From the "Al Davis Studios," here we go...
Wow, that's a strange Tuesday
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier unloaded Tuesday on a newspaper columnist, saying he was not going to participate in interviews that the columnist was participating in. Spurrier granted one-on-one interviews with TV stations and did some other interviews but refused to speak with Ron Morris of The State because the dude is negative and because something the guy wrote six months-plus ago was "untrue," and "completely fabricated," according to the Ol' Ball Coach.
Now if that seems somewhat bizarre for a guy that has a top-15 team and is viewed — at least from the outside — as being among the most entertaining and jovial college football coaches around. (That said, college football coaches and "jovial" used together in terms of media relations is about as common as sane and "Jersey Shore" fans.)
The whole scene made a little more sense about 30 minutes later when longtime USC quarterback and suspendee Stephen Garcia was dismissed from the Gamecocks program for failing a urine test.
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier looks on as quarterbacks Stephen Garcia calls to others as they organized for a group photo during media day Sunday, Aug. 9, 2009, at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)
Few things here:
— Spurrier pulled a rope-a-dope with the media shenanigans, and took a preemptive strike at the alleged most negative voice in the room on a day when negative stories are going to abound.
— It's a stroke of genius, too, because 90-percent of Johnny Gamecocks Fans will be blaming this Morris dude for a big part of this mess. That's the way it goes.
— Garcia was the cat of college football players, but he finally used up his nine lives. Actually he was suspended five times before the dismissal. Here's hoping dude gets his life in order otherwise he could be facing a long road of trouble. Six run-ins with alcohol, drugs, authority, et al. when you have the structure and support of a major college football program holding your hand is eye-popping. Out on his own with relatively nothing to lose, Garcia could really go off the rails.
Well that shocked exactly no one. When word came down that the TSSAA ordered Signal Mountain to vacate its six high school football wins and put the postseason almost certainly beyond the Eagles' reach, an appeal seemed like a certainty.
That certainty became fact Tuesday when Dr. Tom McCullough told TFP prep ace Ward Gossett about their intentions. Now, what's next? Let's see if we can cover a collection of points, and remember this is the 5-at-10's opinion in our family-oriented, Interweb-based sports column:
— There appears to be hurt feelings that the TSSAA was informed Sept. 22 of the allegations that Signal Mountain's Tim McClendon, a two-way starter, was not eligible. The TSSAA did not act until last Thursday, meaning even if the Eagles swept their last three games, they were going to need a lot of help to make the postseason. Well, the TSSAA has an entire state to overlook so dropping every thing to inform Signal about the allegations seems a little presumptuous. Plus, if the TSSAA made it protocol to call schools as soon as every allegation was made and told the school that Player X had eligibility questions, the weekly fallout would be overwhelming. If that was the expected policy, a team, player, coach, fan or custodian that didn't want to face that stud running back at your rival school could call the TSSAA and drop a rumor and maybe the school sits him down that week.
— There are questions about the Hamilton County Board of Education's role in issuing a hardship waiver that said McClendon was eligible to attend Signal Mountain despite living in the Brainerd zone. Signal administration and Dr. McCullough are putting a lot of their appeal eggs in this basket, even using the less-than-veiled threatening language of "If the TSSAA maintains that board-approved hardships do not establish 'territory,' then there are numerous student athletes in Hamilton County and across Tennessee whose eligibility may be questionable," in Tuesday's release. Here's the 5-at-10's take for what that's worth about the hardship: Hamilton County determines which students go to which schools, the schools and ultimately the TSSAA determine if they are eligible to participate in athletics.
— As for the "numerous student athletes in Hamilton County and across Tennessee whose eligibility may be questionable," part of that, well, that's a blanket statement that may or may not be true. And maybe there are dozens or even hundreds of ineligible student-athletes participating in high school sports in Hamilton County and across the state. But to even hint or rationalize or suggest that it's OK to do something wrong because that's the way everyone else is doing doesn't wash. If you think it does, try using the "Everyone was speeding officer," defense the next time a cop pulls you over for going 75 in a 65.
— That said, if you had the recent history of Signal Mountain's football program, including the summer scrimmage skirmish and the ensuing penalties from that event that drew the ire of the TSSAA for not being tough enough, aren't you going to make 100-percent certain that all of your T's are crossed and your I's are dotted? Especially when the transfer is 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds and is one of the most impressive-looking players on the field every Friday night?
— It's a flat-out shame for the seniors on the Signal football team, including McClendon, who almost assuredly did not make the paper-work miscues that have served as the launching point for the TSSAA's investigation.
— Who knows how this turns out, but it's been of high interest and it's been filled with heated emotions.
Matt Simms, c'mon down
Wow, Matt Simms must be living under a dark cloud. After leading the Vols in the rugged first two months of last season before Tyler Bray took over against Memphis, Ole Miss, Vandy and Kentucky, an injury to Bray has again forced Simms into the starting lineup.
Simms hits the field just in time to see LSU, Alabama and South Carolina — the first two have the top two defenses in the free world and the Gamecocks have one of the best defensive lines in the country. Let's just say that it would be easy to forgive Simms for not doing several Tiger Woods' fist pumps right now.
That said, Simms, who was sacked 28 times as a starter last year, appears willing to take on the tall challenge. Here's our UT ace Patrick Brown's story on him (Simms readier in second stint as UT starter).
Of course, with the way the Vols are running the ball (or better stated may be with the way the Vols AREN'T running the ball), the entire Simms family — dad and former Super Bowl MVP Phil, brother and former NFL player Chris, and even possible distant-distant-distant cousin and NFL running back Billy — could be on the field Saturday and it likely won't make a difference.
Side note: Can anyone explain why the top-ranked LSU Tigers are only a 15-point favorite against a Tennessee team that scored all of 12 points against a Georgia defense that is no where as impressive as LSU's, and that was with Bray playing most of the game?
This and that
Miami Heat's LeBron James celebrates after scoring against the Boston Celtics during the second half of Game 2 of a second-round NBA playoff basketball series, Tuesday, May 3, 2011 in Miami. The Heat won 102-91. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
— Some of you know the 5 at 10 isn't known for his wizardry around the interwebs. With that said, last night the 5 at 10's facespace-twitter feed provided the first entertaining development out of the NBA world since the lockout began. LeBron James had a question for ESPN's long time NFL analyst John Clayton via twitter. The conversation played out like this and even lured in Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll.
kingjames (LeBron James): Clayton, When is the deadline for a team to sign a free agent?
ClaytonESPN (John Clayton): Trade deadline next Tuesday 4 p.m. Free agency goes until last team is eliminated.
kingjames (LeBron James): Thanks Clayton!
ClaytonESPN (John Clayton): LeBron, don't look at the Philadelphia Eagles. You're already on a Dream Team.
PeteCarroll(Pete Carroll): hey @KingJames, are you aware of what the League's rookie minimum is?
kingjames (LeBron James): yeah more than what I'm making now Coach
PeteCarroll(Pete Carroll): I kinda think of you as a touchdown maker but is it true you think of yourself as a pass rusher?
kingjames (LeBron James): @PeteCarroll TD maker for sure!
— It appears Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein is headed to Chi-town to become the new general manager of the Chicago Cubs. Epstein was made the youngest general manager in MLB history when the Red Sox hired him in 2002 at the age of 28, winning championships in 2004 and 2007.
The first thing Epstein should do when he lands in Chicago is put on a Cubs jersey with the numbers "00" and smile while he waves at the crowd. The second thing Epstein should do is fire everyone still associated with the Chicago Cubs. This doesn't include the concession stand employees. The 5 at 10 loves a good hotdog at a ball game and admires the fine work those folks do.
Let's play the finish-the-sentence game:
We're at the halfway point in the SEC, and our SEC ace David Paschall and the TFP sports editor offered their SEC midway superlatives in today's TFP. What are yours?
Share with us your best offensive, defensive and coach and biggest surprise and disappointment and the best SEC game so far (which we all know will be replaced by the Alabama-LSU showdown come Nov. 5).
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 ...