Alabama coach Nick Saban talks with reporters during Southeastern Conference Football Media Days in Hoover, Ala., Friday. (AP)
The SEC media event is this week. There will be hundreds of news folks making a mad dash to to the greater-Birmingham area from all over the country to ask the football coaches and stars of college football's best league questions about just about everything.
As our UT ace Patrick Brown wrote last weekend http://timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jul/15/big-orange-debate-can-dooley-win/, University of Tennessee coach Derek Dooley's "hot seat" could be a major point of discussion this week. Dooley is 11-14 in two seasons in Knoxville and returns a slew of starters and the quarterback/receiver pieces to have one of the nation's best passing attacks.
Expectations are high. So is the energy, and the anxiety.
Our SEC ace David Paschall outlined some of the other potential questions you can expect to hear frequently this week here http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jul/15/big-12-newcomers-meeting-sec-media/?sportscollege.
Here's two questions we have this morning:
First, where did the summer go? Seriously, the SEC media days are the unofficial start of the season and they are here. Which means summer is all but gone. (Forget the temperatures, and trust us.) Holy buckets it's about to get busy.
Second, this week will be fun if for no other reason than we get to catch up with our old friend Les Miles again. We love Les, and if you don't love Les then that's on you. Here's a quote from Les from Paschall's story above: "I think there is a real hunger and want to start the season, and any time you finish the season on a negative note, you turn to the opener with some anxiousness, and that's very much the case here."
The 5-at-10 has the want to include "want to" in nearly every story we want to write. There is a hunger and want here, folks.
Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Ben Sheets (30) celebrates with teammate Tim Hudson after defeating the New York Mets 6-1 in a baseball game, Sunday, July 15, 2012, in Atlanta. Sheets pitched six scoreless innings in his first major league game in two years.Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Three Sheets to the win
Wow, how about that weekend in the A-T-L? The Braves sweep the Mets to push their winning streak to seven games. And on Sunday, Ben Sheets looked like Ben Sheets from eight years ago.
Sheets, who has battled a river of arm injuries and other ailments during his career, had been out of the big leagues baseball since 2010 when his second major elbow surgery all-but ended his career.
Sheets told reporters that he had reconstructive surgery in 2010 so he could play catch with his kids and never really believed he'd get back to the majors. Sunday, he held the Mets to a run in a 6-1 victory that was sensational and stunning and special and any other cool 's' word you imagine.
Whether signing Sheets was a stroke of genius or a move by a Braves team that simply does not want to spend money (and yes Spy, it can be both), Sunday's return was great. Plus, as other contenders start to stock pile assets and look at payrolls to make a push for a Dempster, Garza, Grienke or even Hamels, the Braves may have found a steal.
Granted, this was one start — Sheets allowed seven runs in 10 innings with Double-A Mississippi — but it was one great start. Here's saying the Braves front office types can't help but feel a little like the folks on an "Antiques Roadshow" after giving the appraiser great-granddaddy Whit's family portrait and finding some rare art underneath.
Hart breaking out
UTC athletic director Rick Hart is scheduled to be introduced at SMU today. Hart is a very good guy who did a very good job here and deserves the very good raise he's about to get.
As UTC football ace John Frierson told us here, http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jul/16/lots-of-change-in-air-for-utc-outgoing-chancellor/?sports Dr. Roger Brown has some big shoes to fill. And as our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer tells us, there are a few familiar names out there that could be interested http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jul/15/hart-hard-to-replace/?sportsColumns.
As Ulysses Everett McGill might say to the Mocs powers that be, "Boys, we're in a tight spot." UTC does not have the bankroll to lure away someone with AD experience from bigger schools, and when you're making a hire that is a promotion for someone, it can be dicey.
Hiring Hart was the Mocs winning on a scratch-off lottery ticket. It worked, and now they need to find another winner.
This and that
— At one point, the 5-at-10 enjoyed NASCAR. A lot. Is it just us or is there something missing from today's NASCAR? We've been underwhelmed.
— Ray Allen bought a full-page ad in the Boston Globe thanking Celtics fans for his time there. Class move. Now is that going to save him the tons of heckling and grief that his headed his way when the Heat play at Boston next year? Of course not. But it was still a class move.
— Did you see the final round of the John Deere Classic, where the kid picked up Troy Matteson's ball on the 18th hole. Here's the video http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/golf-devil-ball-golf/video-kid-picks-troy-matteson-ball-final-hole-021324962--golf.html. Matteson got a free drop after getting his ball back from the sticky-fingered youngster, and eventually lost to Zach Johnson in a playoff.
— Don't forget about our Openly Open Championship Championship. Pick five golfers and count the best four finishes in this week's British Open. The twist this time is if you pick Tiger Woods, you only get four choices. Questions? Winner will get some tickets to something soon.
— The TSSAA will vote today on whether to stay with six classes or go back to five classes. Either way, it's too many. And here's saying that before long all of the private schools will be divided into their own division and will be subdivided at least a couple of times. And at this pace, we're a few years away from crowing 14 state champions in every sport. Hey everyone's a state champion.
— Does anyone write a movie script that does not contain a comic book character? We had the 32nd installment of Spiderman last weekend. Batman returns Friday. There is a new Superman on the horizon. Heck, if we put a cape on Toonces the Cat that drives a car, he'd have a script in 48 hours. (For those that don't know, Toonces was an SNL character in the late 1980s, back when SNL still tried to be funny.)
It's a free-play Monday. Got something you want to share, deliver. If you need to respond, here's a starting point:
Jeremy Lin appears to be headed out of New York. After the Lin-sanity stuff and the craziness that jumped out of his quick rise to uber-celebrity, Lin rasies one of the most difficult front office decisions in sports. The contract Houston offered Lin — three years, $25 million — seems way, Way, WAY too high, especially for a Knicks team that has acquired Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton in recent weeks.
That said, Lin has real, economics class value. He may stuff a stat sheet like Kidd or be as fast or talented as Felton, but Lin is an actual money maker. His jersey sales were big last year and he puts fannies in seats. Lin's situation has even generated discussion at Business Week.
If you were a GM, how much value do you put in real value? (Side question: Where else but NYC can a back-up point guard and a back-up quarterback be international stars?)
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 ...