An appreciation of the word and fashion choices that make the unofficial kickoff of football season great.
Press conference MVP, coaches division: Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
If every SEC Media Days kicked off with the Ol' Ball Coach listing everything about college football that was bothering him that particular season, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. Topics of this year's airing of grievances: the desire among SEC coaches to pay players a stipend for games, Notre Dame getting a voice in playoff structure creation along with conference commissioners, and the inequality of scheduling paths to the SEC championship game.
It's tough to convey, in print and pixel, the gap between the contempt that greeted new Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin at his first SEC Media Days appearance last year and the offense Sumlin actually committed, which for the record was "Showing up to SEC Media Days as head of a team that had the temerity to accept an invitation to join the SEC."
Questions lobbed his way in a ballroom of 700 reporters ranged from flighty to outright condescending. We are almost positive somebody went so far as to ask him how he overcame being named "Kevin." Our favorites, in no particular order, and his delightfully prophetic answers, in which the real difficulty now is not bolding everything for emphasis:
In case you were busy settling up with Alamo Rent A Car after just driving, man, went horribly awry, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
The Los Angeles Lakers' troubled season continued, as forward Pau Gasol has been ruled out for at least six weeks after tearing his plantar fascia. Back in the Lakers' locker room, a frustrated Mike D'Antoni was confused by the diagnosis. "Oh, first Dwight is in and out of the lineup with undiagnosable shoulder pain, and now Pau tears a damn ribbon, and he won't play?" said D'Antoni, whose native tongue is Italian. "No, coach," interjected Lakers point guard Steve Nash, "I'm pretty sure fascia in English refers to the frieze of a building. Or like, the space around a column? His home must have suffered some cosmetic exterior damage, and that can be a real pain to deal with." D'Antoni countered, "Well, that's no reason to miss six weeks; with the amount he's paid, that's one week out tops." Metta World Peace then chimed in: "I don't mean to be a bother, but fascia can also mean 'bandage' in Latin. Perhaps we should give the Spaniard the benefit of the doubt and assume that he ripped a bandage, and then got one of those antibiotic-resistant infections." A dark hooded figure then emerged from the corner of the room, and bellowed, "Stai zitto!" A hush fell over the room until World Peace asked, "What's that mean, Kobe?" Bryant, deflated, responded, "It means 'shut up,' Ron. In Italian. Man, why'd you have to ruin my badass entrance. Whatever. All that matters is that Pau is feeling pain. Do we know whether or not he's feeling pain?" At this point Gasol himself got up from the trainer's table and said, "Uh, guys, I'm right here, and it's just a foot injury. I should be back in March." But his rational explanation came too late, as Kobe had already decided he was owed pain.
In case you were out just driving, man, just hitting the open road, here's what you missed in sports Tuesday.
The Houston Rockets tied the NBA record for 3-pointers but were denied the record outright after a flurry of ejections marred the end of their 140-109 win over the Golden State Warriors. Houston point guard Jeremy Lin, who led the way for the Rockets with 28 points and nine assists, said after the game, "It was total Linsanity out there, huh?" before pausing dramatically for effect. "I mean, I've seen some things in my day, but that was totally Linsane." Lin then paused again, before admitting, "Guys, I have a lot of T-shirts to move, so if you could remind people of Linsanity, that would be really great. My cousin is all like, 'Get these boxes out of my garage,' and I'm like, 'Whatever, Tom. You said I could leave them in there as long as I needed,' and he's all like, 'Yeah, but I thought they'd be gone in a week,' and I was all like, 'Yeah, me, too.'"
The most interesting thing college football coaches did this month was to stay put. If you believe what you read, Charlie Strong, Mike Gundy, James Franklin, Gary Patterson, and Chris Petersen all had chances to leave their schools for bigger, more storied programs. None of them did. Collectively, they are college football’s new middle class, a well-paid group in no hurry to move.
College football, like America, has its rich and its middle class. Unlike an electrician, of course, a middle-class college football coach makes millions even when he fails. But stick with the analogy for a second.
Take Alabama and Vanderbilt. Bama is a rich school, with lots of national titles (some of them legit) and athletic revenue that last year topped $125 million. Vandy is a middle-class school, and that’s mostly because of its membership in the SEC. “When I took this job in 2003,” Vanderbilt athletic director David Williams said recently, “this was a stepping stone for coaches.”
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
Kobe Bryant became the youngest NBA player to reach 30,000 points in the second quarter of the Lakers' 103-87 win over the New Orleans Hornicans. "Say the word youngest again," Bryant said to reporters, as he soaked his feet in hot water and epsom salts. "Just keep saying it while I close my eyes. Don't be weirded out if I moan."
While watching Arkansas’s John L. Smith flick his tongue in and out of his mouth during his win over Auburn on Saturday — victory is more savory than bankruptcy — I had a thought. It inevitably falls into the contrarian/trollish category, so forgive me. Here’s the thought: Why can’t Arkansas and Bobby Petrino get back together? Why exactly is that marriage unsalvageable?
I think the argument breaks down into two parts:
1. Bobby Petrino is a liar and an asshole. (We pretty much all agree on this.)
2. College football is a morally pure place that can’t accommodate liars and assholes. (Here’s where we may differ.)
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
The NFL and the referee union released a joint statement last night announcing they had reached an agreement to end the lockout. Unfortunately, this probably means that troubled ex-Charger Ryan Leaf is now out of a job as a Division III line judge.
Manassas Junction, Virginia, 1861 — It's July 21, and the Civil War is about to begin for real. Union soldiers march south from Washington, D.C., to meet the Confederates, and the feeling throughout the north is that the rebels will hightail it back south after they get massacred on day one. The high muckety-mucks from D.C. — congressmen, business owners, and various other rich people — come down to picnic and watch the rout. Instead, after a long day of fighting, Stonewall Jackson and the Confederates send their enemies into a headlong retreat for Washington. As they flee north, the soldiers find the roads blocked by the panicked civilians who had come to watch the end of the pesky rebellion. And that's how the Battle of Bull Run ended.
I was a Civil War nerd as a kid, so it probably figures that while watching the Pac-12 shock the world last Saturday, I thought of Bull Run. It was the conference's best day in years, and it completely transformed their image around the country. The three ranked teams did their job, and that was expected — USC beat Syracuse, Oregon beat Fresno State, Stanford beat Duke. But the little guys did their part, too. Arizona dominated no. 18 Oklahoma State at home, Oregon State stunned no. 13 Wisconsin, UCLA outgunned no. 16. Nebraska in one of the best games of the weekend, and Arizona State destroyed Illinois. (Only Washington disappointed in the high-profile games, failing to make a dent against the Baton Rouge Tigers of the NFL's Second Division.)
There are now five Pac-12 teams in the AP top 25, and two more within sniffing distance. It's a revolution! The games were mostly at home, sure, but even under those circumstances the odds were long. Yet the mighty programs of the Big 10 and Big 12 left with their tails between their legs, fans in tow, realizing they'd underestimated the enemy. Week 2 was the Pac-12's Bull Run, and now everyone has to take them seriously.
So I'm calling it: This is the year of the Pac-12. Here are three more semi-ignorant reasons to love the rejuvenated conference.
On the surface, the Bobby Petrino saga is not a complex one: The man wiped out on his motorcycle while shuttling his 25-year-old mistress, a woman he’d recently hired and had allegedly gifted with $20 grand in cash. And then he lied about pretty much everything. It is a scenario far too preposterous for the pages of a Dan Jenkins novel, and it is in keeping with the public narrative of a man who has seemingly never been above resorting to the bald-faced lie. He did it in Atlanta, when he told the Falcons he was staying and then bolted for the Arkansas job while the mimeograph was still cooling; he did it when he interviewed for the Auburn job before one of his ex-bosses, Tommy Tuberville, had even been fired.
In case Yu were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
In his major league debut, Japanese phenom Yu Darvish overcame some early nerves to reach the sixth inning and help the Rangers secure an 11-5 win over the Mariners. Despite the victory, it was an unpleasant experiences for fans in Arlington, who upon hearing the name "Yu!" would turn and say, "Me?" "No, Yu," the person would respond, and the other guy would be like, "That's what I'm asking, me?" "No, I'm talking about Yu!" the first guy said, until a third guy was like, "SON OF A BITCH, HE MEANS YU DARVISH THE PITCHER! I HATE ABBOTT AND COSTELLO AND WORDPLAY SO MUCH!" And that's when the guns came out.
Second baseman Ian Kinsler said he and the Rangers have agreed to a five-year, $75 million contract. "That's $75 million for Yu," the Rangers contract negotiator said, pushing the paper forward. Kinsler eyed him suspiciously as he signed. "For me, right?" The negotiator made a head motion that was almost like a nod. "All for Yu," he said, as he grabbed the signed contract. "Wait ... did I just sign over $75 million of my own money to Yu Darvish?" asked a panicked Kinsler. "Don't be Darvish-culous," said the negotiator as he sprinted out the door.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
Detroit's Austin Jackson got the first walk-off hit of the season, an RBI single in the ninth as the Tigers beat the Red Sox 3-2. "Wait a second," slurred inactive Boston pitcher Josh Beckett, staggering out of the dugout to confront the umpire. "Thassa endofa game? Wha inning isst?" Luckily, he stumbled and fell before he could reach home plate, where he spent the next 20 minutes mumbling "you think you're better'n me?" to a piece of grass.
J.P Arencibia hit a three-run homer in the 16th inning as the Blue Jays beat the Indians 7-4 in the longest season opener in MLB history. The few thousand fans who stayed for the entire game — again, between the Blue Jays and Indians — remain quarantined inside Cleveland's Progressive Field this morning as experts check for signs of contagious insanity.
I believe the premise has been sufficiently introduced by the title, so I shall tarry no further.
1.There Will Be a Rematch
This is depressing enough to me that I can barely muster the energy to dispute it. Like most reasonable people, I do believe that Alabama and LSU are the two best teams in the country. But I don't care. They played, the Crimson Tide lost. That was their national title shot. Everyone knew the winner of that game would likely make the BCS title game; it's not like the stakes were a secret. And as long as there's a legitimate one-loss team somewhere out there, preferably one who finished the season on a high note (sorry, Houston), that team should get a crack. Obviously, that team exists in Oklahoma State. With a 44-10 win over Oklahoma, the Cowboys stated their case emphatically.