OK, before we get to your questions and emails — sharing some of the feedback I get in a normal week, some with comments, some without, because you guys and gals are interesting folks — let's do our checklist.
> You know the rules. Here's TFP college football hero David Paschall with a look at Mike Ekeler, the final addition to Josh Heupel's first UT coaching squad. Hey, Johnny Vols Fans — looking at several of you, especially Intern Scott and J-Mac — grade Heupel's staff? There are a lot of familiar names and several new names, especially around these parts. Not saying those guys are good or bad because they are known or unknown to SEC fans. Also of note: A complete UT staff means that Kevin Steele will get major greenbacks to leave Auburn and not coach in Knoxville. Getting two monster checks NOT to coach; That's really good work if you can find it. Steele will make $5.9 million over the next two years ($5 million from Auburn; $900K from UT) not to craft defenses in the SEC. But remember, there's not enough money to pay the players.
> While we're here, and no he's not going to get a full blown rule — although he likely deserves it — this excellent story by TFP BIDness ace Mike Pare deserves mention this morning. It appears Hamilton County has eyes on the Old McDonald Farm with designs on it being an industrial park. I understand the need for the land and the need for space for incoming and interested businesses. Still, after having added several events out there through the years, this one feels sad. I can only imagine how it makes Roy Exum feel.
> I know why it left. But centrality in the state is not worth the value and importance Chattanooga puts on the state wrestling tournament. It's a level of 'big-time event' the participants and the TSSAA can't get from Ag Expo shed that happens to be closer to Jackson. Here's more on the story from TFP preps ace Patrick MacCoon.
> Oy vey. Say it ain't so Boston Marathon: Participation medals for showing up? No. We have lost so many things in our race to the middle. Kindness. Unity. Knowledge of self and of civic. Here's another one. Do not undervalue the cost to our nation of losing the edge of competition and the aims of excellence have made on our great nation. Everyone gets a medal. Everyone gets the same. Everyone wants more stuff handed to them. You know, next to being honest, the best skill you can teach in your kids in my opinion is the ability to and the importance of hard work. Inclusion in general has merits. When inclusion becomes the ultimate goal and eliminates skills, hard work and knowledge just so someone doesn't get their feelings hurt, then it becomes detrimental to all of us.
This week's Rushmores:
Rushmore of tough football names. Your nominations were aces. Bronko Nagurski has to be there. Some of you nominated Dick Butkus, much to the chagrin of our interweb filters. And it has merits, but it also begs this question: Was Dick Butkus a tough name or the name of the toughest dude of his day? Because the name like Michael Stonebreaker (former Notre Dame linebacker) is tough without the résumé. Ray Nitschke has the same feel. So does Chuck Bednarik. And of course Knute Rockne, who edged Lance 'Bambi' Alworth. Side question: Does the above evidence make 'K' the toughest letter? Discuss.
Rushmore of comedy sequels. Good buddy Wells at ESPN 105.1 the Zone loves Ghostbusters 2, and not sure if it cracks this one, but wanted to mention it. Airplane 2, Fletch Lives, Christmas Vacation, which was as good and memorable as European Vacation was bad and forgettable, and one of the Austin Powers movies. The animation category would have be drastically different, because no one ages in cartoons, so movies like Shrek 2, Monsters University, Toy Story 2 and The Incredibles 2 are likely better than all of the aforementioned ones save Clark and Co. having everyone over for Jesus' birthday. (Side note: The early reviews of Coming 2 America, which inspired this question, are not overflowing with praise.)
Rushmore of NBA most unbreakable records: Wilt averaging 50-plus points per game for a season and averaging more than 48 minutes per game for a season, lowest scoring game ever, 11 NBA titles by a player.
Rushmore of 'park.' Park Place from Monopoly, Yellowstone Park, Central Park, AT&T Park. As for proper names and such, Chan Ho Park, actor Randall Park, Park Ranger Smith, who chased Yogi around Jellystone Park, and of course, playing right field and wearing Number 39, the Cobra, Dave Parker. (Yeah the last one was a reach, but what an arm he had. Look up his throw in the 1979 All-Star Game in Seattle to nail Brian Downing at the plate. One of the best ever.
To the bag.
A few Saturdays ago, we were watching Marty & McGee (which is a Saturday tradition at our house, side note: Marty & McGee friend or foe? Total friend for us - it was actually dusty a few weeks ago listening to Marty talk about his time with Dale Sr. and Dale Jr. and I don't watch NASCAR. After his dad passed, Dale Jr. asked if Marty would go to church with him so he would have someone to sit with. Wow.)
Anyway, they were discussing the Tennessee coaching hire situation and referenced something they called the "grocery store effect," which is potential coaches wondering if their wife and kids can go to the grocery store (or wherever else) and not be hassled. So they seemed to think it was as bad in Knoxville as anywhere and maybe worse, even before the current dumpster fire in which they find themselves. So the question is - really? Is it really worse at UT or is it that we just live here and those guys practically do too. Places like Nebraska and Texas have really good history and they are struggling, same with Southern Cal. Aren't those people just as upset and just as hostile at the grocery store? (Second side note: Who are these people that will actually bother someone's family over winning and losing a football game?)
Marty & McGee is a total friend, and not to get too deep here, their show is an important opportunity and avenue for a lot of Southern white folks to appreciate watching and listening to people who look and sound like we do. There's great value in that.
Side note: I have not spent as much time with the former, but Ryan McGee is one of the classiest of class acts at the Mothership. I know it can be surprising when folks we watch and see turn out to be jackwagons. (I will share a great email I got on Jimmy Boeheim in a moment.) It's just as important to share when those folks who have reached the lofty status success are great people too. Ryan is one of the best.
I have heard of the grocery store effect and I think it's bad everywhere that the expectations and the expenditures do not meet the production on Saturdays. That's one of the reasons these dudes make $5-plus million at these big-boy stops. As for that being a reason the Vols have had to turn to options 3, 4 or 6 in the last three hires, well, there's that.
There's also the undeniable truth that guys who would have jumped at the UT millions in previous cycles are turning that down to be eight-figure-a-year coordinators at highly successful machines that are winning big and offering multi-year job security.
As for it being worse at UT, well, the run of disastrous decisions in a lot of ways has raised the frustration level to an extreme level. The other part of that too is that social media has replaced the 'Grocery Store Effect' and it's a heckuva of lot easier to be a world class jackwagon to someone's husband or father because the defense allowed Florida to score 34 points online than in the Food City.
Plus, that social media presence for the Vols has taken on a life all its own, and while it gets overblown by some of the national talk heads, there are just as many online Johnny Vols Fans warriors who embrace the drama and the distinct.
So it goes I guess, but I also believe this: With the possible exception of NFL quarterback, there is no position in all of American sports that is more important and more valuable than a college football head coach.
Look around. Yes, Mahomes, Rodgers and Brady are worth every nickel every Sunday. But Saban makes $10 million a year. (For comparison, Vince Dooley made $400K in the Georgia run from 1980-83, which is the closest thing to the year-in, year-out dominance the SEC has seen comparable to Saban's run. Per conversation, Dooley's numbers would be worth $1.358 million today.)
And Saban is wickedly underpaid. His value is off-the charts, for the university, the program, all the other athletic departments and the fans and donors.
From Mark S:
OK, if you were elected the College football czar, what are your first three moves.
Love the column. Roll Tide.
War Eagle my man, and thanks for reading.
First three huh? There are so many issues on the horizon, that it seems rather difficult to trim it to three.
First, I believe college football has to get its hands around the transfer portal before it becomes even worse than it has. We have seen at least two SEC players — former LSU and former Florida tight end Arik Gilbert and former Auburn, former Tennessee and current UCF Knight Big Kat Bryant — transfer twice within the last three months.
The latter was about moving pieces on the coaching staffs, and that issue has to be part of the solution moving forward because coaches leave and get fired every year. And if we do not realize and acknowledge that a vast majority of this players are picking destinations because of who (the person) that's recruiting rather than where (the university) that's recruiting them, then it's facade to begin with.
I would propose a portal that gives everyone one free move, even within conference and even if a player's new team is on the player's old team's schedule the next season. I would assign hard and vast dates, call them portals to enter the portal if you will. Life is about time lines and deadlines and to be fair to the programs, they need to know who's going to be apart of their roster by certain applicable dates.
Second, I would get my hands around the Name, Image and Likeness debate, because the longer college football in particular and college sports in general refuses to lead and implement restrictions and rules on this, the more peril the traditions and teams in the college sports we love face.
If you think that's an overstatement, well, know this in the big picture: Since the NCAA is so completely gutless, if the N-I-L decisions are left to the various state legislatures, think of the wildly different rules that could be applied.
In Florida, they may allow any booster who is a business owner to pay any scholarship player up to $5,000 a year in endorsement deals. Well, the following year the state of Georgia may say athletes can get up to $10,000. Then Alabama ups it to $20,000. There is simply no end in sight. And if the leaders of college athletics can't see this, then they are either dumber than can be imagined or more gutless than ca be excused. (And that does not have to be an either or in this case.)
There are a few other things coming down the pike. There will be a slew of conversation about expansion in terms of the playoff and conference re-alignment in the years to come. There will be a decision in the next decade about college football's powers that be breaking away from the NCAA and doing their own thing. (In truth, if the NCAA wants to have a chance at survival when my son is taking his son to college games, they should hire a football czar and give the primary bread-winners for the NCAA members almost everything they want. Because when football breaks away — and it will, because the pandemic showed us how perilous those budgets can be — eventually hoops breaks away too, and then poof. You eventually have major college athletics, and everything else is on the FCS (or below) levels, including hoops.)
And those will be important issues. My third one may surprise you, because I believe even more than paying the players, arguably the biggest failure of college football is that it does not do enough to prepare the players for meaningful employment.
Sure, they get a billion tutors and extras and that needs to stay. There are a slew of avenues that college explore to keep these guys in school and if possible get them a degree.
And there are way more success stories than failures. But what about, you know, a job? Because while I don't believe all college experiences should be something akin to technical or trade schools, I also don't believe we need the hundreds of thousands of Medieval French Poetry majors running around either.
I would make 'Football' a major at these universities, since it already is. And no it's not just about playing and practicing.
There are a multitude of job opportunities within the game these days beyond just playing it.
Wanna be in the NFL? If during your sophomore year, you are seeing meaningful minutes and you get a favorable playing review from an advisory board that pro football is a possibility, then the NFL wing of this major is a business major that works to educate about investments, money management and surroundings.
Wanna be a coach? This would be in the education wing of the university.
Wanna be in TV? Wanna be in scouting (analytics)? Wanna be an agent, a sporting goose rep, you name it?
Remember the punchline we all told about your favorite school's most common major when the TV networks showed the info boxes? Auburn's was Family Development and Studies. It should have said "Major: Football."
So, like so many other factors that could be fixed in college sports, embrace the truth and make it better. Because living under the umbrella of shamatuerism is going to be the death of the NCAA.
From Intern Scott:
I went and watched the Braves/Padres fight. Incredible. When the fat umpire ends up on the ground, it's high comedy. I'd never seen that footage before.
McDermott should not be fired. Ridiculous.
Boeheim and Coach K deserve one another. Both get under my skin.
Dale Murphy was my first love. Maddux was the one for whom I fell hard. Garret Anderson is my all-time least favorite Brave, with no close second.
Did you see that McDermott was suspended? Thoughts?
And, while we frequently try to divide the layers of cancel culture around these parts, the layers of the McDermott onion are interesting.
First, Creighton said two days ago, that any punishment would remain confidential. Well, then the Twitter fired up and now Creighton released this statement:
"After our Creighton men's basketball team returned to Omaha earlier today, Fr. Hendrickson and I engaged with other senior leaders in dialogue and discussion regarding appropriate sanctions for the remarks made by Head Men's Basketball Coach Greg McDermott that were not in alignment with Creighton's commitment to racial equity, diversity and respect," athletic director Bruce Rasmussen was quoted as saying in the statement. "Coach McDermott and the team have accepted that, effective immediately, he is suspended from all team activities, including Saturday's home season finale against Butler. Further sanctions remain under consideration, not all of which will be shared publicly.
"Coach McDermott and our Athletic program must use this incident as an opportunity for growth and learning, as clearly more work needs to be done."
Does this surprise anyone? I doubt that. The 'plantation' analogy is not a good look, especially in a situation in which a nationally ranked basketball team made up of almost entirely young Black men is making tens of millions for the school and millions a year for the white coach.
And for the most part 'plantation' now joins the list with noose and behind the well-known slurs on the no-no list.
But Creighton has known about this for a while. Why the switch? If the punishment is consequence and not semi-cancel, why the two orders, Col. Jessup?
It also calls into comparison the whole Boeheim thing we referenced earlier this week, because it's very clear you can be a bully and a complete (bleep)hole and get away with it way more than you can have a slip of the tongue.
Now if there are other incidents in McDermott's closet, then that's one thing. Because there is a litany of line items in the Boeheim and Coach K files that point directly to them being world class jackwagons, no matter how much Dickie V licks their Nikes.
So my first HS job was in a dry cleaner in Syracuse, NY. It was pretty great, because all of the other people I worked the counter with were cute HS girls, but I digress. One of our clients was none other than the jackwagon himself, Jim Boehiem. Calling him a jackwagon is kind of an insult to all of the other, lesser, jackwagons. He was a straight up (Beep)hole.
Hope all's well!
Thanks for sharing. This made me laugh out loud and I wanted to share this with the group.
And yes, we're good. Hope you and yours are.
Side note, before we move on. Thanks so much to so many of you who fill the comments and my email every day. It's fun.
At times it's hard to keep up and I have some back emails to get to this weekend, because I can't tell you how much the support means.
Also, if you had a question in the comments this week that I did not get to, put in the comments today. I am making a point be around today.
So, in response to my A2 column earlier this week about finding ways to support teachers in Tennessee, here is one of each — support and criticism — of the dozens of emails it generated.
From A Reader:
I just read your column about how 6 steps would help teachers restore classroom calm by allowing them to remove kids who disrupt the class.
Thank you very much! I have been teaching for 38 years. There is nothing that kills a class faster than a kid who just insists on being disruptive.
In these times, teaching is hard enough. This tool will make it a little easier. And more importantly, it will serve the kids who are there to learn. Nothing should come before that.
From A (different) Reader:
I usually don't read your column because when I did read it, I found that you seem to write about your opinion - but you don't seem to bother to have an informed opinion.
For some reason, I read today's column - and it reaffirmed my previous experiences.
You don't bother to mention any of the studies that have shown that children of color and children with disabilities are reprimanded more harshly and excluded from the classroom more quickly than white students.
No one believes that teachers should not be able to control their classrooms. But many of us see this bill for exactly what it is - another attempt to embed discrimination in Tennessee laws. If it wasn't intended to do that, the bill would also include funds for a study to determine the extent that race impacts the severity of punishment in Tennessee schools - and to ensure that punishments do not have a racial component.
So there's that.
Have a great weekend gang.