5 at 10: Fulmer, NBA and Clemens

5 at 10: Fulmer, NBA and Clemens

May 16th, 2012 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

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

Phillip Fulmer

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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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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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/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?)

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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?