivializes a very real issue.  It’s called “crying wolf.”

Newton — in this case — is basically being called a two-face by Nawrocki.  Mallett — the white ex-Arkansas quarterback — has basically been called a two-face in multiple media reports.  There have also been rumors of drug use and a lack of leadership skills.  Those who dig into the matter seem to find no meat on them bones, however.

Moon has an ax to grind because he was sentenced to several seasons in the Canadian league before finally being given his shot in the NFL.  At which point he threw up some Hall of Fame numbers.

But Moon came out of college in 1978. 

JaMarcus Russell — black — was selected #1 overall in the 2007 NFL draft.  A year earlier Vince Young — black — was selected #3 overall, ahead of Matt Leinert and Jay Cutler.

It’s not 1978 anymore and Moon’s claims simply don’t ring true.

Newton isn’t dealing with criticism because he’s African-American.  He’s dealing with criticism because players are vivisected before each year’s player selection meeting.

And it’s the same kind of criticism Mallett — who’s white — has been facing.

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