5-at-10: Marion County meltdown, Tennessee update, Curious on Kobe

5-at-10: Marion County meltdown, Tennessee update, Curious on Kobe

November 20th, 2013 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Good morning. How did you sleep? Loads to discuss.

From the "Talks too much" studios, let's paint this town red. Or orange and black.

From left are Marion County High School coaches Tim Starkey, Randy Kirkpatrick, Mac McCurry, Chad Rogers and Joe Dan Gudger. Starkey has been relieved of coaching duties at the school, and Gudger was arrested on charges of vandalism Tuesday. No allegations have been made against Kirkpatrick or Rogers.

Photo by Robin Rudd/Times Free Press.

Marion County meltdown

High school sports ace Stephen Hargis has a excellent story about a terrible story here , detailing the allegations and charges against the Marion County High School football program.

Here's the sequence of alleged events, according to authorities and as detailed in text messages between Tim Starkey and Michael Schmitt, two Warriors assistants:

- The Warriors paid for former South Pittsburg running back Raquis Hale to practice with the team to emulate the team speed in preparation of the annual rival game against South Pittsburg. This is major TSSAA violation, and TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress told Hargis he's going to have to be convinced that Marion County deserves to have a football program next year. Wow.

- At least two assistant coaches spray-painted and vandalized the school's football field house in the days before the game against South Pittsburg. Schmitt and Joe Dan Gudger have been charged with vandalism by Jasper police and the Marion County sheriff's office.

- Starkey is being investigated for stealing play sheets from the South Pittsburg football field house. And in text messages, Starkey says he got the play sheets like Schmitt did in "Dunalp." And yes, according to Sequatchie County coach Ken Colquette, there are two Sequatchie County playbooks missing. Hmmmmmm.

There likely is more. The investigation is on-going.

But first things first. Head coach Mac McCurry should be fired today. Today. Do not let him resign, fire him. Is there anyone who believe McCurry did not know the wide ranging antics of his staff that swung from hijinks to criminal?

And if you hold out the last fiber of doubt, answer this: If the head coach of a team that is in the middle of the biggest high school football scandal in the history of the state had zero idea of what was happening, how could he keep his job since he has zero idea of the inner-workings of the program?

So if McCurry had zero knowledge of any of this - which is next to impossible - he must not have been at practice in preparation for the annual rivalry grudge match with South Pittsburg since Hale was running around. Or maybe he was there and just didn't notice the college-aged tailback on the scout team who was faster than everyone else.

And if McCurry didn't know about the playbooks allegedly swiped from South Pittsburg and Marion County, they likely were used for leisurely reading at the Starkey or Schmitt households.

As for the vandalism, well, maybe McCurry didn't know about the hair-brained scheme, but Schmitt and Starkey each text about how they don't want to do it, but Schmitt says he doesn't want to make McCurry mad.

McCurry's either neck deep or has three blind eyes. So he's either oblivious or involved - and we'll take all odds on the latter - but either means he long ago forfeited his title as head coach.

Now is the time to make it official.

Side note: At 6:15 this morning, the TFP poll question of "Should Marion County coach Mac McCurry be fired?" already had 291 votes. And 92 precent of them (269) said yes.

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Tennessee offensive lineman Alex Bullard (78) prepares to block for quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) against Auburn Saturday in Knoxville.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Tennessee home stretch

With last week's Vols off week and the craziness that was Auburn's Immaculate Deflection and the heartbreaking Mocs loss, we have kind of forgotten about the Tennessee football program a little bit.

Here are two items to discuss:

Saturday night the Vols will again trot out the Smokey Gray uniforms. The new threads have received strong reviews. The new threads are also 0-1. If the Smokey Grays fall to 0-2, well, we'll all have to wear black to the funeral when we bury the Smokey Grays. That's how it goes: If you are going to tinker with the uniforms in college football, if you lose, the uniform shares in the blame. So it goes. Hey, college football fans are strong on passion and occasionally short on logic. (Oregon is of course immune to this because they change every week.)

Second, this is the final home game for a senior class that has been through a buzz saw in four years. And for Marlon Walls, the redshirt senior defensive end, the ride has included committing to Fulmer and signing in Kiffin's first class with the likes of Bryce Brown and Janzen Jackson and getting the full Monty that was the three-year tour on the SS Orange Pants.

Of the fourth-year seniors playing their final game, there are a slew of linemen who played a ton of games. Guys like James Stone, Zach Fulton and Jawuan James and Corey Miller and Jacques Smith on defense.

Strange times indeed.

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Kobe Bryant

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

We have to be curious right?

Kobe Bryant is close to returning. Hmmmmm.

Let's piece this together: Bryant tore his Achilles' seven months and eight days ago. He's 35 years old, and he is shocking everyone in practice. He says a November return is possible.

Now if this were, say Barry Bonds, everyone would be screaming a magic three-letter acronym, right?

Heck, forget Bonds, if any baseball player - or goodness forbid a cyclist - rehabbed that hard and that fast and that successfully we'd be asking about PEDs at every turn.

This isn't even about Kobe. Maybe he's the most gifted healer in the world who has rubber-band Achilles' and we certainly know price was no object in his care. But can you ever recall a PED/NBA story? Are we to believe that no NBA player uses PEDs? When was the last time there was a steroids/NBA allegation?

Hmmmmm, indeed.

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This and that

- Marcus Smart, the brilliant Oklahoma State point guard, served a reminder that while the talent troop of freshmen are great, Smart's pretty clever too. Smart scored 39 points on 11-of-21 shooting as Oklahoma State thrashed Memphis on Monday.

- TFP ace columnist Mark Wiedmer caught up with Andy Pettitte, who was in North Georgia Tuesday here http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2013/nov/20/pettitte-speaks-for-score-gives-god-credit/. Did not know that Pettitte won 256 career games. Here's a crazy thought: Since Pettitte has apologized and has been open and upfront about his PED past, there's a chance that Pettitte could be the the Hall of Fame PED trailblazer.

- UTC hoops lost a close one, 73-69, to visiting Kennesaw State on Tuesday. Just passing along details.

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Today's question(s)

Feel free to chime on any of the above topics. And hey, remember the mailbag.

If you need talking points, well, there are a few out there:

Are you worried about the NFL rules czars fining almost every hit?

If you are Pat Haden, would you call Gus Malzahn and make him say no - and keep Coach O as the recruiting coordinator?

If we gave you Denver and Seattle or the field to win the Super Bowl, who you got?

Discuss.