published Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

5 at 10: Fulmer, NBA and Clemens

From the "Talk too much Studios" here we go...

Fulmer voted into college Hall of Fame

Often the accomplishments of the moment are not appreciated fully until time, reflection and change can give them perspective.

Such is the career of Phillip Fulmer, the former University of Tennessee football coach that was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

And if you think that it's not a big deal, check this stat from our SEC football ace David Paschall: "According to the National Football Foundation, nearly 4.86 million people in the past 143 years have played or coached college football and .0002 percent have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame."

Those numbers are staggering. So are these: Fulmer was 152-52 overall and 98-34 in the SEC in 16 years. Since Fulmer was fired in 2008, UT is 18-20 overall and 8-16 in the SEC.

There was a time that Fulmer had the Vols positioned as the top program in the country. UT won the first BCS national title in 1998, a season that capped a four-year run in which UT went 45-5 with back-to-back SEC titles.

And one of the major aches for UT fans during the current struggles was the overwhelming success Fulmer and Johnny Vols Fans everywhere enjoyed in the 1990s. UT did not lose more than four games in a single season in the 1990s; during the 2000s, there have been all of three seasons in which UT lost less than four games.

The decision to fire Fulmer late in the 2008 season was controversial and polarizing. The facts after the fact are decidedly pro-Fulmer considering the debacle that was Lane Kiffin's 13 months in Knoxville and the current uncertainty that surrounds Derek Dooley.

Would UT football be better off Fulmer was still the coach? It's hard to know because the fan base was starting to splinter around him. This much we do know: Phillip Fulmer had a Hall of Fame career at UT. It's a career that is getting better with time, too.

(Would UT be better off if Fulmer was still on the sideline? Sounds like a pretty good question for the day, huh? Feel free to discuss it, and we'll have our answer later.)

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  • photo
    Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade, right, and LeBron James speak during the last minutes of the second half of Game 2 of the NBA Finals basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks, Thursday, June 2, 2011, in Miami. The Mavericks defeated the Heat 95-93. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

NBA intrigue

OK, we simply must shrug our shoulders and look for answers.

Let's throw out a hypothetical here: Say you're the coach of a team called the Miami Hot. You have the best player on the planet — LeBron Jones — and a second guy — Dwyane Ware — on your team who is one of the 10 best players on the planet.

And down three in the NBA playoffs you set up a play for some guy named Mario "Superintendent" Chalmers? OK, whatever.

Here's what we know so far about the NBA playoffs:

— The Thunder and the Spurs dominated in Game 1s. We still think the Lakers will put up a fight, but the Spurs certainly look like the class of the NBA right now.

— In the East, two spunky upstarts in Indiana and Philly have snatched home-court advantage away from Miami and Boston.

The Celtics are hoping for one more day in the sun. The Heat, well, they continue to play with fire. Yes, Chris Bosh is out indefinitely with an abdominal injury.

Still this is the Heat against the Pacers. This supposed to be just the next step for LeBron and the Heatles. Now it looks like a hurdle.

And we need to discuss the fact that LeBron missed two free throws in the final minute that could have tied the game. And that he did not attack the rim during the final possessions with the game on the line.

Puzzling. Again. Coaching the Heat is the current pro sports equivalent of teaching pre-K to child stars — at times it could be magic; at times maddening. (That's still not a good enough reason to draw up the final shot for Mario Chalmers, though.)

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  • photo
    In this July 13, 2012 file photo, former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens, right, and his attorney Rusty Hardin outside federal court in Washington. The Justice Department, embarrassed by an error that caused a mistrial of Clemens last year, has added more prosecutors in hopes of containing any missteps as it seeks to convict the famed pitcher of lying to Congress when he said he never used performance-enhancing drugs. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Clemens nastiness

Roger Clemens was one of our favorite baseball players growing up. We can remember watching in awe when he pitched for Texas in the College World Series. We can remember his toughness in the 1986 World Series, his 20 strikeout game with the Red Sox, his overpowering stuff and his mound presence.

But the only thing that will be the foremost part of his legacy is steroids. And this trial for perjury charges is all the worst parts of daytime TV rolled into one crud sandwich.

A bloated Clemens sits while his former trainer Brian McNamee tells of injections and deception and money troubles and all sorts of problems.

McNamee apparently kept some of the steroid waste after injecting Clemens, a just in case type of thing that seems overly convenient now but certainly could have been some sort of leverage down the road. (Hey, if we're going to accuse some one of being a potential extortionist, we'll start with the guy who is saving something called "steroid waste," and yes, if we still played fantasy sports, we would have already changed our team name to "steroid waste.")

This whole thing is gross. And tiresome (jurors are falling asleep). Let's just move on and try to forget the whole thing. Sadly, though, we never will be able to. Stupid steroid waste.

(Side note: How good of a trainer could McNamee be if he kept the steroid waste in an old beer can? Really?)

————

This and that

— Luther Campbell has been cleared by recommended by a Florida judge to coach high school football http://www.orlandosentinel.com/os-luther-campbell-coaching,0,4057585.story. Yes, that Luther Campbell, who was Luke Skywalker for the over-the-top rap group 2 Live Crew, who went platinum with the album — and the life style — "As Nasty As They Wanna Be." It's also the same Luke Campbell that was allegedly a big-time booster for Miami football who was known to bend the occasional rule.

— Kobe Bryant got some heat because he said the other day he doesn't take charges. Move along. Nothing to see here. And before you bemoan "team attitude" or "tough play" or whatever mumbo-jumbo anti-Kobe angle, answer this: Do you want Drew Brees or Tom Brady calling a quarterback draw on every third-and-5. It's not what they do, and it's begging for injury. Sure it's part of the game — and in the NBA, the flop is too much a part of the game — and Kobe plays defense, but c'mon.

— The Braves got back in the win column Tuesday behind seven strong innings from Tim Hudson. (Timmy!) And don't know if you notice but Martin Prado is killing it right now. He has a seven-game hitting streak and is 13-for-30 in that stretch. SIde note: The Braves have six players with 19 or more RBIs: Freddie Freeman (has 28, which projects to 123 for the season) Chipper (23 — 101*), Uggla (23 — 101) , Brian McCann (21 — 92) and Jason Heyward and Prado (19 — 83).

— Manny Ramierz is about to start playing baseball again. He's going to report to Oakland's triple-A team this Saturday. There are a few people in sports that are just fun to watch: Derrick Rose in the open floor with the ball in his hands; Peyton Manning checking off at the line of scrimmage; and a few others. Manny Ramierz with a bat in his hands is fun to watch.

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Today's question(s)

In addition to the original thought about whether UT would be better with Fulmer still on the sideline, we have another one to add.

Looking at Fulmer and the rest of this year's Hall of Fame class, the names on the list were fine. Players such as Steve Bartkowski, Ty Detmer, Dave Casper, Mark Simoneau, Charles Alexander, Otis Armstrong, Hal Bedsole, Tommy Kramer, Art Monk, Greg Myers, Jonathan Ogden, Gabe Rivera, Scotty Thomas and John Wooten certainly had fine college careers.

The names not on the ballot, however, were staggering. Former Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel and former Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier were on the ballot and not elected. Someone has some 'splain' to do.

How can Mark Simoneau, who was a fine player at Kansas State and was the Big 12 defensive player of the year in 1999, get picked and Heisman-winner Wuerffel and Frazier — quarterbacks on national championship teams — be left off?

Anyone? Bueller?

about Jay Greeson...

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 ...

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Todd962 said...

The Mario call didnt seem like such a bad idea as the ball was in the air. The Pacers were going to key on Lebron and Wade. Plus dude did hit the shot to force overtime in the national championship game a few years ago that eventually allowed Kansas to go on to win it. Its not like it was Luigi Chalmers throwing up moonshots and praying. That being said, as it clanged off the rim I thought to myself, "Idiots! Lebron was on the left wing nearly by himself!" If Lebron wants to shake some of the heat he gets on a daily basis, he is going to have to start taking some of those big time shots. And if Chalmers sinks it, what flaw of Lebron's are we discussing today in the sports world. I heard he doesnt floss regularly and beats his dog. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Well hockey snarled some of its ugly teeth last night. That Kings / Coyotes game was nuts. Two players were ejected with major penalties, leaving one dude limp on the ice briefly and the other with what had to be a broken nose(bloody mess), and then the Coyote's goalie samari chops dude in the back of the knees with his stick and gets away with it. That is hockey that is going to attract an average American. Lots of shots, goals, and a mild dose of unnecessary violence.

It was great to hear Fulmer is going to go into the hall. From the time I made an effort to watch UT football, he was the coach. So any opinions I have of him are going to be slanted based off nostalgic bias alone. However, five years removed and looking at his track record, it is hard to argue that UT would have been any worse off if he had remained the head coach. Kiffin had us headed into the death penalty and Dooley is yet to be determined with the forecast not looking real sunny. Fulmer's country boy, family approach to football just fit the east Tennessee community, and I know I wouldnt mind having him back.

May 16, 2012 at 11:04 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

Wuerffel, Frazier, Orlando Pace and Raghib Ismail. Wow. Snub City.

May 16, 2012 at 11:20 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Mr. 962 —

Fair point about Chalmers' last-second history, but here's the bigger point that maybe we didn't get to well enough.

We believe it's time for the Erik Estrada Jr. to call a TO with 1:30 left in a close game. Not even get the chairs or the clipboard out. Meet his team at the top of the key. Get them all together and say, "Get the flippin' ball to LeBron, and LeBron go dominate." It is also time for LeBron to be in the huddle and here Estrada Jr.call the picket fence and look around and say plainly, "I'll make it."

You're right, LeBron was not the reason the Heat lost last night. Dude was awesome despite missing the two late FTs. But it's got to be past time that he and Estrada Jr. figure out it's time to deliver.

Wow, we're sorry we missed that hockey game. And you're right lots of shots, goals and violence will grab attention.

More on Fulmer later...

StuckinKent —

Wow, Pace and Rocket got snubbed too? We're sorry, but the fact that Wuerffel is not in there is disgusting. Before Tebow, we can make an argument that he was the best college quarterback of our lifetime.

— 5-at-10

May 16, 2012 at 11:28 a.m.
Stewwie said...

Frazier didn't win the Heisman. However, he shouldn't have been left off the ballot.

Chalmers taking the last shot was fine. LeBron and Wade faltered down the stretch and Chalmers is usually money in the clutch.

How about that perfect storm of the Lakers, Clippers, and the hockey Kings all playing at home in the playoffs the same weekend in L.A.? Talk about a scheduling nightmare. Both the Clips and the Lakers have to play on back-to-back days for Games 3 and 4. Both are already tired from grueling 7-game series and both of their opponents are fresh off of sweeps. Those Game 4s are going to be nasty.

May 16, 2012 at 11:34 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Stew Live Crew —

Great catch. Mis-typed that.

Superintendent Chalmers taking the last shot is OK, especially since the Heat were down 3. We're just ready for LeBron to run into the spotlight of the final seconds rather than lurk in the shadows.

And we read that there will be six playoff games in four days at Staples Center. Crazy.

— 5-at-10

May 16, 2012 at 11:41 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Those six playoff games at Centre de Staples ... that include the NHL, too?

I don't know that Fulmer on the sidelines at UT to this day would be as prudent. Could he have kept pace, recruiting and otherwise, with Nick Saban (you know, Bachelor Party was on the other morning on AMC, with another famous brief scene from a Nick. And when we were discussing sports cameos last week or so, why didn't Xavier McDaniel get a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Singles?), Les Miles, the Chauncy Gardiner of college football and the on-again, off-again Urban Meyer, not to mention the great hair and tan that is Mark Richt.

May 16, 2012 at 12:37 p.m.
fechancellor said...

Ten Ring, was Fulmer better than Timmy! in his declining years?

I'll never understand why Fulmer didn't jettison Randy Sanders much earlier when Sanders flaws became evident. Fulmer could have hired about any top offensive coordinator in the country at that time.

There was certainly little reason to fault Chavis other than maybe not pulling the fire alarm.

Fulmer was better than Timmy! (Lane Kiffin), and he deserves congratulations for going to the Hall, though I doubt he got many votes in Tuscaloosa. #1 heads out to Norman, OK for camp next month, missing out on a two week vacation on a boat in the Bahamas. That's my definition of dedication!

May 16, 2012 at 12:44 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

Yes, the Kings were included.

Yes, Nick in Tuscaloosa recruits talented parts; Nick in BP had talented parts. (And great call on the X man, who had one speaking part and made the most of it.)

It's hard to figure on Fulmer, but here's our best guess:

The Vols would be better, but they would have been only pretty good. The salad days of the 1990s were not coming back, and a big part of it was what Spy mentioned — the SEC is tougher than ever. And Fulmer was 1-4 against Saban when he left and likely would have been 1-7 against him if he was still in Knoxville.

Plus, the way UT's recruiting had started to tail off in the final days of Fulmer's time, it's hard to see the Vols competing with the upper-echelon teams in the league. Granted, if Fulmer had stayed and the Vols were SEC mediocre, it would be better than last year, when UT went 1-7 in the league.

The Vols would be better with Fulmer, but Fulmer like all successful coaches reset the standards to such lofty levels that good is often not good enough.

The Vols would be better, but whether that's because of what Fulmer could have done or the mess that has happened in the aftermath of firing Fulmer is hard to know.

— 5-at-10

May 16, 2012 at 1 p.m.
jgreeson said...

FE to the C —

Congrats to No. 1 — have been hearing good things about his progress and his effort. Nice job all around.

You bring up a good point about Fulmer's downfall — other than Cutcliffe and Chavis, he seemed to be uneasy about hiring big-time coordinators and/or trusting them to do their thing.

Sanders didn't work out; Dave Clawson, who has had success everywhere he's been other than UT, didn't work out. It was a big part of his downfall in the end.

We said it then — and in the age of the internet you can't hide from anything — but we still believe Kiffin as a great hire at the time. If you run off someone as successful and popular as Fulmer was, you can't replace them with Fulmer-lite, an old-school, "Block and tackle and work like heck to get better" coach. You have to land sizzle and score a date with the homecoming queen.

And Kiffin was all of that and a side of cream potatos. Granted, he pantsed the entire Vols fan base and delivered a monster gut-punch to those that jumped on the Lane Train. And it still stings to this day, because those that were quick to join the Kiffin Litter talked big to fellow Vols fans (who were pro-Fulmer) and their counterparts from other SEC schools, who had quick reason to hate Kiffin.

It blew up in UT's face, but that's more on Kiffin's weasely-ness than Fulmer's coaching acumen.

PS — Tell No.1 to knock 'em dead in Norman.

— 5-at-10

May 16, 2012 at 1:09 p.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Ring! No backing down and vigorous defense. Bravo!

As a Raider fan, I was between two stools on Kiffin. Bottom line, no matter the circumstances--Kiffin didn't win in Oakland and made a hell of a lot of noise while doing so. Mr. Davis was culpable as well, however, Kiffin was prone to public outbursts in his one season at Knoxville which sparked controversy in and out of the SEC.

My instincts were fungible, so I went along with the hiring hoping for new promise and vitality. We got the full measure of vitality.

Thanks for the kind words for #1! He's lucky that his quarterback is drawing lots of interest. #1 gets to tag along for in town workouts and catch balls.

May 16, 2012 at 2:07 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Kiffin and stool in the same sentence? How fitting.

And 5, I think I just turned a rather dreary day pour moi into a grand one because I had to type the word ...

Gubernatorial. How can that not bring a smile to your grille?

May 16, 2012 at 3:47 p.m.
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