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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Petrino Fired by Arkansas - Carlos Santana signs 5-year deal



Petrino Fired by Arkansas
As you read this, the damage is now spreading out in waves.
From Bobby Petrino's entitled mind to a community that adores its Hogs to a state that does the same. The damage is significant and lasting and won't end with a Tuesday press conference announcing Petrino's firing.
Start with this unassailable fact: For most of its 20 years in the SEC, Arkansas has been a mid-level program. It scrapped and sweated and worked to be better. Most of the time it wasn't.
This was going to be the year. Look at the schedule and the talent. The program had momentum. Look at the coach. It was all in place.
Petrino lit a match to the whole thing. His incredible selfishness and unmitigated entitlement will affect Arkansas for years to come. You think not? Name the Arkansas coach with the highest winning percentage since Frank Broyles. It was Ken Hatfield (55-17, 1984-89), the last Hog coach to win a conference title. In terms of that winning percentage, Petrino wasn't even Ken Hatfield.
The man who dared challenge the SEC elite and elevate Arkansas to something it has seldom been, also led the program through perhaps its most disgraceful week. If not for AD Jeff Long's for-the-ages presser we'd be picking through burning embers.
What we're left with is altered – perhaps shattered -- careers, hopes and dreams. Petrino spit in the faces of the players he promised to lead. It's their futures he discarded when he decided to lie to his superiors.
Who thought it would come to this? Petrino betrayed his players by acting like one of them.
The worst of them. We almost expect such conduct of binge-drinking receivers, arrest-resisting linebackers and cocky recruits. In some weird way we understand. They're knuckleheads, young nut jobs who don't know what they don't know.
Petrino should have known better. Do you have to be told? His collapse was so monumental that Jim Tressel is probably snickering at the moment. Petrino was making millions on the backs of unpaid labor. Those indentured student-athletes followed a false idol.
The man who asked that amateur labor to be loyal and give everything, took everything. All Tressel did was suppress damaging emails. You at least get his motivation, to keep a powerful football program on top.
Petrino had a shady track record – negotiating with Auburn while still at Louisville, walking out on the Falcons. Who knew, in this case, he would be thinking with something other than his brain?
There is hope at Arkansas. Just not today, or perhaps this season or for a period of years. In the best of times, Arkansas football is a piece of fragile porcelain. It doesn't have the history of Alabama or the local talent of LSU. Everything has to go right for a program that hasn't won a conference title since 1989. That's 23 years and two conferences (Southwest) ago.
Fragile? Who would be surprised if the NCAA now ruled that Arkansas players could transfer without sitting out? This is a unique case.
There is no certainty right coach is going to come along to save this emotionally wounded program. Unless Gus Malzahn somehow extricates himself from Arkansas State, it looks like interim coach Taver Johnson will keep the job for 2012.
The talent's certainly in place for this season but Alabama and LSU – Arkansas' chief competition in the SEC West -- didn't get any worse on Tuesday. Going forward, Long knows he has to hit an absolute home run with the next hire to preserve what momentum there is.
“No single individual is bigger than the team,” he said.
Arkansas is wishing, hoping that a throwaway cliché is a foundation for a football future




Carlos Santana signs 5-year deal

CLEVELAND -- Two days after his birthday, Carlos Santana got a precious gift -- For the 26-year-old Santana, the deal provides peace of mind.
"When you come from poverty like he has, you always have that fear of something going wrong, even if you project to be a superstar," said Andy Mota, one of Santana's agents. "There is always that fear of losing everything you worked for. You get to a day like today and it's a sigh of relief."
The Indians had contractual control the next four years over Santana, who wouldn't have been eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season. However, after Santana hit 27 homers last season and improved defensively behind the plate, the Indians felt the timing was right to guarantee he'll have an extended stay in Cleveland.
Santana already has been good for the Indians. They think he can be great.
"We still think he has the potential to be an even better player," general manager Chris Antonetti said. "We still think there is more in there. Carlos has lofty goals for himself, not only offensively, but defensively. We've been very pleased with the strides that he's made in all facets of his game."
Santana's new deal was announced a few hours before the Indians' game against the Chicago White Sox was postponed Tuesday night by "adverse weather conditions." The forecast was for temperatures dipping into the 20s with a rain-snow mixture.
On his birthday, Santana homered twice in Cleveland's 4-3 win over Toronto on Sunday. It might have come a little late, but his best present was worth the wait.
"This is the best birthday of my life," he said.
The deal is a good one for both sides. It gives Santana security early in his career, and it allows the Indians to add other pieces to build around proven players without overspending.
Last season, Santana set a club record for homers by a switch hitter. He added 35 doubles, 79 RBIs and drew 97 walks in his first full season in the majors. He was one of only four players to have at least 25 homers, 35 doubles and 90 walks, joining Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and Joey Votto.
"It's terrific," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "It's great that the kid doesn't have to worry about anything. It's a great deal for everybody."
Santana will receive a $1 million signing bonus. He'll make $501,900 this season and $550,000 in 2013. Santana's salary will jump to $3.5 million in 2014, $6 million in 2015 and $8.25 million in his final year. The Indians will have a $12 million option for 2017. There is also a $1.2 million buyout.
Antonetti said the only added incentives are awards for "superlative performance." Antonetti said the sides began negotiating early in spring training and had a deal in place on Opening Day after "a lot of twists and turns."
Santana's signing is the second major deal announced by the Indians already this season. Last week, the club gave All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera a new three-year deal.
The contracts signal another step toward contention for the Indians. By signing two core players, the club believes it has two important pieces to compete this season and beyond.
"These are the cornerstones of this franchise," Acta said. "It's very comforting to know these guys are not going anywhere for a while."
The Indians have had past success in signing young players to long-term deals and contending. It worked in the 1990s under GM John Hart, in the 2000s with Mark Shapiro and Antonetti is following the same model.
"These are the kind of deals we are prepared to do when the values line up on both sides," said Indians chairman Paul Dolan.
Before the team signed Cabrera and Santana, the Indians did not have a player on their roster with a guaranteed contract beyond 2012, which prompted speculation that ownership was planning to sell.
Dolan, whose father, Larry, bought the Indians in 2000, said he wasn't bothered by those rumors.
"It's kind of funny, actually," he said. "At the time, I heard that I didn't even know if it was a fact. But I'm not bothered by that silliness."
Antonetti said the club is not in active negotiations with any other players on long-term deals.
Santana played 66 games at first base in 2011, but the Indians will keep him behind the plate more this season. Santana occasionally will be used as the designated hitter to rest his legs and keep his bat in a lineup that's batting just .153 through four games.
The Indians acquired Santana in 2008 in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers for third baseman Casey Blake. Antonetti credited the team's scouting department for identifying Santana as a potential star.
Mota has been with Santana every step of the way, and never has doubted the Dominican native even after he batted just .223 for Great Lake -- the Dodgers' Class-A affiliate -- in 2007.
"He calls me his USA daddy," Mota said. "He's a great kid, and I'm glad he can now relax and just go out and play with no worry."

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