From the "Talk Too Much studios," let's go.
The end was excellent, as direct and purposeful and as on target as any of his record-setting passes during Peyton Manning's 14-year, Hall of Fame career with the Indianapolis Colts.
In his farewell press conference, Manning thanked everyone from the equipment managers (seriously) to the ownership that was cutting him. It was poignant and should be a text book example of how to handle this type of situation. Other than Colts owner JiM Irsay saying, "uh, uh," between every six words (maybe that's why he prefers to communicate on the Twitter), the entire deal should be used as a test case.
It also allowed Manning one former chance to show why he has meant so much to his millions of fans. He seems to care genuinely about the pieces, parts and people in football that fans care about too. Fans and media and even support staff within any organization will never know the fame or the money that mega-stars such as Manning are afforded, and that's how it should be. But the fans need to know their belief and their support and their love for their team is at least matched by the players, especially the stars. And for any fan that was aching at the thought of Manning putting on any other helmet than the famous Colts' horseshoe, Manning's good-bye Wednesday delivered the somber news that he ached along with them.
As mishandled as the Colts-Manning break-up appeared to be through the last six weeks before Wednesday, the final chapter was perfect. Here's saying that maybe they can remain friends - although anyone who thinks Manning is not playing next year and will not show out against the Colts if he gets the chance is fooling themselves.
We've dedicated this space to teams that Johnny Vols Fan can root against to help the University of Tennessee's prospects vis-a-vie the NCAA tournament. Before we get to that, did anyone watch the Big East tournament last night? Gah-ross. Not since the Garden hosted a national A-A meeting has there been that many missed shots in one locale. Of the three games we listed Wednesday that the Vols had a somewhat vested interest in, they got good news in two - UConn winning and Seton Hall losing - and bad news in the third with South Florida winning. As StuckinKent mentioned Wednesday, South Florida has a better resume than the 5-at-10 realized and Wednesday's win pretty much secured their spot in front of the Vols.
All the power conference tournaments will be in full swing tonight, so here are five games that every Johnny Vols Fans should keep an eye on. Granted, this is meaningless if Cuonzo "The Conz Martin" and Co. do not take care of BID-ness on Friday, but today's Thursday and Friday will be Friday on Friday. (We swear that made sense as we were typing it, alas.)
So here's five games that could help/hurt UT's tournament chances (times are Eastern and approximate since tournament games always run long):
Northwestern vs. Minnesota (5:30 p.m., ESPN2) - Northwestern has never made the tournament, so the Wildcats may be one of the few bubble teams with a more sentimental story than The Conz and Co. Northwestern, also much like the Vols, probably needs two tournament wins to feel good about its chances, but the Wildcats absolutely have to win the opener to remain the conversation. Joe Lunardi - the ESPN college hoops bracket guru - has Northwestern among the last four at-large teams in the dance.
Texas vs. Iowa State (9:30 p.m.) - Texas is Lunardi's last at-large team in, and since he has the Vols currently ranked as the second-best at-large team left out of bracket as of this morning, this is the biggest game of the night for Johnny Vols Fans.
Southern Miss vs. East Carolina (1 p.m.) - East Carolina, home of friends of the show Mack McCarthy and Jeff Lebo, could help the Vols by downing a Southern Miss team that is 24-7 (and six of those losses were by single digits). USM would have to feel pretty good with a win today.
Mississippi State vs. Georgia (10 p.m.) - We believe the SEC has done enough to get five teams in the dance, but it's hard seeing six SEC teams getting invited. Mississippi State crashing and burning would strengthen UT as that fifth team in the selection committee's eyes. Granted pulling for the Georgia Bulldogs seems somewhat blasphemous for Johnny Vols Fans around these parts, but so it goes.
Colorado State vs. TCU (5:30 p.m., MountainWest Sports) - CSU has UT whipped in the matrix measures. The Rams are 21st in RPI and have a strength of schedule of an eye-popping 4. (UT is 75th in RPI and 39th in strength of schedule.) The Rams are pretty firmly in right now, but a loss to a very mediocre TCU team would really hurt.
Geaux women's lib
Mo Isom, the record-setting female soccer player for the LSU Tigers, is trying to walk-on the football team as a kicker. Isom, the strong-legged LSU keeper who once scored a goal from 90-yards out, would be the first woman to play in the SEC. (Although there are some Ole Miss fans who could say that several of last year's Rebels also have a claim at that title. Let's just move on.)
Isom's tryout this week featured some nice moments - she made a 51-yarder and consistently put kickoffs inside the 5 according to reports - and some missed kicks in very windy conditions.
"This was really a bad day for anybody to kick because the wind was just so strong," LSU coach Les Miles told Glenn Guilbeau of the Shreveport Times. "But obviously she's got ball skills. She's been around it."
"No, I would have no reservations playing her," Miles added. "If she gave us an opportunity and an advantage, and I mean add an advantage, then certainly we would consider that. The good thing about it is she's an athlete. She's been through team before. She understands the commitment. I would have much less reservation with her than I would any number of other people that frankly didn't know what they were getting into. But the real interesting thing is it has to be an advantage obtained."
Two things here:
First, best of luck to Ms. Isom. If she deserves it, you go girl.
Second, we need more Les Miles in our life. Les, you complete the 5-at-10. Read that second quoted paragraph above again, and picture Les chewing grass and nodding confidently. He is a real-life Saturday Night Live character who uses phrases like "want to" and "purpose" and "she's been through team before." You can't dream this stuff up. (Side note: While we're speaking of real-life SNL characters, does anyone else look at Tennessee governor Bill Haslam and see Dana Carvey? Seriously, it's kind of eerie. And here's saying that if Haslam ever decides to run for president it could be the thing that revives Carvey's career.)
This and that
- OK, quick conspiracy thought: The NFL investigators discovered the Saints' bounty stuff, but we don't know when they learned what they learned. And by releasing it last weekend, the story took off and dominated sports talk... until Manning was released Wednesday. Everyone knew Manning was going to get released this week (even NFL investigators, right?), and now the bounty story is on the back-back burner. Interesting. Well-played Mr. Goodell, well-played indeed.
- The 5-at-10 would rather bet on preseason football than try to make a living picking NBA games this season. With the shortened schedule and teams arbitrarily resting veteran players at different times, it's a twisted combination of pin the tail on the donkey, pitching pennies and guessing. Good luck. (The Lakers blew a 21-point lead to the Wizards for crying out loud.)
- Reports from Alabama's pro day were positive for a slew of talented guys. The 5-at-10 loves the draft. You know this. And in the most recent mock drafts by Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay, Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower goes to the Steelers late in round one. Other Alabama players pegged as first-round guys by Kiper are CB Dre Kirkpatrick, RB Trent Richardson, LB Courtney Upshaw and S Mark Barron. Wow, that's four first-rounders from the same defense. Wow.
- Programming note: We'll be on with Chris Goforth around 2 p.m. on 1370 AM and on SportTalk on 102.3 FM with Quake, Dr. B (he's a doctor after all) and Cowboy Joe around 4ish this afternoon. Swing by if you get the chance.
We mentioned real-life SNL charcters earlier with Les Miles and Gov. Haslam.
Let's pay tribute to the golden days of SNL.
What's the best character in the show's illustrious history? Is it the Samurai? Is it Farley's Matt Foley, the motivational speaker who lived in a van down by the river? Is it Carvey's Church Lady or Crystal's Fernando?
This is not the best character actor or the best impressions. This is the best fictional character that became apart of the fabric of one of TV's iconic shows. (Although the debacle that is the current SNL is a discussion for another time.)
Who you got?