Monday, December 1, 2008

Next Urban Meyer....or Mike Shula

Some say Mike Hamilton panicked with the hire of Lane Kiffin to be the Volunteers 22nd head coach...that he comes cheap and easy. I say, "Not so fast, my friends". Lane Kiffin may be short on head coaching experience with nothing but a miserable tenure under a miserable owner in Oakland, but look at the entire body of work. At USC he was a tireless recruiter and the offensive coordinator of an outstanding team. A team that doesn't run the Arena offenses of the Big 12, but a pro style offense found in most of the SEC. Speaking of pro style, he also brings the father of the 'Tampa Two' defense, and, ironically, his own father, Monte Kiffin who will take an already very good unit and make it better. And, maybe Coach "O" as in Orgeron as well. Orgeron had tremendous recruiting classes at Ole Miss, and got that job off his reputation as a recruiting with....USC. Polls are showing Vols fans to be split on this move...but many are just stuck in the Fulmer mud of the past few years...embrace this guy, Tennessee fan; I think you've got a winner here!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Brothers from another Mother?

I know this may be upsetting for Tennessee Titans fans that also bleed the Orange and White of UT, but facts are stubborn things, and the top team in the NFL and the top team in College football are nearly identical. The obvious is the Titans are 8-0 and the Tide are 9-0. What is amazing is that they both get it done with veteran QBs who don't make mistakes and come up big when needed. They both have smothering, fearsome defenses, and running games that will physically hurt you. They both play best with a lead and almost always control the game from the onset. Finally, check the men at the top. Both DBs in there playing careers, both steady and defensive minded; and both considered among the best in their leagues. Call 'em the Alabama Titans or the Tennessee Tide, because these two go hand in hand...


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Big 12 v. SEC?

Is it time to open a discussion on whether the Big 12 has passed the SEC as the premier college football conference in the land? When Texas beat conference foe Oklahoma, the Longhorns vaulted Alabama into the number 1 slot. With Texas Tech, Oklahoma St. and Missouri joining OU and Texas nearly half of the top 11 teams in the nation are out of the Big 12. The SEC has 3 in the top 9, and 5 in the top 25. Kansas gives the Big 12 it's 6th team in the poll.
As impressive as all this is, as I watched the OU/Texas game from the Georgia press box, I kept telling myself that those offenses would not be doing that in the SEC. I kept recalling Alabama smothering Texas Tech's 50 point a game offense a few years ago in the Cotton Bowl. Certainly, there is great concern in Knoxville and on the Plain, but I'd still put Bama, Georgia, Florida and LSU on the field with anyone. Certainly with Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State....

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Unacceptable!

Forget the missed chip shot FG....And that blocked punt? A critical error, but offset by Nevin McKensie's interception for a TD. If you're looking for a place to lame the blame for this season opening dud, lay it at the feet of the coaching staff...including new offensive coordinator Dave Clawson. A veteran line....two stud backs. Pound the Rock. I guess it's just lip service. In a tight game that UT is leading throughout, they should NEVER throw more than run the ball. 34 running plays for nearly 200 yards. 5.2 a pop. So why not run it 50 times. Can't do that? Why not? Alabama did and stole Clemson's manhood in the process. UT needed to do the same. Don't make Jonathan Crompton throw it 42 times...he's not that guy! And for the record, every time UT dropped back to pass was good for 4.5 yards a play. Do the math...this isn't rocket science.
Norm Chow made the adjustments; Rick Neuhiesel settled his team...and his boys played with passion. And speaking of the blocked punt, why do Special Teams coordinators feel the need to ticker with punt protection? 5 guys with 2' splits, 2 wings, 2 flyers and a personal protector. It has worked forever, every NFL team uses it, stop jerking with it. This was a total team collapse and it begins with the guys in the khaki slacks...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Now Can He Carry an Entire Team?

OK, so it's over. Brett Favre is a New York Jet. Now the first inclination is to say, "I guess the Packers showed him!" But this Jets team is only one season removed from being a playoff team. Plus they added offensive lineman Damien Woody and Alan Fanica. And Bubba Franks. Lavernaus Coles and Jerricho Cotchery don't suck as receivers. Thomas Jones needs to step up at running back and Leon Washington is a playmaker. Now the Jets defense won't be confused with the crew in Green Bay, but I believe the Jets just put themselves in the Wild Card race in the AFC. And with Chad Pennington's release, Eric Ainge can have his familiar number 10 back!
Note: the Jets will be at LP Field on November 23rd in a game that could have playoff implications for both teams...



Nice Stadium...Not so Nice Place...

Wow. What a beautiful stadium they've built in Bejing. But on the eve of the Summer Olympics, I'm having a real problem balancing this historic sports happening and the "Celebration" of "Chinese Pride". Proud of what? Atrocities against human kind? Tibet? Tiananmen Square? Mao the Murderer? The Olympics often turn into a glorification of the host city or region, but how can any red blooded freedom lover not feel a bit put back by all of this. 40 years ago John Carlos and Tommy Smith made a statement about how they felt America treated there own people of color. Here's hoping that someone, anyone, makes a stand...like the Tank Man in the Square...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sports' Most Tragic Figure?

OK, "Tragic" is a strong word. But in a sports sense....and not in a Barbaro, Dale Earnhardt, life and death type tragic, Greg Norman may be sports' most tragic figure. Oh, I get the big picture; Norman finishing 3rd at the Open is an incredible achievement...but....leading going into the final round...again....tied for the lead with 6 holes to play...and finish 6 strokes back! Thankfully, Paddy Harrington fired a 69 to WIN it, not a 73 to slide in, but I truly felt the golf gods owed Norman one here. This was going to be payback for all the grace and class he had shown in so many failures. He hadn't led going into the final day of a major since the Masters...the one where he....blew...a...6 stroke lead on the final day. Yet, for all the drama and fairytale this win would be...it wasn't meant to be. For us, and ABC, this was much better than him shooting 80-80 and getting ready for the Senior British next week, but I wonder how the Shark feels about that? Classy as always, he'll never say...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Frozen Out?

Never have I seen an athlete who has given so much to his team and his sport treated with such disrespect. The same thing that made Brett Favre such a sporting icon, drove him to tears at that podium when he (prematurely) announced his retirement. Football is a game that, played right, is played with the utmost passion. "Leave it all on the field" is more than a trite coaching cliche. Favre left it all on the field. And just like the throwbacks we liken him to, he wasn't ready to go again in March...or April, or June.
OTAs and Mini Camps are valuable tools for acclimating newbies to the NFL...but they are more for the coaches than the players. So now it's July, and Favre's internal clock, and that huge heart, may be telling him it's time to play again. Yet the fans, and apparently the Packers all want to say..."No, no, no Brett...you moved on, and so have we!" Moved on to what? A bunch of classroom time and some field time playing flag football? "But Aaron Rodgers is ready!!!" Yeah, so was Scott Mitchell, Rob Johnson and Frank Reich. Rodgers may end up being a fine player; in fact, I like his chances...but this is BRETT FAVRE off one of his best season's ever. This isn't Johnny U with the Chargers or Joe Namath with the Rams.
Some of you folks in Green Bay have been out in the cold a bit to long....



Monday, July 7, 2008

How Good is Good?

As the old saying goes...the devil is in the details. In reviewing Phil Fulmer's new contract extension with UT, we find that an 8 win season results in an automatic extension of one year. The contract also has handsome bonuses for SEC and National Championships, which is great...but an automatic extension for 8 wins? Any 8 wins? Not 8 wins, including Alabama and Florida? The rationale behind the 8 wins is that the 8-4 season is relevant to UT's all-time winning percentage. Now I'm not suggesting that 8-4 should get you canned...but an extension? Most UT fans I talk to tell me 8-4 would result in turning up the wick in the seat warmer, not add years to the current deal. Phil Fulmer will go down as one of the legendary coaches in UT and college football.
Mike Hamilton said, "In my opinion, there aren't going to be a lot of Joe Paternos and Bobby Bowdens in the future of college football." The question is, does his overall record in general and his record in the last 6-8 years in particular put him in the Bobby Bowden, Joe Paterno club of guys who basically will call there own shot on when they retire. For UT fans, the hope is that the 8-4 scenario is not one that has to be discussed...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day Drama...

TNT's slogan is "We Know Drama". Well, drama was on full display Sunday on TNT, NBC AND ABC! Dale Jr.'s dramatic win, on TNT, may just provide the push he needs to make a real run at a first NASCAR Championship. The drama was in the fact that had he not gotten that last caution, he would have run out off gas on the final lap. Of course, it wouldn't have been a question had it not been for the second last caution. The drama was enhanced by listening to the in car radio as Tony Eury, Jr. cut him loose with 2 laps to go and he roared past Kasey Kahne, who, naturally, drives the Budweiser car that Jr. made so famous.
Then it was ABC's chance to provide the drama as a hobbled Tiger Woods saved his one dramatic moment of the day for his 73rd shot, a birdie on 18 to tie the affable, lovable, goofball underdog with the funny name and 70's belt buckle, Rocco Mediate. The only thing that deal lacked was a sudden death overtime to finish in the gloom of a San Diego sunset. Something right out of Bagger Vance. Monday will be like watching Rocco get a root canal...or will Walter Mitty pull it off?

For the nightcap, the Lakers once again blew a lead, only to come back and win and prevent the hated Celtics from partying in Westwood. Paul Pierce is about the only Celt that wanted that, since it is his hometown, and he did everything in his power to make it happen...but this party will be a Garden Party...the only question is, will it be Tuesday or Thursday night?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Random Thoughts on the Weekend that Was...

I've got the Celtics in 7 for the series, but I must admit, I'm with Phil on the foul disparity Sunday night. It's not as if the Lakers weren't aggressive in taking the ball to the rack. The Lakers shot 10 foul shots to the 38 freebies the Celts had. Anyone know where Tim Donahey was last night?

I'm a NASCAR guy, but I'm here to tell you, the best race of the weekend was in Tezas, and I don't mean the truck race. The IRL put on one heck of a show and continues to get traction with the racing public. 28 cars, some real personalities and incredible speed make it worth a look. Now, if someone could just do something with that Dixon guy...
Speaking of NASCAR...fell free to whack a 100 miles off that Pocono race. For that matter, one trip per season to the quirky triangle would be fine with me as well. The best NASCAR event of the weekend was in Nashville where Brad Keselowski gave Dale Jr. one more win as an owner than he has as a driver this season. Thursday I had a chance to sit accross a table from Keselowski for lunch at Noshville and this kid gives me the same vibe I got from Carl Edwards the first time I met him...back when he was driving the trucks.

And finally....I guess this whole Triple Crown thing IS pretty tough to win! Big Brown was a Big Dud Saturday and you can't tell me the hoof didn't have something to do with it. Not the crack itself, but the disruption in the training schedule. The horse was out of it's groove. Man, I wish I had that superfecta! $48,000 for a $2 ticket? Chances are I wouldn't have been in today....











Thursday, May 29, 2008

Who Would You Swap With?

It is fair to question some of the decisions Vince Young has made early in is professional career. You may even want to say that that decision making ability, for better or worse, may carry out on to the field. But how many of us would have liked to have the glare of the media focused on us in our early twenties as we stumbled out of college and into ealy adulthood? I'm not a VY apologist, just a realist. Now, let me pose a question. Who would you swap him for? The only true measure of a quarterback is his value in helping your team win. How about the guys he came in with? Lienart? Forgetaboutit! Cutler? You can make an argument, but how has he done in the clutch? Not at Vandy, nor in Denver can you say that guy made all the difference. Cutler is reliable and mature, but he hasn't carried a team to major victories or a playoff. Denver was in much better shape 2 years ago than the Titans...and they haven't improved. What about David Gerrard in Jacksonville? He's 30 now and just had his first big year...no thanks. Philip Rivers? Maybe, but when he was Young's age he had yet to start a game...VY has two years under his belt. Eli? He was ready to be run out early last year...his fourth as a starter, before having a nice playoff run. Derek Anderson? Maybe a fluke, but he also got 2 years to watch before becoming a starter. Tony Romo? How would Vince have done with that team around him...think he'd a won a playoff game by now? My point is, be careful what you wish for, and appreciate what could be coming...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Maybe not Bird and Magic, But.....

It may not have been Larry Bird and Magic Johnson but Sunday's duel in the Garden between Paul Pierce and LeBron James was a classic. Pierce, after toiling so many years on bad Celtic teams now has Amigos 2 and 3 and no excuses. LeBron, the self proclaimed King James, laboring without a Prince or even a Duke; just a bunch of Court Jesters, yet carrying this group to the edge.
James' 45 really wasn't all that surprising. In fact, in a pitiful sort of way, it was almost expected. In the second half, he was the ONLY Cavs starter to score, other than Delonte West's measly 4 points. Pierce, on the other hand, seized the moment. Surrounded by the likes of Garnett and the ever disappearing Ray Allen, the archaic, yet useful PJ Brown and an emerging Rajon Rondo, he was not about to let this pass. Not if he wanted that #34 hoisted to the rafters someday. He showed true Celtic pride. But will it be enough against the Blue Collar Pistons? Or the Lakers, Spurs or Hornets? We'll know soon....hopefully before the football season starts!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Another one takes the walk...



Blessings come in many forms to a person's life, and one of our greatest has been our children. Kelly, 23, graduated from the University of Alabama-Huntsville Magna Cum Laude and has made her parents very proud. There is nothing greater in life than seeing your children raise whatever bar you have set in life. This one gets her looks from her mother and her brains from....well, her mother and her creativeness from....well, I know I made some contribution along the way..I'll have to get back to you on exactly what it was! Just thought you'd like to know...

Monday, May 5, 2008

Big Brown and the Lady

Big Brown broke strong from the 20 gate to capture the Derby in stunning fashion...and Eight Belles just broke down. In the aftermath of a historic win in which Big Brown did what no horse had done since 1929, all eyes were focused on the front stretch where Eight Belles had collapsed from what looked like was a heart attack. With two broken ankles, she was put down marking the first fatality in 134 Derbys. I know the animal folks will be out en masse on this one, but the fact is, about 2 horses die per 1000 races on dirt tracks around the world, but this one was in front of the biggest audience of the year. As for Brown, this horse has to be a favorite to win the Triple Crown now, after such a dominant effort on Saturday. And it would be a nice homage to the Philly who gave all to run second at Churchill Downs.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Time to follow through by Rocky


Ok, well I have no problem with Byron Scott getting named NBA coach of the year...However now that Scott has been given this award, it seems fitting to me that the best coach also has the best player...Time to own up and give the MVP to Chris Paul. Kid is absurd, not to mention a triple threat as he showed last night...Chris Paul reminds me of those games in which Stockton played and Malone didnt...The type of cat who if he wanted to, could take over like an LBJ or Kobe because that part of the game comes so easy to him. Where he separates himself from those two is this...Kobe just doesnt make his teammates better, he just needs to play with better guys. LBJ makes his guys better, but not good enough to get out of the east. Now look at the ragtag bunch of guys people gave up on that play for New Orleans, throw a solid motivator like Byron in there, all you are missing in order to be the team to beat is the best PG in the game...oh wait, they have that. Let me close with this, I can't believe Byron Scott is the cause of careers being resurrected and David West playing like an undersized Karl Malone...its the game of John Stockton...It's Chris Paul...I'm telling you!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Now that the Pacman Jones question has been answered, it's time for the Titans to focus on FOOTBALL and once again, they have produced a curious cast of characters in the draft. Chris Johnson may be Eric Metcalf reincarnated. Kick returner, slot, wideout, I-back who can turn the corner...a true multi-weapon. This guy had not one, but TWO 400+ all purpose yard games including the Hawaii Bowl win over Boise St. He also had a 300 yard rushing game during the season. But not too many had him a 1st rounder. However, I'm a big believer in getting your guy, if that's your guy. Now the pick of Jason Jones in the second round was a head scratcher in that no one had this guy earlier than the 4th round...but again, he seems to be an athlete of "Freakish" physical proportions.
The one I'm most intrigued by is 4th rounder William Hayes. The Titans traded up in the 4th round to get to this guy....who no one, including the NFL itself, thought would be drafted! Ever! He has great speed for a big guy, but did nothing before last year and had to go 1-AA because he had no grades. But I defer to the coaches and scouts and somebody will look like a genius if this works out.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Exit with Heads Held High

It coulda been worse...much worse. As the Preds left the ice, vanquished by the Detroit Red Wings in eerily the same fashion as 2004, I couldn't help think how this scene could have played out...Yesterday, a packed house send the overachieving Preds to the golf course with a lusty applause and anticipation of "Next year". But just imagine how it might have been. No David Freeman...no Karl Deal...no Fans raising their voices...and no more "I like it, I love it..." after no more goals.
Instead of a playoff exit on a Sunday afternoon on national TV, it would have been a lonely Saturday night in front of about 8,000 fans. A team looking to pack their bags having mailed this season of transition in. Preds gear in the discount, off Broadway stores, next those Nashville Kats t-shirts. And yesterday would have been just another quiet spring Sunday downtown with a few hundred people milling about. Thank you David Freeman. Thank you Karl Dean. Thank you Preds. Now let's get out of the first round NEXT YEAR!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

From the pages of Center Ice Magazine


A SILENT ROAR?

Question: If a filled arena breaks out into a spontaneous, piercing roar but no one outside the building is willing to hear it, does it make a sound?

Answer: Apparently not.

Welcome to the dilemma that is the Nashville Predators.

It was a truly magical moment the night of April 3 at Nashville’s Sommet Center. The Predators were on the verge of clinching their fourth straight playoff appearance, which they did later that night with their victory and a Vancouver Canucks loss. At the time the Predators were clinging to a precarious 3-2 lead over St. Louis.

Then it happened.

During the final media timeout, over 17,000 fans stood up and started cheering. But this wasn’t just some fleeting moment of appreciation. Their cheering continued…louder and longer. The crowd had broken out into an unprovoked, ear-splitting roar that had rarely, if ever, been heard during the Predators’ 10-year history.

The tell-tale sign of an unforgettable sports moment is when its historical significance is realized in the moment. Sitting among the press corps that night at the Sommet Center, I knew this was something very special. Chills went down my spine as I realized I was experiencing perhaps the seminal moment in franchise history.

It was spontaneous, it was unexplainable, and – most importantly – it was real.

That moment may have signified a fan base finally and fully embracing its hockey team, a franchise nearly snatched from its city before the season had even begun.
Yet as special and memorable the moment was, an entire region outside the building failed to hear it.

This lack of recognition from everyone outside the loyal but smallish Predators fan base was just as deafening and equally measurable.

As the eighth-seeded Predators approached a difficult, yet not impossible, opening-round task of upsetting the top-seeded and President Trophy-winning Detroit Red Wings, the community at-large responded with a whimper, both in television ratings and ticket sales.

To be fair, trying to find the Predators on TV Рthrough the muddled mess of networks and times - was the equivalent of the clich̩ needle in a haystack. Additionally, the thought of buying tickets for a series in which the good guys were down 0-2 coming back to Nashville did not necessarily seem appealing. Game 3 did not sell immediately. In fact, it did not sell out until the morning of the showdown.

But here was the Predator faithful again during Game 3, letting loose a growl reminiscent of the regular season finale, practically willing the Predators to an unlikely 5-3 win.

Despite the fan and player heroics, one glaring problem remains: the Predators need more people shouting inside – and outside – the building, both with their voices and their wallets.
Otherwise the next generation of Predators fans will not experience the magical moments we did.

That’s because there won’t be a next generation of fans.

This will be the last time...by Rocky


I am begging everyone out there, pleading...this is not the case of whether you support him or like him or think he is a good person. This is NOT about whether or not he can change or if he is doomed to repeat himself and his actions. This IS about just letting it go...what has he really done to earn this? Has he hit over 756 home runs? Did he throw or catch the Music City Miracle or take this team on his back to the playoffs as in the case of an Eddie, Steve, or in the past 2 years the friggin head coach!?!? Of course not, instead he has gone the rout of others who fall from grace, and in his case these allegations were going on well before the pro-game. This isn't the blame game either, its not about the owners, coach, other players, or even him being at fault. This rant is about one thing, letting it go. We the people are power in numbers, and every now and again if we band together it actually works. Whether you know it or not, TV news casts have instant ratings feedback where they can see how well a story works. Imagine if everyone just turned it off the next time they show his face...

And DAMMIT GO PREDS!

Monday, April 14, 2008

It's OK....For Now...By Thom Abraham

By all accounts, Brandt Snedeker is a terrific guy. And my this account, I believe he will be a regular winner on the PGA Tour....and, man does he look like Johnny Miller out on the course! Having said that, Snedeker's emotional interview, just minutes after coming off the course revealed just how much these guys hold back on the course. And maybe that's an issue. In an effort to be ultra-controlled, maybe they need to blow a little steam out there...Tiger wears it on his sleeve, so did Arnie. Trevino would chat with the gallery to stay loose. Tom Watson just smiled...hence the nickname "Huck Finn". Snedeker is from the Watson school...in fact, he calls Watson one of his heroes. The question going forward will be, can Brandt Snedeker channel that emotion into positive results? I'm betting yes...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Chip off the ol' block by Rocky


Tiger sat down with Scott Van Pelt for one of the more candid interviews I have ever heard regarding Woods and insight into his life. Woods for the first time I can truly remember came off what sports fans may consider "arrogant". For the most part I believe Tiger has been more on the invisible side then the in your face Barry Bonds/Curt Schilling/TO athlete who demands you pay attention, most of the time by throwing a tantrum with or through the media. Tiger has his quirks on the course, plays head games with his competition much like Jordan or Deon Sanders once did, but besides marrying his hottie babysitter, we know little about the man...again compared to these other men and sometimes women who insist we turn the cameras on every time they breathe. No Tiger has always been good with us, good with the fans, good with the country. (OK I know he went off on someone for clicking his camera phone during his backswing, but that's another rant altogether...Lets leave it at this, if the guy didnt stick up for himself, who am I to?) But he came out and said he has to bet on himself, he IS better than Jack, and 19 is more important than 100... And here we are again, ready to miss work to watch him play, something in the past reserved for the NCAA's. It's a sign we havent seen so far and I tell you this...if he has been playing this well without this chip, I fear for Rory and the rest of 'em!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Rock Chalk or Choke Tiger?

I'd love to talk about the epic comeback for the Jayhawks to win their first National Championship in 20 years. And Mario Chalmers did go all Super Mario with is last second 3 to sent the game to overtime, and, essentially, forcing the Memphis Tigers to win the game twice. But, truth be told, this was an epic choke job...Jean VanDeveld at the British...Chris Webber's TO...Norman at the Masters...that kind of choke. And this goes straight to John Calipari as well. We were lulled into thinking that Memphis had the free throw thing licked. But pressure does funny things to a stroke. And then, up 3 with :10 to go in the game Cal needed a TO and he needed to set up the foul at mid court. Play tough defense for a few seconds and then put a Jayhawk, any Jayhawk, on the line. Make them bring the ball up twice to beat you.
In the end, Memphis may have been too good for there own good. To many blow outs in a weak conference, and then they got on a roll in the tourney. They had done it all...except have to come up big in clutch situations. So now "Danny and the Miracles" adds Super Mario to Kansas hoop lore.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Well?

"The Predators were life and death down the stretch to make the playoffs for the fourth straight season. The bigger question was whether anyone in Nashville noticed."-Scott Burnside-ESPN.com

And he likes the Preds! I know I'm excited! But will those outside the building catch Preds fever? What would an upset of Presidents Trophy winning Detroit mean to this franchise? Will the community jump on the bandwagon in a fashion similar to the Titans Super Bowl run in their first season as Titans? Will Hard Core Preds fans try and kick Bandwagon Fan off the Bandwagon? As for the product on the ice...I really don't think this is a group that anyone really wanted to see in the first round. Resilient, tough and with no expectations. If the Red Wings are looking for an easy out....FORGETABOUTIT. As they say in NASCAR; "You'd better reach up and pull those belts tight" but this one's going 6 or 7 games!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Pro Hoops in the Music City


I'm truly excited for the opportunity we have as sports fans in this city to experience pro hoops in the new ABA team, the Nashville Broncs. I know the memories of the Rhythm are unfortunately still fresh in our minds...Yet right from the jump this team has a fresh new approach, a new look, and what I believe will be an entertaining product. I dont need to explain how absurd it was for the Rhythm to play on a campus where no alcoholic beverages are permitted...when alcohol sales are one of the KEY revenue makers in pro sports, right? And to all you haters think before you speak, or in certain cases write an article poisoning this effort. Basketball is what we love, look at UT, Vandy, Belmont, Memphis, Austin Peay...How great would it be to see kids who went to school here, have a chance to continue on and play in a much larger league with a larger player pool?

There are some things that jump out for me that cause me to believe this time around it will work...First, the man in charge, Scott Lumley, has been successful in so many other areas of business that I believe the mentality is such that he wont allow it to fail...at least not for the fans. I've sat with Scott and the feel I got is that he is a fan first, and wants the experience to cater to you first, not the ABA or the team. Second, from a basketball standpoint Oliver Lee is as good a coach you can find to not only provide leadership to players new to the league, but also mold and prepare players for the next level. The 2 time All-American killed comp back at Marquette, played in both the NBA and Europe. He has seen the game played on all levels. Let's be honest here, the better positioned this team is to not only win games but possibly advance guys to the next level, the better the product the better the reward for the fan...let's not lose focus, WE the fans are who this is all about.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

One for the Ages!

I have always said, "Sports is the ultimate Reality TV." What the Predators did in St. Louis last night was why we love our games! Down 3-0 on 7 shots in 7 minutes, goalie Dan Ellis is yanked from the game. Did I mention it took about 250 minutes for him to give up 3 goals prior to last night? Oh yeah, the Preds hadn't scored 4 goals to win a game in a month...an even dozen games. And the season hung in the balance...a loss almost assuredly meaning no playoffs. What happens next you wouldn't buy if it was a Disney movie. The Mighty Predators yank the star goalie for the guy who they yanked before the star became a star, the defense only allows 10 more shots in the last 53 minutes...the well rested back up stops all those shots, and a bunch of guys with names like Fiddler, Tootoo, Bochenski and Peverley score goals for the win. Did I mention that those last two weren't even on the team a few weeks ago? Of course, the story wouldn't be complete without a Vancouver loss putting Nashville back in the playoffs. Win the last two, and it's on to a best of 7 against Detroit...and don't doubt these Mighty Predators of Nashville. I wonder if Emilio Estevez will be available to play Barry Trotz in the movie?

One Tough Chick

I don't typically spend much time on Woman's basketball, and like the rest of the nation, I'm just waiting for Pat v. Geno, but the effort of Candice Parker last night merits some serious props. This girl dislocates her shoulder....twice...and goes all Willis Reed, coming out of the tunnel with 10 minutes left in UT's Regional Final to lead the Lady Vols to the Final Four. Did I mention she dislocated her shoulder.....twice? That's the heart of a warrior and that's what separates the athlete from the ordinary. Now when is the Pat and Geno thing going to happen!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Crossing the line?


OK, I get as a member of the media we have to report on more then just sports...Box scores and X's and O's just don't sell, especially on the radio. It was a reward to share the moments of Thom's family leading up to the birth of his grandchild, that is why we all could relate...we were all tied in. We love the story, the feel good story, or the bad guy to good guy redemption story...either way we love a winner. Yet one thing we as human beings simply cannot do is look at people strictly as athletes, or hosts, or writers, or contractors, or truckers...Everything we do is molded together and the outcome is how we are perceived. The Tennessean reported with details about Albert Haynesworth's divorce, and I believe that as necessary as it may be to get the story out...to leak details I believe is irresponsible and unfortunately more the norm in this business. If there are criminal charges as in Adam Jones' case then that is something that should be out there, however to nitpick a marriage and the divorce proceedings to follow is an injustice. How many writers on that staff have been divorced or are dealing with a bad marriage? Where as with reporting about crime it's safe to say the paper doesn't employ criminals...or at least the type of criminal reporting on those specific crimes. Let Albert be judged by his performance, mistakes, and redemption on the field; not by us fans who can't separate the nonsense from relevant.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Radio Free Pacman

Well, for a day, Pac was back...on the Michael Irvin Show on ESPN Radio in Dallas. Pac tried to say all the right things and for his part, Irvin was not a pushover. When Pac said "Goin' to the strip club ain't a sin", Irvin said, "Well, actually it is...." and when Pac said his first three arrests were bogus, Irvin said, "That's what all the guys in jail told me about them too...". But Jones' general ignorance aside, you have to wonder if anyone can break through to this guy. His on field talent is unquestioned, though not quite as great as some would have you believe. But there is so much more to being a teammate. He needs to be trustworthy. He says he respects the Titans, yet he continued to behave in a way that betrayed them. He says he takes responsibility for his acts, yet he's done nothing wrong. He says he'll stay away from the strip clubs for 3-4 years, then 2-3 and finally a "couple" of years. He says he's going to change his life "360 degrees". That's what I'm afraid of.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Many Thanks...

From the beginning, right or wrong, I have always made my family a part of the show, and many of you have been through all the ups and downs with us. Well March 19th was definitely an "up" as I became a Grand Pappy for the first time! (With 9 kids, my guess is this won't be the last!). Since I couldn't be at the hospital at the time, I really appreciate the listeners allowing me to make that part of the show. My wife's call to the show from the delivery room had to be one of the rawest moments of emotion ever heard on live radio. We will have it posted soon on the Audio page on the website.

I am very proud of my Daughter Kristen and her husband, Al, and, of course, Crimson Olivia. Now, a note on that name. Kristen is an accomplished artist, and she has always wanted to name a daughter "Crimson". She couldn't find Tuscaloosa with Mapquest, and I certainly had NOTHING to do with naming the kid! If it was a boy, the name would have been Dominick Joseph....and no, they weren't going to call him "Nick"! Thanks again for all the great e-mails, they have been sent along to be a part of her baby book...Finally....hope your brackets are holding up!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ostracised


The nature of our sport, America's sport is this: The MLBPA is examining possible collusion against Bonds and others, but namely Barry Bonds. Bonds is yet to be hired for his guns 1 more year as he continues his *Assault on the history books. Now the Union is going to claim foul play because nobody wants to play ball with Barry...Boo Hoo. I find it very hard to bite the bait on this one that we should feel sorry for him. The union hasn't named anyone else they feel has been mistreated by the owners yet, and my guess is they wont. This is about Bonds and their agenda...Don Fehr has mentioned he is OK with the future punishments handed down by Bud Selig to all players mentioned in the Mitchell Report. So Don is cool with any punishment handed down as a result of this document, but cant accept punishment handed down by owners to Bonds, as a cause of the same document? If we cant prove he took roids let's just come out and say it, but to backtrack in the name of hypocrisy just exposes the union for flip-flopping. Too bad Fehr hasnt used this as an opportunity to remain silent and actually call a bluff from Ol' Buddy Selig on this so called "punishment".

Sunday, March 16, 2008

First Blush...

Random first thoughts on the Bracket...Tennessee a 2 in the region the overall number 1 is in? So Texas, Duke and Georgetown, all with more losses and a lower RPI than the Vols, get "higher" 2s?...Duke comes in 2nd in their conference, and loses in the Semis in their tourney....Wisconsin wins the Big Ten regular season and tournament and is a 3? Memphis is the 1 seed in the south and would play 2 seed Texas in Houston in the regional final? South Alabama is in as an "at large" but Arizona St. is not? Looking for a "Sleeper" in each bracket? Pitt in the South, Notre Dame in the East, Clemson in the Midwest and maybe Western Kentucky in the West...at least for the first upset... Easiest route to San Antonio? UCLA. First 1 that could be done? Memphis at the hands of Michigan St. Toughest region...South. I'm just sayin'....

March Madness...And Not Just Hoops!

What a weekend of Sports! The SEC Tourney turns into Bizzaro World with Georgia winning it all in front of 1000 fans in on an ACC court on CBS on ESPN2...OK...And I didn't even mention Steven Hill beating the Vols on his only basket of the game in the final seconds of the Semi-Finals......Clemson upsets Duke, Pitt dumps G'town and the wacky brackets come out...The Preds squeeze one out in Detroit to keep playoff hope alive....The Rockets dump the Lake Show for number 22 in a row, and the top spot in the west...and then there's Tiger. 20th place on Saturday morning and he rolls it around for 63-66 over the weekend and caps it with a 25 footer on 18 to win his 7th IN A ROW! Reality TV? Tune in a game!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Woman's Intuition....

The Show had ended at the Georgia World Congress Center (left) and I really didn't want to leave downtown. I had a great plan...I'd check my wife and the kids into the Omni Hotel, right across from Dome and Centennial Park, and she could take the kids swimming while I walked over to take in
the Bama-Mississippi St. game. I was preparing all the angles about how I "Had" to be there, even though my work week was over...I'd hang for the UK-Georgia game as well....My wife had a different plan..."let's go back to the hotel in Buckhead, grab some dinner and you can watch the game in the
room"...Yeah...that made sense...and would look better on my expense
report. As usual, it was a solid call by her.

In the meantime, Mikial Riley's 3 to send the game most likely kept
hundreds of people in the Dome when the storm hit. The biggest losers were the Blue Nation who showed up Thursday to prepare to cheer their beloved Cats, who wouldn't play until late Friday...and then they didn't play. To make matters worse, when they did play, on Saturday on Georgia Tech's floor, the fans weren't invited. The final insult was having to listen to Cats lose to Georgia.
As for UT, I would not be shocked at all if they have blown a number one seed for the Big Dance. That spot will go to the winner of the Big Twelve Title game between Texas and Kansas. Here's one suggestion...GET RID OF THE NASTY BLACK SHOES!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hypocrisy or Just Good TV...


Well look who's making their ESPN debut tonight...Everyone's FAVORITE bad guy Bobby Knight...The man who made his legacy off the court with tirade after tirade, mostly directed towards the media, is kicking off his coverage of the game he so dominated way back when. I think it comical that of all stations ESPN would hire him, as they have been overly critical of Knight and barely covered his retirement. The snub of press coverage he has received over the last years of his career is proof positive. Which brings me to the 1 point I want you to take home...The one thing Ben Is would even agree on with me! This is all a sham...It's for lack of a better term BS. Look it's so clear, this station has spent the past 5 years either bashing or ignoring the man who finished his career as the best. They rarely focused on any achievement on the court, except of course a new tirade topping the last belligerent outrage...So ESPN is hiring this dude simply for the shock factor...for the Rush Limbaugh factor. That is what Bob Knight has become, a gimmick. Oh don't worry, you will get some analysis but this is the American Idol of NCAA Coverage. I wonder if we would be holding such high standards to John Daly if he were as successful as Bobbo was...I for one will have the TV on mute.

More MLB Stupidity

It's our game, our National Pasttime. Oh, football is our passion, but baseball is still our pasttime. So why the facination to take it overseas? For REAL GAMES? Now I'm no Red Sox or A's fan; in fact, I'm with Hank on the whole "Red Sox Nation" thing. I think ESPN stands for Especially Sox Programming Nation...but I digress. For any team to have to open it's regular season half way across the world, and then resume Spring Training is ABSURD! Most of the team doesn't want to take the trip, none of the fans want to see them take the trip and what is the POINT? Baseball is already huge in Japan. Here's an idea...why not take the games to small town America! Teams won't even play exhibitions anymore in their Minor League towns. And we lost the Hall of Fame Game due to scheduling difficulties. No scheduling problem kicking the season off in JAPAN though! This is another example of the twisted management of baseball...I don't blame the Sox for inventing as many injuries as they need to. But how will Sox Nation respond if they miss the playoffs by a game or two?

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Why Not?

Let's see...born and raised in Kentucky, starred at Alabama, stuck in Seattle who just signed TJ Duckett and Julius Jones. Mix in the fact that Titans GM Mike Rienfeldt came over from the Seahawks and is very familiar with Shaun Alexander...kinda seems like a no-brainer to me! Look, I don't know what all the money ramifications are, but you don't go from MVP to BUM in two years. Alexander is young enough to resurrect his career in a new surrounding. Jamal Lewis had over 1300 yards for the Browns last year and a 4.5 yard average...yeah, he's washed up too.
Alexander could get back to the southeast, play on natural turf, and provide some serious veteran leadership for the Titans new look offense. The Titans have the cap room...and this is one deal that would make sense.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

End of an Era...

He didn't win the most championships, or have the highest QB rating of all time, but he sure was fun to watch! Several major sports outlets are reporting that Brett Favre has decided to hang 'em up after 17 years in the NFL. Favre hold most of the "most" records in the league. Most yards, most TDs, most INT's, but those things are the numbers of an accumulator. Vinny Testaverde is in the Top Ten of most of those lists as well, but you won't find him in any "Greatest QB" polls. The two things that made Favre stand out was his ability to answer the bell every week...every week, and his incredible leadership ability. Through youthful passion for the game, whether leading a 4th quarter comeback or carrying a teammate off the field in joyful celebration, Favre was a special player.
The things that made him great may have also cost him at times. Optimism, a key component in leadership, often made him think defenders were imaginary, or couldn't possibly catch his lasers. Fittingly, his last pass was an overtime interception that sent the Giants to the Super Bowl. No matter. This guy is why they invented NFL Films. He is a true legend in the history of the game...

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Who Knows?

UT loses to Vandy then squeaks by Kentucky, Memphis struggles with Southern Miss, UNC struggles with BC, Duke struggles with NC St. and UCLA has to hold off a sub .500 (in PAC-10) Arizona. So you tell me who's number one? Maybe Kansas, who avenged a loss to K-State...or not. The key will be, which 4 are number 1....as in number 1 seeds in the Big Dance. With so much parity, I don't see any of these teams mailing it in during their conference tourneys, which is good for the fans. But not so much for the teams themselves who can be susceptible to upset in the really big tourney. All I know is that the Madness is here, and if this past weekend is any indication, we're in for A HECK OF A RIDE!


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Please Bud, Make them go away!

Billy Martin once said of Reggie Jackson and George Stienbrenner, "One's a liar and the other's been convicted of it!". Well, in the case of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, both are liars, one's been indicted and the other will be soon. And in the meantime, we are left to speculate as to who might sign Bonds and we get to watch Rocket soft toss to minor leaguers. How cute....can they come talk to my son's youth team as well?

Look, I am fully aware that the game is full of juicers, admitted and otherwise, but the difference between the Andy Pettitte's of the world and these clowns is one of compounding the error. These cheaters aren't asking for forgiveness for bad decisions, they're telling us it never happened. And soon, Clemens will join Bonds as a federally indicted liar.
Bud Selig needs to step up and ban these two from any association with the game until this is all sorted out. Like they did with Willie Mays when he worked for the casinos. Like they did with Pete Rose. And Joe Jackson. Come'on Bud, strap on a set and do the right thing.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Effect of the "Cause"


How many people are still upset at the NBA for the "Brawl"? How many of you were appalled to see Roddy White flash a Free Mick Vick t-shirt as he celebrated a touchdown? Even if you SUPPORTED Vick it was still a blow to his PR...Well instead of shaking our heads and moving on, only to be offended by the next misguided young man or woman, why don't we try and see where it starts?
One of the little things swept under the larger scandal of Kelvin Sampson; was the young men on the team not only issuing threats of not showing up to practices with their new coach, but also showing support for their former coach on their shoes. A former coach mind you found guilty of doing the same thing at two separate universities! We need people to step in and say, "Hey, I know he supported you, loved you, coached you. But he was WRONG, and to support his actions is WRONG"...Yet we wonder how a Ron Artest comes about, well how about just getting them while they are young. Unfortunately, we cater to these young stars BECAUSE of their celebrity status, where we need to be as tough if not tougher in how we deal with these young stars....BECAUSE of their celebrity status.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Pearls of Wisdom

It's nice to be #1 in February. Nice, but really meaningless. UT and Memphis should both be top seeds in the NCAA Tournament, barring some major failure down the stretch. What we did learn in UT's road win at previously unbeaten was what we suspected....Memphis is going nowhere if they can't make a foul shot down in the final minutes. UT was not much better from the line for the first 35 minutes, but in the last 5 minutes, the Vols made 4 of 6, while the Tigers were 1 of 6. UT also gained valuable Big Game experience that will pay benefits in March, if not April. They'll lean on this one in crunch time. And they know they can do it without Chris Lofton being Superman.
Next question for UT is, can they regroup against another tough team on the road? We'll find out Tuesday night in Memorial Gym as Vandy awaits...