Gang, stay warm and safe.
From the "Talks too much" studios, rain, rain go away and take that danged snow with you.
Monster game for the Fightin' Vols tonight. Huge on every level.
Tennessee hosts Florida, one of the five best teams in the country according to everyone and one of the three best according to most of the regulars around these parts.
Florida has skills, and the Gators dropped a nuclear beatdown on these Vols last month.
How will these Vols answer and respond?
Working for the Vols is a homecourt that can be quite advantageous at times. Also, the Vols need this game way, Way, WAY more than the Gators, and desperation can be a real asset.
Working against these Vols is UT's black hole at point guard, an all-consuming issue that is always there and is magnified in moments of true need. Also, the Gators may be better 1-through-8 than everyone else in the country, including Syracuse, which is our pick to win the whole kit and kaboodle.
So what happens? We have hopes that The Conz and his Orange Co. will deliver an inspired effort. They need to, because tonight and Saturday at Missouri will go a long way to determining the NCAA tournament worth of these Vols.
King hold court
Richard Petty has one of the coolest nickname's in sports. Yep, he's The King.
And when The King speaks on NASCAR matters, people listen.
But will they hear Petty, who blasted Danica Patrick with a cutting and pinpoint assessment of her racing skills. The King said plainly Patrick would win only if "everyone else stayed home," and that "If she'd have been a male, nobody would ever know if she'd showed up at the racetrack."
Wowser. So, Richie, tell us how you really feel.
The King did go on to say Patrick has drawn a lot of attention to the sport, which is a good thing. Yes and no. Attention = good, but if Tony Stewart decided to drive a cop car at Daytona that would be attention-worthy but hardly give him a chance to win.
So, how long does Danica have? Does she need a win this year?
That said, the timing of the King's rant is puzzling. In a NASCAR realm that is facing a major season of change and that is in need of solid sponsors, can the sport's royalty throw stones at one of the 10 drivers out there that has sponsors lining up to support them?
So, yes, Mr. The King, she has struggled on the track but she is making hay off it. And in this crunch time for NASCAR and its competitors, not all wins are measured by a checkered flag.
Goodell's next crossroad
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has become the sports executive with the world's biggest rabbit's foot.
He scheduled an outdoor February Super Bowl and got temperatures 12 degrees above normal in the middle of arguably the harshest winter in our lifetime.
He thought he had slid through a $750 million concussion settlement before the Federal court put a brake on that. He has used a series of hand distractions and promises of more games and potentially more playoff berths to avert the attention to the too-low salary cap that carries with it a potentially shaky labor future and the shoved-under-the-rug stories about drug use in the NFL.
And still the League is an ATM, making more than $12 billion last year and shooting to make $25 billion before 2030. The NFL is a juggernaut that controls its message better than every other sport and arguably as well as any other enterprise anywhere.
And Goodell in a lot of a ways deserves credit for that. He has been charged with growing the business of the league, and for the league, business is good. Very good.
He could offer a $1 billion buy-in to join the league with an expansion team and dozens of people and cities would move Heaven and Earth to get in the NFL. Heck, he could have a 40-team league by Thursday afternoon with each of those teams knowing that they would stink for the foreseeable future and happily losing 11 games a season and lining their pockets with tens-to-hundreds of millions of dollars every season.
So in some ways we should not have been surprised that the next issue facing Goodell and the league was pushed way down the news cycle with the Michael Sam announcement on Sunday.
The Washington Post reported that two members of Congress — Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wa.) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Ok.) — are examining ways to force Goodell and the league to change the name of the Washington Redskins.
Cantwell even said she would "definitely" look at revoking the NFL's tax-exempt status, the golden scepter of the league that Goodell knows must be protected at all costs.
The Post obtained a letter that Cantwell and Cole drafted with Monday's date on it about their focus on changing the Redskins name. This seems like the beginning of the end of the Redskins as Washington's mascot, but even as tyrannical as Goodell can be, we are left puzzle by a few things in Washington beyond the nickname of their woeful NFL team.
First, to all our elected officials, and we'll type slowly so that you can follow along: Get out of sports. We understand that it's an easy, support-winning position to say steroids are bad or the BCS is wrong or the Redskins are stereotypical and degrading, but for crying out loud there are real problems in this country and that two of 560-or-so Congress members are spending their work time on 'Redskins' should be viewed as insulting to all of the country.
Second, why does it take something this small in the landscape of national issues to generate bi-partisan efforts? Seriously? OK, what's next, a bi-partisan letter that rainbows are nice and this winter weather stinks?
Whatever. In truth the dynamic duo of Cantwell and Cole eventually will give the Emperor Goodell his next P.R. victory by allowing him to reset the Washington club on his time and with his way.
Maybe he'll call them the Washington Rabbit's Feet.
This and that
— Have you seen the video of LeBron's dunk specataclar? Sweet Odin's Raven, dude is a monster. And yes, we believe he'd be a top-five pick in May's NFL draft if he entered right now. Check the link here. And as Dwyane Wade tweeted, LeBron in the dunk contest would be the most watched event besides the Grammys of the year. (Side note: Pssssst, D-Wade, you know like 110 million watched the Super Bowl, right?)
— Georgia's Bryan McClendon was the 247Sports recruiter of the year. Now Tennessee's Tommy Thigpen has been named Rivals.com's recruiter of the year. Hey, UTC assistant Will Healy, you can be 5-at-10 FCS recruiter of the year, and that way all of our main college football beats can enjoy the moment. It's like Upward Recruiting, only different in that the 5-at-10 does not have the budget for a trophy or anything. Sorry, @Coach_Heals.
— The weather has won again. There are monster forecasts of heavy snow. Gross. In fact, TFP Georgia preps ace Lindsey Young tells us here that some North Georgia teams were eliminated from the postseason tournament because of the weather. Dang you Cold Miser and the white horse you rode in on.
— On the Rushmore of great ideas with the TV remote control and air conditioning and Splenda is Yuengling Ice Cream. Beer ice cream? Yes please. And if the Bud Light Blizzard comes calling we may move into the Dairy Queen on Hixson Pike.
Go to work gang and remember the mailbag.
If you need a talking point, well, who is the best dunker you ever saw? We'll have two categories: Game dunks and Contest dunks. Go.
Also, will Danica win this year? Discuss, and remember to act royally rather than Kingly in manners of politeness.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...