Gang, hope all is well and warm in your world.
We have a spot in the mailbag, so send along any query you may have.
From the "Talks too much" studios, come on feel the noise, girls rock your boys.
We can agree that these Winter Olympics have been a touch out of the ordinary, right?
From skating commentator Johnny Wier's less than Carhartt wardrobe to USA athlete Kate Hansen filming a massive wild dog/wolf wandering the hall of the Olympic compound (here's the clip), there has been a ton of stuff going on.
Sure there are the great emotional stories that NBS hangs its hat on, but other than the hockey, we have not watched any of these games. In fact, the 5-at-10 has been binge watching past seasons of Game of Thrones this week — which is awesome in its awesomeness. (We highly recommend binge watching on past series. If you need some ideas, if you have not seen The Wire or Breaking Bad, well, hello NetFlix or whatever binge options you may have. Any others you recommend to add to the binge watching suggestions? House of Cards is next on to-binge list.)
Where were we? Oh yes, the Olympics. In truth, we were a touch sad that the Ruskies lost in hockey on Wednesday. The U.S. kept rolling and will face Canada in a semifinal on Friday that has the feeling of the gold medal match.
We'll be watching Friday during the day.
The NFL combine starts its on-field drills this weekend. Good times.
We love the draft. You may know this already.
The combine interviews have already started, and there are several folks that could cement their status in the first round — or even in the top five overall picks — with great performances in the face-to-face meetings with the team representatives.
Here's a look at three guys who will be under a tight microscope before the on-field stuff starts:
1) Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina defensive end: Arguably the best talent in the draft, the questions about whether he plays hard are everywhere. Steve Spurrier, Clowney's former college coach, did not help his cause in recent interviews.
2) Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M quarterback: Manziel could be the No. 1 quarterback picked — and potentially the No. 1 player — but teams have to be comfortable that the kid known as Johnny Football with all the social media madness can be Mr. Football and the face of an NFL franchise.
3) Jeremy HIll, LSU running back: First-round talent who has first-class baggage off the field, including a couple of run-ins with the law. If Hill convinces one team — and one is all it takes — he's ready for the next level emotionally, he has enough talent to be the first running back drafted.
Numbers of interest
Of 13,852 or 15,445, which is worse for UT basketball coach Cuonzo Martin.
The first number is the announced crowd of the Vols-Georgia basketball game on Wednesday night, and there were decidedly fewer fannies than that actually in Thompson-Boling Arena. The latter number is the number of people who have signed an online petition to bring Bruce Pearl back as Tennessee's coach. And that number is as of 7:30 this morning, which is significant in that there have been almost 1,000 added in the last 12 hours.
We do not feel there is any way Bruce Pearl will be back in an orange blazer on the sideline of the Boling Alley. Too much baggage and too much has happened — in each direction — for that reunion to make sense in our view.
That said, when we talked to Bruce Pearl last week on Press Row, he sounded like a guy that believes he will be coaching somewhere sooner rather than later. And since his show-cause penalty runs out in August, his name will surely be among the most sought after when the coaching carousel starts spinning.
To make matters worse for the growing number of online Johnny Vols Fans who are clicking and campaigning to string Pearl back to Knoxville, there's a very real chance Pearl could be in another SEC town as soon as next year. And after watching his quick-turn antics with the football-first Vols — he got UT out of the doldrums with off-the-court energy and on-the-court execution and no one this side of Pamela Anderson has gotten more mileage out of taking their shirt off in public — offers the chance for immediate improvement.
Granted it does not come with that the shaded spectrum of a soiled resume that would cause even the most aggressive AD pause. Pearl has baggage, but that baggage is not as bulky as it once seemed, and you would have to believe Pearl knows this likely will be his final chance at a big-time college job.
So a program desperate to be relevant and a coach desperate for another chance could be a match made in heaven. (Heck, it could be negotiated outside the Pearl-y Gates. Sorry.)
But that match seems impossible between Pearl and the Vols.
This and that
— The Mocs host Georgia Southern tonight. Quick question: How good does it feel to expect the best again? In one way, that's as big an accomplishment Will Wade and Co. have in this miraculous first season. Anyhoo, where were we? Oh yeah. The Mocs in action tonight. We'll be there — Press Row hosts David Paschall and the blockhead sports editor are serving as rebounders for the shooting contest tonight. Should be fun.
— Miami has fired offensive line coach Jim Turner and head trainer Kevin O'Neill, each of whom was part of the Wells Report that highlighted some unsavory acts within the Dolphins locker room during the Icognito-Martin debacle. Something tells us this is still far from over.
— Down goes Syracuse. Down goes Syracuse. We still believe the Orange are the team to beat (although Florida is making a strong case) but Wednesday's loss tells us two things: 1) The Orange's biggest hurdle is a seemingly overconfident approach, and maybe the loss will help that; 2) those orange tops-blue shorts combos are BRU-tal. Somewhere Johnny Weir weeps.
— Little bragging on our guys here, but how about that TFP Sports section today huh? Breaking news on Russ Huesman's extention (from Gene Henley here), a look at the crazy year that was in the Sequatchie Valley (from Stephen Hargis here) a couple of hoops stories and some live preps and David Paschall's look at Georgia's fate with five-star recruits in the Rivals.com era here. Good stuff.
— Speaking of Coach Huesman and UGA football, we'll have Russ and UGA coach Mark Richt on Press Row today on ESPN 105.1 FM. Coach Richt will join us at 3:15 and Coach Huesman will be on at 4:10. Good times and listen in.
— LeBron-Durant, mano-y-mano, tonight. The King vs. The Servant. Buckle up buttercup. (Side note: Putting them side-by-side, we now understand why Durant is asking to be called 'The Servant.' Well-played young buck, well-played indeed.
Loads to discuss.
Tony Stewart said he'd put up the cars for Danica and her not-BFF Richard "Mr. The King" Petty to race. We'd love to see this, and think NASCAR should make this happen. Thoughts? (And yes, we doubt it will ever happen.)
Was Syracuse loss a good thing for the Orange?
Where will Bruce Pearl be coaching next year?
King vs. Servant, who you got tonight?
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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 ...