5-at-10: UT settlement, All-star in the all-stars, More Durant, Happy Fried Chicken Day

5-at-10: UT settlement, All-star in the all-stars, More Durant, Happy Fried Chicken Day

July 6th, 2016 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Ayres Hall at the University of Tennessee (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by The Knoxville News Sentinel /Times Free Press.

UT settlement

The University of Tennessee has settled the Title IX lawsuit brought against the school violated regulations with indifference of alleged sexual assaults committed by athletes.

It's been a consistent thread hanging over the athletic department for a while. The decision to settle seems pretty clear. 

Sure, there was several acts of pomp and circumstance by the athletic department — including the side show of having every head coach being part of a joint news conference — to try to sway the public opinion, especially those of recruits and donors.

There was even the passionate pleas of coaches — especially football coach Butch Jones — and some of the devoted fans who had hoped the program would be found innocent of these charges. That day in court — which was tentatively set for May 2018 — will not come, and it's easy to see why.

First, the $2.5 million settlement likely would be less than legal fees the University would have spent.

Secondly, with a big season ahead, the talking point of this would always be hanging in the background, waiting for a national columnist to swoop in ahead of the next big game as the wins mounted and the magnitude increased.

Third, the school got to settle while vehemently denying there was any acceptance of guilt or wrong-doing.

As for the plaintiffs, well, we certainly can understand wanting to try to move on with life. That process would seem to be easier to start with as many court dealings settled as possible.

So that closes the book on that, and we'd expect Butch to either a) have a news conference in the next day or three before the SEC media event next week in Birmingham to address this to the area media and then be able to say next week that he's said all he will on that; or b) refuse to discuss it with each question.  

Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant rounds the bases after hitting solo home run during the third inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday, July 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

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Photo by The Associated Press/Times Free Press.

All-stars interesting

Yes, the All-Star teams were announced, and it is an "All-Hail the Cubs" type of Wednesday. For Pete's sake, the Cubs entire infield of Anthony Rizzo (1B), Ben Zobrist (2B), Addison Russell (SS) and Kris Bryant (3B) were named starters for next week's event. (Side note: The last time that happened was with the with the 1963 Cardinals when Bill White, Julian Javier, Dick Groat and Ken Boyer was the NL infield. It almost happened a few times in the 1970s when the Dodgers had Steve Garvey at first, Davey Lopes at second and Ron Cey at third.)

All told, the Cubs had five starters and the Red Sox had four more starters, meaning nine players of the 17 named starters (David Ortiz was named the DH in the AL), were acquired by their current teams by current Cubs GM Theo Epstein.

Man, that's a dude pull all the right strings and making all the right moves. And if he can end the curse in Chicago the way the 2004 Red Sox ended their curse with Epstein as the GM in Boston, that's going to be one dude who never a) has to worry about a job ever again; b) has to worry about ever picking up a check in a bar in Chicago or Boston ever again and c) needs to get to San Diego ASAP and continue doing the unthinkable.

Here's the list of starters, pitchers and reserves as voted by the fans and then voted on/picked by the managers (KC's Ned Yost and New York Mets' Terry Collins).

The lone Braves player on the roster is pitcher Julio Teheran, who likely will be the most interesting Atlanta player on the roster.

Will he be a trade chip?

Will he be a top-end starter in the rebuilding project?

His numbers are All-Star worthy — a 2.72 ERA, a stellar 0.932 WHiP and a strong 8.4-to-1.9 strikeout-to-walk ratio over nine innings — but the questions remain whether he's a sure-fire No. 1 ace of a contender. 

And the answer to that question may reveal more about the internal view of the timetable of this rebuild than anything.

If the Braves think the young infielders are close, they may keep Teheran to start the opener at the new ballpark in 2017 and try to contend. If they deal Teheran for anything other than a star-prospect filled bonanza, then it screams to the fact the Braves know 2018 may be the earliest they can truly contend.
   

In a Monday, May 30, 2016, file photo, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts during the second half of Game 7 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif.

In a Monday, May 30, 2016, file photo,...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Durant theories and possibilities

The backlash and the battle lines continue to flow and be drawn after the decision by Kevin Durant to join the Warriors and form the latest Super-Team.

We are fine with his decision. He's a free agent and if he wants to take less money for what he perceives as better working conditions, then that's entirely his right and his option.

We're not one of the hand-wringers about the threat to the league or the players having all the power. (It's a bit hypocritical for the Thunder organization and the OKC fans in particular to be too upset about the "betrayal" since, well, you know the Thunder came about because they left Seattle because they thought being OKC would get them 'better working conditions' in a lot of ways.)

So we're cool with Durant's decision. We're sad as a sports fan because I think it's going to further stretch the league into four teams you really want to watch — five if you are a real fan of an NBA team not named Cavs, Warriors, Spurs or Clippers — and the rest of the league is garbage.

To be fair, if you are the lead dog as opposed to another barker in the pack, you will get more credit for winning. (LeBron and KD are the only two free agents to make the super-team leaps. There were other guys who engineered this through trades, but that was  as much about money as it was power plays.) The other interesting part of the fallout of this is trying to find why.

There are theories about winning, which makes sense since all great players need to have a title to enter the next level of discussion. There are theories about his closeness with Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala in international and all-star competitions, which makes sense since everyone wants to work with people they know and like and respect.

Then there are theories about basketball style and even about KD's frustrations of playing with Russell Westbrook. This one we're curious about.

While Stewwie has been questioning Billy Donovan's effectiveness all season — and not being able to do enough to convince KD to give it one more run is a failure across all levels of management there, including Donovan — we all can understand a player's desire to want to be in a Golden State-type of offense. It looks like fun. And no matter the level, whether it's the Y or Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, moving the basketball and making an extra pass is a much more enjoyable brand than the one-pass-dribble-dribble-dribble attack play. So

OK.

But making Westbrook the scapegoat here is too easy and in truth, if it's being leaked by Durant's camp, that's the worst part of this in our eyes.

According to this report, Durant felt like the team "plateaued" in the current setting. 

First, how can you be up 3-1 over the Warriors and in position and feel like you have plateaued? That's surprising.

Secondly, if this quote is accurate, well the numbers do not support it. 

"Ultimately he got frustrated and felt that they had plateaued," said a person with insight into Durant's thought process. "[Donovan] came in, and he still had the same issues that he had with Russ under Scotty. The offense didn't change much. He still had to take a ton of contested shots every game; and that's when he had the ball at all."

In terms of shots, Durant was fourth in the NBA in shots last year with 19.87, with Russell Westbrook averaging 18.74 shots per game. Also, if he wants the ball more, why go to the Warriors, who have the reigning MVP who was second in the league with 19.96 shots per game, and Klay Thompson, who averaged 17.68 shots per game?

The upper-crust games in the NBA are going to be amazing this season. The bottom two-thirds? Not so much.   

This and that

— NBA free agent CHA-ching. There have been 65 total free agent agreements so far that have combined for more than $3 billion. That means the tax bills on all those signings is greater than the $1.14 billion net worth of Michael Jordan. 

— Jon Gruden's son Duece — seriously — is the new strength coach for the Washington Redskins. Here's a twitter link to the info, and the comments are sure not to make Duece super pleased. The Duece is ripped as you'd expect, and he's also 5-foot-6 according to his bio. 

— CBSsports.com produces a hot-seat ranking each summer and updates it periodically. Here's the latest version with Les Miles and acting Baylor coach Jim Grobe atop the lips. 

— Speaking of Les Miles and LSU's hot seat, here's another reason for the climbing flames: LSU is favored in every game it plays this season. According to the South Point Casino, which has set lines on all the big games, LSU is expected to run the table, including being a 3-point favorite over Alabama in November.

— Ray Allen is considering an NBA comeback, and here's betting the Cavs and the Warriors — and even the Spurs and Clippers — are going to explore his interest level.

Today's question

Today is national fried chicken day.

We are a huge fan of chicken, and my Nanny made the best we've ever had. (Side note: The 1988 Winter Olympics were in Calgary, and they wanted to have a food both of all types of the genres around the world. The Southern Baptists Women held a southern food cook-off in which everyone had to cook fried chicken, green beans and cornbread, and Nanny won her division. She could flat cook it now.) 

Rushmore of fried chicken. 

Go, and remember the mailbag.

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