A few thoughts to jump start your Tuesday morning.
STREAK ON THE LINE IN KNOXVILLE
The Gators put their 15-game winning streak on the line tonight in Knoxville in a game that should be closer than Florida’s 67-41 embarrassment of the Vols at the O-Dome just a couple of weeks ago. Tennessee needs a signature win to bolster its chances of making the NCAA Tournament and with 21,000 fans at Thompson-Boling cheering them on, there should be no lack of motivation on their part. There should also be no lack of motivation on the part of the Gators, either. Florida has a two-game lead over Kentucky in the Southeastern Conference race and the Gators will be traveling to Lexington on Saturday so a split this week is a necessity. Of course, if the Gators were to win both they would be 12-0 in the SEC with at least a three-game lead with six to go. I like Florida to win tonight for two reasons: (1) I think the Gators play good enough defense to neutralize the home crowd and Jordan McRae, who is a lights out shooter; and (2) this team has truly embraced this season as an opportunity to be great. Patric Young and Scottie Wilbekin talk about it all the time and the more you listen the more you realize this isn’t idle chatter among a bunch of college kids, but something these guys hold dear in their hearts and minds. Yes, this is a team that has the possibility to be great.
SMART SUSPENDED THREE GAMES
Oklahoma State All-American guard Marcus Smart has been suspended three games for shoving a fan Saturday night in the Cowboys’ loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock. Smart was provoked by Texas Tech fan Jeff Orr, who denies that he used a racial slur but does admit that he called Smart “a piece of crap” when Smart ran off the court and into the end zone after attempting to block a shot. Smart shouldn’t have reacted as he did and he deserves the suspension, but what Orr said was every bit as inappropriate. I’m surprised we haven’t had more incidents like this. I’ve been going to games for more than 50 years and too many fans cross the line of decency with some of the things they yell. I realize there is free speech, but there is also such a thing as decency.
IZZO IS NO FAN OF TWITTER
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo sounded off about Twitter on Mike and Mike Monday. Izzo believes that Twitter has allowed fans to hide behind anonymous handles to say some of the trashiest things about coaches and athletes. “It doesn’t matter what you tweet; it’s what you read,” Izzo said on Mike and Mike. “That’s what I keep telling my guys. We can control what they tweet, to a certain extent. They’re going to get frustrated sometimes and probably say something stupid. But it’s what they read. If somebody’s writing stuff about your daughter when she’s in high school, I’ll bet you look at it a little differently. I’ve had grown men (my players) in my office in tears because of what’s being written. That’s what brings the frustration level.”
NOR IS BEN TROUPE
In a column he penned for Southern Pigskin, Troupe spoke out about Twitter and its effect on recruiting: “To those people on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram talking trash to these teenagers because they chose another school over your school, here are some words of advice: please grow up and get a life. Remember, growing old is inevitable, while growing up is a choice, so please make the choice to grow up, because calling these young men all these expletives and everything but a child of God is ridiculus. That’s what happens when you hide behind the computer screens and laptops and fake Twitter names and profiles, and want to talk trash to these young people and then see them in the street and ask for an autograph. I am just saying it is pathetic, and as my grandmother would always say, ‘If you did not help me get here, do not tell me where I should go and, most importantly, what I should do.’”
RICHARD PETTY SPEAKS OUT ABOUT DANICA PATRICK
Richard Petty, who knows a thing or two about winning races (he won 200 NASCAR races in his career), thinks Danica Patrick is good for NASCAR because she has drawn more attention to the sport. Petty has nice things to say when it comes to Patrick as a PR magnet, but he’s not so complimentary when it comes to her driving. Patrick finished 27th last year in the driver’s cup standings and had one top ten finish. Asked if Patrick could ever actually win a race on a NASCAR track, Petty says, “If everybody else stayed home.”
UPGRADING RUPP ARENA
Rather than the brand new 30,000 (or more) seat arena that was proposed three or four years ago, Rupp Arena will get a $310 million facelift. Rupp was built in 1976 and there have been few improvements to the nearly 24,000-seat arena in downtown Lexington. The newly designed Rupp will feature luxury boxes, better seating and other amenities. While keeping Rupp means that Lexington’s downtown will benefit, it’s a bit surprising that Kentucky didn’t go for a larger arena and the revenue that it would generate. Kentucky fans often tease that the smart thing to do would be put a dome over 67,000-seat Commonwealth Stadium. There is no question Kentucky fans would sell it out. There are basketball crazy fans and then there are Kentucky fans. The two are not one and the same.
POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GONE OVERBOARD
I understand that the name Redskins is offensive to a lot of people, but I question the lawmakers and other politically correct folks who are considering legal or congressional action against Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder to force him to change the team name. There is such a thing as free speech and freedom of expression in our country and I don’t think the courts are the place to settle this issue. What I think would be far more effective is for fans who are offended to boycott the Redskins by refusing to buy tickets or merchandise and for fans in NFL stadiums to refuse to attend any game that the Redskins are playing in until the name changes. I’ve always believed that if you really want change, hit someone in his wallet. I have also always believed that if you want to make a problem worse, then let our elected lawmakers get hold of it. As Ronald Reagan once said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'”
CANADA’S ADVANTAGE IN SOCHI
This goes beyond the obvious that Canadians are good at the sports of the Winter Olympics because they live in a country where it’s winter more than half the year. At Canada House, set up as a refuge for Canadian athletes, there is a beer fridge supplied by Molson. To get a beer all you have to do is scan your Canadian passport and the fridge pops open so you can get a free beer. What a concept.
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Sam Cooke is another musician who died much too young. He had an unforgettable voice and style. He never got the recognition that he should have when he was at his peak in the late 1950s through the mid-1960s but his music has endured and passed the test of time. This is one of my favorites from his 1962 album “Mr. Soul” entitled “Nothing Can Change This Love.”