Wednesday (Whalen and Kiffin) edition: Wha' Happened?

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • January 13, 2010 - 9:12 AM

We have methods for determining how important a sports story is relative to others, but one surefire method is this: if the RandBall Better Half already knows about it and tries to tell us about it, then it is major news. Such was the case yesterday when the Minnesota Lynx acquired local women's basketball hero Lindsay Whalen.

It was a deal that made almost too much sense: Connecticut gets a former UConn player and a No. 1 pick that will almost certainly let the Sun draft another UConn player. The Lynx get the No. 2 pick and Whalen, who not only figures to be a good fit on the court but also can't help put jump-start ticket sales. (Maybe the next step is to add a regional element to the draft?) Whalen has an engaging personality -- she's somewhat of a "character," in the parlance of the times. And at only 28 years old, she should have plenty of years left here.

One final thing: Those who scoffed at Whalen and the Gophers' run to the Women's Final Four in 2004 being among the Star Tribune's top 10 stories of the past decade must have short memories. Whalen was one of the single most breathtaking athletes we had here in the 2000s, and there was plenty of competition.

With that, we turn quickly to another celebrated One Of Us: Bloomington Jefferson graduate Lane Kiffin. Kiffin and USC pretty much stunned the world yesterday by choosing each other -- Kiffin because he had been at Tennessee for only a year and seemed intent on trying to build that program back up, and USC because it is already under the NCAA gun and Kiffin had some quick problems while with the Vols. Time will tell if this was a good decision for either side, but our gut instinct says it was not.

That said, we will leave you with this thought: Since the Gophers decided against hiring Kiffin and went instead with Tim Brewster, Kiffin has been hired by the NFL's Oakland Raiders as well as two major college programs as head coach. And he's still only 34 years old. What a strange, impressive and dubious track record all at once.

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