Oregon State paid big to see Boise blue

December, 1, 2010
Boise State TurfOtto Kitsinger III/Getty ImagesOregon State officials shelled out quite a bit of cash to get a good look at Broncos blue.

In the Dec. 13 issue of ESPN The Magazine, I write about one of the nastiest rivalries in sports: the battle between FieldTurf and AstroTurf to make the perfect artificial field. What I didn't get to write about was another turf war also having to do with Oregon State -- and it's got nothing to do with the Civil War this Saturday against the Oregon Ducks.

Earlier this season, the Beavers squared off against the Boise State Broncos, keepers of one of the most famous fields in football. "What the swoosh is to Nike, the blue field is to Boise State," athletic director Gene Bleymaier recently told The Los Angeles Times.

So when an anonymous donor paid for OSU to paint its practice field the same color as the Broncos' "Smurf Turf" before their Sept. 25 nationally televised matchup, it got me wondering …

What did that little stunt cost?

These receipts, obtained under a public information request, show that the Beavers shelled out $11,060 to get their field ready for the big game.

But the best part is what happened after the Broncos won 37-24. As this letter from Oregon State assistant athletic director John Cheney shows, Boise State fans started ringing his office, asking for any leftover paint so they could take a brush to their own lawns.

Boise State, soon to be part of the new Mountain West Conference, may be thinking about getting a trademark on its turf. But until then, you can call the Oregon State Beavers for your supply of Bronco Blue.

Lamar Odom angles for unique deductions

If you listen to Jerry West, Lamar Odom doesn't get enough credit for being one of the most versatile players in the NBA. But around here, we think he doesn't get enough credit for his creative lawyering.

Even though the Los Angeles Lakers forward never graduated from college -- let alone law school -- he's trying to create a precedent for all athletes by deducting the $127,000 in fines he got during the 2007 season from his federal returns. Not surprisingly, the IRS is balking. It returned this tax bill, explaining that the two-time NBA champion owed $78,364, including $8,7831 in interest.

Now Odom is stepping up his own defense. On Oct. 25, he filed suit in United States Tax Court, claiming, "These fines are commonly assessed on professional athletes and are work related. Therefore the fines incurred are ordinary and necessary employee business expenses."

Odom also wants to deduct $178,337 in training and conditioning costs because, as he explains it, "The taxpayer's employment contract requires that the taxpayer be in sufficient physical condition that allows him to perform as a professional basketball player throughout the basketball season."

The tax case isn't the only one that Odom -- who's getting ready to star in a new E! series with wife Khloe Kardashian -- is fighting. He's also asking a Manhattan family court judge to grant a petition for him to have more visitation with his two kids by former girlfriend Liza Morales.

Morales calls Odom a deadbeat dad who hasn't paid any attention to his kids until now. She also hints that his newfound interest may have something to do with the show, since the idea of having their 12-year-old daughter, Destiny, and 9-year-old son, L.J., appear was recently broached to her.

"It has come up, and I told them no," Morales told the New York Post. "I'm trying to raise my kids with old-school values."

The Dallas Cowboys have beef with VIPs

America's Team is going into the foreclosure business these days.

The Cowboys are suing six suite-holders who signed on for 20-year leases worth $37 million at the new stadium but allegedly haven't made any payments this year. One of the suits is against a New Mexico heating company, which initially agreed to pay $350,000 annually for a Hall of Fame suite and another $225,000 for a field box.

Maybe one reason they can't afford to pay the rent is the cost of chow. This menu given to luxury-box holders last year shows that a starter order of shrimp sets you back a whopping $225. Truffled mac and cheese? $110. (We didn't even know you could truffle mac and cheese.) And then there are the $160 Kobe beef burgers.

Okay, a deal is a deal. But it's hard not to choke on those prices -- let alone your food -- while you're watching America's Team go bad and spoil in front of you.

File under …

Lance Armstrong's seat gets hotter: What was the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency doing last week suspending a pair of Masters cyclists who are literally and figuratively over the hill? Velo News has a fascinating column that suggests the decisions may have something to do with the ongoing investigation into Lance Armstrong, and what the Feds may be learning from a former PED dealer named Joe Papp. As Velo News observes, while "it appears that Papp was not directly involved in leveling allegations against Armstrong or other top riders … his case did set the stage for an investigation that rapidly shifted its focus from a list of relatively unknown riders to the 'A list' of cycling."

Manny Pacquiao bails on record deal: A Los Angeles music company is claiming that Pacquiao reneged on a promise to record an album that it still wants. In this breach of contract suit, RBM Music alleges that the tuneful Filipino cashed checks for $40,000 but never delivered. Anyone who saw him sing this version of "Imagine" with Will Ferrell on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" might think that's not necessarily a bad thing.

No compassion in Cleveland: Cavaliers fans are been mercilessly mocking this Miami Heat campaign that implores its apathetic ticket-holders to "Fan Up." The Cleveland Leader's web site posted these photos at AmericanAirlines Arena immediately before and after the tipoff of the Nov. 17 game, in which the Heat trounced the Suns 123-96. Would you like some schadenfreude with those fries?

Additional reporting by Paula Lavigne, Dan DiCapite and Dale Brauner.

Shaun Assael | email

ESPN Senior Writer
• Senior writer for ESPN The Magazine
• Author of "Wide Open: Days and Nights on the NASCAR Tour"; the New York Times best-selling "Sex, Lies and Headlocks"; and "Steroid Nation"



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