No Seed Like a Hayseed

Late great comedian Red Skelton was a master of creating characters that captivated audiences during the golden age of television and endure to this day.

One of his characters that quickly became a fan favorite was country boy Clem Kadiddlehopper, who hailed from rural parts unknown. Clem wore suits that were too small, hair that was unkempt and spoke with an accent straight out of Deliverance. He wasn't well educated or very bright not even by so called common sense standards. Think Jethro Bodine of the Beverly Hillbillies without the ability cipher or the boyish good looks.

I never dared hope to see the likes of Kadiddlehopper again until I laid eyes on Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey court side during Saturday's SEC Tourney game in Atlanta. It was as if old Red had risen from the grave to resurrect that memorable role.

Wearing a K Mart suit — that looked like it used to fit back when cheap polyester was in style — buttoned up to the chest with his reddish hair in a state of disarray, ol' JP looked like he had rode into town on the last load of pumpkins.

Despite his goofy spot-on Kadiddlehopper appearance and gee whiz bewilderment, Pelphrey's demeanor turned dark in the first half when he began jawing with UT senior guard JaJuan Smith. How it started is a matter of debate but the fact Smith scored 32 in the first meeting against the Razorbacks and added 16 in the first half of the tournament game probably had a lot to do with it.

More to the point, it wouldn't have started at all if Pelphrey hadn't taken it upon himself to do more than coach. Being 40 years old and in coaching for 15 years you would think he would have learned that by now.

He hasn't.

Once his outburst took on nasty, profane tone one of the three blind mice, aka referees, who were capable of hearing the same thing everyone else in the mostly empty arena heard, should have hit him with a technical.

They didn't.

As a result Clem returned to Pig Town a conquering hero. Never mind the Hogs not only failed to beat a Georgia team that was playing three games in two days, they never even led the contest.

Of course if Clem and his team, comprised of six seniors, hadn't spent the better part of 20 minutes rolling on the floor and jumping in each others arms after the victory over the Vols, they may have had something left physically and emotionally for the championship game.

They didn't.

On Tuesday Clem was still crowing about the big win over UT during his weekly radio show. We can play with anybody in the country, he bragged in his bucolic brogue. Then he began to cipher who the Hogs could beat based on the teams Tennessee beat. Even though his logic was flawed his country-as-corn enthusiasm carried through, as he sited the Vols win over Xavier as an example of a top ten team the Razorbacks could beat. The funny part of it is that he kept pronouncing Xavier as Eggs-Zavier like eggs over easy, which is wrong whether you talking about the University or the Saint for which it was named. You would have thought the media type conducting the interview would have helped him out after mispronouncing the name so often.

He didn't.

As a result Clem went right on thinking he was on a roll. Wouldn't you figure somebody who had spent four years getting a higher education at Kentucky, which borders Ohio, would have learned the correct pronunciation of Xavier? If not you would think after 20 years in the college basketball he would have heard it pronounced correctly at least once

If he did it wasn't apparent.

For all I know Pelphrey may be a brilliant coach who simply looks, acts and sounds stupid. However he was the fourth or fifth choice for the Arkansas job and hadn't accomplished anything to distinguish himself from the herd to that point.

He was a decent player at tiny Paintsville, Ky., (population 3000 in 1987), who averaged 11 points per game for his college career. He never got a sniff of the NBA but he did play overseas for two weeks before getting homesick. We can only assume the language barrier was too much to overcome.

The problem with Pelphrey is that despite being well into middle age with a frail physique, he still thinks he's a rough, tough player. That was underscored when he suited up for the Red and White Scrimmage last year and made a couple of few throws to prove he still has it. For all I know the poor deluded bumpkin may even believe he could beat Smith in a game of one-on-one.

He can't.

Obviously it wasn't in Smith's or Tennessee's best interest to get into a trash talking contest with the opponent's head coach. Undoubtedly JaJuan is young enough to learn from the experience and exercise more restraint in the future.

Clem is another story.

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