Sports Beat, 12-20-07

--Just when it seemed like UCLA was closing in on hiring Rick Neuheisel, the LA Times is reporting that Temple coach Al Golden became the second candidate to meet with chancellor Gene Block. Golden's name seemed to come out of nowhere, and I'd be shocked if he actually got the job.

Granted, Golden has won some high marks for going 4-8 this year at Temple, one of the worst programs in the country, but Temple is in a weaker conference now. Golden has only been a head coach for two years, and he reportedly has no real recruiting ties to the West Coast.

I have no inside information on this search, but if I were a betting man, then I'd bet on Neuheisel to get the job. He's the right fit.

--Mark Cuban could be owning a pro football team in LA soon. No, it's not an NFL team. According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, Cuban is believed to be the person to set to own LA's team in the United Football League or the UFL. The league will begin play in August, and will likely host games on Friday nights.

We don't have a lot of information yet about the UFL, but I'd expect the talent level to be similar to the old XFL or WFL, and not quite as high as the old USFL. We also have no idea where this Los Angeles team would play, whether it be at the Coliseum, Rose Bowl, Home Depot Center, or somewhere else. Still, it would be a lot of fun to have Cuban owning a team here.

--Speaking of LA football facilities, it appeared that USC and the LA Coliseum were close to a compromise that would allow the Trojans to play at the venerable stadium in the future. But today, it sounds like the Coliseum Commission is still reluctant to give up much control to USC, and negotiations seem to have taken a step back. The Commission argues that the Coliseum could generate $7 billion over the next 50 years. I don't know if that's true, but I do know it won't get half that much without significant renovations. USC's proposals seem very fair, and they're simply being resisted by politicians who are acting out for their own self-interest and have no idea how to run a stadium.

--After watching the Lakers beat the Bulls on Tuesday night, it's hard to believe that Kobe Bryant wanted to leave LA for Chicago. The Lakers are fourth in the West now, but they still have to play more consistent basketball.

Rumors are flying around sports talk radio that the Lakers and Nets might be discussing a Jason Kidd trade again. Kidd is one of the best point guards in NBA history, and he creates opportunities on the court like few other floor generals I've ever seen. But it's important to put Kidd in perspective. He turns 35 in March, and I don't think he's 100% healthy. The Nets are 10-15 right now, and one wonders why they haven't been an upper-echelon East team the last few years with Kidd, Vince Carter, and Richard Jefferson. If the Lakers can really get Kidd for just Kwame Brown's expiring contract, Jordan Farmar, and one other fill-in, then that does sound awfully nice. But right now, it looks like the Lakers made the right call in hanging onto Andrew Bynum.

--There was a time when no current Dodgers were mentioned in the Mitchell Report. That time lasted less than a week. On Monday, the Dodgers signed Gary Bennett, Jr. to be their backup catcher. The veteran with uninspiring stats, admitted to using HGH in 2003 to rehab his injured knee. He claims to have been a one-time user. The truth is that with Russell Martin playing more games than anyone at catcher, few veterans are clamoring to be his backup. Still, if the Dodgers were only looking to sign someone with a .242 career batting average, one would think they could find someone who wasn't in the Mitchell Report. Let's hope Gary Bennett's name doesn't come up again in connection with HGH.

--SportsCenter from Los Angeles? It will happen by 2009, as ESPN is working on completing its new studios at AEG's LA Live. The new five-story ESPN building will include an ESPN Zone and numerous television production studios. ESPN will still be headquarted in Bristol, Conn., and many SportsCenter broadcasts will originate from there, but some will also be aired live in Los Angeles. How cool does that sound? This move will represent a major step in raising LA's sports profile. And hopefully it means West Coast teams will get more coverage on the network.

December 20, 2007 11:28 AM • Native Intelligence • Email the editor

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