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For your consideration, 10 of today's hot sports topics

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Walt Disney introduced the world to Peter Pan, Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne, and the first color television sold for $1,175.

The year was 1953. For Hoosier sports fans, though, the moment was significant for far more important reasons. It was the year that Notre Dame football and IU basketball both captured national championships.

Sixty years later, are we on the road to another special moment?

That leads off 10 thoughts for the weekend.

10. Voter fraud

IU center Cody Zeller was a preseason AP All-American on all ballots but that of one voter.

             Who was that guy? How could any intelligent follower of college basketball conclude that Zeller is not one of the six best players in the nation? I want a name and a full evaluation. More importantly, I want the ZIP code for where this guy lives.

9. Playoff preview

Even the most optimistic Colts and Dolphins fans in August would have been challenged to circle this weekend’s match-up as a showdown between potential playoff teams.

But here we stand, with both at 4-3, as current No. 5 seed Miami travels to No. 6 seed Indy on Sunday.

As impressive as the Colts were in overtime at Tennessee, the Fish raised more eyebrows by shellacking the Jets. In a tight wild-card battle, this is a game both teams need.

8. Adjust this

There is more at stake than a sectional championship tonight when Roncalli travels to defending Class 4A state champ Cathedral for a sectional title game. A win by the Irish, followed by a regional victory next Friday against Mount Vernon (Fortville), would make Cathedral subject to the IHSAA’s new “tradition adjustment.” That means the school would move to Class 5A for at least the next two seasons.

That could be big news for Greenwood, as well as a silver lining for the Rebels. The Irish have won six straight Class 4A sectional titles.

7. Here’s my vote

Can an interim coach be NFL Coach of the Year? The heart-wrenching saga of coach Chuck Pagano gets much of the attention. In the background and in his stead, Colts interim coach Bruce Arians has done a commendable job in pulling the team together and moving consistently forward.

After an emotional home win against the Packers, followed by a collapse at the Jets, the adrenalin was drained from Indy. Arians put together a game plan and held together a team in arguably the biggest win of the year in overtime at Tennessee. The Colts have done it with a rash of injuries, as well.

Is there any coach that has taken his team further this season? If I was voting (which I don’t), the combination of Pagano and Arians would get my vote.

6. Score more

The NCAA, which seldom gets credit, deserves some here. The NCAA’s emphasis on the graduation rates of college athletes is starting to pay dividends.

The graduation success rate (GSR) for major sports is above 70 percent for the first time ever. The latest GSR for men’s basketball is 74 percent (for those who started school in 2005), up six points from last year. The football GSR is 70 percent, up one point. Most significant, the GSR for black student-athletes has risen dramatically.

What this means is simply that the NCAA is successful in its efforts to put teeth into academic standards. That deserves a cheer from every fan.

5. Fast forward

Is Center Grove a year ahead of schedule? The Trojans football team is very good, to no one’s surprise. But things are breaking for this Center Grove football team that makes a state title run even more plausible.

With losses by Carmel, Ben Davis and Warren Central in the first two weeks of the tournament, a relatively young Trojans squad may be in line to challenge for a state title this year. If Center Grove can take care of business against an overmatched Columbus North team, Castle awaits in the Regional.

Certainly, there are a number of capable teams left. But the Trojans just might be the best among the bunch.

4. Traveling circus

Will the NBA let the Pacers succeed?

No, I am not one of those conspiracy theorists who believes that David Stern lurks behind a grassy knoll at every NBA stadium. At the same time, though, I have seen enough games to recognize that the league has a preferential pecking order that is both a discredit to basketball and an entertainment reality. Stars get calls that other players simply don’t get.

The Pacers are a great team devoid of superstars, and that may make a difference. You hear NBA executives talk it in terms of earning respect. That is bogus. Three steps are still a travel whether the feet belong to LeBron or a rookie.

3. Losing a foot

Every so often, an off-the-wall suggestion flies by that should be quickly discounted. On second look, though, the author is of such stature that it deserves further discussion.

UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma raised eyebrows and conversation last week when he suggested that rims should be lowered between seven inches and a foot in the women’s game.

The thought seems sacrilege as well as an admission that women cannot effectively play on the same court as men.

But is that the case? After all, the net in women’s volleyball is shorter and the field in softball is smaller than in baseball.

No one can seriously contest that Geno’s idea is well-intended, with a goal of creating a more athletic, entertaining game. But will it fly?

2. Swoosh away

It was almost poetic to see Nike drop Lance Armstrong after overwhelming evidence of performance-enhancing drugs caused the cyclist’s corporate presence to crumble. After all, Nike had been unflinching in its support of Armstrong, even using a commercial to lampoon Armstrong’s accusers.

Don’t paint Nike out to be a corporate good citizen, though. The shoe and apparel firm burned that chance last year when it re-signed dog-abuser Michael Vick to a new shoe deal.

If you want a corporate hero, look at Dick’s Sporting Goods, which still refuses to carry Vick’s jersey.

1. The Hoosiers and the Irish

That brings bring us back to the start, 60 years removed. Can the Notre Dame football team accomplish what many thought (and may still think) to be impossible?

Certainly a No. 3 ranking has the Irish thinking title. For IU, the No. 1 basketball ranking already belongs to the Hoosiers. But starting at the top and finishing at the top are two completely different things.

Still, the stage is set. In the 60th anniversary of Tinker Bell and color television, maybe we just have to watch and believe.

Bob Johnson is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal. His columns appear Tuesdays and Fridays. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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