A few thoughts to jump start your Monday morning...
SEC MEDIA DAYS STARTS TODAY
Rather than spend his time on the podium deflecting questions about why the wheels went off last season, Florida coach Will Muschamp would be wise to make a pre-emptive strike when he takes the podium this afternoon for SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama. In his opening remarks, Muschamp needs to make a statement that goes something like this: “Last year was totally unacceptable and there are a lot of reasons why we finished 4-8 but I’m not here to make excuses nor am I here to rehash all the things that went wrong. We’ve put that behind us and we’re moving forward. I’ll be happy to answer any of your questions about our team moving forward, but as for last year, that’s over and done with.” Once Muschamp has done that and some member of the media tries to draw him into a conversation about last year, all he has to do is say, “Next question” and move on.
There is a new season ahead and it is indeed time to stop looking backward on a 4-8 season that ranks as the most disappointing for Florida since 1979. I’m reminded of something my grandmother once said to a friend who kept railing on and on about all the faults and misdeeds of her ex-husband. The wise and sage Ivey Van Sickle finally heard enough and said, “You need to find something else to talk about. You can’t make him any more dead than he already is.” There is nothing that can be done about the seven-game losing streak that brought 2013 to an end and that Georgia Southern loss is here to stay. It’s a brand new year and either Florida will be vastly improved or this time next year we will be talking about what the new coach will be facing when he steps to the podium at SEC Media Days.
OVER HIS HEAD?
I had a 30-minute conversation last week with a longtime veteran SEC football writer who has no agenda. His opinion – and from what he tells me the opinion of most of the writers who have been covering the SEC for any length of time – is that Muschamp is in way over his head and will not succeed. It is his opinion that Muschamp is a Peter Principle guy – an excellent defensive coordinator who got promoted beyond his level of competence. I asked then how do you explain 12-2 in 2012 and I got these responses: “Total fluke ... couldn’t have done it without 21 starters who were players Urban Meyer left behind ... doesn’t have Dan Quinn around to bail him out ... now he’s got to do it with his own guys and I don’t know too many people who think he gets it done.” Fortunately, Muschamp doesn’t have to please the media but if he doesn’t get the job done, there will be a lot of writers asking why Jeremy Foley didn’t learn from the Ron Zook experience by going after a coach with no head coaching experience at any level?
The Houston Rockets, who have had what can only be described as a bizarre offseason, elected to let Chandler Parsons go Sunday afternoon. Parsons was informed at 6 p.m. Sunday that the Rockets would not try to match the three-year, $46 million offer sheet CP signed with the Dallas Mavericks. Parsons joins Tyson Chandler and Dirk Nowitzki on a potentially lethal front line for a team that has the cap room for a sign and trade deal that could bring in Rajon Rondo from Boston. The Rockets, meanwhile, traded Omer Asik to the Pelicans and Jeremy Lin to the Lakers, to try to free up cap space to land Chris Bosh, who elected to stay with the Rockets. None of this – especially letting Parsons go – will help the Rockets keep Dwight Howard, who becomes an unrestricted free agent after the 2016 season.
THE OBLIGATORY LeBron James COMMENTS
Now that LeBron James has returned home to play for the Cadavers, Cleveland has a tough decision to make. They need Kevin Love in the worst way to become a legitimate title threat but to get Love from Minnesota, they have to do a sign and trade deal that the T-Wolves aren’t likely to take unless the conversation begins with this year’s #1 draft pick, Andrew Wiggins. Cleveland says Wiggins isn’t going anywhere but this is a deal that should be a no-brainer. Kevin Love is only 26 years old and a proven commodity who gives LeBron the best rebounder in the league and a 26-point a game scorer. Wiggins has never played a game in the NBA.
PAU GASOL TO THE BULLS
The balance of power in the NBA East didn’t swing to Cleveland when LeBron went home, but shifted to Chicago over the weekend when Pau Gasol announced he will join the Bulls. The Bulls are already the best defensive team in the NBA East, but now they have the offensive pieces in Gasol and Doug McDermott to complement NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Joakim Noah, and perimeter stopper Jimmy Butler in Gasol. If Derrick Rose is healthy, he won’t have the same pressure to produce points and will be able to direct the offense and get the ball to open scorers. Putting Gasol and Noah on the same team gives the Bulls two of the three (LeBron is the other) best passing big men in the league. Noah’s chances of getting a championship ring have risen dramatically.
THE HIGH PRICE OF MEDIOCRITY
The late, great Bill Veeck once said (I’m paraphrasing here) that it isn’t the high cost of stardom that was bringing down baseball, but the high cost of mediocrity. The same can be said about basketball when a journeyman like Marvin Williams (9.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game last year in Utah) can get a two-year contract worth $14 million. Next time you take in a Major League Baseball and ask why I just spent $85 to sit in the left field corner or go to an NBA game and pay $50 to sit in a seat where they have to provide oxygen masks, don’t blame the stars. They earn what they make for the most part. Blame those guys who are picking up millions while hitting .250 or scoring 9.1 a game like Marvin Williams. It’s nice work if you can get it, but it really is way, way too much money. At some point you have to wonder when fans revolt and say no more?
JUST SHUT UP AND PLAY
Richard Sherman is indeed the mouth that roared. There is no question he’s talented but his verbal rants have grown way too old in a very short period of time. He still can’t let go of his obsession with Michael Crabtree of the San Francisco 49ers. On the TV show “American Muscle” Sherman ranted about Crabtree, “It’s much more of just I don’t like the dude. You know what I’m saying and I think he’s sorry. So it is really what it comes down to ... I’m not going to be something that goes away. I hope to play him every year for the rest of my career and choke him out. There’s not much else I can say about the subject. Nobody will understand it but him and me. That’s all that needs to understand.” Sherman should have shut up before he said, “There’s not much else I can say about the subject.” The truly great players let their game do the talking.
Tony Barnhart’s Mr. College Football column returns to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution starting today. Tony is the best college football reporter in the business ... Alabama’s Jarran Reed was arrested for marijuana possession over the weekend, the fourth Bama player since April to make headlines for off the field shenanigans ... Rory McIroy launched a 436-yard drive at the Scottish Open. The longest on the PGA Tour this year is 397 yards by Webb Simpson ... Albert Pujols is starting to look like the hitter who ripped and shredded the National League all those years when he played for the Cardinals. From July 4-10, he was 14-29 with 12 RBI, his best hitting stretch since joining the Angels ... Chad Johnson – he’s changed his name back to Johnson after that ill-advised change to Ocho Cinco – has resurfaced in the Canadian Football league. He caught a touchdown pass for the Montreal Alouettes Saturday night, his first touchdown in a pro game since he caught one from Tom Brady back in 2011 ... Colin Montgomerie finally won a major on American soil. Okay, it was a senior tour event, but even so, a major is a major and it only took 30 years to get one ... Paul Pierce will take Trevor Ariza’s place on the Washington Wizards. That’s a serious upgrade. The Wiz need Pierce’s maturity to take them to another level ... Jameis Winston says getting his FSU degree is “very important.” I’m not making this up.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Now that the World Cup is over, will you (a) continue to watch soccer; (b) watch only international matches when the USA plays or (c) wait until the next World Cup to watch again?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Today’s music is thanks to Manigordo, who recently introduced me to Carleen Anderson, who has been around quite awhile, finding early success as the lead singer and keyboardist for the British band Young Disciples before launching a successful solo career. Originally from Houston, most of Anderson’s success has been found in England. This is “Nervous Breakdown” from her 2004 album “Grace and Favours.”