A few post-Christmas rants about things we see at athletic contests:

• College football's celebration penalty must go. The intent of the rule was to prevent players from taunting an opponent. It has evolved into the opportunity for a referee to officiously flag a player for any kind of display after scoring a touchdown.

'I thought taunting is what the rule was for,' Oregon State coach Dennis Erickson says. 'It's for anything you do. Sometimes they call it; sometimes they don't. And they keep changing it each year.'

The NCAA needs to mellow out and let the players have a little fun Ñ as long as the 'celebration' doesn't last forever, and as long as those celebrating aren't putting it in the face of the guys on the other side.

On the other hand É

• When will basketball players stop the nonsense of offering a hand of congratulation to a teammate after a missed free throw? Or a made one, for that matter?

'I don't like it when a guy makes a free throw, and they have to slap five,' Minnesota Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders says. 'What's that all about? Go out and just play.'

• Athletes in both football and basketball have gotten out of hand, waving their arms, imploring fans to stand up and cheer. Do something well, fellas. You'll hear it from the people watching in the stands.

• Why the steady diet of rap music during Trail Blazer games? I'll answer that question Ñ because it's what the players like. Too bad. Most of the spectators who buy tickets and pay those exorbitant salaries prefer other kinds of music. Their opinion should count more than it does.

• Budding rasslers, here's your big chance: Playboy Buddy Rose and Colonel DeBeers (aka Ed Wiskoski) will impart knowledge gained through a combined 60 years in the business at their professional wrestling training school. Classes will run from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays beginning Jan. 4 at Straight Blast Gym, 1911 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

'I've been asked for years to do this,' says Rose, 50, who once combined with Wiskoski to hold the world tag-team championship belt. 'When Ed and I went through the school, it was five hours a day, five days a week for three months. We know people have to have jobs, so we'll let them do it at their own rate.

'And we aren't asking for big money upfront. If they want to get out after two months, OK. We're going to weed out the bad people and keep the good ones.'

For information, call 1-866-351-1494 or e-mail [email protected] And if you get in, watch out for the turnbuckle.

• Boise State can cap a sensational season with a Dec. 31 victory over Seneca Wallace and Iowa State in the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise. The 17th-ranked Broncos, 11-1, are 12-point favorites. Head coach Dan Hawkins, who took over the program in 2001, was Willamette's coach from 1993-97 and was 40-11-1 in his five seasons there. That included Willamette's trip to the NAIA national championship game in '97.

• The latest edition of Slam Magazine has features on the Blazers' Arvydas Sabonis and Oregon's Cool Hand Lukes, Ridnour and Jackson.

• As a small-time entrepreneur, John Farmer did pretty well with his Tonya Harding Hot Sauce. For this holiday season, a new product: Ripped City Jail Blazer Jam. ('Red-eyed and rolling!' reads the label.)

Farmer, who works at Portland International Airport, says he pays attention to what out-of-town flight crews are talking about as they enter the city.

'Lately, it has been the Jail Blazers,' Farmer says. 'They know all about our defamed basketball team.'

Farmer says he has already sold 100 cases Ñ 'Strohecker's took 50 cases,' he says Ñ with the jam selling at $5.95 or $6.95 a jar. 'It's good jam,' he says, 'but the jam isn't what's selling it.'

Next up for Farmer in January: Vera Katzup.

• Now that Mike Riley has been passed over for the Kentucky coaching job, too, the former Oregon State coach will be back next season as assistant head coach and secondary coach for the New Orleans Saints. That is, if head coach Jim Haslett keeps his job. The Saints, 9-6 after losing last Sunday to woeful Cincinnati, need help this weekend to make the playoffs after starting 9-3.

Riley could have had the Alabama job but didn't feel comfortable when the athletic director, Mal Moore, gave him very little time to consider the offer. Riley also wasn't sure about the fishbowl effect of coaching one of the nation's most high-profile programs, even if it was his alma mater.

The Corvallis native wanted the UCLA job, thought he interviewed well and was disappointed when Denver Broncos assistant Karl Dorrell was hired.

'Everything went fine,' Riley says. 'They just picked another guy.'

Riley is working on a one-year contract that expires in March but has a rollover offer that he probably will accept.

'I'd be pleased to be doing this again' with the Saints, says Riley, whose father, Bud, was a longtime secondary coach at Oregon State and in Canada. 'It has been good for me, and I have enjoyed this organization. The team has a chance to grow. There are a lot of good people here, and I love being a part of it.'

• ESPN will shadow Bill Walton for a seven-part prime-time reality series it intends to air sometime in the future. Like Ozzy Osbourne, Walton's reality is different than yours or mine. Says Gregg Winik, executive vice president of NBA Entertainment: 'Given Bill's bizarro world, we can call this twisted reality.'

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