First, let's clean the house.
This week's Rushmores.
Rushmore of Lamar: Jackson, Latrelle and his limp-wristed throwing style, Alexander and Hunt, the man who coined the term Super Bowl.
Rushmore of Game Show females: Vanna, the lady from Weakest Link, Price is Right showcase models, and Betty White, who was a celeb contestant superstar on a slew of the old-school circuit.
Rushmore of Bradley Cooper: Wedding Crashers, The Hangover, Silver Linings Playbook, American Sniper.
Rushmore of Floyds: Floyd the barber in Mayberry, Pink Floyd, the group, Randall 'Pink' Floyd (the QB in Dazed and Confused) and Eric 'Sleepy' Floyd.
As for the NFL picks, well, I will take the Bills (-6), the Seahawks (-3.5), Tampa (-8), over 55 in Baltimore-Tennessee and the Ravens (-3), Chicago (+10), and Pittsburgh (-6).
To the mailbag, and you guys and gals were great this week. Wow, a lot of back and forth, and as always, I appreciate you.
Hey man, I know you love the draft. And LeBron. And LeBatard.
What else would you put on that list, and did you see the LeBatard-Clay Travis beef? If we could add gifs to the 5-at-10, this is where the Michael Jackson popcorn gif goes right?
Keep on keeping on my man.
Wow, my sports loves?
I love the Dodgers' white uniforms. And Auburn's too.
I love Titleist. Tiger. the sound of metal cleats - or old school golf spikes - on concrete. I love the smell of fresh grass early in the high school football season, and the muffled tears from the seniors after that last loss.
I love the endings of sports movies, good and bad. I love Crash Davis' professionalism, Jimmy Chitwood's confident knowledge that he'll make it, the realization in Buttermaker's eyes when he remembers it's a game and these are kids (Red Stripe celebration notwithstanding), and Herb Brooks reminding his team that they were born to be hockey players.
I love a great pregame speech, almost every postgame message and the prayers - be them the Lord's, an original, or silent - for health and fair play.
I love pitching BP, catching my daughter pitching a softball and turning loose a 3 and knowing - not thinking or hoping or believing, but KNOWING - it's pure.
I love sports, my friend. Even when they don't love me back. (Which, as an Auburn fan, is a regular happening.)
What about you my man?
As for the other, I did see it. Not surprising, and you're right it will be a very interesting back-and-forth considering the skill sets of each and the powerful and loyal fan bases on both sides.
But you left me with a question, what's the Rushmore of GIFs?
Jay, love your writing and miss you on the radio.
What do you make of UT's lack of news coming from Knoxville? This feels like a time when there should be offseason news, hiring coaches, recruiting, you name it, and there's nothing much happening. Hell Auburn's staff is almost full.
Thanks and hope to hear you on the air again some day.
Thanks for the kind words, and for playing along with the silliness.
TFP college football honcho David Paschall details the nuts and bolts of UT putting a hold on the assistants hiring here. And to be fair the addition of the Virginia Tech QB appears intriguing for your Vols.
The company line is the school is looking into allegations of NCAA violations. That's poppycock, in my view.
Sure, that's the company line, but even the simplest of observers can see they are exploring if they can fire Pruitt for cause for this and get out from that albatross of a deal. (Side note: Hey, next month Butch Jones comes off the UT payroll, so that's good news.)
It also makes you wonder if Phillip Fulmer is in over his head as the CEO of an athletic department that has this many facets, fiscal details, factions and fractures.
Because the inaction right now is painful and the silence is deafening.
We asked this earlier this week about if UT would be better off with a Malzahn or a Tom Herman than Jeremy Pruitt, and I think the Vols would be, but only marginally.
This has become a broken record of brokenness and I'm not sure Malzahn or Herman wants or is equipped for the rebuild that is getting tougher and more daunting with each passing season.
Have a great weekend Bob, and know that I truly want UT football to be relevant again. Things are more fun around these parts when that's the case.
For all those folks who tell LeBron and others to shut up and dribble would have they told Muhammad Ali to shut up and punch people?
In some way, I know this is rhetorical, but it also is applicable. Especially this week.
And not just for Chris Malone, who almost assuredly is unemployable moving forward in his chosen profession.
Let's start with the particulars Pat mentioned. First, we have discussed frequently in this space that no athlete's off-the-field/court efforts have forever been glossed over like LeBron's. Cam Newton's on that list too.
As for Ali, well, he was either the most brilliant athlete/activist or the most manipulated, and those do not have to be mutually exclusive.
Can you imagine the conversations between the ABC bigwigs and Cosell at the height of Ali's powers, because for those around Alejandro's age, Ali's apex was a step beyond LeBron's or Tiger's globally and maybe just short of Pele's in terms of all-time global reach?
ABC Suit: "OK Howard, what's the plan for Wide World of Sports this Saturday?"
Howard: "Hello, I'm Howard Cosell."
ABC Suit: "Howard do we have to start every meeting with that."
Howard: "As for Saturday, I was thinking we could show some highlights, like that skier crashing down the ski jump and maybe switch to the Globetrotters-Generals for a bit, and then I can get a sit down with Ali."
ABC Suit: "Sounds good, but remember to direct Ali to the rhymes and clever quips about insects and such. We want the fun Ali, the charismatic Ali. Not the anti-draft Ali."
Howard: "Sure, no sweat."
And while giving the TV broadcasters the charisma and the sound bites, Ali was still able to create change and benefit society in so many ways.
Plus, while we all realize that we are not close to racial harmony, the trials and hatred that Ali cleared were exponentially worse than today.
It's weird in the grand scheme of things, how LeBron's image has revolved to this place. For instance, LeBron is a way, Way, WAY better dude than MJ was at this age, and the universal popularity of the two is not even close. And yes, I am pro-LeBron, but the case evidence is not even close.
Some of that is the lack of coverage MJ had/allowed during his heyday. And some of the gutless folks covering the Bulls at that time advanced to huge heights in large part by swallowing their ethics and just letting the public know about MJ's on-court superhuman exploits.
Is that way better? To spin Pat's question, does the public want the media to "Shut up and tell me about the dribbling" about sports?
I know I don't. That's too limited and boring. The best stories - good and bad, fireable and forgettable - are when the people you cover talk. Openly.
And the big picture stance of shut up and dribble is a farce to begin with, because like every corner of every argument, that notion is not only historically hollow - Robinson, Ali, Russell, the Olympians in Mexico City, et al. among the folks who were activists as well as athletes - it's also incomplete.
It's been shortened, because even in this day of political and personal polarization, the actual phrase is, "Shut up and dribble unless I agree with you." And that's true on both sides.
From Joe Don
What's the best thing about Switzerland? I don't know, but the flag is a big plus.
Why did the nurse take a red pen to work? In case she needed to draw blood.
At the bank today an elderly lady asked me to check her balance, so I pushed her over.
What did the buffalo say to his male child when he left for college? Bison.
What's the difference between a hippo and a zippo? One is really heavy and the other is a little lighter.
Two antennas met on the roof, fell in love and got married. The ceremony wasn't much but the reception was excellent.
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
I tried to sue the airport for losing my luggage. I lost my case.
What do you call a fish without eyes? Fsh.
Joe Don -
We asked for some smiles on Thursday, and you delivered. As a fellow who embraces the Dad Joke role, these will be rinsed, lathered and repeated.
And much needed, because while I fancy myself as occasionally funny - yes, Spy, funny looking too - I am the world's worst at remembering actual jokes. My humor has been centered on timing and wit. And writing funny is the hardest form of this gig.
It also made me think about coaching an 8-year-old bunch in a baseball title game. The kids were nervous and I asked if anyone knew a joke. (I could have hit them with the Norman Dale, "We're way beyond big speeches now" line, but did not have a preacher on hand - although one of the player's dad is a preacher - to follow it up with "And David put his hand in the bag and took out a stone and slung it. And it struck the Philistine on the head and he fell to the ground. Amen.")
Our best player offered, "Well, if you're an American before you go in the bathroom and American when you leave the bathroom, what are you while in the bathroom?"
"You're A Pee-in."
Thanks Joe Don, and for what it's worth, we won that day and the kid that told the joke had the game-winning hit in extra innings.
From Dawg on a Leash
Kirby Smart has always reminded me of that kid in the neighborhood no one wanted to have to play with (and with a name like Kirby, maybe it's not all his fault). What does it say about the head coach that he doesn't have the self-awareness or composure to lead from the sideline without another man holding him back by his pants? Also, who really should be more ashamed in this scenario - the guy who requires another man to hold him by his waistband for 3 hours or the unlucky (yet likely highly paid) fellow who has the chief purpose each game to hold his head coach by his pants like a toddler?
Lots of layers here, and we'll start with the cardinal sin of answering a question with a question, but for Jules and Alejandro and Uncle Stephen and a slew of devoted Bulldogs backers around these parts, I ask the following:
What's the view of Kirby among the UGA faithful? Good coach, sure. Great recruiter. But is Kirby not as Smart as you expected or originally thought him to be? In a billion years, this is not hot seat chatter, but is this the early feelings of Spurrier connection in Gainesville or the early vibes of Richt in Athens or even Gus in Auburn?
As for Mr. Leash's query, first, it was a funny visual in the Peach Bowl, with Kirby looking like the SEC version of Phillip on the playground with Grace on SNL back in the day. (Clip here, and it's worth your time. Also, if I'm ranking the SNL cast on the number of truly great on-air, recurring characters they played on the iconic skit show, Mike Myers is right there with Eddie Murphy and Will Ferrell.)
As for the question, again layers and in no specific order, Kirby has to be more embarrassed, especially since when he was being pulled back his shirt kept riding up and offering his under-tummy some redneck air conditioning. And that's not even getting to the point that you suggested and the fact that the guy who was pulling Kirby back likely makes twice what I do. (Psstt, Kirby, if you need a bigger 'Get Back' coach, give me a shout.)
The irony here of course is that a big part of Georgia pulling the plug on Richt was his lack of in-game passion, and there are few sins a big-time college football coach can make that are as damaging as the fan base believing that a loss hurts them more than their coach.
Not saying Kirby's antics are not authentic, but that error is better than the converse, no?
But the big picture point on this one is intriguing too, and we've had this conversation a few times.
If Richard LeCounte had blown a gasket like that, he'd have gotten a 15-yarder and Kirby would have gone full-blown Regan MacNeil. But a coach does it - a grown bleepin man who's making millions and the CEO of a nine-figure annual operation - and it's passionate?
That's hard to get our head around, but it's where we are.
That said, seriously Kirby, get back to me - see what I did there - we can make a deal.
Have a great weekend friends.