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As the stories continue to leak from Columbus, Ohio, Bruce Pearl's barbecue is starting to look like a Boy Scout meeting.

Can't you just picture Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton sitting down to write a letter to THE Ohio State University, which has pitched a tent in the NCAA crosshairs?

Maybe it would go something like this (and don't you know it would be on one of those stationery pads with something like "From the Happy Desk of Mike Hamilton" in orange ink across the top):

Dear Gordon Gee, Gene Smith and Jim Tressel:

Know that our sympathies are with you in this time of unrest and uncertainty. Know also that we here at the University of Tennessee and the officials and representatives of universities from Los Angeles to Auburn to Gainesville to Eugene, Ore., greatly appreciate the sacrifices you have made for college athletics and your willingness to face adversity.

This time can be difficult, and know that we are happy to help any way possible.

Sincerely (happy it's not us),

Mike

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Maybe reinstated South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia has nekked pictures of Steve Spurrier. How else to explain Spurrier allowing Garcia to return to the team after his fifth (yes, FIFTH) suspension.

Since we're talking about a Southern icon in Steven Orr Spurrier, we're going to use Lewis Grizzard's "nekked." Grizzard, a true Southern icon in his own right, famously said, "Naked for a Southerner means you ain't got no clothes on. Nekked means you ain't got no clothes on and you up to somethin'."

"One more, he'd be finished," Spurrier told reporters at the SEC's meeting. "He's got some guidelines he has to follow or he knows he's finished. Hopefully he can do that."

One more, he'd be finished? Wow. Is that the college football version of double-secret probation, Dean Wormer?

Compromising photos are unlikely the answer, though. Garcia's return says a lot about Spurrier's lack of confidence in backup quarterback Connor Shaw's ability to guide a South Carolina team that has legit SEC championship hopes. If Shaw was up to snuff in the spring, Spurrier would have gladly walked Garcia to his car.

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Shaquille O'Neal made his retirement official Friday with a news conference in his house, leaving behind a legacy as one of the game's most physically dominating players of all time and one of the more enjoyable and energetic and infectious personalities in all of sports.

But where does O'Neal rank on the list of all-time centers? As physically unstoppabe as Shaq was - and he was impossible to stop physically - there are some slights on his resume. He missed more than 8,000 free throws in his career. Read that again.

Here's one guy's list:

  1. Wilt Chamberlain - Averaged 50 points per game one year; Shaq before Shaq

  2. Kareem Abdul-Jabaar - Owned the sport's most unstoppable shot; still whining about statues

  3. Bill Russell - The game's most accomplished champion

  4. Hakeem Olajuwan - So skilled; clearly the best player on a two-time champion

  5. Shaq - So strong; and a gift for fans and basketball

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