Thanks to a wild weekend finish in which the Gators claimed the SEC baseball title outright and both the men's and women's track teams came up clutch (men finished third, women second at the SEC Meet in Lexington), Florida won its eighth straight SEC All-Sports Trophy. Florida had the #1 men's and #1 women's programs, marking the 14th time the Gators have taken home all three trophies. Florida won SEC titles in soccer, men's basketball, men's swimming, women's indoor track and baseball, the most titles by any school in the SEC, and edged out Georgia to take home the All-Sports Trophy. The consistency of the Florida program from top to bottom is astonishing and it speaks volumes for Jeremy Foley's commitment to excellence in every sport. Foley is the best bottom line athletic director in the country but he doesn't get enough credit for his ability to hire the right coaches and give them the resources to get the job done.
The train wreck that is Tennessee football is a microcosm of what's happening to that entire athletic department. There was a time and it wasn't that long ago that you could almost pencil in Tennessee to finish no worse than second for the SEC All-Sports Trophy. That was then. This is now and now was an 11th place finish in the Tuesday final All-Sports standings. For a school with the resources and facilities the caliber of Tennessee to finish 11th is downright disgraceful and indicative of how losing can permeate through an entire athletic department. It started with football. Tennessee went 5-6 in 2005 then 9-4 and 10-4 the next two years, but since then there has been only one winning season – the 7-6 turned in by Lane Kiffin in 2009 – and you can almost bet the ranch the Vols won't have a winner this year. Pat Summitt had to retire so women's basketball has slipped. Basketball coach Cuonzo Martin bolted for California after guiding the Vols to within a bad zebra call of the Elite Eight because he didn't trust AD Dave Hart and was relatively pissed with the 35,000 Vol fans that signed a petition asking that he be fired and Bruce Pearl re-hired. The athletic department is weighed down by huge debt and is paying large amounts of money to former coaches they've fired. There was a time that Tennessee's athletic department was a model for the rest of the country to emulate. No more. <>/p>
1. Nick Saban, Alabama: He's won four national championships, three at Alabama and one at LSU. He might look like he eats week-old kitty litter for breakfast but he can coach.
2. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina: Not only has he won 41 games in the last four years, but he's changed an entire football culture, which is no small feat.
3. Les Miles, LSU: Sure, he's got squirrels running loose in the attic but he's 95-24 in nine years.
4. Gus Malzahn, Auburn: He will move further up the charts next year. The guy is an offensive genius. Just watch. He's going to win the SEC West again.
5. Mark Richt, Georgia: He's 126-45 in 13 years, which is very good. He still hasn't made it to the national championship game but he might someday. Well, there was that "almost national championship" that Poodle fans still talk about back in 2007.
6. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M: If he would bring in a defensive coordinator who would at least create the illusion that the Aggies are trying to stop somebody he would be ranked higher. He sure can coach offense, which is strange because he played linebacker in college.
7. Gary Pinkel, Missouri: This might be a great place to go to school, but it's not exactly someplace that gets the pick of the litter when it comes to recruiting. Still, he's 102-63 and he's gotten to the SEC Championship Game in his second year coaching in the league.
8. Will Muschamp, Florida: This is a year that probably will define Muschamp as a coach. He's 7-6, 11-2 and 4-8 in his three seasons. He needs to win eight or more this year.
9. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State: He's 36-28 and has gone to four straight bowl games (won three). I thought he would be gone first chance he got after proving he could win in Starkvegas. He says Starkvegas is a hidden gem. It's hidden all right. A gem? I guess that depends on your perspective.
10. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss: He's 15-11 in two years and he survived three years working for Coach O a few years back. There's something to be said about that. There is also something to be said about The Grove on a football Saturday. Too bad they don't play football as well as they do up lunch before a game.
11. Bret Bielema, Arkansas: He's trying to turn Arkansas into Big Ten South. Maybe you can sell that in Sheboygan, but this is the SEC. He lost eight in a row last year. Let's just say the fans aren't happy and leave it at that.
12. Butch Jones, Tennessee: Yes, he won at Cincinnati and before that, Central Michigan. Now he's coaching with the big boys and he's not exactly ripping and shredding.
13. Mark Stoops, Kentucky: He went 2-10 last year. There's a chance he could win three this year, maybe four. Kentucky is a graveyard. He's a Stoops. He should have been smarter than this.
14. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt: He's never been a head coach before and he's following a coach who made Gloria Vanderbilt respectable. That's not exactly a nice place to start your head coaching career.
In Cleveland, fans who have grown accustomed to the front office of their NBA team screwing things up call their team the Cadavers because Cleveland is a place that talented players go to die. The smart ones (See LeBron James) leave while the leaving is good. For the second straight year the Cadavers have won the NBA Draft lottery which will give them the #1 pick (last year it was Anthony Bennett, the biggest draft bust since the Trail Blazers took LaRue Martin over Bob McAdoo in '72), likely to be either Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker. If Cleveland were the garden spot of the earth (it isn't) the Cadavers might be able to trade the #1 to Minnesota for Kevin Love, who wants out (who can blame him?) of the tundra (Minnesota=cold). Love envisions himself living out at Malibu, hanging around with starlets and shopping on Rodeo Drive, which is probably what Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker would also prefer. As it stands, Love will get his wish because either the Timberwolves accommodate him and send him to the land of smog, mudslides, earthquakes and sushi at the mall or he will stay one more year and go wherever he wants as a free agent. So Cleveland is out for Kevin Love, which means it will be in for either Wiggins or Parker, who will have to skimp by on $5 million a year for three years while awaiting a chance to bolt somewhere else. Such is life up on the Mistake by the Lake.
I wonder. I really do. First, he brought the Super Bowl to New Jersey where rather miraculously a blizzard was avoided. Now, Goodell has awarded the 2018 Super Bowl to Minneapolis, where the record low temperature for February is -33. Now the game will be played in a brand new stadium with a retractable dome so at least no players will get frostbite and have to have toes amputated. But tailgating? Forget about it! Imagine bar hopping in downtown Minneapolis, which isn't exactly the entertainment capital of the world. The commish chose Minneapolis over New Orleans, which has decent weather, the French Quarter and folks who have turned tailgating pre- and post-game into an art form. This was a no-brainer and the commish went brain dead.
If you've got the #1 pick in the June NBA Draft who do you pick? Personally, I'd go with Joel Embiid if I needed a big and Doug McDermott if I needed someone to score points.
If you have a question you wish to ask, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although I have my issues with the Poodles dating all the way back to 1968 when I sat in the rain and miserable cold at the Gator Bowl to watch Vince Dooley call time out with a few seconds left so his defensive tackle could kick a field goal to run up the score on the Gators to 51-0, I do admire the Athens music scene, which just churns out the singers and the bands. The best one to come out of Athens in quite some time is Alabama Shakes which features terrific vocals by Brittany Howard, who has one of the most unique rock and roll voices to come along in years. They won a 2013 Grammy for "Hold On" off their "Boys and Girls" debut album. This is seriously good music by a really hot band.