published Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Vandy's Stallings experiences string music Eagles style

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Talk about your string music.

When Vanderbilt men's basketball coach Kevin Stallings decided to take guitar lessons a few years ago -- "A lot of kids get cars for their 16th birthdays, I got a guitar," the coach chuckled -- he decided to hire Tom Leadon for a teacher.

If that name sounds vaguely familiar, it might because Tom's older brother Bernie was a founding member of the Eagles and in the band from 1971 through 1975, when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group was at the height of its popularity.

And on Wednesday night, after fulfilling his media obligations at the Southeastern Conference's annual basketball media days, Stallings was scheduled to arrive back in the Music City in time to take in the group's "History of the Eagles" concert appearance at Bridgestone Arena.

"I'm going with Tom," Stallings said. "Bernie's back with the band for this tour. It should be a lot of fun."

Though fellow original member Randy Meisner isn't physically able to tour. fellow original members Don Henley and Glenn Frey -- as well as Joe Walsh -- were all expected to be on stage Wednesday.

As for which Eagles song he enjoys playing the most on his guitar, Stallings paused for several seconds before answering, "Tequila Sunrise."

Stallings II

Were it not for the Eagles concert, the Vanderbilt coach would have been glued to a television screen upon his return to Nashville, watching his beloved St. Louis Cardinals attempt to knock out the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 of the NLCS.

But even the coach's passion for his Redbirds was tested this summer, since his son, Jacob, is a catcher in the Pittsburgh Pirates' minor league system after an outstanding collegiate career at the University of North Carolina.

"First time in 50 years I haven't rooted for the Cardinals," he said. "But I'm pulling for them as hard as ever now."

Marshalling Marshall

He led the SEC in scoring during the 2012-2013 regular season with 20.1 ppg. He was the MVP of the SEC Tournament, leading Ole Miss to an unexpected title and the automatic NCAA Tournament berth that crown ensures.

Yet ask Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy about senior guard Marshall Henderson's final season in Oxford and he still doesn't know if Henderson will experience the Rebels' regular-season opener against Troy from the Tad Smith Coliseum floor or the bench.

"We suspended him in July," said Kennedy. "From July [10] until the end of August there was a process for him to earn the right to put that uniform back on. There will be a decision prior to the first game [about when he plays]."

According to police reports first made public by USA TODAY last summer, Henderson had three run-ins with police in Oxford, Miss., including one stop in which the Texas native was found in possession of marijuana and cocaine.

"To his credit, he hasn't tried to blame anyone else," Kennedy said. "He's much more prepared mentally and physically. His father's a high school coach. Marshall's a basketball historian. He loves the game. He appreciates the game. If I were a betting man -- which I'm not -- I think his lesson has been learned."

Someone then asked Kennedy if he could see similarities between Henderson and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.

After noting that Manziel wasn't a terribly popular guy around the Ole Miss campus after leading the Aggies to a 41-38 win on Saturday, Kennedy said, "I hope he can have half the success Manziel's had as a player. But because of the way both of them enjoy life, I think the comparisons are inevitable."

Foxmetrics

Ever since "Moneyball" became a best-selling book about the sabermetrics the Oakland A's used to field playoff teams in 2002 and 2003, coaches in all sports have become more and more fascinated with statistical data, both for their own teams and their opponents.

"This might surprise you, but I got an A in Calculus," said Georgia coach Mark Fox. "I'm always interested in statistics. We definitely use them. But I still coach more from my gut. The predictability of 18- and 19-year-olds would provide a lot of outliers."

about Mark Wiedmer...

Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...

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