From the "Talks too much" studios, thanks for a lively Monday Press Row, and buckle up — we got a lot to say.

Barnes to UT

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FILE - In this Feb. 2015, file photo, Texas head coach Rick Barnes calls to his players during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa State in Austin, Texas. Barnes, who shaped Texas into a national basketball power with three Big 12 championships and 16 NCAA Tournament appearances in 17 years, will be released after yet another quick exit from the postseason, people with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Saturday. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

It appears Rick Barnes is closing in on being the next Tennessee basketball coach.

This allowed for a great debate on Press Row on Monday. 

Some thought it was a home run hire, Barnes with 16 trips to the NCAA tournament in the last 17 years and coming to a program that has 12 trips in the last 32.

Some thought it was a 2 on the scale of 1-to-10 and wondered why UT would welcome in a 60-year-old retread.

Some thought it was a blah-tastic move, a 6.5-out-of-10 that offered consistent stability but a limited ceiling.

We fell in the last group.

The swiftness with which this appears to be happening means the Vols targeted Barnes as soon as the rumors of his demise at Texas started to gain steam. 

And, unlike any of his previous major hires in Knoxville, it appears that Dave Hart may have actually landed his first choice. That's at least a positive, right?

And maybe a potential Barnes hire seems less than thrilling as Alabama tries to land Gregg Marshall and Texas tries to lure Shaka Smart. Maybe Tennessee needs safe more than star power.

But it seems like a settle to us, and settling — be it your first choice or your third — means you better cross your fingers. Settling could lead to Butch Jones. It also leads to Donnie Tyndall, and Hart has spent up all his Donnie Tyndalls.

And maybe there's the rub. Maybe Hart went safe because he knows he has moved into the crosshairs.

That, however, is not trying for the best hire.

So it goes.


Saban's hollow apology

Wow, that was hollow even for the dismissive Nick Saban.

As TFP SEC ace David Paschall shares here, Saban went on the offensive in his news conference. He said he nor the program is sorry for extending a second chance to Jonathan Taylor, who was arrested on domestic violence charges last weekend. It's the second domestic violence charge against Taylor, who was at junior college last year after being dismissed from UGA last year.

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FILE - In this Dec. 31, 2014, file photo, Alabama head coach Nick Saban speaks to the media during a press conference for the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Saban is expected to address the media Monday, March 30, 2015, after two Crimson Tide players were arrested in separate cases over the weekend. Defensive back Geno Smith and defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor are facing legal trouble again. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

Saban's tough-minded, we're giving people second chances rabble was predictable in a lot of ways. He has a press conference "Picket Fence" play that is effective and should be expected. If there's a topic he doesn't want to discuss, he gets surly about it, answers three or four questions around the matter and then gets really angry after a couple of attempts to redirect the tenor of the conference.

And the media rarely gets to watch the paint dry because Saban leads them where he wants the discussion to go.

This time, though, he should not have that right.

This discussion is bigger than an uncomfortable moment in the Alabama football complex, bigger than the incident, and goodness forbid, bigger than even Lord Nick himself.

It's time for the SEC to quit admitting violent felons — or those with charges of violent felonies against them — into its athletic programs. Period. 

As we wrote this morning here, second chances should be the handshake of our imperfect life, given and accepted with eagerness and respect.

But playing in the SEC should be a luxury, and when you make certain missteps, those luxuries should vanish. 

Violent felonies like domestic assault should be among those missteps.

No matter how much Nick Saban washes his hands of this moment and believes he did nothing wrong. In fact, that he believes he and Alabama have no fault in this matter screams the need for the league on high to take the steps that Saban can't see.

It's time for Mike Slive to make a final attempt at making the SEC better than he found it. 


Kris Bryant

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In this March, 2015, file photo, Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant signs autographs prior to start of a spring training exhibition baseball game against the San Diego Padres in Peoria, Ariz. Bryant was reassigned by the Cubs to their minor league camp on Monday despite an outstanding spring training at the plate, triggering a threat of litigation from the players' association.

The Chicago Cubs, a trendy pick to make a run for a tortured fan base, have painfully reminded us that no matter the storyline or the setting, it's all about business.

There's a great scene in North Dallas Forty in the locker room after the loss where John Matuszak rants about every time the players think its a game the owners tell them it's a business and vice versa. It's poignant and real.

It's also 100 percent true.

The Cubs have a chance to reverse a lifetime of frustration for a fan base that has stuck by a wretched franchise for a variety of reasons. It was day-time TV for a certain generation. It was the face of Harry Caray — and the voice, too — when the errors mounted and everyone needed an Old Style. It was trendy cool for a time to support the stinky teams and hope they turned it around.

And eventually, it became just what you did. You talked yourself into being a Cubs fan the way people convince themselves they like salads. You're not really sure where it started, but now, that's where you are.

Now the Cubs have a chance to deliver a really enjoyable salad. There are quality pieces. The chef is an accomplished, well-known veteran. Everyone's appetite is hearty.

And then the Cubs reminded everyone Monday that this is about business more than baseball. They sent down Kris Bryant, the top prospect in baseball who was was leading the spring with nine homers.

They can blab all they want about seasoning, but Bryant is ready for his big league salad days and Chicago sent him down to delay his free agency clock.


Bryant will get the call right after May 1, and that way the Cubs get an extra year on Bryant's rookie deal before he can become a free agent.

Regardless of how they spin this, it comes across as the organization simply cares about business and finances more than winning today, and that's flawed. Yes, at his current pace, Bryant will command a King's ransom on the open market in a few years, but if the Cubs win, they will be able to afford it. 

And let's remember, we're not talking about the Rays or the Royals or any of the other small market clubs. This is the Cubs, who have an iconic, tourist-attracting ball park and their own TV network.

Nope, there's not enough dressing to deter the sour taste of this business decision. The Cubs sold short the never-ending faith of a fan base whose collective mouth is watering for success for the first time in a generation.

Someone pass the croutons.


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Tiger Woods acknowledges the gallery on the ninth hole during the second round of the Phoenix Open golf tournament, Friday, Jan. 30, 2015, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

This and that

— According to golf insider Tim Rosaforte, it appears Tiger Woods will play the Masters. How he will play remains an unknown of course, but Tiger

— Did you see the TV weatherman who went on camera with a hanger still in his jacket? Wow, this doesn't even need a punchline. (OK, if we must, he certainly looked a little stiffer than usual.)

— Remember the old NBA Jams video game when a player would get hot and each shot would become a fireball and go it as the game said, "You're on FIRE." Kyle Korver went NBA Jams on the MIlwaukee Bucks on Monday, scoring 11 points in 65 seconds. Watch — he's on FIRE.


Today's question

Should violent felons be allowed a second chance to play major college football?

If we need something a little less heavy, well let's try this Rushmore.

Today, the Eiffel Tower turns 126. What's the Rushmore of the most recognized landmarks?

Go, and consider this an early reminder for the mailbag.