As head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs, Mark Richt has spent 13 years giving the Bulldog faithful an average of 10 good reasons for his continued tenure and three rationales for his ouster that often seem far more compelling. He perennially appears on the coaching hot seat lists while different names tell the same story: He can’t win The Big One, though that can mean either the Cocktail Party, the SEC championship, or the national championship. He can’t beat UGA’s archrival, which could be Florida, South Carolina, or Auburn. He lets the doormats stick around and, eventually, they get lucky and steal one. And it’s not like basketball season will rain revenge on Kentucky or Vanderbilt.
This season, Georgia boasted an absurd, near Pac-12 style offense featuring inevitable all-time SEC passing leader Aaron Murray at quarterback, an unfair underclassman halfback surplus in Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, and a wealth of receiving options. And sure, the defense lost a ton of NFL talent, but the team could simply outscore anyone, particularly the Stone Age offenses Florida and South Carolina were putting out there. Besides, you started to hear whispers about how Jarvis Jones was overrated, Justin Houston played out of control, and Alec Ogletree, Cornelius Washington, and Bacarri Rambo were replaceable. And hey, look how that schedule plays out — LSU and South Carolina at home, no Texas A&M or Alabama, at least until the SEC championship, and that seemed all but assured.
It’s pretty clear now that you cannot win a Super Bowl with Matt Schaub as your quarterback. Schaub just lacks that extra gear that sets him apart from the likes of Brady and Manning. The flip side, of course, is that he lacked the extra gear to inspire any real animus. Or so we thought. ntil proven otherwise, he would softly let you down, not break your heart. Schaub certainly wouldn’t cause the ostensibly sensible and grateful Texans fans to burn his uniform in the Reliant Stadium parking lot. Or confront the man at his home. Or cheer when he left a hopeless game against the Rams with a bum ankle. Oh, by the way, Eagles fans are off the hook now — at least they cheer when the other team’s guys get hurt.
If there really is salvation for Schaub, it’s not going to come in Houston. Not right now, at least, not when Case Keenum is living the broken dreams of Colt Brennan, Timmy Chang, Trevor Vittatoe, Graham Harrell, and every other gunslinging system quarterback by getting the big promotion from the practice squad for the hometown team. Plus, how would you feel if Willie D was going at your ass on Twitter with his best material since "We Can’t Be Stopped"?
On any given Sunday (or Monday, or Thursday), your NFL Run & Shootaround crew will be gathered around multiple televisions, making inappropriate jokes and generally regressing to the mean. Catch up on all the NFL action right here.
Come As You Are
Robert Mays: When the Colts traded for Trent Richardson, part of the collective shock came from how unprecedented the move seemed. Without considerable extenuating circumstances, teams don’t give up on 23-year-old first-round picks. From the Browns’ side, it really was a deal that was almost unheard of, but not for the Colts. They’d done this before.
Anyone who watches Hard Knocks will remember the scene from last summer when Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland called Vontae Davis into his office and informed his fourth-year cornerback that he had been traded to the Colts for a second-round pick. Davis’s reaction wasn’t surprising, given what we knew about him at that point. Taken 25th overall by Miami in 2009, Davis was one of the more physically impressive cornerbacks you’ll ever see. Brother of famed pre-draft workout star Vernon Davis, Vontae was a 5-foot-11, 205-pound, 4.5 corner who looked like he could handle 20 carries a game if a team were so inclined. His issues in Miami had more to do with the other side of things. He struggled with maturity, with the day-in, day-out call for consistency of the pro game. When Ireland told Davis he’d be headed to Indianapolis, Davis’s first response was that he wanted to call his grandma. He was polite, he was gracious, but at 24, he was still a kid.
By most standards — or at least the standards in place to evaluate a season opener against East Carolina — Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke’s performance last Saturday was heroic. The junior ran up a 38-of-51, 338-yard, 3-touchdown, 0-interception passing stat line while running for 52 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Old Dominion fell short in a 52-38 shootout, but the importance here wasn’t that Heinicke was fighting for the Monarchs’ first win as an FBS school; it was that he was fighting for the football relevancy of his entire state.
I’d estimate something like 85 percent of my memories formed while living in Athens, Georgia, from 2003 to 2006 are unreliable at best. Nonetheless, I can say with a good amount of certainty that the kickoff of UGA’s football season annually coincided with a heroic run of Drive-By Truckers shows at the 40 Watt or Georgia Theatre during that time. The sets would last about three hours, tepid beer was chugged before it could turn lukewarm, and maybe 65 percent of the crowd was still ambulatory by the time they played "Decoration Day."
It’s a story that tells you what you already know: Athens is an American utopia if you require both a vibrant local music scene and an equally obsessive college football fan base. And yet, the major players in those two worlds don’t overlap as much as you’d think. While many Bulldog fans likely played "Everybody Hurts" on a continuous loop after UGA’s national title hopes suffered an agonizing death at the 5-yard line in the Georgia Dome, Michael Stipe probably didn’t endorse it.
Polvo is a band from Chapel Hill that formed in 1990. After its debut LP, Cor-Crane Secret, it went on to release Today’s Active Lifestyles (on Merge) and Exploded Drawing (on Chicago’s Touch & Go). These were progressive and challenging albums that defined an exploratory, melodically complex variant of artful indie rock defined by unorthodox rhythms, alternately tuned guitars, surrealist langauge, and Middle Eastern drone. It took on a couple of names the band has disavowed — “math rock” or “post rock” among them. After an amicable split, Polvo went on hiatus for 12 years before returning with In Prism in 2009. On October 1, Merge Records will release Siberia, the band’s sixth LP.
The chaotic, hooky garage rock John Barrett makes as Bass Drum of Death can sound like a reaction to his hometown of Oxford, Mississippi, more than a reflection of it. After all, the Ole Miss college town is widely known as a genteel, artsy, and Faulkner-approved enclave in the Magnolia State, a place everyone with bookish, hermetic, and alcoholic sensibilities threatens to move to at some point. It appeals to culture hounds who love everything about college football except the actual sport, aspiring connoisseurs of Southern literature and/or booze, and people who think Athens, Georgia, is played out and overexposed.
But you think of Ole Miss’s unofficial slogan — “we may not win every game, but we never lose a party” — and you start to see how Barrett can reconcile Bass Drum of Death’s aesthetic with intense Rebel fanhood. I don’t imagine him as a guy rocking khakis and Lacoste finery at a Grove tailgate, choppin’ it up with Hunter, Trotter, Trey, and the rest of his pledge class while making civil conversation with the absurdly attractive and sundress-clad coeds of Ole Miss. Listening to GB City, I pictured someone who crashed the Sigma Chi house after the game to steal its keg, urinate in its kitchen and hit on Kappa Alpha Theta’s social chair. One side is Oxford at 11 a.m., the other is Oxford at 11 p.m.
These are exciting times for Barrett as both a musician and an Ole Miss diehard. His self-titled second LP was released in June on Innovative Leisure and, apparently, Andre 3000 is a fan. Moreover, the Rebels are making actual headlines over the summer, not just the typical ones where Andy Kennedy or whoever’s coaching the football team is featured in some “hot seat” survey. Marshall Henderson became one of the 2013 NCAA tournament’s breakout personalities, conjuring a wildly hilarious alchemy of Nick Young’s volume shooting, Johnny Manziel’s online persona, and J.R. Smith’s taste for the nightlife. The top three groupings of Henderson on Google Images are “party,” “high school,” and “douche.” To the surprise of no one, Henderson was suspended last week for the thing that the Marshall Hendersons of the world get suspended for, i.e., “violation of team rules.” Meanwhile, the Rebel football team is coming off a ridiculously surprising 7-6 season that led into a ridiculously successful recruiting class that included no. 1 prospect Robert Nkemdiche.
Barrett took the time to answer our questions regarding the controversial Henderson’s recent suspension, the expectations for the Rebel football team, and Oxford’s justifiable discomfort in the midst of all this positivity.
Trying to win an NBA championship is so 2012. And this trend is a good thing — most teams are starting to realize that as long as LeBron James draws breath, the playoffs aren’t going to do much except delay their summer vacations for a few weeks.
This is good news for fans of franchises that don’t view being a human sacrifice in the first round of the playoffs as progress. It’s terrible news for the kind of free agent that would usually capitalize on said franchises’ tendency to overpay for a quick fix just to show they’re "trying." In other words, someone whose contract suggests “franchise centerpiece,” but in two or so years will scream “franchise albatross.” In other words, everyone who isn’t Dwight Howard or Chris Paul.
Or so we thought. Al Jefferson got three years and $41 million to be the best player in Bobcats franchise history. Atlanta will pay Kyle Korver $6 million solely to shoot 3s, which is slightly less ridiculous than the similarly sixth-seed-bound Timberwolves paying $7 million a year for Kevin Martin to do the same. I know it’s Milwaukee and all, but in Zaza Pachulia and O.J. Mayo ... It was business as usual.
Which is a shame, since we missed out on what could’ve been a banner year for low-level free-agent collusion. Wouldn’t it have been way more more fun if savvy players took advantage of the fact that most NBA teams already started “rebuilding” for the 2014 draft by preemptively tanking the 2013-14 season? You gotta put somebody on the floor, and if you can’t get a Wade-James-Bosh “Big Three,” you can get a colorfully named package deal all the same that’ll ensure your team misses out on the Andrew Wiggins lottery only by accident. Here are some Avengers that we wish would have been assembled, along with ready-made nicknames. Look at what could have been, Jazz fans.
So much amazing is happening, and the Shootaround crew is here to help you keep track of it all. Here, you'll find takes on all the big free-agency transactions of the last few days, along with some of the not-so-big ones.
“It was on the Fourth of July,” Howard said. “That’s when I felt it was Houston. I was in Colorado. It seemed like every person that I met was from Houston. It was just so ironic. I’d walk around. Someone would ask for a picture. They’d give me a business card and it would say Houston on it. I was like, ‘Is everybody in Colorado from Houston right now?’ It was unbelievable. … I was like, ‘You know what, this has to be from God.’ You pray for things to happen. You pray for signs, for God to show you things. It just seemed like, this was it.”
So this whole thing, this whole will-he-or-won't-he, and if and when he does, where-will-he … all of this got settled by one chance encounter, like something ripped from an unreleased Frank Capra movie about a giant moron who goes up a mountain to decide what to do with his life, and finds a moment of clarity with a complete stranger. Word is he had an eye patch, wore himself salty sea dog facial hair, and spoke with a lot of "ARGGHS" added to the end of his sentences. But, man, isn't it weird that there happened to be a guy walking around the streets of Aspen, just as Dwight Howard was taking his Independence Day constitutional, and these two wayward souls bumped into each other and found common ground?
"You're thinking about going to Houston? Aye! Arggh! I be from Houston, matey."
Dwight Howard has approximately 30 million reasons to stick with the Lakers this offseason, so rival suitors have found it necessary to resort to the intangible: Atlanta thinks playing in his hometown would appeal to D12, the Warriors are banking on the potential of their young core of shooters, Mark Cuban has vowed to make him the face of the franchise. But when it comes to having to kiss ass on some beta-male tip to get what you want, Houston rapper and de facto Rockets representative Slim Thug will be the first to tell you: I ain’t heard of that.
When I caught up with Slim Thug last night, it became obvious that he picked a strange day to advocate ditching the candy stores of L.A. for the candy paint of Houston. For one thing, Thugga is in Los Angeles right now, having spent last night at a video shoot for his associate Kirko Bangz (say the name out loud). Freed from the confines of the 140-character sales pitch, Slim Thug goes in depth even though he could’ve just linked to the uncut version of the “Still Tippin’” video and saved himself the trouble.
Daniel Lopatin wears a lot of hats in the metaphorical sense — he and Joel Ford are the masterminds behind the eerie accuracy of ’80s synth-pop revivalists Ford & Lopatin, as well as the Brooklyn-based boutique label Software. But Lopatin’s best known for his work as groundbreaking and critically acclaimed electronic act Oneohtrix Point Never, a restless creative conduit for hours worth of noisy drones (2009’s Rifts), odysseys into the dark, subzero recesses of space (2010's Returnal), and his 2011 masterwork, Replica, a haunting, affecting collection of aural experimentations built on outdated synthesizers and commercials dubbed from VHS cassettes.
But if you’re talking about a hat he wears in the literal sense, it’s almost always a Celtics cap. If you couldn’t tell by the pun of his name (based on Magic 106.7, Boston’s adult-contemporary station), Lopatin reps his hometown to the fullest, an outré artist with the knowledge and passion of an NBA insider. In an interview I did last year for Pitchfork, nothing brings him more excitement than having “one fucking fantasy basketball window open and Ableton in the other monitor, going apeshit.” Considering the instability of the C’s right now, if he’s poring over bootleg recordings from Germany these days, it’s more likely to be grainy highlights from Dennis Schroeder workouts rather than some lost recording from Cluster.
It might not be Jay-Z using Game 5 of the NBA Finals to announce Magna Carta Holy Grail, but in anticipation of 0PN’s upcoming LP R Plus Seven, out later this year on Warp, Lopatin took the time to give his laptop-GM view of the Celtics’ current offseason strategy and the proposed blockbuster deal with the Clippers. He also describes “Nil Admirari” as the feeling of losing out on Tim Duncan in the 1997 lottery and will offer Ableton lessons to Danny Ainge free of charge.
You’re really limiting yourself if “What would you use for at-bat music?” is the sort of thing you only talk about with your drinkin’ buddies. It might be the single most insightful query you can ask in any situation: first date, job interview, interrogation, loan request, doesn’t matter. It’s how you really get to know someone, as you’re essentially getting down to the fundamental concepts of identity: who are you, and how do you want to present yourself to the world? Do you want to intimidate people? Make them laugh? Indicate that you’re a man of unusual virility?
Sadly, it’s more interesting to talk about in theory because the actual employment of at-bat music tends to be extremely dull. This is a result of (a) baseball players having by and large galling taste in music, and (b) statistical backup to prove whether their at-bat music makes them full of crap.
I'd wager that there is no team in Major League Baseball more delusional than the Philadelphia Phillies, and they have the at-bat music to prove it. Like many of MLB’s big-money teams, the Phillies are hovering near .500, but unlike the Angels or the Dodgers or the Blue Jays, they don’t have the excuse of a major free-agent haul needing time to jell or whatever. Quite the opposite: If you celebrated the Phils’ 2008 World Series with a daring Peanut Butter Kandy Kake and Yuengling binge that triggered a diabetic coma just lifting in April, you’d wake up totally stoked about them keeping basically the same lineup to defend the title. And you’d be additionally pumped to find out they acquired Michael and Delmon Young and kicked that jerkoff Pat Burrell to the curb.
But obviously, this ain’t 2009 and Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz, and Jimmy Rollins are walking through that door. And that ain’t good. Thanks to the good people at Designated Hits, the most comprehensive database of at-bat music I’ve seen, you don’t have to wearily sit through Cole Hamels pitching eight quality innings in a 2-1 loss to the Nationals in order to realize that the Phillies’ anemic offense is setting themselves up for failure simply by the music they’ve chosen to represent them.
Are you a total lacrosse agnostic who happened to catch Duke making a veritable Cinderella run to the 2013 title this past Memorial Day weekend? Did you enjoy it even though you were just killing time before an NBA playoff game, or at least a point in the afternoon when you felt comfortable enough to start drinking? We can be honest with each other: It probably didn’t make you feel too good about yourself, and not just because it involved Duke winning at anything.
Lacrosse has an unctuous-at-best, sociopathic-at-worst reputation, a reputation that is both earned and somewhat overstated. Even as a recent convert whose white-boy high school didn’t field a team, I’ll fully concede to the outsider view of it as an athletic pursuit defined by arcane rules, arrogance, and elitism — in other words, everything people hate about college athletics combined with everything people hate about the college fraternity system.
If nothing else, that Donovan McNabb wants to retire as an Eagle should serve as definitive proof that “rivalries” in the NFL are a complete crock. McNabb’s retirement doesn’t represent some kind of cathartic grant of forgiveness on either side. Coming back to the Eagles cap in hand after playing for the “bitter rival” Redskins puts you in the rarefied territory of James Thrash and Jeremiah Trotter.
This reunion needs to happen because both parties truly deserve each other. The same things that made McNabb a liability as a quarterback — a cavalier approach to his job, a passive-aggressive relationship with his coworkers, and an utter inability to seize the moment — will make him a tremendous Eagles fan. I mean the self-loathing, the victimhood. Silver Linings Playbook didn’t teach us anything so much as confirm what we already knew: Teaching in a Philadelphia school is a great way for a certifiably insane person to hide in plain sight, and there’s more actual hostility in the parking lot of Lincoln Financial Field than on the gridiron.
With all that in mind, here are McNabb’s realest quotes as an Eagles diehard in training.
What’s the NBA’s hottest throwback trend in the playoffs? Iman Shumpert’s haircut? Jay-Z’s ownership of an NBA franchise being “zero” rather than “trace amounts”? No, it’s actually coaching. After several years of avoiding anything resembling relevancy, despite their enviable young talent, the Cavaliers and Timberwolves respectively brought Mike Brown (as a head coach) and Flip Saunders (as president of basketball operations) back into the fold with the hopes of restoring those franchises to the greatest glory they have known. Before we go any further, let’s just take time to appreciate what “glory” entails for these long and frequently suffering franchises — which is to say, an occasional sniff at a conference finals or a chance to be remembered along the lines of the 2002 Nets or the 2001 Sixers as one of the pre-eminent no-hopers in the NBA Finals. That might seem like a preferable alternative to the pedestrian awfulness that’s befallen them in the past, but it doesn’t speak well of the NBA’s current state, where something like 7 percent of its teams are truly capable of winning a championship, give or take 3.3 percent.
That being said, a retread coach might not be the worst idea. It saves a lot of time and money on the administrative end — the old guy knows where the parking garage is. But NBA teams should consider what it takes to be an NBA champion these days. If you can’t sign a marquee free agent — and something like 75 percent of the teams cannot — you’re going to have to lose and lose again until you luck upon a draft with the equivalent. So why waste time begrudgingly going blow-for-blow with the Pacers or the Grizzlies over the next three years? You need a coach who knows how to lose for your franchise. But which old flames burn dullest?