Originally published March 8, 2010 at 7:50 a.m., updated March 8, 2010 at 7:50 a.m.
The San Diego Chargers continue to make big moves during the off-season. Joining us on Morning Edition is North County Times sports columnist Jay Paris.
DWANE BROWN (Host): The San Diego Chargers continue to make big moves during the off-season. Joining us on Morning Edition is North County Times Sports Columnist Jay Paris. Well, the team has released LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Cromartie and Jamal Williams on the defensive side recently, Jay. What kind of deal did they strike with speedy running back Darren Sproles?
JAY PARIS (North County Times, Sports Columnists): One that came with a lot of let-ofs. $7 million, which talked of him being a franchised player last year and getting a subsequent boost in that salary. It’s a rich deal and some people are scratching their heads because Darren is considered a part-time running back and a good “kick return” guy. But, he’s not your average running back and they’re going to have to find one somewhere during the off-season.
PAMELA DAVIS (Host): So, what about the draft? Who might the Chargers draft next month? What do they need?
PARIS: They need, it’s a pretty good list. Defensive tackle is Jamal Williams leaving, if they go that route. There’s Terrence Cody maybe from Alabama, Jared Odrick from Penn State, a couple big guys. If they want to go running back, you know maybe Toby Gerhart with Stanford or Ryan Mathews, Fresno State. Because they did have some success last year, they won’t be picking until number 30. The marquee guys will be gone. But, I look for them to fill that big gaping hole left by Jamal Williams on the defensive side. That’s really going to be the number one position they need to fill if you ask me.
BROWN: Any idea who might be matched up with Sproles in the backfield?
PARIS: If they go with one of the guys, Mathews or Gerhart, maybe a young guy there, but you know running back is always … you know Justin Fargas just got released by the Raiders … It always seems like there’s running backs out there. While they might not be “Top Shelf” guys. But in Charger’s offense, they move the ball through the air. This is Phillip Rivers offense, and his team so while you certainly need a running back back there and the threat of a running game. It doesn’t have to be a marquee guy. They just need someone back there to run it every once in a while and then let Phillip Rivers do his thing and fling the ball around the field.
DAVIS: Let’s talk about college basketball, San Diego State men’s basketball team is still on the NCAA tournament bubble. How well do they have to do during the Mountain West Conference tournament which gets underway on Thursday?
PARIS: Yea, they open Thursday against Colorado State and really you could make the case that the NCAA tournament has already started for San Diego State. Because if they keep winning, they keep staying alive with that hope. If they lose this first game Thursday, I don’t think they’d get a snip for the NCAA. So, it’s almost win and go home now in regards to the NCAA. It’s a tough road. The Aztecs are playing well. Won six of their last seven. They’ve certainly let some early season blemishes and put those behind them. Let’s say they win Thursday against Colorado State. They’ll have to face New Mexico, ranked number eighth in the entire nation. 28-and-3, tough, tough ball team. They get past that, they’ve probably got BYU, another ranked team in the finals. So, while the Aztecs are playing well, they have to be a giant slayer here. They need to knock off somebody big to really solidify that NCAA bid.
BROWN: They come in fourth seed in this tournament coming up. Last year, at this time, they ended up in NIT.
PARIS: Right, and you know, they don’t give you a banner for it, but they were the best team not to make NCAA. You can’t quite hang that in your gym. But, you know, they made lemonade out of those lemons. Went all the way to the final four at the NIT and got to play at Madison Square Garden and really gave the program a big boost of publicity. The NIT is fine. But, it’s all about the NCAA and getting to put on those shoes for the big dance and that’s what these boys are certainly shooting for.
DAVIS: The San Diego Sockers are getting ready for a championship game. Now, are these the same guys who use to play at the Sports Arena years back.
PARIS: The same uniform and actually, there is still one player. Paul Wright who use to play back in the 90’s is playing in this reincarnation of the Sockers. He’s 40 years old, but he will challenge any of the younger guys to a foot race. He’s an amazing athlete. San Diego has a lot of great things going for it with the weather and the people, but we’re not exactly referred to as Title Town with our pro-teams. Here the Sockers are going for their 11th championship in their league, the PASL. They’ve been gone for four years or so, but anyone who has a pedigree with San Diego sports certainly remember the 80’s and 90’s when the Sockers were it and it was a rocking time down at the Sports Arena. They play at the Del Mar Arena, it’s a beautiful facility down at the Del Mar Fairgrounds getting underway Friday on the semi-finals. So, you want to see a title team and the Chargers and Padres can’t give it to you, the Sockers are back.
DAVIS: North County Times Sports Columnist Jay Paris. Jay, thanks for joining us this morning.
PARIS: Alrighty. Cheers.