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FILE - Former Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George speaks as his number 27 is retired during a halftime ceremony at an NFL football game between the Titans and the Indianapolis Colts in Nashville, in this Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, file photo. Tennessee State has hired former NFL running back Eddie George as the new NCAA college football coach, banking on his name and football connections to revive the program. TSU introduced George at a news conference Tuesday, April 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Wade Payne, File)

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Now the NCAA gets into the political debate.

As MLB continues to spin in the fallout of the decision to move its All-Star game, the NCAA released this statement two days ago about NCAA postseason events:

"When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected."

Yeah, pretty standard stuff, but this kicker is about the transgender in sports decisions and rulings several states, like Tennessee are dealing with.

The complete statement is here, and says the "NCAA has a long-standing policy that provides a more inclusive path for transgender participation in college sports."

Say what? I've been in sports for the vast majority of my professional life, and I promise you I had no idea the NCAA allows transgender athletes to play women's sports.

And, according to the statement, so does the International Olympic Committee.

Again, what?

And of course the next question has to be "Who" right?

The immediate wrinkle here is it appears the NCAA is about to have a serious decision to make considering that Tennessee and Vandy are ranked in the top five in every college baseball poll, and each would be an easy and logical choice to host a regional or a super-regional.

But that statement seems direct and, considering the other states — Mississippi and Arkansas included — that have debated and/or passed controversial laws about transgender folks, well, the NCAA is about to have a conundrum.

Because in the latest Baseball America poll, Arkansas is No. 1 in the country, Mississippi State is 3, Tennessee is 5, Vandy is 6, and Ole Miss is 9 but it appears none of those elite programs will be allowed to host a regional and will be forced to travel.

Hmmmmmm. Buckle up.  

 

Smart move

First it was Deion Sanders taking the head coaching job at Jackson State in Mississippi.

Now comes news that former Tennessee Titans star runner Eddie George is the next coach at Tennessee State.  

My reaction — cue the Guinness dudes — "Brilliant!"

Can he coach? I don't know.

Could he play? Heck yes.

And the simple fact of the matter is that Deion and George make JSU and TSU two of the higher-profile traditionally Black university athletic programs in the country.

Plus, if either of those former All-Pro players can lure a random four-star recruit, the impact will be immediate.

The level of exposure and notoriety each brings is well worth any risk in my view.

 

Far from Masters class

Yeah, I already miss the Masters.

And judging by the TV numbers, a lot of folks missed this Masters.

The TV numbers are out and last week's return to spring was way up from the Masters in November. Sunday's final round had a 5.5 rating and 9.45 million viewers, numbers up 62% and 69% from Dustin Johnson's win last fall.

That was to be expected, especially since the Masters five-plus months ago aired earlier in the day and was against NFL football.

But the numbers are far from good. The 2019 Masters, won by some famous Cat whose name escapes me, drew a 6.9 and 10.81 viewers despite starting early in the day because of looming weather.

If you go back to 2018 and the last time the Masters aired in its traditional Sunday afternoon slot, the numbers are down 27% in ratings and 30% in viewers.

In fact, other than last November's pandemic-pushed anomaly, Sunday was the lowest rated Masters final round since 1957 and the least watched since 1993.

Egad.

Of course the Masters is far from the only sports broadcast to see tumbling TV numbers.

In fact, according to reports in Variety, several networks believe — or want to believe — that Neilsen's adjustments during the pandemic have caused the precipitous drop in ratings and viewers across a vast majority of sports broadcasts.

Thoughts?

 

This and that

— Braves played. Braves lost. Side question: Does it feel like the Braves are something line 4-102 all-time against the stinky Marlins? And I'm not sure what the organization did with Max Fried, but that guy last night was more fried than freed.

— From the Twitter account of golf reporter Jason Sobel: "Breaking: The PGA Tour and DraftKings announce a commercial partnership for retail and mobile sports betting in Arizona, including plans to build and operate a sportsbook on-site at TPC Scottsdale, with the intention of opening in time for Super Bowl LVII in '23, also in Phoenix." Gang, here's betting in five years, there will be betting windows or kiosks and a casino feel at almost every sporting venue you can picture. Book that.

— This survey says that 15% of Americans are worse off 13 months into the COVID-19 pandemic. Truth be told, I thought it would be higher. A lot higher in fact.

— Congrats to Tim Kelly, who was elected Chattanooga mayor last night.

— A lot of us have been wondering when Peyton Manning would make his next move into some form of broadcasting. Dude is too charismatic not to be doing something on air. Well, here you go. Manning is going to host a college quiz show. Who would have guessed that?  

— Speaking of game shows and quarterbacks, Green Bay superstar Aaron Rodgers continues to dazzle in his two-week run as the guest host on Jeopardy! And his reaction to the silence from the contestants when the answer in the category of 'Title Waves' was "In the 1960s these midwesterners earned 5 NFL Championship trophies" was pitch perfect.

— Fans of banished country music star Morgan Wallen paid for support ads on six Nashville-area billboards this week.  

— Did you see this? Gary Player's son has been banished from the Masters for trying to product drop a sleeve of golf balls in the video shots behind Lee Elder during the traditional opening tee shot last weeks. Friends there are a few hard and fast rules in sports. You can never judge a slow-pitch softball player or a golfer by their outfit. Speed kills. Saban is better than everyone. And the Masters does NOT play. If you remember that, and like Coach Finstock told Scott Howard, get 12 hours sleep, you stick with that, everything else is cream cheese. 

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall's prose on the line coaches in Knoxville trying to work some magic. Tall order for the new staff for sure, but I believe that Rodney Garner will make that defensive line salty sooner rather than later. He's done it everywhere else — including in his previous tour in K-town.

 

Today's questions

Which way Wednesday starts this way:

Which reason do you believe has caused the plummeting sports TV numbers?

Which former NFL player (other than Peyton, UT fans) would you want your college football team to hire?

Which way would you describe how the looming hubbub between NCAA and the states varying transgender laws   will end up?

Heck, fire away 'Which Ways' this way if you wish.

As for today, April 14, let's review.

John Wilkes Booth shot Honest Abe on this day in 1865 and hatched the great phrase, "Other than that how did you enjoy the play Mrs. Lincoln?"

The Titanic hit an iceberg on this day in 1912. Dang it, Rose, pull Jack on the board. "I have a child."

On this day 19 years ago, Tiger became the third player to go back-to-back at Augusta National.

Pete Rose is 80 today. Eighty.

Not sure about you but Rose was on the shortlist of batting stances that were the most fun to imitate in wiffle ball growing up. Pops Stargell was there too, with his big circles. Joe Morgan's elbow popping as well.

Dave Justice is 55. Abigail Breslin is 25 today. Yeah, that makes me feel a little old.

 Greg Maddux is 55 today as well.
Rushmore of best pitchers of the last 50 years. Go, and if Maddux is not on your list well, you're excused for the rest for the day.

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