Before we get going, always remember to feel free about commenting on any of the below questions. Also, do you think we'll see a Triple Crown tomorrow? Great group of questions, and as always, we wrote too much. but that should not surprise anyone
From the "Talks too much" studios, here we go...
It’s getting close. The beginning of the SEC meetings in Destin means it getting closer. Yep, football season is less than 100 days away. I would like to hear your reaction to the job Tennessee Athletic Director Dave Hart is doing right now. It seems to me like this guy has come in and told the whole athletic department that there’s a new sheriff in town and things are going be done his way or hit the highway.
Last week Hart gave the boot to Debby Jennings, a former Pat Summitt aide, and ignited a hailstorm of he said she said between Hart and Jennings’ lawyer. Rumors are that Hart is not done cleaning house. I listened to Hart speak at the Big Orange Caravan last week and it seems like he has a plan to get the Vols back to prominence. Do you think Hart is making the right calls at this early point in his tenure at the University of Tennessee?
It's impossible to know whether his calls are correct or not right now, and we're sure yahoos like the TFP sports editor will spend a ton of time dissecting them in hindsight. All we can gauge at this point is the process and we think Dave Hart has handled his time there as well as anyone could have.
We think Hart has been above board through a tough time in UT athletics. Dude was given a first-class mess and he has embraced it and handled it about the only way possible — head on. If we were in Hart's spot, we'd definitely find who was on board and who needed to be pushed off the plank. Period.
Look what he's had to deal with so far: UT football in a near-historic mess; Bruce Pearl fall out; Pat Summitt's illness; the mess with the swimming coach. He's dealing with a lot of stuff (and yes, candlesticks make a nice gift... let's get two).
The deal with Mrs. Jennings is unfortunate, but the fact that UT was the last major athletic department in the country that joined the men's and the women's branches of the department has as much to do with the public feud as anything.
Here's what we believe: Dave Hart knows what he's doing. Any one who assumes a position of leadership will ruffle some feathers along the way as he/she grabs control. And with the position UT was in when Hart arrived, job No. 1 was make sure everyone knows who is in charge. We believe that has happened.
Hart has done that and will continue to do that. And if this fall is not better, Hart will continue to exert his power within the UT athletic offices.
Philadelphia 76ers guard Jrue Holiday (11) drives past Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (9) in the second half of Game 4 of an NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series on Friday, May 18, 2012, in Philadelphia. The 76ers won 92-83. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
OK. The Uniblocker may become the best player out of UK ever, or since Dan Issel, it's too early to tell. But what about Raging Rondo? Rajon would be the best pro out of The Bluegrass since who?
Anthony Davis will be the No. 1 overall pick and if we had to guess will be the best UK NBA alum ever. Strike that: He'll be the best former UK player.
Rajon Rondo is a special athlete and is playing out of his mind right now and there could be a few — John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, MKG, etc. — that could be as special. (We think Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is going to be OUT-standing for what it's worth.)
As for the best pro out of the Bluegrass, No. 1 is Wes Unseld. And yes we know he went to Louisville, but that is still in the Bluegrass, no?
As for the best UK player this side of Issel, we'd go with Jamal Mashburn, who was a hoss for multiple years. Either Mashburn or maybe Richie Farmer. Thoughts?
Side note: Here's our list of best NBA players from each SEC school:
Alabama — Antonio McDyess
Arkansas — Sidney Moncrief
Auburn — Chuck Barkley
Florida — Al Horford
Georgia — Dominique Wilkins
UK — Issel
LSU — Shaq
Ole Miss — Not applicable (if Johnny Neumann is the best you have, then you get a N/A)
Mississippi State — Jeff Malone
South Carolina — Alex English
UT — Dale Ellis (would have been King if not for the injuries)
Vandy — Will Perdue maybe; there's not a lot of distinguished Vandy products in the NBA. Now if we had a list of MBA greats, here's saying Vandy would lead the SEC.
Have to say that, while sitting through this scintillating webinar meeting, I started to wonder about the other side of the (worst players to join a team) Rushmore coin. Which managers would a player really be upset about having to play for? The first ones that came to mind were Ozzie Guillen, Rex Ryan(really any of the Ryans), Bill Parcells, and Mike Keenan.
Excellent question. And here's our view on this. First, it has to be pro sports. Second, it's not so much bad coaches as it would be the coaches that if we were an NBA/NFL/MLB player that we'd look at the hiring and say, "What? We have to play for that yahoo. This is not going to work." Second, there are probably a slew of hockey and soccer nut jobs out there, but we're not well-versed enough to discuss them intelligently. (And we can remember hearing Keenan was a goof.)
We'll do a Rushmore (or is this a Rushless?) of current and one of all-time coaches.
Current (or modern day)
— Bobby Valentine. He puts the Bob in bobble head.
— Lou Pinella. Enjoy the first few months because the worm will turn.
— Rex Ryan. We all know why, and talk about the apple not falling far from the tree... remember when his old man took a swing at Kevin Gilbride on the sideline?
— Isaiah Thomas. Seriously?
— Mike Ditka. You know this is true.
— Bobby Knight. That tough-guy schtick would have worked for about 32 seconds in the NBA — or about as long as it takes to say "Latrell Spreewell choke hold."
— Bobby Valentine. The combo of the disguise in the dugout to calling out Youklis a month into his time in Boston has elevated Booby to extreme heights.
— Bobby Petrino. Can you see anyway this guy could address an NFL locker room?
I'm still wiping the tear from my eye at the love that has been shown...the thought of the band being back together....gasp. OK here ya go Cinco...see if ya still got it. Top 5 Patches O'Houlihan motivational lines of all time! Oh yeah.....i just went there.
It's good to see you around and the "Norm from 'Cheers'" response you received Thursday was top-notch.
OK, let's get serious, and as promised here are the top five pearls of inspirational wisdom and which famous coach likely would have used them (side note — these are the top five that are safe for a family-oriented, interweb-based sports column; Patches used some language that could be described as salty):
5) If you're going to become true dodgeballers, then you've got to learn the five d's of dodgeball: dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge! — This could have been a classic line from Yogi Berra, the former Yankees Hall of Fame catcher and manager who uttered some of the most nonsensically wise one-liners in history. Some of Berra' renowned quotes: "Even Napoleon had his Watergate." "I wish I had an answer to that because I'm tired of answering that question." And
"I never said most of the things I said."
4) If you can dodge traffic, you can dodge a ball. — This has to be Bobby Knight. And so would the scene in "Dodgeball" where Patches says, "If you can dodge a wrench you can dodge a ball" and hits the dude in the skull with a wrench.
3) Necessary? Is it necessary for me to drink my own urine? No, but I do it anyway because it's sterile and I like the taste. — Rex Ryan. And we didn't have to think too long about this one.
2) Son, you're about as useful as a poopy-flavored lollipop! — Nick Saban, right about the time he processed a high four-star linebacker to make room for a five-star kid from Florida. The recruiting Honey Badger takes who he wants.
1) This is Patches O'Houlihan saying "Take care of your balls, and they'll take care of you." — John Wooden. This is the perfect, insightful type of wisdom that translates to sports and life that Wooden was known for. Amen and pass the biscuits.
From Jonathan Cook (in the 5-at-10 Dallas satellite office)
This past Monday, May 28th, Mark Wiedmer wrote an interesting piece regarding Georgia State's near supernova rise to I-A and the some of the pros and cons that come with it. My personal favorite was the quote from the GS booster asking "when do we go to I-A so we can beat them Dawgs (Georgia)".
Now just think for one minute what would happen if one of the Luptons or someone from the Mocs Club were to say that to coach Huesman on the day he took over the (Mocs) program? When are we going to I-A? When are we gonna beat them Vols? He or she would have been tarred, feathered, egged, and laughed out of town before Quake and Dr. B crack open their mics for the day.
The article of course dealt with the ever changing re-allignment and fans-and-tradition-be-damned mindset of most universities who honestly believe their program is the next TCU or Boise State (more on that later).
Eventually, this topic will have to come up much closer to home given the current status of UTC football. So let's put this out. Let's say after two or three years during Silk's tenure we get a couple of Southern Conference Championships and the big prize in Frisco. Maybe even an upset against Mother Knoxville in the 2014 game. Whose to say that type of talk wouldn't generate at home? My only problem with this is the superfan pipedream complex of believing your team will magically become Alabama or LSU once they make the jump. One needs to look no further than neighboring UAB and their "zero" fanbase for football.
At the same time, if UTC does not consider such a move, what are the odds that it and a lot of other programs will cease to exist within the next 5 to 10 years? It's almost damn if you do, damn if you don't.
(Side note: Real quickly. New rule for playoff system. Any non-SEC team who makes it in the top five and publicly whines about not getting a shot at the National Championship must forefeit three conference games next year and replace them with Alabama, Auburn, and LSU. Starting with Smurf U. in Idaho and the University of Texas wannabe in Fort Worth.)
Hope all is well at the branch office in the greater Dallas-Forth Worth area. And don't forget your TPS reports.
Your point is spot on — the challenges facing UTC and the rest of the FCS programs is a danged-if-you-do, danged-if-you-don't situation.
All of the moves and machinations of the last 18 months in college football are about money in general and TV money in particular. And while the big-boy conferences view the big-letter networks as ATMs, there is only so much TV money out there and the smaller guys are going to be faced with a difficult decision.
We believe every AD has to examine making the move if for no other reason than the potential upside. If/when the new playoff expands, could the rewards and revenues be spread throughout all those programs in FBS not unlike the NCAA basketball tournament? Maybe. (Side note: They are going to have to change the letter designation of the different levels of Division I football now that the FBS boys are going to have a playoff.)
As for whether programs will cease to exist or not, well, we don't think that will happen, but the divide between the haves and the have nots is going to continue to grow. And there will be those that make the jump that if they are left in the middle without some sort of revenue sharing from the top down that will be as isolated and in peril as those in the FCS. (And while we know the levels of greed of the power conferences in college football, it is going to be in their best interest to make sure some of the mid-level teams are still around. Take UT for instance: The Vols can't play eight SEC games and then four non-conference games against other BCS schools. UT needs at least three home games a year — home dates that generate seven figures for the school and eight figures for the town every Saturday — and to do that without home-and-home agreements, you need little guys.)
The football scenario you described is what happened to App State a few years ago, even up to beating Michigan. But there's not a great deal from the bigger conferences because Boone is not exactly a big media market — nor is it easy to get to.
UTC is an interesting possibility for movement on several fronts, especially if the super optimistic football improvements you laid out come to fruition. Chattanooga is a top 100 TV market and relatively easy to get to.
As for the superfan stuff, well, that's going to happen no matter where you are. We're all superfans in some way or another.
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 ...