Thursday, April 30, 2009

Not worth the trouble

Jamar Hornsby's case was delayed until Mid-August. Houston Nutt wouldn't comment if Hornsby would still practice with the team while his case was in limbo.

It's shameful that we even offered and signed this kid. Call me callous, but the credit card theft crosses a line of decent humanity from which there is absolutely no return. It wasn't his first run-in with the law in Gainesville either, just his most publicized.

And don't feed me the canned "everybody deserves a second chance" line. Hornsby has blown more chances than anyone deserves. The fact that he was recruited at all with his criminal background is a harsh glimpse into the "win-at-all-costs" of major D1 football.

Replacing Jamarca Sanford will not be easy, but Hornsby is not the answer. 2009 has too much potential for greatness to jeopardize it only nefarious characters such as Hornsby.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Slow news day in Georgia

Now that he's committed to Georgia, Mark Deas has thrown away his Florida Gator underwear. Sounds like a non-event, right? Well it got its own story on, complete with this future Pulitzer winning headline: "Football recruit trashes undies after committing to Georgia".

I guess we should just be grateful he didn't pull a Bobbie Massie and drop his Gator drawers before sliding on his UGA ones.

dead guy, rebelations, bobbie massie, ole miss

Men’s Tennis Team Screwed Over

24-2, ranked #2 in the country? Check
Undefeated SEC Champions? Check
SEC Tournament Champions? Check
Lead the country in attendance? Check
Hosting an 8th straight regional? Che… Wait, what? No really? What?

What an absolute disgrace. There is no logical or rational explanation for how this happened. None whatsoever. These guys absolutely earned the right to make any team in the country – other than #1 Virginia – travel to Oxford to try and take them down. Instead, the NCAA packs ‘em up and ships ‘em out to the home of our archrivals. Then they’ll most likely tangle with Texas A&M on their home court in the Sweet 16. The current NCAA spin is travel concerns, but with some of the distances other teams are travelling, that rings hollow.

LSU is an incomprehensible 10-11 this year, including a sparkling 4-7 in SEC play, so they obviously earned the right to host, much more so than the Rebels did. Joining LSU as SEC hosts are Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, and Florida, all of whom got their ass kicked to a varying degree of severity by the Rebels this year. The Rebels have already beaten LSU twice this year – 5-2 and 4-2 - so they shouldn’t have to mess with them a second time.

From, Pete Boone had this to say:
"There's no words that can express the boneheadedness of this decision," Boone said. "The NCAA wants to cut down on travel, and I understand that, but to do this to the No. 2 team in the country doesn't make any sense whatsoever. ... We're certainly going to be on the phone in the morning with the NCAA trying to find out what the hell happened."
Head coach Billy Chadwick was a bit more diplomatic, but you gotta figure he’s pissed:
"If you're trying to grow the sport, it seems very odd that the place leading the nation in attendance that's also the second best team in the nation doesn't host."
Two positives can come out of this. The first will be kicking LSU’s ass in front of their home crowd. That’s always fun, regardless of the sport. Secondly, if this doesn’t put a chip the size of Lane Kiffin’s ego on the team’s shoulder, nothing will.

And while I'm not sure how effective it will be, the guys at Red Cup Rebellion have posted some applicable contact information for the selection committee. While it won't change this decision - and if Pete Boone calls something boneheaded, then by golly it's boneheaded - it should serve as a good outlet for creative writing and venting.

Download a full bracket here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rebels in the 2010 NFL Draft

With the 2009 NFL draft now just a blip in history, it’s obviously time to get mock drafts together for 2010. Pete Prisco of CBS Sports offers his here, and projects Jevan Snead as the No.1 pick next year and lists Greg Hardy as No. 8. He says this about Snead:
An early look to next year's draft shows a class that could be quarterback heavy. My top guy, as always, is a quarterback. It's not who you think. It's not Oklahoma's Sam Bradford or Colt McCoy of Texas or even Florida's Tim Tebow.

It's Mississippi quarterback Jevan Snead. Entering his junior year, this transfer from Texas has everything
I love in a quarterback. He has good size at 6-3, a rocket for an arm and sees the field.

He transferred from Texas because of McCoy. But I think come next April he will be the first pick in the draft. Snead, if he gives up his senior year, is next year's Matt Stafford.
Andrew Perloff of Sports Illustrated offers his here. He ventures to project the order of the draft and has Hardy going 18th to the Seahawks and Snead going 25th to the 49ers. Then there's this from Sports Illustrated that ranks Hardy #1 and Snead #32.

With a chance the NFL rookie salary cap comes to fruition in the 2011 season, I wouldn’t be surprised to Snead come out early, particularly if he plays like he did in the final 6 games of last season. The 3 consecutive throws he made to McCluster, Summers, and Wallace against LSU were as good as any throws any Rebel QB has made in a long, long time, including Eli.

With 2009 being the first draft the Rebels have ever had 2 players drafted in the first round, accomplishing it two years in a row would be a big statement for the program, particularly with the sad W/L record compiled in the EOr era. Nutt and his staff have done a good job replacing the outgoing talent, and while it remains to be seen whether it blossoms on the field, prospects are certainly high.

And if Snead is indeed gone after next season, here's hoping he goes out with an SEC title game appearance on his resume.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday Lunch-Break Thoughts

What an awesome, awesome weekend to be a Rebel and be in Oxford. The weather was absolutely perfect, Double Decker Fest was fantastic (as usual), and oh yeah, by the way, we took 2 out of 3 from Georgia in baseball.

The atmosphere wasn't lost on the Georgia players either. Both slugger Rich Puythress and head Coach Dave Perno had rave reviews of the stadium and the "experience":
“It's the best environment I've been around,” Georgia slugger Rich Poythress said. “I've been to LSU. I've been a lot of places, and it's the best environment, other than Omaha, that I've seen in college baseball."

"It's not just the environment,” UGA head coach Dave Perno said. “It's the stadium. They've got everything. It's done right. It's the best we've been in, not just the environment and being tough to play in, but just the looks, the aesthetics. Everything's done right and I tip my hat to Mike and Ole Miss and their athletic department. They've done a great job."
* While we were partying in Oxford, our #2-ranked tennis team was partying on the Plains, celebrating its 2009 SEC Tournament title to go along with its regular season title. That's two in a row for Coach Billy Chadwick and his boys.

* That's not to forget that our Rebels were well represented in the NFL draft this year. The 4 Rebels drafted tied for 4th most in the conference. Alabama also had 4 players selected, and Georgia and LSU each had 6. But it was South Carolina that led the conference with 7 draft picks this year, stealing the lead with Ryan Succop's announcement as Mr. Irrelevant. Just further proof that you can't win in this league without a competent QB, regardless of who you surround them with.

A big Dead Guy congratulations go out to: Michael Oher (#23 Baltimore), Peria Jerry (#24 Atlanta), Mike Wallace (#84 Pittsburgh), and Jamarca Sanford (#231 Minnesota). As well as Ashlee Palmer closed the season, I suspect he'll wind up somewhere as a free agent as well.

Only one team failed to land anyone in the draft. It was the second straight year that moou achieved this milestone. But hey, at least they're bringing back the Dawg Pound Rock next year. In its first incarnation, the DPR just came across as thuggish. Doing it next year, when they'll be fortunate to win 5 games, will just come across as a combination of sad and comical.

* A big thank you also to Ed Orgeron for stocking us up with the talent that he did. While I refuse to believe he'll ever be a competent head coach - unlike this article - I appreciate the hard work and effort he put it during his time in Oxford. I can't say I wish him luck though.

And I love message board comments. They're the greatest...
mikesean865 writes:

hands down we have the best coaching staff in college football, maybe ever assembled. Who would have thought last fall that by this spring we would be the envy of football fans across the country as far as coaching staff goes. they are all trembling in their little boots right now because they know what awaits them for the next ten years. two national championships minimum, 4 sec championships minimum. Write it down i said it. FEAR THE KIFF!!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Doug Shows' mother was a hamster and his father reeks of elderberries

One of the joys of discussing sports is the infamous “ hates us” argument. Mention Doyle Jackson’s name around Rebel fans and hairs bristle, fists clench, and teeth grit. As far as Rebel Nation is concerned, he’s cost us two games against the Tide, a series in which wins have been ridiculously hard to come by. Today, I’d like name a new “Rebel Hater” that SEC basketball fans will be familiar with: Doug Shows.

(A little background on this topic before we delve into the facts. Shows was my favorite official when I was in school back in the mid-late 90s. I didn’t have the exact numbers then, but it seemed like we won every time he was on the court with us. Now I hope I don’t see him run out of the portal. I didn’t know how right I was until I looked at it by the numbers.)

Let’s break it down by recent “eras” in Ole Miss basketball. I’ll call them our Ascension to Relevance (ATR) (96-97 to 01-02), Barnes After Dukes (BAD) Era (02-03 to 05-06), and the Andy Kennedy Era (06-07 to 08-09). Each era is defined by the success of the team, not a fixed number of years.

The numbers speak for themselves. You can toss out the Shows numbers in the BAD era as everyone kicked our ass in the “hold the ball for 30 seconds and jack up a 3” offense that we ran. It’s the dismal numbers now compared to the ATR era that strike me as interesting.

In the late Evans era and the early Barnes years, Shows was a beautiful sight on the court. We won 90% of the SEC games he officiated, including the 73-69 win over eventual National Champion Kentucky in January 1997, Pitino's final year in Lexington. Home or away, it didn't matter. If Shows was there, we won.

We're winning again, modestly sure, but with a program with as dismal a history as we have, you take it where you can get it. And while Andy Kennedy’s 23-25 SEC record is nothing spectacular, it’s certainly a major improvement from the aforementioned BAD era. What’s puzzling is that AK is winning only 20% of the SEC games Shows officiates, while Barnes won 30.8% in the BAD era, not to mention the 90% clip from earlier. Under AK, the Rebels have won 55.2% of SEC not officiated by Shows.

And it's not that we just lose when Shows shows up. We lose badly. In AK’s 3 years, his Rebels have lost 13 SEC games by 10+ points, and Shows has been on the floor for 7 of them. He also was the lead official in the 32-point drubbing we took in The Pit against New Mexico this year.

So what this all mean? While I can't really put my finger on anything in particular, I have a theory. He's certainly no Curtis Shaw who would call a foul over a shunning face. Nor is he Teddy Valentine who practices the "No Blood, No Foul" mantra on the court. That leaves one conclusion and one conclusion only: Doug Shows is pure, unadulterated evil that must be banished forever from any gym the Rebels are going to play in.

It is my belief that Doug Shows is directly responsible for the knee injuries to Trevor Gaskins, Eneil Polynice, and Chris Warren, the Cincy cabbie incident, Malcolm White transferring, David Huertas jumping ship to play pro ball next year, and possibly the daytime fireworks show.

Even with our departures, the Rebels have a chance to be very good next year. Next year's season ticket packages should offer the chance to donate funds to purchase garlic, holy water, crucifixes, and sharpened stakes to help fortify Tad Smith from any more Shows appearances. While I can't imagine the Rebels will face the same amount of adversity they did this past season, as long as Shows in on the prowl, nobody is safe.

As always, a big tip o' the hat to StatSheet for the ridiculous researchability.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Maybe all I need is a shot in the arm

Okay, so I've missed quite a bit of excitement in the last week or so, but between family obligations and business travel, it has tough to sit down long enough to form an intelligible post. I'm back in time to head to Oxford tonight for the Wilco show at The Lyric. So please bear with me as I allow my stream of consciousness to flow.

* The biggest news of the last week is the hand-slapping Andy Kennedy received on Monday. For those detractors or those who just don't know any better, AK pleading guilty Monday does not mean he is pleading guilty to slapping the cab driver. What it does mean though - obviously - is that he was not exonerated of all charges as he originally forecast the day after the incident.

AK's missteps in Cincinnati were just part of a tumultuous season of Rebel basketball that saw highs - Terrico White's play, home win over UK, road win over moou - and late-Barnes era lows - the drubbing by USM in Biloxi was absolutely inexcusable. In a season in which the SEC West - and overall title - was there for the taking, we suffered through an unbelievable rash of injuries, and now two major contributors left the program.

David leaving is not a surprise. There have rumblings of that for months now. I don't think that his departure is as big a deal as many do. He was going to be the odd man out of the starting lineup next season anyway. It's Malcolm White's departure that hurts significantly more. The fact that he'll be wearing a white shirt and purple britches just adds insult to injury. He'll sit out next year, but will be a 13/7 guy for the Tigers in 2010-11.

* While I unfortunately couldn't make it, from all accounts the Grove Bowl went about as well as anyone could've hoped. Snead was sharp, the OL looked solid, our WRs played well, and the first-team defense didn't look lost without Peria Jerry and Jamarca Sanford. Now we just need to teach Enrique Davis the appropriate faces to make at police officers and teach Jerell Powe to shut the hell up.

* And, seriously, do we need Collegiate Snuggies? (h/t SbB)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Interesting Developments (Possibly) in Andy Kennedy's Trial

Per the Clarion-Ledger, there's at least a chance AK pleads guilty to much lesser charge. Understandably, nobody is officially talking, but those are the rumblings. It's going to be an interesting few days as this shakes out down the home stretch.

Monday, April 13, 2009

David Huertas is a Pirate, Mike Leach intrigued

David Huertas, Pirate, Puerto Rico

All the rumors surrounding David Huertas came to fruition today as he's officially left the team, joining the Quebradillas Pirates. It's yet another blow to the most snake-bitten team I've ever seen. Coupled with Malcolm White's unexpected departure, this is a real hit to the depth of the team as Huertas was going to be a real candidate for SEC 6th Man of the Year playing behind Terrico White and Chris Warren next season.

I really don't know what to say about David's departure. It's not as a big a loss for us as Malcolm's departure as we have proven depth at his position. He was certainly an enigma as he put together some of the best and worst games I've seen in my 15 years of attending Ole Miss basketball games. He's one of the most openly emotional players to wear the red and blue in recent years and honestly believes he's fouled on every shot he takes. His size along the perimeter will certainly be missed.

While I'm certainly not attempting to state this as fact, I wonder if left the team as he knew he'd be coming off the bench next year. He and AK have always had something of a tense relationship as is obvious to anyone who sits on the east side of Tad Smith. While each party downplays it in the media, you have to wonder how strained it was.

Another side of me wants to believe him when he says that he just wants to play basketball and be near his family. He's been in school four years and won a national championship. Next year's team would certainly be the most talented Ole Miss team he would've been on, but another national title was not in the future.

Regardless, I wish him well. Like so much of Ole Miss athletics, he was beautiful at times and remarkably frustrating at others.

You can Never go Home Again, but I Guess you can Shop There

After finally succumbing to the withdrawal pains inflicted by years of not breaking some sort of NCAA rule, the man that they call "Kang" made a trip back to Starkville over the weekend. And though it appeared on multiple occasions that he interacted with players - which everyone knows is a violation of NCAA bylaw 11.7.2, limiting schools to one head coach, nine assistants and two graduate assistants working with players - both he and Mullen swear it didn't happen.
In his usual post-practice meeting with reporters, Mullen smiled and laughed when asked if Sherrill's presence violated the limitations on coaches.

"No, because he was coaching me," Mullen said. "I don't think there's any limitation of coaches that can coach your coaches."

Asked if he was sure that Sherrill did not interact with players, Mullen was emphatic.

"No, I was coaching the players," Mullen said. "He was sitting there telling me what to tell them."


Reached on his cell phone later as he was returning to his Germantown, Tenn., home, Sherrill said he "wasn't coaching them. I was trying to coach the coaches how to coach them."
Good to see he's never strayed from the "Deny 'til you die" philosophy that landed multiple schools on NCAA probation under his watch. It also makes me wonder if Mullen is so unqualified for a HC position that he has to solicit the advice from a person who compiled a mediocre 75-75-2 overall record and a 43-59-1 SEC record. As a bonus, every message board certainly has their share of idiots, but some are just more quotable than others:
After all these years of trying to get Sherrill they still have not given up. Who made up this story about Sherrill? They should be added to the lawsuit! JWS has endured enough false accusations. He has never cheated. You can't prove one instance where he ever cheated. JWS and Croom are among the top five most ethical coaches the SEC has seen in the last 20 years. JWS was the most winningest coach for MSU that I can remember.
I'll leave it up to you to form your own opinions about that.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

SEC Football as Tom Hanks movies

So I'm a few New Belgium Mighty Arrows into the Final Four games Saturday night and start thumbing through the guide during a commercial break when I stumbled across three Tom Hanks movies on at the same time. While the beer certainly didn't live up the standards set by its Fat Tire brethren, it did help inspire this ridiculous post.

So, here they are, without further ado, all 12 SEC football teams as Tom Hanks movies. Got better suggestions? Leave ‘em in the comments.

Alabama: Turner & Hooch
Detective Scott Turner is a straight laced, no frills kind of detective. Nick Saban is a no-nonsense, no frills kind of coach – never a hair out of place in his feathery bangs. Between his owner dying and pairing up with Turner, Hooch was a mess. He drooled everywhere, tore things up, and basically a lost cause. Between the Bear dying and before hiring Saban, Alabama was much the same way. Sure they would do well every now and then, but they had to cheat to do it. They bought a national title in the early 90s, then suffered through several ignominious years before hiring Saban.

Arkansas: Catch Me If You Can
In his early days, Frank Abagnale imitated an airline pilot, a teacher’s assistant, a doctor, and an attorney. When things took a turn for the worse, he’d disappear in the night and move on to his next gig. Finally, after getting busted, he aligned himself with Hanks’ Carl Hanratty and began improving national fraud defense. Bobby Petrino is currently at his 12th coaching spot since entering the business in 1983. He’s been the head coach of 3 different teams in the last 5 years and has flirted with several others. He seems to have found a niche in Fayetteville though and the Hogs have a chance to be much improved from last season.

Auburn: Apollo 13
Before takeoff, everyone was excited about Apollo 13’s mission to the moon. Last season was supposed to be a good one for Auburn. A new high-flying offense was in place, the defense returned 6 of its starting back 7, and the Tigers were ranked as high as #10 in the preseason. Needless to say, much-like the ill-fated Apollo 13 lunar mission, Auburn’s season encountered problem after problem. There was bickering amongst staff before finally crashing roughly back to earth at the end. The major difference being that Jim Lovell was congratulated for his leadership in the “successful failure” that was Apollo 13; Tommy Tuberville was inexplicably shown the door.

Florida: Sleepless in Seattle
After Sam Baldwin's wife died, he looked lost and clueless, and didn't know who to turn to. He packs up and moves out west and begins dating a girl that his son can't stand. He finally meets the one he's meant to be with at the end and live happily ever after. After Spurrier left Florida, the Gators looked lost and clueless, seeking solace in the arms of Ron Zook, who the Gator Nation hated from the beginning. Now, they've found Urban Meyer and have won 2 titles in 3 years and will be favored to win it all next year.

Georgia: Bonfire of the Vanities
Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities is a fantastic novel that was a bestseller and huge success. Unfortunately, despite a All-Star cast with Hanks, Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Melanie Griffith, etc., the movie version pretty much sucked. When you read about Georgia’s team, the star power was obvious – Stafford, Moreno, Green, etc. Expectations were very high, including a preseason #1 ranking. Then, much like BotV, when you watched it on TV, you realize it’s a little disappointing on screen.

Kentucky: Saving Private Ryan
The beginning of Saving Private Ryan – the storming of the beaches at Normandy – is absolutely phenomenal. It’s beautifully crafted cinematography at its peak. Once the movie settles in though, it’s really not that different from every other war movie ever filmed. There’s a little bit of a twist at the end of the movie to tie it all together. The last two seasons, Kentucky has started out as well as possible: 5-0 and 4-0. Once the seasons settled in, the ‘Cats were average at best, finishing only 7-5 and 6-5. The bowl victories were nice surprises to wrap up the seasons.

LSU: The Man with One Red Shoe
Richard Drew is just an average joe who - due to circumstances beyond his control - looks goofy as he wears mismatched shoes on a flight. He is identified as a CIA target, and though he remains completely oblivious to everything around him, it all works out for him in the end. Les Miles always looks goofy wearing the world's largest hat and was certainly an average joe at Oklahoma State - 28-21 overall, 16-16 in the Big 12. And things have certainly worked out well for Miles so far, despite a seemingly oblivious approach to coaching.

Mississippi State: You’ve Got Mail
While I'm not a fan of either Sleepless in Seattle or You've Got Mail, I know a cheap knock off when I see one. The producers of You've Got Mail were trying to cash in on the chemistry that Hanks and Meg Ryan had in Sleepless in Seattle, but the result just wasn't as good. Same thing in Starkville. Hoping to recreate some of the recent magic in Gainesville, the Bulldogs hired away Dan Mullen from Meyer's staff, and while the results have yet to be seen, it's hard to imagine the end result being anything less than a poor attempt at recreating UF's offense.

Ole Miss: That Thing You Do!
Mr. White takes a group of talented musicians with no experience outside the town of Erie, PA, and molds them into the No. 1 rock band in the country. Houston Nutt, stepped into Oxford and took a group of talented kids who had never been shown "how to win" and recorded a 9-4 season and a Cotton Bowl victory. The major difference being that The Wonders broke up at the end of the movie, while Nutt seems to have the Rebels in place to continue their success.

South Carolina: Volunteers
Lawrence Whatley Bourne III had it all. He was a spoiled rich kid leading a pampered life until he had to join the Peace Corps to escape his creditors. Steve Spurrier had it all. He’d won a National championship as the coach of his alma mater, had the Gators as one of the top programs in the entire country, and a fun punching bag in Phil Fulmer. He got greedy, left for the NFL, and when that didn’t work out, sought refuge in Columbia where – so far – has done more to tarnish his legacy than build upon it.

Tennessee: The Terminal
What? You were expecting Volunteers? Think about it… Viktor Navorski can’t go back to whence he came as a war broke out. So he’s stuck in a foreign land, has trouble communicating with people, garners strange looks from people, and eventually makes some important friends in the airport. That’s pretty much the Lane Kiffin experience. He can’t go back to the NFL because he angered Al Davis, he’s become a one-man sideshow that it’s hard not to stop and stare at, he's found it very difficult to communicate with his peers, but he did surround himself with a knowledgeable staff.

Vanderbilt: Big
All Josh Baskin wanted to be was big. He couldn’t get the girl or ride the roller coaster, so Zoltar granted him his wish. He grew up, moved to New York and got to play with the big boys, before wishing to be a boy again. After years of wishing they were big, the Commodores finally broke through last year with their first bowl appearance since 1982. Unfortunately, like Josh Baskin’s appearance as an adult, Vandy’s was a ruse and one that won’t last, but one that made for good tv while it did.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Recognitions flowing in for Rebels

While Spring Football and the baseball team are dominating the headlines out of Oxford, there's positive news coming out of the non-Big3 sports as well.

* Our men's tennis team is currently ranked #2 and leads the country in average attendance by a large margin

* Senior Rebel netter Bram Ten Berge was named the H. Boyd McWhorter SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year

* Lauren Grill, a junior 3B for the softball team was named SEC player of the Week last week. She was first team All-America last season

* And most have heard by now that Scott Bittle was SEC Pitcher of the Week for his dominating performance against a hapless Kentucky team Sunday afternoon

Bruce Feldman likes the Rebels... a lot

Bruce Feldman has the Rebels pretty high on a list that we've never even been considered for: Teams most likely to win the BCS Title.

He lists the Rebels at #4 and offers this explanation:
Ole Miss: This may look crazy, but keep reading. The Rebels are fearless. They won at both Florida and LSU last season. They have a budding star at quarterback in Jevan Snead, some terrific receivers, and potentially the best D-line in the country. They also have the luxury of playing the softest nonconference schedule in the country, with two games against FCS teams, UAB and a Memphis team they beat every year. Better still, they get Alabama and LSU at home. Can the Rebs handle success and expectations now? We'll see. A Thursday night trip to South Carolina appears to be the toughest road game.
It's certainly nice to be on this list, but the inclusion of Notre Dame at the bottom really throws it off. Sure the Irish are projected to be better, particularly against that schedule, but 10th most likely to win the BCS Title? That would imply Fat Charlie beating a good team, something he's done only once in his tenure in South Bend. They could feasibly be 10-2 or 9-3 at the end of the season, but that's certainly not going to get them in the BCS title game against Florida. It would likely earn them an SEC asswhoopin' in the Sugar Bowl, hopefully by the Rebs.

2009 SEC Football Schedule Breakdown

College Football News breaks down the composite SEC football schedule for the upcoming season here, listing the top 10 conference games and top 10 non-conference games. The upcoming throwdown with Northern Arizona is conspicuously absent.

Their Top 10 conference games look like this:

1. Florida vs. Georgia, Oct. 31
2. Florida at LSU, Oct. 10
3. LSU at Alabama, Nov. 7
4. Alabama at Ole Miss, Oct. 10
5. LSU at Ole Miss, Nov. 21

6. Tennessee at Florida, Sept. 19
7. LSU at Georgia, Oct. 3
8. Alabama at Auburn, Nov. 28
9. Georgia at Tennessee, Oct. 10
10. Auburn at LSU, Oct. 24

We've got two of the top five with visits from the Tide and Bayou Bengals, both of which present real opportunities for College Gameday to pop their Grove cherries and get down here for a broadcast. As an aside, I know that I - like many people across this region - am looking forward to the 70+ point that Urban Meyer is going to hang on Kiffin, but I don't know that that qualifies the UT/UF game as a Top 10 conference game, and certainly not better than the three games listed directly below it.

Needless to say, we don't have a top 10 non-conference game. If they listed all 48 OOC games for the SEC, I'd venture to guess we wouldn't have one in the top 30. It's a complete embarrassment.

CFN also breaks down our chances here, giving us a best case scenario record of 10-2 and a realistic record of 9-3. We'll delve into that more on this site as the season approaches, but it's a nice change to get some credit from the pundits.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Kennedy Named Finalist For Clair Bee National Coach Of The Year

According to a release by the school, Andy Kennedy is one of four finalists for the Clair Bee National Coach of the Year Award. In other news, there is something called the Clair Bee National Coach of the Year Award.

The award itself...
honors a Division I men’s basketball coach who through his actions on and off the court, makes an outstanding contribution to the sport of college basketball. The criteria for this award involves actions that inspire, motivate, coach and educate their teams to achieve their fullest potential and demonstrate outstanding character.
Now my question is this... I don't believe the charges Kennedy faces in Cincinnati are going to stick. That whole situation reeks of inconsistencies. But the fact is that he faces charges. That's hardly making an "outstanding contribution to the sport of college basketball."

On the court, there's no argument. AK did a phenomenal job holding together a young team setback after setback. The fact that we even challenged for an NIT spot is remarkable considering all that happened.

The other three finalists are Missouri’s Mike Anderson, Radford’s Brad Greenberg, and Trent Johnson of LSU. Last season’s winner was Bob McKillop of Davidson.

And how's this for validating the award? The Selection Committee for the award is composed of Dan Beebe (Big 12 Commissioner), Jay Bilas (ESPN talking head), Dave Gavitt (founder of the Big East), Bob Hammel (sportswriter), Bob Knight (media whore), Pat Knight (son of a media whore), Billy Packer (ancient curmudgeon hellbent on sucking all the fun out of college basketball), Dean Smith (former UNC head coach), and Dick Vitale (somebody kill me now). I count Dean Smith and possibly - possibly - Jay Bilas as people's whose opinions I would value from a national perspective.

That said, our basketball program could use a shot of good news, even it is a silly as this award.

Memphis' next basketball coach: Sean Miller

For those of us in who reside in the Memphis area, it's been an adventuresome last few days. The local media has been camped outside and hovering over John Calipari's house as he made the blatantly obvious choice to leave the Tiger program for the Big Blue Nation in Lexington. Despite the vitriol that's being spewed by many fans today, the choice is a no-brainer: Kentucky, UCLA, North Carolina, Indiana, and Kansas are college basketball royalty; Memphis isn't.

The list of coaches being batted around by Memphis fans is impressive, but I just wonder why any of them would come to Memphis. Here's a breakdown as I see it.

Mike Anderson, Mizzou: Already off the market. Signed a nice extension with Mizzou

Tim Floyd, USC: His Southern connections would've made him the best choice, but it appears he's taking over for former Ole Miss assistant Russ Pennell at Arizona

Bruce Pearl, Tennessee: Now it starts getting interesting. Sure, the Memphis job would be a step up in profile from Tennessee, but there was a genuine disdain between Calipari and Pearl. Pearl is working to build a Vols program, and quite frankly, unless something crazy happens and John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Xavier Henry are Tigers next season, Memphis is going to be significantly worse next season than they were last. I don't see the appeal to Pearl unless it's strictly about the cash.

Rick Pitino, Louisville: Now it starts to get delusional. The rumor is that Pitino would be hired, coach a few seasons, and then retire and Memphis would promote his son to be the coach. Pitino is not going anywhere. If he left this year, it would be viewed as running from Calipari, who he will now get to face yearly. Also, part of his success there would always be viewed as partially attributable to Calipari's doing there, and neither Pitino nor Pearl want that.

Bobby Knight, ESPN: There aren't even words to describe this. This is the dumbest idea since an mid-afternoon fireworks show. Not gonna happen.

That brings us to the non-"WOW" candidates Memphis AD RC Johnson has promised. Xavier's Sean Miller and our very own Andy Kennedy.

Sean Miller seems to be the right choice here. He's at a non-BCS school and has been a very good coach at Xavier in his tenure there, going 120-47. His Musketeers actually beat the Tigers early in the 2008-09 season. He's been to the Sweet 16 and the Elite 8 the last two seasons and appears to be a young coaching star.

Which brings us to AK. From an unbiased point of view, why would Memphis want to hire a coach which pending legal issues and one that has failed to reach the NCAA tournament in four seasons as a head coach. I'll grant you that the legal issues are more than likely bogus and that he's done a very good job in all four seasons as a head coach, but is that really the profile of a coach that Memphis wants to replace Calipari with?

This may be a harsh lesson in reality for Memphis fans. While their program is certainly one of the best in the country, it's very tough to win consistently at a non-BCS school like Calipari has the last several seasons. If Memphis fans remember, Calipari didn't start putting up the gaudy numbers they've become accustomed to until CUSA was gutted by the Big East and the other legitimate basketball teams left. Calipari is a tough act to follow and 2009-10 will be a rebuilding season with Tyreke Evans declaring and a handful of other players joining Cal in Lexington, which is a trash move by Calipari, but that's another story.

Regardless of who is hired, the program will take a step back from the national spotlight. While Pitino and Pearl would both be very visible, high-profile leaders of the program, neither one is going to take the job. I just hope that Tiger fans will welcome Sean Miller. He's a very good coach who will win at Memphis if given the chance. While he may not be a high-profile as Calipari is - and who is - he'll be a very good fit, and that's what the Tigers need.