The Florida Gators won’t travel to Knoxville to face Tennessee until September 24, but that hasn’t stopped the Las Vegas books from establishing the Vols as a 12.5-point favorite to end their 11-year losing streak to the Gators. The last time I checked the schedules, both the Vols and Gators have to play three football games before they meet in Knoxville so it seems a teensy bit early to be establishing a point spread. A lot of things can happen between the opening of camp in August and the fourth game of the season.
On paper, Tennessee should be outstanding this year, but the Vols were supposed to be outstanding last year, too, and they went 8-5 with only one win (over Georgia) against an SEC team that finished with a winning record. Of the eight wins, five were against teams that finished with losing records. Maybe the Vols will prove the “experts” right and live up to the hype, but I’ve got to see it to believe it and right now I (a) don’t believe the hype and (b) don’t believe Tennessee is going to be 12.5 points better than the Florida Gators.
Two UT O-linemen transfer out: Dontavius Blair, listed on the post-spring depth chart as the #2 left tackle, and Ray Raulerson, who finished the spring as the backup center, have elected to transfer out. Blair, who is a senior, will likely find a Division IAA program while Raulerson, a Tampa native, has two years to go. He’s expected to either go the D1AA route or transfer to South Florida
Bailey transfers from UF: Alvin Bailey was a highly regarded wide receiver when he was signed out of Seffner Armwood but in three years at UF (redshirt year 2013) he caught only 3 passes for 49 yards. A slot receiver, Bailey figured to start fall practice in August as third team on the depth chart below Dre Massey and Brandon Powell. There are rumors that Bailey will go the D1AA route and transfer to Youngstown State, whose head coach is Bo Pelini.
SITUATION CRITICAL FOR PAT SUMMITT
I first met Pat Summitt at an AAU basketball tournament I was hosting in Hammond, Louisiana back in the summer of 1980. The Hammond High School gym had no air conditioning and you could break into a sweat just turning your head to watch the action on the court. Charlie Domino, whose powerhouse Domino’s AAU girls program would win both the 13-15 and 16-18-year-old divisions that year, introduced me to Pat, not yet the queen of women’s college basketball but certainly on her way. This was a year before the NCAA got into women’s basketball, days when the AIAW ruled the roost and the rules for recruiting were like the wild west – in other words, anything goes. There were no transfer rules in those days, so head coaches regularly tried to poach recruits who had signed scholarships and raid other programs of their star players. One of the things Pat Summitt refused to do was poach someone else’s recruit or raid another roster. She had integrity at a time when it was lacking in the women’s game.
For 30 minutes we talked basketball, not the kind of stuff you read in headlines or game summaries, but hard core stuff like attacking a zone from the high post and trapping the ball any time it went to the corner and transitioning to the running game off a steal. I told Charlie Domino after that conversation that I felt like I was talking to a female Dean Smith or Bobby Knight.
A year later when my Gainesville AAU team advanced to the semifinals of the national tournament in Kansas City by coming from 19 points down at the half to beat the Washington, DC team that was the 1980 national runner-up, Pat approached me, gave me a hug and said, “I noticed the way you trapped in the corners.” I grinned and told her I was happy she noticed since we used her scheme.
At a Nike Peach Jam game in the summer of 2006, I spent about 45 minutes talking to the Sultan of Sweat Bruce Pearl, then the men’s coach at Tennessee. When the subject turned to Pat Summitt, Bruce gushed. I theorized that Pat Summitt could have coached men’s basketball successfully and almost before I could get the words out of my mouth, Bruce interjected, “And she would have won NCAA championships if she had … she’s had opportunities, you know.” I believe she was tempted to take a job coaching men but elected to stay in the women’s game because she understood how far the game had come in all her years of coaching and how important it was to continue the progress.
The last time I saw her was in January of 2010, on a Thursday night after the Lady Vols had squeaked out a 66-64 win over the Gators at the O-Dome. I waited for Pat to finish all her post-game duties and as she walked to the bus we talked about how 30 years had flown by. Before she got on the bus, she put her arm around my shoulder, gave me a hug and said, “We’ve been around a long time and done more than we ever imagined, haven’t we.” I hugged her back.
That was the last time I saw her or talked to her, I’m sad to say. Death is approaching and it’s unlikely Pat Summitt will make it another day. Alzheimer’s has taken its toll and is taking a great human being at age 64. Way too young. Say a prayer for her family and offer a prayer of thanks that we had Pat Summitt as long as we did. I’m convinced that when she is greeted in heaven, she will be rewarded for being a class act and such an incredible role model during her time on earth. If they’ve got a women’s basketball team up there, I know who will be doing the coaching.
TAKE THAT ROGER GOODELL
Remember that Al-Jazeera America report last December that alleged Peyton Manning received HGH sent to his wife from a pharmacist named Charlie Sly? Manning denied the report, threatened to sue Al-Jazeera and Sly recanted his accusations. Named also in that report were James Harrison, Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers.
About a month later, Al-Jazeera America shut down and it seemed the report about Manning and the others had reached an unceremonious end. Well, not so fast my friends. The NFL has informed Manning, Harrison, Matthews and Peppers that it wants to interview them. Manning, of course, is retired. Harrison’s response is classic.
On Instagram Harrison responded to the NFL with this message:
“I have never had a bully before in my life and I’m DAMN sure not about to have one at this point. But since I ‘m a nice guy & don’t mind helping to clear the air, in the name of the NFL Shield, I’ll do this interview.
WITH THESE STIPULATIONS
The interview will be done at MY house.
BEFORE training camp.
On a date of MY choosing AND …
Mr. Goodell must be present.
Besides the fact that Manning has retired and can’t be punished, what makes the interview request curious is that the National Football League Players Association has requested the NFL produce the evidence that merits interviews. The NFL has not produced any evidence.
This has the appearance of another executive overreach by Roger Goodell, who makes a habit of being judge, jury and executioner for the NFL. When he first took over as commissioner, Goodell seemed like just what the league needed due to his commitment to clean a league image that was more than tarnished. However, the more we see of Goodell’s version of justice the more evident it becomes that his ego could apply to the UN for entry as a sovereign nation.
Goodell’s contract expires in 2018. It wouldn’t bother me to see the league find a new CEO. Roger’s sell-by date expired a while ago.
PAUL FINEBAUM ON THE STATE OF SPORTS JOURNALISM
For the last several years I’ve lamented the decline in quality sports journalism in the US. What was a profession of giants such as Dan Jenkins, Jim Murray, Red Smith, Dave Anderson, Dave Nightingale, Ed Pope, John Crittendon and Roger Angell is a shell of what it once was. Too many newspapers, magazines and other publications are all too happy to hire some kid who knows nothing except how to tweet and play the social media game rather than spend the money it takes to hire professional writers.
There was a time when Sunday morning after a Florida football game I would wake early and drive to the corner of 13th and University to get a copy of all the state’s major newspapers to devour their sports sections. No more. And it’s sad.
I’m not the only one who’s noticed. Here are some excerpts from a speech Paul Finebaum gave to the Associated Press sports editors.
“Journalism is a difficult and demanding profession. Journalists should be entitled to a few moments of privacy and contemplation as we are gathering facts and evidence, conducting interviews, formulating our ideas, reporting and writing our thoughts and stories, and ultimately disseminating these thoughts to our readers.
But when you sell out for a click, when you compromise your principals so you can meet a quota for page views, you have lost your claim to being a good and responsible journalist.
And it’s a crying shame when editors put excessive demands on reporters to meet a certain quota and instead of working on quality and informative and enlightening and enterprising journalism; shovel a bunch of meaningless garbage down the throats of their twitter followers.
What is accomplished by that? Who benefits by making hasty judgments in 140 characters? Is that what our business is supposed to be about? Is that what we have become?”
Finebaum asked the question. I’ll answer it. Yes. That’s what the sports writing profession has become. And, it’s not just sports writing. News reporting stinks to high heavens. Instead of reporting facts, we get lectures and articles or columns that are trying to sway opinion rather than give us enough information that we can decide for ourselves.
It’s a sad, sad state of affairs if you ask me. You didn’t, but I told you what I think.
THE 10 BEST GUARDS IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL 2016
Overall, it’s a down year at the guard position in college football but Dan Feeney of Indiana makes nearly everybody’s list as best in the nation.
1. Dan Feeney, Indiana, SR
2. Caleb Peterson, North Carolina, SR
3. Braden Smith, Auburn, JR
4. Billy Price, Ohio State, JR
5. Dorian Johnson, Pitt, SR
6. Brian Allen, Michigan State, JR
7. Sean Welsh, Iowa, JR
8. Will Clapp, LSU, SO
9. Tyrone Crowder, Clemson, JR
10. Patrick Vahe, Texas, SO
Josh Kendall, who covers the South Carolina Gamecocks for The State in Columbia, SC, says there is a very real possibility that Steve Spurrier could be working with the SEC Network this fall.
On opening night in the Canadian Football League, former Gator Chris Rainey scored two touchdowns, one on a 1-yard run and the game-winner on a 72-yard punt return to give the British Columbia Lions a 20-18 win over the Calgary Stampeders.
Baylor University and former football coach Art Briles acknowledge there were “serious shortcomings” in the way they responded to allegations that football players were involved in sexual assaults. Shortcomings? How about gross neglect?
Tiger Woods told the CBS broadcast crew from the Quicken Loans event at Congressional that he wants to play golf again and is trying to recover the right way. Tiger is 41 in October and he’s had back surgery twice. As much as he would be good for the TV ratings, I have to wonder if he has any chance at all to be relevant again.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Is Roger Goodell good for the NFL or does he need to be shown the door?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
I’m embarrassed to say I only recently discovered Drive-By Truckers, another band that evolved from the live music scene in Athens, Georgia. Maybe the best description of their music is a fusion of alternative country and Southern Rock and Roll. Their new album “American Band” will be released on September 30. I’m looking forward to adding it to my collection. Today’s music is a live performance by the band from 2011 from Norton Auditorium in Florence, Alabama.