I will also be blogging at The Commercial Appeal's (Memphis Paper's) Sports blog, TheMemphisEdge, for the next couple of weeks. That's assuming The Tigers make The Final Four. It could be alittle shorter of a commitment, but I have confidence in Cal's Boys. I'm the only one that seems to write an article everytime they ask for a few sentences! The Tigers have #13 seed Bradley tonight at 6:27 central. Memphis hasn't made a Sweet Sixteen appearance since this blogger was 14 years old, so they will not go down without a fight! What's the final score you ask?
Tigers 69, Braves 55
Thursday, March 23
Wednesday, March 15
March Madness: Where Will Your Team End Up?
Some of you have all your hopes and dreams for a happy weekend wrapped up in your tournament team. You might even have a little hard earned cash ridin' on it. Well, I'm about to give you the straight scoop. No punches pulled. Now, these are "Expert Picks" so act accordingly. You might say "Expert Picks? How's that?" I have my own website! Trust me. My crystal ball will only include teams from The Deep South, which includes the SEC states. Oh, and North Carolina.
One and Done!
Belmont - The joke of this game is that "The Bruins" are a lock to win! har har. The Belmont Bruins are playing in their first tournament. That's Nice. UCLA, on the other hand, dominated all aspects of the sport for decades. Plus, they're pretty good this season.
Alabama - The Tide was lucky to get in, and they were rewarded with a nasty #7 seed in Marquette. Tommy Boy's school was the 4th best team in the Big East and they should be seeded higher in my opinion.
Arkansas - All the Hawgs can talk about is the matchup with Memphis in the round of 32. First things first. Bucknell is a giant killer, and Arkansas ain't even a giant!
Northwestern St. - The Big 10 champs should cruise through this matchup with Coach Orgeron's Alma Mater.
NC State - The Wolfpack stumbled cross the finish and that's a death sentence in March.
Kentucky - "UAB Again!?!" (what every Kentucky fan/player/coach was thinking on Selection Sunday) You Bet Your Ass! Thanks for playing! (smirk)
Murray St - The Racers beat my Bulldogs in the Ohio Valley Championship so they must
Winthrop - They may have the home crowd, but Tennessee isn't that bad!
South Alabama - The Jags may very well be losing their coach as well as this game.
Davidson - Not gonna happen. Those cheaters from Columbus are too strong! Too strong I tell you!
Two and Out!
N.C. Wilmington - Taking out G. Dub. is one thing. Duke is quite another!
LSU - A streaking Syracuse team will send the SEC's regular season champs packing.
UAB - It was fun while it lasted. Say goodbye to Squeaky. # Zero, you will be missed.
Teams That Have Nothing to Worry About
Posted by Erik at 11:27 PM
Who Do You
Hate Dislike The Most?
Fanblogs has thrown together a poll to determine the most hated college football personalities. It mostly includes coaches and sportscasters but there are some rather glaring omittions (Where's Trev?). Even so, it's worth putting in your two cents. Cast your vote.
Posted by Erik at 5:01 PM
Monday, March 13
1 Philip Fulmer (Tennessee) – Did anybody else see this one coming?
Is it any surprise that the longest tenured coach in the SEC is the most hated? For nearly 14 seasons the coach affectionately known to his enemies as “Fat Phil” has walked the sidelines in Knoxville. So what have we learned about Fulmer over the years, other than his obvious weakness for extra-long cheese conies? First, we know - although some don't like to admit it - he’s a winner:
6 Division titles, 2 SEC Championships and 1 BCS Championship
Winning + Time = Hate - You don’t remain a head football coach for 14 years in the wild and crazy SEC without putting up some serious numbers (just ask Zook). When you play in the biggest stadium in the conference that was literally built upon past successes, your fans’ expectations are always sky high. More on that later.
Back to the subject. Who hates Fulmer and why?
Alabama – As if the beatings weren’t enough (UT has won 8 of the last 10), Fulmer played the “deep throat” of an investigation that got more press in The South than Clinton’s Impeachment. The details of the fiasco are not worth repeating. All you need to know is that Fulmer ratted out Bama, they went on probation and played “bowl games” in Hawaii. Oh, and they worked their way though roughly half a dozen coaches, many lives were ruined and one young Bama fan was nearly shot.
After the probation laden Bama team lost a double overtime heartbreaker to The Hawgs in ’03 one of the more proactive Tiders tried to take his son’s life with a 9 mm. Such passion! Imagine what some in The Bama Nation would do with the instigator of this whole mess, Fat Phil. He’s not even kin!
As you might expect, Phil doesn’t get to play the R.T.J. trail as much as he would like. He wouldn't even man up and come to Birmingham for the 2004 SEC Media days for fear of crazed Bama lawyers serving subpoenas among other things! Some might say he was overreacting, but those people have never been to a game in T-town. He decided to give the whole state a one year cooling off period.
Everybody Else - Fulmer has also earned the dubious reputation as the Teflon Don of College Football. Usually, where there is smoke, there’s fire. Not at Tennessee. I don’t know that The Vols have ever been on probation for a major football related offense, but I'm sure somebody will prove me wrong. For a supposedly clean program they produce some of the biggest thugs this side of Coral Gables. From cocaine trafficking to sexual harassment to you name it; Tennessee players and alum are guilty as sin.
I even had a UT fan chime in about his ultimate hate for Fulmer. Fulmer may have earned one stay of execution with years of good behavior (winning), but another season like 2005 and Phillip will be history on Rocky Top. A 5-6 record may get you a raise in Starkville but Volunteers scoff at anything less than double digit wins. If things aren’t looking up this season in Knoxville, P.F. could be off the list and out of our hearts forever. Enjoy it while you can Phil.
Posted by Erik at 3:57 PM
Friday, March 10
Hate is such a strong word. It's not a word you want to throw around without cause. Here, deep in the Bible Belt, nothing is more worthy of irreverent hate than a rival football coach, and nobody does it better than the Bama nation! These last two entries will center around a few good men that make the average Bama fan wanna shave his/her mullet!
2 Tommy Tuberville (Auburn) - Tommy has a long history of vexing folks in The South. When the riverboat gambler flaps his gums you better listen, cause there's a good chance he's gonna run some smack!
SEC fans got their first taste of Tuberville when he made his head coaching debut at Ole Miss in 1995. He was a breath of fresh air for a program enduring stiff NCAA sanctions. Tommy kept The Rebels competitive, made strong recruiting inroads, and most importantly, he helped the fans believe that great things could happen in Oxford again.
Though Tommy isn't the biggest Arkansas good-ole-boy who came to power in the 90's, he's just as slick. Tubby said all the right things. He even went as far as to say that he was "A Rebel at Heart".
Awe...How sweet is that?
Rebel fans were buyin' it hook, line and sinker. Who wouldn't believe a guy that said the only way he was leaving Oxford was "in a pine box?"
As you are probably aware, he did leave Oxford, and he's not a corpse. He escaped under the cover of darkness on a private jet headed for the plains of Auburn, AL. Without so much as a goodbye to his players or former fans, he was history.
Like Mrs. Tuberville has surely told him a thousand times, it's not WHAT you did, it's HOW you did it. For a man who could never seem to keep his mouth shut, this time he was silent.
Auburn must have made Tommy an offer he couldn’t refuse, and all that loyalty talk went out the window. Apparently he was "a Tiger at heart".
This marks the beginning the anti-Tuberville sentiment at Ole Miss and Alabama. Ole Miss hated him for obvious reasons, but the Bama nation couldn't care less about The Rebel's problem (until Dennis Franchione ripped their hearts out in the same fashion). They hate Tuberville because of his station in life. Auburn could have hired Mother Teresa to coach the football team and Bama fans would find her to be a classless harlet!
Don't get me wrong. Tuberville has earned his reputation. Competitiveness is a double edged sword. It can lead you to great successes, but it can also make you look like a first rate jerk.
The man is humble in victory but blameless in defeat. Tubby will blame his players, his staff, injuries and even ESPN for his team's shortcomings. Never himself. Selling out players after a loss was almost an art form:
"If I wanted to run a high school offense then maybe I'd start Jason Campbell."
No, this was not a comment meant for his staff’s ears only. Tommy said this for all the media to hear at a post game press conference. Not exactly constructive criticism for the quarterback who would eventually save Tommy's rear!
Sadly, Tuberville could only deflect the blame for so long, and late in 2003, after another underwhelming season, it all came to a head. That same private jet was sneaking up to Louisville in the middle of the night to find the next great Auburn Coach.
Next: Most Hated #1
However, in this electronic age nothing goes unnoticed by college football fans. The attempted coup was thwarted when it was revealed in the media, and Tommy was given an obligatory contract extension.
As is true in any profession, winning cures all ills, and with the hire of Al Borges came job security and a 13-0 season. The Tigers were led by the very quarterback that Tommy hung out to dry two years prior. Jason Campbell ran the complex Borges offense to near perfection, earning the title of The SEC's Offensive Player of the Year and a place in the NFL Draft's first round.
Now Tuberville has tenure! Now all is forgotten in Auburn. Opposing fans never forget. Bama fans are still steaming over Auburn's 4 game winning streak in the Iron bowl, and they live for the day when "normalcy" returns to the state. Ole Miss Fans may not admit it, but the Auburn game is still all about revenge. The rest of the SEC is slowly catching on.
Sadly, The Riverboat Gambler has toned it down in the past couple of seasons; less trick plays and less tasty sound bytes. With the exception of his ESPN hissy fit after the LSU loss, Tuberville is letting his team do the talking on the field.
Could it be that Tuberville, like his favorite Quarterback, has matured?
Posted by Erik at 3:12 PM
Thursday, March 9
3 Steve Spurrier (South Carolina) - If I was conducting this unscientific poll in the late 90s, I think we both know where Spurrier would land. We've heard the stories about how he ran up the scores, talked vicious smack and Owned Phil Fulmer's eternal soul. Steve Spurrier was to College football what J.J. Reddick is to College Basketball: That smirking prick who always beats you.
But that stuff is ancient history, right? In this "what have you done for me lately" world of college football, fans have short memories. Good or bad. Plus, The Old Ball Coach seems to have mellowed in the last few years. Have the floggings Coach Superior took in the NFL made him a better man? I think not. Just give it some time and a few more wins.
Fact is, I think a lot of people genuinely respect the guy these days. It's funny how hate evolves into respect when you aren't getting a beatdown once or even twice a year. One truth I've realized is that nobody really hates you until you start to screw with their livelihood, or in the case of SEC fans, their personal happiness.
USC practically won The Powerball getting The Man to Columbia. Since arriving, Steve has been relatively quiet with the exception of pulling a few scholarships and upsetting some high school coaches. Mere child's play. 2006 should be a lot more fun now that the honeymoon is over. Look for the old swagger to return after he takes out UGA in Columbia this season.
Don't get me wrong; A lot of fans still genuinely hate the guy. All in all, Spurrier gets the award for being the most fun to hate, and I'm sure that everybody, outside of Gainesville, is happy to have him back in the fold.
Most Hated #2
Posted by Erik at 1:50 AM
Wednesday, March 8
Top 5 Most Hated SEC Football Coaches (continued)
4 Urban Meyer (Florida) – Urban came into the SEC last season like Maverick walking into the Top Gun briefing room. Cocky, Smiling, Sure of his game. Then after a few dogfights in the SEC, with the best of the best, he was crying like his Goose had died. He actually cried…real tears, from his eyes…at a press conference! And it’s not like he won the BCS or anything. I guess this is what the SEC does to people. Enough said about that.
His Spread-Option certainly was not an instant hit outside the rarified air of the Mountain West. Along the way he managed to make Bama look good (which is of ultimate annoyance) with a huge lopsided loss in Tuscaloosa. Thus leading obnoxious Bama fans to believe that “Bama's Back man!” Oh, and we had to hear about Shula’s ”Signature Win” for weeks. Thanks Urban!
Also, his unique first name inspired such witty slogans as “Urban Renewal” and “Urban Legend” which make me want to Urban Vomit.
Despite his girly crying fits, Urban managed to haul in one of the best recruiting classes in Gator history. Florida’s 2006 class ranked # 2 nationally, and it included Rivals’ # 1 recruit as well as 5 other players rated in the Top 100. He has proven he can recruit, but who couldn’t sign top talent to UF? That’s like trying to get Katrina victims to accept FEMA money. The real test will be if he can take this team back to Atlanta. A place the Gators haven’t been since Y2K. Expect Urban to become more hateable (is that a word?) in the coming years as he lays claim to the East.
Next: Most Hated #3
Posted by Erik at 12:13 AM
Tuesday, March 7
This is the first of a five part series on the most despised SEC Coaches. It is not based on my opinion of the coaches, however it is based on how I feel they are viewed by Deep South Fans as a whole.
5 Ed Orgeron (Ole Miss) - What's not to hate for opposing fans? The stories are almost legendary! He's been at the helm in Oxford for little over a year, and he is rumored to have committed any number of crimes against football; From bitch-slapping assistants, to fighting players, to being an accessory to the JFK assassination. This guy really gets around.
His thick Cajun accent and gravely voice don't help things, plus he appears to loath the media. In interviews, he never says two words when one word will suffice and he sometimes comes off as disinterested or annoyed.
His critics would say he works in profanity like some artists work in oils or clay, but can you blame him? He is an old school coach, plus this is football people! It ain't choir practice.
He's energetic, he has a rough past and he ain't scared to throw around a few juicy sound bites. Opposing coaches had some fun with his claims to build a recruiting fence around nearby Memphis, as well as the entire state of Mississippi. Also, his staff got a bad rap post-Katrina for allegedly recruiting Tulane players away from the struggling program. Tulane Coach Chris Scelfo referred to the offenders as being "lower than dirt". Some might call it "being proactive!" Tomato, Tomawto.
He talks big and he aims high, but Ole Miss Fans think he can back it up. He delivered a Top 20 recruiting class in his first full season and instantly improved the teams conditioning and attitude. His work ethic is amazing to mere mortals. Assistants say he gets to the office at 5am and leaves around 9pm. Oh, and he expects them to do the same. Everyday.
He is anything but benign like his predecessor Cutcliffe, and Rebel Fans hope that his results are the polar opposite as well. I feel that Orgeron will move up the ranks in the next few years as his record improves. With the talent level of his assistants and recruits, it shouldn't take long before SEC West fans are cussing Coach O on a regular basis.
Next: Most Hated #4
Photo: James Bryant - Rebelsports.net
Posted by Erik at 12:34 AM
Friday, March 3
NCAA HOOPS: UAB Owns Memphis in Birmingham
In what most Birmingham folks viewed as the biggest sporting event in town since the Hoover Football team played Nease (of Tim Tebow fame), UAB basketball did the city proud. UAB is not just the city's lone 4-year, public institution, it is also the area's largest employer. There has been a growing sense of civic pride surrounding this team for a few years now. It really took hold when Coach Mike Anderson led the blazers to an upset of #1 seed Kentucky in the 2004 big dance.
All of the build up culminated in last nights fireworks. In the first sellout I have witnessed at 8,500 seat Bartow Area, I was a part of one of the loudest, craziest environments I've had the horror to enjoy.
They should rename Bartow arena on the UAB campus, "The Pit of Despair" cause I don't see how any visiting team can come in there and get a "W". The acoustics are horrible (read deafening), and it's hot as Hell. From the fans perspective, the environment is painfully Spartan. No central scoreboard, much less video replay. Oh yeah, no barbecue nachos either. Dreamland what? Yes, I know... I've been spoiled by the state of the art FedExForum, but this is kinda pathetic.
Despite the midmajor arena, this game had big time basketball written all over it. Number 3 Memphis looking to lock up an undefeated conference slate and a #1 Tournament seed, while UAB was in desperate need of a Signature "W" to solidify their bubble.
At tipoff, UAB was most likely on the outside of the dance looking in, but this morning they are all but a lock. Three straight NCAA appearances from a previously unknown UAB is more than I can say for supposed B-Ball powerhouse Memphis. This is the reason Blazer coach Mike Anderson is on the wish list of about half a dozen big time programs. He consistently takes a bunch of "cast-offs with wheels" and upsets the Goliaths of the basketball world.
Last night he instituted a speedy 2-3 zone to perfection. It's not like UAB reinvented the wheel here folks! They are playing the most basic of zone formations and the Tigers folded like your Mom at Thursday Night Poker. They seemed scared and unsure of their game. Memphis looked like the hapless Washington Generals down the stretch; like they were just waiting to lose.
The Tigers didn't score a field goal, much less a free throw, for eight plus minutes! I'm not talking real time here, 8:05 ticked off the game clock between Memphis buckets. I'm surprised it was only a 6 point game. Luckily for Memphis, the CUSA tournament is scheduled for the friendly confines of the FedExForum.
Is it too late though? Opponents will study this tape and with the exception of the deafening home crowd, is this not a plan that can be easily duplicated? Can any team with reasonable athletic ability completely dumbfound The Tigers with a 2-3 zone? I've got eight minutes that says they can.
I'm not jumping ship on this Tiger team, but they are playing some one-dimensional, sophomoric basketball, and they're only freshmen! Maybe that's the problem once again. Blame it on youth and inexperience. Hate to say it, but when the going gets tough, Memphis falls apart. They are far from a #1 seed.
Have they lost "the fire" since taking Duke to the wire and beating the likes of Gonzaga, or have opponents just figured them out?
Posted by Erik at 12:08 PM