What To Do With Saturday Afternoons? My wife is quite happy to see the end of the college football regular season. For her, with the exception of our mutual love of Arkansas football, late August ushers in almost four months of six day weeks. I don't understand why watching Game Day at 9 (or 8 if you catch the early hour on ESPNU), the first games at 11 and watching until the last Pac-12 gun sounds at midnight is considered by some to be a little bit on the obsessive side. Okay, I admit watching the Saturday games I missed before church on Sunday may be a bit over the top. All I can say is its only 38 weeks and one day until next season, but who's counting?
Costas' Rant: There has been a lot of conversation this week about Bob Costas' speculation on Sunday night that stricter gun laws would have prevented the deaths of Kasandra Perkins and Kansas City Chief Jovan Belcher. My feeling is that while Costas had every right to voice his opinion, as a sports fan, I would have preferred he use a different venue. Sports commentary is one thing, but he veered into social and political commentary Sunday night, and as a fan, I was at minimum turned off and at maximum offended.
Lakers Turmoil: You would think, from all of the publicity surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers, that the sky had fallen, the world had ended or Joe Montana had left San Francisco. At the end of the day, we're less than 20 games into an 82 game season. The Lakers are trying to incorporate two new stars, one of which is injured, a new coach and a radically different offensive system. Dwight Howard can't hit free throws (see below)...like that comes as a shock. As bad as it has been made to appear, the Lakers are still only three and a half games out of the fourth playoff spot. Two years ago, the new-look Miami Heat were 9-9 and they ended up in the finals against the Mavericks. Don't look now, but the Lakers are 9-10, with Nash still a few games away from returning to the lineup. Calm down!
David Stern Tired of Missed Free Throws: Let's see, you allow players to be drafted after only one year of college, so why is it so surprising that some of these players lack significant basketball fundamentals? So now Stern wants to change the rules to effectively make it irrelevant if a player makes free throws or not if players are fouled off the ball. He would like to extend the rule that currently exists for the last two minutes of the game which gives the offensive team possession of the ball after the two free throw attempts. I am by no means a purist, but that's like trying to eliminate kickoffs in the NFL because you don't want guys hitting each other...Oops, maybe not the best analogy (in case you haven't heard, the NFL wants to eliminate kickoffs and are exploring some rather inane possibilities as a replacement). Anyway, free throws are an integral part of the game. I'm 5'9, 160 pounds and have never been a threat to make an NBA roster. But when I practice, I can sure as heck make around seventy percent of my free throws. I mean, come on, what else do these guys have to do to earn their $15 million a year? Practice makes perfect, and for your information, I just made that up.
Arkansas' Coup de Grace: Congrats to the University of Arkansas' Athletic Director, Jeff Long, for pulling the head coaching stunner of the year. Literally stealing Bret Bielema from Wisconsin and the Big Ten gives him a rather substantial stable of major sport coaches in Fayetteville. Bielema joins basketball coach Mike Anderson, who is probably a year away from returning the Hogs to the glory days celeberated under his mentor Nolan Richardson. He will also be in the presence of one of, if not, the best baseball coach in the country, Dave Van Horn. Van Horn annually has the Razorbacks in contention for a trip to Omaha. And let's not forget women's basketball coach Tom Cullen, whose Lady Backs improved to 8-1 with an upset win over no. 17 Kansas last night. Obviously, we'll need to see if Bielema's success can translate into BCS game appearances for the Hogs. But if his past history is any indication, Razorback fans can look forward to some great games with the heavyweights of the SEC, namely Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
Tennessee Has Its Man: Butch Jones, formerly of Cincinnati, has been hired as head football coach at the University of Tennessee. Jones has done good things with Bearcats, following in the footsteps of Brian Kelly (now with Notre Dame). But the Vols were turned down by Charlie Strong of Louisville and had even considered bringing back Phil Fulmer, whose firing started the precipitous decline in the program to begin with. Jones is one of the sharp young coaches in college football. But who would have thought a former national champion with a stadium seating over 100,000 and a fanatical fan base would be given the cold shoulder by Strong, who has SEC roots as an assistant at Florida? Obviously, the Cardinals move to the ACC may have something to do with it. As a sports and SEC fan, I hope Jones fares better than his predecessors, Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley. Good luck with that!