Don't forget about Friday's mailbag — we'll have a full one this week, we promise. Let's get a huge, Huge, HUGE weekend jumpstarted early with a Ron Burgandy-dedicated 5-at-10 in honor of the news last night that there will be a second Ron Burgandy movie in the days ahead.
From the "Talks Too Much Studios" here we go.
Brian Fontana: Panda Watch. The mood is tense; I have been on some serious, serious reports but nothing quite like this. I uh... Ching... King is inside right now. I tried to get an interview with him, but they said no, you can't do that he's a live bear, he will literally rip your face off. Hey, you're making me look stupid. Get out here, Panda Jerk!
Ron Burgundy: Great story. Compelling, and rich.
This Final Four is starting to boil to the unforeseen points. What proof?
Wednesday in Georgetown, Ky. — about 15 miles outside of Lexington — there was a fight between a Louisville fan and a Kentucky fan in advance of those arch rivals facing off in Saturday's Final Four opener.
"So?" you're probably thinking. "That happens a hundred times a year."
Maybe, but here's what makes this story "compelling and rich" as Mr. Burgandy would say:
— These two guys were patients in the same dialysis clinic;
— The younger of these two guys was 68
— The 68-year-old UK fan, who was hitched up to the dialysis machine, heard the 71-year-old Cards fan talking about how Louisville was going to win. The UK fan flipped his rival the bird and the Cards fan punched his counterpart in the face.
And we're still more than 48 hours from tipoff.
Side note: We're in for the the Kemba Walker Memorial Shootout, Final Four edition. Here's the ground rules: Pick two players — can be from the same team can be from different teams; most total points scored wins; submit your picks in the order of which player you think will score the most; the first tie-breaker if people submit similar entries will be the points scored from the top dogs — this means if you enter Jared Sullinger and Thomas Robinson, it's not the same exact entry as Thomas Robinson and Jared Sullinger; further tie breakers will be announced as needed.
Here's who is in:
5-at-10 — Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Thomas Robinson
McPell — Tyshawn Taylor and Anthony Davis
scole023 — Thomas Robinson and Anthony Davis
Follower — MKG and Jared Sullinger
Tiger — William Buford and Michael Kidd Gilchrist
OTWatcher — Anthony Davis and MKG
dawg747 — Sullinger and Anthony Davis
StuckinKent — Sullinger and MKG
wcole777 — Kyle Kuric and Jared Sullinger
Mrs. 5-at-10 — Doron Lamb and Thomas Robinson
Ron Burgandy: I'm in a glass case of emotion.
Our UT ace Downtown Patrick Brown has an interesting look at the off-the-field actions of Vols quarterback Tyler Bray here http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/mar/29/bray-gives-back-vols-qb-showing-maturity-on-and/.
We talked earlier this week about the overwhelming need of linebacker A.J. Johnson to stay healthy this spring and for receiver Justin Hunter to return to full speed. We stand by those contentions, but Downtown brings up an excellent point: If Bray, the up-and-down junior quarterback, is not ready to drive the Vols bus, there's little to no hope this fall.
Here are the fundamental truths that we can all agree on:
— The Vols are putting in a new defense — with new coaches at every level on that side of the ball;
— That new scheme puts an emphasis on linebackers, arguably UT's thinnest position;
— The UT running game inspires little confidence in even the most-orangest Johnny Vol Fan
What does that leave UT hanging its helmet on? Yep, a passing game highlighted by Bray and three receivers — Hunter, Da'Rick Rogers and Cordarrelle Patterson — that physically are NFL-caliber.
But Bray is the key. He has always been ready to play physically — dude can sling it. But... (there's always a but, right?) Has he grown and is he ready to lead as some of his teammates tell Downtown in today's story? Johnny Vols Fan better hope so.
Around college football
Bill Lawson: Bob Dylan once wrote, The times, they are a-changin. Ron Burgundy had never heard that song.
It appears there's a bunch of storylines around college football that while this may be a new year, things have a very familiar feeling. Case in point:
Example No. 1: Not unlike his predecessors, Alabama running back Eddie Lacey is already generating some early Heisman buzz. Lacey made the "darkhorse" list for heismanpundit.com despite only getting 95 carries last year.
Lacey will get the first crack at replacing Trent Richardson and will operate behind the best offensive line in the country.
Example No. 2: Two more Georgia players face suspensions for violations of team rules. As our SEC ace David Paschall tells us here http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/mar/29/ugas-rambo-ogletree-suspended/, there are reports that linebacker Alec Ogletree and safety Bacarri Rambo have been suspended for at least the first two games — vs. Buffalo and at Missouri — and may miss as many as four games — vs. Florida Atlantic and vs. Vandy are games three and four on the UGA schedule.
Example No. 3: Auburn appears to be transitioning to more of a pro-style offense under new coordinator Scot Loeffler. And during that transition Jay Tate of the Mongtomery Advertiser shares that the Tigers QBs and RBs are having trouble with snaps and hand-offs. That's less than encouraging.
This and that
Ron Burgundy: The only way to bag a classy lady is to give her two tickets to the gun show... [kisses his biceps] and see if she likes the goods.
— LeBron James says his dislocated finger will not cost him any time. OK, that's all well and good. But the next three weeks do not matter for King James. The upcoming playoffs however could be huge in their hugeness.
— Prep superstar Shabazz Muhammad was the star of last night's McDonald's All-America basketball game. Two quick takes: First, Muhammad is star and will be a star next year on the big stage of college hoops — his final three choices are UCLA, UK and Duke. Second, for the rest of today's column, we're changing our name to the Shabazz-at-10. That's some kind of name, huh? Awesome. (Side note: If Shabazz was not a hoops star, what profession is there for a Shabazz? That's a star athlete name if there ever was one. There are not many, "This is my plumber Shabazz moments in life," you know?)
— As we said yesterday, the Shabazz-at-10 is stoked Magic Johnson and Co. bought the Dodgers. But $2 billion — that's Billion with a 'B' — is a lot of coin.
Let's talk sequels.
If we can all agree that Godfather II is the best sequel — narrowly edging Empire Strikes Back — and that Caddyshack II is the worst — surpassing the second Indiana Jones movie and Slap Shot II, what are our expectations for Ron Burgandy II?
Will it be a combination of Sex Panther — 60 percent of the time it works every time — or more the name of San Diego — agree to disagree?
And which movie should there be a sequel that's not out there yet?
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 ...