From the "Talks too much" studios, here's a big HOW-Dee to the new folks around these parts. Feel free to pull up a chair, and remember to keep your hands and feet away from Spy when he eats. Dude's a monster. (Also, remember Friday's mailbag - there's a spot or two open.)
Sports Illustrated is dropping the hammer on Oklahoma State in a five-part series to be released at SI.com each day this week. Tuesday was the story detailing the cash delivered in a variety of ways to players as early as 2001 and as late as 2011.
SI talked to more than 60 former Cowboys players, and the series will go into drug use and academic allegations and even the activities of the recruiting hostesses. (Side note: Every time one of these stories pops up about the recruiting hostesses, and we know that like most things, it's the small number doing the infamous acts that generate the attention, but if your daughter called home and said, "Hey, Daddy, I'm going to be a recruiting hostess," what would be your reaction? You know another group that's up to no good - skateboarders.)
Anyhoo, normally the backlash from these stories is almost predictable. The difference here - and this is a scary difference if you root for the OSU T. Boones - is that the Oklahoma State folks are already apologizing and circling the wagons.
As for those outside the Stillwater-proper area, it likely will restart the debate about whether players should be paid.
Stop it. Seriously. Here are a couple of things to consider:
1) Players are paid. They get the opportunity at a six-figure education and all the bells and whistles that go with it.
2) If you want to debate whether players deserve some sort of payment, we're OK with that. But to do it when alleged NCAA violations occur on the grounds that, "If we paid players then this wouldn't be against the rules," is silly and naive. If colleges changed the rules to allow stipends, rogue boosters and dirty programs would still pay more. This is less about the money and more about the recruiting advantage/motivation factors within a program.
3) If you think they should start paying player, you likely think this based on the rationale and sentiment that paying players would be the fair thing in regard to revenue. Without getting into the Title IX considerations or the fact that only roughly 20 athletic departments nationally turn a profit, if fairness is the fundamental basis of your claim to pay players, answer this: Which is more fair, paying them nothing in the hollow name of amateurism or paying them slave wages and call it a $2,000 stipend?
For a guy that went to Auburn and grew up liking Tennessee as much as any other school, this Saturday's Alabama-Texas A&M game puts us in an awkward spot.
Johnny Merchandise is such a punk, we truly want Alabama to thump the Aggies. We also believe it will happen.
Talking with Paschall about this on Press Row - and the topic will certainly come up again today - it's hard to see where the Aggies have much of an advantage other than on the perimeter with wide receivers Mike Evans and Ricky Seals-Jones (no relation to Ricky Bobby or Seal or Tom Jones or Crosby, Stills or Nash - well that we know of anyway).
Plus, Texas A&M had to score the final three TDs to put Sam Houston State away last week. If Alabama played Sam Houston State in Tuscaloosa, do you think the starting offense would still be on the field with six minutes left in the game? It was for Texas A&M.
Plus-plus, Alabama has been listening to two weeks full of how they looked like junk against Virginia Tech offensively - nevermind that they beat a perennial BCS-conference contender by 25 points.
Not sure if this one will be part of the Fab-4-plus-1 picks or not, but sweet biscuits and jam, this feels like a 48-13 beatdown.
Your Atlanta Braves are killing folks, steamrolling a division of mediocrity to the point that they may clinch with two weeks or more left in the regular season. The Braves' magic number - a combination of Braves wins and Nationals losses - is now 7.
But the question marks remain: They were 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position. The offense is suspect with a capital SUS. Ask yourself this: Other than Freddie Freeman (What's our overall Rushmore of Freddies: Freddie Couples, Freddie Freeman, Freddy Krueger, Freddy Fender - "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights"), which Braves hitter would you feel comfortable with at the plate with two outs and a guy on second down a run in the postseason?
That said, the Braves only have to win the first eight innings.
Craig Kimbrel has gone 28.2 innings without allowing a run. In that time he has faced 103 batters and struck out 42 of them. (And he doesn't get to pitch to Danny Struggla.) We know that StuckinKent believes closers are overrated - and his position has merits - but there is nothing overrated about Mr. K's dominance.
Side Braves question: Which is a safer bet: Kimbrel or Uggla will have a strikeout in the game? Discuss.
- Ndamukong Suh is officially the dirtiest football player of his era. Dude was fined $100K for a cheap shot on Sunday, and his act is getting so tired that the director of the NFL players' union sounded as if he was going to say something. Not appeal fine mind you, but say something to this boy named Suh. When the union takes the league's side - that's when you have gone so far past too far that you need to re-evaluate.
- Chip Kelly said the Eagles' fast-paced debut was too slow. Cripes, these speed guys can't go too fast. Kelly and Malzahn and Freeze and a lot of these hyper-drive tempo coaches are moving so quickly they likely watch game tapes on fast forward and say, "That's more like it."
- LeBron is shrugging his shoulders and not saying much about his potential free agency in 2014. Buckle up buttercups. This is the first time of about 1 million times you will hear this discussion. In fact, here's saying the program folks at ESPN have already filmed 12 different "Decision '14: LeBron Watch" segments for slow news days.
Today is Sept. 11. We pray for the families still dealing with the losses - directly and indirectly - of this day 12 years ago. It was clearly the "Where were you" moment of our generation.
That got us thinking - yes, 9er, that's a dangerous thing - about what is the Rushmore of "I remember exactly where I was" sports moments?
We know Laettner's shot and Gibson's homer are contenders. As are Buckner's error and possibly Tyson-Buster Douglas, Tiger's chip-in on 16 at Augusta and even Dale Sr. crashing into the wall.
Any other nominations?