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Knuckleheads Rampant

Some people struggle to fill out their Hall of Fame or MVP ballots. I'm having trouble with my Knucklehead of the Month vote.

So many good candidates...

There's Lane "I told you you'd love Knoxville, but you'll REALLY love L.A." Kiffin, who shafted a state with a history of feuding and duels. Fourteen months after signing a six-year, $14.25 million contract to coach the Tennessee Volunteers, riding high off a glorious 7-6 season and a 23-point loss in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Kiffin split to take the Southern Cal job recently vacated by Pete Carroll. (The Seattle Seahawks' extreme eagerness to bring in Carroll, a college coach with a 33-31 record in the pros, would normally make them a contender, but not this month.)

While at Tennessee, Kiffin accused Florida's Urban Meyer of cheating, got into verbal spats with Georgia and South Carolina, and found his program under NCAA investigation for having "hostesses" travel to high school games to butter up recruits. Not bad for a first year. He moves to a Trojans team facing a February hearing about potential violations committed under Carroll, saving him the trouble of thinking up his own. (Though he did have his coordinator contact his Tennessee recruits, rubbing salt in an orange wound.)

There's also Gilbert "A good joke's worth $80 million, right?" Arenas, who put his bloated contract at risk by bringing guns to the locker room and engaging in an extended joke/dispute over a card game on a team flight. Arenas and Javaris Crittenton exchanged threats - jocularly, we guess - to shoot each other over the argument, with Crittenton allegedly saying he'd shoot Arenas in his surgically repaired knee. So two days later, Arenas brought a Smith & Wesson .500 magnum revolver to practice in his backpack, went into the lockbox in his locker and pulled out four guns for Crittenton, which he left with a note that said, "PICK 1." What a kidder! Crittenton allegedly got in the spirit of the thing by insisting he didn't need one, he had his own, and displayed his own silver-colored semiautomatic.

Oh, yeah, Arenas had brought the guns from his home in Virginia, crossing the state line into Washington, D.C. Last Friday, he pleaded guilty to a felony count of carrying an unlicensed pistol. He had already been suspended by the league for making light of the incident during pregame introductions, pointing his fingers like guns at his teammates. It is unknown if the Wizards will try to void the four years left on his contract. Since the deal has proved an ongoing salary-cap albatross, how can they not try?

Nice going, Agent Zero. Next time, just shoot yourself in the foot.

Let's not forget Mark "Pay no attention to the muscles I left behind the curtain" McGwire, the surprisingly lean slugger who acknowledged in a statement and interview that he had used steroids, but only did so to stay healthy and gained no advantage from them. Of course not. A build like Hercules would be of no use to a power hitter. Baseball players go to the weight room just to kill time on the road. At least he was finally willing to talk about the past, however disingenuously.

Perennial candidate Al Davis deserves some consideration for allegedly interviewing prospective replacements for a coach he hasn't fired yet. The San Francisco Chronicle and ESPN.com have reported meetings between the Raiders and a total of three different possible new head coaches, reports denied yesterday by the team. It's possible that Davis thinks he fired coach Tom Cable after Cable allegedly punched one of his assistant coaches, breaking his jaw; it's also possible Davis forgot he hired Cable to replace Lane Kiffin, and thinks Kiffin left the Raiders to take the USC job.

And then there's Stephane Auger, the NHL referee who supposedly told Vancouver forward Alexandre Burrows that he'd get even with him for embellishing an injury a month earlier and making the ref look bad. Auger did just that, calling three third-period penalties on Burrows in a 3-2 Canucks loss. Of course, Burrows might be the bigger knucklehead for telling the world about the conversation.

It's a rich field, with worthy choices from every spot. But I'm going with Tiger Woods, apparently photographed outside a sex rehab facility in Hattiesberg, Mississippi. Caught by The National Enquirer. Again.

 

Jeff Neuman is a sportswriter and editor, and co-author of A Disorderly Compendium of Golf. His columns for RealClearSports appear on Monday and Thursday.

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