We're T-minus a day until the college football epicenter shifts to SEC media days in Hoover, Ala. TFP SEC ace David Paschall and TFP UT ace Downtown Patrick Brown will be there for the duration. TFP ace columnist Mark Wiedmer will be there Wednesday when Butch Jones grabs the mic. (Side question: How incredible would it be if Butch rapped his answers? Let Tiny Richardson back him up with a little beat box and just go. He could even work in some shout-outs to the sponsors — "My Adidas... doubles my net worth and roamed across stadium turf; I stepped to the plate on the recruiting trail, overhaul a roster that feels kinda stale...)
Indirectly it also means football is here. We have spent the last three weeks breaking down a football team of area interest — and we still have Bama and UT on thw docket — but this week, with the meeting in full swing we'll do the SEC as a whole, starting with it's biggest star/controversy.
From the "Talks too much" studios,
Manziel stops short
OK, we all knew that this week at SEC media days was going to be wild for Johnny Football Manziel, the kid with the cool nickname, gallery of boss bar-hopping photos, a Heisman Trophy and all the good and bad trappings that go with being a rock star in the rock-star supernova that is SEC football.
Johnny Football was a counselor at the Manning Quarterback Academy and left early because he was ill, according to reports from the camp. There are rumors and rumblings that he was asked to leave the Manning event because he was hung over. There were reports Manziel was out knocking back Co-Colas with AJ McCarron earlier in the week only to get 'ill' during the weekend. Wow. Simply beyond words. Hope the kid is OK.
Johnny Football is the biggest star to attend the media event since Tim Tebow was there, when Tebow was famously asked if he was a virgin. Here's saying that may be the only question not asked about Johnny Football's personal life.
We put it out there on "Press Row" — our radio show with David Paschall 1-3 p.m. on 105.1 FM here in town and on espnchattanooga.com on the interwebs — that Texas A&M was going to be the league's biggest disappointment and Manziel was due a big step backward.
As far as timing goes, this hiccup coming the weekend before roughly 1,000 media members are about to greet you at a hotel in Hoover, Ala. is world-class bad. Or world-class great depending on your point of view.
Here are three things we feel 100-percent certain about this week at SEC media days:
1) Saban will mention the process.
2) Spurrier will gig someone.
3) The neighborhood clubs around Hoover have found out what Johnny Football's drink of choice is and are well-stocked.
Wow, that was a fun Sunday of golf watching with the family. Philly Mick won the Scottish Open in a style completely Philly Mick — he made bogey on 18 to fall into a playoff and then worked a miraculous wedge to less than a foot for birdie and the win on the first playoff hole. Teenager Jordan Spieth won on the PGA Tour. Yes, a teenager — who cashed a check for $828K... that's some high-quality beer money gang.
And it jump started us into the second best week of golf. We're a sucker for the Masters, always have been, always will be.
The British Open though is second, edging the U.S. Open because of the complete differences — in the game, the scenery, the accents, all of it.
Plus, it makes for great early morning TV viewing. Simply splendid, in fact.
So we're having a contest — it's what we do.
Here are the working rules:
Pick five golfers, top four count and the lowest score wins. And since the British Open is different and we embrace that difference, let's add this wrinkle — at least three countries have to be represented in your five golfers. Deal? Deal.
Winner will get a prize pack of some ilk.
Braves hit break
Your Atlanta Braves hit the All-Star Break 54-41, six games clear of the Washington Nationals in the NL East standings.
Injuries are a problem. Strikeouts are a problem. It's a picture that is prettier than the color of paints.
Let's chew on some numbers, good and bad:
Danny Struggla: Good — about one in every 3.5 base hits leaves the yard; Bad — Struggla is hitting .200, which is one base hit in every five at-bats, and he is striking out about 38 percent of the time.
B.J. Upton: Bad — Hitting .177. To get to his career .250 average at season's end, Upton will need to hit roughly .330 in the second half; Good — well, currently, the fact that Upton is headed to the DL is about the best we got.
As for the Braves in general, it's hard not to feel good about this bunch because of the following reasons:
• As Buster Olney reported on ESPN, the Braves have the easiest schedule among contenders in the second half of the season;
• There's no way this team could have been hit harder by the injury bug than they were in the first half and they are still six games in front;
• It's hard to image roughly 38 percent of your everyday lineup — Upton, Uggla, Heyward — struggling more, yet they still are in the top five in baseball in run differential.
This and that
— OK, we were fine with Freddie Freeman winning the fan vote over Yasiel Puig for the final all-star spot. Freeman deserved to be there. But when Freeman backed out because of a bad thumb, NL manager Bruce Bochte picked Brian McCann as his replacement. A decision that is at-best rivalry-inspired (Giants snubbing Dodgers = good times) and at-best dense and ignorant.
— Carly Rae Jepsen, a pop singer, threw out the worst first pitch in baseball history. Here's a spot for the video. Side note: We all believe Danny Uggla would have swung at this pitch, right?
— Brian Vickers won the NASCAR race at New Hampshire. Hey, good for Brian, but they are all running for second behind Jimmie Johnson, who finished sixth. Heck here's NASCAR's top five in terms of interest/excellence: Johnson, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson's unibrow, and everyone else. Too bad Dale Jr. quit racing, huh? What? He's still driving? Who knew?
— U.S. champion sprinter Tyson Gay tested positive for banned substances. In other news, the sky is blue. We're speeding to the point that in certain sports, it's safe to assume everyone is on steroids, and those that aren't, well, we've never heard of them anyway.
— What's a PED for competitive eaters? High-octane Ex-Lax, maybe? Discuss.
— The steroid talk of Biogenesis and A-Rod and Ryan Braun and the like dominated the last week or so right? Well, here's a question for the gang: Why didn't any of the alleged 20 names on this list fail a recent drug test? We're debating this Biogenesis list because it was leaked from the steroid boutique, not because MLB or the union detected failed tests. We've said this from the start: until baseball — the owners, the league, the players, all of them — starts caring about stopping steroids, why should we?
Feel free to riff on any of the above and any of the stuff that happened over the weekend.
As for us, the story of Manziel leaving the Manning Camp has lots of loopholes.
Side question No. 1: What do you think Johnny Football's drink of choice is? Is he a beer guy? Mixed drinks? He may not always drink beer, but when he does it is Dos Equis? Zima maybe? Side question No. 2: If the story is true that Manziel was asked to leave the Manning Camp for Quarterbacks because he was hung over, has there been a dumber career move in recent sports? Side question No. 3: If the story is true that Manziel was asked to leave the Manning Camp for Quarterbacks because he was hung over, the word 'hangover' will official be replaced by 'Manziel' around these parts? Final side question: While not as cool as Johnny Football, Johnny Hangover is a nickname that could work too, right?
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...