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 listening to Steve Winwood, wondering when you would be back in the high life again, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday:
Despite being denied a late winner in regulation because of a delayed concurrent penalty call, Brent Seabrook's overtime goal gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 2-1 Game 7 win over the Detroit Red Wings. The Blackhawks advance to the Western Conference finals, where they will face the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings. If they beat the Kings they will advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they will be forced to forfeit after being held by the Kingsguard for attempting to usurp the throne. Justice will come quickly, as the Stanley Cup monarchy does not wait for due process or jury trials, and punishment will be severe. The Kings' public enemies are few at this point, and while many may support the Blackhawks, when the guillotine falls those supporters will stay silent, lest a similar fate befall them. Hope is a forgotten word in the NHL, but, futile as such wishes may be, best of luck to all four conference finalists!
While recovering from his fourth wrist surgery of the offseason, sources are reporting that Rob Gronkowski will undergo back surgery that will put his participation in the New England Patriots' training camp in doubt. While many are concerned about Gronkowski's long-term ability to contribute in the NFL with his continued injury issues, personally, I am concerned that Gronkowski is abusing his deductible. We get it Rob, you blew past your annual maximum on arm surgery no. 3. You don't need to rub your ability to receive quality medical care in our faces.
1. I should declare up front that I am firmly entrenched in the strata of college football fanatics who find National Signing Day to be a weird and discomfiting phenomenon, and that I do not frequent any message boards, and that I believe that the hat dance has really run its course. I am of the firm belief that recruiting, while of obvious importance, probably means slightly less than we think it does, especially at this moment, with the sport on the dawn of a new age of offensive schemes, at a time when actual coaching seems to matter more than it ever has.
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.”
Arthur Gustav Malzahn III, 47, is the Unsinkable Molly Brown of college football coaches. Yesterday’s Twitter chatter focused on how Gus, as he’s known, managed to hop off Auburn’s sinking ship and then, a year later, become its captain. (Malzahn spent last season as head coach at Arkansas State.) But Malzahn is also the sole survivor of a more harrowing episode: the Springdale Five. I recount it here to show Malzahn is either the canniest guy in college football or the luckiest, and that in either case we should be in awe of his powers.
In 2005, Malzahn was an Arkansas high school coach, but one who was sitting on one of the greatest collections of talent the state had ever seen. Five of his Springdale High School players — the so-called Springdale Five — were being recruited by the power schools. Quarterback Mitch Mustain was Parade’s high school player of the year. Arkansas doesn’t have a surplus of four- and five-star recruits, so the Springdale Five became intense objects of desire for University of Arkansas coach Houston Nutt. “We’re going to protect what’s ours, first and foremost,” Nutt told Scout.com.
If I learned anything from The Grey, it’s that inevitable doom can be a big help with self-reflection. That’s why as I sat on my couch Saturday afternoon, waiting for Nick Saban to dismember my alma mater’s football team, I started thinking about how exactly it was that we got here. My four years at the University of Missouri were the most successful in the football program’s history. From 2006 to 2009, Mizzou won 38 games. In 2007, they spent a week as the no. 1 team in the nation. From 2009 to 2011, only Alabama produced more first-round picks than the Tigers. Still, when the dust from The Great Realignment Shakedown of 2010 cleared, and the Big 12 powers found their respective dance partners, Missouri was left at home, alone, in sweatpants.
O Meyer. O Saban. O Miles, you mysterious, grass-eating prophet
Sorry, you caught me in the middle of my daily prayer to the Southeastern Conference. Like a lot of college football fans, I consider the SEC my guiding light. Only by praising its six straight national titles can I justify my miserable existence as a Big 12 fan. But through three weeks of football — through bumps in the road against Louisiana-Monroe and Western Kentucky — my faith in the SEC has begun to waver. If we college fans are expected to bow before our SEC overlords, we ought to clear up just who’s worth bowing to.
I’ve got three names: Nick Saban, Les Miles, and Urban Meyer. When we talk about the SEC, it’s tempting to imagine a southern behemoth that stretches from Columbia to College Station. The recent spasm of SEC greatness, though, is largely the work of three guys.
You think you're more excited than me about the start of college football? You think?! Then tell me this, hotshot: Did you bring a football to church to get blessed by a priest? In that case, you are definitely more excited than me. I wouldn't do that.
Seriously, though, how great is this time of year? I feel rejuvenated, blessed by the promise of football. I can almost feel my regrets slipping away, like I haven't made an irredeemable mess of my life. That's the power of football. To get us started with a new season, I want to hit you guys with a litany of confessions.
It’s nearing the end of July, and in the college football world, that can only mean one thing — MEDIA DAYS! The new-look SEC began its three-day run of podium sessions, awkward stand-up interviews, and catered turkey subs yesterday in Hoover, Alabama, and the first man up was none other than South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier. The Ol’ Ball Coach brought his typical brand of down-home Southern charm, and because the SEC is the only conference that matters, we here at The Triangle figured we’d bring you yesterday’s five Spurriest moments as a way to dive back into college football.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday.
Carmelo Anthony notched his second career triple-double (35 points, 12 boards, 10 assists) as the Knicks beat the Celtics 118-110. Evil Celtics forward Kevin Garnett told reporters he was impressed with Anthony's performance, but that it should only be another week or so before he starts to feel the weakening effects of long-term arsenic poisoning.
It's come to my attention that college basketball fans prefer not to read anything negative about their favorite teams. And now that Eli Manning has ushered in the postpartisan age that President Obama could only dream of, I feel inspired to stay positive. So, for the convenience of Kansas and Missouri fans, I've divided this post into two distinct sections. Jayhawks fans should skip right to the second section, where I blame Saturday night's 74-71 loss squarely on the referees. Tigers fans should read the first section, where I credit Marcus Denmon's heroics for the epic win, and forgo section two in favor of eating an orange or being affectionate with a loved one.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday.
A source reported that the Detroit Tigers have agreed to a nine-year, $214 million deal with former Brewers slugger Prince Fielder. The hefty contract was a bitter pill to swallow for Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge, who is currently being paid in worthless foreclosed Detroit homes.
It's the last week before bowl season, and though much has been decided, there's at least a modicum of drama left. Let's get all judgmental and count down the eight best games.
8. No. 9 Oregon vs. "UCLA," "Pac-12" "Championship"
Once in a while, as a kid, I would invite my neighbor up to play basketball. He wasn't very good, but there was no one else around. I'd regret it almost immediately; he'd feel bad for not playing well, I'd feel bad for beating him, and then I'd try to let him win a game to make it less horrible, but it ended up making it more horrible because he knew what I was doing. Still, we'd have to keep going to maintain the whole facade, to make sure no feelings were hurt. But why were we playing? What was the point? What I'm trying to say is, that neighbor's name was Rick Neuheisel (gasp!).
When it’s all said and done, the history books could show that this Kentucky team was coach John Calipari’s best team ever. Well, the NCAA history books will probably show that Calipari coached for only five years and the 2002 Memphis team that won the NIT was his best team ever, but whatever. The point is, this year Kentucky’s roster looks like someone is playing a video game and either put all the best players on one team or edited the player ratings and turned Kentucky’s guys all the way up. Hell, you could close your eyes and throw a dart at a team picture of Kentucky and chances are the guy the dart hit would be the best player on 95 percent of college basketball teams. (I originally wrote that last sentence as hyperbole, but the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced it’s true. Kentucky really is that talented.)
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports over the weekend.
In a battle of the top-ranked teams in college football, LSU beat Alabama 9-6 in overtime. The whole game was like a chess match, with both teams playing cautious, slow football with an emphasis on defense. Also, Les Miles kept referring to quarterback Jarrett Lee as "my b-pawn."