A few thoughts to jump start your Tuesday morning.
SPOOFING THE SABAN RULE
Take that Nick Saban! Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez came up with this video to promote his up tempo, no huddle offense while at the same time taking a shot at Nick Saban and his attempts to prevent the faster pace teams from snapping the ball until 30 seconds elapsed on the play clock all in the name of safety. This is funny and should be shared, particularly with any Bama fans who are friends or relatives.
SPRING HAS SPRUNG
You can tell that it’s spring in the south. No, the azaleas haven’t started blooming in Augusta yet. They’re busy getting ready for the next snow and ice storm but hopefully, they will be in bloom when they tee things up at Augusta National for The Masters. The reason you can tell it’s spring in the south is because you can hear the thunk of footballs being kicked, the high-pitch shrill of whistles being blown and some coach screaming at some poor 19-year-old redshirt freshman who has no idea that in about five days he’s going to look at the ceiling in his dorm room and ask out loud, “Why God? Why?” Spring practice began last Friday at Texas A&M and begins today for South Carolina. The Gators are on spring break this week, getting their first rest from a month of mat drills. They’ll get next week off and then they’ll be taking the field for 15 days that will go a long way toward setting a foundation for a comeback from 4-8 in the fall.
ENCOURAGING WORDS THAT DRISKEL WILL BE READY
Florida coach Will Muschamp told ESPN’s Edward Aschoff that quarterback Jeff Driskel will be 100% when the Gators begin spring practice in a couple of weeks, which is encouraging. Driskel can’t afford to be slowed. He’s got 15 days to get hands on coaching in new coordinator Kurt Roper’s offense and then he will have to spend the summer getting on the same page with receivers, running backs and teammates. He’s got a heavy load he will carry, but Muschamp is confident that Driskel will be ready. “Jeff’s progressed well as a quarterback and we’re going to do more things that fit him well and what he does,” Muschamp told Aschoff. “I’m excited about the year that he’s going to have.”
At the weekly Monday morning basketball press conference, Patric Young was asked about the closeness of this group of four seniors. During his response, Patric said, “I believe we’re a really tight team. We don’t necessarily live together because I’m not going to call any names, but some of those guys are slobs.” When I heard that I immediately flashed back to May of 2007. Chris Richard, who had declared himself the team neat freak, was sitting out in the sunshine with me in front of the basketball complex doing an interview. When the subject of neat came up he invited me into the locker room. Sure enough, his locker was the neatest I’ve ever seen. Of course, a couple of lockers over was the one belonging to Joakim Noah. I could swear that things were growing. I looked at the two lockers, then looked at Chris and didn’t say a world. Couldn’t say a word. His response, “Do I need to say anything else?” Nope.
Former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer is not dead although the world was a more peaceful place when he was keeping his mouth shut and people thought he had croaked. Last week, in an interview with WNSR in Nashville, Switzer called former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel “an arrogant little prick” and went on to say, “The only way I’d ever recruit a white quarterback to play for me was if his mom and daddy would have to both be black, and that’s the only way I would do it.” In defending his position, Switzer went on to talk about his former quarterbacks such as Jamelle Holloway and J.C. Watts, saying, “They’re great runners, they’re great ball carriers and … able to pass, complete some, and those guys could. Those guys could throw and run.” I guess he never saw Manziel’s Heisman year when he ran for more yards than any Switzer quarterback ever did in a season. I guess he never saw Tim Tebow, who ran for 57 touchdowns and nearly 3,000 yards in his career. Memo to Barry Switzer: Climb back under your rock and play dead.
Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin and referee Ted Valentine got into it last Saturday in a game won by UConn. Television Ted called a ball out of bounds off a UConn player right in front of the Cincinnati bench and Cronin absolutely lost it. Valentine then did the unthinkable and got right in Cronin’s face, which only incensed the coach more. Incredibly, there was no technical foul called. Valentine’s explanation was that he was in the wrong to get in Cronin’s face – he was – and that he was the aggressor. Because two wrongs don’t make a right, there was no technical foul. That was the right thing for Valentine to do, but the incident highlights a growing sense of hostility between referees and coaches. I think the good referees are on the defensive because coaches have had it up to their wazzoos with bad ones and it’s rare there is a crew that doesn’t have at least one official whose skill level ranges anywhere from below par to downright rotten. There is also the problem of officials crossing conference lines to call games. An SEC official is encouraged to call a game a certain way while a Big Ten official is encouraged to call a game in a different way. Instead of each conference setting its standards, there should be one organization in charge of all the officials and they should be held to the same standard no matter where they call games.
ZEBRA FALLOUT, PART II
Over the years I have become friends with a number of referees as well as coaches. I believe that for the most part, they make an effort to get along and find ways to co-exist but Monday Cronin said something that I totally agree with when he stated, “My beef with that is guys like Mick Cronin and Buzz Williams (of Marquette) of the world, we deal with some of it. When nobody gets in the Jim Boeheim’s face or Mike Krzyzewski’s face.” He’s right, there is a double standard the way some zebras treat some coaches. Coach K gets away saying things you certainly wouldn’t want your kids to hear. He’s not a nice guy on the sidelines but he rarely, if ever, gets T’d up. The double standard also applies to some of the zebras, who call games with an agenda against certain coaches. Why Jamie Luckie is allowed to call even a game at the YMCA is beyond me.
POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GONE TOO FAR
Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks gets it. When the NFL proposed a 15-yard penalty for using the N-word during games, Sherman told Peter King of Sports Illustrated, “It’s an atrocious idea. It’s almost racist, to me. It’s weird they’re targeting one specific word. Why wouldn’t all curse words be banned then?” Peter King makes a legitimate point when he writes, “What happens if an official thinks he heard the n-word from one player and it actually was another? The referee could call the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty/language foul, and if the offending player is white, it’s going to scar him for his career. What if the call is made on the wrong player?” There are better ways to do this than making officials the language police. We can’t legislate everything in life.
MUSIC FOR TODAY
“Maybe” was first recorded doo wop style by the Chantels, an all-girl group, in 1957. Rolling Stone says it’s one of the 500 greatest hits of all time. The Chantels’ version of the song is really good, but I prefer Janis Joplin’s version of the song off her first solo album “I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!” which was released in 1969.