Beyond Seattle: Individual Power Rankings

Our second installment of the week’s five most powerful individuals. Enjoy.

5. Michigan football fans. Nearly a year ago you managed to persuade the administration to go out and get West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez and bring him to Ann Arbor. Now, 11 months later, you’ve managed to effectively punch Rodriguez’s ticket out of town by provoking him with personal attacks. When asked how he felt about the intense online scrutiny he’d been receiving in blogs and on message boards, Rodriguez responded by telling Michigan fans to”get a life.”

Bad move, Rich. It’d be one thing if a) you were playing at a smaller school b) you weren’t making a ridiculous amount of money c) the Rich Rodriguez era hadn’t kicked off with a $4 million settlement between your current and former employer d) you were winning e) you were improving f) you hadn’t sent your most talented players to other schools on transfers g) you had a quarterback who was, you know, good h) you weren’t a little shady to begin with i) you actually looked like a guy with the last name “Rodriguez,” but no, it’s none of those things, and we’re only halfway through the alphabet.

Of course, Rodriguez is only in his first year, so he still has a decent chance at finding success. But things are looking fairly grim and he’ll have to deal with a large group of powerful, impatient, victory-starved fans in the process. I’d say Rich Rodriguez’s days in the Big House are all but numbered.

4) Donnie Walsh. Despite his resemblance to a dead guy, Walsh, in his first year as president of basketball operations for the New York Knicks, managed to unload two of the team’s biggest headaches in separate deals when he traded forward Zach Randolph and guard Jamal Crawford on Friday. This can essentially be equated to getting all the women and children off the sinking Titanic: it may not fix the entire problem, but it’s a decent start.

Walsh kicked off the whirlwind day by sending the underachieving Crawford off to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for talented forward Al Harrington. Harrington became an expendable part for the Warriors when he fell out of favor with head coach Don Nelson and found his way to the bench. A good deal for both sides, as each player should thrive in his new environment.

Next, Walsh managed to find a taker for Randolph’s fat ass and contract by packaging him with the epitome of an unwise decision in Mardy Collins (unwise in that he was a 2006 first-round draft pick of the Knicks, when his value equates to that of an undrafted free agent). Like trout to metallic spinners, the Los Angeles Clippers were the ones to foolishly bite on an inanimate object when they opted to take the chance on Randolph and his salary. Perhaps they were seduced by the one-time first-round pick Collins, or more likely, maybe they were hoping to get rid of expiring food from the team kitchen. In any event, they didn’t give up much in the gamble, sending the most rapidly aging man in the world (Tim Thomas), and the number one guy you wouldn’t expect to be starting for an NBA team but in fact is (Cuttino Mobley) to play in Madison Square Garden.

Walsh has a good shot at working himself up to the top of this list next week if he can just find a solution to the whole Eddy Curry-Stephon Marbury-Jerome James-Jared Jeffries-Quentin Richardson-Malik Rose problem.

3. Roger Goodell. The commissioner of the NFL can seemingly ban and reinstate players in his sleep. This week, he chose to reinstate oft-banned Cowboys cornerback Adam Jones. Not that you’ll hear any complaining from Jones after this turn of events, but it seems like these days if you so much as appear in public off the gridiron, Goodell will be watching you.

Seriously, tabloids can’t even cover NFL players anymore. The last thing I can remember making major headlines is the whole Tom Brady boot incident in the weeks leading up to the Superbowl last year, and that was way back in January.

I guess we can say that Goodell is doing a good job cleaning up the league, but it’s almost overkill at this point. The NFL is starting to lose its bad-boy edge and is beginning to gain a Bill Belichick-esque shroud of eerie mystique instead. I don’t like it. I can understand trying to rid the game of repeat offenders and guys that really don’t get it, but Goodell has an unlimited standard for what qualifies as grounds for suspension. Amongst the group of very insecure individuals that NFL players truly are, the one thing not needed is one more thing to fear.

2. Barack Obama. The whole eight-team playoff idea is getting out of hand. There’s a good chance that Obama could have based his entire campaign off of bringing down the BCS and probably still won. If you’re part of the BCS, you have to be a little nervous at this point. As former steroid users can attest, the combination of sports and politics is a caustic one with far-reaching repercussions. Can we take down the BCS? Yes we can!

In modern history there has never been a president (president-elect, in this case) with such a distinct tie to sports. Ok, so George W. Bush used to own the Texas Rangers, and a few ex-presidents were college athletes, but beyond that sports talk hasn’t been able to penetrate the White House walls. Obama, meanwhile, is a former high school basketball player that still plays pickup; has a brother-in-law coaching a major Division-I men’s basketball team; is an avid Chicago White Sox fan; has a fantasy football team; and not only knows what the BCS is, but wants to defeat it like the third-cousin of Osama Bin Laden. To top it off, he continued his “Sports in ’08” tour this week by pitching the idea of a 2016 Chicago Olympiad to the IOC. He’s an all-around sports nut.

*On a loosely related side note, I have this idea for an Irish pub called O’Bama’s. I think it could do real well. It’s a catchy name. Just picture that header with a clover inside the ‘O.’ It’s perfect.

1. Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq showed just how powerful he is this week by knocking everyone down that crossed his path. He kicked off the festivities by assisting teammates Matt Barnes and Steve Nash in a game of push-n-shove with the Houston Rockets, toppling Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady in a made-for-YouTube moment last week. Then earlier this week, the Diesel went tractor-trailer on Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey, using his flying mass to send Stuckey to the hardwood.

There are really no words to fully explain the development of the actions, so CLICK HERE to see the pushing video, and CLICK HERE for the Stuckey video. Enjoy.

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