Gang, sorry we didn't get back to the conversation Wednesday — we were meeting-rific and covered up with our TPS reports. So it goes, but there were some excellent responses to the Olympic Rushmore talk, and we liked McPell's idea for a winter and summer split.
We have a couple of open spots for Friday's mailbag and we just finished discussions on the "Can You Beat Jay" SEC football picks contest done on this web site. We are going to do it again this year and we hope everyone will play.
From the "Talks too much" studios, here we go...
Strange start to the day
Former NBA player Dennis Rodman gives a news conference to announce his tour and charity work in Panama City, Tuesday, July, 31, 2012. Rodman is in Panama to promote a tour with other NBA players during which they will play an exhibition basketball game with local Panamanian players and contribute to charities.
Thursday started with news that made us wonder if it was going to be one of those "everything that is up is down" crazy flip-flop days.
First we noticed that Eminem is the most liked living person on the FaceSpace, or whatever it's called. Eminem, the street-tough rapper who uses curses more frequently than Spy uses four-syllabel words, is a lot of things — talented, trend-setting, rough, edgy, etc. — but likable would not have been high on our list.
Then we learn that Dennis Rodman is writing a book. And if that's not surprising enough, please know that Rodman, the cross-dressing eccentric, is writing a children's book. Let's just say, if Rodman writes "Goodnight Moon" there's a real chance someone's tuckus is going to be on the cover.
Well, we're prepared for anything at this point. Maybe John Rocker is going to be an ACLU spokesman or NOW will honor Tiger Woods with their husband of the decade award.
Buckle up gang, something leads us to believe Thursday is going to be nuts.
Our UT beat ace Downtown Patrick Brown is about to get busy. Really busy. The football Vols report this week and Brown's name will be a fixture in your TFP for the foreseeable future. He listed five key questions for the Vols as they start fall practice.
We agree that the Vols have a slew of question marks; they also have a slew of strengths. That's one of the reasons that we believe this Tennessee could win five games, it could win 10 games or it could win anywhere in between. It's hard to remember a team that realistically has that big a window.
Downtown Patty Brown's questions — who will be the RB, can the corners deliver, will the defensive front be better, will the kicking game not implode and is the offense ready to be excellent — are measured and well-reasoned. We can seem them all, and we believe finding a running back is Job Numero 1 during the preseason. As good-to-potentially great as the pieces in the UT passing game are, without some presence of a running game, UT's offense will not be elite.
Questions aside, the two biggest issues in the 5-at-10's view for Johnny Vols Fans everywhere are a) whether Tyler Bray is ready to lead this bunch and b) can the linebackers stay healthy.
Will Bray show the first-round talent he has displayed or will he be the emotional basket case that has ranged from crying on the sideline during a game, being a statue during a historically bad loss to Kentucky (which was using a WR at quarterback — copyrighted by Chas9) and throwing beer bottles and golf balls at parked cars?
As for the Vols linebackers, here's saying that if the four projected starters — AJ Johnson, Curt Maggitt, Herman Lathers and Jacques Smith — can grasp Sal Sunseri's 3-4 and stay healthy, the group could super-exceed expectations. That said, there is next to no depth behind that quartet, and a 3-4 defense short on linebackers almost always comes out on the short end of the stick.
While the hot NFL scuttlebutt of the Saints being upset about being punished too harshly and the fact that Tim Tebow took his shirt off may appease the masses, there are a few other NFL story lines out there that deserve our attention.
— The Falcons and Titans are going to practice at Coahulla Creek High School on Monday. Coahulla Creek is just north of Dalton, near the Prater's Mill community. There will be no charge for admission, and look in Sunday's TFP for complete details about the event if you're interested in going.
— Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette he has a "little bit" of a rotator cuff tear. "I'm good. It's OK, just sore," he told the newspaper. "I have a little torn rotator cuff. That doesn't heal. We just have to hope it doesn't tear the rest of the way." Let's just say that if we're a Steelers fan, that does not make us smile this morning.
— Looking for a sneaky Super Bowl dark horse? How about the Bears? Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte are a nice collection at the skilled positions, and the Bears defense is still salty. The cyclical nature of the NFL is consistent in dispersing its inconsistency. Who expected three of the six best NFC teams — Lions, Packers, Bears, oh my — to be from the NFC North?
— Steaming into the season, the biggest hurdle facing Roger Goodell is not the Saints and how they are handling their Bounty timeout. No, the NFL is fully prepared to use replacement referees. Well, they are full prepared to use them right now when there are no games in sight. After two weeks of replacement refs and the possibility of a river of missed calls shaping the season, here's saying the NFL will get super tired of answering questions about the officiating.
This and that
— Did you see the number of the IRS bill for American medal winners. When an American medals, the United States Olympic Committee pays each athlete a bonus — gold gets $25K, silver gets $15K and bronze gets $10K. According to The Weekly Standard, a conservative news magazine, the taxes on those bonuses comes to $8,986 for gold, $5,385 for silver and $3,500 for bronze. U-S-A. U-S-A.
— The U.S. is dominating in the pool and that's cool. But we're ready for the track and field events to start.
— Our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer has a fun look at the Mocs men's basketball schedule. Talk about going from one extreme to the other: The Mocs open the season against Tennessee Temple and Kansas in back-to-back games.
— We are planning on being on 1370 AM today around 2 p.m. with Chris Goforth and his crew.
— Cool story of the day: Clemson walk-on receiver Daniel Rodriguez was cleared by the NCAA to participate and will practice Friday with the Tigers. Granted, the presence of a 5-foot-8 non-scholarship receiver is hardly Earth-shattering, but hold on. Rodriguez is an honorably discharged staff sergeant who received the Bronze Star Medal for Valor and the Purple Heart for his heroic efforts in the war in Afghanistan. Wait, there's more. Rodriguez promised one of his dying brothers in arms — Pfc. Kevin Thompson — that if Rodriguez ever got back home he'd try to fulfill his dream of playing college football. Upon returning to the states, Rodriguez, who graduated high school in 2007 before enlisting to get away from personal troubles, started training six hours a day to get into football shape. A video of his training went viral and caught the eye of dozens of college programs. Clemson was the lucky one to land him. Here's Rodriguez's quote to the AP: "I'm not this high-scouted athlete expected to change this program. I'm just a cog on the wheel that's going to play my role and better the team from an individual standpoint and give insight from what I've been through as a person. If I can help mold some of these guys in the locker room to have the same perspective on life I have, that's a benefit." U-S-A. U-S-A.
Cruising by USA Today this morning, and we could not help but notice two things:
First, apparently they are not only making a Red Dawn redo, they are already finished with it and prepared to release it this November. We're not sure if we're pumped or bummed about this.
Second, the USA Today coaches poll will be released today. We are excited about this.
Of course, polls that matter should not be release until October, but it's always fun to have a gauge for the teams heading into the year.
We asked a few months ago about remade movies — and Red Dawn drew a lot of support. Is this a good thing or bad thing?
Who you got in the top 5? We'll go with USC, LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma and FSU in that order.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...