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Classic notes

Posted: 6:40 a.m.

LEBANON, Ohio - Notes on a Shaker Run scorecard from Sunday's sixth annual Marvin Lewis Golf Classic presented by Cincinnati Bell:

SMOOTH OPERATOR: The only guys who seem able to raise $300,000 in these tough times are Obama and Marvin Lewis, but Lewis did it without getting heat from the pundits.

Using his auctioneer's microphone and deep community connections, Lewis churned out another big weekend to fund four college scholarships worth nearly $100,000, as well as raise money for a "School is Cool" incentives program for Cincinnati Public Schools.

"It was fun; I think the new format came off pretty well," said Lewis after working the tent with Bengals radio analyst Dave Lapham.

There was more time because he cut the tournament to 14 holes to speed up the lengthy field of about 250 players and everyone seemed to get done in about five hours.

If you were looking, you could see a guy from yesteryear like former Reds third baseman Chris Sabo take home some items for his kids (a Coney Island special) and current Bengals cornerback Leon Hall walk by his framed signed photo pushing a stroller with six-week old Leon Hall.

Lewis likes the big tent and that's what he got again Sunday with another diverse gathering of the Cincinnati community. But the most popular items remain the road trips to Bengals games in which Lewis supplies sideline passes. Word is the Green Bay and Minnesota trips went for about $2,000 each.

ANDRE GIANT TOPIC: In anticipation of the Bengals' first onfield workout of the season Tuesday, there was much buzz about which side the coaches are going to line up their prized first-round tackle, Alabama's Andre Smith. With more and more speculation he's going to end up on the right side with left guard Andrew Whitworth moving to left tackle, two guys who ought to know think he's going to help right away.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome and Colts president Bill Polian, whose teams have won the AFC Super Bowls this decade not won by New England and Pittsburgh, both had Smith rated highly.

"The first-rounder is a slam dunk; as much as any can be," Polian said, and Newsome believes Smith can play either side.

Newsome knows how valuable the position is. In his first draft after the Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996, he opted for reliability over flash and chose a franchise player in left tackle Jonathan Ogden. This year he traded up to get the last of the four top-rated tackles, Mississippi's Michael Oher, late in the first round.

The Ravens also go on the field this week and Oher is ticketed to the right side, but not because they don't think he can play left but because "we've already got the guy (Jared Gaither)," Newsome said.

"We want to keep him and (left guard Ben) Grubbs playing next to each other," Newsome said of Gaither. "And (Oher) will be competing with Adam Terry on the right."

It was Newsome who came out fairly early and endorsed Smith during a visit to his 'Bama alma mater and helped raise his stock back to where it was after a disastrous postseason. Like the Bengals, Newsome sat down with Alabama head coach Nick Saban and offensive line coach Joe Pendry when Saban invited him to speak at a high school coaches' clinic.

"I had some good insights and I've known about the kid since he was a junior in high school," Newsome said. "He's a good kid. He made a couple of bad decisions in the spring."

A couple of former Bengals left tackles who were on site Sunday are looking forward to seeing Smith line up. Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz doesn't know enough about Smith to comment, but he's looking forward to meeting him and welcoming him to the first-round tackle club. John Jackson, who has seen Smith play, thinks he's a right tackle.

"I don't know if his feet are good enough to play left, but I think he's pretty good," said Jackson, who works with Cincinnati sports agent Richard Katz. Asked what advice he'd give, Jackson made it simple: "The most important thing is getting in the best shape you can. And keeping his head on straight."

It looks like Smith is going to take the right tackle spot held down by an Alabama native for 12 seasons before Newsome picked him up at the start of last season. Willie Anderson told Newsome he was retiring last week and it seems pretty set.

"It's up to Willie. It's his decision," Newsome said. "He felt right now the best thing to do is retire."

DRAFT TAKES: Newsome and Polian joined in the chorus praising the Bengals offseason moves.

"The pickup of the receiver (Laveranues Coles) was a good one and the draft was really outstanding," Polian said. "To pick up a guy like (Rey) Maualuga in the position they did ... they did a lot to help themselves and they've got Carson (Palmer) coming back. If Carson is healthy, they're a bonafide contender. It's as simple as that."

With the acquisition of Maualuga along with veterans Tank Johnson and Roy Williams, Newsome has noted the rise of the Bengals defense. Asked if that defense and the drafting of All-American punter Kevin Huber has given the Bengals a different look he said, "That's what is called winning, isn't it? That's how you start to win. When you play good special teams and play defense, you're going to win some football games."

Newsome, one of Lewis' mentors in Baltimore, is always here this weekend but it was Polian's first trip down I-74. He and his wife have gotten to know Lewis and his wife Peggy well during the last five years as members of the NFL Competition Committee.

"It just never worked out. This weekend always seemed to be christenings, weddings, graduations. That's what happens in a big family," Polian said. "We've looked forward to spending time with Marvin and Peg in the winter. We had something this weekend, but my wife likes Marvin and she gave me a dispensation."


»* *There may have been only 14 holes, but that didn't stop perennial local champion Jim Volpenheim's group from winning the scramble with 13-under. Teamed with Steve Sylvester, Tom Carroll and Bengals defensive assistant Paul Guenther, Volpenheim finally added The Marvin to his list of wins playing with Guenther. In the last couple of years there has been a second place and third place involved.

"I made a couple of putts," said Guenther, who admitted Volpenheim's prodigious drives did the rest. "He hit every fairway and we played three par 5s and eagled all of them."

» Another member of Lewis' staff, secondary coach Kevin Coyle, took home a prize when he got closest to the pin.

» But it was Bengals radio voice Brad Johansen that won the celebrity's closest to the pin, which disgusted MC Cris Collinsworth.

"All these great athletes here," he said, "and an announcer wins."

Collinsworth, one of the most well-known announcers in the country, admits he "dreads" replacing icon John Madden on NBC Sunday night. Not just because it is replacing one of the greats, but also because the gig involves more travel and his children are in the middle of their scholastic sports careers. He's already the first Highlands High track coach with a network blazer.

"But it will be fun. I like working with Al (Michaels) and the other guys," he said. 

» Any time old teammates gather, the needles are out and Collinsworth had it out for Ken Anderson returning a Super Bowl champion as the Steelers quarterbacks coach.

"Hard to believe," Collinsworth said, noting that Anderson was in the No. 1 group with Cincinnati Bell chief Jack Cassidy. "I guess I'm in 2A now."

"As he should be," said Anderson, without blinking an eye and he's go the last laugh with this week's trip to the White House.

Anderson had to laugh about some of the ribbing he took for coming back with a black-and-gold ring.

"But it shows you what kind of event this is," Anderson said. "Marvin does such a great job getting everyone together to come out for the community."

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