published Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

5-at-10: Marion County meltdown, Tennessee update, Curious on Kobe

Good morning. How did you sleep? Loads to discuss.

From the "Talks too much" studios, let's paint this town red. Or orange and black.

  • photo
    From left are Marion County High School coaches Tim Starkey, Randy Kirkpatrick, Mac McCurry, Chad Rogers and Joe Dan Gudger. Starkey has been relieved of coaching duties at the school, and Gudger was arrested on charges of vandalism Tuesday. No allegations have been made against Kirkpatrick or Rogers.
    Photo by Robin Rudd.
    enlarge photo

Marion County meltdown

High school sports ace Stephen Hargis has a excellent story about a terrible story here , detailing the allegations and charges against the Marion County High School football program.

Here's the sequence of alleged events, according to authorities and as detailed in text messages between Tim Starkey and Michael Schmitt, two Warriors assistants:

— The Warriors paid for former South Pittsburg running back Raquis Hale to practice with the team to emulate the team speed in preparation of the annual rival game against South Pittsburg. This is major TSSAA violation, and TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress told Hargis he's going to have to be convinced that Marion County deserves to have a football program next year. Wow.

— At least two assistant coaches spray-painted and vandalized the school's football field house in the days before the game against South Pittsburg. Schmitt and Joe Dan Gudger have been charged with vandalism by Jasper police and the Marion County sheriff's office.

— Starkey is being investigated for stealing play sheets from the South Pittsburg football field house. And in text messages, Starkey says he got the play sheets like Schmitt did in "Dunalp." And yes, according to Sequatchie County coach Ken Colquette, there are two Sequatchie County playbooks missing. Hmmmmmm.

There likely is more. The investigation is on-going.

But first things first. Head coach Mac McCurry should be fired today. Today. Do not let him resign, fire him. Is there anyone who believe McCurry did not know the wide ranging antics of his staff that swung from hijinks to criminal?

And if you hold out the last fiber of doubt, answer this: If the head coach of a team that is in the middle of the biggest high school football scandal in the history of the state had zero idea of what was happening, how could he keep his job since he has zero idea of the inner-workings of the program?

So if McCurry had zero knowledge of any of this — which is next to impossible — he must not have been at practice in preparation for the annual rivalry grudge match with South Pittsburg since Hale was running around. Or maybe he was there and just didn't notice the college-aged tailback on the scout team who was faster than everyone else.

And if McCurry didn't know about the playbooks allegedly swiped from South Pittsburg and Marion County, they likely were used for leisurely reading at the Starkey or Schmitt households.

As for the vandalism, well, maybe McCurry didn't know about the hair-brained scheme, but Schmitt and Starkey each text about how they don't want to do it, but Schmitt says he doesn't want to make McCurry mad.

McCurry's either neck deep or has three blind eyes. So he's either oblivious or involved — and we'll take all odds on the latter — but either means he long ago forfeited his title as head coach.

Now is the time to make it official.

Side note: At 6:15 this morning, the TFP poll question of "Should Marion County coach Mac McCurry be fired?" already had 291 votes. And 92 precent of them (269) said yes.


  • photo
    Tennessee offensive lineman Alex Bullard (78) prepares to block for quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) against Auburn Saturday in Knoxville.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Tennessee home stretch

With last week's Vols off week and the craziness that was Auburn's Immaculate Deflection and the heartbreaking Mocs loss, we have kind of forgotten about the Tennessee football program a little bit.

Here are two items to discuss:

Saturday night the Vols will again trot out the Smokey Gray uniforms. The new threads have received strong reviews. The new threads are also 0-1. If the Smokey Grays fall to 0-2, well, we'll all have to wear black to the funeral when we bury the Smokey Grays. That's how it goes: If you are going to tinker with the uniforms in college football, if you lose, the uniform shares in the blame. So it goes. Hey, college football fans are strong on passion and occasionally short on logic. (Oregon is of course immune to this because they change every week.)

Second, this is the final home game for a senior class that has been through a buzz saw in four years. And for Marlon Walls, the redshirt senior defensive end, the ride has included committing to Fulmer and signing in Kiffin's first class with the likes of Bryce Brown and Janzen Jackson and getting the full Monty that was the three-year tour on the SS Orange Pants.

Of the fourth-year seniors playing their final game, there are a slew of linemen who played a ton of games. Guys like James Stone, Zach Fulton and Jawuan James and Corey Miller and Jacques Smith on defense.

Strange times indeed.


We have to be curious right?

Kobe Bryant is close to returning. Hmmmmm.

Let's piece this together: Bryant tore his Achilles' seven months and eight days ago. He's 35 years old, and he is shocking everyone in practice. He says a November return is possible.

Now if this were, say Barry Bonds, everyone would be screaming a magic three-letter acronym, right?

Heck, forget Bonds, if any baseball player — or goodness forbid a cyclist — rehabbed that hard and that fast and that successfully we'd be asking about PEDs at every turn.

This isn't even about Kobe. Maybe he's the most gifted healer in the world who has rubber-band Achilles' and we certainly know price was no object in his care. But can you ever recall a PED/NBA story? Are we to believe that no NBA player uses PEDs? When was the last time there was a steroids/NBA allegation?

Hmmmmm, indeed.


This and that

— Marcus Smart, the brilliant Oklahoma State point guard, served a reminder that while the talent troop of freshmen are great, Smart's pretty clever too. Smart scored 39 points on 11-of-21 shooting as Oklahoma State thrashed Memphis on Monday.

— TFP ace columnist Mark Wiedmer caught up with Andy Pettitte, who was in North Georgia Tuesday here Did not know that Pettitte won 256 career games. Here's a crazy thought: Since Pettitte has apologized and has been open and upfront about his PED past, there's a chance that Pettitte could be the the Hall of Fame PED trailblazer.

— UTC hoops lost a close one, 73-69, to visiting Kennesaw State on Tuesday. Just passing along details.


Today's question(s)

Feel free to chime on any of the above topics. And hey, remember the mailbag.

If you need talking points, well, there are a few out there:

Are you worried about the NFL rules czars fining almost every hit?

If you are Pat Haden, would you call Gus Malzahn and make him say no — and keep Coach O as the recruiting coordinator?

If we gave you Denver and Seattle or the field to win the Super Bowl, who you got?


about Jay Greeson...

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 ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
chas9 said...

Bring back Ken Colquitte.

The more we hear about this Incognito thing the more confusing it is. Should we all just ignore it until all the cards are on the table?

A cbssports piece out yesterday calls Uggla's contract the worst among all catchers and infielders. Ugly. And racism is still bad.

UK rolled and Randle double doubled. What else is new?

OK State 101-80 over Memphis? Smart and the team will be forces to contend with. And it still looks like Belmont's the state's best.

AD now averages 20.9/11.0/3.6. Doesn't lead any of those categories, but the combination is the NBA's best.

Oddsmakers say Bama's 49 better than UTC but FSU's 57 better'n Idaho, so it could be worse. How early in the game will Saban pull the starters?

November 20, 2013 at 10:13 a.m.
jomo11 said...

WOW Tennessee bringing out all the stops to beat VANDY ! Gray unis for BIG games, but VANDY ? How low has the bar been set for success for Butch Jones ? Beating Vandy and going 6-6 ? . . . .My gosh what is next ? Butchy sneaking out in the middle of the night and painting "Go Vandy" on Neyland ? . . . Help me out Vol fans is this what the program has come to ? beating Vandy and Kentucky makes a sucessful season, heck even Dooley usually beat Vandy and Ky . . .

November 20, 2013 at 10:15 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Ten-Ring, everyone.

I've been out of commission since Saturday for obvious reasons. u_u

Chances are, I won't be commenting much until football season is officially over. I don't care about the "calculations", we're done for the season. Period.

Moving on,

Regarding Warrior-gate, MCHS needs to be SMU'ed, pronto. This is beyond unhealthy if not full bore rediculous. I'm surprised Huffington Post or MSNBC hadn't taken this thing national. High School football, even in here in Texas, is NOT the NFL or the NCAA. The schools receive money from the COUNTY, not from revenue generated by the athletic department (unless there is something I'm ignorant of). If Marion Co. receives the Death Penalty, the school will carry on regardless.

November 20, 2013 at 10:24 a.m.
chattjammer said...

Stephen Hargis's article on Marion Co debacle is frikkin amazing! "GUILTY OF ALL CHARGES" levied. Texts, Walmart video, & the HC paying $50 for an illegal player at practice. Wow! Question: Firing the coach today (yes they should), who coaches Friday? Do they even have any coaches left at this point or just like t-ball, pull a few out of the stands!!!

UT should go with see-through uni's with candy canes on the front..reference "Candy U"..see-through's for the orange clad women who love their Vols & have no idea about the game of football..GBO

How funny would it be that AJ McCarron got hurt Sat vs the Mocs? Not wishing for injury, but admit it, we'd all laugh...

U passed up on any comment about UTC and this 'chaos' banner with the new coach...I u really have 'no comment' or just mad that Darrell Patterson didn't get in the game last nite?

Jomo, Derek Dooley managed to lose to KY Jelly when they had NO QB..a high school type RB took snaps and ran all day.

November 20, 2013 at 10:31 a.m.
sportsfan said...

Jay - from personal experience...granted I'm not a professional athlete, and I'm a shade over 35, but here's the recovery timeline for a complete achilles tendon tear. After surgery, 9 weeks in a cast with no weight on the leg at all followed by 9 more weeks in a boot gradually increasing pressure on the leg. 10 weeks of rehab that started about 5 weeks after the cast while in the boot. That's 23 weeks before I was able to walk (with a limp) without a boot. Running was not an option until much later. The surgeon told me it would take a year to heal, and it just about did. Even with an unlimited rehab budget, a 7 month recovery is pretty incredible. BTW, I snapped it playing basketball in the driveway with Sportsfan Jr and Little Miss Sportsfan. I guess I'm older than I look.

November 20, 2013 at 10:36 a.m.
Astropig said...


The power structure at Marion County needs to take some weed killer to their program-now. I absolutely hate the idea of punishing the kids (by all accounts, they had nothing to do with this), but coaches that should be leaders and models of fair play are another matter altogether. I don't have a dog in the fight (I live in Georgia), but it seems that the "death penalty" will punish a lot of innocent bystanders. And not just Johnny Tailback,either. Band members work hard and sell everything from candles to car washes to participate. Cheerleaders ,managers,trainers...The boneheads that did this need to feel the pain,but I would hate to see a proud program laid low by a few rogues that can't keep school sports in perspective.

November 20, 2013 at 11:03 a.m.
MocTastic said...

I would say if you clean out ALL the adults involved with the program at Marion County, all of them, then you could restart with a COMPLETELY new staff and let the kids play. Punish those guilty, the coaches and other adult staff.

November 20, 2013 at 11:15 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Unibrow's splits are nice indeed.

Alabama's starters will be done before the band takes the field.

Jomo —

You're just trying to stir the orange drink. Of course this is a big game and that is telling. But the most telling fact is that this is likely the most evenly matched game talent-wise UT has played all year. That's because of the indirectly proportional career vectors of James Franklin and Derek Dooley as college football head coaches.

And yes, the UT lack of talent is on Dooley and the defection of two pretty excellent NFL receivers.


Tough loss no doubt, and we would not be shocked to see a national site pick up Hargis' stories.

Jammer —

They are kicking around the principal. And there appear to be two staffers that were not involved in the shenanigans.

I passed on a Moc review because I was running behind this morning and have not caught up on my research. Did not want to toss something out there without finding out what happened.

Here's a gentle reminder for Mocs fans — and we first saw this sentiment from a wise post from either Stewwie or MT or someone from about two weeks ago — new coach = new energy; same limited offense talented = same crunch-time struggles with the ball.

So it goes. Still, we like Wade's plan and his passion. Dude could use a cheeseburger or two, though.

Sportsfan —

That's all the stuff we saw. Granted Kobe's an amazing athlete, but seven months? And to be ready to play in an NBA game? That means he had to be back getting in shape at least a month ago, too.

AP —

Great point on all the innocent pieces and parts that feel the tidal waves of a season of lost Friday nights.

MT —


November 20, 2013 at 2:01 p.m.
Walden said...

It received no play in the TFP, but the truth came out about the vandalism at Baylor's stadium two nights before the annual Baylor/McCallie game this Fall. As some on here suspected, it was an inside job on the part of Baylor (presumably by students, but who knows). So tell me, how is it that the guys in Marion County are getting skewered over a similar incident (plus some playbook stealing) while Baylor skates? Oh, that's right...

November 20, 2013 at 2:18 p.m.
Stewwie said...

[That's all the stuff we saw. Granted Kobe's an amazing athlete, but seven months? And to be ready to play in an NBA game? That means he had to be back getting in shape at least a month ago, too.]

It's fair to raise questions with that kind of recovery. But at the same time, he has access to the best doctors/equipment to help. Not saying that steriods aren't being used in the NBA, but how many NBAers can you think of that have gone from rail-thin to Incredible Hulk in a matter of a couple/few years a la Bonds, Caminiti, Sosa, Canseco, etc.? In baseball, it was simply too obvious to try to hide.

[Here's a gentle reminder for Mocs fans — and we first saw this sentiment from a wise post from either Stewwie or MT or someone from about two weeks ago — new coach = new energy; same limited offense talented = same crunch-time struggles with the ball.]

That was probably MT who said that. My thoughts are that we should be better this year than last year, no question. 10 conference wins is my expectation. I'm not going to sell these guys short just because there's a new coach/system. Wade's a bright enough guy to know to play to his strengths. After a few games with this squad, he'll figure out what will work and what won't. At least I hope.

[Are you worried about the NFL rules czars fining almost every hit?]

Yes. We are quickly seeing the NFL turn into the NTFL (Nat'l Touch-Football League).

[If you are Pat Haden, would you call Gus Malzahn and make him say no — and keep Coach O as the recruiting coordinator?]

No disrepect to Gus, but I would go after other guys first. Especially those who already have some form of Pac-12 ties. I might make Chip Kelly tell me no. Then maybe try to poach David Shaw or Jim Mora. In regard to Coach O, I would give the next head coach the option on whether to retain him. Coach O is a great recruiter, but he's also got a shady reputation. I'd want the next coach to decide if O will be a good fit.

[If we gave you Denver and Seattle or the field to win the Super Bowl, who you got?]

I'd take Denver and Seattle.

November 20, 2013 at 2:20 p.m.
MocTastic said...

Nope Stewie, not my comment. But I have said the same. Wade inhereted a team without alot of talent, depth, shooters, or height. This could be a long season. I think you will see a tremendous amount of effort though and it will be fun. Give Coach Wade two to three years to get his players in and experience in his system then I think we are going to have alot of fun.

With respect to steroids. All steroids are not used to build bulk. One useage is injury rehab, getting parts healthy when injured. Steroids can speed that up without becoming the Hulk. Also, that is one of the supposed great benefits of HGH, injury rehab. I don't keep up with the NBA closely, but do they test for PEDs? I am guessing definitely not for HGH as a test for it just became available fairly recently and requires blood testing.

November 20, 2013 at 2:39 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

The three letters most often associated with the NBA do start with P but usually end in T and have an O in the middle. Lot of that stuff going around the NBA. A lot. Like during the season and even in the lockerroom before the All Star Game.

Even in Georgia they don't do stuff like what the Marion County staff is doing. I mean, there's a good deal of - ahem - recruiting going on. But nothing like that. That's just juvenile, besides being, you know, wrong.

November 20, 2013 at 2:49 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...


Point well taken and as much as I dispise the "common law double standard" between "the big three + SMHS" vs. "All the other schools in the area", if students at MCHS were guilty of doing this on their own accord, that's one thing. But "adults" who are basically MY age or slightly older/younger doing this? Not cool.

Now if there was a report that facilty was involved with the Baylor vandalism, I would advise the exact same skewing. In other words, this has nothing to do with public vs. private or rich vs. poor as much as what benchmarks are expected of you. "Grown" men with families using adolescent trickery = not cool.

November 20, 2013 at 2:54 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

Marion's Mac McCurry pulled a Nixon. You can't fire me, I quit! What kind of hiring process took place at Marion County High School that led to the formation of that brain trust. I'm guessing it involved a multiple choice test and the guys who tried to eat their no.2 pencil were hired on the spot. Good riddance to a coaching staff afflicted with a terminal case of stupidity. That said, I sincerely hope the TSSAA does not push for the death penalty. In a community like Jasper, the local high school football team is a major rallying point. There is no need to punish kids for the misdeeds of adults and Astropig made a good point about all those on the periphery (band members, cheerleaders, managers, trainers, etc.) that would be punished by a cease and desist of the football program.

I caught a little bit of an interesting conversation on Mike and Mike this morning concerning the direction of the NFL. The basic takeaway was that the move away from the blood-and-guts football of years gone by to the more glitz-and-glamour gridiron action of today is obviously by design and has actually been a very good business decision by the league. Casual fans like the high-scoring, tackle-optional football games. Hardcore fans hate it, but we keep watching anyway. The NFL is the alpha-and-omega of the professional sports scene in America and the numbers of people watching continues to grow. There will be no more Chuck Bednarik or Jack Lambert types in the NFL and the front office is content with that...So long as the money keeps rolling in.

November 20, 2013 at 2:59 p.m.
Stewwie said...


Good info on the steroids. Not sure what exactly the NBA tests for. As for the Mocs, height is a concern, but it's not like the cupboard was bare for Wade. There's enough talent and depth (especially when Rico gets back) to win more this year. Agreed that you'll see the effort every night. Agreed that Wade will move us forward in the right direction, but that should start this year, not 2 or 3 years from now.

November 20, 2013 at 3:42 p.m.
MocTastic said...

A reminder for Moc fans to come on over, register, and talk Mocs at Stewie and Jonathan MCCook, still waiting to see you!

November 20, 2013 at 4:08 p.m.
jimmydurant said...

I have been researching this subject for a few days now for a report I am writing. Your post has been very helpful in this regard.

July 22, 2014 at 8:08 a.m.
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